Friday, May 13, 2016

Five For Friday 05.13.16

As the end of the year is drawing to a close, life seems busier than ever. Just glancing over at my May calendar stresses me out! The last day of school is going to be here before I know it.

Our week was totally packed full with tons of different activities in science, math, and reading - my kids had such a blast with them this week that I thought I'd link up with Kacey at Doodlebugs Teaching for this week's Five for Friday to share some of them!



We started on our shapes unit this week, which is always one of my favorites! There are so many amazing, hands-on, fun geometry activities to do with your students. Since my first graders already have a strong concept of the shape names, I just did a quick review and re-introduced the attributes of sides and vertices. I gave each student a flat plane shape and called out different sorting rules - it was then their job to go around the room and find their matching group. For example, I'd say, "Find everyone who has a shape with 4 sides"; or, "Find everyone who has a shape with curved edges". And then they scrambled around to find their grouping matches.




After we practiced sorting by different attributes, we did our own little shape sort by counting the number of sides!


The shape sort and tons of other activities can be found here (click the picture to see more!):
 photo shape bundle cover_zpss3lpsi6q.jpg


We just wrapped up a little mini-unit reading the book Frog and Toad are Friends! My kids absolutely LOVED it and could not get enough. At the end of it, they made this adorable Frog and Toad craft with opinion writing - they had to describe which character they thought was the best friend and why. So fun!

Click here to get this activity!


We've been learning all about the ways Earth change, including the four layers of the Earth. I've been using a ton of different strategies to teach them about the four layers including songs, movement/tableau activities, videos, and anchor charts (blog post coming soon with all the details!). I wanted to include another hands on activity for them to complete, so I created a layers of the Earth flip book to go with full-color anchor charts! My kids used the anchor charts to fill in the blank for each book page to tell about what the four layers of the Earth were made of. They loved it! You can click on the picture below to check out more of the details!

 photo Layers of the earth preview_zpsic9pyiuf.jpg


In keeping with our Earth changes unit, we've also been learning about things like volcanoes and earthquakes! My teammate had this great little experiment to show how volcanoes erupt - using old film canisters, you glue an Alka-Seltzer tablet inside the lid and then fill the canister half-full with water. Then you put the lid on, turn the canister upside down on the ground, and then BACK UP! After awhile, the pressure builds and it explodes, just like a volcano! My kids were SO excited! Here's a little video so you can see how it went!

video


I only have 7 1/2 days of school left! So crazy! In the meantime I'm going crazy trying to figure out how I'm going to complete all my assessments, fill out all my end of the year paperwork, practice for our first grade performance, finish up end of the year projects, attend multiple meetings, practice for a teacher talent show, etc. etc. etc.! Why does everything pile up SO much at the end of the year? I know y'all can relate, so this meme is all of us.


We can make it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hundreds Chart Fun!

This year was the year I rediscovered the hundreds chart.

This statement might make you just cover your face in disbelief, but it's true. 

I neglected and underutilized this little math tool.

I'm sorry.

HOWEVER! I am here to make it up to you all by sharing some simple, but meaningful ideas that I've used in my classroom recently that helped my students understand concepts such as ten more/ten less, one more/one less, number order, and adding groups of ten.

When I first started teaching my kids about using the hundreds chart to find one or ten more/less than a number, they really struggled with the concept. Many of them would confuse the two because they didn't understand which way to go to count on the hundreds chart. More specifically, they struggled with mastering "ten more" - they would just call out any number that they knew was more than the number I gave, but not necessarily ten more. I knew I had to simplify it by breaking it down into a simpler format for them.

Luckily, my old friend Pinterest came through for me - I found an AMAZING and FUN resource to help kids learn how to use the hundreds chart from Foxwell Forest. She created a fun little hundreds chart song to go with the Cupid Shuffle. I found the song (music only) on YouTube, played it in the background, and we sang and moved and grooved to the song. I love any lesson that I can integrate music and movement to, so it was the perfect activity that helped my little friends remember which way to go to find ten/one more/less. Here's a video of Becca performing it in her own classroom so you can see!

