Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kindergarten Teachers are My HEROS! OH and a Freebie for Safety Week!

My lack of blogging both on my personal blog and here, are pretty much due to the amount of craziness going on this school year.  So many things are happening at once and I am trying to stay above water. Kindergarten is a different beast than any other grade level.  In the past six years of me teaching first grade, Kindergarten has really changed.  It's so fast paced and full of "rigor" {I now hate that word}.  The only thing that has not changed is the way kiddos are coming into Kindergarten.  There is such a wide spectrum of children: some that cannot spell their name, some that can already read, some that do not know their letters or sounds, some that can write sentences, some that do not even know colors.  They are just all over the place... BUT, by the time they leave Kinder, they will be {almost} all on the same level playing field.  It truly is an amazing grade to teach.

In my frantic search for age or grade level appropriate things to do with these babies, I come across a lot of stuff on Pinterest and TeacherPayTeachers.  What great resources.  But often I come to them and I see a price tag.  Sometimes I buy the product that was worked so hard on by another professional as my self and other times I hear my husband's voice in my head going "can't you make that yourself?  Why are you not getting paid?"

I do create things but I honestly come down to, where will I find time?!  So this morning I sat down before my own children got up and started planning out my week.  I made a couple of items for our safety week.  I made a tree map and a thank you note for the firefighters that are coming to visit us this week.  They are FREE too!  I don't have fancy programs to create items, I just try to make them look cute and enough to capture the attention of my kiddos.

Here is my firefighter tree map.

Here is my thank you note to send to our local firefighters after they come see us.

I hope you like them.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Recent News

In recent news, it was brought to our attention in NC that the Governor gave a hefty pay raise to some of his "peeps" and took heat over not giving a raise to his teachers in the state.  His response to that was "he tried" and "there was money needed to pay for the hole Medicaid was in."

As usual, NC teachers get put on the back burner.  What really bothers me is the perception and lack of respect that people have on teachers in this state.  We keep going and pushing through the nonsense and doing what we need to do for these children.  We have a responsibility to the kids and their families.  They are expecting a good education and not just being taught the minimum.  I have said it before and I will say it again, there is not ONE teacher in my school that does not try their hardest.  I can't say that for all schools in this state I am sure, so maybe that is where the views on teachers comes from when people comment on forums and news articles.

Some people are really harsh with the way they view us.  It's been an eye opener and I am thankful I am in the school I am in.  We have wonderful families and they value the teachers in our school.  That is what makes my job a little easier to swallow when the Governor and other state officials want to take things away from us.  No raises in years, taking away pay from Master level teachers, getting rid of career status... it's a real poo fest on teachers.

BUT, we have to still perform to their new evaluations and standards.  We still have to carry on like nothing is wrong.  Year after year there are new programs and assessment thrown at us like the rest of the country, and we are still expected to be paid the same?  They talk out of the side of their mouths.  They say they want the best for the students in NC but they certainly are not showing it.  A principal in another county had a letter go viral to the Governor.  She hit the nail on the head and called him out on some things.  I was very grateful to hear someone stick up for us.

I'm not sure where this is going but what sparked my blog was me, sitting here, watching a training online for NC Teacher Mentors.  We have to do 10 hours of training before Sept. 16.  I came across part of the video where we talk about new teachers and the evaluations they must go through.  Actually, every teacher has observations, evaluations, and we have PDP's {Professional Development Plans} that we must come up with every year.  So, they are taking away career status in a state that is already "right to work" and no union.  They can get rid of the "bad" teachers if they really wanted to.  So why punish the rest of us.  There are things in place to make sure we are on target and doing the best teaching for our students.

It's a sad state of affairs folks.  People think we have all the time off in the world {well, I am currently tracked out, HA!} and so why should we complain.  Really, we work even when we are not physically at school.  When we are at school we are teaching... not planning lessons for next week or grading papers.  We have to use our "off time" for that.  When else do they think it gets done?!  I am constantly thinking about my students and what else I can do for them.  It's what a good teacher does.  Duh!  Now I just want credit for being a good teacher.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I Will Not Feel Guilty

I tracked out on Friday and I left ALL of my planning materials at school and I refuse to feel guilty about it.  I keep peeking at Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teacher though.  School is always in my head and I am always thinking about what we will do next.

