Sunday, December 30, 2012

One Little Word

I have been thinking about this post for a while and went back and reread last year's OLW post.  Last year I chose the word balance.  When I went back and read that post, I realized that work has done everything in their power to make it so that balance is impossible to achieve.  I will keep that word but want to add the main focus this year to


In my effort to be everything to everyone, I have neglected me.  My health has suffered, my creativity is  fading and "I don't have the time" seems to be my mantra. I am afraid that if I wait too long then at some point it will be too late. 

Wish me luck. 

Happy New Year to all of my friends in Bloggy Land!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Enjoying break

I am enjoying spending my break with family and friends and I hope that you are all doing so too!

Happy holidays from my family....

....and my firsties!

See you in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The best therapy

I am sure that I don't have to tell any of you that this has been a rough week.

Walking into school on Monday and watching MY first graders walk into the classroom with smiles on their faces was both uplifting and heartwrenching.  I spent most of my day just watching these firsties work and play in honor of those that could not.

My own 10 year-old daughter asked me on Sunday if I would put myself in front of my students to protect them from harm.  I had to answer "yes" and told her that her own teacher would do the same for her.

We had parents just walking in and hugging teachers.

A rough week indeed.

It was hard to feel my sadness in combination with the happiness and excitement that the children are feeling about Christmas but they need me to be Mrs. Faas.

The same Mrs. Faas that expects them to work on their writing.
The same Mrs. Faas that holds them accountable.
The same Mrs. Faas that has them re-do work if it is not their best.

I was not and will never be the same Mrs. Faas that I was before December 14th.
None of us will ever be the same.

I know that I will be a little more accepting of the "silliness" of 7 year-olds...
I know that I will take the time to listen if a firstie just want to "tell me something"
I know that I will be giving and happy to receive as many hugs as possible.

A rough week but...

I would not want to be working anywhere else...

Being with the children has been the best therapy.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Working in a school we are fairly sheltered from breaking news.  Oh how I wish that I had stayed sheltered.

I cannot stop thinking about the teachers, children and the families of the victims.  My heart breaks for all of them.

When my daughter asked for some extra snuggle time at tuck-in tonight, I gladly agreed. 

I will also hug my first graders a little tighter come Monday.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A mid-drowning funny!

I have not been able to post in quite a while because we had parent conferences (at night--for 2 nights) and report cards (brand new format--Thanks Common Core!) and I have been very anti-school-related activites at home BUT I had a great laugh today.

I had one little girl come up to me and tell me that she went to see Garth Fagan Dance over the weekend.  We talked about the beautiful dancers and the costumes.  There was another little girl listening off to the side and not to be left out she asked if I wanted to know what she did this weekend.  Sure! (of course that is what I said!)

"I watched my Grandpa peel a deer." 

Good times.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monster Match-up Puzzle Freebie

Sometimes, professional development is a pain in the rear end.  BUT...sometimes, professional development is just what you need to stimulate that part of your brain that told you that you wanted to be a teacher in the first place!

After one of the better PD classes, I developed a series of "match-up" puzzles.  The ones that we saw were geared toward older grades but it was very easy to format some for our young learners! I made several copies of the puzzles in color and on cardstock.

I made a puzzle and worksheet for the following concepts:

uppercase / lowercase letters
color / color words
number / number words
shape / shape names

These games are available in my TpT store!

I have one of the puzzles here for you to download as a freebie.
I also have a worksheet that goes with this but I am having a horrible time getting it to upload with Scribd...may need to look at another option.  If you would like the worksheet, email me and I will send it to you!

Match-Up Puzzle Monsters

Let me know if you use this.  I have loved watching the children work on it!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Funny

Our reading specialists showed up today with their RTI shirts on! What a riot!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More than a Number

Dear Blog Friends.....Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, a very talented writer and teacher that I have been honored to work with and learn from, has written a song that speaks to us all in education today.  I HAD to share it because when I watched it, it made me cry a little.  It also made me realize that I will NEVER refer to a child by their number.

After you watch it, if you are moved to do so, please share it with your fellow teachers.  You can also go to Amy's website here and read her letter to President Obama.  She shares stories about how this climate of testing is crushing the spirit of education. 

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Poetry Workstation

Today we worked on learning a new workstation.  I introduced the poetry workstation!  they had a great time!  First, we introduced the poem, I See Apples.  I read it, they read it together until we could read it independently.

Then the children had to build the poem with the sentence strips.  They used the original poem to double check the poem.

It was fantastic to see them working together to get the poem in order.

The children then cut out the poem strips and glued them in the correct order by themselves.  Only a few needed to double check the poem for accuracy.

The finished product turned out pretty well I think!!!

Kindness activity

I have mentioned in an earlier post that my school is participating in Rachel's Challenge.  The first character trait that we learned about was kindness.  The first and second grade teachers at my school decided that we wanted to do a "whole hallway" activity.  We all gathered in the hallway......

And each worked on designing a self-portrait.

It was a ton of fun to work with friends!

Some friends chose to work with friends inside the classroom!

There were about 150 kids in all!

We hung them up in the hallway and connected them with a string.  This shows that we are all connected together with kindness...

It was a great deal of fun and our hallway looks BEAUTIFUL!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Name Puzzles and a Linkback Fall Post

This year we are implementing the Fountas and Pinnell Phonics Program for the first time.  I am really enjoying this program although there is quite a bit of prep work to be done.  I spend so much time prepping the materials for the lessons that I want to make them last and give the children opportunities to practice the skills that they are learning.

This week we worked on a name puzzles activity.  It really is a very simple activity.

I made a little worksheet for them to do in workstations this week.  It is a freebie for you!

Today we also did a Fall leaves activity that I did last year!  It was just that good that I decided to do it again!  Go check it out!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Read Aloud

One of the things that I was unable to do last year that I really missed was chapter book read alouds. This year with all of the junk that we have to do and all of the new acronyms that are keeping us from actually teaching, I decided that I would bring back the read aloud.

My focus when I do my chapter book read alouds is to introduce the first book in a book series.  We talk about what makes a set of books a series.

We just finished the first book in the Jack Gets a Clue series and I pulled out 3 other books.  After I read them the back of the book as a preview, we voted on which book we wanted to read next.  As you  can see, Ready Freddy Tooth Trouble is our next book.

Later, I will let the class vote on which of our series books we would like to hear the second one of.  Hopefully our list will be VERY long by June!

Does anyone have a favorite series that would be appropriate for a class of first graders?????

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Properties Scavenger Hunt

Our Elementary Science Program kit that we are working on now is an exploration of properties.  One of the lessons is a properties scavenger hunt.  I take a "property" word and secretly put it into a bag.  The teams then have to find 5 things that fit that particular property and put them in the bag. We then gather on the carpet and the teams put out their items and the class has to guess what the property owrd was based on the items.  They did a great job and had a really fun time!  If you study properties at all, give it a try!

First a bunch of pictures of cute kids while they were "on the hunt"!

And now some of the items in the property bags!