Saturday, April 27, 2013

Calming the Chaos Blog Hop

Welcome to the Calming the Chaos Blog Hop hosted by 2peasandadog.  All of us bloggers have come together to share our top tips for making the last month of school run smoothly. Visit each of our blogs to learn something new and catch a freebie or two! Happy Hopping!

It's getting to be that time of year when I start looking for ways to keep everyone sane continue the learning process even as the lure of sunny warm days make it hard to resist a REALLY long outside recess remind us that another school year is coming to a close.  I actually find that sticking to our normal routine as long as possible makes for the smoothest and happiest last month of school, but with school-wide assessments and Dibels testing starting in the second week of May it's hard to keep in our routine.

Student Showcase - Reader's Theater

One thing I've done for the past 6 years is to hold a Student Showcase at the end of May.  I invite families and caregivers into my classroom and we show-off all the things we've learned.  We usually do a combination of reader's theater plays, poems, and author's share.

Each year around the second week of May I mix up our reading groups a bit and assign students to a reader's theater group.  I've used the Reading A to Z Reader's Theater scripts and scripts from the Scholastic Book below:

You can get this book from Scholastic Book Clubs or from Amazon.  I like this one because each play has a multi-leveled script which allows students from different reading levels to work in a reading group for a few weeks.  We spend a lot of time building fluency and expression as we practice our plays.  Each student works on a character-related headband to wear and the cast of each play works cooperatively on a large bulletin board-sized scenery poster.  Every student has at least one part in a play.

Student Showcase - Poetry & Author's Share

While all students are required to be in a play at the student showcase, they get to decide what they'd like  to do for their second part.  Students have a choice between doing a partner poem (choral reading) or reading aloud a story or book they've published.  I use poems from a variety of places; I like the Jack Prelutsky and Bruce Lansky poems for older students, and I use poems from CanTeach - they are short and sweet and have great rhythm.  I pair students and they choral read their poems together.  For the students who choose to share a book I have them use our wireless microphone and read aloud a published book.  The microphone really helps the audience stay interested hear better!

The whole showcase takes about an hour and I usually serve juice and cookies.  I typically invite our building principal, our district superintendent and my reading assisstant to join us for the showcase; it's a great way to end the year! I also usually use the showcase to publicly thank my parent volunteers and give them a small token of appreciation. You can check out my pinterest board on parent volunteer gifts:

Let the Fun Begin!

Once the showcase is over we relax a bit and enjoy the last few days of school  with some fun and games.  We usually go on a picnic and swimming field trip, our school holds a Fun Day carnival and of course, we make plans to say good bye.  Soon it will be time to hug those first-graders one last time and send them off to second grade, but before we do here's a quick list of end-of-the-year activities I've done in the past:
  • auction off anchor charts and old/used materials - you'd be amazed at what kids want to take home!
  • re-organize our classroom library
  • clean our tote trays with shaving cream and a hose (on a hot day of course)
  • beach ball autographs
  • write a letter to next year's first graders
  • read-aloud day (where I say yes to every read-aloud request!)
  • watch the video of our student showcase
  • watch the dvd movie of our school year spent together (I give one to each child to take home)
That's about it!  Since it's still April and yes, it snowed again this morning here, it's hard to realize it's time to be thinking about the end of the year.  Hopefully this blog hop initiated by 2peasandadog will get us all energized for a great year end!


Primary Grades
Check out this Great Giveaway!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earth Day

April 22, one of my favorite days each year.  I love celebrating Earth Day with my students and teaching them about the 3 R's.  Last year I did the "litterbug" art project inspired by First Grader at Last.  Alas, I was not an obsessive blogger/TPTer last year did not get any pictures of my litterbug museum, so here is her version.  Cute, right?


This year I will be doing this wonderful "I Love My Earth" flip poem by First Class Teacher.  I love flip books and they turn out very well.  Not to mention it ties in with landforms and we never have enough time to teach science and social studies love those cross-curricular connections!  Click the pic to download this freebie!

I also wanted to create an Earth Day math activity to go in my math tubs this week, so I quickly made a Making 10's Freebie.  Students will be doing this in math tubs with a partner.  Visit my TPT store to download!

Thanks for reading and please consider following our blog, TPT store and/or facebook page!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring Chicks!

I know the calendar says April but here in northern Michigan we're enjoying the only benefit of an OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S STILL SNOWING LET'S MOVE TO FLORIDA STOP SNOWING ALREADY STORM early spring snow/ice storm - a Snow Day!  But the winter weather hasn't stopped me from getting excited to embark on a sad lesson in the circle of life successful spring chick hatching in my classroom!  My friend Patti, who raises more animals than you can imagine with her daughters for 4H, just stopped by with her egg incubator and the fertilized eggs have been delivered to school so I should be all set.  But then I remembered our failure to hatch any live chicks from our eggs last year and thought I'd better get more prepared.

