Monday, March 16, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

Here's a quick peek at some of what I've got planned for St. Patrick's Day tomorrow.  We are going to design a leprechaun trap and write about 4 steps to catching a leprechaun.  I know that some students will follow this up by building them with paper and recyclables during free choice play time! 
We will also do a variety of St. Patrick's Day themed math centers, including my St. Patrick's Day measurement center.  
I always manage to scoop up some St. Patrick's Day items at the dollar store to turn into games.  It's easy to improvise.  Here is a simple greater than /less than game to play like war.  Instead of taking the cards when you have the greater number, you get to take a coin from the stash. You can also have students add the two cards together and whoever has the greater sum wins the coin, etc. 
If you are really lucky, you might get the coin with the pot of gold sticker on the back! When setting up the game, you just need to make sure that it is upside-down.  If you are the lucky one who finds the pot of gold coin, you get to take 5 coins.  Whoever gets the most coins by the time all of the coins are gone is the winner.   
 These cards are just quick little cards I made from scraps of card stock.  I just wrote the numbers on with sharpie and added shiny St. Patrick's Day stickers to them.   
 The coins are from the dollar store, and the dark green "bowl" shapes are actually mini St. Patrick's Day hats that I cut the elastics off of.  They make cue containers to hold your "winnings."
We will also finish up our "We Are So Lucky" writing pages.  
I hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Five For Friday- Manyoni, Estimation, and Magic Sand

It's Friday!! (No wait, it's Saturday, but I started writing this post on Friday!).  Anyway, I'm happy to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five For Friday Linky.  Here's what I've been up to this week!
Our interactive read-aloud this week was "Where are You Going, Manyoni?"  On Day One I read the book aloud and we discussed some of the unfamiliar words used for the landscape and plants.  We also discussed the similarities and differences between Manyoni's school and ours.  

On Day Two we discussed some of the "fancy" English vocabulary before re-reading the book.  
On Day Three, we re-read the book, and recorded a chart listing all of the different places that Manyoni went, starting at home and finishing at school.  The students each chose one to illustrate and cut out of paper. Some students worked together to create their area.  Then we got together and created a large (as big as a bulletin board) map of Manyoni's path.  I can't even express to you how "magical" this activity was.  The students were so engaged and so excited about this collaborative project.  
I think that the final result is so beautiful.  The students labeled the different areas on pocket chart poem paper and then glued them on to match the areas.  Each child also drew an arrow on a small piece of paper and glued them to show the path that Manyoni took.  (The actual geographic relationship between the places on her path is made up by us because there isn't a map in the book, but the students didn't mind or even notice).  
We also did a whole class and a pair-share talk about how we are like Manyoni.  Then the students wrote about it in their journals.  Some of the ideas we came up with were:
-I am like Manyoni because I like the morning too.
-I am like Manyoni because I walk to school too. 
-I am like Manyoni because I eat porridge for breakfast sometimes.
-I am like Manyoni because I get to walk alone.
-I am like Manyoni because I get to school early.
-I am like Manyoni because I like my teacher.
--I am like Manyoni because I get to play with my friends at school.  

I love doing surveys as part of our morning meeting time.  The students enjoy being able to express their opinions and of course using the smart board is always inviting. In regards to this particular survey, I wanted to know which poems my students like the most out of the ones we had done that week or so.  We are using poems from Hello Literacy and they are PERFECT for my kiddos.  They are short four-line poems and my students are soaking them up and so eager to read them aloud.  I have put them into my students' home-school communication BEE books so that they can read them at home, and we keep the small coordinating printing books in our book boxes so that we can read them during Daily Five and bring them out for printing time.   This is one of my favorite purchases I've made lately.
The kiddos love this magic sand center.  One of my little ones uses it as a calming strategy.  If you haven't tried this out, it's so relaxing!
We were doing estimating this week, and then we counted the items using ten frames. 
How cute is this snowman chalk drawing my little girl made?  We only had snow for one or two days here this winter, so she has to make snowmen in a different way.  
And I just thought it was adorable how my son was engrossed in his Scholastic flyer while we were driving.  Rest assured, I wasn't in the driver's seat :)
Have a wonderful weekend!  I have one more week to go until Spring Break.  So exciting!!

Be sure to check out some more Five For Friday posts at the link-up at Doodle Bugs.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Organization Tip- Binders Galore

I'm linking up with Ideas from Outside the Classroom to share some organization tips! 

Throughout my career I have experimented with different resource organization strategies.  I started out with a big box that I threw everything into (I don't recommend that strategy!) and I progressed to monthly theme binders (I used to teach Kinder and it worked for me!) and now that I'm settled into first grade, I've changed it up again.

Now I have my resources in binders according to curriculum strand.

I created these binder covers and labels and I've really been enjoying how my teacher area looks and functions as a result!  I liked making my own because then I could get as specific as I wanted to, such as with my Sentence Building Through the Year binder.

 Each curriculum area has its own color, so it's super easy to find my admin, science, math, social studies, and language arts resources in seconds.  I also have monthly/thematic binders (the colorful binders shown in the bottom of the "before" image).  I work much better with binders than with file folders.

The beautiful thing with this method is that my teaching area ACTUALLY stays this neat.  I take the binder out, remove what I need, and pop the binder right back into its space.  I'm on year two of this system and I still love it as much as the day I started.