I love farms, apples, pumpkins, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin coffee, and everything fall!  After this week goes by, I will most likely find myself stopping by school and picking up my stuff so I can plan out my themes/units.

We will be very close to ending our first quarter and I plan to start sending word rings {rainbow words} and book bags home.  When do you start yours?  Every teacher is different  but coming from first grade, I feel like I am rushing these babies in some areas.

Anyways- back to vacation!  I hope you traditional schoolers have a great start back to your year.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Up Way Too Early

I was up WAY too early for this Sunday morning.  My three year old came in shortly before 6:00 am and announced he was feeling mad.  I told him that me feeling tired trumped his feeling mad and he needed to go back to sleep.  SO I marched his little butt back to bed and he did go back to sleep, thankfully, but did I?!  Nope!  I decided to use that time for lesson plans.

We have been using Letterland the past two years in Kindergarten.  The first eighteen days of school is what's called a "Fast Track".  It's a quick dip into each letter of letterland in those eighteen days.  After that, we jump into a more closer look at each letter, their name, shape, sound, you name it... we spend time doing it.  I am now going on days twenty-six to thirty.  We will have focused on four different letters: Annie Apple, Clever Cat, Dippy Duck, and Harry Hatman.

Here is my trouble... WHY is this program teaching those letters/sounds first?  And WHY do they teach the vowel sound with the letter, like Annie Apple?  She says 'a' as in apple but she belongs to Mr. A who says 'a' like ape.  SO confusing for these beginning Kinders.  They looked at me like I had ten heads.  Now, I know it was many years ago that I taught K and I have been with firsties for quite some time, but if I recall correctly, we taught in this sequence: rhyming, initial consonants, final consonants, and then vowels very last. When did this change?  I feel like I am teaching rhyming for those who cannot hear OR produce one and then initial consonants at one time.

Anyways, I created an initial consonant sort for the four Letterlanders we are working with recently.  They will use a pocket chart sort with the picture cards and then come back to the table and complete the sort I made.  Use if you like.  It's nothing fancy but just enough to get the point across to the kiddos.  I am going to make one each time we come across four more Letterlanders and even throw in some review.  Click on Annie Apple to grab the sort.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Open House

It's that time of year already.  We are six weeks in and it's time for Open House {our Curriculum Night}.  Since moving to Kinder, all of my stuff is null and VOID!  Everything I did in first grade had to be changed quite a bit.  All of my hand outs and even my Power Point {yes, I said Power Point} had to be changed quite a bit.

I just figured out that people are no longer using Power Point and there is this wonderful little thing called a PREZI!  It took me a few days to figure out how to make one and then a teacher friend sent me her's.  I studied it and then went off and made my own.  Not too shabby for my first time.... Check it out!  

We also have to make something for families to take that night.  So each year I do an apple with a little poem stuck to it and then have a hand out for them to take home with things they need to know for the year about our learning.  The poem reads:

An apple for the teacher is really nothing new, accept when you remember that parents are teachers too.  I look forward to working with you and your child this year.  ~Mrs. Smith

The hand out I give them is a tri fold pamphlet.  It's quick and easy to make.  I am sure most of them go home and trash it anyhow.  I like to think they don't but I'm not wasting printer ink and paper for hand outs.  I am going to post my PREZI on our class web site, so they will always have the info there if they need it.

FIVE more days until track out!  That's all I have to keep telling myself.  Then I have three sweet weeks off. Well, it may not be too sweet since my three year old is having his tonsils and adenoids removed, but it's still a vacation away from school no matter how you look at it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


I had been asked if I blogged about Letterland yet.  So I thought, "self, that's a good idea right there".  Our school district picked up Letterland last school year and it started with Kindergarten.  Then, this year, it trickled up to first graders.

Letterland is a program to teach early reading skills, spelling, and phonics.  It also has a handwriting component which I LOVE but more about that in a minute!  Our school needed a handwriting program in the worst way.  I noticed how well it worked after my son had went through Kinder.  He was able to decode and blend sounds like nobodies business. His handwriting however, is like my husbands, so I am guessing the handwriting program part of it worked as well as it could have for him.

