Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gingerbread Math

Even though Gingerbread Math Day is a few weeks away we thought it may be helpful to post our parent letter. We've been doing Gingerbread math day for a few years now. Our first year doing it together we made three big mistakes.
1. We didn't ask for volunteers. Bad move.
2. We bought everything ourselves. Holy expensive!
3. We thought peanut butter would hold the houses better than icing. WRONG on so many levels!!!

Even with all of the errors on our part, we still had a blast making houses and making this fun activity all about math. The last two years we've had opened our doors to volunteers (at least 3). We assign each student something to buy for the houses. Most importantly, we use ICING!!! It has gone much more smoothly. We will be posting our math recording sheets as soon as they are completed. In the past we have used other fabulous blogger ideas but this year we want to try and create our own. Please feel free to download the parent letter. We are doing our gingerbread houses the last day before winter break (December 14th)!
                                          Gingerbread Math Parent Letter

Monday, November 26, 2012

Trouble with Doubles!

Is it just us or does Doubles and Doubles +1 end up being one of the most difficult concepts for first graders? We do this whole brain song to help us memorize doubles:

Our students love it! It's definitely one of their favorite math songs!

          Once they learn the motions we add the music!

Sadly, when they get past 5 + 5 and they run out of fingers they have a very difficult time memorizing their doubles. We made two different foldables to add to their math notebook. Hopefully these will help! They are similar to flashcards and students can illustrate the addition sentence on one side and write the answer on the other! Like the song says, "it's no trouble for me to add doubles"

Doubles Foldable                                     Doubles +1 Foldable

Our class doing the doubles rap!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Liebster Award

We are pretty excited that two sweet teachers nominated our blog for The Liebster Award. Thank you Wendy from 1st Grade Fireworks and Jessica from Wild About Firsties for the nomination! We are thrilled and think your blogs are pretty amazing too! This award is for new bloggers with less than 200 followers. We love blogging and are excited to contribute to the teaching blog community because it is AMAZING! The hardest thing about being a new blogger is getting started and gaining new followers. We love meeting new bloggers and really appreciate Wendy and Jessica nominating us for this new blogger award!

Here are the rules:

1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot "tag back" the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you and see who you nominate.

Here are the 11 questions and answers from our nominators: 

1. How long have you been teaching?
This is Brittany's 5th year in the classroom and Melissa's 3rd.

2. Who is your favorite author?

We can't pick just one!! A few favorites that we do an "Author's Study" on are: Jan Brett, Kevin Henkes, Laura Numeroff, Leo Leoni, Dr. Seuss and Mo Williams

3. What is your favorite subject to teach?
Brittany loves teaching reading and writing and Melissa loves teaching math! Another reason we make such a fantastic team!

4. Do you have a special talent?
Teaching! It's our superpower! 

5.  What do you do when you are not teaching?
When we aren't teaching you can most likely find us together. We enjoy bargain shopping, we try and have girls nights in *GNI* as often as possible with some healthy apps we learned from pinterest, Brittany's fiance and Melissa's boyfriend are good friends too so we like to have a night on the town with the boys when we can!

6. What is your favorite movie?
Brittany- 50 First Dates
Melissa- I love so many movies! It depends on my mood!
7. How long have you been blogging?
Only about a month but we've been following the blogging world for over two years now!

8. What are your plans for Christmas this year?
We have A LOT of Christmas plans this year. We are planning a "Christmas Cocktail" with some of our close friends. We are hosting it together. We are planning lots of fun events for our Classroom. In fact, we will be posting our Christmas Calendar next week! As for the actual Christmas holiday we both plan to spend it with family!

9. What websites do you visit most often?
Pinterest, Facebook and all of our favorite teaching blogs like Cara Carrol's- First Grade Parade and Babbling Abby- Inspired Apple

10. Do you have children of your own?
Not yet!  Someday...

11. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
Brittany would love to go to Italy and Melissa would love to see Europe! 

