Friday, September 30, 2011

We LOVE Literature

One of our VERY favorite stories to read around Halloween time is Harriet’s Halloween Candy by Nancy Carlson.  In the story Harriet learns the hard way that sharing her Halloween candy makes her feel better than eating it.  We also use this story with our kiddos to reinforce TONS of math and literacy skills.  image

We’ve updated all of our activities, added a few new ones, and combined them into one unit.  It is now available on TpT

Skills include:  estimating, counting, sorting by attribute, graphing, analyzing a graph to answer questions, problem solving, sequencing events from the story, identifying the main character, setting, problem and resolution, writing complete sentences.

And now . . . it’s time to announce the winner of our Reading A-Z giveaway.reading a to z winnersignature

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guided Reading {Part II}

We have received numerous requests from teachers who follow our blog for some more in depth information about what kind of materials we use during guided reading each week.  Earlier in the year we posted information about “HOW” we organize, group and rotate our kids for guided reading.  Now we are going to give you some information about “WHAT” we do and use.

To read the earlier post and download the materials click {here}.

To begin with we probably need to tell you a little about our reading curriculum.  Our district uses the Houghton Mifflin Reading Series.  We absolutely LOVE this curriculum because everything correlates.  For example: our weekly sight words are integrated into all of the stories we read, there are leveled readers that incorporate the sight words and words that follow our target phonics skills for the week.  There are numerous paper readers that we can use to have students highlight specific words or spelling patterns, the spelling words each week match the phonics skills, etc . . . you get the point!!!  Long story short, it’s an all inclusive program.


We are both BIG believers in having our students read as much as possible.  This means sending books home.  In the beginning this was a VERY frightening process.  For one, we worried that all of our little leveled readers wouldn’t be returned.  But, we laid our fears aside and trained our students and parents to read the materials in their daily reading folder and return them the following day.  Once in a while a book doesn’t get returned, but for the most part they all come back each day (or the day after in some cases).

We have a plastic three pronged folder for each student.  This is their reading folder.  Each folder has a note on the front that explains what to do with the materials inside.  It also reminds parents to help their child remember to return their folder the following day along with all of the materials.  Students take home their reading folders Monday-Thursday.  Inside there is a large Ziplock baggie that has been three hole punched for the students to keep their books in.  This helps protect the books that go home against spills or leaks in that may occur in their backpack. 

Students take home a set of Lightning Words each week in their folder.  These consist of our weekly sight words plus some decodable words.  Each night parents are supposed to time their child reading the words and record it at the bottom of the page.  The goal is to get faster and faster each night.  It seems like a game to the kids so they tend to be highly motivated to practice their words.  They are equally excited to show off their times at school the following day and earn a sticker for their sticker book.


If you are a Houghton Mifflin user you might want to check out our Resource Pack which is available on TpT.  It includes a copy of the Lightning Words to go with each week as well as other items that supplement the series.


In addition to the leveled readers that are available from Houghton Mifflin we also use a lot of books that we have purchased in sets from Scholastic (thanks to our bonus points) and books from Reading A-Z.  In order to send a book home each night we had to look to outside sources. 

Reading - Your Reading Resource Center

If you are not familiar with Reading A- Z you definitely need to head over and check it out.  It is a website that has everything you could possible need to teach reading.  Several years ago our school so graciously bought us all a yearly membership to the site and we have used it SO much.  To tell you the truth, we actually went a little crazy in the beginning.  It all began when we started sorting through the leveled readers and looking for books to supplement our thematic units.  We thought this would be a fun way to integrate our thematic units into our guided reading instruction.  To date we probably have over 100 sets of books assembled and ready to use throughout the year with all of our themes.  The great thing about all of these books is that they all come with lesson plans and printable worksheets. 

As you can see there are books that range in level from AA to Z.image

Then we discovered all of the books in the Phonics section of the website.image

We quickly got hooked on the Decodable Books and the Read-Aloud Books.  What we love about these books is they go right along with the phonics skills that we are teaching.  The Decodable Books are all designed to use with our on level to slightly below lever readers and the Read-Aloud Books work great with our above level readers.  So . . . we went crazy AGAIN and made ourselves class sets of nearly every title in these sections.  Now we have books to use every week that reinforce our target phonics skills.

