Getting Sight Words to Stick: Color coding the words

Getting Sight Words to stick!  Color coding sight words to make them seasonally relevant and help struggling readers! As a first grade teacher, I have recognized that one of the biggest indicators of my students’ reading success is their sight word knowledge. This is especially important for my struggling kiddos because they are spending so much time and “thinking space” in their brains working to decode all the other words.

These struggling readers are also the ones who used to never ever use my word wall because it was full of a sea of words that all looked the same, few of which they could read without becoming frustrated.

In addition, I had this huge list of first grade words for the kiddos to learn, and I had to try to keep myself on track. A few summers ago I decided, mostly to keep myself on schedule, to write the sight words I wanted to focus on each month on a seasonal shape. This way I would know I had to get through the red apple words in September, and so on.

The result was much more interesting than keeping me on track.

Three awesome things that happened:

1. The students LOVED seeing what color and shape/image was coming in the month ahead.

2.The words were broken  up into smaller groups. Instead of a SEA of sight words, there were red apple words, and orange pumpkin words. Students were much less overwhelmed.

3. Students were able to locate them much more easily on the word wall. It was as if they had made more connections in their minds with a color and shape/image being associated with the words.

SO.. I continued my work over the next two years and developed some seasonal “word work” center activities to go along with words!

And now I’m (almost) ready to share them all with you!

I have JUST posted my September first grade sight word resource along with color by code, word strip puzzles, a roll and highlight game, and directions for a traditional match game.

Check it out here!

Sight Words all Year! Practice sight words seasonally!

I’ve also posted a growing bundle resource. You pay for what is available now (usually at a discount) and receive all future resources for FREE when I am finished putting the finishing touches on them!

Click here for the “All Year Long” growing bundle!


**Note- Customized resources are available! If you have a district required sequence or list you’d like me to create resources for, please contact me directly to discuss. :-)

To My Son’s Kindergarten Teacher


Dear Miss K,

Thank you.

Thank you for bringing him joy. Thank you for being the smiling teach who is “very pretty with golden hair.”  Thank you for the “good day sticker” smack dab in the middle of his forehead every day, evidence of a day filled with laughter and smiles. Thank you for calling him “handsome” and lighting his face up with a smile! Thank you for holding his hand on the way to lunch. Thank you for making him feel like he is your favorite student ever… I’m pretty sure that all your students feel that way.

Thank you for taking care of him. Thank you for helping him overcome his fear of self flushing toilets.  Thank you for giving him a big hug when he was sad on the first day of school.  Thank you for letting him keep the box of tissues on his table when he had that never ending cold. Thank you for sending get well e-mails when he was home sick, and for the check in e-mails when he was at school. Thank you for switching his star week when he was sick ALL WEEK LONG and missed out on the fun. Thank you for walking him down to parent pick up just to make sure he got there safely when he was cleaning up at his typical turtle pace and missed heading down with his friends.

Thank you for noticing. Thank you for noticing when it was a good time for him to check in with the nurse for his asthma. Thank you for noticing him standing with his hand up as everyone else was off playing because he “doesn’t know how to hula hoop”.  Thank  you for noticing his strengths. Thank you for noticing his new “cool” haircut. Thank you for noticing that he REALLY wanted his lunch in his “forgotten at school” lunchbox the day he brought his spare… and for taking the time to help him switch his lunch over.

Thank you for sharing with him. Thank you for sharing your lunchtimes with him. Thank you for sharing your mom and dad, the famous Mr. & Mrs. K. Thank you for sharing your recess time on field day playing blocks with him, rather than taking the break you deserved so very much.  Thank you for sharing Sawyer stories with him, and thus our entire family (even if it took  my husband months to figure out Sawyer is a cat… and NOT a student in your class).   Thank you for sharing your very yummy extra snack with him… Thank you for later finding his goldfish crackers under his jacket… and thank you for letting it go. Thank you for sharing your love and joy of learning with him. Thank you for sharing your Saturday with him and his classmates at his friend’s birthday picnic, where you even let them throw the water balloons at you!

Thank you for celebrating him.  Thank you for the “love notes” celebrating his helpful, kind, and hard working moments.  Thank you for acknowledging him as  a “kindergarten role model”, a job he takes VERY seriously!  Thank you for cheering him on as he ran around the field when he crashed your running club on Wednesday afternoons.  Thank you for running with him. Thank you for running to him, without hesitation,  when he fell down.  Thank you for celebrating the birth of his little sister with as much joy as he had. Thank you for celebrating as he “earned” each one of his reading super powers. Thank you for celebrating by getting “teary eyed” as he made big accomplishments.

Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for checking and answering my e-mails 10 minutes before school starts. Thank you for “keeping an eye on him” when we welcomed our new baby, and when his dad went out of town. Thank you for inviting me in to share as a mystery reader, and during centers.  Thank you for making the worry disappear because I knew he was loved and cared for.

Thank you for being the kind of teacher who gives us so many wonderful things to remember.

We all love you Miss K!

Thank you.

Favorite Podcasts!

