Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Homographs, Career Day, and Adding Double Digits

Strange Happenings

  So I don't know exactly what happened, but apparently I deleted two of my previous posts last nights on accident when I was on my tablet. I guess I wouldn't be so upset, except that one of the posts was the one from yesterday! Which, if you stopped by you saw A LOT of great pictures and got some GREAT ideas. I guess I've learned my lesson and will be saving a copy of each post to help prevent this from happening again. So, I will try to recap as much from yesterday's post as possible, at least the strong points/ideas. 

  Here it goes: Yesterday we made homograph foldables. I prefolded the yellow paper and then modeled how/where to cut the flaps. Then after we made a list of homographs and discussed examples of each, the kids got right to work. I let them pick which two multiple meaning words (homographs) they wanted to draw and write about. Take a look at some student work:

Sample 1

Wave sentences: I see a big wave. I can wave
Trunk sentences: Look an elephant's trunk. My car has a trunk.

Sample 2

Wave sentences: A man is on the wave. This is a heat wave.
Star sentences: The star is up in the sky. A star is singing.

Sample 3

Bat sentences: Bats are animals. A bat is something to play [with].
Dress sentences: This is a dress. I am dressed.

  We also dabbled in some double digit addition with regrouping. This was very exciting for my kids... I told them we were going to do 'big kid math'. This lesson was 100% hands on, we used our place value mat, tens sticks, and ones cubes. Here are some pictures:
 46 + 38

Here we're showing that we made a 10 with our ones (6 + 8 = 14)

Here we've added our new 10 and exchanged the ten ones for the 10s stick.

And, here is our answer: 84

    To wrap up our day we started working on a career day activity. Each student got a person outline, and then had to 'decorate' it to match the career they would like to have (drawing the uniform or clothing that they would wear). Here are a few pictures of some 'works in progress': 

A vet,

a policeman,

and another vet!

As for today, we had a good day... filled with some very fun and educational lessons. But, I'll save those pictures and details for tomorrow, since I had to re-post yesterday's post today! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Adding Double Digits FREEBIES

Long Weekend 

    I'm so excited to have a 3 day weekend! I got so much done yesterday after school... we've been so behind with our housework. I was able to get a lot done, which is why I didn't post Friday. And, I am sick which is why I didn’t post yesterday. But don't fret, I also put together two math FREEBIES for you to download today! 
   Friday was a great day in first grade! The highlight of our day was math: adding with two digit numbers. Since it's the end of the year, I've been busy cleaning, reorganizing, and giving things away. So I gave away candy during math. Our lesson was completely hands on. All we did was use our 10s and 1s and place value mats to model various double digit addition sentences. I used equity sticks to call on the kids, and each time a student answered a question correctly he/she 'won' a piece of candy. Each student earned a piece of candy by the end of our rather long math lesson. And what was great was my kids were all really encouraging to one another- saying, "Good job," and "Nice work," to students when they answered correctly. 
    Like I said I’m sick, so this post is short! Here are your math FREEBIES!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ends in Y

Ends in Y 

        Today was not a good day, at least not for me. I had a migraine… ALL DAY! Luckily, it was only what I like to call a ‘functioning migraine’. Basically, this is code for I can survive and function somewhat normally. 
    This morning we worked with making words that end in y plural. The rules for this concept go as follows: when Y follows a vowel you simply add –s, when Y follows a consonant you drop the Y and add –ies. I introduced this concept with an anchor chart, see below:

I had the kids repeat the rules quite a few times, so it would be drilled in! Then we went over the assignment, more rule repetition, and then they were off. They actually did a really nice job:

I love how this student circled the vowels and the Y to help them identify which rule to follow.

This student did the same thing, circling the vowel or the Y to help identify which rule to follow!

    After school today I celebrated the outstanding performance of two colleagues, and the career of another. My teaching partner is retiring. It is bittersweet for me because Nancy has been such a big part of my very short teaching career. She is such a wonderful teacher, colleague, and inspiration. Nancy is such an awe-inspiring teacher, she has such a great calmness to her and it resonates through her classroom. She is always so positive, and knows exactly what to say when I am having a difficult day with my students. I will truly miss having Nancy at school. 

