Saturday, November 15, 2014

Letter Writing

Hello There!

How was your week? Are you like me and the time change has thrown you off? It seems I cannot get used to the early darkness in the evening...I feel panicked to get home because of the dark only to realize we have already eaten dinner, cleaned up and it is only 6pm! :)

Big news this daughter Ella lost her 2nd tooth! Here is the sweet letter she wrote to the tooth fairy.

Ella, age 5
Speaking of letters...this week I introduced parts of a letter to my students and made an anchor chart for students to reference for the next few weeks.
labels source

You can see more of my Friendly Letter unit I used for this anchor chart {HERE}

In honor of Veteran's Day we wrote letters to United States troops...I am hoping the sweet letters my students wrote will be delivered in time for Thanksgiving!

This letter paper is a freebie from Kristin at A Teeny Tiny Teacher .You can download this paper and others HERE.

Next week we are going to continue letter writing within our opinion writing unit. My students will be learning persuasive letter writing. They will write to our principal to state their opinion and reasons for something they would like changed at our school. I can't wait to see what they come up with....I am hoping it has something to do with chocolate for their favorite teachers!

We are also going to write to our pet dog Scruffy...he has sooo many problems for my smart students to solve! Last year my students just loved choosing a problem card and coming up with solutions. My heart smiles when they show such empathy while sharing their solutions with their classmates (Each day I have the students who wrote to Scruffy during their writing center read aloud his or her story to their classmates).

Click HERE to see more 

 You can see more about Scruffy HERE.

How has your week been?  Do you like the dark?  How do you teach letter writing in your classroom?

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

So Thankful { a Freebie!}

My NC teaching buddies and I are so THANKFUL for our followers! As a way for to show our gratitude, we are each giving away our favorite Thanksgiving Freebies! 

I am giving away my Thanksgiving Write the Room pack! 

My students love moving around the room reading and writing complete sentences. I love that all students are successful because the sentences are differentiated!

simple sentences to post around the room 

advanced sentences to post around the room 

recording printable 

Head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers shop to get this FREEBIE now! {HERE}

I am so grateful that you stopped by! Enjoy!

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Treat & a Trick { a little late!}

Hello There!

It has been a few has gotten busy for a bit as we have entered the 2014 holiday season!! I have a treat and a trick to share with you tonight!

How many Elsas did you see on Halloween??...if you were playing the "Elsa drinking game" you took one for my sweet girl! She is my sweet treat!

Let it Go!

Just "some" of our sweet neighbor kids! #blessed!
I have a trick for you that is working well for me!... A few of my teammates have taken the idea (the best compliment) and like it too!

We are a Daily 5 school and I purchased book boxes for my students from Really Good Stuff (totally worth it...very durable). My only advice, it you make labels for the front of the boxes, just use mailing tape to attach the label rather than peeling and sticking the label, much eaiser at the end of the year to remove from the book box.

I am the queen of "there is never any chaos allowed in my classroom, you may not all go to the shelf at once to get your bookboxes" but I wanted a way for my students to have easy access to their book boxes when they had free time and during read to self. I saw these black crates at Target and got 2 per table group. I used a few zipties to attach the crates and VIOLA, I had a bookshelf at each table group!

It took less than 5 minutes to make all of them, gotta love that!

I am loving my crate shelves, and think I may have to make a fun configuration for my classroom library....I could use a few behind my guided reading table....teacher center....haha!

Thanks for reading, I hope this was a fun trick for you too!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Apples, Apples, Apples!

Hi There!

Before we talk apple talk, I have got to share a quick picture from a good friend's FROZEN birthday party that my daughter Ella went to this weekend....

 This mama was so creative and brave!! She made "snow" for a snowball fight out of baking soda and hair conditioner (I had to close my eyes when going back into her was covered in snow...such a mess!!!) She also gave each guest a can of silly string to shoot out like Elsa's magic powers. SO.DARN.CUTE!! But oh my, the mess! The girls had a great time at the party so I am guessing it was all worth it!

Apples! Apples! Apples! We have had so many learning opportunities while studying Fall and apples...

Since we  have been studying "How-To" writing I decided it would be relevant, fun, and engaging for my students to make applesauce in the classroom. {Our recipe came from The First Grade Parade Here} Each student brought in an apple.

