Thursday, December 7, 2017

Easy recycled/reused Christmas Decor

Do you ever get a Christmas card that is just too pretty to throw away? I mean cards in general now days are not always cheap. I have actually received cards other than Christmas (birthday, Easter, etc) that are beautiful and I try to keep what I can but let's be real, I don't like a lot of "stuff'" and try to purge as much as possible. However, for those extra special cards that are just too good to toss I decided to use as an easy DIY project.

I made this particular one for Christmas. But you could use any kind of card front depending on the theme or look you are wanting to achieve.

What you will need:
-front of a used card (I just pull off the back to keep the front)
-scrapbook paper
-frame of your own size and choosing

It really is as easy as it looks in the picture! Once you decide your size and if you will use matting or scrapbook paper all you do is put it together! Seriously, easy right? And you get to reuse/recycle those beautiful cards! I mean it could easily be a gift as well! Put your own spin on it!

Here are some other examples of fronts of cards I have saved and just waiting for the right moment to create something.
See? Too pretty to toss!

Have a BLESSED night!! 
"But the Lord watches over all who honor and trust his kindness." - Psalms 33:18

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Bites Episode 3-The Hallo-Wiener

Howdy ya'll! So I am a smidge behind on blogging so I am kind of doing a catch-up session here for Book Bites Episode 3.

If you are just now discovering my little blog and have no idea what Book Bites is then head over to the overview HERE to get a background of this little venture. You can also view the overview video HERE

Now onto Episode 3! 
The Hallo-Wiener  
by: Dav Pilkey 

** The video will have more detailed information about all these ideas below- this is just a quick sneak peek**

Overview: Oscar is short, like all dachshunds, and other dogs make fun of him. On Halloween he takes more ridicule than ever in his hot-dog costume, but one brave act makes him a hero.

Teaching points: (if you choose) bullying, character feelings 

Sticky notes: I do not have specific stopping points for this read aloud this time.I really wanted this seasonal one to be more of an enjoyment read with maybe some follow up fun activities.
Grab the Mini Integrated Unit HERE

Here's a peek at what is included: 

-Dog template to create craft

-Give Oscar a new costume

-2 Story element activities
-Book review
-Text to Self Connections
-DIY Word Family Sort
-Trick or Treat (true or false)
-Create your own Trick or Treat
-Verb practice
-Verb cards
-Story element cards
-2 Odd/Even sort
-Count by 5's cut/paste
-Count by 2's cut/paste
-On/off the decade practice
-Place Value

Here is an example of on of the activities! 

Access the full Episode 3 HERE

Want just the read aloud? Go listen and watch HERE

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook to get notifications of when new Book Bites Episodes are happening! You can also access all of them on my YouTube channel!

Have a BLESSED week!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Scooping Up Reading Craftivity

Well hello there!
I feel like it has been awhile since I "for real" blogged. What's "for real" blogging? Well other than a quick check in on my Facebook blog page or Instagram and actually sitting down and typing a full post is "real blogging." I have SO many ideas I have written down to blog about but it truly is finding the time and sometimes the motivation to gather it all and focus to put it into words. But that's why I have my idea notebook! So I don't forget and hopefully will eventually get around to it! 

For tonight though this will be short and SWEET. Most importantly though, SWEET!! 
Do you like reading? 
Do you like ice cream?
Do you like a reason to throw a party?
Then this little FREEBIE is for YOU! Well for your kids, but you will reap the tasty benefits too! 

Here is the low down:
This little reflection craft can be used at the end of teaching different types of reading strategies. For example, we used this at the end of 2nd grade Lucy Calkins Reading Units of Study Unit 1 Session 4 “Readers Read in Longer Phrases Scooping Up Snap Words”. After teaching various ways and strategies that can be used while reading, second grade held a “Scooping up Reading” party. The kids reviewed the strategies that have been taught and created the ice cream craft. Then they got to celebrate with some ice cream scooping! (they also offered sorbet as an option for dairy              allergies)
This provides a fun way to wrap up or practice what they have been taught.

