Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Another Link Up & Freebie!

It seems I am on a role lately! Woohoo! I am linking up with Primary Powers for another Christmas Freebie. Go check them out for even more freebies!
It also seems like I am on a writing kick, since my freebies have all been writing oriented so far!

First things first, I got this in the mail today!

I'm pretty much crazy for doing this, but I couldn't make myself stop. I'll be able to add this in right? On top of school, mom stuff, gymnastics, swim team, church stuff, singing stuff, etc? Yeah, sure.

Ok, now on to the freebie! We are writing letters to Santa this week. I was having trouble finding an already made letter that had all 5 parts of a letter in the right places, so I just made one myself. It also includes a generic letter template, just in case you need one. It's nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. Hope it helps you during the holiday season!

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

12 Days of Christmas Day 2!

Why do I keep posting these freebies in the middle of the day, you ask? Because I have been at home sick the past 2 days. Yuck! In fact, I got sick on Thanksgiving and still am not over it. Darn germs! BUT, that gives me time to jump in on the 12 days of giving. Yippee!

I am linking up with DeAnne at First Grade and Fabulous again to bring you a Freebie as thanks to you during this Christmas season! Teacher stuff for free! Yippee!


Today's freebie doesn't really have anything to do with Christmas, though! Sorry! We are doing fairy tales right now, and I noticed lots of fairy tale stuff being pinned on Pinterest, so maybe you are, too. It's another writing activity today, Jack and the Beanstalk style!

It includes a graphic organizer and the final draft paper. Enjoy!

Don't forget the sale at TpT. Today is the last day! My store is 20% off, plus the 10% savings from TpT. Awesomeness!

160 × 200

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Monday, December 1, 2014

12 Days of Christmas Freebie!

I am linking up with DeAnne at First Grade and Fabulous to bring you a Freebie to help celebrate the Christmas season! Teacher stuff for free! Yippee!

Today, my freebie is about writing. I love writing and have been so excited to bring you tons of writing stuff this year. This freebie contains writing papers for your kiddos' final drafts. There are a couple for the beginning of the year about Friends and Pets, one for September and Apple Season, one about Thanksgiving, and one for Christmas. These are just simple writing pages to help supplement your writing. Hope you enjoy!

Click on the page below to get your freebie.

Plus, it's SALE time on Teachers pay Teachers for Cyber Monday! Woohoo! Check out your favorite stores and use the code TPTCYBER to get 10% off. Plus, all my products are 20% off, making that a 30% savings! Fun Fabulous First  

My very popular Writing is Sweet Packet is on sale now. Go check it out!

Along with my newest packet for December. 

Happy TpTing!

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Saturday, November 29, 2014

December Already?!

How is this year just about over? How is it Christmas time? How is the school year so far along?  I had so much to get done these few days off for Thanksgiving Break. I didn't do a very good job at getting them done. I kept doing other things that needed done instead. Sigh. So a lot has been going on around here.

First off, I haven't been observed yet! What?! I have been waiting and waiting and waiting. I don't like to wait. I don't like to procrastinate. I like things done. I NEED things done. Waaahhhh. I don't want to be first, but I don't like to be last. In the middle is perfectly perfect. It's especially hard this year because I only get one observation, ONE, and it's a surprise visit. I REALLY don't like surprises. I am little miss planner, after all. Plus, I don't know who is coming. This is pretty much my nightmare, unexpected, unannounced, secret, everything rides on this one visit test. So yeah, I have been a bit stressed and need this done. You hear that people?! I need this done. :)

Second, um, I'm starting my Masters. What?! Yep, it's happening. At least I think it is. I have done my part. Next week I have my interview, and then I guess that is it. Lipscomb, here I come. It's not online. I can't work at my own pace. I have no time, but somehow this is gonna happen. Why do I do this to myself? I just kept finding myself filling out the application, taking an entrance exam, applying for scholarships, etc. It was pretty much an out of body experience. I know I shouldn't do it. I do too much as it is, but at the same time, I want to do it. I NEED to learn. It's in my nature. I guess there are worse things to give my time to.

Good news! I have partnered with Peekapack.It's an educational storybook that comes to children monthly. It's got props, materials for crafts, a learning guide for the grown-ups, etc. It's so cute and perfect for ages 4-8 to bring stories alive. They are offering a freebie e-book right now. Go check it out.

