Saturday, August 23, 2014

Daily Schedule

It was my intent to blog every single day for Teacher Week.  (<---I'm kind of laughing at that.)  Sheer exhaustation in the evening will do that for you.  I'm playing a little catch up with a few of my favorite days.

Here's a peek at my daily schedule.

I love my schedule!  It's been the same for the past two years, maybe three...honestly I can't remember that far back.

I work at a private school, so that's why you'll see Bible and a Praise & Worship time.  We have "chapel" every day.  The students sing a few songs and there's a short devotion.  It's a great way for students (and teachers) to start their day! 

8:50 - 10:20 Readers Workshop
There's 1 1/2 hours for Readers Workshop.  It seems like that's a long time, but we are constantly on the move!  I have students do a modified version on Daily Five (this year I'm only doing Read to Self and Work on Words), a phonics lesson and snack time.  

This past week I've been using Go Noodle for brain breaks during this period.  I had read about it on several blogs and gave it a try.  They love it!!  You've got to try it!

10:20 - 11 Recess/PE
The students have 20 minutes of PE, then 20 minutes of recess everyday.  On Tuesdays, they only have recess for the entire period.  I love it when they come back sweaty and stinky.  :)

11 -12:05  Math
This is the busiest time of day!  There's so much to squeeze it.  We start off with our Rise & Shine Folders.

Next, we move onto our math journal.  I've always done math word problems in a journal, but this year I decided to give the interactive journal thing a try.  (More on this later - it's going so well!!)

Usually a short brain break (something math related) before we move onto the whole group lesson.

The students end the period with math centers.  Sometimes we get to these, sometimes not.

12:05 - 12:35 Lunch - almost duty free.  We alternate lunch duty with the kindergarten teacher.

12:35 - 1:20 Writer's Workshop
I'll typical start off with a grammar lesson before we move into writing.  I feel like I'm constantly fine tuning my writing lessons!

1:20 - 2:05 Enrichment (Library, Computer, Music, Art, Cultural Studies)

2:05 - 3:05 Bible/Science/Social Studies
I don't try to squeeze in all three in one hour!  I alternate science/social studies monthly.  Right now we're studying space.

As for our official Bible lesson, it happens 2 to 3 times a week.  I really try for 3, but Friday afternoons are just an attempt at this point.  It gets better as the year goes on.

3:15 Dismissal 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Meet the Teacher

Hi!  I'm Liz. 

 I've been blogging at Polka Dot Firsties for about two years.  I've been teaching first grade for 7 years - I can't believe it's been that long! I'm married with two dogs, Bella and Lucy.


Working out. Kickboxing. Weights. Sleeping. Reading. Laying out in the sun. Beach. Coupons. Target. Glue sticks. 

I would love to be a nurse!  But wiggly teeth give me the heebie jeebies, so my nursing career would probably not be successful.

Fiery. Redheaded. Introvert.


"I really wish summer was shorter," said no teacher ever!
Mine ended 2 1/2 weeks ago...


My grandparents and my parents.

 Tears, Laughter and Poop
It's actually my working title for my life in the classroom.  Just don't ask about the poop.  You really don't want to know.

 Flying.  Think about all of the traffic you can avoid.


"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

 Mary Had a Little Lamb.  Short and sweet because you don't want to hear my singing voice!

I'm SUCH a morning person. By myself.  I love to have quiet time and workout before everyone else is up.  If I sleep past 7am, I think I've wasted the day!  That being said, I pass out reguarly during the school year between 8-9pm.


 I know my last few posts have mentioned my Karate Sight Words pack, but I honestly love it!  I've assessed almost all of my students already and they are super excited to try to earn their black belt in karate!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Second Chance Sale

I love TPT sale time!  I always love seeing what other people bought and finding new products! 

Sometimes when I see what other teachers have bought, I get purchase envy.  Usually by then, the sale is over.  I have a hard time paying full price for anything!  (This is also why TPT credits are so great - I always feel like I'm getting a good deal.)

Well, luckily TPT is throwing a one day sale on Wednesday, August 20th. 

Here's a list of what I bought at the first TPT sale earlier this month.

If you like something I bought, click the picture and it will take you to the item on TPT.

Adorable writing craft for the first week of school!  

Practice Dolch sight word sheets (NO CUTTING!!).  I thought this would go along perfect with my Karate Sight Words Packet.

Easy game for the first week of school!  I really wanted to introduce 10 frames better this year and this game looked exciting!  It is reasonably priced - $2 - so if you didn't get it on sale, it won't break your wallet. 

I bought this to use as an early finisher activity. I think it might be a little tricky for the beginning of the year, but I'm going to give it a shot!

I still have items on my wish list.  I swear, my wish list is never ending!  I know we'll be study Johnny Appleseed next month and I can't resist A Cupcake for the Teacher's packet.  Check out this picture from her blog.

