Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ice Skating in the Classroom!

Greeting, Frugal Friends! You may be slightly confused that our first graders are skating in Florida in the middle of April, but yes it's true.... No ski jackets needed! In fact, skates are optional!
Here's how it all went down... Let me start by telling you my feelings on WHOLE BRAIN TEACHING. Well, *WBT* is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! The only think I have found difficult was the daily incentives for the smile tallies. 

We use these "Whole Brainish" rules.
It's a free printable
from Third Grade Thoughts!
Sample of :) and :( chart
Sidenote: Tallies are rewarded in the "Smiley" :) section for good behavior, strong answers, engagement, cooperative learning so much more. "Frownie":( tallies are given for times when the class wasn't making the best choices or not following the rules.

I love the system but keeping up with it daily wasn't working out at all very well. So, I changed it! We're teachers we modify everything, right?!? Anyway, now we work toward 15 tallies which typically takes about a week and we work towards a small incentive to motivate our peers (let me clarify: by peer I mean 6 and 7 year olds) to do their best during whole group lessons. This past week and a half we've been working towards a new incentive- ICE SKATING. Yes, you heard me right, ice skating in sunny Florida when it's a low of 87 degrees outside. Indoor (classroom) ice skating is as silly as it sounds... Take a peak at all of the little figure skaters!


Trying out their new skates!
It was free because I had tons of donated paper plates and it was Oh-So-Much-FUN!!!! I mean seriously... they had a flippin' blast! It was 15 minutes of pure, uninterupted, completely UNACADEMIC FUNNNNNNNN! I played a few fun jams and gave each child a pair of "skates" two paper plates and the real silliness began. I even pulled out a yard stick and allowed some skate-mania limbo to take place. I'm already excited for our next skate sesh... it was a hoot! Not a single one of my students have EVER ice-skated and only three had ever roller-skated, so I'm sure this will be a day they'll remember for a long time!

I even whipped out a yard stick
for some limbo!!! 
The video footage is so much better!

I'm not going to call up Russia just yet and tell them we have any potential candidates for the  XXII Winter Olympic Games, but they certainly showed some skating potential!! Maybe a few more "practices" and they will nail a single toe loop? I'll keep you updated!
Eventually we put our shoes back on
and called it quits after a fun 15 minutes on
the "rink." :) 
The video footage is so much better, but I'm still new at this and can't seem to figure out how to post videos. They were slipping and sliding all over the classroom. Some were spinning and "partner skating." It was just too cute and the pictures don't even come close to showing their excitement like the video clips we made! Just take my word for it and pull out your extra paper plates and give your kids a few minutes to just be kids. We promise, you won't regret it!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Seed Investigation

Hello, hello! We hope everyone had a marvelous Monday! We celebrated Earth Day in our classrooms today. Leading up to Earth Day we have been studying seeds, seeds and more seeds!  Our main selection last week was "A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds" by Jean Richards. It's a cute little nonfiction story that provides an illustrated description of seed dispersal (specifically fruits). It explains the purpose  of seeds and how they grow. It's hilarious watching the kids go through the cafeteria line and pointing out all of the fruit seed suitcases!

After reading about seeds all week and doing a lot of class discussion we planned a fun science activity!! We love hands-on science! It's so much fun! 

Gotta love technology!
We planned a special SEED INVESTIGATION for our young scientists. Brittany and I brought in many different kinds of fruit and did some seed research with our fruits. We labeled the fruits and added characteristics to our illustrations in our science notebooks. Students wrote about the different seeds they observed and used details to describe the seeds. 
Scientists in action!

For Example: 
The peach seed is dark brown and is called a pit. You can't eat the pit. It is in the middle of the fruit. 

They did this for all of the different fruits and vegetables we brought in. They loved using their science tools (microscopes and magnify glasses) to describe the different characteristics of the seeds. They did a great job and gathered a whole bunch of new learning!

Here is a Science Notebook Freebie if you would like to do something similar with your class! 

Have a great day!! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Author Study

Hey frugal followers... it's almost Friday, get excited!!!  The dreaded FCAT is upon us and although our little guys don't have to take the BIG test - it has totally messed up our normal schedule.  It's amazing how much our classes rely on routine and it throws everything and everyone off when we switch it up.  Our district has one more week of testing and then things will go back to "normal".  In lieu of all this craziness, Melissa and I managed to squeeze in an author's study.  This week's feature was (drum roll please)... EZRA JACK KEATS!

