Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March and St. Patrick's Day Linkup!

Spring seems to be finally here and I'm celebrating by participating in a March and St. Patrick's Day product linkup over at 1st Grade Salt Life. I've added my March Morning Work for First Grade. There are lots of great spring products to take a look at and a ton of St. Patrick's Day resources! Head over and take a look!!

Enjoy and happy (almost!) spring!

Monday, March 10, 2014

It's All About the Money!

This year we started a new program. When the students go above and beyond or finish an extra project they get tickets. I've given out tickets before but we always turned them in for treasure box items and after a while I just got so tired of buying and sorting out what really were junky toys that sometimes just stayed in their book bags! This year, we changed it up. Instead of buying toys, they bought coupons for things like chewing gum, wearing a hat, bringing in a stuffed animal to sit on your desk, using a pen or better yet, smelly markers! It was an amazing hit!!! The kids were unbelievably motivated and the tickets were the talk of the class! I can't take credit for the program--I was blog hopping and I found MelD's amazing blog. Tons--TONS--of great ideas.

Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations

Pretty soon I noticed that just giving out one ticket at a time wasn't enough and I started giving out tickets that were worth five and ten, too.

So, what does all this have to do with money? This week we started counting money. I usually dread this unit. It seems like no matter how many times we count by fives and tens this just really trips them up, especially when we count mixed coins...ugh!

Today we counted with dimes, nickels and pennies. EVERY CHILD sat down, counted the money and was RIGHT!! No problems at all! What made the difference? It was the tickets!!

Every Friday before we go to the coupon store, everyone counts their tickets. They were counting mixed tickets, 10s, 5s and 1s. Sound familiar? I really think that what made it work was that it was meaningful to them. They weren't just counting coins on a paper to see if there are enough for a picture of a toy. They were saving and counting their tickets for things they really wanted. Right now extra recess is a hot coupon!

It didn't happen overnight and up until about a month ago I was still helping a few of my students with counting their tickets but they all got it eventually because they NEEDED to know how many tickets they had! Before long I was hearing "30, 40, 45, 50, 51, 51...I have 52 tickets!"

We have savers and spenders. It was so funny in the beginning of the year to hear "I have 26 tickets but nothing costs 26 tickets!" It was a good lesson in greater than and less than--as long as it costs less than 26 tickets you're good to go!

If you count them out you'll see they're in groups of 100!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sight Word Sampler!

So, I decided to create a sampler of the activities in my Super Sight Word Packet and offer the sampler as a freebie. This way teachers can get a feel for the packet and see if it works for them before buying the whole packet. You can get your copy of the sampler here:

I have to admit, I LOVE sight words! At the beginning of the year we have a literacy night with the parents of the kindergartners and first graders. I know I always go overboard when we talk about sight words but I feel like if I can get across to the parents the importance of learning these words the rest of the year is soooo much easier! As a parent (and, yes, sometimes as a teacher!) the first thing we tend to say when a new reader is struggling is "sound it out". There's nothing wrong with sounding a word out but I tell the parents that it's such a labor intensive strategy that we try to save it for when it's really needed.

One of the ways I show them is I put up on the board a page of a book we read in November. It has about 25 words on the page and it looks pretty overwhelming. We go over how hard it would be to sound out every word on that page and how little you would remember by the end of each sentence, never mind the whole page!

The next slide I show is the same page but this time all the sight words we've already learned have been whited out. There are now only two words on the page and one is easily figured out with a picture cue. Every year the parents say "Ohhhhh"! It really brings to the forefront the importance of learning high frequency words!

We use Houghton Mifflin reading and I really do like it. It introduces 6-9 new sight words every week. Each week builds on the week before and the learning is very incremental. We use the Sight Word Packet activities as centers or homework throughout the week and it really helps reinforce these words. In the packet I've labeled each page with what theme/week it corresponds to in Houghton Mifflin so T8W1 is theme 8, week 1. Having said that, you don't need to use Houghton Mifflin to use the sheets! These sight words are all on the Dolch and Fry lists and are words every reader needs to know!


Saturday, March 8, 2014

If You Give a First Grader a Pancake...

...they'll be hyper for the rest of the day! Every year around this time we read If You Give a Pig a Pancake. It's one of the first books in our reading series that they recognize as something they've seen before and a book you can really get at the bookstore or library. Of course, after we read the book, we HAVE to make pancakes! I've always just had pancakes and syrup but this year first grade has an amazing TA and she was having none of it! Soooo... we ended up with blueberries, chocolate chips, vanilla chips, peanut butter chips, sprinkles and whipped cream. Well, did you know that sprinkles make pancakes AMAZING?!? I had no idea! They really were fantastic. As for making the kids hyper, well, I already knew about that so we did the pancakes at the end of the day on Friday. Teacher payback for giving them doughnuts for breakfast!

Oh, our forever boxes were a great success. Here's a finished one:

Have a great weekend! It's in the 60s here today after a rainy, freezing week and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it!