1st Grade Day 1 Outline

My grade level partner and I sat down this week and hashed out our first few weeks of school. It was a little difficult because we do not know what our exact schedule will be; we do not know our lunch schedule, prep  schedule, or bathroom times. So we did what we could with what we know.

We used basically the same “First 2 Week” structure that we had used when teaching kindergarten. Since we already know our kids this time around, we will not need to focus as much time building our classroom culture and climate. We will still have daily Guided Discoveries and review of classroom rules, but we can also incorporate things like Choice Time into our First 2 Weeks because our students have had previous exposure to it.

This year we will be starting the Daily 5 on day 1, and we will spend about the first month building stamina through our Daily 5 routines. We had found an article online titled  The Daily 5 For Dummies, and we will be using a lot of what we found in that article to help us with specific “Daily 5” language when we are going through the process of introducing it. You will see this below in my plans. Things that I want to make sure I say are in italics.

First Grade First Two Weeks of School

  • All day routines being learned- Habits of discussion –complete sentence training

 Day 1

  • Send in 4 at a time, hang up backpack, find name and sit down and eat – no talking
  • coloring name tag or picture with a few crayons out
  • remind/ teach attention clap, position 1, move to carpet – several students model – direct students to square
  • Review listening position – who can show me listening position?
  • Morning Meeting: Message on chart paper, Greeting game, abc’s/ Heggerty, poem ( School Chant), active movement game  (later add spelling practice w/ words for week) (25 min.)
  • Writing – Launching workshop (30 min) – LEVEL 0
    • Before turning students off to write- tell them we will always have the first 10 minutes of writing be silent and on our own.  After the “Quiet Ten” you may share with a table partner or raise your hand to talk to the teacher
    • Model writing and drawing a story- label picture by stretching out sounds and recording the letters that represent sounds
    • Model thinking of sentence, counting words, and writing
  • Read aloud- Oh! The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss or beginning of year book
  • How to line up- HALL chart (Hands at side All eyes forward Lips zipped Legs walking safely)
  • Launch Read to Self (20 min.)
    • 3 Ways to read a book (1st 2- read words, read pictures)
    • Model 2 ways and discuss- use a King Street book
    • I Chart for Read to Self
    • Model- Practice- Check-in- Practice (3 Minutes per practice)

“Today we are going to begin our very first day of the Daily Five.  We know that the most important thing we can do to become better readers who love to read is to spend lots of time practicing reading.  Let’s begin by making an I-chart, with our ideas of why it is so important that we read to ourselves.”

                        Top of chart – Read to Self, Independence

                        Under heading write – Why:  to become a better reader

“That is why we will begin Daily Five with Read to Self.  Why else do we read to ourselves?”

Write responses on chart  – Add an I, we stands for Independence.  Write “students” on the top left and “teacher” on the top right.  Brainstorm appropriate Read-to-self behaviors.

“If our class were to do Read to Self independently, which means all by yourselves, what do you think it might look, sound, or feel like?”  

(Record response.  Be sure “reading the whole time” is included.

“These are all such good ideas.  You already know a lot about how Read to Self looks, feels, and sounds.  What about the teacher?  What would the teacher be doing?”

Add “teacher” to the I-chart and add:  read with groups of children, read with children one at a time, listen to children read, and help them with their reading strategies.


 “Now that we have talked about what Read to Self might look like, sound like, and feel like, is there anyone who would like to model, or show the class?” 

choose student to model

“Let’s look at Patrick as he models for us.  Wow, he is certainly staying in one spot.” 

                        Point to I-chart while observing each behavior.  Applause

“Who can tell us what you saw Patrick doing as he was practicing Read to Self?”

                        Choose a few other models.

Incorrect Model

 “Is there anyone who would like to model Read to Self the inappropriate way?”

 Choose student

Okay, let’s watch Benjamin as he models Read to Self the inappropriate way.” 

“Oh my, let’s look at our chart.”

“Okay, Benjamin, now please show us the appropriate way to Read to Self.”



 “The reason we are practicing for just three minutes is that we are working to help you build your stamina and to train your bodies and brains to do Read to Self the appropriate way, the ways we brainstormed on the chart and the way you saw some of your friends model.  Building your stamina each day will help you all year long as we work toward becoming better readers who love to read.”


  • Handwriting (Introduce pencils, grip, practice strokes, using caddies, what to do when you need a sharp pencil)
    • Guided Discovery of caddies with only pencils in them
  • Rules- Read How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? Or David Goes to School – Make chart of ideas for rules, teach behavior stick
    • Have kids brainstorm rule ideas, write on chart paper, circle ones we like best and add those to Rule Chart
  • Introduce behavior stick
  • Draw yourself following the rules
  • Math- Calendar
  • Guided Discovery of Pattern Blocks and play time
  • Guided Discovery of folders – How to take care of them, put them in backpack, etc.
  • Closing Circle/ End of day meeting – sing chant from the morning, talk about day – what went well, what will you work on tomorrow, etc.

