Pumpkin Fun with Grade 1

Sunday, October 20, 2019

My favorite season is Fall...not because I like pumpkin spice {gag} -- sorry to all my psl fans.  But I love when it gets cooler and the leaves change color.  I love when the wind picks up and I can pull out scarves and boots.  I love decorating for Fall and seeing all the cute pumpkin decorations.  Mostly, I love when the weather cools down after a long, hot summer.
Any season though is a great time for student engagement...am I right?!?  I love looking at pumpkin cut outs and witch hat finger puppets - there always seems to be something I can do with those things.
Here are a few fun ideas that I'm using this month to keep my students engaged and having fun while learning.
I found these beautiful, bright pumpkins on line as a FREE printable.  Once I printed them out and cut them out ( they have yet to be laminated....busy much!?! ) I added letters and words to them.  I added both for a couple of reasons.  I teach reading all day and have a variety of levels in those groups.  I offer free tutoring on Friday mornings for a small group of kiddos that are still struggling with letter recognition and sounds...although they do know some sight words.  

pumpkin sight word game

I got this idea from a teacher that Jen Jones was visiting on one of her trips.  She used a mummy wind up toy - HOW SMART is she?!?!  I just happened to have one of those squishy light up toys handy so I used that instead.  I let the children take turns tossing the alien.  They had to tell me if what they landed on was a word or a letter.  Then based on that they had to tell me the letter name and sound(s) or read the sight word to me.  We had so much fun playing and the time flew by!

pumpkin sight word game

This little guy did his own differentiation.  He is proficient on his letters and sounds so he was sure to hit a sight word, love that about him!
pumpkin alien toss game

Another fun thing I have planned for a read aloud with engagement on Halloween is this:
I will be reading a Halloween picture book that rhymes and whenever the students hear a rhyme they will hold up their witch  hat pointer.  I just printed out witch hats and hot glued them to pipe cleaner, you could also glue them to a straw.  Thanks for the fun idea: Leigh @ The Applicious Teacher

Halloween ideas for student engagement

Hoping this is the last week I see 93 degrees on my phone - ready for some of that cool Fall weather.
Happy teaching friends,

Colored Salt Trays

Saturday, October 5, 2019
We've all read, seen or heard the research over the years...kids need to use several modalities while learning.  I know I'm a visual person so I tend to like to see things modeled and watch a how to video.  I have had students over the years that need to touch, move, manipulate numbers, disks, beads, counters etc.  

using salt boxes in the primary classroom

In my new role as a literacy specialist I have been working with a group of kiddos on the alphabet: recognition, sounds, letter formation etc.  I started thinking about creating salt boxes but in my typical 'vicky' way I wanted it to be a bit different for my students.  So I started researching colored salt....on Amazon one of my favorite images popped up  - a margarita.  HAHAHA
So, the salt rim on the glasses you get a restaurants...well that salt is sold on Amazon and it's COLORFUL!  I thought how fun for my students in this small group to pick out the colored salt box they wanted to use I mean why not.  I am such a proponent of making even the little things at school fun. #letthemstaylittle
So, I purchased a bag of bluish/turquoise ( to  match my room of course ) salt.  I will say :  It's NOT cheap.  I also purchased a huge box of regular salt which was $8.86 for a 4 lb box.  The colored margarita salt was $16.95 for a 16 oz bag. ( insert big eyed emoji here )  
Now, if you have time you might want to visit Ana's blog, she explains how to save a TON of money by making your own colored salt here on this post:  https://babbledabbledo.com/diy-art-materials-colored-salt/

I know sometimes you are doing #allthethings, especially if you are a mom of young ones so it's just easier to drop the cash.  But, you can make the colored salt as well, OR even better print out the directions from Ana's blog and leave it for a parent helper! #winning
Now another thing to take into consideration is your little friends that have sensory issues.  This works best with their finger tracing the letters in the salt but you could give your student(s) an object - like a colored pencil or thin pointer to use.  One of my students has sensory issues and didn't want to use their finger directly on the salt as the texture felt strange to them.  
I just used the Michael's storage boxes that look like this:

salt box storage

This is what our time looked like, they asked if they could use the salt boxes at our next session!  That's a win I'd say.


colored salt boxes for alphabet tracing and writing


salt boxes in the classroom

I hope this idea is something you can use in your classroom with your littles to help make them more successful future readers.  If you have any questions email  me and don't forget you can find lots of fun ideas if you follow me:

instagram: teachingmore

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{ Happy teaching }

Halloween Book Character Costume Ideas for Teachers

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Book Character Day/Parade - for some it brings excitement...others anxiety!  I love dressing up, just give me a reason and I'm there. I wanted to share some ideas I've worn over the years.

book character costume ideas

You can easily adapt these ideas if you are looking for ideas for your child for the parade at school.  Most of these costumes I've made so the cost was minimal.

book character costume ideas
The Rainbow Fish was fun BUT I suggest you watch a You Tube video to add make up scales to your face and definitely carry the book with you - many people called me a mermaid when I wasn't holding the book. 

book character costume ideas

book character costume ideas

Here you see me walking in the Book Character Day/Halloween parade.  I love how the kids want to give everyone high 5's.  It's always so fun to see how creative everyone is each year.