 Go grab the freebie HERE

Thank you so much to the 2nd grade ELA team for helping me bring this idea to life! Ya'll it's hard going from having your own classroom and babies to do these things with, to not having the direct opportunity to do so. Thankfully I work with some really awesome teachers throughout the grades that allow me to continue to still be ME and offer up ideas and create things for their little ones to do and try. We work hard and take our jobs building those minds seriously, but we also know how to have some fun!! 

Have a BLESSED week!! 
"I am the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end, says the Lord God." Revelations 1:8

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

No More "What's Due?" Manage the paper monster!

How do you manage your classroom work and objectives? I am sure if your classroom is anything in the form of a normal classroom you have a lot going on throughout the week. Things can start piling up if you do not have some kind of a system in place. Even if a majority of what you do is in Interactive Notebooks, Seesaw, etc you can still get bogged down with what needs to be checked. Well I have tried various different things over the years and finally have settled on my newest technique. I have tweaked it and have seen such good results. And I promise you even 1st graders can manage it! 

The To-Do board! 
I have posted in the past about my kids having the chance to earn Fun Friday. After they accomplish all of their goals for the week they can earn that extra time to just be a kid and have some fun. I mean we work so hard during the week! 

On my back wall I have two empty cabinet fronts (prime real estate ya know?). I made picture icons of the objectives they would typically be faced with throughout the week as well as icons for what to do with the assignments when complete. I mean who just craves hearing..."I'm done!" What do I do with this? Where do I put it?" Well I can tell you I do not haha...I really want to foster independence and problem solving skills within those 4 walls. 
(I would have offered the icons as a freebie but it is tailored to what we do specifically, you would need to take pictures for your own icons-sorry!) 

Now we had a lot rolling this week so it looks kind of overwhelming to the naked eye lol...but my little owls have been trained on this and can execute it pretty well now days.

I put any assignment we have started and needs to be finished by Friday on the left side. On the right side I put the picture icon for where or what they need to do with it so they do not have to ask. 

"Corner of desk"- this tells me non-verbally I am done and you can come check my work. Most of these assignments/work was done in their interactive notebooks or folders where we didn't have to have extra copies made and waste paper or bury them in worksheets. 

"File"- I have made a file system at the front of the room with all their numbers on a file folder. They can slip their finished work in their and on Thursday and Friday morning I will check it.

"Picture of Me" - they can hand deliver it or also put it out on desk so I can come snatch it at my convenience. I don't typically use this one often but will when it is something I want right away.

"Work folder"- everyone every week has to have this out before starting Fun Friday. I do have some try to slip through the cracks each week and "say" they are done ;) ya know what I mean Vern?

The numbers next to the assignment are the magic numbers for the kids whose items I have not checked or have turned in. Once it is done I get to erase it off the board. I can tell you they love seeing their number go away. This is also helpful for some of my friends who are still learning to read. They know their number by heart already and the picture icons are obviously super fast to see as well! 

Here are some up close looks:

I really can't tell you how efficient this has made our weeks, and I love being able to see them turn around without me having to really say anything and check the to-do board on their own and Get 'Er Done! 

 I hope it sparked your interest if you are looking to streamline paper/assignment management in your classroom! 

Have a BLESSED week!!!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Book Bites Episode 2- Lost and Found

Guess what?! I have another full episode of Book Bites done! 

I also did a "Minisode" as well! You can catch that HERE! It was over the ADORABLE book, Nerdy Birdy Tweets. I also made the read loud version as well so you can still enjoy the book even if you don't have it yet! You can watch that HERE.

If you are just now discovering my little blog and have no idea what Book Bites is then head over to the overview HERE to get a background of this little venture. You can also view the overview video HERE

Now onto the main attraction: Episode 2! 
Lost and Found 
by: Oliver Jeffers

** The video will have more detailed information about all these ideas below- this is just a quick sneak peek**

 Lost and Found is a simple tale about a boy and a penguin and their growing friendship.