Here are the 11 questions for blogs that we have nominated:

1. What do you love most about teaching? Least?

2. Do you have a favorite teaching blog?
3. Have you always wanted to be a teacher?
4. What is your favorite grade to teach?
5. Do you have any pets?
6. Why did you start a teaching blog?
7. Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks?
8. Do you follow the Common Core Standards?
9. What is your favorite place to vacation?
10. Favorite place to shop?
11. What is your favorite recipe?

Blogs we are nominating: 

The Paper Maid

Two P's In a Pod

We do our classroom newsletter together and since we both have last names that start with a P we decided to call our class newsletter "Two P's In A Pod." This is the last year we can keep our fun title because Brittany will be Mrs. Maio next year when she ties the knot! We have always done our newsletter weekly but have recently decided to only do a monthly newsletter to save on copies and time. Please feel free to download the file and edit if needed!

You have probably noticed by now that we have class themes! Melissa's class theme is BEES and Brittany's is FROGS! We may go a little overboard with our class themes but the students love it and so do we!

Frugal Friday

Let's talk SHOPPING! The Frugal Girls didn't do as much Black Friday shopping as they have in the past. Let's just say we learned our lesson. Some sales just aren't worth it. Waiting in line for hours just to save a few bucks is not a good time. However, there is something pretty amazing about a real bargain! We did not get to shop together this year (boo!) because we were in different cities. We are a fabulous shopping pair! We both did a little back Friday shopping at NORMAL HOURS and though it was a little crowded it was nothing we couldn't handle. 
Some frugal finds: 
Hope everyone was able to find some great steals on the most FRUGAL Friday of the year!! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Whole Brain Teaching and PB&Js

We are teaching the phonics pattern LONG A with the "sneaky e". We have been practicing the flippy dolphin (flip the sound) as a reading strategy for awhile so our students are already familiar with both long and short vowel sounds. One of our sorts this week is a called "PB and J Pairs" students need to find the short and long vowel match. We found peanut butter and jelly cards at the Dollar Tree (LOVE THAT PLACE). Each long a word has a short a match. Example: Fat/Fate. Just in case you don't have time to stop by the Dollar Tree we are attaching a remake of this sort using clipart. Also, the please feel free to download the recordings page by clicking the link below.

PB & J recording sheet

P.S- We do a WHOLE lot of WHOLE BRAIN teaching. This requires a WHOLE lot of movement and cooperative learning. If you aren't using WBT we suggest you stop reading this blog immediately and look it up. It will change your life! We would never go back. Our students love it has made a world of difference in our classrooms!!! To teach the "flip the sound" strategy we simply use our hand. We face our hand upwards and say its short vowel sound then flip it over to say the long vowel sound. It works with words too!

Whole Brain Teaching

Festival of Trees

Every year for Thanksgiving Break homework we give a fun little activity for our first graders to do at home with their family. We send home a large piece of green construction paper with a Christmas Tree stenciled on in pencil. The assignment is to decorate the tree at home with your family over the Thanksgiving holiday. We ask them to send back their finished product. We hang all the trees in our classroom windows for everyone to enjoy. We call this the festival of trees.

Feel free to download the parent letter by clicking the link below:

Festival of Trees Parent Letter
A few of our trees!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Linus the Minus and Gus the Plus

Introducing.... our two favorite math brothers--- Linus the Minus and Gus the Plus!!! Our firsties have been having a little more trouble with understanding math symbols this year so we decided to bring in some backup! Today we learned all about two math brothers who are total opposites!!!

                     A little family history:
The little brother, Linus the MINUS- is the *not so nice* brother, who steals, borrows and takes from others! How rude! 
Then there is his sweet big brother, Gus the PLUS+, who is always sharing and giving to others! 

