It's Time

The time is here, now.

It's time to wrap my brain around the new school year.  Sure, there are still 3 weeks before the children walk through the door, but there is much to be done before then.

And so, the first thing I thought I'd need for the new school year is . . .

Of course, a new lunch bag!  Got this one at Sam's Club and it comes with three containers and an ice pack.  Just think of those sliced carrots and dill dip.  Yummy!

And with that lovely little purchase behind me, I'm ready to sink my heart and mind into back to school preparations.  July, the month of healing and relaxation, is past.

Off to school to begin this morning!

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Questions About Math Centers

One of my goals for next year is to begin using math centers. I'd like to make this type of learning a choice for my students in order to gain proficiency in our district's math targets (standards).  I'll call it Target Practice.  Incorporating math centers would be supplemental to using the Everyday Math Program.

My biggest question to anybody who reads this and who does use math centers is:

How do you organize and manage it all?

Here are other questions I have:

  • What does the research say?  
  • What professional books are out there to assist me?  Do you have a favorite?
I'd love any you can send my way.  Thank you so much!

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New Look!

It's here!  Barbara at Ruby Slippers has been diligently working on my new blog look, and here it is!  I wanted a Scottie theme because I've had Scotties in my life for over 35 years.  I love the breed and, well, I guess I'm just a dog lover in general.  I often use my little Tam when I'm writing stories at school (see this post), or when telling stories, or reading books about pets.

Barbara was patient, diligent, dedicated to great a design, and above all incredibly easy to work with.  I would highly recommend her if you are thinking of a new blog look.

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Perfect Timing

Talk about perfect timing.  Today I was reading about everyone's summer purchases at Kristen's Summer Shopping Linky Party.  I thought of my recent online order from MPM School Supplies and I hoped it would arrive soon so that I could join the party.  And then, right then, I heard the UPS truck coming up my driveway!

It was my order!

Here in my neck of the woods in Maine, the one and only teacher store is now closed. I wanted to be able to browse around for something fresh and new for the coming year. After reading Teri's post at A Cupcake for the Teacher, I decided to check out MPM School Supplies, an online store.  What a huge selection! Shopping there was almost as much fun as being in a real store. So here is what came today:

Happy Days!  It doesn't take much to get excited about a new school year. I'll take these items out in August with a big smile!

What are your shopping finds?  Link up at Kristen's Summer Shopping Linky Party!

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School's Out!

It's time to enjoy a welcome summer break.  I hope most of you have finished the year, or are very close to finishing.

At this point, thoughts of the coming school year are floating around in my gray matter, but serious planning will be a goal after I've recovered my equilibrium.  That should be sometime after the 4th.

This summer I'm looking forward to a new blog look by Barbara at Grade ONEderful.  Oh boy!  Stay tuned!

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Word Wall Activities

I love playing around with the Word Wall at this time of the year. Making Your Word Wall More Interactive by Creative Teaching Press is filled with some great games and activities.  I know this sounds like a commercial, but honestly, this book has been one of my best purchases.

Last week we played Flip It Down! and the children just loved it. Great spelling practice!  And next week we'll try the Word Wall Memory activity.  You can always hear a pin drop in the room when they are working with a partner to try to remember as many words from the wall as possible.

There are independent, small group and whole group activities in the book. If you have a minute, check it out.  It's just perfect for this time of the year.

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Retelling Slides

Last year I made these retelling slides.  My students love using them for retelling a story and I can see that the practice has made a difference now that I'm assessing with the DRA2.

I started with a large graphic that I found in Scholastic's Biggie Patterns book.

Next I copied the pattern onto card stock, cut it out and colored it.  A wonderful parent volunteer helped with this.  I made the slides in two formats.  One slide has setting, characters, problem, solution, and the other slide has Beginning, Middle, End.

I have 11 of each type so that in my class of 20 (sometimes up to 22), they can be used during partner reading.  These are easy to make, provide a fun way to practice retelling and the children love using them!

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Spring Books and a Freebie

I love the season of Spring!  The changes seem to happen overnight. We go from stark winter scenery to lovely spring greens and blossoms.

Here are a few of the books we are reading about Spring.

Below are the patterns for our springtime umbrella.  This is an old pattern and I've altered it by adding the sections at the bottom of the umbrella top.  The added sections are where the children can write their favorite spring words.  After writing their words, coloring and cutting it all out, punch a hole in the middle of the umbrella top, and the top of the handle.  Then thread a piece of yarn through the handle and through the hole of the umbrella top.  Tape the umbrella top together.  Cute! To see a picture of a finished umbrella, click here.

I don't know who designed this craft, so if you know the origin of the pattern, please let me know so that I can give credit to the designer. You can read all about our umbrellas at my Spring Umbrellas post.

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Hello New Shelves!

Just brought in a few new shelving units.  Bought these last August at The Christmas Tree Shop and finally got them put together.  If you look closely, you'll notice that there are two units here.  They are supposed to stand vertically, but the horizontal placement really fits the space so well.  Love them!

