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. 



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!

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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:

video


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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