Monday, December 29, 2014

There Was a Cold Lady Craftivity

I hope everyone is enjoying their much deserved break, I know I
am. I've had a few days where the whole family stayed in their pajamas all day long. I'm a homebody, so relaxing at home with my family is a perfect way to spend a day.
I've been thinking, just a little, about some fun literature activities to do when I get back. Tacky the Penguin and The Little Polar Bear are a few of my winter favorites, but we'll also be bringing in The Little Cold Lady that Swallowed Some Snow.
This craftivity will be so much fun for the kids. I have a bunch of crafters this year which is a perfect match for me. After you read the story, complete the activities either as a whole class or in small groups. I also have a freebie that goes with this story that I wrote about at this blog post.

The next day, we'll build our "Cold Lady" containers. I would have the kids glue the inside flaps... "A little dot will do." I just tape the bottom on the outside and a little piece for the inside. I'm sure gluing would do as well.

We love to play card games in class. Sometimes I make games on sturdy cards that I keep as a center, but ofter I want them to take the cards home so they can practice with their family. The game shown in the picture is called "Bang". It's really simple and can be adapted for any skill you are working on. We'll be working on the magic E, so those are the cards I prepared for this craft. Instead of writing "Bang" on the cards, I wrote "Chomp".
1. In a group, students take turns drawing a card from the deck and try to read them.
2. If they can read the word they get to keep the card. If they can’t, have the group help them read it correctly. He/she gets to keep the card.
3. When a Bang!/Chomp card is pulled from the deck the student who drew it has to return all their cards and the Bang! card into a separate pile. In this case they will place them into the "Cold Lady" container.
4. The game is played until all the cards are drawn, and the student with the most cards, wins. 

Grab this freebie in my TpT store by clicking, HERE
I'm thinking of making an author study with Robert Munsch. It was either him or Kevin Henkes. The books I thought of were...
Stephanie’s Ponytail
We Share Everything
Thomas’ Snowsuit
The Sandcastle Contest
Andrew’s Loose Tooth
The Fire Station
Wait and See

Do you have another favorite that I should include on my list?
Take care everybody.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Writing Station with the Daily 5

This past October my team went to an amazing Daily 5 conference by The Sisters. It completely changed the way I ran my literacy block. I've been so excited to implement each one of the five elements, but I'm not rushing it. I'm really allowing time for my students to "get" each part. The last element I have to bring in is Read with Someone. We'll be starting that one next week. I just wanted to share some of the things I've been doing that have really worked and the kids are excited about. One of the first lessons was to teach the kids how to find a "just right" book. This took a few days and I'm still assigning a parent to go "book shopping" with the kids to make sure they now how to pick a book that fits them. 
The first element I introduced was Read to Self. I wanted to make it FUN and something they would look forward to doing. Now that I have more than 30 little ones in my class, I had to get rid of my bean bags and comfy chairs in the library. Our space is just to limited. What I did pick up were five furry saucer chairs that fold and stack, so I can easily slide them under a desk.
I've seen them at Target and on Amazon. I also picked up four giant clear tubs and oversized pillows. Big pillows can be pricey, so I went to Big Lots and found these cute, soft ones for under $5 each.
I didn't have a selection to choose from, but I like what I ended up with. The kids cuddle up in these private cubbies and READ. It's awesome! They truly don't look up for 30 minutes. I don't know what it is about these cubbies that make them tune everything out, but it works.
Word Work is another favorite of theirs. I try and offer a few options each week. Mostly we work with our spelling words or other words that match the phonics skill we're working on. They love Rainbow Writing because I let them use markers which is a rare treat.
I got this freebie from Mel D over at Seusstastic. She also has amazing posts on how she runs Daily 5 in her classroom. If you are implementing the program or thinking about it, you must check her blog out.
Work on Writing was one that I was nervous about because this was an area they have the least amount of stamina. "I don't know what to write about" is a constant. I also wanted them to write in different forms (lists, directions, etc.). This led me to creating a station that provided them with a ton of options and prompts. I wanted it clear to understand, so they could pick their type of writing and get going quickly.

