Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Food For Thought

I haven't posted in a while, but I don't have tons of time so here's a quickie.   We started blends and digraphs last week.  After an "I don't think they had any idea what I was talking about" lesson, I wanted to find a way to explain it to them so that it "clicks" and speaks to them on their level.  My brilliant husband came up with the idea to compare blends to milk and cereal and digraphs to chocolate milk.  Lost?  Let me explain...

A blend is two or more letters that go together (we say them fast together), but we can still pick apart their individual sounds.  Similarly, milk and cereal go together, but we can still separate the milk from the cereal.

A digraph is two or more letters that when combined make a completely different sound.  You cannot hear their individual sounds.  When chocolate syrup and milk are mixed together, they make something different.  You cannot pick out the syrup or the milk once they've been combined.  

I brought in the different ingredients and used the analogy there in front of them.  TA-DAH!  They really seemed to understand after having that concrete example to go by! Way to go, husband!  He's always been smarter than me, but now he's starting to out-creative me, too!  Jerk! 

Here's the little anchor chart we made as a class...not my finest work, but it's something to go by!  I also included a fun chart we made after reading Dishy Washy and brainstorming all of the digraphs we found.  I've created monsters. They can't STOP pointing out blends and digraphs...even at the most inopportune times (i.e calendar math..."Mrs. Guillo!  Thursday has a 'th' digraph!").  But if they're going to interrupt a lesson, I'd rather them interrupt me with those thoughtful comments :)  I'm proud of their hard work these last few weeks.  I feel like we're really starting to make some big progress these days...getting away from the 'beginning of the school year' feel and really into the heart of the year!  Yippee!

You may be wondering, "Why is her chart cut all weird like that?"  I'd like to tell you that it was because I was 'going green' and used that part for something else, but I'd just be covering up the fact that I totally butchered the cat's tail, so I had to draw another one and cut the original off :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Christmas Came Early

I created this over the summer and since I'm wide awake, I figured I might as well share it now so that you can print, laminate, and cut when you have the time and have it ready for December!  I created a game using a calendar as the game board itself.  The question cards emphasize calendar knowledge/skills.  The first one to "ring in the new year" is the winner!  I have NOT used this yet, so there is always room for error, but I think it will be fun!

If I have enough interest from my followers, I might create a few more with different months/themes.  What do ya'll think?

Also, if you like reading my blog, would you become a follower and/or recommend it to others?  I want to build a big follower base.  The more followers, the more giveaways, so bring 'em on!

Here's the game:

So when Christmas rolls around, don't say I never gave you anything! :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I've Got the Power(point)!

So I was lying in bed this morning and I had an idea for my literacy centers.  I decided I would make a PowerPoint presentation to help manage the rotations and hopefully provide a silent cue for the transitions.  I used the same icons as the labels I have in my classroom, for consistency's sake.  And although I have their names in a pocket chart in my classroom already, I decided to use their numbers and put them on the slides as well, just as one more reminder of where they need to be.  

I decided to have each slide display what group should  be with me at guided reading, and where everyone else should be.  I have it set to automatically switch slides after 18 minutes so that I don't have to do a thing!  Then there is a different chime that occurs after a one and a half minute delay, and the words on the slide blink.  This will indicate that they should be finished with their transitions and beginning the next center.  I like having the buffer time to ensure that they clean up correctly and have time to get where they're going...but not too much time ;)  I have the whole slide show set up so that I don't have to touch a thing once I get it started!  It will (hopefully) be a great tool to have to keep me focused on my kiddos and their reading and the kiddos focused on their jobs.  I can't wait to try this!  

Click here to see the PowerPoint!

By the way...

Here's an explanation of how my literacy centers work.  Each student goes to two centers a day.  They start out at one and it lasts about 2 of my guided reading groups.  Then they switch with the center whose icon is right next to it for the last two rotations.  Of course, during part of that time, they will be pulled back for their own guided reading time, so that averages them at each center for about 30 minutes.  During those centers, they have some sort of work that they have to complete in order to keep them accountable.  They turn this work in at a designated spot in their center folders.  I check it every day and they have a sticker chart where they will get a "happy" or "saddy" depending on the quality of work turned in.  When their chart is filled up with mostly "happies," they get to pick out of the treasure box.

