Wizard of Oz & Common Core

I've had so much fun reading the Wizard of Oz to my first grade students! According to the CCGPS curriculum map, this week each student will make their own Cast of Characters book featuring the characters in the Wizard of Oz. I found some cute graphic organizers for Dorothy, but not for the other characters we are supposed to cover so I created a packet with a cluster map for Dorothy, Glenda, The Wicked Witch, Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow. Each page lists the CCGPA standard:

1.RL.3 I will describe characters, setting, and major events in a story.

I also wanted a way for my lower level students to meet the standard without simply taking the number of boxes down from 5 to 3. I always try to look for ways to differentiate activities without having the low students do less and the high students do more. Lower level students' papers will look the same as the rest of the class after they trace the two pre-written adjectives.

Click here to grab your Cast of Characters Book


Lesson Plans

It's been a busy weekend! My first graders started last Thursday and this upcoming week will be our first full week together! I've been working on a lesson plan template this weekend. I've tried several different ways to write lesson plans. I really like being able to view the entire week at one time. Since my school is using guided reading this year, each group's lesson plans will be on one page for the week and kept in their group's guided reading bucket. I will use the weekly plans below to show my CAFE mini lessons and read aloud books to use each day.

I will be integrating science/ss and language skills into my writing block. For example, we are about to start a weather unit and one of the skill sheets I have pulled is putting weather words in ABC order. We can also make a sentence using of the weather words and discuss capital letters and punctuation.

I am also starting Math Workshop which will include a pre-test and whole group intro on Mondays, centers on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and then whole group review and post-test on Fridays. The center rotations will include work with teacher (probably an activity on the Promethean Board), seat work, games, and fact practice. The fact practice will include flash cards and then 2-3 students will each have a day of the week to use computer to practice math facts.

The plans can be edited to meet your scheduling needs. Click for free download.  

Bathroom Passes

So instead of spending my time planning for Open House (which is in two days! ahhhh!) I have been scrolling through cute classroom ideas on Pinterest. I came across these super cute bathroom passes.

The link connected wasn't working, but whoever came up with this idea is a genius! When students go to the bathroom, they must leave the bottle at their desk and then use it when they return to the classroom. I like using this method the best because you know who is at the bathroom since the bottle is at their seat.

The problem was it looked like to me that the letters were made using a Cricut which I am not cool enough to own yet so I made some signs I think copies the look pretty well. I also added some passes of a larger size for anyone who would like to hole-punch and use them to wear around the neck. 


Goal Setting and AR

It's that time of the year again! Its the weekend before school starts and my to do list is really just ridiculousness....I have managed to scratch one thing off though. I created some posters to display in my classroom to show off my students' Accelerated Reader accomplishments.

I print these on card stock and laminate so names can easily be added and removed with a magic eraser. The posters go in 5's from 5-25 and then I have a 50, 100, and 200 poster. I don't think I'll need the 200 poster with my first graders, but I thought someone in older grades might would want higher point values.

I love being able to celebrate students' accomplishments, but I usually have 1 or 2 students who might not ever earn 5 points. I made a poster that says, "I can log in without help and pass a test."

I'm hoping this will encourage my students to at least try and sometimes just getting your name on something once motivates you to keep going and to set higher goals. :)

Click for free download   

More Daily 5 and Guided Reading

I created a rotation chart to help manage students during guided reading/daily 5 centers.

I will probably blow this up to small poster size to make it easier for the kiddos to read. Hopefully it will help them (and me!) understand what station their group will be moving after each rotation.  Each rotation will last about 20-25 minutes.

To read more about Free Choice, check out my posting here

Daily 5 and Guided Reading

So I think I FINALLY decided how I want to go about incorporating Daily 5 into my guided reading groups with my 1st graders. I'm working on a rotation poster which will help explain a little bit and I will post that later.

I will have 4 reading groups that will travel to 4 different 20 minute literacy stations. The stations will include:

1. Meet with Teacher
2. Work with a Buddy (re-read guided reading & and play a reading skill file folder game)
3. Work at Seat (short skill sheet such as Mountain Lang or Daily Language then Read to Self)
4. Free Choice (students can pick Listen to Reading, Work on Words, Work on Writing, Computer-students will have assigned days)

My problem was with the Free Choice station. Even though only 1 of my reading groups will be at Free Choice at a time, I didn't want 6-7 kids at Work on Words for material and classroom management reasons. If you have read the Daily 5 book, then I know what you are thinking! This is where the mini lessons and having students "check in" comes in. However, I really wanted to use the mini lesson time to teach and not be messing with students coming up and down making choices. I saw on another teacher's blog that she has her students make their Daily 5 choice when they come in during morning procedures. I like this idea becomes it doesn't interfere with teaching time.

The problem is I had to come up with a way to show students that just because there were 6-7 students who chose Listen to Reading, as long as they weren't in your SAME reading group the choice was still available. That is where this chart comes in!

