Monday, September 30, 2013

Lesson Learned

Why hello there everyone!  Well my goal of posting earlier was hindered by a few things: Open House on Thursday (went well! whew!), being asked by my grad school professor to present my Writer's Workshop to his Teaching Writing class tomorrow (yikes! nervousssss!), and researching for and writing my grad school research paper due Tuesday (will be working more on that tomorrow... at some point...).  Seriously, God bless all of you who have children to take care of on top of all of these things.  I deeply respect you and only hope that I will have your strength some day in the far future when I have lils of my own (oh gees, cold sweats... on thing at a time... let's get married first!).  Oh that is the other thing, my fiance and I have been planning for our wedding on April 26th, 2014!!!! Ahhh excited!  We made and ordered our save the date magnets (they are en route!) and gathered addresses over the weekend.  But I have missed my lil blog and sharing with all of you so without further ado, here is a lesson I learned 2 weeks ago during center time...

So two weeks ago, we were learning the short i sound.  I thought it would be fun to make a fishing game for center time.  I made orange paper fish, wrote a spelling word on each fish, laminated them, and stuck a paper clip on each fish.  Then, I made the fishing poles with leftover wooden dowel rods from my wedding center pieces, taped clear plastic "fishing line" to the dowel rods, and taped magnets to the ends of the lines. I was so thrilled with the outcome and ready to go!  Well this happened in the middle of center time, which was already a half hour delayed due to a boy-only boy scout assembly that morning, so we were a little rushed to finish our centers before music class.
Holy tangled mess!!!!

Not even sure how all of these tangles and knots were possible...  Untangling was futile.  I was in the middle of running a short i Bingo center.  As I called out short i words for my group, I cut the lines from the rods and magnets and reattached everything with brown yarn instead.  Not as authentic looking, but A LOT easier to untangle AND not get tangled in the first place.  I had 5 rods in all to reassemble.  I was a sweaty mess when all was said and done!  So lesson learned, go for practicality over authenticity next time.  

Here is the fishing center recording sheet that I made and the lil fishies :)
(When I figure out how to upload products I make, I will post this as a freebie.)

This picture was taken before the massive tangle.  She caught one!!

This is the Bingo center where I was helping the kiddos.  These word family bingo ladders came from this Scholastic book.
 We used snap cubes as markers. 

In this center, the lils had to reread the weekly story together and then unscramble each sentence from the story to make a complete sentence.  

 This center is adapted from Reagan Tunstall's Flipping Over Vowels Freebie!  I made my own pancakes and recording sheet here to review the short a and i vowel words.  I use her center once we have learned all of the short vowel sounds.

This center was a BIG hit!  I set out these silly sentence puzzle pieces (don't remember where I bought them!) for the kiddos to choose a beginning, middle, and end puzzle piece.  Then, they had to record the sentence and illustrate it.  While they were recording the sentences, they had to remember to begin with a capital and end with punctuation.  This was great practice for writing complete sentences.  At the end of the day, we had a few extra moments (say what!?), so I had the students, who wanted to share, read their silly sentences.  We all had a good laugh! :)

While I'm on a roll and still awake from that grande mocha earlier, I might as well tell you about last week's short o learning and centers.
We began by completing a short o picture to word match that I made in our groups.  Then, we played a short o I Have Who Has game.  Next, I had the kiddos give me a short o word to add to our anchor chart that will stay up all year.  Can you tell we live in Pittsburgh and love our Penguins' star?? ;)

Lastly, we made short o socks to hang on our window as another reminder/ resource.

Again, our centers included rereading our story of the week and unscrambling sentences from the story.

Here is our listening center where the kids listened to Frog's Lunch and then filled out a story elements recording sheet.  We were focusing on sequence of events this week as well.

 I will have to get back to you as to where I found this recording sheet.

This Scrabble Spelling center (I think it was a freebie on a blog and I can't remember where I got it :/ sorry!) was a perfect literacy and math connection activity.  The lils had to spell their words on the left and then use the amounts on the scrabble tiles to add up the total of each word.  We have been learning all about addition in math class, so this center was excellent practice for us.  I had the counters out for anyone who needed to use them.

This center (using the blue monster lunch bags from the Target Dollar Spot donation!) was called Monster Chomp.  I created this one.  The students had to sort through short vowel word cards.  The blue monster ONLY eats short o words, so the lils put the short o words in the monster bag.  They placed the other short vowel words in another bucket.

Lastly, they dumped out all of the short o words and recorded them on the Monster Chomp worksheet for the monster on the sheet to grab and eat! YUM!

Finally, I made this center for the kiddos to practice spelling and using the vocabulary words for the week.  First, they had to choose four out of the six vocab words to record on the left.  Then, they used the large amount of letter stickers to spell out each word.  Lastly, the kiddos had to write a sentence using each word they chose.

