Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snowmen and Character Day

This week was a pretty fun week!  We spend some time learning about winter weather and did a lot of fun snowman activities.  The first one, featured below, turned out so adorable.  After reading many snowman inspired books we created our own snowman story.  I got the writing template from The First Grade Parade, however just 'free-handed' the size of the snowmen template.  The kids had to come up with a creative story about their snowman and then create their snowman!  They did such a great job! 

 This is a snowman activity I've done for the past three years, however, also saw that Mrs. Carroll does this as well!  I think the original idea came from a TLC lesson.  First the kiddos paint a snowman body with a marshmallow (this is BY FAR their favorite part), then after it dries, the cut out their snowman and glue him to a bigger paper.  We read the story Snowmen at Night and then do a reader's response.  Didn't they turn out so cute?!  I think so!
 The two snowmen above are playing a guitar and dancing in the snow!  I LOVE their creativity!  The dancing snowman even has a spotlight!!!!  How adorable!  The snowman below is going sledding down the hill of snow!  
 This snowman activity was taken from Deanna Jump's unit on Snowman.  It's a MUST grab!!  I did, however, change it up a little bit.  I was out of light blue construction paper so I cut the snow globe out of plain old white paper.  Then I had the kiddos illustrate their snow globe and then use blue water color paint to paint the background blue.  Then I used glitter modpodge to paint over once everything was dry!  Some look like they're underwater but HEY, I had to deal with what I had! :)  I think they turned out cute!  Next time, however, I will be prepared with the proper construction paper color.
 This week at our school was Celebrate Literacy Week and as a culminating activity, the first graders had Character Day on Friday!  I had my kids do a Favorite Character Book Report and bring in their book to share with the class.  They LOVED it!  Here we are getting ready for our Character Day Parade!!  We had so much fun going through all the other classrooms!
 Here are a few who were dressed up (and some others who snuck in).  We have two Fancy Nancy's, Pippi Longstocking, The Pied Piper, Pinkalicious, Alexander, and Mia the ballerina kitty. 
 I must say, these two were my FAVORITES:  This is Pippi Longstocking.  You can't really see her hair but it is braided and curled up w/ the support of a clothes hanger.  She also had a monkey that she carried around her the ENTIRE day, except of course while we were on the playground. :) Adorable!
 And this sweet boy is dressed as Alexander from the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!  He was so proud of his hair sticking straight up!  I must say this sweet friend was so excited to be dressed as his favorite character he INSISTED that I read HIS book FIRST (and I did, of course)!  So cute!
What does your school (or YOU) do to celebrate literacy?! 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sight Word Jenga!

Since starting the Daily Five I've been on the hunt for some cute game ideas that I could easily adjust to make into a sight word review game.  Then I had a brilliant idea (that I'm sure is 'old news' to most of you) to change plain old Jenga to Sight Word Jenga!  
It's SOOOO easy.  All I did was write sight words on both sides of the Jenga blocks.  The kids play the same way, however, when they pull out the Jenga block they have to say the sight word.  They earn a point each time they say the word correctly.  The player with the most points WINS!  So fun and my kids LOVE it!  I have a worksheet that I created to go with it so the kiddos are able to keep score, however, I'm still trying to figure out the whole 'google docs' and 'scribd' thing (yes, I know I'm young and should know how to work the technology, but honestly, I'm struggling ) :(
Will have it posted, hopefully, SOON!

Happy Friday!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Character Day

I am so excited!  This week is Celebrate Literacy Week and on Friday my class, along with the other first grade classes, will be participating in Character Day!! This is a chance for my kiddos to dress up and if you know ME, and my kiddos, we L-O-V-E to dress up!  I already know who I will be dressing up as... no other than... Fancy Nancy!!!  :)  To prepare for this fun filled day of literacy fun, I have sent home a Character Book Report.  You can download it HERE.
The kids have all week to complete the report and get the costume all together.  On Friday we will each get a turn to sit in the Author's Chair and tell all about our character, our favorite book that our favorite character is in, and why we love them so!  I can't wait to post the pictures of us all dressed up!

Who's your favorite character?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow Day... in Florida! wasn't really snow but we sure enjoyed acting like it was! :)  Since we NEVER get to play in snow in Florida, I created these extremely simple 'snowballs'.  I printed sight words on white copy paper, cut them in half, and balled them up into 'snowballs'.  The kids had to open the snowball and read the word before they could throw it.  To make it more exciting they had to yell the word out!  My kids could not have had more fun!!!

Here we are with our snowballs in hand and our targets in our mind and in sight!!  ... Don't mind my messy desk, or the sweet friend on the chair...oops!

In action...laughing the ENTIRE time!

