Tag Archive | centers

St. Patrick’s Day Centers Giveaway

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I have recently created the newest of my holiday center packets for St. Patrick’s Day. My kids are super excited to get to work on them! You can grab a copy on TPT for $3.00, or you can sign up for this Friday’s Raki’s Rad Resources News Release clicking HERE, and find out when they will be available completely FREE. I will be making them completely FREE for two days to celebrate my two son’s birthdays, which happen to be back to back. In this week’s News Release, I’ll be letting my readers know when to get them free. There are also a ton of other freebies in this week’s News Release, so be sure to sign up!




Kreative in Kinder Guest Blog Post

So, yesterday in my TESOL Teaching Tip, I hinted about a big Kreative in Kinderannouncement today – well here it is:  I have written my first Guest Blog post!  I am so excited!!!  Crystal from Kreative in Kinder asked me to write a post for her blog on tips for promoting independence in centers.  If you haven’t checked out Kreative in Kinder, it’s a great blog where she shares awesome resources for working with those youngest learners.  Stop by tomorrow and check it out!




A Day in My Shoes

Adventures of a 6th Graderadayinmyshoes is hosting a linky party about what’s really going on in everyone’s classroom.  So, here is a post I made for my parents of what happens in my classroom each day.  Stop by Adventures of a 6th Grader to see what’s going on in everyone else’s classroom.

Welcome to Grade 1B.  Here is a virtual tour of your first grader’s day:

7:50 – 8:00 Restroom & Unpacking  Before students come to class, they are encouraged to use the restroom, so that they will not need to interrupt their learning to go to the restroom.  When students arrive in the classroom, they take out their agendas and homework, and then get ready for Reading Centers.

8:00 – 9:00 Reading Centers.  During Reading Centers, students may choose one of five centers to go to.  Around 8:30, students will switch to a second center.  Students are expected to try to go to each center two times each week.  While students are working at centers, I will pull small groups to work on reading with me at my table.  Groups are organized by the skills students need to work on.  Although some centers may change, most stay the same from one week to the next, with only slight variations.  Here is a look at this week’s reading centers.

100_5835Center 1 – Listening Center – Students listen to stories on MP3 players while following along in the book.  After listening to the story, the complete a page telling me the main character and their favorite part.  




100_5836Center 2 – Use the Word Wall – In this center, students use the word wall to read words.  Sometimes they just read the words. 






100_5839Center 3 – Reading Puzzles – In this center, students complete puzzles that help them to read words. Sometimes we work on puzzles that help us sound out, sometimes we work on sight words (like color or shape words), sometimes we work on letter sounds or word families.



100_5840Center 4 – Picture Dictionaries – In this center, students are slowly building100_5841 themselves a vocabulary dictionary with pictures of words for each letter of the alphabet.





100_5842Center 5 – Reading Books – In this center, students are reading Easy-Reader Books.  They have two buckets of books to choose from and are to find at least 3 books they can read independently (reading the words, not just looking at the pictures).  Then, they write the titles of those 3 books in their center packets.






9:00 – 9:45 Writing Centers – During Writing Centers, students may choose one of five centers to go to. Around 9:20, students will switch to a second center. Students are expected to try to go to each center two times each week. While students are working at centers, I will pull small groups to work on writing with me at my table. Groups are organized by the skills students need to work on. Although some centers may change, most stay the same from one week to the next, with only slight variations. Here is a look at this week’s writing centers.

100_5843Center 1 – Content Center – this center changes every week to reflect our current science or social studies theme. One example of this is my animal characteristics centers.






100_5847Center 2 – Sight Word Center – in this center, students practice their weekly sight words.  They write their words with pencil, then color over their words, then they may use plastic letters to spell their words.




100_5846Center 3 – Free Write – Each week, students have the opportunity to write about any topic they choose.  They draw a picture and then write about their picture.  They are expected to have at least 2 sentences, using finger spacing, capitols and periods.




100_5845Center 4 – Handwriting – In this center, students practice using their best handwriting.  They are given a sentence to write and will write that sentence over and over, either on a white board or a paper, to practice their handwriting.





100_5844Center 5 – Phonics –   Students are working on phonics letter sounds in this center. 







9:45 – 10:30 – Content or Specials – Depending on the day, students will either do a whole group (everyone receiving instruction together) science or social studies lesson, or students will go to a specials class, such as library, computers or PE. 

