Thursday, March 29, 2012

Egg-stra, Egg-stra! Ready for Spring Break?

Has Spring Fever set in yet? Um, yeah, Rebecca and I are feeling full force. And it's not just us, but the littles too! So, with one day left before break, we decided we needed social time a fun buddy activity to reinforce nonstandard measurement! 

With loads of plastic eggs, some big and some small, we combined classes and paired up our kiddos then set them off to measure different surfaces and objects. Brilliant!

How tall is my buddy?

"Can we measure you Mrs. Walker?" Sure!

Super brave kiddos wanting to measure the room!

Measuring the doorway

"The book is only 2 eggs!"

Miss Kunz being oh so brave!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Uno, Dos, Tres...Three Days of Classifying Animals

Day 1
Prompted by one our science methods course we took last year as part of our Master's program, Katie and I start our animal and habitat unit with an interesting exercise. We give each student pictures of a variety of animals (including a human) and plants. The students are instructed to independently sort and glue the pictures into animal and not animal categories. I think it makes my kiddos crazy when they ask if they are correct and I tell them, "you decide, it is up to you...we will talk about it together in a bit." I enjoy listening to their reasoning as they do their sorting. One of my favorite quotes this year was, "the girl is a mammal and mammal and animal rhyme, so that has to be it." Haha!!

We then have a student driven discussion where we sort large versions of the pictures into animal and not animal categories. Through guided questions, we help the students arrive at the proper conclusions. We LOVE this exploration activity!! If you have ever wanted to get inside the brain of a firstie, this activity is for you!

After the sort we use a webbing activity to create a definition to articulate what an animal is.

Day 2
I started this second day with another "get inside the head of a firstie activity". I laid out all my animals in the middle of our circle. (They came from one of those bulletin board punch out kits that I purchased at Lakeshore a few years ago. I think it was a habitats pack.) I asked how could we sort or organize the animals into groups. Of course my first graders had lots of ideas.
After they shared some ideas, I told them that scientists wondered this very thing and that they have sorted animals into categories based on some traits. We discussed the meaning of the word classify. I introduced the categories of vertebrates and invertebrates and the sub categories of birds, arthropods, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish.

Day 3
I shared a PowerPoint with the kiddos that explained the traits of the animals in each category.

We then sat in a circle and sorted our animals again, this time according to the scientific categories.

I made this page for independent practice. Thanks DJ Inkers for the clip art! (Note the picture in the middle is a salamander, not a lizard..I needed another amphibian.)

This is one of my favorite units to teach because the firsties just eat it up!! I also love it because it is a great way we can heavily use informational texts!!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fry Phrases

After our CBM testing (anyone else use that?!), Rebecca and I noticed that some of our precious kiddos were struggling with their fluency. Everything they (Like what I did there? hehe). Well after some searching we found these wonderful fry phrases. At first, I had my kiddos reading each group of words. But that was a bit boring. Don't get me wrong, the kiddos were doing great, but it didn't have that something extra. So Rebecca and I brainstormed and we decided we would shrink the words, print on golden cardstock, laminate and find a fry container and something to put the fries in!

Brilliant! So we found this cute fry container clipart from DJ Inkers (but you could easily use a real one too!) and we laminated it then cut a slit at the base of the fries. We put a snack baggie behind it (it is just small enough to let the fries poke through the slit). Then we made a mouth, because, well, who doesn't love eating fries?! Rebecca put hers on top of a bowl, I made a brown paper bag. Both have worked out great and we have sooo many students who want to do engage in this activity! We have students pull a fry, read the words, and then feed it to the mouth (adding a fun sound like, "yum" "mmmm" or "num, num, num" also puts a smile on the students' faces!) Love it!

What do you do to help build your struggling readers' fluency?

~ Katie and Rebecca

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend Round Up & A Jellybean Subtraction Freebie

Photo courtesy of Picky Palate

Well Sunday has come to an end and I can't believe how fast it went! The Hubs and I worked so hard on our yard and figuring out the car fiasco, I feel like I am ready for another weekend to start. But at the same time, I am so happy with all that we accomplished. Work is kinda funny like that, right? We get so exhausted but so fulfilled with all that we do.

Anywho, in honor of our hard work this weekend, and the fact that the Hubs is feeling a bit under the weather, I tried a new recipe: Chicken Pot Pie Bowls with Puffy Croutons. Oh. My. Stars. This is super tasty! Definitely the feeling of comfort food, but with a twist. We definitely recommend it. :)

In preparation for teaching math tomorrow, I thought playing a Spring Themed game was in order. Hop on over to our TpT store and download your copy for free!
(click the picture to download the copy from our store)

~ Katie

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy Weekend and An Inflectional Endings Freebie...Whew!

Wow, I can't believe Saturday is practically over. Can I just say that Spring Break needs to be here! Only 5 more days. I can make it, right?! I was so jealous when most of you wonderful girls were having Spring Break, but now that it is actually Spring here in lovely Utah, I think the timing is just right!

