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Interactive Word Walls

Jen, over at The Teacher's Cauldron, and April, over at Wolfelicious are both hosting Word Wall linky parties! Does your school require you to have a word wall? Mine sure does! In the past, I had a word wall to meet the requirements of the fidelity police but never really was consistent about updating and adding new words. My kids never really used it as a resource until NOW! Well this year I love my word walls. I teach first grade and second grade, so I had to come up with a way to differentiate my words. I also had to find room to fit them all. My favorite word wall this year is my whiteboard word wall. This allows me to quickly add words and change them as needed. My polka dot word wall consists of the Dolch words for each grade and our reading adoption’s weekly high frequency words.
interactive word wall
overused words
dolch words and high frequency words from

If you’ve ever been to a MelissaForney writing workshop you’ll know she’s big on portable word walls, spelling helps, and thematic word walls so I have a lot of them as well. Check out Melissa Forney's website. She has tons of ideas for writing. 
I also have a word wall with synonyms for overused words. I tell my kids they are “kindergarten” words.  My kids are quick to point out when authors use “kindergarten” worlds instead of our fancy words.
Now since we’re talking about words let’s also talk about vocabulary words. In the past, I was terrible at teaching tier II words. I rarely used them. Well, this year I found Melissa at F is for First grade. I purchased her vocabulary packet that contained tier II words from the most popular children’s read alouds. I already had most of the books so I was thrilled. Check them out here!
It has dramatically changed the way I teach vocabulary. Guess what she has teamed up to giveaway a packet to one lucky winner. To enter this great giveaway follow the steps below.
This is Melissa's wall! Click on picture to take you to her post about this wonderful resource.

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Mother's Day FREEBIE

Where has the month gone?  I'm linking up at Teaching My 3 for a teacher appreciation linky party. Since Mother's Day is right around the corner, we've been super busy making our Mother's Day presents.  It's always hard to pick which one to choose. This year I decided on silhouettes and hand print art. I also made some free Mother’s Day interview questions and more! You can grab a copy here ! Lately, I've been thinking about Father's Day and how I usually don't do much with this day. I've definitely been guilty of skipping it all together.  I do think it’s just as important to honor fathers so I've created a Father's Day packet as well. 


Ending the Year with a BANG!

I love the end of the year. It gets a little crazy but we still have fun. When it gets down to 20 days, I make a cute bulletin board titled, "Let's End this Year with a BANG". For this board, I use 20 brightly colored balloons. I have different activities or prizes in each balloon. Now since I would rather not have field day on a Monday, I usually rig the balloons. To pull this off, I have a number inside the balloon. Once a balloon is popped, I look on my list and find out which prize was won. Technically, I have it planned for the entire twenty days. The kids have never caught on. SHHH! It's my little secret.
Here are some ideas

You can grab a copy here!

What fun things will you be doing to celebrate the end of the year? Leave me a comment and you might win any packet from my tpt store!
If you need anymore ideas you should check out Tales from Outside the Classroom , All Students Can Shine, or 3 Teacher Chicks. These blogs are having  End of the Year linky parties.


I couldn't wait any longer so I just announced the 11 lucky winners on the rafflecopters.  Now it's time to go check to see if you're one of them. I will be emailing all of the winners for complete details before Tuesday. I wish everyone who entered could have won the giveaway of their choice. Don't worry I LOVE giveaways and have another one in the works. A big thanks goes to all of the wonderful teachers, authors, companies, and designers who helped pull off this WONDERFUL giveaway. I am so thankful for you all! Thank you for entering and following this blog.
Have a wonderful week,
Miss Nelson

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! We've been celebrating Earth Day for a couple of days in the classroom. I've been trying to stress the importance of taking care of our Earth everyday instead of just on Earth Day. The kids have been so excited about saving paper. We made some fun art using old magazines and went on a litter hunt around school. We also started using these wonderful page protectors that I just absolutely love. 
Being that April is poetry month, we decided to make Earth Day cinquains.You should see some of the poems. I am so proud. I loved how our Earths turned out. This idea came from The First Grade Parade.

