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First with Franklin

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Binders? and 2 Awards

In years past, I have always just had take-home folders for my students.  This year, I think I have decided to use binders instead.  I have checked out several blogs and interest and I think I'm almost ready to commit.  I have found some great ideas- notebooks, folders, and this cool idea! The Organized Classroom has a great idea about using plastic baggies and duct tape instead of buying pencil bags.  (and a plus- I already bought rockstar acceptable duct tape!)  

I also came up with a cute acronym which goes along with our class theme of 1st Grade Rocks... 
R.O.C.K.S.T.A.R. Binders
Really Organized Children Keep Stuff Together And Ready
Cute, right?
  So, I want to hear from others?  Do you use binders?  What is in them? I can't wait to hear how others use them!  

I am so honored to be chose by two great blogs for two awards.  Since I really just started this blog to be able to blab away about my job without my darling husband having to listen to me it is a great feeling when other people find it helpful, too.  
Melissa Smith over at Mrs. Smith's 1st Grade Class awarded me with the Liebster Blog award.  Thank you so much, Melissa!  If you haven't been to Melissa's blog you should go check out all of her great Whole Brain Teaching ideas!  :)
The purpose of this award is to highlight new bloggers with less than 200 followers.

Here are the rules:

1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
2. Thank the giver and link back to them.
3. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

So.... here are my picks for the Liebster Blog Award:

Everyone should go check them out!


Now, I was also super honored and feeling awesome when Kristi and Crystal at Teaching Little Miracles awarded me with the Versatile Blogger award.  

The rules for this award are as follows:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you. (or bloggers, in my case)

2. Include a link to their site.

3. Include the award image in your post.

4. Give 7 random facts about yourself

5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award. (Geez, that's a lot! I'm cheating a little and giving some people both awards.  Shhh... don't tell the blog police!)

6. When nominating, include a link to their site.

7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.

FIrst, here are my nominees (in no particular order... if it wasn't summer break maybe I would have done them alphabetically....):
3. Wolfelicious  

And now for my 7 random facts:
1. My husband and I just celebrated our 4th anniversary last week.
2.  I was a business major before deciding on education.
3.  I have two adorable German Shepherds.  See?
4.  I have (mostly) eliminated highly processed foods from our diet. 
5.  I have one set of black eyelashes and one set of white. (It's natural)
6.  I hate being without sunglasses. 
7.  I don't like wearing heels- I spend most days in flip flops or TOMS. 

Wow... That took awhile!  Now I'm off to notify all my nominees!  Enjoy your weekend!!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summers Off? and Two FREEBIES!

Do we really have summers off?  When I spend as much time in my classroom (and on the computer at home making things for my classroom) as I have over the past week, I sure don't feel like it!  I mean, I know that I'm very blessed to have the schedule that we have and I'm not complaining, but sometimes I wonder if I'm crazy.  
I've been working on some labels, charts and writing activities at 7home this week.  I also have starting putting together some bulletin boards at school, but I won't be able to finish them up until I get my class list.  
Our school uses Accelerated Reader as part of our reading program.  In my classroom, I don't use AR as a grade, just as an incentive.  This has worked very well as a great motivator for my students in the past.  I have always just used strips of poster board and wrote students names on them and let them put stickers on it.  Every time they passed 3 tests, they got to get a prize from the treasure chest.  Pretty simple and it worked.  For this year, I decided to make it a little cuter and fit with our Rockstar theme.  Here is what I came up with:  

I plan to print these off on neon colored card stock to make them really pop.  My students keep them in a pocket chart (I have a really cute hot pink one- I know you're jealous! haha) and will cover the stars and music notes with cute glittery stickers when they pass a test.  I still haven't decided how many tests I want them to pass in order to pick from the treasure chest.  Three seemed to be too easy this year, so I'm thinking of upping it to 6... or maybe keep it at three for their first card and making it tougher for each of their following cards.  Hmmmmm... 

My other freebie today is for our Daily 5 writing station.  I know we probably won't be using these for awhile, but I really want to do this with my students.  One of the options that I want to give them is to write a postcard or letter to a friend.  I plan to review these notes and then deliver them to their friend's mailbox.  I made these postcards for my students to use.  Printing them on card stock will make them seem like a really postcard.  The front was left blank so that students can decorate and design their own postcard.  Enjoy!

