Books for Teaching Sound and Light Waves in First Grade

The 2016-17 school year was my second year teaching NGSS Sound and Light Waves in first grade. It was a real struggle trying to find age appropriate resources, especially in Spanish.  In my classroom, content is first taught in Spanish and then later in English.  I found a few "just right" books when I was looking in 2015.  Many of the resources were not available through the public libraries in the area, so I had to take a leap of faith and purchase online.  Luckily, I was right on with a few of them!

Here are my honest opinions of a few books I found and used along with a link. Please note that this post does contain affiliate links, but that the reviews are purely my unbiased opinions.  My goal is to help you out!

Just right books:

The two books by Natalie M. Rosinsky are the first books I read aloud with my unit.  They go along well with the PowerPoints I use to introduce keywords for light and sound through total physical response (TPR) as well as the mini books I created for this unit (Shameless plug for my Teachers Pay Teachers store: Find the mini books here - Blonde Bilingual's Science products).

Better for English only rooms:

The following books are all part of the "Light and Sound Waves Close Up" series by Robin Johnson in English.  For my dual language immersion classroom, these books were a little high, but I was able to pull sections from them to read to my students and apply to the lesson of the day.  These titles might work well in a classroom where English is the main language of instruction.

Higher level books:

I love all of the information packed into these books, but they were written for older students.  Some of the pages go along well with topics that I teach, so I flag those sections to read those when appropriate.  They are good for teaching non-fiction text features!

Back to School Success: Sorting Supplies

Back to school night/open house is always a zoo!  Each year I read blogs and find new ideas of what I can do.  One tip I read about on multiple blogs was to set up bins around the room for supplies.  Genius!  This saved me sooooo much time on the first day of school.  No, not all students brought their supplies that night.  No, not all students showed up that night.  But, you know what?  It saved me from 20 students rushing me on the first day when I called out to collect each supply.  It also allowed me to have a lot of that stuff already tucked away by the first day of school.  In my classroom, I have always had things be community supplies, so almost everything was able to be sorted out.

How did I do this?  I had a PowerPoint looping through with directions of what I wanted them to do and in what order.  The directions were also printed and at each table.  Parents had to sign in, find their child's spot, fill out a survey for me (look for a future post on this!), and label and sort their supplies into bins or spots in the room.  I had signs and an actual supply already in each spot to hopefully make this run smoothly (see the picture above).  It did!  Before the students arrived the first day, I had things put away and ready to roll.

Interested in doing this for the upcoming school year?  Click on the picture below to see the signs in my TpT store.  There are three separate products depending on language.  All of the versions include signs with just clip art of the supply and no words as well as both color and black and white versions.  To get them just in English, click here.  For the signs just in Spanish, click here.  If you want both the separate English and Spanish versions as well as signs in both English AND Spanish, click here.

A bonus tip: One thing I wish I had done to make things run more smoothly was make labels with student names on for their supplies.  I had Sharpies out for parents to write names on binders, folders and notebooks.  This year I plan on having labels out at each spot with the names printed on already.

Back to School Success: Meet the Teacher Template

Something I have wanted to do the past few years is a letter to introduce myself to my new class and their families.  With the back to school to-do list a million miles long each year, that letter kept getting put off.  This year I got a super early start and I am pretty excited to share it.  Here it is!

Of course I had to make it in Spanish as well.  Color printing is a huge deal at my school, so I have to decide between printing in color at home, or printing the black and white version at school.  I plan on either handing this out at Open House or sending it home with my students the first day of school.  My only hesitation about giving it out at Open House is that I feel like there are so many papers they go home with already!

You can grab the editable template to make this Meet the Teacher note in English and Spanish, color and black and white here.

Motivate Students to Read at Home with BINGO!

I was tired of my plain old reading logs with spots for the date, title of the book(s) read and parent signature.  My students were not motivated or excited.  I only had about 75% of reading logs signed daily.  The others... I was lucky if they were signed once a month.  Were the students who had their reading logs signed daily actually reading for 20 minutes?  Probably not.  I think that, for the parents, as long as their child read SOMETHING, they signed the reading log.

Then I saw a few versions of Reading BINGO.  Of course I needed something different.  Reading logs for my dual language first grade classroom have to be in both English AND Spanish (back-to-back with the same options in both languages), simple enough for firsties, and easy enough for them to accomplish all of the tasks (keeping in mind many things including lack of resources at home and a big range of reading abilities).

I created four versions of Reading BINGO in a 4x4 grid.  Parents are only supposed to sign off on one square per day.  That doesn't mean that students can't do more than one in a day, but they need to choose which box they want to mark off.  When they have the entire card filled out, they can turn it in for a prize of the teacher's choosing.

