Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkins, Character Traits, Landforms and more...

It's time to recap the week with Doodlebugs Learning with Five for Friday.

 We are learning about character traits.  We learned that character traits describe a character on the inside.

We used the mentor text Amazing Grace. We made an anchor chart and listed her traits. I was so proud of my first graders!  They came up with words like "curious", "creative" and "determined", to name a few.  Wow!  I was impressed and since I was being observed for this lesson so was my assistant principal.

We used Amy Labrasciano's All-Star Character Traits to create these fabulous bodices in which we created our own character traits.  I love this and I love her store!

Didn't they do such a good job?  Clearly, self-esteem is not an issue in our class.  Tee-hee.

About each month we have an activity day that centers around a theme.  WE had Pumpkin Activity Day today.  Here's a snapshot of what we did:

6 ways to use the colors of candy corn.

pumpkin strip mobiles

Investigate a pumpkin and complete a pumpkin lapbook.  Estimate and
measure circumference, predict and experiment with float/sink, depict the
life cycle of a pumpkin, measure height with snap cubes and describe
with adjectives.  The pumpkin lapbook is available in my store.

I have a few students who are Hindu so we learned about Diwali which began this week with a close read from my Close Reading: Holidays product.

We are also learning about landforms.  We made a flipbook of the various landforms.

We had another busy week of math workshop.  Here are the activities we enjoyed this week:

This fun dice game from Teach with Laughter had us roll a dice and add 1, add 2, add 3 and then subtract 1, subtract 2, etc.

My "high flyers" worked hard on elapsed time.

We are working really hard on open response questions in our math journals.  This is a big push from my district right now as research shows that students are struggling with this concept. I am currently working on making open response questions on sticky labels that can be just added into their notebooks.

We also practiced combinations of ten using ten pennies.  We placed some pennies in our left hand, some in our right and created number models (8+2=10).

We also played this game from Teach with Laughter in which we turned over a number card and the amount shown in a ten frame, just like "Memory".

Whew!  What a busy week!  Bring on the weekend because next week is filled with parent/teacher conferences, Halloween and professional Development!

How was your week?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Liebster Award nomination

I am so very honored to be nominated for the Liebster Award by Christina from
Christina's Kinder Blossoms!  Thank you so much, Christina! 

This award is for bloggers who have less than 200 followers but have great content and potential. You can learn more about me by reading on!

Why and how long ago did you start blogging?

I  began blogging in February. I taught kindergarten for 16 years in a private school. I had always dreamed of teaching in a public school.  My dream finally came true but it was much harder than I expected.  Private and public schools are so different.  I work with some amazing colleagues who are truly remarkable at what they do.  In many ways, it left me feeling substandard.  I started a blog as a way for me to reflect on what I do in my classroom. To be brutally honest- I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, that I earned this, and that I do have something of value to contribute. I blogged to share my thoughts, feelings and reflections as I worked myself through feeling unsure, insecure and frankly- scared to death.  Looking back at those older posts, I can't believe how far I've come.  What a blessed journey this has been!

What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?

Collaboration. I love, love, love what I do.  Teaching for me is as much a hobby as it is my profession. I love learning more about myself and from others.  In many posts I share the work of other teachers,products they have made in action in my classroom, and ideas and strategies I have learned from others.  We are so fortunate to be in a field where people just naturally collaborate.  I have learned more from other teachers that I ever did in college.

 Is there something you learned late in your blog journey you wished you knew before?
I wish I knew how to design my own blog that included the features I needed.  I have added a lot of things along the way.  It would be great to learn how it all works so I could do it myself someday. 

What is your favorite past time other than blogging?

I really love to read.  I wish I had more time to do it.  I have 3 boys 11, 9, and 8, a dog, 2 cats, work full time and well...we all do.  Who has the time?  I try to make time for it though because I love how reading takes you to other places.

How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog?

That's a good question. I'm not really sure.  Maybe 2 hours.
 What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?

I love learning new strategies for teaching something. I love sharing what has worked for me and learning what works from others.  Lately I am blogging a lot about using a math workshop model. Last year, when a teacher on my grade level team mentioned that she wanted to try I remember feeling panic.  Oh Lordy!  I had all I could do to keep up with the math curriculum.  How in the world was I going to tweek it to turn it into a workshop model. I thought "there's NO WAY, I'm doing that!  Ain't nobody got time for that!"  Now a year later, I can't believe I'm doing it and....that I love it! 

Where does your blog inspiration come from?

It's really just an expression of what I'm doing everyday. Sharing what I do and sharing what I'm learning along the way.
Which post that you've written are you most proud of?

My post called "Reflections".  It's a very honest reflection on my teaching journey. Actually, it was quite therapeutic to write.  I still feel very hurt by how my former employer treated me when I left the private school and went to public.  Perhaps, I always will be.

Is there any post you have been planning to do, 
but have postponing it for a while now?

My district is shifting towards a balanced literacy approach.  I'm looking forward to blogging about that journey and how it's going as I "learn the ropes."
What is your favorite aspect of blogging?

I love the collaboration and the friends I have made along the way.  I love being able to learn more about myself and from others. I love being able to express myself creatively.

Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would 
you be most likely to try yourself?