Letterland is actually a British program and most of the songs that go with it, have the accent of British people.  It's quite amusing.  I can sing like Super Nanny now.

This is my first year doing it with Kindergarten and the kids love it.  Each day, for the first eighteen days, we introduce two Letterlanders a day.  This is called "fast track".  It's a quick way to introduce the characters, their letter sound, and their letter name.  In Letterland, they all have a character, such as Annie Apple, but in real life, you just see their black and white, plain letter.  The kiddos really look forward to who we will meet and hear their stories.  Each Letterlander has a story, action, and song to go with him or her.

One of the negatives is that there is lots of assessing.  In Kindergarten, how can you assess, individually, every five days?!  That has been a challenge.  I just see what's right for my class and keep plugging along.

After the fast tracking, we go back and spend more time on each letter.  We practice the letter, it's sound, and letter formation.  The only thing I do not care for is the order it teaches the letters.  I may need to study up on it some more but I used to teach handwriting and letters by the form of their letter.  So I did c, o, a, e first because they all have the same round shape.  I know there are others but you get my point.

I have always been a stickler about handwriting and the way I taught in in Kinder a long time ago.  This part is tough for me but I am going along with the program and maybe next year I can make some of my own tweaks to it.

One more downside is the materials that this program has.  There are so many materials but our ditrcits only purchased the bare minimum.  When I am looking through the teacher manual, I see activities, etc, but realize that I cannot do them because I do not have some of the stuff.  That is where I need to make changes as I see fit and add other things.  They ask we use this program with "fidelity" and use ONLY Letterland characters when decorating our classroom and use their ABC line.  But if we do not have all of the materials, that is kind of hard to do.  So I use what I want!

All in all, it's not a bad program but it takes up a lot of time for each lesson.  I use the Daily 5 Literacy format and I am trying to get my lessons to fit into Daily 5 Focus Lessons.  I'll let you all know how that goes once we are up and running with D5.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Staggered Entry

Kindergarten has what we call "staggered entry week".  There are small groups of my class that come each day of the week and I assess them, get to know them a little, and get them all unpacked.  I think it's a great thing because if I had all 22 in the same classroom and tried to get assessments done, it would be pure chaos.  I am grateful for this staggered entry week.  I get a really good idea of where my students are at and what I need to start teaching with.

It really amazes me the range of kids there are.  I have some who can already read, others who can identify some letter/sounds, some who can count to one hundred, others who can only count to ten, while others hardly know their own name and cannot hold a pencil.  Some are four years old still.  They are babies!

I'm not understanding why free early education is not available more.  It really is needed.  There is so much to do this year.  I need to take my kiddos who cannot identify letters or write their own name and have them writing two to three sentences by the end of the school year.  It baffles me in this country how unimportant education has become.  Kindergarten has changed so much from when most of us went.  It's no longer milk and cookies, nap time {even though they ask for naps, poor babies}, and playing.  Playing is still important but now I am planning what they "play" so that they are really learning.

Another thing I noticed from this week was how different the preschools in this area really are.  The kids that did go to preschool are coming from home preschools, half day preschools, preschools that are run by a chain, and private preschools.  They all prepare them differently for Kindergarten too.  From what I have seen, I am SO glad I did not send my child to Kiddie Academy.  They are truly awful.  The behavior from the kids that went there are not that great and they are teaching them all the wrong letter sounds.  Teaching kids to put a shwa at the end of their sounds makes no sense to me.  A "h" sound is not a "huh".  DO you say HUHamburger?

A clean slate though... this year I am excited to see how much they will grow!  I remember Kindergarten to be the year that I saw tremendous growth.  I saw growth in first grade but not as much of a jump as some make in Kinder!  I can't wait!

Here are some more pics of my classroom.  I had to try out my new camera, I must say, I like them a lot more than the photos I had with my phone camera.  As you can see, I am going with a Safari theme this year.  I also used my son to model some behavior so I can so them in pictures how we do things.  I have a pocket chart at the front of the room, so when they come in tomorrow morning, they can look at the pictures, in order, of how to unpack each morning.  Eventually they will be able to do it on their own.

Behavior Chart
This speaks for itself but, each classroom must keep a way to figure out how their kiddos are getting home each day.

