Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bright Ideas for the Classroom ~ Get Your Class Newsletter Read at Home!

You've probably walked down this road school hall before...
You write a class newsletter...
To thoroughly communicate with parents.
You spend hours recapping all of your class events, providing important announcements and keeping all our students' families in the loop.
Then you send it home...
And hope...And possibly pray...
That families will actually READ IT!
But, they don't... 
Instead they show up at your class door and ask you questions to which you really wish you could respond with a polite, 
"Didn't you read our class newsletter?" 
But, you don't say that...Because you kind of can't...
Sound familiar?
We felt exactly the same way until we had a Bright Idea!
Like you, we spend a lot of time each week (usually after school hours), keeping our families in the loop. Our class newsletter is our "lifeline to class" and the way we see it, if we take the time to write it, it's extremely important for parents to read! So, we make a little game out of it. Somewhere "hiding" in our class newsletters, is a secret message. Sometimes they are silly...
Sometimes they are sneaky and reinforce our learning... 
But, bottom line...
They always get the message across that we need parents reading our class news. And, with our secret messages, they do. Why? Because we offer the kids a special treat (AKA sticker) if they bring their secret word back to class anytime during the week. And they do...If not the first day, they see their friends celebrating with stickers and want in on the action, so by Day 2 or 3 the secret messages are flying back into class. Shhh...

And, here's a super duper secret...We teachers actually keep track. Yep, we are those teachers. We mark every single secret message off on our class checklist so we know who's in the know and who's not. Then, parent conference time comes along when we really wish you could do respond with a polite, "Didn't you read our class newsletter?" Best teacher secret ever! Shhh...
For more bright ideas, please browse through the links below!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Student Dictionaries ~ Phonics Printables

We hit the classroom floor running at the beginning of the school year to help our students master their letter sounds. One of our favorite year long activities (No, that's not a typo...This lasts pretty much the entire school year for our class) for practicing our phonics skills is My Letter Sound Dictionary. We recently pulled it out to prep for the coming school year and noticed it needed a major metamorphosis. We are so excited about what emerged!

This unit got a major overhaul. The biggest change is that we've added mini word walls WITH pictures for all of the consonants and vowels. We love them! 
Our first grade friend Stephanie over at Falling into First has a great tutorial on how to DIY this little anchor chart stand that we made to hold all of the mini word walls in one place. So, the kids will just flip to the one they need and get to work independently. We love the "I" word! 
We make each of our students their own Letter Sound Dictionary and bind the pages together, but we have also had years where book binding combs are not in our budget, and a good old fashioned stapler (heavy duty) works just fine.
At the beginning of the school year, this is a whole group activity so we can teach procedure and expectations. But, as soon as they've got the hang of it, we incorporate this activity into our daily Workshop (centers) time. They use the Letter Sound Dictionary directions card to follow directions independently. 
Our beginning readers need a lot of picture support, so the mini word walls are perfect for them. They choose 5 words to read, draw and write in their own student dictionaries.
For our fluent readers, we give them word rings...Same words as the mini word walls, but without picture support. Differentiation is a must in our classroom, and between the mini word walls and the word rings, we've got all our learners covered. We make 4 word ring sets so there are plenty for each student to use their own. They just flip to the letter they are working on, read the words and chose 5 to draw and write in their books. To extend their sound skills, we have them go back and rainbow write (choose 3 different colors and trace on top of their pencil writing) the targeted sound anywhere they find it on their page. They love this part!
At the bottom of each page, we ask them to choose one of their words from above and write it in a complete sentence. This takes them some time, but in the beginning we work whole group to teach expectations and super sentence writing. For more support, we'd give them a patterned sentence such as, "I see the _____".
This unit went from just under 70 pages to over 100. It's got everything we need for sound success and independence.
If you've already got this one, please be sure to update your download on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Exciting news! Our Cali Pal Hadar over at Miss Kindergarten is hosting an amazing Try it Free Tuesday on her blog all summer long and today's "try it" is us!
You can give this activity a try by heading over to her blog and downloading our Try it Free Tuesday sampler. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Back to School Customer Appreciation Freebie!

We cannot thank you enough for all of your Fluttering Through First Grade purchases & feedback during the Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School sale...THANK YOU!!
In absolute appreciation, we've whipped up a little Back to School Facebook Fan Freebie for you! 

It's our spin on Bingo...Played exactly the same way, but we like to make the kids yell funny things when they win...So, they have to shout 
"Back-to-School O" 
if they get four in a row.  

