Saturday, October 7, 2017

                            We're Falling Into Fun Learning! 


Don't you just LOVE fall? I love all the smells of pumpkin spice candles. I love the taste of pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin bars. I love the feeling that's in the air as you walk outside and the feeling that Halloween and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I love to see all the beautiful fall colors of orange, gold, red, green, and yellow. I also LOVE to do fall activities with my first graders through reading, writing, math, science and art. It is so fun to read fall books, do fall projects, fall investigations, fall math problems, and just have some fall fun!  
In this blog post I'd like to share with you some easy and fun activities that I like to do with my class. I'll share the mentor texts that I use and the activities for each subject. 
Let's start with reading! Here are some fall books that I use during Reader's workshop and Writer's Workshop: 


Here are some activities that I do with these books: 

Owl Moon: We compare realistic fiction and fiction books about owls using a Venn Diagram and then label the parts of the owl. If you want to check out my Owl Moon resource, click here


Stellaluna: We make a lapbook using a moon, bat, googly eyes and toothpicks on the cover. Inside we write sequence of events and complete a characterization template. If you want to check out my Stellaluna resource, click here


The Littlest Pumpkin: We make a spooky pumpkin and then write a story about it! 


Spookley the Square Pumpkin: We make a 3-D cube of Spookley and then write a story about him! If you want to check out my Spookley resource, click here


Scarecrow Pete: We make a scarecrow and then write a scarecrow adventure story! If you want to check out my scarecrow thematic unit, click here


Here are some books that I read for math workshop: 


The Leaves Are Falling One By One: We go outside and gather leaves on the playground in baggies. We sort, count and graph them.  If you want to check out my Leaf Investigation resource, click here




Ten Timid Ghosts: We talk about ways to add three addends together using Witches Brew. I put together candy corn, indian corn and candy pumpkins and the students sort them add three numbers. If you want to check out my Witches Brew resource, click here



Here are some mentor texts I use for science: 


From Seed to Pumpkin: We make a craftivity of the life cycle of a pumpkin and then write the sequence of it. If you want to check out my pumpkin thematic unit, click  here


Why Do Leaves Change Color: After we have graphed our leaves and sorted them, we make a leaf man! We even add acorns for the eyes! 


How Do Apples Grow? We do an apple investigation about the parts of an apple. We cut open an apple and look at the core, seeds and star. We taste four different kinds of apples and then decide which is our favorite. We do an interactive notebook template about the parts of an apple and glue it into our science notebook. If you want to check out my apple thematic unit, click here



Pumpkin Jack: We carve a pumpkin on Halloween and then save some parts of it into jars with three different environments: sand, air and water. We watch what happens as it decomposes. We write our investigations in our pumpkin journal. 


Barn Owl: We also do a feather investigation with owls. We talk about how the feathers help them fly with silent wings using force, motion and energy. We investigate different types of feathers and then illustrate and label them. If you're interested in my owl thematic unit, click here



Owl Babies: We also talk about the owl life cycle and make this craftivity: 


Corn is Maize: We investigate with Indian Corn in 3 different natural resources: sand, soil and water. We predict which corn will grow the fastest and which will not grow at all. This is so fun to watch and its amazing to see the differences in the three corns!  We record our investigation in our corn journal. If you are interested in my corn resource, click here


We make a craftivity about what we learned about corn and glue popcorn on it too! 


We also have a pumpkin patch day on Halloween! Each student gets to decorate a pumpkin of their favorite storybook character, and they also get to dress up like their character at school! We have a blast seeing all the pumpkins and costumes! 



And...you can't forget to decorate your door for fall! 


I hope you got some great ideas of how to include some fall activities with your students. Happy Fall Ya'll! 
Love,
Kara 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

My First Week of School: Tips and Tricks



A lot of teachers are unsure about what to do the first week of school. It can be a scary thing...even to veteran teachers. As standards, parents, expectations, and students change from year to year, it can be nerve wracking to the point that you are so anxious the night before you can't sleep! In my experience I feel a lot better knowing that my classroom is ready, my lesson plans are ready, my activities are copied and ready to go, because the last thing you want on the first week of school is to still be decorating, copying and running around crazy because you don't have everything finished! 

In this blog post I'm going to share with you some of my mentor texts, anchor charts, craftivities, interactive notebooks, science investigations and graphing activities that I do during the first week. Maybe this post will help you get some ideas so you're not so anxious...well, maybe just a little! LOL

FIRST DAY of SCHOOL:
Set the stage for the entire year. The second the students walk in, greet them with a hug or a hand shake. Smile and be excited! Even though you're nervous, try not to show it. The parents are nervous too! You're going to have their child for many, many hours this year and they want to be re-assured that you are the best fit for their child.

