Mrs. B's First Grade
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The Jelly Donut Difference by Maria Dismondy

As teachers we get the privilege of being an important role model who can spread positive messages. One of the ways we can do this is through the books we choose to read aloud. I am a HUGE fan of Maria Dismondy's books because they are truly written to make a difference. Did you know she has a new one? Read on to hear about it and enter a giveaway!
Maria's latest book, The Jelly Donut Difference, came at the perfect time in our school year. The main themes in the book include traditions, helping others, random acts of kindness, and spreading love into the world.

Spring fever has officially hit in our classroom and we needed some redirecting to turn our energy into positive actions. The book was the PERFECT mentor text for this!

Maria was sweet enough to send me the book to review with my students. Along with the book came a second for me to pass on to another teacher (how kind!)
One of the many fabulous things about each of Maria's books is that she includes a readers guide and activities to go along with them. I downloaded the readers guide for the book here. I used that to help me plan to use the book to its fullest.

I started our week with the book by reading it to my students. You can check out a trailer of the book below.
video
We used the comprehension questions in the readers guide to talk before, during, and after reading the book. Some of the questions that my students had strong feelings towards included; "Do you know someone like Ms. Marvis?", "Has anything like this ever happened to you? Does it remind you of something?", and "If you could talk to Dexter and Leah, what would you say to them? What questions would you ask them?"

I just happened to be teaching character change in our readers workshop. There was a page in the readers guide about how Dexter and Leah change in the story which was perfect! It was great to reinforce the skill and for me to check their progress.
On another day during our week, we revisited the book and talked about making a difference and random acts of kindness. My kids were hooked on this topic. We made a chart with random acts of kindness that we could perform at school. We decided to hang it up and put a checkmark next to each activity once we completed them. We made the choice not to cross them out because we thought it was important to complete the various acts multiple times.
One of the last activities we did included writing book recommendations. This fit perfectly with our opinion writing unit. We loved reviewing the book. I am happy to say that each student gave it 5 out of 5 stars!

Are you ready to grab the book yourself? You can buy it here! Or, you can enter the giveaway below. Entering is easy peasy and you can have up to three entries! The winner will be chosen in one week, on Tuesday March 21st.
Do you own any of Maria's books? I would love to hear how you used them in the classroom!

Scholastic Printables Review and Giveaway

What teacher doesn't love Scholastic?! My classroom library is filled with their amazing and affordable book collection. I love looking through their catalogue at educational toys and supplies for teaching. Did you know that they also have a HUGE site with printables? Read on to learn more AND enter to win a one year subscription!
I was so excited to be asked by Scholastic to partner with them to host this giveaway. Scholastic is providing both the prize of a one year subscription and a sample subscription for myself.

Scholastic Printables gives you instant, unlimited access to thousands of skills sheets, activities, lesson plans and more. The classroom resources are created by teachers and vetted by our trusted friends at Scholastic. You can save time and money, and browse with confidence.

I started searching the site as soon as my subscription was activated. There is SO much to look at! I found myself finding activity after activity that would be perfect for my students and a blast to teach.

You can search the site by subject, grade, or theme. There is also a huge mini-book section and a "make your own tool" category to name a few.

With March and spring here, I found three perfect lesson plans to implement into my classroom right away. I found a mini book that was the right Guided Reading level titled "The Wind and the Sea." I read it with a small group of students and let my students take it home after. This little one brought it back the next day to show me she colored at home!


I also found a close reading activity on flying and an ENTIRE UNIT for science! Both included such detailed instructions for the teacher. Close reading is always tricky for me, and this lesson was easy peasy. The science unit even included letters to send home.


Want to try out some lessons with your students?


The Truth About the Tooth Fairy - First Grade {Click here to download!}
How much money will the Tooth Fairy give Ali Gator when he loses his teeth? Kids count the coin values of each tooth to find out. Also includes a lesson plan and extension activities.

Spring Fever: Poetry Frame - First Grade - Third Grade {Click here to download!}
Jumpy, springy, wild and ding-y? Invite students to share how they feel in spring, and then have them fill in the blanks on this poetry frame to create their own compositions.

