September 29, 2012

Applepalooza {Part 1}

There's just something about themed units that make me love my job even more!  Maybe it's the anchor charts, cutesy art projects, or how much the kiddos love them too.  Or maybe it's because it just makes school that much more FUN!  Now that my students pretty much have our routine down <except for that question "When is it snack time?">  we are on to our first unit....Apples! I may have went overboard with pictures, so bare with me!

We started off the week reading all about apples and filling in part of our first anchor chart.

They then filled out their own KWL chart from The First Grade Parade. We talked about the parts of an apple and labeled our class anchor chart together before they filled out their own. I got the great idea from Abby over at The Inspired Apple and also used Rachell's labels from What the Teacher Wants. Turned out super cute!
The week before we started our apple unit I sent home a note requesting that each student bring an apple to school.  We first talked about the different types of apples that we mainly see and eat and filled out a graphic organizer with the information.
Then, we sorted the apples by apple type and then made an apple graph with our apples. 

Last week, we learned all about our 5 senses.  Together we brainstormed what apples feel, look. smell, sound, and taste like and then incorporated our thoughts into an apple poem.
The last 2 days of our apple unit, we talked about the seasons of the apple tree and finished off the week with a seasons of the apple tree art of my favorites we do all year! 
I take them through each season and we draw and color them together first. Then, I call 5 students back at a time and they get to paint their trees.  For winter, they put white paint on the ends of their tree branches and a drop of glue in the middle of their snowflakes and sprinkle it with glitter.  For spring, they paint pink blossoms on their tree.  For summer, they paint green apples on their tree and for fall they paint red apples on their tree.

Finished product!
 Here's a quick peek at our "Pride Board" and our apple tree outside of our classroom in the hallway.

One of my students planted the seeds from an apple she ate over the weekend before our apple unit and brought her growing apple tree to class for everyone to see! We are VERY anxious to see the progress it makes throughout the school year!

I will be back with Applepalooza Part 2 next week!

September 24, 2012

Birthday Display

I'm linkin' up with Erica Borher over at Blog Hoppin' for a BiRtHdAy display linky party!

 There are some adorable birthday ideas out there in pinterest-land BUT, this year I decided to stick with my own imagination. Let's just say I have an obsession with an obsession that is grand enough that if I was a worthy baker (which I am not) I would have to quit teaching just to bake cupcakes. BUT, that will never happen! I even had a co-worker buy me a cutsey little magnet like the one below!  *LOVE*
My obsession of cupcakes alots to my birthday board being made guessed it, cupcakes....monthly themed cupcakes that is.  This summer, I searched up and down, near and far, on a hunt for candles for these cupcakes.  Never found any I liked, so I made a set myself. 
Click the picture to download the set of candles!
I wrote each student's name and the day of their birthday on a candle.  The first week of school, we talked about our birthday's and I let each of them staple their own candle on top of the cupcake month their birthday was in. Here is what the finished product looks like!

Just scrumptious, isn't it!?

This week we are starting our unit on apples! Check back later for some great ideas, inspirations, and apple freebies!

September 20, 2012

Writing, Rhyming, and Senses

Raise your hand if you love testing kiddos!?  Crickets anybody.....?  Oh-my-word, I am SO beyond tired of testing my kids. DRA, Universal Screening, report card testing.  Will it ever end?  I am ready to get into a *normal* routine with my kids and spend ALL of my precious time (that I never seem to have enough of) actually teaching what they need to know.  Can I get an amen?  Other than testing, we have been working hard on generating rhyming words, getting into our writer's workshop groove, and learning about our senses.  Here are a few cutsey activities we have been working on this week.

Up first is rhyming.  Well ya see, there is this book...that my firsties have fell in L.O.V.E with. It's called Rhyming Dust Bunnies. They BEG me to read it...and I have...3 times now.  They roll with laughter every time.  And this last time, they were even able to pretty much read it with me. If you teach rhyming words in any way, shape, or form you must use this book!!

