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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Friday, May 24, 2013

Five for Friday and School's Out! (and, of course, a freebie to celebrate!)

Whoo- hoo!  Summer break, here I am!!  First of all, I have to give a true round of applause to all of you teacher folks who faithfully blogged during your last few weeks of school.  I feel like I have been going a zillion m.p.h. for the past two weeks trying to collect all of my final grades, final projects, celebrating with a few school assemblies, field trips and end-of-the-year fun things in the classroom.  By the time I would get home, I was zapped!  So if you're one of those dedicated bloggers during EOY activities, know you are admired!

That being said, we ended our school year in such fun ways and I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to show my Top Five from this final week of school.  This group was pretty challenging, but I will definitely miss their distinct little personalities and all the major growth my babies made this year.  The last days of school this week I made sure to plan fun activities so we could enjoy our time together and end with great memories.  Here are some of the best from my highlight reel:

*Chalk pictures outside and bubbles outside:  The more outdoor activities, the better!  I picked up bubbles from the Dollar Tree and gave each of my students their own bottle.  After watching their reaction, I feel like I should inform their parents to forget the fancy iPods and Wii games...all you need is bubbles :)

*Last Day Flowers delivered from My Man.  Isn't he the sweetest? :)

(and would you look at that nearly-packed up room in the background?? I impressed myself yesterday with how quickly and efficiently I packed and cleaned!)

*Money Movie Party: The first grade team sets up a theater room and a concession room. We give all students an allowance of manipulative money that they get to put in their carefully decorated paper wallets.  Each student must purchase a movie ticket to see the movie, and then can purchase treats at the concession stand, such as popcorn, juice boxes, small cake treats, etc.  This is such a fun way to practice saving and spending money and the kiddos feel so grown up as they make their responsible choices!

*Construction Paper Sorting:  Ok, so you know how construction paper companies STILL don't understand how teachers want/need paper sorted by colors, not in a pretty rainbow pattern?  It's so frustrating trying to quickly go through packs of paper to pull out 23 sheets of red for a holiday craft, only to turn around and do it again for green.  So one of my teammates came up with a fun way to have the students help sort.  We place one sheet of paper on desks around the room, the more space between the desks, the better.  For each color represented, we have a student sit behind that paper to become the "Paper Manager".  The rest of the students are handed a random stack of assorted colors of construction paper and are released to sort each color at the correct desk.  The Paper Manager sits behind her color and carefully organizes the paper into a neat stack so that when we are all done, it's easy to store on my shelves.  In the end, I can collect a large stack of red, orange, yellow, etc., so that next year my paper is sorted and easy to grab!  It's so helpful to me and the students love having a job that truly requires little supervision and instruction from me.

*Classroom Awards:  At my school, we have an awards assembly near the end of the year.  It's special and fun, but it really only recognizes the older students in my building.  Because of that, I created my own classroom awards so that each one of my special students gets a unique award that we can celebrate in our classroom.  I had so much fun creating these!  There are 36 awards total, with one blank award included.  These are available for both First Grade and Second Grade!  Here are a few samples:

I have the First Grade Awards posted here and my Second Grade Awards posted here.  Both are free for you to have some fun in your classroom and celebrate a successful year with your little ones!

What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate the end of the school year?  I'd love to hear your ideas!  


Sunday, May 5, 2013

May Currently

Oh goodness me!  I went and took a week off from blogging without even realizing it!  I tell ya, time is a funny thing at this time of the school year.  On one hand, it goes by waaay too quickly and we have so much to do!  On the other hand, we still aren't to summer...yet.  Anyways, I'm welcoming myself back with the May Currently from Oh Boy 4th Grade.

Listening: I love feel-good movies and The Blind Side is definitely in that category.  I'm a total repeater when it comes to watching my favorite movies, so this is perfect to keep me company with the lovely stack of papers in front of me that need grading tonight.

