Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Techie Sight Words

One of the ways in which my kiddos practice our sight words each week is with the Magnetic ABC app. I have created a sheet like you see on the left for each week's words that walks students through step by step on how to create, save, and start a new word.

 For spring parent conferences, kiddos will use all of their saved pictures to create a sight word slide show for their parents which they will also be able to use as a sight word review at that point.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I've talked about my love for the PicCollage app on several occasions but it truly is a wonderful creation app for first graders to use independently. Last week in math we worked on the topic of capacity. Throughout the lessons we discussed what capacity was and worked with several examples. On one of our math journal pages students were asked to write down other examples of items 
that had capacity. We made it a bit more engaging and authentic by taking pictures of items with our iPads which we then imported into PicCollage. After students finished with their creations, we used Air Server to project our creations onto the Smartboard for all to see and discuss. In my opinion, this ended up being a much more engaging and collaborative way of addressing the 
same learning target. It may have taken us 5-10 minutes longer but I truly believe the learning will last longer having done it this way as well. Overall, taking the pics and creating the collage took us all of 10 minutes! Using Air Server was another story, but it was our first time trying it out as a class- new learning always takes longer.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Doodlecast Pro

So much for being better about blogging... I don't know where this year is going but I have been beyond crazy busy! I'm enjoying having a few days off for the holidays to catch up, relax, and do some long overdue blogging- both reading and writing!

While I was catching up on the blogs I follow I came across the fact that DoodleCast Pro is currently FREE- regularly $2.99 This is one of my favorite apps for having students "Show what they know" It is easy to use and has the ability to record your voice as you draw. One of the reasons I like this app better than Educreations or ScreenChomp is that you can save your videos directly to the camera roll which makes it easy for first graders to then share their creations with my or their parents through email in addition to importing them into iMovie. 

I have used this app to have students share text-to-self connections, create fact family books, and share number stories to name a few. Another nice feature is that you have the ability to create multiple pages easily. Matt Gomez wrote about his use of this app in reading in writing in kindergarten recently on his blog. Check it out here. For those that haven't discovered his blog, stay awhile and check it out... he has many great ideas, tips, and tidbits for technology integration. HIs is one of my main go-to blogs for integration in early primary classrooms.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Spider research

Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but in this case, an explanation would probably be appreciated, so here is the story to go with the pictures... FINALLY!!

We have 30/day dedicated to intervention and enrichment in which we take all 90+ of our first graders and group them according to their needs. My group currently consists of 19 kiddos that are reading above grade level for this time of year and so my group is structured as an enrichment group.
My focus last month was on having them read for information. Seeing as my kiddos are reading anywhere from level F - I, I needed text that would be appropriate for all but still allow me to focus on the reading or information objective. To alleviate this issue, I purchase National Geographic's book, Spiders in eBook format through Scholastic and then was able to put it on my iPads using the free Storia app. This was a perfect solution as students were still able to "read" the text but also had the option of having the text read to them if needed.
You can see this groups facts beginning to
be organized on the easel behind them.
While students were "reading" they were give a pack of post-it notes to record their new learning and/or interesting facts on. After we finished recording our facts, students worked with their partners to sort and organize their information into categories of their choice (babies, where they live, what they eat, etc) We had done this once prior as a group when we dug into bats and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with how well they did independently! Once their post-its were organized, they glued them down onto a 12x18 piece of construction paper so we wouldn't have to resort each day.

Last, students used their information to write an informative piece about spiders. This technique worked very well and gave them the resources and information they needed to write from experience and independently in their own words.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Social Skills, Rock Brain, and Sock Puppets

During our social skills time we have been learning about The Unthinkables. This week we learned about Rock Brain. A Rock Brain is someone who gets stuck in their thinking and is unable to move around a problem. 

After our lesson, kiddos worked with a partner to create an exit ticket telling one thing they learned about Rock Brains and/or Super Flex thinking. We used the Sock Puppet app to tell what we learned. This is an easy app for for kiddos to use independently. The free version works well but does have limitations as far as sharing and length of videos. If wanting to save your videos to your camera roll or extend your recording times, you will need to purchase these extras through in-app purchases which unfortunately can be tricky ifusing school accounts.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Have you heard of...

Have you heard of is a website that allows you to view YouTube videos without displaying the related videos and associated comments. This has been a god-send when showing videos in my classroom.

Using is beyond simple! All you need to do is copy the url of a YouTube video and paste it into

It then creates a url like this one:

The final product looks like this. I have been embedding these video links into my smartboard documents and it works fabulously. Lots easier and lots less time consuming the the old FLV way that I blogged about in years past. 

