Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fables, The Polar Express, and a Countdown!

Our first grade team has recently started a new unit (we are following the CCSS pre-made units). This one is Life Lessons. I was a little unsure about how I would feel about this unit, but my kids have been doing so well! We are starting off with fables and finding morals in literature. They struggled a little at first and were extremely literal, but they are finally understanding that they need to think deeper! We have been comparing and contrasting different versions of the stories we read, and they have been making great connections between the two! I love being able to see the progress they making.

Next week, our class is going on a field trip on the Polar Express to visit the North Pole! My kids could not be more excited, even though some of them were really upset to find out that it is a make believe train going to a make believe North Pole. I will be using activities from Erica Bohrer and April Larremore along with our trip. I am probably more excited that the kiddos are!

Click on the pictures to check them out! They are both FREE and awesome!

I have been trying to think of how I want to countdown the days until Winter break with my class! Any suggestions? Do you have a countdown in your room?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Writer's Workshop Kickoff

We officially started Writer's Workshop in our classroom yesterday! (I had tried dabbling in some pieces before, but nothing structured.) I know what most of you are thinking--it's basically December. Why in the world am I starting this now?! And I am asking myself the same thing. My district doesn't have a strong writing curriculum, and my college classes did not prepare me to teach writing. So I took some time to figure out what would work and how to make it work. So even though we have 3 weeks until Christmas break (woo hoo!) and then only one semester, we are still starting it. I figure, some is better than none!

Much to my surprise, my kids did great! I was nervous that they would not do well with the unprompted writing and not getting up to ask me constant questions, but they did so good! Yesterday, we just talked about what our Writer's Workshop will look like--mini-lessons, writing, sharing, and my expectations. 

Today, we brainstormed some topics to write about, since some of mine struggled with what to write about yesterday. (Hopefully an anchor chart on those ideas will be posted soon!) I'm excited to dive more into writing as the year goes on!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Motivational Monday!

It's Motivational Monday!
And boy did I need some motivation to not yell at students make it through today.
This is something that I had to remind myself of many times today. I try to say this to myself when a student is not doing what I wish they would. I have no idea what kind of environment they left before they came to school. I need to remember to be a positive influence on these kids.

I am a firm believer that happiness is a choice. If I wake and decide to be happy, I will be. So I will choose to be happy because it is good for my health, especially my mental health! (This picture is actually the background on my sister's phone. So thanks for the great idea, Emily!)
Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

I am so excited! Danielle over at Classroom Cupcakes nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award!

The Leibster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs.

The rules:
*You must post 11 random things about yourself.
*Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
*Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
*Choose 11 blogs you love {with less than 200 followrs} and link them in your post.
*No tag back {but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Leibster post so I can learn more about you!}

11 Random Things About Me
1. I have the most amazing family in the whole world! My mom and sister are my best friends.
2. I want a puppy more than anything in the world right now.
3. I can (and often do) watch Friends on repeat for hours.
4. I believe a Diet Dr. Pepper can turn a bad day around.
5. I have been reading teacher blogs for about 3 years--and dreaming about the day I could start my own.
6. I could spend all of my money on children's books.
7. I LOVE my job.
8. I make to-do lists for everything. I feel so accomplished when I can cross something off my list.
9. I am totally addicted to Pinterest.
10. And TpT.
11. I will continue to buy lottery tickets until I win.

Here are the questions that Danielle asked me!

1} If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
I'll Be There for You by the Rembrandts. aka the Friends theme song.
2} Why did you choose to become a teacher?
It is what I have always wanted to be. And I can't imagine being anything else.
3} Why did you start blogging?
Before I even taught, I read teacher blogs and was so inspired by their ideas. I want to be a part of this supportive community.
4} What has been the best thing to happen in your years as a teacher?
The other first grade teachers on my team. They have helped me so much this first year. 
5} Skittles or M&M's?
Easy. M&M's. Peanut butter M&M's.
6} What was the last book you read for you?
The Hunger Games--I think. 
7} Apple or Android?
8} If you could create a new species, what would it be?
This one is tough for me. Some kind of cross between a bird and a fish. They would have the best of both worlds--being able to fly and swim.
9} Acrylic nails or au naturale?
Au naturale. I have only had fake nails once and I was not a fan.
10} What food makes your mouth water just by saying it's name?
Chocolate. And ice cream.
11} What are your plans for the holidays?
I will be going home to spend time with my family! 

