First Day in First!

The first day of school is always fun and exciting!

Before I share some of the lessons and activities for the week, I just want to say that most of these beginning ideas grew long before I joined the first grade team, so as awesome as they are, I can’t take credit for creating them all :-)

Arrival- This first day, I always put out a basic coloring sheet. It helps me to take  quick survey of basic fine motor, I can tell if they know how to write their names, and it keeps them busy as I greet the other children and help them get unpacked. I always like to play a little fun music when they first come in, especially since they are usually so quiet. Music definitely sets a fun mood!


Morning Meeting- I’ll go into detail about my (short) morning meetings at another time)

Launch Read to Self!- Day 1: I introduce students to their book boxes. I put some easy readers in each book box, and then students choose another book from the shelf to add to their box.  We practice the 3 ways to read a book (Read the words, read the pictures, and retell). I ask them to try the first two ways on our first day of first grade. Then we spread out and the students practice this on their own for one minute.

I called the students back and gave them the three expectations (Stay in my spot, Read the whole time, Quiet voice). I modeled what that looked and sounded like, along with what it did NOT look and sound like.

Then students went back to practice for just 1 more minute.


Read Aloud- I LOVE to read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! The first day of school. I know that the kindergarten teachers at my school do a lot with it, but it’s too much fun not to read!

I then chart  “_______ will be in this room” on the easel (I write this out ahead of time).

The students take turns coming up to point to the sentence when it’s their turn on the chart ( I check for 1-1 match).

Then students complete a class book page “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom _____________ will be in this room”.

All they have to do is write their name, and draw a picture. They write the letters of their name in the coconut tree on the class book page.

I know this is a simple task, but it helps everyone to be together on the first day succeeding. It also helps me to collect information about the students, and helps them to learn each others names!

Walk Around the School- 

It’s always nice to take a little break and bring the kiddos around the school. On the first day, we practice walking in a line, and touring the school. We take this very slow so students remember (or learn, for new students) about our school.

Read Aloud- I snuck a “just for fun” read aloud in right before lunch time.

A My Name is Alice project- I read the story A My Name is Alice ( I actually read the first few pages to students, then skip around a bit). Then, we brainstorm things that begin with the first letter of each child’s name

I prepare the chart paper with student names:

John likes_______________

Chris likes ______________

Then, we fill in a word that begins with the same letter.

Students come up and practice reading this line as well. Then I display it as they complete this fun project.


I use tracers for the heads and just a half sheet of construction paper for the shirt.


Math- On the first day and through the first week, I like to incorporate pattern blocks for math. The students are tired, they miss their families, and playing is just what they need to do. I put pattern blocks out, divivde studetns into groups, and they have such a fun time.


Magic Playdough- One of the most awaited (by me) activities of the day!

For the past two years we have made magic playdough and it has been a truly magical experience for the kiddos! Make little balls of homemade playdough, press your finger in to make a hole and hide a couple drops of food coloring inside. Close the ball up and it will look plain and white, until they start massaging around (I always have them mix it in the bag at school. The food coloring will dye your hands until it’s all the way dispersed inside the play dough!)

IMG_9395 IMG_9394


I like to keep lots of read alouds handy, since you never know when you’ll have an extra few minutes!

There you have it… day 1 :-)



End of Summer Blues


Ever had that feeling on Sunday… the sad (blue) feeling that the weekend is ending and reality is taking hold? In my house, we call this the Sunday Blues.
The day before I start school… well there’s a whole different name for that. It’s the End of Summer Blues.  It actually lasts longer than a day …. In fact, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel this way all week long.  I am sad to have to share  my children with the world and not find joy in their eyes during every minute of every day (although I know I must). I am sad not to sit at our new breakfast bar and have a coffee with my husband in the morning (School mornings are so rushed!), and I am sad not to be able to stay up until 2 am watching episodes of Mad Men (my new favorite show).

Then I sometimes feel guilty for feeling sad. After all, I have the best job in the world! I love my job. And how many people get to take summers off to enjoy these moments I love so much? Sometimes I spend my time feeling guilty about being sad.  It’s my teacher guilt creeping up on me.

