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Friday, January 23, 2015

Five for Friday - We Have a Winner!!

Another beautiful Friday is here, and I am once again linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching for...

 My first and most important announcement is that my giveaway has officially ended!  So CONGRATULATIONS to Becky B. who was the winner of a $10 TeachersPayTeachers gift certificate!

Thanks to everyone that entered!  Make sure to keep following my blog to find out when the next giveaway is happening.

My 1st grade Phonics class has been learning all about cowboys for the past few weeks.  We have talked about what cowboys do, where they live, cattle, ranches, and rodeos.  We even watched some neat videos of rodeo events yesterday.  The students were amazed by the ability of the cowboys to stay on a bull for 8 seconds or rope a calf  in under 7 seconds.  So I whipped up some cowboy themed memory games to help my kids practice what we have been learning.  I let them play Cowboy Contractions today, and they had lots of fun.  I like the fact that they were reading a contraction on every turn.

 My 3rd grade reading class and I finished James and the Giant Peach this week.  One of my students said that out of 5 stars, he would give it "infinity." I guess they liked it!  Now we are working on finishing our mobiles and folder displays to go with it.  So far they are coming out great!

My 6th grade reading class is reading a favorite book of mine - A Father's Promise.  We studied four story devices before we started the novel, and now we are watching for those story devices while we read.  The story focuses on a Jewish boy in Poland during World War II.  It is definitely full of suspense, cliffhangers, and foreshadowing!

Even though we are supposed to get a big snowstorm here in New England tomorrow, today has been beautiful.  The temperature is 32 degrees which means we took the kids out for recess.  {If it's above freezing and dry, we go outside!}  The kids don't even seem to notice the cold though.  They are constantly asking to take their coats off despite the fact that it is barely above freezing!

Feel free to link up Doodlebugs Teaching and let us know how your week has been!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Art Class: 2D and 3D Shapes

We had another fabulous art class on Thursday.  On the first Thursday of every month, a parent volunteer comes in and teaches our students an art class.  This year, the students have been learning the basics of art.  So far we have covered line and color.

Today the class started with a powerpoint reviewing the color concepts the students learned in the last class.  He also showed them some paintings by some famous artists known for their use of color such as Matisse and Mondrian.


 Next, he went on to talk about the difference between form and shape.  Shape refers to 2D drawings - pictures that only have height and width.  3D figures are said to have form.  This means they have height, width, and depth.  

For practice, the students actually completed two projects today.  First, they chose a stuffed animal.  Their assignment was to draw the animal with picking their pencil up off the paper.  {This is much harder than it seems, by the way.}  Here are some of the completed drawings.

Finally, the teacher gave each student a length of flexible copper wire.  The goal was to use the wire to give their animal drawing form {make it 3D}.  This task was extremely challenging for most of the students.  I had fun though since I got to give lots of help!
The animals came our pretty cute though.  And if you look at the pictures too, I think you can tell what animals were formed.


The great part about art class is that I know the kids enjoy it, and they are learning more about art than I could ever begin to teach them!

I know we teachers can always use a little extra TPT cash so don't forget to enter my giveaway!  It ends Thursday, Jan. 22nd.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Scoop - 1/17/15

Well, another week has flown by which means that it is time to link up with the Teaching Trio for their Sunday Scoop.

Thankfully, I managed to get a lot of work done yesterday so there isn't too much on my to do list for today!

Have to...  
I am the supervisor for our school's yearbook club.  Which means I get the fun chores like going through the superlative suggestions and picking which we should use.  Then I type them up, hand them out, and count the answers to find the winners.  It's fun, but time consuming! 

I hate vacuuming so it's the chore that I tend to put off.  Since I put it off yesterday, I really need to do it today.

My 3rd grade reading is working on an author study of Roald Dahl.  We are currently reading James and the Giant Peach so I have activities ready for that.  It's the rest of the books we are planning to read that I need to prep for!

Hope to...
 I am hoping to get a chance to work on some cowboy themed products to use with my 1st graders this week.  I'm planning to make a synonym matching game and a contraction center.

I have a hard time planning ahead with my blogging so I am going to try to get some blogs planned and typed out.  I would like to be ahead of the game this week if possible!

Happy to...
Hopefully I will get a chance to catch up on some reading this week.  In the spirit of our Dahl author study, I have been reading The Irregulars by Jennet Conant.  The book details Dahl's life as a British spy in the United States during World War II.  It's an extremely interesting true story!

Don't forget to head over to my last post and enter my $10 TPT gift certificate giveaway!  I'll announce the winner on Friday!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Five for Friday... and a Giveaway!

I am especially excited about today's Five for Friday!  {The title should give the reason away.}
Make sure you hop on over to Doodlebugs Teaching to read more Five for Friday posts when you are done here!

 One of my goals for this year was to finally reorganize and clean out our guest room.  I had been using it to store anything and everything which meant that it had to be completely emptied anytime we had overnight guests.  Well, I finished that project last weekend!  It felt good to finally have that room cleaned out.
 I started an author study with my 3rd grade reading class.  We are going to be reading lots of books by Roald Dahl.  We started this week with James and the Giant Peach.  We are using the book to explore the traits of different characters.  {The bugs are fun characters to discuss and learn from.}  We have also started making mobiles to hang up when we finish the book.  The top of the mobile has a giant peach with the book title and author on it.  We are going to hang pictures of each character under the peach with words describing that character on the picture.