I made this quick game on Thursday night for my kiddos to play and review inflectional endings. Then I thought I would clipart it up a bit and make it more Spring-y (if that's a word?) for centers this next week.

My students loved playing the game. It was super cute to hear some of my stellar students not only adding the right inflectional ending to the verb, but then use the new word in a sentence. Can I just say that my kiddos make me smile so much!?

Oh, and here is the freebie part. All you have to do is follow our TpT store here and leave a comment on our TpT site with your email address, then I will gleefully (yes, gleefully) email you the game! Fabulous, right?! I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend and fingers crossed I keep my Spring fever in check for one last week!

~ Katie

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Egg Fact Families Activity

Ok, so clearly my sense of time is not quite right as I meant to write my follow-up post, oh um, on Tuesday! Can I just say, this week has been a week! I have been dealing with insurance stuff from a car accident 2 weeks ago - just when you think things are going smoothly then you get the call "Maam', your car has been totaled." Not the call I wanted.

But this is when you start counting all of your blessing - great hubby, cute puppies, 19 awesome kiddos willing and wanting to learn! So yes, stress is there, but I am all smiles today in my classroom!

Ok, ok, onto the math activity. On Monday, we did a jelly bean math activity focusing on fact families. On Tuesday, we stayed with the spring theme and did an egg race. This is how we did it:

  • First, put I bought the small Easter eggs, the tiny ones that will fit on a plastic   spoon.
  •  I put a number in the egg, and the student teams were challenged to write a fact family using that number as the whole (or we call it the daddy number).
  •  The students had to bunny hop to the bucket, put an egg on a plastic spoon and tiptoe back to their team. 
  •  Each member of the team wrote a fact family on their own white board (you could use a paper recording sheet if you would like).
  • Once all members had their fact families written down, they raised their hands in the air and I checked their work. If it was correct, they would tiptoe back to egg bucket and put a new egg on their spoon. If they were not correct, they would fix and then head to bucket!
  • It was a blast!

What do you do in math to help combat Spring Fever?

~ Katie

Monday, March 19, 2012

Jelly Bean Fact Families, A Freebie and Updates

This is the Hubs and mine impulse buy of the night!

Ok, so within the last 12 hours I have sampled 3 brands of jelly beans (um, can I just say this is not an addiction I recommend - man my tummy isn't feeling so smiley!) and I must say that the best I have tasted is the Starburst ones. But the Mike and Ike are close runners up!

Enough talk about jelly beans and on to what the kiddos and I tackled today. To help make Monday Math a bit more exciting, we studied fact families using tasty manipulatives. I made up this practice page (click the picture to download) as our recording sheet. The kiddos ate up this activity! ;)

Tomorrow we are going to have an fact family egg race. More on that tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Now updates: Rebecca and I posted our Sounds for Long A packet on our TpT account. So many fun activities that help our sweet lil' ones practice the 3 main ways to make the long a sound. Check it out here!

Question of the day: Do you follow the new Reading Street program from Pearson? Our school is switching over to it next year and we are wondering what to expect! :)

~ Katie

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day all! We celebrated yesterday and now I am recovering from the craziness by lounging in my pjs! On Thursday, we designed leprechaun ladders and leprechaun traps (from our March Lucky Literacy Pack) and then, as the door closed and the last of the kiddos left, the leprechaun I got to work. Our room was trashed - glitter sprinkled everywhere, streamers, gold coins, shenanigans had definitely ensued.

Such a tricky leprechaun!

When the students first came into the classroom their faces lit up! It was the cutest thing! They were so excited to see that the leprechaun had left green foot prints over their letters they wrote for the leprechaun (which, as a side note we all signed our letters with more of an Irish flare, we added a O' before our last names - so mine was Katie O'Walker, they loved it!)

Earlier in the week we made March Monsters, it is a fun art inspired by the monsters over at KPM Doodles. I think they turned out so stinkin' cute!

Aren't the guitars the cutest?!

All of our March Monsters

What is your favorite thing to do for St. Patrick's Day?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A K-2 Link-up and Updates

I so love finding new blogs out there! Not only do Rebecca and I love to share our ideas, but we also love learning from all of our fellow teachers! It is like working on a team of hundreds of primary grade teachers rather than just the 6 of us at our school. And isn't hundreds of heads working together better than 6? (I just got a funny visual of this!) If you haven't checked it out, you totally should! There are so many great blogs that are out there!

Student Teachers X2:
My student teachers have been in the classroom for 2 days now and they are just getting their feet wet! I am excited to see them teach some guided reading lessons tomorrow! I know they will do great! At first, I thought it was going to be totally intimidating to have two teachers watching me, but they are such dolls! I think this will be a great experience for both of us!

