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Who doesn’t love shoes?  Well, let me tell you…people with feet that hurt after being on them all day.  That’s who doesn’t love shoes.  Now, that isn’t to say that I don’t love comfortable shoes, but I have definitely become picky over the years of which shoes work for me.  As I’ve gotten *ahem* older, I am more aware of how my feet just cannot handle being in unsupportive, cheap shoes all day while teaching.

I was guilty for many years of just buying inexpensive and cute shoes and wearing them all season until my feet would be screaming at me to buy a new pair.  I have found that if I actually invest in some better quality shoes, they last longer, and I don’t dread wearing them all day.  I wish that I was someone that could just put on any pair of shoes and have my feet be fine, but that is definitely not me.  I can’t even walk around my house barefoot.  I have to wear a pair of hard soled slippers.  My feet just don’t like me very much

With that being said…I also want to still buy stylish shoes.  Maybe someday, I’ll be fine wearing big clunky orthopedic shoes, but today is not that day.  I am always on the hunt for cute shoes that I can actually wear all day, or a least a large part of the day, and be pain free.

Here are my favorite cute and comfy shoes that I wear while teaching.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through one of these links, they throw a couple of pennies my way.  This helps to support the blog.  None of these shoe companies are sponsoring me in any way.  I just truly loves these shoes

Sorel Wedges

A co-worker friend recommended Sorel wedges, and let me tell you, I am so thankful for her.  These shoes are my absolute favorite!  They are very cute and supportive.  My feet do not ache at the end of the day.  I have these Sorel After Hours Sandals in Camel pictured above and also the black Sorel Joanie Sandal (pictured below) that I love just as much!

I’m pretty sure that the Ella Slingback sandals from Sorel will be my next purchase to wear this summer.


Vionic Sandals

Another company that makes cute and supportive sandals is Vionic.  I ordered these Vionic Kirra Backstrap sandals, and they are a very comfortable flat sandal.  The sole of the shoe really supports your foot and are great to wear all day.

I loved them so much that I also ordered the Vionic Tide II Toe Post Sandal in Brown Leopard.  These are a little harder to “dress up,” but they are perfect for a less casual outfit. Trust me with this brand.  Your feet will thank you!

Toms

These sandals used to be my go-to shoes prior to finding Sorel.  I do still love these Toms Majora Cutout sandals though.  I have the desert taupe suede and the black leather ones.  (The black leather ones are the more comfortable of the two.)  I definitely still wear these shoes on a regular basis.

Toms wedge booties are some of my favorite “winter” shoes that I wear frequently, as well as the Leila Bootie that I have in black leather.

Sketchers

Everyone loves Sketchers, right?  There are SO many to choose from, too.  These are obviously a much more casual shoe than the others on the list, but they are perfect for casual Fridays.  I love the slip on Sketchers.  They are like clouds for my feet.

Converse

Another casual shoes option are Converse.  The soles are definitely flat and don’t seem too supportive, but for some reason, they do not hurt my feet.

Olukai Sandals

I’m actually not even sure where I was when I first walked into a store that sold Olukai shoes, but I remember putting them on my feet after a long day and immediately falling in love.  I have the Kulapai Kai sandals and they have held up perfectly for about 3 years now.  They barely even look worn, and they are my go to black flip flop in the summer.

I also love the look of these Olukai Upena Gladiator Sandals.

Tieks

While I will say that I do like my one pair that I own, I’m still just not a big enough fan of them to cough up the money for another pair of these flats.  (I actually didn’t even pay full price for my first pair.  I bought them off of someone that didn’t want theirs anymore.)  Maybe eventually I’ll get another pair, but it would have to be in a color that I would wear all of the time.  These things are expensive.

Have you tried any of these?  Do you have your own favorite teaching shoes that should be added to this list?  Share with me in the comments.

Pin the image below to save for future reference.

The post Top Picks for the Most Stylish and Comfortable Shoes for Teachers appeared first on Fun in First.

