Saturday, March 26

Vowel Sort

Hey there y'all, and happy weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, can I share some happy news?

I JUST woke up and it's 10:30 A.M.  And if that isn't wowie wow wow, I don't know what is. AMAZING.  Why is it amazing, you ask? Because working for the  man has completely destroyed my ability to sleep in on the weekends. SO SAD.  Seriously, my crazy brain gets me up at the ripe old time of 5:30 AM every single Saturday. It is devastating.  It is as though my brain just cannot understand the concept of weekends.  But, not today!!!!!!  Good job, brain!!!!!!  I'll be sending some positive, reinforcing thoughts your way :)

In other news, our district just announced our last day of school  for this year: May 24th.  Um.... excuse me?  May 24th??? Seriously?!?!?!?!?!   I practically cried. That is waaaaaaaay to early, and I am definitely not ready to bid my babies goodbye.  <<<complete sadness>>>

Moral of the story? I need to start working on our First Grade farewell tado. So, I'm wondering: how do y'all celebrate the end of the school year with your kiddos?  I want this party to be SPECTACULAR because not only does it celebrate the kiddos' last year of First Grade (or so I hope... ha!),  it's also celebrating their last year at our school (since our building is closing). So, any ideas?  I'm drawing a blank and I would LOVE your help.

Alright, well with over two weeks out of the classroom my teacher wheels are finally turning again. Took forever but ya'know what finally inspired me?  The free digs at Lettering Delights.  I'm sure I was the last person in the world to hear about the free cuteness, but can I gush anyway?  ADORABLE!!!!!!!! You MUST go!!!!!!  And if my gushing isn't enough to convince you to go, check out this phonemic awareness/sound discrimination Long Vowel Sort that I made especially for YOU.  The precious clip art is all FREE from Lettering Delights.  So, moral of the story?  Go get you some free clip art cuteness.
Enjoy the downloads!!!!!

By Gum!
A Long Vowel Sort

(Click any picture preview to download the entire file)

 By Gum!
A Show What You Know Cut & Paste Activity

(Click any picture preview to download the entire file)

Wednesday, March 23

Giveaway Results & NSF Giveaway Info!

Alright, y'all. It's the moment we've been waiting for all week (ha! or me at the least)!
<drum roll, please>
And if you didn't win, don't feel too sad because this little giveaway has gotten me ADDICTED to all things giveaway. Seriously,  I have a feeling that I will be doing TONS of these guys in the future ;)

Speaking of giveaways, have y'all heard about the NSF's Scrub Club giveaway? It is FABULOUS.  Snap a photo of your kiddos with shiny clean hands and you can enter the Scrub Club Clean Hands Giveaway to win one of five $100.00 gift cards.  One picture for a chance to win $100 bucks?!?!?!? I am all over that!!!!! And, did I mention that the Scrub Club website is ADORABLE.  So perfect for teaching all about germs.  Want to enter??????? Click here.

Alrighty, so I'm always a little bit on the fence about sharing personal info for the whole world to read (unless of course it's my love for Star Trek. Classy, right????), but for once I'm going to make a special exception and share something close to my own little heart. Enter MAYO CLINIC, ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA.  Y'all, I have been up here in the Northland for the past week on "vacation" to be treated for a bleeding disorder and, let me tell you, the doctors here are INCREDIBLE.  While I originally planned on keeping this little "vacation hot spot" a secret (because sharing medical info on the WWW seems a little creepy), I just knew that I was called to share what an awesome place Mayo is with you fabulous people after experiencing the amazing medical care they provide.  So, if you or anyone you love ever needs medical attention (which I pray never happens), head up on north. You may get snowed on, but I promise you that the medical treatment  and tax free clothes at the Mall of America will make the trip well worth your while. Moral of the story? Minnesota  rocks.

So, wanna know what I'm doing tomorrow? Driving back to reality, that's what. After two weeks of Spring Break and my little "vacation,"  I am soooooooo excited to return to my classroom, sleep in my own bed, stop smelling like a suitcase, and post some new freebies for y'all to use in the classroom!!!!!!!  Vacation= Over. We'll just see if I ever get back to cookin'.  A week and a half of eating out can really spoil a girl. But don't worry, Mr. Handsome. I will feed you even if I don't resume cooking. It just might require the help of my new best friend, Carry Out.

Hope you are having a FANTASTIC Wednesday, Y'all!

Wednesday, March 16


Alright, Y'all. So  I think it's high time I had my first giveaway.  Sooooo overdue!!!!  And let me tell you....