Finally, I have finished my December Printables pack! I added a few more pages. I used pretty much every single page from my November packet and I can't wait to get started on this one. I got tons of good feedback from my 1st grade teammates. I hope you like it just as much!

Here are some of the pages, so you can see what is included. 

Have a good start to December!

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Turkey Freebie!

Look! I'm back already with a freebie to boot! I'm on a roll. :)

I made up this writing page really quickly, so I thought I'd share it with you guys.

We read the book Turkey Trouble this week and are writing an opinion piece about what we think the best disguise for a turkey would be. Normally, we would do some cool art project with it, but our writing time is cut so short, so I'm just going to have them draw a picture.

They are SUPER excited about this writing and have some fabulous ideas. I'll try to remember to come back and share when we are done, but for now, here is the freebie for ya! Just click on the picture.


Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Venturing into New Territory!

So, this will be a quick post! I know I'm terrible about blogging this year.

Oops! Hello Friends! :)

I have Progress Reports to finish up, so this has got to be quick, but I posted a new product to TpT. I'm so excited about it! I have gotten my feet wet in the world of printable packs. This is my first time doing this type of product, but I think it turned out awesome. At least I hope so!! Guess we will see what you guys think! Haha.

Since it took me longer than I thought, I'm a little late to the November party, so I put it on sale for the next few days.

I have a bazillion pictures and posts to write. Maybe one day.....

Be fun and Fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


It's always interesting to me to see how everyone does Spelling in their room. It's so varied for each classroom. I have had several teammates ask me lately about my spelling plan, so I thought I'd write it out here.

I want  the kiddos to become better spellers and not just memorize the words for the week. We focus on spelling patterns, rather than the individual words. After practicing the pattern, students should be able to encode the words (spell) and also decode words (read) that follow the same pattern. The goal is to master the spelling pattern and not just memorize individual words. This helps not only in spelling words, but in reading. I also think it's very important to focus ont he meaning of words, so we really delve into what the words mean so they remember it better and can see the pattern in words.
We take a spelling pre-test each Friday. These are over the regular words from our Wonders Reading Series for the next week. These words haven't been taught or practiced yet, so I for sure know if they already "get" the spelling pattern. It is a quick pre-test just to see what they already know. If a student gets all of the words correct, then I know that they are familiar with that spelling pattern. I don't want to just test them to be testing them, so I give them challenge words. These words follow the same spelling pattern, but in a harder format with more advanced spelling patterns. For example, if our regular spelling words were short u and we had the word "mud", then a challenge word might be "club", which sticks with the same pattern, but adds a blend to make it more challenging. I like this because I can differentiate spelling just like I do everything else. 

If they have challenge words, I write it on their pre-test, and circle their challenge words on their newsletter and homework, so they know to practice those words for the week. Some weeks, I have several on challenge words, other weeks, I just have a few.

I give the weekly spelling test on Friday after practicing it in class and on their homework. I call my challenge words friends back to my table and I whisper their words to them as I call out the regular words for the rest of the class. I also give everyone mystery words. These are words that they haven't practiced, but go along with the spelling pattern. This way I know for sure that they have mastered the pattern and not just memorized the words. I also give 2 sight words from our weekly story, so they are practicing them each week as well. Finally, I give 2 bonus words. These are much harder words that follow the pattern. They aren't expected to know these words, but if they get it than yippee! I have given bonus points in the past, but the last 2 years, I have just given a skittle for each bonus word they got correct. They LOVE the skittle! Haha! They love the bonus words and can't wait to see what they are each week.

I love doing spelling this way and I love being able to differentiate and make it fun for them. How do you do spelling in your classroom?

My packet this week is all about spelling! Check it out if you'd like some cutesy spelling pages each week.

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Another month come and gone! What happened to all my free time so I could blog?! I'll catch up one day.

This year is off to a good start. We are settling in to the routine and chugging right along! I can't believe it is the end of the 1st 9 weeks already! Fall Break is next week! Craziness!

We did lots of our fun apple stuff last week. This week is all about Maps and communities. I haven't gotten the pictures off the camera yet, but hey, that's a good reason to blog again this weekend!

