First Grade Brain Juice

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The first day of school will be here soon and so the planning begins. The first day is so crucial. I want my new firsties to have lots of fun but we also need to spend time learning our rules and procedures. We begin our day with a welcome and then we spend some time learning to unpack. We talk about our schedule for the day (they all just want to know when lunch is) and now the first hour of our day is GONE. 

We then move into our Scavenger Hunt so we can make First Grade Brain Juice. We need to switch our brains from kinder brains to new and improved first grade brains and this stuff can make that happen! (The kids LOVE this activity and they talk about it all year.)


We begin our scavenger hunt with a letter from Brian the Brain. The letter welcomes the kids to First Grade and provides them instructions for our scavenger hunt. Attached to the letter is Clue 1. We read the clue, discuss the riddle and try to figure out where we should go. Once we agree on the answer to the riddle we use our iPads to scan the QR Code to be sure we are headed in the right direction. 


When we reach Location 1 a bag filled with one ingredient and the next clue is waiting. As we travel through each clue we are collecting all the items needed to make our First Grade Brain Juice and the anticipation is building. 

Clue 7 leads up back to our classroom where students will cut-and-glue the sequence of our hunt.  (This allows time for me to prep the Brain Juice.) When it's time to drink our juice, I encourage them to drink it fast because if it starts hurting (brain freeze) it is working! - I LOVE First Graders! 

The kids have a BLAST with this activity and I am thrilled because we learned about important places in the school - I can now send them down the hall to the bathroom without worrying they will be lost. 

In the afternoon, we finish this activity with a graphing sheet included in the packet. Click on the picture below to check it out!


I had a request for a Second Grade Version click on the link to see it! 

B.E.E. Folder

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Let's face it, keeping a class full of first graders organized can feel impossible - but IT CAN BE DONE! When it comes to students managing their space, I am NOT a hand-holder and I refuse to dig papers out of my students backpacks, desks or folders. I am not trying to sound harsh but there are 25+ kids and only one of me. For that reason, I teach my students how to become independent, responsible and organized using B.E.E. (Bring Everything Everyday) Folders.

I spent some time yesterday putting together my students take home folders and wanted to share with you what these look like in our class. 


Each student is given a 3-ring 1 inch white view binder.  I put this cover page in the front sleeve so parents have clear directions on how to use the binder. 
The color code on the front matches our behavior chart. 

Inside the binder students have several things:
1. First, a zipper pencil pouch (they provide their own) to keep their Buzz Bucks. We use Buzz Bucks as a classroom reward system. Students earn $1 for every green light, $2 for blue lights and $3 for purple lights. Students earn $0 for yellow or red lights. Students use their money to shop from our Treasure Box on Friday. The prizes are sorted based on the cost of the item. The "coolness" determines the cost. :) 
I do not replace lost/stolen Buzz Bucks. Students know they are responsible for keeping them safe and their zipper pouch is the place to keep them.

2. Directly behind their zipper pouch is a page protector with their Weekly Homework Calendar and Weekly Newsletter copied back-to-back. Here is an example of what our first weekly homework calendar and newsletter looks like. At the end of the day, students color the box on their Homework Calendar to show what color light they earned. I have a space for behavior notes if needed and parents can look at the front of the folder to see the behavior color code. 
We send weekly homework calendars to allow students/parents more flexibility. 
This page stays in their BEE folder for the entire week.

3. Next is a laminated Handwriting Helper. This is copied back-to-back on cardstock paper. This stays in their folder at all times for quick reference. We use Spalding handwriting and it is very specific so this a helpful tool for parents and students to use when working on homework. 

3. Next students have their Sight Word List in a page protector. I have 20 Frye Word Lists that students progress through at their own pace. The list stays in their folder to practice nightly as part of their reading homework. When students are fluently reading the list of words, their parents sign the bottom and return it to school. They read the list to me (or a parent helper) I write the date they passed the list on the page pictured below and slide their next list into their page protector.  
Students are SUPER motivated to pass their Word Lists because they earn $5 in Buzz Bucks for each list they pass!

