Place Value

As we settle into our classrooms this year and begin lesson planning I want to you to think about your current place value unit. Do you like it? Does it need improvement?

Place value is something that should be taught at the beginning of the school year. Place value lies the foundation for the basic math functions that will be taught for the remainder of the year. Without it, students will not be prepared to truly understand counting to 120, equalities, addition, or subtraction. Place value is the underlying foundation for the those very basic elementary math concepts.

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The unit starts of with a simple story. It gives each place its own special spot on “decimal street”. The story teaches that only 9 of each kind can live in one given house. There is the one’s house, the ten’s house, and the hundred’s castle. Only up to 9 can live in each house because once we get more than 9, we would need to “carry over”. It introduces the concept of regrouping without an explicit lesson. Once you are ready to teach regrouping, it’ll be easy because it will build on top of the place value foundation you already built .

This is what decimal street would look like, but you can really make it your own. There is room to add to the story and to make the story your own with personal touches. Again, all of my resources are in black and white so that you can add your personal touch.

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Once the concept of decimal street is taught and the students know where the ones’s place, ten’s place, and hundred’s place is, they can then start activities. I like to start off with some simple coloring. This worksheet has the students color the tens place one color and the one’s place another color. This shows me who can identify what place a number is in.


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The next activity I like to do is to count how many hundreds, tens, and ones are in a number and then writing that number on the corresponding line.

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Then, I like to have the students match the number to the correct amount of blocks.

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These worksheets are not the only thing I use in my classroom. This year I made each partner group a pencil box with 9 one blocks, 9 ten blocks and just a few hundreds blocks. I am going to the have the students build different numbers with a partner.

So, what will you do this year for your place value unit? If I can change your mind about anything today, I hope you consider teaching place value very early on in the school in year. Check out my TpT Store and make sure to click the green star for updates and sales.

Click Here~ to purchase my Place Value Unit!

Happy Teaching Busy Teachers!

tack bwthanks



Becoming a Teacher

I have been molding into a teacher my entire life, I just never knew it. At a young age, I wanted to love school. I tried to do my very best, I tried to stop talking, I tried my hardest to read, but something about school never worked for me. I constantly was told that I was behind, that I was unable to read, that my test scores were below average, and that I needed to stop socializing and start learning. As I reached middle school, I started to dislike going to school altogether.

As I started to apply to colleges and begin my life, my dad suggested that I go to school to become a teacher. I was appalled! I remember exactly what I said. “Why would I spend my entire life at school, just to go work at one?” Working at a school, the same place I failed at my entire childhood, seemed to be about the dumbest thing my dad had ever suggested. I took my own path in college and learned about something I was passionate about, Business. While I felt as though I was following the path I had chosen, little did I know, I was still on the path to becoming a teacher.

Even though my younger schooling years were disappointing, I still had a passion to learn deep, down inside. This inner desire has gotten me to where I am today. I am so grateful that I had an inner passion to learn and succeed because without it, I would not be who I am today. While I went to college, I started working at the Children’s Center on campus. I loved being with the babies and small children. Watching them learn and grow was so exciting. The time I spent at that job showed me that my father was right, I needed to become a teacher.  I had to become a teacher to help those children who felt like I did when I was little. I wasn’t going to work at a school and be a failure like I was a child; I was going to work at school to pick up the beaten down kids and give them the support I never had.

All of the good and bad teachers were molding me into the teacher I was suppose to become. All of the negative experiences I had to endure, happened so I knew what it felt like to be mistreated by a teacher. I think of those experiences often and use them to shape the type of teacher I want to be for my students. I believe that I can grow into a better teacher everyday, maybe even better by the hour. Teachers who think that they know it all are not the type of people I want to work for or with. I say “people” because they are not truly educators. Educators who stop learning and developing are not educators anymore.

My philosophy is simple: If I expect my students to learn, change, grow, accept new concepts, and become better people, I must do the same thing in return.