Melissa and I absolutely love when we get the chance to do author studies with our firsties.  So far this year we've studied Jan Brett, Laura Numeroff, Eric Carle, and Dr. Seuss.  We hope to squeeze in Leo Leoni before summer gets here!  During these studies we discuss different titles, writing styles, illustrations, themes, plot, characters, and settings.  We also learn a little history behind the author.  We chose to study Ezra Jack Keats this week because our main selection was Whistle for Willie which was written and illustrated by Mr. Keats!  If you're not familiar with it, Whistle for Willie is an adorable story about a little boy named Peter who reeeeeally wants to learn how to whistle for his dog Willie.  He keeps trying and low and behold, by the end of the story, he learns how to whistle!  (like you didn't see that one coming haha)  The kids love it because it's a story that they can connect with. 

We kicked off our author's study by watching the Ezra Jack Keats video on Brainpop Jr.  This website is an AMAZING teacher resource!  It's soooo teacher AND kid-friendly!  Our students absolutely L-O-V-E Annie and Moby!  Thankfully our school has purchased a license for us, but you can also get an individual license for use - I'm not sure what the going rate is, but trust me, it's worth it!  We learned SO MUCH about Ezra and some of his books.  We added our new learning to our schema chart throughout the week. 
Grades (DC) - Voyager Elementary Technology

Here are some other books we read by Ezra Jack Keats...
Ezra Jack Keats is well known for his use of collage.  We learned all about collages and how to make them (thanks Annie and Moby).  To wrap up our author's study at the end of the week our firsties got to create their own collage masterpieces.  We pretty much emptied our entire closets onto our classroom carpets to give them every supply they could possibly need.  We used tissue paper, paint, string, yarn, paper bags, stencils, stickers, wallpaper, magazines, stamps, macaroni, ribbon, construction paper... and the list goes on and on!  Needless to say, they had a blast!  They were sooooo into it!  We were so impressed with their creativity!

Here's some of our creations...

Our students were coming back from the library this week eager to show us the Ezra Jack Keats books they found in the library!  They love rereading the stories we enjoyed together throughout the week! There are lots of online resources where you can find books by Ezra Jack Keats if you don't have them available in your school library.   Hope you enjoyed this little dose of creativity!  Until next time frugal followers!!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Our new math standards don't cover patterns anymore. We made this quick math foldable to see what our 1st graders already know about patterns! Feel FREE to download this FREEbie!

Students illustrate pattern to match pattern unit.

We hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Science Notebooks

We have used our science notebooks so much more this year thanks to common core.

We hope to use them even more next year! It's such a great way for students to record new learning and build on previously learned concepts.

How often do you use science notebooks in your class? Do you use them in centers at all??

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

pirate pAARRRty time!

Take a look at a few of our pirates before we went on an "ar" treasure hunt around the school.
Our kite strings are in the way, but you get the idea!
Pirate week was such a blast! We read tons of pirate books, we spoke like pirates ALL week, we played pirate games, we did pirate crafts and we finished off our week with a Pirate Paaarrrty!! It was a BLAST! One of our favorite weeks of the year, hands down! 

Each student made a pirate hat and got a pirate eye patch! We bought these items through out the year when we found them on sale at crafts stores and party stores. It was great to pull out our pirate box and have everything we needed! 
Many students tried to wear black and red.
Most brought bandanas too!
This sweet girl went all out!
She wore her pirate costume!
Too cute!!

Ready for our
Treasure Hunt!

On the look out for AR words!
Wrong map... "This is not a treasure map, it's the United States!"
X marks the spot!
Back in the classroom we finished our treasure map!

Listing our AR words
from the treasure hunt. 

Finishing our Pirate craft
from Babbling Abby's unit!

It's time to pAARRRRty!
Pirate Punch and Tattoos!
Snacks, pirate coins, loot bags and even a treasure from the treasure box!

Overall, it was an awesome week of learning! A phonics pattern the will never forget! We wish phonics was always this fun! So glad we bought the Pirate Pack from the Inspired Apple because it has so many great ideas! Our only regret was we forgot to take a picture of US! We were to busy trying to capture all of the fun we forgot to take a picture of the ourselves all dressed up! ARRGH!

This week we are learning about Ezra Jack Keats and his beautiful collage illustrations. We are still learning about the "bossy r" phonics pattern this week. We will keep you posted! Have a fantastic week!

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