2015 - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

January Rooted in Reading

Well HELLOOOOO!  I have been thoroughly enjoying my break! How about you?  We have been busy hanging out with family, organizing the house, and keeping up with three crazy kids.  I haven't shown any personal pics on the blog lately so here are a few pics we got taken downtown a couple of weeks ago!

Emma thoroughly enjoyed the camera...just in case you couldn't tell!

A little update on my trio- Nash is 8 years old and one of the smartest, kindest kids I know.  He is a HUGE star wars nerd and loves all things to do with sharks and football! He is a second grader!

Emmie is 6 years old.  Emmie is the princess of extremes (some would blame her artist heart).  She has a mind of her own and keeps us on out toes.  She loves painting, dancing, reading, and writing.

And we can't forget oh-so-sweet Smith! He is seven months old and the easiest baby on the planet.  He is off the charts...literally- in height, weight, AND head circumference haha. He is getting his top two front teeth and besides that, loving life!

 Here are just a couple more for fun!

I forgot to check in and tell you about  Rooted in Reading January because there's so much included in the unit!

For MLK, Jr. we made it to where you can use the unit with lots of different MLK, Jr. biographies and books that you probably already own!  We didn't want to limit you to a specific selection!
Comprehension Focus:  Locating Key Events and Nonfiction Text Features
Grammar Focus:  Commas in Dates and Commas in a Series

Here are some books that would be great to use throughout the week!
And, YouTube has tons of great videos to watch!

We thought that Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday would be a great book to use after New Year's.  The lesson of saving/spending money would be a great fit with New Year's Resolutions!  My husband would tell you that I could learn a thing or two- HA!
Comprehension Focus:  Identifying the Lesson of a Story
Grammar:  Pronouns

We also found this really great video to incorporate with our identifying the lesson of a story.  You'll use this in one of the lessons!
 Kids love learning about the Iditarod and the traditions of other states in our nation.  We just adore the book Akiak written by Robert Blake.  The perseverance and courage shown in the book is just so inspiring!  You'll definitely want to watch THIS video (click HERE and HERE) to learn more about sled dogs!
Comprehension Focus:  Fact vs. Opinion
We also included a nonfiction reader about Alaska so that you can identify key facts in a nonfiction story!
Grammar Focus:  Possessives

Oh my goodness, y'all! Have you read Snow Day by Lester Laminack?!  I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Laminack speak a couple of years ago and I have been in love with his style of writing ever since!  Another one of his books that you just HAVE to have is Saturdays and Teacakes. This is a great video to watch before reading Snow Day with your students.  The author gives some read-aloud tips!
In this unit we also compare the book to Brave Irene by William Steig.  This book can also be found as a read aloud on Storyline Online.  It's such a cute book so we just HAD to use it somehow!
Comprehension Focus:  Identifying the Lesson, Somebody/Wanted/But/So, Comparing 2 Books
Grammar:  Singular vs Plural Nouns

And last but not least... my munchkins!!


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December Rooted in Reading!

I hope you are thoroughly enjoying your Thanksgiving holiday! We wanted to give you a close look of December Rooted in Reading Unit

If you haven't gotten a chance to check out the unit yet, here it is!  These units have made my planning a million times easier and better!

Like many of you I will only have 3 weeks of teaching in December, but what I plan to do is all four books in 3 weeks!  I will start with Week One: Who's that Knocking, Week Two:  Night Tree, and Week Three: How to Catch Santa (Reading) and Legend of the Poinsettia (Social Studies as part of Holidays around the World).

Enter below and I will be back tomorrow night at 7:00 pm to announce the winners!


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Wowy-wow-Wow!  This past week was one of the best weeks that I have ever had in my classroom! We learned so much and had a blast!  The nonfiction resources on the right of the picture below are from Falling into First's All About Bats unit.  All the other resources I used are from Amy and I's unit Rooted into Reading: October.  

{P.S.  did you know we will have November finished very, very soon!}

At the beginning of this week I posted this anchor chart without all the post-its.  We worked together as a class to come up with the responses that we added to the chart. 

