Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekly Cheat Sheet

Happy Monday Everyone!!! Last week was a toughie! We were back from break... PLUS, there was Report Card Monday, followed by Conferences on Wednesday and Thursday and Earth(Craft-Craziness) Friday. 

Luckily, today started with a work day – which I used to pull together our school’s writing night.

However, I just wanted to pop in and share something so little I didn’t think big… Until, about 80% of parents mentioned how much they LOVE it.

Each Monday I send home a “Cheat Sheet” for parents to hang on their fridge. This list has their spelling words, teaching objective for each subject area, and events for each day of the week.  So many parents mentioned how much this helped them juggle the craziness of having a 7 year old.

The image below will take you to the Powerpoint so you can modify it directly if it’s something you think you can use.

I have first and second graders in my class, so the attachment has both grades.

The fonts are ones I’ve found in various corners of the internet… so if the formatting looks a little kooky when you download it, just change the fonts!

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

11 Absent Fun Time!

Oh. My. Word! It was a half day today! The kind where you only come to school in the afternoon. In my in my classroom this meant 11 students absent! 11! What are you supposed to do with almost half the class absent?

WELL, I pulled out crafts that would terrify me any other day!

We’ve been working through our weather unit and have been spending the week talking about cloud cover and wind. SOOOO, we pulled out the glue/shaving cream combo to make a little text-to-self project about Eric Carle’s Little Cloud.

The idea is totally credited to Cara Carroll! (Sometimes I feel like she’s the fourth on our first grade team). The link will you take to her AMAZING cloud post!

We used the sentence frame, “Sometimes Little Cloud looked like _________________” and filled in the sentence with the shape they made with our glue/foam combo.


-          All recipes I frantically Googled called for equal parts foam and glue. However, we found that resulted in a liquid-ish cloud. So, our recommendation is that you use about a quarter of the glue than shaving cream.

-          Each kiddo got a little cup of foam and paintbrush to go to town.

-          After some creative minutes, we learned that a “patting motion” {Dakota’s words, not mine) caused the shaving cream to fluff up the most.

Below is the little cloud sentence my kids wrote in if you’re interested!

Two more days until I am kicking my feet up on SPRING BREAK (So jealous of you spring breaking it now!).

P.S. First graders just finished up their geometry unit. Love the kiddo for doing a rectangle! :) However, store was easier to spell... So, he had a last minute switch! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bunny Bag! {Craftivity FREEBIE!}

Look at me go! Two days in a row… I feel like the little train, “I think I can!”

Today I’m sharing a little craft-ivity that supports yesterday’s candy hunt post J.

These little babies are soooo easy to make and sooooo cheap!

The template included in this post matches the size of these white paper bags found in a little store called “Wall-Mart.”
All I do is trace this template on the bag and cut it out.

Then, students decorate the bags at school. We pull out the odds and ends and let the kiddos get inspired.

We also include fluffy cotton tails on the back.

The last step calls for us to glue/tape the handles together.

For the finishing touches we fill the bag with “Easter Grass.”   

Then students run around gathering their candy in these bags!

These babies are cheap, quick and easy! Plus, some of our sweet babes don’t have an Easter basket,  so these little substitutes really get them excited!

Without further delay... the download!

Will we be back tomorrow? “I think we can!” 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pre-Vacation Crazies! {Freebie}

Holy cow! How did Easter sneak up on me this fast?! Thank goodness this week is four little days long!! Then, we’re off for our spring break! WOO-HOO!!

However, most of my kiddos are just as excited for the break... This means they are 9 kinds of crazy from 8:30-3:30!

To combat this, my absolutely amazing team partner – Donna – has an amazing behavior incentive we use during this last week!

Each student gets this fancy little score card taped to their desk. From Thursday-Thursday students keep track of the points they earn each day.

Each student starts the day with 5 points. In our case, each time a student “moves his/her color zone” they lose a point on the sheet. 

In my case: 5= Green, 4=Yellow, 3=Orange, 2=Red, 1=Trip to the office, 0=Absent. At the end of the day, each student circles the points they’ve earned.

However, you might have noticed the blank spots near the bottom. Students have the opportunity for BONUS points! If our friends move up the color chart, show exceptional work quality, can read their wonder words… They can earn bonus points!