This past weekend, my Partner in Crime and I went to the 2nd writing training for SRSD this past weekend. We had to go on a Saturday, which wasn't our favorite thing to do, but we liked getting to hang out with each other anyway.

The day started out great. Partner in Crime ran across an old friend that she had taught with 15 years ago. She was excited about that. Wouldn't you know, she just happened to be our trainer, too!

We got going with the training and everything was moving right along. Because we had already planned out the whole year of writing, there wasn't much more to add, but we did get a few ideas, mostly for the Math portion. Well, listen to what happened!

We were working in partners, looking over our writing examples. Our trainer came over and started talking to us. I don't remember how it happened, but she ended up asking if we had heard about the "Writing is Sweet Packet". Um, yeah, I'd say we had heard of it. I just happened to create it! Haha! I am sure I turned instantly bright red. She couldn't believe I had created it. She told us that it had been the talk of the training the day before. Many people had the packet and were talking about how great it was! What!! I was completely shocked!

Welllll, the trainer proceeded to go over to every group and told them all that I had this fabulous packet for writing that they should check out. Then others started coming over to me saying they used the packet every day and they loved it! What! I was so embarrassed, but so honored at the same time. I had one girl come over and say that I was a celebrity and that she loved my blog and my products. She said she was a TpT groupie and she just couldn't believe that she was meeting me. Hi, TpT Groupie! :) Again, I was shocked. Who would have thought in the anonymous world of the internet, that I would actually be recognized?! I am not used to so much attention, and don't like the attention, so I was definitely out of my comfort zone. Craziness!

I spent the whole day red and embarrassed, but I am so glad that my packet has helped so many! That's my goal with my TpT store, and I guess it's been accomplished.

I don't want to be famous, but I guess if I help a teacher's day be a little bit easier, then I will take it. :)

I made the posters in my pack into their own little packet. I noticed a lot of guidance counselors, principals, and other non-first grade teachers were pinning my posters like crazy. I figured this would be a way for them to get the posters without having to get a whole packet of first grade writing to go along with it. The Positive Self-Talk poster, in particular, is a big hit. Here are some of the posters in case you want to take a look.

Thanks for reading my blog and brightening my day. I am so glad you can use what I put out there. Thank you!!

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Sunday, August 31, 2014

School Has Sprung!

School has definitely begun! We've been going strong for 3 weeks now. Boy, is back to school time busy or what?! I've been having a great time getting to know my new class. It's going to be a challenge, but they are a sweet, little bunch. We are getting in our groove and really getting going now.

I'm pretty much keeping everything the same this year as I did it last year. Our schedule completely changed and that has been a struggle, but we are making it work. I'm usually good with schedule changed, but this one is throwing me for a loop. We changed our Math pacing this year as well, so that's always fun. Not! :) We'll get it. I hope sooner, rather than later. :) I did add Class Dojo this year. I'm loving it and so are the kids. In fact, we love it so much, I haven't really been using our clip chart or other incentive things. They love hearing the little ding that tells them that someone got a Dojo point. Occasionally I do the "oops" sound, too, and that gets them right on track. It is a fun little tool to help with behavior management and positive reinforcement. We have so many positive things they can get points for and only like 5 things that might have them lose points. Hooray for a positive classroom!

I revamped my homework packet this year and made it work for you guys, too! If you use the Wonders Reading series, you should check it out! Let me explain what I do.

I like to send home one packet on Monday and then not see it again until Fridays. :) It's easier for them to keep up with and for me, too! I also like that they can have more freedom within their family on choosing when to get their homework done. I'm a parent, too, and I know that some days are busier than others. It is so hard to do sports, music, school and everything else nowadays. I tell my parent right from the beginning that if they can't do homework on Monday because they have Baseball practice, then do it on another day that works for them. I don't care when they do it as long as it has been done and gets to me on Friday. :) They are still getting the practice in, it just works better for them. I do have suggested days of Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for homework, but again, do what works for your families!

I like them to have practice in everything. I include Reading the weekly story and answering questions related to the story, We do fluency practice with the words and phrases from the reading series/spelling pattern each week. We practice the spelling pattern in various ways. I also made the spelling editable so you can choose your own words if needed. I do Challenge words in my class, for those that already know the spelling pattern. We take a pre-test for the next week's words on Friday. If they don't miss any, they are in my challenge words group and have a more difficult version of the spelling pattern. Those words are included for you, but if you don't use challenge words, then they can be deleted. Finally, we
do math practice. Math builds on itself, so it should flow from one skill to the next. I also didn't label it, so if there is a page that works better for you, then that one can be printed, instead of the one that is with the story for the week. Or it doesn't have to be used at all and it can be a workbook page or whatever works in your classroom. .

