Scholastic Story Starter Spinners

Here's a fun online story starter spinner from Scholastic. I've used it as the basis of a writing lesson and as a quick writing assignment when I have extra time. You can make it for whatever you need. Everytime we do it, my kiddos get so excited!

Early finishers during reading

During guided reading, I always have at least one student that finishes "whisper reading" before the others. Usually I have them read the story again for fluency, but sometimes I give them another task. I have them search for a certain spelling pattern in the story. For example, if we are studying long i, they would search the story for long i words and write them in their notebooks. This doesn't take any extra copies or work on my part, but it's something for them to do while they are waiting, and it gives them extra spelling practice. To make it a little more fun for them, I give them a pipe cleaner curled up like a "magnifying glass" to help them search for words.
Here's a picture of a student looking for words using a pipe cleaner after we read a poem as a class.

Other times, I'll give early finishers a reading response question to answer in their notebooks.

 These fabulous bloggers have passed along to me the "Stylish Blogger Award":

Dana Baker at A Place to Share 
Jenn Bates at Finally in First
Heidi Samuelson at Swamp Frog First Graders
Amanda Thiessen at The First Grade Sweet Life

Thank you SO much!! 

Here are the rules for receiving this award:
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 5 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

7 things about myself (in no particular order): 

~I love to dance! It makes me so happy. 

~I have a wonderful husband who I've known since high school. He's the best!

~My son is about to turn 2 in March and is almost better at puzzles than I am!

~I am a horrible artist! That's why computers and clip art are my best friends. My first graders love to cheer me on when I attempt to draw stuff, but even they try not to laugh. :)

~ I could have goat cheese, cheese-its, bread and butter, and wine for every meal and be perfectly content.

~Eye drops and contacts make me faint big time! I'm not very much fun at the eye doctor. :)

~I'm a huge Gleek and I'm a not-so-secret reality T.V. and sci-fi fan. 

I'm passing this award on to:

Hollenbeck's Happenings
Life in the Lime 
First Grade Learning Stars
What the Teacher Wants
THe Fairytale of a First Grade Teacher


Today, I did a visualizing activity with my class. I started out with modeled/interactive writing. I wrote a few sentences on the white board with the class gathered around. They helped me spell certain words and place punctuation, but I came up with the sentences. Then they went to their seats to draw what they visualized. They do similar pages during literacy centers, where they read it independently.

You can download the worksheet here

100th day activities

I am so far behind most of you with 100th Day activities! We don't have our 100th day until next week, so I'm just now getting my act together with posting about it. :) Here are a few things we'll do on the 100th day.

You can pick up these ideas HERE.

Doubles Math Game

Here is a game I recently played with the class for practicing doubles. There is a directions sheet included so it can be used as a center or you could do it with the whole class. Two different game boards are also included (one with directions on the page and one without).

You can download it here.

President's Unit part 2

Here are a few activities for President's Day/week.

1. KWL chart: What we already know, what we want to know, and what we learned (at the end.)

2. Anticipation Guide for If I Were President by Catherine Stier. This is a great book that explains the jobs of a president in a very child-friendly way.
Fill out the left side before reading as a guess. Then, after reading, fill out the correct answers on the right side.

3.We did these sentence scramblers in groups then presented them to the class and placed them on the white house. The sentence scramblers reveiwed the jobs of a president.

4. Balancing the budget: An activity to help students see what it's like for a president to make tough decisions. They are given $2.00 and they must choose how to spend the 2.00. There are task cards explaining some of the different needs for the money.

First students place their dimes ($2.00 worth) on the different task cards to show how much money they want to give each program.

Then, they color in the amounts they chose on this worksheet. They had a lot of fun with this.

To see more click on the picture above.

Money Games

I recently purchased Cara Caroll's Great Coin Collection and it is FABULOUS! Here, my students are playing one of the games in the packet. They LOVED it! I highly recommend buying it from her TPT store.

Abraham Lincoln

After reading Abe Lincoln's Hat, we talked about all the fun facts we learned about Abraham Lincoln. I wrote some of the details from the story on sentence strips and then the class worked together to put the events in order. You can download a student copy of this here.

Then in writing workshop each student wrote facts they learned about Abraham Lincoln.  We glued this to Abe Lincoln's hat because in the story we learned that he kept his important papers in his hat. This craft is from my teaching partner. I'm not sure where she got it, but she think it's as old as I am. :) An oldie but a goodie, right?

There is also this cool interactive website where you can "build" a log cabin.

Literacy Centers

One of my favorite things to do is make literacy centers for my class. It's taken me a few years but I've figured out what works for me. I realized that I couldn't change them weekly, so my centers are changed monthly. Here's how it works:

They get a literacy menu each month.

