Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fairy Tales and Possessive Nouns!

Hello, all!

I'm really feeling the end of the year craziness this week.  I'm sure all of you can relate!  We only have 3 weeks of school left and you can feel it in the air!  There is an extra dose of crazy going on in Room 100 but we are trying our best to get as much academic material (and fun) squeezed in with as minimal chaos possible! :)  Nothing that some non-stop management strategies can't fix! 

We wrapped up our fairy tale unit with some character traits, fairy godmother wishes, and opinion writing...

Here, we used character traits to describe Jack and the Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk.  My kiddos struggled with this a bit, but we caught on after lots of practice and were soon able to provide evidence from the text!  Goldilocks really helped a lot with this skill but, of course, I forgot to snap pictures!

We read-aloud The Three Little Pigs and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and used these favorites to practice writing our opinion pieces.  This was just the start of our opinion writing unit, but I was so impressed with my kids and their opinions, reasons, and conclusions!  What a fun, motivating way to get kids excited about writing their opinion!  We've made a really time consuming pig/wolf craft in the past and this year I was in search of something relatively quick and simple that would go along with our opinion writing.  I found it!  This perfect little craftivity came from Julie on TpT!  Click on the picture below to check out this cute project!  

Of course we had to make our yearly fairy godmother writing display...

My personal favorite...hey, at least she clarified that everything EXCEPT for the people should be made out of candy...

The next thing I wanted to share is one of those "spur of the moment, pop into your head, last minute, best lesson ever" ideas.  Doesn't that always happen?  The best lessons are always the ones that just pop into your head and you improvise on the spot?  I, of course, made all my lesson plans for Monday not realizing that I was missing a 30 minute chunk of time that we usually have library.  When I got to work that morning, it was a "think on your feet" kind of moment.  We have been working on mastering the skill of possessive nouns in 1st grade and it has proven to be quite the tricky skill.  We introduced it the week before by doing whole-group mini lessons on the Promethean board.  

We also made a class anchor chart and each got to write something that belonged to us (using our possessive knowledge, of course).  We stuck our sticky notes on the big anchor chart and, in the moment, it seemed to click!

But, alas, a couple short days later and the words "possessive nouns" prompted confused looks and hands flying in the air.  So, with an extra 30 minutes on our hands, I tried to come up with something that might just make it STICK.  


I ripped some big butcher paper up and covered all the tables.  I printed off various pictures from throughout the school year.  I modeled walking around the room with a marker, stopping, looking at the picture, and writing down a sentence that described something in the picture that belonged to someone.  I gave some sentence starters for my little learners who needed some extra assistance:

I like _____________.

I see _______________.

We emphasized using APOSTROPHE 'S' and circling the possessive noun and OH. EM. GEE.....they got it!  I LOVED seeing it click for all of them and, even better, the activity naturally provided opportunities to compliment their friends and use kind words in their writing. Love it!

And that's all for now, folks!  We've got lots of crazy happenings going on this week with Field Day, Memorial Day concert, Memorial Day Concert practice, Mother's Day gifts, the list goes on and on.  Here's hoping I still have hair left at the end of this week!

Friday, April 25, 2014

He Liked It So He Put A Ring On It!

Well, blog world, I'm finally back after a month-long hiatus.  A very BUSY and EXCITING month-long hiatus, that is.  Because.......

I GOT ENGAGED!!!!  It was totally unexpected and I was SHOCKED, but it happened over spring break!  We were in Florida walking on the beach and I looked up and saw a group of people holding up those signs.  I thought I was dreaming.  Really.  I blacked out the majority of the proposal, but I'm told that the first words out of my mouth were a random string of cuss words so....that's that for a romance-filled moment, right?

Anyways, the group of people was both of our families that were in Florida.  I had ZERO idea my family was there and still have no idea how they managed to keep that a secret for so long.

The whole "waking up to an alarm" and "going back to work" thing is always a depressing adjustment, but my coworkers and kiddos made it so much fun.  It's pretty remarkable how having amazing people in your life can make special times all the more special.  My coworkers showered me with support and love and my desk was filled with exciting goodies upon my arrival back to work.  AMAZING!

Funny story: Every Monday morning, we have class meeting.  We all gather in a circle on the carpet and each have the opportunity to share something fun we did the over the weekend or something special that happened to us. Sometimes we go around in a circle and share and sometimes we "pop" around by calling on friends that are sitting quietly with their ideas to share.  On this particular Monday, we were all extremely hyped up (I mean, there's nothing quite like a week off of school when we seem to lose control of our ability to sit on the carpet and all classroom expectations go flying out the window).  After calming everyone down, I decided to start our special sharing time by telling my class that I got engaged over Spring Break.

The awe!  

The shock!

The excitement!

The "GROSSSSS A BOY?!" comments!

Until one of my little girls excitedly shouts out, "OH MY GOSH IF IT'S A GIRL WILL YOU NAME IT LOLA?!?!"

