Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Polar Express Day

Whew! Today was a busy, but fun day for my firsties and me.  Today was Polar Express Day! Currently, we're half way through Spirit Week at my school.  The students are given a break from wearing their uniforms, and today was pajama day.  The perfect day for Polar Express Day! 

We started our morning with giggles and squeals as the first graders arrived in their pajamas.  Everybody, including the parents, had to giggle when they saw Ms. Holk in her bathrobe and slippers! First, we read the book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  There is also an online read aloud available which is great to use on the smartboard.  After reading the book, I had the kids stack all of their chairs and move their desks to the sides of the room.  We then made lines of chairs in front of the smartboard, similar to train seats.  I then told students (who needed some settling down by this point!) that I was going to find quiet students to give tickets to, and once they had a ticket, they could board the train and choose their seat.  (Worked like a miracle to settle them quickly!☺)   Since we live in an urban area, and most of my students have ridden the train, they know the conductor punches the tickets, so before I even had my hole punch in my hand they were asking if I would be punching their tickets. ☺ Once they were all seated I began to punch their tickets.  Then I got the hot cocoa ready.  I brought my crockpot from home, and just picked up a gallon of water, a can of hot cocoa mix, some small styrofoam cups, and some cutesy Christmas marshmallows, oh and candy canes to help with the stirring.  This was pretty quick and easy, and a huge hit.  All teachers everywhere love to hear: "This is the best day ever!" from their students! ☺We watched the movie in two parts, finishing after lunch.  Those kids were so careful not to lose their round trip train tickets!

After the movie we did some follow up activities.  Here are some links to great freebies I found.  Mrs. Johnson, a fellow first grade teacher, put together a sweet little "Build-a-Train" activity.  Check out a cute little Polar Express word find in the shape of a train engine from  From Hougton Mifflin, a Polar Party kit; this is great--it includes a bunch of useful printables, I used the Polar Express train tickets from this site.  (I printed the tickets on cardstock.)  From Have Fun Teaching, I used the cute train coloring page.  From Free Printable Coloring Pages, I used the train engine coloring page .  

This was the first year I did a Polar Express party, I think I'll do one every year!  ☺

Monday, December 5, 2011


PhotobucketIf you haven't checked out Rachelle's Reindeer Graphic Organizers over at What the Teacher Wants yet, you've got to hop over and give  them a look! Today I read Remarkable Reindeer, by Jeff Bauer.  This is a great little nonfiction book about reindeer.  My firsties loved this book.  I loved the comprehension questions at the end of the book.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much information my first graders were able to retain.  ☺ YAY!  After reading the story we completed the Reindeer Labels graphic organizer and the Reindeer can, have, are graphic organizer.  After working with the nonfiction text we talked about fictional reindeer, namely: Rudolph! ☺  We even sang the song, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Then we brainstormed what we could do if we had a shiny, red nose.  (I read about this idea last December on some amazing blog.  For the life of me I can't remember which blog I read it on.  If you were the originator of "If I had a shiny, red nose", please leave me a comment so I can pass the credit along to you. ☺) I had my first graders write what they would do if they had a shiny, red nose.  Then we made these super cute reindeer.  

Here's a copy of the writing paper I made.  The graphic is from

If I Had a Shiny Red Nose

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I've Got Sunshine....

First of all, I have to say thank you to the amazing bloggers that awarded me the sunshine award: Thank you to Jennifer at  Thank you to Lori at  Thank you to Emily at  

 Here are the "rules" for this award:

1. Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.
2. Answer the following questions below.
3. And pass the award to 10~12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs and let them know you awarded them.  

My answers to the questions:
  • Favorite color? Purple.
  • Favorite animal?  My cat Finnegan.  
  • Favorite number? 12.
  • Favorite drink? Diet Coke with Lime.  Mmmm.  Adult drink: wine, mostly reds; Cosmopolitans, homemade hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps, Mmmm!
  • Facebook or Twitter? Facebook.
  • Your passion? Teaching, and creating teaching materials.  
  • Giving or getting presents? I love to GIVE gifts.  I'm crazy about Secret Santa at school--love to be a sneaky gift giver!
  • Favorite day?  Saturday.
  • Favorite flowers? Stargazer Lilies.  
Ok, so the fabulous bloggers I am passing this award to are:

I know that most of these fabulous bloggers have already received this award multiple times, but I love them! 

Fun in First

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teacher evaluations

I work hard, I teach every moment of my day.  I believe I am to be held accountable for my students' success.  I also know that my students come to my classroom each day with gaps I have no control over: sleeping in the shelter with a baby brother who kept them awake all night; spending the night on a couch of a relative or family friend while the parents worked the overnight shift; staying awake all night because the heat in the apartment didn't work.  How fair is the assessment of a student who lives life like this? How fair is the evaluation of a teacher who teaches students who live like this?  This gets under my skin.  I want the best for my students, and I believe each and every one of them is capable of greatness, but this gets under my skin!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jingle all the Way! FREEBIE

Here's a super fun, cute, and easy literacy station.  My firsties love "making words".  I place the letters in a pocket chart, and I place the recording sheets in a manila folder mounted on the wall near the pocket chart. This makes for easy management and the kiddos can get started on their own.  

Making Words Jingle All the Way

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Monday Sale!

If you haven't heard, TpT is having a super sale on Cyber Monday, Nov. 28th.  Use the promo code CMS28 and you'll receive 10% off everything.  My store will also be on sale for 20% off.  You'll get 30% off everything! WOW!  
Check out my new Common Core Christmas Wreaths 1st grade math station.  Also, check out Santa's Stockings Phrases Game.  Get your wishlist ready for tomorrow's sale! Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giveaway Winner(s)!

