Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Can We Fix It? (Plus great news!!)

Hello there!

So I know we all have tricks up our sleeves for motivating our students, right?  Well, I have to pull out all the stops to get my students to pay attention to their sentences.  They love to write but aren't too thrilled about the revising and editing parts of the process.  But let me tell ya, they just love editing when I get into full-on fix it mode!

Pass no judgment.....  (------------->)

Motivation Song
{to the tune of Bob the Builder}

Learning Detectives!
Can you fix it?
Learning Detectives!
YES! We can!!

After editing our sentences, paragraphs,
writing, etc...I have my kids chant:

Did we fix it?
Yes we did!
I said... Did we fix it?
Of course, I suggest adding in your own class name.  :)

Oh, and one rule: Everyone has to really rev it up and use great enthusiasm when singing and chanting! Otherwise you might just feel completely ridiculous.....   :)

Oh the things we do for good writing.......

Classroom Freebies TooOn a completely separate note, did you hear the great news? Charity Preston has started a sequel to her wildly popular Classroom Freebies!

Introducing Classroom Freebies Too!

I am so excited to be a contributing author for this awesome site. 

Go check it out!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Transition Music Part 2 and a Little Gov Catch Up

Hello there!
Thank you for all the comments about my post on using transition music in the classroom!  I found a website where you can read more about using music during transitions and can also download some snippets of songs to use in your own room.  Check it out here. {Scroll down to where it says "TV Theme Songs"} Have fun!

My class is knee deep in our government unit!  Now that we understand local, state, and national government we are moving on to the fun stuff!  This week we will be playing Government Scoot {freebie}, learning about American Symbols, and working on our Cooperative Learning Eagle Research projects!

You can get your copy of the entire government unit here or by clicking the picture.  Come learn along with us!

Have a great Tuesday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Transition Music in the Classroom!

I love using transition music in my classroom!  It is one of those things that makes my day run so much more smoothly!  I am fortunate enough to have a Promethean Board (interactive whiteboard) in my room.  I created a flipchart on it so that my students can actively be involved in signaling our transitions.  I keep this page up all day long (or minimized when I am displaying something else) and use it VERY often!  Here is what it looks like:

I have song clips linked to each one of the buttons, so when I or my class D.J. (one of our daily jobs) clicks on a button, the music plays automatically.  This is completely routine now!  During stations, my D.J. will signal clean up time with the "clean up chime" (aka NBC chime), wait 15 seconds and then click on "move to new location" to signal the transition to the next station.  I never have to say a word and my kids move smoothly from station to the next! Here is a break down of our signals:

Clean Up Chime- NBC chime
Move to New Location- Password
Line Up- short version of the Andy Griffith theme song
Meet at the Carpet- Cagney & Lacey
Think, Pair, Share time- Beethoven's Minuet in G
P.O.D. Mission Math (Problem of the Day time)- Mission Impossible theme song

I absolutely love how my students have come to recognize and respond to these nonverbal cues.  It took a few weeks of practice at the beginning of the school year (btw, I introduced the transition cues one at a time) but they quickly got the hang of it and it has become one of my favorite (and easiest!) management techniques.  Not to mention my kids think being the daily D.J. is the coolest and most important class job ever! 

Anyone else use music for transitioning in their classroom? I'd love to read how it works for you!  Please leave me a comment below.

8/20/12 Update:  I've received so many e-mails and comments requesting me to share my transition music file.  Thanks for your interest! I have finished creating a version that does not infringe on any copyright laws.  My sweet hubby helped me draw the graphics for the buttons.  :)  I've included 12 pre-made templates and 12 editable text templates as well as step by step instructions for adding text, song clips, etc.  Click on the image to read the description and grab it if you are interested!

A Little Magic

Monday, January 23, 2012

Marshmallow Writing (free template)

Ok. So it is the end of January and I keep reading about all of these places that are completely covered in snow.  I live in Tennessee and let me just tell you....our tornado sirens were going off last night.  It feels more like spring here than winter!
Wishful thinking has to count for something, right?  I have all of these wonderful snowman, snowflake, and snow globe crafts and the weather is just not cooperating.  However, today we finished putting up our winter "Recommended Reads" display in the hallway.  Our display is located right next to the bathroom but it makes for a great read while the kids are waiting in line.  :)  Their persuasive writing cracks me up!

Chill Out With a Cup of Hot Chocolate and a Good Book              


Click the picture below to download your own copy of the marshmallow writing template for free.
Maybe we will get a little snow soon!

Do you follow? It's Valen-time!

Wow! Last week was a super short week for me- yet still crazy busy!  I have a lot in store for the next few days so hopefully I will be able to share plenty through my posts this week! :)

By the way, I've added several new ways to follow my site.  You can make sure you are getting all of my updates and freebies by following via:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mrsliretteslearningdetectives
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/MrsLirette  @MrsLirette
Google Connect: (look on the toolbar on the right side to "follow" -----> )
Teachers pay Teachers: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Mary-Lirette
Networked Blogs: http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog/mrs-lirettes-learning-detectives
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/marylirette/

P.S.- I worked really hard this weekend on organizing my pins according to subjects so you might want to double check and make sure you are following all of the subject boards now instead of only my previous "All Things School" board. 

