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Friday, July 29, 2011

Attention Borders Shoppers!!

I know that nothing really beats a Scholastic book sale, however, since I had a Border's gift card, I decided to do some shopping there.   With the Borders stores closing, they are having liquidation sales.    I initially started shopping online but didn't care to pay for all of the extra shipping fees.  That being the case, I took to the store.  This ended up being a smart decision as there were certainly more sales.  Right now, it appears that most items are about 20% off. While this will only grow to a greater discount in the next couple of weeks, the selection will dwindle.  As it was, the majority of their paperback picture books were pretty much gone.  There were a few here and there, however, the two full shelves of children's books -at the Borders I went to- were pretty much hardcover.  Even still, I got some great deals on a few hardcover books.

All in all, I left there with 8 books for $48.   I didn't pay more than 7 dollars for any of the books.  I of course had two gift cards to help cover the cost, however, I still think it was a pretty productive trip to the store!

Books Purchased:

It Looked Like Spilt Milk- I've been wanting this book to use with our clouds discussion during our weather unit.  Our school library doesn't have it!

First Day Jitters- Cute story about the main character waking up on the first day of school, very nervous to go and face everyone!  It turns out that the main character is in fact the teacher! I thought this would be a nice story to share on the first day!

Once I Ate A Pie- Very cute story, which is told by different dogs.  Each page is devoted to a different dog.  They share their name and a little about their life- their favorite foods, how the feel, what they like to do, etc.  I thought this would be a great story to use when teaching point of view.  Also, it is perfect for my mini-unit on dogs.

The Grandma Book & The Grandpa Book- These two books are short and sweet.  They have simple sentences on each page, describing Grandmas and Grandpas. For example, "Some grandpas live with grandmas. Some grandpas live with their friends."  I purchased these two books to incorporate into my Writers Workshop time.  We are going to have one WW unit devoted to writing "research" projects about things that we know - no real research necessary.  I thought that the simple patterns in these stories might inspire and motivate my kiddos.

Other Goose- This is a cute nursery rhyme book, with original rhymes transformed! Instead of rhymes by Mother Goose, these are the original rhymes interpreted by, Other Goose.  I've been talking with one of my colleagues about working on a nursery rhyme unit.  I couldn't resist purchasing this one to add to our collection.

Pickles To Pittsburgh- This is the coveted sequel to Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.  I couldn't resist adding this one to my library.  The students have always loved the original.  In this book, the little boy has a dream about the citizens of Chewandswallow coming back to start a company where they ship all of the deposited food products to other places around the world, hence, "Pickles to Pittsburgh".

Good Sports- This is a poem book.  It is devoted to children sharing poems about what it feels like to participate in various sports.  I'm planning on trying more with poetry this year and felt that this might be a good inspiration for some of my more athletic students!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

FROG-tastic Behavior Plan

     So.... once again, one of my favorite blogs has done it again! Clutter Free Classroom (see the link on the side of my page) posted a behavior plan that they had recently implemented. Knowing that I wanted to change my "apple" plan, I thought I would give it a try.  

  So often I find that I am reprimanding the "troublemakers" and not doing enough for the role models.  I did change that up a little this past year.  I created a "Quiet Cop"  for each month. I  picked one of my wonderful role models and gave her/him a special little notebook. Each day I gave her the job of writing down 10 people she noticed were being amazing role models.  She had the power to erase the names if she felt they were acting up later in the day.  The students had no idea whether they were in the notebook or not until the end of the day when the Quiet Cop gave her report.  At that time, she passed out two stickers (for their sticker chart) to each person who had their name on her sheet.  This worked fairly well.  The only issue I found was that some of the students chose to put their friends on the list consistently.  I also added positive role models to my BINGO board for raffles at the end of the year!

  I digress.  Anyway, along the same lines of keeping those role models rewarded, I found this new behavior plan on the Clutter Free Classroom blog.  I think that it will have be positive!   If you are interested in the frog related behavior plan, leave a comment with your email address and I can send you what I've made. 

 I changed it up so that it worked with my frog theme.  I created large frogs with each level on them.

Tired of boring old seats?!?