In the last hour of the day, we take our students outside and throw tons of candy in a field (candy donated from our parents). Students get to hunt in the order of points earned – the highest scoring students have the most time!

Clicking this following image will give you a download for:
- A parent note (Explaining and begging for candy)
- The score card

Oh well! I hope your week is off to a fabulous start! It’s my mega-late Lenten promise to update this chickadee more regularly! So don’t forget us! BECAUSE I WILL BE BACK J!

OH! And a super amazing happy birthday to the fabulous Mrs. Lizak!  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Not-So-Amazing-Race/Website FREEBIES Galore!

What up bloggy friends! Long time no post….. But, we’re back! And we’re living it up BIG in Grand Rapids this week! We’re here for the MACUL Conference and Lisa’s sticking around for MRA! Big time PD hours hereJ.

It was quite a road trip! Three cars left our school district at the same time…. Except, we stayed back to socialize for 40 minutes… Surprise, surprise! Well, once we finally hit the road, we needed gas – and in true GPS fashion we found a gas station in the deepest corner of the roughest neighborhood… BUT! Gas was cheap! So, win? We also met a sweet lady who was having a great day! She shared her saucy story with us and the gas station attendant—since this classy establishment only took cash! 

WELL, we were finally on the road! It took us 2 hours to go 40 miles… TRAFFIC, accidents and TRAFFIC! At 7:30 we gave up on driving and decided it was dinner time. Unfortunately all of Novi decided it was also dinner time and headed to the same restaurant. After an hour and 15 minutes our meal was served (our waitress informed us our soup was holding our order up – really?!). 

As we walked out of dinner, the other two cars arrived in Grand Rapids…. We, however, were only 40 miles deep in a roughly 300 mile road trip. Worst. Amazing. Race. Team. EVER! BUT, probably the most entertaining! 

We’re here though and made it through our first day of MACUL! We attended a great session featuring resources for Interactive Whiteboards! This session was hosted by the fabulous Pirate Truger. She has compiled 45 fun websites for your classroom’s interactive board! All websites are free! Her site can be found here:

We’ve been playing at since we got back!! This is website designed for ages K-5 and allows you to access content by grade level. We found activities that were supportive across the curriculum!

This is a picture of sight word Bingo (I can’t wait to share with my crew!). 

On the left panel, she has broken additional resources into Promethean options and SmartBoard options! There really are many resources to take advantage of!

We'll be back more frequently! Enjoy your Friday and have fun playing on these sites!! We are!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"Egg"citing Contractions {FREEBIE} :)

WOW!  Have I missed you guys :)  Remember that plague I mentioned last week, well it turned into pneuemonia and quickly put a damper on all of my big plans for last week...yikes!  That on top of all the craziness going on at school, and I was one wiped teacher!  But, I'm sooo glad to be back!  I have truly missed talking to all of my fave bloggy buddies :)

I made you a super cute "Egg"citing Contractions Memory Match Game that you can download {HERE} or by clicking the pic below :)  Hopefully you find it helpful, my kiddos have really struggled with contractions this year so we're just gonna keep on working on them.  I can't wait to share all of the super cool stuff that we have going on this week, so stay tuned and see you tomorrow my FAB friends!!! :)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We're Still Alive!

Hey bloggy friends!

Just popping in to share a little secret....

You may have noticed an unusual absence from our Made in The Shade Duo --  YUP! It’s been kind of sporadic lately. And, it’s a little undeniable.

Lisa and I have been SWAMPED with PD and the race to complete Data Walls. (We’re at different schools…. So this is serious! Data Wall War). 

Lisa will have had a sub 4.5 days this week. I had a sub 2.5 days + I've been staying late making graphs that will make Lisa’s look like crayon drawings (Just kidding! Or am I?).

As you can tell, this week is kicking my tail!

BUT!  We have not stopped thinking of you and here is a sneak peek of a super AWESOME and probably the best piece of work we’ve done to date…… Seriously, this thing is going to be MASSIVE, SUPER cute, and a Reading Night Program!! GET EXCITED.
Hmmmm.... What are we up to!?

Alright, I’m off to complete my super long to do list (which is scribbled across my hand…. and wraps around to my palm!) How did I let things get so CRAZY?!

