My Letter Sound Dictionary

Hiya Friends! So, we headed into class very quickly yesterday to grab a few To Do's to get us through.  

When we arrived, we were surprised to find our classroom doors wide open...Oh! Fortunately everything was still there, including our cool custodian who had just labored his day away cleaning our cardboard classroom carpet. 

How is it that the one day this week that we finally get fully showered, dressed and actually head out of the house we cannot get in?!?  Couldn't help but think it was some sort of Summer Gods sending us a message "Staaaaayyyyy Awwwwaaaayyyyy".  But, we quickly shushed those silly thoughts because we were dressed for goodness sakes and we were NOT about to leave empty handed! 

So, since we couldn't tiptoe in gooshy kiddie carpet {which we thanked the Summer Gods for sparing us on that one, though we did beg ask}, we found ourselves up in the Copy Room prepping one of our annual activities.

My Letter Sound Dictionary is given to our friendlets the first week of school. Some years, we give them the full color version (depending upon our ink supply), and others we use the printer friendly version and let them add their own coloring details...Keeps them busy and gives them ownership of their own book. :) 

We provide them with all of the pages bound together in one book, but each page can be used on its own too. 

As we introduce our letter sounds through our Language Arts program, we spend time discussing words that begin with our letter of focus.  

We created these Class Posters to introduce 10 words.

We call on students to come up and "highlight" (wikki sticks, highlighter tape) the given letter as they appear in words.  We discuss the position that the letters fall (beginning, middle, end), draw any pictures in the blank spaces to the sides in case we encounter a word that we don't know, and done!  We keep them in our Word Center for the kiddos to grab as they need, but we also created a smaller version that we put on a binder ring for use during centers time. 
 We spend time establishing our Letter Sound Dictionary routine the first weeks of school.  They catch on pretty quickly, and before we know it we have some independent workers at the beginning of the year. What?!?!?

This activity takes us most of the school year to get through.  We love that we prep it now and it is d.o.n.e. One less activity to think up each week and exactly what our friends need to apply those new letter sounds! 

We've just updated My Letter Sound Dictionary in our TpT Store.  
If you've already purchased, please head on over and download our new version.  

If you're looking for an activity for applying letters and sounds and like that "I" word at the beginning of the school year, head on over and grab yourself a copy today.  

Summer Shopping Link Up

 Summer Time = Shopping Time and we've jumped in with both feet. 

We just made a trip to the Dollar Store to purchase some items to give
 our room a little facelift and quickly found that we are not alone.

Who knew there were other women out there who enjoyed shopping as well-Cuhrazy, we know!!!!

We picked up some fabulous organizing items in our new favorite colors . . .

Also found this perfect little helper for our Shoe Tyin Friends. . .

Stumbled upon this lil gem for our Word Wall. . .

We love the fact that you can spruce up your room and get organized without sacrificing your Summer Fun Fund!

We've linked up with some other F.F.S. (Fabulous Frugal Shoppers) over at Ladybug's Teacher Files. Bop on over and find some great shopping tips, grab some new summer project ideas, or just go and be inspired to get out there and start the summer off right!

Happy Shoppin!

Christy & Tammy

Has it Really Been that Long?

As we sat down to write this post, we noticed the last time we posted was on June 11th.  YIKES!  How did all that time go by?  Oh, wait...It must be SuMmEr!!  Yep, full swing. We're in it. Let's face it folks~Summer suits us. And, who are we do deny the invitation to bask in all its glory?  Not a care in the world. Lazy days. Long nights. Beach days. Baseball games. PJ days. Whatever days...

So to catch up a bit, we are linking up with the fabulous Farley over at Oh Boy, 4th Grade...  

We're so glad we found her cute blog, and she adores mustaches which we find so fun...She's a hoot! So we're linking up to let you know what we're currently up to.

Just in case you are curious...Well, and just because I wanted to see her again myself. I know she's blingy...but she's so pretty!
Now I can visit her anytime I want right here. :)

So in our Summer stooper we certainly haven't come close to forgetting about school.  
Though we took a bit of time to decompress,
...We're baaaaaack!...

We are gearing up and diving back in.
First mission = Organization!

We were super lucky to not be "chosen" to host summer school in our classroom.  
Sorry for our other chosen friends, but YAY for us!