~ Katie

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New in the Shop: I Can Write a Story

Happy Tuesday to all of you! I took a day off today for some doctor's appointments. As nice as it is to have a day off, there is quite the amount of prep work that goes into it. Not to mention the 9 pages of sub plans, but maybe that is just because I am shall we say "a tad bit particular"! Katie can attest to my severe case of perfectionism, which at times may be borderline crazy! 

Enough chit-chat, let me get to the actual topic of today's post: a new mini-unit in the shop! We are so excited to present our I Can Write a Story! mini-unit. This primary grade narrative writing unit focuses on the four elements of a story (characters, setting, problem/climax, and solution) as the framework for students to write their own stories. 

My friends each published a story for their Parent Teacher Conference portfolios. I only wish I had snapped a few photos of their stories before I sent them home! They were pretty stinkin' cute! Let me see if I can paraphrase one: "Once there was a snowman who was at a party. It was too hot inside at the party so he started to melt. The children put the snowman in the freezer." Yes, very simple, but not to shabby for a first try! I am going to work the whole class through another round of story publishing, then I plan to put the character and setting cards and story maps out as a writing center.

To buy this mini-unit click on the picture!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Teachers Taking Care of Teachers

One thing I love about teaching is the amazing women and men I work with! There are so few people who will go above and beyond for someone they don't know and here is our chance to help out our own. With the recent devastation of 44 tornadoes across 5 different states, some of our precious communities have lost homes, schools, and friends. In order to help out, Crystal and Kreative in Kinder has created a link up that provides a platform to offer our support and materials. We are more than happy to send copies of our TpT  materials and also comb through our classrooms for extra supplies that others may be in dire need. If you want to join, or if you want more information, head over to Kreative and Kinder!

~ Katie  and Rebecca

Friday, March 9, 2012

Survived PTCs and Upcoming Challenge

Well Parent Teacher Conferences are done! It was a long 2 nights and I am so happy to be sitting here at home in my pjs. Although it is a lot of work - as all of you know! - I really enjoy talking with parents about their students. I just would prefer to do it one parent meeting at a time rather than 4 solid hours of talking!

I can't believe we only have one term left! Where has this year gone?! For me, this year has been the most challenging teaching year of my career. But, with the craziness behind us, my students have formed the most amazing bond and support for one and other. I am absolutely blessed to know these students and to be working with them.

So what am I going to do with my day off? Pretty much live in my lulu yoga gear and do some baking. I'll keep you posted on what deliciousness I make! I am also going to be planning for my 2 student teachers than will be arriving on Monday. Yep, you read that right, 2 student teachers! Yikes! Oh my stars, what am I going to do? Have you had a student teacher before? What did you like the most about it? Any tips?

I hope all of you have a wonderful Friday.

~ Katie

Monday, March 5, 2012

Preparing for PTCs and an Award

Last week was a little full of crazy as we celebrated Dr. Seuss and finalized our report cards. Sheesh, I think I am still trying to recover! Then today rolled around and I am still not feeling 100% ~ I have a few culprits in mind, last week a couple of my kiddos came to school with notes from their parents asking if they could stay in from recess as they were recovering from something or other. With all the luck, it looks like it is my turn to bring in a note to stay in from recess now too because I am rocking a pretty yucky head cold.

That doesn't paint a pretty picture for my Monday, right?! Then just think how happy I was to see that the awesome Erin from First with Franklin gave us this award!

I've seen this award on several blogs and think it is such a cute way to highlight our fellow teacher bloggers! So thank you, Erin, you totally turned my day around! Now here is what we need to do:
1. Link back to the blog that gave you this cute award.
2. Pass the award onto 15 other lovely bloggers.
3. Follow the person who sent it to you! :)

Here are some very deserving and lovely bloggers. And my fabulous fellow bloggers that are nominated, don't worry about passing it along. I know it is hard work, but I just wanted to highlight your amazing blogs and help get the word out about how awesome you all are!

Kim at Growing Up Teaching
The Lovely Pixie Girls at Playing with Pixie Dust
Randi at Teach it With Class
Melanie at First Grade Brain Sprinkles
The fabulous girls at Fun For First
Reagan at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits
Allyson at Stickers and Stars
Tammy at 123 Teach With Me
Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files
Michelle at Apples and ABCs
Sarah from the Eager Teacher
Sandra at Sweet Times in First
Keri at Teach Play Smile
Lindsey at The Teacher Wife
Langston at Langston's Learners

~ Katie

Friday, March 2, 2012

Hope You Had a Seussical Day!

We celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday yesterday because today was a teacher work day in preparation for conferences next week.

We started the day by making the obligatory Cat in the Hat hats and posing for photos.
(Yes I captured the day on my iPhone, so excuse the poor lighting.)

Then our Darling principal dressed up as Thing One and came to read to our kiddos. Of course we made sure that we had on our Seuss party hats on when she came!

What did you do to celebrate?