Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kevin Henkes, STEM, and Wonderful Writing

WARNING:  A lot of randomness!
I have been spending so much time planning and organizing for the combo class, that I have not been doing any creating of my own.  (What did we do before TPT?!?!?!)  That being said, here is what we have been up to!

We finished up our Kevin Henkes Author Study.  I used Hollie Griffith's unit.  It was great! Click the picture below for the link.

The "What Do Good Readers Do" reading strategies are fantastic!  (I don't have a picture of our anchor is still in progress!)

The unit has differentiated response pages for each activity....perfect for my combo class.  I can teach a whole group lesson and then give each grade level a different activity as a follow up!   (FYI, this differentiation was great for the parents to see at Open House this week!)
Text To World is tough for the little guys!  Most made a connection to something they saw on the news that worried them.  (Shark bites were most popular...our school is a block away from the ocean.  I have to agree with them!)  
The comparison paper in the unit is great, but didn't quite fit the needs of my group, so this is something similar I created based on Hollie's.  
STEM--Spaghetti Tower Challenge
We have been using marshmallows for our science inquiry and investigation the last couple of weeks.  This tied in perfectly!
Students were given 7 minutes to plan and then 20 minutes to create!
After construction was complete, we compared and measured.  Then we went back and wrote about how we could improve our designs.  They did great!

Wonderful Writing! 
I refuse to spend our writing time spelling words for my students.  (Don't judge, I promise I let them know and keep reminding them of this in a kind way!)  I teach them to use their resources.  I LOVE that they were doing this without any reminders from me on Friday.....the 23rd day of school, Lol! Students are free to get up to get whatever resource they need.  
Students use our portable word walls that are kept at each table.  They can use familiar books from around our room.  They can look at anchor charts that are hanging around the classroom.

This year our school is using a writing program called Being a Writer.  So far, so good!  This week we worked on Silly Stories.  They are still in progress and I know it is not a complete sentence, but I love "Everybody was mindin their own business".  

Daily 3 is up and running smoothly!  WooHoo!

Here is a sneak preview of how it runs in my classroom....future post!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Wednesdays in our room are STEM Days!  STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities are a great way for me to integrate the first and second grade curriculums as well as challenge my students by asking them to solve real problems in a creative way.

Our most recent challenge was to build a zoo cage after we read If I Ran the Zoo.  I paired a first grader with a second grader.  They did great and I was very proud of their determination, creativity and persistence!

Here are our final products. Some turned out well, others ..........learned a lot. Lol!   Three groups did not even "submit" a final product.  We talked about how this was OKAY and we could learn from it!  The strongest cage held 14 books!!!  

Happy Teacher Heart Moment:  This morning when we were discussing our schedule for the day, I told the class that we would be finishing up our zoo cages and testing them this afternoon.  One of my 2nd graders looked over at her 1st grade partner and said, "I have been thinking and I have a new plan for us.  It is going to work!"  THIS is why I am doing STEM!

I am in LOVE with the Smart Chick's STEM packs.  Check out her store by clicking the picture below!

Ivy Taul also has a great STEM starter pack and it is FREE!!!!  Click the picture below for the link.
Do you use STEM?  If you have any great STEM challenges, I would love for you to share a link!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

What We Have Been Up To in 1 & 2

Yup, you read that right.....1 & 2! A couple of days before school started, I was offered a 1 & 2 combo/multi-age/split (whatever you want to call it) class.  I have heard, "Oh, I am so sorry!"  "I will be praying for you."  "Bless you."  While those people meant well, they were wrong.   I was so excited at the offer, I JUMPED at the chance and have loved the first two weeks of school.  I am not going to sugar coat it, it has been very hectic and I am already playing catch up.  Remember I said this happened a couple of days before school, so I didn't have long to move classrooms, color code everything and plan!  Plan....yikes!

One of the BIG plusses of having a combo class is the kids!  (My 18 students were pretty much hand picked......ssshhhhhh, don't tell anyone!) I love having many of the same students as last year.  They AND their parents were just as excited as me.  I was a little worried how the parents would feel about a combo class.  So far, they are all VERY happy!  I have 9 first graders and 9 second graders.  All of which are hard working, well behaved, good students.  Right now I am integrating as much as I can.  Like I said, PLANNING is the biggest obstacle.  It is a good thing I am slightly extremely OCD.  Daily 5 Reading and Math Stations are my friends and saviors!  They will allow me to spend time with each individual grade level once we become independent with them.

Since I have been so busy playing catch up, I have done very little creating.  All of the things you are about to see are ideas from other teachers I found on Pinterest, blogs or TPT!   I am trying to be very creative so my second graders don't feel like they are doing something they did last year.  (With the exception of Zero the Hero....they were appalled when I suggested they would be doing something different during Calendar Math time!)

Like all of you, we focused on rules and procedures the first week.  I used a No, David! activity from Angie Neal at Fall Into First's .  You can find it for FREE on TPT {HERE}.

 I made tracers from the templates.  The kids used construction paper to trace and create most parts of their Davids.  They did the mouth and teeth on their own! Their personalities really showed through!

Check out Rule #2....Don't take your shirt off.   For the record, we did not discuss this as a classroom rule!  Maybe I should talk the her Kindergarten teacher.  Lol!
Last week our theme was COLORS.  Our main texts were The Day the Crayons Quit, The Crayon Box That Talked and Yesterday I Was Blue.  

If you have not read The Day the Crayons Quit, you should!  It is fantabulous!  One of the activities we did after reading The Day the Crayons Quit was to write letters to a crayon apologizing and telling them how we would meet their demands!   This activity, along with many others can be found {HERE} and {HERE}.
My new classroom has a lack of wall space, so I am using every inch I can find!

Then we read Yesterday I Had the Blues and did a colors feelings activity I got from Lyndsey at A Year of Many Firsts.  Check out her blog post {HERE}.  (We will be using her You're Quite a Character unit this week!)
Sorry about the poor pics, you know how hectic it is and you quickly snap a few pictures when you have 2 extra seconds!
I was blown away by their ideas.  I mean, come on....stoked! That was one of my first graders.  Guess it is because we are a beachside school and surfing is a huge part of their lives!

Okay, I am off to PLAN and add more to my already stuffed TPT cart!  Have a great 3 day weekend!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Free Sight Word Game

Here is a Sight Word Game FREEBIE I created this week.  It is perfect for Kindergarten through 3rd grade and includes letters, Dolch Words and Fry Words.  Easy prep---laminate and cut!  The 3rd graders in my Summer Reading Camp are really enjoying it!   Click the pic for the link.


Monday, June 30, 2014

New Units...Flash Freebies

I posted 2 new mini units this weekend.   They will be free until I get home from the beach this evening!  Click the pics below to grab a copy.
Feedback is greatly appreciated:-)