I am going to do a packet for each Unit and then I will combine them all into a yearly homework packet later. I also include a fluency passage from Tamra Russell's "Differentiated Fluency for Firsties" Packet after Christmas. This pack is awesome and I recommend it for every 1st grade classroom!!

I have used a homework packet like this for years and it works the best for me. I hope it helps you out too! It's an all in one packet, so you can just print, staple, and home it goes!

Hope your school years are starting off wonderfully!

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Teacher Tip

Hello Again!

A teacher friend of mine asked me a question that I thought everyone already knew, but apparently not. :) So, just in case you didn't know... I'm going to give you a tip on tennis balls today.

What?! Tennis Balls on a teacher blog? No tennis instructors around here, but I do use tennis balls in my classroom! You know those annoying scrapes and marks left by metal kid chairs? Well, hear and see them no more! All you need is tennis balls. Get them donated by a tennis school, a gym coach, a park, or even parents. Cut a little slit in the side, and slide over the bottom legs of the chairs.  Viola! No more noise or yucky marks on freshly waxed floors.

See the chairs? Easy peasy!

But wait! Those things have got to get disgusting sliding back and forth on the floor all day long. Why yes, yes they do. That, my friends, is what the question of the day was. How in the world can you clean tennis balls? Do I have to get new ones every year?!

Nope, it's as easy as your laundry! In fact, a washing machine and dryer are all you need.

First, have the kids take off the tennis balls at the end of the year. They LOVE this gross job. Then make sure they wash their hands. :) Stick them in a garbage bag and bring those babies home with you over the summer.

Then promptly forget about them until the night before school starts. Or not. ;)

Throw them in an old pillowcase.
Then tie them up good and tight. Throw them in the washer like you would your towels with soap. I also use a little downy, so maybe they will repel dirt by being less static-y as long as possible. :) Throw them in the dryer when they are done. You now have super clean balls. They may be a little fuzzy, but they work great. 

By the way, if they accidentally come out of the pillowcase and spill all over your washer, it's ok. Just a little bit louder. Close the laundry room door and you're all set. 

Now you have a bag of clean tennis balls ready to take back to your classroom in the morning. You won't even mind sticking them on the chairs yourself because they are now all nice and clean. 

I'm the mentor teacher to a new teacher coming to first grade this year. We all have cute letter signs for our doors at school. Here's mine. 

Well, my new friend doesn't have a letter, so I made her one! Her classroom is all jungly, so I thought this would fit her. Hope she likes it!

School starts for me in the morning! Then kids on Wednesday. Fun, fun!

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Back in Action!

Whew! Three 14 hour days in a row must mean school is right around the corner. One more day and school is officially back in for me. Meetings start Monday and kids come on Wednesday. I'm excited to meet them, and will be glad to get back in a routine. I'm not excited about the early mornings though! :)

I told you in the last post about being a trainer for my school. We are training on Writing and Math. I am so excited to show my team both subjects! I think they will love it. My partner and I worked SOOOO hard on this and spent ALL summer getting things ready, so they better love it! :) :) :)

Seriously though, yesterday we spent the entire day copying, laminating, cutting,, and putting everything together for the training days. We made each member of our team (there are 8 of us), 12 Math centers to get them started for the year. They hit so many standards and skills and will be able to be used at any time of the year.

There were  of us putting all of these things together.My partner and I, plus my Educational Assistant and her 2 daughters worked from 10:00 to 7:00. It was a ton of work, but I know they will be so happy to have everything handed to them and ready to go.

I put the Math Centers on TpT just for you! They work with 1st grade, 2nd, and even Kindergarten. Here are some pages for you to get an idea of the packet.

Everything you need to get your Math centers up and running for the year. Enjoy!

Be fun and fabulous!

Mrs. Sweeney

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sweet Writing! SRSD/Writer's Workshop Awesomeness!

