Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cyber Monday Sale!

It's that time of year!  Thanksgiving has ended, and the countdown to Christmas has started.  We are celebrating by having HUGE sales on all of our items.  Check out our TpT store or TN store for big savings from now until Tuesday.  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Plant Time

So today I set up this light system and showed it to my students when they walked in the door. "What do you think that this is?" I asked them.  Then I had them write down their responses in their journals.  You never know what first graders are going to say, and somehow a lot of my kids decided that we were going to keep a guinea pig underneath the light. 

Later, I had to break the news to them that we were not going to have a guinea pig (sad faces), but we would have a new place to grow plants indoors (happy faces).  We had a great time prepping the growing medium and planting the seeds. We have 18 different plants that we will be growing, from Easter Egg radishes to Chinese cabbage. After the seedlings germinate and outgrow their plugs, we will take them to the greenhouse to "harden off."  Finally, we will transplant them into our garden planter box and eat some tasty veggies when it's all said and done.  It should be a fun winter and fall! Maybe we will get a guinea pig in the spring

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sustainable Energy Science Projects

Our class had the fortunate opportunity to be a part of a sustainable energy event a few weeks ago. There were solar power displays, green building companies, and even an electric car show!

Classes from local elementary schools also displayed projects. Our first grade class presented our hydropower water wheels that we made. We showed how we could use water as a clean energy source, and talked about hydroelectric generators. I know, a lot for first grade, right?  We had a great time at the event and learned a lot about helping the environment. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin farm field trip

We saw so many pumpkins at the pumpkin farm today! We learned all about different varieties and the life cycle of a pumpkin. 

Bear the farm dog was so nice!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Getting Organized


Teaching can be stressful, and having a messy room seems make it a million times more stressful. Before the students came back to school this year, I did some major organizing. I got rid of a lot of old things in my cabinets that the previous teacher had left. It was really hard when my room kept getting messier  from pulling out stuff from the depths of my storage space. However, when I finally got rid of it, it felt great! Also, I used a bunch of old storage tubs from a teacher who just retired (thanks Neal!). Then I labeled the tubs and stored seasonal items and various supplies in them when I was finished my room felt so much better. Now lets see how long I can keep it clean...


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Greetings from Hawaii!

We have had a great summer! The highlight has definitely been a family trip to the island of Kauai. Beaches, pools, shaved ice, and beautiful sights everywhere. Next week we go back to school, but we are so grateful for these wonderful summer memories.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


We love summer! After a long year of working in the classroom, there's nothing like the freedom of summer. Sleeping in, camping trips, reading books, going to the beach...the list goes on. 

Summertime also means catching up on jobs around the house. This summer we took on the daunting task of painting our house by hand. It was a long process, but the end result was well worth it. 

Soon we will be heading back to school again, but it sure is nice to recharge your batteries a little during the summer.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


This is a SLANT anchor chart designed to help students with active listening. Teachers ask students to "pay attention" all the time. However, many students don't know what that means. This anchor chart is great because it encourages students to be actively involved in listening, rather than sitting back and passively listening to a speaker and not showing them that you are following along. Also, the anchor chart provides great social cues for students with special needs. The next time you ask your students to pay attention, don't forget about SLANT!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Second Grade Common Core Math

We just added another summer math product! Surf Shack Summer Math: Second Grade is our new common core aligned way to help students practice math this summer! It focuses on 8 different second grade CCSS math standards.

This product has a similar feel to our original Surf Shack Summer Math for first grade.  However, the concepts are more challenging, and include regrouping, expanded form, graphing, comparing, word problems, and more.  There are also math tools, such as number lines, tens frames and 120 charts. It also has original beach art that kids love.  Come ride the math wave at the surf shack!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

New Pinterest Collaborative Boards

We love Pinterest for all of it's great ideas and products.  As sellers on TpT and Teacher's Notebook, Pinterest is a great way to new materials to others.  Many of you know that collaborative pinning boards are good places for posting products for others to see.

There are many collaborative boards that we belong to, and it's neat to see all of the cool items that get shared.  We recently decided to start our own collaborative Pinterest boards.

The first one is called "Speech an Special Ed." It's not just for speech pathologists and special education teachers, it's for ANYONE who has resources or ideas relating to these areas.

The other board is called "Education and Technology." As the name suggests, it's a board for pinning products about all things related to technology.

Follow these Pinterest boards if you want to see the cool material that is being pinned.  If you would like to join as a collaborative pinner, just leave your Pinterest URL in the comments section below :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Flash Freebie!

We are having our first flash freebie! Our new "Surf Shack Summer Math" for first grade will be free for a short time this evening.

Details to come on our Facebook page!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trout Release

Last week we released our trout at a local lake. It was such a cool experience to raise them from eggs and observe the different life cycle changes that they go through. The kids were a little sad to say goodbye at first, but by the end of the field trip, everyone was in good spirits. This was such a cool learning experience. Our class will definitely be doing it again next year!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fun in the Garden

We have been spending a lot of time in our school garden lately. Our vegetables are growing fast, and there is so much beauty everywhere you look!

The other day we did a "garden color" activity. Students brought clipboards, pencils, and graphic organizers out into the garden. Then they tried to record things that they saw for each color on their paper through writing and drawing.

I also created an anchor chart to help my kiddos out, because writing is still tricky for some of my first graders. The assignments turned out great and everyone had so much fun being outside. Even if your class only has a small planter box, this activity is totally doable. This is one of the activities from our new garden product that you can check out HERE if you are interested. Have a great time out there in the dirt!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Summer Product Linky Party

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Clip Art Freebie!

