About Me

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Hi there! I'm a first grade teacher in the heart of Kansas. I'm a firm believer in loving a lot, living a full life and, of course, teaching! I enjoy cooking, Pinteresting, a great cup of coffee in the morning and a good glass of wine at night. I'd love to get to know others in the blogging world, so please leave a comment so I can get to know you too!
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Things

I'm hesitant to say this.

I don't want to jinx anything.

But... it's finally starting to feel like spring again around here!  The snow has melted!  The sun is out!  I didn't even need a jacket outside!

Naturally, it was the perfect time to do some spring activities in first grade.

First up was our math lesson about symmetry.  We found things around the classroom that had a line of symmetry.  We thought of things on the playground that could have symmetry.  We discussed why certain objects may look alike, but are not symmetrical.  But seriously, what better way to teach students about symmetry during the spring that to make butterflies?!  

I traced the pattern on construction paper for them (to avoid the "accidentally traced on the edges instead of the fold and now I have two pieces" scenario).  The students cut out the butterflies and then in small groups I called them to use my Paint Dots to decorate only one half of the butterfly (because if we want it to be the exact same on the other side we can't decorate both or they'd look kinda different, Ms. Fowler!).  I've done this before with regular paint and brushes, but this was a little more controlled.  My only suggestion is to MOVE QUICKLY and be ready to squeeze a little extra paint out so that it will transfer to the other side when you fold the butterfly in half.  

I let the students fold over their butterfly and press down all over so the paint would transfer, but for a few I had to "touch up" because the paint was too light.  Usually I don't like to intervene with student art, but I did want them to understand that if an object is symmetrical, it needs to be the exact same on both sides.  I think these turned out pretty cute :)

Another activity we did was simple and fun and is actually two games in one!  On plastic Easter Eggs, I  wrote addition problems in permanent marker, with the addends on one half of the egg and the sum on the other half.  For the first activity, I split the eggs up and gave each student one half.  They had to find the student who had the missing part of their math problem and match up their egg halves to make the equation true.  Because I purposely had more than one egg with the same answer, the students could not rely solely on matching the egg colors.  Once they found a correct match, the students held their egg in the air and waited until everyone was matched and we could mix it up again.  

The second activity was in the form of Quiz-Quiz-Trade.  I gave each student a full egg and had them turn the halves so the answer was not visible when they read the addition problem.  We play Quiz-Quiz-Trade all the time using cards, so the students LOVED using eggs to jazz things up a bit!  

The students mixed (and they know to do this silently) and partnered up with the closest student near them.  Student A showed the addition problem to Student B.  Student B answered it correctly (way to go! says Student A) and then Student B shows Student A the addition problem on her egg.  Student A answers correctly (you're awesome! says Student B) and they trade eggs, only to partner up with another student.  I have found this is a good activity for 5 to 10 minutes or self-control tends to be forgotten :)

Do you have any creative spring math or reading activities?  I'd love to hear about them!

Heading out to enjoy the fresh air,

Monday, March 25, 2013

Oh Yeah, I've Got Spring Fever

Ah, the first day back to school after Spring Break.  It was soooo good to see all my little guys again and hear all about their adventures over break.  We shared laughs, had an awesome math discussion about polygons, worked on suffixes and played some of my March Madness activities in small groups. That being said, I'm now quite tired :)

While today was a good day overall, I should mention we had indoor recess.

All day. 

Because it was snowy outside.

Say whaaaat?  It's March 25!  I want to feel the sunshine on my face and see flowers blooming! (and have the kids run off some energy outside...)  Lucky for me, Amanda over at Mrs. Pauley's Kindergarten has started the cuuuuutest Spring Fever Giveaway and I was fortunate enough to participate along with some amazing bloggers! Have a look below at these creative lessons and activities that YOU could win! I contributed the Springtime Math Activities (full of bright and fun math to chase away those winter blahs), and the other products from fellow teacher bloggers are so darling and creative. The giveaway starts today and runs through midnight on Saturday, March 31st.