The menu is divided into four categories: Reading, Word Work, Writing, and Sentence Building, and there are four centers under each category. The four categories stay the same each month. They always have reading, word work, writing, and sentence building.

Students are told which category to do each day, but they choose which center to do under that category.

Here are all the center folder holders. They are labeled with stickers showing each category.
Each folder holder has its 4 centers. So, they know that they need to go to the yellow folder holder if they are supposed to do a reading center. They find the center they want to do and do it! Then they color in the center on their personal literacy menu when it's finished. I tell them to color half way if they didn't finish.

I keep a checklist of all the centers for that month. They turn their centers in daily and I check them. I keep track so that I always know who is falling behing or who is not on task. I also pass back any work that is incomplete or too sloppy. They learn pretty quickly that it's best to do their best work the first time! :)

I file their centers in a hanging file system until the end of the month. Then I staple all their centers, their menu and their rubric together and send it home.

I start these centers in October and practice a lot with them. I have parent helpers too. By now, they are totally indpendent with their centers. They love the variety and get to practice a ton of different skills. The skills are all taught the month before. For example, this month one center is making compound words. I incorporated compound words into my morning message, shared writing and  spelling lessons the month before so they had a good understanding before they had to do it independently. 

Here are some pictures of kids doing centers this month.
Slide-a-word: Students move two sliders to make real words.

Read and Sequence: Students read each sentence strip and glue them in order.

Ending Sentences: Students read from pocket chart and put in appropriate punctuation.

Sorting Words: Students sort long and short vowels.

Describe a picture: Students use descriptive language to describe a picture. Then they read it to me and try to see if I can visualize their picture!
Making Words by connecting hearts

The entire February literacy menu can be found at Teacher's Notebook, but some of the centers I will be posting here. 

Here are all of the menus.

I am working on second grade and kindergarten too!

money dice game

I played this game today with my class. It's a way to use dice while practicing counting money.

You can download it here.

President's Day unit part 1

I'm slowly getting my President's Day mini-unit together. I have a lot of great books to read to the class, which will help with all of these activities. First, I'm going to do this tree map with the class.

There are four different options:

  • Page 1: They can write it in themselves after reading/discussing
  • Page 1 and 2: They can cut out and place in the correct column
  • Page 3: They can do the one that is already placed with some words left out

Then, we'll compare Lincoln and Washington with this Venn diagram.

Every year I've done this cute Lincoln craft, which my teaching parter gave to me. It's from the 80s I think, but as I like to say, "it's an oldie but a goodie!" I'll post a picture tomorrow. They are SUPER cute!

More activities to come! I'm making some activities for the class while they pretend to be the president for a week. They will balance the budget (sort of), choose other leaders for their "country", support or veto "laws" and help solve some world problems. :) I'd love to hear what you think!

To see more, click on the picture below:

Groundhog Day

Once again, my students inspired me today! We were reading this cute groundhog story, when one of my students asked, "how come he only sees his shadow sometimes?" Of course many of the other students were excited to tell him the answer to his question. :) But, I still thought it would be fun to do a little investigation anyway. I spent my lunch half eating and half making an investigation worksheet for this afternoon.

So... first, we made our own groundhog paper puppets.
Then, we asked our "essential questions", made our predictions, and went over our plan.
I originally was going to turn off all the lights and use flashlights, but it was actually sunny outside! It's pretty much cloudy from November-June here in Portland, but we were blessed with a beautiful day. So instead we went outside and tried to find our groundhog's shadows.

Some of the kids got really into it and acted out the groundhog popping out of his burrow. To compare, we went inside and turned off the lights and closed the shades. I challenged them to try to find a shadow anywhere in the room. Some of course knew they couldn't no matter what, others tried just in case, while some were determined to make a shadow. When we were all done, we discussed then completed our investigation paper.

When I got home, I enhanced it a bit with some cute font. You can get it HERE

how to build a snowman

The art teacher at my school did an adorable snowman craft. So, I made this writing activity to go with it. Right now, it is wishful thinking because we rarely get snow in Portland, Oregon. :) I'll add pictures soon.  You can get the writing activity here. There are two different formats to choose from.

I'm also working on a President's Day mini-unit. Hopefully I'll get that finished and posted soon.

Bear Habitat flip books

Today we finished our bear habitat flip books. On the front flip is the name of the bear and inside is the corresponding habitat. A great book to read before this activity is Alaska's Three Bears. It's a very cute story about the polar bear, black bear and brown bear traveling to find the perfect home.