If you aren't exploring other teachers' blogs, you are depriving yourself! In "blog stalking", I came across these awesome little chairs. I originally found the picture on The Clutter Free Classroom blog. Inspired, I ran to the stores the next day and made some of my own: 

I started my shopping at Big Lots! There they had similar seats like these, however, the more expensive version (each were $18). Not wanting to pay around $120 bucks for 6 of them, I kept looking.  I then found these crates for $3 each.  After Big Lots, I moved onwards to JoAnn's where I used my teaching discount card to purchase the lily pad fabric (as I am doing a frog theme). It was already on clearance but I got an additional 15% off with my card. I think the fabric was about $10.  I also grabbed some of the stuffing while I was there ($4).  Lastly, I ran to Home Depot and bought one sheet of plywood ($5).  I brought in one of the crates and asked one of the employees to cut the plywood down to fit the top of the crate.  With all my goodies purchased, I went home, pulled out a staple gun, and got to work.  I couldn't be happier with them.  

I plan to use these around my guided reading table.  In each crate I am going to store items related to our guided reading session (i.e., dry erase boards and markers, highlight tape, post its, etc.).  I'm excited to try them out!!

F.R.O.G. Binders

As is the case with me, I have grown tired with my stars theme and decided to switch it up for this upcoming year.  After finding some cute frog die cuts, I decided it would be frogs!   I've found a bunch of great frog products, including a jobs bulletin board and birthday bulletin board set.  In addition to purchasing frog related items, I found a great way to incorporate frogs into my nightly take home binder.

  For the past two years, my students have taken home a binder which contained their homework, a note section, a reading log, and a poetry section.  In searching the web, I found a teacher (Mrs. Eby- thank you!) who also has a take home binder, yet refers to it as her F.R.O.G. binder- or Fully Responsible Organized and Growing Binder. Mrs. Eby provided some wonderful resources including labels and a binder description sheet.  I took her binder description page and modified it slightly to accommodate my classroom expectations.  You can view my updated description page HERE.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Computer Clutter

   While perusing the wonderful Clutter Free Classroom Blog , I found this one particularly interesting post regarding computer center clutter.  They suggest using the little plastic fasteners on loaves of bread to separate your cords in the back of your computer.  You can even label each one with a Sharpie.
   While I loved that idea, my ultimate favorite was the 3-D keyboard made of take out containers.  I don't know about you but my first grade kiddos have a difficult time remembering where the keys on the keyboard are located.  Last year  I took a picture of one of the keyboards in our computer lab and printed it out.  I then used contact paper to attach each keyboard to the top of the student desks in my room.  When I introduced a new sight word, we practiced typing it on the keyboard.  Good idea, right? Wrong.  The kids picked (some of them, incessantly) at the contact paper, causing it to roll and tear.  Once the seal was broken, any spills immediately destroyed the picture of the keyboard.

   Long story short, I love this 3-D model for the room.  I do think I need to tweak it though as I don't have that much space on any of my walls.  Any suggestions for a smaller inexpensive item that could be  used instead of take out containers?? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Wow! I left my class in June knowing that I wanted to change things up for the next school year.  I am not the type of teacher who has the same lessons, laminated, using them religiously every year!  That being said, not only did I decide I was going to change the way I instruct, I also thought it would be an awesome idea to change my classroom theme from stars to frogs.  

  With all of these changes in my mind, I hit the Internet for some great ideas.  I have to admit that I have been on the computer almost ALL day (with exception to going to the gym and Target). Being that it is insanely humid out, staying inside my air-conditioned house isn't that bad! Long story short, I started looking for different literacy station ideas, which eventually led me to a couple of blogs.  Reading the blogs of these outstanding first grade teachers made me feel severely disappointed in myself for neglecting my blog.  I go through those same feelings with Twitter sometimes.  There are weeks where I spend time checking my Twitter account, and weeks where I don't even log in (or open the app on my phone).

  In one blog I read about Linky parties.  Not quite sure what they are but I have a feeling it is another way to connect with fellow teachers.  Anyone know what a linky party is? 

 Also, I want a blog button! How do you make those? Any tips?!?