Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chat about "The Hat"

My kiddos just finished "The Hat" last week.  Here are my thoughts on that story:

  1. I hate how short and predictable this story is.  Kids have it memorized so fast.  Every year, I get a little show-off who proves that they can "read" it with their eyes shut.  It is great for building confidence in kids who are not yet readers.  This is why it is great to supplement with other books.  My kiddos have 8-10 good-fit books in their desks each week.
  2. I just started introducing the reading stations this week.  My kids worked on "Connect 4 Fluency", Handwriting Practice, and Roll and Write Spelling.  We practiced "Read to Self" and "Read to Someone" the first week of school.  Next week, we will use all of these stations and I will add Word Power and Comprehension Clips.  I always have better luck taking my time introducing stations.  I like them to know what I expect from each station.  At this point in the year, they are such babies.  I don't want to frustrate them or overwhelm them with too much information all at once.
  3. Is it just me or does Holly Keller REALLY look like Nanny McPhee?
What are your thoughts about this story?  Do you have any ideas, comments, or questions?  Post them in the comments below!  Have a great week and hold on to your hats!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Puppet Shows to Improve Reading!

We often use the "Character Cut-Outs" to make puppets.  We work with a partner to act out the story.  One student will hide behind a privacy folder while the other reads the story aloud.  When they are finished, they switch roles.  This is great for listening and following directions (the puppets have to do what the reader says), reading fluency and reading with expression, working on setting and characters.  It is also really fun to record one of the groups and then play the video on the board.  They get so excited to see themselves and their friends!

Spelling Hats!

When we read The Hat, my kiddos always make fun visors out of paper plates.  These are SUPER easy to make and the kids love them!  I just cut the plates into a kind of moon shape then attach string to both sides.  Sometimes my kids write words in the -at word family and sometimes we do our spelling words.  After the kids have written their words, I give them foam stickers to decorate them.  The kids really love making these, they are practicing writing and spelling, and they go home lookin' cute!  What more can you ask for?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The WHOLE Enchilada!!!

Holy Guacamole!  It is the WHOLE ENCHILADA!  I have been working on literacy stations for the series for almost a year now.  It is FINALLY finished!  Teach the centers once and use them all year!  This set is HUGE!  It has over 1,000 pages!  Over 400 files!  It includes:
  • Reading with Expression
  • Comprehension Clips
  • Connect Four Fluency Boards
  • Read-to-Learn Game Boards
  • I Have, Who Has Cards
  • Word Power
  • Handwriting
  • Alphabetizing Sight Words
  • Fingerspelling
  • Roll and Write Spelling
  • Number Bonds
This set contains all of these activities for EVERY SINGLE STORY!  You are set from The Hat to Baboon!  I am so excited to have all these resources ready to go.  Reading groups run so smoothly and I see such an improvement in reading skills when I use these stations with my first graders.  These do not result in cute projects.  They were designed to improve reading skills focusing on fluency, comprehension, and using the text to support answers.  Stop by my TpT store to check it out! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

From Funerals to Mating - What a Week!!!!

We had a good time with Busy Buzzy Bee this week.  I have so many great nonfiction stories about bees, but realized this week was really lacking in fiction.  I am going to buy more fictional bee stories before this time next year.  On Tuesday, my kids spotted a bee on the playground.  I am such a dedicated teacher that I captured it in a jar!  I made my kids tell me "Thank you for risking your own safety for our education, Mrs. Morrison."  Having the power can be so much fun!  :)  We checked out that bee, but the next day it was dead.  The kids were a bit sad, but it turned out to be great.  With the bee dead, we were able to look at it with a magnifying glass. 

After we checked it out, someone suggested we have a funeral for the bee.  Sounded like a good time to me!  We made a little headstone and buried it outside of our classroom.  We took a moment of silence to remember all the bee taught us - like bees have furry bodies and four wings.  We placed a purple flower on the grave because these were her favorite.  It was pretty fun! 

