Thursday, July 31, 2014

Clothespin Word Work


I have seen so many cute projects on Pinterest over the past few days and one that really stuck out was using clothespins to spell words!  I figured it couldn't be that hard and would use supplies I already had lying around my classroom!  So, I gathered up a bucket of clothespins and started writing abc's on them with my colorful sharpies.

Then I took some fun ABC stickers that I had found in the $1 spot at Target and using the Dolch Sight Word Lists, I spelled words on large index cards.  I used a simple strategy to remember what words I used.  If the words were spelled out on the plain white side of the card, they are 2nd and 3rd grade sight words.  If they are spelled out on the lined side of the card, they are 1st grade sight words.

Next I had them laminated so they would stand up to the test of time!  I made good use of my time on Tuesday evening and got all 100 word cards cut out while I watched the kids do gymnastics!

The next day I brought them to Summer Explorers to see what the kids thought of them.  They were an instant hit!  The kids loved them and could hardly wait for their turn at the station.  It was great to hear the kids practice sounding out the words with their friends, spelling new words and seeing them help one another.

I can't wait to use these in my Word Work Center during Daily 5 this fall!  I'm hoping my 2nd graders will be just as excited!

What is your favorite Word Work activity and what grade do you use it with?  Share your ideas in the comments!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You Are My Sunshine... only sunshine!

This week we continued to work on the Learning Targets, "I can spell simple words" and "I can rhyme words."  The students had fun listening to various Dr. Seuss books for read alouds and picking out the rhyming words!  After that we took a bit of time and worked on creating some word families together on the board.  I "starred" some of the words to highlight that they were "nonsense" words.  However, I was happy that the kids were understanding how to change the beginning sound to start rhyming words.  

After some practice together, each of the kids created their own Sunshine Word Family with rhyming words on the rays of the sun!  They were pretty proud of their finished products!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ABC's and 123's

When I was at Target this past weekend I found the BEST BUY!!  They have ABC's and 123's in the dollar spot and they're magnetic!  I purchased 10 sets and divided them up in these plastic pencil boxes (5 sets per box).  I am hoping that by having 5 sets of lowercase letters to a box that students can work alone or in partners to create words.  

In Summer Explorers this week we are working on "I can spell simple words."  Together we created and talked about some of the basic word families (ex. -at, -am).  Then when we had center work time the students could choose between various centers like the Phonics Eggs or these magnetic letters to work on making simple words!  The kids loved it!  Now I am on the look-out for some inexpensive cookie sheets so they can really use the magnets!

I plan to use this as a Daily 5 center for "Word Work."
What are your favorite activities for word work?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Made-It: Phonics Eggs

I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for another Monday Made-It!

Today's Monday Made-It isn't very exciting, but the kids LOVED it today at Summer Explorers!  

I was working on spelling simple words with my students today and quick whipped up these fun little Easter Eggs I found on Pinterest!  I used 10 familiar word families to start creating the eggs.  I'm hoping to get my hands on some more eggs so I can create more of these great phonics eggs!!

Sterilite Drawer Labels

I've been busy creating tonight!!  I  have wanted cute labels for my Sterilite Drawers and I finally took the time to make them!  These labels are 10.5" x 2" and fit the Sterilite 3-Drawer Wide Units.  I stack 2 of them on my counter to keep my supplies organized for the week.

I made them in Ocean Themed and you can purchase them HERE.

I also made them in Owl Themed and you can purchase them HERE.

Are you looking for a special theme, color scheme or design?  Let me know and I'll see what I can do!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Interactive Notebook Labels

Do you use Interactive Notebooks in your classroom?  I have not yet, but our students bring about 5-6 notebooks to school as a part of their school supplies.  So, I am planning and preparing to make Interactive Notebooks for Math, Reading and Science.  

Tonight I took some time to make the labels for the front of each notebook.  As we start the school year I will update with how the notebooks are working, what I would change and what I love!