I hope that you'll try it out for yourself and see how easy and useful it can be for your class.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

People, Places and Things...NOUNS!

Anybody else feeling overwhelmed? Whew! I feel like a brand new teacher again. We have so many new initiatives in our district this year- a new math program, a new writing curriculum, new state-wide 1st grade testing, Teacher effectiveness, RtI... and the list goes on. My brain is on overload and then don't forget I have to teach 16 little cherubs daily with a range of needs from CD, to S/L to EBD. It's going to be a year of learning in many ways and one which I am excited to tackle, but at the same time, one which is leaving me exhausted. :-)  Needless to say, I've had a hard time getting on to update the blog with things that we have been doing. 

Today though we tackled our first  second creation-based project. Today's project revolved around learning about nouns. I started by creating a smartboard document which I've taken screen shots of below.
We started by talking about what nouns are and then sorted pictures into the 3 categories. 

Next, we watched the School House Rock video, Nouns. Ahhhh... the memories. I use to love School House Rock videos on Saturday mornings when I was kid (I may have aged myself with that comment) 

After these 2 activities, I set the kids up for the tech-integrated portion of the learning. Partners took their iPads and the Noun Scavenger Hunt sheet seen to the left (you can find the scavenger hunt sheet on Mrs.Lemons site- follow the above link) and walked around our room and hallway to take pictures of the 3 different types of nouns. 

When we got back to the room I introduced the kiddos to the app, PicCollage. We started by inserting our title and the 3 subheadings. I had these on a Smartboard doc page as well for them to use as a resource. If they finished early, they were able to change the font and color of their words. We then walked through how to add the pictures that they took. This was where the mini-assessment came in as they again had to sort, but this time with their own pictures. 
In the end, the PicCollages turned out wonderfully- I on the other hand and my co-teacher, were exhausted. I will definitely do this project again, possibly a little later in the year (November-ish) next year -although truth be told, it may just be the challenges that this close possesses that made it a bit more exhausting than what it should have been.

I will upload some pics soon as the kiddos devices do not yet have an easy way to share their creations as our email accounts are not yet active.

**UPDATE** Here a few examples of our finished products...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Birthday board

The countdown is on... T minus 4 days til teachers have to report back to school. Needless to say, I had to complete just one last craft project... I have just had so much fun crafting this summer. 

Not too long ago, I came across "Birthday boards" when I was surfing Pinterest. The ones I saw were mostly for families but with a little creativity I transformed mine into a classroom birthday board to match my decor. Here's how I did it:

- 6" x 25" board
- 1 1/2" diameter wooden circles (12 + enough for your class and a few extras)
- Acrylic paint colors of your choice for board and lettering
- Black chalkboard paint for class circles (I bought a 4oz craft sized bottle)
- Alphabet stickers
- Modge Podge
- E6000 adhesive
- 9mm jump rings (enough for 2 per circle- not including months)
- 12 eye hooks
- 2 Sawtooth picture hangers (optional)

I started by painting my board black. I used a latex-based black paint (I had left over from painting my bookcases) and gave it several coats to get a nice dark black. To do the word, "Birthdays!" I used my computer and found a font that I liked and then printed it out so that it was 4" high by 22" wide. After printing it, I used sidewalk chalk to chalk the backside of the paper, blew off the excess, laid the paper on the board where I wanted it and then traced over the letters so the chalk outline was left on the board. This left a great outline for me to follow as I painted the letters and when all done, any extra was easily wiped away. I painted my letters with Apple Barrel white acrylic paint

Next, I painted  the front side only of 12 of my circles in the color scheme of my room. After giving them several coats of paint, I added the stickers for the monthly abbreviations. (Many of the boards I found online did just the first letter for the months but I wanted by kiddos to see the abbreviations. I then gave these 2 coats of Modge Podge to give them a glossy appearance and to protect the stickers. After everything was dry, I used E6000 to adhere my month circles to the board. The next day, I then sprayed the entire piece with a clear polyurethane to just give some added protection. You wouldn't have to do this but I felt that it gave a nice overall sheen to the board as well. I used a satin finish polyurethane. I also drilled 1/16th inch starter holes in the bottom of the board at this time to make screwing the eye hooks in easier.

With the remaining circles, I drilled 1/16th inch holes in the top and bottom. I painted them with black chalkboard paint I want an easy way to change names every year. I gave them several coats and did both front and back. After a little experimenting, I decided to use chalk markers to write my students' names. These work great, come off with water, and made it easier to fit the longer names and birthday dates on the circle. They also come in some fun colors- I of course, used neon colors. Last, I added the jump rings to the circles and attached them to the board. I happened to have some blue cording that I attached with hot glue that really made the board "POP!" and Ta Da!!! there you have it, a reusable, unique, classroom birthday board!
Depending on how you are going to hang it, you can add 2 sawtooth hangers to the back, staple ribbon or in my case, I am going to use Command Picture Hanging tabs since I have cinder block walls. If you haven't seen these they look similar to velcro and work like the command hooks with the removable tabs.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's the little things...