Find the free song lyrics here!
After we practiced the song a few times, each student got their own hundreds chart and one unifix cube. 
Then I used an online interactive hundreds chart on abcya.com and called out numbers for my students to start on. Then, I'd call out, "Ten more!" or "One less" and vice versa and my students would have to move their cube to the correct number. This allowed me to see who had a good understanding of the concept.

Once my students had a chance to practice on their own hundreds chart, I wanted to increase their critical thinking a bit by giving them a bit more abstract of an activity to complete. I put my students into groups of 5 and gave each one a whiteboard. Then we put the whiteboards together to form the 10 more, 10 less, one more, one less cross as if it were a bigger version of a hundreds chart. Then I gave each group a number to start with, which they put in the center, and then each student was responsible for filling out the rest of the blank boards with the numbers that were more and less than the given number based on the hundreds chart.



Then we completed a little activity sheet for independent practice. After reviewing the work they did, not every student had a grasp on the concept, so the next day, I added another little activity to our hundreds chart learning.

I'm lucky to have a big rug in my classroom, and it just so happens to have big multicolored square spots on it. An idea struck me - it was the perfect template to pose as an empty hundreds chart! I printed out a bunch of papers with various numbers on it from 24-58 and handed one out to each student. Then, they had to take their paper and use their knowledge of ten/one more and less to fill out the "hundreds chart". It was such a great activity and helped my students mathematical thinking so much! Every time a student placed a number down, they had to tell me how they knew it was supposed to go there.




These activities were so great because they were hands-on, fun activities with absolutely no prep required (except for printing the numbers out!). These are the best kind of activities to use, am I right?!? And the most exciting part of it all, for me, was that my students really began to grasp the concepts of more and less and began to relate it to double digit addition.

These activities helped me rejuvenate the use of the hundreds chart in my classroom so that now it's a useful tool for my students to use in a variety of ways!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Top Wishlisted items and a SALE!

Hi everyone! Teacher Appreciation Week is next week and I have some great news... TeachersPayTeachers is getting in on the fun and throwing a big SALE! On May 3rd and 4th, my entire shop will be on sale for 20% off - and you can get extra savings by using the code CELEBRATE during those two days!



To celebrate, I'm linking up with Jen at Teaching in the Tongass to highlight the three top wish listed items in my TPT store - ones that you may be interested in adding to your classroom resources!




Shapes Galore for the Common Core is not only my top wishlisted item, it's also the top selling product in my store! This pack includes fun activities and resources for teaching 2D and 3D shapes. In this unit, you'll find classroom resources, decor, games, printables, and more to help you teach these geometry standards. I love what this customer said about Shapes Galore in her review of my product after using it in her classroom...kid-tested and veteran teacher approved! Click here to get a closer look at all that is included!


My Kindergarten Journeys Interactive Notebooks for Leveled Readers are made to go along with the Journeys curriculum and are a great supplement to add to your teaching resources. There are differentiated, leveled interactive notebook activities that go with all of the leveled readers in Unit 1. As I was using the leveled readers with my own students, I found that I really wanted something concrete that they could work on all of the reading concepts and skills that I could show their families as a record of their progress... and this is what I came up with! My kids really enjoyed using them and creating them in their own reader's notebooks. I also have sets for units 2-6 as well! Click here to see pictures of the notebooks in action!


Counting Tools for Back to School is a comprehensive teaching resource that can be used to help you teach all of the Counting and Cardinality standards in a fun, engaging way! There are classroom anchor charts, assessments, math stations, games, number sense printables, teaching resources, and more to work with numbers 1-10! You can use these activities all year long! Click here to check it out!

The Teacher Appreciation Sale is a great time to start stocking up on those resources to get ready for back to school this year - buy and prep now, and press the easy button later! When the school year is about to begin, you'll already have your resources ready! Can't beat that! Check out the link-up over at Teaching in the Tongass to see all the top wish listed products that can help kick off your year!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Currently May - The Last One!

