Tuesday 24 February 2015

Desks or Tables?

Which do you prefer in a Grade 1 classroom--desks or tables? I have had both and I have to say that I prefer tables all the way. Desks just accumulate too much clutter. Also, I always had my desks in groups and I hate how they always moved and shifted and never stayed in the same spot! I find tables promote more cooperation and community. The only issue I find with tables is storage. Last year I tried a few different things to help with that.

I had plastic tower drawers for storing all our booklets and journals. I would have my helper of the day and a friend hand out the books when we needed them and then the students would either return the books to my green "finished tub" or right back into the drawer. This worked well and I will continue to do this next year. Then I had caddies on each table to hold the group's pencils. These worked ok, but students still had to go to their cubby every time they need a school supply other than their pencil.

Each student had a cubby (plastic dish tub on a shelf) to store their stash box and extra supplies. These were quite handy for storing everything, but often got messy and the kiddos had to always get up from the tables to get their crayons or scissors.

One solution I am excited to try is to give each student a small pencil tray with a cup hot glued inside. The cup will be to hold their crayons (a pack of 24 easily fits in it) and the tray will hold their pencil, eraser, sharpener, scissors, and glue stick. These are essential items we use all day the long and it will give them easy access to their supplies! No more going back and forth to the cubbies all day long. Each student will now be responsible for their own pencil, as opposed to the group caddies. Hopefully this will cut down on "I can't find my pencil!!" I say hopefully because we will always have those students who would loose their pencil even if it was duct-tapped to their hand! I plan to use sticky velcro dots to keep the trays bolted to the tables. That way students can easily take their tray to music or another spot to work in the class. I can easily switch student spots as well! No more scraping the name tags off the tables and recovering them at a new spot. (I'm going for simpler next year, so I can spend more time home with my baby girl!) **The pencil trays were inspired by Stephanie over at First Grade Fabulous Fish! Check hers out {here}.**

As I was testing it out, I just used a paper cup from the Dollar Tree, but I think I will use these plastic cups from IKEA. They come in 6 bright colours and a pack of 6 is only $1.99!

I made name tag labels to fit on the sides of the small pencil trays. They are about 2" x 8.75" each. I made them in six colours (to match the IKEA cups) and made a boy and girl version of each! You can find these in my store for free! It is an editable PowerPoint. You can type your students' names right in it an print! (The font I used on the name tags is KG Primary Lined NOSPACE and it is embedded in the file, so you don't need to have it installed on your own computer. Use the | key to make a space between first and last names. You can always change the font to anything you have on your computer!) Click any of the pictures to check them out at TpT.

Oh, and if you haven't heard, there is a big TpT sale tomorrow! 28% off everything when you use the promo code HEROES! Go check it out {here}!

Friday 20 February 2015

Monthly Labels {Freebie}

A while back, I shared a bunch of my classroom labels in a post {here}. These were my monthly boxes that I stored my holiday activities, read alouds, and centres in. I have since updated my sweet cardboard boxes to some sturdier plastic tubs with lids that latch. I just added a file that had July & August, so you can have labels for every month of the year. You can download them below.

Happy Organizing!

Saturday 7 February 2015

Explore Tubs for the Five Senses {with Freebies}

I have put together some ideas for what I am going to put into the six explore tubs for our unit on the five senses. Underneath each photo I will put a list of links of where to find each item!

*I Spy Picture Cards {idea pinned from here} -- download my free pictures here and I Spy labels here. Print out various close up pictures and cut out a piece of black paper the same size. Cut out a circle from the black paper to make a peep hole. Tape the two together and fold in half to make a card, place an I Spy label on the front and the answer on the inside. I laminated my cards and used sticky velcro dots to keep the cards closed.
*Colour Mixing Lenses from Learning Resources
*I Spy or Look and Find Books

*What's That Smell? {idea pinned here and here} -- download the mats here and the jar labels here. Place cotton balls into spice jars, place a few drops of different extracts, essential oils, or perfumes into the jar, and put a label on the jar. Students smell each jar and try to match it to the correct smell on the mat.
*Books About Smell: Sniff, Sniff: A Book About Smell, The Five Senses: Smell, Smelling, The Nose Book

*Hearing Eggs - download cards here. Place the items from the cards into plastic Easter eggs (make sure they aren't see through!) and close them up. Students shake the eggs to hear what is inside and try to match each egg to the cards. I like to put numbers on the eggs and on the back of the cards to make this activity self-checking. I also tape the eggs up so that they don't spill everywhere!

