Let's talk shared reading today!  Specifically, poetry folders.  I absolutely LOVE the power of poems in the classroom.  During the course of a week, I can hit phonics sounds, sight words, vocabulary, comprehension, punctuation, and fluency all in one poem.  So when I'm stretched thin for enough time during my literacy block, I reach for a poem to guarantee I get the biggest bang for my buck!  And my firsties have the best time doing poems too, so that helps!

Here's a look at a week's worth of poem instruction during shared reading...keeping in mind that shared reading is a MAXIMUM of 15 minutes in my classroom!


On Monday, I introduce the new poem.  Let's use the Color poem as an example because it's the first poem I do during the year and since we are in back to school mode, it seems appropriate!  I pull up a full color version on our smart board and they listen to me read {or sing in this case} the poem.
{Keep reading for a link to grab this color master for FREE!}

After they listen, we echo read the poem 2-3 times, depending on the difficulty.  An echo read means I read a line and you echo me back.  I make sure to tell the kids to echo my words, my pacing and my expression so we are practicing our fluency!

They listen, we echo read, and then we read it together.

Then, we circle sight words we know on our smart board.  And that's it for Monday!


On Tuesday, we reread the poem together and learn any motions we have for the poem.  Since I'm offering the color poem as a freebie, I talked this cutie patootie into doing the motions for you so you can hear the tune and learn the motions for this one!

Once we finish rereading with motions, we find words we don't know.  In our classroom, these words in poems are called sparkle words because they make the writing shine brighter and give some style to the poem.  Most poems in my Year Long Poetry Packet have sparkle words, especially if you have lots of ELL babies in your room, but not all do.

It's possible that the color poem doesn't have any sparkle words for your kiddos, but for some of my ELL babies, plum is a word they don't know.  So we usually talk about that one.  We talk about what the word means, attach a body motion to it {if we can} to solidify their understanding.  We add some sparkles around the word in the text and illustration to help us remember the meaning!

Also, on this day, we do some comprehension questions--especially if there are no sparkle words.  Like, "What did the poem say was red?" and "What color does the author describe after blue?"


On Wednesday, we reread the poem again with motions.  Then, we work on phonics skills for the week.  With the color poem, I just work on color words because those are being added to our word wall at the beginning of the year.  But other poems easily hit short vowels, long vowel patterns, blends, prefixes and suffixes....I can pretty much make whatever we are studying work with our poems!

We practice finding our color words and take turns coming up to the board to highlight them in their appropriate color...gotta teach those kiddos to color code early! #ocdteacherprobs


Fluency day!  My kiddos LOVE this day!  We reread of poem with our motions for review.  Then, we play read in 4 voices....using this anchor chart to help us {also included in the FREEBIE...link below!}

We all read together in each voice.  The fourth voice, the star voice, is for kids to make up a voice they'd like to read the poem in.  My all time favorite voice they've come up with is a chipmunk voice (with your nose pinched!)  #cracksmeupeverytime

We also talk about any punctuation marks that may affect our expression or pacing in the poem as well on this day.


Friday is poetry folder day.  Usually I'm super short on time on Fridays, so we end up doing this as their morning work in the mornings.  They get a copy of the poem and circle the sight words, highlight our focus phonics sound, add any sparkles for sparkle words if necessary and then illustrate the poem.  If they finish early, they practice reading it on their own.

Also, at the end of the week, I can add our poem to one of our literacy stations where kids will order the lines of the poem from the week before using the master on the outside of my manilla envelope to help {aka the easy way!} or by turning the envelope over and ordering the lines without help {the challenge!}  They LOVE this station!

Be sure and grab my 4 voices and color poem FREEBIE and check out all 48 poems in my Year Long Poetry Packet!
{specifically, future me who is a frazzled teacher after the chipper August teacher fades away},

Picture that kid.  The one who walks in late.  Every. Single. Morning.

Or the one who never--and I mean NEVER--sits still on the carpet.

The one who screams from the fetal position under his desk, "I HATE YOU!" {Yes, it happened.}

The one who drops 5 bazillion tiny pieces of pencil shavings on the carpet around her desk.

The one who flips over his chair at least 23.5 times a day.

The one who hugs you until it would be considered an awkward hug if it were an adult.

The one who makes your skin crawl by smiling while you are redirecting her behavior.

The one who makes you think you actually may not know how to teach after all because he hasn't learned a single thing.  All. Year. Long.

The one who taps on your elbow repeating your name over and over and over.....and over about 546 times a day--making you wish you never heard your own name again.

The one who pees all over your carpet.  On purpose.  Because, you know, she's mad at you.

The one who knows it all.  And knows he knows it all.