Summer is definitely beginning to wind down; always a double-edged sword~ I'm excited to start back to school and meet my new class, see friends and colleagues and get back into a routine, but sad to see my family time take a hit and to not have the flexibility and time to continue doing all the little projects that this summer has brought. I have so enjoyed being crafty- something I haven't done on this scale since before I had my boys and I'll be sad to put it on a back burner again. 

That being said, I FINALLY finished my Pinterest-inspired project that I blogged about last month. It has taken that long for the ideas to percolate, but it was so worth the extra thinking time as I am beyond thrilled with how it turned out and it looks fantastic in my new and improved classroom, not to mention it is going to be totally functional and easy to use for both the kids and myself. Instead of doing numbers or names, I chose to use my students' pictures to make it easy for them and for me to see who is out of the room quickly. I felt this would also be helpful for a substitute teacher. It was easy to do, I simply printed off my kiddos' pictures and then used packaging tape to adhere them to a business card magnet which I then cut to size. I was able to get 3 per magnet. The cookie sheet is from the dollar store and I modge podged some of my fabric on to it and then used E6000 ( my new best crafting tool) to adhere the lime green ribbon to the fabric. I found out after lots of trial and error that painting these pans is a pain as the paint chips and/or scratches of easily so instead of painting, I used colored duck tape for the outside edges. I also used a bit of my fabric for the hanger and glued that on with a bit of E6000 as well. All in all (not including the percolating time) this project took about 2 hours to make. 

Check out the my mountain of baskets!  I also bought all new baskets for my classroom library. I have been wanting to do this for some time now but either couldn't find the right kind of baskets, the right color or they were just too darn expensive (especially when you have 80 different baskets!  Yes, I have an addiction to books!) Well I hit the jackpot and found the right ones, the right color and the price was perfect- 2 for a $1.00!!! Wahoo! I'm excited to take my cracked, hodge podged baskets and replace them, not to mention they match my new color scheme too. I was one happy camper yesterday as i went from Dollar General to Dollar General to get enough baskets. Doesn't take much to make a teacher happy!!!

I'll try to post pics later in the week of my completed room. I am sooooooo excited about how it is coming together and how all the colors and BB's flow together. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

APPsolutely Amazing Apps for K-3

I am once again preparing to present at SITA (Summer Instructional Technology Academy) and as usual am struggling with the time frame and everything I want to share. Passion is a wonderful thing but can be a curse when a time limit is involved. I have 2 hours to share all of the APPSolutely Amazing Apps that I have tried. If you've ever been to TIES and seen Mark Garrison's 50 sites in 50 minutes presentation, you'll have an idea of the frantic pace I'm feeling I'm going to need to use. Needless to say, I don't think I'll be sharing ALL of my finds... I had to pick and choose but even that was difficult!! I've also included a few tips and tricks as well as sites to find great apps. 

Check out my presentation and let me know what you think. All of the apps are linked to iTunes for easy access if interested in downloading. If you have any great apps that you have tried with your class please share in the comments section. Click on the image below to view.

Friday, July 19, 2013

More classroom decorating

Where does one stop? I am still having a blast making and revamping items in my classroom to go with the new pawprint theme/fabric.

Ever wonder what to do with Crystal Light containers? Well, I repurposed mine into pencil holders for each of my table teams. I started by cutting the containers down by about 2 inches so that smaller pencils won't get lost in them. I also kept the covers but cut the center section out of them so that I could glue them back on the top edge to avoid any sharp edges and to give them a more finished look. I used black Krylon paint for plastics to spray the lids so they would blend into the fabric better.  I then cut my fabric to fit the containers. I didn't want to deal with edges fraying easily so I cut the fabric extra long so I could fold it into the container which also gave a more finished looks. I then used Modge Podge to adhere the fabric onto the containers and over the top into the container. I gave the overlapping seam and the bottom edge and extra 2 coats for durability and to help prevent fraying. Once this dried, I used E6000 to attach the cut lids onto the top of the containers. These turned out awesome and will complement the colored caddies at the tables beautifully.

