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As the year comes to an end, I can't help but begin to dream up next year's classroom theme and design. I have a feeling you may be too!  I'm hoping to get all of your creative juices flowing for next year before you take the time to rest and rejuvenate this summer. I recently had the privilege of assisting some of my colleagues in designing their classrooms and I'm excited to share some pictures of the final products and more importantly, some simple yet effective tips to styling which ever theme or design you choose! 

Thank you to Carson-Dellosa for sponsoring this post. This post also contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase using of my links, which helps allows me to continue creating content for my blog. I only share about brands and products that I genuinely use and love. I hope you enjoy reading today's post as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you. 




I knew that Carson-Dellosa's Sparkle + Shine theme would be the perfect fit for their space. It's vivacious and bold, the perfect compliment to their teaching style and personality! Carson-Dellosa added so many additional styling pieces since sharing my last Sparkle + Shine classroom design reveal this past summer. You can find that post here. This particular line has taken me out of my comfort zone of working with all blacks and brights, but I'll admit, I'm so glad I explored different possibilities! I learned so much about mixing and matching styles and patterns.

Click any picture to PIN it to your classroom Inspiration Pinterest board! This will come in handy come August and September!




TIP #1: CHOOSE A COLOR PALATE

While I did find more comfort in mixing and matching patterns, I still do believe the key to a successful classroom design in choosing a coloring palate. I found that within CarsonDellosa's Sparkle + Shine line, there are two different color palates. The first being black and gold pieces, along with the navy, brights and gold/silver accents. Using decor with similar color patterns and structures allows for the eye-catching consistent results.



TIP #2: KEEP IT CONSISTENT

Pairing the decor pieces with colored paper that matches the colors in the theme and using the same border throughout the space will really bring the classroom together. For example, you can see in the photo above that I followed the rainbow order color patten as seen on the star border. Choosing one main color as the background of your bulletin boards also contributes a great deal to consistency. 

Yellow was the best fit for this space because the classroom has little natural light. We wanted to really brighten up the space. Since it's such a bright color, we made sure to compliment it with large spaces of white. If you were looking for a calmer space, using a navy backdrop would be a great modification; much like the black drop with the gold and black pieces.


TIP #3: LAYER BORDERS

Layering borders makes even your simplest of bulletin boards look rich!! There are a few ways to layer borders. I usually like to mix it up within a space. You can keep all the scalloped edges facing in the same direction, or you can compliment the scalloped edges with a straight edge border. In a few cases I paired a scalloped edge with a straight edge on both sides. Something to keep in mind is that you can recycle old borders to use as a white straight edge border. We flipped the recycled border to have the scalloped side facing in and the white side face-up. It's good for the environment... and your wallet! :)



TIP #4: ADD YOUR OWN PERSONAL TOUCHES

Find areas in your space to add your personal touch! There's nothing more special than picking out a quote that's meaningful to you and your students. Before beginning to decorate, I take the time to plan out where the focal point of the space is. Usually it's the long wall above the windows. Find a mural, make a pendant banner or choose a quote that's big enough to take up the space. Type it up in your favorite font and print them on colored paper that matches your color palate. I promise, you won't regret the extra time you spent in adding some personal touches!



SHOPPING MUST HAVES


See anything you like? If you're looking to incorporate any of the Carson Dellosa Sparkle + Shine decor pieces to your classroom, shop from the links below on Amazon! I split the pieces up into two graphics based on their color palate. 

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Next month marks the start of our Books in a Series unit. In reader's workshop students select a series of their choice to explore in book clubs, while also creating and writing adventures about a realistic fiction character of their own in writer's workshop. What better author to use for mentor texts than the one and only, Mo Willems?! His work is dreamy (insert heart eye emoji here)!

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. 

I consistently choose his work each year to guide my students to explore all the potential there is with author's craft of such few words and pictures. In reader's workshop I use the Elephant and Piggie series during my mini-lessons and look to the Pigeon series in shared reading. 

As a culminating project, we make these sweet Pigeon headbands that make you go googley eyed at the first sight of them! I had seen them on students while watching Mo Willems speak at an elementary school at the end of one of the Knuffle Bunny DVDs. I am having a hard time locating where you can find the DVD. I took it out at my local library. You can find Knuffle BunnyKnuffle Bunny Too, and Knuffle Bunny Free on Amazon by clicking the book titles. 


