Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weather Unit

Our weather unit is in full swing and we are already learning a lot! This past week we focused on the sun, wind,  and snow. Next week we will focus on rain/water cycle and the different types of clouds.  As always, our units are all aligned with Common Core standards for reading, writing, and math but are chosen because they match our science and social studies standards.  Our social studies focus for this unit is: Describe and give examples of seasonal weather changes, and illustrate how weather affects people and the environment.  We are also focusing on matter in science throughout this unit and using a couple crafts from the Bubbly Blonde that can be found here

This week in centers we wrote our weather words around the room.  
We also used Mrs. Miner's Guided Drawing pack to help teach us how to make a rainbow! I know throughout the unit my kids will be making rainbows all of the time--so this was the perfect way to teach that!
During writing we have REALLY been focusing on writing details. Now that majority of my class can write independently, I am trying to push them a little further.  I found this activity in Live, Love, Laugh's March Writing pack and it seemed to fit my lesson perfectly. 
During centers the children had to add details to their picture (which only had an umbrella on it). Then, we wrote detailed stories to describe our pictures. They came out adorable!
I am still working with my reading groups on digraphs.  Most groups have it down pat now and are ready to start completing digraph activities independently. Yay!
I am proud to say that ALL of my students were able to complete this CVC word/picture match up by themselves!! 
They were also able to sort all of their CVC pictures under the correct word family.  Don't you just love that feeling when even your struggling readers can sound out words!?! Makes me so happy!
I had mentioned in a previous post that my students needed more work on reading/building sentences.  I put this activity at a center with one of my parent volunteers in case they needed some guidances, but they all did really well.
On Friday we had a 'rainbow day'!  We ate these delicious rainbow cookies!! They are just sugar cookies with vanilla frosting (dyed blue).  Then I bought the rainbows and clouds in a little pack at Jo-Ann's Fabrics; however, you can just use fruit roll ups and marshmallows if you can't find them at a store near you!
 Then, we made these cute rainbow tear-art crafts! I LOVE how they turned out! They are currently hanging in the hallway :)
 At the bottom of the rainbow we used a freebie from Teaching With Love and Laughter. It is the cutest little poem and perfect for students' to complete independently!
You can find my All About Weather unit by clicking on the image below :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

America Unit Wrap Up!

A couple weeks ago I posted the start of my America Unit and I planned on posting each week after that...I am not quite sure what happened haha! So here is a little wrap up of some other activities we did during our unit and let me tell you...this unit may have been my children's favorite unit this year!!
Throughout the unit we continued to write in our 'All About America' books. The children had a total of 7 pages included in their book by the end of the unit - The American Flag, Statue of Liberty, Liberty Bell, Bald Eagle, White House, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. 
 They were SO proud of these books and so excited to take them home to share with their family!
We had lots of centers going on throughout our unit! In our last math chapter we were working on numbers 11-20.  This is something my children definitely needed extra practice with. I have a handful of students that are still writing their numbers backwards, so this center was the perfect practice for them...Washington's Roll and Write!
 We have also been working on unscrambling sentences. I saw a HUGE difference in my children's ability to complete this center independently during this unit then from our last unit.
 Write the room...always a favorite! This time I actually put this center as a part of their 'read to someone' center.  After they wrote all of their words, they had to sit in the library and read the words to their buddy.  I love watching them read together!
 We are continuing to work on addition and subtraction.  Not going to students are getting awesome with their addition facts! ;)
 We also used this Label It sheet from Deedee Wills February Writing pack. I love her writing centers pack!
During the America unit I tried something new...QR codes! This is a listening comprehension pack from Mary at Sharing Kindergarten on Presidents.  Before centers started I demonstrated how to use QR cards. The children were super excited to get started!  
 I made sure to show them how to rewind as well.  This way, if they missed an answer for their recording sheet, they could rewind and listen again.  My students actually did really well with the QR center for their first time.  I had some students that had to rewind a couple times because they kept missing answers; however, that just showed me that we need to continue using centers like this (and I already have my next QR center for weather ready to go).
We added the Presidents poem into our poetry notebooks.  I am proud to say that my entire class knows ALL of the presidents!!  
Loved this picture of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, I just had to share it! SO cute!
This last activity was something that I totally 'winged' one day and it ended up being my absolute favorite!! It is nothing new and I am sure you have done this activity in your class before, but it was awesome!
In our social studies text books the previous day there was a little section where the children had to write about what they would do if they were the president.  After we wrote in our books I had each child stand up and read what they would do.  Then I decided to give each student a small piece of paper and let them vote on one person who they would like to be the class president for the day (after hearing what they wrote). I explained to them that voting is a secret and it isn't something we should discuss.  We even talked about how you don't just vote for someone that you like the best, it is important to think about what they are going to DO for YOU! After they voted I tallied up the ballots and one of the little girls won who wrote, 'I would put bad people in jail and give free money to all the good people.'  So for the rest of the day the kids had to call her President Rebecca :)  At the end of the day they asked me who was going to be the class president tomorrow?  So I told them that we could do this one more time, BUT if they wanted to win, they needed to think about what a good president would say.  I told them they may want to go home and talk to their parents and brainstorm some good ideas!
Sure enough, as soon as I opened my door the next morning, the first little one said, 'My mom told me a great idea of how I can become the president!'  I was so happy that they got their parents involved! 
 During writing they all filled out their sheet I found free HERE at First Grade Fanatics.  Then, each child stood up and read what they would do.  They had the cutest ideas!!
The student below ended up winning and he gave total credit to his mom for the wonderful idea: "When I become president I will give an iPad to everyone and make a water park at the school."  (I think the kids are over getting sand in the shoes at the sand park everyday!)  He was so cute after he won, he drew plans for the future water park!
"When I become president I will make better food at restaurants and schools and give free money."  I think they thought the free money from yesterday would be a sure win on this day! haha
Now we are moving on to our Weather Unit, but we sure did learn a lot during our America Unit!!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Monthly Behavior Management Ideas

