Short Vowel Word Families: Literacy Stations

Well hello! Remember me? I use to blog here and have been MIA for about 7 {shhhhh} months now. One of my many, many goals this summer to revive my blog with the pages of ideas that I have written down! So here is post number 1 of the summer, all about short vowel word families!

As a first grade teacher {possibly a k/1 teacher next year....EEKK} the beginning of the year is full of short vowel review, short vowel practice and loads of repetition. I love that fact that teaching word families, gives students a chance to have that repetition, but they are not just limited to memorizing the word like with high-frequency words.

So what are the benefits of teaching short vowel word families?

* PATTERNS: Our brains are pattern seeking. The sooner and earlier that we can teach children to look for the PATTERNS, the faster they will pick up a new skill.

* ONSET and RIME: English is a complex language to read. Once children learn that words can be broken down into CHUNKS or onset and rime, they will be able to decode those same chunks into other words. Onset and rime is usually easier for children to grasp versus segmentation of each sound.

* RHYME: Children LOVE to rhyme! Not only is it fun to think of words that sound the same at the end, it's fun to come up with some silly words, too!

* SPELLING: If children are able to grasp the word family they are learning, they will be able to bring that into their spelling a lot easier because they have recognized the pattern. You see that word again, pattern. Yep! Our brains are always seeking to find the patterns!

I have created my newest growing bundle for teaching short vowel word families. Now these activities aren't just CVC words. No, I've included blends and digraphs in here too! Why, because the more repetition children receive in an area of study, the more likely they will learn the content. Oh, and since the brain is pattern seeking, each set of 22 word families will have the same layout/set-up. This way you can spend less time on directions.... and we all like that!

What you can expect in my newest growing bundle of word family literacy stations:
* MATCH-UP activity with recording sheet
* BOARD GAME (color and black/white)
* CIRCLE CLIP (color and black/white) just add clothespins
* COVER UP (color and black/white) just add die and counters

REALLY EXCITING NEWS ALERT: This week I am celebrating my second anniversary as a seller on TeachersPayTeachers! That's right; two whole years! To celebrate, my short vowel word family GROWing Bundle will be price slashed to just $25.00! OMG! Snap it up during my celebration on June 21st and June 22nd.
*As I add to the growing bundle, simply go to the 'My Purchases' tab and sort by 'Recently Revised'. Then find the GROWing bundle and re-download! If you have any downloading issues, please email me at 

Enough talk! Let's see some pictures!
Match-Up game combines words and pictures on fun colored popsicles! Comes with a center direction sheet and recording sheet.
The maze games have a fun theme to match with the word family. 2 versions available along with center direction sheet.
Board games are fun and when printed on 8.5x11 inch paper, they are easy to store too! Comes with center direction sheet.
{shhhh} This is my favorite center! Add clothespins and you have a fun center to clip and a recording sheet to fill out. Center direction sheet included.

The Cover-Up game is a fun one too! Center direction sheet and color & black/white versions included, too!

Storage: I like to store my centers in gallon size bags. Put the anchor chart on the outside of the bag and you don't even have to label the bag!


SMILE: TpT Sale and Wishlist Items!

Happy Sunday all! I've got three weeks {15} days before winter break. We CAN do this!

Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a HUGE sitewide sale November 30th and December 1st! You can shop in my store and hundreds of others and SAVE big; 28% in my store!

Want to see what resources others are buying? Here are my top three wishlisted items in my TpT Store. Looking for more? Check out the linky party happening NOW over at Teaching in the Tongass.

The Superheroes Have Character product is one of my absolute favorite resources! Not only is it my number one wishlisted item, it's also my best seller. Includes posters, bookmarks, student book pages, awards, and goal setting pages. SNEAK PEEK: Purchase during the sale to save even bigger! The price will increase after I add the matching brag tags!!

I love the Superheroes Have Character product, but Plant the Seeds of Math Fact Fluency: Addition and Subtraction is the resource that I use EVERYDAY in my own classroom! My kiddos practice their math fact fluency at their individual level for 10 minutes everyday and then we take our quiz on Tuesday afternoons. They love it and they love getting their "seeds" on their watermelons! Oh, for more fun, I just added coordinating SEED EXPERT brag tags yesterday! I am beyond excited about showing those to my kiddos tomorrow!

My third top wishlisted item is another ALL TIME favorite resource of mine! All Sorts of Math Mats, is full of number bonds, place value charts, tens frames, double digit addition and subtraction mats, fact families, multiplication, and division... just to name a few! I have a blog post about using these mats that you can check out here: Regrouping? Is it the hardest thing ever to teach or does it just feel like it? My math mats resource was also featured on Teach Junkie's blog. Click HERE to go to that blog post!

Thank you so much for looking through my top THREE wishlisted items! I hope you found something that might make your teaching or prep-work a little easier. You can find all of these resources and much more (teach first grade Wonders?) in my TpT store. The link to my TpT store, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Bloglovin' are up top to the right of the page.