Hey there!


So baby Ellie and I are home hanging out and working on finishing up some TPT products while I’m home on my “parenthood leave.” We like to listen as we work.

So far we have our number 1 FAVE podcast, which is Ear Biscuits with Rhett and Link (who also host our favorite youtube morning show). This listening is definitely entertaining and fun to listen to, but we’re all caught up and are looking for some new podcast fun.

If you have a favorite podcast, comment below!



My first TPT Unconference

Have you ever heard of an “unconference”?

I hadn’t either. In fact, I hadn’t even wondered what one was because I had never heard of one at all, until I registered for my first one!


My awesome teacher friend Tara ( @myfirstgradezoo) invited me to the Spring TPT Unconference.

Here’s what I knew when I agreed to go:

1. I would get to hang out with my friend for the day

2.We would spend the day in NYC

3. I have been home on Maternity leave for three months and I could use a day away.
What I learned while I was there was so much more than I could have ever imagined!

First of all I learned that an unconference is an amazing thing! It’s a participant driven gathering of people who come together to learn and share. There are no presenters, although there was a facilitator to get the conversations going and there are no slideshows.

Here’s What I loved about the unconference:

1. I got to ask questions and receive tips from highly successful (the MOST successful) TPT authors to get their input on future steps.

2. I was able to share what is working for me to help other new-ish authors.

3. Everyone was valued and respected.

4. The TPT office in NYC is amazing and I need a Bevi machine in my life!

It was definitely a milestone for me. I feel like “First TPT Unconference” is worthy of baby book status (hah).

I took away several awesome ideas and have some amazing next steps so stay tuned as we continue on this fabulous journey!


How I survived teaching first grade- pregnant

 Surviving Teaching pregnant!!

Note: I’ve been working on this post for some time- in fact, my baby is now nearly 6 weeks old. But in order to survive pregnancy as a teacher, I had to let some things go (this post being one of them).


1. Schedule bathroom breaks- If at all possible, reach out for help- ask someone, anyone, if they can pop into your room for 3 minutes each day at some point to give you a break fort he bathroom. And whether or not you feel like you have to go (at the end you will always, perpetually have to go) you go. I was so lucky that there are some paraprofessionals/ IAs that could come in to give me a quick break. I also had some push in support for my students, so my biggest  challenge was the long waddle down the hallway to go to the bathroom 5 times a day.

writer3 1

2. Make Lists- After weeks and weeks of back and forth across my classroom, down the hallways to the copier I decided to get organized. This is especially important with the infamous “pregnancy brain”.  How many times did I finish getting my math lessons copied and prepped, only to realize that I needed to head back to the copier to get materials for the next day’s writing lesson?  I made three lists- Prep, Make, Copy.  That way I could multitask my visit to the copier with going to the book room as well.  It will definitely help save those swollen feet and sore hips!

3. Establish routines that support independence– This is one of those things that is a good idea to do- pregnant or not. I kept in mind my growing bump before it got too big. We spent lots of time practicing transition routines and how to distribute papers. We practiced clean up “over and under” the tables. These little lessons proved so valuable when it was hard for me to get around. I didn’t have to start nagging students to pick up the crayons under the tables because it had become routine.

4.Get a yoga ball chair! I got one early in the year and it was my best friend! I got one with a back so I could stabilize myself. it also had wheels, so in those last painful weeks, I could wheel myself between the student tables.

LuxFit Exercise Ball Chair, Black

This is the one I got and LOVED!

5. Say YES to help! and NO to more work-This is a two part one- and this one was tough for me. I don’t like to accept help, I typically just like to get things done. I learned quickly that its ok to accept help. Let your team member drop your kiddos off at special, or grab something from your mailbox when they offer.

About the second part- you don’t have to say no in a lazy, self pityijng way. Opportunities to take on new things- new committees, new initiatives- just seem to throw themselves at teachers. I was on a committee I loved, but knew that the amount of time I’d need to spend out of the classroom, and the timing of my maternity leave would not be ideal, so as difficult as it was, I bowed out.  It’s ok to say you have enough on your plate!

Coffee Cup_3

6. Enjoy a little caffeine- I definitely enjoyed caffeine in the form of a morning and afternoon coffee (with the OK of my doctor of course).  It literally helped me to survive, especially in the afternoons when I was in a state of exhaustion I’ve never felt before. So despite the judgmental glares you may receive, drink that coffee and enjoy every sip.



5 Things I’ve Learned as a Teacher Mom

1. Saying Yes to my child really does make a difference.

Just today my kindergartner  came home so excited. Yesterday he forgot his lunchbox at school, so he had to bring the old spare today with his lunch. When he got to school, he wanted to move all of his lunch things over to his real lunchbox… and his teacher helped him do it, She has 16 other 5-6 year olds to care for and- let’s not forget- educate, but taking two minutes to help him with his lunchbox dilemma made a big difference to him.

Now I’m sorry for all of those little missed “yes” opportunities I’ve lost with my students over the years. 