 I'm planning on doing more Earth Day activities in stations next week. If you don’t have any Earth Day activities you should check out Rachelle’s Earth Day Unit.  She even updated it this year. It’s packed full of fun stuff!  
We also made these cute Earth Day pledges. I found the picture idea from Teacher Idea Factory.
The kids had a blast making this Earth Day scene from our huge box of scrap paper. Each one was very unique.
Don't forget to check back Monday to see if you're one of the LUCKY winners.

Giveaway Item # 9

We are now on Giveaway Item #9. If you haven't checked out the different items you will have until Sunday April, 22nd to enter. I will be announcing winners on Monday April, 23rd. 
I don’t know about you but how I teach math is completely different to the way I was taught in school. I do not remember learning about front end addition, doubles or doubles plus one but now I’m so glad to have found these powerful strategies. Before finding ShelleyGray, I wasn’t too comfortable teaching mental math strategies. Now, I love Mental Math! By teaching mental math strategies you are equipping students with skills they need to solve more complex equations. These math strategies are great tools if you allow students to really master them. We do a lot of math talks and really focus on the easiest math strategies first before we start a new strategy. If you want to see what Shelley recommends you can find it in this video. I’ve also learned to use math mathematical language and vocabulary throughout my lessons.  
Our math series is very weak in covering certain standards so I always supplement with TPT units and packets. I highly suggest you take a look at Teaching Resources by Shelley Gray.
Another fabulous resource that I just love is Amy Lemons at Step into 2nd grade. Her blog is absolutely darling. I’m always getting great ideas for my class. The best part about Amy’s items is they are always reasonably priced and very cute. Shelly and Amy have both agreed to giveaway a unit. Shelly graciously agreed to give away her mental math strategies bundle. The lucky winner will be able to pick either the complete addition or subtraction pack. What a wonderful prize!  Sweet Amy is donating her Shapin’ Up unit which is super cute.  I just love the poems that go along with the shapes. My students had a blast with Shapin' Up!
To enter please follow the steps below:

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Giveaway Item #8

Thanks for checking back so often. I  am now on giveaway item #8.I love teaching beginning readers and I’ll let you in on a little secret. I use a brain-based, teacher developed tool kit called Secret Stories . It’s what really helps me teach those hard spelling patterns. Before using Secret Stories, I couldn’t really get through to my students why the letters made certain sounds. Now, I have secret stories to help motivate learners in helping uncover the letter sounds and letter patterns. I like how Secret Stories uses visual, auditory, and kinesthetic means to activate every learning channel. I have been incorporating this program for the past 4 months and I absolutely love it!
You should see my student's growth in reading and writing skills just from incorporating these wonderful stories.   If you've never seen the stories, you should take a look.  I ordered the kit this year after seeing them all over the web. The author of Secret Stories is Kate Garner. She’s a genius. She is graciously giving me a Secret Stories kit to share with one lucky winner! To enter please follow the steps below.
‘AU /AW’

have a huge crush on each other,
and whenever they have to stand ‘side-by-side’ in a word,
they get so embarrassed,
they always look down and say-

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Giveaway Item #7

In order to teach a child, you must enter their view of the world.Julia Cook

I am so excited to share giveaway item #7. Are you familiar with Julia Cook? Well, I was having a huge problem with blurting out in the beginning of the year until I found the perfect solution- My Mouth is a Volcano. You will not believe how my kids responded to the story. They totally could relate to the main character. After purchasing My Mouth is a Volcano, I got online to find as many books as I could by Julia Cook. You will be amazed at how her stories sound just like some of the students in your class. After reading Julia’s stories, my students seemed to really think and problem solve on their own. By reading her books, we’ve learned all about personal space, focusing, asking for permission, accepting no for an answer, worrying, tattling and more! Julia Cook is a wonderful author who specializes in character and social education. Her stories teach children how to solve their own problems. Julia gives problem solving techniques that students can start using right away. Whenever a problem arises in the classroom, I look through my Julia Cook collection and seem to always have the perfect book. I’m so fortunate to have found these stories. I’ve been patiently waiting to purchase Blueloon- a book about depression. Julia has graciously donated an autographed copy! SHHH! Don’t enter- I’m keeping it for my class. Just kidding! Mine should be here any day. You could even win an author visit to your school by submitting literature response activities that your class has done using one of Julia's many books. To win an autographed copy of Blueloon, follow the steps below.

