Mrs. B's First Grade

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Personal Word Wall for Students

Do you have a word wall in your classroom? How accessible is it to students? I have a moveable and interactive word wall, but I find that even that is not enough support. That is why I created a personal word wall. Read on to learn more!
In my classroom I have a workshop model for writing. My students have folders that they use daily. They store their writing in their folders and other reminders that I have for them. They personalize their folders at the beginning of the year to get ideas for writing (read more about that here!) Their favorite resource though? Their personal word wall!

I can not tell you how often I see my students reference their personal word wall. All. The. Time. The convenience of it makes it so easy for them to just pull out when they are unsure how to spell a word. Over the four sheets I have included 400 of the most commonly used words in writing for my young students. Therefore, they often find what they are looking for!
There are a variety of ways to use the folders.
-Print out all four sheets and glue on a file folder. You can glue one on the cover, two in the inside, and one on the back. Then, laminate for durability. You can make one for each of your students or a few to put out at your writing center.
-Print out all four sheets and combine with either staples or rings. Then, laminate for durability. Again, you can make one for each of your students or a few to put out at your writing center.
-Print out all four sheets and send home with students to use as a reference for writing while at home.
To see more about my $1 resource, just click the picture below!
How do you have your word wall set up in your classroom?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

LuLaRoe with Ali Vu!

Have you heard of LulaRoe before? I had, but did not quite understand how I could get my hands on these clothes. I heard that they had the best "buttery soft" leggings in tons of different prints. I had also heard that teachers LOVED teaching in them. When my college roommate Ali decided to become a LuLaRoe Consultant I was so excited to give the clothes a try!
You can find Ali's Facebook Group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/lularoewithalivu!  

In my opinion, teachers should get to wear comfy clothes that are easy to move around in to school. We rarely sit down, work with students on the floor, and bend down to pick things up while managing a class of 20+ students. This is best done in workout clothes, but those would not be acceptable. The next best thing? LuLaRoe!

Ali sent me leggings and a Classic T to try out. The leggings were just as soft and comfortable as I had heard. Even though they were "one size fits all" they fit me perfectly. I LOVED the print. In fact, they are called Disney's Small World! How perfect for a Disney lover?! I could see them being perfect in both the summer and winter and easily dressed up for wearing to school. The best part was how well they flattered my "post baby" legs. No dimples showed through! ;)
Just like the awesome leggings, I loved the Classic T. They have a large variety of tops to pick from, and even some dresses, skirts and kids clothes. The Classic T is perfect for a teacher. Easy to dress up for school, but also easy to throw on for the weekend. I am wearing an XXS here - and trust me I am not currently an XXS. The clothes traditionally run big...and I can't help but love what the tag says!
Want to try out LuLaRoe for yourself? You do not have to go through and search for a local consultant in your area. Ali has a Facebook group where she posts all of her inventory. You can join her group and shop from there. She gets new inventory every week for you to shop from. You look at her albums, decide what you want, and she ships it to you. How easy is that?!

Now for the fun part, I am hosting a giveaway where you can win your own pair of leggings! Want to enter? Just join Ali's Facebook page. The giveaway will end next Saturday, September 3rd at Midnight EST! 
Are you a LulaRoe fan? Never heard of it, or totally obsessed? Let me know!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Welcome to the World, Leo Paul Barnett! Part Two - The First Three Months & Nursery Tour

