Sunday, December 18, 2011


Tonight I'm linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her Currently December. Such a fun idea!

Also, last week I was so surprised to be given the Liebster Award from Dee @ First Impressions AND Holly @ Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade. It really made my day to receive it! Thank you both so much!

This award brings recognition to blogs with under 200 followers and it is a way to support and encourage new bloggers. Once received it needs to be passed on to five up-and-coming blogs. I'm excited to pass this along and I hope you take a minute to check out these great blogs!

Finally, I just have to share this quick, funny picture that came from a kindergarten student at my school. The kids were decorating paper bags to looks like Rudolph and on the back they were supposed to write "To my Dad and Mom." You know how kids often reverse letters? This is how one turned out: Totally classic!

Well, I'm in school until Wednesday and then we're off to sunny California! Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Snowball Poem

I LOVE the poetry written by Shel Silverstein, so when I saw this poem I decided to have my students create a little book to help make this book come to life.

Click {HERE} to get your copy of the poem.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Braille Writing

This week in our Houghton Mifflin program, we're reading The Secret Code, about a little boy who is blind and uses Braille to read. My second year teaching I had a student who was (well, she still is) blind, so I made this worksheet so my students could become familiar with how she read.

Click on the picture to get your copy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Poem Read Aloud

This is actually inspired by my first grade teacher. I can remember memorizing sections of the poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and then reciting it in front of our parents. So I decided to have my students do it as well. I'm not going to make it a whole production with parents, but we are going to recite it for our 4th grade Reading Buddies. I did make a few adaptations, and it's broken up for 25 parts. I have 21 students so a few sections we'll read as a class or in groups.

Click on the picture to grab a copy for your class. All I ask is that you please leave me a comment letting me know if you think you can use this in your classroom.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey Hunting

I told the kiddos to pull out their binoculars and put on their camouflage because they needed to help the farmer catch the turkey. Of course, we wouldn't be harming our turkey, we just wanted to help our farmer friend do his job.

Click on the picture to get your copy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Snack Mix

First of all, can I just say that I'm a little bit jealous of you teachers who get a whole week off for Thanksgiving? We have school next Monday and Tuesday, so those days we're going to do all sorts of fun Thanksgiving activities. Thank you to all you who have been sharing your great ideas, since that's where most of my activites will come from!
I found this idea at for Harvest Blessings Snack Mix and I can't wait to make it with my students! I hope you can use it as well.

Click on the picture below for the Harvest Blessing Tag!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Veterans Day Graph

Here's a quick graph that I send home to my students to have them learn more about people they know who are Veterans. Hope you can put it to use!

Click {HERE} to get yours!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Candy Corn Story Outline

You've seen the graphic organizer that has "Beginning, Middle, and End" inside the candy corn, right? I know I have, but I couldn't find what I was looking for, so I made up my own. I apologize if you have something similar that you're selling on TPT... I really did look because I have a nasty headache and really didn't want to go into creative mode. Anyway - it happened so here it is.

Click on the candy corn to get your copy.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Halloween Spook!

**This idea is not original to me. A colleague shared it with me a few years ago. I wanted to share it with all my fellow blogging teacher friends, but I couldn't find it anywhere on the I recreated it.

I love the idea of anonymously leaving treats for other classes. My students really get a kick out of it too. Basically, you just leave the note and the ghost in another teacher's room when they aren't there (you do it for 3 classrooms). Then they copy it and do it to three more classrooms. If you're at a small school like you, then it only takes a few days to get everyone. Who doesn't love a halloween surprise?!?

Click on the ghost to get your copy!

Happy Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Potato Harvest

I hate to brag, but probably one of the best parts of being a teacher in Idaho is our Potato Harvest Break. We get some time off so the kids can help their neighbors and families dig up all those great Idaho spuds. The amount of time off we get varies in different areas. My husband teaches in a more rural area so he gets off for TWO weeks and my district gets a one week break. Since my childhood bestie is getting married next weekend I used up all my personal days and took a two week break to come to see my family and friend in Ohio. It's been heavenly! I've only thought about school once or twice, but I did go to the Lakeshore Learning store and picked up some goodies. I wasn't totally selfish though, I also picked up something for one of you! So please stay tuned for a giveaway in about a week when I get home and back to reality :o)

P.S. Before anyone does anything drastic and moves to Idaho to enjoy our Harvest Break, I should mention that because of this, we really don't get a spring break. So while I'm loving this now, I'll be crying in April while you all take awesome breaks.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I thought I'd just take a second to talk about one of my favorite literacy sites, The Florida Center for Reading Research. I just discovered it last year, so if anyone hasn't heard about it yet, you really should check it out.
Okay here's how it works. Click {HERE} to get to the page below, or you can just google FRCC and click on "FAIR Search Tool"

#1 - First you need to select your grade level. It goes from K-5 and then there's an option for 6-12 (all grouped together).
#2 - Next choose which skill you're working on (from Phonemic Awareness to Comprehension).
#3 - Then you can narrow down a specific area like High Frequency Words, Onset and Rime, etc.

