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First Grade Wow by Nancy Vandenberge - 2M ago
Hello Everyone!!
I am in tears right now reading all the email I have received asking about my lack of posting.  Thank you for your concerns, care, and questions!  It has been a crazy long time since my last post, so your comments and email messages have lit a fire and put things back into perspective.  I have been so incredibly busy trying to manage all my passions...family, friends, school, curriculum, church, neighborhood, bookclub, Carson's Crusaders, and many more. I know you all have some of the same challenges. I finally took a step back and took a breath.

My Wish...
Our entire school just finished using the book, Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, as our read-aloud. 

Red is an oak tree on which the town’s people tie their wishes every May. The author writes this story from the perspective of that tree,
the tree named Red.
Red has seen every kind of wish possible.  Some of those wishes cause hearts to change and grow,
with Red’s positive attitude and help!
This lovely story is one of heartbreak, healing, 
acceptance, and friendship. 
Although parts of this story were a challenge for first graders to understand, the idea of finding joy in diversity, acceptance, and friendship nestled in their hearts, and oh, the discussions we had! If you have not had the opportunity to experience this delightful book, please go get it right now!
The Wishtree spurred me on to collect some of my thoughts, my wishes for my students, for teachers, for parents, and really for all.
I compiled the thoughts into a little printable mini poster unit for you.
I hope you will find some inspiration
 in some of this. 
My wish for you is that you will feel
 the blessings that every opportunity, whether it be in teaching, parenting, learning, or even just living, has to offer. 
My wish is that you find and choose
 JOY in your journey. 
Here are a couple of pics available in the unit!



If You Are Interested in this FREE printable unit, Joyfully, CLICK HERE!!

If you noticed from the title of this post, this second part is "My Journey."  I hope you have been able to tell that my journey in the field of education has been filled with creating meaningful, integrated lessons and learning opportunities for kids! I have shared so many of those lessons with you, and still have soooo many to share! More often than not lately,  I find myself dreaming of creating more and more lessons and resources, and not having the time to do that!  Sooooo, my plan is.... after 38 years as an educator... to retire from the classroom to spend more time on writing, publishing, and sharing.  I really can't believe it has been 38 years! What a journey it has been! I have been so incredibly blessed. 
In order to supplement a retiree's income, I have gone ahead and opened a TPT store (just a couple of things in it so far) and will soon open another store on another site, but please don't worry!!  I will absolutely continue this little blog with free stuff because you all have been a huge support for so many years. You don't know how much I appreciate all the kind notes, messages, e-mail, and even little surprise gifts of encouragement!  Thank you! Thank you!! I will still be here to support you in this truly amazing journey! So...Please stay tuned!!! 
Thanks for stopping by, and I'll talk to you soon!
Joyfully!
Nancy
firstgradewow@gmail.com
  







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First Grade Wow by Nancy Vandenberge - 5M ago
Hello Everyone!!

Happy Holidays, all!! I hope your's were all you wanted, needed, and more!!  I was able to spend so much quality time with my family, it was all I needed to rejuvenate after a very busy fall semester. 2019 is going to be a wonder-filled year as we welcome a new member to our family!  My son finally proposed to his long time girlfriend and she said, "YES!' We are so excited!!  We love her already and considered her a part of the family years ago, but now it's going to be official!  

There are also some exciting professional things going on in my life, too,  so stay tuned for that news! :) 

I get a ton of e-mail about the fact that my units include a lot of games and fun stuff.  I KNOW!!  I truly believe that kids are so much more engaged in their learning when they are "playing!"  It's a wonderful thing!  Six year olds are not wired to sit still at a desk and just listen to the teacher and fill out worksheets.  (Adults aren't either, for that matter!) Of course there has to be some "sit still and listen," but not exclusively, by any means!
 As I was thinking about this last week, I inspired to create this ultra mini unit using the book, Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner.  It's one of my favorite books to read in January. I usually just read and discuss, maybe do a quick response, but this year I wanted to add a bit more. So here you go! Let's PLAY! :) I especially can't wait to do the potato print snowmen with the kids!!



