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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - 4/30/14

 Linking up with Miss DeCarbo at Sugar and Spice for another weekly linky party.

We learned about Meerkats last week and worked on the format of informational writing. One of my firsties gave me this beautiful drawing. She called them "carrot tails". (Look close for the humor...I couldn't believe my eyes!) LOL
What crazy/inappropriate pictures have your kids drawn in class?

Leave a comment below and then head back to Sugar and Spice to link up with other teachers!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Close Reading - Rainforests!

I've had this rainforest pack of close reading passages in the works for a WHILE now, but (drum roll please) it is done! It is 50% off in my TpT store for only 48 hours. Here's a sneak peak!
This gives teachers an inside look at how I use this pack of passages in my classroom during the week. I normally give one passage for homework and we do another during small group for the week.
There are 4 close reading for each layer of the rainforest. Each one is labeled with a lexile level. I have included text features with important information so that students have to access them to find answer to various questions. On the first day of reading, my students read the passage and circle unfamiliar words.
Each passage has a matching Vocabulary Builder. This helps students to further understand the vocabulary used in the text. My students really enjoy this part. After circling unfamiliar words and discussing some vocabulary, we do this page together. I have the kids underline what helped them to understand the new work.
 Here's an example from today...
On day 2, my students reread the text and complete this page. Students *MUST* use evidence from the text to answer the questions. My kiddos like to highlight their evidence.
This is a skill that is quite challenging for my firsties. It is more of a second grade skill, but because my kids read on a 2-5th grade level, I have to push them! We focus on ONLY one paragraph at a time. We pull out the main idea and find our evidence (and highlight, of course!).
By day 4 or 5, we are experts about the specific layer that we studied! I have students practice informative writing using an introduction sentence, at least 4 details, and a closure sentence.
Other days, we may use this opinion writing prompt. Again, we focus on the three main parts of an opinion - introduction, details, and closure. The kids are becoming wonderful writers!

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Funday - 4/27

It's Sunday! Time to link up with Deirdre from A Burst of First!
This weekend, we took a mini trip to Disney to celebrate my masters semester finishing and FCAT testing being half way done. We are only 3 hours away and have season passes, so we make them count! However, don't let this picture fool you. It was PACKED! Apparently, the cheerleading and dance world competition was being held in Disney. Plus the Catholic and Christian schools ended their Spring Break today. Thank goodness for fast passes!
 We had a great time and made it to all four parks in two days (Whew!). It was crazy hot and we both got all sweaty and burnt both days, so please excuse the bottom picture. But hey, that's Florida in April!

Hope everyone has a fun week!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Five for Friday! - April 25, 2014

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for this week's Five for Friday!
This week was OH SO busy! It was the last week of the semester in my 2 masters classes. It was also the last week in one of my gifted endorsement classes. Whew! Glad those are over...until May 13 when we are back to the grind! :/ Here's a bit of what went on this week...

This was probably the most exciting happening of our week! I was chosen to be in a video for our county. It's only a video about how teachers should collect and store field trip money, but whatever! The kids and I were stars for a few hours! They kept asking if they were going to be on TV...HA! Sorry lovelies!
We made these adorable Earth Day books. It is a main idea and key detail sort all about the earth. This was a perfect review for my little ones. I wrote a blog post about this a few days ago, so check it out if you are interested and would like the link!
Meerkats were ALL over our classroom this week! We did a close read about them, read books about them, had the vocabulary as part of our spelling words, and did an informational writing about them. Thank you to Kayla Parker for these amazing close read passages! Check her out here!
YAHOOO! My Jamberry order came in! I can't wait to try them out! I've heard only good things so far.
Today, after school we drove up to Disney for a short weekend get away. The husband had FCAT with his kids this week, so he needed some relaxation & roller coasters! I'm currently finishing up on my own school work and grading so that I don't have to touch it the rest of the weekend. 

Hakuna Matata! No worries for this weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Money, Money, Money

Happy Thursday!

This week my firsties began counting money. They've been doing pretty well because we have incorporated it into calendar math since the beginning of the school year. However, the kids often mistaken nickels and quarters and have trouble adding on with larger valued coins.

So, on Tuesday in math small group we sorted coins using these great yellow mats from my second grade friend across the hall. The kids thought this was SO fun! (which made me laugh inside...) 
After they sorted all the coins in front of them, we practiced skip counting. We counted by 1's to find the value of the pennies. We counted by 5's to find the value of the nickels. (You get the picture.) We also compared the total amount on each child's mat. They were very excited to discover who had the most money!

