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Snowman and winter activities are the first topics/theme we will start with as we head back to school after winter break. It was not yet winter when the students left for break in December. It's the perfect choice for the first graders (engaging and fun) for the first week back in January.


I'm excited to read The Most Perfect Snowman by Chris Britt, who is also the illustrator. I purchased the book shortly before winter break. After reading it for the first time, it immediately became my new favorite snowman book.


It's a sweet and simple story about a snowman named Drift who was abandoned by some children before he was finished. He's sad that he's a plain-looking snowman and not fancy like the other snowmen. Drift dreams of being the perfect snowman. He watches as the other snowmen play, dance, and have fashion parades. Not only do they not include Drift in their fun, but they make fun of how he looks and tease him.

He meets up with some children who kindly give him some of their clothing. He then happily plays in the snow with the children. That night he loses most of his clothing in a blizzard. The story ends with an opportunity for Drift to pay forward the children's kindness when he meets up with a bunny and truly becomes the most perfect snowman.

It has a wonderful message of kindness, friendship, and giving.

 I will read the book for my first read aloud of the day on Monday. It will be the springboard for a week of snowman activities.


The students will discuss, draw, and write to connect with the story. I like to scaffold the independent activities with a whole group or small group discussion and activity first. This is a story sequencing chart that we will use to talk about the beginning and ending parts of the story. I noted events that happened in the story on sticky notes. I'll read them, student partners will discuss where it happened in the story (beginning or end), and then students will share and volunteer to stick the notes under the correct headings.

We'll continue with writing about favorite parts of the story, responding to comprehension activities, and retelling the story.



The story is filled with adjectives for describing a snowman's clothing. For example, the snowmen in the story say that Drift has a "Snazzy outfit!" We'll use the chart to discuss the adjectives used in the story. Students can add to our chart throughout the week. It will be displayed in the classroom for students to use in their own writing.

The students will have an opportunity to describe their own snowmen.


What I love the most about this adorable book is the way it addresses kindness. We have our school-wide Kindness Week coming up the week of Valentine's Day in February. Kindness is a focus in our class leading up to that week. I'll have the students brainstorm ideas for helping others to add to the chart throughout the week.


We'll discuss ways we can be kind by giving to others, being helpful to others, and being a good friend to others. The colored version will be used as a model for brainstorming our ideas. The students will complete the black and white version of the booklet as an independent activity.


We've been working on including (and not excluding) others. The author did a wonderful job of showing how someone feels when they are not included thru the illustrations in the book. Drift is shown all alone with his head hanging down. The students will have an opportunity to share a time when they were not included in something and how it made them feel.

I always like to include artistic/creative activities as part of our topic or theme. I created some play dough mats with writing activities to go along with our snowman theme.

Students will use playdough (great for fine motor skills, too) to decorate a fancy snowman and write about it. You can download the file (FREE download) here.

If you're interested in some of the activities that can be used with the book, you can check them out by clicking of the picture below.


Happy winter, everyone!

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It's a Books & Brackets Blog Hop!


I'm excited to join an awesome group of bloggers to talk about some of our favorite books to use in the classroom during the month of March. We're sharing some FREEBIES and have some GIVEAWAYS for you, too! 

I decided to share one of the activities our first graders do for St. Patrick's Day. 

We send a letter home to our parents and students explaining that we know that the leprechauns messed up the kindergarten classrooms last year and played pranks on the kindergarteners. We don't want the same thing to happen to our first grade classrooms. So this year, we're going to make leprechaun traps to try to catch the leprechauns before they get into mischief in our classrooms.


Sometimes we have the students bring in materials from home to build the traps at school (a great partner or small group activity). Other times we have had the students make the traps at home and bring them to school to set them up in the classroom.

In preparation, we read and learn about St. Patrick's Day. The book I'm highlighting is brand new to me. It's the perfect book to read before sending the students off to create their own leprechaun traps.

It's called How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace. The illustrator is Andy Elkerton.