One must have from my store is my Sight Words Games {Primer Edition}.  There are two types of games - Read, Roll & Color and Graph a Sight Word.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Winner + A Sale

Congrats to Bonnie!  She won a copy of Karate Sight Words!  Bonnie, please send me your email address so I can send you the packet!  Your pin appeared in my Pinterest newsfeed, so it worked even though you were on your phone. ;) 

I used to select the winner, but couldn't figure out how to get the pretty box to show up for me.  Guess I'll be using Rafflecopter next time!

I know that you've heard that TPT is having their annual BTS sale.  If you didn't win, head over to my store to grab the packet.  Everything is 20%!!

Be sure to check out my latest packet - Sight Word Games {Primer Edition}.  

It goes perfectly with the Karate Sight Words program!  There are two types of games.

The first game is Roll, Read & Color. Students roll dice (not included), read the corresponding sight word, and color in the box.

The second game is Graph a Sight Word. Students read and circle a sight word before coloring a corresponding box on the graph. This is also great practice for your math graphing unit!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Sight Word Incentive Program

I wanted to share how I use sight words in my classroom.  I briefly posted about this last year, but I never got into the specifics on how it worked in my classroom.

I have to say, most of my students come into my classroom already knowing the majority of their sight words.  Our kindergarten team does a great job making sure the students know the words and most parents really have their students practice at home. (private school problems!)

However, between summer break and those students coming from other schools, a sight word review is needed.

At the beginning of the year, I assess all students on their sight word knowledge.  Last year I took the time to make a Powerpoint presentation so the students didn't have to flip through pages or index cards.

I timed it so students had enough time to see and identify the word.  Having even set intervals helped me stay consistent in assessing all students.  It also forced those students who wanted to rush through like it was a race.

Once I gathered the information, I explained to the student about Karate Sight Words.

The first 300 Dolch sight words were divided into 5 belts.  The white belt is the pre-primer words, the yellow belt is the primer words, etc.

I wanted the students to earn their black belt in sight words, so for the green, brown and black belts I used Fry phrases.  It allows those students who already know most of their sight words to participate and keep the words fresh in their brains!

Each belt is divided into several smaller tests, so students don't have to practice the entire set.  Way too overwhelming!  

Every Friday, the students are assessed on their particular set of words.  They color in a circle when they complete a test.  You could easily add this page to a data binder if you are required to use one.  In my class, I put these sheets in the student's DOT Binder so the parents can see what level their child is working on and when the student passes a test.

Once a students earns their black belt, I announce it to the whole class and we celebrate!  It's a big accomplishment for these students.  It also motivates some students to work a little harder to get there.

There is also a tracking sheet for the teacher to easily identify what level for each child.

Sight word cards and phrases are include too!

Feedback from other teachers who have used this has been phenomenal! 

On  April 6, 2014,  Jazmyn B. said:
Has transformed my students commitment to sight words! They are sooo excited to earn a belt , and I added the belts as a tracker for the students in the classroom. Easy to implement and fun for kids!!
On  November 12, 2013,  Aimee D. said:
BEST investment I have ever spent! Thank you so much! It is absolutely useful, simple, and the kids love it! I managed to print on the corresponding colors so it's more engaging for the students. Thanks a million!
On  October 6, 2013,  Keithi C. said:
I cannot WAIT to use this :) I've been looking for a different way to display some data with my firsties, and this inspired a whole new way of doing it. Thank you so much!

Here's your chance to WIN a copy!  Pin an image from this blog post.  Leave a link in the comments and I'll pick a winner early Monday morning.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Contractions, Money and Shadows!

Enjoy this blast from the past!


February 1, 2013
There has been some crazy weather in the south! Last Friday students (and teachers) were praying for an ice day. On Wednesday we had to watch out for tornado warnings.  It was super warm for January. Then today it was freezing and super windy! This seems like it should be March weather!

Here's a quick weekly recap. I'm sleepy despite having Starbucks coffee at 7:30pm this evening!

1. Contraction Gardens

I originally planned to do this last week, but ran out of time. I decided to make heart shaped flowers so we would have something to decorate the hallways for Valentine's day. Some of the students in my class now want to pose with their pictures. I'd much rather post the student created project than my own! Sometimes mine gets slapped together right before we are going to do the activity, i.e. it doesn't look as pretty as I want it.

2. Piggy Banks

We are in the middle of our money unit. Every year I give the students an amount and have them use paper coins to display a way to make that amount. (Easy way to differentiate as well!) This year the students glued them to a piggy bank.

3. Shadow Puppets & Box

In science, we studied light and shadows in preparation for Groundhog's Day. The students had to find a partner in the room and come up with a mini play to perform for the class. At first they wanted to draw detail on their puppets, but I had to explain to a few of the students that we would only be able to see the outline.

a princess

a Knight

They had so much fun with this! It was really easy to make the shadow box.  The bottom of a copy paper box was cut out and then two sheets of white tissue paper were added.

4. A visit from the Tooth Fairy!

We are kicking off our teeth unit next week. A local dentist, along with the Tooth Fairy and Tiger (not really sure why Tiger was there!) came to visit. The dentist was great and really engaged the students.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Neat Numbers

Does anyone else get sad when they look at the calendar in July? I have 5 or 6 unfinished items that I want to make for the beginning of the school year.  I'm back at work on July 31st, but the students don't arrive until August 11th.

