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This is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  I'm not a great cook, but I like making treats!  Each day, we have a school-wide theme and special guest readers for each classroom.  Our guest readers include local news anchors, local authors, college sports players, and our superintendent.   The students get to dress a certain way each day based on a book title.  For my reading groups,  I make treats.  Here is this year's theme days and the treats I will be making!

Monday:  One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
This is by far the easiest day!  We wear red and blue and our treat is Swedish Fish.

Tuesday:  Cat in the Hat
On this day, all students are allowed to wear a hat, and I bring Cat in the Hat Hats.  Over the years, I have found that this recipe is the easiest!  The Oreos provide a great base!  My son and husband are happy to eat the Oreo tops!  Thanks to the Fancy Frugal Life for the great idea!

Wednesday:  Green Eggs and Ham

These treats were made by a Practically Functional and are very easy!  

Thursday:  The Lorax Day
This day, I don't do food treats.  Students wear bright colored clothes and I give them truffla tree pens!  Embrace My Space has lots of ideas (both food and non-food) for The Lorax.

Friday:  Fox in Socks
Crazy Sock Day!  I found this easy to make fox cupcake idea this past fall. This year will be my first year trying it out.  Thanks to Simple as That for the idea!

I cannot believe it is almost February!  The year is going by too quickly!  Here are a few of my favorite freebies for kinder and first grade!

I have reading stamina graphs for February in my store.  They are in one minute and five minute increments.  

Here are some fun reader's theater scripts from a Teeny Tiny Teacher!
To practice comprehension, here is a great set from Kaitlynn Albani!

Kindergarten Works has a fun activity that students can use their Valentine's.

To decorate your room, Erica Boher has an adorable Valentine's banner students can complete.

I love teaching with magnetic letters, especially during word work at guided reading.  I also use magnetic letters at the following work stations:

  • Word Work
  • Sight Words
  • Spelling
  • iPads

My favorite magnetic letters are from Lakeshore Learning because they have the vowels in red.  They can be purchased as an individual set for about $9 or you can get a classroom set that has 240 letters for about $45.

My biggest issue is how to keep them organized.  I have found that each workstation needs their own set of letters. Depending on the goal of the work station, I may change out how students are working with letters.  For example, if it is for a group of students that is still struggling with their letters and sounds, I always make sure that the letters are organized.  This container can be found at a craft store for about $3.  It is study and has a lid.

I have also had great luck at work stations using the container that the magnetic letter organizer that comes with the classroom set at Lakeshore Learning.

If I want students, to have to "search" for letters, I will give them a container.  Over the years, I have found that as long as I don't put too many letters in a container without a lid, they stack just fine.  Many times I can find cute ones at the Dollar Store that are 4 for $1!

Then for small group guided reading, I don't want students to have all the letters at once because it is too overwhelming.  I found these containers from Glad work perfect!  The students love the Frozen and Star Wars theme!  I specifically pick the letters I want for word work each week.  This way word work time is used efficiently.  I have a fifth grade volunteer that helps me with this on Fridays.

I try and bring out a different "special" work station to practice with word work and sight words each week.  Stamps, Play Doh, Bingo Stampers, and Guess the Sight Word are all very exciting to my students!!

The Guess the Sight Word set is one of the favorites!  Students have a key and need to figure out the sight words by using the key.  I use foam letters, magnetic letters, or dry erase markers.  You can download a sample set for free!  

I've also made a set that can be used to complete sentences.

Lucky Little Learners and this article by  Kayla Delzer inspired me to help one of my co-workers implement flexible seating.  She used Donor Choose to fund her seating arrangement...as well as her own creativity to find ways to provide numerous options for students.

What we Learned

1) Set expectations, practice expectations, and be consistent with expectations.  Every day she reviewed expectations and had I CAN statements for each seating area.  These are available in my store.

2)  Plan for fairness.  She wanted students to be able to choose, but she didn't want to have to create another management board.  Since she has students in teams.  Each team is assigned a day of the week and they get to pick first.  It is easy to manage, and by the end of the week, every student has had a chance to pick their favorite flexible seating.  I love using these brag tags by Talking Piñata to motivate students to do their best at their choice location!

3) Consider your room layout.  There were 5 student work tables in the classroom.  There three additional tables in the classroom for work stations.  We looked for options that were easy to work with tables and easy to store.  For example, the scoop chairs can easily stack. Exercise cushions can easily be added to chairs.  We also made sure we had clipboards to work if they were not at a table.  This is what we used for flexible seating options for 20 students.  There were more options than students, which worked well because students could spread out.
Area one:  Table area with stools from Ikea (4)
Area two:  Scoop chairs on the carpet (4)
Area three:  Yoga mats in the back of the room (4)
Area four:  Table area with exercise balls in crates (4)
Area five: Table area with exercise cusions (4)
Area six:  camping chairs in the classroom library (2)
Area seven:  lap desks (4)

4)  Communicate with parents.  Texas Lone Star Teaching has a great freebie with a letter to parents.  

Teach2Love also has a letter with a student contract.

Affordable Options

Yoga mats are an easy way to add flexible seating.  Students use clipboard and can work on the floor. They also are easy to stack and store.  I have found yoga mats at Target and Walmart for $7.  They can also be cut into smaller sections.

Scoop chairs come in a set of six on Amazon and are less than $10 each.

Ikea has stools that are very reasonably priced (about $4.99).  These were used with a table group.

Lapdesks are available at Hobby Lobby during certain seasons for less than $6.

Beach chairs go on clearance at the end of summer.

Students at my school love STEM projects because they are hands-on and engaging.  I'm not sure they realize how much problem solving and higher level thinking they are doing!

The story Twenty One Elephants and Still Standing is about how to test the sturdiness of the Brooklyn Bridge (which took 14 years to build), the circus tested it by having 21 elephants cross it.  

One STEM project I have done with students is to have students create a bridge for 21 elephants.  I did not have elephants, but I did have bears.  You could also use other manipulatives to represent the 21 elephants.  

When using the engineering design process, students need to be able to design and plan their solutions.  Then they make their model and test it.  Finally, they reflect on the process.

My STEM Journal is a great way for students to document their thinking.

Some of my favorite picture books that support STEM include the following books:

I am slightly obsessed with elves.  Joy is our Elf on the Shelf and John Henry is her pet :)  They are wearing adorable masks from Keeping Up With Mrs. Harris.

Two of my favorite read aloud Elf books are How to Catch an Elf and The Littlest Elf.  Both books have vibrant illustrations and a storyline that hooks students!  After I did my How to Catch an Elf activity with my second grade group, one of the boys begged me to ask the teacher to let the whole class read the book during, "whole g. reading"  :)  That's what he calls whole group reading!

You can download my free writing activity where students can design a trap to catch an elf.  It is free in my store!  To extend the activity, students can actually build their trap!  My STEM journal to record all the steps and processes involved in designing a STEM project is also FREE!

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