Letters to Santa

Last week we wrote our letters to Santa!  It was so much fun this year because I'm pretty sure ALL of my Firsties still believe.  Last year was hard because I had a few constantly telling the other that he wasn't real.

The lesson took us 5 days… first we learned about how to write letters using the Smart Board.  He talked about the date, greeting, body, closing, and signature.  Here is a slide from the Notebook File.

After learning and talking about parts of a letter, we used a planning sheet to help us decide what we wanted to tell him.

Then we spent 2 days writing a rough draft together.  Here is a sample:

On the 4th day, we wrote our final copy.  Boy did work hard to make sure that Santa could read their writing.

On the last day, each student made their own Santa!  These are so much fun!  These are the ones that I made as a sample.  When the students made them, I used the black line copies so that they could color, cut, and glue their own.

Traditional Santa

Cooking Santa
Sleeping Santa

Farmer Santa

 Punk Rock Santa

 Summer Santa

We are mailing our letters to Santa tomorrow!  We actually send them over to the Middle School and students each write a letter back.  It's great because it is personalized to each students.

I do have this for sale in my store!  It includes a PDF and a Notebook File for the Smart Board.  **You don't have to have a Smart Board to purchase this product.  It's just nice to project it onto the board.

Here's a little FREEBIE for you for stopping by!  There are 4 different Christmas Cards!  There is a letter writing page that can be printed on the cards if you want it in letter format.  These go great after the students have learned how to write a letter to Santa!


The Ultimate Guided Reading Toolkit Sampler

We are teachers and we know how important reading is for children of all ages!  We want them to enjoy books and build a love for reading.  I have created a product that really gets kids involved in their learning and makes it FUN!  Today, I am sharing a freebie sampler with you from this product.  

The product is called The Ultimate Guided Reading Toolkit.  I would either spend TONS of time planning my Guided Reading Groups OR they would be the last thing I would think of and at the last minute I would throw a lesson together.  I wanted something that had lots of activities to choose from that were already pre made and easily accessible.  I wanted lesson plans that would tell me what I needed to teach to make it easy.  It took me awhile, but I created a product that has over 120 activities that are quick and engaging.  These lessons include Word Work, Reading Strategies, and Comprehension.  I keep all of these activities in a container so that I can easily find what I'm looking for.  

Here is what you will find in the SAMPLER pack freebie!

The first activity is a Reading Strategy Activity that can be used with any A or B leveled book (Fountas and Pinnell leveling system).  It is a simple one-to-one match activity.  This activity should only take a quick few minutes of your Guided Reading Lesson time.  The students point under the colors and say the name of the color while the teacher talks about how we only touch the dot one time and if the color is RED, then we have to say RED. We cannot say BLUE if the color is RED.  This is then related to reading.  The teacher uses the easy sight word sentences to have students match the words one-to-one.  The students cannot say THE if the word is MY for example.

The second activity is a Word Work Activity for any book leveled F-N.  It is an Inflectional Endings Activity (-ed, -ing).  Before reading the new book for the day (that should have some endings in it) the students will take turns spinning the spinners to make words with -ed and -ing endings.  I have the students write to words that were made onto their whiteboards.  Again, this is a quick but FUN and ENGAGING activity that the students love.

The third activity is a Comprehension Activity for any book leveled A-N.  The activity teaches about Character Traits.  The kids use the Character Cards to talk about the characters in the story after reading.  Depending on the level of students, you can use easier or more difficult traits to describe and discuss the characters.


Planning for the Beginning of the Year

WOW!  This week was my first day back with the kiddos!  I'm whooped… You know how you plan so much for that first day and then when it's over you think to yourself… "What in the world am I doing tomorrow???"  Yep, that's where I'm at right now!

I thought I would share with you briefly about how I do my planning.  I use Planbook.  I used it last year for the first time and absolutely LOVED it!  It is extremely customizable and the best part is when you have a sub… it is WONDERFUL!!!  It's very easy to add the extra things that you want to say to a sub by simply typing it into your plans.  Also, many of my routines are in my plans automatically everyday just in case I am not there unexpectedly!

Here is a screen shot of my FIRST DAY basic plans…

Planbook does cost $12.00 a year.  I have purchased it myself and did not receive any compensation or anything for promoting this on my blog.

I am just beginning to get everything into Planbook this year.  There are tons of options and I am just tipping the iceberg here…

The other thing that I wanted to share with you today is planning your Guided Reading Groups.  

It's going to be a good few weeks of teaching routines in my classroom before we get to Guided Reading Groups but it's never to early to start thinking about planning for those groups.  First, I use Fountas and Pinnell Reading Benchmark Data from the end of the students Kindergarten year.  Now, I understand many students either regress or excel over the summer but it still gives me a good idea of where they are at as far as their reading level.  I can easily adjust my groups once I get started.

