Monday, November 1, 2021

Turkey Day!

The days leading up to Thanksgiving break always seemed to be the most exhausting for me as a teacher! Every year I was just so mentally and emotionally drained and ready for a break! I started doing Turkey Day (really Turkey week!) to get out of the funk and have some fun! The week before Thanksgiving turned into one of my absolute favorites in our first grade year! Keep reading to learn how we celebrate Turkey Day and find a FREEBIE at the end of the post!     

All week long to get ready for Turkey Day, we read Turkey books! Each day we read a fiction or non-fiction Turkey book and complete an activity.

Finally the day before break is Turkey Day! In the morning, I tell my students we received a special note from a Turkey friend. I put this slide on my smart board and ask the students if we can work together today to complete all of the station challenges and help Turkey Tom! 

We spend most of our day completing all of the Turkey Station Activities. I put students in teams of 2 or 3 and give each student a Turkey Station card so that they can track which activities they have visited. As they complete a station activity, they can add a sticker to their chart! The kids absolutely LOVE these charts. They get so excited to add the stickers and I love that they can take them home and share with their families about all the activities we did. I let the students complete the activities in any order they choose. The sticker chart helps them to keep track of which activities they still need to complete.

I set up our stations all around the classroom! Each station includes a Visual Station Directions sign. I included an option with the station number and without the station number. There are also mini station signs if you want to save paper! In my Turkey Day resource, I included an editable version of the station visual direction signs and the sticker chart so that you can use the activities that work best in your classroom.

Here are the stations I have my students complete. I included math and literacy activities along with some just for fun! 

Station 1: Turkey ABC Order

Students will put a list of turkey words in ABC order.

Station 2: Thankful Turkey

Students will write and draw what they are thankful for in the turkey feathers. Then they can color their turkey.

Station 3: Turkey Roll and Cover

Students will roll 2 dice. They can choose to add or subtract the numbers on the dice. Then they can use a game marker to cover a turkey. The first partner to get their side of the game board covered is the winner! If playing in groups of 3, just use an extra game board and cover one side. I love using candy corn or turkey mini erasers as game markers.

Station 4: Turkey Life Cycle

Students will cut out pictures of the turkey life cycle and glue them in order. They can use the word bank to label each stage of the life cycle. We always read about the Turkey Life Cycle earlier in the week and go over it together using my turkey life cycle poster (included in the resource) so that students are familiar! 

Station 5: Turkey Word Search

My students LOVE word searches. They work together with their team to find all of the turkey words. In my classroom I have timers at this station that they can set for 15 minutes. They try to find as many as they can in that time. When time is up they can choose to keep looking OR move on to the next station. I leave the word search key so they can get some help finding the rest of the words if time is up- this is totally optional though! 

Station 6: Design a Thanksgiving Menu

No turkey for Thanksgiving!! Students get to choose an appetizer, main course, and dessert that they would serve for Thanksgiving! You can also choose to save this activity and pair it with a Turkey craft included in this resource. 

Station 7: Build a Turkey House

This is definitely a favorite station. This is a low prep stem activity in which students use toothpicks and candy corn to build a house for Turkey Tom. I included two recording sheet options for this station. You could also choose to just let students build. 

Station 8: Turkey Solve the Room – Add and Subtract

Students know the routine for Solve the Room because it is one of our weekly math centers. Students get their clipboards and a recording sheet and walk around the room looking for the task cards. They solve the problem on their card and write the answer on their recording sheet. After they complete all the cards, they can visit the Grading Station and check their own answers using the answer key and a special flair pen! 

If you’re interested in a whole year of Solve the Room- you can find the bundle here!

We finish the day by completing a Turkey craft. I included 3 craft options. 

Fact Family Turkeys

No Turkey for Thanksgiving!

This turkey craft can be paired with the Thanksgiving Menu activities that students completed during stations!


I also included an option that could accompany any of the writing pages included in this resource!