Here are the questions for the blogs I have nominated!
1. What is your favorite thing about teaching?
2. What is your least favorite thing about teaching?
3. What advice would you give to a first year teacher?
4. What do you find to be the hardest part about blogging?
5. What is your favorite teaching blog?
6. Since I am getting into the Christmas spirit, what is your favorite Christmas movie?
7. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
8. How do you celebrate the holiday season in your classroom?
9. What is the best purchase you have made on TpT? 
10. If you had to be something other than a teacher, what would you be?
11. What is your favorite children's book?

Here are the blogs I am nominating!

Groovy Educator

A Teacher's Idea

BWS tips button

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Fun!

For those of you already out of school, I am so jealous. For those of you who aren't (like myself), we're almost there! This week, my class will be learning about pilgrims and get to make pumpkin pie with our librarian! Today was pilgrims. We talked about the life of pilgrims, and some kiddos even dressed up like pilgrims!

How adorable are they! Later, we did a venn diagram as a group comparing life today and the life of the pilgrims. But of course, during the craziness of the day, I have no pictures.

This afternoon, we talked about things we were thankful for, then made turkeys and listed some of the things we were thankful for.

Here is my example that I showed them. They were quite confused by my dog niece and nephew. Kind of like how they are really confused by the fact that I am an adult (ish) and have no kids. The way they think is just so adorable!
I found this turkey on Pinterest, but the link was bad. So I was free-handed a template.

I am thankful for my teacher, friends, dad, mom bubba, and sisters.

I am thankful for our school, the best teacher, Ms. Cranfill, my sister, a good teacher, and my family. Either he is very aware that he has a great teacher, or he was feeling the need to suck up that day. Either way--I still love it!

Tomorrow, we will make our pumpkin pies, have a first grade Thanksgiving "feast", and enjoy the last day before a much needed break!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Animal Research

This week, we are trying to squeeze in the last bit of our animal unit, while also throwing in Thanksgiving activities. My students paired up and researched animals! They were beyond excited. We talked about highlighting important words that we read, and how to organize our research. They had to find out about the animal's habitat, diet, anatomy, and list fun facts! After they took their notes from the computer and books, we took our "notes" and turned them into real sentences. Some of my kiddos are still working on developing the understanding of a sentence. Some combine three sentences and call it one, and a few others think periods should come every two words. I worked with them a little closer to reinforce what a sentence was.

They were working so hard on being good "researchers"!

We will also be turning our research into animal playing cards! All the first graders did research. They are going to put their research onto "playing cards" so they can share with the other kids! I can't wait to see how they turn out!

I only have three teaching days left until Thanksgiving! Thank goodness!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Writer's Workshop, Diary of a Turkey, and a Giveaway!

I don't know about any other teachers, but I am feeling the rush to get things done before Thanksgiving break. We have been busy already this week.

One area I am definitely lacking as a teacher is writing. The school I student taught at did not have a writing curriculum, and only one of my college classes even slightly focused on writing. So needless to say, I came in blind. I have been reading and researching like a crazy person to try to figure out the best way to teach writing to my kiddos. I have been trying to incorporate Writer's Workshop into my classroom--and let me just say, I L-O-V-E it! I can definitely see how much better my kids are writing. We starting by investigating pattern books, and then they wrote their own. We had our first published book earlier this week, and it was great to see how proud she was of herself! She got to sit in Ms. Cranfill's read aloud chair to share her book with everyone else. It was so exciting!

We had read the book Who Has These Feet? together, so that's where her idea came from. Her book turned out adorable!

Since I had to go to a meeting today, I needed to come up with an activity that my students could do independently, and would take a decent amount of time. Since we are getting in the Thanksgiving spirit, we wrote our own book, Diary of a Turkey. We have read Diary of a Spider and Diary of a Worm before. Great books! Then they wrote their own, but from a turkey's perspective. They didn't all stay 100% on the turkey's perspective, but for me not being there to redirect, they did pretty good!

{The turkey is showing off for the ladies and his name is Carson.}

{He got the ladies to love him. Now he is a turkey movie star and he is famous.}

Too funny! 

I've mentioned before how much I love giveaways. I'm convinced that I will win one someday. (It must run in my family--my sister is convinced she will win the lottery!) There is a great gift card giveaway at Granny Goes to School

Go check it out for a chance to win some great gift cards!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day! We celebrated veterans at school Friday with an amazing school assembly. I was crying by the end, and I was definitely not alone. Later that afternoon, my kiddos wrote letters thanking veterans for their service!

