Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our Doodle Words Table

When I taught 3rd and 4th grade, I had a "Doodle Words" table. I would tape a big sheet of paper to a back table. Then I would "label" the table. For example, I would label the table "Adjectives" and my students would write/draw adjectives all over the paper. I also had a "Verb" table, a "Words That End With -ING" table, and more. I would change the paper every one to two weeks. Well, I decided to bring back the "Doodle Words" table. As my first and second graders begin to, and continue to, explore words and sounds within the words, I thought it appropriate to let them "play" with words at the "Doodle Words" table.
This week we are reviewing the "H" brothers. With that in mind, they may write and draw words that have /th/, /sh/, /ch/, or /wh/ in it. I encourage my students to sound-spell their words as they learn to work through the sounds in words.
If they are unsure if a word has any of the "H" brothers in it, they may ask me or a friend. The "Doodle Words" table is great because it provides them with a fun way to work with words. The table is on display for all to see so they will have additional exposure to the words.

Every week or so, I will change the paper on the table. I might choose pink when it is Valentine's Day for the week. The topic of the table will correspond with the word skill we are covering for that week. So, whenever my students finish with their classwork, they may hop over to the "Doodle Words" table and add some words. One student added "WHite CHocolate" to the table. Perfect. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Paper Bag Family Trees

For Social Studies, we have been covering the core standards for history. In an effort to demonstrate chronological thinking about their family history, I had my students make family trees. They researched their family history and wrote down family members for a family tree. We discussed why it is called a family tree and had a few visual examples. Then they created their own family "trees".

For each member of their family, they drew a face on a small round paper and on the back wrote the person's name and relationship such as grandma or uncle. Then my students made the paper bag "trees" and stapled the family members to the "branches". We added leaves to give our "trees" some life.
On the base (and front) of each "tree" is a picture of the student with their parents right below them. Other relatives were on the branches. They turned out great! Tomorrow we are making our "trunk timelines" and I hope to post how we added those to our family "trees".

I have a "forest" of family "trees" in my room. :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Bubbilicious Writing Process

To wrap up our sequence writing lesson, my students wrote a fun and engaging "how to" paper. They wrote a paper called, "How To Blow A Bubble". First, we went over our sequence words then they started their rough drafts. I met with each of them to review their writing. Then, the next day we did some partner editing in a very creative way. Each student had a partner and a piece of wrapped bubble gum. One student read his/her paper to the other who then acted out the steps that were written on the paper. The "acting" student could not unwrap the gum unless it was in the paper.
 If a step was forgotten, then it was added during this "editing' process. The reader would stop, add the missing detail, then continue to read the directions. Then the roles were switched. In the end, many students discovered their missing steps through the "acting it out" editing process. The kids loved blowing the bubbles!
After editing, they wrote their final copies. They were so quiet because they were multitasking...chewing and writing. Here are some of their final pieces.

We also found a fun way to publish and share our writing. Each of my students made a portrait of their face with colored paper. Then I gave each of them a pink balloon and blew it up. This became the "bubble gum" in their portraits. There were lots of giggles as they made these. Here are a few of my bubble-blowing students:

What a bubbly, wonderful writing activity.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More MLK

Don't these look wonderful? I just love walking out of my classroom and seeing these. :)
Today we followed up with watching some of Dr. Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" speech. We then talked about what would help make our world a better place for everyone. After our discussion, they wrote down their "dream" for a better world. I found an idea online to help display the writing. They turned out great.
Here is the cover for the writing piece.
One student wrote, "I have a dream that the people could be nice."
Another student wrote, "I have a dream that everybody is healthy."
And one of my favorite ones, "I have a dream that there is no more bullies."
Great thoughts from small children. :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

To honor MLK Day, we did a variety of activities. First we read a book called, A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David Adler. As we read it together, we became "fact finders". After reading each page, we would stop and see if anyone found an interesting fact. We made a class list of facts from the reading. Then we made a paper resemblance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When the picture was done, a student would pick one of the facts and rewrite it on another piece of paper. The written fact was attached to bottom of their MLK portrait.
I provided them with a sample one. During the process, we talked about how we can use shapes to help us when we are drawing or creating something. For example, the upper body of MLK was a half circle and his shirt was an upside down triangle. We also figured out that you can make a really nice tie with two small triangles and a circle.
They worked so hard on these portraits. They turned out fabulous! Later in the day we did the white egg and brown egg activity. We looked at the two eggs and made a venn diagram demonstrating how the eggs were alike and different. The only differences they found was that the eggs were different colors and one was a little smaller. Then I asked them if I were to crack the eggs open would I know which one was from the brown egg and which one was from the white egg. A few kids thought the yolk might be darker. So we cracked them to find out and the eggs were the same inside. We couldn't tell the difference. Just like the eggs, people have more things in common and we are all alike inside - we have feelings. It was a great discussion and a great connection to MLK's message. We followed up by reading Martin's Big Words.
I have a classroom full of artists! Aren't these wonderful? It was great how they used shapes to make their MLK portraits. Tomorrow we will follow up with a few more MLK activities and a discussion.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Growing" Readers

I am passionate about reading. Reading with or to your child during these early developmental years is critical. Reading needs to take place at home too. In support of a organization, http://www.readaloud.org/, I encourage you to read to your child every day. If you go to the website, click on the link Read Aloud Today! It will get you started. So grab a book and take a moment to read with your child. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pretty Plants :)