Lisa and I will be back shortly! {Hopefully not sporadically!}

Sunday, February 26, 2012

{FREE} Animal ABC Order Activity

Hi kids!  I'm gonna keep this short and sweet today because after having the whole week off, I now feel like I've contracted the plague right before we head back tomorrow...YUCK!  I'm going to get some much needed rest, but I found the cutest clip art this week and had to make something cute for you guys :)  We'll be using these Animal ABC Order cards this week during Daily Five.  Click the pics below to get your free cards and recording sheet :)

Have a great week bloggy buddies!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Array" of Sunshine {FREEBIES} :)

Happy Friday!  Today is the last day of mid winter break for us so it's time to get ready for March next week!  We'll be doing a lot in math, especially working on arrays and multiplication...and I can't wait!  {I puffy heart arrays!}  We made these FAB "array" of sunshine (I LOVE a good play on words) projects last year and this whole class display for the hallway.

Each student made their own "array" of sunshine rainbow with sunshine and clouds.  I gave each student a sheet of grid paper, two cotton balls, a sheet of blue construction paper, and a sunshine template to trace on yellow or gold construction paper.  I let each student draw out their arrays with any equation they want so all of the projects were differentiated by ability level.  Above grade level students could draw more complex arrays while other students could work on more basic arrays.  Each student then labeled the backs of their arrays with a pencil before gluing them down.

The end result...a super cute rainbow spring craftivity display that matches up to the common core!  Gotta love that right?!?! 

Click the pic below for some other fabulous array activities to work on with your kiddos and enjoy your weekend friends :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Core Democratic Values: Booklet Freebie!!

It’s Thursday..... Which means I have a few more hours before I have to get my head back in the teaching game. So, until then I figured I'd hit you with some oldies but goodies for today!

Our social studies curriculum calls for us to be teaching the “Core Democratic Values.” Luckily for me, the state of Michigan breaks these down HERE.

I always start with The Pursuit of Happiness. I love it because kids can easily connect with this idea, it helps us jump into classroom rules AND most importantly it connects well to my favorite children’s book…. FANCY NANCY! 

While we discuss the Pursuit of Happiness we keep oodles of Anchor Charts (that of course I tossed into recycling…..) and we record our thinking in these books….

It’s only one piece of paper and has the fancy dotted handwriting lines… Think September.
We also jam out to this little diddy compliments of School House Rock!

I also put together a list of books we read to help us uncover The Pursuit of Happiness. They’re some of my favorites! 

Alright! I am off to finish this break off strong! I'm sure you're off to finish this week off strong! Good luck!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How To Organize All Your Reading Workshop Goodies {and FREEBIES!}

Last summer as I was going through all of my amazing resources that I have collected over the past six years I came to a bit of a revelation...I am a hoarder of teaching items!  {GASP!}  I strive to be the uber organized Jodi from Clutter-Free Classroom, but I am not.  So undertaking all of my reading resources and organizing them into one spot was going to be quite a summer project for me.  It all started with a 3" binder that I could take everywhere with me...

First of all, our district put together this wonderful pacing guide (that I would love to share - but is still in draft form with the district) to align all of our reading comprehension strategies, phonics lessons, and all things speaking and listening into one common core friendly document.  {I heart it!}  After we were given this document, I went through and typed all of my mini-lessons (57 pages worth) and then broke them into sub-categories by comprehension strategy.  A lot of my mini-lesson ideas came from The Learning Pad and I edited them to make them work in my own classroom, so because the ideas aren't originally mine I won't share this crazy document with you.  But, {HERE} is the original website if you would like to check out her amazing reading workshop mini lessons!

I then went through and gave an individual tab to each comprehension strategy for graphic organizers (ex. schema and all activities schema related - all in one place).  We also developed these graphic organizers that you can download here for {FREE} or by clicking the pic below!  There are 50 different graphic organizers that help review making connections, visualizing, schema, summarizing, retelling, and predicting/inferring.

After that, I spoke to our AUH-MAZING Interventionist, Louann, who was able to provide me with a book list that the district created that matches up to all the strategies.  Awesome, right?!?!  Click the pic below to download five pages of books and the strategies they match up to :)

Sadly, there was still organizing all my amazing finds from Beth Newingham, Michelle Oakes, Lesson Plan SOS, and Amanda Nickerson!  All of these ideas about Reader's Notebooks, Non-fiction Text Features, fairy tale units, etc. all received their own tab for resources in the 3" binder too!  But, my FAV part of this fab flip it over and {BAZINGA!} all of my writer's workshop resources too! 

