Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Insect Investigations

It's about to get real buggy up in this classroom.
Insect Investigations are well underway in first and second grade!!

Meet Eddie! He's our resident Entomologist. Eddie is going to be sending out class letters all throughout this unit. Not just letters, but also photographs of the insects he is studying. With each letter the class will be practicing our inference skills too.

 Photographs that will be coming with the above letter. :)

As we study each Insect, we will be adding them to the jumbo jar. 
This is what it will look like when we're done.

With each bug that arrives we will be diving into some research of our own. The students will record all their findings in their Entomologist journals.

Ready to Research and record our data.

A few new books may be popping up in the mailbox too along the way.

Entomologists use some BIG words. So these will be on display during out unit.

And as always, we'll be practicing our close reading skills with passages and text based questions for each insect. There are black and white copies and colored copies included.

 Students use a hilighter to show their "evidence" before answering the questions.

Buggin' out over insect parts here!!

If you have to bug out too, Insects {Common Core Classroom} might be right up your alley!!
 Check it out in my TPT shop. You can download the preview for an even closer look.

Let me just end by saying, I don't think anyone despises these little six legged beasts more than me. I am very confident in that statement. Haha!! I mean, my husband could tell you stories for days about all the times I have more than just casually FREAKED OUT over a bug. Take for example the time we traveled to the rain forest in Costa Rica. We had to drive on windy dirt roads for no less than four six hours to get there. Then I found a roach and a spider BIGGER THAN MY HAND in our fancy shmancy hotel room. I cried. A lot. And I might have made us both stay up all night long with the lights on because I couldn't sleep knowing those not so tiny monsters were within a ten mile radius of me. Also, we left the next day. Six hours back down to the coast. But hey, we DID see this sloth and her baby on the trip back down. Which instantly became the highlight of my trip to the rainforest!!!

So it's not like I can't appreciate nature or anything. I just can't appreciate insects.

My family found it pretty  hilarious that I of all people would create an entire unit about them. But it's a part of our curriculum and I knew I needed to come up with something my kids AND I could love enough to distract their dear ol' teacher from the subject matter. 

And in spite of my feelings, I actually really really enjoyed making this unit!!!

Did I just say that? I did!! I'm not pulling your leg either. This was a fun unit to make!

Believe you me, somewhere in the world a pig is flying.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Free Online Library For Beginning Readers

A Free Online Library for beginning readers!! Sounds too good to be true, right? I thought so too. So I decided to check it out for myself first. And sure enough, it's the real deal. Naturally my very first thought was... "MUST blog about this!!!" 

The library can be found at

It began right in my dear ol' state of Colorado. This is a quote from their page.

"Unite for Literacy is a Colorado-based social enterprise that employs a sponsorship business model that enables books in our library to remain free to everyone, forever. We unite with partners from the public, private, and civic sectors to create picture book abundance and support families to read with their children."

I found a little over ONE HUNDRED books targeted at beginning readers. (K-1st)

Every book can be narrated, in multiple languages. After you select a title you can change the narration language by clicking "narration". I thought this was an particularly awesome feature for our English Language Learners!

I picked this book about bees because I'm just about ready to launch our Insect unit. If you click where it says English with the audio button, this page will be read aloud. This was one of the books with slightly less repetitive text.

They have Fiction and Non- Fiction titles, but I was most impressed  by their large selection of Non-Fiction texts. Finding quality Non-Fiction text at an emergent level is no simple task. But the images in these books are stunning!

These are the type of images that even my reluctant readers would find highly engaging.  This book about Deserts had much more repetitive text. One sentence per page.

To read more about Unite For Literacy, visit their website: and from there you can explore their library for yourself. This site was shared with me by another first grade teacher at my district Tech Innovator meeting today, and I was all kinds of excited to share it with you guys!!  If you know of any other sites like this one, please comment and let me know so I can add it to my tool belt!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hooray Earth Day!!