First, I asked a sweet parent volunteer to come in the morning to peel, cut, and core the apples.  

Next, I had my students gather around the carpet area and we put water, sugar, cinnamon, and apples into the crockpot.  

Then IT happened....a sweet boy shouted out...Mrs. Winter, Mrs. Winter, this is like a how to story!!  

Last, I was dancing in my teacher chair...cha-ching!!

We went about our day as it cooked it for 5 hours.  At writing time I reminded my students of the procedure and we brainstormed a graphic organizer with key words they might need to write their How to Make Applesauce stories.

My 1st graders went back to their desks and used this template to write their procedural piece. I just love this template. ALL of my students are successful writers using this template. The format clearly defines what is needed in a procedural piece. You can see more of how I use it {here}

YUMMY! I love how she used labels in her writing too!

This week we will use this same graphic organizer to write How To Carve a Pumpkin!

I know this writing piece will be high interest!

How to Carve a Pumpkin is one of my How to Writing templates. I love that all my writers are successful using these templates AND they can publish a final copy on this fancy paper!

You can check out these templates and the publishing papers in my shop {Here}

As they finished writing, I dished them up some of the apple deliciousness! Clean plates all around. :)

What "appletastic" learning have you been up to? Have you ever had homemade warmed applesauce over ice cream?....mmmmmm...I just love this time of year!

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Fall Treat for you!


Happy Fall!
Some of my North Carolina Blogger friends and I are hosting a FREEBIE blog hop! HOP through each page and pick up your free resources, then HOP to the next page for more! Don't forget to "LIKE" each page to get future freebies! Please tag and share the post with your friends to give them a Fall treat they deserve!

What are you waiting for?  Click here to get hoppin!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Write Spot! {a homework freebie}

Hello There!




How do you feel about homework?

As a teacher I have the belief that it is important. I might have a different reason why than some teachers though... I want homework to be a way for my students to "show what they know" to their parents. I want it to serve as a gateway for parents to communicate with their child about topics they are learning at school. I want it to be user-friendly for parents. Last, I want homework to be fun.

As a teacher, I need homework to be manageable. We have a bajillion things on our plates everyday and the last thing I want to do is have to "find" homework for my students.

So I want to share something an old teaching partner (miss you Susan) and I came up with many years ago...The Write Spot!
Just edit the prompt text box, print and you are good to go!

I have been is school now for 10 weeks and I am about to send The Write Spot writing prompt home for the 1st time next week. After that, I will send it home about every other week.

My firsties have learned a lot about the processes of what writer's do while writing. They know my exceptions while writing, (use your tools, stretch the words, check over your work, don't forget your closing...) They are ready to write at home!

When I send home The Write Spot for the 1st time I always make sure to communicate with parents in my weekly newsletter about how to best help their child with this homework. I also check in with them at parent teacher conferences to see if they need clarification and to find out how it is going for their child.

A sample of my weekly newsletter with The Write Spot directions for parents :)

When students bring their homework on Friday (I do weekly packets) I read through their stories and choose 3-4 to be shared with the class. It is so powerful when they share...other students are engaged as their friends are modeling, they give them feedback and cheer, and there is such a sense of pride for the writer to be up in front of their peers reading their masterpiece. Then I have them hang their story on the WOW wall. (I keep good notes in my gradebook of who has shared their stories and has had a chance to shine on the WOW wall.) It is definitely worth the effort.

Parents report to me that their child is motivated to write well and edit their work so they can "be picked to share and hang their story on the WOW wall."

So there you have it, an idea for you on how to make homework meaningful and manageable for your students. If you like this idea you can grab this freebie {HERE}. I have secured the clipart and the special fonts I used to make the primary lines, but the text box is editable so you can change the prompt easily. (Remember to save the prompt each time with a defining title so next year you don't have to start from scratch!)

You can see more on how organize my Homework Folders and weekly Newsletters. These files are EDITABLE also to make it work for your class! {HERE}

If you download The Write Spot, please leave me a comment or some feedback!

Happy Teaching! :)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Hooray for Friday!