A leprechaun tells the story in rhyme. He describes how he'll make a scene in each place he enters. He explains that leprechauns are really quick and will NEVER be caught. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and vivid. It shows the traps that the leprechaun encounters and easily outwits. The story ends with a challenge: the leprechaun won't get caught unless a PERFECT trap is designed. He asks the question, "But who will that child be?" Isn't that the perfect introduction and motivator for building a trap? I can't wait to read it to my students!

I created a packet of leprechaun activities to have some fun as we learn and celebrate St. Patrick's Day.


It includes leprechaun drawing and writing activities and a leprechaun roll and draw partner game that's just for FUN!


Students can design and write about a leprechaun trap.


They draw and write about leprechaun pranks, too. You'll find more leprechaun activities in the packet. It's a FREEBIE! You can download the packet HERE!

I'm having a GIVEAWAY for a free copy of How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace. You can enter below.

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You can also enter our Teachers Pay Teachers® gift card GIVEAWAY! You can enter to win a $75.00 gift card below.

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Continue our blog hop for more fantastic March ideas, free resources, and a chance to win 14 more books! Have fun!


Hop back thru on Monday to see if you've won any of the books or are the GRAND prize winner of the TPT GIFT card!


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It’s hard to believe that it’s November, and Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. It's time for our Thanksgiving I Teach K-2 blogger link up. We're sharing ideas, resources, and freebies, along with a GIVEAWAY that you'll want to enter.


I thought I'd share what our first grade team does for our Thanksgiving celebration each year. It’s not an original idea. One of our teachers told us about it. It’s how her own child’s teacher celebrated the holiday in her classroom. We used the idea and have changed and adapted it over the years to highlight and appreciate the diversity and uniqueness of our students’ families. It's one of our favorite activities we do during the year.

We have a special program called, “CELEBRATION OF FAMILY.” This event includes poems and songs performed by the students and a museum featuring special items brought in by students. Families (including moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) are invited to attend.

The Celebration of Family museum includes a collection of items that are special to the family of each student. These items do not have to be antiques and could be everyday objects brought out for family “rituals.” Some examples include the popcorn bowl the family dives into when watching movies together, a favorite plate used for celebrations, or maybe it’s a momento from the last trip to visit extended family. Other ideas are a family collection or an item handed down from a grandparent that's important to the family. The children might also photograph something and display the pictures. It’s an item that symbolizes something interesting or special about each family.

The parents discuss the importance of the object with his/her child, how long it has been in the family, and any other important information. The students share this information with parents as they tour the museum.

The day of our celebration, the students wear Turkey hats.



Student speakers welcome the parents.





The children begin by chanting a poem about the first Thanksgiving. They sing and dance to songs and poems.The families are then excused to go outside for refreshments.



The children quickly go back into the room and get their placemats, placards, and artifacts ready on their desks.

I print the information that each child brings to class. This is an example of the placard that sits in front of each child's desk. The students share this information with parents as they tour the museum. Parents ask the students questions about their objects. It becomes an hour of storytelling.



The last speaker invites the families to come back into the room to tour the “museum.”



It’s heart-warming to see and listen to the children proudly talk to the parents about their family traditions. The parents thoroughly enjoy asking question of the students as they tour our museum. Each year parents comment that they love getting to meet and talk with their children's classmates. What I love most is getting to know more about my students' families. I always find out new things about my students thru the activity.

The graphics on the speaker cards are by Krista Wallden. Check out her graphics at Creative Clips here.


Grab these after Thanksgiving freebies and then enter below for our giveaway!






Click here for a free download.









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Hi everyone! Happy Christmas in July from the I Teach K-2 bloggers.


We have some fun resources, ideas, freebies to share, and an amazing GIVEAWAY that you won't want to miss.



I'd like to share some back to school ideas and resources with you.

Here's a photo of my "empty" classroom after everything was packed for the summer.


The chairs are stacked and everything is boxed and stored away. My classroom will be cleaned this week, and then I can start preparing it for the upcoming school year.

These are some of the new resources I'm excited to use when we go back to school.


