Tuesday, January 22

Indoor Recess Freebie

The van said it was -6 degrees today. Air Temp. The wind chill made it even colder.

Can you say indoor recess?


This little freebie has REALLY helped! (LOVE my friend Shelley for sharing the idea!!!)

Hope it can help you, too!

Parents love it because there are fewer McDonald's toys underfoot at home.

Hint - I love TpT feedback!

AND - my 400 follower giveaway got even BETTER today!!! 

Erin Condren

Dreamlike Magic

Ashley Hughes

Susan Moran

Linda Kamp

Greg Smedley

Katie Knight

How do I even choose the right order to list them? They all have equal billing!

Every single one of those peeps are AMAZINGLY talented and wonderful and I'm super excited to host such a fun giveaway!

Bring on 400!

Sunday, January 20

Back to Normal, Giveaway Heads Up and a Cool Product Review

Hi All!
Well, we've been working on getting back to "normal" since my daughter's illness/hospital stay.

Ya know...normal...meaning dealing with stuff like this:
Me-thinks perhaps a bit of excessive blogging (stalking & posting) contributed to letting go?

This happened just prior to my daughter's illness and we just recently got it dealt with...good to know that a spare tire really does work! 

AND - that the Mister and I can change a tire! Trickiest part was figuring out how to get the jack out of its storage compartment!

I highly prefer stalking and posting to the maintenance stuff of life, but I must admit I do feel a lot more productive once "normal" is dealt with! 

I'm on the quest for balance. Sigh.

Shameless Plug #1:
Are you thinking about your shout outs for the February Shout Out Linky? Here's the January one if you'd like more information. February will be posted by February 1st and we'd LOVE to have you!

My Ramp Up to 400 follower giveaway is going to be FAB! Erin Condren, Dreamlike Magic, Ashley Hughes, Susan Moran, Linda Kamp and more! 

Keep your eyes peeled! 

Well...not really.

Product Review
The sweet folks at Barker Creek (Tessa, especially) have EVERY reason to be annoyed with me...

I was to review two of their Draw-Write-Now products in early DECEMBER and I didn't.

My intentions were GREAT. My execution was not.

Better late than never?

So - Tessa sent me two of the books to review and I must say, my students really enjoyed them both.

Even the it's not Thanksgiving any more book! (Sorry to be late!)

There were several great things about these products and I'm so glad I get to keep the titles!

Draw-Write-Now is a series of eight books intended to provide factual information, show how to draw and demonstrate handwriting.

We really loved the visual Table of Contents:
My class went straight for the penguins and polar bear! The kayak was a hit, too!

The format is consistent throughout the book. There is a page containing a beautiful illustration and some factual information followed by a page that shows how to draw the main element of the illustration.

Here are a few pages:

My first graders worked with a partner to read and draw and were able to handle these texts well!

At the end of each informational page there is an inferential question that leads to nice discussion. The two questions above:
Air Migration: How do birds know where to go?
Wolf: Why are the northern wolves white?

I really enjoyed these books and will use them in my Illustration Station. I may just have to use them to brush up on my own illustrating, too!

The combination of informing and illustrating was just right for my kiddos!

Go check them out right here...

Thanks so much for a fun and educational product, Barker Creek!

Monday, January 14

Hospital...Syllable Pack Giveaway...Common Core Crunch

You never, ever know what a day will bring.

My 4.5 year old daughter woke up last Monday perky as usual and went to school like normal.

She had to get picked up by my husband mid-day because she threw up.

I scrambled to write sub plans for the next day and rush home. What sick kiddo doesn't want their mama?

Had to stay home the next day, too. Let's just say that I was bowl holding and back rubbing every 15-20 mn for a day and a half solid.

Even through the night.

My second day home with her wasn't so tough. She seemed on the upswing.

So I went back to work on Thursday. Got a text from my husband that I didn't see until my after school meeting was over. She was sick again and that I should be planning to be out the next day, too.

Before I got sub plans ready I called her pediatrician, who encouraged me to bring her to the E.R.

While I finished getting my sub stuff ready to go, my husband and eight year old son drove her to my school and I took her to the E.R. at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin...about a 15 mn drive.

She was totally silent. Which is incredibly unlike her. So so soooo unlike her.

I was so worried I could barely drive.

Emily got seen right away.

And she e...ven...tual....ly got admitted. While waiting I could hear Code Blue announcements, followed the sign inside the room that suggested remaining in the room with the door closed due to infectious diseases, screaming kids, beeping equipment...


We finally got to Em's room in the hospital and were there for two nights.

She may have a condition called cyclic vomiting, which is also known as abdominal migraines. She's had multiple vomiting illnesses over the last few years...

We have an appt with a specialist (apparently he's the leading expert on vomiting in the country and he practices at Children's Hospital of WI...lucky break) in a few weeks and will know more at that time.