Hooray for making it thru another week of school! (I hope routines and procedures are all starting to settle in and you are beginning to get to teach your kiddos some meat)

Hooray for 3 winners of Write the Room~ Fall Simple Sentences, thanks to everyone for visiting my blog and all your comments ...I hope you all will come back soon to collaborate!!! :)

My daughter Ella LOVES to be involved in everything...sometimes I just can't get her off my tail...(who am I kidding, I love every moment with her :) So I let her do the picking...perfect for a kindergartener who is learning to count to 100. I told her to pick 3 numbers and circle them to get a few winners for Mama! She circled 10, 55, and 56 and proceeded to dance around my office singing, "Winner, winner, chicken dinner!" #Ihavenoideawhereshegetsthatfrom Of course after we celebrated we worked on number recognition of random numbers thru 100! :)

Mrs. Webb, Mary K., and Lori R. check your email. For the rest of you, because I am in such a happy, chicken dancing mood the pack is on sale through Sunday!

Again, thanks for playing and reading along!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Write the Room~ Differentiated Sentences!

Hi There!

Can you believe it...tomorrow will bring the 1st day of Fall?! You would never know that with the hot 80+ degree temperatures expected this week in NC! This week is my last week off track and my sweet Ella and I have a few pool playdates lined up for this week....
Who doesn't LOVE their own personal 10 foot waterslide?!

Anyhow, I have been working on lots of fun home projects while I have been off track...painting, buying decor from HomeGoods, returning decor to HomeGoods...HA! But I have also been working of teaching materials for my sweet first graders.

I am excited to introduce a new literacy activity to my students when we track in next week. Write the Room~Differentiated Sentences {Fall Edition}. I know they will EAT.IT.UP!

Who doesn't like to grab a clip board and go on a hunt around the classroom for cute picture cards with sentences that he or she can read?

I made these differentiated sentences centered around high interest Fall topics: back to school, Fall sports, harvest, Fall animals, Thanksgiving, and of course Halloween! 

There are two versions of each sentence. I teach my students that just like Good Fit Books, we must pick a sentence that is a Good Fit for ourselves. 

I made sure to use varying sentence types (declarative, interrogative, and exclamatory). In addition,
each sentence has varied basic sight words to practice. My students need this kind of reading practice with picture support at this time of the year. 

simple sentences 

advanced sentences 

I also want my students even at the emergent reading level, to practice reading fluently. I have added a few check boxes at the bottom of the paper to remind my students once they have finished writing the room to practice reading the sentences to themselves and quietly to a friend.

I know they will love to show off their reading skills to their peers, but more importantly, they will be practicing reading (and their friend will be listening and reading along)!!!! TA-DAA so much bang for your buck...I love it!

****Updated GIVEAWAY CLOSED******
I would love to give 3 packs away to random winners. I will pick them on Friday. Just leave me a comment with your email! 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Forever grateful to all those who are serving or have served our great country. God Bless America!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sharing and Cheers!

Hi There!

How was your weekend? It was sooooo nice to have today off, it felt like a mini vacay!

Tomorrow I head back to school for 4 more days until track out! Woo hoo! I teach in a year round school and we began the new year on July 8th. It seems so looonnnggg ago! My little sweeties have learned so much about The Winter Way being big 1st graders, that procedures and working independently are so much smoother!

My school has implemented the Daily 5 model to teach literacy. In my class we call it the "Daily 3" because students will do 2 literacy centers and read to self each day while I teach small groups.

I believe students can learn a lot (sometimes more) from each other. Each day before releasing my students to their centers I have the group who wrote stories the day before at Work on Writing share their piece under the document camera. Then another student can ask a question or give a compliment to the writer (of course I have modeled specific, meaningful compliment types). {One trick I have found...put the center cards in a way that your highest group will write and share first to set the bar high!} My students love sharing their work, and the other students are so engaged in their model.

Once the writing has been shared and complimented, we give our classmate a cheer. Many years ago my friend Kristin blogged about Dr. Jean's cool Cheers. I have been doing them with my kiddos ever since. 1st graders eat.them.up! Honestly, they can never get enough! I even catch them cheering for each during Fun Friday!
Sample Cheer Cards

Click HERE if you want to print your own set of cheer cards for free!

Before you do you share student work? How do you and your students celebrate others?

Thanks for stopping by, have a GREAT 4 day week!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Trajectory Lines and a Sale!

Hello There!

I am pretty darn excited I tell you! One of my teammates just shared a handy dandy new tool and now I am sharing it with you! A Trajectory!! Ok so I must admit, I had never heard the word before so I looked it up and am sharing that with you too: Trajectory: a path, progression, or line of development. 