We just created our first clip art! It is a set of hand drawn shells, and they are really fun for creating summer and beach resources.  They are available in color and black and white, in both PNG and JPEG files.  

You can download the clip art HERE

The whole clip art thing is brand new to us.  I have always liked to draw, but I am still learning about using different software and saving files.  Since we are still clip art newbies, we are giving these first ones away for FREE!!!

Feel free to use them, and hopefully the next round of art will be even better :)  -Joe

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Butterfly books

We are learning about butterfly life cycles right now. These are la books / busy books that we have been making. They have life cycle info, diagrams of different species, and fun facts. The kids really like how they have cool features that you might find in pop out books, like wheels, flaps, accordion books, and more.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rocking Reward Bookmarks

We are giving away these cool bookmarks to our Facebook followers.  They are fun, colorful, and make great prizes or incentives.  Kids really like the alien, too! Follow this link HERE to like us on Facebook and download your bookmarks.

This is freebie is one of the bookmarks from our "Rocking Reward Bookmarks" item on TPT. The complete set has 24 different colorful bookmarks with fun graphics and slogans that promote reading.  These are great to give to kids on their birthdays, or as an end of the year gift.  They are also fun incentive items to motivate students to complete summer reading lists.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Central America Flashback: Edgar the Monkey

Just stumbled across some fun old pictures.  When we taught in Costa Rica a few years ago, we had many opportunities to travel around Central America.  These are pics from a trip that we took to the islands of Bocas del Toro in Panama.

The islands of Boca are absolutely stunning.  However, the best part for us was definitely getting to hang out with Edgar the white face capuchin monkey. He fell off his mom's back when he was a baby and a local boy found him in the jungle with a broken arm.  The bed and breakfast that we stayed at was nursing him back to health.

Edgar would play and play and play! Then he would get so tired that he would fall asleep. He was a really cuddly little guy :) We even got to "monkey sit" for a couple nights and let him sleep in our bed with us!

Edgar also really liked toys. He would play with keys, sunglasses, your nose, or just about anything else he could find. His favorite toys were probably straws. He would unwrap them with his little monkey fingers, and then put them in his mouth and bite them.

Edgar was going to enter a rehabilitation program to help him transition back into the wild.  White faced monkeys are super cute, but they are not pets.  However, we are sure glad that we got to hang out with this little one!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Fun

Last week we made papel picado for Cinco de Mayo. It was hard for some of the first graders to fold and cut the tissue paper, but the final products looked great when they were done.

Our class has been learning about Mexico and Cinco de Mayo for the last week or so. Many students don't know that Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico's victory over France in Puebla. This is a great resource to help with teaching about Cinco de Mayo!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Link Up

TPT is having their annual Teacher Appreciation sale from May 7 - 8. Products will be discounted up to 28% off! We are having our first link up to promote the big sale. Just add your product below. Also, please help us out by following our blog or linking back to it on yours. Thanks and happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Balloon Rockets

Today we made balloon rockets. We blew up balloons and taped them to straws. Then we ran a ribbon thought the straws and stretched the ribbon across the room. When we let the air out of the balloons, they zoomed forward along the ribbon. It was fun to make predictions and record what happened. We used Scientific Method Graphic Organizers from our tpt store to write and draw what we saw.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fish prints

We made fish prints in our class as part of our trout unit. The students painted old trout from a trout farm and pressed them onto white t shirts. Apparently it's an ancient Japanese art form. They turned put very cool!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kangaroos in first grade?

We had a local animal rescue center called Zoo to You come to visit our school this week. They brought a monkey, owl, porcupine, kangaroo, and alligator to show us. It was so cool to see them in person! The kangaroo was 9 months old, but he still liked to stay in his pouch( a bag that his handler carried him out in). We learned how important it is to respect animals and nature.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Our class has been raising trout in our classroom for the past few weeks. We raised them from eggs and have watched them go from Alvin to fry. In about a month we will release them at a local lake. It has been so fun to learn about life cycles firsthand from this experience!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Teaching with anchor charts and posters

I love using different posters and anchor charts in my classroom! Art has always been fun for me, and I enjoy opportunities to be creative in the classroom. I started using them when I taught at a Spanish immersion school. The illustrations and organization of the posters makes it easier for students to grasp concepts.  Anchor charts are not just helpful for English learners, however.  So much of what we learn is visual, and anchor charts provide valuable scaffolding in the classroom.

Seasons input grid

Anchor charts don't have to be fancy.  K-W-L charts, venn diagrams, thinking maps, and Frayer diagrams are basic looking charts that work really well.

I have to admit that I can be pretty spontaneous with when I make my posters. Sometimes I will prep a chart in pencil ahead of time, then I go over it in pen while I'm teaching the lesson to my students. Other times I will make them on the fly when I have a teachable moment.

Recently a lot of students in my first grade class were struggling with the difference between seasons and weather.  I kept hearing them say things like "my favorite weather is summer," or "snowy is my favorite season." It was cute the first time, but when it persisted I knew that I needed to try something else.  I used an input grid chart to show the difference between seasons and weather, and since then my kiddos have been doing much better.  

A writing ideas anchor chart

One tip that I have is to let students help you with the anchor charts. This creates buy - in and they are proud to see their work on display. However, make sure that the information is accurate. If they say something that is incorrect, you can lightly say "That is a great idea, but I am going to write something a little different on the chart."

Another tip is to draw the chart in front of students while you teach.  Some charts take a long time, so it is better to break them up into multiple days of teaching.  Your students will get restless if you have your back to them for too long.

Happy charting!