We also made our own set of worksheets to go with these books.  We wanted to have a place where students could record words they found in the stories that matched our target phonics skills and some open response comprehension questions.  These worksheets are all available to purchase in our Reading A-Z Resource Pack which is available on TpT.  This download includes worksheets to go with all of the books that focus on short vowel, blends and digraphs.


Now you may be thinking that we have totally lost our minds.  This is a LOT of books.  But, by creating class sets we can reuse them each year.  We printed the covers in color on cardstock and just copied the pages of the book on regular paper.  Then we assembled 8 copies of each book and marked them with a label so parents would know to return them.  We keep them organized in large envelopes near our guided reading tables so we have quick and easy access to them.

For you visual learners here are a few pictures . . .


Reading A-Z is a website that requires you to have a yearly membership.  We can tell you it is definitely worth the money.  If you are looking for additional items to use with your kiddos during guided reading then you should look here first.  The good news is you can check it out free of charge.  They offer a 7 day free trial membership.

Now for the exciting news . . .

The nice folks over at Reading A-Z has been so kind and agreed to give away one free year long membership to one of our followers. 

This is an $84.95 value. 

There are four ways to enter . . .

1.  Post a comment and let us know how you would use these resources in your classroom.

2.  Become one of our followers on TpT and post a comment.

3.  Become a fan of Reading A-Z on Facebook and post a comment.

4.  Become a fan of Made For 1st Grade on Facebook and post a comment.

Good luck everyone!!! 

We will choose one lucky winner on Friday, September 30th.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall FUN

We both absolutely LOVE Fall so to kick off the start to our favorite season we have some exciting things to share with you.

Our brand new set of Scarecrow FUN Math and Literacy Centers have just been posted over on TpT.  Here’s a little {sneak} peek at everything that is included in this 78 page unit.scarecrow sneak peek

We also have EVERY item in our TpT store on sale through the end of the weekend.  This means you get our newest unit at a discounted price . . . or one of our other fun sets of fall centers.

As many of you know we usually incorporate a different set of thematic activities into our weekly lesson plans.  During the week all of our math & literacy center activities go along with our theme and we use TONS of literature to incorporate writing and art. 

Here’s a {sneak} peek at what the month of October will look like in our classrooms this year.october

  Hopefully this will help a few of you with your planning as well!!!  We get excited just looking at all the FUN things are in store for our kids in the coming weeks!!!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Creatures of the Night

We just posted one more set of centers that we will be doing during the month of October with our kiddos.  They always LOVE learning about nocturnal animals.

Here’s a little {sneak} peek at all of the centers that are included in this set . . .Sneak Peek

Click {here} to head over to TpT and pick up a set of these centers to use in your classroom.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Sweet Treat

Who doesn’t LOVE candy corn, right???  Well now you and your kiddos can enjoy a week filled with Candy Corn fun on the days leading up to Halloween.

We’ve got all of our new Candy Corn math & literacy centers posted on TpT.

Here’s a little {sneak} peek . . .image


Pete The Cat

We have both had so much fun this week with our kiddos reading {and rocking} to the Pete the Cat books by Eric Litwin.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you bloggers out there who introduced us to these fun little stories.  We LOVE them!!!CIMG2376

We began on Tuesday by reading Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes.  This story reinforced the color words that we have been working so hard on.  After reading {and rocking} to the story a few times we made our very own class book.  The funny thing about this book is that we created it WAY back and then we saw one that is nearly identical over on one of our favorite blogs {Finally In First}.  I guess great minds think alike!!!

image image

click {here} to download a copy

On Wednesday we read Pete the Cat: Rocking In My School Shoes.  Not only have we been doing lots of short a things the past two weeks, but our story for the week in our Houghton Mifflin Reading series was A Day at School.  So, this all fit together just perfectly!!!  After reading about all the things Pete the Cat did at school each day we made a list of all the places we go and what we do there.  Then all of our kiddos wrote their own story.  This book really inspired them to write, write, write!!!