The one you chased down the hallway after he escaped from your classroom.

Picture that kid, Future Frazzled Teacher Self.  And then remember these wise words from Daddy...
{truth time: My dad stole that quote from a Superintendent from the poverty stricken Delta in Arkansas.}

And then remember...
Sometimes their best cries for mommy every morning for the first two weeks of school.

Sometimes their best interrupts you every time you open your mouth.

Sometimes their best seems to hate you with every fiber of her being.

But it's their best.  He is their pride and joy.  She is their world.  He is a little piece of them.  And in the words of my wise Great Uncle....

That's somebody's sweetheart.

So after the excitement of August has dwindled.  When you quit curling your hair and start throwing it up in a messy bun and hope no one notices.  When you give yourself a pep talk just to get out of bed.  And when you go to bed expecting a snow day and wake up shocked to no snow on the ground...

When that happens, remember...you have 25 little people who belong to somebody.  Who are somebody's sweetheart.  Who want so desperately to be your sweetheart too.  So stand tall.  You can do this.  You can teach the unteachable.  You can love the unloveable.  You can treat those babies like the most precious possessions that they are: children of God.  You can do this.

Be a light.  Be a beacon in the dark.  Be the teacher who welcomes weary children.  Be the safe haven.  And remember the words etched in lady liberty as you love your children with open arms.

Your Peppy Back-To-School Teacher Self

We have been super busy this summer learning about the 7 days of creation in Sunday School!  My preschoolers absolutely LOVE this unit and all of the engaging activities that go along with it! Here's a look into this unit...

Each week, we focus on one of the days of creation.  I have play stations set up in our room for the first 15 minutes as kiddos are coming in.  Some are as simple and non-biblical as blocks or puzzles and others are a little more connected to our unit...like matching bible verse cards on their own, or doing the sort from the previous week again, or matching our creation number cards, or coloring our coloring page for the week...

We start by singing our creation song to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?" {All the verses as well as the total physical response motions are included in the unit.}  We sing as many verses as we have learned so far and then add the new day for the week.

Then, we talk about what day and night mean.  We brainstorm things we do during the day and night and then sort our day and night cards together. We always close our creation Bible story by saying, "God looked at day and night, what He created on day 1 and said...IT IS GOOD!" and give a big thumbs up!  {It's totally silly, but they love this part!}

Then, we cut and sort our own cards.  Here is the example from Day 2: Sky and Land....

Then, we practice our Bible Verse for the week with motions and by matching our verse word cards {more coming on that in another blog post soon!}

Our end of unit activity will be to order creation numbers 1-7 and glue them on our "Days of Creation" mini-charts...

Check out these activities and so many more in my 50+ page unit!

Or grab my PreK Sunday School *Growing Bundle* and save 20% on 18 units and 96 total lessons!
The end of the year was an absolutely perfect time for our Me on the Map unit.  It got the kids up, moving and engaged in some fun and meaningful activities!

And I got to make some pretty beautiful anchor charts...which is always a win for me! :)

We spent the last few weeks of school studying Arkansas history and our state symbols.  We started by reading Me on the Map and talking about what our map would look like.  We charted our maps from big to small together...

Then, we used a little total physical response to give my firsties a better visual on how the size of the places we live are related.  They *loved* this chant!  I even challenged them to find out their address if they didn't already know it so they could do a complete me on the map chant--and I had a TON of kids come back the next morning showing me their personal chant including their addresses!  I love it when kids get excited a motivated to learn more on their own!

For almost all of my integrated units, I like to have an ongoing project to carry us through the unit and help us record our new learning.  We made mini me on the map anchor charts for each kiddo.  We began researching the places we live started with our biggest place {Earth} to our smallest {our house}.  We spent a day or two on each place--except for our state which we studies for much longer with our Arkansas History Unit. We read pebble go articles {they have some GREAT articles on me and my world that connect super well with Me on the Map!} during readers' workshop.

On days we had time, we wrote about what we learned during writers' workshop...just keepin' it real...it gets *hard* to find time for everything at the end of the year, doesn't it??

And during our snack time--which was also my science and social studies time because time was just that crunched!--we completed our me on the map chart page for the place we researched and wrote about.

The kids adored this project.  And they loved continuing it a little bit at a time throughout our unit.  They colored the map for that day and wrote the name of our "place."

Then, added a star sticker to where we are on the map.