Teaching points:
Connections, Inferences, Main Idea

Sticky notes:
Here are the suggested stopping points for this book- remember you may want to do every one all at once. These are front loaded so you decide when and how to use them.
Grab them HERE
When you get to the link the "supporting document" is what you want to click under the video. 

Other ideas to incorporate this text: (all of these ideas are described more fully in the video)
-Do a book talk before reading to kids-this would be a little personal story you have in connection to the book. For example, I might tell them about the time I found our rescue dog. He just happened upon us one day as an orphan and we thought we needed to adopt him out. However, we decided to keep him and we love him so much! This just helps to really personalize it and model that for the kids.
-After reading you may want to have an accountable talk circle: What does it mean to be lonely? How can we help others not feel lonely?
-Integrate into writing: How did the penguin end up at the boy's door? Create a "Found Penguin" poster, What would you take on your journey to return the penguin?

I will also use some short little acronyms in the stickys as well. You will decide when and where to actually stop reading and have your kids discuss so I give options.
T&T- turn and talk (incorporate Teach/Okay for Whole Brain)
TO-think out loud (more so for the teacher to do)

Access the full Episode 2  VIDEO 

Want just the read aloud? Go listen and watch HERE

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook to get notifications of when new Book Bites Episodes are happening! You can also access all of them on my YouTube channel!

Stay tuned for the next full episode or even "minisode" where I will feature another fun book!

Have a BLESSED Week!! 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Book Bites-Intro to Book Bites and Episode 1

Welcome to Book Bites! I am so glad you stopped by to read or stumbled across the video on FB! My wish is that you find something positive and useful each time you visit Book Bites.

Why Book Bites?
A love of books of course! All books! Math, ELA, Science, SS, Professional, etc! Teaching can be overwhelming, especially all the possible literature available to be able to use in the classroom. I want to be able to share titles of books (specifically read alouds) that are well known but also maybe titles you have never heard of or used. 

What will you get with Book Bites?
During this series I am hoping to be able to provide a nice little sampling, a taste, of sorts, to all things literature. Hence the name, Book Bites!
I am hoping to give any of the following:
-overview of the book
-sticky notes for teaching
-ideas for teaching points
-maybe even some extra resources, craft-tivity, etc

I will also feature books across content areas-math, language, science, ss!

I may have suggestions for which grade levels for the books, but ultimately it will be up to you to decide if it will work for you and your group!
Some times I might just pop in with a recommendation of a new book without allll the extras, but just to give you a taste of the book so you can decide if it would be of interest for you! That is what I would call a "minisode" where I will probably do a quick video over on FB or Instagram, so hopefully you follow me there! Just search The Blessed OCDiva! 

When will Book Bites happen?
I am striving for at least once a month at first for the big videos and resource uploads. This is time consuming so I have to prepare everything for ya'll and get it uploaded. If time permits I may pop in more frequently. Some Book Bites may happen LIVE on FB or pre-recorded. So keep your eyes peeled over on my FB page for frequent updates! 

If you are familiar with workshop, you know read alouds are very important within reading time. There are many benefits to reading aloud to your students.
-Intro students to engaging, entertaining, and though provoking literature
-Model expressive and fluent reading 
-Lead student discussion through accountable talk
-Builds literacy skills:vocabulary, phonics, storytelling, and comprehension

There are also many benefits of implementing accountable talk:
-stimulates higher order thinking
-reflecting on learning
-communicates learning and understanding with others not just the teacher

A few years into teaching I realized how important preparing for the read aloud and being familiar with how you were going to implement it throughout the week was for not only the students but for me to use time strategically and effectively. 
One thing I did do with my team during planning times was to go through the read aloud we were using together and make notes on stickys of where we wanted to stop and talk, turn and talk, how to model, teaching point, etc. This is very beneficial for new teachers, however, 10 years later for me I love still doing this and it again helps keep me accountable. We all know how quickly the day can go and how precious the time is during workshop.