My 6th grade Science class has been talking about earthquakes this chapter.  We had our first experiment yesterday. {We do History for half a year and Science for the other half.}
Students had to use marshmallows and fettuccine noodles to design and build a building that would withstand an earthquake.  This is always a favorite experiment of the students and me. {They like working with food, and I like how easy it is for me.}

Once they are done with their constructions, I get to simulate an earthquake by shaking the desk a certain number of times to see if it will fall over or stay standing.  
I finished a new TPT product - classroom reward coupons.  I don't like spending money on candy and small prizes that kids will just throw away.  So this year, I decided to use coupons as rewards instead.  I have been wanting to make chevron coupons to match the rest of my classroom, and I have finally finished them.  I love the way they turned out, and my kids love getting to do special things like sit at my desk or wear slippers to school! a special reward for all of my readers, I have decided to throw a giveaway!  I am giving away a $10 gift certificate to TeachersPayTeachers.  I know how much I enjoy finding useful teaching tools for my classroom so I am sure that you do too.  Enter the giveaway below, and I will announce the winner right here on my blog next Friday!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Library Makeover

I teach at a small school which means that we have lots of volunteers that help out with certain specials like P.E., library, and art.  {And we appreciate our volunteers more than anyone can imagine!}  Because we don't have teachers dedicated to just those subjects however, the rooms they are held in can become rather messy.  

So every summer, I try to think of a cleaning or organizing project I can do that would benefit the students or teachers in some way.  This summer, I decided to tackle reorganizing our library.
Our library had been beautifully organized in the past.  But it was a long time ago, the books had been put back in no order whatsoever, and no one seemed to know how it had been organized any more.

{In case you are wondering why I chose the library this summer, I had recently read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  I was inspired to encourage my students to love reading, and I wanted them to have a clean place to be able to find and choose books.} 

It took me several weeks, but I took all the books off the shelves, sorted them, cleaned the shelves, and replaced the books.  I put lots of thought into how I wanted to organize the books, but I finally decided to sort them by genre.  I was already planning to start the school year by teaching the differences between the genres to my upper elementary reading classes.  I figured this would help reinforce the different genres every time my students went to library.

I found some super cute free book bin labels on TPT that I used to label all the shelves.  I also printed out these bright colored genre posters to hang on the library wall.  I especially like that the posters define the genre and give a fun picture to go along with it.

Finally, I put up a new bulletin board and hid reading monsters throughout the shelves of the library.  

I also bought a few white bins from Target to hold extra library supplies and magazine boxes to hold some Highlights and Zoobooks. 

I was pretty happy with how it turned out.  And I have noticed that they students aren't fighting over the same three books this year.  They can easily find more than one book that they are interested in reading.  All in all, I think it was a successful makeover.

 How do you organize your classroom library and why?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Snowy Day Activities

Friday morning started off just like any other normal school day.  Homework turned in, attendance taken, classes started.  But then, it started to snow.  Of course, I had to stop and let then kids look out the window.  The wind was blowing the snow in what looked like waves across the parking lot.  As we looked outside, I decided to
  scrap my plans for the day and do some  snowy day work instead!

We started off by putting our coats on and going outside to see observe the snowflakes. I gave each student a black piece of paper to catch snowflakes on.  There were a few  times when we could even see the six sides of an individual snowflake.

 When we came back inside, I wanted my students to remember what the snow looked like on the black paper.  I gave each student another piece of black construction paper and some white paint.  We used small wooden dowels that I found in the art room {they looked like grilling skewers} to paint snowflakes onto our papers.  I showed them how they could make six sided snowflakes or just use dots to show how many snowflakes there were.

Some of the students did a little more than just paint snowflakes!

Our next activity was a quick adjective review.  We took turns listing adjectives that described either the snowflakes or the snowy day.  They came up with some creative responses {like tasty}!

From there, I introduced similes.  This was a concept that I had been planning on introducing within the next week or two, and I thought this was the perfect opportunity.  After all, we already had all those great adjectives to spark our imagination!  I defined a simile on the board and gave them a few examples.  I then let the students take turns coming up with their own similes using either like or as to describe the snow.  They amazed me with similes like "The snow is as quiet as a ninja" and "The snowflakes are as sparkly as tiny diamonds." 

Next we wrote a sense poem about the snow using this awesome
 free snowflake writing paper from The McGrew Crew.  It was interesting to see what the students thought snow felt, looked, and sounded like.  Taste and smell were a little more difficult, but we came up with some creative lines for those senses too.

By now, the snow was really falling hard and starting to pile up.

Finally, I decided to read my students some wintery poems by other authors.  I pulled out my poetry anthology and read the four or five poems that dealt with winter.  Two of my favorite winter poems are "The Bells" by Edgar Allan Poe and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost.  

I hung all their paintings, simile papers, and poems on the wall in my classroom.  We moved on to our regularly scheduled subjects, but I know our snowy fun was the highlight of my day.  When the snow finally stopped later on, a few of my students offered to go out and help brush off the teachers' cars. 

I am usually a stickler for following my lesson plans and teaching exactly what I had planned.  Friday though, I was definitely glad that I decided to take this opportunity to let my kids learn from the beauty outside.  

When are some times that you have changed your lesson plans last minute?  How did it work out for you?