Monday, July 21, 2014

Christmas in July Sale - Day 2

Tomorrow's theme for the Christmas in July Sale is Spectacular Sight Words.  Learning sight words does not have to be boring, especially with my top sellers.  If you use Centers or Daily Five in your classroom, Wild About Word Work makes it easy-peasy.  You could even use these packs as homework! Wild About Word Work comes in two versions-ones with the words supplied for you and one where you supply the words.

Students LOVE these sight word books.  They like reading them to their buddies and collecting signatures on the back from all they read to.

 Here is another product that teaches sight words.  These are perfect for students reading at a DRA level 3/4!

These are just a few of my sale items.  Go here to find more!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Christmas in July Sale

This Friday, 7/25/14, will be the halfway mark to Christmas.  Lots of TPTers are throwing sales, so I thought I would, too.  I have to be back to work in 3 short weeks, and I bet many of you do, too.  If you like to plan ahead and beat the crowds, this is a great opportunity to start!

I am throwing a five day sale, each day highlighting different products.   Tomorrow's theme is, "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning". 
All of my SMARTBoard Calendars and Morning Work packs will be 20% off.  These are some of my best sellers and have 4.0 ratings.  I use these in my own classroom myself, and I am sure you will be happy with their effectiveness and student achievement. 
I recommend my Common Core Math and Literacy Morning Work for the Entire Year* First Grade* which is bundled,  already at a discounted price before the sale of $40.00. 

Here are a few examples of what you will get with this bundle: 

If you teach second grade, I have morning work available for the year and they have been very well received and highly rated.  
Here are examples of the 10 months:

You can find this product here.

Go visit my store to check out more!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Picture Books That Help You Start the Year Right

It’s almost that time of year again.  The stores are filled with notebooks, binders, pens, markers, backpacks, rulers, glue, crayons, lunch boxes, folders - everything you need for school.  I love the excitement of a new beginning with so many possibilities.  I adore checking out all of the new merchandise.  They did not make chevron binders, glitter notebooks, smelly markers, etc. when I was young. I get giddy looking at it.  It never gets old.

 I find it 


that this year will be my 20th year of teaching. 

 In some ways my first Back to School seems like yesterday.  

 I still overwork preparing for the first day.   
I cry when I cannot arrange my classroom to look like CTP.
 I still worry if the students and parents will like me.  
 I stress about being able to orchestrate a perfect start to the new year.

In other ways my first Back to School feels like a lifetime ago.  Every year so much changes.  Last year was our first year implementing Common Core.  I had so much to learn {and still do}.  I spent many hours {hours I should have been sleeping} analyzing student work and the standards trying to determine if I was doing CCSS correctly. This year we have a new teacher evaluation system.  We had a trial run last year and, to be honest, I did not pay too much attention to it since it didn’t count.  I felt like I had enough on my plate without worrying about my appraisal.  

The biggest change every year is the students.  I love how each year we get a new group of kiddos to get to know and love.  The struggle is engaging them {without really knowing them} at the year’s start.  I don’t know about you, but I have noticed a decline in student’s attitudes about reading.  I don’t know if it is the technological age, or parents, including myself, being so busy making ends meet, that the urgency to want to read and the love of books is not the same in my first graders as it was when I began teaching.  I know it is not just my school, city, or even state.  When I talk to teachers around the country, they feel the same.

So, it is my job, as a first grade teacher, to instill that love of learning.  From the very first day, I read.


I read all kinds of books. I read serious books with deep messages.  I read musical books that students can sing along to. I read nonfiction books to demonstrate curiosity, wondering and new learning.  I read books that have rhyme and repetition so my students can chant along with the story. I read books that teach a lesson. I read books for many different purposes.  When school starts, I read books that foster kindness, acceptance and community. Here are a few I read those first few weeks:

  First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

This story is about Sarah Jane, who is worried about going to a new school. She won't get out of bed because she keeps thinking about all of the bad things that can happen. Many students can relate to Sarah's feelings, The best part is the surprise ending! This book reassures children that they are not alone in their anxieties about new situations