I. Am. Excited!!!!!!

Seriously, if my husband has to hear about this giveaway one more time, I think he will go CRAZY.

So, what am I giving away? A $20 gift certificate to the most DARLING clipart website in the world:  Y'all, I get all of my clipart there and I LOVE IT!

Want to win???  Here's how:

1. Become a follower of my blog and leave a post telling me you did so. If you're already a follower, leave me a post letting me know you already follow.

2. Want a bonus entry? Link to this post or stick my button somewhere on your blog.  Leave me a link to your post or my button and you'll have 2 entries.

3. Finally, check back in a week.  I'll announce the winner of the giveaway on Wednesday, March 23rd.

Wishing you a FABULOUS day!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 12

Reading Riddle Game

Alright Y'all, so I gotta tell you, my stomach is in some SERIOUS knots.  ELL endorsement test in T minus 3 hours.


I sooooooo  cannot wait to have it over with. A chocolate milkshake will definitely be in order to celebrate. And then.... it's Spring Break time!!!!!!!!!!!! Heading with Mr. Handsome to the family farm, and then we're off to good ol' Minnesota.  (Going someplace even colder than Kansas for Spring Break??????  AHHHH!!!!! So unjust......)

But, we are going to have a FABULOUS time.  After all, who doesn't love Minnesota? Problem is,  we have to figure out what all there is to do up there. Suggestions?!?  I'd love to hear them!!!! We're going to be in Rochester, but a weekend trip to Minneapolis will probably be in order. I would LOVE to hear about your favorite places to shop at the Mall of America. The tax free clothes are calling me.... <smile>

But, I digress. Want a  Reading Riddle Game.  Here it is. And, y'all  I had SOOOO much fun making this!!!!!!!  Just grab some game pieces (My kiddos use little toy cars), a dice, print the gameboard,   print the playing cards, and you're in business!! Kids just roll the dice, move their little car, and have a friend draw a playing card to read them a riddle. The riddle is a question and the answer has a short or long vowel sound in it.  If they get the answer to the riddle correct, they can keep their car where it is. If not their car has to go back to where it came from.  <so sad>

Super simple, the kids love it, and it gets all my kiddos involved in some higher order thinking.  

Hope it helps you and your Firsties!!!!!

honk, honk: a riddle game
 (Click on any picture preview to download the file)

honk, honk: the game board  
 (Click on any picture preview to download the file)

Have a SUPER weekend, Y'all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You deserve it!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 11


Mercy! It has been a CRAZY week!!!!!! (A good week, but crazy!!!!...)  Can I hear a serious ‘Hallelujah!” for Spring Break?!?!?  I don’t know about y’all, but I cannot wait to get in some jammie time. maybe watch a little Star Trek, read my Bible. It’s going to be FAB-U-LOUS!

So, I know I posted a nutrition book earlier this year, but I wanted to post a few nutrition “extras” because I have nutrition on the brain.  (We're a Title school and healthy habits are not always discussed in the kiddo’s homes so I teach nutrition ALL YEAR. Can you say OBESSESED?!?!) 

With that said, here are a couple of things I use in my classroom. 

I ALWAYS have the kids practice sorting foods into the food groups. Before giving my students a Food Group Food Sort to complete independently, we sort food on the Food Pyramid taped to my floor.

The Taped Food Pyramid. This is the first year I've used the new pyramid. At first I was a skeptic, but now I secretly love it.

Food pyramid labels.
 The kids LOVE this. As for what we sort... I just bring in some old empty (but cleaned!) boxes and cans from home. I secretly call it my "Sort the Trash" activity. HA!

The foods I use. (I.E. My trash)
Each child gets to pick one item to put on the food pyramid. Before placing it in its food group, they have to explain why that food belongs to that food group.

After we sort the foods as a group, the kids complete this Food Group Food Sort independently.

Food group food sort
Then, once we finish our “Nutrition Unit”, we revisit nutrition every time we do Calendar by discussing the students’ lunch options for the day. We discuss each food available for purchase and what food group that food would be a part of.  The kids think it’s GREAT. We use magnetic pictures of the food options to create a “Healthy Tray” with many different food groups and healthy items that the kids can use as a model when they load up their tray at lunch.
Wishing You a Happy and Healthy Spring Break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mrs. Thiessen

Tuesday, March 8

Quick Spring Projects!

Hey there, Y'all!