         On a final note I wanted to let all of you teachers out there know about a great deal that Barnes & Noble is offering. I received an email from B&N that student’s can read ANY 8 books, record them on a reading log (that can be downloaded from their website) and have a parent sign it, then they can bring it in to any B&N store and choose a free book from a list of pre-selected books. I think that's a pretty good deal, and I know my kids could each use another book! Here's the link to the PDF file with the details on the Free Book Program from B&N:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Adding Double Digits and Reading Buddies

Wacky Wednesday

    We had a very wacky schedule today! We started out with the annual Staff v. Patrol kickball game this morning (YAY staff for winning!). Then I lucked out and had Library after the game. During my break I was able to get all of my DRA data entered, which was a HUGE weight off my shoulders. After Library my kiddos went right to lunch and then recess, so I got even more stuff done! And then to top it all off, this afternoon my kids had an extended special time… so yep, I got even MORE done!
    Sorry for the schedule tangent, but I got so much done! However, the time I did spend with my kids this afternoon was very meaningful! Here’s what we did: in math we finished our addition and subtraction test, and then we started in with adding double digit numbers. We’ve done some work with this recently (getting ready for second grade), but today we were a bit more serious. The focus of today’s lesson was adding numbers with tens, so 70 + 20 = 90, and 40 + 20 = 60 for example. I got the base 10 blocks and our place value mats out for some hands on addition. I started out by asking my kids to show me a number say 30, and then modeled how I wanted them to place their 10s on the mats. Then I’d ask them to show a second number under the first say 20. Then we practiced writing the addition sentence, 30 + 20 =, and then we pushed all of our 10s together to solve (50). We did a few more like this, and then I gave them an addition sentence and had them show me it on their mats. Finally, I finished up by having them show their own addition sentences, check out the pictures:

10 + 90 = 100

90 + 20 = 110

20 + 20 = 40

    I love math lessons/objectives that lend themselves to hands on activities! 
    Yesterday I forgot to write about the Writing Buddies activity my kids did with their 4th grade buddies. We have been Reading Buddies with 4th grade for the second half of the school year, and it has been a big hit! This time around we did a writing activity; the pairs met up and worked on creating a story. They used a story map to identify characters, setting, a problem, and a resolution. They were also given a graphic organizer to write down events from the beginning, middle, and end of their stories. Now, the 4th grade students will take the work they did with my kids and turn it into a story, and then, my kids will illustrate the stories. When the stories are complete, we'll come back together to share them. I love watching my kids work with their buddies, they are so calm and eager to offer what they know to help; it's so sweet to watch! 

    I'll end today's post with a question: Do your kids participate in a reading buddies activity? Or have reading buddies?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Multi-Step Addition Problem FREEBIE

Tired Tuesday & a Math FREEBIE

    OhMyGoodness… today was such a slow and t-i-r-i-n-g day! Yesterday my kids worked with multi-step story problems in math. When I was planning the lesson, I looked through my files and wasn’t happy with the few activities that I had, which was very little. So, I decided to make my own multi-step story problem worksheet. I usually like to make at least two different worksheets (for differentiation purposes) when I make my own math papers; however, I was pressed for time the other day and only made one. I was okay with this though, since I ended up giving the worksheet as homework. Sadly, I was reminded today that many of my kids don’t get help when they are doing their homework. Out of the 22 kids that were present yesterday, only 9 students did the first four problems correctly, and only 4 of those students did the entire page correctly. I’ll be honest; the page is a bit advanced as far as the reading element goes. However, the problems are set up almost exactly as the problems that they saw on their in-class assignment. This leads back to the fact, that many of my students do not get the support they need at home when they are doing their homework, which is just plain sad!
Here are pictures of the four students’ papers that completed the page correctly:

Here is the multi-step story problem activity:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Syllable Sort FREEBIES

Almost in 2nd grade & a FREEBIE

    I was only with my kids for the morning today. I had an eoy (end of year… remember) pacing meeting and put my kids and my teaching partner’s kids into their second grade classes! I think we came up with two great classes! Again, I continue to get excited for my new firsties, and canNOT believe that I am counting down the last few weeks with my current firsties. 

    I'm still in a rut trying to decide what I'm going to do with my kiddos these last days. What special eoy activities do you have planned? Leave your thoughts in a comment below please... I'm desperate!  I did find a cute glyph activity to do with my kids next week. My teaching partner is retiring, so she gave me a book of glyph activities. Needless to say, I'll be posting pictures of those next week! 
    I don't have anything else to say today, but I will leave you with a little syllable sort activity that would be a great EoY review!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lesson Plan Template


    Something I started doing somewhat recently was using my own lesson plan template. I don’t know about you, but I've always felt like none of the templates out there really fit me and how I like my plans to look… and there was always too much for me to fill in schedule wise. The plan book I get from school has a nice grid template to it, which I do like, so that’s why I went with a grid in my own template. I made my template in Word and then added in the details of my daily schedule. Take a look:  

    I love having my own template, mainly because I no longer have to write in all of the mundane details of my schedule before I actually start planning, which really does save a TON of time. If you use a standard ‘one-size’ fits all template I want to inspire you to create your own. I promise it’s very easy and will save you time in the long run!