In the past, I've used large gallon baggies to house our independent reading books. This coming year I'm using these colorful book boxes to store our Read to Self books. Each student will have his/her own box. Each of the students is assigned a number. I'm working on colorful numbers to place in the front of each box.


I have of few of these book bins. I plan on purchasing more for this coming school year. These are the bins that I use for my guided reading groups. I can fit three levels in each bin. They're wide enough for extra-large guided reading books. 


My math manipulative are so easy to organize in these book bins. They're just the right size for first graders. They can easily carry them from one area of the classroom to another. I place a clear plastic label in front. I can easily change out the math manipulative and labels throughout the year.


I plan on using the small pocket charts for activities for different reading and math groups. The size is perfect, because they're small and won't take up much room on the walls.


I was excited to find these charts. They're made from durable plastic and have a write and wipe finish. A 120 chart is on one side and two ten frames and number lines are on the other side.

You can click on the above pictures to find out more information about each resource.

Here's an idea for the first week back to school.


Place a folder on the top of each student's desk with a brand new box of crayons. Students can sit at their desks and color while you're introducing yourself to parents and students and answering questions. It's something fun for the children to do that helps to calm any first day of school jitters. I use the folder for any papers that go to and from school during the first week of school.

You can find it in the packet, Back to School First Grade.


Here's a FREE pack of back to school reading surveys. A quick and easy way to find out what kind of books your students enjoy reading. Click on the picture below for a free download.



I'm having a 20% off sale on my entire store July 6-9, 2016. Click on the picture below for some Christmas in July shopping.


You will want to enter our giveaway below for some fantastic TPT and clip art gift cards! Just in time for Christmas in July back to school shopping.






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Hi everyone! I've gotten together with some wonderful southern California teachers for a blog hop and giveaway. We're sharing some of our favorite southern California places, and we've have some winter freebies for you, too! You can enter our raffle for a chance to win an Amazon gift card. Our blog hop is hosted by Kristen at Easy Teaching Tools.


I just love that sunny southern California has so many places that we can enjoy. You don't have to travel very far, and you can be at the beach, the desert, or even skiing in the mountains during the winter.


We have beautiful weather and beautiful beaches. I grew up on the coast, so one of my favorite places is the beach. I think it's probably the #1 spot for most people who live near the beach. There's so much to do from surfing and swimming to fishing and walking on the beach. The sunsets are amazing!


I also think we have the most amazing views. These are the Flower Fields that come alive in the spring. They're a big tourist attraction. You can even see the ocean peeking up from the background.




We have theme parks galore! Some of my favorite parks to visit are the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, Balboa Park, and Disneyland, too.

Here's a WINTER FREEBIE for you. It's called How to Build a Snowman. Click on the picture below to download.


It's a sample from one of my most popular writing packets,  Winter Writing for Firsties.


For a chance to win an AMAZON GIFT CARD, enter below. Then hop on over to Heidi's fantastic blog, Glitter is Everywhere. Just click on the button below for more southern California favorite spots and freebies.









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I still have another week of teaching. I wanted to share one of my students' favorite end of the year activities. It's part of our June I Teach K-2 Link Up where we share ideas, activities, and freebies!

The activity is an end of the year autograph book signing. I prepare autograph books for the students. I give the autograph books to the students on the last day of school. It begins with a quick writing lesson on what to write in an autograph book. The students then spend about an hour or so signing each other's books.

Here's an explantation of how we do it.

I start the writing lesson by asking the children what they think someone might write in an autograph book. Thru brainstorming and discussions we come up with a list of sentences that the children could write in their classmates' books. I post the chart in front of the classroom. It's a scaffold for those who have difficulty thinking of their own sentences. Some children choose to use these. Others write their own.

Here's an example of some of the sentences that we've come up with as a class.

This is the cover of the autograph book. I usually print it on bright colored card stock and add a back cover to it, too.

This is what the pages look like. Each booklet has identical pages. 

Each student has a box with his/her name and a picture that tells something about that student. For example, a picture above may be by the student's name because:

Nathan loves football. He has older brothers and cousins who play on the high school football team.
Tim is good at math and can't wait for math time each day.
Caren loves to read and enjoys sharing about the books she's read. 
Jan enjoys acting in plays.
James is a great artist and loves to draw.
Erin is interested in all things having to do with science. 

