Thursday, April 21, 2016

Eggs, Eggs, Everywhere

Last week we read Chickens Aren't The Only Ones with the Guiding Readers April unit.  My kiddos loved learning about eggs and anything to do with animals, so I wanted to incorporate more.  I saw this on Pinterest and decided we were going to try something similar.

I already had a few other books about nests and eggs: Whose's Nest?, Whose's Egg?, The Egg Is Quiet, and Guess What Is Growing Inside the Egg.  We read these books throughout the week during our science time.

After reading Whose's Nest?, students were each given Crayola Air Dry Clay to create their nests.  I didn't give them a whole of instruction other than the nest needed to hold an egg and keep it safe. I wanted this to be their project!  Each child was given a ball of clay.  Warning, this clay in the "terra" color turned everyone's hands orange.  It all came off our skin by the next day. Each child created his/her nest on a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil with his/her name on it.  When the nests dried, they did not stick to either type of paper.  The newly formed nests spent a few days drying on a table. Meanwhile, we continued to read about eggs.

I turned to the two-page spread in The Egg Is Quiet of various eggs for students to choose the egg they wanted to make.

Each child chose 1 egg to create.  We used eggs from WalMart that I purchased in the Easter clearance.  They came in an open "carton" and were meant for dying, but they were perfect for this. All of the eggs ended up being the same size and shape, but there was not worries about students breaking their egg if it was dropped as there may be with clay.  We mixed paint to create colors similar to those in the book.  I rolled small pieces of cardstock and taped them for the eggs to dry on.

Once dry, the eggs were placed in their nests and students made a little label stating the type of bird that would lay that egg and the child's name.  I had one child who insisted on painting the "king salmon" egg.  I explained that this was a fish egg and he said that was ok, that was what he wanted to do.  Once we transferred it to the nest, he thought maybe he should have made a bird egg instead but decided " at least it will be safe in the nest I made."

My kiddos have received a lot of positive feedback from staff members and other students walking by their nests and eggs in the hallway.  This is a project I'd definitely do again next year, but maybe try it with allowing students to try to create their own egg to make them different sizes like real eggs would be.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Easter Fun

It is hard to believe it is been almost a month since my last post.  I feel like the last month has flown by!  I am enjoying my first day of my first Spring Break in 11 years sitting and waiting for my car to get an oil change.  I want to share a few things we did last week for a little bit of Easter fun.  I purchased Peeps on major clearance last year saved them for this year.  I knew we wouldn't be eating them, but they'd be great to do something with.

My student teacher and I split the kids into 2 groups: one of us did science and the other did math/writing then we switched.  If I didn't have a student teacher, these activities would have been doable full group or in stations.

The math activity we did was a true/false math equation activity.  It was a TpT freebie with 2 levels of problems.  I had my students work in partners.  One partner solved the left side and the other solved the right side.  They compared their answers: if they had the same answer on both sides, it was true; if their answers were different, the problem went on the false side.  This is the first time we've really looked at True and False, but they did really well with it presented this way.

After completing the math activity, we moved on to writing.  I found a writing freebie with bunny Peeps clipart.  It included a cover page, writing paper and a back cover.  The lines were very close together compared to what my students were familiar with, but they ate this activity right up!  They loved writing about a little Peep's adventure.

We also did some Peep science activities.  I found a freebie packet of Peeps experiments and a little informational text about Peeps.  I took these activities and modified it to what we could complete in the time we had and rewrote the text about Peeps so it was at my students' level.  First we read a little bit about Peeps, then we did some experiments.  We wrote predictions, did an experiment then drew and wrote what actually happened.  Experiments we did included: sink/float, Peeps with baking soda and vinegar, color mixing with Peeps and Peeps in the microwave.
Writing a prediction prior to an experiment.
We loved Peeps in the microwave!
While my kiddos were at lunch, my students teacher and I stuffed baskets for them.  I tend to be a "good deal hoarder" meaning that if it is cheap and there is a large quantity they will probably receive it as a gift at some point!  Well, I unloaded some of the hoard on Easter this year.

I found these last month 90% off in the Dollar Spot.  All of my kiddos got a red striped "basket".

Each child received: chapstick, 2 Scholastic books, a notebook, pencils, stickers, Math Spot It, and the girls got fingernail tattoos.
I hope you got an idea or two that you can use this week or save for next year!  Do you have any other ideas you can share with us?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Looking to the Future (Careers)

We spent the last few weeks learning about different careers in conjunction with our unit about communities.