Have a wonderful two-day shopping spree! Remember to stock up on resources for January, too!

Until again, I wish you well!

Phonics Little Books with Miss Giraffe's Class

Happy Thanksgiving. I am so thankful that you are here!

It is so rewarding to see my kiddos eyes light up when they learn something new, especially in reading. There are so many phonics rules, word structures, and comprehension skills and strategies, that reading is very overwhelming too many young students. When they can read something, even better, when they fluently read a text, passage, or even a sentence, they get that feeling of pride and "I can do it" mindset. It's a powerful thing!

As a teacher, I feel that I need to bring in fun resources to make these other challenges a little less daunting. My go-to spot on TeachersPayTeachers is Miss Giraffe's Class, hands down! Check out her fantabulous blog here: Miss Giraffe's Class Blog!

One product that we use almost every week is My Little Phonics Books MEGA bundle {Year Long Set}. This set is made up of little, two-sided books for each of the phonics sounds that I teach in my first grade class. It's easy to prep, doesn't take a lot of paper, and most importantly, my students love these little books! The best part...... is that after they have written a sentence on each page, using the word at the top, they have a very simple book to take home and read. I love seeing Miss Giraffe's books on our weekly homework reading log!

When we start a new book, the expectations are:

1. Name on the line.
2. Flip through the book and read the word on each page and look at the pictures.
3. Think of a sentence using the word on the page.
4. Write your sentence in pencil, starting with a capital letter and ending with a period.
5. Write down all the sounds you hear.
6. Repeat the same process on the following pages.
7. Color with crayon and use more than one color on each page.
8. Turn in when completed or put in your catch-up spot when time is up.

You can snag my simple "Phonics Books Expectations" sheet by copying and pasting this link:

The next time you are looking for phonics ideas or resources, make Miss Giraffe's class your first stop. You won't be disappointed!

Until again, I wish you well!

Hands-On Number Bonds

I'll be the first to admit it. I LOVE teaching number bonds! Well, I didn't at first, but after seeing how much my firsties were learning about numbers, it didn't take long for me to 'buy in' to using number bonds.

It started back in 2012 when my district adopted Math in Focus. It was the first time in years, that our district had adopted a math program. I was excited to have a curriculum. It was the first time in my teaching career that I didn't have to make EVERYTHING! Instead of creating everything, I was able to spend time enhancing the curriculum with hands-on fun and games. Let me show you some of the ways that my team, Pinterest, and our PE teacher have brought number bonds to life for our kids!

First, Pinterest is great for finding new ideas and it was my first go to spot when we started our new curriculum. I found this great blogpost from Wild About Teaching: Math Monday is Baack: Animal Plate Math. I immediately bought plates and labeled them with part, part, and whole. I still use these plates for creating beginning number bonds, four years later.

Second, Pinterest also prompted me to create a hands-on number bond machine! I created 5 number bond machines (one for each table group) with the help of hubs! We bought the thick foam posterboard and then he cut it to fit into these baskets. I had extra baskets laying around, so made the machines to fit! Then I popped holes into the plastic cups and attached to the foam board with a brad. I added tape across the back of the brads to make it extra sturdy. I glued on a few labels and DONE! We use cubes, counting bears and a variety of other manipulatives to practice learning about part-part-whole.

Another really great activity our team came up with was when we asked our PE teacher about how to include number bonds and physical activity. Through the adoption of Math in Focus, we were able to add a 45-minute weekly math integrated PE into our schedule, called Math in Motion! It started off as just first grade and now we have a 30-minute block for kindergarten, too!

During Math in Motion (MIM), our PE teacher, Ms. Denton (she's fabulous, BTW!) has created different hands-on, whole body approaches to number bonds. This team-relay game was the focus of last week's MIM time. Partners stood on different colored dots and each one had a job to do. For example, Ms. Denton rolled a huge foam die. This was the first part. The red dot kiddo ran and got the number and that many cubes. Ms. Denton would then roll another die. The yellow dot kiddo, ran to get that number card and cubes. The blue dot kiddo, would then write out the problem in an addition sentence on the portable whiteboard. After each problem, students switched to a different dot so that they could practice completing different parts of the number bond. We are going to complete this activity again next week and try to bring in some of the commutative addition property as well!

Since we focus on building a strong number sense and being able to understand the concept of part-part-whole, I try and include number bonds throughout the year. Simply printing a few recording sheets back to back, either laminating or adding to a sheet protector, and getting out the dry erase markers, and you are set for guided practice, independent practice, or workstations for the rest of the year!

You can find these recording mats in my TpT store or by clicking HERE!