I have 4 guided reading groups each with their own space icon (astronauts, stars, plants, rocket ships).  I am going to cut a circle Velcro piece in half and place half above the icon on the rotation chart and the other half on the back of the individual student icon. 

Students check in by placing their icon covering the poster's icon. If all your groups icons are covered, the choice is full for that day. If you would like to use these items in your classroom, look below for FREE downloads!

Back to School Fun With Wordle

I'm really excited about this new back to school idea I found on Mrs. Ripp's blog. The idea is to have parents give you a list of five adjectives they feel best describes their child. You use the five adjectives to create a Wordle. If you have never used Wordle, you should check out   It is a fun way to create "word clouds" using fun text and colors. Here is a sample Wordle about the US Constitution:

Pretty neat, right? Best of all, it's FREE. After you create the Wordle, you can use it to surprise the Star Student of the week by displaying the Wordle all about them on your Smart board. You can also print them for a classroom or hallway display. Students LOVE Smart boards and anything that has to do with themselves so I think this is a win win! This could also be a great way to teach adjectives. I created a FREE letter asking parents to list the adjectives. The TPT site is down so I'll have to upload the printable document as soon as it's up and running. Here is a peek below.


Student Checklist

I have spent a countless amount of hours trying to decide on how I am going to organize my reading groups this year. LOTS of things at my school are changing this year.

Just SOME of the changes I can think of:

  • No direct instruction reading program. I will now be teaching guided reading
  • New spelling program 
  • Common Core Standards
  • Extra hour in our school day (previous years students left at 2:15, this year dismissal is 3:25 YIKES)
Personal changes for me include: changing grade levels (from 3rd to 1st) and of course the dreaded move of the classroom.

In light of the fact I will have an hour less of planning each day due to the school's hours changing, I really wanted to find a way to manage my reading centers WITHOUT a pile of papers for each activity. In my search, I stumbled across Daily 5 written by the 2 Sisters. It was my answer to creating meaningful literacy based learning activities that held students' attention while I worked with reading groups. 

I tweaked the concept of Daily 5 to best meet my scheduling needs. I will post more details about that later.....(when I figure them all out!) All I have so far is my student checklist which does explain some of what I'm thinking.     

Click here to download FREE student checklist


Basic Supply Labels

I'm still having fun playing around on my new software! Check out these supply signs I made.

Okay, I know it's not the cutest thing out there, but I'm pretty proud of making them all by myself! :) I like to laminate these signs and hot glue them on colored buckets. Hopefully it will help my students (and me!) organize the materials after a group project. No more digging crayons out of the colored pencil bucket!

Click here to download FREE supply signs

Teaching Morning Procedures

My wonderful husband just downloaded some new designing software to my computer. Yay! I've been playing around on it and made this colorful Morning Procedures chart to hang in my classroom. I can't wait to laminate it and take it to my room tomorrow!

Click here to download FREE morning procedures chart

More First Week Plans

Here is my 2nd day lesson plans for Daily 5 and CAFE users along with when to teach "normal" back to school procedures.

Click here to download 2nd day plans.

Be sure to check out my posting here to download my 1st day lesson plan.


Learning Behavior Expectations

This year I'm using a behavior clip chart (another great idea from Pinterest) to help manage student behavior. Here are the levels I decided to use for my classroom:
Ready to Learn
Think About It
Teacher Choice
Parent/Principal Contact

Students who stay on Ready to Learn will earn a behavior ticket that may be collected and cashed in for rewards. I will allow my students to move clips from Think About It back to Ready to Learn once they have shown they are Ready to Learn. Teacher Choice will be just that, a case by case decision on whether the clip should be able to be moved back.

I have seen a bunch of the behavior clip charts that have ones above "Ready to Learn" which look more like this:
Outstanding Day
Great Day
Good Day
Ready to Learn
Think About It
Teacher Choice
Parent Contact

I understand this must work for some teachers, but for me it would be a HOT MESS. First, what's the difference between being Ready to Learn and a Good Day? What's the difference between a Great Day and Outstanding Day? Also, since most of them have the word "Day" after it, do you wait until the end of the day to tell students whether they were "Good" or "Outstanding"?

Don't get me wrong, I am ALL for positive reinforcement as a tool for behavior management. But I think general positive statements mean little for students. I like celebrating outstanding CHOICES not days. I am going to use Class Dojo as a tool to recognize great choices ( . Students who are caught making a great choice can earn points that can be traded in for extra behavior tickets to buy prizes and rewards. I will post pictures and updates as the year goes about how it is working.

I created behavior role play cards that I am going to use on the 1st day of school to teach consequences and behaviors that move the clip down. These can also be used to revisit behavior expectations throughout the school year.

Click here to download behavior role cards.  

1st Week of School....Ahhhh!