With this particular craft, I chose to precut the pieces for the students. I got very lucky that the blue paper and blue sentence strips that I had laying around happened to be the very same shade. Unfortunately I do not happen to know the brand of either. However, I have selected two online that I believe to be the closest match. The bright blue in the Astrobrights "bright" assortment pack gives you a great option! 

Students glued all the pieces for the Pigeon face.


Once they were finished gluing, they came to me to assemble the "neck and body." I chose to staple these pieces in effort to save time. One staple to attach two white strips to the head. Then I separated the strips and attached one to each side of the "body."

One tip- the longer the white strip, the more likely the pigeon head will lean to one side. I chose to keep them short to prevent this from happening! 


The body was a blue sentence strip. I did my best to match up the sentence strip color and found this multicolor neon pack from Carson Dellosa on Amazon. I measured each students head before attaching the Pigeon head.

I have also seen teachers incorporating curriculum needs by adding writing to the sentence strip. Student can practice adding dialogue tags to what Pigeon says in his speech bubbles. This is the perfect way to incorporate dialogue punctuation as well. Then students can write the whole sentence including the dialogue tag on their sentence strip. 


Click each Pigeon book title to grab yourself a copy!

    
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We love a good math craft and opportunity to show our mathematical thinking!! We have been exploring part, part whole addition strategies and connecting it to what we know about turn around facts and the relationship between addition and subtraction.

The turkey craft used above is from Jen over at First and Kinder Blue Skies. I absolutely LOVE all her themed crafts and have adapted them in many ways to find my curriculum needs. You can find everything you need from the craft here. 

Be sure to grab a copy of the addition freebie below!


After my mini-lesson, students create their own numbers for their part, part, whole addition turkeys. This is the perfect way to differentiate for each learner. I typically give my leveled groups specific number ranges to choose from (i.e. addition through 10, 20 and 100). This activity also gives students the opportunity to show their thinking more than one way. My rule of thumb is always to use pictures, numbers and words! The part, part whole digram is the "math picture," the turn around facts are the "number" and of course the explanation is the "words." Students in the addition to 10-20 range used the feathers to model the two "parts."



It's incredible to see just how much they're grown in being able to show their thinking and represent numbers with math models!!

You can find the Turkey Addition recording activity here!




I also got this adorable turkey hand activity idea from Sarah over at First Grader At Last. This is such an oldie but a goodie! We had such great fun skip counting by tens, fives and twos to answer the questions. It was even a great mental math lesson on place value for the students who were able to understand and explain that strategy!
Happy Turkey season everyone!
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There are so many great books that bring the magic of October alive in the classroom, but I've picked 10 of my favorites to share with you today! A few of these don't make their way on my classroom bookshelf or into my library book bins for good reason! I typically put away the books I use for instruction until I read them to my class. Once I do, I'll place them on the shelf and into the eager hands of my students.

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. 

Rather than just giving you a quick little blurb of each, I thought it would be more beneficial to explain how I use them in my classroom. While I'm aware there are so many restraints on the curriculum and schedules in schools today, I'm lucky enough to work in a district that supports my creativity and design to integrate these when possible. Be sure to keep that in mind when reading. :) When I can, I look at the teaching points in my monthly content and find away to make it work!

M A T H  &  S C I E N C E

Estimation and skip counting are such important skills in the primary grades! This book encompasses both skills in one great story! It inspires you to have your own hands-on pumpkin themed counting experiment. So... that's just what I do each year! One day in the month of October, parents come in for a pumpkin filled day of fun. We read this story in the morning, list ways to explain/show our thinking when counting and estimating. Then, we rotate through science and math centers (weighing, estimating/counting seeds, measuring height, sink/float, etc.).  It's lots of fun and is sure to surprise even your highest thinkers with the results!
You can find it on Amazon here.


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It's been quite some time since I've blogged about Math Workshop. As one of my school's math coaches, I'm fully immersed in all things math while teaching full time throughout the year. I'm lucky enough to work alongside teachers, host coaching cycles, write curriculum for my school and present PD sessions, all while teaching a class of my own. It helps my mindset and perspective while in my role as a coach and I'm hoping it makes me more realistic and approachable to my colleagues. 

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. 

After getting some emails and messages with questions regarding math workshop, I thought it might be beneficial for you to get a peek into what math workshop looks like in my classroom and how I incorporate my products. I'm so passionate about this that I've had to remind myself to keep it condensed and reader friendly, while also giving you the most important information all in one place!


