Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blogging and Life

I really wish I could be blogging more than I am this week. We go back to school on Monday and today was our open house. I feel incredibly blessed to have met most of my little ones today, but this week has been exhausting. I know my blog has been slow this week and I promise I will get back to blogging more as soon as I can.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Setting Up Your Room (Tuesday Tips & Technology)

Today I spent the day cleaning and organizing my classroom. I can't wait until my room is completely put together. Here is what I got done today.
It was a lot of work, but each year it gets easier. I wanted to share some tips that make it a little easier to set your room up. When you finish reading this post, check out the "What's Your Room Look Like?" linky party at Empowering Little Learners for more ideas.
1. Gather your supplies. Think about what things you will need as you set up your room. Put them in one place or wear an apron and put the little stuff in it.

Some of the supplies I need include...
-Baby wipes or Lysol wipes
-Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
-Paper towels
-Masking Tape
-Hot glue & glue gun
-Sharpie marker
-Wire ties
-Bulletin board supplies
-Name tags

2. Make a plan. I measure my room and furniture. I usually map out where I want the furniture on paper before I start moving it. Think about how you want to use the space as you make your plan. Make sure you allow adequate space for traffic flow. Think about visibility. Will you be able to see all of your students?

I like to include the following areas...
-Rug area
-Small group table
-Teacher desk & storage for my materials
-Storage of student materials
-Center areas and spots for reading
-Library area
-Computer area
3. If your furniture goes against the walls, do your bulletin boards first. Otherwise move the furniture, then clean, and decorate last. Having your furniture in place will help you visualize how you want to decorate. Plus, if you run out of time at least the basic room set up is done and things are clean.
3. Ask for help! Get a friend or the custodian to help move large furniture with you. If I need to move stuff alone I like to use furniture glider pads or small carpet pads to move furniture.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Facebook Mixer

Kinder Fun is having a "Facebook Mixer" linky party.
Come take a look
Who's on Facebook
I'm there you'll see
I hope you'll like me!

New (School) Year Resolutions

One of my all-time favorite blogs, Clutter-Free Classroom, is having a linky party on the resolutions teachers are making for the new school year. If you have some, link up and share them at her party. Just click here.

I have two resolutions for this year. Since people are more likely to accomplish goals when they tell other people about them, I am going to share my resolutions with you.

1. I REALLY want to be more organized. I want to be more organized at home and at work. Life just goes smoother when I am organized. I have spent a few days at school working on decluttering and organizing my materials, but I know I will need to continue working on it every day to get to the point where I feel really organized. I have been using Fly Lady to help me establish routines and organization.

2. I've been a blog stalker for a while and recently  started working on my blog and TPT store. I really want to grow them both. I'd love to see them take off this year. I've been using Teaching Blog Traffic School to help me learn how to get it off the ground and I've used the video tutorials at Ladybug's Teacher Files to help me tweak my site.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Do You Pin?

Have you heard of Pinterest?
Do you pin?

Pinterest is basically an online bulletin board where you can save ideas from websites in a visual format. Michelle's Math in the Middle is having a Pinterest Party. You can browse the blogs and look for the Follow Me on Pinterest buttons too. What a great way to see what ideas other teachers are gathering and find some new blogs too!

Saturday Share & Fabulous Fall Freebie Linky Party!

It's that time of year when I spend hours gathering ideas and activities for the Fall. Since I know I am not the only one searching for these ideas, I thought it would be fun to have a Fabulous Fall Freebie Linky Party. So please visit the blogs below and check out what other teachers are doing this Fall.

If you are a blogger please link up below. The only requirements are that you share at least one freebie that you use with your class during the Fall season. I can't wait to see your ideas.

I am going to kick of this linky party by sharing one of my favorite activities for the beginning of the year. I want my students to embrace their differences and celebrate their strengths.