It's May 1st (what?!) and I had a little extra time to spare on this Sunday evening, so I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy It's Farley for the last Currently linky EVER! Say it ain't so! It's been so fun linking up every so often and getting to know a little bit more about the amazing teacher bloggers in our community. It's had a great run!



{Listening}: The Pioneer Woman
If you didn't know this about me, here it is: I LOVE THE PIONEER WOMAN! She is my hero and I want to be her when I grow up. Ha! She's so funny and makes the best recipes! My DVR records multiple episodes so I like to put them on in the background while I'm working at home.

{Loving}: My Church!
I feel so blessed and lucky to go to the church I do. It's amazing, my pastor is awesome, and the people are incredible. I also sing in the band and get to play every few weeks or so - I get to sing with the most talented, loving people! It means the world to me.

{Thinking}: The End of the Year is Fast Approaching
I mean, really. Where did April even go? And March, for that matter? There are so many things to finish before the end of the year: Mother's Day gifts, assessments, observations, paperwork galore, and more. Our entire first grade is also putting on a huge musical show the second to last week of school, and we are knee deep in practicing as it comes closer! I work at an arts integration school, so it's a huge production! It's going to be so cute, but it's getting stressful as it gets closer making sure everything is ready!

{Wanting}: Clarity
This year was the first year I did NOT teach kindergarten - I moved to first grade, and I really liked it! However, there's a chance I could be in line for another grade change next year; and also a slim chance that I could teach kinder or stay in first again. It's kind of up in the air! It would be nice to get some sure clarity as to where I'm going to be, but I'm going to stay as patient as I can. (Deep in my heart, I hope I get to teach kinder again! It has my heart!).

{Needing}: Clear out the DVR!
When life gets busy (AKA, all the time), my DVR fills up so fast! Then, it's a race to watch things to avoid getting my storage space to zero... and believe me, it gets close often! Haha! My favorites to watch include Outlander, The Blacklist, Sleepy Hollow, Once Upon a Time, Nashville, and more! Oh, and also the occasional Hallmark movie (you know you love them too!!!!).

{Truth}: I'm tired.
So, this school year has been a really, really good one, but with lots of changes. I changed districts, schools, AND grades! Everything was new, which meant that I felt like a first year teacher again in a lot of ways. There were so many new things to figure out, the least of which was the teaching and lesson planning part of it. I have been working so hard with so many long hours. A lot of it has been very stressful just because I had to figure out how everything worked all over again. The great news is, I had a wonderful new school, supportive admin, and a great first grade team. That definitely helped ease the transition! But it's the reason I cannot WAIT till summer... just to get some "me" time again to recharge!

I hope you'll link up with us over at Farley's post that I linked near the top of this blog post. Gotta join in for the last one! The last day is almost here... you can make it!!!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Plants and Living Things {plus freebies!}

Spring is just around the corner! With the sunshine and warmer weather, it makes it the perfect time of year to begin a study on plants and living things.

 
To gain some background knowledge, I always start off by creating some sort of anchor chart or schema chart of all the things we think we know about plants. It's always interesting to see what the students come up with. A lot of times, they surprise me with how much they know!
 


After creating our schema chart, I always tell my students that they are going to become scientists so that we can find out everything we want to know about plants and living things! I talk about all the things that good scientists have to do with this little anchor chart, which you can download for FREE by clicking on the photo below!

 photo what do scientists do picture_zps7vl3kmnl.png

The perfect way to implement all three of these things is to have students create a journal. They can use this to draw and write observations, record facts, and more! The first thing we do at the beginning of the unit is practice making observations. We go outside for a walk and draw a picture of EVERYTHING we can observe. 




I remind them to include details about everything they can see. Then, we come back inside and share our observations with a partner!