Loving:  I seriously am such a happy girl!  The school year is almost over, I have some amazing summer travel plans laid out, and I had a fun day shopping with my mom today.  Other good news?  I can breathe again!  This past week I was hit hard with a nasty sinus infection and I think I can finally say I am on the mend.  

Thinking: Whoa, baby, is this a busy time in the school year or what?  I often tell my non-teacher friends that this is our "tax season" (I also say this at the beginning of the school year too. Hmm, maybe our whole career is a "tax season"...).  I have a gazillion things I need to do, both for school and my personal life, but they are all such fun and promising tasks that I can't help but feel happy as I move at the speed of light to try to get everything done. :)

Wanting: I've got some serious procrastination issues going on tonight.  I've done a wonderful job of cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry and now blogging...but not so much with the papers I need to grade. I have set a goal that as soon as I'm done with this post I'll grade for half an hour and then have a Pinterest and teacher blog break.  Must. Use. Self. Control. To. Stay. Focused.

Needing:  I need chocolate!  But then again, when don't I?

Summer Bucket List:  Ooooh goodness I have some FUN summer plans!  First of all, I started my TPT store just this past March and have had a blast creating products.  It's seriously a joy for me to create things that I know will be perfect for my classroom and see other teachers feel the same way.  I like to take my time and make 'em great though, and unfortunately time has not been on my side lately.  This summer will be a chance for me to get these ideas in my head onto my computer and into my store.

I also have amazing travel plans!  My Man and I are heading to the Dominican Republic at the end of this month for a wedding and I could not be happier!  Toes in the sand after a successful end to a school year?  I'll take it!  We also have a few other quick trips planned this summer and I'm excited for those as well.

Lastly, this summer I cannot wait to catch up on my reading!  I love books, but once again have had some time issues to get much reading done.  Do you have any great book suggestions?  I'm open to almost anything, so please share!  

Wanna join this linky and share about your May?  Join here and don't forget to comment and/or follow the last two bloggers to link up before you!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Five for Friday

TGIF!!!  Wowza, this week was a doozie!  Here were some of the more positive highlights :)

1.  This week definitely needed a caffeine boost.  What better way than a piping hot Starbucks on a rainy day?

2.  A student brought me the most beautiful tulip!  It opened up throughout the day and brought a smile to my face every time I passed by! 

3.  Date Night with my guy!  We had a delicious sushi dinner out and then saw the movie 42, which obviously had to include Junior Mints. (Great movie, by the way!)

4.  High School students came to visit our class to teach our kiddos sign language.  Not only were my little babies excited to show me all the signs they learned (Ms. Fowler, this means giraffe! Watch this!  I can sign "popcorn"!), but it was also an excellent teaching opportunity about accepting differences in others.  We strayed from my lesson plans to talk about differences in communication, sight, learning and body types and why we need to always look at what is on the inside of a person.  My little ones were so earnest to share their hearts!  I'm one proud teacher :)

5.  One of my little ones who has come soooooo far this year and exceeded my expectations from when he first arrived at our school wrote me this note:
I love my Fowler I got Kookabirds

Apparently I am right up there with his beloved Angry Birds game.  I'll gladly accept :)

How was your week?  Link up here and share!  Don't forget to comment or follow the two bloggers before you!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Favorite Spots in My Classroom and A Freebie (just because it's Monday!)

I'm linking up with Flying Into First Grade's "Let's Get Acquainted" party again!  This week's theme is to share our three favorite areas in our classrooms!

1.  My calendar board
I think this area is special to me for many reasons.  Our morning meetings are centered around this calendar board, and that is one of my favorite times with the kiddos as we share about ourselves.  As much as I love teaching, it's also so worthwhile to take a little time to truly get to know my little ones.  I also feel proud of this board because I spent a summer painting (yes painting!) all of my bulletin boards.  This bright blue took forever to go on just right, but in the end it was worth it! (can you say buh-bye to trying to make huge butcher paper fit perfectly?!)  I think having a calendar board like this one is also an excellent resource for students to use for math, science, reading and everything else!

