Primary Chalkboard: June 2015

What We're Chalking About JULY: A Visual Calendar

Can you believe it's almost July?  

You might be taking advantage of the warmer weather, a more flexible routine and time to read your favorite blogs this month.  

Either way, you might like to take advantage of all the tips and tricks our authors have planned for you, for the month of July. 

What We're Chalking About JULY: A Visual Calendar

Here's a visual overview of all the helpful blog posts the authors here at Primary Chalkboard will be writing about. 

Look at all these posts. Which ones will help you? 

What We're Chalking About JULY: A Visual Calendar

1 Jessica from Second Grade Nest - 4th of July Ideas at Home

2 Sarah from Sarah's First Grade Snippets - Summer Tutoring Ideas  

4 Randi from Teach it with Class - Writing Tips

5 Nicole from Mrs. Rios Teaches - Writing Conferencing

10 Leslie from First Grade and Flip Flops - Integrating Technology into everyday/SMART Board

11 Cyndie from Chalk One up for the Teacher - Vegas Wrap Up

12 Corinna from Surfin' Through Second - Classroom Themes

13 Jennifer from Out of this World Literacy - Tips for Literacy Coaches

14 Casey from Math Maniac - Organizing Digital Files

15 Anna from Simply Skilled in Second - Behavior Management 

16 Katie from Teacher to the Core - School Supply Freebie

17 Vicki from Teaching and Much Moore - First Day Ideas

18 Valerie from All Students Can Shine -  Back To School: Getting To Know Your Students

19 John from Created by Mr. Hughes - Getting the Most Out of Professional Development

20 Latoya from Flying into First Grade - Back to School IPAD Apps

21 Laura from Peace Love and First Grade - Classroom Makeover

22  Terry from Terry's Teaching Tidbits - Back to School Icebreaker

23 Haley from My Silly Firsties - Parent/Student Forms and Organization

24 Lisa from Growing Firsties - Growth Mindset

27 Naomi from Read Like a Rock Star - Positive Classroom Culture

29 Karen from Mrs. Jones' Class - Back to School Routines and Procedures

30 Heather from 2 Brainy Apples -  Middle Grades Classroom Set-Up and Organization

On the last day of each month, we will post this visual calendar for you to see what we have planned for you. If you have any suggestions that you would like us to write about, please comment below. 

To keep up to date with all of the posts this month, you can follow our blog here

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Thanks for dropping by. 

5 Favorite Apps for Math!

Hi everyone! It's Christina from Miss DeCarbo's Sugar and Spice! I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer! Can you believe it's about to be July already? How does summer always go by SO FAST?!

Today I'm going to share 5 fabulous Math Apps that I use during those first couple months of school! You can click on the picture or the title for each app to jump to the Apple Store to check them out! Here we go!
This app is the perfect partner game for the iPad at the beginning of the year! Students will take turns guessing which number the octopus is thinking about. The app activates some beginning skills for greater than and less than as the students narrow down their choices. The app also introduces students to a number line! This app is perfect for kindergarten and first grade kiddos! :)

Math Dots is a fun computation game for students. You can set the operation to addition or subtraction.  The students solve problems and work their way around a "connect the dots" type of picture. When they complete all of the problems, they get to color the picture and see it come to life! My kids LOVE this game and it was a staple computation app throughout our entire year. 

This is a great kindergarten app to help students learn how to write their numbers by tracing the numbers on the screen.  Even if first grade, I often have kiddos that struggle with number writing at the beginning of the year. I especially use it for those kids who have reversal issues and need another resource to add to their toolkit of interventions! 

Number Pieces provides virtual base 10 blocks for students or teachers to manipulate and teach with! I first use this as a whole class app with the students. After my kids gain confidence in their ability to use, show, and count base 10 blocks, I let the students play in partners. One partner drags base 10 blocks onto the screen and the second partner counts them up and writes the answer on the tablet. Then, they erase the board and switch. They love getting to "play teacher!"

There is a Splash Math app for many grade levels! This is a FANTASTIC app that contains oodles and oodles of practice for the Common Core standards in all areas of math! My kids think they are playing a game, but they are actually reviewing valuable skills and refreshing their abilities through spiral review. In my eyes, this is a must-have for any math teacher who has iPads in the classroom! :)

I hope you enjoyed these little Math App Reviews!
Do you have other apps that you love?! Share them with me below by leaving us a comment! 

