Hi! Have you heard the news? If you’ve been reading my blog recently, you’ve probably read that I’m going back to the classroom FULL TIME this fall, and I was placed in a first and second grade combination class! So in this blog, I’m going to tell you what I’ve done so far to prepare, and which HeidiSongs materials I think I can use.
The last time I taught first grade was in 1998 (yes, I’m THAT old!), and things have changed quite a bit since then! So I’ll be doing the best I can and relying on my awesome teammates, co-workers, friends, and my instincts to help me out. I have to say that the entire staff at my new location, Ekstrand Elementary School, including the principal, secretary, custodian, and really EVERY SINGLE TEACHER I’ve met has been incredibly friendly, supportive, and helpful! I’m ecstatically happy and I feel God’s hand on my life in every way! Praise the Lord!
Here are the keys to my new classroom!
So it’s been a while since I’ve taught first grade, but have I ever taught second? I taught a remedial second/third grade combination summer school class in 1987, but those poor sweeties were so far behind (not their fault, bless their hearts!) that it was more like a review of first grade, unfortunately. So second grade will be all new to me! I’ve spent quite a bit of time this summer reading the second grade textbooks and the Common Core State Standards for both grades to make sure that I have a good handle on what is expected.
Is my room ready? Oh my gosh, NO! Oh my! I’ve been busy getting ready to present for two days next week in Marysville, CA with CKA. The first day is for TK and Kindergarten teachers, and then the second day is for first grade teachers! There is still plenty of room at this workshop, so feel free to join us!
I’m also presenting on Aug. 7 for the Santa Maria-Bonita School District central CA. (I’m their Keynote Speaker for the Pre-K through Kindergarten group! How exciting!!!!) So between making sure I’m ready for both events, and trying to move my things, etc.? Well, I’m almost all moved in, but I’m still in the process of organizing it and putting things away. Here’s a video I took of my “blank slate” classroom before I started decorating!
I’ve also had to go through ALL of my classroom supplies and decide what I will need for first and second grade, and what can stay behind stored in our HeidiSongs office. Of course, I decided to “purge” some old supplies, too, as well as condense them down to fit in smaller storage containers that will better fit in my new classroom.
In addition to all of that, I’m trying to figure out how to combine the first grade curriculum with the second grade curriculum in a way that uses the textbooks that my district requires. I have a second grade pacing guide from 2012 that a friend gave me from before she retired (yeah!), but some of the texts are different now, so I’m not exactly sure what to change. And another friend from my previous school who teaches first is working on a full year pacing guide that will be fully updated, and she is going to share that with me, too! I don’t know if I will be able to share those documents with you or not; I’ll have to wait and see. The great thing, though, is that I have a starting point to figure out how to make one of my own for both grades. If you would like to see my existing Kindergarten Pacing Guide, it’s on our Free Downloads page and scroll down to the heading “HeidiSongs Program User Guides.”
If you are also struggling with a combination (split grade) class, you may be pleased to know that I found a Facebook group called Combined Classroom Connections. You can post questions there and see if anyone may know the answer. Sometimes questions go unanswered, but maybe if a bunch of us join, that will change? I also started a Pinterest Board called Combination Class or Split Class Tips. There are only a few pins on it as of yet, but I’m going to keep adding them as I find them. In any case, I think that running a combination class will be like intentionally planning on differentiating instruction on a wide scale, DAILY. We can do it!
This is a picture of my “classroom” at our company office! I took almost everything out and over to my new classroom!
The biggest challenge so far has been getting my books into a leveled classroom library which is appropriate for both first and second graders and that have AR quiz numbers on them. So actually, I’ve HIRED help with all of this! Yikes! I don’t have time to do all that myself, plus keep up with my blog and everything else!
You may have noticed that our website was newly redesigned, and it’s AWESOME, if I do say so myself! But there have been a few “technological difficulties” along the way, and trying to help find and reattach broken links to free downloads has been sucking my time away as well. Grrrrrr! If you have found that some links are not working, thank you so much for your patience. Feel free to email us and let us know what you are waiting on, and we will try to “find and re-upload” all of the documents that we get requests for first, but it may take a couple of days.