I'm now working on creating a "Where are you board similar to the one to the right that I found on the Diary of a Second Grade Teacher's blog. Being an inclusion classroom, there are always multiple students out of my room in multiple locations throughout the day. I needed a better way to know at a glance who was out of the room. I'm still in need of adding ribbon to separate the areas and to get the labels on but it's beginning to take shape. I went to the dollar store and purchased a cookie sheet and the Modge Podged my fabric to it (I'm beginning to love this stuff- I've never used it before but have come to find a gazillion uses for it!). I then added lime green Duck Tape to the edges to really make it pop. I'm excited to finish this up and to put it to use in my classroom this year. I think this is going to be a great management tool for me.

I did Modge Podge some fabric on a few shelves of my writing center. It really brought it back to life as it was a trash to treasure find last year. I wish I had thought to take a before and after picture. I'll post a pic once it's all set up. I still haven't tackled the curtains... maybe week after next. I need to finish getting ready for a couple of presentations coming up. 

One of my presentation topics is all about great apps for K-3 classrooms.  I'll be sure to post it here for all to see when it's finished. 90% of the apps are new from last year's so definitely something to take a peek at.

Friday, July 12, 2013

PAWSitively cool crate stools

So this is not a technology post at all but I am so excited about some of the projects I have been working on this summer to give my classroom decor a bit of a fresh look that I just had to  post about them. My classroom has had a dog theme (hence, the name of my blog, The Dog Blog )for many years now and although it changes every year I've been wanting a new twist for awhile... Well it's happening and I couldn't be more excited! 

I found this fantastic dog print fabric this summer which is absolutely perfect! With it's blend of primary and neon colors, I have lots of options for accessorizing.

My first DIY project was to make crate stools. I saw these on Pinterst last year and couldn't wait to make a set. I bought the crates last summer but didn't have time to do them and couldn't find any fabric that I liked. Fast forward to this summer and I'm ready to go.

My hubby was a big help and cut some left over plywood we had laying around to fit my crates. I decided to put my plywood on top of the crates rather than on the file folder ledges in hopes that they will last longer and be more durable. More on that later.
Last fall we put new carpet in our home and had left over carpet pad. Knowing I wanted to do these stools, I saved the pad to use for the stuffing. I figured it would wear well (it has a 15-25 year life expectancy- my stools may make it to retirement! Ha ha ha!!)  and be easier to clean in the case of spills or accidents. It also made it very easy to assemble as I could cut the pad to the exact size needed and it didn't slip around while putting the fabric on.

Next, I placed 2 carpet pads on a piece of plywood (I had plenty to use and wanted them to be extra thick)  and then cut my fabric to fit.  I then used my husband's hammer stapler to attach the fabric to the plywood. 

When I was done, my husband cut 4 more pieces of plywood approx. 1 1/2" x 5 inches long and then screwed them to the bottom of the seat. He placed these in just far enough (approx 1/2") from the edges to keep the seat from sliding around on the crate. I may paint the bottom yet (hindsight) so they look a little better, but I might just leave them like they are- who's going to see the bottom anyway? 

An Viola! The finished product! I absolutely LOVE how these turned out. I made 4 of them and am now debating if I want to place them around my room for Read to Someone/ Listen to Reading stations (I can keep my CD players inside of them!) or if I want to put them all at my guided reading table.

My next DIY project was to recover my lamp shades with my new fabric. I had 2 to do and they both turned out great! I wasn't crazy about the way the white base looked but when it sits on top of my writing table it actually looks really nice as it tones the area down a little bit.

Next, (yes, I went a little crazy with my new fabric and color scheme- I'm still pondering what else I can make) I redid my learning target frames. The picture doesn't do them justice as the colors and textures of the colored paper just pop on top of the paw fabric. I can't wait to use these this year to write my daily learning targets.

And last but not least, I recovered these cups that I got from Highlights magazine years ago. I love this picture as it truly shows the color of the fabric. I also made wiggle eye reading sticks to match my color scheme.

So those were last week's projects. I think this week I may tackle using some of my fabric to make curtains for my room and maybe modge podge some fabric on my writing center organizer which is looking mighty shabby. I think a little paw fabric would be PAWfect on it! 

I think my hubby and kids will be glad when the paw fabric is gone or when school starts and the paw fabric gets put away - whichever comes first.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Plant growth and iMovie

Oh how I wish I had remembered to save a copy of one of the finished products before I cleared off the iPads this summer. Grrrrr... 

