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Friday, March 21, 2014

Trade and Grade Time!

What is “Trade and Grade” you ask? It’s an amazing idea created by my friend Amanda from The Primary Gal. This month, instead of hosting a “Free-For-All”, as she has in the past, Amanda decided to have a blog hop. But not just any blog hop, each blogger was buddied up with a blogger friend and TPT author who teaches a similar grade. We then TRADED and GRADED each other’s work.

I was lucky enough to be buddied up with Abbey from A Teacher Mom. I was super excited to be working with Abbey since, we both teach first grade and we both LOVE to use games as a learning tool in our classrooms. I always think it’s neat that even though we are from different countries, (I’m from Ontario, Canada and Abbey is from Massachusetts, USA) we still have so much in common.

A Teacher Mom

I had the opportunity to use Abbey’s “Blends Phonics Games Pack”. It has a great spring theme. I don’t know about you…but enough of the polar vortexes and snow, I need some spring in my life!

What I loved about this games pack was that there were five main activities. The activities were easy enough that my students could figure them out quite easily. My students found them engaging and fun. This games pack gave the students an opportunity to practice reading words with blends or digraph blends at the beginning or end of the word.

Since I had five activities to try out, I broke my students into groups of four or five students and had them rotate through the activities, throughout the week during their working with words time.

A little about the games.

1. Bingo

 Each student received their own Bingo board. The students took turn flipping over the umbrella cards. If they had that card on their board they would place a counter on it. The first person to create a line vertically, horizontally or diagonally won the round. The students also played until someone covered their entire board.

What I loved about this game was that my students were totally engaged and that the game encouraged them to read the words on their board.

2. Memory

 Note to self: Read the directions. Make sure you make two copies of the cards or your students will never be able to make matches. Can you guess what I did? :S This game is played like memory. Students take turns flipping two cards. If they match they get to keep them. Don’t forget to encourage your students to read the words on the card.

What I loved about this center: I loved that it was a familiar game, and that it didn’t require a lot of supervision allowing me to focus more on the other groups.

3. Build and Spell-a-Word

This was by far my students’ hardest, but most favorite game. Students use the cards to build words. They then add up how many points each word is worth. My students then recorded their words and how much they were worth on the table. We ended up making a class table as well so students could record their word that was worth the most. Notice the phonetic spelling? LOL.

What I loved about this center is that the game aspect of it encouraged them to problem solve, to figure out which word was worth the most. I also loved how students worked together to create words that were worth more points.

4. I Have…Who Has…With Blends

My students played this game in small groups, but it could easily be played with the whole class. In their small groups the students formed a circle and received 4 or 5 cards that they placed in front of themselves. They then tried to see if they could work together to solve the “I have…Who has…” puzzle.

What I loved about this game is that it encouraged everyone to participate and to practice reading the blends.

5. Real and Nonsense Word Sorts

This was also another of my students favourite games. My students worked together to sort the words into “Real” or “Nonsense” words. The students thought some of the nonsense words were really funny sounding.

What I loved about this game is that it created some debate between the students over whether a word was real or made up. We had a resounding debate about the word “gust”. Some of the group was pretty sure it was a real word, but they weren’t positive and others in the group felt it was a nonsense word. The students decided to ask SIRI if it was a real word or not. (I thought that was pretty brilliant.)

Abbey from Teacher Mom has provided a sample of her games.

 You can check out the full version

Don’t forget to check out all Teacher Mom has to offer.

Don’t forget to stop by Teacher Mom’s blog to check out my game “Squish the Bug”!

Don't forget to enter the Giveaway!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Teachers For Taytum

Over 40 TpT sellers have come together to create bundles
to benefit the March of Dimes. We decided to put these bundles together
in honor of Taytum Connor.
"Teachers for Taytum" will donate all
of the profits made from the bundles in Taytum’s honor to help support the research of the
March of Dimes, March for Babies.
Please check out the bundles that are available below. There is something for everyone.

Taytum Connor was born at 29 weeks. Taytum received medications that are
available because of research promoted by the March of Dimes. Taytum's
care in the NICU would not be possible without the research and funding
March of Dimes has dedicated to preterm babies. You can read more about Taytum and the Connor family's story here.

There are several different bundles that are available for purchase. Check out the different options below. Click on the bundle picture below for purchase. Each bundle is only $10... an incredible value and an incredible cause!

Thank you for helping the March of Dimes, March for Babies!

