Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in Review

Happy New Year! We've had an exciting first half of the school year and I look forward to all of the milestones the students will acheive over the next several months. As a look back at all we've done, I created a Wordle from the key words of our year. Wordle is a fun and creative way to help your children with their spelling.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Snowman

The last day before break we read The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. This is one of my favorite winter books because it is wordless and the illustrations are beautiful. As a part of the lesson, we connected the story back to our reading strategy of "Look at the Pictures." The students took turns telling the events of the story based on the details in the pictures. After reading, the students created their own snowman.

Double It Up!

A few weeks ago in computer lab we reviewed doubles addition and subtraction problems by recreating our Doubles Tree Map on the computer. We used the program Pixie 2 to match dominoes and real-world objects to their addition and subtraction double. Below is a video of the students' work:

Money, Money, Money!

Over the last couple of weeks we have been learning about coins and their value. Students are expected to be able to identify both the front and back of each coin, their value, and how many equivalent pennies equal the value. To help the students learn this, we created a grid to compare the coins.

We also learned this great poem:

Penny, penny, easy spent,

Copper brown and worth one cent.
Nickel, nickel, thick and fat,
You’re worth 5. I know that.
Dime, dime, little and thin,
I remember—you’re worth 10.
Quarter, quarter, big and bold,
You’re worth 25, I am told.
Half a dollar, half a dollar,
Giant size.
50 cents to buy some fries.
Dollar, dollar, green and long,
With 100 cents you can’t go wrong.

My teammate, Mrs. Linnabary, had a great math lesson to teach students the relevance of money. The students created a shelf for a toy shop out of construction paper and then sorted pictures of toys according to their cost on the shelves while matching them to the coin of the same value.

To help your child at home, use IXL Math's free trial to identify the coins and their value. You can also have your child practice coin equivalencies.

Christmas Party

The last day before our break the students were treated to a cookie decorating party. Thank you to all of the parents who donated items. The children had a blast and were very creative! Before the party the students made placemats that were modeled off of an activity I found on fellow bloggers site, First Grade Teaching. The students filled out a job application to be one of Santa's reindeer and then glued antlers and a red nose to a black and white picture of themselves. They then placed them on red construction paper for their holiday placemats. I forgot to take a picture of them but you can see parts of them on the tables. After decorating cookies, the students participated in a book exchange.

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The Polar Express

The week before the holiday break was filled with a lot of fun and exciting lessons. One of our favorites was the school-wide Polar Express Day. Each grade level visited the library to hear our principal, Mrs. Oliver, read The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. After hearing the story, the students were treated to hot chocolate. Later in the day, the children played "Place Value Train" where they raced to be the first to build a number with Base Ten Blocks. The first team to build the number correctly received a piece of their train. The first team to build their train to spell "Place Value" won. They then used Tens and Ones charts to estimate the number of bells in a jar and then built ten rods and ones out of the bells to check their estimations. At the end of the day the students each received a bell necklace. Click below to see a few pictures from our special day.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa Study

Yesterday our librarian, Mrs. Jepsen, taught a lesson to all of the first graders about the role of Santa Around the World. We learned that in the United States he is Santa Claus, in France he is Pere Noel, in Germany he is Saint Nicholas, and in Russia he is Grandfather Frost. They also learned that in Mexico they have The Three Kings. The students learned how they traveled, what they brought to boys and girls, and where they lived. After completing the Santa study, the students used the chart to help them write sentences about what they learned in their Santa book.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Cheer

This week to practice our fluency the students practiced the poem and song, "Christmas Cheer." The song is to the tune of "The Bear Went Over the Mountain." Click below to hear the students practicing using Audacity software. Parents, you can download the song through my podcasting site at Podbean.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Affirmation Tree

As a part of our writing this morning, the students wrote affirmations to one another. Writing affirmations is a part of Capturing Kids Hearts. Capturing Kids Hearts is a relationship building program we use district wide. As Flip Flippen of Capturing Kids Hearts puts it, "If you have a child's heart, you have his head." The students wrote affirmations on ornaments that we then added to our tree in the hallway.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fact Family Wreaths

Last week in math we were working on solving addition and subtraction word problems. As a part of our lessons, we had a little fun creating pattern block wreaths which we then used to solve a word problem and its corresponding fact families.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Too Many Tamales and Merry Christmas, Strega Nona

This week we read and compared two books: Too Many Tamales and Merry Christmas, Strega Nona. On Monday, we read Too Many Tamales and created a story map as a group. The next day we read Merry Christmas, Strega Nona. We also created a story map for this book. On Wednesday, we discussed how the two books are similiar and different. As a part of this discussion, we created a Venn Diagram. After our three charts were completed the students worked in small groups to create their own story maps using their own words.

Better to Give Than Receive

Today we read Auntie Claus by Elisa Primavera as a part of our study of character traits. As we read, we discussed how the main character, Sophie, was acting. We then created a Thinking Map to chart how she went from being selfish to selfless. We discussed the main idea of the story which is that it is better to give than to receive. The students then created gift shaped graphic organizers to write down four ways they can give to others.