Summer Fun Ideas for Kids! Ideas to help you stay SANE and not break the bank!

Happy Summer Everyone! It's Leslie from First Grade and Flip Flops! I am super excited for summer time! I really am. I love the leisure filled days and sleeping in. Well, I kinda sleep in. I have a little one whose internal clock wakes me up at 6:30 every.single. morning!! You may have one, too, right? Haha! And if you are like me, when you wake up you may have these little eyes peering at you asking you several things...

Can I have breakfast?
Can I have pizza?
Why aren't you waking up yet?
Can I watch TV? 
Why can't so and so come over today? 
Are we going to Disney?
What are we doing today? 

And if you are like me, which most of you are since you are followers of our fabulous teaching blog, we are teachers and have families!!!

The never ending question of, "What are we doing today?"

 Last I checked I was not activities director of a cruise ship.


Nor am I am clown in a circus to keep my children constantly entertained! Seriously... all humour aside, in these summer months I also realize that my children cannot stay home and eat bon bons with me on the couch a la Peg Bundy either (I loved her!)!

So no fear! I have a list of low cost (no breaking the bank here! A teacher's salary in the summer can only stretch so far! ) and relatively stress free ideas to keep your kids entertained this summer! 

1. Like bowling? AMF offers FREE bowling for kids. Kids get 3 free games every day during the summer months. It's super easy (click on the AMF link I provided for you!) as you just register your kids to get a special number. My kids go at least twice a week. You do have to rent the shoes but it's minimal. Even better is to get other friends who signed up to go with you! More entertainment! 

2. Dollar Movies: Regal Cinemas offers $1 movies on certain days of the week. You'll have to check your local area to see if your theater around you offers. You cannot beat a dollar! The movies are oldies but goodies! 

3. Do you have a builder in the family? Lowes offers free workshops for kids.  You have to pre-register your child before the event. I think this weekend, June 27th there is an Avengers workshop! Check it out and hurry! 

4. Feeling crafty? Michael's offers lots of classes in the summer for your little artists! They have some cute projects on their website and some of their projects involve some inexpensive materials or materials from your home! 

5. Support your local farmers and visit the farmers markets! My kids love to go. Now that it's summer, I love to go to the market. The prices are really inexpensive. I know it is hot but it is the best time to buy those fruits and veggies that my kids love! We bought a super juicy watermelon for $3! Look how yummy! Also wanted to share a tip on how I cut it! I cut it into "sticks"! Way easier for my kids to eat! It was a nice bedtime snack!

5. Visit your local library! It's more than just books! They have movies and CD's. If you look at their schedule they have story time and sometimes special events like puppet shows or zoos that come and do exhibitions for kids! All free! 

6. Explore your city! I will be honest and say that I have lived in my little town for most of my life and there are parks I have never visited so now may be my chance to go! Or maybe there is a place in your state you've always wanted to see! 

These are just a few ideas to share with you! I just learned of the bowling one last year and I was so excited about it! I hope that our list gave you some ideas! I am sure there are so many more we could add! If you'd like to add to our list, please list that in our comments! I hope you take this summer to enjoy the time with your families and create memories to last a lifetime! 

Check back with us for more great ideas! 

Take care! 

Lots of love,

First Grade and Flip Flops

End of the Year Parent Survey

Hey friends! It's Haley from My Silly Firsties. I wanted to stop by today and share something I tried for the first time this year. I think this year has been the most challenging year of my teaching career so far, and I have definitely worked hard to keep a growth mindset this year. It's not always easy for me since I can be pretty hard on myself...can't we all?!? But I truly have tried to look at each setback as an opportunity for growth..just like we ask our sweeties to do. 

So, I decided to send out a survey to my parents this year. I prepared myself for the absolute worst, but was pleasantly surprised by the responses. I also found it to be incredibly helpful in validating what I think my strengths are, and also in seeing what my parents wanted a little more of!

