Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pete the Cat Class Book Idea I have been SO busy I have not visited blogland for days!!! Please tell me everyone else has been swamped and I didn't miss too much?! Between working super-hard on training my sweeties on how 1st graders are SUPPOSED to act, Back-to-School night, attending my middle school son's BTSN, keeping up with custom blog design orders, and everything else family life throws at's a girl to find her blogging time?? For now, the answer is stay up past her bedtime to share one thing we did this week.

My students (like all of yours I'm sure) LOVE Pete the Cat!  I think the MP3 of the author reading/singing it is awesome if you haven't tried that. TOTALLY adds to the experience! I have not bought the new book yet but I will when I get two seconds!

I decided it would be fun to write our own class book based on this story. To make it quick and easy I just used a clear view binder. I was so busy I didn't even add a cute border...egads...that is just plain wrong!! I uploaded a version without my name on it here if you'd like it.

First, we brainstormed a list of new things Pete could step in and the color his shoes would turn. Then, I gave each student this sheet with a picture of Pete already drawn (by me, it is Pete-ISH as we say in my room) and asked them to draw the large pile of bananas (or whatever) he was stepping in. Finally, they filled in the sentence frame with their food and color. They could copy the spelling off our chart or try to write the sounds they heard like we have been practicing in writer's workshop. The most original idea: Tofu! If you'd like a copy of this page click here.

I did another activity with Pete the Cat but you'll have to wait to read about it because this teacher tends to get a tad GRUMPY when she is sleep deprived.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Partner Compare/Contrast

My teammate Robi shared this great compare and contrast lesson to introduce thinking maps and encourage partner work.

First, I modeled using a circle map to brainstorm facts about ourselves. Some suggestions were age, family members, pets, favorite color, food, activity and physical attributes such as eye and hair color.
Then partners looked at their circle maps to find what was the same and what was different. They completed double bubble maps comparing themselves. They did a great job!
As they were working I went around and took a picture of the partners. Make sure you have them switch places so their picture will match up with their names on the double bubble when you put them up on the bulletin board!

Not only was this a great lesson on compare/contrast and thinking maps but the partners got to know each other better.

I'm off to find a chick flick to watch while I rework my Back-To-School Night presentation for the parents on Tuesday! I feel like I need a vacation already...not a good sign!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One week down

One week down and things are starting to come together.  I started a behavior plan for my most challenging student and he is showing improvement. The class still has a hard time working quietly but they were able to write silently today once they realized I was serious! They are doing great with Daily Five. We are up to 9 minutes of stamina.

One of my favorite activities to do the first week is a directed self-portrait. The paper has the head circle for them but they draw everything else. They outline in black sharpie before I give them the oil pastels. I leave them up all year and they really add personality to the room.
 I am always amazed at how diverse the development can be in one classroom.
Love the messy hair and red in the corners of his eyes. What details!
This one looks just like him!!!

I have a lot going on so sadly my blogging (posting and reading) has been lacking.  I hope to get back in sync soon. I saw a new blog group by my faves (Cara, Abby, Deanna, etc) started and I will have to go visit soon but right now I have to go to bed!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

My first few days...

 3 days down and I am exhausted! Many of my students came from a class that was not a good experience (think teacher breakdown, many subs, student who should be in Special Ed kicking and running wild, etc) and unfortunately they have behaviors that I now have to try to break. Someone told me they were on the phone in that room last year and the other person on the line asked if they were in Chuck E. Cheese!

The first day I had a boy defy me. He seems to have a problem with authority. I've NEVER moved someone's clip down the first day!

A little later I gave them Magic Playdough. I made homemade play dough and them made a hole and squirted 5 drops of food coloring in, then covered it back up. When they knead the dough it is supposed to change color to show they will have a great year. Guess who's didn't turn? Yep, the boy who had defied me. What goes around comes around kid! Of course I gave him an extra one so his would turn too but I was grinning a little on the inside.  I got this idea and the poem from someone on proteacher last year. If you know who will you let me know? Click here to get the labels that I stick on the baggie.
 I am trying to focus on the many cuties I do have instead of the behaviors that are trying me.
I will say I saw improvement yesterday so I think my firmness is paying just makes it a little less fun. I miss my sweet class from last year.   This class is also a lot lower academically too so it will be quite a ride. And did I mention I am EXHAUSTED?!

Hope you are all doing well with your start to the year!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Classroom Pics and My Birthday

It's my birthday!  I worked hard to get all ready for our first day back TOMORROW (YIKES) so I didn't have to go to school today. My family is making me a special breakfast as we speak.

Room Pics!
In California, our classrooms open to an outside hallway. Growing up in the Midwest I thought that was weird at first but now I love it!

Star of the Week board I posted about previously
Love my fabric bulletin boards with Eric Carle trim.
Can you say boy heavy?  I have a feeling this year is going to be a doozy.
CAFE & Daily 5 board
Calendar wall
Whole brain teaching rules at the top
Click HERE to get a copy of these rules.

Small group table & my desk to save space!
Group listening (I also have individual cd players) and writing supplies.

Writing & Word Work

Pet corn snakes. The kids take them out to recess!
Math Tubs (still need to finish laminating some new ones)
Last year's class was GREAT about this. Instead of tattling they would say, "May I talk to Megan? We had a problem at recess."

