Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Day

Teachers, I know you will agree with me, to keep your sanity the week before Winter Break you will do whatever is necessary! I'm trying to keep engagement high and off-task behavior low by having a daily theme for the rest of the week. Today was Rudolph Day

We are learning about adjectives and rhyme & rhythmn in our poetry unit. I made sure to fit our learning objectives in with my theme. I got in some nonfiction too, just because I thought first graders would love this book about Reindeer. 

The original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is poem by Robert L. May. I was worried that this poem would be too long and I'd need to split the reading into two parts, but the kiddos were glued to it. We stopped twice, once after the first few pages, and once again at the end of the story, to discuss the words the author used to describe Rudolph and we added them to our anchor chart. 

We used a short poem about Rudolph, printed poster size, during shared reading. We identified rhyming words and "found" the rythmn by clapping the beat. I forgot to snap a pic of the poem, so I'll insert it later. 

We also learned about reindeer by reading A Day in the Life: Polar Animals - Reindeer. Then, we made a tree map to display our learning. We split into three teams - can, have, are. The can-team recalled things a reindeer can do. The have-team listed things a reindeer has. The are-team had the trickiest job, but they figured it out and did a great job! The are-team focused in on what reindeer ARE hunted by. Our goal was to stick with evidence from the text and NOT add our own opinions about reindeer. 

dig with theie hooves
swim in icy water
sleep standing up
warm air with their noses
travel with (other) reindeer

heater in the nose (the text said their special noses can heat up the cold air)

good swimmers
hunted by polar bears
hunted by people
mammals that have babies (we adapted this answer from what the student actually wrote)

The last hour of the day (after math & specials), we did a quick reindeer craft and watched the 1964 classic about Rudolph. I adapted this craft from I saw on Pinterest. The original can be found HERE. I changed the antlers, added hooves, and used a red pom pom for the nose. 

Speaking of Rudolph, last week during Creative Cookies (an after-school club), we made Rudolph cookies.

Tomorrow is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas Day. Thursday is Polar Express Day. Friday is half day, but we are going to learn about snow and Frosty the Snowman. 

Christmas Tags for Teacher Gifts

(insert "The Final Countdown" tune, circa 1986 by the band, Europe)...

It's the FINAL COUNTDOWN to Winter Break! Four point five class days to go...

Today I went shopping for my Secret Santa gifts. Of course, I came home and made gift tags for them all. If any of your Secret Santa or teacher gifts include a snowman, trail mix/nuts, wine, or markers, then these tags will work for you too!

Click HERE to download the tags. 

Merry Christmas. Enjoy your time off!

Pete the Cat Saves Christmas Inspired Activity & FREEBIE

This week we kicked off our Geometry unit by learning about plane shapes. I LOVE teaching about plane shapes because first graders LOVE manipulating them and there are just so many hands-on activities to do. And, of course, if you can throw in some seasonal activities it just ups holiday spirit and level of engagement in your classroom! So, I pulled out this Santa Pete activity from TpT store:

I created the recording sheet the night before we completed the activity in class. You can find it for  FREE here

Another plane shapes activity that my students really enjoyed was when we played "Mystery Matheticians" and solved some shape riddles. Shout out to Reagan Tunstall -this activity comes from her Guided Math Units. 

The kiddos had so much fun, I decided to let a little mystery spill over into our Reading/Language Arts block. This week we were writing 5 Senses Poems. So I came up with a Mystery 5 Senses Poem activity. 

This picture is of the mystery poem I created as an example. I forgot to snap pictures of the kid's sticky notes, but some were hilarious. The class split into groups. Each group had to fill out five sticky notes, one for each of the five senses. Then, the class read the poem and tried to guess "What is it?" There was a kinda foul odor in the boy's bathroom and one group went to town with it. Their sensory poem was about the boy's bathroom! Ewww. I suggest using sentence strips in place of sticky notes. 

Are you fortunate enough to have Ipads in your classroom??? My campus has a rotating Ipad cart schedule. Here are two great apps you should know about: 

The first one is called SeeSaw. My class used See Saw to illustrate plot elements and then record a voice over explaining the illustration. Then, we used it again to illustrate a connection we made to a story. My favorite conection was one a student made to Cinderella. He drew the wicked step mother and himself riding a bull. His connection was that the stepmother didn't let Cinderella do anything she wanted to and his mom refused to let him ride a bull!! In th pic below a student is recording the plot of Cindy Rocks and the Three Bears. 

I recently learned about an app called Chatterpix Kids. The app allows you to take a picture of an object and record a voice over. Add a mouth to the picture and the picture "talks." You can also add props and clothing. My girlies at home LOVE IT (they are 3 and 6). I think my class can use the app to take a picture of a shape fill-in and then record a voice over explaining which small shapes were used to fill in the large shape, or to snap a picture of a solid shape and talk about it's attributes. The possibilities are endless. 

