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Archive for August, 2015

postheadericon Organizing Your Classroom Library (Part 1)


It's back to school time and time to get the classroom organized! One of the most important parts of the classroom is it's library, rich with literature with lively characters and stories that can take our student's imaginations anywhere. 

How is your library organized? Where do I get books to put into the library? Let's explore how to create a great classroom library. 

I attended a FREE webinar hosted by Really Good Stuff, on how to organize a classroom library. It was a great webinar!  If you decide to attend this FREE webinar, you may want to take notes. She shares some great apps and websites for books and leveling the classroom library books.  She also shares some great resources for the classroom library, as well as how and where to get books for your classroom library. 




Let's Get Started! 

1.Decide on a space

Where will the library be? Where will the shelving and books fit? Where can students sit and read independantly or with a partner? 


2. Make it accessible and welcoming to all students

When you set your classroom library, make sure the library is easily accessible to all students. With the little ones, you don't want to use shelving that they can't reach (or can climb). 

We also want this space to be welcoming to all our students. Perhaps, put a rug there, bean bag chairs, or just simple mats for them to sit on while they read.

Perhaps, decorate the space, so that it is a warm and welcoming place in the classroom. 

Provide book displays that are themed around a topic. 



3. Books, books, and more books! 

Now, that you have the space thought out and you have the shelving for your books, it's time to put the books in the library. You want to keep in mind, the students in your class read at different levels. Some may be reading picture books, while others are reading chapter books. They are all at different independant reading levels. So, make sure there are books accessible for all the different reading levels you may have in your classroom.




Where can I get books?

 As teachers, we are always on the hunt for the perfect book. Books to use with your seasonal theme,books to promote character, books to use as part of your science/math/history units. Let's face it, classrooms NEED lots and lots of books. 



There are some great resources for books: 


1. Scholastic Book Clubs and Warehouse Sales


If you aren't already a member of the Scholastic Book Clubs, sign up!  As your students purchase books, the teacher accrues points to purchase free books for the classroom. Throughout the year, they have some great offerers on free books. 


2. Check your local library

Libraries often have book sales. You can get great books for just cents at the library. 


3. Goodwill, Dollar Store, consignment sales and thrift stores

You can get some great deals at thrift and consignment stores. You can get books for 50 cents. Last year, at the Dollar Store, I bought Olivia books for a dollar. So, as you are out and about, stop at a thrift store or a second hand store and see what treasures you can find. 


4. How do I sort the books in my library?

Most libraries use bins. Bins help keep books sorted and organized. 



There are so many different ways to sort books. It's really whatever works for you and your students. 

In younger grades, some may sort books by season, some may sort books by author. Some may sort by topic, while others simply sort by reading level. 

In our school, we sort by reading level. We have Accelerated Reader in our building. Each book has a small colored circle sticker on it. The color designates the reading level of the book. In this library, there are 5 different levels of books. The students know what color the are reading and go to that bin to take books to read, which are at the reading level. 

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This library is sorted by authors, topics, and titles. 




There are many ways to sort books:




Caldecott and Newbery

by author




by reading level

And…Don't forget a bin for Class Made Books! 



5. Labeling

There are so many ways to label bins and books. A colleague had these labels in her library. I loved her labels! She used binder rings to attach the labels to the bins. This is great because she can easily take the labels on and off and re-use the bins if needed. 

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This teacher, used index cards to label her bins. 



Five easy steps to organize a clasroom libary! How do you organize your library? Educator Station would love to hear from you! Share your ideas and comments by clicking on the red  "Contact Us" tab on the top of the page. 









postheadericon The Water Hole

The Water Hole by Graeme Base

A great read aloud story for the beginning of the year to teach several concepts.  I begin by teaching students about our special gathering place, the rug and connecting it to the pool of water that the animals gathered around.

I found a YouTube read aloud that the students can listen to during their Independent time.


Vocabulary- there aren't any key vocabulary words in this story but it does make for a great Science tie-in.  Some of the words I used in this lesson include: habitat, resource, conservation, cycle and environment.


Sentence Frame- Students fill in the frame using animals from the story.

A/An ________ is a/an _____________ that ___________ and (is) ________.

A ladybug is an insect that crawls and is tiny.