So, I always read a related book. We talk about how everyone has a special strengths and skills that make them special. This year I am going to extend it by having the kids complete a bubble map and drawing, which will be used to complete a short writing activity. The students will have a chance to tell the class about themselves and I will post their writing in the hall. You can grab the file I use for the bubble map and writing assignment here.

This post has now been added to Teach Blog Addicts Ultimate Linky Party. Stop by and see some other great linky parties.
Ultimate Linky Party on TBA

Friday, July 22, 2011

Back to School Transportation Graph

Fun in First Grade is having a linky party on  your favorite back to school activities. Click here to check it out.  I do a lot of other fun activities, but I think this one is super important.

On the first day of school I am very concerned that the students go home the correct way. So, one of the things I plan to do on the first day of school this year is have each of the children share how he or she is going home.

As the children share, I will give them a sticky note that I have printed with the possible transportation methods. I print the sticky notes using the template above. Just print it once. Put sticky notes on it with the edge that sticks being the first edge to feed into the printer. Peel them off and repeat to print more.

Once the kids get their sticky notes, they will write their names and add it to the transportation graph. Once all of the students have shared, we will discuss our graph.

I will double check it with the information I have from parents. If there is any confusion I will request the office contact the parents to confirm how the child should go home. During the first week of school I also give each child a sticker with how they are going home each day. This helps everyone when it is time to dismiss at the end of the day. You can get the graphing materials for FREE here.

Friday Five

I want to take a moment before I share today's Friday Five to remind everyone that as long as you follow this blog & my TPT store you will be able to get any one product from my TPT store for FREE. You just need to submit your request here before 9PM EST on Friday the 23rd of July. I will send the products out by Monday the 25th. So please take a minute to look at my store and claim your gift. Thanks! Now Closed. Thanks.

Friday Five is a weekly post in which I share five neat things I have learned or seen during the week.

1.  Charity at The Organized Classroom Blog shared a really awesome iPad app called iSuperGrader.  She has a giveaway going on until 10pm at her site. Click here to enter her giveaway or just to learn more about this app.

I went ahead and bought the app and I've been playing around with it. You can customize the grading scale if you use letter grades or it has a preset K2 scale. Neither one is exactly what we use at my school but that's okay with me because what I love about this app is how easy it makes to calculate the percentage scores.

2. I have been reading about using "smellies" all over blog land lately. I had never heard of this idea before, but I am definitely going to use them this year. In case you don't know what smellies are, they are simply a dab of flavored chap stick that you put on the back of your students' hands as a reward. Chap stick used for smellies only ever goes on hands & never on lips.

Krissy at Kindergarten Monkey Business did a great post a little while ago about how she uses smellies to teach her students left versus right by consistently applying smellies only to right hands. I am totally stealing her idea. Click here if you are interested in reading her fabulous post.

3. I have used this site before. So, technically I didn't learn about it this week, but I did remember it this week while I was working on my classroom library. I like to level my books, but it is a daunting task to try and figure out all of their levels. The best tool I have found for leveling books is the Scholastic Book Wizard. This fabulous tool lets you look up titles  to find their levels or search for books by reading level, genre, subject area, etc. Awesome!

4. This week I figured out how to make newsletter templates for my classroom. I made the put my clipart together in PowerPoint and saved it as a jpeg. Then I pasted that into Word and added text boxes. I am planning to make these in some different themes and adding them to my TPT store soon.

5. This week I worked on getting my classroom together. One thing I realized I don't have, but would like, is a set of reading pillows. I want to be sure that I can wash them because of lice and germs. When I looked back through my Google Reader I found a post at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten that had a great tutorial on how to make some durable and washable pillows.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back to School Tip

I Love 2 Teach is hosting a linky party on classroom tips that make teaching just a little easier. I am looking forward to seeing all of the ideas people share. I wanted to share my Teacher Survival Kit. Having one has made my day go a lot smoother more than once.