Okay, so that is everything that I wanted to share.  Oh gees, it is 12:48am.... oops!  Long day tomorrow!  Wish me and my kindergarten coworker :) good luck as we present what we do for Writer's Workshop in our classrooms to grad students tomorrow!  Oh boy!  

Have a great week everyone!!

Samantha :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Some Randomness from this Full Moon of a Week

The effects of the full moon are real!  I'm serious!  So far my lils have been pretty good at following the rules, but this week, they were a bit crazy pants!!  I had some shouting out... coming up to me when they know they need to stay in their seats and raise their hands... getting wild during centers... and other such random (unique) things that happened haha!  They should be back to normal next week.  I'm probably overreacting anyway since they spoil me with their normally awesome behavior!  :)

Anywho, so far we have studied the short a and i vowels.  I love to make big visuals for the lils to use as resources or reminders when they are reading and writing.  First, we do some activities to review the vowel sound, such as the Scraggles activities from my last post.  Then, I have each of the kiddos give me a short vowel word (using the vowel sound we are working with) to go on an anchor chart that stays up all year.  Lastly, the kids will make a little craft to go on a BIG visual that stays up for about 2 months.

Okay!  So here is the short a anchor chart!  I added a lil Scraggle to the chart as another reminder of the vowel sound.  Again, all of the words on the chart were given to me by the kiddos.

And here is the BIG visual.  I have a wall full of windows in my room, and they face the main parking lot/ bus pickup and drop off area.  This is where the BIG visuals will be hung, so everyone will know what is going on in first grade (and see that we just flat out rock!).  I think I found these apple cutouts in the Michael's dollar section at the end of last year.  The kids each got one and wrote a short a word on it (in pencil first and then marker).  

To begin the short i activities, we read Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Bob Shea.  Such a cute book!  It has a bit of a surprise ending so this book would be great for predicting and making inferences as well.

After reading the book, we came up with as many short i words as we could to fill Gilbert's fish bowl.  This is the anchor chart that will stay up all year. 

Here is the BIG fish bowl on the window.  I used the Die-Cut to make orange ovals, and I used the 1/3 fraction circle template for the tails.  Again, they had to write a short i word on the fish body.

This week we will focus on the short o sound.  I plan on us making short o paper socks.  They will draw and cut these out on their own.  I will string yarn from one side of the window to the other and hang the socks from the yarn.  I think it will look super cute, especially from the parking lot.  ;)

This week we were busy, busy making posters and projects to display in the hallway for Open House on this coming Thursday (yikes!).  
In Science, we have been learning about weather and the four seasons.  We are lucky (?) to experience all four seasons in Pittsburgh, PA, so this lils had lots to tell me about the weather in each season when we made this anchor chart for our classroom.  The next day, I had a student from each of the five groups pick a poster topic out of our magic hat.  Now, since there are only 4 seasons, I added a "how clouds form" category since we have done a lot with clouds in this unit of study as well.
 Here are their awesome posters!! They worked pretty well together to make these posters.  :)

Since I teach in a Catholic school, we study religion.  To begin the year, we study the story of creation.  I have a really old but beautifully illustrated story of creation book for children.  We read it twice; they loved it so much!  Again, each group chose a day of creation (2-6) out of the magic hat and created a poster depicting what was created on their day.  I took care of day one and seven.  :)

Here is an up close and personal view of day 5.  This group had a tough day, depicting all of the animals, fish, birds, insects, etc, but they did really well with it!

Here is the Watermelon Math Sentence activity from Jennifer at First Grade Blue Skies.  I ADORE this activity.  It was the perfect thing to end our first math topic on understanding addition.  It was a crazy week, and I did not have time to pre-cut everything, but I actually like the fact that the lils did the entire project themselves.  To make the watermelon fruit, I told the kiddos to make a HUGE capital letter D using the edge of the paper as the edge of D.  I LOVE how each one is different.  Then, they used their planning sheet to figure out how many blue, yellow, and gray seeds they needed to draw and cut out to make 10 seeds in all.  Lastly, they wrote out their addition sentence on the paper.  (We fixed this lil one on the right once I realized there were 11 seeds... oopsie!)

So now our hallway is completely plastered to the max with first grade awesomeness!  

Alrighty, well that about does it for me tonight.  I'm going to close it up here and watch the iHeart Radio music concert!!  Can't wait til JT performs!! :)  I'll try to post tomorrow about our centers from this past week and the lil lesson I learned from our fishing game... I can't make any promises tho, because I'm setting aside tomorrow and Monday to type up the first chapter of my research paper for my grad class.  woohoo
Okay, goodnight!!

Samantha :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Lil Update and a BIG Thank You to Target!

Long time no see friends!  Sorry about the lack of blogging lately, but such is life.  I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir on that one!  So anywho, we have been learning like crazy in first grade!  We have a new reading series, Journeys, this year.  Also, we are using the Voyages program to teach grammar.  I basically use the Voyages lessons as my mini lesson for our Writer's Workshop.  As for the Journeys program, there is so much involved that I am still trying to wrap my head around it all and decide what to use and how to plan out the week.  So far, we have done the Back to School Review week and the first story, "What is a Pal?".  We were able to do centers 3 times last week, but I feel like we didn't get enough practice with our comprehension strategy.  I think things will run more smoothly once we have our procedures down pat, so hopefully that will help.  We shall see.