View from my classroom door in the hallway.
View from the cubby area.
View from the back door.
Tables are ready for tomorrow morning.  They have name tags to wear.

View from the front of my room.  I LOVE my word wall and tree.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Kindergarten Jitters

I'm not going to lie, I'm nervous.  I could teach first grade with my eyes closed, I KNOW first grade and the Common Core.  It used to be that way with Kindergarten so long ago {ok, five years is not that long ago but it's long enough} and I knew how to teach the pants off that too.  With the way Common Core is and the way incoming Kindergarten babies are, I am just not sure I am prepared. 

I have the classroom set up, but it's really still for first grade.  Kindergarten is not ALL play anymore but there is still some learning they do require through play.  Hands on learning is only right in my eyes.  I need more stuff for them to play with.  My kids at home are not too happy with me because I am highjacking their items at home to bring to school.  I snatched a train/road carpet from my son's room to put in the block area.  The dramatic play area is less than appealing, but it'll come along as I get more stuff. 

To me, if my room is not set up or put the way I have it in my head, I can't do anything else until that is complete.  The room is sort of bare but that will come with time as well. I'll just have to get over it because the kiddos are coming TOMORROW!! 

This week is staggered entry week for the Kinder babies.  Wish us luck!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

My track out has almost come to an end.  It was such a great track out.  There wasn't anything eventful that happened to make it great, unless you LOVE these guys.

That's right, I saw NKOTB over my track out {and thank GOD I was tracked out because the show was on a week night}.  They were AMAZING!!!

So that happened and my family also came to visit.  I was a busy bee because my grandmother taught me how to sew.  I now have a sewing machine and I have made new curtains for my classroom and I am also in the middle of chair pockets/covers for the new Kindergarten class I will have this year.  The chair covers are no easy task let me tell you.  I bought fabric, I cut the fabric after measuring but it still would not turn out right.  After a lot of thinking, I grabbed a pillow case from my closet upstairs, turned it inside out, an sewed up both sides.  VOILA!  A seat pocket.  It'll be majorly big for the tiny chairs in the classroom but I am ok with that... for now.

I'm also on a mission to make little sit-upon pillows for my milk crates I am making into stools.  I think those will look super cute around my reading table or to go in the listening center.  My time has been consumed with these things, spending time with my boy, and not working on my National Boards.

I was going to attempt the NBCT this year but it has come to a halt for now.  My husband and I are willing to invest the $2500 for me to do this but I have taken a stand for myself and said NO.  I am not doing it because there may be a cut in the extra money you get in your pay check.  It's always on the chopping block.  Our state of NC is already talking about not paying teachers for being a Masters level after 2014.  To me, that means, they will also cut NBCT pay.  I just cannot justify in my head why I would put all that money upfront and effort into such a thing, and not get anything in return... except being a better teacher they claim is makes you after you do it.

I think what I am going to do is enjoy a year of not being a team lead and not pick up anything new and just throw myself into this Kindergarten curriculum that is new to me all over again.  I may kick myself down the line for not doing it, but I can always come back and try it another time.  My goal was to wait for both of my boys to be in elementary school and not be paying for preschool anymore before I do National Boards.  It's just a LOT of money and I already have my graduate degree.

Decisions, decisions!

Anyways, I am ready for Kindergarten and our first day back for the 2013-14 school year is Monday the 1st!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Last Day but Not Blue

There is this book called "Last Day Blues" by Julie Danneburg.  In this book it is the last week of school.  The teacher, Mrs. Hartwell and her students all feel the same way about summer vacation, they are all excited but the kids see it as they will miss school and so will the teacher.  It's quite funny to see this perspective and the illustrations in the book are comical.  I read it to my class and we did some activities with it.  Once of the activities was a venn diagram to compare this book to another one of her books called. "First Day Jitters".  In this book, it is Mrs. Hartwell being nervous about the first day of school.  The kids picked up on this and they had a good laugh this morning when we did our venn.  Just by doing this one venn diagram we used ALL of our knowledge we gained from the year... setting of the two stories and even INFERENCING about what season the stories could have taken place.  I found this gem of a packet over on
2nd Grade Snickerdoodles.  