 So there are two things I've come to share with you today. The first is that I posted a new unit, Earth Day {For The Common Core Classroom} in my store last week. 

 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle crown.

 Lots of fun activities are included for each day this week!

Also, 4 different close read passages with text based evidence questions.
Two versions of each text passage are included for easy differentiation.
See complete unit preview HERE 
It will be on S.A.L.E. tomorrow in honor of Earth Day!!

Second, because it's Monday, I wanted to share a funny blogger truth.  

We do not always get the perfect picture for the blog on the first try. Sometimes we don't even get them on the 15th. Enter artifacts b, c, and below as evidence.

...Not paying attention.

 The dog is literally attacking the hat on my head.

 Um..I think my camera had one too many adult beverages before I got home.

My husband tried to help too, but it just wasn't happening.

I finally grabbed the iPhone and said, "I'M GOING WITH A SELFIE!!!"

And that's what I went with. End of Story. :)

#truelifeimateacherblogger #marriedwithoutchildrenproblems #neverimaginedidpostsomanystupidpicturesofmyselfontheinternet

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Small Moment Writing

Today we worked on small moments in writing (narratives). So I thought I'd go ahead and write a smallish blog post about it. First, let me share a small moment with you.

The Day Technology Hated Me.
Mrs. Stewart came to school the first day after Spring Break. 
 She and the other teachers were told that the internet was down and the one
 and only copy machine in the building was broken. The Promethean Board
was also not working and nobody knew why. Mrs. Stewart did not have copies 
ready and prepped because she went to Texas two days before Spring Break. For 
a minute she thought she could be in trouble! Instead she dug out some new 
crayons and  jumped right into a writing lesson!

***Before I write any further I feel the need to tell you that days like today when I forget to take my real camera, everything looks like it's been photographed in a dungeon. My room only has two teeny tiny windows. So the lack of natural light makes it hard to get good pictures without a good camera.  I digress. Just know, I wish they were better for you!!***

Whenever we're working on small moment (aka- narrative) writing, I really do like for my kids to focus on their drawing first. The goal is for them to try and recall as many details as possible. We've had many conversations over the course of the year about how details make our pictures more colorful and our writing more interesting! That's why details is written in rainbow letters on the anchor chart below. I think that helps them reference in their mind why we want to include details.

For yesterday's impromptu review of small moment writing,  I drew my own detailed picture from a small moment during my Spring Break. (I know you're asking yourself, "Why didn't you become an art teacher..?" I kid. I kid. )

I showed the class my drawing and gave them a chance to talk with an elbow buddy about the details they noticed. After that, a few of them came up to record some of the things we all "spied" in the drawing. I told them I'd be sure to include the details they were pointing out in my writing. From there I asked if anyone thought they could make up a story about what was happening in the picture based on the things we observed. A few of them gave me their best spin! Loved it!!


Then I wrote my small moment in front of them. Anytime we do a shared writing, I focus on saying out loud the things I'm thinking as I write. Things lie... "Neon Splash Dash, I know that was the name of the race, so I better write that in capitals." "We ran to music, but I think it's important to share that the music was loud. Yes, I want to add that adjective in there." I think that was the part that I struggled with the most when I first started doing shared writing. Remembering to say what I was thinking out loud.

 My class actually knew I was going to Texas to do this race because I told them about it before I left. However, they we highly amused by some of the details I shared with them. When I was done we went back and looked for a good adjective in my writing and a volunteer came up to circle it. Then we decided I could probably add another adjective or two to my writing. After reading the revised story one of them asked me, "What did you do after the race when you were all covered in paint?" Someone inferred I took a shower. Someone else insured I jumped into a river since we were outside. Ha! I told them that what I did after the race would be an excellent detail to conclude my small moment with. Then I wrote it in with a blue marker to show the revision. They were quite happy for me and my chocolate milkshake!