On my student's desks I have a blank piece of white construction paper, a small tub of play-do and their name tag. I tell the students to build something that resembles an activity or vacation they experienced over the summer. After they build their object, then they are going to color a picture using 8 crayons. I tell them this because it helps to give them a longer task to work on so I can meet and greet parents and students who are coming in late. This activity takes a good 20 minutes. Its just enough time for me to get everyone in, take pictures, greet parents and take everyone to their desk.  Here is a pic of my desks on the first day of school: 


I make a power point of all my classroom rules, procedures and expectations. I sit all the students on the carpet and we go over all the rules. This might take 2-3 sittings, but it is so worth it. I put pictures on my power point of my class from last year so they can see what it looks like.  We practice these routines:

1.) Sitting on the carpet: criss-cross applesauce
2.) Sitting in our desks: with tummies up
3.) Putting our backpack on our chair with both straps down
4.) Exchanging pencils from the pencil pails
5.) Raising our hand to speak and not blurting out
6.) Mr. Clicker Attention Getter: the students all look at me when I click Mr. Clicker- so the freeze and stop talking. We practice this about 100 times the first week! 


7.) Counting down from 10: all tummies are pushed in and the students have their thumbs up ready to listen. 
8.) Organizing their community tubs and what's inside of them.
9.) Using the restroom and flushing and washing our hands.
10.) Pushing our chairs in when we get up.
11.) Walking quietly to line up, with our wings and bubbles.
12.) Walking in the hallway quietly for secret walker.
13.) Earning bonus bucks for the treasure box.
14.) Saying "Thank you" when called on.
15.) Bird Contest: what is looks like and sounds like


If you're interested in reading about my Behavior Management Tips and Tricks, click here.

Or, if you're interested in seeing my Behavior Management resource, click here.

These are just a few of the rules and procedures we discuss. Now, on to the academic and fun part! I think it would be easier for me to show you activities, mentor texts and craftivities for each subject. Let's start with reading! 

                                  Reading Mentor Texts: 



I like doing a Kevin Henkes Author Study at the beginning of the year. I have his picture and photos of books on my Author Study center. In the colored bins I have all of his books and book buddies.


If you're interested in checking out some of my Kevin Henkes linking literature resources, click here for Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, and click here for Chrysanthemum. 

Here are some anchor charts that I use for reading: 


I Can't with The Little Engine That Could

How to Treat Books with Reading Makes You Feel Good

What is Schema with Word Wizard

Text to Self Connection with The Kissing Hand

If you're interested in checking out my Reader's Workshop resource, click here

Here are some interactive notebooks that I do for reading. I have a schema notebook that we use for reading/writing. This was done on the first day of school.

Schema Notebook with The Kissing Hand

Here are some craftivities that we do the first week for reading: 

Chester's Heart from The Kissing Hand
If you're interested in checking out my linking literature resource for The Kissing Hand, click here.
Learning Our Initials with The Letters Are Lost

Writing Mentor Texts:


Here are some anchor charts I use for Writing: 
Write From the Heart with Harold and the Purple Crayon
Using Dictionaries with Ralph Tells a Story
Using Finger Spaces with The Best Story Ever

Interactive Notebooks for Writing:
Write From Your Heart Interactive Notebook Activity
I have my students glue my anchor chart on the left side of the notebook and their activity on the right side.

If you're interested in checking out my Writer's Workshop resource, click here

Focus Poetry Interactive Notebook: Special Me

I have a poetry center and this is where I post the poem of the week. We sit on the floor together and discuss the rhyming words. I have vocabulary cards stapled all around the poem for parts of speech and punctuation. Then, my students get their poem, cut it out and glue it on the left side of their notebook and illustrate a picture on the right side. They will also highlight all the rhyming words in the poem. Here is a picture of my Poetry Center:


If you're interested in checking out my Focus Poems for every month and holiday, click here.

Math Mentor Texts:


Math Anchor Charts:
What is a Mathematician with Chicka Chicka 123
Using Number Lines With Each Orange Had 8 Slices

Graphing Names, M&Ms and Buttons with:
Chrysanthemum, M&M Counting Book and Pete The Cat and His Groovy Buttons
All About Me Graphing: Eyes, Hair and Names
Interactive Notebooks for Math: 
Graphing Transportation, Eyes, Fingerprints, and Names

If you're interested in checking out my Graphing Unit for Math, click here.

All About Me Mentor Texts:

All About Me Craftivities:
My Family Tree Craftivity with Me and My Family Tree
How Do You Feel Today? With How Are You Peeling
A Rainbow Of My Own: the students glue adjectives on the colored strips describing themselves. I write their name on the cloud and then they glue rainbow colored yarn on top of their name.
All About Me Books with What I Like About Me!

If you're interested in checking out my All About Me Thematic Unit, click here.

Science Mentor Text:


Scientific Method Vocabulary Cards

Science Experiment: The Flower
The Flower Experiment
This experiment will excite your students on the first day of school! Simply cut out a white flower (don't color it) and fold up the petals. Then have your students predict what will happen to the flower? Will it sink? Float? Will it collapse? Show your students the scientific method vocabulary cards and model a hypothesis. Then place the flower inside a bowl of water still folded up and watch the magic happen! The petals will unfold and turn into an open flower! Your students will get so excited about science that they will want to do more! I also send home a flower for my students to experiment and teach their parents. They LOVE this! 
Scientific Method Interactive Notebook Foldable:
If you're interested in checking out my Science Investigations resource for the whole year, click here.

And there you have it! I know it seems like a lot, but you know what they say...its better to plan too much than to plan too little. I hope you got some great ideas for the first week of school and I hope everyone has a fantastic school year! Please comment below and follow my blog!
Love, Kara