Welcome, friends! I am finally back with part two of Leo's first months with us. I seriously can not believe he has already been here for three months. I feel like it has flown by and snail-crawled by at the same time! In this blog post I will let you know how his first months have gone, my favorite products we have, and pictures of his nursery!
Someone told me that the first three months are the one of the most difficult times. Oh boy were they right. They also told me that they are some of the most precious moments you will have with your baby. Oh boy were they right on that one too! They definitely were not easy, but somehow we figured it out. I have read several books - What To Expect the First YearBaby WiseSecrets of the Baby Whisperer, and 12 Hours of Sleep by 12 Weeks Old. I have found each helpful, but the most helpful tip I have received is to not listen to what everyone says and do what is best for your baby.
Although I have a background in child development, I have never been around a baby for longer than a few hours. When we brought Leo home I seriously had no idea what I was doing (anyone felt the same?!) However, I was surprised about how easily it came to me. I learned his cries, what he liked/didn't like, how to hold him best, and how to quickly change that dreaded diaper. This is where my best advice came into play. There were things that I read you should or should not do that just didn't work for me. I was so happy that I felt empowered enough to go with my gut. All moms need to do that.
I can not tell you how much I loved to have him sleep on me at the beginning.
After we got passed the first six weeks give or take, we started to see just who Leo really was. We didn't realize what we were missing because we were caught up in the baby snuggles. Getting to know him as a person though has been oh so fun. It makes all the sleep deprivation and "no-time-for-yourself" worth it. He is just so happy to be here, his smile is contagious.
I want to share some of the products that have made our first months so much easier. When I thought about what it would have been hard to live without, these things came up. I could have made this list SO much longer than it already is. I was lucky to have a good friend help me with picking out the best car seat, stroller, pack n play, bouncer, etc. If you want to know what we have for any of those, just leave me a comment or email! I have added clickable links in the caption for you!
DockATot Deluxe - This little bed SAVED us! Leo kept startling when we put him down and woke himself up. He sleeps with it in his bassinest, crib, bed, wherever. Seriously worth the money!
Halo Bassinest - We were lucky enough to be gifted this. It is so sturdy and has so many features that make it so great to use. I feel so much more comfortable when Leo is sleeping right next to me. This eased my fears!
Motorola Monitor - I researched a lot of monitors and this one was the winner. I love all the features. I can talk through it, play music through it, and even check in from my phone! Don't tell my husband that I may or may not spy on him while I am away!
Babies R Us Cool Breeze Fan - Okay, this may seem silly, but this has been SO important! I love to be outdoors and take Leo on walks daily. There have been some hot summer days. This makes me feel so much better about taking him out! I bought another one on Amazon that quickly broke. This one has been great!
Little Einstein's Caterpillar and Friends Play Gym - Leo LOVES this play gym. I think the reason he loves it so much is the light up sun at the top. Many do not have that. He can just sit and stare at it all day!
Boppy Newborn Lounger - I originally just bought the regular Boppy. I figured I wouldn't need both. Then, I had a friend come over and tell me how much she loved her newborn lounger. I ran out that day to buy one and haven't regretted it! It makes "lounging" in a good spot so much easier.
Tag Blanket - When it came time for Leo to actually "play" I had no idea what to do with him. Luckily my friend had given me two of these awesome tag blankets from the Etsy shop (StitchingbySam) in the link. They were his first "toy!" He loves eating and playing with them. We don't leave home without them! They may not be listed in her shop - but she can make them. We also have bibs from her! 
Baby Brezza - Leo could not latch and I therefore could not breastfeed. That is a story for another day... Formula feeding is such a breeze with this device though. It makes a warm bottle in seconds. Seriously love it!!
I could talk to you about baby products all day, but I'll leave you with a few pictures from our nursery. I seriously had the best time putting it together. I didn't really want a "theme" of something like airplanes or dinosaurs. Instead, I just wanted bright colors with geometric prints. I had to add in my collage of children books. I know that it will not be long before he is making his own choices, so I am going to soak up this room for as long as I can! 
Crib - Amazon, Dresser - Local Painter, Chair - Buy Buy Baby, Lamps - Pottery Barn Kids

Friday, August 19, 2016

Jord Wood Watches - My must have watch for back to school!

What teacher doesn't love a good watch? Why not treat yourself with a unique gift of a wooden watch for back to school? Read on to learn more about my favorite new place to find woman's watches AND enter a giveaway!

We all know that keeping track of time is vital to the success of our days in the classroom. Getting off schedule can lead to the whole day being thrown off. To get yourself started on the right foot, I suggest you "treat yo self" to a new ladies (or mens) watch!
I love Wood Watches by Jord. I recently ordered a new watch for the school year. The one I picked out (it was SO hard to decide) was the Cora Series Purple Heart & Mother of Pearl watch. Check it out here! When I ordered I submitted my size, so when it came it was perfect for my wrist!
I wore the watch to school while I was setting up. Each teacher that I saw commented on how unique and cool it was. They loved the wooden elements, but also that you could see the mechanics inside. It kept me on schedule and was a fun distraction to look down to. I can not wait for my first graders to check it out. They always notice my accessories - so I am positive they will love it too.
Here comes the fun part! I love the watch so much, I am hosting a giveaway! To enter the giveaway, just CLICK HERE!! You can win a $75 e-certificate to a watch of your choice. Listen to this though...ANYONE who enters will receive a $20 e-certificate! The giveaway will end August 26th at 11:59 pm!

Wood Watch 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Learning Targets for First Grade

Having your students understand what they are learning is essential to helping it "stick." To do this, I post learning targets for my students to have a visual reminder. I do it in a very simple way though... Read on to learn more!
Posting learning targets is something that is being asked of teachers more and more. Although it is "one more thing" we have to do, it makes sense. Just like stating the objective to start the lesson, having a visual reminder of exactly what students are learning reinforces the teaching. This is a great book by Mike Schmoker on the topic.