2.  "Watch Us Grow" board:

My classroom door is settled back into a nice little nook and I can decorate both sides of my "doorway".  My mom also happens to be a first grade teacher (I swear, teaching is genetic!) and I always admired this idea that she does every year with her classroom.  Each month, I pose the kiddos to take a class photo and display them as we go through the school year, with the month written at the bottom.  It's so fun to be able to see how the kiddos change from August to May!  They also feel quite grown up when they look back on how many teeth they have lost since then and how awesome their newest haircuts look now :)

3.  My Art Museum

While this may not be anything I created personally, it is one of my favorite parts of my classroom.  Whenever I'm feeing low or stressed, at some point in the day I can't help but catch one of these lovelies out of the corner of my eye and I remember why I do my job each day.  I think it's easy to sometimes get caught up in the overload of Common Core/Report Cards/IEP Meetings/Parent Conferences and while we don't forget why we teach, we may not see as much of the joy as we'd like.  These pieces of art bring me joy :)

Aaaaaand here is your freebie!

Just a simple addition dice roll, but prettied up for spring!  Students roll a die (or two dice, or my personal favorite, the double-die) and create an addition problem to write in the boxes.  Students may then count up the dots, use their number lines or mental math to solve.  For a challenge, I have my kiddos roll the die twice to get one addend (EX: Student rolls a five and then a four.  She writes nine in the first box).  This helps them practice more math facts up to adding 12.  You can print these out as worksheets, or you can put laminate them or put them in a page protector for the students to use over and over with dry erase markers.  Click the image to download!

Have a favorite spot in your classroom you want to share?  Link up here! Don't forget to follow or comment on the last two bloggers!  Enjoyed my freebie?  Let me know!  I love to hear from other teachers!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fractions are SWEET! (and a mini-freebie!)

This week we started studying fractions, and whoo-hoo are my babies loving it!  I'm so proud of them! We started with the basics of 1/2 and 1/4 fractions.  To help them physically see fractions in everyday objects, I treated each student to a graham cracker.  I gave the students a piece of construction paper that was creased in half and labeled on each side and challenged them to figure out how to put the exact same amount of graham cracker on each side.  I loved that some students broke their crackers the "short way" while some others broke theirs the "long way"!  We were able to discuss that both were correct forms of halves and that was because they both showed one piece out of two equal pieces.

Next, each student was given a piece of construction paper that was divided into fourths.  I asked the students to figure out how to divide their crackers so they had four equal pieces.  By now, we were really rolling!  Some of my budding mathematicians even made the connections that 2/4 was the same as 1/2! 

The next day, we reviewed what we knew about halves and fourths and then discussed thirds, fifths and sixths.  I explained to the students that any number could be the denominator as long as all the pieces were equal, but these are some of the most common fractions.  These would also be the fractions we would use in our Ice Cream Fraction Craftivity!

To make it fair and still ensure all students were understanding what different fractions were, I wrote the numbers 2-6 on scrap pieces of paper and put them in a bucket.  The students drew out a number and that became their denominator for their Ice Cream Fraction Craftivity.  

We then decided on the flavors of ice cream they could choose:
Pink - Strawberry
Green - Mint Chocolate Chip
Orange - Orange
Purple - Berry
Brown - Chocolate
White - Vanilla

Then I put them to work to make their fractions out of ice cream scoops (each scoop was an equal piece of the whole ice cream cone).  The kiddos were very thoughtful in their ice cream flavor selection and were mindful of what they wanted their fraction cones to look like. (I wonder if if they would be this thoughtful about all their classwork if I tied the lessons to desserts...)  After carefully cutting and assembling, each student wrote what his or her ice cream cone was made up of in terms of fractions.

