Friday, February 27, 2015

Five For Friday- Community Art, Word Work, and The Recess Queen

I am happy to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five For Friday linky party!  Here's a peek at my week! 
Our special read-aloud this week was The Recess Queen in honor of Pink Shirt Day (Anti-Bullying). We read the book and discussed what worked and what didn't work with the students in the story.  We dug in deeper and realized that the bully's name changes throughout the story.  She starts off being referred to as Mean Jean, then the friendly new girl calls her Jeanie Beanie, and then by the end she is just called Jean. 
 After we read the book a few times and talked about the vocabulary and themes a bit further, we acted out the story.  To enhance the experience, we used the Story Kit app.  I recorded different students re-telling each section of the story and we took a picture to match.  Then I typed out their words into the app.  The result is a digital book that reads aloud.  We had a blast! 
It was a testing week (one-on-one testing) so I accomplished some testing while the students watched this Arthur video.  It was entertaining and had good values and was a good conversation starter!
  We were learning about 3-D shapes this week.  I love this unit because it is a nice "break" from the usual math themes.  For our final lesson I put out 3-Dimensional shapes for discussion and then we got into a circle and took turns putting a shape into a bag while another students had their eyes closed.  They needed to only use their sense of touch to describe what they felt and then guess what shape was in the bag.  This was a fun activity.  After completing that, we went on to a drawing activity about 3-D shapes in the real world.  We also watched this quick youtube video.
 Here are some of the word work buckets that some student were working on.  

Build It
It says "you" and "said" on that container because those are two words that several of my students are really stuck on.  
 Bottle Cap Words
  Magnet Words
Cuddly Buddy writing using a stuffy and my Desk Helper sheet. 
We are talking about our community.  I like incorporating social studies and science content into my morning message.  It allows me to touch on the subject matter in a brief way early in the day and then dig in deeper later.  For this day it worked out nicely to do a brainstorm of buildings in our community, and then later in the day when I introduced a related art activity, I could pull up our brainstorm and use it right away.  The initials written on the smart board are from when children "signed up" to create those specific buildings so that we could have a variety on our community mural!
 Here is our community mural in-progress...
 And here it is almost done!  
 The kids were so invested in this project.  Here is a sky-scraper in progress.  :)  We decided to extend the mural to the next bulletin board as well so that we can include a zoo and some other fun destinations!  
Here's a close-up of part of the mural:

Last weekend I went into Vancouver with a group of family members.  We had a great time!  Here's a little phone image from our walk downtown.  You can see that spring is starting to peek out.  As a matter of fact, the cherry blossoms emerged this week, but I don't have a picture yet!

Have a great weekend!  I will be spending time with my kids and also finishing up report cards!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Five for Friday- Canada, Signs of Spring, and Sticker Stories

It's Friday!!!!!

I am please to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five For Friday linky!  Here are five things I've been up to lately!
  This week we did one of my favorite writing activities: Sticker Stories!  It's so easy, and the kids just LOVE it.  Just put out stickers and have your students basically use them as story starters. 
Months ago I came across these fabulous photographic "pet" stickers and I knew immediately that I would use them for sticker stories.  I demonstrated to the students to put the picture on their cover page (they were using quarter page folded booklets). I showed them how to add details to the cover by adding the setting.  Then they wrote about the animal.  Because there were additional pages to the book, they needed to draw their animal on the inside pages.   
The students loved naming their pets and writing about what their pets needed and what they liked to do.  Some students wrote 2 or 3 of these books in a single sitting because they were so invested in the idea and so excited about the process!  
We have been talking about things that living things need and also about some characteristics of living things.  Because it can be hard to set aside dedicated science time, I tend to incorporate it into my morning message/morning meeting.  This is my smart board file for discussing some of the characteristics.  It was fairly simple to set up: I just typed out some suggested "think points" for thought and discusssion, and then linked some videos and diagrams to the shown images.  The students LOVE how this livens up the morning message.  The first day when we were discussing that "living things reproduce" I linked to a video of baby seashorses emerging from the father seahorse's pouch.  They were fascinated.  Branching off in this way is such a fun way to incorporate little tidbits that these kids just soak up.
 We have begun our mini-unit on Canadian symbols.  I love teaching this unit.   I read the students some cute books about Canada and we talk about the symbols on our coins and the flag, etc.  The kids usually get a kick out of my stories about being SO OLD that I was alive before Canada had one dollar and two dollar coins.  