Gotta love some Mr. Rogers!!




All directions to create this are included in the unit!

If you are interested in a little "playing around,"
CLICK HERE FOR THE UNIT!

Well, my winter break is just about over, so I guess I better go knock some "to do's" off my list!!  Here's wishing you a wonder-filled and playful week back!  Thanks for stopping by this little "Window on Wonder!"
Joyfully!
Nancy

Questions? Problems?
firstgradewow@gmail,com

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Hello Everyone!!
Gahhhhhhh!!  I hate how long it has been since my last post!  I don't have to tell you, though, how busy this time of year is!  We, of course have had a ton going on at school, but we also have had some wonderful things going on personally.  My oldest son has finally popped the question to his loooooong time girlfriend!!!  We couldn't be filled with more joy!  Jordan and Jenny who live up in Cleveland, Ohio, and are in the broadcast arena, are so great with and for each other.  So incredibly blessed!!  
Amid the family time, the celebrations, and the travel, I was able to put together a couple of new things for the holidays, a Christmas Crunch activity, and an Ultra mini New Year Unit.  Thank you to those who e-mailed as asked for the updated version from last year.
First, the Cap'n Crunch Christmas Crunch mini, mini unit includes a math review and a cr word work activity. 



If you want a little sweet, crunchy fun added to your last week before break, grab a box of Christmas Crunch (I got mine at Target) and print off the unit.



Next, I have an ultra mini new year unit for you!!  Finally! Sorry it has taken me so long!







That's it for now!  I have got to get started on my gifts for my kiddos! Time is running out!! 

If I don't get back to posting before Christmas, I hope you know how much I appreciate your sticking with me, being patient with me, and supporting this little blog. I want to thank you for what you do for kids! The world is a better place because you care about kids!  Have a wonderful holiday season and a most blessed 
New Year!!
Joyfully!
Nancy 

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Hello Everyone!
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving break.   We had so much lovely family time filled with cooking, laughing, playing games, reminiscing, getting Christmas stuff up, shopping, and showing kindness in so many ways.  I am truly a little sad to see it winding down, the last of the feast gobbled up, and family going home.

Over the week off I did have some time to think back to the teachers who have made the greatest impact on my life.  All the ones who came to mind are the ones who were kind. Showing kindness helps to establish trust and rapport, which in my case opened the door to learning. Even discipline was more effective when administered with kindness. I have tried to show that to my own children as they grew, and I strive to show that same kindness to my students.  Some days are harder than others.  Days when I'm not as organized as I should be, when the kids just aren't getting "it," or when the interruptions keeeeeeep coming (You know those days!). I am absolutely going to work my very hardest to be the example of kindness I know I can be.  
Speaking of kindness, my kids learned all about the kindness of both the Pilgrims and the Native Americans during the first few years of life in the New World.  Here are a few pics of our celebration of that kindness.

Getting Ready For The Feast!


A Cornucopia of Fun For Dessert!

YUM!!






I love their words so much! 

My first act of kindness after this break is to share a quick little unit with you!  "Santa's Sack of -CK Words"  is a quick, fun little intro and practice of when to use ck at the ends of words. We are tackling that tricky spelling rule this week.  Here's what I came up with!







If you have that spelling rule coming up in the next few weeks, you can get this little mini unit...

I hope your week back is filled with much kindness!
Till next time...thank you for stopping by this little window on wonder! 

Joyfully!
Nancy
firstgradewow@gmail.com 





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First Grade Wow by Nancy Vandenberge - 8M ago
Hello Everyone!
I hope you're having a great weekend!! It has finally stopped raining here and we were able to get outside for a bit.  The sunshine felt so good!!  And the dogs....They were so ready to play, play, play!!  We finally wore them out, so it's now time to get some school stuff done! 
We have parent/teacher conferences tomorrow all day, so my first big job was to get ready for that, organizing test scores, writing samples, math notebook samples, etc.  I really love meeting with parents and sharing what their little ones are working on. And getting to know my kids better by getting to know their parents is so incredibly helpful!!! I'm very thankful for a full day to meet with everyone!
So, with that all organized, I now have time to share my new Matter unit with you.  It has a little bit of everything for our young scientists, but there is an emphasis this year on the properties of matter, and not so much the states of matter. Here are some quick pics!