Bulletin Boards: Basic and Beautiful for a Camping Themed Classroom

Whether you are starting back to school soon, or still have another month to go, you have probably started thinking about your bulletin boards! This month Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Angie from Lucky Little Learners have gathered a massive amount of teacher bloggers to bring you the best of bulletin boards! There are many blogs linked up, so sit back with some coffee and enjoy your bulletin board version of the Sunday paper :-)

So, my first graders come back to school on the 20th, so my room is just starting to take shape. I spent the last six weeks teaching summer camp (I got to use my own room!), so I have been staring at those empty boards just waiting for the time to come to get them ready! So I started yesterday :-)

It's important to decide your theme (I have a camping theme), colors, and gather ideas before you get started. Make your list and hit the store to get whatever you need. Nothing stinks more than to be short of something or out of something, when you are trying to get your boards done. I usually have one table in my room as THE spot; push pins, staplers, tape, etc. Everything is on that table, so I don't waste time with, "Where did I last use the .....?" Face it, we don't have time for that!

I printed/laminated all my headings at home ahead of time. I cut them out, placed in order, and then added them each to their own baggie. If I would have had red plates, I would have glued to. Hence, the trip to the store :-)
One of my big time savers is using push pins first. I don't staple until I am completely satisfied with how it looks. I was able to move the letters around a few times until I had them in the right spots. The background of my hallway board is a tablecloth from Wal-Mart and the paper plates were from Wal-Mart, too. The font on the plates is made by the talented Kimberly Geswein. It's called KG Geronimo Blocks. You can snag it here {free for personal use}: Geronimo Blocks Font.

Once you are ready to remove the push pins, start by stapling at the bottom. I don't know what it is, but I always want to start at eye level and then if something falls, it takes the bottom out too and I have to start all over again. For me, stapling from the bottom and working my way up works the best.

Once I had my wording up, I added the watermelon slices. These were from Wal-Mart too. The hubs cut them into fourths using scissors and I stapled them up to the board. It gives a nice 3D effect to the wall too. Grand total into this board is about $7. Not too shabby at all!

Ok, so you've seen bits and pieces to my camping theme hallway decor. Are you ready for the final product?

I am so excited with how this turned out, I squealed a little bit! In my district, I don't get a student list until about 3 days before school starts {I know, right?!}, so with this done, I will make labels with their names and just stick them onto the watermelon pieces. Easy peasy!

Ok, so this is the ONLY bulletin board that is ready to go, but here's a peek at the boards inside my room that are barely started....

The hubs working on making my word wall lines straight. He did a great job!

To the left is the writing and Accelerated Reader board, word wall in the middle, and on the right is the revolving board (science, social studies, themes, etc). All my boards are covered in burlap! 

So I use my document camera ALL.THE.TIME. The only problem is that the screen takes up most of my calendar area. If you see the pocket chart on the side, that's where the calendar gets hung up on those little command hooks. It words well.

My reading focus wall is pretty small. There is another piece this same size past the pipes that run down the middle. Here I hang our genre, vocabulary, spelling signs, etc. The Camping Trip Borders can be found in my TpT store HERE.

These borders were created byElementary Lesson Plans. You can check them out here: Smores Bulletin Board.
I have to leave you with one final awesome picture. This is the view from my classroom. I love being in room 111 :-)

My school is at the base of Thunder Mountain.
Until again, I wish you well!

My Very First Five for Friday!

Hello Five for Friday Friends!

I have linked up for the very first time with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday Linky Party. I'm so excited to take part of it and share my happenings this past week.

While spending time with family and friends in Michigan, we just had to take Coop to play mini-golf. Now in MI we call it putt-putt golf, but I have learned that the rest of the world calls it mini-golf. 
So I am trying to retain my +30 brain. So. Not. Easy.  
Sandy Dunes Adventure Golf in Port Austin, Michigan

After playing mini-golf (see I got it :-), Coop wanted to ride a pony. Well, lucky for him our dear friends have ponies and boys to play with. Boys (ages 3, 5, and 7) that Coop has since asked to play with many times :-(  It is fabulous watching your kids get along so well with your friends kids. Just sayin'.

He sooo wants to be a cowboy!
I did manage to find some time on our trip to work on products and start planning for the new school year. I am participating in the #TpTSellerChallenge hosted by Third in HollywoodSparkling in SecondPeppy Zesty Teacherista, and Teach Create Motivate.
I am planning on many revisions over the summer and I'm excited to kick off the first makeover with these ladies!
Beginning Stats: Lots of room for improvement!

One of the last fun things we did before hoping on the plane back home, was head to the circus. For a small town circus, it was pretty good. There were dancers, gymnasts, elephants, lions and tigers, oh my! (I could not resist that!) Oh and then Coop noticed the face painting and.....
He transformed into Spiderman!
Now we got home last night, and I figured out it took us 22.5 hours from my moms door to ours. That's counting 6 hours in the car, one traffic stand still, lots of road construction, 4 time zones, two planes, two flight delays, 1 layover, late luggage, a sleepy toddler, and picking up the overly excited lab from his doggy-sitter's house. So. I. am. exhausted. But I pick up the two weeks worth of mail and thumb through it before bed and you know what was in there.
Yep. That was it. The last straw. I quickly went to bed.