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Sharks and Boxes

Slideshark app and Dropbox app

I just cannot tell you how excited I am about this idea!!  It will truly make things easier and more helpful for me and my students.  And it is something so simple!

At the end of the school year, I was blessed to get a set of iPads for my classroom.  I already had an iPad of my own at home, but knew I needed to learn how to best utilize it for my class.

First, I started out with learning game apps.  But I quickly knew that that wasn't the main way I wanted to use these iPads.  Games are okay once in a awhile, but I need ways to enhance the way I teach and to bring technology to my students in a real world way.  

I already had Dropbox.  If you don't use Dropbox, you should be!  What an incredibly easy way to share files.  Some of our files are so big, they take FOR-EVER to email.  Place them in your Dropbox and then you can access them anywhere!  Click the picture to go sign up.  If you sign up, I would love for you to use me as a referral so I can get more space.  Once you sign up, you can refer others too.  It's free!

using dropbox to share school and classroom files

So here is where I was struggling at school.  I have my students practice their sight words in class and during RtI.  I had even created cute Powerpoint slides for them to make them more interesting.  

using Dolch Sight Words for Powerpoints on Smartboard, computer and iPads

So I thought, hey I have already placed these Powerpoints in my Dropbox.  I will just have the kids go through the slide show on the iPads.  WRONG!!

The slides did not all format correctly, by just opening them from Dropbox.  So I had to do some thinking...I knew there must be a way to do this.

Enter Slideshark app!!  I downloaded this free (doesn't that word free make you happy?) app and now my Powerpoints are accessible and formatted correctly.  This makes me soooo happy!  I will be able to differentiate my students learning so much more now.  

practicing sight words with technology

Instead of everyone having to practice the same list and take turns, I can now direct them to the list most appropriate for them and they will practice all the words!!!  Yay for Technology!!

My slides now can be utilized in so many different ways...on the Smartboard, on computers, printing them off into books to be sent home for practice...And now on my iPads!

I love learning about how technology can enhance teaching, not just be a tool for playing games.  I have been inspired by Aylin's technology posts over at Learning to the Core.  She and Amanda have a great blog with lots of technology tips!


Link up with Shelly for her Appy Friday!

Chairs, Doors, Floors, and Walls

Oh my...I am starting to feel the nervousness panic excitement about getting into my classroom!  We cannot get into our classrooms until August 1.  It is this way every year.  Our rooms must be completed by August 12 for orientation night.  And we have all day meetings on the 12th.  So just a bit of pressure to at least have my ideas planned out so I can get it done once I get in my room.  Does anyone else just stand there and look at their room in a daze, not knowing where to even start??  I do this every. single. year.

Here are some ideas I have collected from that great magical place called Pinterest!

To see the blog posts that these pictures originated from just click the picture!


Is this book chair not the coolest chair ever?!  I would LOVE to have that!  Probably isn't too comfortable to sit on books, but looks so cool.


I really like this door!  It is clean and not overly cluttered with decorations.  Simple and Sweet!

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Little birds and Twitter are very popular right now.  Cute, cute, cute!

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Another popular theme is camping.  These are just fun!  And students LOVE to see pictures of themselves and their friends.  

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I like this idea for a couple of reasons.  One:  gives the students their own defined space- both for themselves and for their materials.  Two:  When the baskets are not in use, they can be stacked to take up less space.   I think the kids would really like this, especially the younger ones.  Second grade and up might have too long of legs!

I used to do this:  welcome mat by my door.  I just felt like it added a homey touch to my room as students entered through my door.  If you do this, be sure to get a mat with dark colors or it will just look dirty quickly from all those little shoes going across it.  


This would make a great wall display for the fall parent/teacher conference time.  It would give parents something fun to do and talk about in the hall while they wait for their turn to have their conference.  I am LOVING this!

Are these owls not just the cutest?  I like that this display is 3D.  It would definitely be an eye catcher for the beginning of school!

If you would like more fun classroom decoration ideas follow my Pinterest board  Classroom Decoration by clicking this sentence.  Lots of cute stuff!