Even though Linus is totally = negative - and Gus is totally = positive +. It's important that we get to know both of our Math Brothers!
Stay tuned: Anchor charts, games and short stories about these math bros coming soon!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Freedom isn't Free

We weren't one the lucky schools to have Veterans Day off. It wound up working out nicely though, because the kids LOVED learning about Veterans Day and why we celebrate it. We made an anchor chart about our schema on the word "Veteran" and we added "New Learning" as we built on our background knowledge. After some class discussion, some really neat video clips about veterans on youtube and two fantastic read aloud's the kids were ready to send some Thank you notes to our American Soldiers.
A few students had a special person in their family they wanted to send their letter to. Some wrote their letter to a coworkers husband who is currently serving in the Army. Some letters we will send overseas to our troops. We put the letters on patriotic stationary and brainstormed some words and phrases that we may need. We were touched by the letters our first graders wrote. They really poured their little hearts into their writing and illustrations.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Teaching Curse

One thing I LOVE and kind of hate about my job is that it goes EVERYWHERE with me. I mean seriously... everywhere. I'm at the grocery store and I see pretzel sticks on sale. I think, "hmm... wouldn't that be a fun way to represent ten rods during snack tomorrow?" Or, I'm at the mall and I see an adorable jacket on sale and I start thinking about little *Susie* in my class and how she could really use a new jacket since the only one she owns is three million sizes too small. Even at the craft fair we attended last week...
I felt like all we did (Brittany and I) was look for crafty things for our classrooms. It's the curse of our job! It truly follows us home each and every day. Like I said, I LOVE it-- but sometimes, not so much. Good thing we are FRUGAL!

**Craft Fair News:  The frugal girls grabbed our purses (or backpack in Brittany's case- she wanted to be prepared) for a day at the Mount Dora Craft Fair. It was a BLAST! We went with our sweet friend Kelly! We woke up before the sun, and hit the road. The craft fair was huge and there were so many great finds! Most of the *gems* we found are going to be stored away until Christmas, so you'll have to wait and see! Overall, it was an incredible day with wonderful company, delicious food, and tons of crafty items for cheap great prices!


Yesterday was a FIELD TRIP! That means today is a Large Dunkin Donuts kind of day!

Obviously, someone couldn't wait to start sipping on her pumpkin flavored coffee (Pumpkin-Dunkin) as we call it! Yum! It is very rare to see a Starbucks coffee in either of our hands! We are Dunkin Girls!! It's a much better bargain. 
The day after a field trip is always a little bit crazy! So today we decided to do a craft from our onomatopoeia writing unit (to be posted soon). We started by reviewing our story of the week "The Fun Kids Band." We follow the Treasures series. The story has a ton of onomatopoeias so we chose to tie in the instrument theme. We decided to make a guitar craft with the new onomatopoeia words we have learned. 

The craft turned out great! We already decided that next year we are going to do a haunted house themed craft to teach onomatopoeias! So many sound words go along with Halloween and haunted houses! EEEEKKK! Can't wait!
First graders LOVE anything 3-D!
*** We found 3-D onomatopoeia stickers at Walmart for a whopping 10 cents a pack!!! Tomorrow we are going to write sentences using our onomatopoeia stickers and read them with 3-D glasses! So fun and so frugal!!!***

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Teaching first graders about elections is all kinds of interesting! We have spent the last few days learning about the Presidential Elections and why it is important to vote. The kiddos did a really great job of comparing and contrasting Romney and Obama and learning about the election process. Our favorite part was hearing some of their comments and opinions on the different candidates. The best one of all was overhead during snack time. Students were told to talk to their shoulder buddy about who they were voting for during our class elections later that afternoon. While walking around behind the students listening to their comments, one of my outspoken first grader's said, "You can't vote for Mitt Romney, he's going to kill all the fat people." He proceeds to turn around and say, "I swear, I heard it on the news!" Oh My! Gotta love first graders and their desire to share everything they hear!

Frugal Girls say VOTE!

Hope they learned the most important part of our election unit: VOTE!!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Frugal In First

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our teaching blog 

We ask you to join us on our journey to search for steals and deals for our classrooms and our closets! We hope to share with you a little about our lives as first grade teachers living on a teachers "hefty salary,"all while looking good doing it! We are two best friends who met teaching next door to each other three years ago. We love our jobs and feel so blessed that we get to work with kids everyday! We have found that all we need is a strong cup of coffee and a cute outfit to have a great day in the classroom! We consider ourselves frugal girls, not because we are cheap, but because we are happily living on less! 

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