100_585110:30 – 10:45 – Snack/Restroom/Recess – During this time, students may eat a snack go to the restroom and have a time to play with their friends.  As First Graders, we play out in the courtyard.




10:45 – 11:25 – Specials – Students will attend a specials class during this time. 


11:25 – 12:15 – Math Centers – During Math Centers, students may choose one of five centers to go to. Around 11:55, students will switch to a second center. Students are expected to try to go to each center two times each week. While students are working at centers, I will pull small groups to work on math with me at my table. Groups are organized by the skills students need to work on. Although some centers may change, most stay the same from one week to the next, with only slight variations. Here is a look at this week’s math centers.

100_5863Center 1 – Thinking Centers – The students often call this the computer center, because they are often on the computer.  The purpose of this center is to develop critical thinking.  Many websites help students to do this, so this is why they use the computer so often in this center. 








100_5859Center 2 – Math Words – At this center, students work on the words associated with math. 






100_5857Center 3 – Puzzles – This self – explanatory center is most kids’ favorite center.  These puzzles are often self-correcting puzzles that relate to the topic we are covering. 





100_5866Center 4 – Patterns – Students make patterns with manipulative shapes.






100_5861Center 5 – 100’s Chart – At this center we focus on counting and numbers by using a 100’s chart.  Then students answer questions based on the 100’s chart.




12:15 – 1:00 – Lunch & Lunch Recess – At this time, we go to the cafeteria for lunch.  When students finish their lunch, they are dismissed to lunch recess.

1:00 – 1:15 – Calendar – Every day, we do calendar to work on many different skills, including, but not limited to: days of the week, months of the year, weather, patterns, making numbers, and counting money (both in dollars and dirhams).

1:15 – 1:55 – French – Students have French class.

100_58671:55 – 2:10 – Write down Homework – At this time, students write their homework down in their agendas, and we review the homework expectations.

2:10 – 2:40 – Phonics Chant, Word Wall & Number Aerobics – During this time, we review some of the things we began the year with, including the phonics chant (for letter sounds), the word wall (for sight words) and number aerobics (for counting review and groups of 10).

2:40 – 2:55 – Read Aloud – Students come to the floor and listen to a story.  During this time, we work on reading comprehension strategies.

***  On Tuesdays and Fridays students go to Music from 2:30 – 3:00.  On Fridays students who have 15 stars go to Friday Party from 2:05 – 2:30.  ***

2:55 – 3:00 Stars & Packing Up – At this time, I write in each childs’ agenda how many stars they have earned for the day (Remember that 3 stars and up indicates a good day.)  Then students pack up and we come out for dismissal.




New Year’s in the Classroom

Happy Holidays to you all!  It’s amazing how fast it flies, huh?  Already, I’m on my way back to work.  I go back on Wednesday, January 4th, so my first week after winter break is only 3 days long.  I know that at least 3 of my students won’t be back that week, as they are traveling internationally, and I don’t wantnewyears to start anything brand new with that many out.  So, I decided to work on New Year’s stuff all week.  There are so many holidays that get taught in the classroom, but for some reason New Year’s often gets overlooked, even though there are some great content connections.  I have a New Year’s Center Packet available on Teachers Pay Teachers for those of you who teach 1st or 2nd grade, but here are 10 ideas to use with New Year’s that could be used with almost any elementary grade level.


10. Resolutions & Goal Setting – New Year’s is always time for a fresh start.  newyear3It’s a great time to let your kids make resolutions and set goals for the rest of the school year.  Not only can this be a writing activity, but it also allows your kids who haven’t been angels behaviorally to start out with a clean slate! 


9. Making Predictions – New Year’s is a great time to look back and look forward.  Talk about where students were last year at this time, and where they newyear2think they’ll be next year at this time.  Have students draw a picture of what they think they’ll look like next year, or write a letter to themselves for next year.  The kids can then take those home and have their parents put them away for NEXT New Year’s!

8. Create your Own Top 10’s – Around this time of the year, you start to see all the Top 10 Lists.  Top 10 Movies, Top 10 Books, Top 10 Political Events.  Allow students to make their own Top 10 lists.  Older students might be able to choose their best movies, books, etc.  Younger students could just as easily choose their Top 10 books read in class or Top 10 games played at recess.  Either way, students get a chance to reflect on the previous year and work on writing at the same time.