At my school we assess our students using mCLASS assessments. I want to focus this year on making sure my students will make significant growth in reading so I made my SMART goal to reflect that ALL students would make at least 1 year's growth as determined by the trajectory map. So I have assessed all my students, plotted~ just grab the line and move it up to their BOY (beginning of the year) reading level, and started teaching to get them to move up the path of a year's growth! The black line will measure 1 year of growth, the green line measures 1.5 years growth. 
Sample Trajectory

Pretty cool Huh? I know I am really a teacher nerd who loves fun tools! You can get this to use if you want {here}

Did you hear the AH.MAZ.ING news? TpT is having a 1 day site wide sale this Wednesday!

Just in time for me...I already have a few things in my cart, one of which I know will help my first graders zoom up their trajectory line!  Have you seen Miss DeCarbo's Text Evidence Reading Passages? It is just perfect for my 1st grade friends! Students will  practice reading fluency and comprehension skills using her fiction and non-fiction passages. Last year I bought her Fall, Winter, and Spring packs and I quickly discovered how awesome they were at helping my kids to not only comprehend text but use and state evidence directly from the text to support their understanding. This is new for our students with common core and such a hard concept for many. My students got so much better at proving their thinking this last year, so naturally I have to get the Summer passages to make my set complete!

Click {here} to check out her Summer pack. 

I am off to fill my cart with other great teacher products before the big sale!. Share with me...what do you love that helps your kiddos move up the trajectory line?  Do you love handy dandy tools and a teacher nerd like me?


Monday, August 11, 2014

Table Captains Freebie!

Hello There!

We are 4 weeks into school now and management is getting soooo much easier! I wanted to quickly share a tip I learned from my friend Kristin from  A Teeny Tiny Teacher .
First Graders love to help and we love for them to help right? (Can you bring me my...go get my keys...get the paper off the floor....tie Brandon's shoes... It is like I have 24 eager little worker bees in my room!

I have tables rather than desks in my room so I have 1 table captain per table who can check, pass out stuff and boss around  help their teammates.

My kids LOVE wearing special stickers, badges etc. So I went to Office Max and purchased these see thru badges and shirt clips see link then I made these cute cards to insert into the badges.
Finished Badge...Cutie wearing it proudly!

I like to mount them on colored construction paper to match with my table group names, (red table, orange table...etc) before putting them in the plastic badges, then if one gets lost, the kids can return it to the correct table group.
I also put my name on them so if a child leaves one behind somewhere, (not that THAT has ever happened) the "finder" can return it to our class. 
I made these using KG What the Teacher Wants font click here to download for free for personal use. Or you can highlight and change the font to whatever is your fancy!

Edit and Print!

Here is the link to the table captains (editable)  freebie  :) Enjoy!

Share a quick management tip below, what makes your classroom run smoothly??

Ok, off to snuggle my sweet baby girl and get ready for the rest of the week! :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hello There!!!

I am so excited to start my blogging journey! I have been teaching 1st grade for 18 years now and I love getting new teaching ideas by stealing, collaborating with teacher friends so I thought what better way than to start a blog! So I am jumping right in...I hope to use this platform to share strategies that are going well, some not going so well in my classroom, and to make new friends who have a passion for teaching as much as I do! is the story on the name of my blog... I met my Mr. on Eharmony (I know, I did, your cousin, co-worker, or your BFF did too!) It was after many years of searching for that perfect guy... I searched high, then low, then high again, but he was no where on campus and being that is where I spent most of my time I needed "29 dimensions of compatibility" to help me find a successful relationship. Well low and behold, it worked, we matched and were married 10 months later. :) The entire time we dated people remarked, "Aww, you guys are so in BLISS." Next thing you know everything in my life became started kinda as a joke but it really stuck and I had to change my email address to have the word "bliss" in here I am 7 years later, (the bliss with the Mr. has cooled down just a teeny bit...we have a child :) and I had to come up with a name for my blog....
"Bliss" candy bar at our wedding

Mrs. Winter's Bliss had to be it!

So there you have it... I hope you will follow my blog and keep reading about all the blissful things we do in my 1st grade classroom. 

Please leave me a comment...Are you feeling blissful? Do you have a fun name for your blog? How did you choose it? Are you still looking high and low for your Mr.?