So after all week of having all these feelings… I am going to come out and say it.

Feeling this way does not mean I am a bad teacher!

It does not mean that I am not thankful for the time I do have off, It’s just the way I feel.

-Feeling this way means I am more than a teacher. I pour so much of my heart and soul into my students each school year that these moments when I can just BE with my family are precious and so appreciated. It is not wrong to be sad to have to divide my time. We say goodbye to so many things at the end of the summer.

I know I’ll say hello to wonderful things too.

Tomorrow I will be filled with excitement and anticipation as I greet all of my fellow teachers in the morning. It will be filled with nervousness and to do lists and joy as I imagine those new faces entering my room this week.

But for now, I am just feeling kind of sad about the things I’ll say goodbye to.

Feeling this way doesn’t mean I am a bad teacher. Feeling this way means I am  human.



Subtraction within 10

School’s right around the corner. In Connecticut, we begin on August 26, so my classroom is all set up, and just one weekend and two PD days stand between me and another wonderful group of first graders.

In my district we don’t have a prescribed math program, and I choose to use guided math groups as my approach to math instruction. What I have found in the past is that a lot of resources we have include an activity and maybe an independent practice (usually very long for the kiddos), but hardly any include a game or extension that is a perfect fit for the kiddos working  independently.

Soo… you guessed it! I’ve been busy creating my own resources for each focus in our mathematics curriculum.

Subtraction within 10 printable practice, games, and activities!

Today I finished, and posted Subtraction Within 10. These resources align with the Grade 1 CCSS standards, but I think they could work for some kindergartners, and definitely as a warm up for first graders.

Here are some sample activities from the pack!

Subtraction Within 10. Grade 1 activities.

Fall themed Write the Room Math style. Print the set, cut out, and hang up. Students can practice subtraction during center time, or even all throughout the day!

Subtraction Within 10. Grade 1 activities.

Domino Subtraction!

Subtraction Within 10. Grade 1 activities.

Missing addend

Subtraction Within 10. Grade 1 activities.

Use a picture to write a number sentence

Subtraction Within 10. Grade 1 activities.

Sweet Subtraction! Candy themed subtraction fact game.

Subtraction Within 10. Grade 1 activities.

Candy themed subtraction fact game!

Subtraction Within 10. Grade 1 activities.

True/ False subtraction acorn. A solve and color activity!


If you’re interested, I’ve also posted this as a bundle with my Addition within 10 pack for a great savings! The activities are similarly formatted, and some games even use the same materials. I love that this allows students opportunities to practice with a familiar format, and also begin to develop an understanding about the relationship between addition and subtraction.

Addition and Subtraction within 10 bundle. Activities, games, and printable practice!


So I opened my mailbox today to see that my most exciting summer purchase had arrived….




I’ve enviously eyed them in a colleague’s classroom, and it’s my turn for SitSpot fun!

I am going to start the year using them as spots for the children to sit… but I can tell that the possibilities for using them are endless.

Here are a few ideas I’ve seen or thought of:

*Spots for children to sit

*Spot for line leader to stand

*Spot for “center” game board or shared materials

*Write numbers or words and play beanbag toss to practice reading or math.

*Mark a walking path in the classroom

*Write the story parts on the spots. When the children step on the spot, they tell that part of the story!

The best part is that they adhere to carpet well, don’t leave behind residue, and you can vacuum right over top of them. Hooray for SitSpots!

I’ll keep you posted on any fun ways I find to use them!



School Year Resolutions

I’ve always said we are lucky, as teachers, to get two new years.

I’ll admit the one that feels most like “New Year” to me is the beginning of each school year. It’s how my salary is calculated, benefits are paid, and life “begins again” each September with a new group of students. It’s also a lot easier for me to keep these resolutions because the start of each new school year is the start of new routines, a chance to leave old habits behind. As a mom, it’s also incredibly overwhelming. I’m struggling to be good at more than one thing at a time as it is (Can any person truly balance being a super mom, rockstar teacher, health enthusiast, meticulous housekeeper, and financial guru?) .  During the summer I do pretty well managing the housekeeping and mom part, but the rest goes by the wayside (These add-your-own-toppings Froyo places are my weak spot.)