In my classroom I use the 'clip chart' system for behavior management.  You can read more about that HERE. The clip chart is used for individual student's behavior.  
There are times in class that we do collaborative group work at our table seats.  I noticed that some tables were working a lot nicer than others and I knew I had to come up with some type of behavior system for times like this! 
Each season I print out a quick and easy behavior system that I use for group work.  Throughout the winter each group had their own tree.  When I saw their table working nicely, they were able to earn an ornament for their tree. I always get the kids involved with this too--they were the ones that cut out the ornaments that they could eventually earn!
At the end of January we took down the trees and the table with the most ornaments was able to choose their reward! For one day they were able to choose to take their shoes off, bring a stuffed animal to school, or move their seat to sit by a friend.  All easy rewards and the kids loved it!! 
This spring, children are working to 'catch' bugs in the table jars. I keep the bugs in a ziplock bag and whenever I spot a table working nicely, I call a student to come up and add a bug into their jar.  Let me tell you-this easy system has totally changed the way my students work together at their tables. 
 A system like this can easily be changed out monthly or thematically, however often you would like!  The rewards are easy to change as well based on your students needs!  They love having a goal to look forward to and I think a little friendly competition amongst tables isn't a bad thing ;)

Head on over to Mrs. Poultney's blog, at Mrs. Poultney's Ponderings, to read another 'Bright Idea' in the classroom!

You can find lots of other 'Bright Ideas' by clicking on any of the links below.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Word Work: Make Your Life Easier ;)

Last year I wasn't using the Word Work center exactly how I would have liked to and I knew I needed to change that this year.  My thought going into making these Word Work packs were to keep each month consistent so I wouldn't have to continuously explain the directions, keep them independent so I wouldn't have to get up from my reading group, keep them fun so the children are engaged, and honestly one of the most important things--keep them organized so the center is easy to set up for the month and not a lot of prep is involved on my part. 
These centers have accomplished all of the above for me...and more! I print each pack out, bag each center in a zip lock bag, then put all of the centers for each month into a 2 gallon ziplock.  Next year all I will have to do is pull out that 2 gallon bag and I am good for the entire month! Word Work made easy!
These centers focus on a wide range of skills.  You can see students working on CVC word families here.  I do provide them with a little 'Need Help' sheet to check their answers with when they are finished (included in the word work pack).  This way, some of my struggling readers can still work on this center. Even if they need to use the 'Need Help' sheet to spell their words, they are still working on letter recognition.  
Here you can see two students working together to complete the activity 'Brushin' Up on Beginning and Ending Sounds'.  That is another thing I love about these Word Work center activities, they really promote collaborative learning!
This little one is working on beginning digraphs. This activity was a little too hard for me to leave at the Word Work center and expect students' to complete it independently. Because of that, I actually used it at a different center with a parent volunteer. If you don't have parent volunteers this is an activity you may want to use for whole group learning or guided reading groups.  That is another bonus with these word work packs--you can easily use some of the activities to supplement your reading groups or even your phonics program.
The packs make it easy for differentiation. These students are working on matching letters to the correct beginning sound pictures.  This may be too easy for some students, but is perfect for others!
One skill that my beginning readers have really been working on is sorting real/nonsense words.  I LOVE reinforcing skills that I am working on at guided reading groups in their word work center.
These two cuties didn't want to use the magnetic letters to spell their words so they wrote them with a dry erase marker instead...easy idea and they finished faster which allowed them more time to work on another activity :) Love when they are having fun and don't realize how much they are learning!
Here she spelled her words with magnetic letters then used the 'Need Help' sheet to write the words and 'check off' whether she spelled them correctly or not--so independent!
Getting a little more difficult with CVCC words.
Here they are sorting images based on their word family.  Another skill we have been working on while group A LOT lately! 
Overall, my students are working more collaboratively, independently, and hitting more skills than in the past. I really feel like I owe a lot of that to these Word Work packs
All of these pictures were taken in February, using my February Word Work pack; however, the March pack is very similar.  
The pack for this month includes the following skills:
-real/nonsense words
-beginning and ending digraphs
-beginning and ending sounds
-CVCe words
-building sentences
-decoding sentences
-sight words
-CCVC words
-differentiating between b, d, p, and q
-short vowels
-CVC words
-word families
-long/short vowel sort
You can find this pack by clicking on the image below.
If you made it all the way through this post and you are still with me...leave a comment with your email included for a chance to win my March Word Work pack!! If you already purchased the March Pack, no worries, you can just a different Word Work pack of your choice!  CONGRATS to Shauna and Jean Ann Chisum...I am emailing you now!