Finally hit "Show Results and you'll see so many fun games and activities. If you haven't tried this already I know you'll LOVE this site!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Teacher Bag

Tonight I'm joining in Abby's Linky Party over at The Inspired Apple. This is the perfect post to do while I'm watching last night's Glee episode! Anyone else excited that all the good fall shows are finally back?!?

So, here she is! I love this bag. My Mother-in-Law got this for me seven years ago when I was doing my student teaching. It's from GAP, which is why it's held up for so long and is always stylish.

I usually bring home my Houghton Mifflin manual as well as the Saxon Math lesson. Tonight I was working on next weeks objectives that we have to turn into our principal, so I have all of next week's lessons as well.

I kinda have an obsession with my planner. I thought it was just me, but I'm glad to see that so many other people are really into their planners as well. I like "The Green Plan Book." With all the paper I use during the day, it just feels better.

Here's just some other randoms I have in my bag. There are pens, paper clips, and such in there too, but I didn't feel like digging it all out. Sorry if you were really looking forward to seeing my paper clips :o)

Okay, so I know this isn't really inside my teacher bag, but I usually bring this with me too. It's my new fall bag. I saw it at Charming Charlie's and fell in love with the color and cute ruffle. It holds my wallet, phone, and then all my little boy's necessities.

Be sure to head on over to link up your bag!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Days of the Week

My kiddos pretty much have the Days of the Week down, but I made this little activity for my visual and kinesthetic learners who need to mix them up and then put them in order.

Super easy and fun. Some of my favorite kinds of activities!

Click {HERE} for your copy.

Also, for Constitution Day my students made these great flag art projects (also great for 9/11 lessons) found at Janae's awesome blog The Sharpened Pencil. I love how different they all turned out. Thanks for sharing Janae!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Listening Skills / Directional book

**UPDATED** The link now works!!

I made this book hoping for a fun, quick activity for my students. It'll let me assess their listening skills as well as see if they understand basic directions of objects (on top, beside, under, etc.). My husband is out of town for the week and took my computer with him. At first I thought nothing of it, but tonight I'm realizing it has all my favorite fonts and programs. I made this book in Keynote (which is kind of like PowerPoint). Anyways I have no clue if you guys will be able to open it. Would you please let me know either way? Fingers crossed!
*Directions* Each child will color and cut out 4 apples. Then glue an apple to each page and have the kids add their own worm.

Click {HERE} for the book!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back To School Night

Last night was our Back-to-School-Night. I've noticed that most schools do it right before school starts, but ours is a week after. Weird huh? The great thing is that I can use a lot of the students' work for displays and to show parents. It was a fun, but tiring night! Here are just a few pictures from my evening.

My information packet, the students' note about what they want to learn this year, and the parents note back to their child.

Okay, so I bribed the students to get their parents to come. I told them there would be a treat.

My Lesson Objectives board

Such a great art project found at Teaching with TLC

Class thumbprint tree found {here}

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I (barely) survived my first week!

Hats off to all you teachers who have been able to blog nightly during your first week or two back. I had the WORST first few days. Can I be honest? I came home and cried the first two nights. For the first time ever I thought that maybe I wasn't cut out to be a teacher. Our school has made so many changes, I was really stubborn, and didn't have the best attitude. Then I had a few kiddos that really gave me a run for my money. I'm happy to say though that things are going much better in that area. THEN yesterday my little boy was super crabby and broke out in a rash all over his body. Turns out - he has Strep! Ugh! It's been a rough week and blogging was just about the last thing I wanted to do.

Anywhoo...I thought I'd share a couple of quick and fun things we did today in first grade.
1. Salt Writing - instead of practicing our numbers on paper we wrote them on some salt. It probably would have been better if I had got the red or blue plastic plates to make the numbers stand out, but this was all I had. It worked just fine. A little messy, but fine.

2. Noodle Letters - To spice up our alphabet review I had the students make the letter N out of different noodles. They turned out cute.

Hope your first week of school was better than mine!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meet the Teacher Monday

Tell us a little something about yourself:

This is me, Rachel. I'm a wife, teacher, mother, and dancer (just a few of my titles in no special order). I'm also a non-cook. I've tried and failed many, many times. Luckily I'm married to a wonderful man who loves to cook and he's great at it! He's also a English and Spanish teacher at a nearby high school. I graduated from BYU-Idaho, but I'm originally from Ohio so by nature I'm a Buckeye's fan! I LOVE going home to visit my parents, my four siblings, three nieces, and four nephews. Our family's so big and fun that it's always a party. That's only MY side of the family. My husband is from California, right by the coast, and his hometown is basically my dream town. So picturesque and beautiful. My little guy was grand-baby #4 born in one year, so it's just as crazy and fun when we visit there.