Also, to keep them busy with purposeful and productive activities the whole time, I copied an idea from Renee Edwards, a great teacher who provided an inservice for us this summer.  I created a task chart like this:

Then I prioritized the activities for them to do in that corner.  Of course, the items in box 1 and 2 are the ones I want they to finish and turn in by the end of centers.  Numbers 3, 4, and 5 are less important, but still equally as purposeful.  They might be things like targeted literacy games, activities they've previously done for review, or other activities that don't require a written answer. This way, students who work quickly will have an itemized list of what to do next and keep busy.  The students who take longer to work have the time they need and they know what to work on first to make sure they have the most important work done in time.  What a great management tool!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ADvertisements Will ADD To Our Writing Center!

So, it's Tuesday, which means two things...Monday is past us (yippee!)... and coupon/junk mail day.  I still get kind of excited when I see the big wad of coupons in our box.  I keep thinking maybe I'll find a "golden ticket" of a deal...but always to no avail.  

Today's junk mail.
 So every week they go to waste.  But wasted no more!  Today I decided to cut out some of the better pictures from each ad to make a stash of  usable magazine pics. for future literacy center activities.  I'm thinking they could glue a picture in the middle and make a web of adjectives to describe them (there were lots of food pics which seemed to naturally lend itself to this).  Or they could use the pictures as writing prompts, sentence starters, etc.  Anyway, this inspired me to start an envelope that I can keep pictures in  as I cut them out (I'm thinking I could watch TV while I clip them).

I love the CONCEPT of all the cute "let students cut out pictures from magazine" activities, but A) there are so many inappropriate pictures in magazines that I don't want my first graders to come across, and B) first graders are SO messy and I personally don't ever feel like dealing with magazine scraps in every nook and cranny of my classroom.  So if I just clip along the way, I can establish a good stash to have "on the ready" whenever I want them to do this type of work!  I'm looking forward to putting them to good use!  

Anyone else have any brilliant early childhood ideas for ads/magazine clips?

And for a funny teacher story...I definitely had a teacher "first!"  Today as I was teaching away, I started choking in the middle of a sentence...something had caught my throat. A student had the most disgusted look on her face and said, "Um...a fly just flew in your mouth!" HAHAHA!!! That sucker flew right into my wind pipe while I was teaching!! So before they went to activity today, we read "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly"  in honor of our "event."  And that, folks, is one of the reasons why I love teaching.  No two days are alike, and there is never a dull moment!  


Monday, August 29, 2011

Rollin' Right Through the School Year!

The third week of school has begun and we're diving into literacy corners!  I am changing the way I do corners/centers/rotations/whatever you want to call them.  I'm adding more corners and I'm really excited about the way these will keep my students engaged and focused on fun, quality assignments that will support my instruction!  Here's a game I made for my "word work" corner.  All you need is a dice and a copy of THIS document I made!

We have talked about two word families so far: -at and -op.  So I created this activity to help them practice changing out different onsets with the -at and -op rimes.  The student will roll the dice, and the number they land on will determine what onset they use.  They will then write it down next to the rime for #s 1-10 and see how many new words they have created!  I hope this works well!  Looking forward to it.  OH and by the way, I have extra large foam dice which I bought years ago to cut down on the noise when they roll the dice on their desks.  But I plan on incorporating THIS great idea I found on Pinterest to eliminate those boogers from tossing the dice all over the room and arguing with me that it was an "accident." Not that I'm bitter or anything ;)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Very Pinteresting Classroom!

Well, it's been a long time!  I'm sure you couldn't possibly imagine why!!

