Fall, Apples, & Johnny Appleseed



The leaves will be changing, sweaters & boots come out of the closet, & PUMPKIN SPICED LATTE!

The world will be “balanced” again!

To celebrate the 

I have a new apple activity for fall!
Apple pie, apple cake, applesauce…apple everything!

September is the MONTH of celebrations!
We celebrate Johnny Appleseed’s birthday too.



To add to this year’s celebration..
I have a NEW product.

Apples are the BEST!






September Literacy Booklets for Apples and Johnny Appleseed.

Booklet style..2 on a page..B/W

21 PAGES of Reading, Graphic organizers, Word Work, Grammar, labeling, & Writing!
Great for Whole Class, Small groups, Partner Work, Independent practice.

Early Finishers WILL LOVE THIS!

Fall themed. 

If you need more Literacy Products… follow 1stgradefireworks

I hope you can enjoy 
Follow my PINTEREST boards for
Bring on FAll

Bring on FALL! We are READY!

Have I mentioned…


OK…Many times.

I live in NORCAL.

We don’t have the  TRADITIONAL

4 seasons.



we have

Summer ( 90-100 degrees )

Fall   (  80-90 degrees)

Winter   (  foggy…  60-70 degrees…sometimes cooler )

Spring  ( 70-90 degrees )



OH…well…  🙂

And so on.

SO now that it’s 80 degrees & FALL..

What’s UP in ROOM 3??

Fall Brings…


We use Brag Tags on rings during the month.

They earn BRAG TAGS


 following classroom / school rules



At the end of each month…

They transfer their earned BRAG TAGS  from RINGS…

To string necklaces.

They get to wear their necklaces ALL DAY AT SCHOOL

and then


( Parents are told at BTS night to

 REWARD their kids for necklaces

 at the end of the month!)  🙂

Fall Brings…

English   Language   Arts

Word Work

Word  Sorts…NO GLUE!

Pick 3 crayons.

Color the words according to the KEY!


Back from 2 week vacation.


 I don’t have a teacher desk.           #bestdecisionever

Reading  ROCKERS!    #alternativeseating

Birthday  Books.

On each student’s birthday  ( or close  to ),

We make a class BIRTHDAY  BOOK!

We do these during  MUST DO TIME!

Independent work.

We have a “FRAME” style we use.

Everyone makes a page.

We STAPLE together and VOILA!


We sing and dance as we PRESENT ( haha )  it to the birthday  student!

LAST..( whew..what a  week !)

Fall Brings…


My  newest  &  favorite time of the day!

 We are doing

MATH  MUST  DO’s  &  MAY  Do’s

( Same format as ELA centers in the AM )


We go the the MATH  Calendar  (  next to ELA  Calendar  )

after  lunch.

Math  Calendar

After  we go through the “math board”…

We NOW ( Quarter 2)  do MATH MUST DO’S.

(  Approx.  45   minutes  )

Must DO’s


Story  Problem  with  illustrations &  number  sentence.

#2    Math  Paper

A  Workbook Page FROM  YESTERDAY ( review )

#3    MATH   TUB  (center)  with a PARTNER

I do the whole class MATH lesson  BEFORE  centers.

SOMETIMES we do the workbook page together…sometimes they do.

Depends on the Lesson.  We  have a district curriculum to follow.

( Approx.  time    45  minutes  )

What  am I doing?


I meet with 2-3  kids at a time.

We work on a STRATEGY.

NO  worksheets!

They need  to have independent  strategies to do ON THEIR OWN!

I  can’t  take the assessments  FOR THEM!


Here is what’s UP  in room 3 in the FALL?

Need  supplements for ELA  or MATH?

Brag Tags

Balanced Literacy

Check out my store for GOODIES!


Teacher appreciation at graduation.

What is Teacher Appreciation? It might SURPRISE you!


I am a VETERAN teacher.


 I have NOT fought in a WAR.

I have taught in GRADE 1

 ( exclusively )

for over 25 years!


( Never “graduated” to second grade..as my students tell me!) 🙂

Do kids appreciate their teacher?

Kids graduating from elementary class

I have changed my “VIEW” on teacher appreciation.

 We ALL want to be appreciated.

We want to be recognized for SOMETHING “GOOD”  we have done!


things can get a little … OUT OF HAND!

I believe…


I believe,  there are

those who are


and those who


Super Teacher

Super Teacher

I will say this ONE TIME…


The teacher’s with the SUPER highest test scores

are NOT, always,

the teachers who are


Now…disclaimer…teachers work WAY TOO hard!

I got that!

Some are SOOOOOO  focused on the “data”…

they forget, or can’t “document” the traits of the child the “data” came from!