Check out these cute little tennis balls, created to fit on chair legs and eliminate that awful screech of seats moving. The other day I was looking for something new for my guided reading chairs. I recently switched from crate seats to chairs but had a little problem. My chairs were screeching and causing black marks on my white floor. After searching the web, I came across Chair Kickz. I instantly fell in love with these stylish chair covers. I’m patiently waiting for polka dot ones. The owner, Josh, is wonderful. He’s offering 3 sets to 1 lucky winner. He’s even offering 15% off orders of $50 or more for one month.  Simply enter the code: missnelson when you check out.  There is a promo box for your special code!!
What kinds of designs and colors would you be interested in for your classroom? Leave a comment for an extra chance to win this fabulous giveaway.

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Giveaway Item #6

I am joining Christine's linky party from Hopping into First to let you know my favorite technology resources. My top technology pick happens to be my # 6 Teaching Item that one lucky winner will win!

1. DVD's from Heidisongs and Teacher Tipster
2. Talk Points from Learning Resources
3. Books on CD loaded to my IPODS for my listening station
4. Subscriptions to Brainpopjr.com, IXL.com, and Ticket to Read.
5. Smartboard with Smart Document Camera

I'm super excited to tell you about my number 6 giveaway. In my classroom we like to move, dance, and sing. I like to make learning fun. When I need a fun tip or fun idea I know two places I always check first. I follow Heidi at Heidisongs and Mr. Smith at TeacherTipster. Both of these talented educators know how to make learning fun, meaningful and hands on. I happened to find Heidi this year and purchased an entire first grade kit along with her Sounds Fun Phonics. Boy am I glad I did! Every morning my students are singing and dancing to either one of her DVD's. They are ALL great because they involve a multi-sensory approach. If you are not familiar with Heidi's Sounds Fun Phonics, you need to check it out! My kids know their vowel digraphs, dipthongs, and more thanks to Heidi's Sounds Fun Phonics. I love that every sound has a song, cute picture cue and movement. Here are some of the sound patterns you will find. 
 sh-,th-,ch-, -igh, -unk,-ink,-ing,-ay, -er,ir,ur, -ai,-ee,-ea,-oa, oo, oi, oy plus rules Bossy E, Vowel Walk.

You can check out all of Heidi's fabulous products on Heidi's website.  Heidi is always posting great articles and ideas on her blog and fb page. I am so glad she has agreed to giveaway one of her DVD's to a lucky winner.

Where do teachers go for tips? If you don't know then you should head over to www.teachertipster.com. Mr. Smith is so amazing. He is fun to watch and always provides the best tips. If you follow him on fb you will know that on Tuesdays you can expect an awesome tip that you can start right away. His tips are so useful and easy to implement. I love his Musical Morning Routine DVD. In this DVD, you will see his class sing and dance their way through calendar and morning meeting time. On a good day you can touch on over 100 skills. You will be amazed at how your kids will be engaged. My kids love his songs. Currently their favorite activity to do is his tens and ones military routine.
   Check out this the preview below! Your kids will thank you!

To enter to win a Musical Morning Routine DVD and a HeidiSongs DVD please follow the steps below

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Ultimate Giveaway Item #5

Thanks for checking out my giveaways. I am half way through! Today's item is more like ITEMS.
I've contacted my favorite TPT sellers to see if they were interested in this giveaway. Well you're in luck because these three ladies are pretty famous. When I look in my purchases tab their units are all over my screen. First up is Deanna Jump. I'm pretty sure she was one of the first teachers to start creating themed units on TPT.  In 2010, I was desperately looking for Veterans Day activities and I stumbled across her packet. Boy was I excited! I was set for my teaching career. She had fun units on a variety of themes.When you purchase a packet from Deanna it's COMPLETE. Her packets are versatile, rigorous, meaningful, darling, etc. The list could go on! Today I'll be giving away her Back To School Math and Literacy Fun.
After I found a great source for themed packets, I was looking for really specific skills that my students were struggling with and stumbled across The Teacher Wife. My first packet from Lindsey was The Word Endings unit. My students had so much fun making ed and ing posters. Lindsey takes hard to grasp concepts and makes them fun and meaningful for the kids!  If you're kids are having trouble with fact families then I suggest you check out her packet. I'm so happy that she agreed to giveaway my favorite packet which is the Parts of Speech Bundle. It has everything you'll need to successfully teach nouns, verbs, and adjectives!
This year I found a really cute blog that was decorated in polka dots. I got wonderful organizational tips and found great common core packets. Erica at Erica's Bohrer's First Grade creates wonderful packets. The best part is they follow the common core standards. I'm so glad because we switch to common core next year. Polka Dot Classroom Labels and Signs  is my favorite item I've purchased from Erica and she's giving it away!It includes monthly labels, days of the week, schedule cards, rules, classroom bin labels and so much more. It even goes great with the Day 1 giveaway. Yay! Not only is Erica a great teacher and blogger. She's also a published author. I just ordered her Super Spelling Centers from Scholastic with bonus points.

