A Few of My Favorite Things

Hello everyone!!!
Today we are throwing  a big, humongous bash to celebrate YOU!
Favorite Things Graphic
Last year we blogged about our favorite non-school related things, this year we have decided that we will share with you our favorite school things! So here we go:

One of my all time favorite educational websites is Reading A-Z (which you can win a subscription to below!). I have used it for years and honestly swear by it. I love the selection of leveled texts, especially their nonfiction options which are so hard to find for beginning readers.

I also like the ability to search by topic, standard, or comprehension skill like main idea, retelling, or problem/solution.

I have a ton of these books printed (and color coded by level) for take home books. My students bring one home each night and are responsible for swapping it out the next day. This is great practice reading leveled text. This structure also ensures that books are in my children's hands each night, regardless of their home life.

I also created comprehension baggies that my higher students take home each week. I place a copy of the book, a copy of the discussion questions (from the site), and a written response question inside. Students turn it in each week as part of their homework. They always need more practice with written comprehension and this also gives parents an idea of expectations for comprehension.
It does take a lot of paper and ink to print the books but I find it totally worth it. I also print copies of the comprehension quizzes and graphic organizers on colored card stock and laminate them. Students can work on them with dry erase markers as needed. Another way I save copies is by creating a folder for each. I print all of the pieces that go with each book, including multiple copies of the book for small groups. I label the folders and keep them all on one shelf. Last minute small group, TA pulling for intervention, or sub plan...done!

I highly recommend this site!

If you've read my blog before you know that I love to organize and am slightly obsessive about it. One of my favorite ways to organize is with hanging folders. I use them to organize student papers, colored construction paper (which is a life saver during projects), leveled books, and read alouds. I think using them to organize my math picture books is the most helpful. I quickly can see all of the books that focus on addition or subtraction for example and tie literacy into plans.
Ok, time for one more favorite- I love, love, love personalized gifts! One of my favorite websites to get special custom gifts from is Zazzle. They have a great variety of already made items (wrapping paper, shirts, mugs, blankets, buttons, canvas prints, totes, etc.) as well as blank versions you can customize. As a teacher blogger and TPT author it has been wonderful for business- I can create notebooks, binders, business cards, and even totes with my logo on them. I can picture lots of my friends liking monogrammed or personalized notebooks for all of our staff meetings.
When I'm not busy slapping my label on everything (oops!) I like to make gifts for coworkers, family, and friends. Each of my team mates received a first grade tote this Christmas and they loved them.
I also ordered mugs and shirts as gifts and everything came out great.

They are always having a sale of some sort which makes the reasonable prices even better. One of my favorite parts is their Zazzle Black membership ($10 per year) which provides free (and fast) shipping. Believe me- I have more than taken advantage of this perk!

The hardest part is knowing when to say no...and remembering that not everything (sadly) needs a logo. Hope you can find some custom goodies for yourself or loved ones.

Math Tip Monday- Ways to Keep Math Meaningful

Hi there! I don't know about you but I think this time of year always seems hectic and the kids are extra off the walls crazy excited about everything. While I would love to sit back and cave to my secret desire to do arts and crafts all day....teaching still needs to happen! Today's Math Tip Monday link up brings you tons of fun ways to incorporate seasonal activities into math lessons, while also keeping the level of engagement and content needed.

I promise to keep it short and sweet today because let's be real...life is busy! Side note, not all of the activities below are super cute/pin worthy but the kids are enjoying them and that my friends, makes this teacher happy. 
One of my favorite ways to get kids excited about a new season is to change up my math manipulatives. For example, we used plastic eyeballs for halloween counters, acorns in the fall, and little pumpkin beads in pie pans for Thanksgiving. This month I am busting out the jingle bells! You can find small packs at Dollar Tree or any craft store. You can also use mini ornaments. We use these for counters and manipulatives for solving math problems. 
Over the past few weeks we have been focusing on adding 3 numbers. Our classroom kindness elf Elvin helped inspire this anchor chart. Using themed anchor charts and word problems makes everything seem more interesting, while also keeping a focus on the topics that need to be covered. I also created an entire winter set of math pages for morning work, homework, and quizzes. 
Creating fun math centers goes along with using manipulatives. I got packs of mini presents at the Dollar Tree, slapped a piece of colored tape on each, and wrote a number up to 10. Students grabbed 3 presents and added them together. If you wanted to bump this up you could write the numbers down and have them tell how many hundreds, tens, ones, etc. You could also add only 2 gifts. 

                         The next few pictures are basically the same idea, just different foam cut outs (from a craft store). I put a variety of pom-poms into baggies along with index cards or post it note Keys that had a different number for each. You could also use buttons or actual gum drops. Students added 3 pom-poms based on the key and could create any combinations that they wanted. 

I love having the kids make crafts and strongly believe that they need time to cut, paste, and be creative. However...I do not want to the be teacher caught having arts and crafts time during a surprise observation or anything. My solution is to tie in projects with math. I gave each child a Christmas tree template and colored paper. You could pre-draw ornaments and copy onto colored paper but I kind of like their independence on this one (and I forgot to think ahead). They wrote a fact on each ornament that equaled the sum on the stump. I also do this type of project in literacy with word families, prefixes, categories, etc. 
Last but not least, here is a fun way we practiced decomposing numbers. I started with a problem like "We baked Santa 7 cookies. Some were chocolate chip and the rest were sugar cookies. How many of each could he have?"
The kids often get confused with these kinds of problems and end up adding some number to 7 rather than finding two parts that equal 7. We glued their cookies onto paper plates so they would have a visual to represent this concept. I also gave larger numbers to my more advanced kids.

Their projects turned out so cute I turned it into a FREEBIE for you. I hope you enjoy it and can find many ways to stay on task this holiday season. Don't forget to check out all of the other ideas shared below.

Want to pin it for later?