Before I turned them loose to do their own small moment draw and write, I showed them the OTHER story I was thinking about sharing with them. Not the detailed small moment, just a quick retell of everything I did over break. After we read this story, I asked them which one they though was more interesting. All but one kiddo agreed that it was more interesting to hear lots of details about one thing I did than no details about a bunch of things.

Then I handed out some brand new crayon boxes - kind of a big deal! And they went to work. I was REALLY hoping my students would follow my lead and put lots of details into their drawings. They did not disappoint!! The following are three first grade samples of their drawings and first sloppy copy drafts. Yes there are mis-spellings, and letter reversals, etc. They didn't get a graphic organizer, or handwriting paper because the copier was down. This is all pre-conference, pre- editing, pre anything with the teacher. For this writing assignment, I wanted their focus to be on sharing details about their small moments. Not a rundown of everything they did over Spring Break. I'd say they did just that!!

On Spring Break I went to Jax to see the baby birds. The ducks had black spots. 
The turkey had nothing. I went with my brother and sister. We got to buy candy.

Over Spring Break I went to miniature golf and I went there with my best friend Rhazel. 
We also played arcade games. At the end we bought stuff with out tickets. I got 94 tickets.

I went to the park with my parents to do a picnic. We brought drinks and food. I drank apple juice and I ate a sandwich. 
{This kiddo spoke minimal English at the beginning of the year. SO PROUD!!}

My class will continue to practice their small moment writing this month in the writing center with the Narrative prompt cards from my April Common Core Writing Galore pack. 

This is how I Kept Calm and Forget The Technology Wasn't On!!! ;)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring Break Reeewind

Hey ya'll!!! It's been a hot minute since I've stopped by over here. This was my Spring Break week and it felt like the perfect time to dive into a little Five For Friday action. Especially since I got to meet our sweet host, Kacey, this week for the first time in person!! I will now hear all of her future posts in her sweet southern accent. ;)

ONE: Neon Splash Bash.
My Spring Break started off with a bang when I flew to San Antonio to spend a long weekend with these sweet gals below!!! We flew in for the Neon Splash Dash, my first 5K.  Eat, Shop, Laugh, repeat. That was our time together in a nutshell! So grateful that blogging has brought so many new friends into my life over the past two years!!

(Back Row: Alisha, Elizabeth, Me, Deedee, Kacey. Front Row: Gladys, Hope, Krystal, Deanna, Cara, Regan, Amy.)  
 A trip highlight? We got to visit and change for the race in Reagan's classroom!!! You all know what a talent this lady has for classroom decor, and it is every bit as darling in person!

A picture in her famous class library was a must!!! And I was in *love* with the way she hangs my Flash Fluency cards on a rake in her garden theme classroom. Too cute!!

Loved hanging out with these ladies!! Can't wait to see many of them again in Vegas this summer! You can see a few more pictures from over on my Instagram. (@Fallingintofirst)

TWO: Bloggers At The Apple Store
One of my very BEST friends just started her own teaching blog, Sparkles in Second!! We taught together for three years and she is a 2nd grade guru. You need to go follow her and see what she's all about! Also, I'm kind of obsessed with her new custom blog design!!! So I suggested we leave our blogs up for people's viewing pleasure in the Apple Store. ;)

THREE: Ikea & The Container Store
We also hit up two of our all time favorite stores. I might have done a little damage.
But I've got big plans for this stuff. If not this year, than next!! Haha.

FOUR: Divergent. #heartbreakhotel
I read the entire series in about 3 days. Then I saw the movie. Now I am in a slight depression that it's over. This is the story of how I read every book series to date.

FIVE: What's Coming Up?
A reader sent me the sweetest e-mail this week asking, "What coming up next?" in my little TPT shop. I hate making promises I can't keep, but I thought I'd go ahead and share that I'm *hoping* to post these three units over the next few weeks. They should carry me through the end of the year!
 So that's it. Monday I'm back in the saddle for the final stretch. 8 weeks left. Say what!?
 I will be tuning it a little more on the regular as we work our way through!!

Go join the party!! TGIF!