Monday 28 November 2011

Our First Writing Project!!

During our writer's workshop time, we started off the year writing in our journals. We have been practicing putting capitals at the beginnign of our sentences, periods or exclamation marks at the end, and using buble gum writing (s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out the sounds we hear, like a piece of bubble gum!). They were doing very well, so we started our first writing project! A book called "Things I Like". It's a very simple book where the students write about things they like. It has six pages that go "I like..." and the seventh page ends the story with, "But I don't like.." Simple, but cute!

So I started off the lesson by modelling a brainstorming session. Before we can write a book, we have to think about WHAT we are going to write. I made my bubble map on chart paper and wrote down six things that I like/like to do. I also thought of one thing I don't like to do.

Then I gave my little bunnies their own sheet to write about what they like. I had them write the one thing they DON'T like either on the bottom of the page or on the back. I tried to stress that these were just ideas... not the whole sentences. But of course, you still have some that write all the words!

Then we worked on our rough copies. I printed the paper on 11 x 17" paper and my students had to write one sentence in each box and draw/colour a picture to go with it.

We did a mini-lesson on making our drawings WOW! We looked at this anchor chart that showed what it looked like to make a Wow! 5 drawing. It had to use lots of colours, have many details, be outlined, and look neat! Now I always ask them, "Is your drawing a Wow! 5 drawing?" They always go back and add more details or colours. It has really helped so far!

Finally, we turned our rough copies into a good copy .We made a title page on half of an 8.5 x 11" paper and glued it to a piece of construction paper, which was then laminated. I put all the pages together and bound them. The books turned out super cute! They shared them with their parents at our parent-teacher conferences. Parents were quite impressed with all the work that went into these books!

If you are interested in any of the papers we used, you can download them below.

50th Day

So it seems like my school is slightly behind everyone elses. We just had our 50th day of school this past Wednesday. After seeing all the super cute ideas out there, I knew I had to have a 50's themed party! Unfortunately Wednesday was crazy... we went skating all morning and had parent teacher conferences at night, so no time for fun 50's themed activities that day! We decided to have our 50's day on Friday (hey! 52 is still in the fifties!) and it was tiring a blast! I decorated the room with these cute spirly records that I got from the party store.

I gave each of the students a little baggie at the beginning of the week that they had to fill up with 50 items to bring to school. We had cheerios, q-tips, pennies, buttons.. you name it! Students had to count out their objects in groups of 5 and place them on the mat I gave them. Then we all counted our collections by 5's. We also put two groups together so we could count by 10's. You can download the mat here if you wish.

We had a fun little photo op. I took each kid's photo in the car to use in their end of year scrap book. They turned out so cute! Look at this cool dude:

I was inspired by Miss E over at Eberhart's Explorers to do a picture sort of things from the 1950's and things from today. I made my own set of matching picture cards (so every student had a card). I handed them out randomly and students had to find their "partner". For example, the student with the saddle shoe was partners with the skater shoe. Each pair came up to the front and we decided which item belonged in the 50's and which one was from today. You can download my cards from here.

The records at the bottom of the chart are a counting by 5's activity I got from Mrs. Magee over at First Grade Brain. After the sorting activity, we did this little craftivity and writing activity from Mrs. Carroll's adorable "Cruisin' Through the 50 First Days of School" unit. As you can tell, my class is still working on the whole "follow directions and work neatly" thing.

When they were finished their activity, they played this "Roll a Record" game (also form Mrs. Carroll's unit).

To top the day off, we did (another fabulour Mrs. Carroll idea) some interactive writing on how to make a root beer float. These were directions straight from their mouths! I had a mom volunteer come to make the root beer floats, so as the kiddies were working on their own versions, they could each go up to the table and help make their float. Too fun! The kids loved their root beer float books. One of my little boys was so excited. He said, "It's like my own recipe book!" :)

Lots of fun was had! I am glad that week is finally finished though. I am very jealous of all you American bloggers and your Thanksgiving break. We had no such break here in Canada, and we still have four weeks to go until Christmas break! I can't wait to pull out the decorations and Christmas crafts this month though! Good night everybody!

Friday 11 November 2011

Pumpkins, Owls, and Remembrance Day... Oh My!