Kindergarten Writing: Year in Preview

Kindergarten Year in Preview in Writing

For use with: Lucy Calkins and Teaching Writing in Kindergarten

August (Themes/Ideas: School, Myself)

  • Name writing
  • Launching Writer’s Workshop
  • Thinking of a topic, drawing and labeling

September (Themes/Ideas: Emotions, faces, bodies, Rules)

  • Explicit drawing lessons (representing ideas in pictures)
  • Guided Writing of short, simple sentences
  • Writing word wall words in sentences

October (Themes/Ideas: Bats, Witches, Halloween, Pumpkins)

  • Explicit labeling
  • Guided Writing of longer sentences

November/December (Themes/Ideas: Snow, Winter, Turkeys, Holidays)

  • Guided picture, independent writing
    • Prompt for lower writers
  • Writer’s Celebration

January (Themes/Ideas: Revisit previous topics)

  • Topics
  • Independent writing


  • Small moments
  • Publishing books


  • How tos
  • Publishing books


  • Writing for readers
  • Conventions
  • Publishing


  • Poetry
  • Publishing


  • Memory books

Goodbye, My Friend

Yesterday, I said goodbye to a very dear friend, my dog Cody. I decided that, although totally off topic, to dedicate this blog to him, to share some of his story with you, in hopes that he will live on in cyberspace; that you will scratch your pet a little bit more tonight, take the “long” walk, give that extra treat.

I first found out Cody was sick about 2 months ago. He started limping on his front “driver’s side” leg, as my dad would call it. The vet said it was bone cancer, and I think the word he used was “devastating”. Devastating. I hate that word. I said it over and over in my head until it made me sick to my stomach. Which is not totally unusual, as I am always sick to my stomach. There was nothing we could do. It was just a matter of months, and we would lose our happy, slobbery, best dog in the world. To say that I haven’t cried everyday since I found out would be a lie. I was devastated, to say the least.

I contemplated tattooing his name on my wrist. That way it would be the first thing I saw, and thought about each morning. A little drastic, right? I mean, he is just a dog. But all you dog lovers know exactly what I’m talking about. That “need” for them to live on in your thoughts forever. Those of you who aren’t, well, probably think I’m nuts. If you’ve ever had a dog that’s been a member of the family, and hopefully you have, then you know just how hard it is to lose them. Dog’s are more than just pets – they are companions, best friends, therapists, and teachers. Although my dad always claimed that dogs don’t really love, I never believed him. After all, isn’t it from dogs that we learn to love someone completely, flaws and all? Cody taught me what it meant to be brave. Not once during those last two months did he whimper or whine. He sure did beg, but he never whined. Even down to his last hours, when he could barely walk, he still managed to greet us at the door, tail wagging, with his favorite stuffed duck.

Cody hated celery. He craved chocolate like a diabetic. He hated the ground. He preferred to sit in chairs and be with his humans. The “No dogs on the couch rule” my dad had instated upon adopting Cody lasted maybe 3 minutes. He wanted to be up off that floor, as close to us as he could be. Who could resist those baby paws, that puppy whimper? The answer to that was none of us; not myself, my mom, my brother, especially not my dad could resist those bright puppy eyes.

Cody lived an amazing 8 years; an ideal dog’s life. He had a family who loved him, and treated him as such. He was more than a dog – he was just as much a member of the family as anyone else. His happiness was shown through his smiles and laughter (yes, dogs do both, but their laughter sounds more like a “pant’), his slobbery kisses, and the frequent toys that he brought you each day. He was awarded for being the best dog in the world with furniture privileges and treats; sleeping in between my parents each night, and frequently getting the last of any meal. Some of his favorites were Starbucks and french fries.

All of the neighbors knew Cody, as he tended to wander down the block into their yards whenever he felt like it. The electric fence we had installed never seemed to faze him much. He loved car rides almost as much as he loved chocolate. At times, I could swear he literally asked to go with for a car ride. I would frequently hear this conversation between my mom and Cody, all the while watching Cody give mom his sad puppy eyes.

Mom: “You don’t really want to go for a car ride, it’s too hot, Code.” Then there would be a stare off between my mom and Cody. “Do you really want to come with, Code? It’s so hot.” One last stare down. “OK. Lets go for a car ride.” Then Cody would get very excited – whining, jumping, wagging his tail. Cody was a very smart dog.

Inevitably, in your lifetime, whether you are a parent or a teacher, you will experience the death of a pet, or have a child who has experienced the death of a pet. I have found a few great children’s books that may help explain to your child what happened to your beloved pet, or provide some sense of why it happened.

Everyone who has ever lost a pet needs to pick up Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant because of the simple quote:  “When dogs go to heaven, they don’t need wings because God knows that dogs love running best.” It is a great way to remember, and say goodbye, to your faithful friend.