I survived all of the professional development and the first week of school.  I looooove my class, although with each group comes its own challenges!  This year we have a SURPLUS of first graders!  My class kept growing as the week went on (I'm up to 22).  I know that isn't a HUGE number of students for many of you teacher folk, but for our district that is big!  We only have 20 backpack hooks in our rooms, and I kept having to get desks from our storage to add to my room!  I won't go into the details and whine about how some of my desks don't match the others and how I had to go back to the store a million times to get more supplies as my class size grew.  Bottom line is, we're past the first week, and things go a little smoother every day!

And now I'm onto my real topic for today's post....PINTEREST!!!  It's been a blessing and a curse ever since I registered for this brilliant site.  I've found the best ideas for school and home, but I can't STOP searching and pinning!! Aaaaggggghhhh!!!  So I decided to do a quick post about the things that I have already adopted into my classroom, as inpsired (or flat-out copied straight from) the Pinterest site.  So  here it goes:

I found this cute sign on Pinterest for a "Book Hospital."  I printed it and put it on the front of a crate in my library center for my students to put books that need repair.  This way, they won't "bother" me during my literacy rotations!  It was a brilliant idea! 

While I was on her blog for the Book Hospital printable, I found her post HERE about the "Blurt Chart."  I decided to make my own, but instead of using velcro pieces, I just have my students put an X in the box with a dry erase marker.  3 "strikes" = 1 card pulled in my class.  This way, they learn not to blurt out in class discussions. It's already worked so well!

I also redid my calendar math board with THIS idea.  I hated having to keep up with individual calendar pieces, and I really liked having the cards on rings.  It's a simple, clean board that I can spruce up throughout the year as I want to increase the math content. 

I LOVED this idea that originated HERE.  It's such a simple idea, but I never thought about having all of the things a new student would need in one easy-to-grab baggy.  What a time and stress saver!! Let's be honest...when we get new students, it usually happens with little or no warning and we feel like we're scrambling to take care of them all day!

On the second day of school, I created THIS anchor chart with my students.  It was such a great way to referee all of those extra stories and side commentary they use every day in class discussions!  I am glad that I will have something to reference whenever they get off-task or say something unnecessary!

I also loved THIS idea to make sure students put their names on their papers.  I have a basket of highlighters right next to their turn-in baskets and a sign similar to the one on the cup in this picture.  Brilliant!

One of my favorite management finds (and one of the easiest to make) is THIS little guy for class volume.  I love it because A) It's a nice visual B) It reminds you that there are some times when you can allow the students to whisper while they work C) It takes the "meanness" off of you because you can say things like "Look at our noise-o-meter.  It's saying that right now we need to have no voices, so make sure you look at that while you're working to keep from having to pull a card today!"  Already in the first week of school it's been a handy visual to have and they seem to really respond to it!  I made mine in Microsoft Word, laminated it, and attached velcro circles to each color.  It took all of 5 minutes to make and it's well worth the effort!

And lastly...I saw THIS great math center ideas for coin identification and I happened to find the perfect container yesterday at Dollar Tree.  So...I decided to go ahead and make it to have on hand for when I teach money!  One thing I didn't like about the one on Pinterest is that it had the pictures of the coins right there in plain sight, so it seemed a bit too easy for the students.  I decided to create labels that ONLY had the coin name and value to place in each compartment.
Then I made separate labels with the coin pictures (using BUSY TEACHER'S CAFE coin clipart) and placed them on the sides of each compartment so that they can use it to self-check when they are through!  I look forward to using it!

Most of the stuff I've used/made so far is for general classroom management.  But as the year goes on and I get into specific content, I can't wait to make use of Pinterest even more!  I just love it! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sprucing Up With More Suess

Just thought I'd share my new literacy center/rotation/corner board that I made this summer.  I am slightly changing the way I do my "corners" based on a professional development I went to recently.  I am adding more of them, so my students will go to 2 a day (each one only once a week, except for guided reading which is daily). So... I decided it was perfect timing to create a new board to go with them!  I'm looking forward to trying this new way of organizing my corners, and I think the signs turned out pretty cute!  I hope everyone is enjoying the last little bit of summer but getting lots done in your classrooms!  It's hard to believe it's that time again!

These are my guided reading groups.  Fish, turtles, foxes, and elephants, as inspired by Dr. Seuss characters.

