Classroom Pictures!

I’ve been working in my room for about two and a half days now, and I finally feel like I’m making progress! Two walls are mostly finished, and it is starting to feel like an actual classroom again! My classroom has some awkward parts to it. For example, one wall is almost a complete wall of different bulletin boards. Some are corkboard, some whiteboard, some large, some small, etc. The other wall is an unfortunate green carpet. :( That makes it a little hard to decorate, since the fire marshal has said too much paper is a fire hazard, so I did my best!

The first small bulletin board is our “Someone Special” board. Each week a different child gets to be the someone special. On Friday’s I send home a little backpack with an information letter, a blank poster, markers, and crayons. They decorate their own poster and bring pictures/other personal items to be displayed for the next week. Also during the week, each child in our class writes a letter to the someone special telling them what their favorite thing about them is. I put the letters into a book and present it to the child on Fridays. I also ask the families to write a letter telling why their child is special to them. We read those on Friday, and the child talks about their poster, pictures, and items. I start the year out with my poster and pictures. I think it’s a great way to introduce myself to the children. I even included a picture of me when I was in first grade! I usually don’t start sending home the backpack until about October, when they are more able to write letters to each other.

The next bulletin board is our Math Meeting. We do math meeting first thing every morning. Our school uses the Saxon Math program, with our own ideas thrown in. If you’re familiar with Saxon, you’ll notice I didn’t put all of their pieces up. They have too many activities to do! Not all are necessary. The white ones get turned around as we learn about those topics. The Student of the Day helps with Math Meeting, and all other tasks around the classroom. They also get to take the Mystery Box (see previous post) home that night.

Then we have our enormous word wall! (Not all shown.) I love this bulletin board! It is actually one whiteboard and one corkboard that I covered over. It has so much room to display all of the sight and vocabulary words we learn. I color code the words we put up – white are sight words, yellow are vocabulary words. It does look MUCH better when the words are up. Some letters have a lot of words, which is why they are not all equally spaced (I have a little bit of OCD when it comes to my classroom...).

My desk area comes next, but it is not ready for a picture yet! :)

The opposite wall is the carpet wall. It starts with our Birthday Wall. On the first day of school, each child gets to color a cupcake, which I then glue on to the birthday bags (brown paper bags). I’ll post pictures of it when it is finished. One boy in my class has his birthday on the second day of school, so I’ll have to be quick getting everything together!

Next are my computer and the children’s computers. They use them independently each day during workshop time. We also have a computer lab I try to take them to once a week. The colors are on top, a motivational banner, and two posters. Our principal is starting a new positive behavior system, and those two posters are part of that.

The last section is our Reading corner. The table is used when parents come to help, but is also there for children to sit and read. We also have bean bags, and a quilt. One of my friends/graduate school classmates came in last year to do a lesson. She had each child draw a picture of their favorite animal. Then she made a quilt out of their pictures! It is really neat!

There you have it. A short, first tour of our classroom. I’m looking forward to getting the rest of it ready tomorrow, so stay tuned!


Mystery Box

This is the mystery box:

Starting the first day of school, I send the Mystery Box home with a different child every day. This is my way of doing show and tell. The child then brings one interesting item to school to share with the class. They write three clues about the item placed in the Mystery Box, and the other children try to guess what is inside the next day.

And this is what the clues look like:

The class gets to make three guesses before the child shows what is in the box. This is one of my favorite times of the day. I love trying to guess what the children bring. They always try to show me what they brought, but I like to be surprised, too!


Pencil Jars

I saw this cute idea for pencil jars at Tickled Pink. I planned on getting pots and making my own to match my frog theme this year. As usual, I went to my favorite local craft store - Porter's - to purchase my supplies. Then I spotted these adorable pails. I thought they would make perfect pencil jars. I also love the fact that they have handles. Sometimes we go into other rooms to work, and this will be so easy to bring along. Then, I found the cutest frog scrapbook paper, printed the words, and voila! The most fantastic pencil jars!

To cut down on noise and distraction, we don't sharpen pencils during class. If a pencil breaks during class, they simply trade it for a sharp one. One of the jobs for the student of the day is to choose one recess to stay in and sharpen pencils for us. They seriously love this job! I've only had a couple boys who would rather go outside. If that's the case, I let them pick a friend to do their job for them. This simple routine helps our day run more smoothly.


Play Dough Fun!

I decided I needed to try out the play dough ahead of time, to see how it looked, how much it made, whether it did stain hands, etc. I had so much fun testing it out with my friend’s sweet little Max!

He’s a little younger than my intended audience… but just as cute and fun!

I’ve seen play dough mats on a bunch of different websites, so I decided to make my own. I only made a couple to demonstrate with Max, but I plan on eventually making some with numbers, letters, shapes, sight words, and names. I’ll laminate them after they are all printed and cut out. Then, the children will roll the play dough into little snakes, and form the words/shapes/numbers on the cards. I made them with the DJ Inkers font DJ Stitch. I couldn’t decide which font to use. I love all their cute fonts!

Mickey Mouse! Created by the super talented, Michelle!

Kool-aid Play Dough

Mix together:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 pkg kool-aid (unsweetened)
2 tablespoons cream of tarter

2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons oil

Mix 3-4 minutes or until cool enough to mix with hands.
Knead and store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

The play dough turned out great. I used fruit punch kool aid and it turned a really nice red and smelled delicious! I didn’t notice it to stain my hands, unless it did but was no darker than my actual skin color. I figured I will need to make 2 or 3 batches for the first day of school activity.


