Finally a few minutes to blog a bit about what we've been up to! We are actually on Spring Break right now. We are not going on a vacation this year because the hubs just got a new job and doesn't want to take off. So I've been busy working on closets, drawers, cooking, and reading!! My laptop has been very moody lately, so I haven't been able to catch up on any blogging or e-mail. (It may be because I don't ever delete anything!) Today it decided to work, so here I am!! Before I go any farther, I want to share a wonderful thing that happened to us! You all know that Sandra Markle is one of my favorite go to authors, especially during our study of animals. She has written over 200 books for kids about so many science related topics! Sandra and I have been talking and e-mailing over that last couple of years, both sharing ideas and thoughts. One of her newest books "What If You Had Animal Eyes," is another hit!!! Was I ever surprised when I opened my new copy!!
I think the kids were just as excited as I was!!! Thank you Sandra Markle!!! You made us feel very special!! I can't wait to come up with a fun literature response for this one!!! Sandra's books are easily accessible at Scholastic and Amazon. Before Spring Break we held our annual Open House. Every school in our district has Open House and invites the entire community to see what kids have been up to. It is kind of a big deal. To kind of go along with our whole Pirate theme this year, we decided to go "swimmin with the fishes!" We developed an integrated unit about fish. We learned so much and the kids had a blast! Here are a few pics.
Some more Sandra Markle books!!
These ideas are all part of my new unit. A147 page printable unit with so many integrated ideas for your young learners!!! Here are a few pics of what is included.
Phew!!! We were so ready for a break after all this fintastic learning!! I hope all my kids are safe and happy! I miss you!!! If any of this fun is flipping your fin, you can download the unit. Simply CLICK HERE!!!! GLUB GLUB!! YUP! It's free!!! Anyway, thanks for stopping by our little Window of Wonder!!! Now I'm off to see if my e-mail is working! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!! See you soon! Joyfully! Nancy firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello Everyone! The Olympics are so inspiring! I know it's impossible, but I wish they came around more often than every four years!! I love hearing the back stories of all the athletes. I love hearing them thank their moms and dads, or another significant person in their lives. Makes me tear up every time! In between those stories and the amazing events, I updated my 2014 Olympic unit a bit. I added several new math games. I hope you can use them! Here are a few pics of the 55 page unit.
Hello Everyone!! Hello February!! I truly can't believe it is February already! Or should we call it Febrrrrrrrrrrrary. It has been so cold everywhere! Our little Texan firsties want snow so badly, but all we've gotten is cold!! and ugh...flu! Has the flu hit your area yet? I hate it when my littles are sick. Poor babies. We have been sanitizing like nobody's business!!! Stay healthy out there!!! In sticking with the cold weather, we decided to celebrate Sneezy the Snowman! If you haven't read this book by Maureen Wright, you have to run and grab a copy! It has very quickly become my kids' fav for the season! Some sweet characters share some of their personal items to help Sneezy the Snowman warm up!! So cute! We created a little mini unit to capture the essence of that little man! AAAHHHCHOOOOO!
Not included in the unit, but in the snow unit I shared last time, is snow paint. We created the paint, painted Sneezy's head and then wrote a quote from the story showing off our very best handwriting.
We love Sneezy!!!
If you would like this free printable unit based on this awesome book,
We have also been working very hard on our fraction objective for math, really focusing on equal and unequal parts, a definite prerequisite for fraction study. I have added to my fraction unit.
The unit includes a lot of practice with equal and unequal, and then some halves and quarters practice.
If you need some extra stuff to supplement your fraction unit, you can grab my unit for free by...CLICKING HERE!!!
The unit includes some whole group discovery lessons and some independent practice as well as some math tub games.
One last thing I want to share with you. We are making our way through Lucy Calkins Units of Study in reading for Grade 1. At times, following it has been a challenge, mainly because we were so used to teaching things in a different order. I do, however, love how she suggests making kids set goals for their reading and becoming the boss of their reading. In the past couple of weeks, we have worked very hard on exactly that! I decided to take her ideas and create some mini posters and charts to remind kids about setting reading goals both at school and at home. Be the Boss of your Reading! Thank you Lucy Calkins for this inspiration!
Kids pick a goal for their partner reading time. They hold each other accountable for reaching that goal each time. (Oh, and by the way some of my kids have two reading partners! )
Kids keep this chart in their reading baskets.
Kids brought this home as a home/school connection for parents.
This unit is not entirely complete. It only includes goals through the first two units and a couple in unit 3. I will be adding more!! Stay tuned!
If this is something you think might be helpful to remind kids what readers do, you can print off part one of this document for free. Use it in any way that works for your kids.
As always, please let me know if you spot some typos or irregularities in any of my printables. Sometimes I just get going, and miss some stuff!! UGH! Oh well. Most of you are good at letting me know!!! Thank you!!
So, until next time, stay warm, and have a wonderful week!!
