is it nap time yet?

I warn you that this post is wordy. I am very tired and sitting at the boys’ martial arts practice….read if you dare!

Day one back with the kiddos!? That’s right. We had a short summer this year since the district moved our last day to the Friday before Memorial Day. {We normally got out the 2bd week of June}. So…I am utterly exhausted!

Last night we had meet and greet. It was ok. I met 14 out of 22 families. I am familiar with many of the faces since my middle Lamb is in 2nd grade this year, too! In fact, I already know all my kiddos names. I am good with this. Not sure how I can learn student names on Day 1 and cannot remember what I had for breakfast or if I’ve been to the bathroom today!

Here’s how our day went down {minus pictures because my phone is dead!}
Students came in to Playdough {or a generic from the Dollar Spot!} That was a great idea whoever posted it on Pinterest!
Then we took care of supplies. I have them put everything on their desk and we open and put things in pencil pouches one item at a time. They bring anything extra to the supply box for that item {again, wouldn’t pictures be nice!}

Next up, story time. Or completely random facts about me time. Someone always notices a tattoo, so I start there. I know they are wondering if they are real and what they mean and if it hurt. I always say it’s hurts real bad. This is my favorite part of the first few days. I start with telling them all about me: height, age, year I was born, what school I attended, anything. Trust me, they want to know! Every now and again, I stop and ask “What year was I born?” or “How old is Jackson?” Then I show them some family pictures and ask what they notice. I always get the old “you sure look different!” comments. But they are bound to notice that Mr. Lamb is a lot taller than me. Then I go into family facts stopping to quiz along the way. This allows them to feel comfortable with me and know that I am just like their own mom in many ways. SO they can tell you Drew is my silly kid with the sock monkey, Jackson is 13 and a weird teenager, and Jake is moody in the mornings even though he’s quiet at school! This is really worth them time it takes.

I also am sure to go through all our rules. They loved the gestures with Whole Brain Teaching and learned them so quickly. We do scenarios and what if’s. This year I put them in groups and each illustrated one rule. I used Amy’s My School Rules posters for this. Here I can see who works well with others very quickly!

Insert potty break in here as well as how to line up {lines, lines, lines!} and number order.

The biggest hit of the day was Class, yes. They thought it was a hoot. I can already tell I’ve got a few talkers who were allowed to say whatever they pleased, whenever they pleased, so I used Class, Yes A LOT today!

In all my craziness, I only read one book. Chrysanthemum…love, love. I wrote each child’s name in bubble letters and they illustrated them any way they chose. I will hang these up for the year above our work display. I love them.

all in all, it was a great day. They left tired and happy! Oh yea. I did lose a kid today! But all is good. He got on the bus and wasn’t supposed to. SO I frantically called and called, then waited for the bus driver to return to see if she brought him back! She did! Sigh

Up next for tomorrow; our first spelling test, Lilly and her purple plastic purse, and maybe some craftivities from Amy’s pack! They better learn how to use glue in my room sooner than later!

Here’s a little template I use for posting student numbers. They get the hang of it pretty quick. Hope you can just plug in your names and use! here’s also a little peek at what I send home the first day for parents.

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here’s the editable version of the number list. These are just the kids’ numbers I can remember!

here are some other tidbits of info! The visual schedule I saw on Sara Cooley’s blog last year and the other two I saw on First Grade Parade. Not editable, but feel free to use the ideas!

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graphics from Scrappin’ Doodles and lettering delights. Fonts from Kevin and Amanda.

a whole bunch of random freebies

I just spent the better part of my evening updating my webpage for parents. I really needed to do this a long time ago! So to celebrate all that I feel like doing tonight, I am sharing some randomness with you that I cleaned out from the now defunct teacher page on my website! Since I update this blog a lot, I didn’t think I needed a teacher page on there anymore.

fire up your google docs and enjoy!

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this is the pledge that I have cut apart and put on my wall next to the flag. You’ll see pictures soon. I swear. I just cut each word and backed them with colored paper.

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this is a sign a buyer requested many moons ago, but I figured it’s cute so why not share it

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there are two options here. I have on the front of a paper holder hot glued to the front whiteboard. It holds the latest read alouds for kids to reread. graphics from KPM doodles

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this is a Kinder, 1st, and 2nd grade set of signs for posting your CC standards


I use this activity as one of my very first math lessons


a sign for read with someone books. clipart from Thistlegirl Designs


I use this for students to track what they need to choose for D5. Sorry, since it’s a freebie, take it as it is! clipart from Thistlegirl Designs

and don’t forget all my free stuff on TpT

one more workday til the kiddos return…

size does matter

Do you ever create a file, think it’s great, post it to TpT or TN, then actually print it? I do. A lot. I usually do not print something out until I need it. I’m a very last minute kind of girl. So I finally printed off my Sock Monkey word wall cards. I had two per page. They are like 4x6. I could handle it. I knew they were 4x6. I posted they were 4x6. But I really have no concept of size until I see it printed. Lesson learned. My whimsical supply labels were the same size. What was I thinking!? That they were so adorable you needed to see them from the room across the hallway I guess!