So, first off, I used Survey Monkey to create the survey. I wanted it to be completely anonymous so parents would feel comfortable being honest. I know people always wonder "is that REALLY anonymous?!" But I'm telling IS! Each response is just labeled a number and you don't know what email or anything it comes from. I would definitely encourage you to do it this way, but I know lost of people have great success sending one home on paper. :) The free version only gives you 10 questions, but I think that's actually best. Otherwise it can be overwhelming! 

Now you need to decide what's most important to ask. Since you only get 10 questions on Survey Monkey, that's even more important. :) I know that I don't like taking 100 questions surveys so I think keeping it short is best. :) I also think it's important to ask questions that will help you GROW! If there is an area you are sensitive about, maybe don't ask that question. You just gotta be honest with yourself! :) 

There are several kinds of questions on Survey Monkey, but I only used 2 types. :)  I used a Rating scale on 9/10 questions. BUT...I forgot to add a neutral option, and I really wish I had. So my advice for you, is don't forget! Hahha!! 

Here are some examples of Rating Scale questions you could use. Remember, some people will never put "strongly agree" on everything! That's okay! The important part is that you see trends on what parents think. :) 

Here's an example of how the responses look. You can see them by respondent, or by question. 

And here are some examples of open-ended questions you could ask. I chose to only use the 1st one, because I felt like it was the most important for me. 
Remember, feedback makes us better! We are constantly telling our sweeties that their brains grow everyday and we can always learn something new! :) 

Summer Learning - Keep YOUR Learning Edge!

Greetings My Primary Chalkboard Peeps!
Summer break is either underway or nearing it's glorious entrance into your life! WAHOO! I just LOVE my summer break- it gives me a chance to recharge, relax, and start formulation my plan of attack for the next year.
This summer comes with a whole NEW challenge, as I was just hired as the administrator for my elementary school. I am just flat out stoked about it! I have a great vision of where I want my school to go and how we will get there. It will be a wonderful adventure and I can't wait to share all the details along the way both here and on my blog, An Educator's Life!
Anyways, I digress.
Over the summer, after I have had a chance to sleep in for a week or two, and have had a chance to tackle some projects that have been in the wings waiting, I begin to "wonder".
I wonder if I will be able to keep up the next year.
I wonder if I am aware of the most recent research that will give me the edge I need to help my next class.
I wonder if I was effective in my math instruction.
And my "wondering" goes on and on. I hope I am not alone in this line of thought!

So, my mind then goes to the next logical step... HOW TO ADDRESS all my wondering questions!

Every summer, I devote small amounts of time to reading educational blogs, articles, and professional magazines. In doing so, I find that I still enjoy my summer (hiking, swimming, reunions, and family outings), but I also have a game plan formulating in my teacher brain!

So what exactly DO I read?

That is a great question. Let me share a few of  my tips to MAKING time, and a few of the sites/books that I am currently reading and/or read from frequently!

1) Figure out what it is you want to improve in next year.
     -It can be overwhelming to try and read about LOTS of topics. Narrow it down to one or two and study the heck out of them!

2) Make time to read at least weekly.
     -I tried to MAKE myself read every day one summer. I found that it took the enjoyment out of my summer break, and that I started to resent the opportunity I was trying to make for myself. Now, I set a goal to read ONE article and ONE chapter from a professional text each WEEK! Tons of flexibility and still gives me some accountability. I also feel like I am able to think about what I read and consider if that new learning is worth adding to my skill set for the coming year. And, I can usually finish ONE book in a summer. Easy-Peasy!

3) Share what you are learning- start a blog, share on social media, keep a learning journal, or just simply tell a good friend- teacher or not- what you are learning about.
     -I think it is key in the summer learning cycle, to share what you are learning- with someone- anyone that will listen. I mean, don't become "that person" that scares others away, but find someone you can share your learning with. If you don't, you won't remember it!

4) Enjoy it AND your summer. Remember, this is simply to help you "up your game"! If it becomes tedious, or interferes, then simply adjust it. It's YOUR learning!


1) I just LOVE ASCD! Their Educational Leadership magazine is simply amazing. Here is a free SUMMER edition that ANYONE can read. Click HERE. Once you get to the link, use the left side of the screen to read the article you want to read.

