Snowman Math Races- an indoor recess solution

Have you been hit by those terrible snow storms over the past week? Are you DREADING indoor recess? You don't have to! I have a FREE solution for you and it helps your kiddos practice their math facts.

December means it's time for snowman math races! Snowman math races are a big hit in my classroom. We use addition wheels to practice our facts and turn it into a race. If you aren't familiar with them
Here's how they work:
Draw a donut shape and place numbers around the inside. Then place another number in the center. Students line up and take turn adding the number inside the donut hole with the center number. They place their answer outside the circle.
 When we race I usually have just three or four students in a line. Students are NOT allowed to whisper or call out an answer OR let another student know their answer was wrong. After a student writes down an answer they pass their expo marker to the person behind them and go to the end of the line. If a student writes down an incorrect answer someone else in the line has to fix it. They simply cross off the wrong answer and write the correct answer next to it.  As soon as all of the answers are written down, and all the answers are correct, that group wins. I don't write the same numbers in each wheel when we race because I don't want anyone sneaking a peek at the other team's answers. It's a great way to get students to practice addition facts.

Snowman math races are easy and quick and great for indoor recess, end of the day, brain break, or as a competition with other classes. (I'm just a wee bit competitive!) My students BEG to have these races! I've also used them for finding the missing addend. If you're an upper grade you could do multiplication wheels. 

Here are our snowman races in action.

*notice the wrong answer!

*If you don't have a whiteboard you can laminate some butcher paper or poster paper and cut out your wheel and use dry erase markers to write. Post-Its will work in a pinch too.

To help my kiddos understand how to do addition math wheels I use wheels from this product. Students quickly understand and your students who are still struggling with their facts get some extra practice. I usually incorporate some of these into our math stations too. My struggling students will take wheels home for homework all month. This packet also includes missing addend practice.

This pack will be on sale during the Cyber Monday sale!

To give your students a tutorial/taste of snowman math races I've created this freebie. Just click to download!


K1 Fall Fun Bundle!

Hooray for Fall!
We got a little taste of Fall weather last weekend and with football being on I'm all about Fall! Pumpkin spice latte anyone?

We're through the fourth week of school and although I'm just exhausted I'm loving all the progress my first graders are already making. Beginning of the year testing is finally finished so I'm ready to get into the groove with my first graders! I have just six weeks left before Baby Tice is born and I'm desperately trying to make sure kiddos have all the tools they need to succeed while I'm on maternity leave. 

 I have also teamed up with Educents with some instant downloads for you!

I have two products included!
My 8 Legged Math Stations is my favorite set of math stations. These stations are always a huge hit with first graders and they are the perfect fit for this time of year with graphing, greatest to least, number order, number recognition and more!

The other product is my September/October Poem of the week pack! This is my newest poetry pack and a great way to incorporate poetry, fluency, sight work practice and comprehension. I add poetry as one of my literacy stations and my students love it! (Anything to get them excited about reading, right?!)

But that's not all... the bundle covers to following topics that you will need to teach this year:

·      long and short vowel sounds
·      counting, identifying, representing, and comparing numbers
·      identify and analyze 2d & 3d shapes
·      become scientists  
·      write words and sentences
·      implement writers workshop
·      addition and subtraction story problems to 20
·      story elements
·      retelling and responding to text
·      poetry
·      ten frames
·      least to greatest and greatest to least
·      graphing

For a limited time it is $15.99 from Educents which is about 76% off!  12 instant downloads for your Kindergarten and First Grade learners.  And 850 pages of materials ready for you to use - there is sure to be tons you will love!

Check out the other amazing products included below:


What I Did Right This Week

I'm joining Angela from The Daily Alphabet for a little bit about what I did right this week!

It's the fourth week of school and my kids are really rocking' it! 

I finished ALL of my beginning of the year testing today so that was huge win for me. I'm huge pregnant and I'm starting to panic about getting my plans done for my long term sub. 

Last Friday I introduced Whole Brain Teaching oral writing using this Writing Rock Stars guide
So what the heck is oral writing with WBT? You start out using gestures for capital letters and punctuation as you speak. We practiced sentences with gestures and the kids had a great time! They LOVE using gestures and their journals have really fantastic sentences. Most of my students wrote five sentences-every sentence had a capital letter and every sentence had correct punctuation. Whoa- that's a lot for the fourth week of school in first grade. 
(I don't have a picture-WAAA!)

Can't wait to see what everyone else has done this week!


Prepping for Parent Orientation

Back to school means getting ready for parent orientation night. Last year we had some feedback from our parents that they didn't realize what a leap it was from kindergarten to first. We wanted to make sure our parents were informed and we also wanted them to know that on our team we all have the same expectations and we all teach the same curriculum....we may just teach it in a different way. I think this was our best parent orientation night EVER!

We started the night with a 25 minute presentation in our cafeteria addressing all of the parents. We have two brand new teammates so we started with a little introduction. We passed the microphone around between slides so we were all able to present as a team.

I'm so thankful I work with such an incredible group of ladies! Love them all!