Aren't these just so sweet??  (Haha, see what I did there? Sweet art work...sweet treat!)  We had so much fun working on these today and I know my little ones are understanding fractions quite well after our hands-on activities.

Want to make your own Ice Cream Fraction Craftivity?  Click here or the image below for your own copy of the recording sheet!
(font by Learning Tree/Kimberly Santana)


Monday, April 15, 2013

Skittles Game

I'm linking up again with Flying Into First Grade's "Let's Get Acquainted" Linky Party!  This week we are playing the Skittles Game.  It goes a little something like this:

TOPIC - Skittles Game
Here is the code:
Red- Favorite Ice Cream Flavor
Orange- Favorite Memory from College
Yellow- Favorite Sports Team
Green- Favorite Fast Food Place
Purple- Wild Card(Tell anything about yourself)

Red: My favorite Ice Cream Flavor?? That's like picking a favorite child!  I love all ice cream and I seriously have some nearly every night.  If I have to choose though, I'd say mint chocolate chip.  It's so yummy and refreshing!

Orange:  Favorite Memory from College
My senior year of college, my beloved Jayhawks won the Orange Bowl in football and the National Championship in basketball!  I also lived in a house with six other sorority sisters and we felt like the world was ours.  It was definitely a great year, and I'd have to say the National Championship goes down as one of the best memories of my life. 

Celebrating on the popular Mass Street in downtown Lawrence
after our basketball team beat Memphis in overtime for the win!

Yellow:  My favorite college sports team is obviously my Kansas Jayhawks!  I love all things crimson and blue and I think the Jayhawk is just adorable.  If you're talking about a pro team, I was also a born and raised Dallas Cowboy Fan.  If you question whether or not I'm an optimist or not, look at the Cowboys' season and the heartbreak they put us through and the fact that I'm still a diehard fan.  You'll see lots of optimism :)
When I was at Cowboys Stadium a few weeks ago, someone had stuck a Jayhawk sticker next to a picture of a Cowboys hat so I had to snap a pic.  It was the best of my sports coming together!

Green:  Favorite fast food...hmm, this is a toughie!  I honestly don't eat a lot of fast food, but I have to admit that Chick-Fil-A is hard to pass up!  Gimme some of that Chick-Fil-A sauce and an oreo shake, please!

Purple:  Ah!  I feel like I'm on the spot to think of something super interesting to share here!  Today I met with my first grade team and we planned our final field trip of the year to the Humane Society.  We thought this would be a wonderful way to continue our Character Trait lessons about caring, responsibility, trustworthiness, citizenship and respect, not to mention kiddos love animals!  I'm so excited to go on this field trip and see all the sweet animals.  I have a soft spot for rescuing animals.  After all, my baby was a humane society kitty once :)


Think you want to join in on the Skittles game fun?  Link up here!  Make sure you comment or follow the two blogs that posted prior to your post to help us all get acquainted!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Springing Into Math Centers and a Freebie!

As I write this, a nasty cold front is heading my way.  Like it's so nasty, that we are going from short sleeves and sandals today to coats and boots tomorrow.  However, I refuse to let winter crush my springtime spirits by sharing my latest Springtime Math Activities! 

Sorts, whether the word or number kind, are so student-friendly.  I can easily see if they understand the concept without having to spend a lot of time giving instructions.  

I loved creating this Rainbow Fact Families sort!  I think it turned out to be quite cute and it can be used with the number cards to place on the mats as a sort OR you can laminate the Rainbow Fact Family mat and have the students simply write the numbers with a dry erase marker before recording them on the worksheet.

My students this year often need reinforcement with number order, so I like using "greater than/less than" activities to help them to recognize numbers and understand the value of numbers in the tens and ones places. 


Ah, I feel spring coming back to me through these math activities!  To download previews or snag the whole activity pack, visit my TPT store.  For just a little fun spring math practice, here is a Missing Number Addition worksheet!  Click the image to download for your own springtime kiddos :)