Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dallas Heritage Village Field Trip

Last Thursday we visited Dallas Heritage Village. The students were able to see how people lived in the past. They viewed an old school, hotel, house, bank, and a blacksmith. They visited gardens and observed animals such as chickens, sheep, and donkeys. It was rewarding to see how excited they were about history! Thank you to PTA for making this trip financially possible and to the parents who took a day from work to help us chaperone.

Comparing Stories by Eric Carle

As a part of our lessons on fiction story elements and our author study of Eric Carle, we compared the stories The Mixed-Up Chameleon and The Foolish Tortoise. Using a Double Bubble Map, we started with how the two stories are the same: author, problems, solutions, setting, animals, reptiles, etc. We then talked about how those things are the same, there are differences between them. We color coded the parts to show how although they have elements that are the same, the author used them differently to create two unique stories.

The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle

The students read The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle as a part of our author study and lessons on fiction story elements. After reading the book together, the students independently completed story maps to show their understanding of the characters, setting, problem, and solutions. While I worked with students in small groups, they painted a picture of The Mixed-Up Chameleon to display with their story maps.

The Foolish Tortoise by Eric Carle

Last week we conducted an author study of Eric Carle as a part of our unit on fiction texts and story elements. One of the books we read was The Foolish Tortoise. After reading, the students worked in small groups to retell the characters, setting, problem, and solution on a foldable. They also colored a tortoise inspired by Eric Carle's work to display with their foldables.

Chicken Life Cycle

In science the students have been learning about and comparing various animal life cycles. One of the animals they have learned about is the chicken. Using an egg template, the students drew the life cycle of a chicken. For those who finished early, they colored the large chicken drawing to display with their life cycle models.

Frog Life Cycle

We have been observing the changes in tadpoles over the last several weeks in our science lab. Unfortunately they were not doing well in their environment so they had to be released into the neighboring pond before we got to see them develop into adult frogs. But, at least they did get to see the beginning stages. As a part of our lessons on life cycles, the students learned that frogs lay eggs, the eggs become tadpoles, the tadpoles become emergent frogs, and the emergent frogs become adult frogs. They created these life cycle models to demonstrate their understanding.

A Story Before Bed

A while back I stumbled across a site called A Story Before Bed. The site is intended for parents and grandparents to be able to record picture books using their webcams to share with their children and grandchildren who are far away. I used it to record books for my class to use in Daily 5's Listen to Reading. I also used it for a couple of lessons where I knew students would be in and out of the class for various reasons (research, testing, etc.). I was able to play the stories for the students in small groups while I worked with other small groups. I could then go back and work on comprehension skills with them based on the book they hear read aloud. This site can also be easily used for flipped lessons. Students can access a read aloud at home and then do a follow up comprehension lesson in class. In addition to the website, they have an iPad app.

Cherry Blossoms

The students researched facts about Cherry Blossoms during a mini-writing lesson. They then wrote the information they found on a Circle Map. As a class, they decided what order to put the facts in for their shared research paper. They then told me what they wanted their paper to say and I typed it for them. I printed it on poster paper to hang with their Cherry Blossom art. The students used a mixture of brown and black paint to paint a branch of a Cherry Blossom. They then used the bottom of a recycled coke bottle to paint the blossoms in pink. I found this fun art idea from Pinterest. You can follow my educational Pinterest boards here.

All About Birds

We research birds using PebbleGo and other online sources. The students then wrote down facts they learned on Tree Maps. They then used those facts to help them write sentences. After writing their first drafts, we edited them together, and they wrote their final draft. We then had a mini-art lesson on how to draw birds.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Word Wizard

One of our favorite word work lessons is Making Words. The students use a set of letters to build various words that build up to a mystery word. This helps with reading, writing, and spelling. A fun twist on this can be found online with the interactive Word Wizards. In Word Wizards, students choose a well-known picture book. They are then given a set of letters and a clue. They answer the clue by building it with the letters.

Online Read Alouds

Below are some sites that offer free read aloud stories. Read alouds are a great way for children to hear fluent reading. If you have the books that go along with the stories, they can also practice reading along.