    If you like my lesson plan template and would a copy of your own, be sure to stop by my TpT store (linked below) for your FREE editable copy.
Lesson Plan Template

    Hope you enjoy your Sunday! 

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Soaking up some sun 

    I was up early this morning to get my vehicle emissions test done… so I’ve already accomplished quite a bit today! I even soaked up some sun while grading papers on our balcony. Now, I’m back inside (cooling off) and thought I’d work on today’s post.

Last night I put together a little center activity that I’m going to have my kids work on at the word work center these last few weeks. I bought a set of lower case letter stamps last summer, and finally got around to letting my kids use them this past week. They enjoyed using them so much that I thought I’d make another activity for them to use the stamps with. And, since it’s the end of the year, I thought I’d have them review some high frequency words with the stamps. I made a couple of different pages, but am only posting the blank activity so you can fill in words that your kids need to practice. Here’s the FREEBIE: 

Friday, May 18, 2012

How to Writing & a Homograph FREEBIE

How-to Get Ready for School & a FREEBIE

    Today was a great Friday in First Grade! We continued working with how-to writing and homographs, did a little double digit addition, and had a wonderful visit with a kindergarten class.

    Today’s how-to was how-to get ready for school (we’re still working from the awesome Christina DeCarbo how-to unit I bought on TPT). Prior to sending them off to start writing, we brainstormed a list of things we do in the morning to get ready. We talked about how some of us do certain things to get ready, while others don’t, i.e.: us ladies doing our hair! Then we talked about putting more than one item or idea in each step depending on how many things we do to get ready. After that the kids were off to start their writing. Overall, they did a great job. Take a look:

   Next week they’ll be planning and then writing an independent how-to piece of their choice (I told you that’d be what we would do!). After they finished the how-to assignment they completed another homograph activity, the one with star, bat, and trip (a FREEBIE in a previous post). On Monday I’ll be teaching the kids about homographs with different pronunciations: wind, tear, and dove for example. Be sure to download another homograph FREEBIE at the end of this post! Here are some pictures of today’s homograph activity:

   This afternoon we had a special visit from one of our kindergarten classes for a transition visit. I love seeing all of the little K friends coming into the classroom! It's a good reminder of how far my firsties have come and where my new firsties will be in the fall. The K teacher and I have a little Q & A session between our classes, which is always cute! At the end of today's visit, one of the K students said, "I'm going to like first grade," as he was walking out the door. I thought that was so sweet! 
   Hope you had a FANTASTIC FRIDAY!! Don't forget to get your FREEBIE (below) and follow my blog.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lite on a Thursday

Lite on a Thursday

    I was out of the classroom today, completing DRAs with my kids. I always dread assessment days, even though they always go MUCH better than I expect! I love seeing how much growth my kids have made since the beginning of the year. It’s a nice reminder that even though I don’t always feel like I am getting through to my kids, it is evident that I am.
    This brings me to my next thought… the end of the year, or eoy as I like to call it, is rapidly approaching. Tomorrow makes 15 days left with students, which I CANNOT believe! So, naturally I am trying to cram in some last minute educational, yet fun lessons. And honestly, I don’t know what to do these last few weeks. I’m thinking I might have my kids continue with a more independent how-to writing assignment, but this is just a fleeting idea. Realistically it’s what I’ll do, because I would like to see my kids finish the how-to unit with a truly independent assignment.
    At the end of every year, I love seeing how much progress my kids have made, but I also look forward to finding ways to improve for the next year. One goal, which I’ve mentioned in a previous post, is changing how I teach writing. So I’ll be ordering No More “I’m Done!”: Fostering Independent Writers in the Primary Grades by Jennifer Jacobson to help me accomplish this goal. Another goal I have for next year is to be more explicit when teaching routines and procedures at the beginning of the year, and whenever I introduce something new. I think I have a done a good job of this is the past, at least with the everyday routines and procedures. However, over the course of the year the teachers at my school completed a book study using Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov and I realized that I need to specifically teach more routines and procedures to help things run a bit more smoothly.
    Well, I’m off to grade some papers and write my newsletter for the week! Be sure to stop by tomorrow for another homograph FREEBIE!!