What have you been working on this summer?  I would also love to know if anyone has any cheap ideas for Daily 5 book bins?  I'm thinking about buying some cheap, reusable shopping bags.... do you think that would work?

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happi Papi & Try Out Apps for Free!

If you are like me, then all of the money for apps in your classroom comes from your own pocket.  This makes me hesitant to spend money on apps that I'm not sure we will use in my classroom.  Enter, Happi Papi and promo codes! :)

Happi Papi is an app company that has several apps available for purchase (and free) right now. 

They have introduced an App Evaluation Program for Schools so educators can download and try out apps before they are introduced.  Once you fill out the educator form (click here), you will be ready to try out the next app released.  When Happi Papi has an app that is ready to be test out, you will receive an email describing the app.  If you decide the app is one you would like to try out you can click on the link provided to be added to the list.  (There are only a certain number of spots available- so check your email regularly!)  If you are added to list you will get an email a few days later with a promo to enter in the app store and be able to download it for free!  Pretty cool, huh?  To read more about, you can go Happi Papi's website.

Here is a picture of one of the apps that I purchased.  Happi Spells is a great spelling app that my students are going to love.  It is a great introduction to concept of crossword puzzles and incorporates some great basic words.  In the top, left corner you can see a place to turn sounds on/off, switch between lower and uppercase letters, and get hints.  There are also different levels available for lots of playtime!  The app also states that additional levels will be available in future updates.  
(Also, the graphics are super adorable and the little cow moo's every now and then!)
Click here to get this app! It's only $.99.

The program has no obligations, but if you do receive a code for an app you are encouraged leave them feedback on how it performs in a school setting. That's only fair, right?

I hope you enjoy this program!  I have downloaded one trial app (a cute storybook and game) and I plan to use it with our Daily 5 Listening Station.  I think the students will love it!  I might have to purchase it for the rest of my devices.  (You should only use the app on one device for free- please don't take advantage of this great program.)

The other app tip I want to share with you is another way you can possibly preview an app before purchasing.  I have used this for a couple of higher priced apps with success!  Some app developers are open to sending out promo codes that are good only for a certain period of time.  All I did was send an email to the app developer asking if I could have a promo code to try out the app for a limited time.  (I think both I got were 30 day trials.)  If the developer has codes available you will receive an email with the promo code that you can enter in the app store an download the app for free.  
The app will work as expected for a set period of time and when the trial is up you will have to purchase the app if you want to continue using it.  
I probably wouldn't go through all of that for an app under 3 or 4 dollars, but one app I wanted to try was $10.  It's worth a try and the worst that can happen is they say "no".  

I think almost all teachers can relate to wanting/needing to save some money, so I hope these two tips help you out!  I also blogged about Apps Gone Free, which is another great money saver.  Click here to check it out.   This made me smile when I saw it on Pinterest this week- and so very true! :)

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Before Photos,Listening Center Ideas, and Freebie

Today was the first day of work in my classroom..... and let me tell you- it's a mess!  I wish I would have taken some pictures before I did anything, but that didn't happen, so I took some pictures before I started working today.  My first order of business was to paint my file cabinets.  They were ugly, really ugly.  They were seriously the worst color brown ever.  So, I decided they needed to become black.  They were moved outside (by our super nice P.E. teacher) and I went to town spray painting them.  Of course I chose a super windy day- I ended up with it all over me.  My hair was a little sticky...ewww!

I also gave my two bookshelves a coat of black paint.  One was a baby blue color and the other was just stained wood.  I think the black will look great with my Rockstar theme and also be neutral enough to blend in with other themes I might use later on.  

I'm a little embarrassed to show these pictures to you all.  Things are really a disaster at this point, but that will make the "after" pictures that much better, right????  Well, here goes nothing.....

The view as you walk in the door.  Guided reading table and lots of junk stuff piled up. 

You can see my bookcases back there before I started painting.

View if you turn right at the door.  I just got rid of one computer (it only worked part-time and I didn't feel like messing with it anymore).  

Another view of my desk area and back of room.