If you're looking for some cute notebook labels, check these out:

Ocean Themed Labels:

Owl Themed Labels: 

Safari Animals Themed Labels:

These are FREE in my TpT Store until Monday afternoon (7/28/14), so be sure to go snag them up!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five for Friday


I've joined in on the Five for Friday Linky Party with Doodle Bugs Teaching.  So, here are my 5 random things from this past week!  Don't be surprised, but not many of these have anything to do with teaching/school!  I really tried to enjoy my free-time outside of teaching Summer Explorers this week!

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Last weekend, John and I headed north to take the kids to his parent's cabin.  We hung out with them for a couple of days before leaving them there for the week!  {yay!}  I love watching my kids play together and swim!  They had so much fun!

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While the kids were away, I met up with a couple of my friends to go kayaking on a local lake.  It was lots of fun to explore the lake - we even found a secret path that, when flooded, connects to a second lake.  Random note, I learned that the land between the two lakes is actually owned by Prince!  It was a great upper body workout and lots of fun to be on the water with friends!

Divider 3

On Wednesday, I had a friend over with her Vizsla, Sadie, to play with my Vizsla puppies!  Surly and Bandit loved the play date!  Left to right:  Sadie, Surly, Bandit

Divider 4

As I mentioned, this past week, my kiddos spent the week with my in-laws, at their cabin.  The kids had a blast and went to the beach to play every day!  I love that they got lots of quality time with their Mimi & Papa!

I think this picture might be my favorite photo of them from the week!

Divider 5

And, finally - I created my Facebook Page for the Blog tonight!  Thanks to the fabulous Kelsey at Kreated By Kelsey, I have a lovely blog design, TpT banner, and Facebook Cover Photo!!  

Find Me On Facebook!!

I figured if I am going to do this blogging thing, I'd better go "all the way!"  So, today I created a Facebook Fan Page to go along with the Blog!  I'd love to have you follow me on Facebook!  

Head on over to: and check it out!  

The Plot Chickens

Have you ever read this story?!  It is so cute and hilarious, it might just be a new favorite!  I've already put it in my cart to purchase on Amazon!  If you've not read this, you have to pick up a copy at the library and check out "The Plot Chickens" by Mary Jane and Herm Auch.  

I originally checked this book out to work on the Standard:  I can name the characters, main events and setting in a story.  It was great for that because we had 2 stories to identify the characters, main events and setting - the story "The Plot Chickens" and the story the chickens were writing!!  

I think you could also use this book as a way to teach children to "write a good, quality story."  

First we read the story, talked about it and then used our hands to retell the story.  I found this great poster on Pinterest this Spring and made one for my classroom.  The original post/idea came from the gals over at First Grade Buddies!  We've used it so many times and I have found it really helps the kids in retelling a story.  If nothing else, they've given 5 details from the story!  However, I find that they usually remember what to retell by saying, "somebody, wanted, but, then, so."  

To continue to remember what our fingers were for, we made these paper plates.  In hind site, I would have had students trace their right hand instead of their left so that it would read from left to right.  Instead, we numbered the fingers in order so we would remember to always start retelling with our thumb!

After our whole group work, we broke down into small groups to do some learning centers.  Out of the 5 learning centers, 2 of them were with my instructional para and myself.  In one group we read "The Saturday Triplets in The Pumpkin Fair Problem" by Katharene Kenah and in the other group we read "The Saturday Triplets in Teacher Trouble!" by Katharene Kenah.  After listening to and discussing the story, the students worked together to retell the story, using their hands.  They were so excited and proud to be successful on their own!

Do you have any good tips for teaching children to summarize or retell a story?  Please share in the comments below!

Class Writing Journals

I am so excited to use these new Class Writing Journals by Teach-A-Roo on TpT!  It is a set of 10 journal covers and word banks to help get the kids thinking.  I'm planning to use them in my classroom for students as they finish their work and as an option for "Work on Writing" during my Daily 5 time.  I added bookmarks to the inside cover with ribbon so the kids can keep track of the "next blank page."  

Be sure to head over and purchase a set for your classroom!  I'm sure you won't regret it!  :)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Compare & Contrast

Today at Summer Explorers we did a fun activity to work on the Standard:  I can compare and contrast characters in different stories.  Yesterday I read the students the book "Bad Dog, Marley!" by John Grogan and today I read them the story "Some Dog" by Mary Casanova.  