Each student chose a career they wanted to learn more about; it wasn't necessarily what they wanted to be when they grow up, just what they might be interested in.  I only allowed one student to do each career.  I found a little "menu" of careers on Pinterest, it seems I didn't pin it and can't find it, but it was basically a table with 30 careers in it.  Each child was called over one at a time and able to choose a career to learn about; if they had their own idea that wasn't on this menu, they were certainly encouraged to learn about it.  Careers chosen include: author, illustrator, artist, actor/actress, dancer, musician, doctor, nurse, dentist, vet, investigator, chef, coach, teacher, news reporter, Dunkin Donuts worker, custodian, banker, librarian, pilot and counselor.  As a class, we learned about a police officer, fireman and mayor as we all attended presentations about these careers; I did not allow any students to then choose these careers.

My little "illustrator" teaching her group about drawing using a Steve Harpster video.  She interviewed him via e-mail.

I wanted this to be a "speaking and listening" experience as much as it was academic, so I set out to find people in these careers my students were interested in to interview.  This proved to be MUCH harder than I anticipated!  I used resources in the community I teach in as well as my church, blog buddies and the community I live in.  Facebook helped me connect with a few people as well.

In-person interview with the Children's Dept. librarian from our local library.
We came up with a list of 5 questions every child would ask: "What do you have to do to be a _____?" (background, interests, education), "Do you have to wear special clothes?" "Do you use special tools?"  "What do you do at your job?"  "Where do you do your job?"  For a few jobs, some of these were obvious (like the child who chose teacher obviously knows where many teachers do their jobs).    Students then got to work interviewing; we had FaceTime, phone, in-person and e-mail interviews.  For the e-mail interviews, I taped the kids asking the questions so they at least had the experience of asking.  I then went over the e-mailed responses with them as if I was being interviewed.

In the end, it took me about 3 weeks to get all the interviews complete. It was a crazy process; I do have a student teacher, which freed one of us up to be with each phone, FaceTime and in-person interview to be the "note taker" for the child.

After learning about their career, students then decided upon a short activity to do with their peers related to their career.  Each day, 4-5 students presented their careers.  I broke the rest of the class into groups, and these groups rotated to each of the day's presenters.  So, by the 4th rotation, the presenters had their ideas down pat.

The "coach" teaching his group to dribble.
The "investigator" fingerprinted each child in his group.
The "vet" showed her groups animal x-rays.
The "nurse" took each child's temperature.
The kids loved everything about this project!  It helped them learn about some new careers they had never heard of, and it gave them great practice talking to the peers as well as an adult.  After learning about all 21 careers, one student said to me "I have no idea what I want to do now!".  I asked him if he learned something new and found something else he might want to try.  He responded "Yes!" This is all I needed to make me want to do it all over again next year!

**If any of our friends who were interviewed see this, thanks so much for your help!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Famous Americans Project

I added a "research center" to our center time about 6 weeks ago.  My students have really enjoyed visiting this center with nonfiction books and graphic organizers related to our theme.  This week is packed with things to celebrate, so I wanted to include some of these things in our research center.  I am thrilled with the results of this project!

I decided to focus on Presidents and Black History Month in the research center. Books available included: Barack Obama, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and Jackie Robinson.  We used the Rookie Biographies series of books to research.  I asked each child to visit the center, choose a Famous American and complete a research graphic organizer.  This was pretty basic, but it allowed students to find important information.  I made each idea a different shape to help them visually organize their research.  This way everyone, even those with limited reading skills, could use the sheet.
For those that needed help reading the books, my student teacher jumped in during their visit to the center.  We have been using nonfiction books in my small groups, so many children were able to use the books relatively independently.  We also worked on just looking for the information the wanted to know rather than reading the whole book, though most of them did want to read the whole book anyway.
After completing their research, they came to me and shared what they learned, either the same day or later in the week depending on the day's schedule.  We went over their learning on their graphic organizer and talked about a shape that related to their person.  Students use use this shape to share their learning with others.  

Shapes were made on large pieces of tagboard or rolled bulletin board paper.  I coached the kids about remembering what they learned and thinking about a shape that would represent that learning.  I also did not let them duplicate any other shapes used by other students in the class.
After making their shapes, the kids decided where to place their information. I did sit with each child (usually 2 at a time at my table) and helped them with formatting of dates, text size, etc.  They haven't had a lot of experience with larger workspaces, so this was a new challenge as well.   The first wrote with pencil then traced their shape and all their words with a Sharpie.  Using a permanent marker was quite the thrill for them.
I think their work turned out awesome!  I was truly amazed with what they could share with me and their ideas for their projects.  Warning: picture overload coming!  I wanted you to see a variety of projects.