Finally at the end of the day, I display this slide and tell students that they completed that challenge! As a reward I give them each a bag of “Turkey Toes” (candy corn) to enjoy before they go home! There is also a slide option that does not include the turkey treat!

I hope you all have wonderful Turkey Days! You can find all of the Turkey activities here!

Click HERE for a Turkey Freebie!

Monday, October 18, 2021

5 Routines to Keep You Organized This School Year

An organized, clean classroom truly makes my heart happy! A clutter-free space relieves stress and makes my second-home a joyful place to be!  Here are 5 ways that I keep my classroom organized even during a chaotic school year.

1. Set aside a big chunk of time at the beginning to get your systems in place!

 As teachers, one thing we don't have a lot of is extra time. Sometimes it seems easier to just live with the clutter than take time to organize. But, investing time in developing organizational systems that work for you will save so much time in the long run! So grab a venti iced coffee and enjoy some quality alone time organizing!

 Everyone’s system will be different. You don’t need to go out and buy tons of new storage containers. Instead, gather what you already have and make a plan. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it! My first year teaching I made so many teaching binders for every subject and unit. Then I realized it was so much work to get out what I needed quickly, and put papers back after copying. I would have papers pile up on my table because I didn’t feel like putting them away (see tip 2). I ditched the binders and went to file folders the next year. While it was a pain to make a switch, I saved so much time in the long run!

If you are interested in reading about the organizational systems that have worked well for me, let me know in the comments and I will write a part 2!

2. Make sure things are easy to put away.

Have you seen the viral tiktok videos that tell you "Don't put it down! Put it away!"?This now plays in my head all day long. As teachers, we use so much stuff on a daily basis. It's easy to let everything pile up until you have a huge, overwhelming mess!

For me, the trick is having a place for every paper, center game, book, and math manipulative. Every single item that I use in my classroom needs to have a home. And these homes need to be as convenient as possible when it comes to putting things away. Because at the end of any exhausting school day, no teacher wants to run all over the classroom cleaning up materials! By making my storage systems as convenient as possible, I am able to clean as I go and avoid clutter piling up throughout the day.

3. Give students ownership of the space


An organized classroom also helps to create a positive classroom environment for students. I want my students to feel a sense of ownership in our classroom. When students know where learning materials are located and have access to them when needed, they feel empowered. If a student is working at a math center and needs a number line to solve a problem, my students know exactly which drawer number lines can be found. They also know that the number line should be put back as soon as they are finished with it! My last guided reading group of the day knows that it is their job to clean up the materials at the table. Students can also volunteer to be designated Classroom Organizers. After packing up at the end of the day, these students spend time looking for things out of place and returning them to their homes. When students know where things go and are able to put things away themselves, it will save so much time and energy for the teacher!



 4. Closing duties

Even after following tips 1, 2, and 3, there always seems to be some clutter at the end of a school day. This is where closing duties come in (this idea is also from TikTok- I might spend too much time there) This is my favorite tip! Every day after dismissal, set a timer for 10 minutes and play a favorite playlist filled with whatever makes you happy and energized. For me this includes a lot of Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift. Use this time to put things away and make sure things are organized for the next day. It is amazing how much more I get done with a timer going. I love leaving school knowing that I will walk into a clean space the next morning!

Find Monthly Bin Labels here!

5. The Friday Reset

One of my favorite routines is a Friday Reset. I spend a little extra time after school doing some deep organizing for the next week. I make all my copies, switch out my seasonal books, sharpen dull pencils, restock my small group materials, and anything else that will help me to feel refreshed and ready to go for the next week. This helps me to truly be able to rest over the weekend!

You can find more organization products here!

What are your favorite routines and tips for staying organized? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Simplify and Streamline your Math Centers!

