Saturday, July 30, 2011

Easy Academic Vocabulary Activities & Math Dictionary Review- 25% off

I received a copy of the Math Dictionary for kids to review.  Even though this dictionary is marketed to grades 4-9, I would like to show you all the fabulous ways that is is applicable to the lower grades- including first!  Read on for vocabulary strategies that can be used for any grade!

This is the year of evaluations for teachers- particularly in Tennessee!  I will have SIX evaluations this year!  Whew!

We are getting the EnVision Math series and I still don't have a teacher's manual!  However, I do know the academic vocabulary for first grade already, and I'd like to share that with you.  I'm also including science because many of those terms overlap with math and are included in this dictionary.

Academic Vocabulary for First Grade- Math

additive pattern
bar type graph
certain event
equal parts 
fact family 
fractional parts 
greater than
impossible event
number facts 
number pattern
number sentence
rectangular prism 
repeating pattern
skip count
whole numbers 

Science Vocabulary

meter stick 
natural resources 

As I look over those words, I think- Wow!  Some of these are really complicated!  How do I get my little first graders to understand these terms?

I really like the Frayer Model.  I think the children could make up their own definition in kid-friendly terms, but then I would use the math dictionary to reinforce it (or to start out with if they aren't familiar with the word).  Please understand that this dictionary is targeted for grades 4-9 and they will need scaffolding to work with it.  However, they learn amazing dictionary skills and the content included in this book is also appropriate for first grade.

Who am I? Game
An easy game to play with any vocabulary words is "Who am I?".  Each student has a foam strip with a velcro dot on their forehead (elastic holds either side of the foam- like a hat).  The teacher attaches a secret vocabulary words to the velcro.  Students can ask each other ONLY yes or no questions.  A student can only be asked 3 questions before they have to move on to a different student.  A word bank could be supplied on the board.  Great activity with math vocabulary!

Graffiti Wall & Carousal
*Great introduction activity!!!
With this activity, post a sheets of chart board paper all over the room with one vocabulary word written on it (a different word at each sheet).  I would probably have 5 words posted and break my student up into groups of four.  Have them count off 1-4 and then the ones go stand at this poster, the twos back there.....
Anyway, give each group 1 marker (each group has a different color) and that travels with them.  Start the timer and have them write or draw what they think the definition or examples would be.  Then rotate around the room (carousal).  Here is an example:
What I love about this activity is that students can really construct their own knowledge without the teacher correcting them!  When they see their work compared to everyone else's, they make realize that they made a mistake and it really sticks with them.  I know this because it happened to me!  My group started out with "Cardinal Number" which we mixed up with "Ordinal Number".  When we rotated back to our original poster, we immediately realized our mistake.  Each group presents their original poster to the class.

ABC Vocabulary Book
First you could have your students brainstorm all the (math) vocabulary words they could think of that start with each letter of the alphabet.  Next, as a workstation, the students could create a page for their letter.  Here is an example:
Pattern #2
Line1: A noun
Line2: Two adjectives
Line 3: Three -ing words
Line 4: A phrase
Line 5: Another word for the noun

Here is my example for the word "Fraction."  The format we used didn't have the -ing words.  Also, the fifth line should read "Fractions let us share"

Tagxedo & Wordle
A high tech option is to create a wordle or tagxedo with vocabulary words.
You could have a parent volunteer type in the words the students created to come up with a Tagxedo like the star below.

Glogster is a multimedia poster online.  It's basically a poster that can incorporate movies, audio, and interactive images.  This could be a great idea for older kids to demonstrate a concept!  I've seen it done with firsties, too- but it's alot more complicated!  You can sign up for a free educator account or view the best glogs around.

Math Dictionary For Kids
So, if you need a great book to reinforce academic vocabulary for math, this is it!
The book includes kid-friendly terms.  Examples:
Decrease- To make less (smaller)
Difference- The answer to a subtraction problem.  Example: 7-5=2   2 is the difference between the numbers.
Many problems also have great pictures to explain in more depth.  This particular dictionary breaks it up into these sections: Whole numbers and operation, measurement, algebraic ideas, geometry, decimals, fractions, percents, and ratios, quick reference guide; learning with manipulatives (Great teacher resource section!!!); Tables and charts; measurement conversion tables; basic math tools and equipment and an index.  This book would be an excellent addition to any teacher's library and is also a great homework helper for older students (3rd grade and up). I would highly recommend this book for any teacher!

