Sunday, July 29, 2012

Magic Fun Dough!

A Favorite First Day of First Grade activity for me is... 
"Magic Fun Dough" ball of future telling fun! used to be the "Magic Playdough"...but couldn't find the playdough at the right price this year so I took the cheap way out and bought the Fun Dough from RoseArt in the Dollar Spot at Target...
(Just a note:  there's some question as to whether this is wheat free or if you have students with wheat allergies...might want to go with another option...)

There are lots of posts available on the web for this wonderful and mysterious ball of fun!

Alicia at Little Sprinkles of Fun
has a cute post on how she makes the playdough balls
If you need a visual...this is the post to check out.
She does the same thing I do...flatten out one color and roll a small ball of another color to place inside the first color...then tuck the other color around and voila...a magic ball...
If that's not crystal clear...head over to Alicia's post to see her wonderful pictures...

Mrs. Kilburn has a post on her blog about how to create the magic dough also...

Jodi from Fun in First also has a great post about how she creates and uses the magic in her room...
Fun in First

I take the easy way out and am not a baker or cooker of any kind...I just use the store bought container that are small and then add another color to the middle...
I use labels for the outside of the container and allow the kids to keep them in their desk for the first week or so...

Here's a copy of my labels...NOT my original poem...
just changed some words to fit the Fun Dough instead of Playdough...

Last Sunday of the Summer for me...
Teachers head back for inservice tomorrow :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dots Not Lots....

The dreaded glue bottle dilemma and firsties will soon be upon the Swamp!

My plan is to be proactive this year!

Step One:  I purchased the small bottles of glue (59 cents each).  I've got the vaseline and 
Q-tip brigade ready to roll tomorrow on all 20 bottles.  I plan to add a little frog sticker to the front of the glue bottle along with a number ... sometimes I'm enamored with small things.  I think the small bottles will be easier to deal with than the larger ones at first and I can fill them with the other glue bottles that are brought small bottles fit better inside the supply container I have for each desk...
I'm weird..or so I've been told...over and over again :)

Step Two:  Teach the song as we practice making dots with our glue bottles, twisting them tight, and wiping them off...There's two versions of the song...but this one's my favorite.

I've got the large chart on a glue bottle hanging in the front of my room for reminder...
Then I created ones for the kids to keep in the binders and practice making dots on together.

Wish me luck!

If you'd like a copy....Click HERE...for the Horizontal pdf.

This one is sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It".
Neither are my words, but have been passed down from teacher to teacher as far back as I can remember teaching in TN :)

Click HERE for the Vertical pdf.

I don't know the name of this song...sorry...

If you have any tricks of the trade...please leave a comment and share your wisdom!

Wish me luck :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Check out the Fabulous First Grade

If you've never visited 
now is the time to hop over and check out her 
Fabulous "End of Summer"
week of Giveaways and Freebies!

She's got some super neat ideas on her posts and today's post for day 4 has a free place value game!

Be sure to visit all her posts for the freebies, but also for the great ideas!
Love her behavior posts....especially since I think this is where we're headed 
at my school this year.  But alas! frog themed packs to purchase... hint hint :)

Enjoy your day!

Back to School Favorites

Be sure to hop over to 
and check out some 
back to school goody ideas...

Enjoy your day!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

San Diego Quick Assessment Revisited

Hello All!
Can't believe I only have 2 more Sundays until I start back to school...where did the summer go?
Thought I'd share a post I guest blogged for Jennifer over at...

If you haven't had a chance to check out her blog, hop on over.

Here's the post....

My name is Heidi and
I write the Swamp Frog First Graders Blog!
Getting things ready for back to school ...
That would be teachers going back July 30th
and kids starting August 6th....YIKES....where did summer go?

One of my favorite assessments to help me quickly place students
 into a "reading grouping" at the beginning of the year is the
 "San Diego Quick Assessment"...

