Friday, November 29, 2013

Fresh Baked Fractions: A Sweet Math Treat!

Teaching fractions--to first graders?! You heard me correctly. I am always up for a challenge, so when fractions were added to our teaching standards a couple of years ago, I knew I had to get the creative juices flowing. As it turns out, the kids fall in LOVE with fractions every year. I have a sneaking suspicion that the correlation between fractions and many fraction-able foods is no small coincidence--let's take a look at one of many fraction treats we enjoy in the classroom:

For this activity, you will need soft-baked chocolate chip cookies (or another cookie of your choosing--but soft-baked works best for easy cutting!), plastic knives for each student, and an appetite for cookies--lots and lots of cookies! Okay, in reality, each student received two. But since you're the teacher, feel free to take as many as you would like ;)

There are many different activities you can do with cookies and fractions but on this specific day, we munched and matched using this sheet, which is part of my Fresh Baked Fractions pack:
We started by cutting the most simple of fractions. First, we cut our cookies into halves:
As we cut, we matched the picture to the fraction on our page. We discovered that by cutting the cookie in half AGAIN, we magically created fourths! Each time we cut a fraction, we matched it on the page. Once we cut fourths, we moved onto our new cookie to dive into a more tricky task---cutting thirds. 
This photo captures the valiant effort of one of my kiddos. Sometimes, it's tough being in first grade! Once one of my little "smart cookies" pointed out that the cookie cut into thirds resembled a peace sign, it became a bit easier for us. Then came...sixths. Now, sixths are not included in the first grade standards but since we had already cut thirds, we thought, "Why the heck not?" and agreed to cut this "challenge fraction" verryyyy carefully. It became a bit crumbly, but we did it!

Then came the fun part--eating! The kids gobbled up those cookies faster than you could say "fractions." All in all, a fun, fantastic activity. But then again, when food is involved, how can it NOT be fun? What fraction activities do you do in your room? I'd love to hear about them!

If you'd like more cookie fraction activities (write the room, pocket chart math, and MORE!), check out my Fresh Baked Fractions pack in my TPT store

Thanks so much for stopping by! Now, go get yourself some cookies and a glass of milk---I know you want some ;)

Erin :)


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Exciting News :)

Are you a K-2 teacher or parent looking for a lot of resources you can use all year round? Look no further! This week, I have teamed up with some AMAZING ladies to offer you a bundle of teaching products that truly can't be beat in price or quality.

I am SO very excited to be a part of the bundle with Educents!  In this pack, you will get 982 pages at a 74% discount!! 

I know you will love my Mega Puzzles Pack featuring 170 pages of math & literacy themed jigsaw puzzles. That's 700 puzzles total!


There are many other products in our bundle to get your kids learning!  
Centers, printables, vocabulary, book studies, interactive notebooks, and so much more!

For other great products and resources, hop on over to A Tale of Two K Teachers, where my good friend and colleague Christina shares tons of great ideas and freebies--you won't be disappointed!

A Tale of Two K Teachers

But that's not all!   Since you are on my blog I would like to give you a chance to win something extra for free!  Check out the Rafflecopter at the bottom of my page to see how to win ANY product from my TPT store of your choosing! Good luck!

The deal won't last long so head over now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meet Star Sentence Sam

Hands down, my favorite thing to teach in 1st grade is reading and writing. Perhaps this is because I enjoy it so much personally, but there also is such an abundance of ways to make reading and writing fun for the little ones!
One of my new favorite things is to create anchor charts. I've always used anchor charts, but I've really beefed up my creation of them this year. Today, I'm introducing you to one of my favorite anchor charts/characters in our classroom. Meet....