Here are some of the activities we did to learn about the short a vowel and to review in our centers.

We used the super fun pack Scraggles: Short Vowel A "Scraggle-ific" Literacy Activities from the fabulous Sarah Cooley.  I have a ton of her products and highly recommend checking out her store on tpt and her blog First Last!  We learned all about these silly Scraggles who only have short a names and only like short a things.  My lils thought they were hilarious!  We made a HUGE list of short a names on the SmartBoard.  Then, each kid chose a Scraggle, wrote a short a name on the Scraggle's shirt, and colored it with loads of bright colors.  We even made a short a anchor chart, filling up the thought bubble of a Scraggle with short a words (forgot to take a picture of that one!).

This center helped us review our vocabulary words.  The kids had to sift through the sand, after explicit directions that we do not throw sand, to find the Popsicle sticks with vocab words written on them.  Then, they had to use the words to build a house of sticks.  This activity is from Reagan Tunstall's pack Sight Word Stick Centers.  I love this pack because it is so versatile.  You could use the multitude of activities for sight words and spelling words.  All you need to get are Popsicle sticks.  :)

 This center was easy peasy.  All I did was post the spelling lists (We have a regular and a challenge list for the kiddos who ace their pretest.) and put out a bucket of foam letters.  I got these letters from the foam puzzles in the Target Dollar Spot <3.  The lils had to spell the words with the letters.
 Creative way to make a 't' there using 2 ls... LOVE it!

Another no-hassle center.  For this reading center, I set out the leveled readers bin and the phonics phones (made from PVC piping, idea found on pinterest of course!).  The kiddos were able to freely choose right choice books and use the phonics phones to read to themselves.  The phones magnify their voices so that they can better hear the blending of sounds as they read.  It also gets them excited to read aloud because they think it's neato to hear their voices magnified in their ears! 

This highlighting center is from Abby Mullins' Short A Word Work Activities pack.  The lils had to highlight all of the short a words and then write them in the frames.  Using something other than pencils always works as a motivator!

This is our Boggle Board (idea found on pinterest... :)).  It doesn't necessarily work the same as the actual Boggle game.  The kids can make words with any combination of letters on the board; the letters do not need to be touching.  This center was a BIG hit!  They loved the challenge of making the most real short a words.  They were allowed to go to this center any time they were early finishers or had some free time.
  Here is the recording sheet.  She has it as a free download!! :)

Now, drumroll please... I owe a BIG Thank You to the Mt. Nebo Target (in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and my good friend, Ryan.  Let me explain.  A few months ago, Ryan, an Executive Team Leader at Target, asked me if I would like to have, for free, all of the leftover back-to-school Dollar Spot items from his store as they switched out the section for the Halloween/Fall season.  He knows of my addiction love of the Dollar Spot.  I'm sure you can guess what I said... YES!!!!!!!!!  I waited oh-so-patiently and last week (Monday), I get a text from him saying that there are 17, yes 17, boxes full of goodies ready for me to pick up!  AHHH!!! Be still my heart!  I kept it cool all day, not sure how, and later that evening my mom, dad, and I rode the van out to Mt. Nebo.  We strategically packed the van with all 17 big boxes.  The next morning you would have thought that Christmas came early when the teachers arrived and saw this....
 and this....
 After school, we got straight to work unpacking, sorting, and 'shopping' for our classrooms!
 Look at all of those back-to-school goodies... and the bins... I have a bin obsession too by the way...
 LOVE those blue and green cups... snatched up a bunch of those :)
 Here is my box of items... aren't those monster lunch boxes and matching containers so cute!?!  They will definitely be used for some type of center activity!  Oh the possibilities!

We still have about 10 boxes full of items after we packed up everything after 'shopping'!  They will be stored away for safe keeping, and the toys will be used as Christmas gifts for the kiddos.  Again, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to Ryan and the Mt. Nebo Target.  They did not ask me to promote them or say anything at all.  However, how could I not spread the word about their gracious donation!!  I do not know if every Target does this, but it never hurts to ask!  

Well, folks, that was my exciting week, and this one will be no less busy!  I'm off to try to sleep... Sunday nights are tough for me... I think it's the anticipation of the week that keeps me up... and tonight I have my lil sister to think about as well.  She turns 21 at midnight... oy vey haha!  I know I'm not her mom, but she's my little sister so I still worry.  Anddddd I know what being 21 is like... I was there about 5 years ago.  Oy vey that feels like it was forever ago!  I know I'm only 26, but I have lost my 21 year old energy already!  And now I'm rambling... time for sleep (hopefully)!

Have a great week everyone!

Samantha :)