This is one of this week's favorite math centers. It's called Scavenger Hunt Riddles.
Kids take a recording sheet (there are 8 varieties). They then choose the cards that match the color indicated on the recording sheet. For example, the recording sheet pictured here is for the GREEN cards, so kids choose the money cards with the green background. They count the coins inside the magnifying glass and then match it to the same number on their recording sheet. They write the word on the card under the correct amount of money. If they correctly identify and count the coins, they will answer the riddle!
Let me tell you. This is a HUGE hit! You can find this adorable center for FREE here!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Tomorrow's Preparations

Each afternoon once the kids have left, I sharpen pencils, place them in each table's center bins, place math and reading homework on each desk, and fix our calendar.

What do you do to prepare for tomorrow?

Comment below and then head over to Miss Decarbo's blog, Sugar and Spice, to link up with other teachers!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pitbull, Earth Day, & Zumba...What a combo!

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity! I recently started selling some of my lessons and activities on and am excited to say that I have made a bit of money! You can check out my store here! I feel blessed knowing that some of the activities that truly helped my kids are being used to benefit other students around the United States. My current creation is a pack of close reading passages about the four layers of a tropical rainforest. I will be testing it out on my students next week and posting it shortly after. Be on the look out! Here is a little sneak peak!

This week our 3-5th graders started FCAT testing. Each year, we begin FCAT week with a pep rally to relax the students (and make the teachers look crazy!). This year, K & 1st grade teams did an FCAT country version of Timber by Pitbull. We all dressed with bandanas and cowboy hats, but our wonderful Kindergarten team leader made a special appearance as Pitbull. He had the kids swoooooooning!
What more can I say? This is hilarious!

Today is Earth Day, and I was determined to find an effective activity that reviewed necessary skills with my firsties. Cue the key detail sort! I found a wonderful main idea and key detail craftivity for Earth Day that was a challenging, yet fun cooperative learning activity for the kids (Click here to check it out!). Each page had a main idea listed with an illustration. The kids had to look through the details and decide which detail described which main idea. It was tricky at first, but after a few minutes they got the hang of it. I enjoyed hearing them debate amongst each other, and use key words to find the correct main ideas. Tomorrow I will make them cute with some construction paper and display them. Can't wait!

Because of FCAT, we cannot take recess at our normal time as it would distract the upper grades who are testing. So, I decided we needed a little fun in our lives! After lunch, the kids thought I was getting ready to start math. Little did they know...
ZUMBA KIDS TIME! Thank you, YouTube!

They LOVED it! A few of the kids even told me that they got cramps! Ha! Work it.

Have a great rest of the week!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The "Ball Chairs"

I have been wanting stability balls from my classroom ever since I was in undergrad. However, when I was hired I thought that we would not be allowed to have them. Our school is very strict on not bringing outside furniture into the classroom if it is not approved by the county. So, I just put the idea on the back burner.
Then, my partner teacher went to a PTA meeting where the principal discussed these stability balls. I practically screamed when I heard! I jumped on the opportunity, pulled up the research I had on them, and went into the principal to request them in my room. I currently split a class set (20) with my partner teacher, so we each have 10 balls. I use 6 at my small group table and 4 at my writing center (both pictured in the back in the picture above).

Needless to say, I was extremely excited...except for the fact that you have to blow each one up with a hand pump. It takes for.ev.errrr! 

Pros over regular chairs: The balls are suppose to increase oxygen flow to the brain when students are working, and allow them time to move. Sometimes we teachers forget that they are only 6 years old. Children NEED movement throughout the day. The balls have helped with this tremendously. They are also used to help students with ADHD focus throughout the day.

Cons: Some teachers say that they get sick watching the kids bounce up and down all day. I haven't really found that to be a problem in my classroom. After the first day or two, the kids work and bounce lightly. I tell them, "If you're bouncing like your at Jump Zone, then we have a problem." :) They seems to connect with that and understand that the balls are to help them while learning.

But there are some rules:
Usually, the only one that has to be enforced is #3 - Keep TWO feet on the floor at ALL times! I do have a few little ones who like to hug the sides of the ball with their legs and balance during reading they get one warning and then its off to a chair!

But overall, I have very few problems. I love the stability balls. I can't even remember what I did with chairs at my table anymore!
These stability balls are from WittFitt. I have found them to be the most bang for your buck. They are very high quality and only about $25-30 per ball depending on the height of your students. Witt Fitt balls also have the four little feet on the bottom. BEST THING EVER! There are no balls rolling through my classroom during the day! Check them out at

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