 David Goes to School by David Shannon

I love David because I relate to him. I read No, David and  David Goes to School because he makes mistakes but is forgiven and loved.  I always remind kids that everyone makes mistakes and it is o.k.  That is how we learn.  We talk about what David does wrong and how he could have made better choices. We discuss which behaviors are good choices and poor choices and come up with our class rules.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes  by Eric Litwin

Pete the Cat goes for a walk in his brand new white shoes. He steps in things that change his shoes color. But no matter what, Pete stays positive and keeps going and singing his song...because it's all good.
I use this book to engage students into a conversation about what to do when things don't go your way. I tell students they have two choices - to get upset and ruin your day or to be positive, shake it off, and keep on going with your day.  I remind them {all year} that the choice is theirs to make.

  Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes  by Eric Litwin

I like to read this book before we take our school tour.
Pete the Cat goes to school wearing his red school shoes. Pete explores the school and sings as he finds different room. All the while, Pete stays positive because it’s all good.

First graders love to guess which room Pete is in and are so proud when they are right.  Students will beg you to read this book over and over again.  There is also a link to the book where Eric Litwin reads and sings the story.

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

The Pout-Pout Fish believes he was meant to be depressed and there is no other choice.  He swims around spreading the  “dreary wearies” all over the place. Then, he meets characters who show him differently.  This is a fabulous choice with a message we all need to be reminded of.  If we think we are a certain way, we will be.  But, we control our behavior and mood and need to consciously make choices to ensure our happiness.  I ask students if they like to hang our with happy or glum people.  Then, a few share out why they prefer to be around happy people and why they do not like to be around people who are sad, negative, and mopey.  Again, I remind kids the choice is up to them.  We refer back to this book and Pete the Cat all year long as situations arise.

Walk on by Marla Frazee  

This book explains that trying something new is never easy but if you do not try, you will never do it. I say to the class, "Imagine you gave up on trying to walk? You tried it once, fell and gave up?" They laugh.  I ask if they made a lot of mistakes while learning.  If they gave up, they'd be crawling into first grade.  We discuss how walking is the same as talking, potty training, riding a bike, swimming, reading, doing math --everything. We must try, knowing we will make mistakes, and persist until we can do it.  Then, I announce my classroom rule: "Don't say you can't, try your best".  I tell kids they are not allowed to say the words, "I can't" in our room.  They must try everything.  If they don't they won't be the great student I know they are.  What a great way to set the tone for the year.

  Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud

This book explains to children that we all carry an invisible bucket in which we keep our feelings about ourselves. When our buckets are full, we are happy. When it is empty, we are sad. When people's buckets are filled, the world is a happy place. We want to live in a happy world.  How do we make that happen?  Filling other people's buckets.  We do that by doing nice things and using kind words to the people around us.  The book explains bucket dippers - those who are mean and unhappy.  Bucket dippers can empty our bucket and make us feel sad.  It tells us that bucket dippers usually act that way to make themselves feel good but it never works.  I use this terminology all year and the first graders really get it.  It is not uncommon to hear a child come in from recess telling me someone was a bucket dipper and they tried to fill their bucket to make them happier.  That is the kind of world I want to live in.

 These books are my favorites for the first weeks of school because they set a tone for the year.  I refer to them all year long and young children really respond to it.  
Students will try to read these books but many are above the first grade reading level.  So, I need to read books that children listen to and love them so much that they want to read them.  These are my fun books.

 I love books that "grab" students attention and hold it.  I read these with LOTS of expression and sometimes even act out the story.  These are the books that seem to hook my readers.  These are the books the students read over and over and over again.  I love to hear them read with such expression and fluency, mimicking me.  And they will do this till the very last day of school.
One of my favorite authors for this type of book is Mo Willems. 

 I love Mo Willems. 

 I own

Yes, every single one. 
Many I have in duplicate because they are so desirable.  
You may be saying they are not quality literature like Patricia Polacco or Eve Bunting.  They are silly books that are quite simple.
I disagree.  In many of his books you have to infer.  Most have surprise endings. They are based on simple ideas but use word play, include interesting words, and teach children about dialogue, paying attention to punctuation, expression, making connections, and allow students to feel like successful readers.  Simply put, children enjoy reading these books.  They make them want to read. Be assured students will not read these books forever.  They will get into a variety of different books as they grow up and they will love reading.

