Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fun New Blog-- End of the year craft idea!

Hey y'all! I just came across a new blog, and already found a great idea! It's a blog called First Things First by Stephanie May. Look at this:

She had parents trace silhouettes of the students, and then they filled it with words that described themselves from magazines. I'd love to do this for an end of the year project. Maybe they could even find words to describe each other! Go check out her blog by clicking here. If you want to check out this post specifically, click here. You should follow her too so you can keep up with her great ideas!

Also, don't forget that tonight is the last night to enter my contest. Scroll down to enter to win 2 things from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Remember there will be FOUR winners! I'm so excited!

Lastly, head on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking the link on the sidebar if you want to purchase Phonics Friends for 40% off!

Math Assessment Without a Long Worksheet

If your school is like mine, the administrators like to see the kids discovering their own learning, working together in groups, and NOT sitting doing worksheets. I LOVE teaching this way, and wouldn't have done it any other way, but sometimes it's seems hard to assess students without a worksheet.

Well, here is something some people on my team do that you may want to try. Last week we were working on securing subtraction from numbers up to 18. Each of my lessons had a quick 5-10 minute mini-lesson talking about strategies they could use and introducing the game they would play with their table group or with a partner. Then, 3 days last week we used the last 10 minutes of math time to get out our math journals, glue in a strip of subtraction problems, then turn it in on my desk. I was able to see very quickly how they were doing with the concept. It wasn't more than 6 problems so it didn't take a while, and we were able to have a quick discussion to close the lesson.

On the other two days, they got out their math journals and wrote about the strategy they were using for subtraction and with 1 or 2 self-selected problems as an example. For example, one of my students explained how they use a number line, picked a subtraction problem, and illustrated hopping backwards on the number line in their math journal. I think it is so powerful to have them put what they are doing into words. I have noticed when they write it down or have to explain their strategy to someone, it sticks with them.

Anyway, this is just a thought. I don't feel the need to take a grade every day in math. I just take one a week. They get so much better throughout the week. Besides, shouldn't the grade reflect what they can do at the end of a unit... not what they could do after 1 or 2 days of exposure to a new concept? I don't like punishing students for a grade on the 1st or 2nd day something was introduced just because they didn't grasp it very quickly.

Here are some pictures of their math journals with a strip of problems. (Yes, it is from a worksheet that I printed... I just cut it up into about 4 or 5 pieces!)

Also, today is the last day to enter my giveaway or purchase Phonics friends at 40% off! Go check it out!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What can you do with Crystal Light and pom-poms?

Well, I don't know what you can do with those things, but here's what I can do with Crystal Light and pom-poms:

It's getting to that point in the year when I feel like I need something new to encourage my students to continue their good behavior. (Only 25 days left!) Usually I start a store in my classroom where I give them pretend money for good behavior and they can purchase things like a pick from the treasure box, bringing a stuffed animal to school, having lunch with the teacher, etc. But... I decided to try something different with this group and do the class store when we only have about 3 weeks left.

I have seen 2-3 posts on different blogs about using pom-poms to encourage good behavior. If you are one of them, please let me know so I can link back to your post. I got an empty Crystal Light container, pulled off the cover, and labeled it with different numbers. The number it gets to is how many minutes of free time they get on Friday. I realized that I had big and small pom-poms to use, so here is my twist. If they REALLY impress me or get a compliment in the hall from our principal or assistant principal, we get to put in a BIG pom-pom. They L.O.V.E. it!

What do you do at this point in the year to encourage good behavior?

Also, if you haven't entered my giveaway, check it out by clicking here. Four people will win 2 things from my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

400 Followers and a Giveaway!

Y'all are amazing! I never imagined I would have 400 followers, especially after less than 4 months! Wow! Thanks for all the sweet comments and support. It gets me through some of the hard days.

Well, to say thank you, I'd like to host my own giveaway. I am giving away my newest unit, Phonics Friends, to not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 people. Yes, you could be one of 4 winners. (More fun than when just 1 wins, I think!) But wait... there's more! (Hehe... love that line!) If you are one of 4 winners you won't only get Phonics Friends, you will also get to pick something else from my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

If you can't wait that long to snatch your copy of Phonics Friends, head on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to purchase it for only $3.00. I will keep that price through the end of the contest! (If you decide to purchase it and you win I can send you something of your choice in place of Phonics Friends!)