If you would like a copy of Math Dictionary For Kids, you can use the code MATH25 at checkout to receive a 25% discount exclusive to the followers of this blog!  :)

What vocabulary strategies do YOU use in the classroom?

Friday, July 29, 2011

THREE giveaway winners announced!

OK ladies!  Please contact me within 24 hours to claim your prize.  Send me an email with your shipping address to:

Thanks to everyone who entered and a big thanks to Prufrock Press for sponsoring this giveaway!

Last day to enter the giveaway!

Enter the math giveaway here!!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

State of the Classroom Address: Ocean Themed Updates

Say Aloha to my beach themed classroom updates for the 2011-2012 school year!

Please keep in mind that these are preliminary photos.  :)  Many things are placeholders to make it pretty for the start of school- they will have a different function in the near future.
The hall view
I am going to take the students' pictures with oversized sunglasses and leis and add them to the door.  Also, I want to get a straw hat for the flamingo (Pinky is her name).  :)  Also, I only added a few wishlist items, so that section on the right is still pretty bare.

My entranceway

The bathroom door

My front rug set up for mini-lessons *I'm loving this!  This is new.  That podium doesn't stay there all the time, btw.

My computer area/bulletin board- this board is just a placeholder until we create anchor charts & fun stuff like that

My overhead station ***NEW I need help with this one!  What do you do with the overhead?


Still needs work... Hopefully this will house my bucketfillers & clip chart soon

Math stuff

Math Giveaway!

Have you entered my math giveaway yet?!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tip for classroom setup!!! *Must read!

Tip of the day: Laminate your nameplates and hot glue them directly onto the desk!  Genius!!!!
Need to remove some pesky hot glue? A putty knife/paint scraper is your tool.
Next: Make a class numberline
Make a line 1-20 (or however many students you have) around your classroom theme.  I use a large fish for the lineleader to stand on at the head of the line.  Use contact paper to apply to the tile floors.
Bonus: We use this to make a human numberline for math!
Great for classroom management which starts before they ever walk inside your classroom...

X's marks your SEAT!
On the carpeted reading area where we gather, I have an X for each child.  Use colored Duck Tape to make your own X's.
Sorry that's a gross picture from my X's left over from last year.  I'll post a new one tonight after I re-do them.

What do YOU do to set up your room? Write a post and link up!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Math Giveaway Time! 400 followers

Well, less than two weeks ago I was hosting a giveaway for 300 followers- and guess what people?  12 days later and it's time for a 400 follower giveaway!  Ya'll are on fire!  :)  I really appreciate all the support.

Prufrock Press Inc. is sponsoring a math products giveaway.  They put a surprise package in the mail today, so I'll have more details as soon as it arrives.  You can enter starting today!

How to enter the giveaway:
1. Follow this blog, post a comment.
2. Blog about this giveaway, post a comment.
3. Grab my button, post a comment.
4. Add me to your sidebar, post a comment.

I will use's number generator to pick a winner.
Giveaway closes on August 3rd at 8:00pm central time.

Reader of this blog can also get 25% off using the Discount Code: MATH25

Readers need to put the book in their cart on our site, check out, and then enter the product code to get 25% off the cover price. (That's better than Amazon right now!)

Other happy occurrences:

  2. My sweet Dad remotely accessed my computer and we spent about 2 hours working on my printer and I FINALLY have a printer that PRINTS WIRELESSLY!  Wooooohooo again!
  3. I'm going to Chili's tonight! Yummy.  Print this off and you can go too:
Share this offer!Share this!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Follow Me on Pinterest

Michelle is having a link party for Pinterest!  If you are unfamiliar with Pinterest, it's like a giant bulletin board online by topics.  Sooo... it's pretty much amazing.  If you need an invite, leave your email in the comments and I can help you get yours set up!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

FREE school supplies all across the nation

Fabulous in first posted about "Crayons to Computers" which is a free "store" for teachers in her area (Cincinnati).  Local businesses donate all the supplies, and teachers shop for free!  Well, it turns out that there are 42 stores like this nationwide, and my area had one!  It was set up for the teachers in the metro area, but if you volunteer you can earn yourself a shopping trip!  I am volunteering!  
Click here to see if there is a free store in your area.

Book Clubs Packet Giveaway

Mrs. Walker over at First Grade Pandaemonium is giving away a 14 page book club packet to everyone who follows her and blogs about it.  Pretty good deal if you ask me!  :)  She has 26 followers, so let's help spread the word and show some love.  Keep it up, Mrs. Walker!