Here’s my classroom as of this morning! **Cue horror music**
HeidiSongs Materials for First and Second Grade
So, what can I use with my incoming Fabulous Firsties and Sensational Seconds? Well the Sounds Fun Phonics stuff is perfect for both! If anyone wants to try it out, I would just get the Sounds Fun Classroom Combo. For sixty bucks, you get everything you need to teach phonics “a la Heidi” for the whole year (although I can see that I there are some concepts that are missing, especially at the second grade level.) I’ll be working on a Sounds Fun Vol. 2 once I figure out what works well for my new kiddos!
What I know for sure is that it has always worked FABULOUSLY well in Kinder, and has gotten rave reviews from existing teachers in first. It’s a multi-sensory method of teaching the consonant digraphs, diphthongs, r-controlled vowels, vowel teams, and 3 phonics rules with movements and music for each. You can see all of the movements for the cards in the movie below. The kids catch on them right away, even in kinder.
The Sound Blending DVD is also great for firsties if they do not know how to blend CVC words together. The point of the DVD is teaching kids to sound out CVC words, so if that’s where some of your firsties start, then you’ll need that.
If you expect that your firsties to need review on CVC words, then the CVC workbooks are also a great choice (volumes 1 and 2.)
The Counting Creatures Addition and Counting Creatures Subtraction worksheets (sold on disk only) should be really nice for the beginning of first grade because they review sums and differences within ten. I especially like that there are not very many equations on each page, so the kids should be able to FINISH these pages without much of a problem. I designed them so that there would be something fun for the kids to color on every page for early finishers, such as a monster, creature or alien of some type, or a robot.
This is one page from the Counting Creatures Addition worksheets set. Notice how there are just a few equations on each page (usually fewer than ten.) LOVE THAT! I really feel that kids don’t need to do 30 similar equations in order to practice….
This is from the Counting Creatures Subtraction set of worksheets. I like that there is always something to color for the early finishers!
Other than those, the Shark Teeth Addition activity is especially fun for sums within ten! I think that the kids would have been willing to redo those very same shark teeth worksheets over and over again without complaint!
If your district’s math curriculum in first grade also requires the children to learn the trapezoid and the hexagon, be sure to order the Shape Creatures worksheets. You can zero in on just the shapes that the kids need to work on, and the pictures are SO CUTE!
Also, the Colors and Shapes DVD has some awesome songs for both the hexagon and the trapezoid, plus the rest of the shapes of course! But you can just play the songs for the shapes they need to learn and let the rest go due to time constraints if you like. In addition, it has GREAT songs for the color words, which will be a wonderful review as well. The Colors and Shapes DVD is one of our most popular DVD’s now! You can watch a short sample video from it below, or visit our HeidiSongs YouTube Channel to see more.
The Dinosaur and Robot Pattern Block Activity sheets are super cute too! If you might have a pattern block center, ask for those. My boys went CRAZY for them! I also printed them out and gave the kids paper pattern blocks to glue down and and then let them decorate the robots and dinos with markers. THEY LOVED IT! It comes with printable paper pattern block masters, but of course it’s especially easy if your school has a pattern block die cut machine.
Musical Math Vol. 1 has coin recognition songs, skip counting for twos, fives, and tens, volume shape songs for the sphere, cone, and cube, a counting to 100 song, plus a whole bunch of addition songs to help kids develop fluency! There’s a subtraction song on there as well. Here’s the “What Comes Next?” song that I wrote to help kids get from one set of tens to the next. Example, counting from 39 to 40 rather than saying “39, 90.”) (Look for a Cube Song and a Count by Threes song on Musical Math Vol. 2 below.)
Musical Math Vol. 2 is currently only on CD, since the DVD is still under construction. But you could start with the CD! I think that this whole CD is perfect for first and second grade! Just look at this list of songs!