Sight Words and Spelling Corners

Phonics corner where they will be decoding and encoding words, building words, working with onset/rime, etc.

Library corner where they'll read independently and writing corner.  I chose that picture for the writing corner because my writing area is a 2-person desk right in front of my window and it has red chairs.  Thought it was perfect!

The big book corner will be where they work with big books we've already read and will work on various assignments with those.  The retelling center will have different props, graphic organizers, etc. to help build the comprehension skill of retelling.

Guided reading!  I love this one.

They will read different things from their familiar reading baskets to their buddies in the "buddy reading" corner and listen/follow along with texts on CD in the listening corner.   

Monday, July 11, 2011

"That Was Easy!"

Well, as most of you know, 'tis the season to stock the aisles with school supplies!  One of my favorite times of year!  I'm such a nerd, but I LOOOOOOVE new school supplies....still!  

Anyway, I'm sure most of you know about Staples' Penny Deals, but for those of you that don't, you HAVE to partake of the amazingness that is offered every Sunday-Wednesday during the back-to-school season!  Every week their WEEKLY AD will have a few items that are on sale for ONE CENT each!  AWESOME!  There is a limit of two per purchase, unless you have one of their educator's cards.  With a reward's card you can get 25 for that price!  Woo hooo!!  This week they have bottled glue, packs of 12 pink cap erasers, and packs of 8 black BIC pens.  They also have a few items for $.25 and some for $1 and $2, too.  

The only thing I really needed were the cap erasers, and maybe a few pens just to have some extras around.  But I went ahead and got 25 of each item for a whopping $.75, and I took the glue and all but 2 packs of pens to our church, College Church of Christ, where they have a big school supply drive and a "giveaway day" before school starts.  I highly recommend everyone going and getting whatever your limit is, and whatever you don't need donating it to the local school supply drive!  It is such an easy way to help out, and as teachers, we all know how important it is for every student to have what they need for school!

While I'm on the subject of Staples (I should get paid commission for this post!), you can find out when your local Teacher Appreciation Day is HERE.  There will be coupons, good deals, and a free tote bag to the first 100 teachers at each store!

You gotta love great deals and freebies!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Under Construction

So, I have this idea that I want to try out next year.  It's still "under construction," if you will, but I think it should turn out cute!  Here's the general idea:

Get 3 or 4 of the paper pockets (like the kind inside library books) found at the local teacher supply store, like this and laminate them.
Glue or staple them to a long laminated strip of paper, hanging down, to resemble a "tool belt."

 Then, glue laminated clip art like THESE to tongue depressor sticks.  These will be the various "tools" (strategies) I equip my students with and we'll add one tool to our belts every couple of days after a mini-lesson!  Of course, these strategies are nothing new...I'm just trying to present them in a new way!  I'm excited to try it!  I think I'm going to create a whole construction "unit" where I make some lessons/games about constructing/deconstructing numbers (expanded notation, place value, etc.) and of course constructing new words with phonetic patterns/onset and rimes.

Anyway, just wanted to share the idea even though it is under construction itself.  Anyone have any good "construction" themed activities or ideas to improve upon my strategy tool belt?  I'd love to hear it!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Merry Christmas...A Little Somethin' Somethin' to Save for Next Year!

I know it's nowhere close to Christmas, but I have been working on some small projects to have on hand for next year.  I figured why not share one now!?  After all, we do have a little more time on our hands to make these things in the summer!  

I created a December-themed calendar concepts game that uses the actual calendar as the game board!  You have to answer various questions to proceed, and the first one to "ring in the new year" wins!  Simple, but should be fun!  Below is the link to the game on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Enjoy!

Board Game Link

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Help Wanted!

I need help from you teachers!  I have lots of students in my summer school class who struggle with directionality issues (b/d, p/q, writing and reading letters backwards, etc.)  Any brilliant ideas or interventions out there?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Whodunnit Day

I teach first grade now (insert "hallelujah chorus" here), but last year I taught 4th grade and I had SO much fun doing a "Whodunnit Day" as a culminating event for our mystery unit!  I'm going to keep this post simple, but it was too fun not to share!  Maybe it will inspire someone else in cyberspace (insert "Somewhere Out There" here) : )

In a nutshell, I started out by creating a mystery/detective themed classroom to make the day feel special.  We had been working on writing our own mysteries and we had just finished publishing them.  We had been studying mysteries in reading, and I even created special "top secret" stamped manilla folders for their guided reading mystery books for the unit.  They loved it!  It had special papers, which I found HERE, to record all of their thinking along the way!
I contacted the local police department, and a detective was willing to come and tell us all about his job.  He even took some students' fingerprints and showed us various tools he used.  Very cool!

Then, I told them that I was going to reward them with brownies for working so hard on their mystery unit.  But when I went to open the Tupperware, they were missing!  (Of course, this is all planned) I tell them to get their notebooks and pencils and get ready to help me solve the case of the missing brownies.  I had come up with THIS basic "script" as an outline ahead of time, and I coordinated it with the various teachers, lunch ladies, and our principal all beforehand.  They were such good sports!  The students had a blast, and were able to identify the appropriate clues, red herrings, alibis, etc. which really showed me they learned something!  Woo hoo!  It turned out WONDERFULLY and was my favorite part of the day!

Later, parents showed up!  We divided them into groups and gave them CLUES (click there to see the clues I made) which took them on a scavenger hunt all around the school (coordinated this beforehand).  I had groups of my students stationed QUIETLY at each location so those teachers would not have to be bothered.  The final clue led each parent to the cafeteria where we put on a small program. Pairs of students shared their illustrations of mystery vocabulary words on stage as the parents "oohed" and "awwwed" over how adorable they all were.  Then they spread out around the cafeteria and read their mysteries in small groups to the parents that were in attendance (one parent would have their own child and another child's stories to listen to, so everyone had an audience!)

Last, I gave each "detective" a little reward (I found these super cute certificates made for a spy themed birthday party at a local cheapo dollar store!) and a "CLUE" game themed activity which happened to be in the Wendy's kid's meals at that time (I told them it was for my class and they gave me 50% off so I could buy enough for the whole class!)

Oh! I almost forgot!  To invite the parents to the "Whodunnit Day," I created these super cool invitations.  I used a free stamp font I found on line to make a "Top Secret" stamp.  Then I also found a font that typed the letters BACKWARDS!  I figured out how to type the words themselves backwards, too.  In order to "crack the code" of the invitation,  they had to look at it in the mirror.  I can't find the old file.  Must be in a black hole somewhere in cyberspace.  But at least I've shared the idea!  They were so easy to make once I figured out that I needed to type the words backwards!

Anyway, it was SUCH a great day.  Below are some pictures to help you visualize, although I didn't include the cutest ones because of privacy issues!  I hope this gives someone inspiration to create a fun day for their kiddos next year!  You won't regret it!

Footsteps leading to the classroom on Whodunnit Day set the tone.  The kiddos in my class were SO stinkin' excited (and not gonna lie, the kiddos in the other classes were a wee bit jealous!)  Amazing what some paper cut in the shape of a shoe can do!

 The kiddos dressed up as detectives...sunglasses, trench coats/hats, magnifying glasses, etc.  Since this is not my current class, I did not get permission to post their pictures on line so I will just show you me!  I gave every child a dollar store notebook and badge at the beginning of the day.  I told them it might come in handy later!
A 4th grader's dad was a police officer, so he brought me some "caution tape" to line my door!  Too cool!
We had so much fun showing off our attire!
A local detective came and showed us how he captures fingerprints and gave us some sticker badges!  I love when the community jumps on board!

Here are some parents reading clues for their scavenger hunt around the school.  I had a group of students stationed at each location.  All parents ended up in the cafeteria where we put on a small program showing off everything we learned about mysteries!

Each pair of students used a poster to illustrate one of our mystery vocabulary words.  They stood on stage and read their definitions aloud to the parents.

 Lastly, each student got to take a turn reading the mysteries that they wrote to the parents that were in attendance.  I spread them out in the cafeteria in small groups and everyone got to read to an adult.  Fun was had by all!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Here Goes Nothin'!

I've posted a few things on TPT!  So far, I have a b/d confusion activity, my pancake unit, and my "Peace, Love, and Fractions" game!  Check it out! 

Click HERE!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Something I'm 'Flipping Out' About

 I did it! I posted my first unit to the "Teachers Pay Teachers" website for purchase.  It's a pancake unit and it has 40 pages of literacy and math centers, games, teaching ideas, worksheets, etc.  AND it's tied to the new common core standards!  Go check it out!  I'm nervous!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Go Fish!

Here is a multiplication "go fish" game.  I plan on making an addition version for the younger grades so that those of us lower elementary teachers can enjoy it, too!  I'll post that sometime this weekend!  But for now, enjoy, upper elementary peeps!

Click THIS to get the full game!  Print, laminate, and cut!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Blame Game: Who's At Fault?

Don't have much to say right now, but I found this article from the Scholastic Facebook page and found it to be interesting, to say the least.  Who should take the blame for a student's failure?  Obviously, a lot of it is dependent on age, communication, etc.  What are your thoughts?

Click HERE to go to the article.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hot in Herre!

(Insert Nelly's 2003 hit "Hot in Herre" to get you in the summer spirit).  Or if you're anywhere down south like me, it's so hot already, you don't need theme music to tell you what season it is!

Appropriately, both of my latest creations have to do with the sun, color, and heat absorption, as per my good friend Leslie's request!  Leslie, I hope this is something that suits your needs!  Please let me know if I need to make any changes or if you have trouble retrieving any of this!

Both experiments are very similar, with just a few differences so let me explain:

#1: Flava-Licious Science- Buy a box of Pop-Ice Popsicles and freeze them.  Show the class the different colors, and answer the "Before Experiment" questions (either together or independently, as desired).  One color at a time, set each color out under the sun on a white paper plate.  Use a stopwatch to time how long it takes each color to melt and record results on the bar graph.  Then answer the "After Experiment" questions.  Eat excess popsicles to celebrate the hard work :)

#2: "It's Gettin' Hot in Here"- Copy THIS cube net onto the different colored paper (as designated on the graph page).  Make each colored paper into a box.  As a class, find the outside temperature and record on the answer sheet.  Then, place a small thermometer in each box (if you don't have them in your classroom already, I think they're pretty cheap at the pet store- the small kind with the adhesive on the back for fish tanks).  Set the timer for ten minutes.  After the time is up, check each of the thermometers and record the temperature on the graph.  Answer the "After Experiment" questions together or independently and discuss results!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fun Finds

With tomorrow being the last day of school (holy moly!), I have been super busy and haven't had time to post.  Same goes for today, but I'm stopping by quickly just to show you all my fun finds from this past week!

Last week I went to Staples, which is a rare occasion, but I'm so glad I did!  They had a $1 section up front and I found these notebooks that have a $100 bill printed on the front.  There are TEN in a pack for only $1!  Score!  I grabbed 2 packs and I'm going to use them as prizes on the 100th day of school next year. They also had ones that had smiley faces and bright colors so I grabbed a couple of packs for my treasure box as well!

Another box had spiral bound dry-erase activity flip-books for practicing number and letter writing!  They were....drum roll please....$1 each as well!!  I thought these would be great for a handwriting center at the beginning of the year!

And I don't know about your area, but at the Dollar General right by my school they still had TONS of plastic Easter eggs on sale for TEN CENTS a pack!  I picked up one dollar's worth for my classroom and another dollar's worth for my church Easter egg hung next year.  There are so many fun things to do with those little guys...I just couldn't resist!  I know it's come and gone, but here are some links to some things to do with Easter eggs in the spring:

Summer time seems to be an awesome time for bargains and treasure finding!  Have you guys had any great "teachery" finds lately?  Tell me about them here!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Extra Bonus For the Weekend- Cool Beans!

Here's a little thing I've created for a center or activity on ways to make 10.

Copy THIS on card stock, laminate, and cut out each strip.  Spray paint some beans blue and some beans green. You could also use blue and green jelly beans at Easter time! Have them match up the beans with the ones on the cards.  Then have them write the corresponding number sentence on the RECORDING SHEET to discover all of the different ways to make 10!

 I like this idea because it can be adapted to fit other basic math skills...not just adding to ten!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Peace, Love and Fractions, Baby!

Congratulations, Carol!  Here is an equivalent fraction game for your 4th graders!  By the way, I do realize it is girly, so once I finish fulfilling the other winners' requests, I'll work on a boy-friendly one, too!

I hope this is along the lines of what you were wanting!

Just print on card stock (print the last 4 pages twice), laminate if desired, cut, and it's ready! For some reason, the last page was saving strangely, so I had to put 2 on one page and 2 on the other.  Weird!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

By George, I Think I've Got It!

After Googling how to embed my PDF documents in vain (found lots of information that was confusing/not very helpful/too hard to follow), I finally stumbled across THIS entry in one of my new favorite blogs!  I don't have time to add my own post today, but I thought I'd share this for anyone else who might be interested! 

By the way, follow her blog if you teach.  She's awesome!

Speaking of following blogs, I'm starting my first contest....

Become a follower of my blog and leave a comment telling me why you love to teach and one "wish list" game/activity/worksheet, and I'll create said wishlist item in the next week or so and post it FREE for the first 5 people who comment!  An example of a wish-list game/activity/worksheet would be if you are really wanting an adjective activity to go with your unit on insects.  Let me know and I'll create a customized activity just for you!

Tell your friends to follow me, too! I will be doing a lot more contests this summer, so keep checking in!

Happy Hump Day!  Tomorrow is our "end of year" fun field trip to Chuck E. Cheese!  :)

-Mrs. G

P.S. I updated my "Greatest Hits" post now that I figured out how to embed documents.  Yay!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Shape Cha-Cha Slide

About a month ago, I was teaching my students about slides, flips, and turns with shapes.  I didn't want it to be all worksheets all the time.  So as a last-minute idea during my planning period (which is right before I teach math) I decided to introduce each concept (slide, flip, and turn), then do "Shape Ballet" where I played slow ballet-esque music and had them make their little shapes "dance" by sliding, then turning.  Later to do the reflection, I had them have a shape "dance partner," facing each other while they danced.  It was cute for an introduction to the concepts, but it gave me an idea to do "Shape Cha-Cha-Slide!"  (For my first graders, it was also good practice for reviewing left and right.)  I found the "cha-cha slide" song and played it for us to 'dance' to.  Only instead of our bodies doing the movements, our shapes did! I provided each student with a shape block and a piece of grid paper as a "dance floor" for their shape. Here's a simple breakdown of what we'd do:

-Whenever it said "slide to the left/right/take it back," we'd slide whichever way it specified and say "slide".
-We'd still stomp our right/left foot when it instructed us to do so.
-Whenever it said "turn it out" we'd turn our shape and say "turn"
-When it says "reverse," we would flip our shape once and say "flip!" on the off beat.
-On the extra stuff like "how low can you go/clap your hands/hands on your knees/cha-cha now," we'd take a dance break and do those motions with our bodies just for fun!

*So, all in all, this activity by itself does not TEACH the students everything they need to know.  But it was something that got them interested and kept them active.  After I used this to introduce the unit of study, they kept asking for it.  So each day during our shape study I told them if they worked hard in math for the day, we could end it with the shape cha-cha slide.  Whatever works!

Here are some other things on slides, flips and turns I have found:

-Here is a link to a simple on-line game to play on a SmartBoard or to have students play on student computer for review.
-Here is a good lesson plan with a slide/flip/turn game to play!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

First Grade's Greatest Hits

Ok, so it’s the end of the year, and I wanted to do a writing assignment on a favorite memory of first grade.  But I’m very (as you’ll see with many posts) tired of all of the cliché activities done in school, year after year.  I like to think outside the box, just because it keeps me from getting bored!

After looking at the standards for the fourth quarter, I noticed we had to write couplet poetry.  So I modeled writing couplets for about a week and gave them some time to practice writing them on their own.  Then, I had them brainstorm all of their favorite first grade memories.  We made a huge list on chart paper.  Then they took one memory from the chart and turned it into a couplet!  Covered some required standards and did a sweet end of year activity at the same time! BAM!

I decided to create a picture of a CD on Microsoft Word, and we’re calling it “First Grade’s Greatest Hits.”

You can find a PDF file that you are welcome to use HERE.

Each student wrote their couplet on the "CD." It’s not the most exciting thing I’ve ever created, but I think the idea turned out to be really cute!  Until I figure out how to post a Word or PDF version of the stuff I create, just facebook me or e-mail me if you want me to send you a copy!  I'll be glad to! They did a really wonderful job coming up with their couplets!  Here’s a few of my favorites:

“We had fun centers every day.
But we won’t at the end of May.”
“Halloween Science with Chris was fun!
It excited everyone.”
“Mrs. Guillo is the best teacher ever.
I never want to leave her.  Never!”
“We learned a lot and got so smart.
Telling time like a 2nd GRADER was my favorite part!” (a little off on the rhythm there, but cute nonetheless!)

Next year, I hope to do this again but do it a little bit earlier so they can be on display longer.  I kind of slacked on the “cutsie-ness” of the display because there’s only TWO WEEKS OF SCHOOL LEFT! (Aaahhh!) I’m going to add to the hallway display by getting a bunch of old (real) CDs and dangling them from the ceiling with fishing line. I might even take a fun picture of the class dressed like rock stars to add some more excitement.

I will post pictures of what it turned out to look like on Monday (I forgot my camera last week!) And the Blogger site has been down so I've been a little behind!

So with the school year quickly coming to an end, what is your favorite thing you do, as a teacher, (or what do you remember doing when you were a student) for an end-of-year activity?

Bible Class Bit: Daniel and the Lion's Den

Bible Class Bit: Daniel and the Lion’s Den

I am teaching 3rd grade Bible class on Wednesday nights this summer.  Of course, I can’t do anything without wanting to add my own personal touch to it, so I thought I’d occasionally share my Sunday School findings with you as well!
This week I was supposed to teach about the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den.  But by 3rd grade, these kiddos can tell you that story front and back, so I wanted to give it a twist so that they might learn a thing or two.  Let me also give a back story by telling you that last week (my first week with the group) quickly taught me that this is a big group and a ROWDY group!  So as I planned my lesson I had to think classroom management as well as quality lesson.
I found a cute PowerPoint version of the story HERE.  I used that to start the class with, just to get the details fresh in their minds .  Then I found THIS great activity that illustrates the faith that Daniel had.  The children were really interested during this part and it led to some great discussion!  In fact, they were saying things I hadn’t even thought of!
Then I divided them up and put them into 4 different “centers.”  One group was at the back table with me.  We made a VENN DIAGRAM, comparing and contrasting Daniel with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (who we learned about last week- I will try to post soon about the activities I planned for that night).  I let them do the thinking and writing on their own and they did a great job!
The next group did faith charades, which I got the idea from HERE.  They had to draw a story from the Bible from a hat and act it out to their group.  After somebody guessed it right, they had to discuss how that story showed faith.  Pretty simple, but they loved that center!
The third center was simply a crossword puzzle which I created as a simple review of basic facts about the story. I went to THIS website to make my own crossword puzzle. 
For the last center, I wrote the words of Daniel 6:22 on index cards and mixed them all up. They had to unscramble them to make the verse make sense.  If they had trouble, they could look up the verse in their Bibles after a while.
Last night went much more smoothly than the first night.  I feel like they were more challenged , and they were certainly more engaged because they were constantly active and doing something different than what they usually do. 
We’re about to do a summer-long study on the Beatitudes so if anyone has any wonderful ideas out there, throw them my way!  Have a great weekend everyone!