Ways to spice up your class website

As a new school year creeps closer, teachers are busy preparing their rooms.  Creating an online presence can be a great way to communicate with parents, yet many teachers don't have a well-maintained class website.

Here are some great options and examples of simple, free sites:
*This post includes large files and may take a moment to load
  1. Shutterfly- Who knew Shutterfly lets you create a class website on their page?!  The amazing feature is that parents can upload pictures or purchase pictures from the site.  They are password protected for privacy.  Shutterfly even lets you add calendars, roosters, and more!  Here is my Shutterfly page.  *Note: I use shutterfly only for pictures- my main site is through Blogger.
  2. Blogger- We know it, we love it.  But for a class website?  Absolutely!  I LOVE the layout, overall look, and simplicity of blogger.  Here is my blogger classroom website, created with blogger.  Ladybug's Teacher Files have amazing video tutorials about how to completely customize blogger and make it a truly amazing webpage!  I will be spiffying up my website soon!  :)
Extra things to spice up your class website:

Add a little fun into your website by creating an animated version of yourself.  I have one at the top of all of my websites.  They are free to create and use online, but you can also purchase business cards and customized stationary featuring your creations!

Glogster Gloster is basically a virtual poster creator. Here is a gallery of online posters created with Glogster.  I actually used a glogster poster with hyperlinks as my classwebsite for part of one year.  It's free for educators!

Animoto is a fast, easy way to create and share videos online.  Perfect for school websites!  Check out this elementary school's animoto video promoting their clubs.

"Secure social networking for teachers and students" is edumodo's mantra.  A great tool for class blogging!

An animated avatar (cartoon) of yourself- you can even add your own voice!  So for your website, you could have a Voki that plays a message to your students.  Here is a list of 20 different ways to use Vokis in education.
Here is my Voki:

What are your favorite examples of great class websites?  Link 'em up so we can all get new ideas!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

God moves in mysterious ways...

So get this:
Yesterday I posted about budget cuts and how I would start out this year with $0.

  1. Mathematical Literacy: A Standards-Based, Cross-Curricular Camp for Teachers

Today I got an email from the coordinator of a K-2 Math Literacy Camp sponsored by MTSU (anyone else going?!) that says they just had a spot open up... and it comes with a $300 stipend!!!!!!!!

I originally didn't sign up for the camp because I was unsure of my graduate school schedule at the time. (I am totally skipping a day... shhhhh!  However, thanks to technology, I can watch the archive of class.)  And the other wonderful parts?

1. I'm going with two of my best teaching buddies :)
2. We get free manipulatives and books to take back to our classroom.
3. It's a math literacy conference!!!!!!!!!  Who's super excited?  Meeeeeeee!  (Yes, I'm aware that my teacher nerdiness is showing...)

I just finished my P90X core workout....
It's gonna be a good day.

Just thought I'd share with you guys.  :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Back to school/first day of school activities

Well, it's coming soon kids! (I started P90X and I'm already emulating Tony Horton...Anyone else want to get in shape with me?  I need support!!!!)

Fun in First
There is an awesome linky party of back to school ideas going on over at

Here are a few of my plans for the first day of school:

Arrival: Playdough
Each kiddo will have a small jar of playdough and a sheet of wax paper for when they arrive.  They will be allowed to have free play time while everything settles down and then they will create one object that they will draw a picture of a write about.  We share these with the class.  Jodi at Clutter Free Classroom makes her own playdough and lets the students squish it around for a colorful surprise!  

How will I get home? Pictograph
The students also color a bus, car, daycare, or walker symbol.  These are reproductibles from some teacher magazine (The Teacher Mailbox, maybe?)  You can see the board set up and ready to go on the left side.  I just use Scott tape to place them on the board.  This also lets me know if they have any clue about how they are suppose to get home!  I have die cut laminated transportation necklaces made up that they wear for the first week that have a printed label that tells the child's name, method they are taking home, parent cell and teacher name. 

My table from the first day a few years ago.  

First Day Books:
I love to read "First Day Jitters".  The story appears to follow an apprehensive student who does NOT want to go to school the first day because they are scared.  It turns out to be the teacher!  It's a really cute book and it breaks the ice and shows that everyone gets a little nervous sometimes, and that's ok too!

There are lots of activities to go along with these books.  We make a mouse paper bag puppet, draw a self portrait and talk lots about rules and procedures.

