First Days Back! {full of freebies!}

WOOOOWEEE!!! Every year I think we might forget what back to school really means!  I feel like I am getting to the point where I don’t need to live at school anymore ๐Ÿ™‚  I am enjoying my three day weekend and a follow up professional development day on Tuesday!  The start of the year has actually gone really well.  I have a great group of kiddos and they are catching on quick!  We are busy working on our classroom and school expectations!  
Below I will share with you what we were up to our first seven days!  You know me.. I am very detailed so I will provide links to each activity.  Be sure to grab the freebies throughout the post!
Our Daily Five is in full swing already!  We started building our stamina on the third day of school.  This is always such a hard concept for the kids to get….no you can’t get up, no you can’t shout out, and no you can’t change spots either!  Bless their little hearts- – they do their best ๐Ÿ™‚  We started out by making our chart together and learning the three ways to read a book.  I demonstrated each way to read a book {read the pictures, read the words, retell a story}.  I used Pete the Cat for my retell story.  You could tell that a light bulb really went off…”ah I CAN read!” 
Before I sent them off to try building their reading stamina we practiced what it would look/sound like.  I set the timer for 5 seconds as the students sat quietly at the carpet.  They did great so we moved on to 10 seconds.  They seemed to really understand what it meant so I sent them off with their book boxes to a quiet place in the classroom.  The first day our goal was 3 minutes… it was SUCCESSFUL!  I had previously placed 2 books from our library in each of their boxes.
As the week progressed we continued to add time onto our stamina.  About mid-week I demonstrated the wrong way to read from their book tubs and then had a student demonstrate the correct way.  Up next?  Next week we will being with 2 rounds of Daily Five {Read to Self and Work on Writing}.

Click {here} to grab a freebie 3 ways to read a book poster from TpT!

Each of my students have a book box for Daily Five. They have two library books and then any paper books we have read together as a class.  The adorable nursery rhyme easy readers come from  this packet.

This year we are implementing a new math curriculum- – Math in Focus.  It is a new journey as we used Math Connects last year along with supplemented curriculum.   So far in math this year we are talking about numbers 1-4 and same/different.  Below are a couple of hands-on activities the students did.  The first was building towers to 3 with snap cubes.  And the second games was called match me.  It was played with two students.  The first student would arrange their tiles and the second student would match it.

We have and will continue to work on rhyming!  We have done several sorts read rhyming poems and books.  Below is a great book for rhyming just not so great for grammar ๐Ÿ˜‰  Also a FREEBIE sort from FCRR.

Click {here} for the freebie rhyming sort!

We have been working on several fun and engaging activities to practice writing our names.  I have a large number of students that can independently write their names this year which is great.  However, we continue to work on proper handwriting path of movement, capitals/lowercase, etc.
One of their favorites so far was working with their names by making playdoh snakes!  We also used these mats to practice proper handwriting path of movements.  They are laminated so that they can be used over and over again and then eventually sent home.

You can whip these up for your class or I make personalized names mats as well.  You can view the link on TpT {here}.

I wrote each students name on a sentence strip.  We used them in the pocket chart for the week.  Now that we are done with them there I have laminated them and placed them on a metal ring.  I will put these in the Daily Five writing center.  The students will be able to easily write their friends’ names in the stories.

We made these adorable Chicka Boom trees from this unit found on TpT.   My dear husband spent three hours die-cutting letters for us ๐Ÿ™‚
Here is a link to a Chicka Boom video if you haven’t previously ran across it!

Below is a {super blurry-sorry} snap shot of the kiddos first homework assignment.  I send home a quick project on Monday and it is due by Friday.  This assignment students pasted their letters in order and then wrote their name at the bottom.  See below for the freebie!

Click {here} to grab the freebie name building practice sheet.

Another quick activity we did with our names at the beginning of the week was I gave each student their name on a 3 x 5 card.  The students then glued the card down, wrote their name, and illustrated a picture of them self.  Click {here} to get that freebie sheet! ๐Ÿ™‚

We also worked with our names by making class books!
This adorable Willoughby Wallanby class book can be found {here}.  I love this book because it works on rhyming and names!  I’ve found in years past that the first line is difficult for my students so I go ahead and write that part.

Another class book – Happy Birthday!  We first worked with the song on the pocket chart with each students name.  I then passed out a name card for each student {the ones I showed you above with the picture}.  They wrote their friend’s name and colored the page.

Click {here} for the freebie Happy Birthday student page.  Also, grab the cover {here}.

The above picture comes from an activity we did on the first day of school.  The students color a portrait on themselves and then write their name.  Grab the FREEBIE {here}.

