About Me

Christian, Mom, Wife, Sister, Teacher, Artist, Goofball:) All of these describe me, just a fun-loving Christian girl, loving my life as a mom, wife, and teacher! Hope you love it a little too when you visit:)
copyright by Jara Downs 2011. Powered by Blogger.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hoor - Ay for Apples

What teacher doesn't love teaching about these:

SO FUN and So TEACHERY - right?  

We started our unit with a little apple math (all these ideas are free online, wish I could remember where I got each, but I've had them awhile, needless to say, none of these ideas are my own):

Apple Addition - students rolled the dice, used tiny paper apples on an apple placemat to count out what they rolled and added/recorded the two numbers together!  

Apple graphing - each student taste tested all three types of apples then picked their fave to graph, and we discussed the data in whole group.  One of my sweet momma helpers made this graph for me, isn't it pretty:)?

Then we did a little measuring with apples - again, found this online, sorry I don't have the source:(

One of our standards is ordering numbers to 20, so these apple puzzles came in handy!

For English Language Arts and Reading Workshop we read a lot of Johnny Appleseed books - here are some of my faves borrowed from our school library!  This also tied in to Social Studies because we discussed how Johnny Appleseed was a good citizen by planting seeds everywhere he went and by being sweet to animals!

And for science this tied in well to our solid, liquid, gas unit.  The apples were the solid.  When heat was present, they turned to liquid - applesauce, and the gas was the delicious steam we smelled all day while the apples were cooking:)!!!  There is a really cute free recipe download on pinterest for this applesauce - I printed it and handed it out to the kiddos in case they ever wanted to make it at home - again...they recorded what they learned in their science journals!

Solids, Liquids, and Gases, Oh My!

Man I have been HORRIBLE about updating here lately!  That's how it goes when school starts and things get off on a roll!!!  So, for the next few days I'll be backing up and getting the ol' blog here up to date!  Let me start with this...we studied Solids, Liquids, and Gases a few weeks back and had a blast learning all about matter.  We started by watching some Brainpop Jr. videos about it - gotta love Brainpop!  Then we brainstormed a few ideas:

We also had a day where we made pancakes to watch the liquid go to solid and then the gas in the pancake batter bubbles - sorry no pic of this - I was busy making 21 pancakes:)

We culminated our unit with a few special ingredients:

Ok...look sideways...the solid was the ice cream, the liquid was the coke, the gas was the foam/bubbles to make:

Ta-da!  Coke floats!  Oh my word - the kiddos LOVED this - you'd have thought we gave them each a million dollars - lots of hugs and thank you's this day - this is what makes learning fun folks - this is what it's all about!!!  After drinking their coke float they had to draw and record the different parts in their science journals!

I love teaching like this where learning is fun!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Classroom - Hollywood/Zebra Chic!

Welcome to my classroom, this post has been a long time coming!

This is what my front door looks like, it says "A Red Carpet Welcome" (thanks to a sign from the internet, can NEVER remember where I get things, let me know if you know, and thanks to whoever it was that gave the free printable) and the kiddos names are on the little cameras!

Here's what it looks like as you enter in, I have two long hallways leading up to my room, this is where the kiddos hang their backpacks and reading bags, over each hook is a ticket with their name:)

This is a view of my room as a whole.  This is what you see after you come in and pass through the hallway, it opens up and is quite large - our students have outgrown our school so I was fortunate enough to get what was formerly called the "community room" - much larger than the regular classrooms and lots of windows - I LOVE MY ROOM!!!!

When you enter in the first thing you will see is our Star of the Week poster - this is where the Star of the Week gets to hang the poster they create to tell all about themselves - they also get a Star Student banner to hang on the back of their chair, a star on our "Hollywood Walk of Fame", and they get to take Sparkle Bunny home for the weekend!  More to come on Sparkle Bunny later...

Next up, is my class schedule chart!  I have all these cute little cards thanks to Cara Carroll at www.thefirstgradeparade.blogspot.com!  Keeps us all on track:)

As you keep walking you will come upon my wall of madness:)  This is where we do calendar/circle time/ sight words of the week, etc. etc.  I was rocked in this rocking chair as a baby and now most of what I teach I teach from this chair!!!  You will see our calendar, months, days of the week, tooth chart, birthday chart, 100's chart, weather graphs, money poems, 100's straw holder, big book station, share Bear (we use on Monday mornings - we pass him around and share 1 thing from our weekend), CD player with lots of Dr. Jean and Steve and Greg CD's, and word wall!  This is where a lot of the actions happens in Room A101!

Here's a better pic of the Word Wall - someone else on the internet posted these free zebra letters - I love you whoever you are!!!  Think I found you on pinterest:)  The letters I use are the blingy ones where you just stick on a little jewel that comes with the letters - gotta have my bling:)

As you continue on your tour you come to my teacher table - this is where I do guided reading, assessments, etc.  Behind my table are my guided reading books by level, reading/word work games, two fave pics of my kiddos and my cute little crayon "D" that one of my besties, Angie, made me when I got my job - love it!

close up of the wall behind my teacher table - Also found these Daily 5 anchor chart posters on the internet - sorry I can't give credit where its due, if you come across this and you know, please leave a comment!