Jasper’s Day by Marjorie Blain Parker is a sweet story of a family’s love and respect for a dog they certainly viewed as a member of the family.

Last, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst is an excellent springboard for families of every religious persuasion to discuss what they feel happens after we die. The book helps children put into words many questions that they might be too young to articulate, and helps parents answer them for him as best you can. The writing is excellent, and perfectly captures the voice of a young boy.

Today, the house feels quiet and empty. Tears stream down my face as I write this story. At least I know he will always live on in my memory, and now this blog. They say that blood is thicker than water. Well in this case, I believe it’s slobber that’s thicker than water.

Until we meet again, Cody. Rest in peace…

An Eye For Bargains

I would by no means call myself a frugal person. I have no problem shelling out a couple hundred bucks for a good pair of jeans, or a dress that I’m only going to wear once. I have a closet full of clothes with the tags still on. But one thing I am great at – finding bargains for my classroom.

Some of my great bargain hunting, I’m sure, comes from my mom 🙂 who is also a teacher. She is as responsible with money as I am careful not to walk through spider webs. She’s always got her eyes on the sale ads for me. So when we heard there were some great teacher items in the $1 section at Target, we were on out way.

It took us 2 different trips to 2 separate Targets, and a few bags of Pretzel M&Ms, to find what we are working for. Here is what we found…

My first purchase – mini desk caddies! I purchased enough for each student to have their own, hopefully alleviating some of that “urge” to steal crayons from one another. I think it will also be a great way to move from kindergarten, where everyone shared caddies, to first grade, where we are older and smarter and therefore deserve our own personal supplies.

1 individual desk caddy – $1 @ Target

Here is an idea of what the mini caddies will look like when filled. This scissors is larger than one my students will actually use in school but it was all I had. I am also using an UHU stick which claims to be a large glue stick but I don’t believe it. You are not fooling anyone, UHU stick.

Next, I splurged on the good plastic folders. Only the best for my kiddies.

1 plastic folder – $0.50 @ Target

This is more than I’d normally spend on a folder but my very generous mom wanted to do her part. Now I have a stack of nice, new, shiny plastic folders just waiting to get destroyed in my kid’s backpacks.

If you don’t have as generous a mom as myself, you can also get…

1 cardboard folder – $0.15 @ Target

1 cardboard folder – $0.01 @ Walgreens ( limit 16 so bring a friend with to help you stock up!)

Last, I purchased 30 cardboard magazine holders. They seem pretty sturdy, and I’m hoping they will last at least half the year once I bandage them up with packaging tape. I plan to use these during the Daily 5 for “Read to Self”. Each student will get their own, and they will be filled with about 8 books. The only problem with these magazine holders – the ridiculous patterns. The one you are seeing is my favorite of the bunch.

1 cardboard magazine(book) holder – $1 @ Target

or, if you want something much simpler…

5 cardboard magazine holders – $1.99 @ IKEA

A 24 pack of Crayola Crayons was $0.40, and Composition notebooks were $0.50 each. I didn’t buy either because I know that these prices will continue to go down. Last year, I got the 24 packs of Crayola Crayons for $0.25 each, and I got a pack of 3 composition notebooks for $0.25 at Target.

I did buy a few squishy balls because who doesn’t want a squishy ball with eyes and tenticles? I got some new parts for my Calendar – days of the week, months, weather, etc. I purchased a few new pointers, name plates, notecards, and labels. DON’T FORGET TO BUY LABELS…you need them for anything, and everything, whether you think so or not.

And then I went to Nordstrom and got a really great shirt…ON SALE 🙂

Read Alouds I’m Craving

I had a momentary panic attack when I realized that, since I will have all the same students again next year, my kids have already heard all of my read alouds. Oh, who am I kidding, it was definitely not momentary…

I don’t have the money to completely restock my read aloud inventory, so my first item of business – get a library card. Although, that is no fun. All those books need to go back. I love children’s literature almost as much as I love french fries, and I don’t like to share. But for now, I guess it will have to do. Here are just a few books that I am craving at the moment…

First, The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood. It has charming illustrations and beautiful text. I can see using it at the beginning of the year for teaching classroom rules, and voice levels. It will also make a great read aloud when the kids just need some quiet time.

Next, Ish by Peter H. Reynolds. It teaches children that art does not have to be perfect. That even when a drawing of a vase doesn’t look like a vase, it still looks “vase-ish”. I cannot wait to use this book as a read aloud during Writing Workshop.

Last, I’m craving Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. I guess, most importantly, it teaches children about manners. But I love this book because it is HILARIOUS! I actually laughed out loud while reading it to myself. I can envision my students falling in love with this book, and requesting it to be read over and over.

All of these books are available for purchase on Amazon.

So now I’m asking you for your recommendations for 1st Grade read alouds…

What book would you recommend?