The next day, we learned about the difference between living and nonliving things. We used some real pictures of objects and sorted them between living and non-living. I got the pictures here for free from the blog Chalk Talk! 

I made up our own little version of the picture sort for students to work on independently. You can download it for free by clicking the picture below!

 photo plants and living things sort picture_zpsuzgze5p7.png

We then went on another observation walk outside and recorded our observations of all the living and non-living things we saw.


Once we had a little background knowledge on living things, it was time to observe and inspect the seeds we would be planting. I gave each student a magnifying glass and we observed our seed using our five senses in our plant journals. They had SO much fun looking at the seed up close!





Now we are ready to plant our seeds! I called kids up 4-5 at a time and let them pour soil in a cup, observe and feel the soil, and plant their seed in the middle.




Once we planted seeds, it was time to find out what plants need to thrive and grow! We watched one of my favorite songs about the Needs of a Plant from Harry Kindergarten:


And then we used our plants and living things journals to record our learning!


We planted our seeds, watered them, and then put them outside everyday to get some sunshine! I just used a big paper box lid to put all of our plant cups in to make it easier to carry it in and out of the classroom. As they started to grow, we learned about and labeled all the parts of a plant in our journals next!


Day by day, we checked in on our plants and used the observation pages of our journals to record what our plants looked like every couple of days!



You can print as many of the observation journal pages as you need for however many days you plan on letting the kids observe their plants before taking them home.

Once the plants grew enough to see the stem and leaves pop out, I let my students take their plants home! They were so excited! I had more than one student tell me that they went home and planted their flowers in their yard at home.

You can find all of these activities and more (including plant vocabulary cards) in my Plants and Living Things Observation Journal in my TPT store. Just click on the picture below and it will take you right there!

 photo plant journal cover page_zpsoefidz46.png

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Changing Up Our Word Work Routine: Long Vowel Teams ai ay

Halfway through my first year in first grade, we have officially gone deep into learning new phonics patterns, especially vowel teams. Each week I am introducing one to two new patterns; and it can be easy to get into a rut of introducing them all the same way with the same activities each week. Read the word. Write the word. Draw the word. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Can you relate? Here's a tip. The easiest way to change it up and make it new and exciting for your students is to integrate a monthly or seasonal theme into the activity they'll be doing. And here's the kicker - it could be the exact same word work activity they've been doing since time began, but once you add in some new fancy themed clip art, the students get ridiculously excited and buy in to what you are teaching.

We began working on long a vowel teams ai & ay; focusing on each phonics pattern for a week at a time. By the time we got through the two weeks, we were ready to compare and sort words with each vowel team. I'm lucky enough to have a smartboard in my classroom this year, so I created a quick snowman sort for my students to interact with. They read the word on the snowman and sorted into the correct vowel team category.



Once we sorted and read all of our words, my students completed their own snowman ai/ay sort. I created two different versions to meet the needs of my learners. Some students had a sort with pictures only; and added their own labeling word. Other students who needed more support had a snowman sort with the actual words on it so that they could visually see the phonics pattern.



If you'd like to use these differentiated sorts in your classroom, click on the picture below to grab it from my TPT store! (Note: The smartboard file is not included due to clip art copyright, but I've created color cards for students to sort in a pocket chart!).

 photo snowman sort ai ay_zpswj8h8bjh.png

Another new activity I came up with to practice sorting our long a vowel team words used just one simple material: index cards! I gave each student a blank one and told them to choose either one ai or one ay word to write on their card.


On the back, they had to write a sentence using their ai/ay word.


Then, we sorted our words together in the pocket chart.


After sorting our words, we read them together aloud. My students loved it; and so did I - how great is it to have a no-prep, interactive activity like this?

I also love to find fun videos and songs on youtube for my students to get up, move, and sing with. They absolutely loved this surfer themed video for sorting ai/ay words. They laughed so hard at his "Heyyyy duddddeeee!" surfer voice.


I hope this post was able to give you a few new fun, quick ideas to use during your word work routine!