Welcome to the Simple Stations Series, the series for teachers who want solid stations that are quick, easy and cheap to make!! Check out full series below: 

An Interest Journal...What is it?

An interest journal is a composition journal that is shared within the class. It is used as part of a writing station or as an early finisher activity. I like to have 20-25 journals per year so that I have enough for every student to use one. Topics range from super heroes to science to farm animals and many more. I've also been known to add new journals during the year if there is something my students are particularly interested in like Lego Characters.



Get the journal covers here--->

How Do You Use Them

I keep my interest journals in my writing stations. Students use them once a day during our guided reading stations or they can use them as an early finisher station. You really have to train your students on your expectations for these journals. I leave up examples year-long of what I expect my students to do. 


To help make keep this station independent, I also provide my students with a word bank at he beginning of each journal. 


This is such a great opportunity to go cross-curricular while also giving students free-choice in their writing. I've gotten such great responses that I could never have expected out of a structured writing activity. 

Here's a few of my favorites: 






Magazine Interest Journal

A magazine interest journal is a specialty journal that takes a little more work on the teacher's part, but the students absolutely love it!! This journal requires students to inference what is happening in the picture and to write their inferences or a story to match the picture. 


I have found that pictures of animals work the best, but really any kind of picture will work! In addition to animals, I try to clip food or objects that I think my firsties will relate to. 

How does it work?

Step 1: Students select a magazine clipping from a basket I keep in the writing station.

Step 2: Students glue the picture into the journal.

Step 3: Students write their name and the date at the top of the page.

Step 4: Students write. I like to give them the sentence stem "I think _____" to help get them started. 

Here are some my favorites!








Welcome back to the Spelling Alternatives for 1st Grade blog series! Here's a sneak peek at the entire series:


Okay, you're going to think I've gone a little bit crazy on this one... but this is seriously so easy and so much fun for the kiddos. You will earn the title of "coolest teacher" in no time!!

Desktop Fun

So I walked into a coworkers classroom the other day and found her students writing on their desks. 
To be fair, they were doing exactly what they were supposed to and they were writing with dry erase markers. I've done similar things at my small group table, but I've never let them have free reign at their own desks. She said that it is a staple during their spelling station and the kids absolutely love it. Each student keeps a dry erase marker in their crayons box and when they are done, they can easily clean off their desk with a baby wipe! Genius!!


Where The First Graders Are Spelling Series

Welcome back to the Spelling Alternatives for 1st Grade blog series! Here's a sneak peek at the entire series:


You know how sometimes you are walking through a store and something catches your eye that you absolutely don't need, but after you see it you have to have it? Well that's what happened to me at Dollar Tree and that's how I started using Hangman Spelling!

Hangman Spelling

Materials: 
-Magnetic Hangman game from Dollar Tree (or any other form of Hangman game)
-Alphabet Letters
-Crayon Box (for storage)
-Spelling List

How to Play:
This is a partner activity, so you will need two students to play.

Step 1: Player One chooses a spelling word from the list. 
Step 2: Player Two tries to guess the word one letter at a time.
Step 3: For each incorrect guess, Player One places a hangman piece on the board. 

Object of the Game: 
Player Two tries to guess the word correctly before all six hangman pieces are on the board.


Now, I assumed that this would be crazy easy for my students and they may have fun with it for a little while, but then they would be tired of it. Boy did I guess wrong. I was shocked at the number of my students that DID NOT make the connection that if our spelling pattern was "ce" words, then the first two letters they should guess was a "c" and an "e"!! I was totally shocked, but it provided me with some great teaching moments! AND this has easily become one of their favorite games at our spelling station. They even ask me to play it as an early finisher activity!



It's the end of the year.... you are busy teaching, testing and filling out mountains of endless paperwork and your kids are completely losing interest. How can we blame them, they have worked hard all year and they are super excited for summer (aren't we all). So the big ticket question is:

How do we (still) manage behavior in a way that is positive and supports learning?

Sweet Treats



Yep, I said it, candy. I'm not talking about giving your kids a sugar high just for turning a paper. I'm talking strategic positive reinforcement with ONE skittle, M&M or gummy bear. Y'all, this kids will work crazy hard for just ONE skittle! It's unbelievable!

Now, you can effectively do this in a number of ways. My favorite is to quietly walk around the room during reading or math stations and place one skittle or gummy bear on the desks of the students who are doing EXACTLY what they are supposed to. I think the key here is no leniency. The students need to know that they are ONLY getting rewarded if they are being a model student!

Show and Tell


One of my favorite behavior management tools this year has been Class Dojo. I let my students accumulate their points and use them to buy things. Here's a quick rundown of my store:

15 points- Pick a Go Noodle Video
15 points- Use a Pen for a Day
20 points- Teacher's Treasure Chest
30 points- Principal's Treasure Chest
30 points- 15 min of Computer Time
50 points- Show and Tell

Let me tell you, the kids' favorite is BY FAR show and tell. Some of them turn into hoarders and wait and wait and wait until they have enough points to do show and tell. I hadn't really planned this, but my first few show and tellers were girls who brought stuffed animals. They asked me if they could keep their animals on their desk and I told them yes, that was fine as long as it wasn't a distraction (I mean, they did save up 50 points). Well, it turns out the getting to keep they animal on their desk was the best part. After that, everyone wanted to do it!

(Disclaimer: I am pretty strict about the "no distractions" rule, at the first sign of trouble it gets put away.)

