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Fun End Of The School Year Activities

Hi everyone! Two days ago was my last day of school! I can't believe that I just finished up my 7th year teaching. It's crazy how it flies by so quickly. 

I had my baby, William, at the beginning of March. I decided to take off ten weeks to be with him, which meant that I only came back of the last 8 1/2 days of school. Today, I want to share some of the activities that we did. I don't have pictures for many of the activities unfortunately because #mommybrain failed me. 

1. First Grade Is Sweet! Craft: 

We made this adorable, sweet craft! Each ice cream scoop has a different prompt to write about first grade. They loved it. Next year, I want to bring in ice cream on the day we do this craft. I love how unique and different they can look, just by the order they put the ice cream scoops in. I told my kids they had to pick at least 3 scoops, but they could pick more if they wanted to. Some kids wanted to choose all of them of course! These pictures are really from my teammate's room and his students' ice cream cones because I forgot to take pictures of my own class (insert eye roll emoji here). 

2. Reader's Theater:

I bought readers theater plays from A Teeny Tiny Teacher that you can find here and here. My kids made settings (just with blank anchor chart paper) and props out of construction paper. I loved seeing how excited they were about these plays! I think I will definitely have to invest in more for the school year! They practiced every day and then performed for the class. Adorable!

3. Candy Awards:

I do candy awards every year, but I decided to switch it up this school year and purchased these from The Creative Classroom. I usually have to visit 3 or 4 different stores to find all the candy, but this year I was able to knock it all out at 2 so I call that a success! Candy Awards are definitely one of my favorite things about the end of the year. I love to roll out the red carpet (red butcher paper) and have kids walk up and down to get their candy and "show off" to all their friends. They love it too!

4. End Of Year Interviews: I didn't get a picture of these this year, which makes me so sad. We interviewed one of the second grade classes to tell us all about what to expect in second grade. You can read more about my end of year interviews here

5.  Compliment Cards:

I dropped the ball on yearbook signing this year. So, one night this week I quickly typed up each kids name on a piece of paper with a cute little border. Then, the next day I had them decorate their names. We all sat in a big circle in our room with these on a clipboard. Then, we passed them around for each student to write a compliment (and I did too of course!). My two favorites on mine are "You have long hair" and "I will not forgive you" (which according to this student was supposed to be "I will not forget you" {hahahaha}). My class really enjoyed this activity. I really enjoyed it because 1. it made me feel better about forgetting yearbook autographs and 2. We did this the morning of field day when they were crazy very excited and this was very calming. 

I also passed out these cutie patootie end of year gifts. I snagged these bubble necklaces at the Target Dollar Spot literally the hour they put them out! If you did too, you can grab the tags for free here

And, just like that... it's a wrap!

Find more activities for the end of the year on my pinterest board!

End Of School Year Student Tags

Did you happen to grab up the cute pizza and donut bubbles in the Target Dollar Spot this year?! I gave them out as student gifts on the last day of school! You can grab the free tags to go with them here! Or click on the picture above! Enjoy!!

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Teaching Informative Writing

Ahh, informative writing! Writing is one of my favorite times of the school day and I absolutely love teaching informative writing. One reason it's one of my favorites is because first graders absolutely love to learn facts about real things. They also love to share what they learned too. I also find this writing easier to teach than narrative or opinion writing, but that might just be me. 

My firsties really love animals. They love to learn about animals, look at pictures about animals, etc. So, here's how I taught them informative writing this year: 

First, I exposed them to the many nonfiction texts in our classroom. They've had access to these texts all year long, but we have never really talked about them. They explored ocean books, bug books, dinosaur books, etc. They were filled with pure excitement and joy when looking through these books. 

We discussed nonfiction writing and how the author is an expert or becomes an expert on a particular topic... So much that they can write about it. Here's the anchor chart we created:

It cracks me up what some of my kids came up with. As you see, Blake is an expert on his brother whining a lot ;)

The next day, we discussed how we may all be experts on different things, but there's two things we are all experts on: our school and our classroom. My mini lessons for this unit focused on our school and when my mini lesson was over, my students wrote about their classroom. I taught them what Four Square notes are and we took notes on our school and then I sent them off to take notes on our classroom.

Did you notice this little sweetie wrote "and it's filled with love."?! All the heart eyes for this girl!

Then, we used our four square to create our graphic organizer and our stories!

After this week, we did a group informative writing piece on polar bears. I modeled and my firsties did all the pieces with me. Then, they wrote their stories on their own, using the graphic organizer. 

The following week, they got to choose from four different animals: sloth, great white shark, meerkat, and cheetah. They went through the whole process by themselves, with guidance from me. 

Here's a closer look at what's included in the informative writing unit! My first graders absolutely loved it! Click on any of the pictures to take you to the resource. 

How do you teach informative writing?

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Valentine's Day Favorites

Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday to celebrate with my first graders! Outside of school, it's meh. My husband and I usually do something small, but celebrating with kids is just so much fun!

Today, I'm going to show you the goodies I picked up from Oriental Trading. I picked up some treats to give them on Valentine's Day, like these personalized pencils. I can't wait for them to get these. I know they will totally eat them up. I can already hear it, "Mrs. G, this says your name!" Plus, I'm a sucker for anything personalized and fun. 

 I also got them these chocolate bar pencil sharpeners and chocolate bar notepads. I grabbed up the sharpeners because I don't sharpen "fancy" pencils in my nice, fancy sharpener because whenever I do that, that's when the sharpener begins to break! So, yellow pencils only in my nice, fancy, teacher sharpener! Also, I wanted to get them something this year that wasn't candy and I think these will still do the trick since they're sweet ;) My kids absolutely love to write and always seem to go crazy for notepads that are their own!