Since back-to-school is right around the corner, I wanted to think about my lessons plans.  I think one of the toughest things is having engaging activities for the students to complete while you are assessing other students.  Something that they can do independently, but still slightly challenging and maybe a little time consuming.

The first unit in math covers number sense, comparing numbers, and number words.  Most of my students come in knowing their number words to twenty, but I always have a few that do need extra practice in this area. I have a hard time fitting in handwriting lessons the first few weeks. Students (and parents) think it's silly to practice writing numbers. 

But I have to disagree!  In October, when I can't read your child's answer to an addition problem it is a problem.

I created this interactive booklet to help students practice writing numbers, number words and using ten frames.

For 0 - 10, students color, trace and write the number and number word.

For 11 - 20, students fill in ten frames to represent the number as well as tracing and writing the number and number word.

The books are easy to put together.  There are two booklets per page.

Cut down the middle and staple!  

I made a sample one to show my students.

Can't wait to use these in my classroom this year!  Be sure to check out Neat Numbers in my TPT store!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Target Sales & Wishlist Wednesday

Have you been playing along on the BlogHoppin' 2014 Scavenger Hunt?  I decided to join in (I'm up to 53 items!) and you can follow me along HERE.

I'll warn you though, I'm still learning how to use Instagram.  One of my pictures actually says "Double  tap to edit."

My days have been filled with the gym, the pool, and visiting Target.  I loaded up on some  green composition books.  I'm planning on having 3 sets of interactive notebooks - math, phonics and reading.  My problem is two of the composition books I have will be black (my school is ordering them for me.) I thought about putting colored tape on the spine of one of the black composition books, so it's easily identifiable for the students.  

Look what's on sale at Target!

Picture from Totally Target

Even better there's a coupon for it! $5 off a $10 purchase of Scotch Expressions Tape. If you're not following Totally Target, you must!  It's how I always walk away with the best deals from Target.  Be sure to check out the weekly deals at the top of the page.

All these TPT sales gets me excited for back to school.  I love finding new products!

One of my most popular items in my store is my Landforms Posters.  It has 18 posters of various landforms like volcanoes, hills, plains, glaciers, etc.  I included both colored and black and white versions.  I recently updated it, so if you've already purchased it make sure to download it again.

It's on sale from today (7/16) to Friday (7/18).

You can also enter to win it!  The giveaway ends tonight at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Vowels

It's Throwback Thursday time!  I had this post all ready to go, but then the day got away from me.  So enjoy some extra reading on the 4th of July.  :)

One of my favorite books to read at the beginning of the year is The War Between the Vowels and Consonants.  It really helps student identify the vowels and consonants that they seem to have forgotten about over the summer.

Here's my original post!  If you stick to the end, I have a freebie that goes along with the book. ;)

April, 8, 2013

My first day of spring break had a few bumps in the road.  I went to take my dog to get her shots and didn't realize I needed an appointment. Then I headed up to the Mall of Georgia and got there at about 9am...too bad the mall doesn't open until 10am.

At least Target was open! I was also supposed to meet a friend in the afternoon, but she ended up cancelling on me. Instead I got a mani and a pedi, took a nap, started putting my winter clothes away, walked the dog and made burrito bowls for dinner. (You have to try this recipe!) 

Luckily yesterday was a little more relaxing. I can't even remember what I did.  I took a walk with my husband....and I think that's about all.

Today I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties' Mentor Text Linky.

I discovered The War Between the Consonants and Vowels my first year teaching. I distinctly remember asking my students the first week of school to name all the vowels.

There was a blank stare, people.

And then one student said "What's a vowel?"

Now I know you kindergarten teachers taught them about vowels and consonants. It's just that summer took it out of their brains.

Therefore every year, I read this book the first week of school.  Perhaps even the first day of school.

You see, in this book, the vowels and consonants don't get along.  They strongly dislike each other (you know I can't use the h word).

A war breaks outs.

Don't worry it's not violent. The capital T's turn into airplanes.

All of the sudden a squiggle comes to town. 

Eventually the vowels and consonants work together. They form words and scare that darn squiggle out of town.

Because squiggles are Scary (with a capital S).

Since I have a lot of time on my hands, I decided to link up with Flying into First Grade's Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party. 

This week's question is "What 3 things would you take with you if you were stranded on an island?"

1. Sunscreen.  I'm a redhead and I burn fairly easily. Except if I use that spray on sunscreen.  I started using that stuff about 2 summers ago and I haven't gotten burned since. A-mazing!

Side note - I bought a Groupon for a spray tan.  Any advice? I've never done one before and my legs are 12 shades of pasty. 

2. Bathing suit.  Would it stink to get stuck on an island with no bathing suit??

3. Kindle.  Because you know my stranded island would have an outlet and access to Amazon. Honestly I love to read so much! On the note of stranded islands, you should read On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

To keep the idea of vowels and consonants fresh in their minds, one of their morning work assignments is to color the vowels on a printable.  The one I had been using was from 1990.  Let's just say I needed to update it.

Click the picture to download the printable!