My SmartBoard and open shelving (I have a serious love/hate relationship with these shelves).  I love that the students can easily access stuff, but it always looks messy.  I think I'm going to invest in some matching baskets/bins to help it look a little nicer. 

So now I have to decide how I want to rearrange my furniture and start cleaning/decorating.  My husband will be gone at some training all next week, so I plan on getting some good work time in at school.  Tomorrow, though, the pool is calling my name.  It is summer break, right? I need to enjoy it!

On another note, I've been working on getting some Daily 5 things ready, too.  For the listening to reading component, I have decided to use a couple of different things.  I am going to utilize my old school tape player because I have a TON of books on tape that I inherited.  I am also going to use my iPods and iPads.  I have this super cool little thingy.  
You can click here to find it on Amazon.  I actually bought mine at Kohl's with a coupon, so it was even cheaper.  I plan on purchasing two more to use with my 2 new iPads.  My students have headphones or earbuds on their supply list.  Last year, I bought all my students their own earbuds from the Dollar Tree.  I chose to have them bring their own this year 1.) to save me a few dollars 2.) to make sure they are comfortable for each child- some of the kids had trouble with my cheapies last year.

On my iPad (and iPods) I have all of my listening books in 4 folders.  They are all labeled Listening so they are easy to find.  I keep these folders on the second screen on my iPad.  I try to make sure that my screen setup is very similar for all devices to keep it easy for students to navigate.  Most (maybe all- I can't remember) of my listening books were free apps.  One of my little darlings from last year gave me an iTunes gift card on the last day of school, so I might actually buy some licensed books, too.  

I have this app and I highly recommend it.  It features apps that are free only for a limited time- I have used it to download a lot of my free books.  You can also check on Fridays- they also features limited time free apps.  

Here are some screen shots of the apps I have in each folder- remember, they might not all be free now, but if you use Apps Gone Free I'm sure you'll find some soon.  I downloaded books all year, so it took awhile to collect all these.  

This last folder is full yet, but I'm working on it! ;)  On the last row here, see the one that says Tumblebooks?  It isn't an app, but I included this shortcut for students.  If you haven't ever heard of Tumblebooks, you should check it out.  They have iPad videos, but also offer even more videos that are available on the computer.  So, you could use Tumblebooks, a computer, and splitter to make a listening station.  Tumblebooks is free for me by using my library card through my local library.  

Now, students do an awesome job with the iPads and iPods, but I also modeled a lot before I turned them loose.  I had to teach them how to to safely handle the iPad/Pods, how to attach the splitter and headphones, how to find the folders, and how to start stories.  We listening to several books together so they could see me turn pages, adjust volume, etc.  This will save you lots of interruptions and wasted time later.  

I have used these sheet before during my listening stations.  I'm not sure I will use them with Daily 5, but I might put them at a writing station in case students need an idea.  

Wow, if you are still reading this post- I'm really impressed!  
Do you have any great listening station ideas?  Please share them with me!  

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vistaprint (again) & Rock 'n Roll

Since I recently decided on a classroom theme (1st Grade Rocks!) I decided to revisit VistaPrint.  (If you follow this link you can get a $5 coupon.) I found some super, super adorable rocking items to use in my room that will go right along with our rock and roll theme.  Here are some pictures of my newest creations.

Return address labels that I use twice a week on our Decodable Readers.  I got 140 of them for free and as I was checking out, I was able to grab 140 more for just $3.  Awesome!

A cool class poster- also free!  I plan on laminating and then letting the kids sign it with a silver Sharpie.  

These are magnets (25 for Free!) that I plan to send home with the kiddos so that their parents can have our website and my contact info handy all the time.  The white boxes are just covering up my info that I don't want out there in blogland.  

A cute rubber stamp I will be able to use for all sorts of things- I paid extra for the blue color.

Cool, personalized ink pen- no more pens walking away! ;)

Personalized notepad.  Rockin'!

So, I spent about $30 for all of this stuff.  The shipping from VistaPrint is a little expensive, but I just love having personalized items.  I also bought some stuff at Michael's yesterday.  Here are some pictures of what I bought- I'm going to work in my classroom 3 or 4 days next week, so hopefully I can share some finished products.  