Now to gear up for our 100th day tomorrow!!! Hope all my kiddos are back from the flu!! Thanks for stopping by to see what we've been up to!! Stay tuned for more!!! Joyfully! Nancy email@example.com
Happy New Year Everyone!!! I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post. I had full intentions of posting during our winter break, but I had so much family stuff going on. We did a ton of cooking, movie watching, game playing, furniture refinishing, pantry organizing, and just plain chillin'! I loved every single minute of it. It was all low key, but it was the best! I want to share a couple of pics of our Grinch day! It was so fun and the kids had a blast! We got to do almost everything in my unit! Take a peek!
Such a fun day, and the kids did do a little learning along the way!!! :)
Last week was a review week in science, so we decided that because of the "chance" of snow, we needed to do a fun activity to celebrate snow!
While thinking about that, my awesome teammate mentioned that you could get snowballs at the local Bahama Buck's, a shaved ice place. Genius!!!
So, of course, I went a got some!!
For these little Texas kids who don't see snow very often, I knew they were going to love anything we did to go along with snowballs!! I made up a quick little science review experience.
Kids loved the science activity and review, and loved working with snowballs (thanks to Bahama Bucks!) cause it never did snow! :( Maybe this week!! :)
I know a lot of you are getting way more snow than you ever wanted (thinking about you all!!) so you probably don't even want to consider any kind of snow science, but give it a try anyway!!! You won't need to go buy your snowballs!
I have included this little activity in my snow unit. Other fun things included are...
OK!!! This post was a little longer than I meant for it to be, but considering I haven't posted in a while, I guess that's alright. I'll be back soon!!! Thanks for your patience and thanks for stopping by!!
Hello Everyone!! We had an awesome week last week and I finally have a second to share!! Getting so close to our winter break can make for some challenging focus issues for our little learners. We have to do our best to keep them engaged in their learning. One way to accomplish this almost impossible task is to include STEAM activities in their day! We were able to get organized enough to make our way through our new unit...Candy Cane STEAM! Here are some pics!
The kids had a blast with all of this!! This week we'll have fun with that infamous green guy!! Talk about engagement!!! Hope your last few days before break go well! This is such an exciting time of year for all!! Look for that excitement and just go with it!! Till next time...
Hello Everyone!! Welcome back! We have been busy in our little classroom! We had a blast coming up with ideas to help get Santa "unstuck" from the chimney. The kids are getting so creative with their lit. responses!!And to add some flair, we of course needed to do a hands on visual to go with the fun ideas! I have been doing this little activity for about 10 years now and each year they turn out cuter than the year before! I posted the unit that includes the details to this last week. Look for Santa's Stuck on the sidebar.
We also worked very hard on adjectives, using "Must Be Santa" (also in the Santa's Stuck unit). That song has over 30 adjectives in it!! After really enjoying the song and the special words included, we created these cute little Santas and wrote the sentence to go with it! The patterns are included in the unit, too!
We have a lot of fun learning opportunities coming up over the next 3 weeks! Keeping the kids focused on learning is always a challenge this time of year. Literature-wise, next week we will enjoy "If You Take a Mouse to the Movies." The kids absolutely love Laura Numeroff's books. I have shared this unit before, CLICK here if you need to download it again!
It is packed with ELA, math and science activities!
I do want to share what we have coming up before winter break in math. We will be working on personal finance including needs and wants, spending, saving, giving, etc. We used to cover this objective in the spring, close to summer break, but this year we are hitting it this winter. Last year I created a personal finance unit with a lot of fun summery lemonade components and decided that wouldn't work for this year, so I transformed it into a unit with a wintery feel. Some of the learning opportunities use the books "If You Take a Mouse the the Movies" and "Ox-Cart Man."
These are just a few examples of the many that are included. If you think you might be able to use it, you know the drill...
Well, there you go, friends! I hope this post has helped you organize for the next few weeks! Don't forget to take time out to enjoy those sweet little faces. Their joy and anticipation is so abundant! Have fun with that!!
I hope you all had a wonder-filled Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for this time with my family. We were able to go up to Cleveland to help my oldest son move into his new home. He has taken a new investigative reporter position at the ABC affiliate there!! I know all of you in Indiana are going to miss him, but this is an amazing opportunity for him! Yes, he is now further from his TEXAS home, but…whatever it takes, right?! We did have a little time to visit downtown, and I have to say…It is beautiful!!! There is so much to do in this vibrant city. I think he is going to love it!
Thanks for letting me brag about him a little! We are very proud of him.
But now it’s time to think about school again. These next few weeks are my favorite times of year to teach first graders. The wonder and innocence they bring to the season is such a beautiful reminder of the joy and love that comes with this time of giving. One of my favorite books to enjoy with the kids is Santa’s Stuck by Rhonda Gowler Greene (readily available on Amazon). I have shared my unit packed with ELA, Math, and Science, but I have added some more to fit with what we are working on right now as our curriculum continues to evolve. If you have used this unit before, please download again to get the new activities.