If you click on the picture of the book, it will take you to an uber-cute rhyming activity to do with your kiddos. Thanks to Katie at Queen of the First Grade Jungle for sharing!

I had my class create a 'piggy rhyme'. I gave them a template for the infamous "This little piggy...." rhyme but left the ending of each sentence blank in which they had to fill it in with two sets of rhyming words.  Here is an example of how they turned out.

And I HAD to share this one with reads "This little piggy played cars. This little piggy went to the bars."  I had me a good laugh!

Click on the picture below to download your Piggy Rhyme FREEBIE!
During writer's workshop this week we took on the wonderful Cara Carroll's idea from The First Grade Parade and made heart maps.  We are going to put these in our writing folders and refer to them whenever we can't think of an idea to write about. Here is my example. 

You can find Cara's original post here.

Click on the picture below to download a FREEBIE of the heart map.
On top of all that, we have also been learning about our 5 senses.  I have been using the free 5 senses from Mrs. Wills over at her blog Mrs. Wills Kindergarten.
Here are the kiddos getting to put their senses to work.
Using their sense of sight to view things through a magnifying glass and record what they see.

Using their sense of touch to go on a scavenger hunt around the room to find different textures (rough, smooth, fuzzy, etc.)  I think they were more excited to use clipboards than anything!
On a much happier note, tomorrow is Friday and next week we begin our Apple unit! This time of year is my absolute FAVorite. I don't know what it is about apples, spiders, bats, and pumpkins....but these units just make me happy!  Or maybe it's knowing I teach these during Fall (my favorite season) and that is the same time that Starbucks has their specialty drinks!?  Until next time...



September 15, 2012

We are Unique!

This week was nothing less than unique! I was out the first three days with laryngitis and needless to say, my voice came back in perfect timing for parent orientation Thursday evening...ironic!?  While I was gone, my kiddos started their journey on finding out what makes them unique.  They started by reading Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon.  To accompany this book, they each made a flower. Their name went in the middle and on each petal they wrote one thing that makes them unique! They turned out precious!

I added a little touch to the hallway display by making a cutsey poster. I had each kid add their thumbprint and I made it into a "thumbkin".
Next, we made some things to have on our desk to show off to their parents for Parent Orientation.  We read the book I Like Myself and then made 'All About Me' flipbooks.  They worked really hard on these and they came out adorable! Such a simple and easy project.

Since we were talking about what makes us special, it was a perfect time to talk about our families and how they contribute to making us who we are.  I am very fortunate to work in a school where family involvement at home and school flourishes. We made a family tree to represent our love of family! Each apple has a family member's name on it.

Next week we will end our 'All About Me' unit by talking about our 5 senses.  Check back next week to see what fun things we get to do with each of our senses! Happy Weekend friends!

September 12, 2012

Laryngitis and Parent Communication

Don't the two just go well together: laryngitis and communicating!?  That's what I've been up against since Monday.  So here I sit, during the middle of the day, typing a blog post because I have been off for 3 days now with no voice! Oh, let's add this into the mix...tomorrow night is parent orientation. Great, just great! At least my voice will sound like a full blown MAN...ugh!  My husband told me that I need to practice talking a few weeks before school starts (same thing happened to me last year).  Sounds like a good idea, but how does anyone talk to themself all day?  People would think I'm mental!

So, since I can't communicate through voice, I'm going to show you how our first grade team communicates with parents on a daily basis.  We use a folder system.  It goes home daily and comes back the next day.
Here is what we put on the inside:
The left side is where we put notes/homework that needs to be returned to school.  The right back pocket hold papers that the students are to keep at home such as skill work or graded papers.