Don't forget to follow this blog and my TPT store to pick out a free product. You can go here to participate. This closes at 9PM EST on Friday July 23rd. I'll send all of the products this weekend. Now Closed. Thanks.

Parent Communication

Most teachers communicate with parents when there is a problem, but I think it is extremely important to start the year off with a positive phone call. Even if you meet the parents at your school's open house, I think an individualized call makes a world of difference.

Parents are more open to working with me when problems arise if they know that I notice and appreciate their childs' strengths. Making a positive phone call to share one or two things I have observed a child doing well lets the parents know that I am noticing their child's strengths.

During the year I also try to call parents occassionally to let them know if I have seen growth or improvement. Not only do parents enjoy hearing about these things, but it also means that parents don't assume I am calling about a problem every time they see the school's number on their caller ID.

Of course, in whatever form parent communication occurs it is important to document. Planning how you will document it ahead of time makes it a lot easier to keep up with. I keep a folder with my students' phone numbers and multiple copies of a communication log in it.  The Lesson Plan Diva has a great parent communication log that she is sharing for free.
Just click here and be sure to check out this awesome blog while you are there.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Tips

I am exhausted today. I went in to school today, moved all my furniture into place, unpacked and sorted all of my stuff, and started setting up my room. I will post some pictures later this week. However, today I am just too tired to write a long blog. So, I am going to share a few super short & simple tips.

1. This time of year I have a lot of cutting to do. Do you? Do you ever cut out a bunch of the same thing?

You can save time by stacking the papers you need to cut (make sure they are facing the same way) and stapling the papers in several places outside of your cutting area. The staples will keep the papers from moving around as you cut. Just be sure you don't staple so many papers that you can't cut them.
2. Does your furniture look grimy? Are you wondering how to get marks off your whiteboard?

Try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I LOVE them. They make cleaning things soooo easy.

3. Do you write things on your whiteboard that you need to keep up for a while?

Try dry erase crayons. They stay put and are hard to erase. However, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will take them right off again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reading and Post It Notes

Create, Teach, Share is hosting a linky party on Post It Notes. I don't know about you, but I love sticky notes.

One of my all time favorite ways to use Post It Notes is to encourage students to think about their reading. I often use blank ones to have students respond to a question or prompt that I give when I set the purpose for reading in my guided reading groups.

However, I also love to use them to help students think about their strategy use during their reading. I will give students Post It Notes that I have printed and have them jot down notes about how their strategies helped them get past tricky spots. I especially like to do this when I am working on decoding with a group. After the students read, the Post It Notes help them remember what they did and how it helped, which allows them to participate in discussions about the strategies.

I am sharing a document I made with some of the reading strategies I use. These strategies come from a book by Creative Teaching Press called Reading Strategies That Work.

To use it you will need to print it out once on a plain sheet of paper. Next use the squares to line up your sticky notes and stick them over the squares. Make sure that the flat edge of the sticky notes (where the glue is) is the side that goes into your printer first! Also, you need to notice whether your printer prints on the top or bottom side of paper and make sure the sticky notes are on the side that will get printed on. Then print like normal. Peel off the sticky notes and reuse the paper.

100 Followers Celebration

Wow! I am so excited that more than 100 people are following Fun 2B in First. Thank you for following. If you were a part of the 100 Followers Celebration check your email this weekend. I will be sending out your product before Monday the 25th of July. Thanks for participating!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Share

This has been a super busy day in my house. So, this is going to be short and sweet tonight. I wanted to share two things with all my friends in blog land. I hope these can help you as you get ready for the school year. The first file contains labels that can be placed in your students' agendas or homework folder to let parents know that lunch money is low. It can be printed on three column Avery labels. The second file is a to-do list that lets you organize tasks by priority level. Also, the blog has reached 100 followers and I am planning something special for all of my followers. I'll share more on Monday. See you then.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I'm Thinking....