Thanks for stopping by for this quick update! I hope you have a great week back and you can enjoy these next few weeks with your kids!! Keep doing what you're doing, and don't forget to find the joy in this journey!!
You might think that students working in dictionaries is an obsolete idea. With the advancement of technology, students can find information, check spelling, grammar, sentence structure, even get help writing complete papers. But learning how to use a dictionary will help students later on when they are researching or trying to find information. Once they discover how a dictionary is laid out, they will be able to gather information from other resources.
Our youngest students should learn that
*words in a dictionary are organized alphabetically.
*Each word is called an entry.
*You can find correct spelling, pronunciation, the parts of speech, and definition.
*Guide words on the top of dictionary pages give clues about what words are included on each page.
This ultra mini unit introduces kids to the wonderful word world of dictionaries. Once hooked, kids will love being Dictionary Detectives!
So after organizing our thinking about dictionaries, I let the kids pick a word from the given list. In pairs they set off to be Dictionary Detectives. They had to look up the word, write the definition, and then write a sentence on the recording page. Then they got to share their detective work by making a little paint chip pumpkin! They turned out great!!! A wonderful hand to heart action!!!
But what happened next is what made me say "What??" I keep our little basket of dictionaries back by our classroom library. During DEAR time kids can pick any book from our library to read. For the past week, more kids pick a dictionary to read! I know, I know...they aren't able to practice fluency, story structure, fiction, nonfiction characteristics, etc. But wow!! They are having a blast looking up words!!! I see them using their detective skills along with the alphabet layout, and the guide words! When they finally spy the word they are looking for...TAH DAH!!! You can hear the joy in their voices, little screams, and wiggles! They can't wait to share!!! I love it so much! I hope their excitement for discovering wonderful words never falters!!
If you need a quick mini unit to help you get started on this detective journey,
I am a firm believer that when kids can see and touch their learning, whether it be math, reading, spelling, really anything, they will be able to grasp the concepts, take them to heart, and even use the concepts to extend the learning and apply it to other concepts more quickly and thoroughly. Introducing new learning through visual and tactile means builds relationships and connections. I see evidence of this every single day. This is the main reason I try to create anchor charts, reminder posters, charts, connections, etc, that are stimulating visually. That is also why, after introducing a new concept, kids have access to these visuals, and then set out to create their own through touch. Many people think that the connection activities I have my students do are nothing but fluff. I can see where that may be how it looks from someone who doesn’t see the whole process. The observation and stimulation of the thinking process, the recognition of relationships and connections, the interpretation and perception of new discoveries, and finally, the analysis and self-expression to show learning, must be taken in for anyone to understand what went into that “fluff.”
This week we have been working hard on retelling an expository/nonfiction text in order to show comprehension. We start off by comparing fiction and nonfiction text, and discovering those differences by looking at examples. Then I showed the kids some anchor posters to help them visually get the connections needed. And just like the retelling rings we made for narrative text, we made rings for expository. Some might consider this fluff, but the visual and tactile reminders of the components of the texts we read are invaluable to some …if not most kids!! The kids take both out while reading and manipulate the beads as they retell to reading partners. This is the kind of fluff I’ll support any day! Watch the whole process!
Just like the fiction unit, I'm sharing the nonfiction one. Having visual and tactile reminders helps kids connect and grow from their learning!
Another of the more popular blog posts I've done is the one from quite a while ago on "How's My Writing?" Again, I would not be doing my job as an educator if I did not continually upgrade my lessons. As I work more and more with our youngest writers, maintaining a safe environment for them to work is paramount. Revising and editing is the hardest part of teaching writing. It is our job to be encouragers of our young writers’ work. Our students have worked so hard just to get their ideas on paper and then they are asked to revise? “But it sounds good the way it is!” “Yes, that’s what I wanted to say.” “I checked everything, and I didn’t see anything to fix.” You have heard it. It is my experience in working with hundreds of first-grade writers that adults should maintain certain beliefs about revising and editing.
*I am a firm believer in providing examples of modeling every part of the revising process and setting specific goals for specific kids. Kids should see us write, revise and edit. Expecting all revisions and editing to take place for every kid on every piece can be overwhelming for both the teacher and the student! I recommend introducing one revision or editing tool at a time and growing from there.
*I also believe that during the revising and editing process, staying positive is key. Looking for the “great” things and building on those.
*In addition, I believe that writing partners play an enormous role in the revising and editing process. Utilizing the partner can be an absolute win…win…for both writers!! And sometimes, a young writer will take advice from a peer rather than an adult!! J
*Lastly, being respectful of young writers’ work is something I can not stress enough. Providing a comfortable, safe learning environment where all effort is appreciated and at the same time encouraging the challenge and risk to rework will result in kids who love to write!
So, I have upgraded my editing unit to include revising. Here's what you'll see in the unit!
If you think you might be able to use even a small part of this unit, you can download a free copy of it.