We've created 6 playing cards, plus 20 cut and play calling cards that will make an easy center, great vocabulary builder and meaningful word reading practice during the first few weeks of school. 

Just click on our "Fan Freebies" tab under Apps on our Facebook page...You have to be a fan (like) our page to access, then download and print. That's it!  
Thank you so much for fluttering with us. Feel free to share this post with your teacher friends so they can grab their copy too. 
The more, the merrier! Have a wonderful school year!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale ~ Stock up and Save!

It's time to start thinking about school again...
Or, maybe like us, you've never really stopped?
We have a feeling this is going to be an amazing school year!
To help stock your class cabinets, Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a Back to School Sale!

All 169 Fluttering Through First Grade products are on sale! Plus enter code BTS14 at checkout and TpT will hook you up with an additional discount too. We LOVE these site sales!

For today and tomorrow only, we've bundled 6 of our top beginning of the school year units together for an exclusive TpT Back to School Bundle!

Here's a few things we'll be starting the year off with...
For getting to know one another ~
For learning, learning and learning how to listen...

Our Sharing Page Program is the best way we have found for A) Getting kid writing at home and B) Speaking and reading comfortably from an early age, in front of their peers.
Here's our Back to School Sharing Pages Freebie...
And, the whole bundle (also sold separately)...
We've spent tons of time this summer making your wishes come true! 
All of our Class Decor and More sets and our Homework Folders are now...
We love sending homework passes with our responsible classes. Set your students up for homework success from the start with this FREEBIE.

Got words? Yep...100 to be exact all bundled up in 9 thematic games or 1 new BIG bundle.
Our class loves playing these over and over again. We love that once we introduce Sight Word School we can toss any of the other themes into our Workshop time and they already know how to play. But, they don't get bored because the look of the game is brand new.
We use our Word Wall Spin FREEBIE to practice our Word Wall words too.
We are pretty excited about our newly revised, completely remodeled phonics printables. My Letter Sound Dictionary is a great Workshop activity that keeps our class busy reading, writing and focusing on those letter sounds. We introduce this during the first week of school and work on it during our Workshop time most of the year. We set them up for independence quickly with this one by keeping the directions easy and effective. We've also differentiated it by providing mini word walls with picture support for beginning readers and word rings with no picture support for more established readers. 
And, of course all of our thematic timed math programs for addition, subtraction and multiplication are on sale too. Big Fish Math for us again this year...But, we'll call it Bubble Gum Math all year and totally confuse the kids because before we switched to an ocean theme classroom we used Bubble Gum Math for forever. :)
We're off to fill our carts with some amazing things. BTS14...BTS14...BTS14...
Say it 5 times to yourself and let's not forget the discount code this time!
Have a wonderful school year!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Listen Up Freebie, a Back to School Facebook Hop and a TpT Sale!

There's a ton going on!
Join us and some of our favorite teacher friends on Facebook today and tomorrow (Saturday and Sunday) ONLY for a Back to School Facebook Freebie Hop...
This is a great time to get a sampling of some amazing beginning of school year activities, including our brand new 
Listen Up FREEBIE!
We are pretty excited to begin the school year with these listening activities. We know they make a huge difference in focusing our students' in on the importance of listening the first time. Last spring they did wonders and we are looking forward to setting our class up for listening success from the very first day of school. 
Now's your chance to try them out too. 
We've taken a few of our favorite activities from both Listen Up 1 and 2 and are giving them to you! 
Just head to our Fluttering Facebook Page to get your free download through our Back to School hop!

Plus, we've got BIG news! 
We've bundled both our Listen Up 1 and 2 units to save your Back to School budget. 
You've begged and begged and we finally listened up! :)
You get 100 (beginning and intermediate) Listen Up lessons in this bundle! That should get you all the way to the 100th day of school and by then Listen Up 3 will be ready to go! Yes, all good things come in trilogies people and Listen Up 3 is in the works for Winter 2014...

And, if you're not excited enough, let's have a Back to School sale!
This is the BIG Teachers Pay Teachers one...The one where you save the most and you have to remember the discount code at checkout.
So stock up and save on Monday and Tuesday ONLY!
Be sure to enter code BTS14 at checkout.
We're only telling you because we often forget...just saying.

Our entire shop is 20% off for the big Back to School soiree! 
So, close the BBQ's, 
Close the Sun,
Close out Summer...
Back to School Hopping and Shopping has Begun!

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