Springtime BINGO - Pre-K - Third Grade {Click here to download!}
Students will enjoy learning more about spring with this vocabulary-building bingo game. A 24-word list, from bees to wildflowers, is included, or you can customize the game with your own word list or math facts.

Reading Umbrella Graphic Organizer - PreK- Third Grade {Click here to download!}
Encourage students to explore many different types of text by recording each student's reading on this fun graphic organizer.

Ready to win a subscription?

You can win a ONE YEAR subscription to Scholastic Printables by filling out the rafflecopter below! You can enter by completing one of the options, or gain more entries by completing all of them. Ready to purchase a subscription now, or miss the giveaway? Just head to the Scholastic Printables site to sign up on your own!


Love Scholastic? Give them a follow with the links below. Do you already have a subscription? Leave me a comment and tell me about your favorite resources!

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Brag Tags for the iPad

Have you heard of brag tags? Who hasn't?! I love having any sort of individual behavior incentive that highlights positive choices. However, cutting all those tags and handing them out just doesn't appeal to me #aintnobodygottimeforthat. I have thought and thought about how I could put a technology spin on them when it finally hit me... Read on to learn how I did it!


I am very lucky to have a 1:1 set of iPads in my classroom. My students have an iPad assigned to them for the school year. When I first began thinking about how I could use our iPads for brag tags, I figured that I needed to find an app that could host pictures. That is when it hit me though...we could just use our photos! 


The beginnings of a Pad Pic album!
I am a big advocate for utilizing native apps on the iPad (I use this native app boot camp packet to teach my students.) There is so much that you can do within the photos app. One part is making photo albums. I realized that I could just airdrop (or message or email) brag tag photos and then my students could either have them in their photos, or make a photo album with them.

Did I make that sound simple? Sound complicated? 

Don't worry, it's not hard and I'll walk you through it! 


While creating my brag tags (which was SO much fun) I made two different types. One for my friends who would rather print their tags and hand them out like that. The second type was an 8x8 picture of each tag. This option is for the iPad (sorry, it is not compatible with a Chromebook or Kindle Fire.)

I basically couldn't stop creating tags and ended up creating 117 tags...with plans to make more! I decided to bundle them into one set so you wouldn't have to purchase multiple sets. The brag tags range from holidays and special days to school subjects and praise. I am also completely open to any tags you would like to have. Just email me! 


Pad Pics! 
Brag Tags!
If you like the traditional brag tags, all you do is print, laminate, and cut! You can print them in grayscale (directions in resource) or in color. You can hang them on necklaces (Black Stainless Steel Ball Chain Spool, KinHom 30 Inches 2.4mm Bead Size 3 Rust Proof Jewelry Necklace Link Dog Tags Sets for Men and Women (50 PACK)), put them in zip lock bags, the possibilities are endless! 


Back to how I got them on our iPads...


First, I sent the pictures from my computer to my iPad. You can do that in a variety of ways. I have included EXPLICIT directions in my product download, but below are the basics.


-If you have a Mac transferring your pad pics to your iPad or iPhone is as simple as AirDropping them. Never AirDropped before? Don't worry, I explain how in the download!
-If you have a PC, you will download the pad pics directly through either a Google Drive link or a Dropbox link that I have included in the download. Once again, I have explicit directions for you!

Once I had the pictures on my iPad, I needed a way to get them out to my students.
 -I AirDrop my pad pics to my students. It is easy peasy. I will tell you how!
-If you do not want to AirDrop, you can always email or iMessage them if you have access to those!

What it looks like when a pad pic is AirDropped to a student.
Now that we have the technical stuff figured out, I made a routine for handing them out that was easy to remember. 

I have built in ten minutes to my schedule on Fridays to send pad pics to students. It is the perfect time to reflect on the week, and spotlight students for their efforts. I find ten minutes is plenty of time to send SEVERAL pad pics to students.