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Spring Umbrellas

What's hanging in our room?


If it rains in Room 34, we'll be covered, that's for sure!

We read Spring Is Here! by Mary Packard, and discussed the changes that spring brings.  

Then we brainstormed a list of spring words.  The children incorporated their favorite spring words into their umbrellas, and now they hang in our room.  They're colorful and cheery!

These are so cute! The umbrella design is one that I modified years ago, and I hope to post it for you soon.  

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Self-Selected Reading

Today's post on The Nerdy Book Blog is a home run in every way. Mindi, a seventh grade teacher, listed five things she learned about giving her students more freedom in book choice.  She wrote: " When you let kids choose what they read, they will take risks."

How true!  I've never been a fan of leveling children into groups, and of telling children they could not read this or that book because it wasn't at their "level."  Even in the first grade, children need to learn to take risks.  Yes, a book may be too difficult, but if the motivation is there, it may be just the book to spur new growth in the child.  I've seen it happen countless times.

Check out the post.  Inspiration awaits!

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Tamas O

Sandy at Soaring Through Second is hosting a Furry Friends linky party and giveaway.  Here's the perfect opportunity to introduce you to my dear pal, Tamas O'Shanter.

Tam, a Scottish Terrier, is currently 13 years old.  He is a great buddy, my shadow, and he loves to play.

I found the following on the internet years ago.  The author was unknown back then, but if anyone does know who wrote it, please let me know.  If you're a dog lover, you'll love this!

If a dog was your teacher, you would learn things like:

~When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

~Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

~Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

~When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.

~Let others know when they've invaded your territory.

~Take naps and stretch before rising.

~Run, romp and play daily.

~Thrive on attention.

~Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

~On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

~On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree.

~When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

~No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout.
Run right back and make friends.

~Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

~Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.  Stop when you have had enough.

~Be loyal.

~Never pretend to be something you're not.

~If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

~And MOST of all . . . when someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

----Author Unknown

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Diamante Worm Poems

As an extension to our worm unit, we wrote diamante poems about worms.  This is easy, fun, and a nice little writing activity that introduces the children to a different poetry format.

So what is a diamante poem?  It's basically a poem in the shape of a diamond.  Here's how it works.

Line 1:  One noun, the subject of the poem
Line 2:  Two adjectives that describe the noun in line 1
Line 3:  Three participles ending in ing to describe the noun in line 1
Line 4:  One noun, or another way to say the noun in line 1
(We used line 4 to name a worm that we imagined to be a pet.)

Our four line diamante poem is a modified version.  If you'd like more examples check out ReadWriteThink, by clicking on the logo below.

For our lesson, we started with the noun, worm.  Then we brainstormed adjectives and action words ending in ing that described a worm.  Finally, for line 4, I asked the children to imagine that they had a worm as a pet, and to think of a name for their pet worm. Here are a few examples of our poems.

And now it's time for a few more gummy worms!

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Our Earthworm Habitats and a Freebie

Just as fishing season began in the state of Maine, we found ourselves reading Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser and Loretta Krupinski.  We used the text to find specific facts which helped to answer some of the questions we had about worms.  I posted about that here.

Next, after reviewing what a habitat is, and what a worm habitat should contain, we built a worm habitat so that we could observe worms throughout the week.  See Worm Watch to find out how to build a worm habitat.  Just click on the Worm Watch logo below.

We also have an identical habitat without worms in it.  We will observe and compare the two habitats next week.  What will the worms do in their habitat?  Will they change it?  If so, how will they change it?

Just like scientists, we will write about our daily observations in our Earthworm Observation Booklets.  If you'd like a copy of the Boooklet, just click on the picture below to download.  You'll have to photo copy five of the observation pages to the cover page to make a booklet. (Please let me know if you have a problem with the download.)  I hope to add cute wormy graphics to the booklet in the future.

After building the habitat, we ate gummy worms!  

Yummy, Gummy, WORMS!

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Wonderful Worms

Yesterday we went on a fact finding mission after reading Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser and Loretta Krupinski.

This book is a terrific read, especially at this time of the year.  After the children read the book with a partner, they searched through it for certain facts.

To ease them into practicing the skill of fact finding, the children were only required to record the page number on which they found the facts.  Below you will find the fact finding worksheet.  The last question targets inferential thinking.  Click on the picture to download the pdf file.  Please let me know if you have a problem with the download.

Next up, our worm habitat.  Coming soon!

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A Winner!

Congratulations to Andrea at Cheers to School.  Her comment was randomly selected on the Random number generator and she has won the $25 Gift Card to Amazon!

It looks like Andrea might be reaching the magic 100 soon.  Her blog is fabulous, and filled with terrific ideas.  I hope you can check it out.

Thank you all so much for participating.  I appreciate every one of you!  This was a fun way to meet new bloggers and exchange even more ideas across the miles.

Have a great week at school!

Congratulations clip art by Pam's Clipart.
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