These are some awesome bundles at a great price that you just shouldn't pass up... plus the proceeds benefit a great cause in the honor of a sweet little girl! Here is a sneak peek of what you can get in each of the bundles! I donated to the Math Bundle :)


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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Liebster Award

Wow! So, I was lucky enough to be nominated twice for the Leibster award by two great TPT Author/Bloggers. Earlier in the week I was nominated by Shanon from OCD in First and then yesterday by Jennifer from Stories and Songs in Second. The Leibster award recognizes new bloggers with less than 200 followers. Well that would be me! :)

About my Nominators:

Both of these women are part of a group that I belong to on Facebook. This group is one of the most welcoming, encouraging and supportive groups to which I have ever belonged. I truly appreciate the support of this group.

I first met Shanon because her 17 year old daughter designed my blog! I figured anything had to look better than what I would have created! Her daughter, Courtney from Blogs Fit For a Queen blew me away. 
Stories and Songs in Second-button

Jennifer is an active member of our group. I enjoy reading her insights and following her Facebook page and blog.

Shanon's Questions:

1.  When did you decide to become a teacher?
Growing up, I originally wanted be an archaeologist. Blame it on a love of all things Roman and Greek. By the time I had finished high school, I was debating between two things, acting and teaching. During my last year of high school I found the most amazing university program at University of Windsor called Drama in Education. It only accepted 25 people a year...and I was lucky enough to be one of them. It gave me an opportunity to do the two things that I loved, as well as to play animal tag, and to run around the room acting like a child for four years. :)

2.  What's the biggest ticket item you've bought for your classroom out of your pocket?
I've been pretty lucky. I haven't ever had to buy a big ticket item for my classroom. However, I do have a couple of obsessions that have cost me a fair amount. I love things to look pretty! When I was teaching Grade 7 and 8, Visual Arts, (one of my first jobs) I had a giant classroom with ten large bulletin boards across the back and around the rest of the room as well. My guess, between fadeless paper and bulletin board trim, and bulletin board letters, I probably spent almost $200. Please don't tell my husband!

My other teaching obsession is stickers! I can't pass them up. Whenever I see stickers I have to buy them. I have no idea how much I have spent on stickers through the ten years I have been teaching...but since I just spent $10 the other day when I found a Dollar Tree while on vacation, I can only imagine it would be a pretty big number.

3.  What do you find the hardest part of being a teacher?
I guess the hardest thing for me is balancing work and home life. I have tried really hard over the last couple of years to leave the stresses of school at school. I used to be miserable around report card writing time. I think I have finally gotten to the point where I don't think my husband knows when I'm writing report cards anymore. 

The big thing I am working on now is having patience at home. My daughters are the same age as the students that I teach, which makes life interesting. I feel like the issues I deal with all day at school are the same issues I will be dealing with at home.

4.  What snack do you have next to your computer at all times?
I'm not really a snacker. I do love peanut m&ms and Chicago style popcorn, but I don't have them around at all times. But I am a Diet Coke addict. Yes, Mom I know it's not good for me! 

5.  When you walk into the dollar store, what section do you head for first?
The craft supply section. Last year, I was unlucky enough to have a visitor in my classroom closet at school, and had to throw out 8 garbage bags full of craft supplies that I had accumulated over the years. Who knew that mice like to eat googly eyes!

6.  Do you have anything in your classroom that you should part with, but just can't seem to bring yourself to do it?
Thanks to my friend the mouse I  no longer have that problem. Ask me again in five years and I'm sure my answer will be different. :)

7.  Are you a coffee drinker?  If so, all day or just morning?
I actually don't drink coffee. I had my first cup the other day at Starbucks. It was a White Chocolate Mocha. I am a tea drinker. Right now, English Breakfast tea is my favorite. Mainly I drink it in the morning only. I like to have a warm cup in my hand to start the day.

Jennifer's Questions

1.  Who was your favorite teacher?  How have they influenced your teaching today?
Ms. Baltus was my favourite teacher. She taught me high school drama. She was one of the most patient teachers I had ever met. I was very quiet growing up (what am I talking about, I still am), but she was one of those people who was able to pull me out of my shell. 

2.   What is the best part of your teaching day?
I love first thing in the morning. I feel lucky when I watch the smiling faces of "my" kids  walk into the school. I love hearing their stories of what they did the night before, or hearing about how they lost a tooth.

3.  What is the worst part of your teaching day?
I'm not sure that I have a worst part of my day. I don't always enjoy yard duty and staff meetings are questionable, but that's about it.