So, let me tell you, it has been MAJOR crunch time in my classroom this week  to get my room decorated for Spring!!!  Aside from wanting to get rid of all of the snowmen and penguins for my own personal sanity, I HAD to get some Spring up on the walls because I have to be gone the week after Spring Break.


But, get this. That's not even the worst part!!!! The worst part is, as soon as I come back, we have conferences.  And, let's face it, having conferences surrounded by snowmen IN APRIL is just a little bit ridiculous.

Enter all projects fast, thrifty, and Springy. Here's what we've been up to this week:

Flower Fact Families


So, for this little project the kids cut-out pre-made templates that I had photocopied on construction paper. Then, they slapped together a flower. DARLING. Educational touch???? The kiddos wrote fact families on their flowers. 20 minutes, the kids LOVED it, and they got in some fact family review. So worth the time!  

Bumblebee, Bumblebee
A Poem By Me

Click the pic to download the bumblebee pattern.

So, I have to tell you that this is has been my favorite Spring project BY FAR! 

Lately we have been talking a lot about "juicy" words.

Enter Bumblebee List Poem. 

To begin, I had the kiddos close their eyes and visualize a bee flying around outside. Then, they opened their eyes and we brainstormed juicy words that described what the bee was up to: buzzing, swooping, soaring, stinging, pollinating, etc. All things bees.  After brain-storming, the kiddos went back to their desks, put this precious bumble bee together, and wrote their very own list poems. Simple, cute, and they LOVED IT!

Rain, Rain, Go Away:
A Long 'A' Sort

So, this little buddy was morning work.  Super easy to put together and it didn't take the kiddos more than 20 minutes to do themselves.  The low-down?  Each kiddo gets a page of raindrops. I gave my low kiddos raindrops that already had words printed on them.  Then, they had to read the word on each raindrop and decide if it had the long A sound or if it didn't. If it did, they cut out the raindrop and glued it to their umbrella page.  As for my higher kiddos?  They got a page of blank raindrops and had to write their own long 'A' words. And did I mention that theirs turned out waaaaaay cuter than mine? A yellow umbrella with orange polka dots?  What was I thinking?!?!?!

So....I have to know. What are you doing to cover your walls with Spring this year??????

Have a FABULOUS Tuesday!!!!!

Monday, March 7

Spoiled With a Brand New Look

So, I have to share how EXCITED I am about my blog's new look!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks to sweet Cara over at Oh So Spoiled for spoiling ME with this cuteness! AMAZING!!!!!! Check her out, y'all. She's WONDERFUL.

In other news, want to know what I've been up to in the classroom?????

It took our ENTIRE reserve of glue sticks for the rest of the year (AHHH!), but I am pleased to announce that my Firsties and I have evicted old man winter from the classroom. No more snowmen, no more cute penguins, and if I so much as SEE a snowflake....

Goodbye, Winter. Hello, Spring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Old man winter has left the building.

And, to celebrate? Well, let's just say that we celebrated with construction paper and Elmer's in hand.  And THAT makes my heart happy ♥♥♥.

Happy Monday, y'all!!!!!

Saturday, March 5

Newspaper Mini-Unit

Alright, y'all. So, earlier this month my Firsties and I did a little newspaper mini-unit.  To be honest, I wasn't at all sure how it was going to go down, but they LOVED it.  So, I thought I would share. Hope it helps you!!!!!!!!!! 

We began our unit as I begin all of my units- with a KWL chart.  And let me tell you, the kids cracked me up with their "prior knowledge" about newspapers.  For example, did you know that, "Newspapers can tell you there are cool pants you can buy at Old Navy?????"  Direct quote. HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

After making our KWL chart, we dove into all things newspapers. Manufacturing, sections, writing headlines, newspaper funding, jobs at newspapers, ads, etc. and so forth.

Here are some of the activities I used:


So, I'm always astounded by the sheer number of people it takes to publish a newspaper. And, the talent it takes to fill all of the jobs at a paper is soooooo diverse. So, the kiddos and I spent some time talking about the various jobs available at a paper (editor, journalist, sports writers\, cartoonist, etc.)  Then, after talking a bit about each job and the talents that would be required, I had the kids apply for a job at the newspaper. They had to list the job they were applying for and give reasons why they would be good at it. Of course all of my boys wanted to be Sports Writers. Go figure....

Hire Me, Mr. Editor!
(Click the picture preview to download)


Throughout out unit we spent a lot of time talking about the diversity of information that's present in a newspaper. The kids were amazed to learn that papers give so much information about so many topics- sales, world events, sports, etc.  And, they thought it was FABULOUS that the newspaper also has games! Ha!!!!!