After I have my "centers" up and running and am ready to start Guided Reading I look at the levels of my kids to start the year.  When I start, I usually just look at their reading level.  After we move throughout the year I continuously change groups depending on level and/or skill.  There was a great post recently on Adventures in Literacy Land Blog by Wendy from Mrs. D's Literacy Lab that talks about grouping students depending on other reading skills in addition to reading level.

I have a Guided Reading Binder that I use for my groups.  

Here are some pics.  There are different very plain planning pages.  All I put on there is what groups I am working with each day and what level book I am using.

My groups are continuously changing throughout the school year so I use velcro on my pages in my binder.  I put each group page in a page protector and put velcro on the page.  I just type up their names (pretty small) and laminate.  I put a velcro dot on the back of their name and they can be easily switched!

Then I keep my Guided Reading Lesson Plans Levels A-Z in the back.  I use alphabet tabs and just put a few copies behind each letter!  EASY!  

And if you are feeling really super crazy and want to be ultra organized… I also have my Ultimate Guided Reading Toolkit.  It has about 400 pages of specific hands-on activities.  The activities can be used with any books (A-N Fountas and Pinnell).  They are not book specific only skill specific!

Now, get ready to FLY AWAY to your next stop!


1st Grade Spelling Through the Year!

All I can say is WOW!  This summer is flying by!  I'm sorry I've been neglecting this little blog but I have really been focusing on creating (and finishing) several projects that I started throughout the year.   I have so many ideas that I would like to share and I hope to be around a little more in the months to come.

With that said,  I just completed a year long 1st Grade Spelling Tests Unit.  In our district we had a system of assessing spelling words that was very differentiated.  Sounds great right?  Well, in theory- yes- but in reality it was very time consuming.  Each student had the same patterned words and then each child had 5 different sight words.  There was a list for the students to progress through.  What did this mean?  Yes- you guessed it!  Each child had to be tested separately with their 5 words each week.  We have a parent helper that usually does this but it takes forever and those calls on Friday morning that they couldn't make it in were not fun.  Then I would be scrambling throughout the entire day trying to give each student their own test.  

So, we have decided to go a different route.  Each week we will assess all of the students on the basic first grade spelling list.  They then will grade their own papers as we go over the words together and practice writing them again.  **I am going to have them put their pencil away and take out a colored pencil or crayon to grade their paper**.  Not that my firsties would ever try to cheat…  I plan to do this on Fridays.  If the child gets a 90% or a 100%, he/she will get the "challenge"(RED) spelling list.  It has the same pattern (example short /a/) words but the words are more difficult.  All other students will get the "basic"(BLUE) list.

I plan to give the tests on Thursdays.  I will give the test to the entire class but the students who are on the "challenge" list will be able to read quietly while the others are writing their words.  After the words, (there are 10 pattern words and 2 sight words) there is also a dictated sentence.  I will read the sentence through once and then read it again word by word and repeat as many times as necessary.  I can then check for capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and neatness.  I plan to finish the "challenge" word kids during my Guided Reading time and call those few students up to my table at one time.

This product contains 30 weeks of tests.  If you are interested in seeing what spelling patterns are covered you can click on any of the pictures above and it is in the product description.  

I'm pretty excited about this! 

Open House Editable Power Point

I'm over at Teaching Blog Round-Up today with a great Open House freebie!


Vacation Checklist

I will be going on vacation soon so I made a checklist of what I need to pack!  I thought I would share today over at Teaching Blog Round Up!  See ya over there!


The Ultimate Guided Reading Toolkit BUNDLED with Guided Reading Lesson Plans GIVEAWAY!!

It's summer here and I thought I would celebrate with a quick and easy GIVEAWAY over at Teachers Notebook.  I am giving away 3 of my Ultimate Guided Reading Toolkit BUNDLED with Guided Reading Lesson Plans (valued at $29).

It's super easy to enter- just click on the picture below (you will need to make sure that you are logged in) and while you're there you can enter all of the other great giveaways!

Good Luck!


Monday- Meet ME!

I am linking up today with the author's from The Teaching Tribune!  It's Monday Meet ME!

Thanks for stopping by and go and check out the others who have joined the Monday Meet Me!

End of the year Final Countdown!

5 more days… that is what we have.  I am jealous of those that are already done but wanted to share a FREEBIE with those that still have many more days. 

I thought I would surprise the other first grade teachers that I work with.  I made myself (and each of them) 5 envelopes to count down the last 5 days.  They have no idea what is in each envelope so it will be a surprise to them as well as the kids when they open them up each day.

They include fun activities for the end of the year.  The activities I chose to include in our envelops are: Read a good book outside, chew gum in class, shoe break (no shoes all day), dance party, and start your behavior clip at the top!

There are 10 choices included in this product and a couple of blank cards so that  you can write your own ideas in if you want.

We will open envelope number 5 today and work our way down!  Click on the pictures to download this FREEBIE!  And, happy end of the year (to everyone who is there/or almost there)!