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Reading fluency is the ability to read accurately and with expression.  What better way to practice reading fluency than by using poetry?  Poetry has a rhythm and melody that is perfect for practicing reading fluency.  We all know the importance of rereading when it comes to practicing fluency, but rereading can be boring.  Using cut apart poems is one of my favorite ways to have my students practice reading fluency.

I give each student a mixed up poem.  They cut the strips apart and work to put the poem into the correct order.  Guess what they have to be doing the entire time that they are working on putting the poem in order?  They have to be rereading it and rereading it over and over again.  They also reread it with a rhythm and expression that helps them to figure out the order of the poem.  While they are putting these in the correct order, we can discuss rhyming words and how they will align in a poem.  This activity also lends itself to discussing capitals and punctuation.  The students can get clues about the order of the lines by looking at where the capitals and ending marks are on each strip.

Want to try using fluency poems in your classroom?

I created a packet of 20 fluency poems that can be used in whole group, small group, or in an independent work station.  Each rhyming poem comes with a color and black/white version of the completed poem, mixed up poetry strips, and a matching sheet for gluing on the final poem.

I personally always begin using these in a whole group setting.  After students get the hang of it, I like to copy the poems and put them in an independent work station.  The strips can be laminated and reused if you want to save on paper usage.

Click on any of the pictures above to head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and check out these poems.

The post Fluency Poems appeared first on Fun in First.

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I love changing things up now and then in my teaching and transforming my classroom for the day.  I have done a couple of transformations in the past, and I try to add at least one new one each school year.  I have been holding onto some superhero party decorations from my daughter’s birthday party a couple of years ago, and I knew that eventually I wanted to use them for something in my classroom.  I started brainstorming ideas and came up with the activities for our Superhero Day.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog.

This was such a fun day with tons of learning going on.  Prior to our Superhero Day, I sent out a letter letting the students know that we would be having a Superhero Day, and they could wear superhero themed shirts if they would like.  I also purchased a couple of things off of Amazon to add to our classroom including capes and masks for each student, a backdrop, blue and red plastic tablecloths, and some decorations.  It took me hardly any time at all to prep our classroom for the day.  I turned on some superhero themed music to add to the superhero theme.

When the students came into the classroom, they had a yellow piece of construction paper and a Superhero Coloring page on their desks.  They colored the page, folded their paper, and created a folder to keep all of their completed activities in for the day.  While they were working, I passed out their capes and masks.

Next, each of the students figured out their Superhero name and created their ID cards.  They loved figuring out what their superhero name would be.

I explained to the students that they were at a Superhero Training Camp.  They would have to work to earn their superpowers.  Throughout the day, the students rotated through stations to earn their superpowers.

  • Super Silence – Silent e
  • Super Manipulation – Making Words
  • Super Strength – Exercises
  • Super Intelligence – Math Fact Practice
  • Super Creativity – Writing
  • Super Decoding – Mystery Codes

They were so engaged and didn’t even realize that they were still completing so many academic tasks.  We also discussed some superhero vocabulary and completed vocabulary activities.

I cannot even tell you how much fun this day ended up being.  So many people shy away from classroom transformations because they get overwhelmed.  It is amazing what some Dollar Tree tablecloths can do to add to the excitement and engagement for the day.  “This was the best day ever!” was heard throughout the day.

If you want to try a Superhero Classroom Transformation in your classroom, check out my packet in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  The packet includes ideas for transforming your classroom for a Superhero Day, signs, stations labels, letter home, superhero names, superhero ID cards, superhero training stations (silent e, making words, super strength, math facts, writing, secret codes), ABC Order, word search, super sentences, superhero vocabulary, and more.  It truly is a fun-filled day of learning.

Feel free to pin the picture below as a reminder to check this out later.

The post A Superhero Day Classroom Transformation appeared first on Fun in First.