I do hand out pad pics during the week also. If I notice a student who needs to be recognized immediately for their efforts, I will stop what I am doing and send one to her/him. I will also randomly give out pad pics when I feel my class is having trouble behaving, but I have a few kids that are following directions. This is a great way to redirect my students.

I hand out pad pics on special days (like holidays) to recognize them instead of waiting until the end of the week. Once you start using pad pics in your classroom,  you will naturally find what works best for you. There is no right or wrong answer!

I have created a tracker to keep track of who you have handed pad pics out to. My students are pretty good at reminding me though! 


Tracking sheets to remember who you have given pad pics to!
Interested in giving them a try? I have both a freebie and a full product in my Teachers pay Teachers store. Interested in the traditional brag tags? I have those too! Just click HERE (not the covers) to check them out.

 
 

Do you use brag tags in the classroom? I would love to hear how you implement them!

**This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links.

The Happy Dandelion Interactive Reading Apps

As a 1:1 iPad teacher I am constantly looking for great apps. They can be hard to come by because there are literally thousands upon thousands out there. When Josh Wilson from The Happy Dandelion reached out to me to see if my students wanted to try some of their interactive storytelling apps, I excitedly said yes!
Josh and his wife Donna are a husband-wife team behind The Happy Dandelion. Among other things, they create Interactive Reading Apps. They sent me four apps to try out in our classroom. The apps were; The Boy who liked Pink & The Girl who liked BlueA to Sea, The UnStealer, and Little Lamb in Amsterdam.

Each of the four apps were interactive storytelling apps. This means the app is a picture book, but the user can interact with it. Each time my students and I opened the apps, we found new ways to interact.

As a teacher, I appreciated that my young students were able to touch the words on the pages to hear the story read aloud. They could read along with the narrator and be exposed to words they might not have in books they are reading at an independent level.

I also appreciated how each of the apps had several learning opportunities to them. There are clear social-emotional messages along with fun facts for the students to learn.

My students were beyond impressed with the illustrations and sounds in the app. They were engaging and brought the readers in. They didn't even realize all the skills they were working on.

We used the apps in a variety of ways. We read and listened as a class during our read aloud time, students used the apps independently during their reading time, and I looked at the apps with a small group of students.

Another perk? The apps have no in-app purchases, advertising, external links, or access to social media. Perfect for the classroom!

The Boy Who Liked Pink and The Girl Who Liked Blue
The Boy Who Liked Pink and The Girl Who Liked Blue is perfect for today's discussions of gender stereotypes. The interactive app has you follow a conversation between a boy and girl. They both give reasons and opinions as to why they prefer one color over the other. In the end, they realize they have more in common than they think. This app is perfect for teaching that kids can be whatever they want to be.


A to Sea is an alphabet book with GORGEOUS illustrations that come to life. The animals included for each letter are unique and interesting to both kids and adults. Each page comes with a fun hidden fact that you can choose to reveal or not. My students were mesmerized by this one. It was perfect for our read aloud and led to great discussions.

The UnStealer
The UnStealer once again combines beautiful illustrations with a positive message for students. The UnStealer is a thief who steals the "un" from descriptive words which helps to turn a negative situation into a positive one. 

My students loved the part of the book where the UnStealer helps Chompy the dog. "Chompy was quite an unfriendly dog and he was untrained too." The UnStealer comes to steal the "un" away and Chompy turns into a dog who is kind to the mailman and rescues cats! It took a bit for my students to understand what the UnStealer was doing, but once they did they connected with it.

Little Lamb in Amsterdam
Little Lamb in Amsterdam is about a lamb exploring the Netherlands. Little Lamb lives on a farm in a small village. She is curious what is outside her gate, so she decides to go explore. She hops on her purple bike, puts on her pink helmet, and sets off. The app takes the reader on Little Lamb's adventure. Each page includes hidden facts about The Netherlands. Little Lamb explores far and wide, but ultimately decides to return home to her family. This app had a sweet message for my young students, but included so much more rich information for the older students. 

Have you checked out any of The Happy Dandelion's apps? I would love to hear what you think! 
Click to visit The Happy Dandelion!