I am definitely going to try the number bonds that Cristina has on her site. I have never taught addition this way but I think it's an excellent way of doing so.  I love trying new technique!
My Nominations are:
1. Missy from Dirt Road Teacher
2. Lisa from Pawsitively Learning
3. Marissa from The Inspired Owl
4. Laura from A Grace Filled Classroom
5. Amna from Teach to Reach
6.Mary from A Classroom Full of Smiles
7. Laureen from Teach with Laughter
8.Leah from Grasty's Goodies
9. Meghan from Keeping up with Mrs. Harris
10.Amy Marie from The Unique Classroom
11.Heather from The Busy Busy Hive

To those who have been nominated, here are the "official" rules for accepting:
1. In your post, link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and "shout out." (Follow their blog if you haven't already!)  
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you (the ones I answered above).
3. Nominate 11 blogs of your choice that each have less than 200 followers. Provide them with 11 questions to answer or have them answer the questions above.
4. Let your nominees know that they've been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept.
5. Send your nominator a link to your post so that s/he can learn more about you as well! (You can just put your post link in the comments below!)



Saturday, October 18, 2014


Do you lapbook?  I had never heard of them until about a week ago. I was searching TpT for Guided Math activities and saw a few lapbooks on the site.  What are lapbooks, you say?  Lapbooks are like interactive notebooks but instead of using a notebook, you use a file folder.  It is a quicker and more simple version of an interactive note book.

Just about every month the first grade team does an "activity day" centered around a theme.  Last month was apple day, this month guessed it! Pumpkin Day!  We tend to use the same activities each year.  Some of the activities have become a bit dated. I attempted my first lapbook this weekend to use this week for Pumpkin Activity Day. This is the result:

I had so much fun making this and can't wait to have my students make their own this week.  They will Estimate and measure the circumference of a pumpkin, measure the height of a pumpkin, make predictions- Will it sink? Will it float?.  They will also use adjectives to describe a pumpkin, depict the life cycle of a pumpkin and describe a pumpkin (how many lines, size, shape, etc.).  They will cut out, lift flaps, measure with string (circumference) and height (with unifix cubes) and experiment with a pumpkin in water. Would you like to try this Pumpkin Lapbook with you class?  You can get it here.

Are you interested in trying a lapbook with your class? Here's how it works.

1. Open a file folder. A colored file folder will look the best.

2. Fold over one side to the middle fold.
3.  That's it!  Now you have a lapbook!  All you need to do now is add what you want for content.
Lapbooks are fun, engaging and highly motivational.  They are also a very effective way for the kiddos to "show what they know."  They are also a great informal assessment tool! 
I'd love to know if you use them with your class or perhaps you have been inspired to try them. Let me know how it goes!  It's always so great to hear from you!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Math workshop, Columbus, and more...

Friday came rather quick this week.  It's time for Five for Friday with Doodlebugs Teaching.

We learned about Christopher Columbus this week and made his 3 ships:

I am continuing with math workshop and I love, love, love it! It has been a great way to accommodate all types of learners.  We use Everyday Math which I think does a lousy job of accommodating high acheivers and an even worse job meeting the needs of the kids who struggle.


Pictured above is an example of some of the mini-lessons and activities I have been working on with my students who struggle with mathematical concepts.  We reviewd counting by two's and couting forward and back on a number grid.

Basically, I have one hour for math. I spend about 15 minutes on a mini lesson and then we do 2 or 3 math rotations. The choices are:  math with my teacher, math with someone (usually a game), math by myself (math journal), math with iPads, and a fluency activity.  I assign the rotations and they are on a menu on my Smartboard (see the heading "math workshop" on my list of topics on my blog for more info and ideas).

The pictures above show the 2 options for "math with someone" this week. Students are playing the "penny dice game" from the Everyday Math curriculum and a counting by 2's spider game.  A lot of the games that I use during math workshop come from Teach with Laughter.  I found her store while searching TpT for math materials that I could use for math workshop and once I found her, I hit the jackpot.  I'm quite sure she will be stocking my classroom with math materials for the rest of the school year!  The spider skip counting game above and the game 2 more (below) are both from her store.

The game "2 more" we used to practice fluency this week.  As the weeks go on and the students become more familiar with addition and number models, fluency will step up to include addition and subtraction.

My district is shifting towards a balanced literacy model so one of my professional goals this year is to incorporate balanced literacy mini lessons with my reading block.  This week we have have been working on characters.  We have learned what characters are have identified them read alouds and our own book selections.  After reading the story Corduroy, we made an anchor chart of the characters in the story.

Is this not the most pathetic drawing you have ever seen?  Thank God I teach first and they think everything you do is cute because this is just sad. :)

We also identified characters in the books that we are reading during our reading workshop block. Students wrote the names of the characters in their book on sticky notes and attached them to the cover.  We then shared our findings.

As we continue to explore using details in our writing this spider writing activity From Susan Jones-TGIF was perfect. 

We talked  about what adjectives are and we brainstormed a list of spider adjectives.

We used these thinking maps/webs of adjectives to create super spider sentences.

I uploaded my Sweet on CVC words bundle this week.  What a labor of love it has been. 

How was your week? I LOVE your comments!  They always make my day!