Each student signs each autograph book in the box that has his/her name.

Here's a sample page of what a completed page looks like after it's been signed. 

The students write at least one sentence when they sign an autograph book. They take breaks during the signing and may sit, color the pictures, and visit with friends. It's a wonderful time for the children to say their good-byes to friends and classmates. The autograph books makes a great school year keepsake, too.

If you decide to try the activity, I'd be happy to answer any of your questions. 

Here's an end of the year FREEBIE for you. These are EDITABLE graduation certificates. 


 Click on the picture above to download.







You'll want to check out the posts below for more great ideas and freebies. You'll also want to enter our giveaway for a chance to win a $25.00 TPT gift card!



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Today I'm sharing some of the kindness activities I'm planning for the week before Valentine's Day. It's our I Teach First February Link Up. We are sharing some ideas, activities, resources, and some FREEBIES, too!


My school will be participating in The Great Kindness Challenge. We have four main school rules. BE KIND is at the top of the list.

Be kind.
Be respectful.
Be responsible.
Be safe.

Our school decided to take the kindness challenge to help create a kindness culture. This will be our second year participating in the challenge. It's an opportunity to focus on kindness in a bigger way. The official date for the kindness challenge this year was January 25-29, but schools participate at a time that works best for each school. Valentine's Day and kindness go hand in hand, so we're celebrating during the week leading up to Valentine's Day.

The school-wide kindness activities will include a checklist of 50 kindness challenges, a kindness art contest, and class kindness banners for a "Wall of Kindness." We'll also have a spirit day: "Peace, Love, and Kindness." Students will dress up in hippie attire. Kindness quotes over the intercom will start our mornings. The quotes will also be written with chalk on the blacktop areas of our school.

If you want to participate in The Great Kindness Challenge, you can find out more about it HERE.

I'm planning complementary activities in my classroom and wanted to share some of my favorite kindness-themed books.


One of my favorites is Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. It's a heart-warming story about a lonely man. He receives a package one day with a note that says, "Somebody Loves You." He  thinks he has a secret admirer. His happiness has him interacting with others with kindness. At the end, he is surprised with the kind and loving way others return his kindness.

Little Red's Schoolhouse  has a wonderful Storybook Study of Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch that I will use with my students. Click on the picture below for a preview.


Another book that's perfect for first grade is Pink Tiara Cookies for Three by Maria Dismondy.


It's a story about a new girl who moves into the neighborhood and how two friends work thru accepting her into their friendship.

Jen at Sparkling in Second has a great blog post about the book and how she promotes kindness in her classroom. I will be using her Kindness Cards {free download} in my classroom. 


The Potato Chip Champ: Discovering Why Kindness Counts by Maria Dismondy is a story about a boy (loves potato chips) who has everything and wants for more and learns an important lesson about kindness from a boy who has very little. You can listen to Maria Dismondy read her book HERE.

The next book is beautifully written and illustrated.


The book is Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. It's about a new girl in school who tries to reach our to other but is ignored. It is a lesson on how even a small act of kindness can make our world a better one.

I created some Kindness Printables to use during the Kindness Challenge. You can click on the picture below to download.


If you want to join the Kindness Challenge or just want to promote kindness in your classroom, I hope you've gotten some ideas here. They fit well with valentine-themed activities. If you're looking for Valentine's Day activities that support kindness, check out Valentine's Day Writing for Firsties.



I'd love to hear about any books or activities that you use to promote kindness in the classroom.



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Hi everyone! Wondering if you are all ready to go back to school. I return back to school in about a week. I'm in the midst of planning and reviewing some long range plans. With each new year come some brand new procedures, materials, routines, and ideas. 

I thought I'd share about an app I’ve found that I will be using with the class this year. It's called News-o-matic Daily.



It’s a daily newspaper with 5 featured current events each day for kids. The articles and activities support the Common Core Standards. Children can interact with the features by responding to questions, creating drawings, watching videos, playing games, and more.