One of our science units in first grade is organisms and as part of that unit we plant seeds and observe their growth. This year we added a bit of a tech twist that really turned out nicely. Every other day when the kids would come in they would get their plant, water it if needed, and then take a picture of it. If there were any substantial changes they would also write about it in their Plant log. At the end of this adventure, we used the iMovie app to document our plant's growth. We started by using Max Doodle to make the covers for our movies. Students came up with a title, added a background and drawing and of course their author information they then saved their image with a screenshot so they could import it into their iMovie. Next they imported their plant pictures.  This was a great way for kids to practice sequencing of events. They then checked their transitions and added music to their creations.
Their projects turned out well and they were very excited to see their plant's growth from start to finish in fast forward. 
This is a project I will definitely do again next year. We may use Haiku Deck next year instead for something different and not as time consuming but we'll see how next year's kiddos are.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Mom's Day

I just love the way our Mother's Day project turned out! I saw a similar idea on Pinterest - oh how I LOVE Pinterest- and tweaked it a little bit. 
We took our pictures with the iPad while signing the phrase, "I Love You".  Then during Writer's Workshop time, we wrote 3 reasons why we loved our mom's and typed them up to attach to our pictures. We also added a handprint, which I cut out using our Ellison diecuts, and glued the fingers down to match the I love you sign. Once the kiddos were done assembling their project, I laminated them and added magnets to the back. 
I'll definitely be doing this project again next year as it blends the technology usage and writing together beautifully while letting us write for an authentic audience.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Want to "Hangout"?!

Yikes! I can't believe how long it has been since I last posted. I am so sorry! I'm sure we can all relate to how busy things get at the end of the year, but! I 'm working on backtracking with several things that have happened since April and then I'll be getting my butt back into blogging gear.

My class had a unique opportunity back in April to connect virtually with our State Superintendent, Tony Evers. The intent of our conversation was to talk about how technology has changed how we learn. We started out by using our iPads to write, "Morning, Mr. Evers!" Each child was responsible for one letter and used the Max Doodle app to create the letter. That was the simple part- the hard part was getting everyone in order AND squished together enough for him to see the whole message. 

We used Google Hangout and spent about 20 minutes telling and showing him what we have been doing. The kids were unusually quiet, but eventually warmed up. They did a great job of telling him about some of the apps we use and how they help us learn and also even showed him some of the apps. 
One of my little cherubs was so cute.. she went up to show him XtraMath and told him that she couldn't tell him her password because passwords have to say secret, but then she proceeded to say it out loud while keying it in! All of the adults in the room were rolling on the floor. Oh the things kids do!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Plant growth and iDiary

I've mentioned the app, iDiary here before, but the more I use it the more I am liking it. It originally started out as being an app that the kiddos could use during their work on writing time of our our Daily 5 format, but has blossomed into so much more. I was very excited when one of my kiddos asked if she could use it to track the growth of her seed during our Organisms unit. This was a great way for her to journal and share her thoughts with her family as she would email her entry to her mom each day as well. I love the way kiddos can import pictures into their journal entry and even include captions for their pics. We will definitely be using this app in more curricular areas in the future.

Monday, April 1, 2013

An interesting article
I'm sure we all can name at least one person in our buildings that is not on the tech train albeit they are a fantastic educator. Change is good, but nobody said it would be easy. I found that out first hand this weekend as my husband was trying desperately to explain to his dad how to use a certain website. My husband couldn't figure out why dad "didn't get it" and my father in law can't figure out... well, let's just say, he has trouble understanding the whole computer thing at times. I came across this article today on "How to get Hesitant Teachers to Use Technology" by Jennifer Carey. Take a peek. It's a quick read with some great ideas for not only hesitant educators, but maybe even my dear old father in law as well.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Letter Reflex

If you're looking for an app to help students with b/d, p/q reversals, then look no further. This app, Letter Reflex, by Binary Labs may be what you are looking for. I have been using this app for a couple of years now, but this year I have used it more consistently than ever before with one student in particular. I have been very pleased with the progress he is making and he is really beginning to see, think about, and recognize the difference between all four letters. I am also seeing this knowledge transfer over into his daily writing. Obviously there are other variables so I can't say the app has solved all of his issues, but like everything else, it is all balance and every modification and intervention helps. 
This app also has a section where kiddos have to apply their knowledge to correctly flip the letters and even words (see above) to their correct formation. Watch the video below for a sneak peak at how the app works.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

*FREE* Lakeshore Apps

Lakeshore's done it again. They have 4 brand new apps for math and language arts that have been newly released and are FREE UNTIL MARCH 11th!!!

I downloaded the Math Game Show for Grades 1-3 and started to play. I love the fact that it is a mulitplayer game. There were a few questions that I felt would be too difficult for my kiddos (granted it's made for grades 1 to 3) but there was no way to toggle various question types on or off. I think this will be an especially great app for my higher end thinkers. I'm excited to kid test it sometime next week.