We covered: 
*Schedule, pace, and the importance of showing up on time to school
*Reading expectations. We hope our students are at a DRA level 4 or above at the beginning of the year and an 18 or above at the end of the year. We took pictures of both a 4 and 18 to show parents what their child is working for. 
*Reading comprehension and its part in DRA scores. This is a big deal for us. Many parents know their children can read challenging books, but they don't realize that their child isn't able to remember what they are reading.
*Spelling- this year we have three mystery words that follow our phonics skill for the week. This way we can see which students have really mastered the skill instead of just memorizing the words.
*We discussed math facts and how to study them.
*Snacks, lunches
*BYOD- our district encourages students to bring their own devices
*Shoe tying! We asked that parents not send their children to school in shoes with laces if they can't tie them by themselves
*homework- reading every night
*sight words-Fry list

After our team presentation was over parents came to our classrooms for individual presentations. These covered a little bit about us (I revealed that I have a blog- I've never told parents that! EEK! My blog has always been just for me. If people figured out I had one I was ok with that but I never actually told anyone except my teammates), our personal behavior management, and other odds and ends.

Every year I end my presentation with this quote. I came across it when I read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. Hands down one of the best books I've ever read! If you haven't read it go put it on your wish list RIGHT NOW!
First grade is a reading grade and let's face it- all those stinkin standardized state tests are really READING tests!

My baby is due October 31st and I'm already stressing about making sure I have thorough plans and everything in place. I may have gone a little crazy with the Astrobrights paper. But I wanted to make sure my parents had plenty of information. I saw this fabulous flip book on Instagram from
 A Spoonful of Learning.  I love the end product! You can purchase your flip book here.

ugh- I see one page was stapled off center.  

*I also made two extra copies and set them aside for new students.

I found GREAT handouts on reading at home from All Students Can Shine and Fun in First.

I also needed a few other items in my room and used this SUPER cute donut themed parent donation pack from Farley! (I wanted to set mine up cuter, but swollen feet prevented me from doing much.) You can find her donut themed parent night pack right here.

At the end of the night I was exhausted but I think our first grade parents went home with lots of information and a better understanding of everything first grade entails. I {fingers crossed} hope my parents felt a little more at ease.

Hope all my teacher friends out there are off to a great school year! 


Starting off on the WRITE foot

Good morning! I survived week two of school. How about you? I have lots to share about our week, but first I have to celebrate a fellow blogger! My dear friend Ashley from

Flying High in First Grade

Flying High in First Grade is celebrating a milestone and she's having an AWESOME giveaway! You can win my September/October Poem a Week pack as well as several other kick ass prizes. Ashley just had a baby girl and who knows, maybe our girls will be besties one day! 

This week we were busy working on routines, incorporating more Whole Brain Teaching, and setting up our writing journals. We want to start out on the "write" foot! LOL! Before school started I blogged about my All the Write Moves pack and the changes I had made to it from last year. You can check out that post here.

First we glued in our tabs to separate our journals into sections. Then we started gluing in all of our Writers Can pieces. I used my new Belkin Tablet Stand document camera for the first time. It was awesome. (I'll be doing a post on that in a couple of weeks after I've figured out all the cool tools!)

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Some pieces are interactive. But my main goal with having a Writers Can section was to give examples for my student to refer back to when they are working in their journals. I'm so excited to see how their writing changes and how they challenge themselves with journals set up this way.
You can find my All the Write Moves pack on TPT. Just click on the picture above! 
Happy Saturday!


5 Must-Read Books for Back to School

It's been wonderful being back at school this week! I've missed being in the classroom and I've really missed my picture books.

My name is Jennifer and I have a picture book addiction. 

Seriously, put me in Barnes and Noble and it's like I'm in Target. I have no self-control! I know I'm not alone!

I have 5 books that I read every year and I can't imagine beginning my year without them.

1. Do Unto Otters- Absolutely the cutest book about the golden rule of do unto others. Great for manners and treating others with kindness. Every year I draw the main character and we record all the words we can think of on how to "do unto otters." There's also a VERY adorable DVD that you can find on Amazon (it includes 3 other stories By Laurie Keller). It's an animated version of the story and it's always a big hit.

2. Wemberly Worried- So many students can relate to being nervous on the first day of school. 

3. You Will Be My Friend- HILARIOUS! Peter Brown is too funny. Lucy, the cute bear on the cover, has the hardest time making a friend. She even yells "YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND!" which of course does not help her in making any new friends. The kids laugh at her ridiculous behavior and it leads to great discussion about how to make a friend.

4. Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse- Another fabulous Kevin Henkes book. When Lilly draws a nasty picture of her teacher at the end of a bad day her teacher tells her "Today was difficult, tomorrow will be better." I say that same phrase to students all year long. Students easily relate to Lilly's excitement to show and tell about her purple plastic purse, movie star sunglasses, and jingly quarters. 

5. Library Lion- the illustrations in this book are so gorgeous. If you aren't familiar with this book it's so sweet. The librarian is very adamant that everyone follow the rules- most importantly STAY QUIET. But what if there's an emergency? Is there ever a time when it's okay to break the rules?


School starts Monday & I have no furniture!

You read the title right friends. I have no furniture. 