Next to my teacher table is our library area, here I also have my CAFE board so my kiddos can remember their strategies as they are reading to self!!!  They love to read here most of all and seem to always want to go here first during Read to Self!  Daily 5 rocks my world - do you guys do it too?

This next pic is probably one of my faves - I just love when things are neat and orderly:)  Here's my class computers and my cool LEARN sign that actually came with my room.  I made this banner for my daughters Candyland bday party a few years ago, and all I had to do was change out the letters to make it 1st grade-ish:)  I love the Daily 5 labels on my wall too - again - pinterest or internet - please let me know if you know who did these - I'd love to recognize them for their efforts!

And...then there's this...not even sure what to say about it, this is my domain - I had to have 2 desks because one just didn't cut it once you get the computer, etc. on there, ya know!  Can you tell I like zebra - ha ha!  LOVE my zebra chair - my sister gave it to me, and my zebra bulletin boards where I keep important papers such as lunch menu, phone list, team news, love my zebra lunch bag, and my zebra candy jar full of wintergreen mints - YUM!

Here's what's on my desk right now...my zebra box where I put the stack of papers for the day, kiddos also drop any notes from home, money, etc. that they need to give me;  my pink storage thingy - with my projector remote in the top, tiny class lists to attach to turned in papers to check off each kiddo to make sure they turned it in, band-aids, paperclips, etc;  my dried plantains snack, tickets for good behavior (we do a ticket exchange for prizes every Friday); my green tea:), tape, stapler, pens/pencils, etc.!

Oh, and them my computer desk, complete with a pic of the hubs and I, more kid pics, emergency cards, all those crazy binders for training, etc...and my handy dandy notebook for jotting down lists and lists of things to do!

If you continue around the room you would see here a wall of word work items and math manipulatives - these were a hot mess when I took these pics so I will post pics of them some other day when they are pretty and organized and I live in a perfect world...anyhoo...on to the next item...

Our school is a 7 Habits school - Oh how I love the 7 habits - here is my 7 habits wall with posters and discipline pockets.  Each kiddo has a pocket and starts out on green every day, if they have a little whoops, they pull their green card, and are on yellow (just a warning), if they get another whoops that same day they pull the yellow card and are on red (note in binder).  This is the system that works for me.  They record their "citizenship" in their daily planner so mom and dad can see how they did and mom and dad sign each day!

I skipped over my whiteboard and smartboard because they are just an eyesore right now, my smartboard is on wheels and I CANNOT WAIT until it gets permanently hung on my whiteboard:)  So, I skipped over it to our class rules and "What To Do When I'm Done" poster - oh my word...this little poster has saved my life!!!  I ordered it from Scholastic when they had their dollar days email online:)  LOVE IT!

And last but certainly not least, is our little jobs chart - these jobs also came from sweet Cara Carroll - adorable!  Each job is "Hollywood" themed and I keep the list of job descriptions by the chart in case anyone forgets:) 

That's it folks!  Hope you enjoyed the tour.  I know I'm always inspired by taking a peek into other classrooms!  Hope you were inspired too:)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Happy Back to School everybody, I haven't gone anywhere, just super busy lately.  I WILL take pics of my room tomorrow and upload here hopefully tomorrow night.  Went to do that today, and my phone died - would'nt ya know?  Somedays are just like that!  Hope you are all having a great back to school week!  Check back soon for pics of my room;)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School - Missing the Olympics:)

Hey there blog buddies!!  Well its that time of year again where I start getting excited about heading back to school!!!  Can you tell I've had a good summer, sorry for being MIA for so long:)  It was great though!  I've been working in my classroom the past two weeks, and that always gets me pumped up and ready for another year! (Pics to come soon) 

Here are some books that I thought would be fun after coming off of an Olympic summer!  Man, I love me some USA gold!!!!  Can I get a woot woot????!!!!  I thought this would be a great ice breaker, and help you to get to know your students a little better - did they watch?  What sport did they like best?  Who was their favorite athlete?  What country did they root for?  What do they know about London?  Teach about teamwork, leadership, hard work, perseverance, etc.!!!

I found these at Barnes and Noble but I bet most libraries would have them, seems like they've been around a while!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Peter Piper Picked A Peck of Bell Peppers?!!!! Whoo Hooo!