{Thank you for saving our country and you are very special to us.}

{Thank you for fighting for our country and letting us be free. You are very awesome because you are very brave for America.}

Their notes were so sweet! We are going to send our letters to Operation Gratitude. {Thanks for the great idea, Rikki!}

In other news, this teacher is counting down the days until Thanksgiving Break--just 7 more teaching days! I could definitely use a break with family and great food. Until then, we will be doing animal research, learning about pilgrims, and the first Thanksgiving. Should be a busy 7 days!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Habitats, Presidents, and Veterans! Oh My!

Boy has this been a busy week! With habitats, Election Day, and Veteran's Day, we are busy first graders! We started this week learning about habitats--we focused on oceans, deserts, savannas, and jungles. We read I See a Kookaburra!, another one of my favorites!

We brainstormed animals and plants that live in those habitats and recorded them in our graphic organizer--my kids new favorite thing!

Later, we talked about living and nonliving things. For the most part, they did really well! With the exception of one student who tried very hard to convince me that rocks are alive. Got to love their enthusiasm!

To reinforce that plants are living things (some were reluctant to believe this), we did a little science experiment! When I told them that we were going to do an experiment this week, they were beyond excited! We put two stalks of celery into colored water and recorded our observations.

After discussing what we were going to do with the celery, we made predictions about what would happen. Then, we let the celery sit in the water overnight and investigated the next day. I took the celery around to each table so they could look closely at the leaves and the bottom of the celery, where the "tunnels" that carry the water to the leaves are darker. I even pulled out the "tunnels" so we could closely compare their color to the stalk of the celery. The kiddos loved it! And I love getting to see the gears working in their little brains. 

To wrap up on habitats today, we wrote about different habitats and what we can find there. The students got to use their graphic organizers to help them organize their writing.

To commemorate the election, the first graders drew portraits of President Obama. This, of course, came with a discussion about respecting and supporting our President, no matter who it is--these kids repeat everything they hear!

They turned out so cute! The ears were my favorite on all of them--so funny! 

And tomorrow is Friday! Praise the Lord! We have a Veteran's Day assembly tomorrow morning, and then we are writing letters to our veterans--should be a fun day!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Presidential Fun

Happy Election Day! My firsties will be doing a few different things to celebrate this holiday! Today,  we read If I Ran for President. Then we talked about all the different things the President does and how hard they work. Hearing their responses was so funny! Then we did a writing activity about what it would be like if they were president.
{I'd have a lot of paper work, a lot of calls, and I'd have to live in the White House.}

{I would have a lot of paper work, and I would always make sure that there weren't any drugs anywhere.}

{I would like it a lot. I would make a lot of phone calls and I would give some of my money to others.}
This student didn't get to finish her drawing before I snapped the picture, but she added another guy in sunglasses--they are Secret Service!

Apparently all of my kiddos think the President just does paperwork and talks on the phone! Later this week, we will do portraits of whoever the President is!

We are also spending this week learning about animal habitats! More to come on that later!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thanksgiving Giveaway!

I LOVE blog giveaways. I stumbled upon this amazing one today and I'm so excited about it! It's full of great activities for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Which, by the way, is only 3 weeks away--blows my mind!


Go check it out for yourself!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Can You Find My Butterfly?

My kids were the definition of sugar high today. One girl showed me her lunch when she got to school and had like 12 pieces of candy! maybe that's an exaggeration, but it was at least 8. Anyway...the camouflage activity we did today was perfect for them! They had to be super secretive (aka quiet) and got to get up and move around! We had so much fun with it!

First I gave them all a cut-out of a butterfly or a lizard. I would love it if they could cut it themselves, but then it would have been more like camouflage circles and rectangles. They had to pick somewhere in the room that they wanted their animal to blend into. They couldn't tell anyone else, because we were going to try to find them later. They got super into it and all put folders around their work so no one could see it. I love when they get this excited about learning!

After they were all done, we took our butterflies and lizards into the hallway with us, and taped them to the wall, bulletin board, etc. one-by-one so no one knew where it was. This did take a bit of time, but they were so cooperative since they were so excited about it! Then once everyone's was up, we took a few laps around the room to see if we could see any.

Check out some of their hiding places!

There was only one student's that wasn't found. He colored his all black and put it on the trash can! After we were done, we talked about why his was camouflaged the best and what animals camouflage themselves.

Hope everyone survived the Halloween craziness of their kids! One more day until the weekend!