2. The little things we say do matter!

My fourth grader had a ridiculously difficult third grade experience. This year, in fourth grade he has had an AMAZING teacher. After watching him doodle and work on his craft as a writer, she told him “I sure hope you invite me to your first comic book signing when you become famous.” For my 9 year old, this comment has been so crucial to building him up… this comment made months ago, comes up time and time again.

I’m thankful for all of the “reading stars” who I “am so glad are in my class”… 


3. The little things we do matter too!

My kindergartner has asthma. Not just the kind that requires an inhaler after he’s been running around, but the kind that can get scary and require hospital visits and stays. A few weeks ago it was his turn to be Star of the Week! This chance only comes around once in a kindergarten lifetime, so I let out a sad sigh when the Monday of his turn I received a call from his school nurse. He spent the rest of the week home, plagued by asthma attacks, fevers, and ear infections. His teacher e-mailed daily to check in on him. When he had missed a few days, she anticipated his sadness about missing all the special jobs that come with star of the week, so she e-mailed to reschedule his week. This sick kid peeled his whiny hiney off the couch to jump up and down with joy!

I wonder what little things I can do to make my students jump for joy!

4.School-home communication and involvement means a lot to parents!

I have sent e-mails, made phone calls, and invited parents into my classroom on a regular basis throughout my teaching career. I enjoyed getting to know them and showing off all we had been doing and learning at school.

I don’t think I realized just how much of a difference it makes as a parent to get that e-mail with a silly story from the day, to be mystery reader for the class, or to sit in the audience of a Readers’ theater performance in my child’s classroom. Tomorrow, in fact, I have the opportunity (being on maternity leave) to go do a gallery walk of my fourth grade class’ Hole in One projects, which were the culmination of their geometry unit (angles and all!).

I will seek opportunities to invite parents, not because my administration says so, but because it makes a difference. 

5. Saying thank you to the teacher does matter.

This one I learned as a teacher, and embrace as a mom. I look for opportunities to regularly thank my childrens’ teachers. After all, they love my children, care for them, and TEACH them!  When my children are learning, feeling great about themselves, and being coached through the social landscape by a teacher who appreciates them, I am so thankful… and saying thank you makes a difference. As a teacher, receiving these words of appreciation make all the difference!

I will always show my appreciation for my children’s teachers.

6. Parents are doing the best they can. 

Let’s be real.. the above list is just the beginning of what I’ve learned, but I’m sitting here typing with one hand as I hold my newborn and listen to my boys do their nightly reading.  My son went to school this morning with his hair sticking straight up in the back. My other son had his shirt on backwards (I noticed as he dashed off the bus). Sometimes they “forget” to brush their teeth in the morning. Sometimes we forget their mittens and hats on a cold day… and sometimes we even*gasp* forget to do/ run out of time for homework. Is it because school and education is not important to me? No. It’s because being a mom is about more than all these things. In this life I love these little beings with all that I am. Sometimes that means snuggling up in my recliner chair with my 5 year old as he falls asleep early in my lap. Sometimes I make homemade pancakes and don’t check that my fourth grader remembered his trumpet on B and D3 days (what is with these complicated schedules anyway??? ). So enough with the judgmental teacher talk I sometimes hear…

I will give parents a break. 

Character Ed & Personal Character Traits- Printable Teaching Activities

We had such a week getting ready to launch our Character Traits unit.  It’s also the perfect time of year for it, since as a Responsive Classroom School, we also launch our CARES unit.

This week we discussed the difference between personality and physical traits.

The students created these beautiful self portraits and labeled their physical traits.

Then, we studied more about personality traits. At the end of the week, students added hearts (personality traits) to their posters.

I launched each personality trait with a read aloud (see attached growing list!) which offered a perfect opportunity for students to begin to see how the characters in their stories also have traits.

Character Ed and Personality Trait printables!


Check out these new Character Ed and Personality traits materials!

Includes kid friendly definitions of 10 common character/personality traits as well as student response pages and teaching notes.

Here is a beginning (growing) list of books that help support teaching some of the traits! These books also offer a great link from students thinking about themselves, to relating to characters!

(Click link here! —–>) CharacterBookRecommendations

December Holiday Celebrations!

Just posted my December Holiday Celebrations pack! This pack has certainly been a work in progress over many years even. I finally sat down to finalize it!

It includes basic information cards for each of the following holidays: Las Posadas, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa and a research companion to go along with the research!

Check it out here!

Holidays around the world- Research resources & companion!

Election Day Printables

Although Halloween is tomorrow it’s not the spooky creatures that scare me…

*It’s the fact that the election is only just over a week away.

I am choosing not to do a lot of discussion about the different candidates with my first graders, however we will do pondering of these questions:

*What does a president do?

*What makes a good president?

*Would the characters in our stories make good presidents?

*Vote for Me! (I could make a good president)

*If I were president…

*What can kids vote about?

*Take a class vote! (using paper ballots)

I have these resources all posted at 50% off through election day in my TPT shop!

Check it out here!

Election Day and Voting resources!Election Day and Voting resources for little learners!