So, to sum it up, 4 people will win Phonics Friends and something else of their choice from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Here's how you can get your entries:
  1. Follow my blog and leave me a comment saying that you do.
  2. Follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store and leave a comment saying that you do.
  3. Look around my Teachers Pay Teachers store and let me know what product you would choose in addition to Phonics Friends.
  4. Post about my giveaway on your blog.
  5. Leave a suggestion for products you would like me to create and sell on Teachers Pay Teachers, or a request for a topic of a future blog post.
You have until midnight Saturday, April 30th to enter the contest. Please leave a comment for each entry WITH your email so I can send you your winnings!

The lucky winners will be announced the afternoon of Sunday, May 1st!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Phonics Friends Suggestions?

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you are enjoying a restful day with your family! I'll have to post a little later about the Easter Bunny coming to our classroom :)

While I've got your attention, I'm curious if you have any suggestions for more Phonics Friends. I had a request to create Phonics Friends for diphthongs and r controlled vowels. Any other suggestions? I'd love to create more, just let me know what you need! I'm also thinking of making a set just for the letter sounds so they could be used in Preschool and even the beginning of Kindergarten.

Leave me a comment if you have a request!

By the way... once I get to 400 followers, I'll be having a giveaway, so get ready!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Phonics Friends Complete!

Ever since my last post about Phonics Friends, I have been working hard on creating them! I just finished it and uploaded them to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Here is a short synopsis:

After realizing my students needed a visual for spelling concepts, I was quickly inspired to create my Phonics Friends. In this pack you will find 22 posters to cover long and short vowel spelling concepts, 10 character profiles for each of the long and short vowel characters, 1 song for “Camouflage Y”, 1 page of Magic E’s for you to use in word work centers, and 10 word banks to keep students accountable for spelling rules in their writing.
You will notice on the Long vowel posters that I have a magic e next to the vowel sound. I designed the posters to illustrate the way I teach my students about long vowels. I tell my students that the magic e comes around the ends of words and pinches the vowel to make it say its name. (The long u either says its name or the ooo sound.) 
When I showed the posters to my students, they loved them and were excited to meet them! I wish I had thought of this earlier in the year to make teaching the long vowels easier. Oh well!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


If you checked out my earlier post about using Skittles for a fun probability lesson, I wanted to make you aware of something. I ended up fixing something in the packet for sale on TpT, but didn't fix it in the thumbnails or the sample download. Go check it out, it's a lot of fun!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Phonics Friends

I am thinking of creating what I will call "Phonics Friends". There will be a poster for each short and long vowel sound. There will also be some other things to go along with each vowel poster. Here is one I created for long a. She is called Long A Kate. The star with an e on it is the "magic e" that, as I tell my kids, pinches the vowel and makes it say its name.

What do you think?


Fun Easter Activities

Hey there! Hope you had a wonderful day!

Don’t you just love those days when everything seems to go just right and the students are excited about their learning? Well I sure do, and today was one of those days!

This morning in writing workshop we started letters to the Easter Bunny so we could tell him about ourselves and invite him to come to our classroom (He leaves baby powder-bunny foot shaped footprints in our room when he comes!). Well I had the kids buzz with a buddy about what they were going to tell the Easter Bunny in their letter. The first thing out of one of my student’s mouth was, “I’m going to tell the Easter Bunny that I love to do push ups!” Ha! It cracked me up right then and there. Maybe I’d be better off if I liked to do push ups, too!

Then, in math we did an Easter egg hunt to practice addition up to 18. One of my fabulous, creative colleagues created something she called Easter Egg Twist. (You can download it below). You number 24 plastic eggs 1-24 then fill them with either a card you can get from the document that has a number sentence on it, or you can fill it with 2 glass pebbles with numbers on them for the students to add together. The fun part is that you hide them around the classroom. My kids absolutely LOVED this! I got comments like, “This is the best day ever”, and “Wow, Mrs. Patton, you are great at hiding eggs!” Be sure and download the form below. My colleague was so generous to let me share this with you on my blog. The first page is the recording sheet and the second page is the one that you can cut apart and put in the eggs if you want to. It’s definitely more fun, though, if you put the numbers on those glass pebbles meant for vases.

Easter Egg Twist

Check out the fun they had:


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Planning Dilemma… HELP!

