Egg Hunt for Heroes and Easter Freebies

After our egg hunt last year, my kiddos were left with buckets of candy, rolls of stickers, a pile of bouncy balls, and oodles of tiny trinkets. With all of the goodies from the Easter Bunny and family, it was just too much. A few weeks later when I threw away most of that stale candy, I realized we needed to do something better- something more meaningful!

This year we are having our first annual Egg Hunt for Heroes! We will be giving back to Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that is near and dear to the hearts of my family. We will be celebrating the life of my sister-in-law's brother, who heroically gave his life serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Instead of filling our eggs with candy and prizes, all of our Easter dinner guests are bringing eggs filled with money. Rusty and Lanie helped us fill our eggs with change from their bank. 
On Easter, all of the kiddos will still be collecting eggs in their baskets. After finding all of the eggs, they'll crack them open and dump their donations into our collection jar. The little ones in my family are too young to count up all of the money, but this would be a great project for older kids. We are so excited for our children to learn about giving back and celebrate those who have selflessly given to protect others. What a wonderful way to spread the message of Easter!  

You can download the Egg Hunt for Heroes signs here. Please share this idea with your friends, family and schools. This would also be a wonderful classroom or Sunday School activity!

We are also sending a big thank you to the wonderful teachers at Rusty's preschool. We mixed up some Bunny Tail Trail Mix for them! This super simple recipe is sweet, salty, adorable, and delicious!

 Here are the ingredients we used:

Annie's Snicker Doodle Bunnie Cookies (2 bags)
Salted Peanuts
Milk Chocoloate M&M's
M&M's Mini Malted Eggs

We just poured all of the ingredients into a big mixing bowl. (Try not to eat too much as your stir!)

We scooped our Bunny Tail Trail Mix into cellophane bags. We filled 12 treat bags, but this yummy treat would also be perfect for a giant jar or bowl! 

I helped Rusty sign his name, and we attached gift tags to each bag. You can download the tags here. I just love these little bunnies with the glasses!

Happy Easter friends!


From Daily Five Dropout to Center Success!

First, I must admit--- I am a Daily Five dropout! #dontjudge  I really, really, really wanted traditional Daily Five rotations to work in my classroom. We rolled them out, we built our stamina, we practiced, we gained our independence.... but after a couple months, it was obvious that it just wasn't working for my group of learners this year. I know lots of amazing teachers who love Daily Five, but I knew my firsties needed something different.

What I loved about Daily Five rotations was the easy preparation, simple routine, and emphasis on reading and writing. I didn't need to constantly make cutesy games, and I didn't lose teaching time explaining new directions for activities. So when I went back to the drawing board, I created new center rotations that kept my favorite parts of Daily Five.

At my new centers, I wanted my kiddos to work in pairs. When they were in bigger groups, there was more talking, and certain kids in each group always did the marjority of the work. I settled on 11 centers so everyone who was not at my teacher table had a center. Our intervention block lasts for an hour so I rotate centers every 15 minutes. Throughout the hour, I call different reading groups to work with me.
Here are the centers we love....

Draw and Write

Kiddos complete a simple directed drawing, add details, and write about their pictures. (I love these drawings made by From the Pond.) In my sample, I try to include some new words we are learning. Even if they copy my sentences, they are practicing our new skills.

I hang a directed drawing and work sample. In the center basket, we keep plain paper, pencils, crayons, and clipboards.

Magnetic Letters
Kiddos read and build sight words using magnetic letters. They can also read their sight words in phrases. Some firsties are good at reading sight words, but have trouble spelling them or reading them fluently in text so these activities really help!
I post our new sight words and a ring of sight word phrases. I keep a box filled with magnetic letters beside our giant automotive drip pan.

Window Words

Firsties write words with patterns, such as word family words, on our classroom window by the door. We focus on our newest pattern, but they can also practice writing words from any pattern from our word family wall. (You can check out the posters here.) They love writing words on the window and knowing that people in the hall can see their work!

I hang our newest word family posters. I put dry erase markers and felt squares (erasers) in a magnetic basket inside the window frame. It's super simple set up and clean up!


Over the years, I got several different magazine subscriptions in my classroom. I saved one of each issue and laminated them if they were just a few pages. Kids read the magazines and record their new learning. Sometimes all of the magazines focus on one topic and sometimes there is an assortment of topics. (This basket focused on frogs.)

I put several magazines in the bin with pencils and recording sheets or a blank pieces of paper. I use small pieces of paper, because there is only so much writing kids can get done in 15 minutes if they are reading first.

Smelly Spelling

I save my fun writing utensils for this center. I always keep Mr. Sketch markers there, but I also put in silly and seasonal pens. Students can choose to write individual word lists or write their words in sentences or a story.

I hang our spelling words for the whole month. In the basket we keep smelly markers, fun pens, and 2 sizes of lined paper (one for word lists and one for sentences.)

Read and Write

Kids pick books from the book rack. Some of the books we read together the previous week and some of them are new books. Atfter reading, students write about the books using a response sheet. The responses may included facts from non-fiction books, story elements, or character thoughts and feelings.

I set out books that are focusd on one topic, author, or character. I hang a work sample that shows a response to a book we read together. In the basket, we keep response sheets, pencils, crayons, and clipboards. (You can grab response sheets for winter, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day in my store now. Click here for the Martin Luther King responses.)

Read to Someone

There are no surprises here! Kids sit together and read books from their independent book baskets. They love the matching mini chairs from Target or squeezing together to fit in my teacher chair. You can see them reading together and talking about books. I also allow students to "shop" for new levled books for their book bins at this center. 

The only supplies here are chairs or empty floor space. Partner bring their own book bins. 


I am lucky enough to have 6 ipads in my classroom. At any given time, 3 sets of partners can be working on ipads to practice their reading skills. We store all of the ipads together, and I have one student tech assistant who helps make sure everything is put away and charged. 

Big Books

You can always pick out the future teachers at Big Books! Students read big books together and take turns using the teacher's pointer. They also take turns being the teacher and asking their partner questions. I just rotate the books being displayed. 

When I first realized Daily Five centers were not working, I was reluctant to change. Now I am thrilled that I tried something new that works for ME and for my LEARNERS! 

Center Success

I got so many requests for my center signs that I created signs and rotation board cards for every classroom! Click on the picture to check them out!

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