Sunday, August 28, 2011

Short Vowel Freebie

Have you ever heard of word ladders?  Word ladders are a type of puzzle that consists of a chain of words that change by one letter each time. They are a great way to explore the patterns in words. They can also introduce students to new vocabulary words.

I am reviewing short vowel CVC words with my first graders right now. I made a set of word ladders to use with them this week and I wanted to share them with you all. These word ladders are short and simple, because most of my students will never have used word ladders before and I want to be sure they understand the concept before giving them more challenging ones.

Each word ladder has five words in all. I have made three levels in order to be able to differentiate. You can grab them by clicking on one of the pictures below.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Free Primary Writing Paper

My little girl is starting to write, but she has trouble telling where her letters should start and stop. I made her some special paper to help. The lines are big and different colored. I also made a smaller line for her name. I thought I would share the paper here in case some of your students could benefit.

Blog Hoppin' is hosting TGIF: Free For All Friday. Stop by to check out and collect many awesome freebies.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday

Blog Hoppin' is hosting Teacher Talk Tuesday. The topic is advice for new teachers. I still have a lot to learn, but I've learned a few things along the way. So, I'll share what I've learned. Then I'll go read and learn some more things.

I've learned to go with the flow, keep going, and focus on doing your best no matter what the day brings. I can be prepared for most situations, but I will never be prepared for every situation.

The snake on the sidewalk, a student handing me a condom he found outside, getting three new students with special needs in one day, and a few other unusual situations have thrown me for a loop. Just take a deep breath, stay calm, do what's necessary, and then move on.

When I first started teaching, I thought I had to do it all myself and do it perfectly. I felt like a failure when I didn't. I still get frustrated at myself when I make mistakes, but I am not nearly so hard on myself.

Now I know sometimes it comes down to laughing or crying. Laugh (even at yourself). I've also learned to ask for help, accept it when it's offered, and seek ways to reduce the load.

Speaking of reducing the load, as a first year teacher, I wanted the classroom to be fun for the kids so badly that I didn't make it fun for me. Just because an activity would be great for the students doesn't mean you should do it.

Find a balance between great activities that may require a lot of preparation and those that still get the material across without the extra work. While classrooms should be engaging, every activity doesn't have to be over the top special. The kids will be happier if you have a life outside of school and are not crazy stressed. Balance is essential.

Click the picture to visit the party.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fabulous Favorites in Photos Linky Party

Fabulous is First is having a linky party called Fabulous Favorites in Photos. So, when you finish reading this post stop by and check out the other blogs that linked up. Just click the blog button at the bottom of this post to get there.

My Favorite Food...

My Favorite Place...

My Favorite Drink...

My Favorite Store...

 My Favorite Color...   
My Favorite Markers...

Check Out the Rest of the Linky Party.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


My school gives each child a birthday pencil, but I would like to give my students a birthday card. However, buying them adds up too quickly and is not an option for me. So, I created a simple birthday card to use this year and a chart to help me keep up with all of the birthdays in my classroom. I am sharing it as today's Saturday Share. I hope you find it helpful. Just click on the pictures to grab these files.

In addition to giving each student a card, I would really like to give them a special treat. This year I think I am going to give the students those beautiful balloon bouquets made with the large Pixie Sticks that have been on several blogs lately. What the Teacher Wants has a great post on how to make them.

Of course, sometimes it is best to find sugar free alternatives, especially if you have a student with a restricted diet. The balloon bouquets can be made with curly straws, pens, or special pencils as an alternative. If you are interested in sugar free birthday celebration ideas, you should check out the No More Cupcakes post at Minds in Bloom.

The Schroeder Page has a great post on her birthday box and special bithday chair cover.

Another source for Some ideas and resources to help celebrate birthdays in your classroom with a great literature connection is Carolyn Wilhelm's post at Wise Owl Factory.

For even more ideas, check out the birthday linky party going on at Sunny Days in Second Grade. I'm linking up because I can always use more ideas.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Teaching Sight Words

Like most elementary teachers I am familiar with sight words. I am also familiar with the frustration of teaching them to a student who struggles with memorization. It can be hard to make memorization fun. Today, I want to share some ideas to help. Please get a drink and get comfy. This is a long post.
Sight words are the most commonly read words. You may hear that they are not phonetically decodable, but most are. Some of them truely are irregular words, but most are not. However, since these words are so common students encounter them long before they have learned all of the phonics involved. Reading these words with ease allows students to focus their energy and effort on less frequently enountered words, read fluently, and comprehend more readily.

The two main lists of sight words are the Dolch List and the Fry List. My school uses the Dolch List. If a child has mastered all of the Dolch words, I go to the Fry list next. The Dolch list needs to be memorized by third grade, but if a student is able to progress faster they should. This post will focus on the Dolch list.
Before you can begin to teach the Dolch Words, you will need to have a list of them and resources to assess them with. Mrs. Perkins has a great set of resource which includes flashcards and word lists for assessment. The Dolch Kit is another website that contains resources on the Dolch Words.

