Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Party ideas

Hi, friends! Only 13 days til Christmas!! This month is flying by!!! 
Our holiday party is next week! Would love to hear what you will be doing in your rooms!

We have one hour for our party. I like to do stations! I have done a gingerbread theme the past few years to go along with our Flat Gingerbread project! 

We will have 4 {15 minute} stations:

Station One: Gingerbread Cookie Decorating
Pretty standard!  Cookies and kids! No brainer :)

Station Two: Pin the Nose on the Gingerbread
OLD SCHOOL! My kiddos absolutely loved this last year! Good ole blindfold, spin your partner round and round, and let them have at it! Lots of laughs at this one!

Station Three: Gingerbread Sticker House
This is the BEST party craft, hands down! No hot glue guns, never ending 0.00001 inch foam pieces that DON'T STICK with Elmer's glue!! Love, love these from Oriental Trading!

Station Four: Book Exchange
I ask each student to bring a wrapped $5.00 book marked TO BOY or TO GIRL. I have my groups in groups of girls and groups of boys. The kiddos sit in a circle. A parent reads a gingerbread book and every time they say the word gingerbread, the kiddos pass the book to the next person. At the end of the story, you keep the book you have!

What are your tried and true party tips? 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Opinion Writing Freebie

Happy TG-almost-F!!! 
We are headed to the farm for a field trip tomorrow, so today was our last school day this week! :) The farm is my most fave trip of the year - it is so much fun! It will be in the low 60s here in Alabama - perfect fun fall weather!

We started our Opinion writing unit this week! 
With the implementation of the Common Core standards, firsties must now write an opinion piece. 

CCSS ELA-Literacy W.1.1 Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion and provide some sense of closure. 

Here are a few popular opinion texts:

This week, we started with Hey, Little Ant! LOVE this book!!! 
It sparks such precious conversation with littles and their sweet hearts of gold! 

Here are some awesome printables I found to use with 
Hey, Little Ant!

LOVE this creativity from sweet Cara!

We used this paper from Dots and Spots to help us organize our ideas!

Here is a little freebie with pictures of the mentor texts and four generic printables to use with TOPIC or TEXT. 

***Legend of the Five Corn Kernels update - 
Several friends have asked me to repost this activity to TpT. I decided to take it off TpT this summer due to copyright reasons. I don't want to have any resources that I didn't create…I obviously did not make up this little lesson! Here is a link to a blog that features The Legend of the Five Corn Kernels. 
So sorry to disappoint! :(

Hope you have a fab Friday and a wonderful weekend! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Short Vowel Word Work Units

Hey friends! Hope you are having a fun fall week!

This year, our faculty was encouraged to pick one word as a focus for our year. I picked BALANCE. It is the busy time of year where we need to balance school, home, and LIFE! Take time to grab a latte {preferably pumpkin!} and call a friend! Or read a magazine! Or organize a closet...oh wait, that is the Monica in know, Monica from Friends?? I LOVE to organize...when something is organized, it makes me happy!!! But seriously, I am trying SUPER hard to balance everything! One way I am doing that is to close the laptop at 8:00 pm. I really try to have some down time before we head to bed! Being balanced and happy will make me a better teacher!! :) 
How do you keep the balance in your life? I would love to hear your tips! 

I have finished the word work units for all of the short vowels!

Short vowel u has two themes - Pumpkin Patch {if you study short vowel u in the fall in first grade} or Backyard Bugs {if you study short vowel u in the spring in Kindergarten!}

I have added another page to the units - Stretch the Sounds with pictures!  I had a sub last week and I needed an activity for them to work on after reading a Phonics Tales book. So there you have it - because sometimes you just need an activity sheet with out cards!  

You can also get the bundle of all five short vowel word work units for $14.00 {a 20% savings of $3.50 - like one unit for free!}

I will email the Short Vowel Word Work bundle to 2 friends this Friday - just comment below with your email address! 

Enjoy the rest of your week! 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week in Review and Word Work Winners

Happy Sunday, friends! It is absolutely gorgeous here in Alabama! Fall has finally arrived! :) 

Let's take a peek at our week in review! I kind of wish I could write my lesson plans when the week was over! As Type A and OCD as I am, I always add ideas throughout the week from YOU! I have started making sticky notes on my plans to remember ideas for next year!  

Week in review - September 23 - 27

PHONICS: beginning r and s blends
I have to be honest, I have never explicitly taught these blends before! I have always taught them within other focused skills. I struggled to find stuff for this week! 

I created a word work unit: Traffic Jam {beginning r and s blends}
LOVE these graphics from Goodness&Fun! 

I used these Electric Company video clips from School Tube - always a fave! 

THE DAILY FIVE: Word Work Launch
We launched Word Work this week! The kiddos did a great job and were super excited to have a new choice!! 

I started my Word Work tubs with one activity:

I like this because the kids write the whole word in one color, versus every letter in a different color. I feel that they spend so much time changing markers that way! Ha! 
Go grab this freebie from Teri! :) 

MATH: Understanding Addition
I snagged this freebie from Khrys Bosland - perfect to add to Math Work Stations this week! 