We've been married for 7 1/2 years and have this little man. I may be bias, by I think he's the cutest boy EVER!

How long have you been teaching:
This will be my sixth year teaching (all in first grade). I also was an aide for kindergarten before I got my teaching job.

You might not know:
You know that student of yours that REFUSES to hold her pencil the correct way? That was me. My first grade teacher used to give me those triangle grips that go on the pencil and I used to throw them away. I was a stinker! Okay, maybe I still am a little bit of a rebel.

What are you looking most forward to this year:
I've been collecting some fantastic ideas through all these great blogs that I can't wait to put into action. The kiddos will LOVE them!

What do you need to improve:
Soooo many things! I need to do a better job teaching creative writing, being a better cook, actually folding laundry instead of just throwing it into the basket (anyone else do that?)...

What teaching supplies can you not live without?
I love sticky notes of all sizes. I also need an assortment of colored Sharpies. A coke makes me a happy teacher, too.

Now tell us one random thing about yourself:

Okay this is totally random, but when I was in high school I lived across the street from Bizzy Bone of the rap group Bone Thugs n Harmony. That was pretty crazy and I have lots of stories about him. One being when I was in my driveway washing my car and the whole group pulled up and asked me to wash their car too! In case you're wondering... I said no!

Linking up with Blog Hoppin'!

Ta-Da! Class Pledge!

Wow, thank you to everyone who submitted ideas for my class pledge. I really enjoyed reading through them. In the end though, I kept coming back to the same one, so a special thanks to Vanessa Wilde for the winning idea! Want to see the final product that I'm going to hang in my room?
Click {HERE} to see it.

Tomorrow is my first work day and then school starts on Wednesday. I think I'm ready! I'm also excited to join in on the fun at Blog Hoppin'. Check back tomorrow to get to know a little bit more about me.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

HELP! (prize included)

This year I'm going with the celebrity theme and I've got my bulletin boards done, the 'celebrity of the week' planned out, but I'd like to do a class pledge or saying that I need some help with.

I'm asking for some ideas that can relate back to my theme, and still motivate the students to do their best. I teach first grade at Lincoln Elementary (not necessary to include in the pledge).

Please leave me a comment with your cute saying or idea and together, with my teacher husband, we'll pick our favorite. I'll send the winner 3 Smencils! These things are awesome - they work just like a regular pencil, but they're scented, so they smell great! Really, what teacher could say no to a fun, new writing utensil?!?

You have until Friday night (sorry, I want this ready for my students next week!) so please send me some ideas!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I pray for them

***Please note that this post is not intended in any way to offend anyone. I am not trying to push my beliefs on others or say that what I do is what others should do too. I just wanted to share one of the things I do to get ready for my new students.

At my school we get our list of new students for fall on the last day of school. I usually stuff this list in my teacher bag and don't even really think about it until August. That's when I make an effort to start learning their names. Since I don't know the majority of my incoming first graders, and I really want to have a connection with them from the beginning, I include them in my evening prayers. I ask that I will quickly learn their interests and that I can be aware of special needs that I might otherwise miss.

Now, I can't say for sure that this helps me with my students, since it's something that I've always done, and I know plenty of other teachers who don't pray for their students and they are just wonderful. This is something that I feel is best for me. I think I especially need it this year. In the past, I've had siblings of my former students, so there are students that I've seen grow up and I already have that love for, but this year I only have one student that I know! Only one! That's really strange for me, so I'm hoping my prayers will help me form strong relationships with my students and their parents quickly.

Click here to learn more about my religion. Again, I really hope no one was offended. Can you tell I'm super nervous to click on the 'publish post' button???

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Poppin' Popcorn (bulletin board)

I spent most of the morning in my classroom working on the outside bulletin board. Seriously, this took me almost two hours (granted, I was chatting with some co-workers during this time). Once again, I forgot my camera, so this picture was taken with my phone and it's a little blurry.

Okay, so I bought the Poppin' Popcorn bulletin board set at a local teacher's store, but decided it needed something more. So, I made the large popcorn container just with some red and white poster board (sorry - no template since I just free handed it). Then I glued on the saying 'Look who's POPPING into 1st grade!' Click {HERE} for that saying. After that I stapled on some popcorn bags I bought from Dollar Tree and stuffed in some yellow tissue paper to look *kind of* like popcorn (I really like 3-D bulletin boards).

This isn't even the final product, though. I'll add each child's name to a piece of the popcorn, when I get my final list (next Friday) and then I'll put up a first day of school picture behind their name.