Getting to go home to our own beds was amazing!!!

You just never know what a day will bring.

If you know anything about cyclic vomiting/abdominal migraines I'd love to hear from you...growingfirsties@gmail.com.

In a more positive light...
I have a new syllable pack that I'd love to give away. I haven't decided how many to give away yet...but I'm feeling generous (actually giddy with relief that my daughter's okay!) . :)

You might remember the freebie part from a few posts back...go ahead and grab that here. If you could leave me some TpT feedback after you download I would really appreciate it!

Here's the newest pack with five themes...available on TpT.

If you'd like to win the pack, go ahead and do these three things in a comment below:
1. Tell me what name you follow me under.
2. Leave me your email address.
3. Tell me what ELA skills you'd like to see me include in my "Common Core Crunch - February" pack.

Common Core Crunch??? That's my newest creation that I'm hoping to have posted by the weekend. And yes, I'll give some of those away, too.

Here's a Sneak Peak of Common Core Crunch..."A tasty mix of CCSS ELA & Writing Fun!" 

This will end up being a monthly series of printables that can be used as supplemental practice, Daily Warm Up or homework...

Here is a tiny sneak peak...there will be big variety of ELA practice opportunities using the February themes of Valentine's Day, President's Day, Dental Health Month and Groundhogs Day. Generally first grade focussed...

And, Elizabeth at Kickin It in Kindergarten is having a giveaway for her darling MLK pack that includes the reader below as well as some other cute stuff. Head over and give her some love. Tell her I sent ya.

Lastly - if you'd like to link up to or check out the Shout Out Linky...there's still time...just click the pic below and check out the great blogs who have linked up so far...

Smiles - 


Saturday, January 5

Farley & Editing Circle Love

Farley ----- LOVE her!!!

I'm having issues deciding on my OLW...if it's focus, then I'll have more time to be relax...but if it's relax, then I'll relax more...if it's mindful it kind of covers both...

Somehow focus is an easier mantra for me to remember though...so I'm goin' with it.

Okay...onto Writing Workshop Editing Circle Love... Many of my sweet firsties are pretty much maniacs about making books during Writing Workshop. Our district implements Writing Workshop with a Units of Study emphasis.

The main genres we have in first grade are:
Illustration Techniques
Personal Narrative/Small Moments/Slice of Life
Friendly Letter
Reviews & Opinion Pieces
Question - Answer Books

We have an hour of writing workshop every day. We work on our current genre as well as have time for their "Writing Folder" writing (which includes their Writers Notebooks and their book-making writing work.)

Matt Glover came to our district a few years ago and made a huge impact on our writing instruction. He was incredible and now that we're further along in our writing instruction it would be so amazing if he could come back! He encouraged us to have the kids use plain old white paper to make their books.

Maybe we're too controlling or maybe we had a hard time letting go of some of our previous practices (if it ain't broke kind of thing), but we didn't love the plain paper.

Kiddos with fine motor or visual spatial struggles seemed to need more of a scaffold. In our humble opinion.

We've used a variety of paper styles in the past and they've evolved into what I'll give you at the end of the post...so if you want to skip the explanation, just scroll, scroll, scroll down...

My kiddos are currently creating narrative, poetry and informational books, as well as comic books. It's such a pleasure to read their writing...it is a guaranteed way to put a smile on my face!

If you'd like to read two of my kiddos books, click the pics to head over to Google Docs for them in pdf form. Feel free to share them with your class. They're filled with opportunities for teaching points!

The quality isn't perfect, but I've doctored it up in the pdf.

Each sample is a different Google Doc so click them both if you want them both.

Student A's piece is a narrative and is titled "Books". She has so many wonderful characteristics of a writer and illustrator in place as well as areas for growth...


Student B's piece is informational and is titled "Space". It ended up to be a 14 pager so I just included excerpts. It was his first attempt at an informational text and he was so proud. He also has so many amazing traits of a writer and illustrator present...and opportunities for growth...

My son's first grade teacher (who we also have the pleasure of having her again because she is a looping teacher) has the BEST ideas and is such a wonderful teacher. We are beyond blessed to have her!

The writing he'd done in his first grade class would come home and I noticed editing circles at the bottom of the writing paper...You might already know about and use them, but they were new to me and just I loved the idea, so I added it to my repertoire this year. T

The editing circles have made a nice difference with my firsties, as it raises consciousness and elevates the importance of editing.

My class constructs their books and do their own stapling. As a scaffold, I have added a tall skinny rectangle to the cover page so that they have a guide on where to put their staples. 