Okay...I'm off to spend some time with my family. I will be making Magic Playdough later so I'll be back to post about that!


Monday, August 8, 2011

And the Winners Are...

Sorry I didn't get these winners announce earlier. It was my oldest son's first day on the middle school campus. They have 3 half-day orientation days and I think we will need them to practice getting him out the door that early! Also, I spent the day on the interview panel to fill an opening on my team. We had over 100 applicants for 1 position. I feel very lucky to have a job right now and with a staff that I LOVE!  Did I mention we start back this Wednesday?! I can't seem to get my head around that fact yet.

Drumroll please.....
The following 4 lucky winners will receive the bags shown AND their choice of laptop or iPad case!

Friends, email jenn@finallyinfirst with your laptop choice (design and size) and address so the wonderful people at Mixed Bag Designs can mail your goodies! 


Friday, August 5, 2011


I am on my way out the door to go camping with the Cub Scouts.

Yes, I am bringing my computer and laminator, which sounds awful except I always do so we can play the year-in-review movie and laminate their new whittling chip cards (allows them to use a pocket knife.) However, that cute red bag is filled with teacher stuff which I don't normally bring. I start back Wednesday and am feeling the pressure! Want to win one of those adorable bags? Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

I jumped on here though to share that I had a brainstorm! I have decided I am going to use the fabulous Cara Caroll's amazing Calendar Companion AND my Daily Editing Word Problems to make my teaching super-duper effective!!! Cara has a space to glue in a word problem so I can't wait to try this instead of the usual notebook!

SO....I extended my TPT sale through tomorrow in case you want to go buy both our products and try it, too! Don't forget to use the extra 10% code B1T1S!

Alrighty friends...time to get in the car! How will I survive with out blogs for 2 whole days!?!?!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Blogs and Last Sale Day

We have been SO busy blog designing that I am seriously behind in my school preparations! Hmmm...will my Cubmaster husband notice if I bring my laminator and a huge stack of teaching materials with me to the annual Pack Family Campout this weekend?  I am SO not kidding.

Anyway, I'd love it if you'd take a peek at our 3 new designs. Also, don't forget that today is the last day to get 30% off in my TPT store! (Remember to enter the code B1T1S.)

Click on the image to go make some new friends.
The first two are teaching blogs. 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Star Student Freebie

Do you have a Star of the Week? The Star Student is my special helper. They do the calendar with me, return the library books, pass out papers, etc. I go alphabetically which is also our student numbers so my students know better than me whose turn is next!

Last year I decided to make my own posters that would be easier to store and cheaper!
 I made 5 posters (each regular copy paper size) : Me, My Family, My Pets, My Favorite Activity,  and When I Grow Up I Want to be a _____.
I assign the posters as the first week's homework and make sure I get one from every student. They can glue on photos or draw pictures. If they don't have any pets I tell them to draw what they wish they had. Then I save them in my filing cabinet until that student is the Star of the Week. After the student shares their posters we put them on a special Star of the Week bulletin board. I have star scrapbook paper already up on the board like frames so all I have to do is quickly add the student's posters and their name tag (I have their names already written on sentence strips.)

If you would like a copy of my posters you can grab them for FREE here. My 20% off sale is still on if you want to stay and shop. Don't forget to use the code B1T1S to get an extra 10% off!

Upper grade teachers: My friend Jessica just posted a great FREE writing activity she uses with her 4th graders using the picture book Giraffes Can't Dance. Click here to visit her store. She also has some great social studies skits and map activities. I sure miss teaching with her! She always came up with great hand-on projects. Now if I can just convince her to start blogging so she can share more with you all.

If you haven't entered my Mixed Bag Designs Giveaway click here to enter.

I go back to work next Wednesday! ACK!


Monday, August 1, 2011

1,000 Followers Giveaway!

I have over 1,000 followers!! That just blows my mind. Thank you all so much!
If you have been following my blog for awhile you know that I teach at a super cool environmental science school. We teach our students to be green every day. This year we are working with a terrific company called Mixed Bag Designs to run a reusable bag fundraiser for our school. I'm not talking small, boring bags, these are super stylish and come in every size and shape imaginable! They also have tech gear like iPad and iPhone covers (the black swirl 3GS cover is on my wishlist!)

The wonderful people at Mixed Bag Designs have agreed to give away 4 prize packages worth approximately $100!!

AND each winner will also get to select their own....
13 inch, 15 inch, or iPad 
 Wouldn't it be great to start the school year with a cute new case?

That's not all! Followers of my blog can also get FREE SHIPPING through August 17! Just type in the promo code 'first' at checkout.

Want to learn more about a fundraiser or order a catalog? Send an email to

How Can You Win These Amazing Bags?
Terms: Winners must be a follower of my blog and live in the U.S. or Canada. Please leave a comment for each entry.

1. Like Mixed Bag Designs on Facebook. Tell them I sent you!
2. Like my blog on Facebook.
3. Spread the word by blogging about this giveaway! (Or Facebook /Twitter if you have more followers.)
4. Follow me on Twitter.
5. Visit Mixed Bag Designs and come back and comment on which of the NEW Fall designs you like.

This giveaway will end on Monday, August 8th at noon Pacific time. Good Luck!