To win these AMAZING packets please follow the steps below.

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Ultimate Giveaway Item #4

Happy Saturday! Does anyone else get 12-14 hours of sleep on Friday nights? All week long I get about 6 hours but when Saturday rolls around I've definitely been known to sleep til at least 10:00. We are now on Day 4 of giveaways. I've been so excited to share a new item each day. Well, I've shared with you where to go when you need to decorate , where to go when your kids need some motivating, and a great tool for practicing word lists. Today's ultimate giveaway is two of my go to stores for Guided Reading packets. Now I have MANY stores I visit frequently so keep checking my blog because you won't want to miss out on all these talented teachers. 
Let's face it- guided reading is not easy. When you're new to teaching reading or even experienced, its hard to find exciting worksheets and activities that will work with any story. There's always the basal and workbooks that go along with the week's story but I like to use a variety of trade books that fit my student's interest and levels. After reading a great post about Guided Reading, I headed to TPT! The first reading packets I purchased brought life into my guided reading time. If you need a little help with guided reading groups one store you should check out is Lesson Plan SOS. They have many units to choose from. I LOVE their Guided Reading With Pizzazz unit!! This unit contains lots of fun activities for jazzing up your guided reading lessons. I also love their unit Become a Guided Reading Guru! It's so hard to choose one so I just get them all! Get excited! The sweet ladies at Lesson Plan SOS have graciously donated $25 to their TPT store and the unit Reading with Pizzazz. 
But I'm not stopping there. I'm always finding out new strategies to implement during guided reading. What the Teacher Wants is another fabulous blog that is also co written by two wonderful teachers. I loved this post about guiding reading tips and strategies. I think as teachers we are always learning new strategies. It's so wonderful we can blog and share these ideas. After reading another great post, I went straight to TPT and purchased Being a Guided Reading Wizard. Sweet Rachelle has also agreed to giveaway her Being a Guided Reading Wizard pack.

To win Being a Guided Reading Wizard, Guided Reading With Pizzazz and a $25 gift certificate to Lesson Plan SOS please follow the steps below.

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Ultimate Giveaway #3

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Don't forget to check out Day 1 or  Day 2. I'll be having seven more days of fabulous giveaways! We are now on item #3.
I’m pretty sure that you’ve seen or heard of Vocabulary SpellingCity...but if you haven't...you should definitely check it out! SpellingCity is AMAZING! It’s great at literacy stations, extra practice at home and whole group. Actually, I've been using this resource on my SmartBoard during whole group reading time. Students enjoy reviewing skills using Spelling City. They are all engaged and attentive during this time. The best part is ...it’s a great way to differentiate word lists. I had the free membership...and it's very fun...but  with a Premium Membership you can do so much more. 
With a premium membership, you receive the following:

Not only does their website have great reading vocabulary, 
but it now includes math vocabulary and science vocabulary! The Teacher Resources section has expanded over the past few months and includes a variety of skills such as AnalogiesCompound WordsMultiple Meaning Words, and Syllables & Segmenting!

SpellingCity has graciously donated a FREE premium membership for a year to one lucky winner.
To enter, simply follow the steps below.