During my second year of teaching, I made the jump to guided math and it was hands-down the best instructional decision I’ve made! It allows me to support my learners at all levels and really get to know them as mathematicians. By working with all students in a small group every single day, I got a much clearer picture of what students were able to do and where they needed to grow

But you know what I didn’t love about guided math? Math centers. I loved the concept of students practicing and reviewing previously taught skills. I loved that they are able to practice these skills in fun, hands-on ways. But, every week I seemed to run into the same issues. It was taking me too long to introduce math centers and give directions to students. Introducing 5 new games and centers each week was a huge waste of instructional time! And even after taking this huge chunk of time to introduce the centers, I still had students interrupting my teacher table because they forgot how to play one of the math games. It was also taking me way to long each week to plan out my math centers. I wanted to simplify the process of changing out my centers!

Overtime, I realized that the key to engaging and productive math centers (like most other things in a primary classroom) is streamlined, structured routines! Instead of 5 new games each week, I found and created centers that students could visit every single week with minimal time spent giving directions. I simply taught procedures at the beginning of the year and we practiced the routine!

Here are five of my favorite weekly math centers.

1.     1. Solve the Room- this is a favorite in my classroom! Each week students visit our Solve the Room center. They grab a clipboard and a recording sheet and walk around the room searching for task cards. They solve the problems on the cards and write their answers on their recording sheet. Students know the procedures for this center so all I have to do is change out the cards each week!

(TIP: one of my classroom jobs is math station helper. I have two students who are responsible for taking old cards down each week and taping up new cards! They usually complete this job on Friday afternoons after packing up!)

To save time on grading Solve the Room recording sheets, I set up a grading station in my classroom. I leave the answer key and some special ink joy pens for students to grade their own work. Students learned that they should only visit the grading station if their recording sheet is complete. When checking their work, they should circle any incorrect answers. They can then go back and find the task card that they did incorrectly and try it again!

2.    2.Solve and Cover- this is another fun center where students practice and review different skills each week, but the structure and procedures for the game stays the same! Students can play this game with a partner, small group, or independently. This is a self-checking game as well, which helps students to be independent.

For this game, students need a box of task cards, a Solve and Cover mat, and some sort of manipulative. Students take turns choosing a card and solving the problem on their mats. When all students are ready, they turn the card over and check the answer on the back. If they were correct, they add a manipulative to one of the spaces on their mat. The first student to cover all the spaces is the winner! Students know that if they still have extra time, they can play again. I like to switch out my Solve and Cover Mats and manipulatives every few weeks to keep students engaged! Grab this game here! 

3.     3. Fact Fluency Center- Students visit this center to practice and grow fact fluency with addition and subtraction facts. Materials include flash cards, sand timers, and dry erase fact sheets. Students love to time themselves and their partners as they race to complete the fact sheets. Sometimes I’ll also switch out materials and add simple fact fluency games like POP!, Splat, or Shut the Box.

4.     4. Independent Work Station- I like to give students the opportunity to review important math skills independently. I always make sure these skills are review so that students are able to complete the work on their own. This is also an easy station to differentiate. I like to keep work in different color folders. Students know that they should grab work from the folder that matches their group color. 
OjColor by Code is one of my favorites for independent work or a fast finisher activity. Here are some differentiated Color by Codes I love!

5.     5. Differentiated 120 Chart Station- This is a favorite for my students! Check out this amazing resource from The Brown BagTeacher!

These are my five go-to stations that I use throughout the year. I, of course, like to throw in some fun, seasonal centers occasionally as well to keep students engaged and excited for guided math time! However, these are tried and true activities that I can use over and over. Students are reviewing and practicing the skills they need and they are able to be independent!

What are your favorite weekly math centers? What questions do you still have about our guided math time? Let me know in the comments!  

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Celebrate the 100th Day of School!

The 100th Day of School is one of my favorite days of the year in my first grade classroom! Like many primary classrooms, we count each day of school with straws and money during our calendar time. So when we get close to the 100th Day, anticipation builds for students! 100 days feels like quite a long time for first graders and definitely needs to be celebrated!