Nowhere is there a box to check that says:

                                   ___  Didn’t have breakfast ( or dinner the night before ).

                                         ___ Couldn’t sleep because parents were arguing LOUDLY!

                      ___ No one would help with homework/reading

                            ( for the past two weeks!)

___  not in a good “mind set”  today.

REMEMBER –   these are kids!

This is life!

To attach a “number” to a student based on “today’s testing module”

is NOT

 what teaching is all about!

( Ok sorry…OFF my soapbox!)


Teacher Appreciation.

Where? How? When?

Admin's appreciate teachers.

Administrator’s appreciate a teacher’s work.


Please… I don’t need a new pen with my school name on it.

If YOU really want to show me your appreciation…

HAVE MY BACK during an IEP

when ‘the team” says


By the time I have gotten to his stage…


Take the stand that I AM DONE!


Now I have great admin’s…

I know they have my back!


If you want to “give” me something…


…Take my class for an hour at the end of the day, if MY child is at home sick!

… Come in and do reading groups once in a while

( an extra adult doing centers is ALWAYS appreciated).

You see…it’s NOT about the “things”

it’s about WHAT you DO!

How do you know if your “team” appreciates YOU?
Do your working peers appreciate YOU?

Teacher groups working together.

Do you “share”?

Do you “follow through?”

Do you “care” about each other?

My “teaching partner”…

and I have taught next to each other

( rooms 3 & 4)

for 26  years!

We are going to retire together

the same year…in 3-4 years.

( We “pinky swore”…

..as long as nothing catastrophic happens before then).

Her mom worked in her room. (Before COVID)

I call her MOM!

Our student’s think we are


Teacher friends appreciate each other!

Teacher friends

See the family “resemblance”?

In my heart…SOUL SISTERS!

We run homework for each other.

We share our students.

We laugh, we cry, we CARE about each other!

We are NOT the ONLY grade 1 teachers.

We have 1-2 others who teach with us.

( Depending on the year and student numbers).

We ALWAYS include them!

This is NOT a





Feel appreciated? YEP! Daily.

( I could have transferred to another school in MY district..many times!)



CRAZY TITLE 1 school!

and then…

Your students…

Students appreciate the work their teacher does.

First Grade students celebrating with an appreciated teacher!

Finally, When do they make YOU feel appreciated?

When you are passing out report cards?

Is it when they forgot their homework?

Or better,  when they have interrupted you for the 1000th time that day?

Probably NOT!

It’s when that SAME little girl walks in EVERY morning

and says…

“Can I have a HUG?”


When the little boy who STUTTERS ( severely )…

asks if he can READ his newest story


( And EVERYONE cheers  for him!)


The “behavior problem” child

who knows ( his MAMA tells him a lot )

that he is a PROBLEM…

and he hands me a heart he made with a picture of me & him!

( Melts my heart..right before he hits another student!)

and last…

the “older students” who come back…

just to say HI!

Graduation Caps to tell teachers the are appreciated.

Graduation Caps


“I got my driver’s license & I promise to be safe..just like you said!”

“I got a full-ride scholarship…to HARVARD!”.. yes it did happen!

“I want to be back in first grade so I can PAINT!”

“Thank you, Mrs. McCarty, for listening to me!”

Giggles, Grins, Hugs, & High Fives to 


YOU make a difference!

Shared writing

2020 is a New Decade | We get a “Balanced Literacy” DO-OVER – Week 6: Shared Writing

And a FREE BALANCED LITERACY Resource to get you started!

2021 is the Year of BALANCED LITERACY!

But wait! THIS IS 2021!

Did I miss it???  NO!

2021 is a new decade!

We get a BALANCED LITERACY  “do-Over” to include writing!

Ready to UPDATE your literacy block? 

Here is your NEW YEAR PLAN!

Why? What? and How?

The elementary classroom Balanced literacy model has been defined as  “an approach designed to help individual students learn how to process a variety of increasingly challenging texts with understanding and fluency.” (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001)

As a result,  It is HOW we teach our students to be independent readers and writers. It is NOT what books we use to teach them.

Balanced Literacy has been defined in “components” or  “pieces” of literacy instruction.

This 8-week series will focus on the components of a complete BALANCED LITERACY program. We will focus on clear and concise definitions. Definitions that educators can discuss in collaboration.

A “common language” where we can learn from each other and with each other.

The 8 components we will focus on are:

  1. Read Alouds
  2. Shared Reading
  3. Guided Reading
  4. Independent Reading
  5. Modeled / Interactive Writing
  6. Shared Writing
  7. Guided Writing / Writer’s Workshop
  8. Word Work

Each week we will focus on one area of Balanced Literacy and share experiences,  teacher tips, and resources to support and expand our Balanced Literacy repertoire.