This is my driving philosophy and it will guide me through my teaching career. I have a goal book that is filled with goals and aspirations I have. This is what keeps me on track and my focus clear. I will continue my education and become a better teacher and a more well rounded person. Being a teacher is a job allows me to learn and grow everyday. I truly enjoy what I do and I love sharing my ideas with other teachers. The more we collaborate, the more the children benefit.


BusyBlackline Teacher is my way of sharing what I do in my class with other teachers. It’s full of ideas for new teachers and veteran teachers. Feel free to search around to learn more about my classroom and my personal life.




Hopping Around the Hundreds Chart

Teaching 10 more and 10 less is a big standard to start working on in the first grade. The hardest part of the standard is that it requires students to it mentally. That’s right! It says mentally in the standard and it is the key word!


Given a two-digit number, mentally find 10 more or 10 less than the number, without having to count; explain the reasoning used.

I created a unit that starts with a lot of support from the hundreds chart. We have to take baby steps before we can walk. I knew that I could not expect my students to know how to mentally add and subtract with the number 10 from any number. From there, I scaffold the support from the hundreds chart and slowly take it away. Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 6.08.54 PM.png

I love teaching math and when I came up with this idea, I was beyond excited. I knew that I had found a really good way of showing the kids how to do 10 more, 10 less, 1 more and 1 less.

We started by using a full hundreds chart. It nearly takes up the whole page. At the top there is a small chart. The small chart is where students can write the answers to 10 more, 10 less, 1 more and 1 less. My class and I color coded this worksheet. We used yellow to color the number we were working with. Then we used blue to show 10 more and 1 more and we used red to show 10 less and 1 less. Some of my students stuck with this strategy throughout the entire unit. It really helped them visually remember. Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 9.43.22 AM

Then I used a blank cross and made the hundreds chart much smaller. I wanted to start slowly taking away the hundreds chart so that students start to rely on mental math. The hundreds chart is still there, but really only for comfort. Some students had a difficult time with this, but when I reminded them that they could color code, a light switched on for them and they were ready to work. Using the crosses was a visual reminder to the hundreds chart to help them remember a bigger number and smaller number.

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Next, I started to show parts of the hundreds chart. I would only give the students a small piece to work with. I also started having them turn the crosses into number sentences. I wanted them to make the connection between the visual representation and the mathematical equation. Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 9.43.34 AM

Last, I gave them a task with a very small hundreds chart and 4 blank number sentence boxes. Although I didn’t completely take the hundreds chart away, I still made it very small. I also told my students to challenge themselves and fold their paper over so they couldn’t see it. Many of them were up for the that challenge. Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 9.48.20 AM

My school district is lucky enough to have JiJi, so I know that the kids will get plenty of practice doing this standard mentally. JiJi has a great level that has students do 10 more and 10 less without a hundreds chart. When students get to that level, I remind them about hopping around the hundreds chart and they light up with a big smile.

Check out Hopping Around at my TpT Store. 

Make sure to click the green star on TpT to get updates and freebies!

Teaching Text Features

Teaching text features in 1st grade sounded daunting at first. I wasn’t sure where to begin or what the kids would like. I started my research on the computer and saw that many activities were above grade level. I did  not want my students to get stuck on the content and forget that they were suppose to be learning about text features.

I decided that I would have to make my own brochures and ease the students into finding text features. I created 4 brochures about habitats: The Ocean, The Rainforest, The Desert, The Forest. These brochures are simple and do not have a lot of content. The point of the brochures is to teach students to find text features. The types of text features I included were:

  • Table of Contents
  • Titles
  • Headers
  • Bold Words
  • Pictures
  • Captions
  • Lists
  • Maps
  • Graphs
  • Page Numbers

I really think that by creating more simplistic brochures my class was able to focus on the true heart of the lesson and unit. Which is:

Know and use various text features (e.g., headings, tables of contents, glossaries, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text.