Ummmmm......Clearly I laughed for the remainder of our class meeting and squashed any sort of "sharing time," haha!

After getting back on track, we actually managed to get academic material covered and have a successful and productive first day back.  We even got a surprise package delivered to our classroom from my fiance, Evan's, aunt in Indiana!  

Best surprise ever!  Okay, besides the whole "proposal" thing...And the kids LOVED them!  We just had to pose and flaunt our rings!

Anyways, that's all I've got for now, folks!  I will post back soon with some fun school-related activities.  I can't BELIEVE we only have 5 weeks of school left!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reading With Our Senses and Feelings


Can you tell I'm excited?  Honestly, it's not just a week of sleeping in that's appealing to me.  It's the fact that it has been an awful, no, MISERABLE winter here in Chicago.  I've spent hours of my life digging my car out of snow on the streets.  Hours that I'll never get back.  I've cried silently trying to navigate my way through snow without boots only to have my tears freeze on my face.  

The most depressing part about all of that is that it is not a dramatization.  It really has been that miserable.

Which is why I'm SO excited to go to Florida on Saturday morning!  If the temperature tops 60 degrees then I am one happy camper and plan on laying on the beach rain or shine.  

Moving on...the other day I posted about St. Paddy's day in my classroom.  I had posted a freebie download of my "Lucky Leprechaun Juice" poem that I planned on using to practice identifying words that describe feelings and senses.  Though I didn't get around to it on the day we enjoyed our lucky juice, we did use the poem for a mini-lesson later on in the week and it went PERFECTLY!  I also noticed an error in my original upload, so feel free to re-download by clicking here if you'd like!

For our mini-lesson, I made a super quick flip chart on my Promethean Board to quickly "warm up our brains" and identify sense and feeling words.  We took turns coming up and circling what sense/feeling different words showed us.  Sorry about the terrible photo quality...that's what happens when I try to quickly take pictures with my phone during the lesson!  Oops!

After we finished with our quick flip chart, we used clipboards and our Lucky Leprechaun Juice to identify words within the poem that represented senses and feelings.

A finished product...

This lesson went extremely well with my kiddos.  Using something exciting like our leprechaun juice really helped spark the excitement about this standard that they had trouble with prior.

This week we are working really hard on our hardcover All About Me books for our big Young Author's celebration this Friday.  We have lots of families coming in to our classroom to help us celebrate our writing, so I'll be sure to post back soon with our progress!

Have a great night!

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Wee Bit of St. Paddy's Fun!

Can it be true?  Am I finally blogging twice within a week?  Hold the applause.  I'm applauding myself enough as it is!  Hopefully it will become an oddity when I don't blog soon enough but, until then, I'll continue to celebrate my efforts of blogging more often!

Today we had a BLAST celebrating St. Paddy's day in first grade!  This was by far the most fun St. Paddy's I've had in my four years teaching and by far the most successful day yet!  It's always a good day when you get several, "You're the best teacher ever" comments, am I right?!

This morning, we went to our reading room and when we got back, we read a St. Patrick's Day story.  And then....at the end of the story...DUN DUN DUN....a mysterious piece of paper dropped out!  BUT HOW COULD THAT BE POSSIBLE?! We just had this book on display and kids had just read it only twenty minutes prior.  I mean, if we're considering all plausible options, the only one that makes any sense at all is that a leprechaun came and put it there while we were gone!



We discovered that there were shamrock clues to a super top secret code underneath some of our chairs!  Amidst the leisurely stroll MAD DASH back to our seats to try and find the clues, I had only one kiddo crying in fear of the leprechaun so....that was pretty traumatic.  Luckily, we were able to build that bridge and get over it relatively quickly...:)

We used the mystery code sheet from Mrs. Miner's Monkey Business' Lucky Leprechaun pack, but I substituted my own shamrock clues.  We searched and searched and walked around the room, tirelessly filling out our secret codes and solving the puzzle


The finished puzzle read, "The ingredients needed for Lucky Leprechaun juice are hiding under Miss D'Andrea's desk!"  Hilariously, most of the kids didn't fill in the word "desk" until the very end and were under the impression that all of the ingredients were.......under me.  After spinning around more than one time and removing my cardigan, we were able to comprehend that the ingredients were not, in fact, under me.  But then we filled in the missing word.

Cue the screams.  

Luckily I was able to herd the crowd down to the carpet so that I wouldn't get trampled en route to my desk.  Low and behold, the ingredients were there!  Of course, I was shocked (!), surprised (!), and a little scared (!) that a leprechaun had somehow gotten under my desk!  How could it be?

We found a whole batch of ingredients hidden under there!

 But what were they?  Were they dangerous?  Was the leprechaun trying to trick us all into becoming leprechauns too?  Ahh, the many questions involved in an innocent little combination of ingredients covered conveniently with construction paper you can find in my cabinets...

So, we mixed them up.  We "oooooed" and "ahhhhed".  We asked if Miss D'Andrea could have the first sip so that we could all see if she turned into a leprechaun before we drank it.  How sweet.