Lastly, I posted 2 new products this weekend, centered around telling time.  One is aligned with Common Core Standards for 1st grade and the other is aligned with Common Core Standards for 2nd grade.  Of course, they are suitable for K and 3rd as well! Click on the preview pictures to get your copy!

I hope you have a fabulous start to your work week! :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pizza Pizazz! Story Elements & a B-day Giveaway!

Be sure and stop by First Grade a la Carte for Kathy's blog birthday celebration!  She's got some great freebies to download and you can enter for a chance to win a fabulous collection of digital gifts including my Pizza Pizazz Story Elements!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


We began our adjectives study this past week.  What fun!  Our (Babbling Abby inspired) Pop Rocks Descriptive Writing was the highlight of the week!  We used our senses to describe the candy and then used adjectives to describe our experience through writing.  Check out their darling creations:

 This week we will continue our study with a 20-questions guessing game (using adjectives, of course!) and an "I Spy" descriptive riddles activity.  I'll post pictures for you later this week.  :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Love to Joplin

It's been 8 months since Joplin, MO was torn apart by a F5 tornado...wow.  Mrs. Wills Kindergarten has started an amazing linky party to fill the hearts of Joplin's educators with love.  All that she asks is that you donate a teacher-created product (TpT or Teacher's Notebook) to a school district in Joplin.  If you do not have anything of your own to donate, you can always donate a TpT gift certificate.  :)  What a fantastic way to spread the love!  Check out her post here for details and to read the sweet e-mail that started it all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

AR Code Sign {Printable}

My school partakes in Accelerated Reader.  However, this year there has been a shift away from the mega points competition associated with it. {I am actually quite glad!}  I have leveled my classroom library (mostly) with the AR level on the front cover of each book, along with an organizational label for categorizing.  I chose to advertise the level of the book rather than how many points the book is worth....My kids are encouraged to choose books that interest them and that are close to their reading level.  Once they have read the story and feel very comfortable with it, they are allowed to take an AR test on the book during my daily "Enrichment/Intervention Time" (more about that in a future post!).

I do require my students to take an AR test on their story of the week from our reading series as well as their leveled reader for the week.  They have all week to complete the 5-question tests and it serves as a good assessment tool for me on how well they really grasp the week's story.

I created this chart as a reference for my students to use when quickly looking up their reading story or leveled reader to test on.  It is nothing fancy but it does the trick!  It hangs near our classroom computer area and I write the weekly test code #'s on it for those tests that I require my kids to take each week.  This majorly cuts down on the time it takes for each student to log in and locate the story quiz!

If you are interested, you can grab your own copy of this sign for free by clicking the picture.  After printing, you can laminate it, or place it in a sheet protector, and write each week's test codes on it with a dry-erase marker.

 I also conduct weekly "Mystery Meet" book studies as part of my classroom AR program.  Plus,  my reward system includes a bulletin board of beaded necklaces.  I promise to post more about these once I get some decent pictures to show you! :)

Monday, January 9, 2012


Just a quick post tonight.  I've joined up with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for her January "Currently" link up.
{These are so much fun!}

I hope you had a great start to your week! :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Polar Bears, Penguins, and Awards!! Oh my!

I'm combining a lot into this post.  It's long...you've been warned.  Please accept my apology by downloading a freebie at the end!  :)

 So I had every intention of creating a mini unit of winter-themed math and literacy stations.  It has taken me longer than usual and I decided last night to just post a few things separately and plan a bigger unit for next month.  Here's what has been posted so far:

 Here is another one that I'll be using as a math station activity this week:

You can get both the Antonym and Place Value games by clicking on the pictures or by visiting Tpt.

On a completely different note.....
Please, let me say a HUGE thank you to everyone for following my blog!  I have received not one, but TWO rewards this past week from multiple people! I think I'm still giddy over it! :)

Thank you to these wonderful ones for awarding me the Liebster Blog Award!
Jamie at  2nd Grade Stuff
Jennifer at The First Grade Dream 

Thank to you these sweet folks for awarding me the Versatile Blogger Award! 
Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B

Sheree at Peterson's Pad

In the spirit of this award, here are 7 things you may not know about me:

1) I met my husband while working at Houston's Restaurant.  He was a server.....I was a hostess.  :)

2) Princess Bride is my favorite movie of all time!

3) My parents live in a REALLY small town and they just got internet access for the first time last week!  Whoop!  Whoop!

4) My 2 year-old daughter, Madeline Grace {Gracie}, is my absolute greatest accomplishment in life. 

5) I have a huge addiction to anything with chocolate and raspberry.

