Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Lil Update and a BIG Thank You to Target!

Long time no see friends!  Sorry about the lack of blogging lately, but such is life.  I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir on that one!  So anywho, we have been learning like crazy in first grade!  We have a new reading series, Journeys, this year.  Also, we are using the Voyages program to teach grammar.  I basically use the Voyages lessons as my mini lesson for our Writer's Workshop.  As for the Journeys program, there is so much involved that I am still trying to wrap my head around it all and decide what to use and how to plan out the week.  So far, we have done the Back to School Review week and the first story, "What is a Pal?".  We were able to do centers 3 times last week, but I feel like we didn't get enough practice with our comprehension strategy.  I think things will run more smoothly once we have our procedures down pat, so hopefully that will help.  We shall see.

Here are some of the activities we did to learn about the short a vowel and to review in our centers.

We used the super fun pack Scraggles: Short Vowel A "Scraggle-ific" Literacy Activities from the fabulous Sarah Cooley.  I have a ton of her products and highly recommend checking out her store on tpt and her blog First Last!  We learned all about these silly Scraggles who only have short a names and only like short a things.  My lils thought they were hilarious!  We made a HUGE list of short a names on the SmartBoard.  Then, each kid chose a Scraggle, wrote a short a name on the Scraggle's shirt, and colored it with loads of bright colors.  We even made a short a anchor chart, filling up the thought bubble of a Scraggle with short a words (forgot to take a picture of that one!).

This center helped us review our vocabulary words.  The kids had to sift through the sand, after explicit directions that we do not throw sand, to find the Popsicle sticks with vocab words written on them.  Then, they had to use the words to build a house of sticks.  This activity is from Reagan Tunstall's pack Sight Word Stick Centers.  I love this pack because it is so versatile.  You could use the multitude of activities for sight words and spelling words.  All you need to get are Popsicle sticks.  :)

 This center was easy peasy.  All I did was post the spelling lists (We have a regular and a challenge list for the kiddos who ace their pretest.) and put out a bucket of foam letters.  I got these letters from the foam puzzles in the Target Dollar Spot <3.  The lils had to spell the words with the letters.
 Creative way to make a 't' there using 2 ls... LOVE it!

Another no-hassle center.  For this reading center, I set out the leveled readers bin and the phonics phones (made from PVC piping, idea found on pinterest of course!).  The kiddos were able to freely choose right choice books and use the phonics phones to read to themselves.  The phones magnify their voices so that they can better hear the blending of sounds as they read.  It also gets them excited to read aloud because they think it's neato to hear their voices magnified in their ears! 

This highlighting center is from Abby Mullins' Short A Word Work Activities pack.  The lils had to highlight all of the short a words and then write them in the frames.  Using something other than pencils always works as a motivator!

This is our Boggle Board (idea found on pinterest... :)).  It doesn't necessarily work the same as the actual Boggle game.  The kids can make words with any combination of letters on the board; the letters do not need to be touching.  This center was a BIG hit!  They loved the challenge of making the most real short a words.  They were allowed to go to this center any time they were early finishers or had some free time.
  Here is the recording sheet.  She has it as a free download!! :)

Now, drumroll please... I owe a BIG Thank You to the Mt. Nebo Target (in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and my good friend, Ryan.  Let me explain.  A few months ago, Ryan, an Executive Team Leader at Target, asked me if I would like to have, for free, all of the leftover back-to-school Dollar Spot items from his store as they switched out the section for the Halloween/Fall season.  He knows of my addiction love of the Dollar Spot.  I'm sure you can guess what I said... YES!!!!!!!!!  I waited oh-so-patiently and last week (Monday), I get a text from him saying that there are 17, yes 17, boxes full of goodies ready for me to pick up!  AHHH!!! Be still my heart!  I kept it cool all day, not sure how, and later that evening my mom, dad, and I rode the van out to Mt. Nebo.  We strategically packed the van with all 17 big boxes.  The next morning you would have thought that Christmas came early when the teachers arrived and saw this....
 and this....
 After school, we got straight to work unpacking, sorting, and 'shopping' for our classrooms!
 Look at all of those back-to-school goodies... and the bins... I have a bin obsession too by the way...
 LOVE those blue and green cups... snatched up a bunch of those :)
 Here is my box of items... aren't those monster lunch boxes and matching containers so cute!?!  They will definitely be used for some type of center activity!  Oh the possibilities!

We still have about 10 boxes full of items after we packed up everything after 'shopping'!  They will be stored away for safe keeping, and the toys will be used as Christmas gifts for the kiddos.  Again, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to Ryan and the Mt. Nebo Target.  They did not ask me to promote them or say anything at all.  However, how could I not spread the word about their gracious donation!!  I do not know if every Target does this, but it never hurts to ask!  

Well, folks, that was my exciting week, and this one will be no less busy!  I'm off to try to sleep... Sunday nights are tough for me... I think it's the anticipation of the week that keeps me up... and tonight I have my lil sister to think about as well.  She turns 21 at midnight... oy vey haha!  I know I'm not her mom, but she's my little sister so I still worry.  Anddddd I know what being 21 is like... I was there about 5 years ago.  Oy vey that feels like it was forever ago!  I know I'm only 26, but I have lost my 21 year old energy already!  And now I'm rambling... time for sleep (hopefully)!

Have a great week everyone!

Samantha :)

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