One of our favorite traditions on the 100th Day is dressing how we think we'll look when we are 100! There is grey hair, canes, walkers, and wrinkles galore! We usually start the day with writing about what we want our life to be like when we are 100!

We spend the majority of the rest of the school day working in centers and completing 100th Day challenges. I got inspiration from Catherine (The Brown Bag Teacher) and Cara (The First Grade Parade) for a centers sticker chart! I put students in teams of 2 or 3. As they complete each center challenge, they receive a sticker to add to their chart! Students went crazy over these stickers, and I love that they could take the sticker charts home and use them to share with their families about all the activities they did that day!

Students worked at each station for about 15 minutes and then would rotate to their next challenge! I used center signs as a visual reminder for students to easily find the next area of the classroom to head to for their next center. This kept transitions quick and calm and kept the day running smoothly!

For my stations, I rounded up some of my favorite activities that I've seen. In my 100th Day resource, I included editable versions of the center signs and sticker chart so that you can use your own favorite 100th Day activities! 

Station 1 Read 100 Books
I absolutely adore this idea from Catherine! I made an anchor chart, and at the beginning of the day we discussed how we could use teamwork to complete this challenge! We figured out that if each member of our class reads 5 books, we would get to 100. I left the chart up and set markers out, and as students finished a book (or 1 chapter of a chapter book) they could add the title to our chart. When students visited this center, they got cozy with pillows and stuffed animals to read, read, read!

Station 2 100 Cup Structure 

This classic 100th Day activity is always a favorite for my firsties! I simply set out a basket of 100 plastic cups and let students build! I love all the creative and different ideas they come up with for their structures!

Station 3 Hershey Kiss 100s Chart
I first saw this idea from Cara and was so excited to try it out with my kiddos! I labeled the bottom of hershey kisses with a dot sticker and wrote numbers from 1-100. (Confession- I may have used the same hershey kisses the past 2 years so I don't have to label new ones!!) Students work with their partner to pick a kiss from a basket and place it in the correct spot of the 100 chart. I made this activity a little more challenging for my first grade friends by giving them a blank 100 chart to use. They loved challenging their brains and I loved that they were building their number sense!

Station 4 100 Pattern Block Creation
Students begin by counting out 100 pattern blocks from a basket. I give them the suggestion to make 10 piles of 10 to help keep track! After counting out the blocks, they are free to build and create!

Station 5 100 Chart Puzzles
To create 100 Chart puzzles, take a 100 chart and cut into pieces. I print my 100s charts on different colors to keep them from getting mixed up. I cut some charts into bigger pieces and some charts into smaller pieces for different levels of challenge. I love using rainbow order for everything in my classroom, so students know that red is the easiest level and the puzzles get more challenging as they move through the colors of the rainbow. They love trying to get all the puzzles completed before time is up! Template for making puzzles is included in my 100th Day resource.

Station 6 100 Coin Flips
Students first make a prediction of which will win- heads or tails. Then, they flip a coin 100 times and record their data! In my 100th Day resource I included 2 versions of this activity. In one version, students record their data with tally marks. In the second version they color in a chart! After completing flipping their coin 100 times, they count their totals for heads and tails and write an equation the equals 100!

Station 7 Write 100 Words
Students grab a recording sheet and a clipboard and walk around the room searching for any words to write! Students can also write words they know- names, sight words, etc!

Station 8- Roll and Race to 100
This is a classic math station game that my students already know well! They get a 100 chart, roll two dice, and move their game piece that number of spaces! The first to get to 100 is the winner!

Station 9 100 Marshmallows and Toothpicks 
Students get a basket that contains 100 marshmallows and toothpicks. Their job is to build a structure using these materials. I also give them rulers to measure their creation when it is complete!

I hope you found some ideas that you can use to celebrate in your classroom! Happy 100th Day!

Check out my 100th Day Resources here!