Each feature includes the article with a “Read to Me” option, a video clip, slide show, a highlighted fact, and “Act,” which is a related activity. The students can look at interactive maps that not only relate to the articles, but also integrate geography and math.

The children can even enter a newsroom and respond to the articles by writing to Russ, the Editor-in-Chief. They can write about their reactions to and feelings about the stories. Students can also create a drawing that illustrates the article.

Wacky Week is another feature. These are short, fun, “wacky” stories children read about that happened during the week.
News-o-Matic has school editions that allow you to tailor the readings to each student’s reading level. Home versions can be useful for homeschoolers or children who want to learn more about world events.  

I plan on using it whole class during the year. I think it will make a meaningful beginning of the day activity. My hope is that students will find that non-fiction reading is exciting and that reading the articles will extend their awareness of the world around them.

For those of you who may not have an iPad or would love to win another one for FREE, the iTeach First bloggers are having a HUGE giveaway. This is what one lucky winner will win:

iPad Air2, Case, Stylus pen, and iTunes card

Enter starting today, Sunday, August 2nd. You can enter thru Saturday, August 8th. Find out the details and enter to win HERE!

Good luck and happy back to school planning!
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This is our January I Teach First blogger linkup. We are sharing lots of ideas, resources, strategies, freebies, and more. You can visit the blogs by clicking on the links below. We'd also love for you to follow us, so you don't miss out on any of our monthly linkups. 

As we head back to school in a couple of days, I’ve been preparing some winter activities for the month of January. I thought I’d share some of them with you.

We will start our discussion of winter by brainstorming a list of words that are associated with winter. Children add to the list as they think of more words. This activity can be done over several days. Adding to the list of words also makes a great sponge activity.


We then sort the winter words into categories. We do this whole class. The chart stays up thru the winter months. Students can refer to it when writing.


I then make word cards.  I put the word cards at the literacy center. Students sort the cards into categories with a partner. The students can also sort the cards using their own categories. Other uses for them: bingo cards, alphabetizing, syllable sorts, writing sentences and poetry, etc.

Lots of winter read alouds are always a must. Here are some snow and snowman books that are great for reading aloud:



A snowman is perfect for discussing the beginning, middle, and end of a snowman story.


The children will also be painting snowmen. We add salt to the paint to give the snowman paintings some texture. The snowmen adorn our bulleting board. I keep them and place them in a memory book that the children receive at the end of the year.



On an especially cold or rainy day, I surprise the children with hot chocolate. It’s quick and easy to prepare in the classroom. I heat the water using a hot plate and large pot. The children can choose to add a few marshmallows, too.

Here’s a ”sweet” and engaging mini unit of HOT CHOCOLATE ACTIVITIES to go along with a hot chocolate day.

It includes a craft that can be used as a bulletin board display or the cover of a booklet.

You can click on the pictures for a detailed preview of what's included in the packet.

And here’s a snow booklet. Children can write about all the fun things they can do in the snow.
Click on the picture for a FREE download.

Happy winter!


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I'm participating in the TPT Summer Challenge sponsored by Third in Hollywood, Sparkling in Second, Peppy Zesty Teacherista, and Teach Create Motivate. It's a four week challenge and this is week one: Makeover Madness.



I went back to the first products I created. The ones I'm redoing were some of my best sellers at the time. I started on TPT in 2012. A lot has changed since then - so many more fonts, graphics, more practice, and experience. My style has changed.


The "before" name was Reading to Learn About Community Helpers. I simplified the cover and changed the name. It's now called Writing About Community Helpers. The before title was too confusing.  I made the fonts and graphics bolder. I want buyers to know what the packet's about at a glance. 

I used different clip artists for the community helper graphics in the "before" packet (had to use graphics from different clip artists to find all I needed). I was able to use just Melonheadz for the community helpers graphics on the new one. It makes it more consistent and unified. I love that we have so many more choices for clip art now. 

I also added posters and student word lists to make the product more complete.

Head on over to see more of the makeovers HERE.

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