Sunday, October 30, 2011

Want a treat? Try DonorsChoose!

What treat are you wishing for? More math manipulatives? Leveled readers? Digital cameras?

Today's post is all about DonorsChoose. Don't panic, this is NOT a request for donations, instead I am going to encourage all of you to write up a project for DonorsChoose.

When DonorsChoose first started, I tried it out but wasn't impressed. I wrote up a project, but nobody (and I mean NOBODY) made a donation. After three l.o.n.g months, the project expired and I felt foolish for wasting my time. (I also felt very unloved!) It also bothered me that the fees for shipping, handling and overhead seemed so high. (Later, I came to realize the unbelievable time and effort that goes into running the nonprofit called DonorsChoose. Now I believe that every extra penny they tack on is reasonable and WELL worth it!)

Then ... I ran into some teachers who had their projects fully funded and I decided to give it another go. Brilliant idea! I have now had five projects funded (four of those in the last two months)!!! What types of materials did I receive? So glad you asked!! Digital cameras, a Bamboo tablet, watercolors, and lots and lots of leveled readers.

There are certain stipulations but in general, teachers who teach at a public school in the United States qualify.

I don't like to ask people for things, so I have never posted my projects on Facebook or Twittered about them. (But you could.) I have also never told classroom parents, coworkers or friends about my projects. (I really, really am shy about that type of thing!!) So, just think, if I am getting my projects funded, all of you outgoing bloggets are likely to get your projects funded much, much faster than I do!!!!

My hints:
**Start by looking at projects that are already posted. Get ideas from these about the types of materials you can request.
**Make your projects worth less than $400. People like to donate to projects that look like they may be funded soon.
**Have a catchy title. (Okay, this is hit or miss for me. But it really does help!)
**Take advantage of any special funding. One of my leveled reader projects was 75% funded by a publisher because I followed their rules and mentioned their product in my proposal. (I LOVE their books so it was easy!) Then my second leveled reader project was 75% funded by NEA because they were funding literacy projects. Check the list of special funding available and write your projects accordingly.

Feel free to ask me questions. I HEART DonorsChoose!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy, happy birthday ideas

How much do you love Dr. Jean? I think maybe she is wonderful times a gazillion!

I was just reading Dr. Jean's blog. In this post she shares the idea of acting out a birthday cake with children as candles and as the cake. Meanwhile everyone is chanting about the birthday. How cute is that? (Do all primary teachers love, love, love cute? I think so!) Since I have had quite a few birthdays already this year (I mean the kiddos, not me: I only have one a year.) I will have to wait and try this idea next year. But in the meantime, here is what I do ...

Each child begins the day with a birthday bag on their desk. (See my previous post for an explanation of the birthday bags.) Then later in the day my class sits on the floor in a birthday circle. (Or as my kiddos this year call it: "birthday square" since we sit on the perimeter of our square carpet.) I pass around a stuffed bear and each child turns to the birthday child and says something - I aim for a compliment, but at the beginning of the year, "Happy birthday" will suffice. The birthday child says "Thank you" and the other child says "You're welcome". (I try to fit in manners whenever I can!!!) Then the bear is passed to the next child. Next we sing "Happy birthday" and then we sing "Happy birthday" using sign language. The birthday child tells us one thing she/he really likes to do and we create a "birthday sign" by "signing" the first letter of the child's name performing that action.

I love the compliment time. It is so precious to hear what the children have to say. The birthday children are always beaming throughout this event.


Friday, October 21, 2011

We are family! (... fact families that is)

"We are family! Brothers and sisters are we. We are family; get up everybody and sing!" Don't you just love that song by the Pointer Sisters? If I was brilliant I would turn it into a song about fact families. But, alas, I am not brilliant, so instead I have a few fact family games to share with you.

In math my firsties are learning about the relationship between addition and subtraction. Even though my math program (Envision) doesn't teach fact families for awhile, I like to introduce them now. It just makes sense to me.

So I made up a simple game called "Fact Family Toss". To play this game you need two dice and a piece of paper for each child. The child tosses both dice, adds the number together and then writes out four equations (a fact family) using the three numbers (both dice numbers and the sum). I have students start out with the typical dice with numbers 1-6, but later add in a variety of dice: ten sided dice, twelve sided dice, dice made from wooden cubes that I have written numbers on ...

Then there is also, "Domino Fact Families". Same idea. The child chooses a domino, adds the two numbers together and then creates a fact family using those three numbers.

For a much cuter fact family game, go to the First Grade Fever blog. Christie has posted French Fry Fact Families. Yes, it is as cute as it sounds and it is free!

"We are fact families! Sums and differences are we! We are fact families; get up everybody and sing!" Hmmm ... just doesn't work!

I am a YES Girl!

Well, I am back at my blog. I am a little embarrassed since it has been almost two months since my last post. (Okay, I am WAY more than a little embarrassed!!!) How did life get so crazy?!? I am a simple gal and lead a simple life, but it sure is a hectic one! Are you the type of person that just has to ... volunteer for every committee that sounds interesting? ... attend every workshop that sounds intriguing? ... say yes to each request that comes your way? You get the idea and I'll bet many of you are the same way! During the summer, I actually practiced saying "No!" with a friend. But then school started and I was well rested and everything sounded so interesting and "Yes!" was my answer. Sigh. So now I am back to leading a hectic life! But I will try to have that life include blog posting. My goal was to use my blog as a memory book for myself that would trigger memories the following year. Having photos and links to activity sheets would make life so organized and easy; but alas, I have posted so little this school year that my "memory book" won't be very helpful next year. Hmmm ... maybe I can change that. I will try!