In each of the books we discussed the characters, main events and setting.  We spent an extra focus on George (Some Dog) and Marley (Bad Dog, Marley!) in our discussions.

We worked together as a class to start brainstorming ideas for a Venn Diagram on the two main characters.  The kids came up with some great ideas!  It was fun to see how well they had listened and comprehended the story!

As we brainstormed together, the kids worked on creating their own Venn diagrams and artwork to help them remember each of the stories.  As always, most of the kids preferred the drawing to the writing!!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back-to-School Goals {2014-2015}

I am linking up with I {heart} Recess to share my Back to School Goals for the 2014-2015 school year.

I have taken some time over the weekend (while we were away up north and able to relax for a bit) and thought about what I wanted to have my goals be for the upcoming school year.  I am excited to get them written down this year, in hopes that it keeps me more accountable!  So, without further they are:

Be sure to head over to I {heart} Recess and Link up to share your Back to School Goals!  If you want, share a goal for the upcoming school year in the comments below!  I'd love to read them!  I always find that reading and sharing goals is very inspiring!!

Teacher's Toolbox - New Labels on TpT

Here's a sneak peek at page 1 of my labels!!
I just posted my new "Polka Dot Owl" themed labels for a Teacher Toolbox to TpT.  Hurry and check them out while they're free!!  Tomorrow they'll be $1.50, so still not a bad price!

If you download them, please take a moment to leave feedback!  Remember, you get TpT credit when you leave feedback, too!

Are you looking for another theme?  Let me know in the comments below!  Or, if you're looking for another product entirely, just let me know and I'll see what I can do!

Read Alouds

For the upcoming school year I'm going to try something different.  I have mentioned before that I love the Kohl's Cares for Kids books and plush animals!  

At Summer Explorers I have brought in my Mercer Mayer Little Critter animals and new books to read aloud to my students.  I let them hold a stuffed animal, pass them around to friends and listen quietly as I read aloud the book.  We stop periodically to make predictions, ask questions and ensure that all students are engaged!  The kids are LOVING it and I feel like they are listening really well because they know they must listen well in order to have a turn to hold my friends!  

My plan is to round up all of these books + plush animal combinations to bring back to my classroom in the fall!  My kids have them all over our house!  I would like to do a read aloud to start each week off and then give the students the opportunity to "check-out" my book and stuffed animals to read alone or with a friend during Daily 5.  

I'll have to keep you posted on how it works!  Do you use an in-class library check-out system?  What one?  How does it work for you?  Please share in the comments!  I'm always looking for great ideas that are already tried & true!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Let's Write A Book!!

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I have been working on writing with my kiddos at Summer Explorers.  I have students that are entering 1st and 2nd grade, but struggle with one or more subject areas.  In particular, writing is not a favorite!  So, we read books that had no words (A Ball for Daisy) and we read books with pictures and words this week!  We talked about how everyone in our class can be an author and an illustrator!  The kids got really excited about that!

We took one day to brainstorm some writing ideas:  our favorite place, favorite toy, favorite season, and favorite animal

On the second day, I passed out "books" for each child!  We chose to write our books about "My Favorite Place."  To get the creative juices flowing, we illustrated our book on day 2.  (I can write using pictures.)

On the third day, I provided them with sentence frames for each page.  These went along with what I guided them to draw on Day 2 (i.e. Draw something you like to do at your favorite place.  Draw a picture of who/what you like to bring with you to your favorite place.)

As a class we worked through adding the sentence frames to our books and completing them using our best "s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d" spelling!  (I can spell simple words.  I can write using words.  I can use punctuation.)

 I always like to model for my students what I am asking them to do.  Below you'll see a couple sample pages from my book about my favorite place, the cabin.

Here are a couple student samples.  I am so proud of the hard work these kiddos are putting into their writing!

At the conclusion of our writing time, the students had the opportunity to partner up and share their new books.  They loved this!  I most enjoyed watching non-readers, read their own work with the biggest smiles on their faces!  They realized that "they can do it!"  

I'm so proud of these kiddos!!  It's also making me excited for fall and school to start back up!  (Although I definitely don't mean to wish away summer and the fun times I'm having with my own 2 rascals, Kylie and Mason!)