This is my favorite:

I think this book is ingenious.  Mo makes the characters realize they are in a book being read.  Elephant and Piggie then have us say, "Banana".  My first graders ask me to reread this book over and over again.

Here are two more of my favorites:

I know these by heart, and if I must say so myself, I am VERY good at acting them out.  Even my struggling readers can fluently read these by the middle of the year.  Talk about a confidence booster.  And, yes, they read other books, too, because they want to read.

What books do you like to read the first few weeks?  How do you "hook" your students into reading?  I would love to hear your ideas!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Currently


I am linking up with Farley again with this month's Currently

Where is summer going????

I am not ready to even BEGIN thinking about Back to School.

And, I won't.
Not yet.  
Maybe after our cruise.

My brother's and I are taking my parents on a Caribbean Cruise for their 50th wedding anniversary.
50 years.
We are going to celebrate!  

The kids and I arrived in New York last week and are spending some time with family before the cruise.  My husband is at home refinishing the wood floors in our kitchen.  {Something we could not do with our kids at home.}

On Thursday, we leave Cape Liberty and sail off for ten days.  I've never been on a cruise before and am a little apprehensive.  My daughter and I get real bad motion sickness - like really bad.  That is my worry.  I tried the prescribed patch a few years ago when Tom and I were sailing around St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and it was ... awful.
I put the patch on the night before.  When I woke up, looked at my husband and - there were 3 of him!!  Actually, there were 3 of everything -- the night stand, the tv, the window...


I bought enough of Sea Bands and non-drowsy Dramamine for an army so we should be A - O.K.

{I hope}

Prayers needed =)

Ahywho ... Here is my Currently for July.

No phone or internet on the cruise so I am going to be off the grid till July 13th.
See you then,

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Five for Friday

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday! 

#1 Only 5, yes, five, days till we depart on our 10 day Caribbean Cruise.  We are all packed, since we are in NY already, and our ship leaves from NYC.  But . . . 






Here is the ship we will be on with Royal Caribbean.


this is one of our ports.

Looks perfect, doesn't it? 

Hey, I live in landlocked Colorado and 


the ocean


We left at 6:00 a.m. for NYC.  

That means we were at the airport at 

4:00 a.m.

It was rough

but we got there at 11:30 a.m. 

and that was perfect.

I am still trying to get over the jet lag even though it is only a 2 hour time difference.  

It would be even better if my son got acclimated....

I've been working so hard on products since I will be unable to connect to the world on the cruise.  Here is one product I finished which I am so pleased with.

This product has 22 original second grade leveled reading passages and close reading activities perfectly aligned to Common Core Literature AND Informational reading standards! This pack could be used in a variety of ways - class-wide reading, homework, assessment, guided reading groups, or intervention.
Each passage was carefully crafted with a second grader in mind. The response sheets include close reading tasks that are text dependent. The text falls within the Lexile level of 230-700, which is the Common Core Standards expectation for 2nd grade. The Lexile level and word count is at the top of each article. There are 12 non fiction and 10 fiction texts.

Dot (Lexile Level 230)
Feet, Feet, Feet (Lexile Level 230)
Tiger is Scared (Lexile Level 230)
Neighborhoods (Lexile Level 240)
Tiger is Hungry (Lexile Level 250)
Sharks (Lexile Level 250)
The Chipmunk (Lexile Level 300)
The Chicken’s Life (Lexile Level 300)
How do Pumpkins Grow? (Lexile Level 320)
Tiger Wants to Play (Lexile Level 340)
What Lives in the Sea? (Lexile Level 350)
The Little Red Hen (Lexile Level 350)
Baseball (Lexile Level 400)
A Butterfly’s Life (Lexile Level 410)
Mom’s Flowers (Lexile Level 420)
The Three Bears (Lexile Level 450)
Let’s Explore a Backyard (Lexile Level 580)
The Three Billy Goats Gruff (Lexile Level 590)
Slithering Snakes (Lexile Level 600)
Little Red Riding Hood (Lexile Level 600)
Sluggish Sloths (Lexile Level 700)
Bald Eagles (Lexile Level 700)

1. Intervention- The teacher can read the text and students can practice responding orally or with support. Once the teacher reads, students can try it on their own. This would be a great opportunity to practice fluency, comprehension, predicting, inferring and many other skills. This is a great way to build confidence with students who are not yet ready to read the books independently.