We also learned a new card game - Addition War! Why do kiddos just eat card games up? 

WRITING WORKSHOP : Fix It Up! editing
After learning all about sentence structure and what makes a good sentence, we are looking for errors and using editing marks! 
Check out Christie's super cute Sentence Fix Up unit! LOVE it!!! It is just perfect for my firsties! Love the editing marks poster and the practical practice pages - and of course, the cutie construction theme! 


We had a fun apple week!!! We tasted apples, described apples using our five senses, made a torn paper apple, and ended the week with homemade {or schoolmade as one of my cuties pointed out!} applesauce! So delish over vanilla ice cream! 
I used this recipe from Find Time for Fun. com - turned out perfectly! 

And that is our week in review! 

Congratulations to Lisa and Robinann17! Check your email for the Crap Trap {short vowel a}, Fishy Fishy {short vowel i}, and Play Date {beginning l blends} Word Work units! Thanks to everyone for their sweet comments! 

Have a fun fall week!!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Word Work units

Hey friends!
Happy fall y'all!! I have to wait until the first day of fall to get my Pumpkin Spice latte! I swung by Starbucks on my way to school this morning to pick one up! Made my morning so happy!

This year, one of main goals is creating word work units to go along with our new Wonders series. 
Many of the skills are skills I have previously taught with other series, but some are new! I am updating older units and creating a streamlined look!

All of the word work units will have:
Phonics display card - I put this on my focus board!

Word list - so you have a handy list to use throughout the week

Blending Boxes - these are new! I am going to use these to start each small group!

Stretch the Sounds - this a new explicit teaching activity that I do every Tuesday during our phonics time!

Word Sort - I put this in Word Work tubs some weeks ... sometimes it is another game or activity that I have!

Card game - I love to play this during small groups!

Scrambled SentencesI put this in Word Work tubs some weeks ... sometimes it is another game or activity that I have!

Write the Room - Half of the class writes the room while I work with a group on the carpet and then we switch! We write the room every Wednesday!

Word Search - This is our Fun Friday morning work before our spelling test

I DO NOT do all of the activities in one week! I just like to have several activities to choose from! :) 

I realized I have posted some units but did not give away any for free! Shame on me!!! 

Comment below with your EMAIL ADDRESS for a chance to win  ALL 3 new units:
Crab Trap {short vowel a}, 
Fishy Fishy {short vowel i}, AND Play Date {beginning blends}! 

I will email all 3 units to 2 people on Wednesday!
 Happy Monday to you! Hope your week is off to a great start!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Math Work Stations - the First Month!

Hey friends!
This is my second year doing Math Work Stations and I love them just as much as I did last year!
This year, I have 15 kiddos in my class and I have 6 groups of 2 and one group of 3. I have 7 work stations this year.
The first week of school, to launch math work stations we made an anchor chart on the Promethean board of what math work stations should look like and sound like. I had students model the right way and the wrong way  {CRINGE!} to do math work stations.

Sorry for the AWFUL pic - I just thought that I could have taken a screen shot of the actual flipchart from my computer at school - DUH! Next time, friends! :)

I started with all 7 tubs having the same activity: Number War. Simply use decks of cards with the face cards taken out.
 I modeled this game the first week of school and we started this game in the math work stations the second week of school.
We only did math work stations for about 5 minutes…we are building our stamina just like with Daily Five! After the five minutes were up, we practiced cleaning up during our clean up song {Tidy Up by Dr. Jean} and putting our math work stations away in the right order.
By the way, does anyone have an awesome clean up song?? I am looking for a new one after using Dr. J for about 7 years now!!! 

The second day we did math work stations for about 7 minutes and by the end of the second week we were up to about 10 minutes. 

The third week of school we began our unit on geometry and I added two more activities to math work stations.
I added pattern block and pattern block designs to 4 tubs.
I also added the Shake a Shape {or connect four} game to 3 tubs.
Now, there are at least two activities in each tub. Either pattern block cards OR Shake a Shape game AND all the tubs still have Number War in them.

This week will be the fourth week of school.
 I will add the iPad and the iPad mini to two of the stations... 7 stations total {5 games/activities and 2 technology}.
First semester we focus mostly on addition and subtraction, so all of the math work stations will have addition and subtraction activities.
Second semester, we move on to place value, data, numbers to 100, fractions, and more. Two of the tubs will remain addition and subtraction activities so that the children can maintain their fluency with addition and subtraction facts throughout the year!

Hope your math work stations are going marvelously! :) 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Five for Friday *Freebie*

TGIF,  friends! 
Hope you've had a great week! We just finished our third week and I am oh so glad that my firsties are beginning to get into our routine!

I am linking up with Kacey for another Five for Friday!

1. School Tube

I looove School Tube! We can not access You Tube at school, so School Tube is the next best thing!
One of my favorite channels is Have Fun Teaching
LOVE their Counting by 1's, 2's, 5's and 10's videos! Check it out!