If you do a Google or Bing search on "San Diego Quick Assessment", 
you'll have a multitude of sites and pdf formats to download and enjoy.  
I find it to be a quick and simple assessment I've used 
over the years to help me quickly place my kiddos into 
small groups before the first two weeks of school are over.  
As more testing data is aquired and observations are made, 
I can move the kids from group to group as needed....
however, I find this quick little assessment is usually
 pretty good about putting them into a good fit group right from the get go :)

I've created a power point to go with the PrePrimer 
through the Fourth grade lists of words so that 
I don't have to have any papers sitting on my desk.  
I downloaded the powerpoint onto my iPad so 
that the kids can swish through the words as they read them.  
I have a recording sheet I downloaded from the 
internet to keep track of their scores.  

You can download a copy of the Power Point 
or by clicking the link below...

Prefer to have just pictures cause 
your iPad won't play the powerpoints?
Download the Picture files here.
I've zipped the file to help with the download.

If you're just using the pictures, the kids can 
scroll through them similar to a 
powerpoint presentation on an iPad.
You can also use the pictures and t
he powerpoint on a computer or iPod.

Hope you hop by the Swamp and 
see what other things I'm cooking up to have a 
"Frog-a-licous" year!

Have a great day!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Today is Monday....well, almost!

I LOVE Eric Carle!  

His illustrations are so unique and entertaining to look at over and over again!
One of my favorite books to use at the beginning of the year is...

"Today is Monday"

If you're not familiar with it, you can take a peek through this youtube presentation...
(not mine, but cool)...

I actually have the big book that Scholastic put out years and years ago!...but I went onto Amazon and purchased one of the used paperback copies and then ended up having to go to a local office store to have it spiral bound as the kids loved the book so much they "killed" the binding :) has a wonderful colored set of manipulatives to use when the kids are retelling the story.  They can match the food with the day...put the food in order with the days...or just manipulate the pieces as they reread or retell the story using a magnetic board.  You could probably print the pieces off and use velcro on the back if you have a felt board too.

Here's a link to a card game I created to go with the story of 'Today is Monday'

The idea is the kids are supposed to look for...ask for... the card that 
would take the place of the question mark.  
You can play like 'Go Fish' or use as a concentration game format with the multiple day cards on one side and the singe day cards on the other side. 

I LOVE to pair this story with the song from Mar Harmon from "The Wide Mouth Bullfrog" cd!
I bought the cd in Las Vegas at the "I Teach K" conference, but you can get it from Amazon...

I use most of the song from the cd, however, you can also do a digital download from Amazon for just the song of  'Today is Monday' through this link...

Here's a link for some interesting ideas to use with the book from other teachers...

You might also like to check out the many resources on the
Math Games for First Grade Wiki...
This link will take you to the literacy page with tons of resources for different books that involve math concepts that my team and I have collected over the years.

Kindergarten Works is has a great post on her Retelling Station Ideas...
Hop over to her post and check out all the links to different stories and the props that can be used to help the kids get a great experience!

Enjoy your weekend!....
Monday will come soon enough....and ...
this particular Monday starts my last week of summer break...good grief!  Where'd the time go?

Oh...yeah...spent it running across America with my hubby!
They're in Iowa now...hop over to his site to check out the progress!
He'll end the race on August 17th in Delaware, so you've got plenty of time to see his progress!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How Do You Do Comprehension Strategies?

I'm reading through Tanny McGregor's "Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading" and really enjoying how she uses concrete ideas to connect reading strategies to the kids brains!

When I first started reading the book, I thought...uh-oh...this isn't so great for firsties...but the more I read the more I see how it's so very important to get the kids "thinking about their reading" at the very beginning of the reading experience so that they become lifelong "thinking readers"!

Her first chapter revolves around "Metacognition" which in all honesty was something I didn't even know I was doing until I read more about it ... duh!
I love how she talks about creating a reading salad with the kids to show them more about how to read and think about what they are reading.

One of her ideas is to read a book outloud and as you're reading put in a "slice of tomato" in a large reading salad bowl for the text and a "piece of lettuce" for the thinking.

Salad is great...don't get me wrong, I love my veggies...but I was trying to think of something to use with my firsties that might be even more concrete than making a reading salad...something they could make and then consume would really do the'm searching for some ideas to use.