On my white board I provide examples of that months writing opportunities. They look to see what they would like to do (journal in their desks is always an option I give) and then go to the file box.
I helped them the first few times, but surprisingly they got the hang of it. This quickly became a crowd favorite. The wonderful thing was they were writing the entire time. Kids were writing stories I never thought would have picked that option. Lists, cards, super sentences were also very popular.
As time goes by, they venture into other options which I am loving. We are doing a lot with Olive the Other Reindeer, so I made a separate Book Study just for that book. It's not available in my writing station unit, but you can grab it here.
I also love that any of these options can be used as a whole class directed lesson. The writing station does not take the place of direct writing instruction. I do that at a separate time, but it does set them up so they can practice their writing for a length of time, much like you would have them do Silent Reading.

The sisters also talked about the importance of making your word wall interactive. A magnetic word wall seemed perfect for my classroom.
This magnetic word wall is part of my Writing Station. Check it out.
I have words based on theme, time of year, and units of study. Some words I keep up all year and others I change out monthly. I also added adjectives in a different font that are popular with my kids and will provide them with an opportunity to use richer vocabulary. The words based on theme is available in my writing station unit, but if you just need some more adjectives, you can grab this freebie here.

You can find all the above activities in my Writing Station unit found in my store at TpT. A couple of the fun Christmas crafts that we're doing is this triangle Christmas tree. I first give the kids nine triangles. I do not provide them with an example.
I just tell them to try and make a large Christmas tree with these nine triangles. It's fun to watch them move the pieces around to try and make a large triangle. Usually a few get it, but I have to start giving them hints by giving them the base row. I sometimes put this piece on top of our calendar that goes home, but this year we decorated the trees and I put them up on display.
On our door, we have all of Santa's helpers. I love using paint chip samples in our artwork and language arts. They are so versatile. I thought these came out cute.
The only problem I ran into was that kids couldn't decide on just one.
Enjoy these last few weeks before break!

Monday, December 1, 2014

There was a COLD Lady

  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. I'm bracing myself for a few very busy weeks at school before Christmas break.

One of the best parts about the holidays are all of the wonderful children's books for December. There is honestly not enough time to get through them all. One of the stories we'll be working with next week is Mooseltoe. This moose dad is just an amazing father, running around to make Christmas special for his family. Next month we'll be talking about Random Acts of Kindness, so I thought we could brainstorm ways to do something special for someone. I made this chart as an example of what we'll be doing next week. The "light bulbs" are sticky notes, so that you can just take them off when you're done and use the cute poster next year. You can write character traits of the father as well. If you want the title and label just click here.
Grab the title and caption, here.
We'll finish the week off with this cute little craft. I love including the kids hands in their art work. Splash a little glitter and sequins and you have a project the kids will love.
 I'm always wanting to reinforce the Common Core Standards any way I can. One of the tricky ones is Shades of Meaning. This activity doesn't put the words in order of intensity, but it does reinforce that words have synonyms and some work better than others in certain situations. I'll be squeezing this in between one of my Daily 5 rotations. Grab this here to give it a try.
Grab this freebie, here.
If you like any of these activities, check out my unit about Mooseltoe and Olive the Other Reindeer. 
If you want to check this out in my TpT store...
Here's another fun option.
Before we left on break I wanted to have some artwork I could hang up for the winter season. Why do bulletin boards take so long to put up? I know I'm going to be busy, so I picked something I could keep up as long as winter is here. Runde's Room had a really cute example of this, but I believe she used oil pastels. They were so vibrant! Honestly, I just love how these turned out, so different and cute.
 There was a Cold Lady that Swallowed Snow goes perfectly with catching snowflakes. The kids love all the stories in this series. 
They always seem to sing along with 
me as the story progresses. You can use this sequencing activity as the story is read. They can have the squares cut out prior and the glue as the story is read. I used it as a parent run station. The story is quick and easy for a parent to ready. Then the kids can spend about 10 minutes completing the task. Grab this freebie and have fun with the story.
Grab this freebie, here.
 Have a wonderful week!