So anyway, I adjusted the sizes in the files. If you happen to already won these, go back and download again! Or use the big ‘uns! I kept my word wall letters big. I like them. I shrunk my supply labels. They didn’t fit on the front of the baskets!

and on the topic of size. I took a trip to Ikea today. It’s about an hour from me, and Mr. Lamb despises Ikea, so I do not go often. When I do, it’s for school. He won’t let me have Ikea at home…Here’s some of my goodies. You know I’d normally take a picture of my trunk for you, but the garage door is closed and I don’t feel like getting up. My legs hurt from Ikea. My arms hurt from trying to navigate their stupid buggies with the added weight of a 2nd grader, a 3 year old, and all this:

VIKA AMON Table top IKEA Pre-drilled leg holes for easy thisVIKA ADILS Leg IKEA Adjustable feet allow the table to stand level on uneven floors.equals this

VIKA GLASHOLM/VIKA ADILS Table IKEA A table top in tempered glass is stain resistant and easy to keep clean.
a new computer table. Plus I already have the matching pink chair

I, of course, in no way needed to pay for my own table, but who could resist!? $6 for the top, $3.50 for each leg!

LÖVA Bed canopy IKEA Can be mounted on the wall above a bed, an armchair etc. Filters the light, creates an atmosphere without blacking out.

a second leaf canopy. My other one was bent and sagged.

TORVA Rug, low pile IKEA Latex backing keeps the rug firmly in place.
this rug is replacing my old Ikea rug.

TORVA RAND Rug, flatwoven IKEA Its flat woven pattern is equally visible on both sides making it reversible. Easy to keep clean: machine washable.
and this one, too. Cause it matched.

IKEA soft toys and book
we did get broccoli man and the book, but not the others. Maybe another day.


a pretty pillow for my little seat
TOLSBY Frame for 2 pictures IKEA You can display one picture on each side as the frame has no back panel.
5 of these frames for all the “monthly focus” things we have at school. We have a lot. Thinking map, character trait, one of the 7 habits, and a comprehension strategy of the month. Best part…99 cents each!

and here’s one I really wanted, but I walked away like a good girl!

SOLMYRA Picture IKEA Motif created by Helen Musselwhite.

but perhaps I should have picked up this to hang above my desk! except that shadow on her hand looks like hair…ew

SOLMYRA Picture IKEA Motif created by Deborah Azzopardi.

I have one more workday before the kiddos show up. Bad news, I’m still fixing up my room. I do this every.year. One day I will leave stuff the way it is! More bad news, just found out we have to be at school by 7:15. I may not share this news with my parents. Good news, I love my room so far!

hip hip hooray! a way to organize words their way {a guest post}

Ok friends. While I was doing my words their way series, I stumbled upon Heidi and her sister’s blog! Heidi teachers 2nd grade in Utah and her sis Emily used to teach 2nd grade, but now spends her day with her littles. They have amazing ideas and blog posts about how to setup, score, and organize WTW {and a lot of other good stuff too!}. These sisters have it all! I just purchased their Common Core morning work book and homework book for our grade level. 180 days all laid out for me!? Doesn’t get better!

Heidi graciously agreed to do a guest post about how she organizes all her Words Their Way goodies. This had to be a guest post because this little lady is not organized! yet…It’s my goal this year.

Hello! Rachel was kind enough to ask me to add my 2 cents to her discussion of the Words Their Way program. My name is Heidi and my sister and I blog over at Second Story Window. I’m starting my 12th year of teaching and I’ve used the WTW program (in some form or other) every year. I’ve had ups and downs as I’ve tried to implement this in my classroom, but once I saw the difference it made to my little learners I pushed myself to make this workable. It’s getting started that’s really the challenge. Once it’s organized it’s just part of the classroom. I must add though, every year I run this a little differently. It’s just a matter of finding what fits the flow of things. So I’m going to share with you how this worked in my class last year.