But, that's a tale for another day :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No Leprechauns On My Watch! {Traps!}

My first grade team has a really fun tradition they’ve been carrying on well before I joined the ranks – Leprechaun Traps!

Before we go any further: This post is going to share some info that’s Not Safe For Kiddy Ears (NSFKE). So if your sweet peas are peeking send them away! Maybe I'll share a super cute picture of my dog while you send them away....

OK. Now that the kiddos are gone… I’ll let you in on a secret. Leprechauns are not real. Upsetting and earth shattering, I know. But each year we convince even our non-believers that they DO exist and they LOVE first graders.

About two weeks before St. Patrick’s Day we send a home a note explaining the Leprechaun Traps and challenging students to be creative and out-smart those tricky Leprechauns.

On St. Patrick’s Day students bring in their projects. Last year I had a cutie pie bring in one that looked like this:

Apparently, it was from a website. BUT, SUPER CUTE nonetheless.

Each student shares his/her trap and explains how it works to the class. We also snap a picture of the kiddo and the trap. We set the traps each time we leave the room – because everyone knows a leprechaun would NEVER come in while were actually there!

While we’re out together  (library or recess) one of my sweet teammates comes through and completely trashes our room and puts a chocolate coin in each trap. We’ve had the leprechaun leave little green footprints around the room, he’s flipped chairs, he’s hid some book bins, and he has even thrown GLITTER on the floor. But, they knew it wasn’t me because I was with them the whole time!

After we get our room all cleaned up we write about the events and our reactions to our visitor.

Our hallway display for March is the student's writing and picture.

Here is a link to all these documents if you're interested!

This download includes:
* Parent Letter 
* At Home Writing Component (Lucy Calkins "How To")
* Classroom Response / Hand drawn 
* Student Response: Tricked (Space for student photograph)

P.S. Sorry there are no real photographs of these! I didn't know I was going to be a blogger so I really didn't document the events well! Additionally, we are on break ALL WEEK (I'd hate me too) and Mr. Frank is sealing the floors (this means NO ONE IN!) so the pictures I do have are stuck at school. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Out of This World Activities!

Happy Monday all!  Hope you've had a FAB weekend!  Hopefully you are enjoying today off or this week off like we are...I promise that's the only time you'll hear about it this week...hehe :)  We've been busy making a ton of fun stuff, of course, with a few freebies!  These are some of the activities we'll be working on when we head back next week.

We have a ton of district wide testing continuing when we head back, so the kiddos are gonna need some fun to supplement!  We'll be making these fact family rocket ships.

We'll also be using this alien craft to do some descriptive writing while also drawing a diagram of our aliens.

This packet is 94 pages long! And is only $1 on TpT.

This activity pack includes:  

Addition Flashcards: pgs. 4-18
Subtraction Flashcards: pgs. 19-28
Alien Addition: pg. 29
Time to Blast Off!: pgs. 30-31
Space Race to 100: pg. 32
Moon Money: pgs. 33-34
Saturn Sums: pg. 35
Earth Even or Odd?: pg. 36
Galaxy Geometry: pg. 37
Fact Family Rocket Ship Craftivity and Directions: pgs. 38-41
Alien craftivity and writing: pgs. 42-48
How to get to space flow map and writing: pgs. 49 - 50
Alien at school multi flow map: pg. 51
Aliens and humans compare/contrast double bubble map: pg. 52
Exploring space multi flow map: pg. 53
Friendly letter to an alien: pgs. 54-55
Rocket Ship Bubble Map: pg. 56
Astronaut Thinking Maps: pg. 57 - 61
Alien Thinking Maps: pgs. 62-66
Out of this World words! - a vocab map: pg. 67
I have, who has?: A spacey contraction Conundrum: PGS. 68-74
The Great Space Race - A Dolch Sight Word Game: Pgs. 75-92
Great Picture Books to Use With This Unit: Pg. 93

And we, of course, have some cute freebies for you!  Click the pics below to download them from Google Docs.