Look what our little garden produced!!!!  We are so proud!  We had to split this little pepper between our two classes so they could all have a taste!!!  The kiddos were so excited:)  There are also some tomotoes growing and I think I spotted a yellow bell pepper starting to grow as well!!! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Synergize Day and Gardening

Today was wonderful! Me and a fellow 1st grade teacher, along with our classes, have started a garden at our school.  I am so excited!  Mainly because I know if I don't even do this at home, I can be sure that most of my kiddos have never had this opportunity either!  You should've seen them - so eager to learn and help out!  We started with a large group lesson - both classes, and each group of partners got to plant a vegetable or flower in a pot a few months ago, those seeds have grown into full grown plants, and today we transferred them to our little garden!!!!  We have a wonderful grandpa that helped us till the ground and brought in soil and some plant support stands.  He taught the kiddos about planting, watering, etc.  I wish my kiddos were as engaged in all our learning as they were today!  We are growing pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, mint leaves, etc.  I can't wait to extend this learning for the rest of the year and on into the years to come!!!  I love me some outdoor classrooms:)!!!

Oh, you will see my class in all red, and my friend's class all with necklaces on!  Our school supports the 7 habits program, a character education program that is AWESOME!  We have a dress up day for each of the habits and today was "Synergize" day - we had to all work together and "synergize" to come up with an idea of what we could all wear to be dressed alike!  Our class voted on red shirts and blue jeans because we knew that was something we all would have and we wanted everyone to be able to participate!  So fun!  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Storybook Character Dress Up Day 2011

It was storybook character dress up day at school today!  This is me and another teacher on my team!  The kiddos LOVED it and were quite cute I must say!  I had a Stellaluna, a Junie B. Jones, a zebra, a pirate, a witch from The Wizard of Oz, Coraline, etc.  I am not sure if some of these are books but whatev - we had fun!!!!  One little girl said, "Hey, you are the one who messed up the whole house!!!"  Cracked me up!!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wonderful Winter Stuff:)

Well, we are settling back in the groove and it feels good.  Report cards just went out, DRA testing is over for this 6 weeks, and TPRI testing is underway.  I am feeling a little blue lately with all the big holidays being over, but looking forward to the growth I'm already seeing in my sweet kiddos at this point!  

To brighten things up I have been researching a few winter activities and just wanted to share:

I think we are going to do most of these on Friday as a culmination to all we are learning about this week!

There's nothing like a little warm and toasty hot chocolate to get you in the winter spirit eh?  My principal made this delicious hot chocolate and brought it to school for all of us one day - it is sooooo good - I thought it'd be fun to share it with my students - the recipe is on pinterest, just search crockpot hot chocolate, or click on the link above the pic to take you there - YUM!  

Also from pinterest, if you search the wonderful Heather Price, you will find this free snowy contractions activity with contraction puzzle pieces.  I introduced my kiddos to contractions this last week and they are rockin' it!!! Cara Carroll at www.thefirstgradeparade.blogspot.com also did a super cute activity with contractions - see her blog for details!

And finally, I've been searching for an activity to do with marshmallows!!!  This one is a super fun dice game where students roll the dice, add that number to 10, and use marshmallows as their markers!  Great for teaching addition by 10's!  You can find it here www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Toasty-Tens-Mini-Marshmallow-Math, under Easy Peasy Primary Resources - for FREE!!!

Hope these help you get through the winter blahs this next week!  Its always better when we make it fun, right?!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

As part of our curriculum we have to discuss Martin Luther King Jr. and his contributions to our world.  I am so glad we had to discuss him and was thrilled to see my 1st graders actually "get it" when we discussed what his dream meant and what he wanted for his children, and for all of us.  We started out by reading this book:

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr.
I think the kiddos really connected with this one because it talked about him when he was a kid and how he was treated by others, etc.  

Then we completed this mini unit by the gracious Erin Eberhart - thanks Erin!

Just go to www.teacherspayteachers.com and search Erin Eberhart to get your FREE Martin Luther King Jr. mini unit!  I know it may be too late for this year but you can file it away for next year!

Back in the Groove!

Oh man, it has been hard coming back from break, is anyone else feeling this way???  Anyone else needing to pump a little more caffeine into their veins like me???  Anyhoo, we jumped right back in with a little measuring activities brought to us by the well-known Investigations curriculum...here are some of my kiddos measuring fish:)  They actually thought this was kind of fun!

And thanks to Cara Carroll at The First Grade Parade and www.theteacherwife.blogspot.com, I conglomerated their two ideas to have my students create these Happy New Year faces - LOVE them.  They wrote their New Year resolutions inside and we discussed a lot about making/setting goals, etc.  

Gotta love this one - yes...I would take her home:)  And...I think she's getting pretty close, don't you?!!!

And how cute is this??  Should I tell his mommy???  I wonder if she's seen the evidence of this resolution???

We read this book before starting the New Year faces...its one of the ONLY books I (or one of my teammates rather) could find about New Years...anyone else out there have any good ones - I'd love more ideas, I searched and searched - this one is pretty cute!

And...since we were talking about all things "new", I threw this one in there and talked about how we all sometimes want to be someone new but that we are all perfect just the way we are...it was a great segway into Martin Luther King Jr. Day by the way:)!

SO...how's it going for you?  Are you off to a great start?  Feeling refreshed and re-energized?  Well, thank goodness for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is all I have to say...best of luck to you in this new year!!!  I am praying for lots of energy and inspiration to be creative!!!  Hoping the same for you!