Borders and a peace sign- I'm not sure the peace sign is actually something I'm going to use, but maybe.
a cute note holder, huge clothespin with peace signs, and foam peace signs

Check back soon to see what I'm doing with all this stuff!  

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Classroom Theme

I have never had a classroom theme before, but I decided that I wanted one this year.  I have seen so many super cute, creative ideas from fellow bloggers and thought I need to do that!  After hours of blog stalking and Pinterest searching, I finally settled on my theme.  It is *drumroll please*...... .... ... 1st Grade Rocks!  I am going full out rockstar for this year.  I am so excited about it! Today I spent some time in the Dollar Tree (my all-time favorite classroom store) and Walmart.  It's probably a good thing that the closest Target is an hour away because I would be totally broke all the time.  Anyway, I found some cute things that I am excited to get started on.  I found some great inspiration from Abby's ideas on The Inspired Apple.   I love her idea for the R.O.C.K.S.  binder, so I came up with a cute acronym for my take-home folders.  
I am going to use R.O.C.K.S.T.A.R. Folders (Really Organized Children Keep Stuff Together And Ready).  I made these labels to go with them.  

Isn't this clipart the cutest?  I got it from Digi Web Studio for only $1!  I plan on using it for a lot of my classroom decorations this year.  There are two other kids and a guitar clipart with the set.  If you would like a copy of the folder labels, just go here and grab them!  I plan on printing them at Staples (their printers are just so much better!), then laminating them and attaching them to the folders.  You could also print it on sticker paper and attach it right to the folder.  

While at the Dollar Store and Walmart, I picked up several other goodies that I'm excited to get started playing with- hopefully I will have some good pictures soon.  I have an awesome idea for a bulletin board and I'm hoping I can make the reality look as cool as it does in my head!  Stay tuned!!!!

Do you have a classroom theme?  If so, I would love to hear what you have planned!Pin It

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vistaprint and Currently

I got an email from Vistaprint this week with lots of freebies being offered.  I have used Vistaprint quite a big in the past.  I love all the freebies that they offer and I use some of their offerings in a little different way.  Here are the things I ordered this time around.  In the past, I have also personalized business cards and used them as punch cards for students.  When they get 20 punches (they can earn two a day).  I also have a heart hole punch I use when students go above and beyond.  Students get the heart punch in addition to the others they earned.

Here is a banner I got for my desk.  I ordered a similar one a couple of years ago.  It is big enough for kids to see my name and they use it all time.  Plus, it's cute!

  I made IPICK magnets for students.  I plan on sending these after our lesson on choosing books.  Hopefully, this will be helpful for parents. 

I'm also going to send this home.  I think it will be a handy guide for parents to help support their child. (Don't mind the typos- I did fix it, but I guess I took the screen shot before.  

My students have decodable readers that they take home twice a week.  Parents have to sign the front cover after their child reads and then return it to school.  In the past,  have pick up "Please sign & Return" stickers from the Dollar Tree,  but I like to change it up a bit.  I have one other stamp, but I like that these don't have to have a stamp pad- way less mess!  The red stamp is the only item I paid extra for- I thought red would show up better than the free black stamp.  The other picture are return address labels that I'm going to use.  I ordered some last year that were similar, but not as cute as these.  
At the beginning of each year, I do a Star of the Day activity.  I chose a student's name and they are the Start of the Day.  We do a ton of activities for Star of the Day.  I am planning on posting more about Star of the Day later on.   I'm going to use this as a photo prop.

I'm going to use this as an incentive for students to tie shoes.  I have SO MANY that don't know how, and I don't have a bunch of extra time to teach them.  They also get to sign a poster that I have in my classroom.  

A cute notepad for me- I'm obsessed.  

And some cute cards for me.  A teacher's got to have some cute stuff, too.... right?

So, I had to play around $20 for shipping, but I still think I came out ahead.  I think personalized things are so special.  If you have never ordered from Vistaprint before, send me your name and email and I can forward you a $5 coupon.  
or you can use this link. 
Cool, huh??? 
If you have ordered from Vistaprint, share what your favorites are!

Now it's time for Currently- I'm finally getting around to it! 

I'm hoping to get into my classroom this week and start working on some small stuff.  
How much do you work in your classroom over the summer?

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