Oh boy! Apparently I took a blogging hiatus and didn't mean to! Oops! I don't know what I've been doing, but summer is already almost over. I got my class list for the new year yesterday. That means it's real. I am so excited for my new class though! There will be lots of changes this year, but I can't wait to see what fun and surprises these changes will bring.

One reason this old blog has been put to the wayside has been this fabulous pack I'm bringing to you today. I am soooo excited about it! It was a TON of work, but I love it!

Let me tell you a bit about why I created it. This summer I was asked to go to a new training. I am going to be a Math and Literacy Trainer for our school this year. I was surprised to find out that most of the training was about writing! Hurray! I LOVE teaching writing! Even better, is that my team has really been struggling with writing. I have been hearing over and over how they would like a writing plan. Well, that day has come! We had been doing Write From the Beginning in the past and weren't in love with it. We felt it was too limiting. I struggled with that myself when I first came to this new school. I love Writer's Workshop, and WftB did not "fit" like I would like it too. Well, I am here to say that I now love SRSD even more because it melds the two programs together. It's the best of both worlds.

SRSD? What in the world is that? SRSD stands for Self-Regulated Strategy Development. Basically, all that to say it is a framework or guide to getting students to be independent writers. Here is a more formal way of expressing that. :) Self-Regulated Strategy Development is an evidence-based pedagogy that helps students improve their writing through strategy and self-regulation. It is a framework that can be used with your existing writing plan to gradually release students to independent writing.

I love it because we can tweak it with what we've been doing and what we'd like to do to make our own program. So, my training partner and I made the program work for us.

SRSD is big on mnemonics, graphic organizers, self-talk, and using texts in writing. Well, we did just that! The only problem was that we didn't love the mnemonics that came with the program. We thought they would be difficult for our 1st graders and where was the cuteness?! So, we fixed that as well. We came up with this!

P.O.W is what they gave us as a mnemonic for the writing process. We liked that and kept that, but changed the other mnemonics to fit first graders. P is for Pull Apart the Prompt or Pick a topic. O is for Organize Your Thoughts and W is for Write It Out.

Then they put that together with the different modes of writing. For example, the mnemonic we were given for Informative writing was POW+TIDE. OK, I get it, but would a first grader? What is a Tide? How does it relate to 6 year olds? The TIDE part was to help them remember the pieces or order of an informative writing piece. So what could we use to help them remember and be something they understood and could relate to? How about POW+PIE! Everyone loves pie! So we chose PIE- P for Purpose, I for Important Details, and E for Ending. All the parts you need for an informative writing piece and it's cute and easy to remember. Once we had pie, we knew we needed to stick to the"sweet" theme. So that's just what we did. We now have PIE for informative, OREO for opinion, and Smore for Narrative. I love it and know the kids will love it even more.

This is a 55 page pack full of everything you will need to introduce and teach the different modes of writing. Look at some of the cute pages!

This is a mini poster (yes, you can blow it up to a regular size poster) for the OREO or Opinion writing.

Here is another poster for Self-talk. Every writer struggles with writer's block, ideas, etc. This poster shows them how to talk themselves through it! 

Here is the Graphic Organizer for the Smore/Narrative writing. 

SRSD is big on giving a pre-assessment and post-assessment to make sure the kiddos are getting all the pieces. This pack includes texts that the student's can read and study to give them the information they need to write an informative piece. The source texts also do double duty because they are written as an example to them of how informative writing should look. Each text also has a prompt so the kiddos know exactly what they should be writing about. Here is an example of the Narrative prompt. For this one, I would use a picture and they would make up a story based on that picture.  

 SRSD emphasizes revision more than editing. Yes, we want them to have capital letters and periods, but to become good writers they need to revise and make better. This page will help them get there. They would write sentences from their graphic organizer onto this page. Then they would go back and revise to make "super-duper" sentences on the yellow line. Then they can easily copy that over to their final draft page.

I am so excited about writing this year. If you are struggling, want a change, or just want to add to your writing time, then please check this out. For those teachers in Tennessee who will be incorporating SRSD into writing, this gives you a good start.

This pack is on sale until school starts for me, so go get it now at a discounted price!

Happy writing!

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

P.S. I plan to add a supplement pack to this with writing activities later, but this will get you started with what you already do.

P.S.S. I hope to get 2 or 3 more different packets on TpT before school starts. Be on the lookout!