My plan is to start this with my new group right away in the fall.  Right now I have a few very eager guinea pigs testing it out.  They were so excited to be the special testers and to show me what they had done each day. My sister, who teaches in a bilingual kindergarten class of all native Spanish-speakers, started doing this with her whole class.  She said that her students are motivated and loving it too.  Starting it mid-year, she did have to answer a few questions from parents, but it has been very well received by parents and students alike.

If you want to grab these worksheets for your class, there are three options available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  You can get the Spanish only version here, the English only version here, or the bilingual bundle here.  All versions also include an editable PowerPoint template to create your own Reading BINGO.  Enjoy!

Fanatics of Jonathan London's Character Froggy

My students are Froggy fanatics!  I have been teaching Jonathan London author studies the past few years, usually in Spanish.  This was my first year teaching it in English and my students were so excited to learn that a new book, Froggy Goes to the Library, was coming out while we were doing our Jonathan London author study (March 2016).  They could not WAIT for me to get it from the library.  It did not disappoint.

Being a dual language classroom, only about an hour a day is in English in the classroom.  Most of the year we focused on extending the previous content unit studied in Spanish.  We took a break from that to do an author study and even the normally quiet students became active participants.  All four language domains were being used and their language took off.  I started by spending a few days on a book, but quickly ditched that idea and went to a new book a day when possible.  I did this so we could get through more books (think of all the new language!) and to keep their interest since they could not get enough of Froggy.

Some days we focused more on oral activities like sharing a prediction, retelling the story, sharing our favorite part or a talking about text connections (text-to-text and text-to-self).  Other days I read a new story and they did a quick partner share before writing on some of the worksheets I made to go along with their books.  I do not teach writing in English, so keep that in mind when you read their examples. :)

Worksheet to go along with Froggy Bakes a Cake

Worksheet for favorite Froggy book - Their reasons were so funny!
If you want to grab these and the other Froggy worksheets, click on the images above or click here to see the product in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Addition and Subtraction Board Game

At my school we have a special kind of parent-teacher conferences where we have "team meetings" with all of the parents.  We show them class data and teach them an activity that they practice and then bring home to their children.  When my first grade team met to decide what activity we could give the parents that the students would be excited about too, we decided on a board game.  Since we had already given the parents an activity to practice fact fluency to 10, we made this game to 20 (to meet CCSS).  After a quick search online, for something to use, I volunteered to create one.

We know that our students are not fluent in their facts to 20, so we included in our the directions that students may use manipulatives or paper and a pencil to help solve the equations.  If we are going to tell parents that, then we also need to show them that.  So, to go along with the game boards, I also created manipulative mats.

I like to teach my students the activities the parents will get at the meeting beforehand to get them excited about it.  Knowing the addition and subtraction to 20 games will be difficult, I also created versions to 5, 10 and 15 and introduced the lower boards first.  They absolutely LOVE them!!

I glued each level back-to-back (addition/subtraction) with construction paper in between and laminated them.  We used beans as counters because that is something that might be used at home when they play.  Click on the images above or here to see this product in my store.

Little Known TpT Tips for Buyers

For years before I finally decided to become a seller on Teachers pay Teachers, I was solely a buyer.  Here are a few things I learned over the years that I feel like many buyers don't know:

1.  Feedback = TpT Credits

That's right.  After you buy a product, make sure you go back and leave some love for the teacher-author!  For every dollar you spend, you will earn one TpT credit.  They even round up for you!  It seems like nobody does that anymore in the buyer's favor!  Don't believe me?  Click here to read more.

2.  Leaving Feedback vs. Product Q&A

Believe it or not, sellers love to hear from the people using our resources.  We love those warm fuzzies!  BUT, we are human and no matter how many times we look something over and even our colleagues look things over for us, sometimes something slips by.  If you do find a mistake of some sort in a product that you download for free or purchase, please let the seller know!  This is not done through leaving negative feedback.  If you find something in the product like a typo or a flat out mistake you should contact the seller through the Q&A first.  Give him/her a reasonable amount of time to respond.  Most sellers I have contacted with a problem have been very quick to respond and have been so gracious.  One even let me pick another product of hers for free for pointing out a few mistakes!

3. Check your My Purchases for updates

Products are updated for a number of reasons.  Sometimes sellers choose to update the style of the product, add pages, update content, etc.  Since you already purchased the item, you can simply download the updated version at no additional cost.   Next to the product icon, you will see a note in red font saying "Newly Revised Re-Download."