Force and Motion Mini-Unit ... Finally!

Look what I FINALLY finished!  

Remember a few months ago when I posted  about some force/motion activities I was doing with my class? I got a  few emails asking if  I was planning on selling any of the worksheets I made. I had a bunch made already but not  quite enough to be a whole unit. I added a few things to make this mini-unit. I say mini because it's not really a full unit. It's a great mini-unit for sure, but not quite a unit unit. It's definitely a chunk of a unit though. ;) 

Here's what is included:

If you are interested, you can get this unit here:


Here's a little freebie for everyone:

I am busting my little buns to finish my kindergarten centers. I am more or less done with April and September. I'm having some bloggy friends look over them for me first. They will be here SO soon! 

Five For Friday- Organizing in a Tiny Room

Happy Friday friends! I'm linking up for Five for Friday with a focus on organizing.  I'm going to start by telling you a little about my classroom. It's not the biggest first grade classroom you've ever seen. It's pretty small. Storage has always been an issue, especially since I have TONS of stuff. I basically have two normal sized closets to fit everything in. I dream of having those dividers that some rooms have. You know the ones that have bulletin boards on one side and then the other side is used to close off a ginormous closet the length of the entire classroom. I get so jealous when I see those. Ah, the organization I could do with that space. Enough dreaming, back to reality! Here's what I do to stay organized with my tiny room. 

1. Here is how I store all of my literacy centers for the entire year. They all fit nicely on the shelf. 

In case you haven't seen this before, here's how they look when I'm using them:
4 folders in each and the kids have their matching menu.

2. My monthly binders. I know what you are thinking. Yucky to the eyes, right? I know I need to make some cute binder spines for these months. I shiver when I look at these but I just haven't gotten around to it. At least it's all organized, right? I put all my monthly themed lessons and craftivities here. I don't use file folders that much. I prefer having it all in a binder so I can look through it easily and choose what I want to do. These are packed! There are so many great products out there and I usually can't resist. I separate each activity or unit with clear paper protectors. 

Here's a look inside my December binder. This is one of the page protectors with the cover of a unit. The rest of the unit is behind this page protector. 

or you could do a general page protector like this one with several worksheets/activities behind it:

3. Then I keep my science stuff in these binders. I divide each unit using page protectors. That keeps the binders looking really nice. My next step is to put the standards in each binder with a checklist to show which units fall under each standard. 

4. And here are some of my literacy binders. They are growing! Clearly, I'm obsessed. The phonics looks small because I actually have more binders for phonics. There is a short vowel, long vowel, digraph, etc. 

5. I have these little tubs to fit those random little things I use each month that don't really have a home. 

This is only the tip of the iceberg. My other closet has all of my hands-on literacy activities and extra math manipulatives/games (most are out for the kids to use year around).

How do you organize your classroom life? It's always a work in progress and never feels like I'm done. It does help my sanity a bit though! 

Throwback Thursday- Ice Cream Writing

I'm linking up today for Throwback Thursday. Thanks for hosting this Cara!

I LOVE this idea. It's fun to go back and look over my old posts. The one I chose for today isn't too old, but it's perfect for today. It's all about ice cream! It's hot today so I'm definitely going to be scooping up a cone or two with my boys. 

Originally posted June 10, 2012

Ice Cream "Small Moments" Stories freebie with rubric

For one last writing assignment for the year, we wrote ice cream stories. We've written several personal narratives this year, but for this one, I wanted them to take this big topic and zoom in to make it a small moment. This is of course Lucy Calkins-inspired.  :)

I started by writing a boring version of an ice cream story. It was basically just listing events like this:

I went to the ice cream store on Saturday. I went with my son. We got chocolate. It was good. We had fun. 

I asked the kids if they enjoyed my story, then went into reasons why it wasn't very interesting. We decided that we would rewrite the story together to make it more interesting.

First, we brainstormed some sensory words that could be used in an ice cream story. Then I modeled the small moments concept during a shared writing. I was leading the story with an experience I had getting ice cream, but as a class we worked on narrowing the topic and zooming in on small details. Together, we wrote a great "small moments" narrative! My students helped me add in interesting words and good transitions. They has some really cute ideas to make my story sound more interesting. I don't have a picture of the actual story, but one cute idea was: "The line was pouring out the door" in place of "There was a long line." Another student said, "I wondered if anyone would notice if I cut the line. I couldn't wait another second." SO cute!

We reread the story together to practice the editing process as well. After going through the whole writing process together, the kids were ready to write their own ice cream narratives. After writing our stories, I set the timer for 5 minutes. For the entire 5 minutes, students have to reread their paper to edit. Even if they already edited, they all still have to take this 5 minutes for one more edit. Then we read our papers to a buddy. I encouraged them to ask each other questions about their stories. Finally, we read our stories to the class.

I've created this freebie for all of you to write ice cream stories with your class:

I included a few different options for paper...

Frames by That Girl and KPM doodles; clipart by Thistlegirldesigns

A graphic organizer...

and three different rubrics, depending on what you want to focus on.