Then after we did some actual learning on the Friday that is the last day of school, we played our games.  It was hard to make teams and I wanted it to be fair, so we picked numbers one through four.  All the ones were a team, two's the same and so on.  Here are some pictures of the games I posted yesterday.  

I had to alter the bean game.  It was WAY too hard to carry a bean with two straws... I tried and tried!  LOL  SO  I added some little counters {I guess that is what they are called} and they had a hole in the middle this time.  

Also, on this last day of school I had a raffle.  I took some things we have made as a whole class {like books and anchor charts} that just pertain to this year and I came up with a number in my head to thirty.  The kids each had a guess my number and the one who guessed my number {or close enough to my number without going over}, won the item.  GREAT way to purge at the end of a school year!  They loved it.  They all wanted the stuff.  

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Procrastination at it's finest!  Report cards are finally done but there is packing to be done.  Is it happening?  Nope... I'm planning for next school year and making last day of school to-do lists for this year still.

Tomorrow is our last day of school and we have a few fun things planned.  We have t-shirts we made, games to be played, special treats to eat, and of course good-byes to be said.  I might just shed a tear over these little ones.

A couple weeks ago we made class tie-dye t-shirts.  They turned out SUPER cute.  I tried to stick with school colors.  Parents came in to help us twist up the shirts and dip into the colors.  A parent volunteered to wash them out and another parent volunteered to iron on our crayola sand paper designs.  I tell you what, THAT was the best decision EVER!  I remember the first year I tie-dyed... myself and my 82 year old grandmother were in my backyard IN the kiddie pool, washing the coloring out of the shirts.  HAHA!!  I have learned so much from trial and error.

Then I planned some games for our last day of school.  Each kiddo made a goodie bag to give away and we will play a "musical chairs" type of game.  They will pass around the goodie bags they made and after a few rounds and the music stops, the bag you get, is the one you can take home.  I made sure they put their names on the bottom so they do not get their own bag.  If you want the send home letter click {here}.  It's an idea a co-worker passed along and our grade level changed it to meet our needs.  The original idea had sweets, etc in it and we decided against it because we had so many food allergies and you just never know.  Better safe than sorry I always say.

Since the classroom is pretty much packed up because of moving grade levels and it IS the last day of school and all, my Daily 5 rounds are OVER!  So to take place of the Daily 5 rounds, we are playing games.  I planned four different games and four to five students will be in teams.  It is almost like my 100th Day of School Survivor Style.    Each team will have a task to complete within a certain amount of time.  What is the  amount of time you ask?  I have not planned that far yet.  I think I'll just wing-it tomorrow.  But I do have the games prepared and ready.  We have Go Fishing, Bean There Done That, Scrambled Breakfast, and There They Blow.  Again, I put this together on the fly after seeing a similar idea.  It's not as cute as others I have seen and I did change the games to meet the needs of my class.  One thing I changed was trying to limit the germs.  We will keep our straws to ourselves and NOT blow in any of the straws.  I am a HUGE germaphobe if I haven't told you yet.  One game I saw had the kids picking up a bean in a straw to get it to the other plate.  I changed that right quick to using straws as chop sticks to lift the bean and get it to the other plate.  There will be no blowing in or out of a straw in this classroom.  OK, I take that back, one of the games is blowing a cup across the floor, but they will do that and then put the straw into the garbage, PRONTO!

Since the germaphobe thing gets in the way, I am trying to figure out what to do if they want a hug tomorrow on the last day.  I have changed over the years about the hugging thing.  I am more of a high-five... with plastic gloves on kinda person now.  :)  I

Saturday, May 18, 2013


That's the big word this year for EOG's.  I am not even in a testing grade and I am feeling the anxiety.  Anxiety for these kids, anxiety for their teachers, anxiety for their parents, and anxiety all around.  I am not sure what it has become like in other states but here in NC, I do believe things are backwards.  VERY backwards. 

As I have heard from friends who teach in testing grades... and from the e-mails that go out to the WHOLE school, you basically cannot breathe this year or there will be a misadministration and the whole class must take the test over.  EOG's this year have been made harder and longer.  You can't even bend down and pick up a paper clip this year or it's test administration! *head desk*

The rest of the school is basically on lock down until testing is over.  Non-testers must eat lunch in our classrooms... no recess... no specials... until testing is over!  The school must be quiet, very quiet. 