My first thought was something to do with making something to drink...perhaps lemonade? Use a container for lemonade and have the water inside....then add a squirt of lemon for text and a sprinkle of sugar for thinking...then when it's all mixed together they could drink a little of the real reading juice to help them remember to think about their thinking as they read...

Anybody have another idea that might be more fitting? I'd really like the whole lesson to culminate by them partaking of whatever we've created as we're reading and thinking about our reading aloud...

Would love to hear your ideas!


Happy Fourth of July from the Runners and Crew of
Run Across America on Trail...
running through Hot Springs, Wy right now...well...walking through as hamstring issues have left my husband in a tight spot today.
Follow our adventures on Facebook:
Run Across America on Trail
or at his blog:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rekenreks and Number Talks Help Build Mental Math

Just in case you didn't get a chance to hop over to Erin's blog for the Blog Swap and Hop...thought I'd re-post here....

Have you ever heard of "Number Talks"?

I've been a using Number Talks for the past year and become a big fan of this wonderful technique to get kids talking about math.  Listening to my kiddos as they talked about the different card patterns really gave me an understanding of what they "thought" about numbers and helped me see the ways they used strategies to create numbers.

I devoured the book by Sherry Parrish:
Number Talks:  Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies
which gave me a ton of information and ideas on how to use the number talks in my class.  The book came with a dvd of how number talks are conducted in different classrooms and was very helpful!  You can also find number talk examples on YouTube if you search for the keywords: number talks.

Sherry talks about using dot images, rekenreks, double ten-frames, and number sentences to guide the number talks for different addition strategies...("Counting All and Counting On"..."Double or Near Doubles"...and my personal favorite "Making Tens").

Dot image cards are easy to create using those cool bingo dot stamp bottles or brightly colored round stickers you can find in Walmart, Target, or an Office Supply Store.  I used the largest index cards (I think they were 5X7) and created the dot images that Sherry suggests in the book.  I labeled the cards in subsets of A, B,C....etc and then each subset had 3 cards to look at in one number talk...A-1, A-2, A-3....I punched a hole in the set of cards A-1 through I-3 and then hung them on a hook near the area where we conducted read alouds....whole group games...(in other words my "meeting area")...or as we like to say in the South "the meetin' area :)

I also created a powerpoint slide show of the dot images so that if we had some "down time" and the projector was going, I could flash some images and see what they thought...

Sherry suggests using 3-5 cards or images during a number talk time and asking the questions:
"How many _____ do you see?  How do you see them?"

Double Ten-Frames are something I use with my calendar.  I have the kids use coins to fill in the frames as we add another day....I have 2 ten frames on the the beginning of the year we just use dots to fill in the ten frames as the days go by...then we use nickels....then move up to dimes...for the final quarter I'll have the kids fill thef first ten frame with dimes and the second with nickels... somewhere towards the end of the year we add a third frame and use pennies...

I created a powerpoint for all the double ten-frame sets recommended in Sherry's book to use with the projector....I think I'll go ahead and print the slides onto cardstock, laminate, and ring together to keep at the "meetin' area" to use with the number talks this year.

My mom and dad created Rekenreks using bamboo skewers, pony beads, and small  blocks of wood from my dad's woodshop.  The kids enjoyed using these small versions of the rekenreks to solve problems and work out story problems.

 I created a couple of PowerPoint shows to use with the Rekenreks Sherry talks about in her book...there's also a great app called " Number Rack" that I use with the kids...

You can manipulate the amount of bead rows you show as well as open a large mystery box to cover some of the beads and ask how many do you see? many are covered?

 You can even add as more than one line of beads to help practice with the double digits.

Number Talks has been a great addition into my math program.  It allows the kids to use "Math Talk" and explain to each other what they see and how they see it.

Click HERE for a download of the Rekenrek Powerpoint I created to use with the Number Talks this year.  I hope it goes as well as the iPad app did last year :) You can also get the download of the powerpoint by click on the picture below!

Thanks again to Erin for letting me guest post today!! 
Hope you are having a wonderful day!

Be sure to hop over to some of the other blogs that are sharing this wonderful day and if you get a chance...hop by the "swamp" sometime!

Check out all the other blogs that are participating in the TT Blog Swap and Hop :)