It takes four weeks to go through these brochures and to model how to create your own brochure with direct instruction. First, we go through the brochure I created and color the different text features different colors. We talk about their importance and how you can find them. Then I show them how I created the brochure and walk them through writing their own. We include different text features and make the brochures come to life.

The next 3-4 weeks is dedicated to doing research and creating their own brochures about the 5 different types of animals. The students are to use various forms to research such as, websites, books, or magazines. Now that they have a background of text features they should be able to read informational text with more ease and be able to pull out key details. The unit includes a graphic organizer that can help them organize the information they find about their animals. After they finish research they turn the information into sentences. The goal of the lesson is to use text features to share their information. So, yes they are writing, but I am looking for bold words, captions on pictures, pictures of maps or graphs and table of contents. I want to see them using text features when they write.

I have been teaching the students how to find key details during science with another unit I purchased on TpT. It is a fabulous unit that teaches students close reading. So I knew that when I created my unit, the students would have the skills necessary to help them find key details. It is something that we have been working on for two months. It is also about animals, so essentially they could use this as a resource when they write their own brochures.

I really wanted to create a unit where students weren’t getting stuck on the information and were learning about text features. I made the unit go over animals because kids love animals and seem to know a lot about them before they even begin research. This helps us not put all the focus on content and rather the focus on the standards. I am really excited with the progress I see my students making. I see that they are finding text features during guided reading groups and while were read our text books. They are excited when they find them and they always want to share with me what they see.

Here is what my simplistic brochures look like..
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These are the brochures that I have the students search for and color text features. The brochures end up color coded and the students have seen and discussed different text features. Once they finish all four habitats, they move onto doing their own research. The point of going over text features is to help them when they begin to research animals of their own. This is the graphic organizer I have created to help them do their research.

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Then they transfer their information onto their brochure. I require that they use different text features to teach me about their animals.

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Here are some photos of the first time we did the brochures and a photo of the wonderful resource I use from TpT.


This was our little sloth art project for our Rainforest week! I have them all hanging in a “tree” in class! I will be giving a free copy of the head so that you can make it with your kiddos. Follow me on my blog and my TpT Store so that you can stay up to date! You can purchase the Text Features: Brochures Unit by clicking here!IMG_2434

Monthly Homework Packs

Hi Fellow Teachers!!

I wanted to share with you my amazing homework packets. I worked all summer perfecting them and I am so excited to share them with you. Here are the what the calendars look like for each month!

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I have created monthly homework packets for August-May.

The best way to implement this homework plan is to send home the pre made Parent Letter. It is in the August file. It explains everything that is expected. I suggest sending home the letter and then discussing it at your Back to School Night.

The month of AUGUST is FREE!! So download it now and get that parent letter.

Also, the homework makes it clear what should be completed each night. I send home one week’s worth of work each week. I grade the homework on Friday and then send home the next week’s work.

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In order to create the homework, I roughly estimated the typical weeks we have in each month. August has two weeks of work to get those kiddos started on homework lightly as we get to know each other. November and December have work during holidays, but it’s simple and engaging. I included plenty of weeks and sometimes in my class if it is a holiday week, I make the homework optional by writing “optional” in the blank space provided under the Week Number.

All of the activities are based on First Grade Common Core Standards. I repeat activities, but each time they are repeated, I increase the difficulty level. The best thing about this homework is that you can Differentiate it. You can easily use this homework for a Kinder student who is performing above grade level or use it for a Second Grade student who needs to review the basics again.

Another thing about my homework is that you can tailor it to your needs. I provide a blank Math Calendar for you to write in what you would like to students to do. My school provides us with EnVision math workbooks so I write in the pages I would like my students to do each night of the week.

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The homework varies from math, language arts, and science. Each week I keep it fresh and change it up. I never want the students doing the same thing each week. Math activities range from addition, subtraction, shapes, to even writing their own math stories. Language Arts activities vary from phonics, sight words, informational text, to even writing their own creative stories. Science activities are in a Language Arts format with informational writing or reading.