Due to some technical difficulties, my announcement of the winner of my giveaway is a little later than promised.  So...I selected two winners--YES, TWO WINNERS! Winner #1 is Rachael Sterling.  
Winner #2 is Janet J.  

Congratulations to both winners!  Rachael, I will email you the files, just respond with your choice of grade levels for the Santa's Christmas Cookies Sight Word Game.  Janet J., please email me so that I can get your files emailed to you. Happy Holidays everyone! ☺  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giveaway ends soon!

If you haven't already checked out my awesome giveaway, check it out now.  The winner, as selected by random generator, will be announced at 9 PM EST on Black Friday.  Click here to enter.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Fantabulous Give-Away!

Here's a super easy give-away with some super easy literacy stations activities, and they're perfect for this time of year!  If you're a first or second grade teacher and you use Dibels NWF--you'll love this! I am giving away 5, yes, 5 of my literacy stations activities which you can easily view on TpT or Teachers Notebook.  You'll get 3 NWF practice games, and your choice of 2 other sight word games.  Here's what I'll be giving away:'ll get your choice of 2 Santa's Christmas Cookies Sight Word Games, your choice of Pre-Primer, Primer, 1st grade, 2nd grade, or 3rd grade levels.  (Primer and 1st grade shown here.)

You've got 4 easy chances to enter.  Leave a comment for each.
1.  Become a follower of my blog, or already be a follower.  
2.  Become a follower, or already be a follower of my TpT store.  
3.  Add my Teachers Notebook shop to your favorites, or already have it in your favorites.
4.  Spread the word, post about this giveaway on your blog, or on Facebook. 
Remember to leave a comment for each.  The winner will be announced on Black Friday at 9:00 PM EST.  Good luck everyone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cyber Monday TpT Sale!

I can't wait for Cyber Monday.  Have you heard? TpT will be offering 10% off using a promo code.  Many sellers are also throwing sales.  You can save 30% on every item in my TpT store on Cyber Monday--Monday, November 28th.  Start adding items to your wishlist now!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Whole Brain Teaching

WBT is awesome.  If you have never seen any of Chris Biffle's videos on youtube, you should check them out.  This language arts lesson is great!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Teaching with Poverty in Mind

I just have to pass this along to everyone.  I teach in an inner city school district in upstate New York.  During a superintendent's conference in the beginning of September, one of our district leaders, a very smart professional development specialist, spoke about this book: Teaching with Poverty in Mind What Being Poor Does to Kids' Brains and What Schools Can Do About It by Eric Jensen.  I popped on Amazon that very day in September and ordered the book.  And...there it sat on my bedside table, waiting for me.  I finally had a chance to begin reading this little gem, and I wanted to pass it along to all of you.  Teachers who work with students who live in poverty have a mountain of challenges, not just teaching little Johnny to read.  Little Johnny learns differently that his non-poor counterparts.  One particular point made in this book struck me:
"Some teachers may interpret students' emotional and social deficits as a lack of respect or manners, but it is more accurate and helpful to understand that the students come to school with a narrower range of appropriate emotional responses than we expect" (Jensen, 2009).  
Jensen goes on to provide action steps which can be taken by schools to help students reach success. I'm finding this book to be eye-opening, and a true resource.   

Thursday, November 10, 2011

FREEBIE Turkey Short Vowel Color Code

I'm a bad blogger, my apologies!
I haven't even posted since our nasty nor'easter dumped 16" of snow where I live...And my power was only out for 24 hours--I don't even have a good excuse.  Just busy! Whew! So, please accept my apologies and this cute little freebie I put together.  The turkey is from  Oh, and I didn't forget about the giveaway I had promised you--I should have it posted tomorrow.  ☺

Turkey Color Code

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Harvest Festival and a Nor'Easter Snowstorm?

Well, I love my Saturday mornings.  Blog-stalking, slowly sipping my coffee, relaxing...Not today! Today is our Harvest Festival at school.  We hold a Harvest Festival every year to celebrate all the fun things about fall.  The forecast for today into tonight....6-12" of snow!  Yikes! 

I have a great giveaway coming up.  I'll try to get all the details posted tonight.  Enjoy your fun, fall Saturday everyone.  If you're in the Northeast--get your shovel ready!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spooky Good!

OMG! I finally made the top 100 on TpT for number of products sold last week!  Only a total teacher-geek like me could be as excited as I am right now about this little-bitty accomplishment!  LOL  Anywho....I'm currently hosting a sale in my TpT store, every item is 15% off.  Check out my newest Nonsense Word Fluency game, "Turkey Trot".  

Also, in case you missed them, there are two super fun NWF games with a Halloween theme.  

Also, an easy to set-up math station: Pumpkin Patch Math Match, addition and subtraction facts to 12.
And...I have a give-away in the making, keep your eyes open this week for a super good post on a crazy good give-away! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Candy Corn Freebie

Here's a "sweet" little freebie for you.  These cards can be cut apart and used to practice onset and rime, spelling, or word families during literacy stations time. 
Candy Corn Spelling

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We have a winner!

Congratulations to Delighted comment #8, the winner of my two newest nonsense word fluency games, as selected by  

Giveaway ends tonight!

Don't forget about my giveaway! The winner will receive two of my newest nonsense word fluency games.  Ends tonight at 9:00 PM EST.  Winner will be chosen by Random Generator shortly after 9:00. Good luck.  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Halloween-Spiration Linky!

Halloween in the classroom! Check out Ginger Snaps blog to link up for 

A couple of my Halloween faves:

Available in my Teachers Notebook Shop or my TpT store.