Wow, these last few weeks have been kicking my butt! No matter what I do, there's always ten more things on the list to do next.... Between Halloween, being sick (boo!), and report cards due next week... I am thanking my lucky stars it is a long weekend for us! No school today because of Remembrance Day and Monday is an Admin Day in our division, so we can work on report cards. Yay! So, what have we been up to these past few busy weeks? Let's see...

The week before Halloween we started with pumpkins... I didn't take many pictures, but I found so many great activities. We talked about the life cycle of a pumpkin. I read the book "From Seed to Pumpkin" and we used these real life pumpkin picture cards from here and I had the students arrange themselves in the correct order. Then students did this little activity. You can download the pumpkin life cycle sequence from A to Z Teacher Stuff Website.

We did a cute pumpkin art project. Using red, yellow, and orange paint, students painted ta large sheet of white construction paper. When it dried, they cut out a pumpkin shape. Then we used brown, green, black, and white construction paper to add the stem and faces. They all turned out so different!

Finally, we became real scientists one afternoon to observe our class pumpkin. Cara Carroll over at The First Grade Parade, could not have posted her adorable pumpkin journal at a better time!! We used her "Great Pumpkin Investigation" journal to observe our pumpkin. We gathered in a big circle on the carpet and went through the various experiments: counting the lines, measuring the height, weighing it, and seeing if it sinks or floats. Finally, I cut the top off and we estimated and counted our seeds. I couldn't believe this large pumpkin only had 289 seeds in it! I was shocked!

We did a little vote, idea taken from Abby over at The Inspired Apple (although my charts never turn out as cute as hers!), to see how we would carve our pumpkin. I took the pumpkin home over the weekend and brought it back on Halloween for our costume party! The kids loved it!

After Halloween, we started our owl unit. I love love LOVE Deanna Jump's owl unit found here. We started off the unit by brainstorming things we already knew about owls on a bubble map. Then I brought out this chart and introduced them to five different kinds of owls. The first day we just talked about wing span. So I had them guess which owl they thought was the largest, which was the smallest, and then we filled in the rest. We also measure our own "wing span" and compared them to the owls.

While they were waiting to come measure their wings, we started our adorable owl booklets from Deanna Jump's unit. They turned out so cute! Some of my little ones decided to use the scrap brown paper to make wings for their owls. Cute idea! On the first white page we did a title page called "All About Owls".

On the second day, we read a book about Barn Owls and talked about what a habitat was. We guessed where our five different owls might live, then filled in our chart. We completed our first page in the book: Owls live in different habitats.

The third day was inspired by Mrs. Buckley over at Diary of a First Grade Teacher. We read the book "The Little White Owl" and talked about fiction vs. nonfiction. I told them to listen carefully to the story and figure out which things about owls were made up. In the story the little owl slept at night, instead of during the day. So we talked about the word nocturnal and did our next page in our owl book.

We also had a talk about the message of the story: the colourful owls judged the little white owl for being plain and boring, but when they got to know him, they discovered he had beautiful colours inside him! So students coloured their own colourful, unique owls.

(It's looking pretty bare though... might have to do another craft to add to the bulletin board!)

We read a book about the life cycle of an owl. We filled in our owl chart with the average number of eggs each owl has. Then I taught them the word "oviparous" and completed our next page.

Next, we read Gail Gibbons' book on owls. I showed them the cover and asked them if they thought it was a fiction or nonfiction book. Many said fiction, because of the drawings! We talked about how even though her book is full of drawings, it does tell us real facts about owls! I had a drawing of an owl and asked the students to help me label the parts of the owl that make it a good hunter. For their book, we glued in a picture of an owl and will label it.

For our last page, I read the book "Cock-A-Doodle-Hooooo". The kids loved this story! It is about an owl who finds a home in a hen house, but the hens want him to be a rooster, so he tries his best to do rooster things! He eventually saves them by eating a rat that snuck into the hen house. So we talked about how fiction books can sometimes tell us real facts, because owls do eat rats. We also talked about how habitats can affect owls food, then we filled in our last column of the owl chart. We did our last page in our owl books and drew three things that owls eat.

And because today is Remembrance Day, we talked about why we remember and what poppies stand for. We learned this little poem and created poppy wreaths to hang in our room. We also talked about peace. We read "The Peace Book" by Todd Parr, brainstormed what peace means to us, and did a little writing activity.

You can download the peace writing page by clicking here.

Well, I need to stop procrastinating and get some work done. Happy weekend everyone!