So here’s to a new year. A chance to start new.

Here are my School Year Resolutions inspired by some of my favorite songs:

*”Let It Go”- let the dust go, let the laundry go ( or stay in the clean laundry baskets instead of folding), let the dreams of a pinterest worthy classroom set up go. If I can let them all go, I can spend less time feeling bad about myself, and more time being productive.

*”Living in the moment” ( A Jason Mraz Favorite)- This is a biggie- and probably the most cliche one of all, but I mean this is a very specific way. Stop and listen to the special tales of a wiggly tooth from a first grader. Stop everything and play a game of Mustache Smash with my three year old, stop and listen to my seven year old go on and on (sometimes for hours) about Minecraft. The children in my life bring me such joy if I just take the time to let them no matter how busy I may feel, how many house chores need to be done, or how crunched I feel for assessments.

*”Shake it Off”- Students, parents, administrators, colleagues, and even friends will do and say things that are frustrating or even *pout* hurt my feelings. Shake it off. People hardly do this on purpose, and if they do, then it’s more their problem than mine. I don’t do so well with this one. I take things personally… and I need to stop, which is why this is one of my school year resolutions in the first place.

*”I need a little sweetness in my life”- Notice how I said “a little”. I have a major chocolate in my top drawer problem. So… this is one of my biggest day-to-day-changes. I am going to try packing something in my lunch (a hershey kiss) and that’s it. Yes, I realize this could totally backfire and result in my indulging in chocolate at all hours of the night… we’ll see how it goes :-)



So cheers to a new school year!

Leaving Feedback on TeachersPayTeachers

I’m on a Freebie Feedback Frenzy!


I’ve been spending at least an hour a day leaving feedback on freebies… and here’s why.

Behind every great freebie is a dedicated, generous, and awesome teacher or artist!

That author deserves the votes and your comments to help them succeed. Whether you’re commenting on how much you love the product (it feels good to be acknowledged for your work!) or have a suggestion, this feedback can help creators to improve the product or to shape future products.

Why now?

One of my favorite clip art artists, Krista Wallden had a freebie chain going for some of her super cute, very professional, and very versatile clip art.  If she got just 600 feedback on each freebie, she would produce another.

What happened? The chain ended after a few weeks because the goal was not reached. You’re probably thinking that 600 is a lot of feedback to get in a week. The problem is that the freebie has over 2.300 downloads. I was kind of bummer that only about 1/4 of people who downloaded this product took the time to leave feedback. In the case of clip art, these images are often being used to create a product that may NOT even be free (which is fine), but the least you can do is give the author credit for their awesome work by taking a minute to leave feedback.

I felt so disappointed, but then wondered how aware I had been, in the past, about leaving feedback for freebies.I know when I download paid products, my purchases page has a little spot to leave feedback, and I’m looking for those TPT credits. I had never noticed that TPT catalogs all of your free purchases here as well, so you are able to access and go back to redownload or leave feedback on past purchases.

So why am I spending so much time doing it? Because I was guilty! I have downloaded hundreds of freebies and left feedback on less than a fourth of them. My frenzy is my effort to right this wrong :-). I’ll keep going until every freebie I’ve downloaded has feedback.

Follow these 4 steps to join me on my FREEBIE FEEDBACK FRENZY!

Click on MY TPT at the top of your login page. Then click on My Purchases:mytpt


Then click on the FREE DOWNLOADS bar at the top!



Find the words “Provide Feedback” under the product. If you’ve already left feedback, it’ll tell you here!


Rate, Comment, Send!



I always cringe when I see people leaving super negative or low feedback on freebies.  I guess the product could be less than expected. On a freebie, however, I always prefer to contact the seller privately with suggestions or issues instead of leaving poor feedback.