Well, the blog is at 99 followers. I am thinking it might be time for a celebration soon. This time though I'd like to do something where everyone can be a winner.

Winner! Winner! Giveaway Won!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway. I used to determine the winner. Congratulations
Kelly S!.

Kelly S. said...

I follow your TpT store!

Friday Five

Today is Friday and that means it is time for another Friday Five. Today I wanted to share with you all some of the things I learned this week. Also, the giveaway ends at 9:00 PM EST time today!

1. The first bit of technology I want to share with you today is Blabberize. Blabberize lets you take a picture, add a recording, and animate it to look like it is talking. I made this one today. I imagine this would be great for reports on historical figures, book characters, or animals. How much fun would the kids have with this?
Before you can make your own animation, you will need to have a picture in mind. Once you have a picture in mind, you will need to sign up for a free account & log in. Next, you need to go to "Make." Find a picture by browsing. Drag the two light pink dots on the top left and bottom right corners of your picture to crop it. Click the blue arrow that is under your picture to the right side. Next, drag the red blob over your picture's mouth. Drag the small blue dots to match the size of your mouth and the small green dots to match its curve. Move the large green dot up or down to show how far you want the mouth to drop when talking. Once you have matched the red blob to the size and shape of your picture's mouth you are ready to record. To record you will need to click on the blue arrow on the lower right side of your picture. You will see recording options pop up. I use the microphone. Click it and then click the red dot. Record and click the red dot again.Click the blue triangle next to the red dot to preview it or click the blue arrow to the lower right of your picture to complete your project. It will change to say "OK." Click it again.Click the purple save button & input the title, description, and tags. Click private if you do not want it to show up in searches on the site. Click save and you will see the option "I want this on video." Click on it and then click on "Yes, convert now." Download and you are done!

2. Next, I have been using Pinterest. What is Pinterest? It is similar to a bulletin board. Except, it is online and you don't have to cut any pictures out. When you are browsing online and you see and idea you would like you pin it to your Pinterest Board. When you register you will add Pinterest to your favorites bar. After that pinning things is as easy as clicking the icon and adding your notes.  You can have multiple boards, which makes organizing things super easy. You must be invited to join Pinterest. You can request an invitation through the site, but that takes a while. If you email me through the contact form on this blog, I will invite you to join
3. I don't know about you, but I have chair pocket envy. I LOVE these. I use tables in my classroom and these would give my kiddos great storage options. However, I can't afford a classroom full of them. This week on of the fabulous blogs that I follow, First Grade Fun, did a tutorial on making them. Check it out. They really don't look that hard to make. I want to make some, but I am waiting until I have finalized my classroom theme to go buy material.

Bingo Board Creator
4. I found this awesome site, Tools for Educators, that lets you make worksheets, Bingo games, word searches, dice, board games, mazes, dominoes, and several types of worksheets. All of it is free and simple to use. 
5. Over the summer, one of the things I have been doing is looking for ideas for my classroom and trying to get organized for next year. Many of you may already be familiar with Teacher Tipster's site and his YouTube videos, but they were new to me. I have been watching a few and suggest you do too. They are full of great ideas.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blog Mixer Party

I have been seeing some fabulous linky parties going on & I want to join in on the fun. It is just so interesting to see all the different ideas. I found one that looked like fun. It is the Blog Mixer Linky Party by Yearn to Learn. To join you have to share a blog in each category. Here are mine.

My "New Kid on the Blog" is Mrs. Miner's Kindergarten Monkey Business. Krissy started her blog on June 9th. She has some great ideas so come check it out. On top of that, right now she is giving away up to $5.00 of her TPT products to her followers for reaching 100 followers.
Mrs.Miner's Monkey Business

I teach 1st and I totally agree with Ms. Van Orman's blog title. First grade is FUN! Her blog is First Grade Fun. Right now she has a great tutorial posted on making those chair pockets that I have been wanting but am unwilling to pay for.