KICKING OFF MATH WORKSHOP

It's so, so, so important to remember that math workshop doesn't happen without any math community building work! Also, it doesn't run smoothly after doing it for just one day. It takes some serious modeling and practice. I've had years where my first graders got the hang of it after a few days, and then there have been years where is takes weeks and maybe now that I think about it- months! Ha! It's all about your students and what works for them.

To kick it off, I spend a week reading math read alouds, discussing where we find numbers in the real world, coming up with a list of "rules for the tools," setting the workshop expectations and completing a "math about me" activity. All of these activities, along with a lesson plan guide and read aloud suggestions can found in my Math Community Building unit in my TPT store. You can find it here! It's so important to get to this before moving to content. In the upper grades, I might spend even more time discussing group or partnership roles/expectations.

As in any content area, when setting expectations, it's so important to make a shared list with your class and hang them in the classroom to refer to when modeling/self assessing throughout the year. I adjust the print settings to zoom 200% when printing the "Rules for the Tools" and "Math Workshop Expectations." This will print it in 4 separate pages, in which you can cut and assemble to make it an anchor chart. I print it on cardstock, laminate it and use it from year to year. 


Below is my favorite math read aloud when kicking off math workshop for any grade level. It's a story about all the numbers in the world going missing. It's such a great connection to real world math and sends the message that exploring numbers is very meaningful. You can shop it on Amazon for under $5 here.


LESSON PLANNING

When thinking of how to plan a math workshop lesson, remember all that you know about reading and writing workshop. I follow the same mini-lesson format! Start with a connection, model the skill or strategy, incorporate active engagement (students working on their whiteboard or notebook & turning and talking with their neighbor) and then link to what they are doing in math tubs/centers/rotations (all inter-changeable). 

The only thing that differs from literacy mini-lessons is that I also include a warm-up before I begin. I am strategic in choosing a warm-up. It's of course a skill that has already been previously taught, but most importantly I always try to choose one that builds up or leads to the new skills/concept we are learning that day. For example, if it's adding 3 addends, we warm up adding 2. If its adding two digit numbers we may warm-up our brains by representing the numbers with base ten blocks, and then use that as a strategy to help add the two digit numbers in the lesson. I hope I am making this clear. 

This mini-lesson format is ultimately the perfect combination of reviewing a previous skill, engaging students in a new skill and quickly monitoring which students may need a reteach. 

If you're like me and you benefit from seeing a model lesson, I have shared a lesson below that I used to model for a coaching cycle. 

GROUPING STUDENTS & CENTER ROTATIONS

I have seen many different ways to organize and set up the "independent practice" portion of math workshop. Many teachers use math centers, stations, tubs, rotations, etc. In my opinion, I truly feel that there is no *one* perfect or *right way* to organize this piece. I feel that it's left for each teacher to decide how they would like to establish their routine, as long as students are engagedin meaningful centers that match the lesson objective.

Below you can find an example of the math workshop rotation schedule on the board for my students. (Note: at the start of the year we only do either 2/3 math tubs) For each lesson, I have 3 or 4 math tub activities that vary- they include games with manipulatives, math printables, math workbook pages, math fact fluency centers, math sorts, etc. I try to balance games and worksheets- I whole heartedly believe math is not a worksheet, but sometimes it's important to have something as your informal assessment. 

The shapes represent my groups. In my classroom, under the shapes I would list the names of the students that are in that shape group. The first rotation is where they start. Rotation 2 is where they head as soon as they are finished. Timing can be up to you, but I found that allowing students to rotate to the next rotation freely minimizes students behavior. I require students to finish both rotations before moving to a free choice rotation (one that was not assigned to them). They LOVE the free choice component!  

Math tub 1 is usually a readiness activity- it can be differentiated by using tools/manipulatives for support, smaller numbers or with guided practice. Math tub 2 and 3 are grade level activities, while math tub 4 is an enrichment center. Students at math tub 4 will be challenged to think critically and deeply or apply the learned skill to a new skill. This is not to be confused with the concept of students that need to be stretched should have to do *more work.* If you notice, math tub 1 and 2 switch and math tub 3 and 4 switch. Therefore, it's important to think about which students will be assigned to each group. I attempt to break up my "at grade level" students into a group that benefits from reinforcement (the readiness activity), as well as one that can be stretched (the enrichment activity). This helps me guide who should be placed a tubs 2 and 3.