Happy holidays!

8 Math Games Hacks...

...or tips or tricks or whatever you call 'em! Just keep reading for eight ways to make your teacher life a little easier! And, they're all for math class. 

The first two weeks of school, we primarily learned math in a whole group setting. Then, during week 3, we started following our whole group lesson and guided practice with some games. We practiced playing games independently and in pairs, but everyone played the same game at the same time. Tip 1: MATCHING GAMES/CARD GAMES are great introductory games to start with because there aren't a bunch of components. There's only cards. We learned to play War!. War! is great practice for comparing numbers and teaching the kiddos to use math talk. 

Reagan Tunstall's Guided Math Unit

Reagan Tunstall's Fundamentals and Friendships Math Centers
TIP 2: When there isn't time to laminate, bust out the sheet protectors. Laminating is great for durability and you can write on it a dry erase marker. But, I've been using more and more sheet protectors as an alternative to lamination because it's faster AND the dry erase marker actually wipes off more easily and leaves less residue behind. In this picture, the kiddos are playing an addition game called Roll & Record. Roll two dot cubes and find the sum, then write your answer on the recording document. The recording sheet in this picture comes from an old textbook adoption called Investigations.

Week 4 we began practicing playing different games at the same time. So while some teams played games with dot cubes, others played card games. By Week 5, we were ready to begin guided math rotations. We play lots of math games at the teacher table.  Tip 3: Learn games at the teacher table first, then transition them to math tubs. Before I switched to a Guided Math model, I tried teaching games whole group and then putting the games in tubs, but there was always someone (or more than one someones) who had been playing the game wrong for the first ten minutes by the time I made my way around the room. Then, after the time it took to re-taught them how to play correctly, time was up and we had to move on. Arghhhh. Now, I teach the kiddos in a small group as part of my teacher table lesson. I rarely stumble upon a group that is playing a game incorrectly. Knock on wood! 

The following pictures are all addition games we learned at the teacher table BEFORE the game went in a tub. 
Intro to Addition Games

Tip 4: Use clip art as math manipulatives. This does require a little effort and some ink, but my firsties loved these fireflies and frogs

Tip 5: Erasers and random dollar store goodies make excellent math manipulatives. I have a drawer of random toys I've collected from various places, so I don't know where I got these frog pencil toppers or the fish toys, but the frogs are super popular. Everybody wants to play Inside/Outside with these frogs!

Inside/Outside is a great game for learning combinations of numbers. In the picture below, there are four frogs in the pond and six frogs outside the pond. So, one combination of ten is 4 and 6. 

Intro to Addition Games

Intro to Addition Games

Intro to Addition Games
Tip 6: Think outside the toy box. The bats in this picture are actually cup-cake toppers that I found at Dollar Tree. I just snapped off the sticks. We played How Many am I Hiding? with the bats. This cave work mat is from Reagan Tunstall's Guided Math Unit. I repurposed the mat for this game. One student places some bats on the cave, and hides the remaining bats in a cup. His partner uses a strategy, such as drawing the missing bats or counting on, to figure out how may bats are hiding. It's essentially a missing addend game.

Reagan Tunstall's Guided Math Lessons

Tip 7: Use magnets on the back of manipulatives. I own a million little round magnets. Well, maybe not a million, but A LOT. I hot glue or ticky tack them onto the back of all kinds of manipulatives. I primarily do this during whole group math lessons, so I can gather the class on the carpet in front of the white board. In the picture below, I ticky tacked two sided chips (mine are red on one side and yellow on the other) to magents to demonstrate how to use two ten frames to Make 10. If you're not familiar with Make 10, place red dots in the top ten frame to represent the first addend. Place yellow dots in the second ten frame to represent the second addend. Next, move some yellow dots up to the top frame to Make 10. Finally re-write the addition equation and find the sum. I take volunteers to come up to the board to move the magnetized chips. For some reason, my students really like moving around magnets on my white board! After a few demonstrations, we took a baggie of two-sided chips and two tens frames to our desks to practice independently...

...which brings me to my final hack. Tip 8: Keep dry erase markers inside old children's socks. I don't have a picture of this one, but I have a bucket of markers inside socks. We write on our desks with dry erase markers, then erase our work with the sock. So, when my students worked at their desks to Make 10, they had two frames, a baggie of two-sided chips, and a sock with a dry erase marker in it. 

Here are links to the math resources referenced in this post.