2. Partner Reading- The passages are high interest for second graders, which is beneficial for reluctant readers. Working with partners is another way to help students who lack confidence and /or stamina.

3. Homework or Independent Work During Centers or Daily Five - For students who are more fluent in their reading, this would be a great way to assess their reading comprehension and ability to respond appropriately on the response sheets.
4. Fluency Work – Since the word count is provided, it would be easy to time student’s reading and figure out how many words per minute they are reading. 90 wpm or higher is desirable by the end of second grade.
5. Guided Reading – Especially if you have limited time, short, snappy texts are perfect for reading groups. You can focus on a reading strategy, such as close reading, inference, asking and answering text dependent questions, or citing evidence from the text. You could send the article and response sheet home as homework or do it with the group.  Get it here.

Do you have an independent writing time in your classroom other than Writer's Workshop? If you use Daily Five or Centers, this is for you!

This 40 page product was carefully crafted with the primary student in mind. It includes:

*Word Cards for your Word Wall or Writing Center
*3 Label It pages (2 versions of each with or without a word bank)
*4 Expository Photograph Writing Activities (2 versions; one with handwriting lines and the other with lines)
*2 Back to School Writing Craftivities
*2 How-to Writing Papers (2 versions; one with handwriting lines and the other with lines)
*2 Writing Prompts (2 versions; one with handwriting lines and the other with lines)
*2 Story Writing Activities (2 versions; one with handwriting lines and the other with lines)
*3 Word Wall Writing Pages
*2 August Sentence Papers

I love to use these with my reluctant writers who cannot come up with ideas for independent writing.

This could also be used for weekly prompt writing, homework, morning work, or for early finishers.

Get it here.

My son, Nick, loves to fish.  We find it so strange that he catches more fish one hour outside of NYC than in our home state of Colorado. 

Isn't Colorado known for it's wilderness?

I guess it is just a misnomer.


Want to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching and Five for Friday??  Click here.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Currently

I am linking up with Farley for this month's (Can you believe it is June??) Currently.

Do you like the font I used for it?  I DO!!  It is from the creative Jennifer Jones: Hello Literacy's Hello Fonts. It is called Frozen.  
Think, "Let it go!  Let it go!"

I feel kind of  dumb because when I got this month's Currently, I realized I did not use the correct Currently last month.  I don't even know what I did.  I am sure some of you noticed that and thought, "Why doesn't she have the same Currently as everyone else?". 

 Look above.
(Not smart)

So, I have been working on my end of year video for three weeks now.  Every year technology is an issue and every year my end of year video takes much longer than it should.  I had a little help achieving this, however.  My son deleted my movie several times.  Ugh...
It has been trying times in the Magro household for a few weeks.  Nick just ended school, which you think would be fabulous.  But, not so much when you are autistic.  Any change in routine turns your (and whomever you live with) life upside down.  And my husband, daughter, and I have no control; we are just TRYING to enjoy the ride.  


Has anybody else out there in blogland had trouble making an end-of-year slideshow?
My colleague reminded me what to do and, once she did, it was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy-mac-and-cheesy.

First, I needed to put all of my photos onto iPhoto in chronological order.  Then, I merged them into one event names, "First Grade 2013-2014".
Next, I put all of the songs I wanted onto one playlist on iTunes and named it the same.  Then, I opened up iMovie. 
I put the photos in and the music.  
Finally, I shared it with iDVD, and, Viola!, I could burn it onto dvds.  

Next year when I forget how to do it for the 15th time, I will just come to this handy little reminder on my own blog.  I vow that next year it will not take 3 weeks and over 30 hours to make a 30 minute slideshow.  Mark my words.  It won't.

{I hope.}

Only one and a half more days of school and I am officially on summer break.