Wow do these little ones catch on fast!  I’ve been so impressed with their story skills!  I use  Writing Through the Year from Deanna Jump and Dee Dee Wills.  The students are being able to get their story onto their papers and they are beginning to understand labeling and getting the initial sounds.  I have been demonstrating to the kids how I can tell a story orally or  I can put my story onto paper.  I modeled this by asking a student to raise their hand and tell me something they did the night before.  I called on the student and they told us their story.  I then explained to the students how this student can now take this story to their journal.  I have noticed that when I use stories about flying in an airplane over the summer, going camping, etc they then feel that they need a story like mine.  No, it’s okay if you haven’t flown in an airplane before….you have your own story to tell.

I do have students tell me their story before leaving the carpet.  I say something like “Tom, what’s your story…as soon as he tells me a few words from his story I will say, “that’s a great story Tom, please tell me that story on your paper so I can come by and read all about it!”  It’s super hard to get them all to share before leaving the carpet if I let them tell me the w.h.o.l.e story ๐Ÿ™‚  We know how long those stories can get!  Eventually we will move onto to sharing our stories with a partner before we leave the carpet.

As the students are telling me their story ideas I am making my way around the room to ensure students are on the correct page in their journal.  Maybe it’s just my teacher OCD, but I work extremely hard on the journal “etiquette.”  That is;  turn to the next fresh page, one page per day, continue to add detail to your story if you finish early, raise your hand when your story is done so Mrs. West can check it, and of course journaling etiquette must include quiet voices throughout the room.  We have only had a couple of journal “accidents” which included writing on the back cover and one who used 4 pages for one story ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

I use {these} writing journal templates!  Now for some writing snap shots!

I had to share this one… this is what the little one colored on the day I asked them to draw a picture of themselves!

Strokes!  They are so important to our young writers.  To practice strokes we first stood up and made the full-body movement.  We then took it to tracing the stroke card, then used our dry erase markers on the stroke card, and last we took it to paper!  You can find the FREEBIE stroke cards {here} and the stroke practice sheets {here}.

Letter Work!  One of my favorite times of the day because they pick it up so quickly!  We use Journeys for Letter/Word Work.  We initially go through the alphabet quickly with one letter per day.  We then go back through the alphabet with one letter per week {introducing the alphafriend/song}.  During this quick introduction we teach the students about the difference in the capital/lowercase letter and the path of movement for each letter.

When the students get to the carpet for letter work we start by singing the traditional ABC’s {when the slow L-M-N-O-P}.  We then do the hip hop alphabet!

I then go to my all-time favorite letter name/sound life saver……..Leap Frog Letter Factory! I know I sound crazy and like and infomercial, but it really does work! ๐Ÿ™‚  I decided not to show the entire video as I don’t have that much open time and I thought the kids wouldn’t really get an understanding for why their were watching it.  I instead now only show up tot he letter we have reached.  For example, on Friday we were on letter E.  So, we watched letters Aa-Ee.  
We also each day watch the Leap Frog Letter Factory song!  We have a little action for each letter which I will include below.


A: hands to cheeks

B: Play bongo
C: Shiver like you are cold
D: Play drum
E: Hand to ear like you are to hear
F: Fly wings
G: Pump weights
H: Pant like you are hot
I: Cover your head to protect yourself from the slime
J: Put arm up like you are jumping high
K: Use arm to make kicking motion
L: Lick lollipop

M: Rub your tummy
N: Pretend to shoo flies away from your head
O: Grab your rope and pretend to be going through the jungle
P: Pop like popcorn
Q: Put both hands up like and shrug shoulders
R: Drive race car
S: Put hands up and make snake motion
T: Tap hands on legs
U: Hold on to umbrella and pretend to be lifted up
V: Hold hands up by chest and make vibrating motion
W: Put hands up like you are a DJ
X: Make X motion
Y: Put pom poms up to make a Y
Z: Both hands under ear and lay on your shoulder like you are asleep

My selection of Leap Frog Dvds.  They are great!

We do the above practice sheets each day.  They are double sided with capital on one side and lowercase on the opposite.  They are from

This year each of my students have their own spot in the hallway.  In previous years I just placed the work in the hallway.  This way each student can find their work and show pride and ownership in it! ๐Ÿ™‚

I have made a clip for each student.  My husband spray pained the clothes pins black.  I then hot glued a tack and the student’s card onto the clothes pin.

Our Chicka Boom trees!

Now that students know their bathroom expectations {for the most part} I am now able to do quick assessments as the students enter the restroom.  I have been taking out my alphabet cards and my subitizing cards.  The subitizing cards can be found {here}.

Well that’s all I have for now!  I hope to be back more frequently!  I hope you are having a great start to your school year as well ๐Ÿ™‚


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