Classroom Tour 2015 & Peek at My Week

Welcome to my 2015-2016 classroom! My name is KaSandra Elvir and I teach first grade in a suburb of Houston, Texas. When my campus opened in 1980, it had an Open Concept floor plan. Since then accordian walls have been added, so I have two real walls and two accordian walls if you're wondering why the walls look rippled. I apologize for the quality of these photographs. I do not have any windows or natural lighting in my classroom. 

This year I replaced my chevron fabric with black paper. I want the room to have pops of bright color, but still look clean and organized. I can't stand clutter! (at house is a different story altogether;-) I want the classroom to be print rich, but not look like I vomited words and patterns all over the room. The accordian walls help because it's IMPOSSIBLE to get anything to hang from them that weighs more than ounce. I've tried hot glue, push pins, ticky tack, Command hooks, velcro, tape....forget about it!!! Nothing stays for long. The two hanging boards behind the small group table are hung from the ceiling using fishing line. I can get an anchor chart to stay using push pins as long as no one touches it! 

Let's get started...

ABOVE: The view from the doorway. All my chairs are still stacked by the door.

ABOVE: The view from the back of the room looking toward the white board. The door is to the right of the little wall behind the American flag.

ABOVE: The view from the front of the whiteboard facing the back wall. 

ABOVE: The right wall has floor to ceiling storage. Happy face! The cabinet doors will hold a clip chart, a reading goals chart, the student work display, and a super improver wall. 

I did not snap a pic of the left wall. It is a blank accordian wall and I will hang anchor charts on it. 

My small group table is at the back of the room (almost in the middle) offering me views of almost the entire room. 

ABOVE: I took this picture while sitting at the small group table. On the other side of the shelf that holds math manipulatives is a computer table with two computers. 

ABOVE: The shelves  to the right of the small group table holds student book boxes, math tubs, word work drawers, and math goodies. 

BELOW: All the monster lables seen here are free in my TpT shop.

ABOVE LEFT: The super improver wall seen here is my spin on a Whole Brain Teaching technique. Our school wide theme this year is, "Shiver me Timbers...Where our students arrrr our treasures." The name of my campus is Timbers. I found these pirate themed reward cards at Office Max, so for level one of our super improvers wall students will collect gold doubloons (stickers) each time they show improvement (on work, behavior, reading level, etc.).

ABOVE RIGHT: I still need to add ribbon to my clip chart and print letters to label the GOALS chart. Each student gets a monster that starts out on their beginning of year reading level and then climbs the chart and he/she levels up. The chart on the cabinet goes to Level 20. After that your monster moves to the ceiling! It's kinda a big deal!!

BELOW: Also, at the back of the room is a filing cabinet that I'm using as a magnetic job board. I hot glued magnets to the back of the laminated monster job cards. The white space on each card is where I will write a student's name using a dry erase marker. The marker wipes off easily with a tissue. 

BELOW: This year I am switching from I Can... statements to a magnetic focus wall. I hope this will be more purposeful and interactive than just posting statements. I forgot to write "Launching Reader's Workshop" under Reading before I took this picture. 

ABOVE: To the left of the small group table is the classroom library. The books are semi-leveled which means there is a range of levels in each of the colored baskets. The red baskets are Levels A-D, the blue baskets contain Levels E-F, the pink baskets hold Levels G-I, and the green baskets hold more advanced books. These are the books students can shop for their book boxes. The books I use for small groups and homework are not included in the classroom library. 

ABOVE: You may have spotted the paper lantern monsters around the room. Aren't they adorable? I was going to hang them from the ceiling above the table groups, and that would've been super cute, but, again, I'm trying to declutter and simplify, so I tacked them to the walls instead. I purchased the monster cut-outs from School Girl Style

Tomorrow is the first day of school! Here is a skeleton lesson plan for the first week
 of school. 

Here are the links to the products shown above:

Are you on Periscope??? I'm totally hooked! Follow me @memoriesmadeinfirst. 

Back to School Resources, Quote Banners on TpT, and a FREEBIE

Tomorrow I'm headed to school to start setting up my classroom. I am excited about my new classroom decor which I'll reveal in a classroom tour post when it's ready! But first something for your Pinterest...

I know some of you have already started back, but I don't officially return to work until August 17th and the kiddos arrive August 24th. 

If your looking for resources to start the year off, check out the annual TpT sitewide Back to School Sale for up to 28% off teacher created resources! Use code: BTS15.

Here are some of my Back to School resources that will be on sale!

And this one's a FREEBIE!

And finally, you may have noticed that some TpT sellers have been jazzing up their stores by adding a banner in the quote box. Well, I found this super simple tutorial from Teacher Resource Force on how to do it. This tutorial will tell you how to upload a picture to your quote box. It does not, however, explain how to insert a link so buyers can click on the picture. I know it's doable...I'm working on it. Here's my new Quote Box Banner: