Sunday, September 28, 2014

Apple Fun

Our week started with rain.  LOTS and LOTS of rain.  This is right outside our classroom door.  Thank goodness the rain let up early in the day.   (I could't get to my classroom when I first arrived at school!)

The rain did cool it off and make it feel like FALL just in time for Apple Day.....well, as much as it can feel like fall in Florida!  

We started Apple Day writing a recipe for Crockpot Applesauce.  This is the first time I have EVER made applesauce with my class.  I CANNOT stand the smell of cinnamon.  {GASP, I know!}  I searched and was able to find a recipe on Pinterest that uses vanilla and sugar.  

Things were going very well.  We were doing apple investigations, the apples were cooking nicely.....  
And then a very official gentleman with a clipboard walked into my classroom.  He said he was the fire chief and was here for a fire and security inspection.  

I MAY OR MAY NOT have been cutting an apple at the time.  I don't think he saw it, but let's just say between that and the crockpot cooking away, I was a bit nervous!  I was not called to the office by the time I left school Friday evening, so maybe we passed. ;-)

The good news is that the applesauce was YUMMY.  Only one of our friends wouldn't try it.  Of the 16 that did, 15 wanted seconds!

I also read The Little Red House.  It cracks me up that even though I KNOW my second graders heard it last year in first grade (because I read it to them), they were hanging on every word!

We spent the afternoon completing The Great Apple Investigation!

I know it is probably too late this year, but check out Cara Carroll's unit for next year.  Link is in the picture below.  It was perfect for my first and second graders.

After a taste test, we used Eric Bohrer's Apple Graftivity.  I think they turned out super cute!  Link is below.

So, Apple Day was a success.....unless I am called to the office on Monday.  I will keep you posted!

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!