Class Rewards

Another great management tool for any time of year, but especially at the end, is to have your class work towards a class prize! There are literally hundreds of ideas out there, but here are a few that worked really well in my classroom: 

Mystery Picture

This is super easy and free! Write a word and cut it apart (below we used "candy cane"). Start with all letters turned backwards. The class has to work to turn all of the cards around to spell out their reward. You can reward them with treats or do something free like extra recess or a dance party!


Smart Cookies

For this one I used an actual cookie sheet for an added visual effect, but you could definitely do this without buying anything special! It's the same concept as before. The class is working to get all of the cookies on the cookie sheet to earn their reward. I had eight cookies total, but you could adjust it to fit your needs!

Mystery Puzzle

Okay, I saved the best for last. I bought this 24 piece puzzle for $1 at the Dollar Tree. I put a magnet on the back of each piece. Students worked to get all pieces of the puzzle put together to earn their reward. Since this was a 24 piece puzzle, it took them 2-3 weeks to earn their reward. I knew it would take a while, so I let the students pick their reward as an added incentive.... and that's how I ended up with Sparkles, the class fish! 🐠





Welcome back to the Spelling Alternatives for 1st Grade blog series! Here's a sneak peek at the entire series:


Keyboard Spelling

Keyboard spelling is something that a teacher friend shared with me last year. She contacted a local company about donating any extra keyboards that they were no longer using. They sent a HUGE box to us! We both took about four keyboards each and cut the chords off of them to make them "station friendly". Needless to say, this is one of the kids favorite stations! 


Materials: 
-old keyboard
-spelling list

Directions: 
Step 1: Students practice typing their spelling words on the keyboard. 
Step 2: If students finish early, they can practice typing their word in a sentence! 

**Easy, Peasy**

I hope you have enjoyed this series on super simple, yet effective spelling alternatives! Let me know what works for you by sharing in the comments below or tag me on Instagram! 

OH! and don't forget to grab your Spelling Test freebie below!!






Welcome back to the Spelling Alternatives for 1st Grade blog series! Here's a sneak peek at the entire series:


Today I'm bringing you a super easy, quick and fun phonics activity freebie that is PERFECT for your end of year first graders!! If your students are anything like mine, they are huge fans of the Henry and Mudge series. The 'dge' phonics pattern is one that we save for the end of the year, so it just made sense to combine them or fun AND learning!!

My 'dge' Words

I'm here to bring you a super easy, quick and fun phonics activity freebie that is PERFECT for your end of year first graders!! If your students are anything like mine, they are huge fans of the Henry and Mudge series. The 'dge' phonics pattern is one that we save for the end of the year, so it just made sense to combine them or fun AND learning!!

Get it now here----> My 'dge' Words





Those who know me best know that I am the queen of organization. I love it. It calms me. It makes my heart sing. But more than that, I love organization that is quick, easy, simple and oh so pretty. That is why I am offering you my #1 secret to keeping my classroom organized in a way that lets me plan one or two months at a time.

My Secret

My secret? Easy, if you want to plan a month at a time, you have to keep it organized that way!! I keep my all of my books, stations, activities and holiday themed manipulatives in Banker Boxes that I got at Wal-Mart for about $15 for 10 boxes. As you can see, most boxes will hold two months worth of materials. For some reason, my November box is stuffed full! (Must be the paper bag turkey hanging out in there).


What's Inside

I use the same labels from the outside of the box on my bags of books and stations. I like to use the XL Ziploc Bags for storing/organizing my books and stations for the month. They are the PERFECT size! When I made the labels, I made them with a very simple design and white background. I did this so that I could copy on colored paper and color code everything for that month to match each other. 


In the picture you can also see my October erasers from the Target dollar bin. They are wonderful to use as math manipulatives and I store them in old baby food containers. 

Why it Works

Okay, so this looks great, right? Now how is this going to help you? Easy. When it comes time to plan, you now have all of your holiday themed read alouds at your fingertips. And you know you always theme your writing projects and activities based on the upcoming holidays... now you have those at your fingertips, too! You can also plan out your guided reading and guided math stations for the month and take note of what you might need to make or find to fill in the holes! 

Stay tuned for more great organizational tips throughout the summer!

Get the Labels Here





Welcome back to the Spelling Alternatives for 1st Grade blog series! Here's a sneak peek at the entire series:

Magic Words

Magic words is something that I like to do on Thursday or Friday that is really just a fun way to practice spelling words! It is super easy, takes no prep and the kids absolutely LOVE it!



Materials: 
-Blank Paper
-White Crayon
-Crayola Markers

Directions: 
-write the spelling word with white crayon
-color over it with crayons marker
-watch in AMAZEMENT as the word magically appears
-repeat

Want to take it a step further?

Check out The Literacy Spark: 







Welcome back to the Spelling Alternatives for 1st Grade blog series! Here's a sneak peek at the entire series:


Rainbow Words

Rainbow words have become my go-to Friday spelling practice activity. What I love the most about them is that you can recycle an old piece of paper by using the back of it for this activity. The idea behind it is so simple, but it truly is great practice. The best part of this activity is that it is something the kids can easily do at home to practice their spelling words.


Materials:
-blank paper
-crayons

Directions:
-Students start at the bottom of the page making a small semi circle at the bottom with the first word/color.
-Students slowly add more lines by changing colors for each word.

Teacher Tip: For students who have a hard time forming the semi-circle, I show them how to trace something round like a bowl or a roll of tape.



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