Hey bloggie friends!

I am writing this post because I am absolutely STUMPED! I plan social studies for my team, and we have to teach what we call “Notable Figures” next. Essentially, these are good citizens that we have to talk about with our first graders.

Here are the people that the state of Texas requires we talk about with our kiddos:
  • Francis Scott Key
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Sam Houston

The other people we have already covered with our inventors unit, President’s Day or Martin Luther King Jr, Day.

Here is where you come in… I need your help to give me some ideas of how to make learning about these people engaging and interesting to my First Graders. Usually I am pretty good about thinking outside of the box or pulling in different structures to spice up the learning, but I really am stumped this time! Please leave me a comment with any idea you have no matter how small you think it might be!

But, wait… there’s more! (Can you tell I’ve seen a couple of infomercials lately? Hehe!) If you leave a comment about what I could do for these lessons, I will send you any one thing from my TpT store for FREE! All you need to do is leave your comment, leave your email, and tell me your choice of a FREE item. If you wouldn’t mind waiting a few weeks for your FREE item, you could chose my inventors unit or addition/subtraction game pack that I will be working on. I just can’t promise that you will get those very soon… I haven’t been finding much extra time lately!

Please leave me a comment, I’d really appreciate it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fun Freebies!

Have you ever heard of Vistaprint? They are an online printing company that makes all kinds of things from business cards to banners to t-shirts. They often have sales going where you can get lots of great stuff for FREE and only pay shipping. Here are a few things I have gotten from Vistaprint:

In the picture, you can see:
  • 2 pens
  • 2 different sets of 100 postcards
  • 3 sets of 10 flat invitations (I turned them in to note cards)
  • 2 stamps
  • Sticky Notes
  • Notepad
  • Business Cards
Remember, I got all of this for FREE!!! I did have to do separate orders so I could get multiples of some things, but I am so happy with what I got! The postcards I will use to send notes home, the flat invitations I turned into personal notes from me (not just as a teacher) and I plan to use the stamps to stamp my books on the inside with my name. I don't have this in the picture, but I have also recently ordered a free banner that says "Welcome to Mrs. Patton's Patch", free t-shirt to workout in, free checks and a free canvas bag. Almost anything they offer can be customized for use in a classroom!
Go check it out by clicking on the links below:
I love FREE, don't you? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cooperative Learning

Just a quick reminder...

In celebration of over 350, I am lowering the price of my newest addition to my TpT store to $3.50. I posted about it a little bit ago, but here is a quick summary again:

My Cooperative Learning Pack includes spinners, table tents, and posters that describe the roles of group work. I think there is so much power in cooperative learning, but only if it is done with a well defined structure. If you are interested, check it out by clicking here! I'll be dropping the price to $3.50 until TONIGHT at MIDNIGHT to celebrate over 350 followers, so make sure and snag your copy now!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Displaying Photos

Hey bloggy friends! I hope you are having a wonderful week. I have to be out at different meetings this week for Tuesday-Thursday, so I have been having "fun" creating sub plans...

Anyway, I am just now getting around to answering some questions people asked me on different posts. One question was about what was hanging in my room. Here is the picture:

The question was about the black things you see hanging. Here is a better picture:

For Open House, our theme is "A Day in the Life of a First Grader". We have our students make cameras to show "Snapshots of First Grade". We usually also have a bulletin board that displays some pictures, but I decided to do it differently this year. I hung the cameras from the ceiling and attached 3-4 pictures of each child on the camera. They loved seeing pictures of things they did earlier in the year. The parents liked it too, especially when I sent the pictures home! In the center of the camera, the kids draw a picture of themselves as the lens. Then, they add the flash and some buttons, and voila... we have a camera to hang.

Do you hang things from your ceiling? I'd love to know how you use this space for instructional use!

Or... do you take lots of photos like me? What do you do with them in the classroom?

I would L.O.V.E. to hear your comments!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I'm on Teaching Blog Addict and a discount for you!

Hey y'all! Hope you are having a restful Sunday! I just wanted to be sure you were aware of a new blog called Teaching Blog Addict.

At Teaching Blog Addict, Tamara is working hard to get the blogging community together. She wants up to 100 blog authors to publish ideas on her blog so it can be a rich and easy resource for you. If you are interested in being a part of her blog, contact her. She is very fast at getting back to you!

