Weekend Reflections: Maps, Counting Activities, and Data Organization

Hello there!  I hope you are all having a great Sunday.  In my classroom this week, our focus was on maps.  My kids loved having the chance to get their hands on real maps, and different texts featuring maps.  Since a map is such an abstract concept to a child, I thought I might try Angie Neal's Me on the Map Craftivity from her "Me on the Map" Literacy Packet.

I thought it would be fun to make a flip book, so I just hole punched the top, and put a ring around it. My kids were thrilled to take this little craft home.  I know this activity will further their learning because they were having "aha" moments in class and I know they will be asking more questions at home.  


The finished product!  These were absolutely stunning and so fun to make.  Be sure to budget your time with this activity.  I had my kids cut out the pieces as an early finisher on Thursday, and then for our Fun Friday activity, we put them together.  


I introduced my kids to counting with the 120 chart this week during calendar time.  We always count to 100, but this week, I decided to change it up and actually let them put their fingers on the numbers as we counted.  This "hands-on" strategy will really help them with their number sense in the long run.  The best thing about this chart is that it is free from Ship Shape First Grade! Click on the picture or the this link to find out more!


Just like emergent readers need to track their print, I believe that all children should point to the number we are on.  This holds both the student and myself accountable.  This way, I can see the kids are getting it, and the kids that are not. 


As we count, I have found Harry Kindergarten's videos to be so fun and interactive.  The Counting Superhero Video can be found on YouTube.  Be sure to click on the picture below or the link to save it as a favorite for your students.



I am always looking for ways to assess my kids on their understanding of the weekly skills.  I decided to organize the Common Core assessments I use by binding them all together so I can easily find the skills I need for the week when I do my weekly copying.  I am currently using my 2nd Grade Common Core Assessments for Language and Math.  These have worked very well for my higher kiddos this year.




I hope you enjoyed this blog post! If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to stay posted with fabulous freebies and ideas!

Stay tuned next week for another jam packed post of ideas for your students! Free free to post any links or ideas you used in your classroom this week.  Be sure to find more great Weekend Reflections by visiting the Linky Directory hosted by Cyndie from Chalk One Up for the Teacher!


Five Ways to Make your Morning Routine More Meaningful

As the summer draws to a close, I have been reflecting on several things that I could do better in the classroom.  It is nice for me because I started school 5 weeks ago, so I actually have time now to write a little on how I have switched things up in my classroom.  One thing that I always seem to brush off, or put on the back burner is my morning routine.  Previously, my morning routine was satisfactory if my kids were quiet.  Plain and simple! That way, I can take the attendance, check for homework, answer office phone calls and parent messages.  

Life is good right? Until...I decided to change things up! I can still do all those things this year, but I switched up the way I "tackle" our mornings.   I have decided to pin point several things that make our morning a meaningful and special time.



1.  Have a system that works for when your kids come through the door.  Last year,  I used to lay the morning work out on the tables.  This worked great, but I noticed some kids would just sit there because they literally "forgot" what they were supposed to do.  I hold the belief that if a child physically has to grab the paper and pencil and go to their seat, they are more likely to begin working faster.  I just put a table near the door that has morning work, pencils, and anything else they need for the day.  Before the kids come in, I tell them what they need to start their day.




2.  Be strategic on what you give your kids for morning work.  I am not saying you have to plan out your whole year, but don't just give them busy work.   Remember that even if you are only doing morning work for fifteen minutes each day, that is an hour and 15 minutes each week.  That adds up to be about 50 hours each year!  And we all know that 15 minutes spent on morning work is a good day!  I have been using my First Grade Morning Work Bundle this year, and my kids absolutely love it.  It has been very interactive, and I believe this is so important even at the beginning of the year.


3.  Bring the work to life!  Go over morning work together, and make a quick mini-lesson out of it.  I am able to take the roll and write sight words, and step it up a level.  When we check our work, I will have the kids say the word, clap the word, say the word again, and then write the word if they didn't get to it.  If they did get to it, they can write it in the air.  For the math, we do a lot of kinesthetic activities and TPR when counting and going over the math problems.  Whenever possible, I have the kids stand up and move about the room to go over a problem.  This can be as simple as counting to a certain number and having them do pushups or jumping jacks.  If you have time to go over morning work, do it.  It sets the tone for the whole day, and really wakes the kids up!


4.  Go over the schedule for the day.  I always have my kids read it with me so that it is not just me talking.  I make up motions for all the different components of our day.  I will also let the kids know the theme for the week on Monday and I brush over the skills we will be learning in reading and math.  That way, the kids know EXACTLY what they will be doing, and there are no surprises.  I think the kids appreciate this, and their behavior shows throughout the day!



5.  Give your kids a chance to talk.  Let's be honest...they have a lot to say! If you don't give them a chance to talk about whatever it may be when they walk in, rest assured they will try fit it in during instructional time.  I have my tables numbered, so I can tell the kids to take turns and I can have them start and work in a clockwise order.  If you would like to read about how I organize my tables, be sure to visit my blog post on table cards!