 I highly recommend this 'snowball' activity.  Such a great way for them to 'let loose,' have some fun, and practice their sight words! :)

Onto another note:  Can NOT get this stinkin' picture to turn the right way to save my life BUT this is a picture of our peace doves that we created during our Martin Luther King Jr. Unit.  I snagged this idea from Mrs. Larremore's MLK mini unit!  So cute, even though they kind of resemble fish more than dove's. :)
 I sent home these awesome bookmarks to give parents some great reading strategy ideas to use at home when they're reading with their little one's.  I got the copy of the book mark from Mrs. Bainbridge's website, then glued them to poster board, and laminated them! So simply and easy and I know the parent's will use them because my first graders are obsessed with book marks! 

Here's to another great week and the WEEKEND!! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Daily Five

The Daily Five has become my favorite part of the day!  I love reading and literacy (so much show I'm attaining my masters in it :)!  My kiddos have quickly fallen in love with participating in the Daily Five as well.  Since I learned about the Daily Five by browsing through teachers blogs (and then purchasing both books and attending a conference put on by The Sisters) I decided to share my own twists to this WONDERFUL literacy block!

First things first... the "Sisters" rave about the importance of creating a warm and comfortable environment within the class, much like a home environment.  In 'revamping' my room I was looking for all sorts of different lights.  Without having a lot of extra outlet space I found these nifty stick-on lights at Bed Bath and Beyond for only $10! (I had a coupon too, so it was even less).  I choose places around the room where I knew those little kiddos would crawl and hide to read.  They simply press the light to turn it on and off!  They love and I do too!
These are our "book luggage."  I snagged each basket from The Dollar Tree!!  The tags were die-cut ovals that I wrote their names on and laminated, then attached with some cute ribbon.  Inside their book luggage you will find "just right books" that I have selected for them, as well as their library books (that are also on their reading level), our little decodable books, their magic reading glasses (also purchased at the Dollar Tree-lenses popped out), and a reading strategy bookmark!

 These little check marks were handcrafted by my one and only, most amazing, FATHER!  :)  Since I KNEW my husband would never get around to it, I talked my crafty father in to whipping these up for me.  This was an idea taken straight from The Sisters themselves!  The kids use these check marks during their "Buddy Reading" time.  There are three ways in which they can read to each other.  If they choose to 'check for understanding' then they grab one of these check marks to use during their reading time.  It's such a cute way to help them remember what they are suppose to be doing and really helps them stay focused!
 This is our CAFE menu.  I realize now that it's just not quite big enough to fit ALL the strategies that we will be placing on our wall!  It's also hard for the kiddos to be interactively involved in placing items on the board, however, this is the only space I had available half way through the year and it seems to be working well so far!  
 I added two more 'helpers' in our book luggage this week.  A coaching sheet, which simply helps them remember how they can help their buddy during reading time and another cute bookmark that gives them great questions to ask when retelling a story!  The bookmark I snagged from The Mailbox Companion and the coaching sheet I created using information provided in The Daily Five book!
 Floor pillows are a MUST during my first grades Read to Self!  They eat these little guys up!!! I have five little pillows, two rugs, three large floor pillows, a small couch and chair.  It's little things like these that really get the kids excited to go curl up and dive into a book!  I purchased my pillows at Hobby Lobby with a 50% off coupon (YAY!!!!), my mother made some - yes, I'm spoiled still - (however, pillows are SOOO easy to make), got some from TJMaxx ($5 for the large floor pillows), and "stole" from teachers who were getting rid of their "trash!!"
 My sweet first graders are such visual learners.  I decided the best way for them to remember the three ways to read a book would to have our anchor chart made in the shape of the number three!!  It has worked marvelously! 
 As I have spent many countless hours browsing other amazing teachers blogs I've noticed that EVERYONE does the Daily Five in a different way.  For me, a pocket chart is the simplest way to operate (granted, I haven't tried any other way)! :)  After my kiddos decide where they're going to go, they find their name and place it in the correct row.  We do this during each check in.  It's another great visual for some of my students and for ME!  I can quickly glance up and see where each student should be!  I made the Daily Five sign out of cute paper on top of round magnets!  Easy as can be!!  The cute illustrations to go along with each component of The Daily Five is from, none other than, ThistleGirl Designs!  I LOVE HER STUFF!!!!  
Any other great ideas out there?  I would love to hear how you're doing the Daily Five too!! :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy MLK Day!

My first graders and I still are finishing up some of our MLK projects but here's a great one that I snagged from Primary Perspective!  It's a great directional art project!  I also loved having the kiddos rearrange their words to complete the fact sentence about Martin Luther King Jr.  They love getting to do fun art craft and I do too!