My current author study is Doreen Cronin.  My kids loved Diary of a Spider, Fly, and Worm.  I had them write their own story called "Diary of a Bee".  Some of them turned out so cute.  Our story tells about how the queen bee mates with all the drones.  I felt so lucky that nobody even asked about mating this year.  As I was looking at their stories I found a most disturbing diary entry "Today I mated with my mom."  Oh goodness!!!  Does anybody else have to deal with mating questions in first grade?  How do you reply?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A New Blog and Busy Buzzy Bees

When I started my blog in November, I actually made two blogs - one dedicated to Harcourt Trophies reading series and another dedicated to everything else "Primary Techie".  I will now be using this blog solely for Harcourt Trophies reading.  If you do not use this series or no longer want to follow this blog, please follow my other blog at 

This week my class will be reading "Busy Buzzy Bee".  I just love this story (except for the mating part!)  This is such a great story because of the photographs.  Those grubs look so gross!  We will be doing lots of fun bee projects.  I read a good idea at F is for First Grade's blog.  They cut our bee shapes and glued them on popsicle sticks with a cotton ball glued to the bottom.  They then made "Flowers" out of cupcake liners and put yellow cake mix in them for pollen.  The bees flew from flower to flower.  The pollen stuck to the cotton balls so kids could see how bees spread flower pollen.  My class is going to do this for sure.  I will take pictures and let you know how it goes. 

I have some fun bee themed activities in my TpT store.  We will do Busy Bee Handwriting this week.  I also have some fun bee Watch, Think, Color games. 

I have also created a phonics coloring sheet that you can download for free.  It focuses on the long o sound (since that is the sound we will be working on this week). 

Check out the literacy stations that correlate with our story this week.  Do you have any fun bee ideas to share?  I hope everybody has a very buzzzzzy week!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Calling all ROBOTS!

My daughter Emma with her "Ding-Dong Bot".  He is made of Ding-Dongs that the class ate after she shared him!

My class read "My Robot" by Eve Bunting this week.  Each year, the kids make robots at home and bring them in to share.  The robots are so creative!  Some move, light up, and make sounds.  Most are 100% recycled (cereal boxes covered in tin foil).  All are super cute and fun for the kids. 

I have pictures of all my kids with their robots from the past seven years.  I put all the pictures together in a slideshow.  The kids love seeing older siblings or kids they recognize from around school.  They are so excited to know that kids will see their robots for years to come. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Did you hear about the SUPER SALE???

Teachers Pay Teachers is offering an amazing sale tomorrow!  Stop by to save up to 28%!  Everything in my store will be on sale!  I have made several new Watch, Think, Color games that are Common Core aligned.  Check them out!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Birthday Sale This Weekend!!!

It is my birthday and to celebrate I am having a sale!  Get Birthday Phonics Joke Videos for 50% off!  These videos come in two packs of 15.  I had to split them up due to large file size.  Each pack is normally $4, but this weekend only you can get BOTH packs for $4!  I keep the files pinned to my desktop and use one each time we have a birthday in our class.  The kids LOVE it and it is great reading practice!  Birthday Phonics Jokes Pack 1   Birthday Phonics Jokes Pack 2
Check out this sample joke.  The color and quality of this preview is NOT as good as the actual videos!

These jokes are perfect for transition times.  My kids keep "Joke Journals" in their desks.  After recess, we do two jokes everyday.  This is a quiet activity and it really helps them calm down and refocus.  I just press play and a joke is displayed.  The kids read the joke and then get to work creating the punch line.  They write the missing letters from a series of words.  As they work, they are sounding out what they have written and predicting what will come next.  They improve vocabulary, spelling, and handwriting.  THESE ARE GREAT! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finally Facebook!

It's official!  I finally have a Facebook page!  I am pretty excited about it.  It seems like it is much more interactive than this blog.  Please come visit and follow!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

First Grader Seeks Birth Control Pills!