7. Talk Tenses – With all the looking back and looking forward – this is a great time of the year to talk about past test and future tense!  Older students can get into the verbs, younger students can talk about the words “yesterday, today, tomorrow, this year, last year, next year etc.”  No matter what level they work on tenses at, it’s a great time of the year to find that “teachable moment”.

6. Calendar Time – Another great “teachable moment” at this time of the year is using calendars, last years and this years!  Older students can take a look at what day important events (like Election Day, the first day of the school year or Thanksgiving) fell on last year, and how it will compare this year.  Younger students can take time to talk about the days of the week, the months of the year, the seasons, etc.  

5. Yearly Math – My son loves to ask me questions like “When I’m 20, how old will you be?”  With the turning of the new year, this is a good time for kids to use those math skills on Yearly Math.  Come up with problems based on the year – like how old will you be in the year 2020?  Or, let the kids come up with the problems and swap with a partner!


4. Counting Down – Whether you drop a ball or not, all kids love a countdown!  Count from 10, 100, 1,000, whatever your kids are up to! 


3. New Year’s Around the World – We often study the Chinese New Year, but how else is New Year celebrated around the world?  Did you know that according to the Islamic New Year – celebrated November 26th this year (date changes due to the Lunar Calendar) – the year is 1433?  Or that according to Hindu Tradition, the New Year will occur on April 12th his year (date changes due to Lunar Calendar) and the year will be 5113.  Not only are these fun facts that your students might enjoy, but it’s a chance to broaden their horizons!  Older students could even work on a group research project on one of the New Year traditions celebrated around the world.

2. Confetti Art – Take all that leftover confetti and let students make art! Have students put glue on their paper (in random order, or on the outside of a design), then sprinkle confetti like you would glitter.  Students could also write about what they have made.


1. Party!!! – Take some time to have a New Year’s Eve party with your students.  20 minutes at the end of the day, use some noise makers, have a count down, and  a small treat, and let kids “start the year” with you!


P.S. I write a Top 10 post every week. Here are some past Top 10 posts: Top 10 Holiday Read Alouds, Top 10 Educational Toys, Top 10 Items for Your Winter Holiday Work Packet, and Top 10 Indoor Recess Ideas. Check back each Sunday or Monday for more Top 10 Lists.

Do you TEACH listening?

My class consists of 19 students, of which only 1 speaks English only in his household, and even he began his life in a bilingual environment. The other 18 speak at least one, if not two other languages in their homes. Most of my students speak Arabic, but many also speak French. I have 3 who speak French and not Arabic, 1 who speaks Spanish, and 1 who speaks a Philippine dialect. All of my students speak SOME English, but to varying degrees. My job is to teach them English, while also teaching them everything we normally teach in school (reading, writing, math, science, social studies etc.) Fortunately, I am certified to teach ESL and have some experience with English Language Learners. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. So, from now on, I will now be doing a Teaching Tip Tuesday geared especially towards teaching English Language Learners. Here’s this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:


ELL Teaching Tip #7: Teach and understand all 4 domains of language

Have you ever read your English Language Arts standards?  Generally, as teachers, we work really hard on the reading and writing standards, but have you ever taught (or even read) the listening and speaking standards?  They are a part imageof every English Language Arts curriculum, including the Common Core Standards, and include things like “students should describe people, places, things and events with relevant details” and “ students should ask and answer questions about what a speaker says”.  Since these standards seem so much easier than “students should write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure”, listening and speaking standards have a tendency to fall by the wayside.  This is especially true because native English speakers often accomplish the listening and speaking standards with little to no instruction.  English Language Learners, on the other hand, need direct instruction in listening and speaking standards.  As a teacher, I know that there’s not enough time to teach what we already have on our list, let alone to add more.  So, here’s a list of suggestions on how to incorporate all 4 domains of language within what you’re already doing.

***  The first thing to do to help yourself incorporate listening and speaking standards is to READ them, so take a planning period, and print and read your listening and speaking standards.  Then, post those standards near wherever you write your lesson plans.  This way, you’ll have them in the back of your mind when you are planning your weekly activities.  ***

– Students listen all day, but how often do they really listen?  Use a random generation technique (such as kid’s names on popsicle stick) to choose who will answer questions during read aloud and mini lessons.  This will help you know who is truly listening, and will increase participation from students who don’t usually participate.