Look how cute my friend is as Ms. Frizzle!! This is my friend and amazing teacher Adriana you can find her on instagram @adeletoon

book character day costume ideas

book character day costume ideas
Oh my goodness my friend couldn't be any cuter if she tried!!!  I love her as Pinkalicious.  You can find more fun ideas from her on instagram @kinderisbetterinpink perfect name right?!?!

This grade level team dressed up as characters from Arnie the Donut...so cute!  Thanks to Raquel on instagram:  @raquel41489

book character day costume ideas

book character costume ideas

It's always fun to dress up with your grade level team in matching book characters/ ( Charlotte and Fern )  Charlotte's Web.

Of course for more ideas just type in book character costume ideas into Pinterest and you'll come up with tons more.  I just wanted to share a few of my favorites that I've worn over the years.
Halloween is just around the corner...I'm already researching a fresh new idea for this year...can't wait to share it with you.  
You can find me on instagram : @teachingmore to see what I come up with this year.
Happy teaching my friends!

Pencil Cookies

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Sometimes teachers need a pick me up...admit it!  You'd probably never turn down a parent that shows up on a hot day with iced coffee or fresh banana bread or the never let you down piece of chocolate. Am I wrong?!?!
I came across a darling pencil cookie that was SUPER EASY PEASY to make so I wanted to share it with you.  It doesn't take long either and you don't have to turn the oven on...#winning When you live where it's hot ain't nobody want to turn on the oven for dinner or baking....AMEN!!?!

Aren't these the cutest!?!?!  This is all you need:
* vanilla wafer cookies
* white tube icing
* pink tube icing
*  mini chocolate morsels

I grabbed these at Walmart - you can get them at Target or your favorite grocery store.  
FIRST - Cut the cookies carefully into a point at one end.

NEXT - Place white frosting on that end and add one mini chocolate morsel as the tip.

THEN - Place pink frosting on the opposite end for the eraser top.

Your friends/ child's teacher/ staff will love these...almost too cute to eat!!!  Hope you've had a great start to your year! 

Back to School Teacher Gift

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Back to School, it brings excitement, dread, anxiousness and so much more to people.  I personally love Back to School time, don't get me wrong.  I LOVE my summers fo' sure!  But, I love me some back to school supplies, bulletin boards, new students, fresh start as well.
This year I changed schools...some of you think, no big deal.  BUT, I have been at my previous school for almost 19 years people!!!!  19 years!!!  They are my second family that I adore and they have my back and LOVE me.  I'm definitely one that is up for a change...I change grade levels more than most - I get bored.  So that part isn't surprising but to uproot myself  completely for not only a new school but an entire new job title and an did I mention the school is more than double in size.  There are approximately 1,035 students!!!!  My teeny tiny little school has about 455.  WOW!

Anywho, I wanted to share something with you that I created for my new staff.  Being realistic I know that I can't possibly meet all the peeps this week so I thought I could at least leave them with a little something so they felt like they knew me and hopefully  blessed them a bit in the process.

I mean all teachers can use extra school supplies right?!?!  So I have created tags to go with several supplies and the cute staff note as well.   If you are in  need of something for your child's teacher, school staff or teacher besties you can  grab it here FREE!!!  
Happy first week back friends!

Picture Books and the First Few Weeks of School

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Ahh picture books, one of the most un taped resources a teacher can use in his/her classroom.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to picture books for #allthereasons.  
Not only can picture books teach valuable lessons regarding behaviors you are desiring in your classroom BUT they can do so much more.  My friend Courtney : the author behind Ramona Recommends offers the best tips when it comes to using picture books in the classroom.  She has an amazing personal story that shows how she opened the magic as a child and how you and your students can too.
I wanted to offer you a list of Back to School picture books that I find valuable and have tips and ideas on how you can use them to teach procedures/ behavior/ growth mindset/  etc. in your classroom so you can set the stage for the environment you hope to achieve all year long.  
There are so many to choose from but here are some all time favorites of mine that have proven to be great time and time again.

back to school pictures book favorites

back to school read alouds

If you are wanting to teach on growth mindset:

This sweet story has #allthefeels  you will fall in love with Jabari and enjoy his journey of having to be brave.  It's perfect to get discussions going around courage and achieving your goals.

giraffes can't dance growth mindset activity pack

Gerald the giraffe is awesome!  He is fun loving and definitely shifts his mindset over the course of this story - a must read for sure to encourage your students to have the power of yet.