That time of the year is approaching fact! The first week of school is almost here and I am excited (and nervous) to put all the great ideas I have learned about over the summer into action! I am a new CAFE and Daily 5 user. I have read both books and fallen in love! I wanted to create lesson plans that included the 1st lesson of Daily 5 and CAFE as well as all the "normal" 1st week procedures and getting to know each other activities.

I really like how the first few lessons of Daily 5 and CAFE can easily be used on the first few days of school. I spent many hours writing this detailed plan for the 1st day of school for my 1st graders. My lesson plan also includes a teacher checklist of what materials to have ready and documents needed to be pulled up on the computer. I hope other new Daily 5 and CAFE users might find it helpful when deciding how to introduce Daily 5 and CAFE in addition to when to teach other procedures throughout the 1st day.
More informaton about Daily 5 and CAFE can be found at

Click to download 1st day lesson plan  

Check back as I add more lesson plans as I complete them. HAPPY PLANNING!

Placing Students in Reading Groups???

My school has used a direct instruction reading program since I have been a teacher there. This means EVERYTHING was done for us in regards to reading instruction. At the beginning of the year when I was  given my class list, I also got every child's reading level and which group they should be placed in. All I had to do was open the teacher's guide to the same lesson number on the sheet and.......well that's basically it. Well, at the end of last school year I found out that program was going away and I needed to start using a guided reading approach to my reading instruction. As much as I complained about reading word for word from the boring teacher's guide, the truth is since I had gotten so used to it, I was a little worried about what I was going to do. So I spent this summer trying to come up with a plan of action! I've bought wonderful resources on TPT, read great books like Daily 5 and CAFE, and spent an embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest.
I  especially worried about one thing: HOW WILL I KNOW HOW TO PLACE STUDENTS? I read a lot about running records and vaguely remember giving one during a case study for one of my grad classes, but I just didn't think a running record was enough information for me to really figure out where to place my students. I really wanted an easy way to keep track of the different assessments I gave because let's be honest, 4-5 pieces of paper per a student is way too much to try to keep track of much less try to look at it and make sense of it. I made this Scoring Sheet as a way for a teacher to look at the assessments as a "big picture" view of student strengths and weaknesses. I also condensed lengthy assessments and made it where I can use one sheet to assessment a student on recognizing the alphabet, phonological awareness, and phonics.  All you need is your own level reading passage and your school’s sight word list and the rest is in the packet. My goal is to complete this packet within the first couple of weeks of school.  I will definitely be posting to let ya’ll know how it turned out! 

Click here to download FREE placement packet 

First Day Test

Students are always interested in getting to know their teacher. I usually create a "All About Me" powerpoint or share a scrapbook as one of the first activities on the first day of school. Later in the day, I give my students a "First Day Test". It is a fun way to see which students are good listeners! The first day is filled with tours of the school and getting to know me activities and not a lot of paper pencil activity is involved. I like using this fun test as a way to practice procedures such as passing out papers and what to do with your paper when your done.  First Day Test

1st Grade Survival Kits

1st Grade Survival Kits

The 1st grade survival kit is something I've done for the past few years as a gift for students when they come for the Teacher Meet and Greet. I like them because they can be put together pretty cheap and it looks like a lot to students! It also tells me a lot about the students before the school years starts. For example, every year I'll have students who quietly hold the bag waiting for me to give the go ahead to open it, students who rip the whole thing open devour all the candy and leave the less desireable items such as the erasers, students who ask for more of something, students who say thank you, students who can read the entire poem without any help!   

The materials I used to make 25 bags include:

  • one package of white paper lunch sacks (found at Walmart I got a package of 50 and will use the other 25 for the students 1st day homework "Me Bags" see Homework tab for more information on "Me Bags")
  • 2 rolls of 1/8 inch ribbon (found at Walmart each roll is 6 yards for $1 each roll)
  • 1st Day Poem (click here to download)
  • paper hold puncher
  • one bag of Starbursts (about 4 per bag)
  • one bag of Laffy Taffy (about 3 per bag)
  • two bags of Smarties (about 5 per bag)
  • 4 bags of bouncy balls (1 per bag found in the birthday party section at Walmart $1 for each bag)
  • 2 packages of pencil head erasers (2 per bag found in the school supply section at Walmart)
  • 1 package of bookmarks (1 per bag found in the school supply section at Walmart for 88 cents)
  • 1 package of stickers (1 row of 5 stickers per bag. I bought a package of the different colored smiley stickers and cut them into rows of five) 

It took about an hour to make 25 bags. It would be quicker to just staple the poem onto the bag instead of using a hole punch and a ribbon if you are looking to save time. Also if you don't have a colored printer (or you just don't want to use the ink) the bags look just as cute printed on colored paper with black ink. 

The Teaching Heart is where I got the idea for the survival kits and if you are looking for ideas for different items to put in the bags, check out their web site
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