Also, I am just floored at the amount of followers I have. Over 350... WOW! Thanks for your support (and the comments, too), it is so encouraging to me. In celebration, I am lowering the price of my newest addition to my TpT store to $3.50. I posted about it a little bit ago, but here is a quick summary again:

My Cooperative Learning Pack includes spinners, table tents, and posters that describe the roles of group work. I think there is so much power in cooperative learning, but only if it is done with a well defined structure. If you are interested, check it out by clicking here! I'll be dropping the price to $3.50 until Wednesday to celebrate over 350 followers, so make sure and snag your copy now!

Don't forget to snag your copy before Wednesday at midnight! 

Enjoy your day!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fun Finds

I was on my weekly Dollar Tree trip today, not looking for anything in particular, and look at what I picked up:

I found these cute signs maybe for bulletin boards or something. I think they will go perfectly with my classroom theme of  "Mrs. Patton's Patch". You can't tell from the picture, but some of them have fun glitter on them :)

I love the decks of cards that came together. It had an ABC card game where they match the upper case to the lower case, a card puzzle where there are 3 pieces to make a picture (thinking for a beginning, middle and end lesson), and my favorite:

I plan to put these in as a word work center. It'll be something fun and different to spice it up a little as we are nearing the end of the year.

I saw this water squirter on another blog to be used as an extra long pointer. Using it, my kids will be able to reach the top of the projector screen so they can point as we read poems together!

I also thought these foam crowns could be cute to use somehow during our Fairy Tale study towards the end of the year:

Don't you just love trips to the Dollar Tree?

On another note, I am wondering if there is anything specific you would like me to post about. If you have any questions or suggestions for a topic, leave me a comment or send me an email. I really would love your input. Any comment on a future topic would be greatly appreciated!

... and how do you like my new signature? Made it myself :-D
Have a great night!

Friday, April 8, 2011

And the winner is...

Congratulations, Cindy! Email me at, and I will get you in touch with Brooke!

If I don't hear from her within 48 hours, I'll pick a new winner!

Again, thanks to all of my followers and the ones who participated in Organization Week! You made my week so much brighter!

-Mrs. Patton

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Love Technology! iPods and Flip cameras!

I am link up with Miss Snowden over at 1st Grade with Miss Snowden.

We are supposed to post about our favorite technology tools and how we use them. I LOVE using my iPod and my Flip camera.

This is a picture of my iPod on the cart with my document camera. Not the best picture, but you get the point! I use my iPod for almost every transition. When I play a 1 minute selection of "I like to move it, move it!" or "Beat It" they know that it's time to clean up and come straight to the carpet. If they don't make it by the end of the song, then they owe me walking laps around the basketball court at recess (that's part of our consequences at our school).

I also use it for some of Kagan's cooperative learning structures and to play just for fun during writing time or while we play math games.

I also love using this little techie tool! My kids love it too! Here are a few examples of how we have used it this year:
  • I recorded a silent tour through my apartment. I showed it to them at school, and they searched for living and non living things.
  • I recorded myself talking about how I take care of my birds when we were studying pets. Then, all the 1st graders got to watch it in their classroom.
  • I recorded snippets of our classroom time during different activities to put in a slide show for the parents to watch at Open House.
  • And my favorite... we were studying goods and services in Social Studies. I wanted to introduce them to the concept of an assembly line, but I wanted it to be an exploration. So... this is what I came up with after some collaboration with a teammate: We gave each table group  materials to make 4 cards exactly like an example we had. They had to put the stickers in the right place, spell "Happy Birthday" correctly in the inside and all. I didn't give them much direction other than saying they had to make the 4 cards and I would be inspecting each "factory's" (table group) cards to see how they did. I used the Flip Camera to record them as they worked. When they finished we watched the video and talked about how it went. No one had perfect cards and after watching the video, they came up with the idea to have each person do the job they were best at; perfect to lead into ASSEMBLY LINE! Then, they did it again, but this time their desks were set up like an assembly line. I recorded it again and we watched it to see how much more efficient it was to use an assembly line. My students LOVED this and keep asking if I can record them doing something again so we can watch it. 
I hope this gives you some ideas of how to use technology in your classroom! Go and check out the other great entries in the linky party by clicking here.

Also, don't forget to enter my giveaway! It ends Thursday night! Click here to check it out.

-Mrs. Patton