Hatching Chicks Survival Guide

I wanted an easy way to keep track of how many times I turned my eggs and the temperature guidelines for my incubator so I thought I'd make a simple chart I could post in my room.  But one thing led to another, and two hours later I had my Hatching Chicks Mini-Unit! I will definitely be using these posters and printables during the next few weeks, and maybe you can use them too!

Mini-Unit Includes:
  • incubator recording poster (color and b & w)
  • chicken life cycle poster
  • chicken life cycle writing prompts with lines and without (color and b & w)
  • A Hen Lays An Egg original song
  • 6 page student booklet to read and color
  • egg hatching paper chain countdown links with daily chick/embryo stage of development

Thanks for reading and please consider following our blog, TPT store and/or facebook page!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tens and Leftovers Linky

Since spring break, we've been learning about making groups of ten and putting any leftovers in the ones place (a key Common Core State Standard).  We have been spiraling this concept throughout the year during calendar with ten frames, straw bundles, and base ten blocks, so it's been pretty easy.  Today as a fun team-building math activity I borrowed 3 inch plastic links from a fellow teaching friend and we went crazy with our own tens and ones "linky" party!

It's so easy, you can do it tomorrow!

I split the class into groups of 4 students, dumped a large pile of links in the middle and off they went!  It was interesting to listen to some students talking naturally about numbers that add to 10 while they were building 10 and others have trouble with one-to-one correspondence when counting their links!  Ahh...such is the life of a first grade teacher, dealing with such a wide range of skill levels.  Some students understood immediately that if two students had chains with fewer than 10 links on it, they could combine the chains to make 10, while other students didn't think to combine shorter chains together and simply dumped both chains in a huge pile of "leftovers" just because there didn't happen to be any single links lying around.  We had some really rich math talk and all in all it was a great math activity.  Next week, in my independent math stations, students will have a chance to do it all over again with tiny links.  Here are some photos of our "linky" party action!

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

The energy level was really high as the kiddos were busy counting tens of links, and of course they wanted to link ALL the chains together.  Since I would do almost anything to avoid inside recess thought it would be a great way to practice estimation, we did it!  We linked all the chains together and predicted where in our school the chain would reach from our doorway.  SO FUN and a great way too avoid the craziness of an inside recess body/brain break!

Oh!  And in case you forgot...

There's still time to register for the HUGE giveaway Nicole Rios is hosting! Even though her blog is for second grade, she's got awesome prize packages for grades K - 4.  Click on the picture to get registered!
Thanks for reading and please consider following our blog, TPT store and/or facebook page!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

1000 Followers Celebration!!

Yes you read that right!  Of course, WE don't have 1,000 yet but Nicole from Mrs. Rios Teaches Second Grade does and that deserves a CELEBRATION!  She has invited fellow bloggers and TPTers to join her in partying, and we're so excited to be part of it!

We're offering "Winner's Choice" from Becky's store to the winner of Nicole's giveaway. That's get to choose any product from the store.  Visit Becky Brand's  TPT store to see what your choices will be.  But that's not all!  Nicole's giveaway winner will get 107 products!  Woo Hoo - now that is a celebration!

Giveaway Starts April 6th!

Click the picture to join the party!!!  Of course you have to wait until April 6th at 7:00 a.m.!

Thanks for reading and please consider following our blog, TPT store and/or facebook page

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring is Here - April Fool's!

It's snowing here on April 1st!  I guess spring is never coming taking it's own sweet time...I suppose that's what we get after a long winter with 10, yes 10 snow days!  Anyhow, it's spring break for me and since it's not very spring-like outside I thought I'd try to bring some spring inside with this fun "Hop into Spring" Making 10's freebie for you!  This is a great Common Core State Standards based activity to help students learn combinations of ten!

 How We Did It

We actually used this spring Making 10's game in my class the week before spring break in math choices (More about how math choices in an upcoming post) and it went great!  Here's how I organized the activity:

I printed out all 4 game boards along with the 4 Easter themed game boards (part of  Making 10's throughout the Year) and I put one of each inside a plastic page protector.  

Students used dry erase markers to find combinations of 10 by circling adjacent numbers.  Since I had a parent volunteer helper that day I asked students to play the game as a 1-player game while the parent helped, and now that they know the game it will go into the games rotation as a 2-player game.  The kids enjoyed the activity and little did they know, they got to practice many of the first grade Common Core State Standards including: CCSS 1.OA.B.3 (Properties of Addition), CCSS 1.OA.C.6 (Fluency of Facts within 10), and CCSS 1.OA.D.8 (Unknown Numbers).

A fun alternate version of game play to increase fact fluency would be to give each child in your class or group a game board, set a timer and see how many combinations they can find within a set amount of time. 

And Now for the Freebie!

Click here to go to the download, available on TPT

I  hope you get a chance to use this spring freebie with your class or maybe just looking at  the cute spring flowers will brighten up your day.  Thanks for reading and please consider following our blog and/or facebook page