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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Winter Break Plans

My Winter Break has started, and I am planning on taking advantage of every free moment.  The past few weeks have been crazy so I am feeling a definite need to slow down and relax. 

With that in mind, you will not be seeing any new posts from me for the next two weeks or so. I will be back with more fun ideas for your classroom after the new year.
 If you have already started planning for next semester, you can pick up some fun ideas in the following posts.

I hope each one of you has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Introducing Fact Families: Christmas Style

So my curriculum called for my first graders to learn addition and subtraction fact families for the first time this week. I looked at that and panicked. Introducing a new concept? The week before Christmas break? Worst timing ever!
So I did what many of us as teachers do when we come across a teaching dilemma. I turned to Teachers Pay Teachers to find a way to make this concept more interesting for my students. I found some amazing fact family products, and I think my kiddos are really starting to grasp how facts can be related.

Of course, I started by using some hands on manipulatives to demonstrate how the same numbers can form different facts.
 We held Unifix cubes in two different colors and used those cubes to write our 2 addition facts and 2 subtraction facts.
I then wrote those facts on the board.

Our next step was to discuss how those facts were related. We talked about some of the things we had in common with our families. The students gave their own examples like living in the same house, having the same hair color, or having the same last name. I pointed out to the students that these three facts were in the same family because they had the same three numbers in each fact.  Then I added the house and told them that the related facts lived in the same house. We followed up with some more manipulatives and more fact families in board houses.

From that point, we started our first activity. I used a fun {and free} Milk and Cookies Fact Family Craftivity from Deirdre at A Burst of First. I wrote the three numbers on each cup of milk, and each student wrote the four facts onto their cookies.

I was able to differentiate a bit by writing easier or harder numbers based on how well I thought the student understood the concept.
Next, we colored, cut, and glued the pieces onto a red piece of construction paper. 

Don't they look great?

I had also found a cute gingerbread house and cookie craftivity from Herding Kats in Kindergarten. I saved this activity to use the next day as a way to add in some more practice. We still did a few together on the board before starting, but today my kiddos were able to fill in the facts with little help from me.

 The concept I thought was going to be so difficult seemed much easier after pairing it with a cute craft. Maybe it would have been simple for them to understand anyway. Either way, we had fun learning our fact families, and now my students have some cute crafts to take home and admire over Christmas Break!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Creating Crayon Resist Paintings

I don't know about your students, but mine have been pretty checked out lately. You can definitely tell Christmas Break is close.   
Today I decide to let them use up some of their extra energy with a fun art project: a crayon resist painting.  The great part is that this project turns out amazing with such a small amount of prep work on my part. {This project was entirely for fun. Don't tell my administrator! :) }
I simply found a free online coloring page. {I chose a Christmas tree with presents, but any picture would work.} I then copied the picture onto card stock for each child. I told the students they had to color the picture hard and not leave any white spaces except the background. 

Once the coloring was complete, the students used their watercolor paints to paint over the entire page. 


They were amazed to see that the paint didn't stick to the colored part of the picture. The bright, heavy coloring and the watercolor painted background resulted in some vibrant and beautiful art pieces!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Self Portraits: A Fun and Easy Way to Incorporate Art in Your Classroom

I haven't blogged about our monthly art classes for a while, but I wanted to take a minute to share one of my favorite art projects that we have done this year - self portraits.

Doing a self portrait is such a fun and easy art activity. However it can be a great introduction to some great writing activities as well. 

Our art teacher began the lesson by reminding the students how art tells a story. (This was something that we focused on last year quite a bit.) He then showed slides of some famous portraits and had the students tell what those portraits showed about the person in the painting. Finally we discussed how adding details to a portrait, whether through the clothing, the background, or even items the person was holding, could show facts about the person.

Next it was the students' turn to draw their own self portrait. We gave each student a small mirror. They drew themselves and other items that symbolize them.

It would be easy to adapt this fun art activity into a writing lesson. You could have your students surround their self portrait with adjectives that describe them. This would also make a great culminating activity after a biography or autobiography writing unit.  I hope your students have as much fun as my class did making their own self portraits.