– Switch up the questioning.  During read aloud and mini lesson, have students come up with a question of their own for the class, instead of answering a question you have.  (Using random generation is good for this and most other strategies.)


-  Have students become “experts” on a piece of the content topic you areanimalbook studying and allow them to interview each other, practicing both speaking and listening.  (For example, each child can learn about one animal in a habitat and then they can fill in a list of questions, or create a book about each of the animals studied.) 

– Create and encourage group projects and centers (literacy and math) where students have a chance to speak and listen to each other – with structured questioning.


– Teach “good listening” skills, including looking at the person in the eye, acknowledging speech with body language etc.  Then, give away small rewards (stickers or tally points) when you observe “good listeners”.


Do you want more TESOL Teaching Tips – check back each Tuesday for more. Also, check out my previous tips:

Teaching Tip #1 – Use Graphics

Teaching Tip #2 – Talk Slowly

Teaching Tip #3 – Let Them Talk

Teaching Tip #4 – Correct, but Don’t Overcorrect

Teaching Tip #5 – Direct Instruct Vocabulary

Teaching Tip #6 – Repeat, repeat, repeat



What are You Buying with Those Gift Cards?

Due to the Christmas holiday, this week’s Top 10 post is a little late – sorry guys! I don’t know about you guys, but my personal children got some gift certificates for Amazon, and I am going to use them to buy some educational toys to supplement all those non-educational toys that Santa Claus brought.  So, this week’s Top 10 list is on great educational toys to fill your children with.  Lots of them would also make great center stations!


10. Science Kit – My son is absolutely obsessed with all things science.  In fact, he wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up.  So, we’ve had a bunch of science kits come through our house.  This link is to a “kiddie” one that he got last year for Christmas, which was super cool.  It helped him make a bouncy ball and a rubber worm and other goopy stuff.  But, what I liked the most was that it gave an explanation of how this was science.  I love science kits, because they are so hands on!

9. Critical Thinking Games – Problem solving does not just come to kids – it must be practiced, but it should be practiced in a fun way!  So, try getting a game like Rush Hour to have fun and build skills!


8. Word Games – I think my household owns every word game known to man: Boggle, Scrabble, Upwords, Taboo, Very Silly Sentences etc.  However, our personal favorite is You’ve Been Sentenced, where you build all these crazy sentences, trying to see how many words you can use.  We love it because we can play just kids, adults with the kids or just adults – fun either way!


7. Foreign Language Talking Toys – For those of you who don’t know – I am currently raising my kids in Morocco, with them learning French & Arabic.  So, I am a big proponent of working on foreign languages.  There are so many toys out there these days which work on other languages and I say eat them up and build that vocabulary.  Even if they never learn to speak that language, they’ll know another word which might lead to understanding a cognate or a root word later down the road!


6. 3-dimensional Puzzles – I’m a fan of all puzzles, seriously – we own tons! However, this year I really want to get my oldest some three dimensional puzzles.  He has a globe puzzle, but I think he would really do well with some of the building puzzles.  Plus, once it’s put together, he can use it for imaginary play with his soldiers and super hero toys.


5. Open Ended Building Toys – Legos, Kinex, wooden blocks, there are so many building toys out there, and they lead to great creative thinking and problem solving.  My kids even build with the Jenga blocks!


4. Arts & Crafts Supplies – Just like building, arts and crafts builds that creative thinking and problem solving.  I’m personally anti finger paint and glitter (although my husband is very pro these two for some reason), but I do always keep on hand: a bucket of crayons, scissors, glue sticks, play-doh, string & beads, etc. etc. 

3. Board Games – When we moved to Morocco, we brought more board games than books, and I love books, which should tell you something about my family!  (Don’t be too fooled, I got a Kindle before the move, so my books just took up less space!)  I love playing games with the kids.  This year I think we’re going to use gift cards to get Guess Who and Yahtzee, two oldies but goodies that we don’t have yet.

2. Museum Membership – Okay, so you can’t get a museum membership with an imageAmazon gift card, but it’s my favorite thing to do with “Christmas money”.  Not only is it educational, but it’s a great way to always have something to do on those days where you don’t really have any extra money!  (Works the same with a zoo, aquarium or aquatic center!)


