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First with Franklin

Saturday, March 31, 2012

27 Days Left!

Are you kidding me?  I'm freaking out just a little right now because I just did my countdown to the last day of school and we only have 27 days left!  How is this even possible?  I still have so many things I want to do with my kiddos and now I don't know how I'll have time.  I just ordered our caterpillars to make sure that they arrive in enough time to watch the metamorphosis.
I normally do some kind of countdown activity with my kiddos once we get to 20 days left.  I found this cool idea from Jackie at Mrs. Gray's Pond on Pinterest.  (It's okay to roll your eyes every time I mention the P word- my husband always does! ha)  You put a fun activity in each balloon and then pop one each day for the last 20 days of school.  What's more fun than busting balloons?

I think I'm going to try it with my kids this year.  I'm thinking about making it a behavior incentive since it seems like spring fever is in full force already.   Now I just have to come up with my 20 awesome ideas.  Anyone want to give me some recommendations?  Do you have any other cool end of the year traditions?Pin It

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Almost Spring Break!

I can't believe Spring Break is only a week away!  This year has flown by so fast!
I found this awesome resource on Pinterest this week and I see it taking up most of my spring break.  =)
Classroom Booksource is a way to organize all of your books and let students check them out.  You can scan books in using your smartphone, iPod, or iPad (they also have apps for both Apple and Android products).  I so excited about this because I'm hoping it allows me to keep track of what books students are reading and even allow them to take AR books home on occasion.  Did I mention- it's totally FREE??? That's the best part if you ask me.  Here is a video if you want to learn more.

Right now, I have my books sorted by AR levels and colored coded with sticker so that my kids can easily select and put away books correctly.  Just last week one of my sweeties from last year brought an AR book back to me that he had accidentally taken home last year.  (He found it while cleaning his room- ha!)  I had no idea it was gone.  I think this awesome website and app will help me keep track of books and even save me some money.  I hope some other people are as excited as I am about this!  (I know I can count on some of my teacher friends to be nerdy with me- right?!?!)

Also through Pinterest (have I mentioned how obsessed I am?), I found this lovely blog: Sweet Blessings.
She had found through Pinterest (are you rolling your eyes yet to the number of times I've mentioned Pinterest?  If not, Pinterest. hehe) a cute saying and made this great little sign to go along with it.  She has a link on her blog to download it for FREE!

I love, but it didn't quiet match the rest of my classroom posters, so I decided to make a very similar version, but with my classroom color scheme.  Feel free to download it, but please make sure you visit Sweet Blessings!

I hope everyone is having a great weekend- it's almost Monday!  

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Monday, March 19, 2012

iPads and iPods- How I Got Them For My Classroom

A couple of people have mentioned how they would love to have iPads or iPods in the classroom.  I am lucky enough to have 1 iPad and 3 iPods in my classroom.  I got these items a couple of different ways.

The iPad was purchased with grant money.  Our local United Way and The Insurance Store have sponsored a classroom grant contest the past two years in our community.  This year, each applicant had to make a classroom video showing how students are Living United.  Then, we had to rally our supporters and have them vote for our video.  The prize was $400.  Our class received a grant for $400 and I asked our PTO for the other $100, which they generously gave me.  However, I was prepared to use my own money to finish funding if they did not.  So, be sure to check out local resources and grant contests.  We have several community grants each year- our electric company, Chamber of Commerce, and several others.  Walmart is a good place to check, too, they have Foundation grants and volunteer donations.

Our iPods came from Donors Choose donations.  If you have not heard of this you should really check it out.  You can choose items from their sponsored stores (or once you have successfully completed a campaign you have a little more freedom) and ask for donations.  All of my donations came from friends, my family and students' families.  People can give small or large amounts.  I posted my campaign on our school's PTO Facebook page, as well as my own.  I have also donated small amounts to other teachers- it's a great way to help each other.

My third iPod came from my mom.  I know... she's awesome!  She had an iPod Touch and when she got her iPhone, so donated the touch to my classroom.  She is always doing great stuff like this for my classroom.  Love my mama!

Does anyone else have any creative ways to find extra money for your classroom?