The sharpeners also have an eraser inside! So convenient, I love it!

I also have these stampers that we are going to use at our writing center. It would be really fun to use these as a math center with ten frames too. My kids love stamps so I know they will be excited to use these again and again again!

Grab the free Valentine's cards here! Or click on the picture below!

(Fonts are from A Perfect Blend)

What do you like to give your students for Valentine's Day?

*I was provided these products from Oriental Trading for review purposes, but all opinions expressed are mine.

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The Best Way To Start Guided Reading

I love teaching guided reading. I really do. 

I hate planning guided reading. I'm not super about it either. 

So, that's why I like starting guided reading the exact same way every time. Having the same thing planned every time means that the first 3-4 minutes of guided reading is boom.done.dontthinkaboutit.

Every time we begin guided reading... And it doesn't even matter which group I'm calling... We play "Pop The Balloon!". "Pop The Balloon" is a quick game in which each student in you group has a balloon card. He/she begins at the bottom and reads each sound or word correctly. If he/she makes a mistake or needs help, he/she has to go back to the bottom and start over. Whenever they reach the top, they pop the balloon! My kids like to clap and go "POP" at the same time when they reach the top. This "game" is a game for a child to do independently. It's not a game they play with the group, although the entire group is doing it. During this time, I listen to each child read his/her card around the table. Sometimes, I give them a new card. Sometimes, I don't.

Here's a video of one my firsties reading sounds to pop the balloon:


There are 8 packs total for this fun little game, which makes it easy for me to differentiate between groups. I know exactly which skill to pull for the group, depending on their needs. Plus, since this is something we do everyday, no need to explain rules or expectations. Win win!

You can find the "Pop The Balloon" cards by clicking any of the photos below!

I love starting guided reading this way! How do you start guided reading?

UPDATE: Since this post, I've created Pop The Balloon! cards for sight words and addition facts. You can find them by clicking the pictures below!

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Christmas Gift Tags

Hi everyone! I posted this picture on my Instagram account earlier this morning when I was wrapping books for my kids for their Christmas gifts. I got them Santa Duck from Scholastic for just $1 each. I love getting my kids books every year and Scholastic makes it possible by always offering books for $1. Anyway, since I got such a great response, I decided to add these on my blog for you for free! There's two options: "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays"! 

Click the picture below to grab them!

Click here to grab these editable tags for free! 

Merry Christmas!

Classroom Cornucopia

Do you celebrate Friendsgiving? This year I am having a virtual Thanksgiving Potluck with some of my teacher besties! We have so much to be thankful for, and we wanted share our blessing with you!
We created a FREE Classroom Cornucopia of our best selling resources! These are some of our favorite classroom creations that can be used throughout the year. Here's a taste of everything we shared in our Cornucopia...

Emily from Polka Dots Please shared a Tooth Word Bank that can be used for writing folders, anchor charts, or a creative writing center. There are pictures to match every word so little writers feel inspired and supported! (This is a BONUS word bank that is not included in the original set!)

Alisha from Missing Tooth Grins shared Winter Main Idea Passages. These main idea passages are designed for the winter months and help your students understand and practice telling the main idea and supporting details from a short passage. They are consistent, easy to use, and require no prep!

Jessica from Mrs. Stanford's Class shared Post It Note Reminders! These easy to use sticky note reminders are a great way to keep notes home consistent in your classroom. All you need to do is print the template, stick the post its, and print again. Have them stocked up in your drawer for your next writing checklist! Parents and students will love the consistency these checklists can bring to your classroom! Teachers will love the convenience! 

Katie from Simply Creative Teaching shared Place Value Exit Slips from her Math Exit Slips for every Common Core math standard! You can grab exit slips for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade! They are designed to be completed in 5 minutes or less and there are 4 to a page for quick and easy printing. 
Kelly from Sweet Sounds of Kindergarten shared Kindergarten Reading Comprehension Stories that are so much fun for emergent readers! Students read a text with CVC words and sight words while using the tracking dots to point to the words as they read. Students color a star or symbol at the top of the page each time they read. Four comprehension questions are included (multiple choice and fill in the blank). Additional practice is included on the bottom of the page with CVC words or seasonal vocabulary.

Diane from One Giggle At a Time shared her best selling Joke of the Day Set! It's her favorite part of every school day, and it has been rated by her firsties on the Top Ten List of Bests in her classroom for years! Every day of the school year, her class starts the day with a joke, a fact, and a question to ponder together. It is a great way to join together to share some giggles, some deep thinking, and a little each other. Joke of The Day set includes daily cards that can be printed out or a Smartboard version that can be displayed on the screen each morning as the students come in. 

Amber from A Smiling Teacher shared Editable Sight Word Lists! 
They make it easy for teachers to differentiate sight word and spelling practice while giving your students choice! The pack includes 15 word work activities that require little to no prep and can be used with any spelling or sight word list! Students loves the variety of choices and teachers love that students are working on words that are just right for them! EDITABLE word lists are included and make it easy to personalize learning! 

Elyse from A is for Apples shared differentiated reading logs! They are the perfect way to hold students and parents accountable for reading at home while also making it fun! Students color in a picture every time they read a book, and you can choose from over 20 recording pages to meet the needs of all your learners!

Gina from Teaching with Heart shared Work on Writing. You can easily create ENGAGING and MEANINGFUL writing center activities for your kindergarteners or first graders! The pack includes lots of activities so you and differentiate and scaffold to meet the needs of your students!

We are so thankful this year and happy to share our Classroom Cornucopia with you! You can download the whole 43 page pack here or click on the picture below! Happy Thanksgiving Friends!

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