When deciding groups, or which students to pull over for my strategy group lesson, I use pre-tests and the strategy group planning sheet above to help prepare at the start of each unit. This is the perfect way to identify which students need a strategy group guided math lesson. This is known as the "Math with Miss Vaz" portion of the stations. This includes me modeling (guiding them) through the skill or strategy. I have found that once I model a few times and have them practice with me a few times, many of them have mastered the skill. Therefore I may send students back to a center to work independently. This allows me to go from a group of 5ish students, to possibly 1 or 2 that can benefit from some more 1 on 1 time.  Eventually, all my guided math students will move back to a math tub (most likely tub 1 or 2) so that I can float and assess my other students in centers.


                       
Often times my guided math lessons use resources from my Math Toolkit resource in my TPT shop. You can find it here. It includes 25 resources aligned to the first grade CCSS and doubles as an RTI binder too! 

MATH CENTERS, GAMES & MATH FACT FLUENCY

Below you'll find some of my favorite math centers and games that I use ALL YEAR LONG! They are so easy to prep and print and my students LOVE them! They align with first grade CCSS and encourage the use of manipulatives. My students ask to play them during recess- that's how much of a hit they are! 

I place them in sleeve protects and have students use their whiteboard markers when playing. You can find all of the Math Games and Centers in my TPT shop. Click here to see more!




MATH FACT FRIDAYS

Our school has built in "flex days" on our math curriculum map. Therefore, teachers have the autonomy to incorporate supplemental activities or instruction. Therefore, I have adopted "Math Fact Fridays." On Fridays, I teach a math fact mini-lesson and then we break out into math fact centers. If you're looking to freshen up your math fact fluency instruction, I highly recommend reading Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler.  

I've adapted this refined way of teaching into math fact fluency and incorporated a number sense component. It includes a teaching progression, explination of the strategies, math fact centers, strategy group planning sheets and assessments. You can find my Building Number Sense with Math Facts (addition and subtraction) in my TPT store here. 








I hope I was able to answer some questions and give you a peek into my math instruction. If you have any follow-up questions, be sure to comment below or send me an email! 

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Working with Carson-Dellosa had been at the top of my list of "major goals" ever since I started my blogging journey. Their classroom decor and teaching aids are classics and have been a part of education for many years. All my blogging dreams came true when I received an email this past year to partner with them on a classroom decor collaboration! Today I'm thrilled to be sharing their Sparkle + Shine decor line. This girl loves herself some gold- the color that is! The Sparkle + Shine line is a unique, yet classic way to jazz up any classroom color scheme. 

This is a sponsored post. First Grade Made received payment, trade and/or products from Carson-Dellosa in exchange for promoting, however all opinions stated are 100% my own.  

If you're familiar with my classroom or have been following me for some time, you know I'm a big fan of color. It's such a great way to add vibrance and life to a classroom. Adding subtle accents from the Sparkle + Shine line truly allows color to POP! 


In this case, I paired fun black bulletin board letters with the Gold Glitter Letters from the decor line. This highlights the true detail and beauty of the Sparkle + Shine letters.

I used a little word play to have a motivational bulletin board centered around this theme. The saying "Leave a Little Sparkle Wherever You Go" suits my teaching style and personality in the classroom. I love celebrating student's successes and individual personalities. It also aligns with my positive personality!



I wanted to keep the gold sparkle accents in line with the color theme that had been established. I thought what better way to keep the theme than to add a rainbow? I absolutely love the way it turned out! I layered tissue paper and added various Black and Gold Star Cut-out Accents from the decor line to create a floating rainbow affect. To top it off, I layered Rainbow Dots on Glitter Scalloped borders  and Glitter Stars on Rainbow Scalloped borders.

These motivational bulletin boards would also work well on the back of any classroom doors!



The Black and Gold Star Cut-outs  and Gold Glitter Star Cut-outs are also the perfect accents when hanging posters in the classroom. I attached them to clothespins and some bright colored cardstock to hang student work in the classroom and the hall.

I love all of Melanie's work from School Girl Style! She recently partnered with Carson Dellosa and is now selling her products in their stores and online! I got this precious idea of attaching stars to paper straws. These can be used for different table color/number signs or even as a place to color code markers, crayons or colored pencils!







I even accented our writing process stage by attaching a star to a clothespin. These give my students a clear understanding of what they are responsible for that day as a writer.