*Tactile Balloons {pinned here and here} - download cards here. Place the items from the cards into deflated balloons using a funnel. Tie the balloons up. Students squish and feel the balloon and try to match each balloon to the cards.
*Tactile Sensory Cards {pinned here} - have not made these yet. Soon! Find different feeling textures (such as bubble wrap, tin foil, material, cotton, sand paper, dish scrubber, etc.) and glue onto thick cardstock. Students can feel the different textures.

*Braille Clifford book and plastic Braille Alphabet Chart from the Braille Book Store (this website is amazing! They have tons of different resources and books in Braille.) I also place a copy of the original version of Clifford so the students can compare the two.
*Braille Names - download an editable file here. Just type your students' names into the Braille font and the regular font underneath. (Braille font is free from here.) Print the cards onto white or coloured cardstock. Cut the cards apart. Have students place dots of white glue onto the Braille dots. Let dry. Then place the cards in here for students to "read"! They can take these home at the end of the unit!
*Sign Language Book and Sign Language Flashcards from Carson Dellosa

*Trixy & Troy Five Senses Educational Game Book & Puzzle {bought off eBay here}
*The Five Senses Game by Debi Goodman {on TpT here}
*5 Senses Tumble 'N Teach Dice from Amazon - fun game! You roll the senses die and there are two smaller dice inside with different locations. You choose one of the locations you rolled and name something you would sense there.
*Five Senses Picture Sort {by me on TpT} - I used sticky velcro dots to make my sorting game. Students sort the picture cards by which sense they would use.

I hope this post has given you some fun ideas to incorporate into your senses unit!

Friday 6 February 2015

Science Explore Tubs for Fast Finishers

I admit that when it comes to early finishers, I have been pretty lazy in the past. "Read a book" or "finish your other work" were my go-to responses to students. Math and reading centres were never really an issue because each of my centres contain several choices so students can never really finish the centre.

The biggest problem I had was during science. Since our province came out with new report cards, I've really tried to focus on the science curriculum. That's why I came up with my Interactive Science Journals. I wanted something concrete that hits all the outcomes in our science curriculum. These journals specifically coordinate with the Manitoba Grade 1 curriculum, but can be used by anybody studying these science topics (senses, living things, objects & materials, and weather & seasons) in their class.

Now I know anything involving cutting and pasting in first grade can be tricky because there are some students who will finish their work in mere minutes and there are other students who will take the entire class (and then some) to finish. What am I going to do with those students who finish early??

I was inspired by Reagan over at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits and her Expert Tubs. She puts recycled math centres in them so students can do them when they are finished their work. I wanted to do something similar, but for science! Enter: Explore Tubs! These tubs will change four times throughout the year when we change science units: senses, living things, objects & materials, and weather & seasons. I will have six tubs for each unit. The activities in the tubs will be hands on, explore-based, and fun!

I made some super cute labels featuring real-life pictures from Dollar Photo Club and fonts by KG Fonts. You can download the labels for free here. I put them on these white dollar store tubs for now, but I think I will find some clear tubs with lids. (The labels are large--they are two to a page. If you want smaller labels you can just print two pages on one. Then the labels will be a quarter of a page.)

I came up with a list of rules for my Explore Tubs as well. We will do lots of discussing and modelling at the beginning of the year to go over these expectations. My first rule is that students must finish their work first and it must be done completely, accurately, and neatly. I will check it and if I feel a student rushed through it, I will make them redo it. I am mean like that. Next I only want a maximum of four students per tub, so it's not too crowed and they can share the materials easier. Also I don't want them to change tubs that day. Stick with the one. They can (and must) choose a new tub the next day. I'm not going to keep track of this (they will probably do that for me), but I want them to try each of the tubs and not just do the same one each day! It gives the other students a chance to try each tub. And lastly, everyone at the tub helps clean up! Simple I think.

You can download a PDF of my rules (without the logo) here or an editable Powerpoint version of the rules here if you want to change anything.

These centres are meant to be fun, engaging and curriculum-based activities. They are there to enrich students' learning of topics we are covering in class. Not every student will get to the tubs every day and not every student will want to explore every tub. But it gives them a few choices of activities they can do that are curriculum-based. These will also be perfect for those days when you have a surprise assembly and you get back to class with only 10 minutes left and not enough time to do the original lesson you had planned... let EVERYBODY go to explore tubs! Pick a table randomly or use your lucky duck sticks to let each student choose which tub they want to complete.

I think these are going to be so useful for me and so fun for my students! I will be back in the next couple ideas to share what I am going to put in my six Explore Tubs for the Five Senses. I hope to share ideas for the other three units in the future too.

Happy Friday everyone!

Sunday 1 February 2015

February Currently

I promise I have some classroom tricks and ideas up my sleeves to share with you, but for tonight I just have my February Currently! Go link up with Farley if you haven't yet! I think I am number two hundred or something... oh well. Better late than never!