Greater Than-Fewer Than, Subitize, Rekenrek Song, Mission Ways to Make Four, What’s a Sum?, Counting On with Addition, Counting by Threes, Putting Numbers in Order, Odds & Evens, Hexagon, Trapezoid, Cylinder, Measuring with a Ruler, The Pattern of the Hundreds Chart, 12 vs. 21, Counting Backwards from 20, Telling Time is Easy, One Half-One Fourth, Counting Coins, Adding Numbers to Ten, So Many Ways to Solve a Problem, Keywords for Addition, Keywords for Subtraction, Get on the Tens’ Bus!, What is Place Value?
The Sing and Spell the Sight Words series of DVD’s is an easy choice! You just have to look at the list of words on each DVD to figure out which ones you need the most for your student population.
Sing and Spell Volume One
and, are, can, for, go, have, he, here, is, like, me, my, of, on, play, said, see, she, that, the, they, to, was, with, you and I’m Done.
Sing and Spell Volume Two: Color Words and More Sight Words
red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, white, gray, pink, an, at, big, do, down, has, in, it, no/yes, not, small, this, too, up, we, what, who. Plus, it includes two punctuation songs; one for capitals, and one for spaces between the words.
Sing and Spell Volume Three: Even More Sight Words
again, away, because, come, could, help, house, how, jump, little, look, make, one, run, should, their, there, they’re, three, to, too, two, want, we’re, were, when, where, who, why, would.
Sing and Spell Volume Four: Fun Songs for More Sight Words
A (the word), all, am, as, be, by, came, dear, did, friend, from, good, had, his, I (the word), if, love, made, nice, now, out, over, put, some, then, very, will, and your.
Sing and Spell Volume Five: Number Words and More Sight Words
Zero the Hero, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, about, around, but, eat, fight, find, funny, get, into, new, ride, please, pretty, saw, say, says, so, under, which.
Sing and Spell Volume Six: Jammin’ with More Sight Words
ask, ate, day, does, every, give, going, her, him, just, many, must, no, off, only, our, ran, show, soon, take, them, think, walk, well, went, yes, Bonus Track – Opposite Song
Finally, the Classroom Management DVD is just too much fun to skip! Check out all of these songs to help teach and review rules and procedures:
Music titles include:
1: Backpack Boogie
2: Follow the Rules
3: When the Bell Rings, Freeze!
4: The Tattling Song
5: No Interrupting
6: Outside Voices, Inside Voices
7: Please and Thank You
8: Is it a Question or a Story?
9: Cover Your Mouth
10: Blow Your Nose
11: The Potty Dance
12: Potty, Potty, Flush, Flush
13: Right Hand, Left Hand
14: Red, White, and Blue
15: The Days of the Week
16: Months of the Year
17: Criss Cross, Applesauce
18: The Tracing Song
19: The Cutting Song
20: The Glue Song
21: Snap That Cap
22: Just Try Your Best
23: The Smarty Pants Dance
24: Line Up
25: I Love My Lunchbox
26: Bonus Track: We Don’t Fight!
We read one of these Wiggles books nearly every day as a way of teaching and reviewing the procedures and rules.
The series of Wiggles/Sittles books that go along with it are also EXCELLENT ways of teaching the rules in a really fun way! Wiggles is a dog that goes to school and has trouble learning the rules. Wiggles can’t seem to settle down, whereas his counterpart, Sittles, doesn’t want to get up, sing, count, (try to) read or participate, etc. Imagine that!
I really value this book because it gives me the opportunity to open up a discussion about the importance of classroom participation as far as LEARNING is concerned! Sometimes, I think that if we can explain to children WHY we want them to put forth a little bit of effort, we may find that it just may pay off!
I use puppets that I bought on Amazon when I read these books and it’s all very dramatic! Check out a movie of me reading the first Wiggles Learns the Rules at School book that I posted on my Facebook page here. I’m waiting to see if my second graders will respond positively to me reading books with a puppet; we shall see! What do YOU think will happen? LOL!
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