The first pocket we put in the folder is for our 'Monday Mail' which is mainly our class newsletter.  On Tuesday, we send home notes that come from the office or any other paperwork. 
 Behind that pocket, we have our communication card.  This is where we document each child's behavior.  We use the clip system and this is where we mark why they had to move their clip if they did.  Parents are required to initial daily.  We tell them "no news is good news"! 
The last pocket is for home readers.  We have an awesome teacher who has put together and keeps up with a literacy library.  We are able to check out leveled books and send them home with the kids for a week for them to practice reading on their level.  This pouch is where those books are stored.
This system works great for us! How do you and your team communicate with parents? I would love to hear the systems you have in place.  I'm praying that I will be able to return tomorrow to my students.  My voice is gaining some 'squeakiness'! 


September 6, 2012

Math Tubs & Anchor Charts

Let me put it this way, I have a love/hate relationship with 4 day weeks. I L.O.V.E the aspect of having a 3 day weekend...who doesn't?!  It's just enough time to buy groceries, do laundry, some shopping, and still have a day to relax. Talk about perfection! And the 4 day week that follows, hallelujah! Then there's the thought of going back <sigh> and realizing you have so much to catch up on, that you really could have used that day off instead of having to stay at school until 6:00 every evening trying to catch up...yuck! It's like I'm winning and losing all at the same time.

Anywho, this week we introduced character, setting, and the important elements of sentences. I am a little obsessed with anchor charts, as I was told I'm already running out of room on my designated wall...oops! Needless to say I think they work wonders. I love seeing my kiddos look up at the wall to refer back to their learning (point for me!). Here are the few we made this week.

Next week I am going to introduce math tubs. Last year, I introduced them all in one setting and briefly practiced them with the class. BIG mistake...never again! So this year, I will introduce one a day and we will play an entire game as a class. Once all 5 are introduced, I will quickly review and let them have at it (in designated groups of course) the following week. I like to rotate them through twice so that they last for 2 weeks...lazy me! Here is a peek at our first set of math tubs!

Side note: I do not take credit for making these activities I am just lucky enough to have stumbled upon them. And did I mention, they were all FREE! Click on the picture and it will take you to the site. Many thanks to those who have creative enough minds to share : )

Hang on friends...tomorrow is Friday!


September 2, 2012

Planning is MY Middle Name

What an exhausting first week, to say the least! Exhausting just might be an blogging is proof. This year, we are starting several tons of new ideas and programs. We have a new phonics program, writing program, and I am starting the Daily 5 for the first time (eek!). We also are having to do our own lesson plans instead of writing them as a team <sigh> which means I am now writing plans weekly along with making my own class newsletter. Good thing I don't mind creating things!  This year I am realizing just how G.O.O.D I had it last year as a first year teacher. Loooong story short, adding all this into the first week of school was a doozie! This week should be nothing less than another tiring week as we implement all of our programs and dive into the curriculum.  The first week is always fun getting to know the kids, doing fun artsy activities, and getting them back into the swing of school.

Enough of me being 'Debbie Downer'...I wanted to share with you both the lesson plan and newsletter templates I created.  Last year, I typed up (in detail) what I was going to do daily.  I REALLY liked the format I used, but this year I am going to try to combine all of it into a 2 page easy to read document {I like a "big picture" view}.  I created a template I liked from  to fit my custom schedule. I have used it for the past 2 weeks now and absolutely ADORE it!!! It is so easy to read and super easy to edit week by week.

 Did I mention you can download it AND edit it for FREE!
{Click on the picture to preview/download the lesson plan template if you think it will work for you!}

On Monday of each week I send home a newsletter.  This is the main way I communicate with all my parents at once to let them know what is going on in the classroom and inform them of any upcoming events.  I find that they are more apt to look at/read it if it is sent home rather than sent through email. On it I include the skills we are working on that week, our spelling and sight words, monthly birthdays, regularly scheduled activities, our specials rotation schedule, and important event reminders. Here's a peek at the one I sent home in this week's daily folder.

Praise the Lord we had a 3 day weekend after the first week...I don't know about you but I have taken a nap just about every day this weekend. Here's to a great 4 day week back with the kiddos on Tuesday AND a better attempt at blogging this week : )