Monday, August 25, 2014

Reading App and a Giveaway

When I was little I LOVED listening to books on my little record player that played 45s. I could sit for hours listening to stories and looking at the pictures. I think this is when my love for reading began. I've tried to instill this love for reading in my own children and classroom students, as well. It's always fun to listen to stories and I enjoy watching the kids get wrapped up in a new adventure. 

Recently, I was given the chance to experience


The reading app FarFaria provides a wonderful story time experience. The app is offered for the iPad, iPhone, and Android devices which should make everyone happy. FarFaria offers more than 750 children's stories, with 5 new stories added each week. There is a variety of genres and reading levels to choose from, which would appeal to all kinds of readers.

I asked my 9 year old son to help me check out the FarFaria app. We started with the "explore" button which led us here.


Each island has a different theme with a catchy name. Though my son was instantly drawn to Adventure Island and Animal Kingdom, he made sure we checked them ALL out since he was "helping" me. 

There is great selection of books on each island to choose from, and all have a reading level badge on the cover. The reading levels are shown below:


The reading levels make it easy for teachers or parents to choose appropriate books for their students and children.

Once a book is chosen, you can decide from the 3 options of how it will be read.

When you find a book you really like, you can mark it as a "favorite" and have easy offline access to it, to read again and again.


My son and I had a great time "researching" this app. I can't wait to use it with my new class this school year. The more options they have to read and be read to, will help them grow as developing readers. 

My only complaint about this awesome app is that my son wouldn't put my iPad down. 




You can try FarFaria for FREE by downloading the app, which will let you read one story every day or you can have UNLIMITED access starting at $4.99 per month.

Now here's the BEST part...the good people at FarFaria are giving me a FREE 6-month membership to give to one of you lucky people! 

For your chance to win, enter below. Good luck!




Monday, August 4, 2014

Word Wall

Just a quick note about my word wall...I use Fry's 100 sight words for my word wall. I got my list from Fish for Words which introduces 5 words per week, going in order of frequency. 

I introduce the words on Mondays, and as a class we say them, spell them, chant them, you name it. Throughout the week we review the words with a variety of activities--games, writing them on our whiteboards, word wall detective (I choose a word, then give a few clues to the class to see if they can figure out my word), and writing sentences with them. I'm always having the kids refer to the word wall if needed when writing. I love overhearing someone ask, "How do I spell...?" and another student says, "Did you check on the word wall?" or "It's on the word wall. Let me show you."

One of the problems I've had with my word wall is being organized with my words, and getting them up each week. Some weeks I would already have the next 5 words written down and ready to go up. Other weeks I'd be scrambling at the bell to find my list, write the words, and put them up on the wall before the kids came in. This often led to me putting it off until the next day or the next week. 

But not this year! I've already written down all the sights words, on different colored paper, and cut them out by their shape.


I found this cute tin index card holder at Walmart.


I made dividers and numbered them by week.


I then used my list to sort the words, 5 per week, behind the correct divider.


And to finish it off, I FINALLY figured out how to use my Silhouette Cameo. ( I won't tell you how long it took or how many cuss words were shouted.)




Friday, July 18, 2014

Gettin' my craft on!

Since I'm adding some color to my classroom, I thought I'd redo my rules using my new color scheme.  

 I found these little wooden numbers at Hobby Lobby. Picked out the numbers 1 - 5 and used acrylic paint to paint them pink, orange, and green.



These wooden frames are from Michael's. I spray painted them black.


I printed my rules and ran them through my little laminator since the frames didn't have any glass/plastic covering. Then glued them to the back of the frames, added the numbers to the corner, and BOOM!



Very simple and it looks pretty good if I say so myself! 


Monday, July 14, 2014

WHAT??? and a little shopping...

So today I was at Target and I see this...
Aaaaaaaaggggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!

All of these workers wearing red shirts were scrambling to put out the school supplies. I walked into a chaotic frenzy of "we need more crayons on this display" and "I think we can fit more folders here".  I LOVE Target, don't get me wrong, but there are 2 times a year when they really tick me off--1) when they put out bikinis and other swimsuits in December!! Brrr! and 2) when they put school supplies out near the beginning of July. Way to kill my summer vacation! Summer ends when I say it does...or when I'm told to report back to work, which is in 5 weeks.

On to the good stuff! Last year my classroom theme was owls. This year I'm not really going to have a "theme", more like a POP of color added to my room. I have a lot of black and white in my classroom already that I don't want to change. So I thought using some color could give me the change I was looking for, without committing to superheroes, birds, animals, etc.

The colors of this digital paper pack got me hooked! I love the patterns and the colors. So I'm using hot pink, lime green, and orange! I'm excited for the change because these colors make me HAPPY!

If you haven't checked out Erin Bradley Designs on ETSY, go do it! She has awesome stuff!

Target had these cute mini pails for $1 in their party section. I picked up 12! I might use them for pencil cups, supplies, or stick games.


OK, don't shoot me...I did look in the school supply section and found these pocket folders. They didn't have lime green but I snagged up enough of these for my new homework folders.


LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this fabric from Hobby Lobby! I'll be using this to make a few chair covers for my student of the week.


Pom Poms!! I had some in my room last year and got so many compliments that I had to get them again. 


 So that's a little peek for now. I'll be sharing more with you as I buy and create! I've already made a few things with the digital paper pack I bought and I'm so happy with how it all turned out!

Enjoy your summer!!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

July Currently

I am linking up with the fabulous Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for July Currently!