This week:   Shared  Writing.

Week 1:  We discussed Read Alouds.

Week 2: We discussed   Shared Reading.

Week 3:  We discussed Guided Reading.

Week 4: We discussed Independent Reading.

Week 5: We discussed Interactive Writing.

This week we jump into


Let’s talk about Shared Writing.

Before we write, we read, discuss, preview new vocabulary, and make connections about our thoughts and ideas.

Shared writing is an instructional approach to teach writing to students by writing with them. The idea is to teach writing through writing. The process of writing is demonstrated by the teacher through a ‘write aloud’ process. The teacher acts as a scribe while the students contribute ideas.

Effective literacy teachers present the demonstration, explanation, and models needed by naïve writers in order for them to understand how and why to incorporate genre and text structures (and such transcription skills as punctuation and spelling) into their own writing behavior.  ReadWriteThink.org

First, we will discuss Shared Writing.  The teacher transcribes the entire text while engaging students in a rich discussion about how the text should be composed.

  • Shared writing is taught to small groups or a whole class in briskly paced, 5- to 20-minute lessons.
  • Plan lessons for types of writing that present particular challenges to your students.
  • First, develop and extend children’s background and language knowledge on a topic or experience of interest.
  • Establish a purpose for the writing and an intellectually engaging opportunity for students to apply new learning.
  • Write the entire text yourself in front of students (using chart paper or document viewer) while requesting input from students regarding aspects of the writing where they most need to expand their expertise.

Stop for a moment and VISUALIZE what you have read.

  • During the writing, model processes needed by your students. Have a small whiteboard available, for example, to demonstrate to students how to say a word slowly and write sounds heard into “sound boxes” (Clay, 2006) before writing a phonetically regular word into the text for them.
  • Demonstrate in-the-moment revision during shared writing as necessary to construct a strong draft. Reread the text to students from time to time to discuss what needs to be written next or to monitor whether or not the text conveys information clearly.
  • Do not deliberately make errors during shared writing. Model the immediate construction of a high-quality draft.
  • Read the completed text to students.
  • Post the text in an accessible spot in the classroom, and provide opportunities for students to read or use the text multiple times over the next several days or weeks.


Some tips to keep in mind for shared writing:

  • I use large paper that looks just like the paper the children use during writing workshop. I write on chart paper or perhaps a SmartBoard so the whole group can easily read it.
  • The children are engaged and involved in telling the story (or essay, song, poem, or other kinds of text).
  • I restate/scaffold children’s language by modeling rich language and coach them when they are the storyteller.
  • Over time, children see each step of the writing process modeled:
    • Coming up with ideas
    • Planning across the pages, rehearsing how the text will go
    • Drafting words and sentences
    • Revising
    • Editing
    • Publishing
  • Over time, children see qualities of good writing modeled:
    • Meaning
    • Organization/Structure
    • Genre
    • Detail
    • Voice
    • Conventions
  • TwoWritingTeachers
Shared Writing

How to Take Care of a Goldfish. The Daily Cupcake

The Daily Cupcake

Shared Writing

Shared Writing – MAth Anchor Chart – Kindergals


Tools that may be helpful for shared writing:


Mr. Sketch Smelly Markers

Mr. Sketch smelly markers

Teacher Books that may help with Shared Writing:


These literacy posts may help in YOUR Balanced Literacy journey.

Balanced Literacy

Read At Home

Flexible Seating

Read Alouds

Reading at Home

So…Leave me a comment… What does  Shared Writing look like in YOUR classroom?

2019 is the year of Balanced Literacy! Brag Tag FREEBIE!

2019 is the year of Balanced Literacy! Brag Tag FREEBIE!



10 Things You Need.

10 Teacher Items YOU need TODAY!

Back to School is coming soon. I am NOT ready! I love summer vacation.

BUT…I do need to start getting ready.


My vacation brain won’t wrap around the thought of setting up my classroom!

WHAT do I need?

Help is on the way!

Here are 10 teacher items YOU need TODAY!

Like it? Pin it!