Sorry that none of the pictures have a border around them...I hope you can get the idea of where the edges are...
The dedication page has a lot of white space and many kids add their Table of Contents underneath the because part:
We do a lot of noticing how authors and illustrators place their words and pictures on their pages. They've been asking for different styles of paper...after we talked about it as a class here's what they wanted. They knew exactly what they wanted and I'm happy to give it to them (and you!)!

Picture space on top, lines on bottom:

Lines on top, picture space on bottom:

Page full of lines:

Pages with no lines or boxes whatsoever (for being able to do a two page spread where the lines or pics cross onto the other page or for interesting word placement on a single page spread):

3 picture boxes vertically placed with lines to the right (they love this in Kevin Henkes' books):

4 boxes with no lines (so they could do it comic book style OR add words in "cool" ways not just on lines):

9 boxes with no lines (comic book style):

And, to keep all those paper choices organized, I have one of those paper sorter mailbox thingies that was a hand-me-over. I hadn't decided what to do with it yet, so it's been just hanging out...now I have a plan.

I will number the little compartments and nearby will post the page below. Each paper will be stored in the corresponding number compartment.

How do I use the editing circles in my world?

Well, the kids each have an editing marker (thin Crayola) and prior to stapling a book together, they are to edit it entirely with the goal of each circle containing a smiley face. If there's anything to fix for that particular part (making sense; upper/lower case; punctuation; spelling; details) then they need to fix it first (with their editing marker) and THEN they can fill in the circle with eyes and a smiley mouth.

Some kids like to write their entire book and then go back to do the editing all at once. Other kids like to write a page and then edit the page before beginning the next page. I'm cool with whatever works...as long as they're doing it.

When the editing is done, they put their pages in order (the numbering is a huge help) and head over to the stapling table where I have one low-effort, jam-free stapler.

Thanks for sticking with me!

Here's the freebie of the writing pages!

You might also be interested in this Wintry Fun Syllable counting/sorting/spelling freebie...Click the first picture to download it.


Friday, January 4

Guest Blogger from Primary Possibilities Blog Hop

I'm thrilled to be participating in this fun Blog Hop from the wonderful ladies at Primary Possibilities! 

Primary Possibilities

With no further ado...here's my fantastic guest (when you get to the bottom of her wonderful post, check out where I'm guest posting today and head there to pick up your Writing Workshop Freebie!)...

Hi Everyone! This is Tammy from The Resourceful Apple and I am so happy to be here. I teach first grade in sunny Florida and LOVE it! Today I am here to share a little about Thinking Maps. I have seen so many fabulous thinking map outlines by creative bloggers in their TpT units. At the time, I didn't know they were called thinking maps and I thought all story maps were thinking maps. Surprise! I was wrong.

I attended a training on Thinking Maps this year and now frequent their website and blog. There are actually 8 patterns for thinking maps which are directly related to a particular thought process. The thinking maps are used across content and grade levels.

Back in September, we made a circle map about Johnny Appleseed in Science. A circle map is used to show your frame of reference for a subject. My little ELL firstie used words and pictures to tell all she knew about deal old Johnny.

Later in the year, while reading The Little Red Hen, we used a Double Bubble Map to Compare and Contrast The Little Red Hen and the other characters in the story. A Double Bubble Map works like a Venn Diagram, but it uses circles in the middle to write the comparisons in. A Venn Diagram's middle space is often limited as it is the cross-section of the two larger circles. I had the firsties use red and blue crayons so they could see the connections.
Finally in December, we made a class Tree Map to classify the information we learned on our Christmas Tree Farm Field Trip. We grouped information into types of trees, needs of trees and farm jobs to care for trees. The kids did a great job recalling information they had learned on the tour and used it later in their writing.

After the thinking maps are made, connections are made and many times they are used as a bridge for a bigger project. In the midst of the Christmas excitement, my principal walked through for an informal evaluation. The kids were on the carpet in front of me and we were comparing and contrasting two different stories. My little cutie (You know the one...who is NEVER paying attention!) YELLS OUT "Hey, Mrs. Wathen, we should use a double bubble map!" My principal laughed after because normally she said she would have thought I prepped the kids, but knowing this little darling she knew that most definitely was NOT the case:) 

Two lessons were learned that day: 1- The kids are making the connections between the thinking maps and the thinking processes behind them. 2- The little ones who appear to be not paying attention DO take in what we are teaching them in their own way and in their own time and this dear friends is why we teach:).

Thank you Lisa for having me. I would love you to stop by my blog and visit. There will be a freebie to get you started with your own Thinking Maps.

Tammy Wathen
The Resourceful Apple

Me again....you can find me over at this cute blog...go read my Reading/Writing Workshop post and snag a WW freebie from Google Docs. Smiles - Lisa
Grab button for YOUR BLOG NAME
© Growing Firsties. All rights reserved.
Design by Laugh Eat Learn // Theme by Pipdig