Since my giveaway item wasn't claimed, I'm going to draw again.  So..... 
Congratulations to Amber from Classy Confessions!  
You won the personalized cup.  

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Giveaway Winner & A Rest Day!

Congratulations to Constance H. for winning my giveaway contest.  Please contact me to let me know what you would like your cup to say!

Yesterday, I ran a 5 mile race in St. Louis with some friends of ours.  I didn't do as well as I would have liked, but it was my first 5 mile race and I didn't pace myself well at the beginning.  
Ready to run- great picture in front of the porta-potty, huh?  haha
I'm on the far right with my hubby.  

Oh well- I did finish, and that's most important!  I'm trying to decide if I'm ready to run a 5K next Saturday.  There is one in my hometown and it is for a great cause.  I think I'm going to let my husband make that decision.  

So, today I'm going to take it easy and work on lesson plans for now until spring break (only two week- whoop whoop!!!)  I only have 8 more weeks to plan this year- THAT IS CRAZY!  This year has flown by... and I know why.  I have an awesome class this year and they make each day pretty easy and cheerful.  I'm going to miss this group of littles!  

I always do a butterfly house and we watch caterpillars turn into butterflies.  I'm excited about a new hallway project for my butterfly unit.  Click the link to her website to check it out.  I got my new idea from Gena, over at The Techy Teacher- if you haven't been to her blog you HAVE to check it out.  She has loads of awesome ideas!  This is one of my favorite units to teach and I find new things to add to it each year.  I always have the students keep a journal and write observations and draw pictures each day to show the changes.  Does anyone else do a butterfly metamorphosis unit?  If so, what are you favorite ideas?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Not-So-Winter Weather and Currently

Can you believe that it is technically still winter???  We are having some majorly unseasonably warm weather- our area actually broke a record today.  Every day when we're doing calendar I giggle a little when we read the season.  Of course, now the kiddos think it's hilarious that we are sweating while we're reading "The season is winter..."
Yesterday, I wanted to be outside SOOOO badly because we had such gorgeous weather.  I decided to check and see if our iPad and iPods would get a signal on the playground and guess what?  They sure did!  So, we grabbed some books and headed out to read and take AR tests outside.  I told my students if they read quietly for 15 minutes I would let them play while they were waiting their turn to take their tests.  I don't think I've ever had a reading time where they worked so hard! =)
We made dinosaur hats today- doesn't this one kind of freak you out?  haha!

I love having an administrator that supports these spontaneous little moments we sometimes have.  Have you had a chance to head outside for any lessons this year?

Even though I'm a little late, I also linked up with Farley's March Currently.  =)

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Monday, March 12, 2012

K-2 Linky Party, Teachers Taking Care of Teachers and Giveaway Reminder

Jeannie over at Kindergarten Lifestyle is hosting an awesome Linky Party to try to find all of the super cool Kindergarten, First, and Second grade blogs out there.  So, if you have a K-2 blog come on over and going us... because as Jeannie said, "WE ROCK!"

We live very close to the area in Illinois that was hit by the tornadoes.  It was devastating to the area.  I can't imagine not only losing my home, but also my classroom.  I know that most of us teachers put so much into our classrooms that it would be hard to start over.  So, I'm going to pledge to help out a local classroom.  Please go to Kreative in Kinder to find out more and Link Up!

Also, don't forget to enter my giveaway!  
You can enter once each day if you follow my blog.  =)  Good luck!  I went and grabbed the cup for the giveaway today- I got a pink and a green.  You will have your choice of color!!!

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Giveaway and An Award

Tonight, I made myself an adorable cup to use at school.  I'm loving my Silhouette Cameo and I'm ready to get some extra time so that I can start using it for all my school stuff.

 So, I am going to give away a personalized cup to a lucky follower.  Here is what you can do to enter.