2. New Word Work unit on TpT

My goal is to make phonics units to go along with each week of our new reading series! These word work units will include a display page, word work game, card game, scrambled sentences, write the room, and word search!
Check out Fishy, Fishy, my new short vowel i Word Work unit! 

3. Facebook

Castles and Crayons is finally on FB!!! Come 'Like' us to stay informed of new units, sales, and teaching tips!

4. Quick Lunch Idea
My teammate has been eating these yummy looking salads lately! I asked her where she got the chicken on her salad and she said Chick-Fil-A! What a great idea! Stop by on Monday and grab a 12 piece chicken nugget - perfect for 2 salads for the week! :) How easy is that and WHY haven't I thought of that! 

5. Freebie on TpT

This week, we are studying geometry! Check out this freebie for a Shake a Shape four in a row plane shape game! 

Have a fun football weekend! GO GAMECOCKS!!! 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Final Spotlight Series post and Curriculum Map

I am SO SORRY I kind of bailed on the Schedule Spotlight series!!! Well, not kind of. I actually did bail on the series. For real. :(  Note to self - do not have linky party or blog series leading up to the first week of school! Y'all were so sweet to check on me - I am alive and well! :) 

And thank you to the sweet soul who pointed out that I actually have to PUBLISH the scheduled post for it to actually post!! Sheesh - how did I miss that?!?

I had two posts left: one was Social Studies and Science and the last one was packing up procedures! 
The packing up procedure post was just to round up to 10 posts for the I am just going to nix that one, mkay?

Let's call this the Social Studies and Science post!
I also wanted to share the curriculum map that my first grade team is using this school year. 
We use the enVision Math series {aligned with Common Core} and the McGraw Hill Wonders reading series {aligned with Common Core}. 
This is our plan so far! If you have any questions about any of the units of study, please email me at

My favorite resources for teaching Social Studies and Science are:

Brain Pop, Jr. 

Y'all know how much I love Annie and Moby!


LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! This is expensive but worth it!!! 

Teachers Pay Teachers

Duh and duh! Can't get enough of the cute units and crafts! 
LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this All About Me book from Ashley Sanderson - just perfect for our Marvelous Me unit last week! 

Books, books, and more books! :) I  read a book every afternoon to begin our Social Studies and Science lesson! 

Enjoy the rest of your long weekend! 
Stay tuned for the next Phonics word work unit to be posted on TpT and a math freebie! :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Schedule Spotlight Series #8 - Small Groups

Hey y'all! I am so sorry for the late post - is it me or does your Blogger scheduling post function not work??? I have tried this to no avail for a few years! Every time I schedule a post for a busy week {like this one} it DOES.NOT.POST. It seems easy - like ridiculously easy, so I am just not sure what I am missing!!! Has anyone else struggled with this?? I feel kind of dumb :)

This is the eighth post in the 10 week Schedule Spotlight series!
For those of you just joining in the fun, we are going through our day, minute by minute and hour by hour! Almost as a good as observing…but saving money on gas and sub pay! :)

7:45 - 8:15 ~ Morning Work {Post #1 - June 10}
8:15 - 8:30 ~ Calendar {Post #2 - June 17}
8:30 - 9:00 ~ Math {Post #3 - June 24}
9:00 - 9:45 ~ SPECIALS
9:45 - 10:30 ~ Phonics {Post #4 - July 1}
10:35 - 10:55 - RECESS
11:00 - 11:30 - LUNCH
11:30 - 12:40 ~ The Daily Five Sessions 1 and 2 {Post #5 - July 8}
{Writing Mini Lesson - Post #6 - July 15}
12:40 - 1:10 ~ PE
1:15 - Restroom Break
1:15 - 1:45 ~ The Daily Five Session 3 
{Comprehension Mini Lesson - Post #7 - July 22}

Let's dig right into to this weeks topic - SMALL GROUPS!

I think small groups are one of the most important parts of our day! I pull two, sometimes three small groups a day! 

To begin every small group, we chant either the Alphabet Chart or Blend and Digraph chart. I start with the Alphabet chart with some groups and introduce the Blend and Digraph chart with all groups by Christmas! It only takes a minute or so, but I think it is a great daily review, and it signals to their sweet brains that we are about to start our group time! 

Both the Alphabet Chart and Blend and Digraph chart are free downloads in my TpT store!

After our chart chant, we move into a review of our phonics skill of the week. This part takes about 5 minutes and I use a variety of materials. Sometimes we do a Roll and Read, or maybe a quick card game from a phonics unit! Check out my newest unit for short vowel /a/, Crab Trap

After our chart chart and phonics review, we begin a little guided reading lesson. I read one book with each of my groups every week. One day is for prereading activities, such a picture walk through the book, sight word previews, and I Spy {I spy a word they might have difficulty with and they find the word and read it out loud}. 

The next day is for reading and re reading! Sometimes we partner read, read in different voices. I always try to give each reader a compliment on this day! "I love the way Brady read with expression today!"

The third day is for re-reading for fluency and a writing activity.

Link up below to tell us all about your favorite resource or routine for your small groups!
Join us next Monday, August 5 to hear about how social studies and science goes in my classroom!

Have a fun in the sun week! :)

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