4.  What are your hobbies, or how do you unwind after working all week?
I enjoy knitting, sewing, and reading a good book. I also find creating resources for my classroom and TPT relaxing. I know it's weird, but honestly it's my favorite thing to do.

5.  How do you spend your summers?
We usually spend part of our summer at my parents' cottage. This past summer for the first time, my girls went to day camp for two weeks. I felt like the worst mother ever, but I have to say I really enjoyed the alone time that I had, since my husband was also working. 

6.  What type of adult literature do you like to read when you have time?
I am a romance junkie. Enough said. :) I'm embarrassed now. 

7.  What new instructional practice have you found success with?
Over the last couple of years, my school board has really pushed the use of Learning Goals and Success Criteria. I think, that because it is clear for the students what they are learning and the things that they need to do to be successful (i.e. Success Criteria), it is helpful for my students. However, I wish sometimes it was more authentic and realistic.

8.  Do you love and use technology in your classroom, or are you sometimes intimidate or frustrated by it?
I am actually the computer contact person for our school. I'm not a computer wiz by any means but I love using technology in my school. I do all of my calendar activities on the SmartBoard this year. Which has been a learning experience. When it works, it is fantastic but when it doesn't...my kids are used to hearing, "Well I guess we'll try again tomorrow." My favourite piece of technology that I have in my room is my document camera. I love all of the possibilities it presents. Read Alouds are now big enough that everyone can read. Art lessons are way more effective since students can easily see the steps that I'm demonstrating. As well when I am demonstrating proper printing is easier for the students to see and to practice. I am also experimenting with iPads in the classroom. I wish that I could have my own set of 4 or 5 that I could keep on hand.

9.  What is your favorite type of treat to eat?
I love salt. Chips are my favorite.

10.  What is the most exotic place that you have traveled to?
We went to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon. That is about as exotic as I'll ever get. :)

11.  Do you have pets?  If so, what kind?
We have three cats. When my husband I first got married we made a compromise. I wanted a cat...he wanted an artificial Christmas tree. So we each got what we wanted. Our first cats name is Rocky (I refused to have a kid named Rocky so I was proactive and named the cat Rocky). Well it ends up that my husband loved Rocky so much, that he got Daisy, followed by Holly. And last year for Christmas I got a real Christmas tree. Pretty sure I won. :S

My Nomination

A Teacher Mom

I am nominating a Teacher Mom. I recently met Abbey when we were buddied up in the "Trade and Grade" that is coming up this Friday.

Questions for Abbey
1. What is your favorite holiday or celebration?
2. What is your biggest pet peeve?
3. If you were an animal what would you be?
4. What is your favorite season? Why?
5. What is your favorite sport?
6. What is your favorite food?
7. Is there anything that you say to your child(ren) that your parents used to say to you that makes you cringe?
8. What is your favorite subject to teach?
9. Who are your favorite sellers on TPT?

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

And the winners are...

Congratulations to Donna H. and Shelley S.!!!! Donna is the winner of the K-1 Giveaway and Shelley is the winner of the 2-3 Giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Donna and Shelley, Please check your email in the next couple of days for your prizes!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered!

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Show Us What You Bought Linky

For those who know me well, you know that I have a clip art obsession. I love making things pretty! I'm sure I help keep my favorite clipart artist in business. Needless to say when my husband found out about the TPT 3 Million Strong Sale, he just rolled his eyes and muttered "Here we go again."

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' to show you what I bought during the amazing two day sale. I have to say I was so proud of myself during my first purchase...then not so proud after my second and third purchases. I just couldn't resist this sale! I'm not even sure what I'm going to use all the clip art for but I couldn't pass them up. 

 I bought from some of my favorite clip art artists, like Scrappin Doodles, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs, Graphics From the Pond and Dots of Fun. I also found two new artists that I am in love with, Whimsy Clips and Teachers Clipart. Can you tell from my clip art purchases that I am tired of winter and can't wait for summer? :)

I didn't buy as many resources for my classroom during this sale because I had just bought a bunch of resources before the sale was announced. But these are two products that I HAD TO HAVE. I love Pink Cat Studio! Melissa's work is amazing. We are starting to read time this month in my first grade class and I also LOVE penguins, so Penguin Themed Clock Labels and Worksheets was the perfect purchase for me. 

Homework is the "bane of my existence"! The First Grade Common Core Homework Main Set is going to be a "lifesaver"! 

I hope everyone had fun shopping the sale! What was your favorite purchase?

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