1. Flair Pens. You NEED at least 24. The MORE the Merrier!
2. Astrobright Paper – You will print EVERYTHING in colored paper!
3. Book Boxes- Where will your kids put all of their independent reading books?
4. storage drawers- Where to keep all of YOUR stuff?
5. pencil sharpener – THE BEST!
6. labels – After you get all of your ‘goodies” unpacked…LABEL everything so YOU can find them later!
7. Growth Mindset Posters – Helping kids and adults create a positive mindset.
8. Writing Centers – Every classroom needs a place for writing.
9. Teacher Planner – YOU KNOW YOU NEED THIS!!!
10. Balanced Literacy Resource – MY personal FAVORITE! Helps me remember what I need to do!
It’s time to start the thinking. Begin the planning. Open my teacher Bag.
Check out my BACK to School Pinterest Board! Pin If you LIKE!

First I need to jump in the pool again!
Maybe I’ll start tomorrow!

When you are ready…Let me know!

Sight Words for Word walls

Those CRAZY Word Walls!


I can honestly say, in my 27 years in first grade,

I have “redone” my word wall

probably 26 times!

My dilemma is always the same…

How to put them on the wall so kids can

access them ( at ANY reading level!)?

At first, I thought “A..B..C” order.

Then, I thought “by curriculum unit..week 1..week 2, etc”.

Next, I thought ” phonics sounds ..short a..short e…etc”.

Last, I thought “they don’t even LOOK at IT!”

and so…


What to do?  What to do?



So what do THEY want?

What will THEY use?

What do THEY want it to look like?

And they TOLD ME!!

They helped me “SOLVE” our Word Wall “PROBLEM”!

Baby eyes wide open

WHAT? You want ME to help SOLVE our WORD WALL PROBLEM???

My Word Wall 

Now our word wall has sight words we use for 6 weeks

( 1 unit of our curriculum).


These words will be in our stories 


on our TESTS!


We study them EVERY day ( at Morning Meeting ) 


we play I SPY with the words wall DAILY!

The kids practice with each other, too!

Partner Practice…yippee!

We use our chromebooks, write on our desks with whiteboard markers, flash cards to take home, and we play LOTS of word games!


My WORD WALL focus’ on sight words.

I teach vocabulary words, but those go on our focus wall for weekly connections. 

This year…I am adding personal word walls to their writer’s workshop folders. 


They will add words THEY need to use in THEIR writing.

 This was last year when we did WAY TOO many 

words at one time!



"W" words on word wall

Word Wall by ABC order

word wall

Large Word Wall by ABC order

word games

Sight Word games from the Word Wall

Lots of games to practice our “words”.

I have some games and products

 to help with WORD WALLS.

Check them out!

So to Conclude…

When putting up word walls, fewer WORDS at one time is BEST!

Teach to MASTERY!  Review!  Practice!  Be consistent!

PINTEREST HAS A MULTITUDE of resources to help.

I found these:

To download the editable version of this product, Click Here!This free word wall is colorful, simple, and perfect for back-to-school! This download includes:- Word Wall Banner- Alphabet Letter Cards- Fry's First 100 Sight Word Cards- 10 Color Word Cards

         Especially Education  

Word Wall - Using magnets to make the word wall accessible to the students. Great for Writer's Workshop and other writing activities!

       All Students Can Shine

A Sunny Day in First Grade: Weekend Warriors: Moving Word Wall!

    A Sunny Day in First Grade

Grade 1 Word Wall... 222 Word CARDS!

222  SIGHT  WORDS from 1stgradefireworks

Here are MORE ways to help your students learn to READ

I hope this helps your students become BETTER readers and writers!

Leave me a comment. How are things going? Anything I can do to help?  🙂

Wendy   1stgradefireworks


Partner Reading. A HUGE component of Balanced Literacy.

Partner Reading for Reading Comprehension

I LOVE to watch kids read!

Their faces “light up” when they “GET IT!”

They giggle at illustrations.

They laugh OUT LOUD,

when things are FUNNY!

They squint with their eyebrows touching when they can’t figure something out.


And then..we ask them to 


My students did NOT want to partner read.

We had partners read together for reading comprehension.

Add flexible seating and VOILA! Readers!

Share the excitement of reading with ANOTHER!


It’s like I have asked them to “give a kidney!”

They don’t want to share.

NO! NO! Don’t make me give away my LOVE of reading!


I didn’t ask you to give it away…just spread the LOVE!

As a result…we share.

We PARTNER read!

My students did NOT want to partner read. We had partners read together for reading


Add flexible seating and VOILA! Readers!

We partner read to help increase reading comprehension through partner discussion.

 We share a lot..and we share WELL!

I LOVE Daily 5

( no affiliation or permission from 2sisters…just LOVE their stuff!)

I am sooooo excited!

Today I took the legs OFF of one of my tables!

I have NEVER done ANYTHING like this BEFORE!


My kiddos LOVE it!

I told them it was a “WORK PLACE” and only students who are

“WORKING” can be there!


They worked, and worked, and worked!