"He experimented with plants and made medicine from them, so I want to make a flower."
"We should make a railroad because that is how she helped people."  Side note: We did discuss that it wasn't a real railroad.

Lincoln's Log Cabin.  "I wrote his name on the door so everyone knows it is his cabin."

"Martin Luther King Jr. wanted peace because he wanted us to all get along."

"How about a number 1 because he WAS the first president?"
We went back and added an 's' to "Parks" after this picture was taken!
"O" for Obama.  We are from Ohio, so a block O was easy for this teacher with limited art abilities to show her.  She did a great job with it.

How have you tackled research in your classroom?  I'm starting to think about our next project!  Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Learning About Motion

Last week we spent some time learning about how things move.  My kiddos were very interested in this topic!

I created a little fill-in-the-blank book for them to focus our discussions.  They love these little books as it gives them something to share with their families, and I love them because it gets them talking about our learning.

We started off by learning what force and motion are then talked about different ways things can move.

We practiced using a Venn Diagram to share things that you push and things that you pull.  I was concerned that they would struggle with this, so I googled ideas for each category and had a little cheat sheet ready to go for myself.  Oh my goodness, was I ever wrong!  They blew me away with their ideas.  While some of their answers could have gone in different places, they were able to justify their answers, so we went with it.

We were going to build cars, but it was going to be a busy week with other things going on, so I found some little wooden cars for them to paint.  We built a ramp with wooden blocks and a dry erase board.  The kids discussed what would happen as the ramp got higher.  We marked where their cars stopped after each "run" so they could discuss what happened.  These cars will be saved to use on our community unit as well.

Our 100th Day was Friday, so I wanted to incorporate our learning about movement with the 100th Day.  I made a "menu" of 6 different activities that we did for 100 seconds each. Students rotated in small groups to each activity.  When the timer went off, students looked at the "menu" with the group and decided whether they pushed, pulled or both to complete the activity.  After all activities were complete, we went back to the room to discuss what they recorded.

Kicking the ball (at the wall)
Dribbling a ball
Filling out their recording sheet between rotations
Completed recording sheet sample
Activities included: riding a scooter (we used the kind you sit on), jumping rope, shooting baskets, passing a ball, dribbling a ball and kicking a ball.  Our gym teacher suggested I use playground balls for dribbling and shooting rather than basketballs as they had more control over them.  For kicking and passing, we used dodge balls as they are a little more flexible.

My kiddos loved this activity; it kept their interest because they were not at each place very long, and they were very engaged in their discussions about what movement it took to do each activity.  In the room, they were able to give reasons to support their responses with the support of their groups.

You can download the recording sheet free.  I hope this is something you can use not just on the 100th day of school.  

This week we will finish our discussion of movement and start to talk about maps and community.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Five For Friday {January 29}

I'm linking up with Kasey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday.  This week is "5 things that happened on the 100th day" as today was our 100th day of school.

During our reading centers, each child received 4 or 5 squares of paper.  They were to write one word per paper, which would give us 100 words when finished.  They glued papers to a couple sheets of poster board.  I loved that it was fun and bright.

We have been learning about how things move with this little book, so I wanted to incorporate this into our 100th Day.  We went to the gym and participated in 6 different activities for 100 seconds spent on each activity.  After completing each activity, groups decided whether they pushed, pulled or both at the station.  They had a clipboard with a recording sheet that they took to each station.  

Kicking (a ball at the wall)
Deciding whether they had to push, pull or both after each activity to record on the clipboard.

We built with 100 cups and made 100 art using a black 1 and two 0s.

On the right are seeds that grew into a little plant.

We have been working on handwriting, so students practiced today in 10 frames.  Each letter was practiced 5-10 times in the 10 frame.  They ended up writing 100 letters neatly.  It was a fun way to practice on the 100th Day.

I cut apart a 100 chart and students put them back together again.  I had 5 at the station and each was a different color to make it easier to sort the pieces.  We also worked to write our numbers to 100 on adding machine tape.  

Adventures in Literacy Land is having an Amazon gift card giveaway, so be sure to check that out!  Have a great weekend!