2015 Resolutions Linky Party

Hello! Well, I'm coming down from my Christmas high and starting to think about January and the new year. I may even take down Christmas decorations today. Sniffle, sniffle. To help transition me away from my favorite holiday, I'm linking up with my friend, Jessica over at Second Grade Nest. She's having a 2015 Resolutions Linky.  Now let's be honest here. Will I actually follow through with all of my resolutions and goals? Probably not. But, if I follow through on just one or maybe even a few, then that is a total win. Baby steps, right? Every year try to get a tiny bit better while maintaining my sanity. That's something to strive for. :)

So, here we go! 

Attend more workshops and read more books that will make me better at my job. I want to learn more about reading disabilities and feel more confident about what I can do to support my students, their families, and their classroom teachers. 

Blog more! Well, not just blog more. I want to blog about more relevant topics. That totally depends on how how much time I can dedicate to learning more. There isn't enough time in the day, but I really want to share what I learn. 

Workout more. I hate working out. There, I said it. I don't enjoy it. at. all. I love going for walks, bike rides, or hikes with my family, but I barely get my heart rate up. I know I will feel better and be healthier overall if I just do it. 

Be present. I love spending time with my family and I think I do a pretty good job balancing. I am totally guilty of not always being present though. My mind wonders off and thinks about all the other things I need to be doing. Then I've wasted precious time with my wonderful little boys and/or my husband. I really believe every day counts. Every day is a blessing. Don't waste it. 

I've never been to Southern Cali. Seems likes a fun place to go. :) I'd also like to go back to NY for a visit. Europe is #1 on my list, but I know I won't get there in 2015 so I won't even put that on my official goal list.  

Good question.... I have no idea. I think I need to venture out and tray new recipes in general. My dinners are a little predictable and plain. Pinterest can help me with that. 

More about computers and html and all that crazy business. I am so confused with all that. I would also love to buy and leaner Photoshop. 

Sugar. I did pretty well in 2014 with not going crazy with the sugar. I always feel so much better when I don't eat sweets. I love sweets. LOVE. I don't have self-discipline when it comes to sweets, so I have to totally say no. Can't just have one piece. It's either no sweets or 35 hershey kisses. 

Did I mention work out? :) Also blogging? Spending more time with friends sounds good. My house could be cleaner. And if we really want to get random and real, I want to start doing my hair more. Don't laugh! My poor hair. It's thick and curly only in some spots. Then stick straight in others. It's a mess. I never make time to actually do it. It makes a difference though. I always look at people who do their hair so nice everyday and I think, I should do that. Again, time. Sleep for ten more minutes or do my hair? Sleep always wins. Maybe not in 2015!

House projects. Don't we all have those? Do those every actually get done? I would love to check some things off my TPT-to-do list. Some things have been there since 2012. Ha, ha! 

What are your goals for the new year? 

Head on over to Second Grade Nest to link up!

Take a Closer Look Freebie Hop December

Hi everyone! 

I am teaming up with some great teacher bloggers again to bring you another Take a Closer Look blog hop featuring one of our favorite December products.  We want to give you a closer look and a FREEBIE from the unit to try out with your class.

I wanted to give you a look at my Winter Character Analysis Pack.

This pack has character analysis story cards, printable versions of the story, a character analysis spinner for comprehension practice, task cards, and graphic organizers to use with any book. You can read more about this here.

I made some extras that you can only find here! (These are a sample of what you would find in my pack, but they are not actually part of my pack.) 
Click here to get your freebies!

Like it? Love it? Gotta have it?
Grab it in my store for 20% today only! Click here to get to my store.

And now, I am sending you off to the next blog on the blog hop list! 
Check out my friend Haley's blog, My Silly Firsties. You know she has something fabulous waiting for you!

California PK1 Blogger Conference Giveaway

Have you heard about the California Kindergarten Association's Annual PK1 Conference?  Well, it's an outstanding 3-day event designed by teachers for teachers specializing in early childhood education.  If you teach TK, Pre-K, K, 1st Grade, or Homeschool and live in the California area, this is definitely an event you don't want to miss. This year's conference is scheduled to take place in Santa Clara, California (just outside of San Francisco).  The festivities kick off on Friday, January 16th with a Pre-Conference Institute and lasts through Sunday, January 18th.  Oodles of professional development workshops ranging from behavior management and the importance of play to integrating the Common Core Standards will be offered throughout the weekend.      