Here they are:

Later in the day…there were 10 students on ipads with headphones

ALL engaged! 


Now BACK to Partners..

We use chairs facing each other.

We use chairs NEXT to each other.

We sit on the floor and read.

And we lay down and read.

And HOW do I choose PARTNERS?

3 ways:


My choice,

Their choice.

I use popsicle sticks with their names on it,

if they are rereading text we have read together.

That way, the partners reading level is NOT an issue.

Just a reread.

I choose the PARTNERS if the story is a “LEVELED” read.

That way I can be assured both partners

 have the necessary skills to comprehend the text.

And…they choose!

We do MUST DO’s and MAY DO’s

for guided reading.

My class has a list of centers they MUST DO

before they MAY DO their choices.

Usually the “paper” center is a PARTNER CENTER.

They can choose a partner who can “help” them.

Or they can choose to “work by themselves”.

Last, It’s their CHOICE.

They look for the PARTNER symbol on the MUST DO board.

I like the discussions and the community that comes from a busy classroom.

They learn from me and from each other.

I am looking into more alternative seatings for groups in my classroom.

So more partners can work together.

How do YOU group students for working in YOUR classroom?

Toby Keith and his Red Solo Cup...what does that have to do with PAINTING?

Toby Keith, Red Solo Cups, and Watercolors

Red Solo Cups…

Um…I’m talking about in my classroom LADIES & GENTS!
What DID YOU THINK…Hmmmm??? 🙂
My kiddos had a problem with markers.
No lids, mixing up colors, etc…
I needed a 12 step intervention. 


Toby Keith and Red solo Cups?
What does that have to do with markers & painting
in our first grade classroom?
Check it out!

( I hear the Toby Keith song in my head!)

What does that have to do with Markers?

Toby Keith and his Red Solo Cup…what does that have to do with Markers?

But… I need those Cups!


Here is our before… in a tub . 
ALL mixed up. YUCK!

 Enter my HERO!
My firsties have become OCD about it!
ALL lids on! check
Colors separated! check
Markers standing tall! check
…sorry song stuck in my head!)
Thought I’d add some FIRSTIE LOVE TOO…
We never paint!
 Well, we haven’t until now.
So here is our gift to you!
(Doesn’t take much to make us happy!) 

Do you like to play games? GOTCHA!


I really do.

My kiddos LOVE to play games.

They learn to take turns, to negotiate, to strategize…
and to win peacefully, 
and lose graciously.
So…I created a game.
Not just ANY game.
A game kindergartners can play WITH second graders…
Here is my newest product:
(Think 4-in-a-row type games.)


The directions are pretty simple…
Take turns placing your tokens on the MAT…
Try to get 4 in a row.
You can get 4 in a row horizontal, vertical, or diagonal!
BUT…be careful!
Your partner will try to BLOCK YOU!
When you BLOCK them…


Multiple game mats are included.
You can play a variety of levels, as needed.
Differentiation at its BEST!


The tokens are what make the difference.
There are a variety of leveled tokens.
From ABCs & 123’s…to short vowels…to contractions, and more!
Players must READ before playing a token!
READ?  and have fun???   


Packet includes:

3 differentiated game mats.

16 different themed player tokens.
Here is a PREVIEW of the packet.
Click Below
Happy Summer my friends!
Wendy  1stgradefireworks 
vowel kids

Welcome the VOWEL KIDS!

I would like you to meet my newest friends!

The vowel kids!

This is KATE. ( long a)

 Her twin sister is Anna. ( Short a )

Anna left us for a short “vacation”

…so I can use her picture for LONG A!

Thank you to Nikki from MELONHEADZ for the cutie pies!

We took each vowel family and did some writing!

We brainstormed words ( see the word box) 

that have our phonics pattern for the week.

 Then we did an interactive writing .

( see my BALANCED LITERACY packet, 

if you haven’t done INTERACTIVE WRITING)

The kids decided on her story. And then…


Meet the vowel kids

Meet the Vowel Kids

They were so cute! Best editors ever! 


After we finished…

they critiqued. 


They decided yellow was too hard to read.


They said that handwriting is very important,

 if you want others to read it.


They said spelling is important. It can change the meaning.


And lastly, writing large and spacing our words,

makes it easier to read. 

WOW! They were listening! 🙂

And so …each week for the next 4 weeks

I will introduce another friend.

Long e, Long i, Long o, and Long u.


We will chat, create, and write!

I Love my JOB!

If you are looking for more

writing ideas..

Stop on by!

Daily Language Practice

Balanced Literacy

Write ON!


Balanced Literacy

Helping kids EDIT their WRITING