I hope everyone is having a great start to their school year!  I always seem to forget how exhausting it is!  #backtoschooltired I wanted to drop in to share one of my favorite activities we did in second grade for reading.  Hang with me first and third grade teachers!  This can be adapted for your classroom, too! I wanted to get my students excited about citing evidence from the text, since that is the big push these days in reading.  I am constantly looking for ways to get my littles engaged in their learning and using the detective theme throughout the year helped me accomplish just that!  I like to start the second week of school by introducing my Text Detectives Only! Book Club.  We start out by reading Secret Agent Splat, since we read Back to School Splat the week before, so they are familiar with that cute little cat.  Then, we make an anchor chart together as a class.  Each student writes one thing they think a detective does on a post-it note and I add it to the anchor chart.

reading anchor chart
graphic inspired by Graphics from the Pond

I then tell the students that I received a letter in our classroom mailbox that was addressed to our class.  It's an invitation to the Text Detectives Only Book Club.  I read the letter to them and give them the applications that were enclosed with the letter. They each fill out an application to the book club.  This gives them such ownership to the future activities we will be completing related to the book club.

Detectives need tools, so I ordered some fun magnifying glasses from Amazon Prime.  They were just the right size and a lot come in the pack!  Look at the fun colors!  You can find them by clicking on the pic below. 

I also ordered these cool invisible pens that include a black light for them to highlight text evidence in passages or just to right secret messages related to their case.  They're so fun!  The link to the pens are in the pics below.


Isn't Prime great?  I probably should be banned from it!  I got these name badge holders, too, from there.  I use them for everything.  When we are text detectives, I place these little detective name badges in them for students to wear.

These are some other fun detective themed books you can find on Amazon.  I like to choose one a day to read aloud and we complete one of the graphic organizers from the pack to get students used to recording on the graphic organizers.  It also gives them more background knowledge on the job of a detective.

I have made a "Case File" for each Literature and Informational Text Common Core Standard.  I attach the case cover to a large manilla envelope.  I then laminate it for durability.  If you plan on doing this whole group, you will only need one case for each standard.  If you plan on using this for small groups, you will want to make enough for each group.


In each case file, I put graphic organizers for each student related to that standard.  I always keep one in there throughout the year, so I can just pull that case and copy that organizer.  It helps me stay organized.  

I may put a book in that case file we are using for our read aloud.  I mostly do this at the beginning of introducing a comprehension standard, because I feel it's important to model it together.  Once they get comfortable with a standard, I will give each group a different case with different books or passages and rotate them during the unit.

I also like to switch it up and include passages rather than actual books.  They can use the invisible pens to highlight the text or a highlighter.  

I believe it's important to use the same graphic organizers throughout the year for each standard.  They become automatic with students and they will start visualizing them while reading and even in their writing.  

At the end of the week or unit, we celebrate solving our cases by meeting in books clubs.  I assign groups and each group will discuss their core read aloud from the week or whatever book or passage you wish.  I like to use cold reads sometimes just for a quick assessment to see if they really got the skill.  You might want them to discuss their reading story before a comprehension test.  Each group member will fill out a mini graphic organizer over the story or passage and then paste it to a small brown paper bag.  You can then fill the bag with popcorn or another easy snack.  

Each group is assigned a leader who gets the book club discussion going.  They discuss their graphic organizers, as well as go through the book club discussion cards.  I usually laminate and add them to a binder ring.  

It's been a great resource for getting students in the habit of citing text that supports their answers.  And it makes it not seem like so much of a chore to them.  I would have students begging me for their next case!  I also loved that the discussions during book clubs really helped build their speaking and listening skills.  The discussion cards really helped keep them focused.

Since the second grade resources were so popular, I decided to create Text Detectives Only Book Club packs for first and third grade, too.  Each pack includes all of the same detective resources and graphic organizers and case files to match your standards.


It's Sunday afternoon and time to take a nap!  Have a great rest of your weekend!

This past week, we had our kindergarten night and open house.  This was the first time we met our new, sweet students and their parents.  As you may know, I moved from second grade to a kindergarten team teaching position.  We wanted to make our 38 kindergarteners and their parents feel welcome and excited about their upcoming kindergarten year.  I am going to share with you some easy and fun little gifts you can use to greet your new little ones and their families.

back to school open house kindergarten night

We went with a happy rainbow and chalkboard theme in our kindergarten suite, so we wanted our gift to match our theme.  Holly came up with the idea of giving them Jello with this cute little saying, "Jello!  Welcome to Kindergarten!"  I told her it was the most adorable idea ever and we went with it!  We were going to attach a spoon, but we decided not to so the students could just eat it at home.  You can grab the free labels by clicking on any of the pics below.  I have included labels for grades Pre-K through third and they're FREE!

welcome to kindergarten labels

welcome to school labels

For our parent gifts, we went with something not so original.  We thought the water bottles with a Crystal Light attached was an easy option.  It also matches the blog, which was fun!  We punched a hole in the card and the Crystal Light pack and tied it with twine around the bottle.  You can grab these FREE labels by clicking any of the pics below.

parents like you are so refreshing labels

parents like you are so refreshing labels

At Kindergarten night, we meet with the parents in the cafeteria where we present our expectations and everything they need to know about school.  We then walked them down to our classrooms for a little tour.  At the end of the tour, they got to visit the parent table.  We put a jar on the table for parents to throw in a wish for their child in kindergarten.  It was the sweetest little thing ever!  I have included the sign, the tag, and the wish slips in a little FREEBIE.  You can click any of the pics below to grab a copy.  It's a great way to get your parents excited about the year!