6) I have an implanted cardiac defibrillator/pacemaker and am completely pacer dependent.  (Long story but I am very grateful for it!) 

7) I am so excited about the sewing machine I got for Christmas! I can't sew a lick...not yet...but I am awfully determined to learn how!  :)

So, if I understand this award thing correctly...I am supposed to pass these awards along to other new blogs.  That means I'm looking for 20 blogs with less than 200 followers?  I've got nothing.  Well, that's not true.  I've got two.  Don't judge!  I've been searching blogs for almost an hour and a half and I am having a really difficult time finding blogs that have under 200 followers and who have not received these awards yet.  I think I am making this harder than it should be....

Please help!  If you know of a new blog that you think deserves one of these awards please leave me a comment below pointing me in the right direction!  Is that considered cheating?  I hope not!  I just need some more search time!

Here are my two fabulous finds so far....check them out!

And because you are so wonderful and made it to the end of this post....
I'd like to give you my latest Roll and Cover for FREE!  Click on the picture to download.  :)

I hope you enjoy it!  Don't forget to follow my little ol' blog and leave a comment!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welcoming the New Year!

We survived our first day back and had a great time welcoming 2012!  Here are a few pictures from our celebration:

I greeted my students at the front door (wearing my blinking New Year's hat, of course!) and they had to walk through the sparkly garland and hanging decorations in the doorway. 

This is not the best picture. You can't see all the sparkles. :(

Everyone had their own hat on their desk along with their New Year's morning work.  The students LOVED getting their classmates' initials for morning work! :)
Next, we had some in depth discussions about the holiday and the idea of "starting fresh" in the new year.  We also learned what "resolutions" are and made our own personal and school goals.

Everyone enjoyed creating their "Resolution People".  
(I think this idea came from a mix of Pinterest inspired things!)
Aren't they cute?
We seemed to have an Xtramath-related resolution theme going on today.....everyone wants to make it to the next level!  I also had one cutie that made a personal goal to go work out at the gym 4 times a week so that he can be reeeeaaaallllllly strong.  :)

Please ignore the one on the bottom row with the floppy head......

We continued our New Year's celebration in literacy and math stations too.
Here are my kids working hard to make a list of words that can be made with the letters in "Happy New Year."

Oh, and they LOVED Rockin Teacher Materials' Math Mystery: Case of the Scrambled New Years Snowman!  {All of her Math Mysteries are awesome!}

We finished our day by playing "New Year's Roll and Cover" in partner groups.

You can grab this latest freebie from yesterday's post here.

You can find links to most all of the other activities I used today in a previous post.  Click here.

We had a wonderful time today but I am exhausted!
How did you celebrate the New Year?

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Roll and Cover FREEBIE!

I needed one more New Years themed math station activity for tomorrow so I whipped this one up real quick.  I hope you can use it still!  If not, save it for next year!  :)

Updates for 2013:

Don't be a stranger...leave a comment!

Bringing New Years to the classroom!

It's back to the grind tomorrow but our celebrating isn't quite over yet....
I have plans to surprise my kiddos with a New Years celebration when they walk in the door tomorrow!

Yes....I was that teacher going nuts in the clearance section at Party City this evening....

I know what you are thinking....crazy, right?  Why would I begin the first minutes of the first day back from winter break with a celebration?  Well....it's 2012!  I want my students to experience the joys of a new year right off.  :)  Plus....I sure don't want to tighten the ropes and give my spill about rules and procedures for the 2nd semester and then go back into celebration mode at the end of the day.  I'd rather celebrate for half an hour or so and then get down to business!  :)

Of course I have a very structured to do list of what we will accomplish during our celebration.  I'll post details and pics tomorrow for you!

In the meantime...if you are looking for some wonderful and free activities for your classroom...I highly suggest the following:  (I will be doing a mixture of these activities as well!)

The First Grade Parade has a super cute 42 pg freebie for you here!
Views from Room 205 has an adorable freebie foldable for 2012 here!
I am in love with the many precious freebies from Crazy for First Grade!  Get them all here!
Ladybug's Teacher Files has an awesome graphic organizer posted for free here!
Don't miss Rockin' Teacher Material's free creative writing templates here!
Cooperative Learning 365 has a terrific freebie posted here!

I am so grateful to these ladies for sharing their wonderful ideas.  It meant that I didn't really have to create anything for this holiday! {THANK YOU!}

I know there are MANY more fabulous resources out there.  Feel free to comment below on your creative ideas for celebrating in the classroom.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

FREEBIE: Pass the Penguin!

Happy New Year!

Here is a penguin game freebie to get you in the mood for January!

If you download this freebie please take a second 
to "like" our brand new Facebook page!
You can click "like" on the menu on the right side of this page ---> 
or visit the FB page here

In the mood for more January themed creations?

 They are on sale for 20% (along with the rest of my TpT store!) until midnight, January 2nd!

Even though this site is not quite a month old, I already feel so blessed to be a part of the blogging community!  I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store! :)