You can find these writing posters in my TPT store here! They come in may colored options to fit your classroom needs.




The Sparkle + Shine line even has some precious hanging file folder storage and pocket charts! My favorite is the Essential Gold Polka Dot Pocket Chart. It's such great quality and any materials that you use this with just POP! I can see myself using this as an interactive station for my students in all content areas.

It's perfect to hold interactive word wall word cards and math centers. The photograph below features a center from my Building Number Sense with Math Facts resource. For more information, you can read a blog post about it here or find the resource in my shop here.
 

I hope you loved seeing the Sparkle + Shine line from Carson Dellosa in a real classroom! If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or comment below! I do my best to get back to everyone.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to enter the giveaway below, sponsored by Carson Dellosa! Check my Instagram feed for another giveaway soon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Although I'm not able to join in on the fun at TPT Nashville this week, I went there with my friend Lauren last year and wanted to share our favorite travel spots. These are all *must sees*! Prepare to bring all the stretchy pants and loose fitting clothes because you are going to eat your way through the small but ever growing city. Seriously. This was hard to me! I am a naturally whole wheat, non-fried, moderate carb, fruit and veggie eater BUT I didn't miss out on trying all the fried, spicy and sweet flavors of Nashville. 

Did you know that 80-100 people move to Nashville every day? I sure didn't, but every single Uber driver that picked us up somehow seemed to share this with us! Coming from the New York City/Philly area, we also found it comical when they kept warning us about "all the traffic." 

BREAKFAST & LUNCH: BISCUIT LOVE

Located in The Gulch is the modern, yet quaint breakfast and lunch spot, Biscuit Love. It has all the southern flavor and feels that warm your heart. Don't be alarmed by the line that winds down the road, as I was when we first arrived. It moved fast and we were seated in 25ish minutes! I recommend getting there early if you hope to skip out on a line.

It was so delicious that we actually went back for a second time in just our long weekend stay! The biscuits melt in your mouth and you'll most likely want to take some on the go!

There's even a precious gift shop for you to stock up on treasures and jams. 



Once we got outside, we even found this quaint flower truck! They pop around all different spots in Nashville selling the most beautiful fresh flowers. Follow them on Instagram at @Ameliasflowertruck to see where they will be next!

                                                                                                                    DOWNTOWN "GO TO" SPOT: ACME FEED & SEED                                                                                                                                     Looking for a great place to R & R on your trip? Acme Feed and Seed is located in the heart of Nashville. It's home to incredible chicken sandwiches, music and dancing. We were lucky enough to catch a live band our first night there.                                                                                                                 
We loved it so much that the next day we went back to explore it more during the day. We found it has the perfect rooftop area! You can see incredible views of the downtown area, Cumberland River and Nissan Stadium. We enjoyed to warm spring sun over some refreshing frozen lemonades.





Downstairs there's a great spot for a photo op too! 




                                                                                                                                                    SHOPPING: DRAPER JAMES                                                                                                                                                          This preppy meets southern charm flagship store was at the top of our list! Maybe you'll even get lucky and shop alongside the well known celebrity that's the owner and designer of this brand- Reese Witherspoon. It features timeless styles to add to your wardrobe and home!                                                                                                                          Even though we didn't get lucky enough to see her, we were greeted with sweet teas  to enjoy while we shopped. Talk about southern hospitality!!    



There are also these sweet signs to get some more photo ops just outside of the store!


Located in 12 South, just a few blocks from Draper James we stumbled upon the home to doughnut heaven. There are 100 layer doughnuts, stuffed doughnuts, iced doughnuts and more! 






I couldn't get over how amazing they were! Doughnuts for days!!!!

MORE SHOPPING: DISTRICT 18

Coffee Shop: Fido

Ice Cream: Jeni's Splendid

We found that the best shopping and boutiques were actually in the little less traveled section of Nashville. Search "District 18" and you'll find it all! Men's and women's boutiques, quiet coffee shops, consignment shops and more! We were so happy to find gifts for some special ones back home. 



I hope you enjoyed this little tour of Nashville. I hope ya'll have a great time! 




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School may be out for summer but for many of us, the work might not come to a complete end! How many of you all tutor? I love tutoring over the summer because not only is it a great way to see student progress, it keeps my teacher brain on it's toes! Each summer I put together "tutor tubs." I make sure to create a balance between games, manipulatives and worksheets. Most importantly, I make it specific to each student's needs. I thought I'd share some tips with you on how to assemble an engaging and fun math tutor tub!

