Sunday, May 20, 2012

Again, it has been too long since I've posted.  We have had a very busy spring and I'm excited to congratulate our student teacher on her graduation this weekend!  

Thanks to for the Mother's Day freebie posted on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Our student teacher had recently worked on a series of writing lessons about adjectives and similes to add "juicy details" to our writing.  This Mother's Day poem was perfect!  We created a large-group chart first to get the ideas flowing--many of our students came up with more personalized similes, but for our more concrete thinkers, the chart helped.  

 Since we just finished up a big unit about plants, students made a hand-print flower for the cover of their card and put their simile poem inside. Many kids wrote a personalized letter on the inside cover as well.

May brings one of our favorite units:  American Symbols.  We like to do this unit at the end of the year, around Memorial Day, and hopefully many of the concepts stay fresh in the kiddos' minds until the 4th of July.  This year, our students are really strong at writing non-fiction, but I've noticed that we are a little weaker at creative writing.  Students usually write non-fiction books about our state and symbols of the US, but this year we decided to switch things up.  For the first time, we are doing an American Tall Tales writing unit.  We have been reading a lot of different tall tales and making text-to-text comparisons.  We identified the elements of a Tall Tale and created a chart to keep track of the different characters we read about.  We have enjoyed reading about Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett, Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan and John Henry.  We still have Mike Fink and Pecos Bill to read about.  Steven Kellogg has some wonderfully written and illustrated Tall Tales.  Students are now working on their last "big" writing of the year.  They are writing their own tall tale.  They are turning out so great!  The kiddos are making text-to-text connections left and right and it has opened up discussion about the time of westward expansion, pioneers and American Symbols.  On our last day of school, we invite parents to come for breakfast and students will have an opportunity to share their "fancied-up", published stories.  

In addition to visual American Symbols, we take this opportunity to teach students some songs that symbolize the United States.  Some of the songs that we include in this unit are:  This Land is Your Land, The Star Spangled Banner, What a Wonderful World and On Wisconsin.  We also enjoy singing Dr. Jean's song about the 50 States and the President Song.  We will sing these songs for the families on our last day of school.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wow, it has been a while since I've posted!  We have a wonderful student teacher who has been taking the lead lately.  One of the highlights recently was finishing up a mapping unit.  Our first grade team has the tradition of ending the unit with a pirate treasure hunt!  Our student teacher from a few years ago started this during her lead week and we have been fortunate to have hired her and kept her on our team after she graduated.  Students get a map of the school and we have clues that take the kids to different rooms or areas of the school.  With each clue, they need to find it on the map and mark it with a special symbol.  Our final clue takes us to the treasure of gold beads, gold "doubloons" and golden oreos.  It's a great behavioral incentive, and a super fun way to finish our unit about mapping! :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

We have been working on a Polar Animal unit this past month.  Students have been learning about penguins, polar bears and walruses.  I'll admit it, I'm a Teachers Pay Teachers addict now.  So many cute ideas already prepped!  Our polar bear tree chart comes from an arctic unit by Deanna Jump.  The kids did an amazing job writing nonfiction stories about the animals we were learning about.  We have some great visuals and shared writing for the students to go back and reread in the classroom!

100th Day of School!

Best 100th Day ever!!  Thanks to Deanna Jump from, she posted about dressing up like 100-year-olds on the 100th day of school.   In a rut with our 100-day stuff, I decided to go for something new.  I hate Halloween and dressing up in costumes, but this was so worth it!  The kids were SO cute!  I brought extra dress-up clothes from my own kids' stash at home, so everyone was able to participate if they wanted.  I had morning bus duty on the playground, so I welcomed the students as Mrs. Auby, but got "called away" during their breakfast (thanks to a parent helper and my student teacher for covering the class!) and transformed into Granny Auby.  I read Wilfred Gordon Macdonald Partrige in my "granny voice" and the kids were such incredible listeners...good to see they respect their elders!  Mid-morning I forgot to use my granny voice and one of my kiddos said, "A-ha!  I knew you were really Mrs. Auby just dressed up."  Oh my...that made it worth it!  We made self-portraits of ourselves as 100-year-olds and wrote a "bucket list" of things we want to do before turning 100.  I think we've got a new tradition for the 100th day!

We kept our snack simple...they had to create the number 100 with their string cheese and "flips" before eating.  Toss in a snack-sized 100 Grand Bar and a juice box, and the kids were thrilled with their special snack.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Penguin Poems

I wish this picture had turned out a little better, but here's another poem activity we did last week.  We had been studying penguins throughout the week and students had just finished their non-fiction writing about penguins.  It was time to lighten things up and make some cute penguins to decorate the room.  And, since we had just written adjective poems a couple weeks before, it was time to think of some verbs for this poem.  We brainstormed all the verbs we could think of on how a penguin moves:  sliding, slipping, swimming, waddling, etc.  I was very impressed at how they recalled words from our non-fiction read alouds and shared reading texts from throughout the week!  They wrote their poems on the penguin's belly.   The kiddos were so creative as we watched a couple of inches of snow come down while creating our poems.

Hot Chocolate Poems

One of my favorite winter writing activities has become our hot chocolate poems.  We had been learning about "juicy" words to help make our writing more interesting.  In order to best describe hot chocolate, we of course had to sip on some while thinking of our adjectives.  The kids loved the warm treat and their poems turned out great!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

This past summer I set up a donors choose project to create a quiet reading area in our classroom.  We didn't have any comfy places to sit to read. We have an old large-group rug, but other than that, it's the cold, icky tile floor.  The bookshelves we had were standard bookshelves we had purchased ourselves throughout the years.  It was difficult to keep books organized by level on standard-sized bookshelves.  We recently received all of our items--2 large bean bag chairs, a large bookshelf made to hold the long plastic book boxes to sort and level "good-fit books" and a new small area rug.  The class loves to come into this area and snuggle up with some good books.  It's so great to see!!