But, wait!!  There's more.  Some of your FAVORITE bloggers are going to be taking part in this amazing conference.  Just look at this fun line-up of blogger presenters that will be at this year's PK1 Conference  . . .





All of these lovely ladies are presenting at the conference. I won't be presenting for an actual session, but I will be presenting something at the Blogger Fiesta. What' s that you ask? Yep, you heard right. Fiesta. As in party!  DWe are thrilled to announce that the PK1 Conference will be hosting it's very first Blogger Fiesta.  At this fun evening event, you can meet and chat with your favorite bloggers over a plate of yummy Mexican apps.  Each attendee will receive dinner, a Blogger CD (filled with $60 of free products), and a raffle ticket to enter to win oodles of other fabulous prizes!  That blogger CD will be a serious score. I included my best seller and I know these other bloggers have some goodies I can't wait to get my hands on! To purchase your $35 Blogger Fiesta ticket, click HERE. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to meet you and chat with you! 

Are you excited yet?  Let's up the ante a bit.  How about a chance to win a FREE conference registration?  Well, it's your lucky day!  The generous folks at CKA have given us one FREE conference registration to give away to our followers. Enter to win via the painless Rafflecopter below.  But, hurry!!!  This giveaway closes Friday evening and our BIG winner will be announced on Saturday, December 13th.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To learn more about PK1 and/or to check out the conference sessions in detail, CLICK HERE!  Thanks for taking the time to visit us today.  We hope to see you at this year's PK1 Conference :) 

Interactive Guided Reading Activities for Christmas

My students loved the activities in my Fall Guided Reading pack so much so I started working on a winter one. I didn't want to exclude Christmas, but at the same time, many teachers can't do Christmas stuff in their classrooms. So I decided to make a Christmas pack and a winter pack. Christmas is done! I have two weeks of school left, so I know this is a little late... I've been using it for the past week while I finished it up for you all. Love the Christmas theme. Can't help it. Just makes me happy to see elves, reindeer and Santa. For those of you who are looking for a way to spice up your Guided Reading time, check this out:  

Perfect for beginning readers and RTI!

You can find this in my TPT store:

Gingerbread Letters: Six Ideas for using these letters

I wanted to shake up my kindergarten instruction so I made these simple gingerbread cards. When I made them, I originally was going to use them as flash cards to "warm up" at the beginning of our group time. Then I started going and we ended up using these for the entire time! Here is what we ended up doing with these gingerbread men:

First, we used them as flash cards. Students had them in a pile and went through and reviewed their letter names.

Next, we sorted the cards by upper and lower case. Then they matched the upper and lower case together. 

After that we reviewed the letter sounds using only the lowercase letter cards.

We had the gingerbread vowel run to a consonant to practice blending words. Most of the words were nonsense words, but the point was to practice blending sounds together. This group of kids isn't ready to blend three sounds yet, so we focusing on two sounds. It was a lot of fun!
Click on the picture to watch the video. :)

We practiced segmenting sounds. They were able to segment three letter words with guidance. I said the word, then we all segmented the sounds together a couple of times. Then they tried to pull down the correct letters to make that word.

Last, we worked on manipulating sounds They had lots of guidance but I really saw improvement by the end. I would repeat the word and "touch and say" each sound. 
For example, I would say, map, /m/ /a/ /p/ as I touched each sound. Then I would say a new word, like mip, /m/ /i/ /p/. I would touch the cards again to help them see which sound changed.  A few kids were able to touch and say the cards on their own to determine which sound changed.

If you want to print out these cards to use with your kids, you can download them here. 

For more gingerbread ideas, click here to see my past posts. There are quite a few freebies if you scroll all the way through!

   I have a huge gingerbread unit in my TPT store as well. You can find that here:

Polar Express Activities for First Grade with a FREEBIE

One of the things I miss most about teaching first grade is Polar Express week. I have so many fond memories of Polar Express fun. At the beginning of the week we would read the book and at the end we would watch the movie. We did the whole drink hot cocoa, wear our pajamas, cold bells from the North Pole thing. Seriously a good time. I think I was just as excited as the kids. 