I'm also very anxious for my children when they get to that age.  I have SUCH respect for the hard working people in our school having to train everyone, organize and prepare everyone for these exams, AND the teachers in these grade levels.  I'd be a MESS... MESS I tell ya! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

QR Codes

If you don't know what they are by now... well, you are just like me I guess.  I have seen them around at stores and even my dr office.  I had NO idea what in the world they were for.  Then I found out they could be used in the classroom along with ipads or smart phones.  SO VERY COOL!!!

The other day we had a small workshop all about QR Codes at school.  So on Monday, I came into school right away and created some QR Codes to go along with out high frequency words of the week.  I placed them around the room and the kids had to hunt for them with the ipads.  There were nine altogether and the they had to find all nine words to put them alphabetical order.

Cool, right??  I am in the middle of creating math story problems on QR Codes and then the kiddos will have to solve the math problems they find.  I am way excited about this.  You can also encode youtube videos into the QR Codes.

Too bad it's the end of the school year.  There is so much I want to do with this group now.  But alas, I will have to save the fun for next school year now... once I teach the Kinder babies how to use them.

I created my very own QR Code... so grab your smart phone/ipad/whatever with a scanner and get the Scan app.  Then scan my code and click FOLLOW. *big smiles*

I used to make my code. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Good-Bye First Grade

The announcement was made last week about certain changes happening for next school year.  ALREADY,  planning for next school year.  Us year rounders start pretty early. We're moving on and not looking back!  Ok, that's not all entirely true but that is how I am feeling right at this moment. 

My news is saying good-bye to first grade and hello to Kindergarten!  It has been a while since I have taught Kinder and I am actually excited about it.  I think I needed a change and this may be what it is.  The dynamics of a Kinder classroom is a lot different than that of a first grade classroom but it should all come back to me once I jump on in. 

I've already begun making lists... MY FAVORITE thing to do.  There are lists for:

*items needed for centers
*how many tables and chairs are needed
*what to put in my reading and writing centers
*wish lists for parents
*new games and manipulatives I want
*projects I want to do with the new babies
*songs I used to remember singing
*sign language I used to use
*rules that need to be taught
{Let's not forget the most important thing...}
*WHAT I am going to teach them

The lists could go on but I'll stop there.  There's just so much running through my head.  But first, I need to end this school year, send my firsties off to second grade, and then move classrooms {NOT on my list but don't tell the other teacher who is moving into my classroom that I said that}. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Where Oh Where Did My Time Go?

**Note- the documents I had uploaded over the weekend were removed.  The links would not work correctly.  If you would like a copy of any of them, just send me an e-mail and I will get them to you.**

It's been a long time since I blogged on here.  This year I lost the yearning to write about my days in school.  I tell you though, this blog still came in handy when I couldn't remember some things from the 2011-12 school year.  Common Core has kicked my butt this year.  There are so many new things I have added {and removed}from my lessons.

As a grade level, some of us took an area and made pacing guides, common assessments, intervention notebooks, data notebooks, and profile cards.  We recreated the wheel this year folks!  Ok, maybe that is being dramatic but that is exactly what it feels like.

The last part of each profile card is what went home in data notebooks with the kids.  They are "I Can" statements that the kids and families will understand instead of using the common core language.  We have created these for all four quarters.  Also, pacing guides have been created for literacy and math.

For the 2013-14 school year, the pacing guides have already been completed as well, thanks to an AMAZING team member.  Now we have added the Letterland component for first grade.

Next school year is going to be tricky for me as it's going to hold some new adventures.  One of them, I can't quite talk about yet, although many people already know.  The second one, is I am going to begin working on my National Boards.  I am hoping I am not biting off more than I can chew but I think I can make it happen.  I am waiting for just one school year where I can find my "zen".

A certain saying comes to mind...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

We Survived 100 Days of School

Today was our 100th Day of School and I am very sure the kiddos will be sleeping well tonight... including ME!  All day long we had a lot of moving, playing, and thinking.  This year Ms. B {the teacher across the hall from me} and I did the 100th Day a whole new way.