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1st Grade Favorite Apps

In our classroom, we have 3 iPod touches and 1 iPad.  My students love to use these, and I try my best to let them use them often.  When we use these during center time or AR time, I have specific apps that students must use, but at other times in the day I will let students choose what he or she would like to do.  I arrange the apps they can choose from into folders, so that it is easy for students to know exactly which apps are approved.  *Tip: To make a folder, just touch the app icon until is shakes.  Then, drag the app on top of another that you want in the same folder.*
Here are a list of some of my students' favorites.  
The #1, all-time favorite in my classroom is the Teach Me app.  Using the basic app you can have 4 students registered.  My students loved this app so much that I purchased extra licenses for my students ($1.99 for 10 additional students).  As a teacher, you can choose which skills each child focuses on and track their progress in each area.  Students can also see his/her progress and earn coins.  Using the coins earned, each student can purchase items.  My students favorite store is the fish store, where students can buy their own pet fish.  The cool thing is, the app stores all of their information and purchases, so they can keep building their skills and prizes.  This app is also available for Kindergarten and 2nd grade.  I cannot express how much my students love this app- 95% of free-choice iPod time is used for this app.
Teach Me- $.99

Another favorite of my students is Hungry Fish.  This is a free math app for addition (you may purchase subtraction, multiplication and division).  Students must stack bubbles to make the correct sum to feed their hungry fish.  Cute game that students can easily play independently.  
Hungry Fish- Free Addition

Our school uses Accelerated Reader, so this is another student favorite.  I have a clipboard where students sign up for tests.  I have each student write down his/her name and the title of the book they want to take a test on.  I then call a student's name when there is a free iPod or iPad and he or she logs in to take the test. They do have to bring it to me so that I can put in the monitor password, but my students do everything else on their own.  This takes time to teach them at the beginning of the year, but I really believe every student should be doing this on their own.  It's a great way to teach them where letters are on the keyboard, how to find the title and author of a book, and most importantly- INDEPENDENCE!  I love having self-sufficient, confident kiddos!  (I'll step off my soapbox now...haha)

The Electric Company from PBS has an app called Wordball.  My students and I watch a lot of their videos on the SmartBoard together (they have several that are great for specific phonics skills), so my students are already familiar with the songs.   In the app, students get to choose a video to watch and then play a game with that skill.  The more they play, the more video and skills they can unlock.  

Spelling Test is an app that we've only use a few times, but I have plans to use it much more next year.  My students have spelling homework each night and next year I plan to make this a once a week option.  If students have access to this app at home I'm going to let them replace this with one regular spelling page a week.  
In this app, you (or your students) can record your voice saying each spelling word.  Students can then play back the spelling words and type them out to take a test.  Results can be emailed right to you so that you can keep track of students' scores.  I think this will be a fun option for spelling homework.  

My favorite resource for finding free app is Apps Gone Free.  Everyday it lists apps that are temporarily free.  Kind of like do on Fridays, but this is a new list EVERYDAY!  They are not all kid-friendly, but I have downloaded more classroom apps from it than I have learned about from Moms With Apps.  I have also downloaded a lot of personal apps that I found here. 

So, do you have a favorite classroom app?  Please share!

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Friday, March 9, 2012

The Dot

Our story this week in our reading series was one of my favorites, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.  We did several different activities for this story, including the one I'm going to talk about today.  (I hope to post later this weekend about the writing we did to go along with the story.  They turned out so cute!)
Today, we took some time to make numbers sentences during our math time.  The kids didn't look overly enthused when I gave them this news until I said the magic word.....STICKERS!  I gave each students a sheet of large dot stickers and one sheet of mini dots.  I started out by making up a story about our students of the day that went something like this:  "Princess Pea (not her real name ;-) ) had two hair bows, then her sister gave her three more bows.  How many bows does she have now?"  The students put two stickers on the paper and then drew a line straight down.  I taught them to draw a line straight down when drawing addition pictures to help my little lovelies know where their plus sign belongs.  After the line straight down they added three more stickers to the other side.  Then, we wrote our number sentence.

We did the first two problems together and then I turned them loose.  They LOVED this activity!  As I walked around the room it was so cute overhearing them talking to themselves.  Even though I didn't tell them they had to make up stories to go along with their pictures, almost every student was doing just that. When we planned this activity I assumed they would use up all their stickers before they even got the page filled.  Boy, was I wrong!  I ended up making a quick run to office so that they could all have a second paper.  Apparently, stickers are so special that they wanted to stretch out the fun time.  