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When Simon & Schuster reached out to me wondering if I would be interested in teaming up to promote their Ready-to-Read books, I absolutely agreed.  These are some of my favorite books for not only my own children, but the students in my classroom as well.  I love that they come in different levels and are of high interests to my kids.

  • Ready-to-Read has it all, with leveled books for every young reader! Exciting nonfiction, beloved characters, and fan favorites make Ready-to-Read books the perfect choice for reluctant young readers.
  • All Ready-to-Read titles have been vetted by educational experts to adhere to the latest reading guidelines, and each level is designed to help children confidently grasp new reading concepts. Every title utilizes concepts such as sight words, shorter lengths, word families, rhyming, and contains a guide at the beginning of each book to prepare children for the story ahead. Fun reading comprehension questions at the end of each story help children to re-engage with the text and better understand it.
  • With fun “Star” levels, kids and parents can utilize the easy to understand system to bolster confidence as they move through the levels at their own pace.
  • Ready-to-Read brings the focus back to fun while still offering parents and educators well crafted, imaginative stories and engaging nonfiction. Beloved characters from authors like Doreen Cronin and Eric Carle will delight fans of traditional picture books. Stories from fan favorites like Daniel Tiger, the PJ Masks, and the Peanuts will get kids excited to read about their adventures. Unique and accessible nonfiction series such as “You Should Meet,” and “Living In…” explore the influential people in our world, and take readers around the globe to read about different cultures.

Ready-to-Read has something for everyone, and even reluctant readers will enjoy the easy format and fun stories.I personally love the nonfiction stories.  It can be challenging at times to find engaging nonfiction text written at a level meant for younger kids.  The Ready-to-Read series has a great selection of science and social studies topics.  Make sure to check out their website to see all of the book titles.

The post Ready-to-Read Books appeared first on Fun in First.

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One of my favorite parts of the day is our morning meeting time.  We take some time to chat with each other before starting our day.  One thing that I have used for the past couple of years, that I have no plans of giving up anytime soon, are Daily Discussion Questions.  The students always look forward to them and never let me miss a day.

Having discussions with your students and teaching them how to communicate others is such an important skill.  It allows you to stimulate critical thinking, while also working on listening skills.  You can demonstrate to each student that you appreciate their contributions made to the classroom discussion.  Over time, this helps them to build confidence and become more articulate while speaking.

These question cards allow your students to work on higher order thinking skills as they use critical thinking and problem solving skills to discuss their answers. This packet includes 200 different questions that are perfect for classroom discussions. I use these every day during our Morning Meeting, but they are also perfect to place on a metal ring and use during those extra minutes during a day or in a writing center. These higher order thinking questions also help your students develop their oral language skills.

These questions range from simple “Would you rather” type questions to more in depth questions that lead to wonderful discussions.  Plus, some mornings, they are just downright funny!  The one above definitely led to some hilarious answers, but it definitely gives you an insight into how children think about the world around them.

I have two sets of 100 Discussion cards, but I also have a bundle that includes all 200 Discussion Question Cards.  You can find the bundle by clicking HERE to head on over to my store.

Remember to pin the image below to save this idea for later or to share with a colleague.

The post Discussion Questions appeared first on Fun in First.

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When you hear writing instruction, do you want to pull your hair out, or do you get excited?  Let me be honest.  For way too many years, I wanted to pull my hair out.  It wasn’t necessarily because I didn’t enjoy teaching writing.  It was because I was overwhelmed with the task at hand, and I had no idea where to start.  I knew that writing mini-lessons were the way to go because my students needed to spend the majority of their writing block actually writing.  Not listening to me talk.  Even though I knew that I needed to do writing mini-lessons, I still felt overwhelmed.  Which skills should I focus on and when?  Was I hitting everything that my 1st graders needed?  Over the past couple of years, I have began piecing together a writing curriculum using mini-lessons for my students.  It took me awhile to get it just right, but I am THRILLED with the results.