It was a lot of work, and I probably should have been putting together the student's workbooks or something more productive, but I wanted this to be done for registration next week. I hope you're either enjoying the end of your break and having a great start to your year!

P.S. Have you checked out First Grade Connections, yet? It's going to be a great resource for first grade teachers!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Just a Few

Let's think of these as my "before" pictures, alright? I've been enjoying my time with my little boy too much to take him to a sitter so I can get some work done, but I know I need to get my act together this week. *sigh*
Here are a few pictures of some of my bulletin boards. This is my 'beginning of the year' board and I'll have the kids cut out and then decorate their hand to go on our board.

This year I'm going with a "celebrity" theme - with a lot of my ideas coming from the First Grade Parade. Here is my my "Bravo Wall" and I'm going to post the students' work in page protectors.

My focus board.

My artwork above the Reading Corner.

Thanks for taking the time to see some of my classroom pictures. Hopefully I'll have more to show soon. For more great ideas check out...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Welcome Back Postcards

Today I was at my favorite local teacher store and I was about to buy some cute postcards to send to my students to get them excited for first grade, when I though, 'I bet I could make something similar for WAY cheaper.' So I did and I'm going to share it with you! Happy day!

It's nothing fancy, but I'm going to print them off at Walgreens and then write on the back like a postcard. If you want a copy of mine click {HERE} for the JPEG. If you want to see how I made this go to this great site that will walk you through the how-to on

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Behavior Chart

Today I'm linking up with The Lesson Plan Diva to share a behavior chart I use with students. I've used this with students who range from being very talkative to extra emotional and cry all the time.
-The first thing I do, after a documenting the problem in the student's file and talking to the student about it, is inform the parents of the chart and let them know how I intend to use it with their child. Usually, they're all for it.
-Then I decide how often we'll monitor the student's behavior. For example: every 30 minutes, every hour, before and after lunch, or once a day.
-Next, I show the student their chart and make it a really exciting thing...this is not to used as a punishment! I then have the student look in my classroom store of goodies and let them choose a prize that they can get once they've filled their chart (their prize will sit in my desk next to their chart).
-Finally, I let the student do the work and show me their good behavior. Let's say I was monitoring them twice a day (before and after lunch), I'd call the student over to my desk and we'd quickly and quietly decide together if they'd earned a sticker for that time period (a sticker = good behavior). The students are usually way harder on themselves than I would be! Once their chart is filled with stickers, they've earned their prize.
I've never had a student go beyond two behavior charts, by then they've generally changed their behavior.

Click {HERE} to grab your copy of this behavior chart

Hope this all makes sense. I've been typing between chasing my little boy around the house. Let me know if you need further instructions!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Copycat - Lollipop Tree

I first saw this great idea here, but then kind of forgot about it. Then the cute girls at What the Teacher Wants, did a quick blurb about it, and reminded me of what a great and easy idea this was. The kiddos will love it and I love the all the bright colors (I just now spray painted the pot a light blue). I also colored the bottom of ~ 20 of the sticks with a marker so the kids who pull that lollipop will get an extra prize...I'm not sure what it'll be though.

School starts back up in less than a month...ready or not!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Time Capsule ~ Back to School Activity

So I've been MIA for the past couple of weeks. After summer school go out, we traveled to sunny California to get some love from the Grandparents, the beach, and all the fresh fruit you can handle. It's been so great and I haven't even thought about school once (we teachers know that's pretty much impossible!), okay, but really, I have been enjoying my vacation from both Idaho AND school. We still have 5 days left of vacation, but I couldn't help but re-vamp one of my favorite back-to-school activities...

The Time Capsule. I use old Crystal Light containers and give one to each student. I reuse these each year, since I just don't drink THAT much Crystal Light each year.

Then I give each child a paper to fill out. It just has a few quick questions for them to answer, but it's also a great way to show progress with handwriting!

Click {HERE} to get your copy of the time capsule form.

While they're filling out the paper, I'm busy measuring their height with a piece of yarn, so they can see how much they've grown when they open these up.

I also allow the students the option of bringing in a small toy that they can live without for the school year for their time capsule.

We then fill out the same form at then end of the year and I let them open their time capsules up. They always get so excited!

{The only downfall is if you get a new student midyear...I never remember to have them create a time capsule and then they feel a little left out on the last day.}

I can't wait to see all your great back-to-school activities. Until then though...

Enjoy your summer!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Painting with NO Mess!

Paint the sidewalk with WATER!!! (probably best for preschool - early first grade)

My neighbor introduced me to this idea yesterday and I think it's genius! It's free, fun, and there's absolutely no clean up needed. My toddler was only kind of into it - the sidewalk was too hot for his bare feet...oops!

Just thought I'd pass along this fun activity.

Happy 4th of July!