4. Finally the back pocket has their Decodable Reader or Take-Home Reader envelope. I have found the most reading growth occurs when I provide students with books at their reading level rather than asking them to choose a book from home. We copy and send home our Journeys Decodable Readers for students. Most weeks have 4 readers to accompany the story so students get a new decodable reader each day. 
I don't want to copy and staple these books every year so we store them in a manila envelope to keep them safe. The label on the front of the envelope provides instructions for parents and let's parents know that the book is school property and needs to be returned. 

AND that's it! 

That is how I keep my first graders organized and responsible for their own materials. Yes, there is a little prep-work involved and some training with students (and parents) but year after year I have helped my students become organized and taught them to INDEPENDENTLY care for their work using this system.  


I have posted our BEE Folders on TpT if you think this is something that could help your class. I included an editable cover page, the Sight Word Cover Page, all 20 Frye Word Lists, Buzz Bucks in $1, $5, $10 and $20 denominations and an editable Take-Home Reader label. 

The Garden

Friday, March 27, 2015

Our HMH Journeys reading story this week is The Garden from Frog and Toad Together. I LOVE this story! Frog and Toad are possibly my favorite characters for first grade readers. The story Cookies is my all-time favorite. We could all use a little of Frog's will-power with those cookies, the struggle is real!

Helpful Tip: Several of these stories, including The Garden have FREE videos available on You-Tube.

This story comes at the perfect time of year. I created this packet with supplementary resources to use for this story. I use many of the quick Print and Go pages as Lit Stations.

This week our grammar skill was subject pronouns and prefixes. We worked specifically with the re- prefix. We discussed what the prefix re- means and brainstormed words with that prefix. We wrote the words on our anchor chart and added this to our interactive notebook next to our suffix page. Later in the day the kids found the word RECYCLE on our blue garbage to add to our anchor chart, I am not going to lie I did a little happy dance - Yay! 


Since Frog and Toad is a fictional story I wanted to bring in some non-fiction text. I chose to use Seed to Plant as our companion text this week. I am obsessed with National Geographic KIDS books and this one might be my favorite. With this book we learned the parts of a plant, plant needs, amazing plant facts, about how plants are pollinated and so much more. 

We found a few great BuzzWords in our Seed to Plant book. I love hearing the kids add these words to their speaking and writing.
The end of the book has step-by-step instructions to planting lima bean seeds. We set-up a little assembly line in our class on Wednesday. Fingers crossed that by Monday morning we have some sprouts.  

We have a subscription to Scholastic Weekly Reader and this April Crunchy Carrots Grow! was perfect for this week. We used Kroger's Kindergarten's Response page to accompany this reader and it really challenged my kiddos to dig back into the text to find their answer. THANK YOU Kroger's Kindergarten, you are amazing! Best part: Her response pages are FREE!  

It was a crazy busy week and I am just exhausted! This afternoon as I read through my emails I came across this:

 This truly made my day! Thank you for the sweet words! :) I will be posting the next 2 Journeys stories this weekend: A New Friend and The Dot

Next week we are working on Amazing Animals and I will be back to share our learning. Have a wonderful week everyone. 



Goodbye Friend!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Why does it seem that only our favorite students move during the school-year? I lost one of my favorites this last week and I was so sad to see him go. His family is moving to Texas and I have known since the beginning of the year but it is still sad because he was SO GOOD. 


When students move from our class mid-year we make a little "Goodbye Friend!" book to make sure we all say a heartfelt goodbye and let our friend know they will be missed. I hope that this eases the transition for the student because we try and be encouraging about their move and new school. 

Each students writes a letter and illustrates a picture. We bind all the pages together and it becomes a cute little book. 

While the rest of the class is busy writing our letters, I ask the student who is moving to color the cover of their book (I provide them with a black and white version of the above picture).  

Here is a few samples of our latest "Goodbye Friend" book:



I would love to choose three people to win this newly posted product. Simply comment below with your email address and you may win!I will choose three winners on December 7th OR you can grab this fun "Goobye Friend" pack in my store. 


Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Week! I am very jealous of all the teachers who have Thanksgiving week off, we have school Monday-Wednesday this week. 

We have been so busy working on our Story of the Pilgrims Thanksgiving book. 


We make this book every year to go along with our study of the Mayflower, Pilgrims, Squanto, and The First Thanksgiving. The book turns our SO cute and my kiddos learn a ton! 
Here are a few of my favorite books that help us with our study of Pilgrims and Native Americans. My favorite of all is If You Sailed on The Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern!

We are also using the awesome FREEBIE from Sarah Cooley. We have been writing one thing each day in our journal. 

and my favorites...

"It's not happy people who are thankful, it's thankful people who are happy." - unknown
 I hope you all have a day to eat, relax with family, and reflect on the things you have to be thankful for. 


Happy Thanksgiving! 
 

Five for Friday October 3rd

Thursday, October 2, 2014

fiveforfriday2_thumb[3]


Divider 1
I posted Units 5 - 8 of Second Grade CORE Math today! YAY! These units are a total labor of love!
Each unit includes 10 days of everything you need to teach the second grade CORE math standards. These four units were created for 2nd quarter.  WOO HOO. Click on the "Math" tab on the top to see my Kinder and First Grade CORE Math Units!
Second Grade CORE Math Unit 5  Second Grade CORE Math Unit 6  Second Grade CORE Math Unit 7  Second Grade CORE Math Unit 8
    

Divider 2
I am currently on Fall Break! The weather in Arizona has FINALLY become cooler. I have been outside jogging and riding my bike in the morning and it is just AMAZING! I don't think I would have been able to stand one more day of triple-digit temperatures!
I Love Fall weather its the leaves changeing colors , pumpkins, harvesting the fields, cool brisk fall air perfect time to take walks

Divider 3
Our district adopted a new reading series this year, we are now using Journeys.
I have been hard at work creating resources for our new program. When we return from Fall Break we will be reading the book From Seed to Pumpkin. I created a little Print and Go Packet to use with the book.  You can read more about it here.
My daughter and I have had so much fun with this little unit.

Divider 4
Yes this is my kitchen right now! AHHHHHH!
We are doing a little kitchen remodel and let's just say we still have a LONG WAY to go! I hope in a month from now I will be posting pictures of a beautiful finished kitchen. Fingers Crossed!

Divider 5
Lastly, this is my newest project. Since I am not really helpful when it comes to the kitchen construction I have decided to devote my time to the decor. I have some drinking to do so I will see you all later! Happy Friday everyone!
 

From Seed to Pumpkin!

We have adopted Journeys Reading this year and part of Unit 2 is using the book From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer. YAY, a "REAL" book! We were given a class set of the book so we will be taking a small break for our weekly reading stories to focus on this book. We have some fun activities planned and I am so excited to take a break from our normal reading routine. 
I have been working on creating this new little packet to help. Note: This is NOT a Journeys packet so if you don't have Journeys you will LOVE it! 

We are going to start with an Anticipation Guide. I love hooking the kids right away and getting a brief look into what they already know and what misconceptions we may need to address. My kids love Anticipation Guides because they compete for the best score! :) 
From Seed to Pumpkin Print and Go Resources

We are then going to work on this little Pumpkin Life Cycle Book. I included pages for seed, sprout, vine, flower, green pumpkin and orange pumpkin. 

I also have included several graphic organizers, writing templates, vocab activitiy, ABC Order, Pumpkin Parts, Sentence Shuffle and a fun Pumpkin Investigation activity.

I had to get his Giant Pumpkin Puzzle from Oriental Trading. It was cheap and will make a FUN October/November Bulletin Board. 

We are going to finish our Pumpkin Unit by making these cute little waterbottle pumpkins! 

My daughter and I made this little guy today, SO CUTE and so simple with very little materials needed. Here are the steps if you are interested in making this with you kiddos. 

 

After pumpkins we are on to OWLS! I ordered my Owl Pellets today! 
I LOVE FALL! 
09 10