These writing mini-lessons are grouped into months and can be projected for your students as you go through a lesson each day.  Simply open the file, and click onto the day’s lesson.  Each lesson takes 5-10 minutes max.  Then, the remainder of the time is spent on practicing their writing craft using what they have learned from that day’s lesson.  Students will not become better writers by listening to a long writing lesson.  They HAVE to be writing, so I wanted these to be short and sweet with a very clear focus.

Where do students write?

This file also includes monthly journals that can be printed for your students to use that follow along with each mini-lesson for the month.  The lessons themselves all start with a “We can” statement.  The journal pages contain an “I can” statement to show their writing focus for that lesson.  This format also allows me to stay focused when I am analyzing their writing.  I am definitely guilty of looking at a piece of writing and trying to fix it ALL.  These “I can” statements allow me to focus ONLY on that particular writing lesson objective.

As of right now, this is a GROWING BUNDLE of writing mini-lessons.  When it is completed, it will include 180 mini-lessons for your entire year of writing instruction.  As I complete each month, I will add it to the bundle, so you can redownload the update.  These truly have been a GAME CHANGER in my classroom.  I no longer dread writing time.  I look forward to it because I know exactly what I will be teaching and looking for in their writing for that day.  Take a closer look in the video below.

If you need to make your life easier when it comes to writing instruction, click the picture below to learn more.

The post Writing Mini-Lessons for the Entire Year appeared first on Fun in First.

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Word Work is such an important skill to practice in the primary classroom.  Word Work, or word study, is often considered “spelling practice” in classrooms.  While word study does involve learning to spell words, it is not your traditional spelling practice of simply memorizing words for a spelling test.  Word Work involves learning the patterns and meanings behind our written language.  Whether or not you do “spelling” in your classroom is up to you and your school district.  My district uses spelling words and gives spelling tests.  My goal is to make them the most useful for my students.  Instead of focusing on memorizing the spelling words each week, and then forgetting them right away, I want my students to understand the patterns in our spelling words.  Our spelling words are related to our phonics skill for the week, plus a couple of high frequency words.  We practice these words during our independent Word Work stations, in our whole group instruction, and small group instruction.  I created these Editable Word Work activities to use each week with my students.

These Word Work Activities allow you to use ANY words that you would like for your students to practice. Your students can practice spelling words, sight words, or word families. The possibilities are endless. Simply type in your list of words and 12 Word Work Activities are automatically generated for you to use in whole group, small groups, independent word work centers, or homework.  See how it works in the video below.

What are the Editable Word Work activities that are included?

There are 12 Word Work activities that can be used with 10 words and 12 of the same activities that can be used with 5 words. This allows for easy differentiation for your students who are not ready to work with more than 5 words at a time.  You will find the following activities:
•Rainbow Write
•ABC Order
•Spin & Write
•Writing Sentences
•Using Different Tools
•Roll & Color
•Pyramid Writing
•Wiggle Writing
•Roll & Write
•Roll & Read
•Tic Tac Toe
•Secret Code Words
•Flash Cards

“This is a brilliant idea!! Type the list once and instantly get 12 differentiated activities. I can’t wait to use this in my classroom. This has to be one of my all time favorite downloads.” -Darlene

This is truly a huge time saver in my classroom because I can use any list that I want to use for my students.  It is easy to differentiate for my students to work on sight words, word families, or spelling words.  I also included activities that can be used with 10 or 5 words, which allows me to cut my word list in half for struggling students.

You can learn more about these Editable Word Work activities by clicking on the picture below.

The post Editable Word Work Activities appeared first on Fun in First.

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The beginning of the school year is always exciting.  New supplies, new students, new opportunities to try something new.  However, it’s also stressful.  The first couple of weeks always end up being a blur.  One of the most important things that I want to accomplish during those first couple weeks of school is a sense of community.  I think it is so important to teach students how to work together successfully.  We do a lot of group work during the year, so they need to learn early how to cooperate with each other.  My classroom challenges provide the perfect opportunity for students to work together to complete academic challenges and earn rewards together.