I post learning targets for the week. I post one or two targets in each curricular area in an area that my students can easily see. We go through the targets on Monday so that they can get a glimpse into what they are learning and what the targets are.
As I am teaching, I move the learning target that we are working on to my focus board. It helps me to remember to state my objective. Let's get real here, does it always happen at the start of every lesson? No. There are times when it is the end of the day and I still have the target from the first lesson up. I don't worry though because I still have them up in my weekly overview.
After starting this process I have noticed my students understand exactly why we are learning so much more. They can grasp that I have a reason to teach them and that I have a goal skill for them to be able to do at the end of our lesson.

Do you use learning targets? I have posted my resource in my store for you to use in your classroom. You can click the picture below to download a free sample!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Using a Writing Folder for Inspiration in Writer's Workshop

Back to school is upon us! Are you thinking about changing your writing to a workshop model this year? Already have a workshop happening? Read on to learn about a fun activity that I use to start my workshop off with a bang!
How many times have you heard, "I don't know what to write about!" As a teacher it is a priority of mine to get to know my kids personally. At the beginning of the year we are still getting to know each other and it is difficult to help remind them of people they know or experiences that they could write about. That is where my favorite activity comes in handy!

My school purchases folders for each of our students to use during writer's workshop. We use Nicky folders, you can find them here! They have a clear pocket in the front and back that is just perfect to stick a piece of paper in. Instead of having the paper just be their name, or something I have made, I send it home for students to decorate! My students are free to add anything they would like - stickers, ticket stubs, pictures, menus, anything that will fit on the sheet of paper and lay flat! When they bring the two pages back (I send home cardstock for durability) they put it in their folder and use it for inspiration. It also makes a great jumping off point for conversation between the students and I as we are getting to know each other.
Want to give this idea a try? Click the picture below to check it out in my store. It is only $1.00!
How do you start off your writer's workshop? I would love to hear!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Simple Start to Flexible Seating for Young Learners (in a tiny classroom...)

Have you heard about flexible seating? It seems like everywhere I look I see teachers talking about it. Want to give it a try? Learn how I maintain a simple version of it my classroom!
Flexible seating has taken the teaching world by storm in an effort to make our classrooms more student centered. Think about where you work best. Is it at the exact same spot all day long where you have been told to sit? Is that spot a hard chair and a desk or table that you can not maneuver in any way? Probably not! If you wouldn't want to work in an environment like that, how can we expect our students to?
Just say no to seating in rows!
If you want to try to implement more flexible seating, there is not one right way to do it. You can make it work best for you! I have taken a little twist on flexible thinking to work with my young students. I teach my students that I want them to sit where they can do their best work. I give my instructions for each activity with my students either at their tables or at the carpet. Then, when they are ready to work independently, I let them know which flexible seating choices are open. We spend a lot of time in the beginning of the year practicing going to those spots. We see what they look and sound like when being used responsibly.

Many classrooms that have flexible seating options have no assigned seats. Students are free to sit where they would like and where they feel most comfortable. For me, I have had trouble embracing that idea fully with my young first graders. I have found that my students take comfort in having a spot that is theirs. I have also found that life with young students can be more manageable when they have a spot that they know and can return to quickly.

In my (tiny) classroom I have several tables for my students to sit at. I put their name on the back of their chair and that is technically their seat. I find this extremely helpful in the early days of the year because it helps them to have a spot while I take my time in explaining how flexible seating works.
Names on the back of chairs!
You may be wondering where my students keep their supplies if they just have a chair with their name on the back. I have done seat pockets before, but they are expensive and get messy. I have a rainbow cart for community supplies if we need them. My students keep a pencil at their desk with these awesome cord clips. Then, they used these blue boxes from Lakeshore Learning Store for the rest of their supplies. That's all they need! I do not have my students bring tons of supplies, and encourage them to stay organized. It works perfectly!
Cord Clips
Student's blue boxes for supplies.
Along with my tables (they often move their chairs around and sit where they would like) I have a few other choices for my students to choose from when working. My students have access to yoga mats, scoop rockers, ottomans, and pillows. They each have their own clipboard that they can grab when working at these areas. I know it doesn't sound like much, but I think it is just the right amount of choice for my young friends. Plus, it is all that will fit in my room!

I bought my yoga mats from TJ Maxx. You can usually get them for $7.99. My scoop rockers came from Wal-Mart and were only $4.88. I have heard of a lot of people finding them from Aldi also. My ottomans are from Target. I have bought them during the back to school craze in the dorm section. My pillow cases this past year came from Wal-Mart. I think they were around $3.00 each, but they were cute!
Yoga Mats and Pillows
Scoop Rockers
Black Ottoman
How do you incorporate flexible seating? I am always looking for new and fresh ideas to engage my learners. I would love to hear!
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