Even though I don't teach kindergarten, I absolutely love reading Kindergarten Crayons by Fran Kramer. She has the cutest ideas and shares some awesome freebies that are perfect for first grade too! If you haven't already discovered her you are missing out and should be sure to stop by to see for yourself.

My cute blog button spot goes to Castles and Crayons. I love the design, but the blog aslo has great content. Right now she has been talking about the Daily Five & has shared a lot of great information related to it.

Castles and Crayons

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Free Items on TPT!

After talking with some blogger friends I have decided to make the freebie items that I post about on my blog forever free rather than just for a specific period of time. I have changed the prices on my TPT store. Click on the Freebie link to see those blog posts that include freebies.

Free Game!

I am not back at work yet. So, this post will be a little different. The kids come back to school on August 1st. Summer is almost over for me, but it was so hot today that I stayed inside. That means I spent some time on my computer today and made a game for the reading story Sam, Come Back! It is the first story in our reading series and I plan to use this to help my kiddos who need a little help with comprehension. By the way we use Scott Foresman's Reading Street. I plan to make a game for each of the stories in the series. I am going to share this one as a freebie just as a way of saying thank you. Just click on one of the pictures. Also, if you haven't signed up for the giveaway for a $15 gift card to Bath and Body Works here is the link.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Tips & Technology

Today, for the very first Tuesday Tips & Technology post, I want to share a few ways technology can help make teaching easier. Read about this tools and sites and I hope some of them will help save you time or just make teaching a little more fun. Also, don't forget to check out my giveaway for a $15.00 gift card to Bath & Body Works. It ends on Friday July 15th.  Click here or on the picture to find out more.

I don't know about you, but I HATE averaging all my grades for report cards and progress notes. It just takes too much time. Last year I used an Excel spreadsheet, but in prior years I have used Not only does this site make it super easy to record and average your grades, but it is free too! Also, you can post homework, give online quizzes which are automatically graded, take attendance, and share grades with parents. Just watch this video to learn more.

Introduction to Engrade from Engrade on Vimeo.

Now, I do have to give you a word of advice that I learned the hard way once when the internet was down & I needed to access my grades for progress notes. You should print a hard copy every couple weeks and keep them in an accessible place. That way should anything go wrong with your computer or your internet service you are covered.

Another  fun site to explore is This site has thousands of downloadable classroom resources. Some are customizable and it is free. Check out some of these awesome resources. While this is a U.K. based site, it now has U.S. versions of many of its resources too! There are sections for reading, writing, math, science, social studies, classroom management, and several other areas too.

The last site I want to share is a super simple one, but I use it all of the time. I put it up on my Promethean Board if I want the class to see it. Other times I use it just to keep myself on track and just use it on my computer. If you need an online-timer, I highly recommend using I love how simple it is to use and how clear it is to read.

Thanks for reading this post. I hope you learned something useful. Remember that each week I will be featuring the following posts at a minimum.

Tuesday Tips & Technology - tips related to teaching or technology

Wednesday Week at Work - what is going on in my classroom

Friday Five - five things I've learned or seen

Saturday Share - a freebie

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bath & Body Works Giveaway!

I have really been enjoying blogging, reading the comments, and watching my little blog grow. So, I am hosting an AWESOME giveaway!

  Get ready...

You could win a $15 giftcard to Bath & Body Works.

Teachers, you know you could use this!
Think about it....

So how do you win this fantastic giveaway? (4 ways)

1) Follow Fun 2B in First or subscribe by email
2) Follow my TPT store
3) Add Fun 2B in First to your blog roll.
4) Blog about this fabulous give away. (Please include the url in your post).
Leave a separate comment for each entry.
Last day to enter will be Friday, July 15th at 9pm (EST)
This giveaway is only available to residents of the United States.
Comments are numbered and a random number generator will be used to determine the winner. The winner will be announced by midnight on July 16th via a blog post and will have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours another winner will be selected.