What is the Back to School Challenge?

The Back to School Challenge includes 10 academic based challenges for the students to complete in small groups of 3-5 students.  After each group completes one of the challenges, that group earns a Challenge Ticket.  The Challenge Ticket includes a coded mystery word that the group must solve using the decoder page.  The first group to complete all 10 challenges (or however many you decide to use) is the winning group.  You can decide if there will be a prize for each group or not.  I usually hand out something little after each group is finished. (pencils, seasonal erasers, candy, stickers, …)

Each challenge has a picture on the top left of the page.  This picture matches a picture on the Challenge Ticket.  This makes organization of this project very easy.  The academic skills that are included in this challenge include:

-Lowercase Letters
-Numbers or Letters
-Missing Numbers
-Rhyming Words
-Counting
-Beginning Letter Sounds
-Number Order
-Fixing Sentences
-Graphing
-Illustrating Sentences

“I bought your 100th day challenge last year and it was a big hit with the kids! I’m excited to introduce this to my new group of kids the first week of school. I think it will be a great way to promote team-building and cooperation skills, while also reviewing things that they should know from kindergarten.” -Beth

If you love this challenge, you may also want to check out my other Classroom Challenges including The Christmas Challenge, Valentine’s Day Challenge, Spring Challenge, and more.

The post Back to School Challenge appeared first on Fun in First.

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Every year, a couple of weeks before school starts, I start purchasing things that I need for the school year.  I always seem to find myself wracking my brain to try and remember everything that I need to get.  I decided to make a list of items that I buy EVERY SINGLE YEAR before the school year begins, so I can make sure that I have everything I need.  This list includes all of my must-have back to school items.  I am not including those items that you buy once every couple of years or a new expensive item for your classroom.  I am talking about the consumable items that have to be purchased every year.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog.

1. Crayons, crayons, and more crayons

You can never have enough crayons.  I feel like my students must be eating crayons each year.  They always bring their own at the beginning of the year, but most of those are gone by the second week of school.  I always provide crayons in baskets in my classroom, but I am constantly adding more to the tubs.  I usually stock up on the cheap crayon boxes at Walmart during back to school time (ALWAYS Crayola), but if I have to buy them later on in the year, I found that buying a large bulk box on Amazon was cheaper.

2. Glue Sticks

Glue sticks are another item that somehow disappear in no time.  You can never have too many glue sticks.

3. Folders

I always get folders before the school year starts.  I purchase red ones to use as Ketchup folders.  (Students keep these in their desk to place work in that they need to “catch up” on.)  I also love these Resource Folders from Really Good Stuff.

4. Mr. Sketch Markers

I get a new pack of Mr. Sketch Markers every single year.  They last the entire year and are perfect for anchor charts.

5. Chart Paper

I go through at least one tablet of chart paper each year for anchor charts, interactive writing, etc.

6. Astrobrights Paper

I seriously use Astrobrights paper for everything.  I love the colors, and I love the quality.

Find this Interactive Practice Folder in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

7. Sticky Putty

All of the walls in my classroom are cinder block.  This definitely makes hanging things harder.  I have found that Sticky Putty seems to work the best for keeping things up.  There are still times when I come into my classroom after the weekend, and I have to pick things up off the floor, but it isn’t nearly as often if they are hung up with Sticky Putty.

8. Name Badges

I love having name badges for my students.  These are great for the beginning of the year when they are still learning their lunch numbers.  They are also great for subs and/or field trips.

9. Pencils

If you’re a teacher, you know how quickly students can go through pencils.  Ticonderoga pencils are definitely the easiest to sharpen and are my go-to pencil choice.

10. Hand Sanitizer

I always purchase the gigantic hand sanitizer container from Sam’s for my classroom.  There is a lot of sneezing, nose picking, and shoe tying in 1st grade.

What are your Back to School Must-Haves?

The post Back to School Must Haves appeared first on Fun in First.

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