Something that I discovered by accident is proving to be a handy organization tool for me!  At home we have a bunch of slightly off-white printer paper.  I tend to print most of my masters at home, because I have time to search for just the right printables, and that is also where I create my own.  Now that I have been doing that, I've been loving that I can quickly separate my masters from the student copies.

I used to use a yellow highlighter to mark off my originals, because in general the yellow doesn't show up on subsequent copies.  I might occasionally still do that if I happen to print something at school, but for now, I'm loving my new system!

I have WAY more resources than are shown in the above images, but I've been slowly purging.  As I buy more digital resources, I'm finding that I need fewer of my old resource books.  Are you finding the same thing?

I hope you've found this tip helpful!  Let me know in the comments below if you have any organization goals that you hope to accomplish before school starts again!  It's never too early to plan :)

Make sure to check out the other organizational tips via  Ideas from Outside the Classroom!

*This is a re-post from an earlier blog entry

Five for Friday- Symmetry, Puddle Jumping Art, and Classroom Timer

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five For Friday linky party.  Here's a bit about my week in first grade! 
We are finishing up our shapes unit in math.  We worked on symmetry and the students LOVED it.  
This is a super simple partner activity.  All you need is a piece of blank paper and some pattern blocks (or shapes cut out of colored paper if you don't have pattern blocks).  Before starting, Partner A folds the shared piece of blank paper in half.  Then Partner B draws a line on top of the fold with pencil (just to make the line more obvious).  Next, the students collect even numbers of pattern blocks.  For example, 2 squares, 6 hexagons, 8 triangles, etc.  Then Partner A puts on object on their side of the paper (touching the line).  Partner B copies by placing their shape across from it.  This continues with Partner A continuing to place the shape and Partner B copy symmetrically.  When the design is finished, they switch, and Partner B gets to place the first shape with Partner A copying.  We followed up this lesson by creating symmetrical designs with folder and paper cutting (students were able to create whatever design/picture they wanted.  Butterflies were a common choice.  :)

Below is pictured another math activity we did this week.  Each student was given a paper square and they needed to follow directions to fold diagonally and cut in certain ways.  Then they needed to check for similar shapes and sizes among the triangles they had cut.  Then they needed to build it back into a square. (see the example below (not on the blue paper).  It was interesting to see how some students were able to do it very easily, and some students had a really difficult time knowing how to flip and rotate their triangles to put them all back together.  At the very end the students were able to create whatever design they wanted to make out of their triangles. 
One of my students plays the violin and I asked her if she would perform for our class.  She did, and she also brought along her father who happens to be a violin teacher.  Every kid in the class was given the opportunity to try the violin out.  It was a fun experience for me, because I remember a friend of mine in MY own first grade class playing the violin for our class.  After that, I went home and asked my parents if I could learn how to play the violin.  As a result, I was allowed to start violin lessons and I played for 20 years!  In a total amazing coincidence, the father of the student in my class-----was my first violin teacher!
We made these adorable puddle jumping pictures this week.  I found the idea here.  I changed the design a bit.  We cut out puddle shapes instead of raindrops and we used laminated construction paper for the boots as well as the rain jackets.  I loved the idea of laminating the paper to make it shiny.  It also added another element of intrigue for the students.  
I gave the students a rectangle of yellow paper and they drew the shape of the rain jacket.  I found that they had no difficulties drawing the shape because I made sure to tell them to include the shape of the hood, sleeves and body of the jacket. I had them put their name in the middle of the jacket so that I could laminate it afterward.  I could probably have laminated the paper beforehand, but I wanted to limit waste (in case students had a hard time drawing/cutting.)

The supplies are pretty basic.  Provide choices for skin color (I provided brown, beige, and a pinkish color).  Also provide choice for boot color, and the puddle blue and the yellow for the rain coat.  Laminated is of course optional. 

I pre-cut the boots and laminated them, simply due to time-restraints.  It would have been ideal for the students to draw them on their own, but I didn't have the time.  In the future I could have my students do that the day before.  
We did the writing part of the activity in the morning and the art part in the afternoon.  Students simply needed to write about puddle jumping. They did their writing in pencil and then went over it with rainbow colors afterward.  Most students wrote something like "I love jumping in the puddles.  It's fun to splash" or something similar.  As part of my morning message we graphed the question:
I like to splash in puddles (yes or no).  This was a good way to jump-start the thinking process about puddle jumping.  

We also watched a video called "Who Likes the Rain" via Tumblebooks.  It is a great non-fiction book of questions and answers about rain and how it affects living things in the world.  You can also read the book instead of watching it.  Another fun read-aloud for a rain/puddle theme is Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch.  
Here is one of the new play time centers I've purchased lately.  The kiddos are loving using these rubbing plates to create crayon rubbings of different princesses.  I was trying to find a vehicle set because I remember having one as a child and loving making sifferent vehicles with the different rubbing plates that you could put together to make your own, but all I could find was this one.  When I find another set I'll buy it.  As much as I've told the boys in my class that they are allowed to use this princess one, none of them have taken the bait yet. 
Do you use a smartboard/projector timer throughout your day?  I love using these.  I don't use them constantly, but on occasion it really works, especially as a countdown for the end of a free choice time.  I use the ones from Classroom Timers.  They are free. 
 There is nothing more beautiful to me (slight exaggeration, maybe) than my completed report cards in a folder, returned and signed and ready to go home.  Woohoo!!
It's FRIDAY!  My little kindergartener daughter and I are celebrating the weekend with a shadow picture.  :)

Have a wonderful weekend!