Watchya Doin' Wedesday... homework and dinner

Happy Hump Day! Truth be told, I hate that saying, but this week it fits! These kiddos are keeping us on our toes this week! Sometimes I wish the public could spend a day in our rooms with us, and see what we go through on a daily basis. Teachers just are NOT appreciated enough. But I digress...

At our school we do small group reading groups for 35 minutes, and then also do Daily 5 with our whole class. For reading homework, we focus on our reading group. We know that they are many ways to do homework out there, but we wanted to share what we do. Because our "small groups" are actually quite large (our kids who have the highest need to get 1:6 groups, but the classroom teachers end up with 15-20 or so), we just don't have time in our groups to collect and pass out homework everyday. So we decided to go with the weekly homework system. We pass out homework on Monday, and the kids are responsible for taking care of it all week, and then they turn it back in on Friday.

In our homework folders, we include our Reading program homework for the week, as well as 2 paper books at the kids individual DRA level. We print these mostly from Reading A-Z and also use Scholastic Mini Books. The kids take great care of these and do return them for the most part. This year in my reading group I've also included a parent component to reading. Not only do the kids have to read for 10 minutes a night, but they have to be read to for 10 minutes as well. Hopefully this will really stress the importance of reading to your kids, no matter what level they are at.

If you'd like to use our reading homework logs, here ya go! Click HERE to download your own copies. And since most of you fabulous teachers need to eat... we thought we'd share another recipe with you!

Here's a little recipe that my family LOVES! We are a burrito lovin' family and always looking for new burrito/wrap recipes. This Crispy Southwest Chicken Wrap recipe comes from melskitchencafe, and it is oh so yummy!
I always change recipes up a bit and here are a few of my changes:
* I left out the peppers and cilantro since we topped ours
with fresh homemade salsa.
*I added the spices to the rice as it boiled.
*I fried our burritos in a little oil instead of spraying them with cooking spray. Probably not the healthiest, but they sure did taste good.

Have a great week friends!
Only 2 more days and it's the weekend!

Motivational Monday: Chrysanthemum, TpT, and Newsletter, Oh my!!

Happy Monday! We hope everyone had a relaxing and fabulous weekend! It seemed to really fly because we were both so busy! We had an inservice day on Friday, so we are itching to get back into our classrooms. But we definitely could have used a bit more time off! Hope you all have a minute, cause this is a long one... :-)

We've been running like crazy people since school started, but it's finally starting to calm down as we settle into our school year, and get into our routines. We've been really training our first graders on the Daily 5, and hopefully (fingers crossed) we'll introduce our last 2 dailies this week, word work and listen to reading. Hopefully next week we'll be able to blog about how wonderful it's going having Daily 5 up and running....

We've got a few new things up on our store that we wanted to share with you. First, as a result of all of our blog stalking over the last year, we decided to give our phonemic awareness lessons a make over. We have changed the way we introduce our sounds to the whole class. We do small reading groups that do this as well, but this year we've decided to be more explicit in teaching the sounds, blends, etc. whole group style. Our district has had the same reading program for 17 years, so needless to say it's not used much. Thank goodness that we both have such a passion for reading, because we've had to sort of re-invent the wheel so to speak. (We are finally going through the curriculum adoption process this year, and I'm on the committee. If you have a program that you're district uses that you love, please let me know. I'd love to share the information!)

Anyway, this year we will be focusing on 1 word family a week for now, and as the school year progresses, we'll work up to 2 or 3 sounds or blends a week. For September, we've been focusing on at, op, it and an. We've created a fun packet to help you teach these word families to your first graders. Make sure to check out our Word Family Pack. And if you like it, make sure to watch for our next pack coming soon...

During September we've also been focusing on habitats. We created these Habitat Vocab Cards for our class's science bulletin boards.

Make sure to check them out at TpT as well! Many more Habitat words are included. We will be making more of these as we focus on other things in science so stay tuned!

This past week we read Chrysanthemum in our reading group, and did several activities with the sweet book. Click below to get your own copy.

CLICK HERE for your copies.

Do you have any other activities that you do with Chrysanthemum? What are your favorites?

And last, I've decided to try a new newsletter this year. We both have done the monthly newsletter, and I've done a classroom blog, but with our population, it just isn't checked enough by parents. So this year, I'm going to try a weekly newsletter, that's a bit shorter, and more to the point. This week will be the first time it goes out, but better late than never, right? I'm sure I will play with the format a bit, but what do you think?

If you'd like a copy CLICK HERE. The cute border is getting cut off on the picture, but it shows up in the download. Due to copyright, I can't share a version that you can edit. But if you'd like one you can change, I can email one without the clipart. Just send us an email. This may change throughout the year since this is my first draft, so if I have an updated version to share, I will let you know!

Have a great week friends!

Clipart courtesy of Scrappin' Doodles.

Habitats & What to Eat Wednesday

Hi all! Hope you're all having a fantastic week! This week we have been busy focusing on habitats and we thought we'd share some freebies with our blogger friends!