Check out these amazing prizes you could win:

{Click on the products to check them out on TpT or the names to check out the blogs.}

Insect Math & Literacy Unit {Brand new product - not posted to TpT yet!} by Mrs. Pauley's Kindergarten
Spring Fever Worksheet Bundle by Live, Laugh, I LOVE Kindgergarten
Fairy Tale Unit by Kickin' It In Kindergarten</ a>
Primer Sight Word Readers by Lovely Literacy & More
Ocean Animals Unit by Keepin' It Kool In Kinderland
Common Core Math Vocabulary Posters by Kinder Krazy
Springtime Math Activities by Love, Live, and Teach
Dino-Families & Syllable Sense by Mrs. Thigpen's Kindergarten
Butterflies Flutter 'N Write the Room by Fun in Pre-K - 1

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have fun and good luck!

Trying to find a better font,

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Noun Game - Linky Party!

I'm joining Flying Into First Grade's Noun Game for her weekly linky party.  Here we go!

My Man is such a serious blessing to me.  He is absolutely my best friend, my greatest encourager, and can always make me laugh.  He listens to me and supports me through everything - not to mention he comes from a teacher family, so he "gets it" when I have my school conversations!  Ah, I just love him!

Lawrence, Kansas, home of the Kansas Jayhawks.  If you have read anything on my blog, you've probably noticed I'm a huge Jayhawk fan (especially basketball!).  I earned both of my degrees from KU.  I spent countless hours camping out for great basketball seats.  I met my best friends through classes, my sorority, and campus ministry groups at KU.  I proudly walked down the hill at graduation and knew I was a Jayhawk for life. I try to visit Lawrence whenever I can, and I still get goosebumps when I drive down the big hill to campus.  So many wonderful memories!

photo by Jen Logan

Thing:  Coffee.  I love coffee and all things that go with coffee!  Whether that means a fresh new day, an afternoon break to catch up with an old friend, or just the warming smell in general, coffee always makes me happy. :) 

Animal:  My Little Man is Henry and he stole my heart from the first time I met him.  I went to the Humane Society "just to look" and this little guy wooed me with his sweet and curious personality (not to mention it looks like he is wearing a tuxedo.)  He brightens my day with a greeting as soon as I get home and is always ready to cuddle.  

What are your favorite nouns?  Link up here and share!

Ending Sunday Funday with this post,

Friday, March 22, 2013

Five for Friday

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wow, I've had an ah-mazing Spring Break and could probably turn this into 100 for Friday...but let's face it, that just doesn't sound as catchy :)  While not much of my break was filled with teacher related things, I'll still share some highlights!

1.  My boys won the Big XII Championship!  Tonight they play their first NCAA Tournament game and I'm so excited!  ROCK CHALK!

2.  I adopted a new baby! Isn't it beautiful? (Don't mind me in the background - that was a day after traveling and shopping-til-we-were-dropping.)

3.  Another fun purchase:  I snagged these guys on a great sale!  Normally each Stila lipgloss is $8 at Ulta, but these were 3 for $15!  My lips will be ready for spring.

4.  Lots of Family Time:  My mom and I had a Girls' Day Out and somehow managed to make time to stop into a delicious bakery.  These little guys were delicious!!  (Ok, by now are you seeing how much I love March Madness?  Goodness!)

My brother also came for a visit, so the whole family was reunited.  We had lots of dinners out and lots of laughs.  Family is so wonderful :)

5.  YOU!  Last week was the first week I've ever linked up to Five for Friday and one of my first linky parties in general.  I was seriously so touched at the kind comments I received and just how sweet and thoughtful you all are!  It's sometimes scary to try a new thing (in my case, this blog) but so many of you reached out to offer your wisdom and support!  It's the little things that keep us teachers positive and strong, and the kind words definitely kept me in high spirits!

What are your Fives for this week?  Link up here!  Don't forget to comment and/or follow the last two bloggers before you! :)

Overusing exclamation marks as always,
(haha, had to do it!)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Something nEW... and a freebie :)

WhEW!  Something nEW was dUE to be created!  Haha, ok, forgive my attempt to play on the -ew,   -ue, and -ui sounds, but that's what my latest creation is all about!  Let me introduce to you The Clue Crew.

I love having posters like these back by my literacy table.  I hang them up for the week we are focusing on the new sounds for student reference.  Not only do the students have constant exposure, but they start making connections to the posters with what they read.  (Hey! Blew has the -ew sound like Drew!)

