October 2015 - Queen of the First Grade Jungle


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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Compound Words and Wild Weather

We have had a pretty devastating week weather wise in South Carolina friends!  Last Thursday evening they called off school for Friday because of coastal flooding.  Little did we know, we hadn't seen anything yet!!! Between Oct. 1-5  my town of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina received 27 inches of rain!!! Luckily we have amazing drainage and most of the town did really well.  Other areas of Charleston and Columbia were not so lucky!  It has been heartbreaking to see so many people negatively affected by the flooding!

I had just wrapped up a weather unit highlighting all hurricanes and tornadoes so I know my kids were glued to the weather channel!

We had a dad come talk to us about his work for NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  He brought an amazing powerpoint to show the kids.  This picture is actually of Hurricane Hugo that impacted Charleston so heavily! 

I put my Amazon Prime to good use and snagged all the Gail Gibbons' books!

We made shaving cream hurricanes on our desks too!  We used this time to talk about the counter clockwise winds and the eye of the storm!

The following week Tornadoes were up!  We did Tornado rotations- 1. Tornado math problems 2. Tornado safety tips 3.  Art project  4.  Science project where we made mini tornadoes in a bottle!

This guy brought in the coolest Discovery Ed contraption that demonstrated tornadoes!

So it inspired us to make our own!  It is really hard to photograph these mini twisters but they were awesome!

Here is a finished product of the tornado writing and art project. The kids used oil pastels.  They did a beautiful job!!

While I was out for the flooding, I finished up unit I have been working on forever!!!

It is actually more first grade friendly than second, but I needed it for my small groups and kiddos that need some confidence building when it comes to long words!  Click on any of the pictures to check it out in my store!!


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