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Go check out my Homework Bundle on TeachersPayTeachers!!!

The “HOW TO” Unit

The beginning of my “how to” writing unit this year started with a bang! The unit I have created in order to teach sequential instruction writing to first grade has been so much FUN!

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The unit starts off with a self made book called “How To Make Scarecrow Crunch”. I read the book out load for the students to hear. Then I ask them if they would like to make Scarecrow Crunch. Of course they respond with “YES!”. So I quietly grab my bag of goodies and begin to read it again. Only this time I start to take out the ingredients listed in the story. The students become so excited that they can’t believe they are still in a Language Arts lesson.

Once I get everything out, I ask them if I have everything I need. I proceed to read the book and make Scarecrow Crunch. Once I am done, the book says to share it with friends, so I dish out the snack and everyone is so happy. The engagement rate in my classroom during this lesson is 100%.

When students are done eating their snack I ask them if they would like to write their own books like this one that teach people how to do something. The students become excited and let me know that they would like to write books like “How To Make Scarecrow Crunch”.

The first writing assignment the unit starts with is “How To Make A Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich”. Making a PB&J has a lot of steps! We take notes about what types of things we will need, we then draw pictures about what you do first, next, then, and last. After that, the students get to write their paper. I turn the papers into a class book.


The most exciting part about the whole thing, is that I read their papers and do exactly what they say!



This is one of the note pages we work on as a class. We discuss the steps and we illustrate them.


After the PB&J writing, we did “How to Carve a Pumpkin”. These papers turned out adorable. I am starting to see my students really grasping the concept of writing sequential instructions!








If you love what your are seeing and you want to do this in your class as well, head over to my TpT store and get the whole unit!

In the comments share with me what you did in your class. Did you do anything different? Did your kids respond to the unit well? Let me know 🙂

FREEBIE: Inequalities with Alligators

Hello Everyone!!

I am excited to announce that I have an entire unit on TpT for FREE! The unit is my Inequality Unit with Alligators.

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I am using this unit in my class as a supplement to our first unit in math. My first unit is math is all about numbers and counting. Near the end of the unit we discuss how to compare numbers. I thought I needed some extra supplemental work to go along with my EnVision lesson.

During my Master’s Program I wrote an Action Research report about how to make learning fun for students. One lesson I worked on was this one. I made popsicle alligators, painted them green, glued google eyes on them, and finished them off with teeth! The kids absolutely loved them!! I bust those bad boys out when I teach this unit. These ones are not mine, but here is an example of what I am talking about. They are better than mine because they say “less than” and “greater than”. I will be adding that to mine ASAP.


I love making anchor charts and I have included anchor chart example in my TpT FREEBIE. Here are the posters I made for my classroom.


I start off with this anchor chart because I like to make up a story about the hungry alligator eating fish. I put little fish by the numbers like touch math. You could make it anything you want!! Think about your class and something they love, maybe pizza, cookies, or hamburgers.


Then I use this poster to talk about how and when we say “greater than” and “less than”.


This is how I post the standards in my class. It’s a tight fit, but the job gets done 🙂

Please go to my TpT store and grab this FREEBIE!! Don’t forget to follow me on my blog and TpT store so you can get the latest updates and FREEBIES. Also, please leave me some comments and tell me about how the lesson went in your class. I would love to hear what worked and what didn’t work.

Direct Interactive Instruction: Gradual Release

I was introduced to Direct Interactive Instruction by my district and I have put my own little twist to it. Direct Interactive Instruction, or DII, has many different components, but I would like to focus on the Classroom Management portion that has changed my way of teaching.

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DII has a special lesson sequence. The first step is called “I Do”. This is where the teacher is modeling and giving direct instruction.

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The expectation in my classroom is that the students are quiet and are carefully listening. I also expect that they wait to ask their questions at the end of my lesson.

The second step is “We Do”. This is where the teacher starts to gradually release some of the responsibility and let the students start to participate.