I am linking up with First Grade Parade again this week for her Favorite Pins Friday.  Hop through each link to take a peek at what everyone is pinning.  

Nursery Rhymes- Charts and Tools

skills you can teach with nursery rhymes

Do you use nursery rhymes for reading?  I bet a lot of you do.  There are sooo many ways to use them and so many things you can do with nursery rhymes.

finding blends and digraphs in nursery rhymes

I like to use the full size charts with my small groups.  We use this for shared reading and then to do some work.  Here we have highlighted some blends (wh & th) with Post It note flags.  

using nursery rhymes to teach phonemic awareness

On this chart the student found sight words that he was working on or reviewing.  We used a different color for each set of sight words.  We talk about how the word is still the same word whether it begins with a capital (The) or with a lower case letter (the).  

Post It flags and highlighter tape can get expensive.  I reuse mine.  After using them on my charts, I pull them off and stick them to the top of my easel to use again.  With seeing different reading groups all day long, I would go through a lot of flags and tape if I didn't do this!

These are just a few of the tools you could use with the nursery rhyme charts.  The flags and tape are wonderful!!  I also like to use a variety of different pointers.  I use them to point to words to show one to one matching of words, print concepts of moving across the page left to right, and return sweep.  Then of course when students get to come up to read, they want to use a pointer too!

I included marker boards and dry erase markers because after we talk about the skill, I want the students to practice that.  So if we are finding sight words they write the sight word or if we are finding individual letters, they write those.  I am blessed to have marker tables for my groups so we just write on the table!

You can also take the nursery rhyme, type it up smaller and have them glue it in their reading journal.  The students can then do the same skill  that you practiced on the the big chart on their own charts.  

using nursery rhymes to build fluency

skills to teach using nursery rhymes

This is just a small sample of ideas you can teach using nursery rhymes.  Of course, as soon as I type it, I thought of more!  Like rebuilding the poem in a pocket chart!  We LOVE to do that!  

How are you using nursery rhymes?  I would love to hear about it!  

These activities can be found at my TpT store to help you build phonemic awareness with your students.  They include assessments too!  These are just two of them, there are more if you look around.  :)

assessments included

isolate the phoneme and identify the common phoneme

It's All About The Organization

I keep reading everywhere that teachers are gearing up for back to school.  I read it on Facebook, I see the commercials on tv, and see the pins on Pinterest.  I want to say nooooo, it isn't time yet.  But we are moving closer to that magical time of Back to School.  

The First Grade Parade is having her Favorite Pins Friday again and I am linking up with her.  Since everyone is starting to think about going back to school, I thought it might be a good idea to get my mind wrapped around that too!  

When I head back to school I am thinking of getting my room put back in shape and getting it organized.  I like to have things organized, neat, and things put in their place.  Which doesn't mean that I don't end up with some piles...but I try to keep it neat.  Otherwise it drives me CRAZY!

Mrs. Bond's Fantastic First Grade has this post on using those great plastic drawers for monthly organization.  Love that and love how the colors brighten the room.  Click the picture to read her post.

This photo comes from Mrs. Lewis' Learning Library.  I used to do something very similar in my 2nd grade classroom.  I had a drawer for each of the major science skills.  Inside we would keep everything needed to teach that skill- the guided reading books, handouts, materials for experiments, etc...  When you were ready for that skill, you just pulled out the drawer and were ready to go.  HUGE time saver!

This one is so cute for organizing your materials for the week.  I love how she has it decorated so you can't see all that is inside.  We all know how messy things can get in a drawer, so I love that all messes are covered.

This set of drawers is mine!  I will be writing another time how I plan to use this set this year and how it will help keep me organized.  Again, I am liking having the clear parts covered!

So far, it seemed to be all about the plastic drawers, didn't it?  I do love those drawers.  But I love this too!  Clipboards can are bulky and take up a lot of shelf space.  Plus, they don't stack well and slide off all over and into the floor-not good!  The Sweet Life of Third Grade has a great solution for this with her Clipboard Tub.  Cute, simple,  and no loud clipboard falling to the floor!

