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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