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!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What's the Weather?

We have been having so much fun learning about weather and seasons. I think every year my students always love science and this year seems to be no different. I like starting out with weather as our first science unit because the experiments are really easy for the first graders this early in the year and they are all low prep. I am all about keeping it simple.
Our first experiment was after we had learned about the water cycle. I wanted to have them experience evaporation. It's not able to be seen, so this experiment is a great visual for them to gain a better understanding of the concept. All you need is water and chalk. They pour a small cup of water on the concrete trace it with chalk and wait an hour. Depending on the weather, the water should be smaller in size. It was such a nice day out, we only needed to trace it once and within the hour, all of the water had evaporated. I have the write a hypothesis and draw the process, then complete their conclusion.

We made it rain in our next experiment. We talked about the clouds holding the water until it is too much and they "let go". Voila! It begins to rain. This experiment is a crowd favorite. It works better when a little bit of liquid iron is added to the rain. The weight of the iron shows the rain breaking through the rest of the water better. Otherwise. I feel like it pools. Last year, I set this experiment up during Open House, so the kids could redo this experiment and explain to the parents what they have learned about weather. They were so excited.

Another one of our experiments was making a kite. We predicted what the wind would do to our homemade kite. A paperbag, yarn or string and tissue paper cut into thin pieces to use as tails is all you need. Let the kids decorate it and take them our for some exercise and fun.
Learning about the seasons is also part of this unit. We have been talking about what makes each season special. 
Use these freebies as an opportunity to read a poem and talk about the differences of each season. Enjoy!

Grab both of these freebies, here.

If you like any of these experiments, check out my unit. All the printables used in the experiments are included as well as sooooo much more.
Easy, fun experiments! Check it out.
 Take care,

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Make a Jack o' Lantern

I love that it's finally getting cooler at night. It seems by the time Halloween comes, you finally need to wear a jacket at night.
This was going to be the first year my two year old carves a pumpkin and he was excited, I was excited...I was going to make sure it was an occasion. I picked the perfect pumpkins to match each person in my family, bought the carving tools, layed out the paper...we were ready to go. My husband and I carved off the top despite protests from my toddler, but he's used to hearing "No" by now. Pulled off the top and all I heard was "Ewwwww!" He wanted nothing to do with it. "It's scientific." I told him. Nope nothing. The last thing was to carve a face and once again he couldn't participate. So forget the traditional jack o' lanterns, I got out the paint and we went to town. He did the base coat on about 50% of them and loved sprinkling the glitter over the glue. When he woke up in the morning, I had added all the details and he was thrilled. The only thing that would have made it better is if one of the pumpkins was Spiderman. Oh, well.
I know many of you mommies that are homeschooling are probably carving pumpkins with the kiddos, so why not turn it into a "How To" paragraph. I teach my students how to write a paragraph by always starting with an outline, using transition words, and a picture with a few words (not a complete sentence).  They refer to the outline while writing their paragraph. If I were to do this with my first graders, I would tell them the four steps and complete the outline along with them, but it's up to you based on the age of your child.
Grab the writing freebie here.
Hope you have a fun and safe Halloween.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Happy Diwali

  I have been swamped with one thing or another so it's been a while since I've posted. I went to a Daily 5 conference a few Saturdays ago...AMAZING! I've been redoing my literacy block ever since. I hope to start implementing the program this week. I'll report back and let you know how it goes.
We have a array of cultures in my classroom, so when of my mothers told me Diwali - The Festival of Lights was beginning and that she would love to come in and share, I was excited. I hopped on the internet to see what I could find out and quickly put together a PowerPoint with real photographs, so I could give the children an idea of what takes place during this five day celebration.
One ate traditional Indian cookies and my grade partner found a great video on YouTube of a traditional dance. It's a budget video (girl in her living room), but it's so easy to follow...honestly the kids loved it. I projected the video on my Elmo and we danced along. The mom that helped said she's never seen her son dance before that day.
Check it out.
We had 3 rangoli stations set up and just rotated the children through. A rangoli is a colorful design made on the floor near the entrance to a home to welcome guests. It is made with materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals. First, we had a page with a rangoli pattern that the kids colored with markers (always a special occasion when I let them use markers). Grab your class the two freebies below.

Grab this freebie
Grab this freebie.
Second, I drew a rangoli pattern outside the front door and a large pattern outside my side slider the afternoon before. Rangoli patterns are placed outside homes to bring good luck and well wishes. I used white chalk and the pattern from the pages above. The kids used sidewalk chalk to color in the different sections. 

 The last station was with salt and flour dough and lentils. I had made the dough the night before and placed it into small baggies. I colored the water with food coloring prior to mixing it. This helped achieve the really vibrant colors I was looking for. The children used the lentils to make a symmetrical pattern. I think they came out fabulous. 

This group of first graders love art, which makes me happy since I do too. I think they came out beautifully. Happy Diwali!
I have also been using my fast finishers in my small groups lately. Parents find them easy to follow and the children always do better when they have a little guidance. I also use them when I need a little more reinforcement of a particular standard. Each page is interactive and based on a Common Core standard. 

Click to check out this package.

Enjoy you week.