I will take some pictures this week of kids working on this.  Hopefully I'll have time to share those in a bit!  Till then, here's the link to the downloadable unit so you can get started too!!!  I hope you and yours have as much fun as my kids have had so far!


Thanks for stopping by this little blog!  If you have any questions, problems, or concerns, please don't hesitate to holler at me! I am not too sure the comment section has been working lately, so just email me!
firstgradewow@gmail.com

Thanks, All!!
Joyfully!
Nancy

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Hello Everyone!
I truly can't even believe that it has been so long since my last post!  I am sooooo sorry! It just seems as if I have been barely staying afloat this year.  We have had some huge events going on, both at school and on the home/personal front.  
My goal for today is to fill you in on what we've been doing in writing and in word work. I writing we are working hard on expressing ourselves in small moments.  This year I wanted to use the well documented "Watermelon vs Seed" analogy for focusing on small moments.  In the past I've used "Catch a Small Moment" and a "Pea" idea.  But I know that the upper grades use the watermelon idea, so, alas!  Here I go as well!  
I started off reading Watermelon Party which is a fun little example of small moments, and of course, it's about a watermelon!

 Then we talked about the difference between a watermelon story and a seed story. We sorted some cards on an anchor chart.





I showed the kids how I would make the difference in my writing by finding the seed stories in my watermelon story.

 And they got busy with theirs!


We put the seed ideas up to help remind ourselves of the seeds!!!

Here are a few pics of what is included in my "Water" You Writing?" ultra mini unit.






I have already seen a difference in my kids' writing!!  Our small moments are growing into amazing stories!!


Next up?  Word Work! I get a ton of e-mail asking what I do for Word Work/ Spelling with my first graders.
Here you go!
The unit I'm sharing includes the reasoning behind our word work or spelling practice. We tend to use a Scientific Spelling type influence to our spelling practice. It is a curricular idea that teaches students to spell words they do not know by using reliable patterns and rules of the English language.
We believe spelling instruction should be ongoing, daily, and purposeful.  Instruction should be interrelated and interconnected with all strands of language.  The primary focus of instruction should be on teaching a variety of effective spelling strategies, rather than on just memorizing lists of words.  Students must be given opportunities to work with words, to proofread their own writing, and to study spelling patterns.  The key to spelling development is the understanding and application of spelling strategies that enable students to become independent and competent spellers.
In first grade we focus on one scientific rule at a time along with some high frequency words. This unit give some ideas for sequencing, brainstorming, activities, and ways to check student mastery throughout the first grade year.

A Sample of our Brainstorming sheet


This 190+ page unit could keep you on track for the entire first grade year. We start during the 4th week of school after reviewing letters and sounds, vowels and consonants, abc order, word wall, high frequency words from kinder, etc.
Kids take home their brainstorming sheet, generate more words for "homework" with parents. We take a "spell check" on Fridays, and allow kids to write words from the list we generated or words they came up with!  They love our Spell Check time!  All spell Check sheets are kept in a folder so we can watch growth and progress. I love how we allow differentiation, and self selected words.  We of course, also watch for use of the spelling rules to show up in their written expression. That's when we really smile!!
If you are at all interested in trying what we have developed for word work/spelling...good news! I have the link below! I am happy to share my recipe for success in spelling.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask away! Email or comment.