All Soiled Up

We have been comparing and experimenting with soil this week. As a part of our study we did an experiment to see what different types of soil look like when they are dry and when they are wet. We examined sandy soil, planting soil, and clay soil. We then did an experiment to see how absorbant each type of soil was by counting how many sprays of water from a water bottle it would take to completely saturate each type of soil.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stocking Descriptive Writing

Last week the students created a Christmas stocking as a part of their homework. Yesterday and today the students used Thinking Maps to write about their stockings. The students first created a Circle Map, followed by a Tree Map which they then used to write descriptive sentences. The Thinking Maps are a part of our daily writing program, Write From the Beginning.

Shake Those Beans

This week we are learning a new addition game called "Shake Those Beans." The students get a cup with a set number of two-color beans in it. Today we practiced the sum of 4 so they had four beans in their cup. The students shake the beans in the cup and then spill them on the table. The students then see what addition sentence they can make from the beans. For example, if they have three white beans and one blue bean, they addition sentence is 3+1=4. After deciding what addition sentence they can make, they mark it on a graph. At the end of the game we discuss which addition sentence they found the most often. We will continue playing this game each day until we have practiced up to sums of 10.

Phonics and Fluency Focus

Last week we practiced reading and spelling the "dr" sound. To help us read the sounds fluently, we learned two new poems: "Drip Drop" and "I Know a Green Dragon." Each Friday the students pretend to go into the recording studio like the superstars that they are and record their weekly poems. We use the free online program Audacity to record. You can download it at home as well. Click play below to hear their weekly recording of "I Know a Green Dragon". You can also download this poem and others to your IPOD by visiting my podcasting site at Podbean.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Tree Doubles

Last week to practice addition doubles, the students created Christmas Tree Doubles using dot paints. The students traced tree patterns on green construction paper and then used two different colors of dot paints to create ornaments, making sure they had the same number of each color. After they were finished the students wrote their double addition sentence on the tree. In first grade one of the main strategies we use in problem solving is drawing a picture. If your child is having trouble solving problems on their homework, have them draw a picture next to the problem.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reading Rockets

I added a new resource to the sidebar of the blog, Reading Rockets. Check back daily to get reading tips of the day and new parent resources and printables. You can also visit the Reading Rockets website for more great information.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reading Strategy: Looking for Chunks!

We have been very fortunate this semester to have two fabulous education students from Dallas Baptist University interning in our class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Today Ms. Rivera, one of the DBU interns, taught a great reading strategies lesson on "Looking for Chunks" in words. Parents, this is a great strategy you can use at home as you work with your child on reading. With this strategy, students look for sound combinations in words such as "ch", "ing", etc. that they know without having to sound them out. This helps them decode words more quickly and naturally increases their fluency. This strategy is also used to help find word wall words within larger more complex words. For example, students know the word wall word "when" so if they see the word "whenever" they do not have to sound out each individual letter but can say the first part quickly and focus on the unknown part of the word. Eventually, the more sight words they know, the easier it will be coming for them. Reading is like putting together a puzzle. At first it seems very overwhelming with so many pieces, but as you begin to lay the framework it becomes easier to put all the pieces together. At this point, students who are still at the decoding stage should be moving beyond sounding out individual sound pieces and moving it sounding out using chunks of sounds.

Thank you to both of our interns, Ms. Rivera and Ms. Anderson, for all of your hard work this semester! We really enjoyed having you in class!

Rocking Away!

Today we went to the science lab with Ms. Goolsbay's class. to experiment with rocks. The students learned various properties of rocks by testing if the rocks sink or float, what will scratch them, and if they are magnetic. They also observed what colors the rocks are when they are dry and when they are wet. The students measured the circumference and mass of their rock as well. As an introduction to next weeks' science lessons over soil, the students examined sand with microscopes which we learned is actually small rocks and dirt particles. Below is a slideshow of our adventures in the lab.

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Thank you to Ms. Pollard, my teammate and fellow blogger, for setting up the lab for us today. We had so much fun!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Seeing Double!

We continued our math lessons today of adding and subtracting doubles. First, we used pop cubes to demonstrate doubles and created personal anchor charts of the doubles facts. Then, sttudents took turns holding up various doubles dominoes and saying aloud the addition fact represented and its corresponding subtraction fact. We then placed them on a Tree Map. The students then looked at pictures of real world examples of doubles and placed them on the correct branch of the tree. After we completed the Tree Map, students discussed the relationship between the addition and subtraction facts. As an informal evaluation of their understanding, the students put ladybugs with double dots on them in order from least to greatest. They then matched real object examples of doubles to the ladybugs. To help your child practice doubles, visit the Quia website to practice using flashcards, a matching game, and a concentration game.

O Christmas Tree

To get in the holiday spirit, students who wanted to were able to decorate our class Christmas tree. We decorated the tree in a reading theme by placing book cover pictures of our favorite books on the tree. The students then hung snowballs on the tree and placed a snowflake on top.

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