The first day my kids had a little bit of a hard time with problem and solution.  For example, they would say that Stellaluna was attacked by an owl and the solution was that she found mangos to eat at the end.  They weren't recognizing solutions that "matched" the problem that they had identified.  So I used these different colored post-it notes to help them visualize what I was trying to say to them.  It worked like a charm!

Here is a full picture of my reading bulletin board.  I love how someone who walks in my room will have no question about what our focuses in reading are! AND that just so happened this week. 

Anyone else get SURPRISE observations from their District higher-ups?!? Today was mine. I don't care how long you've been doing this.... They still make most teachers sweaty and all kinds of nervous!
My observation just happened to occur during my reading block. I was BLOWN away by the fantastic vocabulary, deep comprehension, and insightful conversations my students were having. We followed up our discussions with several of the activities from our Rooted in Reading unit. I wholeheartedly believe in teaching reading this way! My kids are hook, line, and sinker! Link to our unit in the comments!

Our deep discussions of the text Stellaluna also led us into exploring the interesting characteristics and skills of bats!

The super quick directed drawing of bats motivated my kids to crank out some fantastic factual writing.

The combination of Crankenstein and bats is making for an awesomely creepy Halloween display for the hallway!

I love our daily little vocabulary writing too.  This little girl took the liberty of changing the prompt a little bit.  I love her answer!

On Friday I have started doing an hour that we call STEAM (Science, technology, egineering, arts, and mathmatics) hour.  The kids love it and it meets the focus that my school is implementing.  We started by watching Batney Spears :) on youtube to help remind us about echolocation.  This song and video is the BEST! 

We also tried a few things that I read about on Holly Ehle's blog.  I had one person be the bat and call out "ECHO."  The three bugs had to "ECHO" back at her.  She ran and dodged with her eyes closed until she caught all the bugs (this Marco Polo).  It was precious and they loved it!

Sorry for the blurry picture!  We then did an art project that I found on Reagan's blog.  We created sunsets with water colors and then did bat silhouettes over them.  

The end results were super striking! The kids were SO proud of their artwork!

The last idea for you was also something I found on Holly's blog.  Each child was given a cotton ball with a scent on it.  I used peppermint, banana, coconut, lemon, root beer, and orange.  (Next time I won't use root beer because it was brown so it kind of gave it away AND orange and lemon were a little too hard to differentiate!).  The kids walked around smelling each other's cotton balls so that they could identify their bat family by scent. 

They were SO serious and excited through this whole process. We of course made the connection that this is how Stellaluna's mom found her at the end of the book!

Last but not least, when you find your bat family....of course you react this way!

Hope you took away a few new ideas for your classroom!


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Crankenstein and Building Dams

We jumped straight into October Rooted in Reading with Crankenstein.  I had originally planned to do Stellaluna first, but with a shortened week due to flooding, I felt Crankenstein was a better choice. 

I LOVE how deep we are digging into these books. I'm encouraging a ton of talking about story elements and the characters by using the questioning cards from our unit. With several standards focused on speaking and listening, I encourage my kids to have lots of discussions...now if they only understood when to turn it back off :)

In addition to a short week, I also had to be out for a doctor's appointment.  The thoroughness of the packet was SUPER easy to leave for a sub.  I was so excited to know they were doing quality work while I was out. 

I blew up the "Said is Dead" chart super big.  My kids love it and I know it will be finding a permanent spot on the wall!

I just love the tombstone book that the kids completed as follow up to the lesson!

On Friday we completed a directed drawing and activity from the unit.  I LOVED the vocabulary my kids used to describe Crankenstein.  They also applied these words to their writing.  They blew me away!

These guys look awesome in the hallway!

PHEW- week 1 in the books! And we had SO much fun!

On Fridays I try and do things a little different.  I have decided that the hour after recess will STEAM hour.  If you aren't familiar with the term STEAM- it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.  I had a former parent donate a TON of art supplies because she knows I am super passionate about art being part of every classroom, NOT just in the art room.  I always try to tied in either watercolors, oil pastels, colored pencils, or something of this nature to show off our learning.

I also found these awesome STEM (minus the art) challenges on TPT in Smart Chick Teaching's shop.  Kids who have just experienced record breaking floods....want to learn and build dams.  SO...that is what we did.

Here is a snapshot of the winning team!


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