Speech Bubbles- Students illustrate conversation between the animals using speech bubbles.  Here is a link to a FREE download.

Speech Bubbles clip art and instructional tool

Discussion/Journal Questions

What happened to the water? Why do you think that?

  • Do you think the water come back?

•Why do we all need water?

•When the waterhole is getting smaller, how do you think the animals are feeling?

•Which animal from the story is your favorite. Tell about why this is your favorite animal. 


Habitat Match- Using the animals from the story, I created picture cards of each one along with picture cards of individual habitats.  Students will match the animal to it's habitat.

cards cards1 cards2 cards3

Hidden Pictures- Throughout this book there are animals hidden among the pictures.  Students can count the frogs hidden throughout the book.  The number of frogs goes down as the size of the water hole decreases.  There are less frogs because there is less water for them to live in.


Math Connection

  • Write the numbers 1-10 in numerals and words and draw animals to match each number (two tigers, three toucans etc).


  • Give the students ten pages with large numbers printed on them 1-10, so they can color in each number as an animal color as Graeme Base has done. Make these into their own book. Students will write the matching word underneath each number.


postheadericon Math Work Stations for Topic 1- Operations and Algebraic Thinking

As I mentioned in a previous post, my district currently use the Pearson enVision Math Common Core Program.  I follow the Daily 5 model to run my math stations using the acronym BUILD.  In today's post I am going to provide you with a few work station ideas for Topic 1- Understanding Addition.  The focus of this topic is based on the first grade Operations and Algebraic Thinking (1.O.A) standard.


Spatial Patterns for Numbers to 10

Materials: ziplock sandwich bag, sharpie, two-color counters

photo 4


Making numbers for 6, 7, 8 and 9

I created this very quickly last year using a WORD document.  Students use unifix cubes (up to 9) to make numbers 6, 7, 8, 9

photo 3

Materials: pipe cleaner and assorted beads (up to 9)

photo 1


Addition Number Sentences

I like to introduce number sentences by using a domino.  After we have done this activity a few times at the teacher table, it is released into a workstation.  Here is a FREE recording sheet.

Domino Math Center


Number Stories about Joining

The enVision It program has very word-rich language and at the beginning of the year it is very difficult for some of my first graders to read word problems.  When I teach this lesson number stories, I teach them to circle the numbers in the word problem and then look for a "key word" in the last sentence (the question).  In this case we would be looking for "joining, more or in all." I keep a Math Word Box displayed during each topic.  I introduce the words and then add them to the wall for students to use throughout each topic.  I purchased this word wall bundle from TPT.

First Grade Envision Math Focus Walls for the Year


Adding in any Order

I teach my students that you can add numbers in any order and still get the same answer.  We like to use snap (unifix) cubes to show this relationship.



postheadericon How I Manage Math Work Stations (part 4)

Math Station rotations are not easy to do but in time you and your students will come to love it. Depending on what station I'm setting up and which containers I have on hand, I keep my setup pretty simple.  If you missed my post on how to organize my work stations you can view it here.

photo 5

Each station gets a basket or tray containing the materials each student needs, a direction sheet that I slip right into a clear page protector or a fancier one I purchased from the Target Dolloar spot section. On my direction sheet, I provide a picture showing my students exactly what to do at that station.  This is a great reminder for those little ones that forget the direction seconds after you've gone over it. 

My math menu, is just in a page protector, hanging on my calendar board.  I go over all the workstations before sending the students off.  To take a look at how I schedule my work stations, you can take a look at my BUILD model here.


Here are a few different station ideas using the BUILD acronym:

Buddy Games

Turn a chutes and ladders game into a math facts practice game.


Using Manipulatives

Pattern Block Mats- create their own designs or copy the mats. You can download a FREE set here.


Independent Practice- Some math websites we like to use are:

Cool Math 4 Kids





Learning about Numbers

Build It with unifix cubes- you can get the FREE download here to make your own set


D- Doing Math- Teacher Table Actvities

Introduce students to Daily Math Jornals.  These will be released into an independent center where students will complete math prompts throughout the year. You can download FREE Back to School Math Journal Prompts here to get you started. I used these last year to liven up my journals. There a bunch of options for FREE math journal labels here

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