Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Name Jar and Short Vowel Necklace

I found such a wonderful book. It's actually more than 10 years old, so what took me so long to discover it. The Name Jar is about a little girl that recently moved from Korea and is nervous that the American children will not like her. She wonders if she should change her name to an American name that is easier to pronounce. It's a lovely story with an ending the kids in my class can learn from. This is actually something that happens in my class quite often and so many of my students were able to relate to our story's character, Unhei. We continued our study of story elements. Using a story map has been super helpful and I love how easy it is when using sticky notes.
Grab this story map for The Name Jar.
I also made a story map for the children to have them try completing their own.
Another activity we used with this story is discussing ways we are special. Just like Unhei's name made her unique, we all have something unique about us. Unhei's grandmother tells her during the story, "You are different...That's a good thing!" I couldn't agree more. I love finding opportunities to celebrate what makes us special. 
We completed a chart and the children told me something that makes them unique. 
Grab this writing page for The Name Jar.
Our art activity tied into the story. We made our own wooden name stamp like the one Unhei received from her dear grandmother. A local business puts out tons of scrap pine wood each day, so I was able to grab wooden blocks for the class to make their own "name stamp". We first sanded the paper, so that they became sliver free. Next, the kids used starch to brush on colorful tissue paper. Some children were methodical when placing their tissue paper and others just slapped them on with no rhyme or reason. Both ways came out beautifully. I punched out the children's first initial with our school's Ellison cutter and pasted it on with Modge Podge. One coat seals the coat and makes the block shiny.
We are still working on short vowel CVC words. This was a fun, tactile activity we did that started as a small group activity that was lead by a parent. We strung the straws a "beads" together as a whole class. The children wore the necklaces all day. They took them home and read them at least three times. If they got their boxes checked off, they received a ticket the following day. 
 Providing your students with a variety of ways to practice their phonics and fluency skills increases the likelihood of increased success, not to mention makes learning CVC words FUN!
Check out this fun way of learning phonics...HERE.

Enjoy your week.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Me on the Map and The Day the Crayons Quit

This week just flew by. I'm finding it difficult squeezing in everything in. I find myself more and more integrating subjects, so I'm able to get two for the price of one.
I've been loving CLOSE reading. I find it's a great way to include Science and Social Studies into your literacy block. I can also have a parent lead a center if I provide them with comprehension questions as a guide.

This week we started our Social Studies unit - Me on the Map.
We're starting with the largest map, Earth and working our way down. The example shown is of Matty's Continent. Matty's our fictional character taking a trip to his places on the map. 
One of the other activities we are doing with each CLOSE read is working with vocabulary terms. I use vocabulary words, provide the official definition, and a photograph depicting the term. The photos are powerful. I have many second language learners, but honestly I think photos benefit all the children.To really make the term concrete, I've provided the children with vocabulary books. They use this to describe the word in their way. Illustrating the word is also powerful in remembering the new word. Grab this freebie.
Following up our first CLOSE read about the globe, we made these fun globes with puffy paint. So cool.
Just mix Elmer's glue, shaving cream, and food coloring. Dab the paint with a brush, do not stroke the paper. I went ahead and made a rainbow of puffy paint to use with my kids at home. LOVE!
Matty on the Map

This is the unit I'm working from...Matty on the Map if you want to check it out.


This week we read the story, The Day the Crayons Quit. You have to read this story with your class. Super cute. If you're working on friendly letters it works perfectly. We brainstormed different items we would color with each of the six colors on the brainstorming page. We used this page to write a letter in paragraph form to a friend. The children circled three different items. 

 At this point in the year my writing philosophy is model, model, model. We brainstormed adjectives to place in the introduction. Then I modeled writing the first sentence in the body of the paragraph. My goal is to have them use an adjective to describe their item. We write one sentence, then I have them share their sentence. For many students I have to remind them or provide them with adjectives. It becomes more of a habit as the year progresses.
The Day the Crayons Quit PowerPoint

We also did this fun PowerPoint mystery picture. It only has 60 numbers, so it was a perfect level for most of my kids. Even so, I still had to sit next to the computer to pause the slide show a few times. The kids loved it, but they kept thinking it was Camilla from A Bad Case of Stripes. 

The Day the Crayons Quit FREEBIE

We ended the day with this cute crayon box. I LOVE the crayons with the big googly eyes. What great artists I have! I copied the crayon paper on gold construction paper. I folded the box and cut off about an inch off the top. Grab this FREEBIE for your class. I hope you have fun.
Enjoy your new week.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Short "A" Activities

We've been in school for about 3 weeks and I feel like we are starting to get a groove. I had to show you this new bulletin board I put up. They remind me of clipboards. I am using it to display the kids' writing. In the past I would tape their work to the piece of construction paper, but it was time consuming. With this new board I attached a clip and it makes hanging their writing so much easier. 
 This week we've been working on Short "A". These little ones need to keep moving, so using interactive activities seem to be my best bet. We used play doh mats and stamps for two of our centers. They did a great job working independently. It seems to be a challenge finding independent activities that are also engaging and constructive for the beginning of the year. These two worked well.
We made crowns with Short "A" words wrapped around the edges. My group this year loves coloring, painting, and designing most anything. They wore these crowns all day. They were asked to go home and read the words to three different people or three different times to the same person. They checked off the box on the side and brought it back the next day for a ticket.
 Next up was Short "A" Bingo. The kids were able to make their own boards, so each one was unique. This was a two day project. We made our boards on the first day and played on the second.
We also made these interactive booklets. I was able to get a great understanding of who was struggling and who was able to sound out the CVC words. Letter orientation was something else I was able to observe. Some of the children had the "a" in the right place, but it was upside down. If you are in need of an activity for short "a" grab this freebie.

Grab the whole resource HERE.
Grab this freebie at my TpT store.

Next week we are on to Short "I" and beginning our Social Studies unit on Me on the Map. So excited. On a side note, I was at Staples today and picked up 30 spiral notebooks for 17¢ each.
What a great deal! Usually you are only able to get 6 at a time. If that is the case at the Staples near you, show them your teacher ID and they'll let you purchase more at the discounted price.
 Enjoy the last day of your long weekend.