And here are a few imperfect real pictures of our city and house maps, which we didn't add stars to just because I thought it'd be hard to figure out where each house was in our city.  I do wish we had added a star to map our school on the city map though! #nexttime

I used a "blank" (for the most part) version of this me on the map flip chart because, honestly, I needed some extra time to do end of year assessments and the blanker it was, the more time it would take! Again, just #keepinitreal.  But there is also a "cuter" version of the same flipchart that kids could definitely finish a lot faster if you are crunched for time... ;)

All of these activities, plus many more I'll be blogging about soon can be found in my Me on the Map Mini Unit and my Arkansas History unit.  I already have several requests for other units based on different states and I'll be working to add those to my store as well.  If you have a custom request for this unit or others, you can send me an email at thefirstgraderoundup@gmail.com and I'll be happy to work on it.  Follow my store to be the first to know when these packets are released!
July is the perfect time to be thinking about organizing and reorganizing.... 2 years ago I blogged about the 5 habits of an organized teacher.  And now I'm back blogging about 5 more habits of an organized teacher!

1. To-Do Lists

I love a good to-do list.  Yes, I'm one of those teachers that makes a list and writes things down that I've already done just so I can mark them off! :)

I have a to-do list in the classroom, a to-do list at home, and multiple to-do lists on my phone and my computer.  And when May comes around, I pretty much lesson plan off of a to-do list....
Maybe it's because I love an excuse to doodle.  Maybe it's because I'm a completionist and if I write it down I know I'll do it if for no other reason than to get to mark it off the list.  Maybe it's because writing it down helps me remember it better.  But most likely it's because I'm afraid that if I don't write it on my list, I'll forget about it or never actually do it!!

2. Empty That Inbox

I'm admittedly a pretty obsessive person.  An email is one area I'm pretty obsessive about.  Not much makes me happier in my teacher world than to have my email inbox clear.  Seriously, it's the stuff angelic choruses were made for...
Am I the only one that thinks this is just beautiful??

Okay, so what does this habit have to do with organization?  My email is another one of my to-do lists.  I read an email, and delete it if it's just that FYI kind of stuff.  If it's an email asking me to do something, I keep it in my inbox until I've finished that task.  It's another way to remind me that it needs to be done.  Yes, I usually add it to a list I have going, but it always helps to have multiple reminders when you can be as forgetful as I can! :)  Each evening I go through any emails I have left in my inbox and delete or move to a email folder if I need to keep it for a while.

Sure, I go to sleep with emails left in my inbox sometimes...I don't sleep well, but....just kidding!  It happens.  But my goal is to have a clean inbox each night before I go to bed because one of the fastest ways to feel chaotic in my world is to have an inbox full of emails that I can't make heads or tails of.  It may be obsessive, but it sure does cut down on the No-I-didn't-see-that-email problem and the Did-she-really-tell-us-to-do-that issue because 99.9% of the emails get seen and processed in an organized way.

3. Tubs, Tubs, Tubs

Bottom line:  Junk looks junkier when it's not in a tub.

Tubs are stackable.
Tubs can be labeled.
Tubs come in same sizes.
Tubs naturally help sort junk into categories.
Tubs can be moved from one place to another place much easier than a huge stack of junk can.
And great tubs are cheap.  Like a dollar for some really great tubs.

So there are no excuses.  It's time to take over your cabinets.  Do not let your cabinets rule your world.  Take charge.  You are in control.  Put that junk in a trunk tub.

4. One Stop Shop For Data

Nothing makes an organized teacher more irritated than having data or records or grades or information stored in a bazillion different places.  The best thing I did for my own sanity was to start keeping all of my data in one place.

No more shuffling through files.  No more flipping through student work portfolios to find that one piece of data I need.  No more telling administrators to wait a day or two until I can track down that one piece of RTI data they need on a kiddo.  In my organized world, less is more.  And in my teacher world, I can make the data I'm required to keep any less, but I can keep it in one spot and one spot only!  And that's worth a lot in my book!

5. Time Management

Time can be a teacher's worst enemy.  There's just not enough of it to prepare the kids for state tests, next year's grade or, more importantly, life in general.  There's always lessons that get put on the back burner and then just never seem to happen.  And add in unplanned assemblies, fire drills and kid meltdowns and it's a guarantee that something gets left out!

I'm kinda a crazy person when it comes to schedules and time management.  I make my schedule, I use these schedule cards to post it...

...and then pretty much stick to it in my lesson planning.

Yes, it may seem a little much to you.  I'm never gonna try and say I'm not obsessive about a few {or a lot} of things.  But this one I really feel strongly about....so strongly that I may just be brewing up a more detailed blog post on how to use your teacher time effectively.

But for now I'll just say: Make a schedule.  Change it if it doesn't work.  Change it again if it still doesn't work.  And once you find the right schedule and the right times for each subject, then stick to it as much as possible.

It's that important, interns.
It's that important, veteran teachers.
Using time wisely is just that important.

Because...I can't teach a kid anything if I don't have the time.
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