LISTENING - My son has a serious LOVE of hockey! For Christmas we bought him a hockey set that came with 2 sticks, pucks, and 2 mini goals to play inside the house. Let's just say this was THE. BEST. CHRISTMAS. PRESENT. EVER! He has gotten more use out of this than any of his other toys combined. 

Here he is defending the goal...he means BIZness!
 

So...he loves hockey. He loves playing it on the
wii and in the house. Can he ice skate or rollerblade? NO. Does that stop him from having fun? Heck no! He told me one day "Mom, when I'm in the NHL playing for the Rangers or some other team, and I win the Stanley Cup...can I still come home?" (Next on my to-do list: get this kid some skating lessons!!)

LOVING - Who doesn't LOVE Summer vacation?!? I just realized that yesterday marked my 4th week of this glorious "stay up late, sleep in, do what I want because I don't have to go to work" time. I WILL NOT listen to my mom, who keeps reminding me for some crazy reason, that summer is "flying by". Ugh, be quiet mom!

THINKING - Am I CRAYZEE?!? Possibly, yes! I have been wanting to try paddle boarding for a few years now and just never got around to doing it. Last week, 2 of my friends and I tried it for the first time, about 45 minutes from where we live. The conditions weren't the greatest--windy, windy, windy; which means waves...not the best for beginners. We weren't given a lesson...WHAT?! But we still got in and attempted to paddle board. We were a lost cause, falling down, paddling in place against the current and wind; but we have never laughed so hard or so much! 

A week later my hubby and I went to try it again but near home, on the river.

Here...

Isn't this BEAUTIFUL?! So this experience was amazing! I fell in love with paddle boarding. Is that possible after just 2 times? With me, YES! Haha! 

So here's the crazy part...we bought our own boards today...what?!? I kinda have a problem, sometimes I am really impulsive and I think money is no object, even though I don't have any! Haha! The good thing is my hubby felt the same way; so that's a good thing...right?

WANTING - So now that I will have my own paddle board, I WANT to be out on the water. Right now.

NEEDING - Even though it's summer, I need more time in my day. I am kept busy with chauffeuring my kids to swim team practice and water polo practice, which takes up a huge chunk of our morning (7:30 - 1:00). While they're in the pool for swim practice, I try and work out in the gym. No matter how much laundry I do, there always seems to be more! I hate laundry. I read. I clean the house when I feel ambitious. I think about doing some school work...and then I stop...because it's summer, silly! I say I'm going to scrapbook since it's been forever but then I catch myself saying "I better clean the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom/living room before I pull out my scrap stuff; and then I never get around to it. I don't really watch TV but I find myself sitting with my daughter to watch 'Brother vs Brother' on HGTV or 'America's Got Talent'. I get sucked in since she can work our TV's On Demand better than I can. I want to learn how to use my new (well, since Christmas new) Cameo Silhouette but it frustrates me and I give up. :) And before I know it, it's time for bed! So many things I want to get done during the day. I need to make a short "to-do" list so I can feel like I'm accomplishing something.

4TH PLANS - Can't wait to hang with my family tomorrow. My husband rarely gets time off because he owns his own business. So it's always nice to have him home with the rest of us. Our neighborhood gets a little crazy on the 4th with fireworks. So if we sit outside in the backyard on our deck, we can see a great show in any direction we look!

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy 4th!



Saturday, June 28, 2014

Love! Love! Love!

I LOVE my NEW blog design!!! Megan from A Bird in Hand Designs did a wonderful job with my new design! If you are ready to add some color and life to your blog, go check out her site.


Megan was so easy to work with and was open to any changes that I wanted. She got my fabulous new design up and running within the week! Thanks so much Megan! You ROCK!!




Friday, June 20, 2014

My Last Week of School

My last week of school was 2 weeks ago. We had 3 half-days to end our school year. LOVE that!! The week before was spent doing end of the year common assessments, given by our school district 3 weeks late! Yay us! First grade, for some crazy reason, was the only grade level that ended up having to take these LONG tests. So surviving the last few days of school was a must!

Our half-days are 8:10 - 11:50 and include a 15 minute recess & a 30 minute lunch (more like brunch since it's at 10:30). If you're lucky enough to have a prep on one of those days, that's another 50 minutes. So you can tell that there isn't much time in the day to do a lot. 

Monday was our Relax & Read Day. The students brought in pillows or blankets to get cozy while kicking' back to read. They sat with their book boxes and a friend, if they wanted, and just enjoyed reading! When told they could take off their shoes, you would've thought they won the lottery! Haha! It was awesome to see everyone engaged and having fun.

Some of my girls all cuddled up.


 These 2 were taking turns reading to each other. When one struggled with a word, the other gave strategies to help him out. (Made me so happy to see that!)


 Is this not the cutest thing?! The boy in the middle read aloud a science book while the others listened.


I wish I would've videoed this one. The boy holding the book is an amazing reader! He was reading all about poisonous animals, stopping every so often when the others asked questions. They were eagerly listening and he was patiently answering their questions or showing them the answers in the text. I kept overhearing "Wow! I didn't know that!" or "That's so cool!"


This boy, who was retained last year, had a year filled with tremendous growth! He went from not knowing many sounds/letters to fluently reading at grade level. His confidence grew and he turned into a kid who loved school. As he read, he kept saying out loud "I'm reading all these books! Mrs. Tompkins, I need more books to read. I just keep finishing them all!"

Tuesday was Game Day. The students brought in games that they could play with each other. There was such a variety that there was something for everyone!








Wednesday was Movie Day and the last day of school.  I brought the movie and the kids brought snacks to share with everyone.