Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Groundhog Day...

Can you believe January is almost over?? With February around the corner, there's lots to think about. First up is Groundhog Day! I get so excited about celebrating Groundhog Day each year! I make a pretty big deal about it each year. First graders can be a bit silly (imagine that) and truly seem to enjoy learning about this silly tradition. I usually begin with reading Wake Up, Groundhog
This is a cute little story about a little girl groundhog who wants to take over for her uncle, Punxsutawney Phil. It also talks about signs of spring which is perfect since we're usually learning about the seasons. After reading, we discuss any experiences they have had with groundhogs and Groundhog Day. I also like to take a few minutes to watch some videos of past Groundhog Day predictions. Then it's time to make our own. I give each student a sentence frame to complete.

Of course we need a craft to go with it! So we make these...

The students who predict that Punxsutawney Phil will not see his shadow will make the same picture minus the shadow.

Once I post these on the bulletin board, we graph our results. By the way, I place all of the "will see his shadow" predictions in a column and the "will not see his shadow" in a separate column next to it. I add labels to the top to make it into a picture graph.

Throughout the week we read nonfiction texts about groundhogs and write a short report. 

During centers, we use the groundhog vocabulary words to put in ABC order and to write sentences. 

We work on some groundhog labeling and read a funny little book. 

 There's also a little measuring center!

If you're looking for something to use in your class, head on over to my TpT store. All of this and more is in my "Let's Learn About Groundhogs" pack. Now you know how I like to give out some freebies! All you have to do it leave me a comment and let me know how you celebrate/teach about Groundhog Day in your class! The first 5 who leave me their email will get it for free! 

Best wishes,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I love Love Bugs...

Isn't this time of year just wonderful?! Everyone is working hard on keeping their New Year's Resolutions, school is back in full swing, and love is in the air!! 

By this time in first grade, students have pretty much mastered nouns and verbs. We have moves on to adjectives, but still need some practice. It just so happens that I have the perfect activity to help reinforce some Common Core Literacy standards while incorporating a little bit of art... the Love Bug!

I begin by giving the students a black piece of paper. Then I pull out my box o' scrap paper (you know you have one) and encourage students to choose "Valentine's colors." Next I tell them they will be using their imaginations to make a Love Bug! Of course they ask what that is! I tell them I don't know because they haven't created it yet. I mention that it may have wings and it may not. It could possible have 2 legs, but maybe 3! Perhaps it has an antenna, 2 heads and a huge smile! I even say that it's possible for a love bug to have parts from many different animals! Oh, and I also mention that these sweet new beings probably don't have scary features like long claws and sharp teeth. Now that their creative juices are flowing, I ask them to begin making a body. After they will decide if their bug has a head or if their Love Bug's face is actually on the top of their body. Last, I encourage students to make their Love Bug have parts of all of their favorite animals! I suggest adding details like stripes and polka dots (made by my hole punch). A heart or 2 can usually be found somewhere, too! By this time I can hardly stop them!!

The next day, after the excitement has settled, we share our Love Bugs with each other. After, I ask them to compare and contrast their Love Bug with their shoulder partner's Love Bug. We take a few examples and move on to the writing.

The main activity we do with our Love Bugs is to write in great detail. We review what an adjective is and refer to our adjective anchor chart. Then we brainstorm a new list of adjectives that specifically describe our bugs. Last I give the students some sentence beginners. I feel like they happily complete these sentences because they are so proud of their cute creations! 

This is the final result...

The sentence beginners I give them are, "This is my Love Bug. It is special because it has __________ and __________. It also has __________. My Love Bug likes to __________. I love my Love Bug!" Each blank must contain at least one adjective. It is not shown here, but I later have students highlight each adjective. Then we count and compare!

If you would like, I'll make the writing paper available for FREE... tomorrow. I accidentally left my zip drive at work. Gasp!

Finally... hot off the press!

And while we're on the subject, I've got a fabulous set of Valentine's related centers that also reinforce many Common Core standards! There's even a sorting center about adjectives! Check them out on TpT. Get them now so you'll have plenty of time to cut and laminate!

That's all for now... I want to get some blog stalking in before bed time!!

Best wishes,

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I just wanted to post briefly on my latest bulletin board. It turned out so cute, I just couldn't keep it to myself!


A few close ups...

I purchased the adorable project from Jennifer at First Grade Blue Skies. The short writing tells why we think our school is the best. It says, "There's "snow" place like AGM because..." My students has so much fun creating these after our week long snowman unit. Could be the perfect end for yours, too!

And since MLK Jr Day is coming up...

Here's the bulletin board I created for that. After much reading and discussion about who MLK Jr was, we brainstormed how we could make the world a better place. Some of my students really thought about the bigger picture and I was SOOOO proud. Some girls wanted to build houses for homeless people, some wanted to cut their long hair and give to Lock of Love (yes, they already knew what is was), and others wanted to give old toys and clothes to kids who didn't have money to buy their own. I'm not sure if this would really make the world a better place, but one of my little cuties wanted to decorate the world with lights to make it prettier. Smile!

The crayons were completed after we read The Crayon Box that Talked. Then we discussed our differences and reasons why we're so special. One by one, I told each of my students why I thought they were special. They then felt compelled to do the same... for me!! The things they said seriously brought tears to my eyes! Being loved by my students is one of the greatest joys of my job!! Anyways, if you like this bulletin board, you can get more information here. The first 5 to comment will also get it for FREE!! Enjoy your Monday off!

Best wishes,

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A little gingerbread party

Each year, before going on winter break, we read several gingerbread stories. I'm sure like most of you, we note the refrain, examine the characters, events, and endings, and compare and contrast our favorites. But after that, my favorite thing to do is actually bake gingerbread cookies in class!

I have all of the ingredients laid out on my desk when the kids come in that morning. I quickly show them each one and we talk about when they have used them before. I also let the kids smell the ginger, vanilla and molasses... always a crowd pleaser.

This list of ingredients hangs on the board so we can refer to it when mixing.

This is the direction poster which I also hang on the board. We do step 1 - 5 in the morning, reading each one as we go. While a few students are helping me add ingredients, the others are writing and drawing in their mini books. 

Some of these pages were completed in the morning, some in the afternoon and some the next day. This student was absent the day we finished the books. Also, I have since cut and staples these together.

I cannot remember where I found this book last year. If you recognize it, please let me know so I can give them credit!

In the afternoon, we perform a simple science experiment. We recall the gingerbread characters that did not want to cross the river on their own. The students say why they think those characters did not want to get wet. Then we predict and record what will happen when we place a gingerbread cookie into a bowl of water. Next, we get the dough out of the refrigerator and begin rolling it out. I make sure each student gets a turn. After, we use the cookie cutter to cut out our cookies. This takes about 20 minutes, so then we check on our experiment. The students record their observations and continue working in their mini books. After 30 minutes, we check on the experiment again, record our new observations and discuss the outcome. Later, when the kids are in PE, I bake the cookies in the school's kitchen. 

The recording sheet came from none other than the amazing Deanna Jump.

Once the baking is finished, I can prep for the best part... cookie decorating!

We usually have enough for the kids to decorate 2 cookies. One of the cookies we eat and the other we take home. We chart which part of the cookie we ate first. The next day we graph and analyze the results. 

I also can't remember where I got this adorable graph. I was not using Pinterest last year, if you can believe it or not! So again, please let me know if you recognize it! 

That's how we wrap up our gingerbread unit! What do you do?

Best wishes,