My students and I both enjoy word sorts.   I try to do a word sort in each literacy unit so students know what to do during their center rotations without a lot of instruction.  The exposure to so many words with our letters/sounds of the week is awesome!

Recording sheets are a lifesaver for me this year.  I'd like to say I have time to monitor students during centers in between each small group to assess their knowledge, but the truth is that with my larger class size this year I just can't get to all my little ones every day.  By using recording sheets, I can see the students I was unable to observe outside of small groups and check to see how they are understanding the concepts.

Write the Room and Memory Game both have cuuuute cards to go with them.  Both of these activities are perfect for my classroom.  I like to get my students out of their seats and have time to assess while not doing direct instruction, so Write the Room is perfect about halfway through the week.  I can stick close to my little guys that need more instruction, but still see how all the other students are doing easily.

My kiddos love - and I mean LOVE - Memory Games.  I often use this in small group, during after-school tutoring, and as an activity students can do when they finish work early.  I tell ya, when they play Memory I don't have any arguments, poor behavior, or loud voices!  The students enjoy the game and I enjoy the positive learning aspect.  This classic game is definitely a keeper.

I had so much fun making this literacy unit and am more than happy to share a few freebies!  The worksheets featured below are differentiated and you can have them both!  Just click to download :)  For the full unit, please visit my TPT store!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Cleaning and a Bucket List

Ah, what a happy first day of spring!!  Ok, so the weather didn't quite get the memo that it should be absolutely perfect outside, but I still feel oh-so-wonderful on my Spring Break humpday.

I've had a wonderful time of fun and relaxation on my break so far:  a trip to see college friends, my brother coming for a visit, actually sitting down to drink my coffee instead of sips in between helping students, and being able to stay up like a real adult (I forgot how funny Friends was!).  But today was earmarked to be different.  Today was Cleaning The Classroom Day.

I know, it's spring break and I should stay away from school.  The problem is, this classroom of mine has become a bit of a stressor.  When I moved into my classroom, I was blessed to have it completely stocked:  books, guided reading ideas, teacher idea books, recess games and more.  I was one lucky lady!  However, as I've started collecting my own resources that work best for my teaching style and as we all start to shift to Common Core, I've noticed that these resources I inherited were only collecting dust.  I had to cut the apron strings and donate them to storage or other teachers they might be better suited for.  I worked for a loooong while in my classroom today and WOW!  I feel SO much better now!  Not only does my room look even better than when I first moved in, but I feel organized and ready to finish the year strong.  Not to mention it's one less thing to do this summer...  (whoever said teachers only work nine months?)

Here is a question though:  Last year, I snagged a spiffy drawer unit like this one on a great sale. 

I love it and oh, the ideas of what I can do with it!  Unfortunately, I just can't figure out what it's best purpose is.  Currently I have some guided literacy activities in there...and that only takes up two drawers.  Does anyone have an awesome idea of what I can do with this?  I definitely don't want to part with it, but right now it's just taking up some space.

While my Spring Break is halfway over...wait, I mean it's only halfway beginning... I still have a bucket list!  Here is what I want to accomplish over the next few days:

1.  De-clutter my classroom and organize!  (I maaaay like to add things to lists just to cross them off...)

2.  Turn my spare bedroom into a lovely guest suite.  I moved in August.  August, ya'll.  The tax season for teachers.  I apparently only had enough energy to move in and unpack everything else, but that spare room is still so...blah.  Time to decorate!

3.  Go to a few classes at the Y.  I love group classes (so motivating!) and honestly, it's so much better during the daytime hours when they aren't quite as full.  I like to move around!

4.  Cheer on my Jayhawks Friday night!  Rock Chalk!

5.  Spend time with family.  I love that I live close enough to my family that I can see them fairly easily.  That being said, it's hard to juggle after a long day of teaching.  Now that I have some time, I hope to be able to not worry about a schedule and just catch up with the people who mean the most.

6.  Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.  And I mean EVERY night.  I love these breaks because I feel so rested after.  So far, I'm rockin' with this goal. :)

Tell me what you're up to over Spring Break! Link up here :) 


Friday, March 15, 2013

Five For Friday

One of my favorite things to read on blogs are the little random bits, like Five for Fridays.  I'm excited to join in on the fun this week!