Star Sentence Sam!
In our classroom, a star sentence is a sentence that includes a capital letter at the beginning, spaces in between words, and a period at the end. I have also just introduced the expectation that word wall words are spelled correctly.
This guy has been SO super helpful in assisting my students with their sentence structure. Every so often, we will review the story of Sam (as outlined on the anchor chart). I have also created a mini-book that students fill in to tell the story of Star Sentence Sam. This helps to reinforce the expectation that students will begin their sentences with a capital letter, include spaces in between words, and end the sentence with a period. As simple as it may sound, this is truly a skill that takes all year for students to independently develop. Hopefully Sam will speed that up a bit! In addition to Sam, we keep this visual reminder up all year round by our writing center:

We also use this rubric while writing sentences. There is a larger version on chart paper that I use when we do shared writing. This little guy also appears in laminated form inside the students' writing folders. This way, they can reuse it all year round to check their writing:

Click on the image to get it yourself!

We also have implemented an incentive program to encourage "star sentences." 3-4 days out of the week, our morning work is a "Star Sentence Prompt," which is, essentially, a question or prompt that students answer by writing 1-3 sentences. At least once a week, I will randomly check the work for star sentences. Students who have created star sentences receive a star sticker on their desk name tags. Once a certain number of sticker are earned, they will win a larger star badge for their desk and also a small prize. Click on the image below to grab your own Star Sentence Prompt:
I like these prompts because they also reinforce supporting your ideas with reasons. In our class, we ALWAYS are asking "Why?" It helps a lot with the students' reading comprehension, particularly with skills measured by the DRA. Not to mention it is a valuable life skill :)

I hope you enjoyed meeting Star Sentence Sam! If you would like to view my entire Star Sentence Sam pack, you can view it here.

Erin :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Grateful for Giveaways! 100 TPT Followers

Hello, my beautiful readers! After three months of hard work, I've reached a very important milestone--100 followers on Teachers Pay Teachers! While it might seem like peanuts to some of the bigger sellers, the past 3 months have been so exciting and I've loved every minute of it! To celebrate this momentous occasion, I will be hosting a giveaway on the ole blog. Up for grabs are 20 AMAZING ITEMS that can be yours--for free! Please check out the items and follow the Rafflecopter at the bottom. The giveaway will start at midnight on 11/16, in a couple hours! You have an entire week to enter! Best of luck :)

1. Mega-Pack of Jigsaw Puzzles (Over 700 Math & Literacy Puzzles--18 concepts covered!)

2. Winner's Choice from The Beach Teacher

3. A Little Sugar, A Lot of Spice: Math & Literacy Stations from Christina Mauro of A Tale of 2 K Teachers

4. Dolch Sight Words & Word Wall Headers by Teresa Tretbar

5. Winner's Choice by Carol Borough

6. Santa Tally Marks Matching Game by Marcia Murphy

7. Kevin Henkes Author Study by Carol Mercier

8. Winner's Choice by Mama Pearson (up to $5.00)

9. Reindeer Games by Katie Roltgen

10. Time Savers for Literacy Centers by Elina

11. Thanksgiving Sentence Scramble by Jennifer James

12. Reward Coupons by Monica from Fourth Grade Frenzy

13. Phonological Awareness Bundle by Melissa Moran

14. Number Sense Pocket Chart Pieces, Centers, & Posters by Christine Maxwell

15. Kindergarten November Centers by Kate Ruffolo

16. Sight Word Practice by Ivy Taul

17. Cause & Effect Practice by Kalena Baker

18. Fall Math & Literacy Centers by Kelly Burlinski

19.Magazine Scavenger Hunt Activities by Virginia Conrad

20. Synonyms Matching Game, Poster, & Bulletin Board Set by Melissa Michael

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Veterans Day: First Grade Style (And a Freebie!)

Three years ago, my husband and I moved from Ohio to Virginia to pursue teaching jobs. We teach 20 miles outside of D.C. and three years later, I am still amazed at the military presence in our area. A lot of (if not the majority) of our students have parents and other family members in the military. This makes holidays like Veterans Day extra special, as there are so many personal connections in the school community. One of my favorite traditions at our school is the Veterans Day slide show. Families can send in photos of family members who have served, and our guidance counselor compiles them into a slide show that is shown continuously throughout the day via our school news channel. It gives me chills every year! A patriotic gal myself, I am so thrilled and honored to be a part of such a special community of people.