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This is when I allow the students to interact with me. We can do “callbacks”, repeat after me, or shout out answers. I also take any questions that they had about the lesson. During formal seat work, we are working on the worksheet as a group. We are staying together as a class and no one is working ahead.

The third step is optional, but very powerful, I renamed it “Team Do”. That is where the students are working together to accomplish the task at hand.

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I usually use this step when I know the students are capable of the work. I might use this step a few weeks into a unit so that they are learning from each other.

The last step is “You Do”. This step is when the students get to do independent work.

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The expectations I have in my classroom during this time is that we are quietly working and staying on task. I want to see what they have learned and they know. I usually do this step at the end of a large unit when I know that we have done the task multiple times in many different ways.

The most important part about this strategy is that you are verbally saying “I Do, We Do, Team Do, or You Do” so that the students are aware of your expectations for the lesson.

Also, you should be representing it visually. I have created a really cute poster to place in the front of your classroom and use. I use it everyday, throughout the entire day. I printed out a finger and put a magnet on the back of it so that I can slide it to the correct position.

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The poster is FREE on my TeachersPayTeachers Store!! Download it and start using it today. Of course the poster is in black and white. I printed my on cardstock. You can get as creative as you want with it!!

Get It Free Here!!

When you download it, share a picture in the comments to show us how you decorated it! I can’t wait to see what all you creative teachers do to it!

Human Body Fun

One of my favorite units to teach in any grade is the Human Body Systems!!

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I like to start the unit around September, so that when we get into October we can make a lot of fun human body art projects for Halloween. I like the kids to have meaning behind their art projects and get excited about what they are creating. Giving them the background information allows them to truly understand the art they are creating. A lot of my art projects come from my searches on Pinterest and from my favorite set of books: Scholastic Monthly Idea Books.


October has a lot of Skeleton crafts and February has a lot of realistic heart crafts.

Buy the set here on Amazon:

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Anyways, back to the Human Body. For first grade I went through and created a unit that goes over the body systems and is like an introduction to Health Science. The body systems I cover are:

Eyes and Ears

Skeletal System

Digestive System

Circulatory System

Respiratory System

Muscular System

Nervous System

The unit takes about 3 weeks to complete and can compliment a lot of different resources. I use the science textbook that my school provides, but you could use a variety of videos, clips, images, and books that would compliment the worksheets.

My students have been really engaged and excited about our science time. Many of them are looking on the board to see what time science is because they are so excited to learn about the Human Body.




I’m really proud of this unit because I hand drew most of the images. ( I did not want to attempt drawing a skeleton so I used clipart from TeachersPayTeachers.. LOL) But the rest of the images are my own hand drawn images.

You can find my body unit on my TeachersPayTeachers Store for only $4.95!

Dr. Seuss Story Maps

For the past few weeks we have been working on Story Maps. I am so happy with the way my Dr. Seuss Unit turned out because my students are really getting story elements.

The standards we are focusing on.


I created a Dr. Seuss themed Story Elements anchor chart.


On Day 1, we read the story for enjoyment. Then we read it again to and pay close attention to the characters and setting. I brainstorm with my class and write down what they are saying on the whiteboard. I bought these AWESOME magnets from Oriental Trading Company that help us with Story Elements.

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These are the best magnets!! I use them all the time 🙂

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On Day 2, we read the story again and pay attention to the problem and the solution. I fill this out on the whiteboard with the magnets and I also have them do their worksheet.

On Day 3, we create a story map about what we read. I use the Sequence of Events magnet we talk about what happened, first, next, then, and last. Then the students fill out the story map with my guidance.

On Day 4, we share out what we did for our story map.

Near the end of the unit, I allow students to start working independently, but not my entire class. I want to model what I expect as much as possible so that the students understand what we are trying to achieve.

You can get a free download of one of the Dr. Suess stories on my TeachersPayTeachers store or you can buy the entire unit for just $4.95!

The Freebie:

The Entire Unit: