Groundhog Shadow Experiments

Monday, January 30, 2012 No comments
              My little firsties were super excited this morning when they walked in and saw this center setup:
I purchased Cara Carroll's Groundhog Day Unit and this experiment is in it.  If you get a chance, you should check it out.  Definately worth it!  Her blog is definately worth checking out too!

More Writing with Picture Clues Freebies

Friday, January 27, 2012 5 comments
I had a request for more of the plan sheets I use to teach writing. 
I have inclued 7 more FREE plan sheets.  If you need a look at how I use them, you can read my previous post HERE.   

If you like these and use these, I would   ♥ LOVE♥  for you to follow my blog and would appreciate your feedback.  You can grab a copy of the writing plan sheets below:
                                        Writing Plan Sheets

The Big Trip

Have you noticed how the Journeys series got really hard challenging all of a sudden?  But somehow we are plowing through it.  This week's story has tons of hard new words .  The skill with this story is compare/contrast so I whipped up a couple of things to go with this cute little story.
We completed this little Venn Diagram comparing/contrasting the two characters:

I don't have student samples of the next little activity but they turned out great too. (you'll have to take my word for it)

You can grab a copy HERE.



Accelerated Reader

Sunday, January 22, 2012 No comments
We use the Accelerated Reading program (AR and Accelerated Reader are registered trademarks of Renaissance Learning, Inc.) at our school to supplement our reading program.  It is a software program that our school purchased and this is how it works:
1) students read a book at their reading level
2) take a comprehension quiz on the computer
3) they get points based on how many questions they get correct
We record their progress in first grade with this cute little bulletin board:

Each child gets a "back stage pass" with their picture on is and their pass moves as they get AR points.

Our goal in first grade is 25 points, but as you notice we go all the way to 100 because some of our little readers will make it past 100.  If they get to 100, they get this little prize:

All of our firsties usually get the 25 points and for that we have an end of year pizza party (every 1st grader attends even if they don't attain the goal)
Students are allowed to cash in points for junk prizes at the end of each six weeks.
This is an incentive program to get our little readers to read and the part they love most is getting on the computer to take their test!

Let's Go to the Moon!

Friday, January 20, 2012 1 comment
This week we read the story "Let's Go to the Moon!" which is in our Tx Journeys reading series.  At the end of this week, I had the students list one way the Moon and the Earth were the same and one way they were different.   I gave very little guidance for this, in fact, we didn't discuss it at all, I just handed them the paper, read the questions and they got busy writing.  I figured we have done a bazillion Venn diagrams and comparisons already this year and I wanted to see what THEY knew.  I was pleased with the results.
And yes, I know there is a mistake on the worksheet.  That's what I get for deciding to do this last minute and typing it up right quick while students were working.  I have fixed it and you can get a mistake free version HERE.

(in this next example, he is referring to what we learned in our story - the astronauts drove a Lunar Rover on the Moon)

(I know I get carried away with samples, but I just LOVE when they start writing like this!)

I purchased these two units from Abby Mullins at her TpT store and we had some serious fun this week learning about astronauts and the moon. 
One of the activities from her unit that we did was to taste astronaut ice cream, then we tried a little regular vanilla ice cream for a comparison.  We made this class graph:
Then there was a recording sheet for the students to fill out and do some analysis.  I  recommend these two units (especially if you are using the Journeys reading series).
You can grab a copy of her units here:

I would like to give a big THANK YOU to Mrs. Smyth at New Adventrues in First Grade for awarding me this award:
The rules are:
1)  Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.
2) Tell 7 things about yourself.
Here goes:
J  I have a wonderful hubby and two amazing boys (ages 19 and 12)
J I LOVE to watch my two boys play golf!  They both have amazing talent!
J  I went to first grade in Cairo, Egypt.
  J I went through an alternative certification program to get my teaching certificate.  I also have a B.B.A. degree in General Business
J I love to read!  (a teacher who loves to read, imagine that . . .)
J I am a night owl and would love it if school started at 10 am. (not a morning person)
J I am in the process of giving up Diet Dr. Pepper.  I went 5 days and caved by giving myself a treat which turned into two.  I am now back on track.

3) Pass this award on to 15 newly discovered blogs.
OK, I am sorry.  I have looked and looked for someone who hasn't gotten this award and am still looking. I apologize for not following through.  (I am currently working on a lesson I am teaching at our service center and that is taking up ALL my extra time.)  This will have to be a "work in progress."

Vertebrate Animals

Sunday, January 15, 2012 1 comment
In my elementary school, we use the Journeys Reading Series.
This week we read the story "Animal Groups" which is a story about how vertebrate animals are classified:  birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

Here are a some of the activities we did with it:

At the word work center, the students unscrambled sentences.  (Last year, at Easter, I bought up all kinds of shaped plastic eggs that you could fill.  I got them at the following places:  Target, Dollar Tree and the Dollar Store.)  There is a frog, bunny, and bird which covers 3 of the animal groups.  The sentences I chose are similiar to the ones used in the story with the same vocabulary.  The sentences to unscramble are colored the same as the egg container so the students won't mix them up.

The students  wrote a sentence telling something they learned but it had to be written as a question.  Students used the starter
"Did you know . . .?"
and my little ESL student made this one: 

At the writing center, the students used the plan sheet below to write a 5 sentence paragraph.  I added the vocabulary under the picture to help with spelling since this was done independently while I was working with reading groups and I didn't want students to interrupt with "How do you spell . . .?"    
 For and explananation on how I do this, go HERE.
Here is a sample of what one student wrote:

We worked on a Draw/Write Lesson with each animal group:
Bird Group (Owl):
Mammal Group (Elephant):
Fish Group (Salmon):
Reptile Group (Alligator):
Amphibian Group (frog):
I got the drawing lessons from these books:

Writing (with picture clues)

Sunday, January 8, 2012 7 comments
We have been learning how to write 5 sentence paragraphs.  When I introduce this, I give the students a "picture clue plan sheet" (to help those students who get stumped coming up with something to write).

Here is a picture of one of our plan sheets and student samples of that writing.  (My students know that they have to start with the topic sentence and then the remaining 4 sentences can be written in any order they want.  As they write each sentence, they put a check in the box.)  FYI:  the student writings are written on some old computer paper our school had left over.  We have boxes and boxes of the stuff and it is great for writing.

If you would like a copy of some of the plan sheets we use, then you can grab yourself a copy below.  As students get pretty familiar with this, I try to wean them away from using picture clues and give them a blank plan sheet and have them write in whatever topic I give them and let them draw or write in the boxes what they are going to write about.  That is why there is  also a blank copy of the plan sheet included.

If you decide to download and use the plan sheets, please leave me a comment and tell me what you think and I would love to know if they worked in your classroom.

Happy Writing!

I'm ♥ing it!

Friday, January 6, 2012 2 comments
Here are a few things I am loving this week.

I found some " Part Part Whole" worksheets on Mrs. T's First Grade Class blog.  She has some good math ideas and her blog is really worth checking out! 

We have been learning part, part, whole for several weeks.  I really like the format of these worksheets.  In the examples below, you can see that the one of my students does the thinking in her head, while the second one wrote the addition/subtraction sentence and the third child wrrote the addition/subtraction sentence AND drew circles to act out the problem. 

You can get the worksheets at Mrs. T's blog mentioned above.

Here is an activity where students found parts of 9 using beads.
Students put 9 beads on a pipe cleaner and separated the beads into parts of 9.

And because this little snowman art project turned out so cute, I had to share.  I did not come up with this idea. I got it from