Five Organization Tips for the Busy Mom

Calling all busy moms (and dads! and adults without kids!) Working or not, we have very little time to ourselves and the household we are trying to run. The only way to survive is to be organized. Read on to learn my top five tips that have helped me to stay on top (and dare I say ahead?) of my game!

"A Sunday well spent brings a week of content." #TrueStory, right? I have a Sunday routine of planning my week out that helps me to be my most successful self. 

First, I fill out my dry erase board. I used my silhouette to create three rows for each day of the week. In the first set of rows I write if we have any obligations other than work. In the second set of rows, I write my workout plan. In the third set of rows I write our dinner plans. 

The best part? Crossing each day off as I accomplish it.

It is so much easier for me to workout when I know there is only a certain time to fit it in. Also, we avoid the usual 8:00 pm "I'm starving" argument when we know what we are eating for dinner.
My "command center" in my kitchen.

I deleted my Silhouette file, I so can't share that with you. I found this great dry erase board at Amazon though.
Just click the picture!
As a working mom who formerly spent a great deal of time on my fitness, it is important for me to semi keep it up. I add in my workout plan to my board, but I have also made myself a weekly checklist.

Have you ever used a reward chart with kids? Well, why not use one with yourself?

I put a star on the days that I accomplish what I set out to do. I use this for my fitness, but you could use this for anything that matters in your life! Click the picture below to download one (and four other ones with different quotes!)
As a teacher mama, staying organized at school is key to me being able to work within my 40 hour work week. Let's be real, teachers usually put in WAY more hours beyond their contract. I am doing my best to stick to mine so I spend as much time as possible home with my little man.

The one tool that truly helps with this is my checklist notebook. I have to use my planning periods wisely (and not spend the 30 minutes gossiping...) so I have figured out what I need to do each day in order to get everything done for the week.

It is possible to get your work done during the week and still be a great teacher.

You just need to be organized.

(I'm not claiming I don't always work a 40 hour week and get all of my work done at school. #LetsBeReal)

The book that I write in is below. I created it with a mix of checklists from Schroeders Shenanigans in 2nd TpT store. I LOVE crossing things off my list.
video
If you want to make more of a checklist for your home life, I found this great magnetic chart on Amazon that you can fill in.
Just click the picture to be taken to Amazon!
I am always looking for shortcuts that could save me minutes. Minutes can add up to hours, right?! 

One small thing I did at school was buy another charger cord. That way I could leave my cord at school each night and not have to pack/repack it. I also pack all of my lunches on Sundays and leave my coffee cup with sugar and my K-Cup out each night when I'm doing the dishes. 

Another area that I have learned to take a shortcut from has to do with my hair! 

Leaving Leo at home to go work is hard. I have to remind myself of the things I get to do while working that I do not do while at home. Sounds silly, but one of those things is actually blow drying my hair! It is nice to wear it down and not get pulled...

Having a great hairdryer is key to this. I did my research and I saw SO many people loving the BayBliss Pro and talking about how it not only dries your hair quickly, but takes good care of it. I am happy to say that they were right. It is speedy and my hair looks great. 
Best hairdryer ever! Click the picture to learn more.

While we are talking hair - this stuff works like a charm too! 
Who has watched the minutes tick by as you stand in front of your closet trying to figure out what to wear? Or, tried on an outfit only to rip it off and create a huge mess? I've solved that with a simple clothes organizer!
Every Sunday I plan out my outfits for the week. It is usually when I am putting away my laundry. I look at the weather and think about what activities I have each day. There are days where I change the outfit, but honestly that doesn't happen often. I love knowing what I am wearing each day and it makes my morning routine go by even faster.

I suggest a clothing hanger like the one below. Six shelves works well! I either plan outfits for the weekend, or use the sixth shelf to put my socks and everything else I need for the week. You can click the picture to be taken to it.
Want to add the pretty labels like I did? Just click the picture below to print them! I laminated mine and then just used fun tape to hang them.
Click to download!
I hope you gained some helpful hints! What organization tips work for you?
 
**This post contains some Amazon Affiliate links.
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