This is the most fun I have had in a long time with the 100th Day.  She found the idea of doing "Survivor Style"... like the show Survivor.  Some of the ideas came from the wonderful web site Teachers Pay Teachers.  Thank you Lesson Plan SOS Divas!!  We had formed "tribes" and they had to come up with their own tribe name and make a poster.  We did this the day before because it took a while to prepare.  They were so CUTE!!

Tribe Names: The Frogs, The Jaguars, Cheetah Racers, and The Great White Seagulls
I also decorated the room at the beginning of the week to set the mood and make it feel like that we were in the rain forest or on an island somewhere.

This morning when they came in we made our headbands.  They were silly looking but they loved them.  They each had 10 strips with 10 designs on them to equal 100.  Then we went to our Safari mural in the school for a class picture before all the festivities started.

The first challenge was where the tribes had to give toppings to their ice cream sundaes.  We had 5 toppings and each tribe member had to come and grab 20 of each topping.  There were cherries, whipped cream, bananas, nuts, and sprinkles.  The challenge was that only ONE tribe member could come to the center and get a topping.  Each member after that would do the same and no one was allowed to glue their toppings on until ALL the toppings were collected.  The first team to glue them on and have them stick, wins!

The second challenge was a link chain.  The tribes had to follow the same format by grabbing 20 strips at a time and then they could stick them together to make their chain link..  First tribe to get all 100 links, wins!

The last two challenges were a marshmallow hunt and a roll the dice until you get 100!  The marshmallow hunt was where I hid 100 mallows around the room.  They had to search for them by walk on their knees.  I stopped my timer every 100 seconds, they returned to their base, and counted how many they had so far on their 100 boards.  I am not sure how this happened but we got through 3 rounds of that and we had 99 marshmallows altogether.  Then on the search for that last one... someone found 3!  HUH?!  After that we added again because I was thinking maybe I hid over 100.  But no, there were then 96!  I call SHENANIGANS!!  Someone was either hiding, taking, or splitting those mallows in half just to add more to their board.  I guess I'll never find out.

Anyways, the final challenge was just a low key, simple game.  Roll the die, count how many, and color until you reach 100.

I bet you are wondering where we kept score.  To make it even more Survivor-ish, I made torches for each team and we kept a tally system.  Of course I forgot to get the end picture with the winning team but this is a before shot.

We ended up having a tie breaker because 3 teams ended up having the same score.  So the tie breaker was to guess where they would end up if they took 100 steps and walk those steps to find out if they were accurate.  Neither of them were correct and so we went with the closest one.  I was about done at that point!

I'm BEAT!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Random Happenings and Thoughts

It's been a while since I have blogged about anything on here.  This year has been long  {I blame it on Common Core and new school hours}but we are almost complete for 2012-2013.  My first graders are now a little over half way to second grade.  I love to blog about what we do in class and how things are going but this year has been struggle to just sit down and write about it.  I know next year will be better after having been through the Common Core already... at least I hope so.

The one thing I feel like is going well this year is the writing.  I've fully gone back to Lucy Caulkins and I am reading through her adaptations of Writing Workshop with the Common Core component.  Get it for your grade level if you can.  It really lays out month by month which genre of writing you should do.  We have been through personal narratives, opinion & persuasive writing, how-to's, and now we are in to authors as mentors. I just finished up an author study on Laura Numeroff with my class.  Overall, the kids did a good job at writing like her.

This upcoming week we will hit our 100th day!  We are planning on celebrating "Survival Style".  There will be tribes and challenges throughout the day.  No one will be voted off the island but we will have a prize for the winning-est {is that a word?}team at the end.  This idea came from my former track mate, who is a ninja by the way, and another blogger out there who so kindly put her unit up on Teachers Pay Teachers.  We are going full on vines hanging from the doorway & in the classrooms, jungle animals, and even creating group/tribe flags.  Can't WAIT!!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Flash Drive Giveaway!

Holy cow it seems to good to be true!  This give away will have a ton of resources.  I needed to make a blog post about this just to enter the contest!  WHY would I want to tell everyone about this if I WANT to win?! But it's what they asked me to so here it is.  Follow this link to enter the contest as well.  May the best person win!