After surveying all of the information you can find in the newspaper, we discussed how editors organize all of the articles in the newspaper into sections by topic. To give the kiddos practice "being an editor" I made this reading center.  Kids read the headlines, and decide which section of the paper the article would be found in.

Hot Off the Press Headlines
(Click the picture preview to download)


The culminating activity for our unit was writing our own newspapers of course so we used this activity to practice writing headlines before writing the headlines for our own stories.

Extra, Extra! Read All About It!
I Can Write Headlines!
 (Click the picture preview to download)

At the end of our Newspaper Unit, we were privileged enough to tour our local newspaper's press building, The Kansas City. It was FABULOUS!  If you have a newspaper in town, you should DEFINITELY take a field trip to tour their presses. It is so worth it and the best part is that most newspapers offer the tour for FREE. Pure Awesomeness.


To prepare my kiddos for the Kansas City Star tour, we spent a couple of days discussing how newspapers are put together. First we talked about modern-day publishing which uses computers and publishing software to layout a newspaper. Then, we discussed how newspapers were put together BEFORE the advent of computers (Of course the fact that computers didn't used to be EVERYWHERE is totally unfathomable to my kids.
They. make. me. feel. old.)

When we talked about old-fashioned type setting, the kids learned about how Type Setters used to lay out entire newspapers by hand using font molds and frames. CRAZ-I-NESS, right?  And that's not even the craziest part!!!!! All of the stories had to be laid out BACKWARDS in a MIRROR IMAGE.  I get overwhelmed just thinking about it. Thank heavens for modern-day technology, huh?

In an effort to give my kiddos a little old-fashioned type-setting fun (ha!), I had the kids time themselves stamping a sentence backwards. They LOVED this. And, it took them FOREVER. Then we compared how long it took them to stamp the sentence backwards with how long it took me to type the sentence on the computer. No contest.
Newspaper Type Setting
 (Click the picture preview to download)


And, what newspaper mini-unit wouldn't be complete without the kids making their our own newspapers??? Here's the newspaper we made as a class before the students each made their own paper.

Each newspaper the kids made included a feature story about our trip to the Star, an editorial about a topic of their choice (one little boy wrote about the quality of the school cafeteria's chicken poppers- HA!!!!!!) and coverage of the Super Bowl. Each kiddo also had to draw one ad, one comic, and report about the weather.

Then, after the kids finished their newspapers, we had a publishing party and the kids read one another their "hot off the press" papers. 
SO cute.

Hop you have a WONDERFUL Saturday, everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mrs. Thiessen

Wednesday, March 2

Ow Sort

So, I have a confession to make.....


And not just a little bit, my friends. Sounds spelling relationships, schwa sounds, the phonetic alphabet, blends, digraphs, EVERYTHING!!! The whole nine yards.

But, the sad this is, I was a whole language learner.... 
Devastating, right? 
I never even ENCOUNTERED phonics until I student taught at age TWENTY. 

Saddest story ever.

BUT, there is a happy ending, for when I got my grimy little paws on phonics we became inseparable. Believe me, it did not take long for sound spelling relationships to ROCK MY WORLD.  Everything I knew about language went completely kaputs.  The fact that short o says, "ah"??????? INCREDIBLE!!!!  That one alone had me for 6 MONTHS.   My “ah phase"...  I remember it like it was yesterday. 
But, I am sad to announce that I have finally found a flaw in my dear friend phonics. And here it is:  One spelling SHOULD NOT be able to say two sounds.  Seriously. It is SOOOO confusing to First Graders.  The poor darlings get in such a tizzy.  And, recently their tizzy has been with the 'ow' spelling.

Enter this sort.  And, can I just share how excited I am that it's all black and white?  NO LAMINATION OR EXPENSIVE COLOR INK NECESSARY.  Woohoo!!!!! I hope I'm not the only one excited about that fact, because let's face it… I'm pretty excited about that fact....  Ha!!!!!

So, here's the deal: There are two cows. There's a Long O Cow and an /ow/ Cow. There's also a page of spots for the cows. Kiddos just read the word on each spot and decide if it says the Long O sound or the /ow/ sound. Then, they cut out the spot and glue it on the corresponding cow. Easy as cake and the kids LOVE it.

Hope it helps you and your Firsties.
Mrs. Thiessen

The Dairy Cow “OW” Sort
(Click on any of the picture previews to download the entire file)