    What are your plans for these last few weeks of school? Leave a comment! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Homograph FREEBIES {3}

Homograph Freebie[s] 

    Happy Wednesday! Today I introduced my kids to homographs. It went much better than I expected! Here’s how it went down: I had the base of an anchor chart created before the kids came in this morning (title and then a brief description of homographs) and then told them that some of them had thought of homographs when we were working with homophones. Then I gave them two examples, ring and bat, and recorded them with illustrations and in sentences. Then kids started sharing their homograph ideas: salsa, trunk, show, dress, and a few more. 

Here's our finished anchor chart:

Then I showed the kids their assignment:
We talked about the two meanings of each word, and what our pictures might show to express each meaning. 

    The kids had to draw pictures showing each way the homographs: ring, fly, and wave, could be used. They also had to write a sentence to match their pictures. I know the boxes seem small, but my kids had plenty of space to draw and write.

Here are a few pictures of student work:

Here’s the link to download this activity:

Here is another homograph freebie that is similar to the one we did today: 

Hope you’ve had a great day! Come back later this week for some more freebies!

Monday, May 14, 2012

How-To-Writing, Fact Family Kites, and Plant Part Art

Manic Monday

        I don’t know about you, but today FLEW by for me! We were very busy in first grade today. We continued our how to writing, and made fact family kites. Now, that probably doesn't sound like a lot, but those two activities took up most of our day.
        We started our how-to make a s’more writing this morning. I COULD NOT believe how many of my kids didn't know what a s’more was! (Maybe it’s just my Midwest roots, but knowing what a s’more was back home was part of Life 101!) So, I took a few quick polls to see who knew what, and then went from there. I used the kids who knew what a s’more was to help explain it to the other kiddos. I meant to bring the s’more supplies I bought yesterday with me to school, but left them at home in my rush to get out the door. Luckily, the how-to writing unit I am using comes with picture cards to help the kids sequence the steps correctly as they write, so that’s what I used as a ‘visual aid’. Once my kids understood the concept of a s’more, we began our whole class writing of how-to make a s’more. Then, I explained the planning page and how to use the cards to help them; this really was more of a review because we used the same process for the how-to… PB&J.  Then I sent them off to get started, as I prepped for reading groups.
        This afternoon, we made fact family kites. I totally decided this on the fly, having not found any other ‘cute’ fact family ideas for spring/summer. I prepped everything for this in less than 20 minutes during my lunch break, which includes searching for an easy template to use online. I came across a GREAT template on another first grade blog:

        I downloaded the templates and then ran them off on different colored construction paper. I gave each kid a different fact family on a sticky note. Then they had to write both addition and subtraction sentences on the sticky and have their work checked by me. After that, I walked them through the process as a class (using my ELMO) on how to complete the rest. Finally, we were ready to attach our facts to the kite! I borrowed some crepe paper from a lovely K teacher, and well, I’ll let you see for yourself:

       Here is a picture of our hallway board 'Plant Parts':

I took more pictures, but I guess I bombarded my email, so they didn't all get sent! Hopefully I can post more tomorrow!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

SUNday FUNday

SUNday FUNday

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there! I hope you’re enjoying today, and spending time with your family.
Sorry I missed yesterday, but my parents were in town, and yesterday was their last full day here. We went to Arlington Cemetery and took a short driving tour through DC. Then, we headed out to dinner to celebrate mine, my dad’s, and my hubby’s birthdays. I was sad to see them go this morning, but we’ll be home sometime over the summer.
Moving on to topics more relevant to Life in First… I am looking forward to our next how-to writing activity: How-To Make a S'more. We’ll be doing the planning, and pre-writing tomorrow and then final draft writing and actually making s'mores in class on Tuesday.
I was looking for a book, or two, to read over summer break to help improve ‘writing time’ in my classroom. I came across a book called No More “I’m Done!” Fostering Independent Writers in the Primary Grades by Jennifer Jacobson. I was able to ‘look inside the book’ on Amazon and from the little I was able to read, I was hooked! I’ll definitely be purchasing this book for some classroom improvement for next school year. I enjoy writing, but often struggle when teaching it to my kids. Try as I might to inspire my kids when they are writing, I always have a handful of kids saying, “I’m done,” before I’ve finished passing out the paper! I want to move away from generic writing prompts and move towards creating independent writers. I want my students to move through the writing process independently; I simply want to be a facilitator, not an enabler.
How do you teach writing in your classroom? 