I hope you enjoyed this blog post! If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to stay posted with fabulous freebies and ideas!


A Week Jam Packed with Apple Life Cycle Fun!


This week was a week to remember in our classroom!  We had so much fun investigating the Apple Life Cycle Unit.  I was able to completely integrate Reading, Math, Science, and Writing! I used many components of my Apple Life Cycle Unit that I have completely revamped, tested, and revised over and over!  Let me tell you, I am so relieved this is finished and my firsties absolutely loved doing all of the activities.  Be sure to click on any picture or the link to my store to learn more about all the fun stuff you can do with this unit.



To front load and access information on the Apple Life Cycle,  I gave my kids a Mini-Book as our close read for the week.  As we followed the Close Read procedures we have established in my room, I let them try a product of apples...Apple Pie! 


The vocabulary cards were a great discussion and reference point throughout the week.  They also helped to guide my little readers along with their close read! 



In first grade, we are just focusing on basic grammar activities.  At this point in the year, I have chosen to focus on nouns, verbs, common and proper nouns, and adjectives and adverbs. 


The students really liked being able to use words from the Apple Life Cycle Unit.  


For Math, we continued to focus on composing and decomposing numbers using number bonds.  I also had them do some skip counting, tallying, fractions, and patterning activities.  I know that patterns are not in the math section of the Common Core, but I am a little old school and I believe there is much value when kids can recognize and continue a pattern.  


For decomposing larger numbers in the teens, I showed the kids the dot pattern strategy.  They really did well with this, and most kids applied this when doing number bonds on their own.  For the rest, I let them use snap cubes if they needed them.


Not only did my kids have a great time finishing the patterns,  I noticed a lot of them using that tier 3 vocabulary that went along with our Apple Life Cycle Unit.




In our classroom, we love Harry Kindergarten.  When I noticed the kids needed a brain break,  I decided to play them his Add with a Pirate video.


To organize our thoughts and our writing, I made some graphic organizers to help my students solidify their learning.  They really enjoyed being able to write down characteristics of apples while taste testing several types of apples.  






We used our 5 senses to describe characteristics of apples.  I really loved using Kindergarten Lifestyle's Free 5 Senses Mini-Posters.  Click the picture below or this link to her freebie to download!


We also made an Apple Life Cycle Book where we had to identify the different stages.  At the end, I just punched a hole, and put a ring around the pages so the kids can easily flip through the stages of the Apple Life Cycle.  





I just had to save the best for last! My favorite part! Interactive Journal Pages!  My kids were beyond excited and so engaged in this activity.  I have one for the apple life cycle, one for a "recipe" and one for apple vocabulary.  



Just write the vocabulary words under the the flaps of the 8-Fold.


My kids labeled the Apple Life Cycle and wrote the stages of the Apple Life Cycle under the 4-Fold.  



It was really nice to hang this beautiful printable of the Life Cycle of an Apple in my room. This really helped the students with their activities.  


Be sure to click on the link to my store to download this FREE Apple Life Cycle Poster and Graphic Organizer for your kiddos when you teach Apples this fall!




I hope you liked reading about our week with our Apple Life Cycle Unit!  Stay tuned next week for more fun in my classroom!

 If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to stay posted with fabulous freebies and ideas!

Stay tuned next week for another jam packed post of ideas for your students! Free free to post any links or ideas you used in your classroom this week.  Be sure to find more great Weekend Reflections by visiting the Linky Directory hosted by Cyndie from Chalk One Up for the Teacher!


Create A Simple, Easy, and Free Emergency Sub Plan Kit


Hello and welcome to the August Bright Ideas Link-Up.  This month, I have decided to share an easy idea on how to get your emergency sub kit going without taking any more time, money, or energy out of your day!  I don't like to add more things to my plate, and I am always looking for ways to be more efficient.  Utilizing this Sub Plan Kit has taken a lot of stress off my chest because I know that it is there in case anything comes up and I can not be at school.  I know my team members will thank me some day.  


So basically I just used a small filing bin that I only use to build my Emergency Sub Kit and materials I put into it.  I have created a separate tabs for the folders in the kit.  I have included a file for Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies, Class Roster, Daily Schedule, Duty Schedule, and Special Students (allergies, beliefs, behavior or academic concerns, etc).  These should be simple and easily accessible in case you can not come in to put them together. 




I keep my Emergency Sub Kit right next to my weekly activities.  When I don't get to something, or I have things left over for the week, I can quickly throw them in the Emergency Sub Plan Kit.  When the File gets too packed, I can take some of the older activities out and file them.  Doing this ensures that I always have review activities that are easily accessible in case any emergency should arise.  



If I do not have time to come in and make plans, a sub can pull out my daily schedule, grab activities for each subject, and know what to do because I have already included everything they need to know for the day, and it is not overwhelming.  Of course, this is a worst case scenario situation, but things happen!


I hope you enjoyed this month's Bright Ideas blog post! If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to stay posted with fabulous freebies and ideas!

Be sure to visit the Bright Ideas Link-Up below to see more posts from over 150 fabulous educational bloggers.  Thanks for visiting!


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