1. Books, Books, Books! – Have you seen my pinterest boards?  I have an entire board devoted to kid’s books.  I LOVE children’s books, and I truly don’t believe kids can have too many.  My kids have 2 bookshelves full of books, and read every day.  So, I am very well known to bring kids books as presents!  (My oldest is currently reading Harry Potter.  My middle son is reading – with me – Magic Tree House.  The baby’s only 9 months old – but he can sit through some serious Sandra Boyton board books!)


P.S. I write a Top 10 post every week. Here are some past Top 10 posts: Top 10 Holiday Read Alouds, Top 10 Items for Your Winter Holiday Work Packet, and Top 10 Indoor Recess Ideas.  Check back each Sunday or Monday for more Top 10 Lists.

Christmas in Morocco

Holy cow, I knew I was behind on blogging, but I didn’t realize I had left you guys hanging for a week!  My students and I were super busy during the past week, so I have a bunch to blog about, but I just haven’t had the time to sit and type.  I guess I thought that perhaps celebrating Christmas in a country where there is effectively no Christmas would be slightly easier (you know, no sales to rush out to, no huge parties to attend), but I’ve found out it actually takes more time!  One of the reasons it takes more time is that I have 3 small boys who still need Christmas, and I’ve been going out of my way to make sure that they still feel the “Christmas Spirit”.  Anyways, I am about to go and frost Christmas Cookies with my children, but I thought I needed to get at least a short blog post out there to those of you who have been so kind xmascenters1as to follow this humble blog.  I promise to get some good tips and a great “out of the mouths of babes” funny later this week.  But, I leave you now with 10 quick facts about Christmas in Morocco and a link to my newly improved Christmas Centers packet, which is still FREE on TeachersPayTeachers.  (FYI – if you already downloaded it, jump over to do a quick re-download as I have had a super fan find some small typos.)



10 Facts about Christmas in Morocco

1.  Morocco is a Muslim country, so Christmas is not an official (banks, stores closed) holiday in Morocco.


2.  Morocco used to be a protectorate of France, so there are many people living in Morocco with French citizenship or French ancestry, including many (but not all) are French Catholics, who do celebrate Christmas.


3. Morocco is on the continent of Africa, and there are many people living in Morocco from “Sub-Saharan” African countries like Senegal, Congo and South Africa.  Many (but not all) of these people are Christians and/or Catholics, who do celebrate Christmas.


4.  Morocco also has a significant “expat” community from Europe and the United States, as well as the Phillipines.  Many (but not all) of these expats celebrate Christmas.


5.  Most Moroccans know Santa Clause by his French name – Pere Noel (literally – Father Christmas).


6.  Even though the majority of Moroccans do not celebrate Christmas, you can find Christmas trees, lights, decorations and plenty of toys on sale at the big stores (Marjane, Alpha 55 and the Morocco Mall).


7.  All of the American Schools, and many French Schools held Christmas Shows, Christmas Fairs etc. to celebrate the Christmas Holiday.


8.  Many individuals held individual holiday dinners and holiday parties to celebrate the Christmas holiday.


9.  The French and American schools are on break during the Christmas holiday (which means I’m out for 2 weeks!), but most of the Moroccan public and private schools are not (Which means my kids could’ve gone to school on Christmas – although thankfully Christmas falls on a Sunday.)


10.  My family has been able to turn this holiday season into a great one, but choosing the holiday traditions we like best (making cookies, decorating the tree) and feel slightly separated from some of the commercialism we sometimes felt in the states.


For more information on my experiences in Morocco, check out my personal blog Journey to Morocco.


Christmas Centers Freebie!!!

I don’t know about your kids, but mine are getting fidgety as all get out!!!  If they’re this bad this week, I can’t even think of what they’ll be like next week!  So, I am hoping that my Christmas Centers packet will help keep them at bay!  They really loved the Halloween Centers packet, so here’s hoping!  Plus, not all of my kids celebrate Christmas, so this gives them a chance to try out something different (just as my non-muslim students did with my Muslim Holidays Centers packet).  Here are some of the activities in my Christmas Centers packet, which you can download for FREE at my TPT store.

Reindeer Words – my kids are working on long and short vowels, so this is an easy tie in for me!



Present Patterns – what students don’t need to work on patterns?  On the back of this page, they’ll create their own patterns too!



Christmas Tree Facts – Putting those reading skills to work this holiday season!!




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