I like to assess my students on the Dolch Words early on during the year and frequently after that. One method I have used to keep up with my students' knoweldge of Dolch Words is to create an Excel spreadsheet. I list the students at the bottom on the x-axis and the words on the y-axis. I make one spread sheet for each level of Dolch Words. As a student masters the word I type the date where their name and the word intersect and highlight the cell. Then, I look at my students and create an indivudual list of 5-10 words to work on. I can also tell at a glance what words should be included in my whole group instructional time.
Whole group instruction on Dolch Words can include word wall activities, flash cards, word of the day activities, spelling words, Bingo, etc. Students can work on individual words during word work time. These words can be worked on with peer tutors, book buddies, parents, or independently. Activities for individual word lists could include sensory writing activites (shaving cream, sand, hair gel), computer games at Spelling City, flash cards, spelling hopscotch, etc.

The most important thing to remember is that students need direct instruction and repetion to learn these words. Find a way that works for your students and include them in your day. I would LOVE to hear how you make sight word instruction fun. Please leave a comment with your ideas.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Visual Schedule

I needed to create a visual schedule for my classroom at school. I had used one before, but I didn't like it because the times were digital and my clock at school is analog. My first graders don't know time to the quarter hour yet and it was confusing. So, I made a new one with analog clocks. I couldn't find a blank analog clock in the clipart I own. So, I had to make that first. Anyway, I have posted my visual schedule cards on my TPT store for $4.00. The set includes 54 cards!

Also, I wanted to share with you that Rainbows Within Reach is having a book give away of Red, White, and Blue by Debbie Clement. It is a picture book resource for honoring September 11th. I was studying abroad in Coasta Rica on September 11th. I came out of my class at the University of San Jose and was returning to my host family's home. People kept asking me how I was. As I responded that I was fine, they kept telling me that I was not okay and then going into a rapid discussion of bombs, attacks, and New York. It was very confusing. I thought I had forgotten my Spanish or lost my mind because I just couldn't follow the conversations. It didn't make sense and people kept telling me New York was gone. When I got back to my host family's home and saw the television it all clicked. I ended up coming home early from my trip because I did not like being unable to return by air while the boarders were sealed and the idea of traveling solo on a bus did not seem safe.
What were you doing on September 11th and will you be doing anything related to it in your classroom?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kindergarten & Fourth Grade Posters

I had some requests for a kindergarten version and a fourth grade version of the posters. So, for my friends in other grades, here they are.

Fourth Grade

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reader Request

I received a sweet email request today from one of my blog readers today asking if I would make some more posters. So, here they are. Just click on the picture if you want to grab one. Thanks for reading Fun 2B in First & I hope you enjoy these.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Free Posters & An Exciting Opportunity

I wanted to write a Tuesday Tips & Technology post tonight, but I worked 13+ hours today and I am just too tired to write a long post. Sorry. We have been in school for over a week now and it was our first PTA meeting and curriculum night tonight.

I know many teachers are just now starting to set up their rooms. So, I wanted to share some freebies. I designed two posters to decorate my door that I am sharing. This summer I thought I would go with a jungle theme. Then, I switched to an ocean theme. So, I have one jungle and one ocean themed sign to share. Just click the pictures to grab them.

Also, if you are looking for some more fantastic first grade blogs to read, you should stop by First Grade Connections. It is a new collaboration of teaching blogs. I am very excited to be a part of it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Word Wall Freebie!

I made some printables for my word wall. I am required to have one and I think they are great. Trying to add words can be a pain though and if you put all the words up at once, the kids have trouble using it. So, I decided to make a printable one and just write the words directly on it. I am including it as a freebie for you. Just click on the picture.

Check out the Word Wall Linky Party at Ms. M's Blog for more ideas.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Advice for New Teachers

Fun in Fourth Grade is having a linky party about advice for new teachers. I am currently in my 7th year of teaching. Some days I still feel like a new teacher. Other days I feel like I have been teaching forever. I certainly don't know it all yet. I am still learning something new every single day, but there are some things that I learned along the way.
Don't expect someone to tell you something you need to know unless you ask. Most teachers and administrators are happy to help, but they are busy and won't think about telling you everything.
While you want your classroom to be comfortable, don't stress out about making it look perfect. Spend the majority of your efforts planning how your classroom will run and not how it will look. Put most of the money you spend into making it organized, efficient, and easy to run. Here are some books that I consider to be "must reads" when setting up your first classroom.

It's okay if the kids don't always like you. It's not okay if the kids don't always respect you. You want to be their best teacher and not their best friend. Being firm, consistent, and having established routines and procedures will allow you to plan fun activities without chaos over taking your classroom.
Relax. Find humor in your job. There will be situations you didn't expect and for which you weren't prepared. You will make mistakes.  Admit your mistakes, learn from them, plan how to avoid repeating them, but don't beat yourself up about them. Learn to laugh. Tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start.

Check out of the rest of the entries here.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Oh' Boh 4th Grade is having a fun linky party about what you are currently listening to, loving, thinking, wanting, needing, and stalking. Stop by here to it out.

Visit Sunny Days

Thursday, August 4, 2011

First Week of School

The kids came back to school on Monday. I've been missing blogging, but the first week of school is such a busy time that I wanted to put all of my time into getting the school year started right for both my first graders and for my daughter starting pre-k. My little ones deserve no less. However, the first week is nearly done and I am ready to get back to blogging.

The year is looking like it will be a great one. My daughter is loving pre-k and I have been blessed with a smaller class. There are 18 amazing kids in my room. Yes, you read that right.

I was shocked today when I finished assessing a student and realized that everyone was on task, silent, and working independently. It was a coloring activity and the silence only lasted a little while, but I was pleased. It is looking like this will be a great year.