Some parents may not have had a chance to see our plant models from our plant science unit. I thought I would share a few pictures of them and explain the concept. To visually display the plant parts and functions of those parts, my students made plant models from colored paper, two green pipe cleaners, brown yarn, a small ball of green clay, and a clear cup. You can see the results below. Labels were made with the name of each plant part and its function (not shown in pictures).  The plant models lead to great discussions about plants and provided my students with a visual model of an entire plant.
We made flowers on our plants so we could discuss seeds and the life cycle of a plant.
Here are the roots. Pretty clever, huh? :)
Labels with descriptions are added to each part such as the stem, leaves, roots, and flower.
These plant models made a beautiful "garden" display.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


This week's "kindness counts" is to make eye contact and smile! :)

Oh those wondrous words!

In an effort to build vocabulary in the classroom, we do an activity called "My Wondrous Words". Each week we learn some new vocabulary words. We do a variety of activities as we learn the new words. One activity we do regularly is the "My Wondrous Words" book. After learning a new word or words, my students fill out a page for their book. Each page says, "My wondrous word is _________." Then they use the word in a sentence and draw an illustration to go along with the sentence. They add the pages to their book. At the end of the year they will have an entire book of wondrous vocabulary words that they learned. (They will also be able to see how their writing improved.)
This is the cover of one of the books. I encouraged them to make their words look fancy.
Here is an example of one of the pages. The vocabulary words are from their Storytown textbook.
I loved this page. My student approached me and said, "Mrs. Scott, I messed up. I tore the paper." After I looked at it, I replied, "No you didn't. It looks like you devoured a brownie." He responded with a big grin on his face. He ended up adding it to his book. :)

Building vocabulary is very important to developing reading skills. Here is a great article about building vocabulary.  Just click here to read the article.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hungry Animals

As part of our animal unit for Science, we discussed herbivores and carnivores. We discussed the teeth of each type of animal such as the flat teeth of the plant eaters (herbivores) and the sharp teeth of the meat eaters (carnivores). Why do herbivores have flat teeth? What do carnivores have sharp teeth? We also listed animals who were herbivores and carnivores. I had one student bring in a cattle skull and the kids pointed out the flat teeth. To wrap up the herbivore and carnivore lesson, we fed a couple hungry animals. We had a hungry cow as our herbivore and a hungry tiger as our carnivore. The students made food to feed each one. It was fun to see a few hamburgers being fed to the tiger. The cow was fed a lot of carrots because "carrots are good for you, Mrs. Scott."
This is what we fed our cow:
This is what we fed our starving tiger:
These animals were well-fed!

Friday, January 6, 2012

We made a snowman...IN OUR CLASSROOM!

It's true! We made a snowman in our classroom. It was a paper one but we still made one. :) We made the snowman together. First, the students wrote papers about "How to make a snowman" as we learned about sequencing and sequence words. 
After they finished with their writing (a rough draft then a "neat sheet"), they drew a slip of paper out of the bucket. Each paper slip had a different snowman part on it such as a hat, a left mitten, buttons, an apple eye, a coal mouth, and more. We had brainstormed the different snowman parts in an earlier lesson as we were preparing for our writing. Then after they picked a paper from the bucket, they drew that item and added it to our classroom snowman. This is what the snowman looked like before we made him:
This is what our snowman looked like after we added all the items to him:
Doesn't he look great? It was a great writing assignment with a link to art. We love to write!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice

To practice those important dolch words, or high frequency words, I developed an activity for my kids. With a partner, students will practice flashcards with pre-primer to third grade dolch words on them. Each student gets two envelopes. On one envelope, written in RED, are the words "Words To Practice". On the other envelope, written in BLUE, are the words "Words I Know". As they learn to "speed read" the word, they can put it in the "Words I Know" envelope. When they think they have learned all the words,  they bring the "Words I Know" envelope to me and read the flashcards. If they are able to read the flashcards fluently then I give them the next set of flashcards to practice with a partner. I have a basket with all their envelopes that they can access at any time. They are encouraged to practice their words whenever they finish work or are given class time. If you would like a copy of the flashcards to practice at home, you can download them at Dolch Words Flashcards.

Kindness Counts

In an effort to promote kindness in our classroom, we started a "Kindness Counts" bucket. The bucket contains slips of paper with acts of kindness written on them. Each week we choose one from the bucket. Then for the week, we try to implement that act of kindness. We will also add acts of kindness as needed. We will have moments during the week to talk about when the acts of kindness occurred and the responses of the recipients.  This isn't a reward system but just a simple activity to promote kindness. One slip says, "Make eye contact and SMILE!' :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sign Language in the Classroom

This year I decided to supplement my reading program with sign language. I began by teaching my students a letter from the alphabet each day. Then as more letters were learned, we started spelling words. Now when we are practicing new sounds such as /ch/, we will sign the letters and say the sound. The kids love it. We use sign language to practice our spelling words. We use it to when trying to sound out new or difficult words. We use sign language in many different ways.

Before the holiday break, we were practicing our short vowel sounds. I would sign the vowel letter and they would give me the sound for it. They loved it! Sign language is just one more way to get studnets more deeply engaged in their learning.