Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this entrepreneurial journey has been in the making for 365 days.  We can vividly remember the day this idea came into existence.  Just two best friends stuck in traffic, talking about our classrooms, lessons, and activities.  It originally started as a hypothetical joke…” hahaha we should totally start our own Teachers Pay Teachers store…” however, another hour and a half into our ride, that joke turned into a serious brainstorm session.  Ideas kept popping up…one after another.  By the time we made it to our friend’s house in Connecticut, we had a notebook full of dazzling ideas.
From that moment, we decided to get straight to work.  To be honest, I think we both thought this was going to be a fun, creative and easy journey.  Fun and creative it was…but easy…HA.  We quickly learned that EASY was not the case.  The list of things we needed to learn, and guidelines we needed to follow kept popping up at every corner.  We also realized that we were now having to think of ideas, lessons and common core related materials that would be effective and easily adjusted to a multitude of different environments, not just our own like we were use to.

Thrills and Frills in First has become a part of our everyday lives. Most days are filled with educating all day, and creating blog post and products all night.  To be honest, there are even times when we are so engrossed in our tpt and blogging sights that we forget to get dinner on the table… All we can do is shake our heads when our husbands ask… “hey babe..where’s dinner?”.  Oops it happened again.  Or times when we are out to dinner with all of our friends and the two of us end up in a Thrills and Frills conversation, soon to realize our friends waiting for us to table our business conversation for another time LOL.  Luckily we have supporting husbands and friends that realize our passion and creativity for what we do.

We wanted to share our excitement and enthusiasm as we reach our one-year mark.  We are having a 1 Year Anniversary Giveaway Celebration.  We have fellow educators and product creators who have donated materials for this fabulous giveaways. 

The first giveaway is for K-2 products including:

Enter to win below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interactive Notebooks

Last year we began incorporating INB (interactive notebooks) into our curriculum. When meeting with guided reading groups I have my students work on their INB pages or complete the independent pages during their word work station.  
I love using them because my students can go back and refer to any skill/concept that we have already covered in class.  INB also help assess our students' understanding of skills, and it is easy to differentiate skills based on my students' needs. 
INB are also extremely easy to integrate into any classroom, you can choose to do it during small group, or as a whole group activity.  We typically do our INB on a 2 page spread, the left side is for introducing/teaching the skill and the right side is for independent practice.  
Now, I know we all want our students to make their notebooks pretty, but that is not the point of INB, it is for learning.  My students are allowed to color their pages if they finish their "must do" Daily5 work early.  To resist the constant coloring of pages, I will copy the INB pages onto colored paper. By doing this, it makes it look nice, but my students aren't constantly asking to color everything in.

To make things run more smoothly, in the beginning of the year we complete the activities as a whole group and have recently begun completing them during our small group rotations. 

Below are some samples from our Interactive Notebook Unit for First Grade.
To get our Interactive Notebook Unit for First Grade click on the picture below.

Creepy Crawly Spiders... and FREEBIES

I actually despise spiders, well any insects to be honest, but I cant negelect my students of all the spider fun that is out there.  My students are always so engaged when learning about nonfiction topics.  Below are just some of the fun spiders activities we did this past week.  

We read a ton of spider books. 
We also did a close read of Little Miss Muffet.
The Little Miss Muffet close reading activities are part of our Close Reading with Nursery Rhymes unit. Click the picture below to check it out.
During our close reading we highlighted rhyming words.  
Defined new vocabulary words.

and answered comprehension questions..

We also visualized Little Miss Muffet and wrote the word that suggested her 
Common Core Standard RL.1.4.. (Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.) We visualized Little Miss Muffet and wrote the word that suggested her feelings. 
(This Freebie is at then end of the post)

We also read Little Miss Spider and discussed her character traits.. (freebie at end of post)
We also made these paintings of spiders and wrote some interesting facts about spiders.

You can get ALL the materials above, yes, even our Little Miss Muffet Close Reading Activity, by clicking the link below. =)

To BUY the complete close reading unit click HERE.

Pumpkins Galore!

With Halloween and Thanksgiving around the corner…what's better than a unit on PUMPKINS!  Our class began this percolating pumpkin extravaganza by discussing their they preexisting schema.  We cut out little pumpkin seeds to put down our thoughts and added them to the little pumpkin.  I left cut-outs of seeds on the board for students to fill out as they begin to learn new things about pumpkins.  This anchor chart was taken from The First Grade Parade and it is just wonderful!

To build some background knowledge about pumpkins…we started with a close reading activity based on the story From Seed to Pumpkin.  This close reading activity took us three days and brought the students through an in-depth investigation with vocabulary, comprehension questions, finding and citing evidence, and sooooooo much more.  

Students focused on finding text evidence before writing down an answer to their comprehension questions.  We use post-it notes with the word "CLUE" to indicate where we found the answer within the text.  Students are also learning to restate their question as they answer it.  After the three day close read, students were able to find evidence, restate the question and use context clues to predict the meaning of difficult vocabulary words.

Our From Seed to Pumpkin unit can be found at our teacherspayteachers website!

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!