Here’s a little peek at our final products . . .CIMG2377


We had conferences yesterday and today so these writing projects made for a fun hallway display!!!  Thanks so much Mrs. Jump for the cute Pete the Cat art project idea.signature

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It’s Pumpkin Time

If you are looking for some new pumpkin centers to use during the month of October then head on over to our TpT store and check out our newest item called Pumpkin Time Math & Literacy Centers.

Here’s a little {sneak} peek of everything that is included . . .Pumpkin Time Sneak Peek


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Alphabet FUN

We would like to invite you to head on over to our classroom blogs to read all about the fun things we did last week to celebrate the end of our alphabet review unit.  The kids had SO much fun and we now have lots of class books to share with their parents when they come to conferences later this week . . . that’s right . . . it’s already that time of year!!!  Hard to believe, huh???


Here’s a little {sneak} peek at some of the literature based activities you saw our kids doing.  They are included in our alphabet FUN unit . . . which is available in our TpT store.  alphabet FUN


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fire Safety FUN

Mark your calendars because National Fire Safety Prevention week is coming up. october 2

In preparation for this we gave many of our Fire Safety Math and Literacy Centers a BIG facelift and they are now available in one big bundled set on TpT.

Here’s a little {sneak} peek . . .fire centers sneak peek

Throughout the week of October 10-14 we will be using lots of literature to teach and review important fire safety rules.  We will also be sending home a fire safety checklist for students to do with their parents.  We will encourage parents to sit down with their family and create a fire escape plan so that everyone knows what to do and where to meet in the event of a fire.

Click {here} to download a copy of the fire escape plan book we will be making with our classes.

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{graphics courtesy of Scrappin Doodles}


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shake Those Beans

This week in math we are learning about ways to make 6, 7 and 8.  We always like to extend these lessons and spend several days doing some hands-on activities that reinforce this skill.  One game that we always like to play is called “Shake Those Beans”.

We must tell you . . this is not an activity that we can take credit for!!!  It was actually something that Diane was introduced to several years ago when she worked for the Wichita Public School district.  Each week the district would host Monday Math Night and share ideas and resources with primary teachers that made learning {and teaching} math fun. 

Over the years we have updated this activity to meet our classroom needs and we thought it we would share our version with you.image

Here’s how it works . . .

First, you will need to make sure that you have a set of 2 sided bean counters like these.

If not, head on over {here} to get a set.

Begin by having your students go through and shade in the numbers that are circled at the bottom of their graphs with their red crayon.  This signifies how many red beans they have in each combination.CIMG2254

   Next, make sure that each student has a worksheet, the correct number of beans, a cup and a small plate.  Model for students how to carefully “Shake Those Beans” and pour them out onto their plate.  Then have them sort the beans they rolled into two separate piles {red and white}.  Using a crayon have them graph the combination they got.  Remind them to always count the red beans first in each bean combination.CIMG2255

To download a set of worksheets and directions for “Shake Those Beans” click {here}.shake those beans peek


Monday, September 5, 2011

Octo-Bear FUN

Even though it’s only September we have started looking ahead to October and are so excited to announce that our “Octo-Bear” unit is finally ready to share with you.  We always welcome in the month of October with a fun filled week of Teddy Bear themed fun.  Now you can celebrate the arrival of “Octo-bear” right along with us.


Here’s a little {sneak} peek at all the math and literacy centers that are included in this unit.OCTO-BEAR centers

There are also lots of literature ideas and lesson plans that incorporate writing, math and art.OCTO-BEAR

There are still a few more hours left to take advantage of our Labor Day sale.  If you hurry over to our TpT store before midnight you can save 20% on Octo-Bear FUN

Enter promo code FLASH to receive an additional 5% off thanks to TpT.

{graphics courtesy of Scrappin Doodles and Digi Web Studios}