This is one of my first units on TPT and I've updated it a few times already. I think I finally have it just right. Here are a few of the activities from my Polar Express Pack:

Center Activities include:

  • Build a Sentence
  • Summary Slide
  • Sentence Scramblers
  • Noun sort 
  • Rhyme Match up
  • Onset and Rime Match up
  • Syllable Sort
  • Adding e

Printable Activities include:

  • Two poems
  • Changing Setting 
  • Read, think, Match
  • Read, visualize, Draw
  • Color the real words
  • Cause and effect
  • 6 Writing Activities 

You can get this pack HERE

I shared this freebie last year, but I've updated it with new clip art.  

You can download this freebie in the preview of my Polar Express pack. 


Click HERE to see another fun craft: A sequencing Train!

Countdown to Christmas

Come count down to Christmas with Primary Chalkboard! Each day there will be a little surprise for you. It's your very own cyber Advent Calendar!

Head on over to see what Greg from The Kindergarten Smorgasboard shared today! 

On a personal note...
This is my real Advent Calendar that my grandma made for me in 1980! Still love to put the little "ornaments" on the tree to count down to Christmas. Isn't' this precious?!

All About Characters: Task Cards, Graphic Organizers, and Short Stories

Hello! I'm SUPER excited about my newest pack!

 First off, let me tell you that I've always loved teaching character analysis. I think it's interesting. I love analyzing people in real life so, of course, I love analyzing characters in books. I sort of have a problem. I will be reading a book with my kids and I can't help but talk about the characters. My son will sometimes say, "Mommy, I just want to read the book, not talk about the character's feelings." Oops! Yeah, overkill. Teacher occupational hazard? Luckliy for me, my students have no choice but to humor me. Sorry kids, we are going to dig deeper and analyze this character. It's for your own good though. :)

Anywho, I had some fun with this pack.  About a month ago, I blogged  about character analysis lessons for fall read-alouds. You can read more here. This post is one of my favorites. It's all about ideas for teaching character analysis for specific books. No buying, no selling, just some great teaching ideas. If you want to take it a step further, this is where you want to go. 

First, I made task cards. My students are all about task cards. They love them! They love to take their white board pens and find evidence in text. These task cards have a short story with four character traits at the bottom. Students will read the story, decide which trait fits that character, then underline evidence in the text. Perfect for guided reading groups or partner activities!

Here's how you use them:

I read all the of word choices for the character traits. I explain what they all mean before they choose the word. Sometimes it might be helpful to read the words, then read the story then read the words again.

Highlight or underline the evidence to support the character trait. Let's get serious here. Using a dry erase marker make everything more fun. :) For this card, reliable was a new vocabulary word. As we reread the story, I kept asking, "Are they being reliable, someone you can count on?" or "Is this an example of being reliable- someone you can count on?" We took it line by line asking that questions over and over to help find that evidence.

Totally getting off track real quick...
As we were using these, I had some unexpected teachable moments:
Before getting into the character analysis, we highlighted the inflectional endings. It helped with accuracy. 

The word, always was a tricky word, we highlighted the words and reread the story. 

Okay, back on track!
I also included some task cards with questions to use with any book. This spinner is another option. Read a winter book and use these task cards and spinner to challenge your students to really think about the characters. Use them in small groups with the book you read, during read-aloud, or during partner reading.

I am also all about graphic organizers. This is how my brain figures things out. Give me a visual and I got it. I think our students are the same way usually. You can use these graphic organizers with any book that are read aloud or use during small reading groups. They will also work with some of the story cards in this pack. You can print these or draw them on chart paper to use as a whole group lesson.

(I wanted to reuse these to save paper so put them in a sleeve.) 

I decided to include a "ready-to-print" option. As much as I love using the laminated cards, there are times when you just need something  now. You can't laminate, you're out of color in your printer, and you just want to make it easy. I get it. I have been there and will be there. So I made this option for myself as much as for you! This is perfect for seat work, homework, and still guided reading groups. They can highlight evidence in the text and there is an extra question to get them thinking, 

This pack has 20 stories. they are in task card form and worksheet form. I also did an easier version of the stories so all students could use this pack.