The first vocabulary activity relates to our Step Up to Writing program. These vocabulary worksheets have a word, brief definition, and a picture. We read the definitions with our students, write the word, glue on the matching picture, and then these sheets go into their writing binders (we'll show you these soon). Our kiddos can refer to these vocabulary words throughout the school year when writing. As soon as february approaches, our students do most of the definition writing with us, but for now we print it for them.
Click HERE for two vocabulary sheets along with picture cards and answer sheets!
Tundra, River, Ocean, Rainforest, Forest, and Desert have been our main focus this week. We've shown several photos and read books about these six habitats. Here is a habitat writing activity that we also did this week with our first graders.
Click HERE to get your copy!

Finally we are finishing off the week with a small group activity. We each have 6 table groups in our classrooms. Each table group will get a large white poster with a specific habitat written on the poster. Each student will get a picture of an animal that can be found in their specific habitat. The table groups are going to create posters of their habitats and glue their animal pictures onto their posters.
Click HERE to get 6 different sets of animal cards!

And finally we have a yummy new recipe that you all might like to try. Even my picky little eater devoured hers!

These were fantastic and really quick to make
A few tips:
1. I used gyoza wrappers instead of wonton wrappers. Gyoza wrappers are similar to wonton wrappers but they are round. They worked perfectly!

2. Throwing in some minced garlic while the ground beef was cooking really added a lot of flavor to the meat.

3. I used a little over 1 lb. of ground beef and also used a jar marinara sauce. I was able to make 12 Lasagna Cupcakes and even had leftover ingredients to make a few more for leftovers the next day!

Hope you all have a fabulous rest of your week!
Only 2 more days until Friday!

Clip art courtesy of Scrappin Doodles

Daily 5 Anchor Charts & CAFE Headings

We are going on year 3 now of teaching Daily 5 and LOVE IT! We decided that our anchor charts and CAFE wall needed a makeover, so we created our own posters and anchor charts. 

Our charts include:

*Read to Self
*Read to Someone
*Work on Writing
*Listen to Reading (2 charts included. One for ipods and one for any
other listening device)
*Word Work
*3 Ways to Read a Book
*IPICK Good Fit Books
*3 Ways to Read to Someone

Also included are:
* 5 choice cards for display
* Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanded Vocabulary Headings for your bulletin board

Clip art courtesy of Scrappin Doodles

What To Eat Wednesday

Along with motivational Monday, we thought we'd start another weekly post,
What To Eat Wednesday
Our lives are so busy with teaching and being moms and we are always on the lookout for yummy dinners and treats to make for our families. Although our blog is a teaching blog, we thought you all, being busy teachers, parents, caretakers, etc... might appreciate a great recipe that even the pickiest eaters might enjoy.
Today's recipe is one of our favorite kid friendly recipes, and what's even better is that we have some ideas on what to do with your leftovers!
This Crunchy Baked Chicken Cutlets recipe comes from Family Fun and the recipe
can be found HERE.

Here are some of our tips when making this recipe:
  • We don't always follow the measurements for the mayonnaise, mustard, or panko, (we just use the recipe as a guideline and adjust the flavor if needed).
  • We pound the chicken breasts before cutting and dipping into the mayo mix and panko. They seem to cook better this way.
  • We like to cut the chicken into nugget size pieces. Our kiddos are able to dip them easier this way:)
  • We always make a little extra so we have leftovers. The leftovers definitely don't reheat well in the microwave so we serve them cold in Chicken Wraps (chicken nuggets, lettuce, shredded cheddar, and ranch dressing wrapped up in a tortilla) or use the nuggets to make a salad (lettuce, chicken nugget pieces, tomatoes, and any other toppings you might like on your salad)
Here is a picture before they went into the oven. These are baking as I type! I know the picture is a little off center, but this was the best looking picture out of the bunch, and raw chicken really doesn't look very appealing in pictures :) This is 4 chicken breasts pounded which made quite a bit with a lot of leftovers for my family of 3.
We hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week! Stay tuned tomorrow for some new items that will be added to our TpT store!

Clip art courtesy of Scrappin Doodles

Motivational Monday: September 12 and Anyone Can Be an Artist!

Happy Tuesday! For a little bit longer anyway. It's a good thing we don't need a whole lot of sleep anymore.
So, as it was for most of you, yesterday was a rough day for us. We remembered back to where we were on September 11th, and mourned for our country all over again. But then today, we woke up, and everything was still ok. It's much like what kids went through ten years ago. Only a handful of our students knew much about September 11th, and of course they are too young to really comprehend it. So today in class we talked about what happened in first grade terms. Then we read this WONDERFUL book written by a class of first graders after September 11th.

Not only is this a great tool to use to talk about what happened with our kids, but it's also a great example to show our first graders kids really are authors. So we read this book, and really talked about who the true heroes of the day were. We talked about fireman, policeman, and all of the rescue workers who gave their lives to help save others. So we decided that this would be a good time to thank our own community fire fighters who help keep us safe everyday. The kids were of course more able to relate to this, than anything else. So we used this template to write thank you notes to our firemen, which we will put in the mail tomorrow.