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. 

The "tutoring tub" is meant for you to be able to pull materials when doing a tutoring session, but also for your student to pull from to review on the days you may not be there. This is such a great way to establish consistency results! 


MATH GAMES AND PRINTABLES

The easiest way to engage your students is using fun math games and printables. If you're anything like me, you have more than enough resources you use in the classroom to choose from. However, it's important to choose wisely! I find myself choosing those that are aligned to the CCSS and incorporate the use of math tools and manipulatives.

If you're in the market, I've included a preview of my First Grade CCSS aligned math games and centers. These have many skills embedded in a game format. It also features an accountability piece, as well as the use of math manipulatives. It includes 20 different resources without breaking the bank!

You can find them in my TPT shop here




When assembling them, I choose the skills that fit the needs of the student. Then, I place them in sheet protectors and put them in a binder. This is the perfect way to keep them in one place and ensure they are durable for many uses. Looking for sheet protectors? You can find them here. 

If you're on an ink saving budget, consider printing everything on different bright colored paper. This gives just about any activity a fresh facelift! In the market for a great colored paper buy? Check out this multicolored Astrobrights pack here.  



MATH TOOLS AND MODELS

In addition to games and centers, bringing math to life is so important! Incorporating the use of math tools and models will help develop their mathematical practices. This is definitely my favorite part of my tutoring tubs! I could probably blog for a full 24 hours straight about all of the math tools and models I use in my classroom.  I've compiled a few that are super important and that you may be able to benefit from. 



First of all, Reagan Tunstall is an absolute genius! She is rocking out living her best life doing my absolute dream- creating her own math curriculum. She is super talented and I was thrilled when I stumbled upon her printable math tools- here!

I printed these out on colored Astrobrights cardstock and laminated them for extra durability. The Scotch 3m Laminating Pouches are great with little hands and constant use! 



Being that so many games and printables include the use of dice, I am sure to include an assortment!

Foam dicedouble dice and tens frame dice are my favorite. If you're interested in getting a set for yourself, click on the product name or image above!


These may be old school but rekenreks (math racks) and addition and subtraction flashcards are still very effective. I spent the past two years researching and developing my own ideas about math facts and these flashcards give me all the feels! Love the way they create a context for numbers. 

The list goes on and on, but I feel confident I've shared some math tutoring tub tips and tricks! I hope this makes your prep time and transition into tutoring this summer much smoother. 

What tools do you use? Comment below! 

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Memorial Day is sneaking up on us here, despite how inconsistent our warm weather has been! I'd thought I'd hop on here and share some of the ways we celebrate our country and remember those who have served!

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.

Wearing red, white and blue might be one of my favorite ways to show honor and pride! I love how passionate my students are on our school themed days. Students come to school decked out in red, white and blue the Friday before Memorial day. For morning work, students come in and make a patriotic headband- which is perfect if any students forgot their red, white and blue! 

I snagged this cutie from Maria over at KinderCraze. You can click here to get a free template! 



After reading the easy-reader I created below about Memorial Day, I'll give the students a choice of a shared writing activity. The writing prompts are ...

"Tell me about your family's Memorial Day traditions..."
"How do you show honor and pride for our country?"
"Who is your hero and why?"


Students can add color to the illustrations after choral reading it together. You can get a copy of the writing paper, word search and easy reader for free here from my shop on TPT. 

One of the *best* books and my all time favorite when talking about the job of those who serve/d in the armed forces is "Brave, Like Me" by Barbara Kerley. It sparks engaging discussions and captures their attention. The real images of children and their families demonstrate their raw emotions. Bravery is the best theme to focus on when thinking and talking about those who lost our lives protecting our country. This book does it beautifully!!! 

You can find a copy of it here


In the spirt of all things red, white and blue, I also wanted to share a few ideas for you when exploring and learning about the American flag. Many of you might not be in school for Flag Day (many of my New Jersey friends are sure to be ha! ) however, you might take Memorial Day as an opportunity to do some American flag math!


After exploring the numbers and patterns and their link to history that make our flag, we spend time using rulers to draw the flag. After, we'll watercolor paint them and use tracing markers to outline each detail. 


May all those who passed protecting our country rest in peace and a big thank you to those who have fought or are currently fighting to keep our country safe! 
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