Another thing to note, when I give suggestions for stickys , I may give multiple and some may not be appropriate for certain grades at certain times of the year. I am just kind of brain dumping so I can squeeze as many different lessons out for ya'll to chose from. When you sticky note, you can skip some I suggest or tweak until they work for you. You won't ever have time to stop at every sticky when it is overloaded, you need to be focused and particular on what is the objective you are trying to hit home and hone in on that. 

Another tip I have realized is that you do not have to have a million books to be effective on read aloud (although having a million books isn't a bad thing haha, I am quite the book hoarder myself). But if you do not have the resources or financial ability to hoard books, only having a few very effective books can still get the job done. I have been sitting in planning looking at a book and I find SO many teaching points and places for accountable talk that would not be possible to address in one mini lesson. So what do I do? I go ahead and make those notes so I don't forget and then I have it ready when I want to pull that book back out to teach a different point.

It is also important to remember sometimes it is okay and beneficial to do a read aloud just for enjoyment the first day then revisit it for the particular modeling, stop and talk,etc. Every book you read does not need a whole lesson made around it or talked to death. Sometimes kids just need to hear the story and enjoy it. You as the teacher professional have to decide when, where, how, which, and why you are choosing a book for a read aloud for workshop. 

If I provide the notes/info for Book Bites sometimes it may look overwhelming at first glance, however, they are meant to front load you all at once and then you can go in and choose what you need and when you need it based on your teaching schedule. Hope that makes sense. Using whole brain with these as well work wonderfully (Teach, Ok- gestures, etc) 

I think that is a basic run down of Book Bites! 

Another tip: when I was sticky noting books this year for my teachers one of my first grade teachers came up with a wonderful hack! 
Not every book's pages are numbered. *wamp waa* and if they are not your personal copy then you may not be able to number them in yourself. So when typing or writing the sticky notes if they get misplaced or you need to remember where it belongs when teaching all you do it write the first few words from the page at the top of the sticky note.Genius right?!

Okay so onto the first Book Bites! If you want to see and hear along with reading go watch it HERE over on FB. (I am debating loading it to my YouTube channel as well)

In the spirit of back to school I am featuring this adorable book! 

How Rocket Learned to Read stars an irresistible dog named Rocket and his teacher, a little yellow bird. Follow along as Rocket masters the alphabet, sounds out words, and finally… learns to read all on his own!

Teaching points:
Back to School, Learning to Read, Connections, Vocabulary, Verbs, Character changes
This book lends itself to multiple teaching points. Again, you would not address them all at the same time. But go ahead and make notes so you could always refer back to it. You could use it for B2S and then pull it back out when teaching verbs to showcase those pages.

Sticky notes:
Here are the suggested stopping points for this book- remember you will not want to do everyone all at once. These are front loaded so you decide when and how to use them. Grab them HERE.

Other ideas to incorporate this text:
-Do a book talk before reading to kids-this would be a little personal story you have in connection to the book. For example, you might tell about a teacher you had that made learning to read fun and not too scary. This just helps to really personalize it and model that for the kids.
-After reading-ask more questions (included on sticky notes), integrate into writing and make a class book "How ________ Learned to Read"

I will also use some short little acronyms in the stickys as well. You will decide when and where to actually stop reading and have your kids discuss so I give options.
T&T- turn and talk (incorporate Teach/Okay for Whole Brain)
TO-think out loud (more so for the teacher to do)

If you have any other questions please go watch the video to help get more of a visual!!

Stay tuned for the next full episode or even "minisode" where I will feature another fun book!

Have a BLESSED Weekend!! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Subitizing DIY

Do your kids struggle with subitizing numbers? Subi-say what?! I know quite the mouth full huh? Honestly I was not familiar with this term in my early years of teaching. I think this definition pretty much sums (no math pun intended;) ) it up for us! 

Subitizing is the ability to 'see' a small amount of objects and know how many there are without counting. Subitizing is what tells you what number you roll on a six sided dice – most adults no longer have to count the pips after playing board games for a while.