Friday, May 11, 2012

PB&J How-To-Writing and Mother's Day

PB&J How-To and Mother’s Day

    Today was a very busy and exciting day in first grade! Boy oh boy, my kids were surprised to hear my name on the morning announcements for my birthday. It’s was pretty funny too, because I had them make birthday cards for our music teacher for their morning work (today’s her birthday too). So, then once they knew it was my birthday too, they made cards for me… it was so sweet!
    Anyway… onto today’s main attraction How-To Make a PB&J!!! Let me just start by saying: IT WAS AWESOME!! First we quickly reviewed the steps we had written out yesterday, and then condensed them from 6 into only 4. We did this because the writing paper I had them use only allowed for 4 steps. So we talked about different ways some of the steps could be combined or written together. Then, I briefly modeled getting started using my picture cards and planning page (all from the great how-to unit by Christina DeCarbo that I mentioned in a previous post). Finally, I returned their planning pages and passed out the fancy how-to writing paper. I told them that in order to make a sandwich they had to finish the writing. I did this for two reasons: 1. I wanted them to actually use their how-to writing to make their sandwich, 2. I didn't want a bunch of kids making sandwiches when they hadn't done the ‘real work’. Luckily, I only had three kids that hadn't made their sandwich by the time we were headed to lunch; two of them had finished their writing, so they came back to class for about 5 minutes during recess to make their sandwiches; my other little friend didn't finish his writing, so no sandwich for him. That may sound cruel, but I’m a firm believer in following through on what I say! Check out the few pictures that I managed to snag before things got busy:

   The funniest part was when some of the kids had forgotten to include if they would use a spoon, knife, or both to scoop and spread their PB&J. I would ask, "So what utensil did you say you would use?" And they'd look at me with a blank stare, so I'd reply with, "You'd better get your pencil." But, overall they did a GREAT job! 

    Last tidbit for today: pictures of our 'finished' zinnias:

  I copied the front and back of the seed packet side by side and then folded it like a card so the kids could write Happy Mother's Day on the front and then Love, and their names on the back. I added ribbon and then hot glued the ribbon around the cup, tying it off with a bow! 

   That's all for today!! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Zinnias for Mother's Day

Writer’s Block… and then ‘Light Bulb’

This is only my fourth day as a ‘blogger’ and I have writer’s block! This is NOT a good sign… haha. I think it’s mainly because even though there is a lot going on in my classroom, we did a lot of the ‘behind the scene’ work today. Tomorrow we’ll be writing our how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and then making sandwiches. We’ll also be finishing up our Mother’s Day cards and gifts. So, maybe I’ll swing into Mother’s Day.
   Each of my kids planted a zinnia seed in a plastic cup, with Miracle-Gro potting mix (Lord knows I was not born with a green thumb) about two weeks ago. Last year, the kids planted seeds in cups, but we did it the Friday before Mother’s Day, so the kids took home a cup of dirt to their moms. This year, I tried to be proactive and plant them a bit earlier, so they would hopefully take home at least a small plant. Luckily, zinnias sprout fairly quickly, so each of my kids will be able to give their mom a zinnia sprout! I planted one as well, just because at the time I felt like it. Now I’m glad that I did because one kid’s seed didn't sprout, even though I planted a new seed in his cup last Friday (again, I was NOT born with a green thumb). Here are some pictures of our zinnia plants:

        I'm glad we only planted them two weeks early, because they are already pretty tall. Though, I'll definitely plant them two weeks out in the future because this tied right in to our plants unit in science. And, the kids have really enjoyed watching them grow! 

        We had also planted bean seeds with wet paper towel in plastic bags, so they could see how root systems grow. I hadn't done this before, but needed a quick activity before PE one day, so I quickly grabbed the materials and we got right to work. Each day we recorded the changes we observed in our journals, through illustrations and writing.  If you've never done this with your kids, I recommend it! 

        We also made a really neat card that I found when I was pinning, in a desperate search for new Mother’s Day ideas. The card print-out can be found on a girl & a glue gun:
I printed the MOM design out and then copied it onto pink and purple construction paper. I had my kids’ write Happy Mother’s Day and sign their names in the O and then they decorated the M’s with butterfly and flower foamies I bought at Hobby Lobby. Look for pictures to be posted tomorrow… or Saturday, since tomorrow is my birthday after all!

Final thought- if you’ve never been to Hobby Lobby, or HL as my bestie and I call it, you should!! It’s AWESOME!!!!!!!!

What are your kids doing for Mother’s Day?