Get your copy of our Fireman Thank You HERE.

How precious are these?

Now for some motivation for all ya'll! We fell in LOVE with these posters from First Grade Parade and The Inspired Apple. But, like many of you I'm sure, we have no amazing drawing talent. We are both quite crafty, and can definitely hold our own in that department, but darn it, we just can't draw. But those posters are absolutely to die for! We loved the why writers write, and what they can write about. We also really fell in love with Cara's Peacemakers and Peacebreakers activity, and just had to incorporate those into our rooms. But again, can't draw worth beans. So, here's what we did!

We just got out our trusty MacBooks, and went to work. We were quite happy with how cute our posters turned out! So you see, even if you don't have great artistic talent, we do have computers and clipart! It's {almost} just as good! We figure that we spend enough time in our classrooms, we'd like to like the way our anchor charts look. And the kids really had a great time helping us out! We first did our rough draft with our students, printed everything out, and then came back together to make our final drafts to hang up. What a fun lesson!

Update: You asked, and we answered! Our clipart and words are now on TpT so you can make your own charts. Check it out HERE!

Now for these posters, we not only had to print out the words, but had to figure out the pictures of David. So we just printed out a cover of the book covers, and then cut them out. To make the final drafts for these posters, we did a sorting activity of all of the different behaviors. We figured out which they belonged with, Peacemakers or Peacebreakers. The we wrapped our discussion with talking about who we want to be.
If you'd like a copy of these words, grab it HERE.
And thanks a bunch to Mrs. Lee's Kindergarten for her idea on Peacemakers and Peacebrakers. Hope this motivates you to make your own cute posters! And really Cara and Abby, if you'd like to come to our classes and make our anchor charts for us, we'd love it!!! :)
Have a great week!

Our First Few Weeks

We have been so busy during our first two weeks of school. Routines and rules have been reviewed daily and many community building activities have been incorporated throughout the days. Reading groups will begin for our first graders next week, so until then, the last two weeks have been filled with reading and literacy activities surrounding several books. Here are a few literacy activities we have done this week:

To encourage positive behavior at recess and get our students thinking about playing safe and fair, we read The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill.

Next we developed a list of safe activities and games to play at recess. Then our students chose one activity they like best and completed the writing activity below. We are going to make a class book with the completed papers and when a student is having a difficult time finding an activity to do at recess or needs some guidance on making good choices at recess he/she can read the class book. This book will also be great when there is a new student. We can buddy up the new student with another student and they can read the class book together!

We also did a book comparison of The Little Red Hen and The Little Ren Hen Makes a Pizza. We used these books to introduce characters to kids, and then they picked their own favorite character to draw a picture of. For those higher kids, we also incorporated a sentence or two about the character.

Click HERE for The Little Red Hen character activity sheet

The following day we did a whole group retell of both stories then came up with a list of other things The Little Red Hen could make. Our students then completed a writing describing what they think The Little Red Hen should make next. They came up with some great ideas!
Click HERE to get a copy!

In math we've been reviewing numbers 1-20 with our first graders, and we've done some really fun things with our All About Numbers Pack. We introduced our 5 in a Row game and loved watching the kids work together. We used it to have the kids draw a dumber card out of the bowl in the middle, and then they just had to color in that number. It was a great review of numbers, and really worked on working together as a group.

We've also used the number cards to work on ordering numbers to make giant number lines for the kids to use to help them with counting. We didn't want to use the ink to print out so many colored versions, so we just printed them on colored construction paper and it worked great! We also did the same thing with our counting cards included in the pack, but it's been so busy calming these LARGE classes that we have, that we weren't able to snap any pictures. That's on our list though!
Click the picture below for numbers 11-30.
We had our students cut, order, and glue the numbers
on large sentence strips taped together.

We're trucking along in Daily 5, and have worked really hard this week on read to self and picking good fit books. Glad to say that we're up to about 10 minutes of stamina! It's amazing how much it improves once the kids get their own book boxes in their hands. This is our 3rd year doing Daily 5, and we just love it more every time we introduce it. We'll have more to post on Daily 5 later. We've made some great charts to reinforce the expectations, so keep watching as we will be sharing them shortly!

We ended the week with Jitter Juice from Abby's Fun With Firsties pack. There really are some GREAT activities in there! Since we had a hard time getting our hands on the book First Grade Jitters we weren't able to do it until the end of our second week. We introduced the poem, looked for our word wall words for the week, and did an extra writing piece. Since we did in after we'd been in school for a bit, we came up with a new writing activity. Click on the picture for your copy.

As we've been watching all of the other fabulous blogs out there, our jealousy of artistic talent is growing. Neither one of us can draw to save our life, and we are just in awe of those who can. But, we've figured out how to make our anchor charts almost as cute. We'll share those next week! Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! We deserve it!