Having the ability to do this at the primary grades really is so important for numeracy. It does transition over as well in the intermediate grades with higher order mathematics. 

According to The National Council of Teachers and Mathematics, one key part of effective subitizing is developing pattern recognition. Moreover, this mathematical skill allows students to gain a grasp of numbers and advance to higher levels of addition. As an activity, the NCTM suggests taking “snapshots”. Taking snapshots means showing an image of a collection of objects to the student for just a second, then asking him or her to take a mental “snapshot” in order to identify how many objects are included in the image. (

Some benefits of subitizing:

*Saves Time-not having to count each individual member of the group

*Precursor for more complex number ideas-Students who can Subitize small groups of numbers are able to develop their counting skills by beginning their counting after the subitized group, or by using subitizing to count forwards or backwards by twos, threes, or even larger groups later when they are exposed to more complex multiplication tables. (Reys, et al., 2012) This type of subitizing falls into the category of conceptual subitizing which occurs with larger number sets, and involves  breaking the group into smaller parts (Clements, 1999). 

*Lends itself to learning addition and subtraction easier- it means that they are better equipped to handle addition and subtraction concepts, as they do not have to count each small group to be added or removed when learning operations with manipulatives (Reys, et al., 2012). 

Also having a strong base in doubles, number combinations, as well as making ten really creates the ability to subitize and group numbers together when in sets higher than 10. 

Having taught first grade the concept of subitizing was essential in our math journey. There are many activities you can do with kids to scaffold and teach them how to subitize. One quick and easy DIY I am listing below! 

We did this activity as a math warm up daily and it took us less than 5 minutes. Gosh, make it a race for them, bettering their time each time. This can be done whole group or small group. You can now get subitizing cards all over TPT,etc, but these little guys are cheap and require no ink! We made these with our math coach (Hey Jackie!) one year and I have been pulling them back out for my tutoring. All you do is flash the plate! 

Prompting some questioning while doing this as well really gives the kids a chance to express their math thinking and also gives you as the teacher a chance to hear if they really understand. 
Some examples of questions you can ask after flashing a plate/card: 
-how did you get that number?
-how do you know?
-what did you see?
-how did you group?

You could also hold up a plate and ask:
-what is one more/less than this number?
-what is ___more/less than this number?
-is this odd or even?

Some responses I have heard from kids might be:
-it is 8 because I see 4 here and 4 here and 4 and 4 make 8
-it is 6 because I grouped 4 and 2
-the number is 9 because I see 4 and 4 and one more make 9
This also lends itself to eventually add three numbers as well because of how they are grouping combinations. 
I have also heard kids say "Well I visualized that dot moved down to make a row of 5 then added the extra dots" *mind blown teacher* right?! When you can get your mathematicians talking and discussing like that it is amazing!!! 

It is also VERY important to point out and let the kids discover there may be more than 1 way to subitize and get to their answer. I often have kids say one of the responses above and another kid say a different way they saw it but still are able to produce the same number as their answer. 
I have also seen firsthand how quickly they get better at recognizing numbers, building that number sense, and utilizing strategies to make the combinations faster (make ten, doubles, etc)

So onto the DIY:
Materials needed: paper plates (we used the small ones and the cheapest ones)
                             sticker dots (two different colors)
Then add the dots in different configurations on the plates! 
Use my plates as an example.

Also, what if you put subitizing configurations in a math station and some extra plates, index cards, scrap paper, sentence strip pieces, etc. and they create their own subitizing cards with dots, paint, bingo dotters?! EEK how fun right?

Some other ways to incorporate subitizing into your daily schedule:
-put subitizing dots on your stations instead of the actual number
-subitize as an entrance ticket in the morning on their way through the door
-display your number line with dots under each number

Kids can subitize things other than dots:
-tally marks

A few minutes a day will make a difference! 

Have a Blessed Day!

"Be Good to People"