Teacher Week – Online Resources

It’s Teacher Week over at Babbling Abby! Today is all about online resources. There are simply too many great online resources for me to list, so I tried to narrow it down to my absolute favorite top three!

1. Florida Center for Reading Research – They have the best pre-made activities for the five components of reading, K-5. I’ve used most of them in my class for whole class, small group, partners, or individual activities. They work for everything! I’ve even referred parents to this site, and they love the fun activities and easy to follow directions.

2. PreKinders – This site also has a lot of pre-made activities. I first found this site while looking for pattern block patterns to use at a center. I found these lovelies. My class loves them and could play with them for hours! I then spent about twelve years searching the rest of the site finding so many activities I could apply to first grade. Time well spent!

3. SMART Exchange – My entire school is getting SMART boards and document cameras this year! I’m so excited! But, since I’ve never really used a SMART board before, I’ve been looking for some resources to help. This site is full of pre-made lessons for all grades and subjects using SMART boards. I can’t wait to use them!



I recently discovered eighteen25, and if you haven’t, go there now. They have so many cute and crafty ideas. I’ve already bookmarked several crafts I want to make from their website.

My favorites are:

This notebook (or several notebooks) for recording my teacher ideas, anecdotal records on children, conversations with parents, etc.

These “love notes” to write a personal message to each of my new first graders and sneak it into their folders to take home on the first day of school!

This “teacher’s treats” jar for m&ms, skittles, or something small like that. Once in a while I pass those out to children for participation, behavior, games, or just for fun!

But most of the time I save them for emergency chocolate breaks during recess or at the end of an especially difficult day!



As soon as I get into my classroom next week, I promise to post some new ideas and pictures. I can’t wait for the day when I finally get my keys!

But for now, check out my button. Now you can share me with the world!

Insert into an html gadget on the sidebar of your blog.



I have been so excited to make these activities ever since I saw it posted on Mrs. Cooley's blog. She used water bottle lids for hers. My mom, wonderful person that she is, brought me hundreds of little lids from the lab she works at. They are the perfect size! I used labels from Walmart – the garage sale circle kind – and small letter/number stickers from Michaels. I’m going to use a cricket to finish the rest of the number ones, since they are pretty limited on those sticker sheets. I think they are so so cute, and will make perfect workshop activities!

Ideas to use these lids for:
-ABC order with words/the children's names

-Patterning (use different colored stickers and have children create certain patterns - AB, ABB, ABC)

-Alphabet match up

-Alphabet caterpillar (put the letters in order)

-Counting caterpillar (put numbers in order, 1-10, even, odd, 5's, 10's)

She also brought me these little containers to store them in. Perfect fit!

I'm going to put a paper like this with each one.

After they make the caterpillar, they can write the numbers/letters/words on and decorate him! This will help hold them accountable during workshop.


Carson Dellosa

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Kool-aid Play Dough

This is the recipe for play dough my mom used to make for us when I was a little girl! It's perfect for the first day activity described below.

Mix together:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 pkg kool-aid (unsweetened)
2 tablespoons cream of tarter

2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons oil

Mix 3-4 minutes or until cool enough to mix with hands.
Knead and store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

You will most likely need to make a few batches, depending on how much you give to each child.

Have fun!


Hallway Chant

In the past, I’ve used a few difference poems and songs to get ready to walk in the halls, like this one from Really Good Stuff. I found I prefer having the children fold their arms. This leads to less problems and complaints of "he's touching me!". Last year, Mrs. Brown taught me a fun, first grade chant the kids LOVE to say!

Zip it, lock it
Put it in your pocket
Arms folded, feet straight
First Grade is really great!

Other teachers at our school have adapted it to say "Kindergarten is really great!" or "Second Grade is really great!". Here are the actions that go with it:

Zip it (pretend to zip your lips)
Lock it (lock your lips closed)
Put it in your pocket (put the key in your pocket)
Arms folded (fold your arms)
Feet straight (line up your feet)
First Grade is really great! (raise one arm in the air for a cheer!)

After saying the chant, we are silent and ready to walk through the halls.

Mrs. Cooley has several line-up songs she keeps on a ring by the door. She lets the line leader choose what song to sing. I think this is a great idea. I might add a few different lining up songs this year. Always a variety is much more fun!


This Day One Activity Is Easy as Dough-Re-Mi!

I found this great first day of school activity here.

In the past, our school has had a "Meet the Teacher/Bring Your Supplies" Day before school starts. After the budget cuts and new school schedule, we are most likely not having one this year. I'm so disappointed. I love meeting the children before school starts and helping them get excited and comfortable for the first day of school. When the first day comes, with all that supplies to put away, it does get very hectic! I love this idea of giving each child a plastic bag filled with play dough to play with. This can pass a lot of time and requires no teacher guidance - giving me time to collect and assemble supplies. This activity also provides the children with a fun activity to cool their back to school jitters!

Some tips for how to work the dough into an educational/getting to know you activity:
-use the dough to represent a favorite hobby or food
-use the dough to mold elements from a favorite book or story, etc.
-use the dough to create letters or build their name
-use the dough to represent a favorite summer activity

What activities do you use for those first few moments of the first day of school?