That being said, it is important to me every year to drive home the reason for our celebrations. This year, we focused on the word "hero." We created an anchor chart to describe what the word means to us. The drawing is all mine, but the words are all my kiddos. I am constantly amazed and moved to tears by their thoughts--what a blessing to teach this age!

Once we finished our chart, the students had the opportunity to write about their own hero. Again---waterworks! Here are some of my favorites (although I could have posted all of them!!)
"My hero is my dad because he looks out for me. Whenever I have something infected, he helps me."

"My hero is my sister because if I cry, my sister gives me a hug."

"My hero is Mrs. Waters because she is kind." (had to!) ;)

"My dad because he works hard to kill bad guys."

Our display in the hallway. I posted our hero anchor chart a bit further down next to our door.

This week, I sent home a survey that the students and their parents filled out to identify any family members who serve/served in the military. Next week, we will be introduced to writing letters and my students will each write a letter to a veteran. We will use the survey results to decide who we write to. Many students will write to their parents, grandparents, uncles, etc. What a great connection! I also created letter templates featuring characters in the armed forces. All branches are represented in male and female form.

To download my survey and the letter templates (for FREE!), visit my TPT store using this link:

Thank you to all of our armed forces who have sacrificed so much! What a great example you set for our children and our country. God Bless!

Erin :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wonderfully Wicked Witches' Brew

Yikes! Talk about a blogging break! I am so impressed with the regular updates my favorite bloggers do. I am going to try to improve, I promise :)

Although it's a couple days late, I HAVE to share about our Halloween celebration in first grade last week. At our school, we do not technically "celebrate" Halloween. Instead, our school has a book character dress-up parade. This year, I went as Lilly from Kevin Henkes's book "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse." Kevin Henkes is our author of the month every September, so the kids were thrilled to see a familiar face Thursday morning--whiskers and all :) Here is a shot of my snazzy red boots.
Okay, so snazzy isn't the word. I promise they were more fancy-looking before all of the paint started to peel off! I love easy thrift store costumes :)

Because we are not allowed to have a "party," it is always a challenge to celebrate Halloween while still keeping the peace and remaining *somewhat* educational. This year was a TOTAL success, thanks to a great find on Teachers Pay Teachers. Meet...                                       
Witches' Brew!
This concoction is courtesy of Rachelle Smith. Visit her TPT store and this item here. It is a glorious freebie that includes all sorts resources to go along with the brew. To begin, we read the poem together as a class first. They LOVED it. I created a more pictoral version of it for my kiddos who cannot read it as is:
Then, I showed the students the ready-made bags of ingredients for our brew. I used brown paper bags and the labels Rachelle includes in her freebie. I am happy to say all of the bags survived and I can even reuse them next year since the ingredients spent such little time in them! Well, except for the Fritos--greasy little things. We read the poem together once more, this time adding the ingredients to the plastic cauldron (5 bucks at Walmart!) as they were mentioned in the poem. 
Finally, 13 ingredients later, our concoction was ready to eat! That was our favorite part. Throughout the day, we completed the other papers included in this freebie. We graphed our favorite ingredient, wrote about our most and least favorite ingredient, wrote recommendations for brew, and so on! I can't stress enough how fun this little activity was. 

One of the ONLY drawbacks is the amount of ingredients it requires, however, there is a super easy solution--I used Sign-Up Genius to create a list of ingredients and, within hours, my awesome families had offered to send in all of the ingredients. Easy peasy!

And if you are STILL needing any convincing, you can just take this little witch's word for it--the clean bowl speaks for itself!
How did you celebrate Halloween in your classroom? I love hearing new ideas. It is such a fun and kid-friendly holiday and SO many possibilities! 

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