There is nothing better than working with a group of teachers who collectively work to create the best environment possible for their students.  One of the reasons I love going to work, is because I have a team of teachers who ROCK! We plan together, create together, thrive together and I dedicate this video to the them! (since we will all be minions for Halloween!)

In the spirit of collaboration, for the 1st unit of study "Me, My Community, My World" we decided to end the unit with a continent study.  Each teacher took a continent and create lessons, activities and crafts for the students.  We had a rotating schedule for 7 days where each class would rotate from 1st grade teacher to 1st grade teacher.  Each day students would grab their "passport" and take a 45 minute journey to another continent.  Teachers decorated their classrooms, and had hands on activities for the incoming students to participate in.  From the moment the students walked down the 1st grade wing, they were transported across the world from continent to continent.

Each day student would get into the jeeps and we would take an adventure through the australian outback!

Each morning, for 7 days, students would grab their passports and travel the hallway to a different continent.

We also used this amazing resource for our Continent Study by Molly Lynch:

Calendar Math Freebie

Do you do Calendar Math? If not, I highly suggest it.  It is an easy way to incorporate key standards that my students need to master in First Grade.  My students practice skip counting, time, odd/even numbers, greater than/less than, place value, and tally marks.  In the beginning of the year, like most activities, it is time consuming, but as the year progresses the students complete it with ease.

This is my Calendar Math area.   It was an old chalkboard that I covered with chevron contact paper from Bed Bath & Beyond. 

I always have two Calendar Helpers, one will call on students to answer questions, while the other student writes the answers on the SmartBoard.  The rest of the class completes the daily worksheet at their seats.  

In the past, I had my students keep their Calendar Math packet for the year in their desk, but you know First Graders and eventually their packets began to fall apart.  This year I made a weekly packet for my students to use.  

To get your Calendar Math Freebie click HERE or the picture below...

Close Reading

At the end of last school year, I constantly kept hearing about Close Reading.  At first, I thought it was just another buzz word, but after attending workshops I was hooked.  I soon realized what a vital tool it is for our students.

 A close read is exactly what it sounds like... reading the text closely. Common Core wants our students to dissect texts and have a deeper understanding of what they are reading. Close reading helps our students achieve this goal.

In order for students to dissect the text they must read the passage numerous time. The passages do NOT have to be long, they can be an excerpt from a book or a poem, but the reading level should be above grade level.

To get my students' feet wet, we began with Nursery Rhymes. Typically, we read each Nursery Rhyme three times. (You will be surprised by how many students have never heard of some of these!) With each read there will be a different focus and purpose.  

First Read:

  After the first read, we focus on defining new vocabulary words through context clues.  

Second Read:

  The purpose of this read is to gather further meaning of the text.  We concentrate on the setting/characters/problem & solution/cause & effect etc.  

Third Read:

 Following this read, students will dig deeper into the text by answering comprehension questions and supporting their answers with evidence from the text. Students are reminded to highlight their answers in the text. 

Below are some activities from our Close Reading with Nursery Rhymes Unit. 
Completing a character map for Five Little Mice.

  Students are citing evidence by highlighting answers in the text. 

We recently just finished our Falling for Close Reading, which includes passages for September, October and November.

In our store we also have 2 other units that correlate with Common Core Exemplar texts.  Each unit has activities that align with all five chapter of  Frog and Toad Together and Owl at Home.

Click HERE to check out Frog and Toad Together.

Click HERE to check our Own at Home.

Book Tasting FREEBIE

I don't know about you…but I can't focus or teach on an empty stomach… I'm just not myself! My ideal situation would be to have a Tapas bar providing continual snacking opportunities.  Since that is obviously not a realistic possibility, I'll have to continue to pack my lunch box with mini snacks throughout the day.  When it comes to food, my BF Lauren can be a little picky.  Me on the other hand, I'll eat just about anything…however...I need to have options and variety, which is probably why I never pack the same snacks back to back.  One of my favorite companies is GRAZE.COM

For like 5-6 bucks a week you get a variety of 100 calorie snacks.  It's perfect to keep your energy boosted throughout the day!

- How I feel on an empty stomach!-

Speaking of food…...One of my faaavvv beginning of the year activities is student "Book Tasting"! In the same way that I like variety when it comes to my snacking…my students love to be introduced to different genres though a book tasting activity.  This is a great activity for helping your students to investigate and explore different types of books on their own.  The "Book Tasting" menu helps guide your students through the exploration, leaving you availabe to observe and facilitate.  The "Book Tasting" also allows for students discussions.  Check out our TPT store to pick up this T.A.S.T.Y. freebie today!

Freebie for September

Just stopping in to share a quick freebie I made for my Firsties.  In the beginning of the school year, I prefer using simple word work centers that do not require a lot of prep, and that my students can independently complete. 
This Fall, I plan on use magnetic letters and a cookie tray for a Word Work activity.  To go along with this center, I created a few sheets for my students to place on the cookie sheets.  We thought you all might enjoy them also!

I purchased cookie sheets at The Dollar Tree and found magnetic letters at the Dollar Spot in Target.


This FREEBIE is currently on our Facebook page..
Click HERE or on the picture below to get it =)

Hope you are all enjoying your last few days/weeks of summer!

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