Teacher Stuff: Cute Character Secrets


I got a comment today that really made my day, made me feel guilty, and motivated me, all at the same time. I have been absent. No bones about it. But I haven’t forgotten you.

My past year has been an upheaval to say the least. Not to get into the nitty-gritty, but a divorce with kids is a time-consuming and GIANT ordeal. However, we are on the greener side of the hill, folks, and I am starting to have more time.

That being said, I have SO MANY ideas for posts. So I ask you to be patient and keep checking back, I am motivated (Thanks, LaserTest) and ready to go!

Today, though, I want to share a secret.


I LOVE book characters! I love that they cover my wall and remind my students of the amazing stories we’ve read and the journeys we’ve been on. I get compliments on my characters all the time but you should know something…I have a secret helper.

It’s a projector.

I am BLESSED to have a station in my classroom with a doc cam, computer and projector. I use them to find a picture with either the doc cam or computer, project it on the wall and trace it onto chart paper! Yes, I do a LOT of coloring at home, and yes, it might seem trivial to some. But when my kids walk in every day and see their favorite characters on the wall, they make great connections, they share memories of favorite stories and they remember how FUN reading is!

So, pull out a book, trace and color a little, it will be worth it, I promise!  Here are a few from the first weeks of school. Sorry, my camera was not cooperating with the lighting in my room. More soon!




Teacher Stuff: Math Chart Share!!

Here’s an update on this year:

1) I am still in 1st grade, but with an entirely new team.  It has been a little weird and overwhelming at times, but it’s getting better.  Two of my teammates in particular are so fun, sharing, and just great!

2) Our grade did not have enough students to fulfill Two-Way Dual Language this year, so I’m back to just teaching in English.  My room is still labeled in both languages and some of the charts (like the Working with a Buddy Chart) are still bilingual.

3) JonahBear is in 1st grade too, this year.  Right next door!  I thought it would be totally weird, but it’s been great actually!  I asked him what he thought of having his mom right next door, “I LOVE it!!”  So far, so good!

4) I am the Inclusion teacher and have 5 students that receive support in Reading, Writing and Math.  Which means that my class has a WIDE range of needs this year and we are still settling into how to make this work smoothly.

BUT, that being said.  I really love 1st grade and my kids are funny, imaginative and so much fun!  I can’t wait to share our Writer’s Workshop with you soon!  They are LOVING writing and our Author Studies have really empowered them to create and share their own books!

Today, my friends, is Math Chart Day!


The students and I came up with ideas of what to put on our addition chart after a week of exploring addition with manipulatives, pictures, models, equations, and story problems.

We have one for subtraction, but the photo is MIA right now! (soon!)

Comparing Numbers


I don’t know about your kids, but this concept always gets my kids!  We introduce it with comparing numbers to try to help kids have more time this year to practice.  We made towers, used counters and have incorporated the concept into Problem of the Day each week.


I laminated this chart to keep up all year, sorry about the glare!

2D Shapes

Any 1st grade teachers in Austin?  The EnVisions math adoption goes back and forth between the term “corners” and “vertices”.  We chose as a team to use “vertices” as a bridge to 3D shapes.  Also, the 2nd and 3rd grade EnVisions use the term “vertices” so it made more sense.  My kids quickly picked up the term and knew that it was the math word for corners.  After that, they enjoyed using the term!

And now, for some Halloween fun!

We took advantage of teaching shapes the week of Halloween and made shape jack-o-lanterns! Kids got a template and black die-cut pattern block shapes.  They got to design their own face and then recorded how many of each shape they used.  Next time, I think I’ll add a place for them to label the name of each shape, also!


Here are a few up close!


Worried much?!

Worried much?!

Me so angry!

Me so angry!

That's all for now, I really mustache!

That’s all for now, I really mustache!

See you soon! -T

Teacher Stuff: It’s Chart Day!!


I LOVE making charts!  Step into my classroom and you’ll probably say, “Wow, someone has too much time!” but to be honest, I  don’t!  I just love them so much and love the way they are useful but can add so much character (sometimes literally) to our walls.  They help the kids remember stories, access words they’ve learned, or recall tools to help them organize their thinking.  I have found that the kids, especially little ones, use and remember more from the charts when they are very visual, so I make time in my week to create these charts using characters from the stories, pictures to illustrate a poem or concept, and bright colors.  It’s also a win-win because I get to do a little art, which I don’t really have time for at home!  So stop on in and look around!

 5 Finger Retelling

    Let’s start with the charts I made for the week we were practicing Retelling using familiar stories.  We started by introducing the 5-Finger Retelling chart and using the elements of a story to help us retell all the important parts of a story.  This chart was based on several charts and ideas found on Pinterest, particularly one from First Grade W.O.W. and one from The Techy Teacher.  We had the idea to use a hand as a strategy to track whether they had included all the important elements in order. During the week, we used the chart to help us retell familiar stories together as well as in their Reading Response journals.

Red Riding Hood SummaryOn the first day, we discussed the elements of James Marshall’s Red Riding Hood and worked together to write a summary of the story.  We then paired up and practiced retelling the story to a partner using the 5-Finger Retelling strategy to help.  Students completed a story map in their journals of the characters, setting, problem and solution.

The rest of the week, we read together, practiced retelling to a partner or as a group and then completed the story map on the chart.  Students then wrote their own summaries for Reading Response using the 5-Finger Retelling strategy.

Story Maps 2Story Map

Books We Used:

Red Riding Hood by James Marshall

The Three Little Wolves and the Big, Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas

The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit by Susan Lowell

The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell

Corduroy by Don Freeman

Moving on to other charts!!  I also like to use charts to help us remember skills we’ve learned in Word Work or Writing.  Some of my favorites have been the Alliteration Chart, based on the amazing chart from The First Grade Parade!!  I added a few extra tongue twisters the kids particularly liked but it very close to hers!  It was just too cute not to borrow!

Alliteration Chart

One of my other favorites is our Treasure Map of “ar” words!  The kids had so much fun adding words to the chart! I got the idea from this pin from The Inspired Apple. The purple words were the kids spelling words for the week.  During the week, the kids came up with other words to add and we wrote those in green!


These are just a few of the many charts we’ve made this year, but it gives you an idea.  Sorry the pictures aren’t great, my camera is MIA at the moment and my phone is just ok.  Hopefully I can search the house during our Beginning of Summer Purge next week!!  For those of you not finished teaching yet, have a great week!  And for those of you at home, enjoy an extra cup of coffee and an extra 30 minutes of sleep for me!!

Can’t wait! -T