Well, thanks for hanging in there through all of this and for being patient with me! You all are the best!  I hope you are off to a great start this year.  If I can help with anything, please let me know!! I love hearing
 from you!
Joyfully!
Nancy VandenBerge
firstgradewow@gmail.com















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Hello Everyone!
I certainly hope your summer has been one of family time, rejuvenation, and maybe a little learning! Mine has been all of those. We were able to take several trips to see family across this country to celebrate birthdays, babies, more birthdays, and just reconnections.  Having time off during the summer is so important to me as we have spread to every corner.
Having time off in the summer is also important to me to rejuvenate as a teacher. I always try to take advantage of the book studies our district offers.  This year I was able to read three great choices. If I were to pick my top fav it would hands down be “ From Striving to Thriving” by Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward. If you teach reading to any age kiddo, or if you are a parent of a school age child, you have to read this book.  I am telling you, I literally almost cried when I finished it. It was almost like the authors were looking in on my teacher heart as they were writing this book. From the very first page where they state that “Voluminous pleasurable reading is key to literacy development,” to tabling the labels we put on our young readers, to learning how to embrace mistakes, to inner conversations and so much more!  Every page is a gem, a jewel of research based instruction! My masters degree is in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in reading and I wish this book had been out when I was studying about reading levels!  It has totally changed my thinking! One golden thread I found throughout this entire book is the mindset of trust, teach, transform.  I will cling to these words this coming school year with my fellow teachers, and my new little students. 
 The book also refers to “growth mindset” which I have done a lot of research on lately. In fact, that is one thing I want to share with you. I put together a little unit to help me work on our growth mindset this year. I know many of you have already been hard at work on this and we have too, just not in an organized way. So it was time to get it done!
Here are just a few pics of the unit.








The unit ended up to be close to 100 pages of posters, journal pages, books to make/read and so much more!
I know I will use just about every page of it!!!  A lot of it during the first week of school!

Ok! Next up! I have gotten so many e-mail asking what our beginning of the year theme is going to be this year! I finally got it done! We are going to venture into the original growth mindset guru- Dr. Seuss and his book, "Oh the Places You'll Go!" Such a great book to read at the beginning of the year.  and don't you know we do all kinds of traveling and growing in first grade!! If you have used any of my other beginning of the year units, this one is very similar in content. Some binder cover templates, some meet the teacher stuff, some quick thematic assessments, some math games, some poetry, and a lot more! Thank you Dr. for such an inspirational book!!!  Here are a few pics of the 100 page unit.













And Click Here for your very own unit!!

Well, I've had a blast this summer, but our break is almost over.  I'm excited to work with some new team members that we added!  And I'm excited to share some other new things with you!  Thank you for stopping by for a quick look at what we've been up to.  Stop again soon! 
If you are still on break- enjoy!!!  If you are heading back to the classroom soon, have the best year yet!! 
Joyfully!!
Nancy



 

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Hello Everyone!
We had one of the best number sense weeks we've ever had! We worked very hard on number patterns up to 120. Because we were also in the middle of a plant unit in science, I decided to use "Tops and Bottoms" by Janet Stevens, as a theme for some number pattern activities as well.   I have shared my Tops and Bottoms unit before, but I've added this math component for you to download and print.  Here are a couple of pics.















The unit also includes a huge measurement component!!!


For the past couple of weeks we have also been busy trying our hand at writing realistic fiction pieces.  We are following Lucy Calkins fairly closely.  As inspiration, we are reading a lot of realistic fiction literature, and I think the kids are getting the hang of it. I put together a mini unit with posters, planners, and checklists.
Here are a few pics.





Here's the link to the printable !!!


Finally, this coming week we will be working on author's message in stories.  I chose "The Empty Pot" by Demi.  It is such a lovely story about honesty and bravery. If you have not read this yet to your kids, do it now!!  I put together another little mini unit to accompany this story.  The unit will help kids see the value in such a piece. 






I am so looking forward to using this with my kids this week!!


 
Well, that's all for now!!!   I hope you have a wonderful week that is filled with the JOYS of watching your kids learn!!!
Thanks for stopping by!!!
Joyfully!
Nancy





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