This one equally assesses everything.

These two focus more on content/ideas:

You can get this FREE here at my TPT store  or  here at my Teacher's Notebook Store.

If you have a freebie, link up with freebie Friday!

If you love rubrics and would like a megapack of them, click here! 

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Rainforest Photo Dump

At the end of every year we transform our classroom into a rainforest. It's perfect for the last 2 or 3 weeks of school when they are already acting like wild animals. This always keeps them (more) engaged for the remainder of the year. 

One of the favorite activities is making trees for  our rainforest. First, we watch a Powerpoint about different rainforest trees. Then I break them into groups to create these trees. I give them a picture so they can try to make them look "real". I wish I would've made labels for the trees though. The big one in this first picture really is big! I had to get a ladder to hang it. You can't see it in this picture but they made buttress roots too. 

They colored butterflies and lizards during art. Our  art teacher also makes these beautiful birds with the kids. They mix their own bright colors and they turn out so pretty! 

In this picture you can see the snakes they make during art too. 


We also hang vines around the room. From those vines, the kids hang stuffed animals that live in the rainforest. It really is a jungle in my room! It's a good think I do it at the end of the year because otherwise it would make me crazy to have all this stuff hanging everywhere. 

Last year I bought this unit from Kerri at Teacher Bits and Bobs. I never got a chance to use it last year, but this year I went nuts with all of the adorable activities! If you are thinking of doing a rainforest unit, you have to get this. These adorable sloths come from her unit. There are so many other fabulous animal crafts in this unit. She is amazing!! If you really want to be impressed, check out her post on her rainforest unit here.  

And this is from Kerri's unit. LOVE this:


My students each get their own rainforest folder where they keep track of all their work.

I made some rainforest centers for them to work on a few years back but last year I added this wonderful clip art to go with it. Here are pictures of a few of the centers:

 Syllable Word  Puzzles: Making words by matching two and three syllable words

sentence match

 Suffix Sort

 Sentence Scrambler

Super Sentence

Real and nonsense word sort

I'm working on adding a few more and putting it all together with a rainforest menu like my monthly literacy centers. This is not for sure what the menu will look like but it'll be close to it. I'm still figuring out what I want to include. Most of the centers are already made but I have a few that I have yet to make. We'll see how it turns out!

At the end of the unit, we have a rainforest party with rainforest food. 

I'm officially out for summer! I have the longest list of projects for this summer so hopefully I'll be super productive at nap times and at night. :) I hope you are all enjoying your summers so far!

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Oregon Bloggers Unite!

Doesn't my blog post heading sound like we're uniting to do something really important or  influential? Actually we just met to chat and laugh and have a good time. :) I am such fans of these lovely ladies. We had so much fun, but unfortunately for me, I had to leave early. Party pooper! I was technically still on the clock. It was our teacher work day, so I just took my lunch three hours early. It was so worth it! I seriously could've stayed all day.

These gals are all so sweet and friendly. I was so nervous that no one would know who I was, but leave it to Nicole and Tanja who know everyone! They are amazing. I'm convinced they know every blogger by name, face and blog. I only know most people by blog but I'm working on changing that. :) Thank you for a great morning Oregon bloggers!

Finishing Fairy Tales

Our fairy tale unit is coming to an end and so is our school year! Two weeks left for me. I'm getting so excited to summertime. It's always sad to say goodbye to my class each year but at the same time I'm so ready for a break. I'm excited to be with my boys all summer. We are making plans I tell you! 

Back to fairy tales. :) You know I'm all about comparing during this unit. This time, students compared two different fairy tales (as opposed to comparing two versions of the same fairy tale). We had just finished The 3 Billy Goats Gruff and The 3 Billy Goats Fluff.  I brought out some of the other fairy tales we had read and asked the students if they can make any text to text connections. They had so many ideas! I used two different worksheets for this writing activities. I let them choose this time. Both scaffold in different ways. Here are some of the things they came up with:

Three Billy Goats Gruff and Jack and the Beanstalk both have mean giants (well troll is close to giant).

Three Billy Goats Gruff and Three Pigs: last pig tricks the wolf and the last goat tricks the troll, first two pigs ran away and first two goats run away (sort of), and the good characters didn't get eaten. 

Three Billy Goats Gruff and Trouble with Trolls (remember our Jan Brett unit?): I was excited about this connection because it was from another author study!

3 Little Pigs and 3 Billy Goats: both have three and both want to go somewhere but someone bad is stopping them.

This student compared the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff to the play that he had seen in kindergarten. I thought that was pretty cool. 

We also read Hansel and Gretel and did this problem and solution map:

I LOVED this writing activity! We all talked about "bad" characters. We had read a bunch of books that show the perspective of that bad character. All of them are so good!


We reviewed what their side of the story was for each fairy tale and then brainstormed some ideas about bad characters in other fairy tales. For this activity, students wrote about a "bad" character and defended their actions. It was pretty fun to read these. :)

This was our first step:


The they chose one character and wrote about it:


And here's a few Goldilocks activities:


These are all from my fairy tale unit.