This book (Why I Love Canada) is a sweet book with kids' words about why they love Canada.  
 This other one (Oh, Canada) goes through the provinces and territories and shows the province's flag, provincial tree, provincial flower, and provincial bird.  It also shows a famous landmark or pastime from each province.  Because I've been to most of the provinces across the country, it's fun to see many landmarks that I've been privileged to visit!
One of the highlights of the unit is the little "All About Canada" booklet that we read and color.  If you would like to see my Canadian Symbols unit, you can find it here. 
I have some early readers who are benefitting from our little finger-flashlights these days.  How fun are these???  I picked them up from the dollar store.

A few weeks ago I decided that I needed to re-vamp my eating.  I have been LOVING using the My Fitness Pal app.  It really feels like a game to me to stay within my alloted calorie amount and it's so interesting to learn about the nutrition values in my food choices.   I'm feeling so good!  

For Valentine's Day last Saturday we didn't do anything fancy, but I did enjoy these roses!  There is one rose for each member of my family.  I made the kids their supper all in heart-shapes which was pretty cute, but they dug into their food so quickly that I didn't get a good picture. 
Spring has sprung here on the west coast.  My snowdrop flowers are in full bloom!  
I went on a photo walk with my little guy.  He brought along a toy camera and I brought along my "big" camera.  We had a blast finding small and big, ordinary and extraordinary things to photograph!

Here he is photographing the tall trees against the blue sky. 
 My little explorer. 
We found a few horseshoe prints by a nearby farm. 
 Sunset at the farm. 

I hope you have a lovely relaxing weekend doing whatever refreshes you!  I plan to spend some time with some friends at breakfast on Saturday morning, family time with the kids and my hubby the rest of the day, and go on a fun outing to the city on Sunday!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five for Friday-Valentine's Week

Once again I'm happy to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday linky party!  

This week we did a 2-day interactive read-alound using Little Mouse's Big Valentine by Thacher Hurd.  It is a cute book about a mouse who makes a huge valentine card and then finds that none of his friends want it because of its size.  He goes on a bit of an adventure and then finds another mouse friend.  Together they cut the huge valentine into a bunch of smaller ones and give them away.  

I liked some of the vocabulary in the book, so we talked about it and made a chart.  I forgot to take a picture of the chart after we added the definitions, but here is the before picture!
We worked on beginning, middle and end with this book.  I sent each student to their table with a mini sticky note and they needed to draw a picture of what happened at the beginning (we discussed it as a whole group).  When they were finished their "quick draw" they came back to the carpet area and put their sticky note under the "Beginning" title.  We repeated the process for the middle and end.  The students *loved* this activity.  It was freeing for them because it was so quick and because there was no writing involved.  I think it's important to make sure to include activities like this without writing because most students are able to easily draw a picture, and they are practicing this comprehension strategy without being slowed down by the writing process.  It's all a balance.  I loved seeing how much fun the students had with it.  Sticky notes are always fun :)
I thought that I would share how I track my guided reading group meetings.  I cannot plan my groups "in stone" because I need flexibility for how I teach and for how certain students are doing each day.  But, I want to make sure to keep tabs on how frequently I meet with each group so that I don't accidentally neglect one group.  I quickly made up this chart so that I could code the date and see how many times I've met with them.  I also write the book we are working on in case of confusion!   You can see that I haven't met equally, but it's because some groups are getting extra time because of their needs. 
Of course it was Valentine's week!  We made these cute valentine people bags to collect our cards and treats in.  I love how unique they are and the kids had a blast making them.  
We do our morning message on the Smart Board.  On Friday we talked about what "love" is.  The students came up with: Love is hugs, love is family, love is friendship, love is caring, love is Daddy working and mommy doing the laundry, love is being nice, etc. Our Valentine's Day celebration included making a booklet about what love is, making a flip book about different things that the students love (like food, activities, books, etc.), some Valentine's math, and making Valentine cards for staff members. 
  In the afternoon we watched a movie and had lots of treats. One mother even prepared a platter that had EVERYTHING cut in heart shapes.  Cucumbers, carrots, cheese, cantaloupe, and watermelon!  
Earlier in the week we did this quick math actitivity where the students used a variety of heart shapes and then had to complete the writing "I used *number* to make a *animal*.  There were a lot of owls!  Pictured below we have two owls, a butterfly, and a kitten.  I put some of them up on the bulletin board, but they will all go into a class book.
I love having at least one super-simple math center going in my rotation.  I've found that just by adding in some seasonal or unique manipulatives, a straightforward dice game becomes new and fun!  Dollar stores (and the Dollar Spot at Target) almost always have something to use!  For this game, students simply rolled the oversized dice and added the numbers together.  The player with the largest sum got to take an eraser.  At the end, whoever had the most erasers won.  Easy peasy and NO PREP, not even paper. 
Have a wonderful weekend!  I plan to spend time with my family, take some maternity photos for a friend, and hopefully spend some time outside!