Class?  Yeeeeeeees? Whole Brain Teaching
I spend a lot of time my first day teaching the students our class rules and commands.  If you haven't checked out my post on Whole Brain Teaching, you need to see it ASAP!  We also will be introducing Bucket Fillers this year as well as my classroom economy.  

These can be printed from Whole Brain Teaching for free!

Class portrait
Don't forget to take lots of pictures!  I always get an individual shot of each student working and then I use my Macbook to take a group shot of the class.  

Our mouse puppets

Establishing Rituals
Dr. Becky Baily is a phenomenal speaker, and I had the opportunity to implement some of her ideas.  Everyday we build our classroom community through welcome songs and goodbye songs.  At the end of the day, we get in a circle, link arms and sing "Goodbye My Friends" by Dr. Jean.

Us on the last day.... yes I cry.

Lyrics (I have this made into a poster with clipart animals)
See you later, alligator!
After while, crocodile!
In an hour, sunflower!
Maybe two, kangaroo!
Gotta go, buffalo!
Adios, hippos!
Chow, chow, brown cow!
See you soon, baboon!
Adieu, cockatoo!
Better swish, jellyfish.
Chop chop, lollipop.
Gotta run, skeleton!
Bye-bye, butterfly!
Better shake, rattle snake.
Our school day now ends.
So, good-bye, good friends!

Share your first day ideas at Fun in First

How much classroom $$$ do YOU start out with every year?

So I just talked to our school secretary who informed me that we might get $0 for our classroom budgets this year.  We normally get $180, so this is a huge chance!  And they haven't really even got the word out yet.
I've been so excited about going to target and picking up those fantastic book boxes for only $2.50 apiece....

This makes me really sad because we don't have the money to dump into my classroom right now.  My husband is working two minimum wage jobs and trying to find something full time.  We have a lovely mountain of debt from our school loans and car notes.

In my district, we usually have "textbook" fees of $65 per student, and I guess that is where we got our startup money from.  Our new county director of schools isn't a big fan of fees (I get that- I don't see how they started charging fees in a public school system in the first place!).  However, I think there should be some money in the budget somewhere for teachers to run a classroom!!!!!

How much money do you get at the beginning of the year?
 Leave a comment that tells what area you are from and your startup budget that is provided + how much you spend out of pocket.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Book Whisperer: Reader's Notebooks

TBA Book Club
This week I will be hosting TBA's book club. We are currently reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.

I have a confession to make. Let me start by saying that I love love love teaching first grade. But this book makes me want to teach bigger guys.

In the Reader's Notebook, students write their teacher a letter regarding their thoughts and feelings about the book they are currently reading. The example came from a 6th grade class, and Donna wrote back to each of her students, including higher order thinking questions in the process. I would love to do this, but our books are so simplistic that it would be very difficult. I think I will implement this after Christmas when the students' writing skills have improved and the books have more content.

I also love how she made the read so many different genres while still choosing their own books. I would love to do away with bell work this year and have students read instead! And if I had to hear the words "I'm done!" one more time it would be too soon. I love that the students can read so much! I would have LOVED to have been in a class like that when I was younger.

While you are planning your upcoming year, be sure to check out these amazing resources to compliment your Reading Workshops:

Check out this amazing post on Reading & Writing Workshops by my personal favorite teaching guru, Angela Bunyi.

Beth Newingham also has a wonderful post: Reading Workshop- What it looks like in my classroom. This includes a great how-to video!

Regardless of what reading program you are using in your classroom, you can use The Daily Five for management. Before you try to plan 5 gabillion centers, you need to check these girls out!

The CAFE Book is also written by "the sisters" and it provides insightful reading strategies to use as well.

Complete set UNITS OF STUDY FOR PRIMARY WRITING: A YEARLONG CURRICULUM: Conferring Handbook, Nuts and Bolts of Teaching Writing, CD-rom, 7 books: Launching Workshop, Small Moments, Writing for Readers, Revision, Authors as Mentors, Nonfiction, PoetryTo compliment the reading workshop, I believe that writer's workshop is an important aspect that many people are missing. I use Lucy Calkin's Units of Study for Primary Writers.

Post your thoughts on Read Along Reader's Notebooks!

Giveaway winner announced!

Congratulations to...

Mrs. Daniels First Grade

Who said...
"Your blog is already in my blog roll.
Tammy Daniels

Thanks so much to everyone who entered!  You are all amazing and I appreciate all of your support.