Just Books Read Aloud
Online Storytime by Barnes and Noble
PBS Kids
Read to Me Las Vegas
Reading is Fundamental
Storyline Online
Storytime for Me

Paper Egg Hunt

In writing the students created paper eggs using patterns and paint. They then wrote descriptive papers about their eggs. We numbered each egg and then mixed them up before hanging them on the bulletin board. The students then put a folded flip card with their number next to their egg writing. Each student took turns reading their descriptive writing to their class to see if they could find which egg was theirs. They then flipped the number card up to confirm their guess. When the guesses were incorrect, we discussed the importance of using good descriptions when writing to give the reader, or audience, a visual of what the author is talking about.

Egg Hunt and Spring Party

We had our annual Egg Hunt and Spring Party on Friday, April 18th. Thank you to the parents for bringing in eggs for the students to find. They had a great time!


During our study of plants, we built a terrarium using a 2L Coke bottle. I cut the bottle in half and then the students added rocks and soil. The students then poked holes in the soil and added seeds. They then covered the seeds with soil and added water. I then added the top. As we built the terrarium, we discussed what plants need. We also discussed what would happen when the water heated up; it evaporates. We connected this back to our lesson on precipitation and how clouds hold water. We placed our terrarium in the science lab so it can get sunlight. After building the terrarium, the students created a foldable to write about and illustrate the steps that they took. We have been visiting to watch the changes in the plant and to see the water droplets forming at the top.

Carrot Descriptive Writing

Since we were learning about the parts of plants and it was close to Easter, we decided to write about carrots. The students created a carrot and then used a Tree Map to answer questions about it. They wrote about what parts it has, where you can find it, and what you can do with it.

Research Posters

The students made posters of flowers to show what they learned through their garden habitat research. They added facts to the middle of each flower. They then presented their facts and posters to their classmates.

Celery Experiment

To demonstrate that stems carry water from the roots to the leaves, we conducted a celery experiment. We placed stalks of celery with the leaves still attached in water with red food coloring. The students observed the changes in the celery over a few days to see the celery stalk, or stem, and the leaves change colors.

Media, Their Techniques, and Autor's Purpose

In reading we learned about various types of media and the techniques used in each to convey the author's purpose. The students learned about internet sites, commercials, pint ads, and product labels. In one lesson, they designed their own print ad using techniques we learned about. In other lesson, they created a "pie" diagram to define the three reasons author's write: persuade, inform, and entertain. In another lesson, they chose two types of media and compared their techniques on a Venn Diagram.

Friendly Letters

After hearing from our garden expert, the students wrote friendly letters to thank her for sharing her knowledge and to tell her what they learned. As a class, we used the Letter Generator from Read, Write, Think as a model. They then wrote their own individual letters.

Pizza Fractions

The students worked in small groups to solve fraction pizza puzzles. As they worked we talked about how the more the pizza was divided, the smaller the pieces got. We talked about the importance of each piece being equal and that fractions must be the same size and shape. They then pretended to eat parts of the pizza and orally gave statements of the part of the set such as "I ate 1 out of 4 pieces of pizza. There are 3 out of 4 pieces left." They then made foldables to show various pizza fractions. They used a black crayon to model the part that they "ate."



Garden Expert

As a part of our research over the garden habitat, we invited a  garden expert to come talk to the students. Mrs. Flowers (yes, that is her real name) from Pat's Plants in Grand Prairie, brought various types of plants for the students to learn about. She talked about the parts of the plants, their needs, and their purposes. She then answered questions which the students then added to their research notes in class.

Caterpillar Writing

After reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, the students created their own caterpillars. We then researched caterpillars on Pebble Go. They then wrote to describe caterpillars and facts learned.

Parts of a Set Kites

To learn more about parts of a set, the students chose four colors to color a kite and its bows. They did not have to use all four colors but had to choose four total in order to do the math. After coloring the triangles of the kite and the bows, they completed a cloze activity to identify how many of each color there were in the whole set.

Parts of a Plant Technology Diagrams

The students used Pixie 2 to create computer based plant diagrams. They filled the background with a sky background using the fill feature. They then used the paint feature to paint soil, grass, the stem, and the roots. They then used the search feature on the stickers section to add leaves and a flower. They had to resize the flower and flip the leaves to make them fit the stem. Then, using text boxes, they labeled each part and at least one function of that part.

Parts of a Plant Diagrams

The students made flowers and then labeled the parts with their name and function. Their diagrams were added to our class garden bulletin boards.

Rainbow Writing and Art

The students worked in small groups to paint rainbows while I worked with individual students on reading. After  their worked dried, they wrote sentences to describe a rainbow, what they would do if they found one, and other facts they knew about rainbows.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

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