So, we have spent a few afternoons in class emptying cupboards, recycling oodles of papers, and dumping 4 huge boxes of junk stuff in the teacher's lounge for anyone who wants it.  Feels soooo good to get rid of stuff! We still have a ways to go, but it's a start.

We've also decided on our classroom theme. We've had an Ocean theme for the past few years, but haven't truly embraced it.  So, we're diving in two feet this year and keeping this fin-tastic theme going with a little "upcycling" to boot. 
Out with the old, in with the new! 

For starters, we're tightening up by selecting a color scheme.  We decided that it would be helpful to streamline things as well as continue our cutthroat decision making to purge things.  Oh, how our Type A sides shine here ~ "It has to match." Puh-lease!! 
We both agreed that not e.v.e.r.y.l.i.t.t.l.e.t.h.i.n.g has to match, but it gives us a focus and keeps our eyes from wandering in the Dollar spots around town! Know what we mean? 

So, we've been like squirrels in winter.  Gathering little nuts and berries in shades of blues, greens, and whites.

Here's just some of the loot we've gathered so far ~ minus the chiminea and plants of course...Ugh...and the dead summer grass! :)
 Our neighborhood hosted a garage sale this past weekend. 
So, we went shopping and found these 2 chairs~
Color White-Check. Yay!
Original price = $10, but I noticed the owner was a childhood friend of my husband's, so once I name dropped the Hubby, he knocked the price down to $5 for both! My kids were so proud of their bargaining Mama, but of course gave all the credit to Dad. Rightfully so! I would not have paid $10. A lil' paint, maybe some mod podge and we'll be in business. Oh, if only it were that easy!

So after gathering all these fun digs, we got cracking on the computer to see how we can tie this altogether.  
We absolutely adore Just So Scrappy Too clipart.
So much so, that we spent whatever leftover garage sale money we had on new clipart!  Hey, a lil' retail therapy does wonders for tired teachers even if it is all school related! 

So we are using our new clipart to create signs, labels, folders, bulletin board tags, really whatever we may need for the new year. 

Still a work in progress, but it's a start.

We're excited to share any tips we find along the way.  We know everyone has such great ideas for organization and classroom decor.  With the birth of Pinterest, it's so hard to keep our heads from spinning with ideas sometimes.  Know what we mean?

But, we're going to stay the course with our blue, green, and white ocean classroom and see where it takes us. One things for sure...These lazy days just got a whole lot busier. But, those long nights...yep, those might stick around all summer and beyond.

So, we're curious...Do you have a classroom theme?

  Christy & Tammy

Prom for Teachers

We wait ALL year for this night!
We can't believe it's finally here! 
We're excited. 
We're nervous. 
We're exhausted. 
We're anxious.
But most of all...
We are so very, very grateful to have a Date!

We've got our new dresses. 
Our badly neglected toes get a much needed pedicure pick me up for the BIG night. 
We're primped and ready.
Still a little nervous.
Definitely still exhausted...

Our limo arrives...
 {Weird.  It's disguised as a minivan.} 
We grab a quick bite at our favorite tradition, The Cheesecake Factory.
Same order for the past 10 years ~ BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad to share, no cilantro, dressing on the side.

We chat, laugh and enjoy a hurried meal,  before heading off to the BIG event. 
What event you ask?
Well, Prom of course!!
We mean...
Prom for Teachers
AKA~ Open House

We prepare for weeks upon weeks to open our classroom doors for just one short, blissful hour.
 The kids are bouncing off the walls with excitement to "tour" their families around the class.

Here's some highlights from our evening ~ 
Don't worry, our Date was G Rated :-)

We would be lying if we told you it was this spic and span every day.  
 This is truly, as good as it gets folks!  
We have become the Ultimate Shovers!  
 Just don't open a single cupboard or door. 
 Our class has been engulfed in Habitats and Africa for the past many weeks.  
    This board has been a labor of love for many years.  Once we wrapped our heads around what it was we wanted to do, we pillaged all the supplies we could, begged, borrowed, and bought the rest and Viola! Our Habitats of the World Bulletin Board~We save all the pieces from year to year, so it goes up quick nowadays! We brainstorm facts from each habitat and have our friends create "Flip Facts" to post up on the board. 
 On the shelf below, we display their "Habitats Around the World" books which are a collaboration of writing and art from each of the habitats we've studied.
We cover each table with a festive piece of fabric ~ Some old school sarongs from back in our "Spring Break Days", but we promised a G Rated date :) 

Each table has a silk tree in the middle to add some height and keep with the habitat hoopla.