Rest assured, I didn't turn into a leprechaun.  Although, as one of my little girls so nicely pointed out my, "eyes were starting to have green underneath them."  Nope, nope, that's just my eyeliner running.  LET ME LIVE MY LIFE!  And despite the occasional fear, we were all able to take at least a sip of the lucky juice (after all, we didn't want to be the one who made the magic go away!)

I put together this little poem to practice one of our CCSS focus skills: "I can identify words in a text that describe feelings and senses."  We didn't have time to get to it, so I plan on using it for a mini-lesson this week when we reflect back on our St. Paddy's Day!  I figured I'd attached it here just in case anyone still wants to use some leprechaun-themed activities throughout the week!  Click HERE to get the freebie!


After drinking our lucky juice, we wrapped up our non-standard units of measurement unit by using centimeter cubes to measure St. Patrick's Day pictures I snagged from Rowdy in Room 300

Much to my surprise, during indoor recess, my kiddos created quite the leprechaun trap using some of our extra lucky juice and straws.  Of course, it was complete with pseudo-gold and rainbows!  Unfortunately, I didn't know about the trap the leprechaun didn't visit during lunchtime, so the trap remained until it was time for art.

After lunch, when the kids saw that the leprechaun didn't come back, we had some doubters!  But, ALAS, the MAGIC SHRINKING LEPRECHAUN HAT will prove any doubters wrong!  Just tell the kids a story your mom supposedly told you a long time ago about how leprechauns can shrink styrofoam cups into leprechaun hats.  Then, decorate a styrofoam cup....

Leave the room for art, come back and.....

SURPRISE!  THE LEPRECHAUN DOES EXIST!! He shrank all of our cups into hats while we were at art!  (Note: putting styrofoam cups in the oven at 250 degrees for 3 minutes does wonders :))  He even drank all of the juice from our trap and left gold (Rolos because gold coins were no where to be found in Ireland, obviously)!  That sneaky little guy!  

What a nice and friendly leprechaun and what an AWESOME day in first grade!  Here's hoping the craziness goes down by Wednesday.  And here's to being incredibly thankful that tomorrow happens to be a staff in-service day that won't be bombarded by never-ending leprechaun hunts...

If you've gotten this far in my post, I commend you! I hope you sleepy as soundly tonight as I'm sure I will!  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Right On Time for President's Day!.........Right?

Greetings, Strangers!

I admit, my promises of blogging more often have proven to be false.  I want to blog, I really do!  I just find myself getting all caught up in school, grad school, friends, family, and miscellaneous other things and blogging keeps getting pushed to the side!  Just last week I had a grad school project due, parent teacher conferences, and a formal observation, phew!  I really wish I was one of those miracle people who could get it all done and have extra time at the end of their day to, oh I don't know, paint their nails and work out but hey, I'm just not!

And because it happened so recently (cough, sarcasm, cough), I thought I'd dedicate this post to....President's Day!  I have had a schedule of things and topics to blog about and this post, I figured, could still be used next year or for any government units you have coming up!

I am always so surprised and amused by how excited and interested my kids are in real people in history.  Seriously, they are always SO intrigued and begging to learn more!  Every year!  I love it!  This year was no different...the presidents were, once again, the most interesting thing EVER!  

We started by reading some non-fiction books about our very own 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.  Do any of you have the Scholastic Easy Reader Biographies (purple book)?  I tell you...these are the BEST biographies for primary kids.  They are super easy to follow, include simple non-fiction text features, and really interest the kids. 

After we did several read alouds, we used all of our new knowledge to write about good ol' Honest Abe and add our writing to our projects out of Amy Lemons' President's Day Freebie Pack!  I had my kiddos write a topic sentence and then use sentence stems that I provided for them to complete their writing.  They could use the following sentence starters:
Abraham Lincoln was _____________________.
Abraham Lincoln wanted ___________________.
Abraham Lincoln lived _____________________.

They did an awesome job with their writing!  Unfortunately, however, I didn't take any pictures of the individual Abe projects.  Later on in this post you will be able to see pictures of them hanging with our George Washington projects.

Which brings me to our next president that we studied...Mr. George Washington himself!  We started out by reading the Easy Reader Biography below.  Then, we watched (and re-watched by request) the George Washington brainpopjr video.

We used sticky notes to write down facts and questions we had.  We have been working on types of sentences, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to have kids write a telling sentence or an asking sentence about George Washington to add to our chart!  They always love using stickies, so this was just mind-blowingly fun!

We finished up our Washington learning by recording our learning and making this George craft inspired by The First Grade Parade.  I did the whole paint thing last year and just didn't have time this year to wait for paint to dry.  We had to wham-bam our Washington craft out in a very small amount of time, so the paint just didn't fly this year!  Either way, I think they turned out super cute and the kids sure loved making them!

And here's our presidential crafts and writing hanging up in the hallway above our cubbies!

Welp, until next time...I PROMISE it will be soon!!