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Our Writing Center

Hi everyone! 

I am so excited to talk to you about our writing center today! 

During our reading rotations, I use something very similar to the Daily 5 rotations. I don't follow the Daily 5, but I really like the 5 different groupings and so I use them during guided reading. The five groupings are: Read To Self, Read To Someone, Listen To Reading, Word Work, and Work On Writing. 

I've struggled with the Work On Writing center for awhile. At first, my kids picked a prompt from my prompt jar that I made during my first year of teaching... Before I knew about TPT and I had actually typed out every prompt and then cut and glued each prompt on a piece of paper and then laminated that paper and then cut the prompts out. A lot of work went into those prompts. 

The prompts were great, but then I started thinking about how great it would be if this center reinforced the standards that I teach my kids throughout the year. Unfortunately, with such a big emphases on reading and math, writing gets pushed back a lot (which makes me sad because writing is my favorite). I still wanted them to have the chance to do creative writing, but also wanted to give them the option to practice what we are learning in class.

Our writing station has 8 different options. We practiced one option a day before diving into this center. 

The 8 different options are:
1. Writing Prompts:

2. Book Reviews

3. Lists

4. Eenie Meenie Miney Mo Opinion Writing

5. Picture This:

6. How To Stories

7. Informative Writing- KWL Charts & Research Writing

8. Story Starters

9. Notecards

I've been asked about organization... And let me tell you... It took a lot for me to figure out how to organize all these papers! So, here's some commonly asked questions and I hope my answers are helpful to you!

How do you organize the papers every month?

I bought this rainbow cart from Michaels. I made labels for each drawer. When I took this photo, I didn't have a label for notecards because I ruined it when putting them on there (insert face palm here). However, I have all the labels now ;) If you want these labels, you can get them here or you can click on the picture above.

Do you print all the papers for every week?

Nope. I pick one from each type of writing and print them and put them in the drawers.

How do your organize the materials after the month is over?

I bought these bins from Amazon (affiliate link) to store each month in. They're the perfect size to hold all the writing prompts, story starters, signs, and extra pages that weren't used.

If you're interested in the writing center, click the picture below! It includes writing centers for every month August-May!

That's how we use our writing center! If you have any questions, let me know and I would be happy to answer them!

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Donut You Love Back To School Time?

School has started and I am so excited to share my classroom with you all! If you've been following me for awhile, then you probably remember that I decorate my classroom as a "sweet shoppe" for my firsties. 

Oriental Trading has a full line of donut party supplies. I knew once I saw these that they were perfect for my sweet shoppe classroom.
*There are links to Oriental Trading where I received some of these items from*

First off, here's my door! You can find the donut garland here. I made the letters with my Silhouette Cameo. That thing has seriously saved me every back to school season. I just cut the "sprinkles" myself with my paper cutter. 

Across from my door is this fun directional sign, which matches my classroom perfectly! Donut you think so? ;) You can find the sign here

Here's a view of my classroom from my kidney table. The hanging donut swirls can by found here.

Here's a glimpse of what I left on my kids' desks for Back To School Night. You can find the cute donut lollipop here! The back to school night brochure is from Simply Creative Teaching and can be found here. You can find my QR code tag here.  

I also picked up a few other fun donut items for my classroom from Oriental Trading (but haven't taken a picture yet). I am handing out these cute notepads and pencils for birthdays. I also have this treat stand that I want to use for my leaders of the week table (more on that soon). 

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

Read To Your Class Before The First Day Of School

Hi everyone!

Last year, I posted a photo on Instagram that got a lot of attention and I said I would do a blog post to explain how I did it. Well, I was pregnant and forgot #realtalk. So, I'm here to explain it all today!

I found this book at Target and decided I wanted to record myself reading it, assign it to a QR code, and then the kids could watch it the night before first grade. I didn't put my face on the video, but you totally could if that's your thing. It's just not my style. 

Anyway, I wanted to do this because it made me feel like I was building relationships with my kids before school even started. They weren't seeing my face, but they were hearing me read a book to them to get them ready for the day. It was my way of saying, "Hey, I'm excited for tomorrow and I hope you are too." It was my hope that by doing this it would ease some first day jitters and make them excited (or more excited) to come to my our classroom the next day.

And here's the one I'm reading this year! I decided to switch it up a bit. 

Let me tell you first and foremost, the kids absolutely loved it. It took me probably 30 minutes tops to do everything I'm about to explain... Maybe a little longer since I had never done anything like this before.

Bare with me. I really hope I can explain this well.

1. Record yourself. I recorded it on my phone. Now, I highly recommend having a tripod set up (thank goodness I bought one on Prime Day this year!) because I had to record this nearly 5 million times because I kept dropping my phone #facepalm. 

2. Send your video to yourself. I just emailed it to myself. I'm sure you can upload it straight to YouTube from your phone, but I feel more comfortable doing things on a computer. 

3. Download your video from your email or however you sent it to yourself. 

4. Go to YouTube. Make sure you have an account set up. If you don't, then create one! I have this set up under my school account. I highly recommend setting up one that is just for school, if you don't have one. 

5. Click on the little arrow to upload. If you hover over this arrow, it will say "upload". Click on the dropdown to change how you want your privacy. I have mine as "Unlisted". I believe that means you can share the URL, but people can't find it (but I could be wrong?! Am I? I don't think I am....?!) and I don't want a bunch of randos' (that's my fancy term for random people) finding my video. 

6. Create your QR code! Click here for a free qr code generator. Copy and paste the youtube link into the QR code generator. Then, a QR code will appear that you can download!

7. Once you have your QR code downloaded, you can add it to a tag for you kids! I have my example below. I created it in powerpoint (because that's what easiest for me) and inserted the QR code as a picture. 

8. Print your tags! I left them on each student's desk with all the back to school paperwork. 

I have these tags available for you to make it a little easier! All you have to do is add your QR code to the tag! Click the picture below to see them ;)

It seems like a lot of steps, but it's really not that bad! What took me the longest was recording myself reading the book! Good luck and I hope your kids love it!

Looking for more back to school ideas?

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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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