1.  A rainy weekend made it the perfect couple of days to stay cuddled up inside.  This is how my Saturday morning started out and I loved it!

2.  My Man celebrated his birthday on Monday and was sooo excited about his new shoes I gave him that he had to try them on right away.  Isn't he so stinkin' cute? :)

3.  The Bachelor finale was also a highlight of the week (DVRd to give all celebration to My Man on Monday, of course).  I couldn't help but get a little teary eyed at how happy Catherine and Sean seemed.  I know it's reality television at its finest, but I always hope that one of these times it really will be love...or at least a significant dating relationship!

4.  I had my first sale on TeachersPayTeachers!  It felt amazing!  I truly love creating new classroom resources and it was a little nerve-wracking putting them out there to see if others enjoyed them, too.  Now I feel even more encouraged and inspired!  They like me, they really like me! :)  I have put up a few more items this week, so please come visit!  

I need to get better about taking photos of my students as they work on our fun projects, but I at least did snap this photo of my wall outside the classroom with our March Madness activity (which was also part of my first sale on TPT).  I know, it isn't the snazziest hallway art, but we had a lot of fun working on our skills and talking about basketball!

5.  Today is the last day of school before Spring Break!  Whoo-hoo!! 

Remember in middle school when all of our notes were signed "LYLAS" or "Love You Like A Sister"? Can I sign off on posts that way, too?  Let's try it!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Let's Get To Know Each Other!

What a perfect Linky Party for someone just starting a blog!  The topic this week is to list three things about ourselves or three things we like to do using our initials.  Hmm...

Well let me first say that my legal name is Elizabeth but since the beginning of time I've gone by Liz. I'll stick with that for this post, too.

So for L:

Lauging! I know that's not a super unique trait, but I do love laughing and I think I'm pretty good at it (see, even that awful brag just made me giggle!).  I have been blessed by a witty family, hilarious friends and since I teach first grade, I feel like I always have many laughs each day with the kiddos.  This weekend I get to kick off my spring break by a girls weekend with my ol' sorority sisters, so I know we will have a ton of laughs together!

(some of the lovely ladies I'll be reunited with this weekend!)

Y- Uhhhh.... Once again, my strange middle name makes something difficult!  I think I'll go with the YMCA.  Where I'm from, there are Ys aplenty, so it's hard to find an excuse not to get to the gym.  I do love to move around, especially after a stressful day at school.  I've found that it is the best at easing tension and taking my mind off of all those things that keep my brain buzzing.  My favorite type of exercise is Turbokick, a super-fun class the Y offers.  Who wouldn't love dancing and punching away that stress? 

F - Food.  I love eating, I love trying new dishes, I love cooking, and I love FOOD! I feel like I'm always eating.  Let's not forget the beverages that also go with food, such as a strong cup of coffee with a bagel or a nice glass of red wine with dinner at night, which are loves of mine as well.  I've also become a huge Pioneer Woman fan - Ree is amazing! 

Link up to this party too!  Don't forget to read and comment on the last two bloggers who posted :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like March Madness!

I love July because it's my birthday month.

I love December because of Christmas and holiday cheer.

But I LOVE March because of March Madness.  And Spring Break.  Since March Madness usually starts at the same time as Spring Break does around here, I get a nice bundle of fun all at once!

My students all know what a huge Kansas Jayhawk fan I am and how excited I am when my team wins, so I try to keep a basketball theme going throughout the classroom during this wonderful month.  I decided this year to try to incorporate the activities we do into one collection to share with other teachers (hey, I don't want to be the only one celebrating March Madness!).  I loved working on this packet and cannot wait to share it with my little ones this week!  Click any of the activities below or click here to get your own packet of March Madness FUN!

Students can "play" basketball and sort the basketball cards onto the even and odd sides of the court.  Once they have sorted the cards, they record their answers on the printout that is included in this packet.

There are 14 pairs of compound words in this memory game.  Students can play by traditional Memory Game rules or these cards could even be used as flashcards in a small group.

These worksheets are fun ways to practice greater than/less than and ABC order.  I find that these activities are PERFECT for morning bell work!

To share some of my love, I have taken this activity sheet from my March Madness packet to share with you as a FREEBIE!  Click here or click the picture to download your freebie and enjoy!