When my daugher, Emma, was in first grade, she told me she wanted me to buy her birth control pills.  Shocked and caught off-gaurd, I laughed and told her no way!  She was very upset.  She told me she was serious and she had been thinking about this for a while and she wanted Seasonique.  I said no way and left the room to pull myself together.  A few minutes later, I went back to her and asked WHY did she want birth control pills.  She told me with Seasonique, you only have four periods a year and her teacher wanted her to make periods everyday! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back to School!

I was missing six kids today.  It was a quiet day.  Since we are only back for three days, we are using this as a review week.  I will assess all kids on their dolch words and math facts.  It was nice NOT doing our usual reading stuff today.  We spent the morning reading Jan Brett books (our current author study).  I even showed the kids a picture of me HOLDING a hedgehog!  It was from my nephew's birthday party on December 27th.  I am really afraid of all animals, but I knew Hedgie was coming up!

Monday, December 31, 2012

January Phonics Joke FREEBIE

I have been working on lots of new phonics jokes.  I have made Snowman, Penguin, Valentine's Day, Groundhog's Day, President's Day and am working on Dental Health Jokes.  We are set for a good laugh when we return to school!  As promised, I will put out a free video each month.  Here is January's joke.  You can download it in my TpT store.  Hope you and your kiddos enjoy!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Celebrating 100 Followers!!!

To say thanks to my first 100 followers, I am giving away a phonics joke video.  Videos are three to seven minutes long.  Press play and a joke appears.  Students write the missing letters from a series of words to create the punch lines.  I had no idea how many ways this would benefit my readers when I originally made them.  They are sounding out the picute on the screen.  They sound out what they have written.  They predict what will come next in their answer.  They are becoming more confident spellers.  Not to mention that they LOVE doing it!  My class does two videos a day after recess.  It helps them unwind and refocus.  You can use any paper to do this.  We keep "joke journals" in our desks.  Videos can also be purchased in packs of 10 for $3.  I offer a new phonics joke each month.  Follow me on TpT for updates.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Did You See Chip?

When my class does this story, we put on plays for the preschoolers and kindergartners at our school.  It is a lot of fun.  I used to have the kids make scenery on butcher paper.  We would hang it over the white board and switch it as scenes changed.  Last year, I had them draw their scenes on copy paper.  I scanned those and put them into PowerPoints.  One student ran the clicker and changed scenes throughout the plays.  It was so much quicker and easier than the butcher paper.  The kids were also really excited to see their pictures as digital images!  Do you have any fun ideas for this story?  Share them in a comment!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

We Even Read in the Bathroom!

Each week, my class brainstorms words that belong in a word family.  They write them in a word work notebook.  I write them on a cut-out and hang them in the bathroom.  As the year progresses, our bathroom becomes wallpapered with word families.  They might as well be reading while they take care of business!  I write on the shapes with a vis-a-vis marker and hang them up high.  I have had a couple years where some little naughty splashed them with water (I REALLY hope it was water!) and the markers ran.  Most years, the kids just leave them alone.  Sometimes I can hear them reading while they are in there.  I have also used this as a reading station.  I give the kids flashlights and tell them to go read the words in the dark.  They love it and it's great reading practice!

Friday, November 23, 2012

"I have, Who has?"

 Just got "I have, Who has?" cards up for the first two books of the reading series. I am aiming to get the rest up before Monday. These cards are great because the words spiral. If kids don't master the words by Friday, they will still be exposed to them with this game. There are cards for 24 and "Reading Helper" cards if you have more students than that. These cards are easy for first graders to use. The first card always has a green go. The last card always has a red stop sign. All the sight words are in bold print. There is a set of cards for the introductory unit free at my TpT store!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This week's question - What grade to you teach and what are you thankful for about that grade?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Spelling Sign Language

So excited that I just got this up on TpT.  Spelling for kinesthetic learners!  Kids love learning to sign.  This teaches them to sign using their spelling words.  That's a DOUBLE WINNER!!!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Can I (or should I) try to start this mid-year?