Kindergarten night was a huge success!  Everyone loved their little gifts, and they were super easy for us to throw together!  What do you do for your back to school or open house night?  I can't wait to hear!  Happy back to school and have a great week!

Over at the iTeach Blogs, there is a big giveaway going on right now in celebration of back to school!  One lucky winner will win an iPad Air 2, an owl case, a stylus pen, and a $15 gift card to iTunes.  This would be a great asset to any classroom!

How to enter?  Just fill out the rafflecopter entry over at one of the iTeach blogs and the end of THIS POST.  Leave a comment telling why you want to win or how you would use the prize in your classroom.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, August 8th, so hurry on over and enter!  A random winner will be selected and announced on the iTeach blogs via the Rafflecopter on Sunday, August 9th.  Good luck!

Last year, my school's first grade team asked me if I could come up with some resources to supplement their Journeys Reading Series.  They knew I had created them for second grade and felt like something similar would be really useful for them in first.  We brainstormed some skills they would like to be hit in each unit, as well as activities and printables, and went from there.  

first grade journeys supplemental resources

first grade journeys supplemental resources

There is always a comprehension skill focus each week, whether it be main idea, drawing conclusions, etc.  I always include a student mini-booklet, a flap book, posters, and an interactive notebook template.  I like to include enough activities for each day of the unit.



I always like to post the spelling, vocabulary, and high frequency words in a pocket chart for students to use at word work and writing centers, along with the picture cards that come with the series.

first grade journeys supplemental resources

first grade journeys supplemental resources

We push and say the sounds for each spelling words on these little word mats.  Letter tiles specifically for each lesson can be printed for each student and stored in plastic storage bags.  I print the word mats on card stock and laminate them to be reused each week.

first grade journeys supplemental resources

I know that many first grade teachers like to send home flash cards each week with students.  These are vocabulary flash cards.  Not only do I make up a motion for each word, but we also draw illustrations to help us remember the meaning of our weekly vocabulary words.  They can cut them apart and store them in these accordion files I found in the Target Dollar Spot.  High frequency and spelling word flash cards are also included.

first grade journeys supplemental resources

Read the Room is always a class favorite.  I like to mix it up each week.  One week, we may actually go around the room with our clipboards hunting for words with our spelling sound of the week.  The next week, I have them go on a text hunt with these fun little magnifying glasses.  I picked these up on Amazon.

first grade journeys supplemental resources

first grade journeys supplemental resources

Who doesn't love a good board game?!  This is one of their favorite parts of the unit, so I included two different ones in each resource.  One is for spelling and the other for high frequency words.  

Five learning centers are always included.  Four are for word work and the fifth is for your grammar skill for the week.  I have tried to make them as easy to prepare as possible.  Just print, laminate, and cut.  The centers for each week follow the same structure, so you never have to take the time to teach the centers for the week to your students after the first couple of weeks.  I worried that they may get tired of having such similar centers each week, but no one has ever complained about it.  I think they like knowing what to expect and just love having that time at a center.  I have also tried to make them fun for the students to keep wanting more!

first grade journeys supplemental resources

These little magnetic chips and a good magnet wand are perfect for Bingo.  They make for such easy clean up when a game is over.  I would definitely recommend purchasing a set if you don't already have some.

first grade journeys supplemental resources

You will notice that I use Smart Pals for all of my centers.  They are worth the investment.  I know there are a lot of similar products out there, but these have been the most durable from year to year.  I also save a ton on paper and ink, and the dry erase markers are always a hit with the little ones!

first grade journeys supplemental resources

first grade journeys supplemental resources

first grade journeys supplemental resources

first grade journeys supplemental resources

Finally, several printables are included for easy implementation and practice.  I know the handwriting pages were a hit with our first grade teachers.  I will do a post soon on incorporating handwriting into your sight word instruction.  :)  I also promise to do a post on how I run my centers!  I haven't forgotten! ;)

first grade journeys supplemental resources

I often get asked how I store my materials for each lesson.  This is it!  I put everything into a gallon size plastic storage bag.  I label it with a sticker.  You could also print the cover page to the pack if you prefer and stick that in the front.

Here is a preview of everything included in a lesson.  

I finally bundled all of the lessons into units to help everyone save.  You can buy the lessons individually if you prefer.  You can just head to my store Tiffany Gannon and click on the category to the left of the page to find the unit you are looking for.  You can click on any of the pics below to be taken to the bundles which also has a link to the individual lessons.




The Teachers Pay Teachers sale begins today, so you can save 20% off in my store.  I can't wait to go shopping to load up for a new year in kindergarten!  Be sure to use the promo code BTS15 to save an additional 10% on your purchase.  Happy Monday!