On their desks, are their Art Portfolios, African Swahali Counting Books, Rain Sicks, Animal Reports and Dioramas. 

A few fab dioramas.  They really got into it! 

 Apparently, the jackrabbits' fur was obtained from the family cat.  
{Not too sure how much the cat enjoyed it, but we sure do!}  

Then and Now Writing
At the beginning of each year, we have our friends write a "Then Letter" to us describing what they want to learn in first grade.   Come May, just in time for Open House, they write a "Now Letter" explaining what they have learned this year. We adore seeing the growth from beginning to end and it becomes a crowded corner during the evening. The kids are beaming from ear to ear about their wonderful writing. We spend time after all have left to really read and enjoy these lil' of our favorites.

We created this activity as a way to keep them darn busy while we assessed for report cards fondly write about our favorite first grade memories. 

We created the pocket whole class and one pencil project and writing.  Then, we set all the supplies out on the tables on several occasions, and let them go to town~The beauty of the end of first grade! I.n.d.e.p.e.n.d.e.n.c.e.

We created 6 different writing prompts that our friends could write and draw about. Here's one...

For the front of each writing piece, they cut and glue pieces to create pencils, complete with the year 2012, which some opted to color for pizazz. 

 What we love the most?  This activity is like the Energizer just keeps going and going.  Long after Open House, our friends are now competing for how many pencils one pocket can hold!  
Who are we to stop them from writing?!?

Update ~ 
This product was updated for 2013 and redesigned for K-5, with multiple writing templates and options.We added our K-2 K-5 Pocketful of Memories End of the Year Craftivity to our TpT Store if you're looking for something to keep those little minds busy as you wrap up the year!

Speaking of wrapping up...yikes, our curfew calls!  Thanks for hanging in for ALL the details of our BIG night! 

It's just like Cinderella because when the clock strikes 8:25am tomorrow, it will all begin to disappear. The Prom will be over.  The dance floor will be empty. The carriages will ride off into the sunset and we will be left, just the two of us, to sweep the glitter off the floor. Again. And, we will smile the whole time because...
The countdown is on! 
We see the light! 
The end is near!!
We had a fantastic Date!



Between Open House {pics coming soon}, assessments, report cards, the biggest school-wide fundraiser of the year, and our school's reading celebration, which all happened within 3 point 5 days of each other, you would think our S.O.S. Call would truly be "Save Our Souls" by this's just that time of year for a lot of us. We know. We're almost there!

But, nooooo...this time it's not our souls yet because we cannot snap out of this S.TATE O.F S.HOCK that we have been in since late last week.  Truly, like rip the rug from underneath, freak us out completely, add more to our abundantly overflowing platters, might need CPR, kinda shock.

We keep trying to muster our inner cheerleaders. Keep filling our glasses half full. Telling ourselves, "It will be great!", "Bring it on!", "We can do this!", "At least we have each other!". But really we are freaking.out.people!

After 15 years unscathed in first grade, left in our bubble of innocence, content in our cozy palace in Little People Land, we got the news that we're teaching a K/1 split next year.  Gasp, gag, grunt...we know...WE KNOW!!!

Help?!? S.O.S...S.O.S... S.AVE O.UR S.OULS!!!

We cannot help but wonder if this lil' blog and our amazing TpT experience in the past few months is all happening for a reason. We are women of faith. It is funny how things work out sometimes.  So, we feel like you might understand. You might have some Aspirin advice.

 Bueller? Bueller?

Any tips, advice, best blogs (we do stalk keep up with a few), tissues, blankies, anything you can offer? 
We need you!

Leave a comment below or on our Facebook Page and let us know your the best tip for teaching K or 1...or any other grade level for that matter! Who can't use teaching tips, right?
Any hot tips on teaching a combo?  Even better! 

Thanks Friends!

Christy & Tammy
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