ABSOLUTELY!  You already know this group of kids and they know you.  Introduce pieces of the program.  Make it part of your current centers program as you get stations prepped.  Offer the choice to just early finishers (although the ones that finish early are not the ones that need the hands-on practice).  Even if you do not launch the program until next year, you can utilize components of it now.  Test the stations out.  See what rules you want to put in place for your future classes.  When school starts next fall, you will be ready to go!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Usual Spot!

I get so sick of kids asking where to turn thier work in.  Put it in the usual spot!  We always put it in the same spot!  Put it where it goes - in the usual spot! 
All the products of literacy stations go in the usual spot!

Name Jail

Do you have students committing the crime of NO NAME ON THEIR PAPERS?  Maybe you even have repeat offenders?  Send them to Name Jail!  This poster hangs next to my classroom door.  If you are in Name Jail, you are not going to recess.  Bail is set at 10 names in the beginning of the year and goes up to 50 by the end.  I had this laminated at Office Max so that it would be really nice quality lamination.  I velcroed a Vis-a-vis on the door jam so it would always be where I needed it.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Organizing It All!

I believe that I am an "organized hoarder".  I want to collect everything that exists, but realize that it must all have a home.  I bought these plastic drawers at Wal-Mart and put border in the front of them.  I printed labels with the names of all the stories (these are listed as a freebie in my TpT store).  I keep all materials for each week together.  I also try to write the name of the story on every piece of of every station.  That way if we find a card in someone's desk, it is easy to "take it back to its home". 
I have containers for each of the five reading books.  I sort other books that correlate with the theme into these tubs.  This has made it very easy for me to quickly find the books I need.
I have binders for all five of the reading books.  I use them to organize copy masters.  I made the labels by cutting the covers of old workbooks.

Alphabetizing Sight Words Literacy Stations

Hands-on Practice! I print sight words for each story. There are two sets per page. I make enough cards for four sets (that way 4 kids can do this station at a time). I put stickers on each set so that the cards don't get mixed-up. I write the name of the story on the back of all the cards (in case we find one on the floor or in a desk next month!) I laminate the cards and put the scratchy side of velcro on the back. It only takes a little piece. I got FREE paint sticks from Wal-Mart. Other stores had shorter sticks. I like the size of the ones at Wal-Mart. I put the soft side of velcro on the entire length of the stick. Now the center is ready! Students grab a stick and a set of word cards. They arrange the words in alphabetical order. There is a worksheet that goes with the station. It has the alphabet printed on the bottom. Students can use this as an aide if they are still working on how to alphabetize. After all the words are on the stick, they write them on their worksheets. These cards are available at my store.

Browsing Books

Ever wonder how to use those little books that are in the workbook? I have made a great use of them and would like to offer it to you for FREE! I give each student in my class a number (we use this for MANY THINGS). At the beginning of the year, I print this chart for each student, hole punch them, and put them in folders. I also put pouches in the folder. These hold the books. Each week, we make a new book that correlates with our story. We highlight the title of the book on the chart. That makes it easier to see which books kids already have. When you read the book to someone, they sign next to their number. After you have read to everyone in the class, you take the book home and get a prize. (I let my students pick from the treasure box.) There are 24 spots on the chart and a spot labeled A - for an aide or other adult (this is a great activity when parents want to help). There is also a spot with a T - for teacher. This keeps the kids accountable and motivates them to read. Students sign by their number when they read to themselves. Before I made the chart, I had shy kids who would roam around and not find kids to read to. With the chart, everyone must read to everyone in the class. Kids hunt out the shy kids and ask "Can I read to you?" Browsing Books is one of my literacy station choices each week. It is also a great time filler. If we finish a task early and have 10 minutes until lunch, I can tell them to do browsing books. If you like this freebie, please follow me. I have lots of Harcourt Trophies activities online and many more to come!

What is "The Reading Ticket"?

The reading ticket is a combination of several methods of running reading groups.  It has components of Daily 5 and CAFE as well as several other practices.  This is the best way I have found to run reading groups in first grade.  Centers do not change - words and skills change!  The kids learn to be responsible for their own learning.  I am working on uploading all my resources onto TpT.  I have many items up already and there are many more to come!  I have several freebies, so follow me!