It was nice to take a day off from our regular math routine.  Did you do any fun Friday math activities?

And guess what finally arrived at the end of the day today????? The Cameo I ordered- I'm sooooooo beyond excited!  I can't wait to start making stuff for my classroom.  Once I figure this thing out I think I'll have a giveaway, so stay tuned!  Feel free to pass on any great ideas you have for it! (and please ignore the messy, messy table)

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday, The Flu & An Award

Well, Monday is over.  Isn't that always a great feeling?  It was kind of an extra bummer of a Monday, though, because 6 of my kids were gone today!!! I only have 15 this year, so that's over a third of my class (impressive math skills, huh?).  It's obvious that the nasty flu monster had made it to our classroom.  First thing this morning we cleaned up our classroom and disinfected because I wanted to try to make sure those of us that are healthy STAY that way.  We went on with a semi-regular day, even though were missing so many.  **I see a lot of re-teaching in my very near future.**  I'm keeping my finger crossed that most of my lovelies are feeling better tomorrow (although I must say I could get used a class of 9- what a breeze!!!).  
So, what do you do when so many are gone?  

Andrea at Cheers to School was super-sweet and gave me my very first award this weekend.  She awarded me with the One Lovely Blog award.  Thanks, Andrea.  

Here are the rules: 
1. Link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Pass the award onto 15 other lovely bloggers.
3. Follow the person who sent it to you :)

I decided to make my fab 15 other new bloggers!  This is a great collection of newbies! =)  
I'm sure they would love some new followers!
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Linky for Newbies (like me!)

I was super excited to see that my new blog had been mentioned by a fellow teacher and blogger.  While getting this started I often feel like I'm just writing for myself, so it was pretty cool to see someone else mention my blog!  Leea at Set This Circus Down is having a Linky Party to give new blogger some great pointers and encouragement.  She's also giving away a $25 Amazon gift card for those who spread the love. :)

To enter, just follow this link to her blog- you can get 3 entries!! So, go...... NOW! 

Here is another giveaway from Mrs. Poland at Think, Wonder, & Teach.  She has 50 followers now- CONGRATS!  She is giving any either a super adorable bottle cap keychain or a $10 Target gift card to a lucky winner.  Good luck!Pin It

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Awesome Giveaway!!!

Amy at The Resource(ful) Room is having a super awesome giveaway in honor of 400 followers.  I can't imagine having 400 followers- I hope I get there someday!  There is a super cute t-shirt, stationary magnets AND a $25 Amazon gift card.  She has 10 different chances for you to enter the giveaway so click on over and check it out!
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Dr. Seuss Week

We had so much this week celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday.  Our primary team (K-4) got together and decided on themes for each day.  You can check out our daily themes below.  We also made banners for the hallway to keep with the theme.  

We made some super cute tongue twisters on Monday.  I need to get some pictures of the ones we did, but I will have to wait until Monday.  I got the idea from  Fun in First via Pinterest.  They turned out so stinking cute- I can't wait to show you!  We also let the kids make yellow paper mustaches on Wednesday for the Lorax and then took their pictures.  All of my little lovelies thought I had lost my mind when I broke out the iPad and started talking to them with a Lorax mustache.  They each got a turn and I think I laughed even more than they did! 
The Lorax is one of my favorites, so I decided to really go all out for it.  I made these adorable truffula trees for our hallway (complete with the Lorax).  The kids, teachers, and parents all commented on them, so I think they'll stay up for awhile longer.  I also let my students make smaller versions to take home with them.  Aren't they cute??? 

It was such a fun week filled with awesome activities.  We also made oobleck (cornstarch & water), ate green eggs and ham, read more books than I count and ended the week with an awesome birthday party in for Dr. Seuss.  The Cat in the Hat even made an appearance and read a story the kiddos!

Here are a couple of things I made for this fun week.  Feel free to use them!

Did you celebrate a Seuss-tastic week at your school?  If so, tell me what you did. 

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