Rachel gave a good overview of the spelling inventory,

but then we’re left with, “Now what???” It’s time to make our groups. I’ve done different things over the years, but the simplest thing is to just grab a scratch paper and list the levels down one side (LN-A late, W/W early, W/W mid…). Then I look through my stack of record sheets and see who fits each category. I jot down the number they got correct in that category on top of their name. This is helpful if I have to fudge the numbers a bit. Here’s an example:


You can see the Within Word early group is kind of full. Glancing at the numbers I see that Diana only got 2 right but the other kids were much more solid on that level. So I might move Diana down one. If I have lots of kids within the Syllables and Affixes levels, I might put them all in the same group and start them at the beginning. Since the 1st grade at my school doesn’t use WTW, the kids may be natural spellers and have no understanding of word patterns. I think it’s as important for my kiddoes to learn the why of spelling as much as the how. So when you’re putting groups together, go with your teacher instincts. This isn’t an exact science. You do what works for you! And if 5 (or 6 or 7) groups are too much to handle, do 3 or even 2. The important thing is that you’re getting at least some differentiation in.

In order to keep track of the groups, I developed a little notebook. Each page covers a week of WTW practice. I cut down a post-it note for each group and then add the kids’ names. It makes it easy to transfer the information each week. Since taking this photo I’ve updated the forms. You can get them here.


Now to deal with the actual sorts. This is the make-it or break-it point when it comes to using WTW. If you can handle this circus, the rest is easy.

I bought some 6-pocket folders from Really Good Stuff similar to these.

I numbered each folder 1-6 and then used a post-it to label the pockets inside with the group level and number of kids. So each group has its own pocket.

This next step took me a while, but now that it’s done I’ll never have to do it again! I went through the different sort books (for my kids the Letter-Name Alphabetic, Within Word Patter, and Syllables & Affixes) and copied each sort on yellow paper. I did them 2-sided so they’d all fit in one binder.


So now, every 6 weeks or so, I take my folders, binder, and record notebook to the work room. I figure out what each group needs for the week and put the copies in the right pocket. This is when having the master on yellow comes in handy—I never mix it in with the copies! I can copy and organize 6 weeks worth of sorts in less than 30 minutes.

The kids get their new sorts on Fridays. I call each group back to the table. We discuss the sort and they highlight an exemplar for each category. That helps them to remember what features they’re sorting for. Then they take their sorts to their desks, cut them out, write their initials on the back, and store the cards in a little zipper pocket.


Since I started the Daily 5 last year, word sorts are the first thing the students do when they go to the Work with Words station. Monday they sort and write. Tuesday is the favorite: speed sort (I found sand timers from Oriental Trading). Wednesday they sort and graph. And Thursday they sort and glue the words into their notebooks. And on Friday we start with the new sort. They can do each sort in less than 5 minutes.

It sounds like a lot to take on, but truthfully once you find a system that works for you the whole thing just flows. And the benefits…well they far, far outweigh the hassles. I know in the years when I’ve been diligent with this program my kids were much more confident in their understanding of spelling patterns. In the years when I’ve let this slide, I may have some really good natural spellers, but they don’t understand why words follow certain patterns. If we want to shape good little spellers, it just makes sense to teach them how to think about words.


and that’s all for today! It’s a lot to take in, so I will save my stories from our first day back {gasp} for tomorrow. And I’ll have pictures to share too! The kiddos return on Tuesday, so I have a little time! I need to stay away from Pinterest and blog land because every.single.time I get on here, there is something new I want to add!

arrested by the color cop

If you are like me, and I know you are, you want all your printables to coordinate. Now, I use PowerPoint for almost everything and unfortunately there is no color matching tool like Paint,, or other software has. So, after some digging I found a highly rated and FREE software download called Color Cop! {download here}

I wanted to show you how to use it. It’s pretty easy. I made THREE, count ‘em THREE videos showing you how, but none of them saved correctly!!! waa! If you know how to fix my CamStudio problems, leave me a comment!! {they are not saving at all and if I do any video longer that a few seconds, it is saving as a wav file…}

I am using sweet Hope’s Oh SNAP reading rewards this year. She was awesome and made it editable! I am all for pie in the face, but I thought I’d go for some other rewards! I changed them after this little tutorial. Anyway, here is how I made my new custom text match what Hope made.





I love the feature that allows grabbing colors from anywhere. I am going all Dots on Turquoise and used Color Cop to grab the colors straight from CTP’s website.

That’s all. I have not a had a smidgen of anything interesting to share, so I’ve been sort of MIA in my classroom off and on this week. It’s bad when you have to hook up the xbox at school to convince your 3 boys to go with you! But a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do! My first official day back is tomorrow. I will have lots of pictures to share soon! My goal not to make a mess was shattered when I unloaded my car…sniffles

and if you’re curious, here are the rewards I decided on


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