Saturday, June 30, 2012

Friends in First (Back to School Pack)


I am so excited to share my Back to School packet with you all! I have LOVED creating the activities for this packet.

The beginning of the school year is such a fun and magical time for first graders (and for teachers, as well!). It is an important time to establish routines and make new friendships! In this packet, you’ll find all kinds of goodies to help make the beginning of the year a special and memorable one for your students.

Your students will have a blast learning the rules of school with the help of the members of The First Grade Expert Club (Respectful Rachel, Responsible Ryan, Ready to Learn Robert, and Really Safe Rita).


Each member of the club has a special role to share. They explain the importance of their roles in this catchy little story.


After students learn and practice the rules of school, they have the chance to apply to be a new member of the club.


If The First Grade Experts approve (wink, wink!), then all students will participate in an induction ceremony where they will get to create a fun craft and receive a special certificate.


In this packet, you’ll also find “All About Me” activities, “Getting to Know You” ice-breakers and games, and lots of printables (and lesson ideas) that correlate with many of your student’s favorite back-to-school books.

One of my favorite “ice-breaker” activities in my packet is “Be a Friend Detective.” For this activity, students fill out clues about themselves (example: “I have brown hair” or “I have green eyes”). You tell them NOT to put their names on their paper (or else it will spoil all the fun!). Then, you collect each paper and pass them to out to a different student and have them all become friend detectives by using the clues figure out their mystery classmate. Your kids will LOVE THIS!


Here are a few of the activities that correlate with some classic back-to-school books. One book that I especially love is First Grade Stinks. The little girl in the story, Hayley, really thinks first grade stinks because it’s different than kindergarten. This is an excellent book to use to compare and contrast kindergarten to first grade. Your students will LOVE thinking of reasons why first grade DOES NOT stink.


The activities mentioned above (and everything you see in my Preview) can be purchased at my TPT store and my TN store.


Click on the links below to take you there. ENJOY!



I will give two of these packets away to the first two friends who can comment, leave their e-mail address, and tell me their favorite back-to-school book.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Teacher To-Do List and Back-to-School forms (freebies)


I am EXTREMELY disorganized when it comes to paperwork, especially MY OWN. If you look around my house right now, you’ll find a plethora of post-it notes and old mail covered in my chicken scratch. I just can’t help it. I’ll be cooking dinner, showering, or trying to sleep and then BAM, a great teacher idea will hit me.

So, to try and control some of my disorganization issues, I created these “Teacher To Do” list sheets. Please feel free to use them, as well. I’ve saved them as an image, so that you can either type out your lists (I know some people prefer to do that), or print them.

All you’ll need to do is:

1. Right click on the image, and click “Copy”

2. Open up PowerPoint or Word and press “Paste”

3. Adjust the size of the image to your liking

4. Insert a text box and begin typing


I also started working on some Back-to-School forms. These are also images, so you are welcome to insert your own text. Just follow the same steps from above. I plan on putting these in each student’s Back-to-School folder. For the “Meet the Teacher” form, I’m going to add some of my favorites (book, food, family members, pets, etc.)





Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tips On Creating Visually Appealing Activities

Hi, Friends!

Lately I’ve received a few e-mails asking some techie questions, so I thought I’d answer them here. Let me begin by saying I am BY NO MEANS an expert. I am just showing you what has worked for me.

Techie Tips for Teachers:

  • Use PowerPoint instead of Word. Like many other bloggers/sellers on TPT, I create all of my visuals, graphic organizers, worksheets (EVERYTHING!) using PowerPoint. PowerPoint allows you to manipulate images and text with ease. It’s also much easier to navigate because of its user-friendly tabs. If you aren’t a PowerPoint user yet, you should try it out!
  • Invest in some kid-friendly clip art, fonts, and borders/frames. There are hundreds of clip art websites/online stores. If you intend on selling your activities, make sure you check out whether they can be used commercially or not.

Below are some of my favorite stores that DO allow you to sell (just make sure you read their Terms of Use before doing selling or giving away freebies!) These stores have sales quite often! Also, check out Etsy to find other great shops.