2) Because I want my teachers to use data more to drive their instruction, I am focusing on data-driven classrooms this year. I am reading TWO different books on the topic currently. Again- I try to read one chapter a week in in each!
I am reading:
So far I am loving them! Learning lots about WHY data is important, and how to collect and use data that is helpful!

3) I also love reading newspaper articles each day about what is going on in my state in the education world. I feel empowered knowing what my state and patrons think about education, what the trends are, and what to expect during each legislative session. I also feel prepared to answer parents questions when they arise. In Utah, I love Utah Policy. I get a daily digest of newspaper links for major headline information. Education appears nearly everyday. You can subscribe HERE if you are from Utah (or if you want to read Utah policy).

4) I should own stock in this site. I think 1/2 my paycheck goes to them each month...ha ha. I search their site frequently for books/ebooks about the current topic I am studying. Sometimes there are great FREE E-editions that I will download.

I think that I have probably passed the TMI (Too Much Information) line, so I will leave it at that. Remember, that summer learning IS important, it IS easy, and it WILL help you be a better teacher this fall when you return to school.

Here is to an amazing summer break with a wonderful learning edge!

To find out more about me and my teaching ideas click below.
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Summertime Resources

Aloha Chalkboard friends!  It's Corinna from Surfin' Through Second.  I am so happy to be relaxing and enjoying my summer break.  I have about 6 weeks to soak up the sun and recharge before I head back to the classroom.

Some of you may still be in the classroom and looking for some resources  to finish up the year or even send home with your kids over the summer.

Have you heard about Scholastic's Summer Reading Challenge

They have some great incentives for you school, class and individual readers.  There are also great resources for students, parents and teachers.

Here's a freebie reading log you can send home to
help keep track of reading minutes.

Here's a great reminder for parents to help limit screen time from Your Modern Family. If you haven't checked out their site, it has some fantastic resources and articles.

Here are some great ideas for summer read-alouds.

If you are looking for some resources to send home with your 
students over the summer, here are a few options.

This summer review booklet covers 2nd grade language arts and math skills.

This booklet is geared for 1-3rd

Here are some summer reading activities to help keep kids engaged.
Are you still in the classroom and looking for some fun activities to end the year?

presentations to keep kids focused and engaged.

If your looking for something to put you in a tropical mood you could 
always teach a little unit on Hawaii.

If you are already out of the classroom and looking for a good summer read, follow along with this book study on Teaching With Intention  hosted by The Kindergarten Smorgasboard.

Whether you are on vacation, still working or teaching summer school I hope you find some me time and power up!  

Courtesy of Discovery Education

Sight Word Activities

5 Sight Word Activities that are FUN

Hi there, it's Emma from Clever Classroom.

I love creating resources that are a bit different and require an element of interaction, movement and fun.  You can view the interactive/hands-on resources in my store

This post has inexpensive center ideas that can not only be used with sight words, but with any word list. 

 Are you always on the look out for cheap and also recyclable materials for your students?  I love collecting and using inexpensive props for hands-on literacy activities.

Bottle tops and ping pong balls fall in to this category! There are so many things you can do with both bottle tops and ping-pong balls.

5 Sight Word Activities that are FUN

Use ping pong balls or bottle top lids to create fun, hands-on sight word centers.

Ask staff and students to bring in clean bottle tops.  You could hold a table competition to see who brings in the most tops.  Collect them in a container and write on the top of each lid with a permanent marker.

You can use any word list for the 5 activities mentioned below.

5 Sight Word Activities that are FUN

1. 5 Sight Word Activities that are FUN: Egg Carton Shake read Write

2. 5 Sight Word Activities that are FUN: Hockey Word Challenge

 I have created a whole bunch of bottle top activities with record sheets and instruction cards, all of which can be used with any word list. 

Bottle Cap Center Games for any Word List BUNDLE

3. 5 Sight Word Activities that are FUN: Count Toss and Record

4. 5 Sight Word Activities that are FUN: Blow your Lid

5. 5 Sight Word Activities that are FUN: Woggle

Find more of these games in our Bottle Top Games bundle.

For even more sight word ideas, see my blog post.

Thanks for dropping by.

Emma Farrell - Clever Classroom