We will also be giving the first FIVE friends who leave a comment with their email address a copy of the whole packet for {FREE}!  On a side note, we had the chance to meet up with some other FAB Michigan bloggy buddies yesterday and had soooo much fun!

Here's who was there!
Christina from Mrs. Bainbridge's Class
Rachel from Ms. Rachel's Room
Kara from Spedventures
Jessica from Apples and Papers

We had such a nice time meeting everyone!  We spent three hours just laughing, talking YA books, horror stories, and Target finds.  We can't wait to do it again!  Have a FABULOUS start to your week friends!!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


YEAH!  We had so much fun doing this giveaway with the fabulous Randi at Teach it with Class!  Here's our winners!

Congratulations to...

Jennifer at The First Grade Dream!  You've won a CD from Have Fun Teaching and an item from Randi's TpT Store :)

Lacey at Wild About Teaching!   You've won a CD from Have Fun Teaching and an item from Randi's TpT Store :)!  You've won a $10 Amazon gift card and our Out of This World Math and Literacy Activities :)

Miss T at Journey of a Substitute Teacher! You've won a $10 Amazon gift card and our Out of This World Math and Literacy Activities :)

Congratulations to all of our winners!  We will be emailing you your prizes.  Have a WONDERFUL rest of your Saturday!

Friday, February 17, 2012

If You're Awesome and You Know It...Click Right Here!

Happy Friday Bloggy Buddies!  The weekend is here...YEAH!  And for us, a mid winter break...DOUBLE YEAH!  We are *loving* all of the Dr. Seuss inspired March is Reading Month goodies :)  Unfortunately for us, we {GASP} don't have the Seuss theme this year!  We're having a literacy carnival/circus as our theme.  So, here's the deal.  We'll be doing a HUGE actual carnival at the end of March with make and take activities and carnival themed literacy games for our families.  If you'd LOVE to share a great game we could play at our carnival or a super creative make and take idea that we can use all of our adorable carnival/circus clip art on...we're going to make it for you and post it here for FREE for all of your help!  We're looking for ideas for all elementary grade levels :)  So, if you're awesome and want some great freebies, leave us your idea in the comment section below and we'll be working on these over the break!

Also, if you haven't had a chance to enter our giveaway with the AMAZING Randi at Teach It With Class, click {HERE} because it ends tomorrow evening!  Have a great start to your weekend friends and we are looking forward to meeting up with all of our Michigan bloggy buddies on Sunday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Presidents' Day {Thinking Maps!}

Oh my word! Is time flying for anyone else? President’s Day is RIGHT around the corner. We will be enjoying President’s Day with a mid-winter break! Ya-hooo!

We’re working to CRAM in some Presidents wherever we can. In my case, I’m doing a little bit of those“cross curricular” writing opportunities. Plus, I appreciate the two-birds-one-stone of it all!

Our district’s “year at a glance” calls for us to dedicate February and some of November to non-fiction writing. We’re still early in the process, so there’s a lot of scaffolding in these activities – especially for my first grade friends.

We’ll be reading each of these books this week. I’m not sure if you can tell, but I swiped them from the biography section of our school’s library. Cost: FREE!

 A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln & A Picture Book of George Washington
By: David A. Alder / Illustrated by: John & Alexandra Wallace

While we're reading them, we're keeping track of our learning on an anchor chart. (I lack the artistic skills of one babblying artist)
Regular anchor chart with questionable visual/spatial reasoning. 

We used our “research” to complete a tree map with what we learned.

At the end of the week my firsties will choose their favorite president and make up one of these babies with a published piece of writing – featuring their research. I wish I could tell you where this template came from – But, I adopted my classroom from a retiree and this was left in her files!

My second graders, however, did this project last year (which they reminded me of A LOT today). So… they’re going to use the Double Bubble to compare the presidents. These kiddos will end the week with a compare/contrast piece featuring both presidents. I’m sure they’ll love the more involved writing J!

Here are the Thinking Maps we're cranking out this week!

Download Includes:
* Cut & Paste George Washington Circle Map
* Cut & Paste Abraham Lincoln Circle Map
* Fill in the blank Circle Map/ George (For my second graders)
* Fill in the blank Circle Map/ Abe (For my second Graders)
* Blank Tree Map
* Double Bubble Circle Map 

Enjoy your Wednesday night!