 I love how different each one turned out!  They are so adorable.  I did not have the dimensions, so I just guessed the sizes!  I don't think I did all that bad! :)

I am so excited... tomorrow we will be celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday! We will be eating one of his favorite Southern meals: fried chicken, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and sweet potatoes!  Of course, we will be having white and black chocolate chip cookies for dessert! mmmm!!  Pictures to come! 

Friday, January 14, 2011

This week...

This has been such a fun week!  In my first grade classroom we wrapped up our unit on Penguins and continued our unit on Martin Luther King!  My kids are LOVING learning all about Martin.  Yesterday one of my sweet girls cried during one of our nonfictional stories about Dr. King.  It was so sweet and touching. 
Below is a wreath that we created for MLK Day.  I was so impressed.  MY STUDENTS were the ones who came up with the idea for a wreath of many colors, to use their hands, and to write the saying "we are all equal!"  I could not be more proud of my kiddos!

This is a penguin idea that I snagged from another great teacher.  After discussing what a habitat was and where a penguin's habitat is they filled out the paper and painted their penguin in it's habitat.  Any day we get to paint is a good day! :)
I have some extremely artistic kids in my class this year and they LOVE to do art work!  We created these penguins by simply tearing apart pieces of paper and gluing them together!  They did such a fabulous job of this! After they created their penguin they had to write a story about them!  They came up with names, where they lived, and worked on adding lots of detail to their stories!  

 This is one of our Martin projects we created this week.  This idea stemmed from a unit from Chalk Talk!  I had my kids write 'peace' or 'love' on the heart, then we cut around them to make a cloud shape.  We put these on our classroom windows with the title "I have a dream" next to them.  The idea is that the words are representing what Martin dreamed about for our country.  The clouds represent the word dream and the hand colors...well you know what that's about! :)

 We have been working on introducing each component of the Daily Five upon arriving back from the Holiday Break.  Here's a peak at my SWEEEEET kiddos Buddy Reading!  I got goosebumps listening to them read to each other and listening to them "coach" each other when they came to words they didn't know!  They are so sweet to each other!  Love them!

I must say I LOVE FIRST GRADE!!  :)  Happy Friday

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Setting the tone for today!

Happy Wednesday!  Although in Florida it's ridiculous cold (for us), I can only imagine what it would be like during this horrible freezing weather to live above the Georgia line. Here's a quote passed on from one educator to the next...

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”  Goethe

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Publishing

Another amazing teacher is Mrs. Carroll! I have spent countless hours browsing her teacher blog jotting down TONS of ideas. One idea that I have "borrowed" from her is the idea of having a Publishing Mom. This is a great opportunity to have parents become involved in the classroom and to have students really get excited about their writing. My first graders love to write stories and during any "free" time they always choose to write and create stories! I love reading what their imagination has to offer! Over the Christmas break I got to work and created the perfect little book publishing area.
This is my publishing mom basket. Everything my publishing parent needs is located in this basket, equipped with detailed instructions.

This is a look at my student's book baskets. Each basket has been labeled with their name and inside is where they will keep all of their 'work in progress.' They also have Book Luggage that has been created for The Daily Five. They have an option to place their 'published' book in their Book Luggage or return it to their book basket. We began publishing this week and my kiddos are already obsessed. Mrs. Carroll has generously given us fellow teachers a link to download a copy of the publishing parent letter. You can receive her letter and a look at her blog HERE!
Happy Publishing!


Not sure where you stand...but I am OBSESSED with Deanna Jump's website and all of her amazing ideas! One of the recent unit's I have used in my classroom is the unit on Penguins!
My kids have loved learning all about the little guys and the activities provided in Deanna's unit are AWESOME! Here's a look at our "All About Penguins" book we just finished.

I ran out of time to make an actual penguin to use as our chart :(, however, the kiddo's LOVED placing the sticky notes onto the Schema chart and the loved learning all about the word schema. I love getting them excited about expanding their vocabulary (one of our Daily CAFE words) by telling them they are about to learn a "high school word" (I usually use "fifth grade word).

We also wrapped up our unit on Penguins by participating in a science experiment that had to do with blubber (an activity also located in Deanna Jump's unit). Of course, I forgot my camera that day! :(

We are now working on our Martin Luther King Jr. unit I took from Chalk Talk, another awesome website!

So excited for more pictures and ideas to come! I LOVE spending my nights browsing teacher blogs while sipping a glass of wine! Such a great way to end the day!

-Mrs. McHaffie

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Peek Inside

I have been hard at work attempting to "revamp" my classroom to prepare for the implementation of The Daily Five and the Daily CAFE. What I love about teaching are the awesome fellow teachers who love to share their ideas and findings with others. Many of the things that I have done in my classroom where ideas taken from some of those amazing teachers! With that here's a peek inside Room 309!

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