Tuesday, April 1, 2014


To introduce our living/nonliving/plants/animals unit we started with the four questions a scientist would ask.  I combined charts that I saw by Krazy in Kindergarten and Mini Muffin Mondays.  

Then we explored living and non living with gummy worms and meal worms.

The students recorded their evidence in their journals along with a drawing. 

Here are the lessons my team used for the first four days of the unit.

Then we moved into plants...
...and grew grass!

 In the third week we moved on to the needs of animals and humans.

Freebie for Science Journals ----> Animal Needs Exploration
Click on the link or picture.  It will take you to Google Drive.  Select File, then Download and it will be all yours!
Together we explored nonfiction texts to see how different species have slightly different needs.  Then I gave a book to each table (each different) animals and they had to do the same thing in a foldable.

Next up is a habitat a week! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Writing realistic fiction stories

One of my favorite parts of the school day is writing time.  I love joining together on the carpet to discuss what writers do, I love the mini-lessons that are to the point, I love hearing Martha Stewart's lullabies everyday and I love scooting in beside a writer and conferring.

This year we have incorporated Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for the Common Core.  I have to say I like it a lot better than the old Units of Study but still love to create my own lessons. Below are charts based off the charts in the book (with slight changes).
I really love the checklist for each genre.  My students are constantly at the chart or looking at their personal one inside their writing folder.

I said above that I love creating my own lessons.  If you have read my blog before you know I love to use mentor texts as examples.  In every genre, we use several books to name authors' introductions and conclusions.  It can be quite eye opening what the students notice.
For this realistic fiction chart we used Junie B. Jones, Mittens, Amelia Bedelia, and Knuffle Bunny.

For this next chart we really explore one text, I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child.  Everyone in my classroom loves Charlie and Lola, including me!
To prepare the chart I only have the title and the book pages.  The students decide how to label what the author is doing. 

An ABSOLUTE must for our writing time is a rubric with writing examples that we call Stage Pages.  Before the unit our first grade team reads over the rubric for the county and we create pages that look like Emerging, Progress with Support, Meeting and Exceeding.  We keep them in page protectors so we can model how to add on to a paper that isn't meeting standards or how to enhance a meeting to an exceeding story.

Three stars = meeting standards

The students and I refer to the rubric every day.  We make goals for our time each day based off the rubric and it really helps to refer to during conferring.

NOW comes the number one thing that influences my students writing....other student's writing!
Each day we start our workshop by admiring someone else's work.  I purposefully select students' work that hits on the lesson from the day before, shows tremendous growth, hits on our lesson of the day, or extends the  work we've been doing but tries something new.  By the end of the unit (20 days), I usually have selected  a page from each student.  

During the workshop, I usually try to look out for pages to admire.  I'll say to the student, "At the end of writing can I borrow your paper?"  Then I make a copy (so we can keep it up in the classroom) and then the only other thing you need is Post-Its.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Measuring a Giant's footprint

I love Pinterest because when you need an idea you can find tons!  During measurement we did the activity that I first saw posted by Kate Booher that starts with a message to the kids.  

I left a large footprint on each of their tables and they got to work.  The students recorded their information in a three column chart longer/shorter/same length.

Then we extended the fun by measuring the footprint with various things (nonstandard measurement).  I placed a basket at each table (large dice, paper clips, ten rods, cubes and solo cups) and the students rotated to each one.  Then we all sat down and discuss our results.  We found that some objects are easier to measure with and with those objects we all had the same results.  

 The students made a five column chart in their math notebooks to record their results.

Then we looked at the gait of a Giant when he walks.  I measured 12 ft for each and put tape of the floor.  We decided to measure with our bodies.  We tried kids/short kids/long kids.  

 This was a great activity for discussion and to assess students understanding of measurement vocabulary and nonstandard measurement.  It was one of those days that the kids said, "You are the best teacher ever! I love learning!"

If you have measurement coming up I would say it is worth the day.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Marvelous March

This March has been a spectacular one for me.  I was named Manatee County Educator of the Year, received Congressional Teacher Award from Congressman Vern Buchanan, and among other things was in several newspapers and on the news.  It feels surreal.  I mean as teachers we do what we do for the kids. NEVER did I think that I would be honored in this way.

One of the prizes was a trip spend the weekend in Pittsburgh to see 3 Pirates games (can you believe it?!).  The Pirates sent me a schedule to choose from and it got me thinking about our next math unit in which we will explore representing and interpreting data.

I made up some activities that use baseball schedules. I think the boys in my class will LOVE it!  I'm here to share it with you...and of course it is a FREEBIE!!

(Click on the link above or the picture.  It will take you to Google Drive.  
Go to File, then to Download and then it is all yours!)

I want to acknowledge the hard work that EVERY teacher does daily.  It is an all-consuming career and every teacher deserves a pat on the back for going above and beyond.  Also, I am so thankful for the many bloggers out there that have made my job easier by sharing ideas, lessons, activities and creations.  I think every teacher that taught before Pinterest knows what an asset bloggers are!