Clip Art:

Scrappin’ Doodles


JW Illustrations

The 3AM Teacher

KPM Doodles

MelonHeadz Illustrating


Kevin and Amanda (free)

Lettering Delights

  • When creating activities, add borders around your pages. A border nicely frames everything. It makes your pages look neat and tidy.
  • Make your title larger than the rest of the document. This provides a nice focal point for your students.
  • Don’t use more than two fonts in one activity. If you want your title to really stand out, use a different font than the body of the document; however, don’t use so many fonts that it is distracting/confusing.
  • In the body of your document, use a kid-friendly font that can be read easily. (Trust me, I LOVE the cutesy fonts too, but if we’re trying to teach our kiddos proper letter formations, we should provide them with excellent models ALL THE TIME!) 
  • Add one or two clip art images on each page, but don’t overdo it.
  • See if your school district offers any basic PowerPoint/techie courses (sometimes you can actually get paid for attending or you can earn credits toward your Masters degree).


Here are the answers to some of the questions I’ve been asked:

1. Can I create an activity in Portrait design using PowerPoint?

Yes, and it is very easy to do.

Open up PowerPoint

Click on the Design tab

Select Page Setup

Choose Portrait

2. How do you get rid of that yucky white border/background around an image?

The white border appears around JPEG images. I know that most (if not all) of the stores I mentioned above send you JPEG and PNG files when you buy from them. Use PNG clip art, if available, to avoid that yucky white border.

If you’re stuck and don’t have a PNG image, follow this video tutorial to get rid of the white border/background (I found this to be very helpful!)

3. Can I use (and save) landscape and portrait in the same document using PowerPoint?

I’m not 100% sure on this answer, but I don’t think so. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to open up two separate PowerPoint slides (one in landscape and one in portrait) and save them separately. Then, when I’m ready to turn the files into a PDF, I combine them using Adobe Pro X. If you don’t have Adobe, below you’ll find a great (and free) website that will combine the PDF files for you. I’ve used this site many times and it works very well. If you know of an easier way, please let me know!

4. How do I get rid of the white border around a page?

First, you will need to change your settings from 7.5 x 10 to 8.5 x 11.

To do this:

Open up PowerPoint

Click on Page Setup

Then, change the width and height to 8.5 x 11

Click Save

(If printing, make sure you select “Fit to Screen” rather than “Actual Size”)

If you have any other questions (or if you know a better way to solve the landscape/portrait problem), feel free to leave me a comment below.

I hope this was helpful!

Enjoy your Sunday…Happy Father’s Day to all those dads out there!!!


Friday, June 15, 2012

Writer’s Workshop Mega Pack

Alright, my dear friends! I have finally finished my Writer’s Workshop Mega Pack (with the help of the handiest people around, Mr. and Mrs. Fix It!). I had a blast working on this packet, and I cannot wait to get back into the classroom (did I just say that?) to get this new and improved Writer’s Workshop going. I think this is my favorite packet I’ve done so far.
Click here (or on the Preview above) to buy this mega pack at my TPT Store!
This 115 page packet has everything you’ll need to have your own Writer's Workshop.
In this packet, you will find:
-ideas (with activities) to teach each of the different writing traits
-a unique story to introduce the different traits of writing
-book recommendations that support each of the traits
-graphic organizers/printables for writing stories, recipes, letters, How-tos, lists, poems
-topics for writing (with pictures)
-a "Fix Up Your Spelling" reference book for each student
-visuals/anchor charts to completely set-up a Writer's Workshop corner or bulletin board (Where Do I Go For Help?, What Can I Write?, punctuation posters)
-assessment tools to monitor each child's progress(
teacher assessments and self/peer assessments)
-journal covers (boy and girl version) with lined/dotted line paper
Here are a few pictures of some of the pages in the pack…
Cover of What’s Inside Your Writer’s Toolbox? book (above)
All 10 pages of the What’s Inside Your Writer’s Toolbox? book (above)
First page of What’s Inside Your Writer’s Toolbox? book (above)

Some graphic organizers/printables for the Writer’s Workshop (above)

You (and your students) will LOVE Writer’s Workshop time! I’ll post some actual pictures of my Writer’s Workshop in my classroom reveal post later on this summer.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

student acrostic poems (goodbye gifts for students)

Tomorrow is my last day of school. I know I am going to cry. It’s been a blast teaching this group of children. I know I’ll remember their sweet faces and funny stories forever. Love them!

I made these acrostic poems for each one of my kiddos. I plan on giving them out tomorrow before they leave. Making these poems let me reflect on the school year and remember why I love each and every one of them.


I can’t believe it’s almost over. While I am so sad, I am looking forward to relaxing a bit this summer, and getting caught up on school projects (ahhhh…so excited to start planning for next year…I know I’m not the only one…we are all so crazy!).

Happy Summer Break to all (or almost all) and to all a good night!

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