Our district is going to be building a new elementary school and I'm one of two teachers that's piloting new furniture. I'm SUPER excited about the new furniture. It's modern and on wheels and will allow for lots of collaborative group work. This furniture was supposed to have been delivered and set up last Friday. Well, Friday came and went.....Monday too...I did finally get a teacher desk and what will replace my horseshoe table. But y'all, that's it. Desks were delivered today! However, after the custodians put one together they realized the district ordered chairs that were too small. Isn't that awesome? 


I still have my bookcases. I haven't removed my carpet or horseshoe table yet since I needed some place for paperwork for parents at Meet the Teacher Night.  And if I have not desks Monday we'll have to be sitting on the carpet a lot! I don't have anything on my walls because  I have no idea what other furniture I'll be getting besides desks. Murphy's Law: If I put things onto the wall the way I think will work out then once the furniture is there I will have to take it all down and put it up in a different spot.


If you've followed my blog for a while, or follow me on Instagram you may know I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I love putting my room together and I feel like what your room looks like is part of your first impression to parents and kids. 

School starts Monday. I'm 7 months pregnant and I'm tired. My feet hurt. I could easily have big BOO-HOO episode about the whole dang thing. But what would be the point? Crying won't solve anything. This situation is completely out of my hands!

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Tonight at Meet the Teacher as I was explaining/apologizing to a parent that my room just wasn't ready he said, "Who cares? No one is here to see furniture or posters on your wall. The kids want to see you!"
That will be true on Monday too. The kids will follow my reaction. It's the perfect opportunity to show I'm flexible and that even when things don't go as planned you can still make the most of a tough situation. We want to teach our kids that skill anyway!

This year as unexpected and unplanned things happen remember you are in charge of your reaction and attitude! Teachers are tough and resilient. We have an incredibly tough job and WE DO AMAZING THINGS!

Have a great school year! 


Wish List Winners!

A big thank you to everyone who went through the whole wish list hop! I added some goodies to my wish list already! 

The winner of my Moo-lah Unit is..... (drum roll please!)

Congratulations Kelly! Be sure to check your email!!


Wish List Blog Hop

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I'm so happy you're here! Thanks for visiting our blog hop! 
I am...

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I have two products to share with you today! The first product is a paid product.

My first graders always seem to struggle with money each year. Many kids just don't see or get to feel and play with any actual money. Most of us use our credit or debit cards almost all the time. I created this unit to move gradually through money concepts beginning with coin recognition. My students love working on money because it makes them feel so grown up! I've had so much success with this product! This product is $5 in my TPT store.

You can win my unit as well as all the paid products featured by my fellow hop hosts! Winner will be announced on Sunday!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The second product I want to share with you is a little preview of my Moolah Unit. 

Thank you so much for stopping by!
Your next stop on the hop is

Kindergarten Craftiness

If you would like to start the hop from the beginning head to

My Silly Firsties


I hate to be a tease....

A few fabulous gals I connected with at the TPT conference in Vegas and I are doing a super fun blog hop! We were all talking about what we had on our TPT wish lists and wanted to share.....stay tuned. You won't want to miss it!

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Meanwhile it's back to school time and I'm desperately trying to set up my room. But I'm 7 months pregnant and I get tired so quickly! My printer has some issues (followed by an epic pregnant lady meltdown last night) so I haven't even been able to print anything. Hoping to have pictures of my room done by Sunday......or Monday.


All the Write Moves

Writing in first grade is so exciting! I love how much growth you see when you view their writing journal entries from the first month of school to the last month. 

I personally don't love scripted programs that tell you what to do with each lesson for writing from the first day of school on. Having taught 4th grade writing for two years I know very well that writing can feel like a chore to many students- especially those who aren't naturally strong writers. I feel like writing should be taught the way reading is. First children are exposed to writing just as they are books and reading. But when we first start "reading" we are pretending. We aren't really reading anything yet. For years we are given freedom to mimic what our parents read and how they read it before we are ever exposed to letter sounds and how to blend them into words. The first half of the school year I allow a lot of freedom in my students writing journals. Monday through Thursday students can free write in their journals. I have journal prompts and sentence starters for those students who want to use them. On Fridays we do a writing assignment together. I show students our writing prompts and we write together. I put each sentence on a sentence strip in a different color. We read and re-read what we have written to make sure it makes sense. Then students go back to their seats and do their own writing to the same prompt. Beginning in January students do much more writing that is assigned. By this time the majority of students are at a reading level that allows them to use good vocabulary and write sentences using many of our sight words. They begin to see how creative they can be and many students take several days to complete one journal piece.

Last year I created an All the Write Moves packet. I posted our writing goals in our center as well as our posters from this pack.

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But I found as the year went on that I really needed students to have mini versions of the posters inside their journals to use as a reference. I began updating my pack and edited and added several pages.  There are example pages what writers can write. I also have mini versions of writing posters in both black and white. Writing activities and examples are listed throughout the pack. I also included our writing goals.

If you have already purchased All the Write Moves be sure to download the latest version. This is the perfect product to add to your Back to School wish list! Click on either picture to view this product on TPT!

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