This last pin comes from Booky4First and it is a great one!  I know a lot of us put desks into groups, but then one unorganized desk becomes the whole group's chaos.  This is a wonderful way of keeping books available to the group.  You could place baskets of supplies there too.  

If you love organization like I do, follow my organization Pinterest board.  Just click here to see the board and follow.  

Happy Friday to you all!

One Tiny Turtle Craft and Writing

Summer school seems like a long time ago.  But really it was only a few weeks back.  One of the activities during summer school was learning about sea turtles.  

Have you read this book?  It is beautiful!  I did not think to take pictures of the inside and I wish I had.  The illustrations are beautiful!  The text is written in two ways.  The main text is written in a beautiful, lyrical way that is more story like.  Then more factual text is also added that gives the reader more sea turtle facts.  

The students picked up on the fact that the book told about the life cycle and that the cycle repeats.  So we used circles cut from wallpaper sample books to represent that cycle.

The shape at the top is to show an egg, how the turtle starts out.  The rest of the shapes were made to look like turtles.  You lift the flaps to read what the students wrote inside for the stages of the sea turtle.

This student wrote that the sea turtle lives among the sea weed for one stage.  On the other flap they wrote that the sea turtle returns to the beach to lay their eggs. 

The kids had a good time creating their life cycles and it made an interesting display for the wall.

The students also got to make their own tiny turtles.  I drew a turtle shape for them to cut out.  We went on a rock hunt outside to find just the right rocks for the turtle shells.  Students then got to design and paint their shells.  One turtle has a bottle cap for the shell.  But we liked the way the rocks turned out better.  

If you haven't gotten One Tiny Turtle, this would be a great book to add to your classroom library! 

Don't Go To Pinterest When You're Hungry

I have been enjoying my summer...creating, reading, going out to lunch with friends.  And of course pinning!  There is one thing that I have learned. They say you should not to go grocery shopping when you are hungry.  The same thing applies to Pinterest!   All those food pictures.  They all look so good!

Cara from the The First Grade Parade is hosting Favorite Pins Friday.  You can show off all the fun pins you have found this week and share them with us all.  

Teacher Pins:
I know it is summer, but I can't stop looking for teacher stuff.  A teacher's brain never stops!


A Modern Teacher pinned this post about organizing.  You need to check it out!  Organized, neat, and looks so cute!  Click the picture to read and see more!

I fell in love with the sweetness of this piece of writing from Meriwether Lewis Elementary.  I see so much potential in what could be done with this.  Adding the photo to it made it even nicer.  Again, click on the picture to be taken to the source.

This super cute booknook comes from Ana White.  Isn't that just adorable and fun?  Which reminded me that I have a tepee in my attic that is a lot like this booknook.  I bought it for my two sons when they were small and they absolutely loved it.  I need to get that back out and bring it to school!

This is a book timeline posted by Julie Ballew to her blog, A Literate Life.  It is an idea about creating a timeline of all the books your class reads throughout the year.  I thought this was a great way to remind them of all the books they have read as a class.  Won't they be surprised at the end of the year by how many books were read?  

Yummy Food Pins:
I restrain myself and do not pin most of the food pictures that I see.  They just look so good and I really do not need to be eating them.  But some sound and look so good that I can't resist!

DeAnne from First Grade and Fabulous posted this cupcake and her recipe.  She loves to make cupcakes and her cupcakes look delicious!!  If you click on the picture you can see her Butterfinger cupcake-yummy!!

Cheese...bacon...potatoes...this must be good right?  Or at least taste good!  I haven't tried this recipe because it makes a really big dish.  But I like cooking in a crockpot, so the next time I need a lot of potatoes, I think I will try it out.  Click the picture for the recipe.  

Funny Pin:

I saw this pin and thought it almost makes me want to teach older kids just so I could have this in my room!!  Well, okay...not really.  I don't want to teach older kids.  But I think this is just a fun pin and would be fun to have!  I have been to teacher meetings where we have needed this.  :)

Positive Print Pin:

Enjoy your weekend and your loved ones!

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