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A Teacher's Ultimate Favorite Things

I  love linky parties. I'm linking up with Little Miss Glamour Goes to Kindergarten's Gotta Have It linky party and Kelley at The Teacher Idea Factory Kelley is hosting her first linky party titled Rockin' Resources! There are so many out there but I'll share a few of my favorite ROCKIN' RESOURCES.
#1- I've got to have lessons and units from TPT! What did we do before TPT?
#2- Love YOUTUBE videos. Check out my YOUTUBE linky party
#3 BrainpopJr.Com 
#5 TickettoRead and IXL.com

 I'm also giving away more than 15 of my favorite teaching items. Have you ever seen an Oprah's favorite things episode? Well, today you are in for a special treat! I've been really wanting to put together a HUGE giveaway of my MUST HAVE teaching items. I don't know about you, but I've already started planning and dreaming of a clean slate. I'm ready to get organized and prepared for a fabulous 2012-2013 school year. I've been eyeing new supplies, materials, products, and themes! I know what I love and want to share some of my FAVORITE, MUST HAVE items! I've contacted the best authors, teachers, designers and companies to help provide the ULTIMATE giveaway. You will definitely want to check back everyday as I will be presenting a new item for 10 straight days.They are ALL must have items so it's super hard to decide which item to present first. 
Here it goes.
I know you’ve probably seen the beautiful pictures of gorgeous themes floating around Pinterest. These amazing themes are all products of Melanie from Schoolgirl Style. If you haven’t seen any of Melanie’s work then you need to go right now! Melanie is A-MA-ZING!  I've been stalking her pins and store all year. After much debating I decided to redo my classroom in the middle of the school year. I just couldn’t wait any longer. I followed her awesome tips of keeping colors to a minimum, having cohesive borders, matching containers and more. Her work is simply beautiful. I get so excited when she announces her new themes. Each and every theme is unique and perfect! Well, Get EXCITED!  I’m proud to announce that not only did Melanie agree to donating something for my giveaway she graciously said the winner could have an ENTIRE theme. I was SHOCKED! What an amazing teacher, designer, and blogger. To enter please follow the guidelines below.

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Shop Til Ya Drop

Sweet Brittany from Sweet Seconds wrote "I'm just starting our economics unit with my sweets and am hoping you have a post about your favorite thing to teach! That would be awesome to do with my kiddos. I've been toying around with the idea in my head and you are convincing me it's worth it!" 
I happen to love Market Days. We do this every year. I've done Market days in the winter and also in the spring. After we do a week long unit on Consumers and Producers we break into groups to create a product or service to sell. 
Here are some goods we've sold in the past:
chocolate dipped pretzels
chocolate dipped spoons
wrapping paper (butcher paper stamped with stamps)
hot chocolate
Most items are around $1. This way the students don't  have worry too much about change. We do it as a grade level but you could easily do it as a class. You can invite parents, teachers, other students or have it just within your class.

We usually plan about a week getting organized, producing our product, and marketing our store. I show my students videos about starting a business. Our library has a great selection. This year we even made a commercial using Animoto (free for educators) that was aired on our morning announcements.  The students also hung up advertisements around campus to drum up business. This year my class raised over $300. We donated the money to a local charity. There are so many different twists you can do with Market! If you need any advice or ideas please shoot me an email at missnelsonattpt@yahoo.com. 

I have a cute booklet on tpt that covers wants, needs, goods, services, consumers, producers and income. 

I've been tagged again

I've been tagged again but this time by Mrs. S at Stapler's Strategies. Check out her cute blog. This is fun! I wonder how it ever stops. I'll be worn out. I wonder how many calories I'll burn from all this tagging. JK!
Here are her 10 questions and answers.

I'm keeping my ten questions but asking 10 more blogs.
Here is my list of tag-ees

Here Are The Rules:
* Post these rules
* Answer the 10 questions that the tagger posted for you
* Create 10 questions of your own to ask the people that you're about to tag
* Tag 10 people and link them with your post (and let them know they've been tagged!)
So…let’s get to know each other a little better, shall we?

Here are my 10 questions :
1.       Which do you prefer teaching Reading or Math?
2.       Where's your favorite place to find clip art?
3.       Do you count spelling tests as a reading or writing grade?
4.       Favorite website for your students?
5.       Point and shoot camera  or DSLR?
6.       Do you arrive to school early or stay late?
7.       Coke or  Pepsi?
8.       Michael’s or Hobby Lobby?
9.     What is your favorite read aloud?
10.   Winter Break or Spring Break?

I love these strategies from whole brain teaching. Especially the blow in your bubble and release and class yes.