Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Thanks to Charity Preston over at the Organized Classroom Blog and the Teacher Blog Traffic School, I found this AWESOME website:

Here's why it's so awesome:

* You can keep track of books you've read and give reviews.
* When you search for books (that you've read) to add to your shelf, 
   you discover new books to read!
* You can follow others and discover new books to read!
* This is another way to find out about supplemental material that 
   teachers have created to accompany books they've read (children's 

For example, I really wanted to do a Mark Teague author study this spring but didn't find too many books to share with my 1st graders, but one popped up as I typed in "The Three Little Pigs".  Can't wait to hunt it down and read it!

Here's what my quickly expanding shelf looks like!

Also, I don't know about you but in college I really wanted my Elementary Education classes to expose me to good children's literature authors...but they didn't.  And I have never really ever made the time to carefully prowl the aisles of my local public library to expose myself to authors and books that I should be reading to my students.  Fortunately this happened last fall when I was on maternity leave and got to take my daughter and newborn son to the library for outings.  But now Shelfari is helping expose me to more good children's literature from the comfort of my home (and jammies)!

Go check out this AWESOME website!
Go right now...I mean it!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Non-Fiction Animal Book Project

        Every spring my students each write and publish a non-fiction animal book.  Way back in January I pull out all my non-fiction book baskets and teach kids about the many helpful features of these fascinating books.  Writing a book that contains some of these features is our culminating writing project.  
       Even though I've done this for a few years, I always try to make it better each year.  This year, after some reflection and tweaking, was by far THE most successful for this project!  The main thing was LOTS of guided practice beforehand.  First, we wrote animal riddles.  Then, we all wrote a non-fiction animal books about the SAME animal, the leopard.  Finally, kids chose their own animal and because they had just written a leopard book, they knew exactly what to do (research----note taking----writing) and they did it SO well!
      Since I had so much success with this project, I wanted to share it with others!  It's aligned to the K/1/2 CCSS too.  I know there are other non-fiction animal projects out there on TPT or TN (I downloaded one myself when I started back in March) but know that there are teachers out there who might want to add this to their collection and use it.  I included photographs of the rough drafts and finished products so you can really see what I describe. 

Click here to preview it.

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 I hope you'll take a peek at it and maybe add it to your collection :)

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Class Yearbook

The last writing project I do every year is a class yearbook.
Our school has a yearbook but not all of my students buy one.
So we create a yearbook together that they can take home and cherish, and it's free.

The first few pages are done by me:

                               * letter to students 
                               * weekly schedule 
                               * class list 
                               * list of special things our classroom does/has 

then each student has their own page.  
I add photos that I've taken during the year too.
Lastly, I add an autograph page at the back and voila!

I still have my own Junior High and High School Yearbooks and keep them as if they were treasures...and I hope my first graders do the same.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Gorgeous Fieldtrip

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Don't you just wish you could jump right into this photo?  We did!

This past week, our last week of school, we took an awesome fieldtrip out to the Eagle River Nature Center (Alaska).  We learned more about nature and Alaskan animals (one of our science units of study).  It was breathtaking!

Above we were spotting tiny salmon.

This crazy bunch of kids made THE most reading progress in all 14 years of my teaching career, wow!

Many times, for many reasons, I find myself saying "Only in Alaska!"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Class Yearbook

Quite a few teachers at my school create memory books for their students. They take pictures and collect items throughout the year....and then frantically glue and laminate everything at the end of the year.  I'll admit that these memories books look fantastic (and I hope my daughter gets to do one next year when she's in Kindergarten) but I've never been able to do them myself because it seems like such a HUGE time consuming thing I can't wrap my organizational head around.  So I came up with something else: a class yearbook that we create and put together the last week of school.   

Every student gets a page on which to write about themselves, I include photos that I've taken during the year and include a few pages about our classroom (list of students, list of special memories, our weekly schedule, etc.).

Click on it to get it! 
Or visit my TPT store to get it!

Our school creates and sells school yearbooks, but having a class yearbook is a special keepsake that celebrates and remembers our year together.

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Little Girl is 5!

I have a 5-year-old....I still can't believe it!
Next fall my little girl will be a Kindergartener and everything will change.

We both have a sweet tooth!
Last night I put together a photo montage set to music of her life thus far and cried happy tears as I relived so many wonderful memories. This girl is SO much like me it's crazy, for better or for worse.  I've loved watching her grow and change and have delighted at the many teachable moments and discoveries we've had together.  It's awesome to be a teacher and a mom at the same time! 

She cracks me up with her kookiness!
I am so excited that she will be coming to my school next fall and am taking on a student teacher so I can go volunteer in her classroom for the 6 weeks when I have to give over total control.

Mother's hold their children's hands for a while, their hearts forever.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Five For Friday!

Spring has arrived in Anchorage!

I went on a great run on Wednesday, from school, in the 60 degree sunshine...but boy my calves hurt the next day :(  

TGIF, so

1)  Remote control LED lantern light from Pier 1, woo hoo!
This is how I show kids "I'm busy" and can't be disturbed at the moment.

My cuties Skyping grandpa

Doing a Mother's Day art doesn't happen often in my room because I'm a neat freak, but they had fun and did a great job!

Our 3rd annual kids' triathlon that I and another teacher started, so EXCITED!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Sale

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week at our school, but I see many others are celebrating this week....including TPT. I know I have lots of stuff on my "Wishlist", so I'm going to use the promo code TAD13 when I check out so I can save some $$. You can also save an additional 10% on ANY of my TPT products if you want to check them out.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Common Core State Standards

I'm up in Alaska where the CCSS have been the buzz this year...

But that leaves me wondering if we're way behind on learning about them?

In any case, I'm trying to familiarize myself with them and keep them current in my brain (along with all the other stuff buzzing around in there).  I'm a very visual learner, so I made some "cheat sheets" for Reading, Writing and Math.  I attach them to these subject area folders that I use for my lesson plans, etc.

I'm linking up with 
to share them with K-2 teachers.
Even if you're not a 1st grade teacher, Kindy teachers can keep them as a reference for what their students will walk into when they leave them.  And 2nd grade teachers can keep them as a reference for what their students just came from and should be capable of.

Click on the photo to grab this freebie!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Let there be light!

This year I went with an Outer Space 
classroom decor theme.

I found these round paper lanterns at Pier 1 and spray painted them.
My colleague made me some cute black puffy paper things to go with them and they now hang above each table grouping (team).  There is a small light in each one and, with batteries, can be turned on by a little switch.  But since they're so high, I don't ever turn them on. The lanterns over my team groups are "planets" and the big yellow one over my desk is the "sun". 


But this past weekend I was at Pier 1 again and saw they have LED lights that you can hang in a lantern....that can be controlled by a remote!!

I bought this sign (at Target), which lights up via batteries, to show students when I was talking privately with a student(s) but it wasn't very bright and the batteries faded quickly.  Well now my IDEA is to turn on my "sun" via remote when I'm busy at my desk!

I'm sooooooo excited to use this!  And I'm now thinking about getting a light for each team group's lantern and what I would use it for when it's lit up :)