If you want to teach on acceptance and build your classroom community:

Elmer the Elephant craft and activity pack

Elmer is a loveable elephant that doesn't look like the rest of the elephants - he goes through a journey of insecurity and then decides to embrace who he is and what he looks like.  It's a great story to teach accepting others and celebrating differences. 

wonders picture book activities

Another great book to teach your students about empathy and acceptance.  Auggie shares feelings of wanting to belong and feel accepted.

Class rules, blurting out, expectations..

officer buckle craft, book extensions and activities

Officer Buckle is a great person to help you get a conversation started in your classroom about school/class rules.  This is a fun, easy read that will get the kids laughing and thinking.

my mouth is a volcano craft

This book is probably my favorite when it comes to teaching on class expectations and  NOT BLURTING OUT.  This book teaches kids strategies on how to control your tongue and thoughts instead of blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.  

rainbow fish activities

These books are great to get a discussion going about friendship. How to treat a friend, how to share and being mindful of how others around you are feeling.  

If you are looking for great back to school stories to teach alphabet/names,etc. these are wonderful:

chicka chicka boom boom activity pack

Chicka, Chicka, Boom,  Boom is an amazing story to read with your Preschoolers/TK/Kinders/Firsties if you want to have fun with the alphabet!!

chrysanthemum activity pack with name activities

This story is great to talk about names and how important they are, also to embrace all names and teach acceptance.

first day jitters activity pack

Another favorite among teachers and students is for sure:  First Day Jitters.  I think it's important to share that teachers have back to school nightmares and get a little nervous every year to meet their new students as well.  It makes you seem more real and eases their anxiety a bit as well.

swimmy activity pack

Also if you are planning on having your students collaborate often in small groups then Swimmy is the perfect story to teach how we are better when we work together.  It's a sweet story about how Swimmy solves a big problem with the help of his friends.

This is truly a very limited list of great BTS books that you can use for the first few weeks of school.  #therearesomanymore 
I hope it helped a little if you were looking for some quick ideas. 

Just be sure to read all your picture books with enthusiasm and really reinforce the lessons/generate discussions and share the love of reading with your students.
Happy back to school friends,

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Chicka chicka Boom Boom activities

One of my favorite back to school read alouds/picture books to introduce words/letters/the alphabet has got to be the classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  It's great for kinder babies and firsties the first few days/weeks of school to get them talking about letters/sounds before you do any letter sound assessments on them.  It's a fun way to look at the alphabet and if you can get your hands on the Ray Charles song/rap either on you tube or an old school cd that is super fun for them too.

chicka chicka boom boom ideas
There are so many different ways you can incorporate this read aloud and tons of extension activities to do with it that are perfect for those first few weeks of school.  
Kids LOVE to talk about their names and while I'm on the subject let's talk about names.  KNOWING and LEARNING kids name is of upmost importance!  If you aren't sure how to pronounce it - ask them, tell them you want to say their name correctly so you don't 'butcher' their name every single time.  It's hurtful to your students if you don't learn their name and say it correctly.  I had a student a few years back in 3rd grade.  I could not pronounce his name correctly and it was frustrating.  I finally pulled him aside and told him how important it was for me to say his name correctly.  So I had him say it to me slowly and I phonetically wrote it on a sticky note in a way that I knew I could say.  He looked at the note and laughed saying that is NOT how you spell my name.   I told him I knew but I would  never mispronounce his name again.  Guess what!?!?!  I didn't mess it up ever again.  Last year I ran into his mom and she said her son still talks about how I made such an effort to say his name correctly.  He said he loved that about me and wished all his teachers tried that hard to learn his name.  WOW, you never know the impact a simple gesture has on kids. 

and now back to the original blog post...( #soapbox )

As I was saying Chicka Chicka Boom Boom has so many different possiblities:  snack ideas, alphabet ideas, crafts, letter recognition, name spelling, vowels/consonant activities and more.  

Here are some things I created to extend the learning from the story.

 chicka chicka boom boom craft

The types of sorts/letter worksheets you can do with this are endless:

chicka chicka boom boom worksheets

chicka chicka boom boom alphabet worksheets

and so many more in my pack as well.

chicka chicka boom boom math and STEM activities

You can also have them taste a coconut, I've included an idea for an anchor chart/graph you do whole class.  

chicka chicka boom boom snack ideas
Need fine motor skill practice?!?!  This is also included:

chicka chicka boom boom fine motor activities

This story is so great and as you can see there are so many ways to extend the book in your classroom.  You can even recreate the book on larger paper and make a class book assigning different pages to kids or table groups.  

*** I take no responsibility for the presence of allergies in your classroom for the snack ideas, always check your students health records to be sure it's safe to expose your students to these products. ***

If you want to grab these activities you can find them by clicking 
{ here