Following Directions Can Be Fun!

The last–or first–few days of the semester can be times when you slow down a bit, and try things that will be both fun and productive.  (I know, I think everything I do is fun, but who knows, right? see hee)

A teammate shared an idea for a snowman picture to do for “fun,” and I decided that since everyone else was probably doing it I should take a look; even though I don’t typically jump on board just because everyone else is doing it.  The big idea was that you lead kiddos in a drawing lesson to show them how to draw the snowman, and then also give directions for how they are to paint it–but they have choice in the colors they use and the patterns they add.

I agree, it was cute.  And yes, it’s winter themed, and yes, it would look great hanging in the hallway.  But I still had to ask the question about “why?”  Why wouldn’t I just let them draw their own snowman?  Why couldn’t we just paint whatever we want? Why wouldn’t I do any entirely different activity during that time? (I know, my teammates love it when I ask questions. LOL  At least they understand that’s how I process and always assume positive intent in my inquiries. 🙂 )

Because I work with amazing people, they simply answered my questions.  Well, you could let them just make their own snowman.  You could absolutely paint whatever you want.  And of course, you could do something entirely different during that time, but we’re doing it because it’s good practice in following directions (which of course my kids could benefit from, too!), and also there is lots of choice within the directions.  It is cool to see how differently kiddos can interpret the directions and how even when we do the same kind of thing, they all turn out looking completely unique!

Ok, that was what I needed. We were in. 🙂

And just as I thought, kiddos did a SUPER job of following the directions, even though some of them were tricky, and kiddos had to try again or erase some lines as they drew.  I didn’t have anyone who quit, or cry or tear up their paper (yeah, sometimes in first grade that still happens…), but instead everyone worked really hard to do their best and were ok when things went differently than they’d hoped. 🙂

And yes–it was fun!

As I drew my snowman on my big paper up on the board, kiddos followed along with their paper and their pencils.

 

The “plain” version ended up looking something like this:

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And then, artists were invited to paint their snowmen, using whatever colors and patterns they wanted.  Really the only guidelines here were that the snowman should be left white, and the background had to be painted with a bright color.  Otherwise, it was up to them.

And you know what?  All of our snowmen we drew with the same directions looked so completely unique and different and BEAUTIFUL!  Kids were so proud and I’m so glad we did it. 🙂

Check out our final snow-people! 🙂

And of course I need to say thanks to Proud to Be Primary for the idea, and also for the post (that I still need to read) that gives reasons why I should do more of these directed drawings.  I’m excited to read!

Sharing our Shape Art

During 2nd quarter of first grade one of our units (which I think is one of the most fun to teach and learn about!) is geometry.  A few years ago, it was also a time when we were visited by a fabulous artist who taught us about watercolors and a new geometry/art project was born.  The topic has been different every year (for example last year kiddos had to make their house), but the focus every time has been on using what they know about 2D shapes to create a picture, then paint it.

We used shapes we had already learned about and used in math (pattern blocks that were squares, trapezoids, rhombuses, hexagons and triangles) and traced them to create a design.  It was pretty tricky for some of us, as we’re still working on fine-motor skills and the tracing part can be hard!  No worries, though, because in Rm. 111 we have a boatload of grit and we just kept trying!

After we had a pencil drawing that covered the whole page (which is an expectation we have whenever we do a painting or drawing project on big paper), we were ready to paint it.  Kiddos were asked to paint it to match the colors of the actual blocks.

As with most watercolor projects we do, the last step is to trace our pencil marks with Sharpie.  This makes the shapes crisp and clear.

Our last step is to analyze the creation, showing what we know about the shapes we’ve been working on.  Kiddos completed a sheet called Shape Talk, that went along with their mathematical design.

 

 

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Often, depending on the time year this unit happens, mathematicians may be asked to write equations to show how many of two shapes they have altogether, for example: triangles + hexagons =

Once these were finished, they hung on our hallway bulletin board for a while and they were BEAUTIFUL to look at every day!  Check out our hard work!

 

What a Great-ISH Day We Had!

We are big fans of Peter H. Reynolds. 🙂  We celebrated Dot Day a couple of weeks ago including singing the Dot Song by Emily Arrow, and we loved every minute of it!  Today we had another great-ISH day as we read Ish and were then inspired to great some ISH art of our own!

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This story is about a kid named Ramon, who LOVES to draw!  He draws anything, everything, all the time and everywhere–including the bathroom.  Until…his brother laughs at something he draws and Ramon decides he. Is. Done.  Done painting.  Done with trying and done with taking risks with his art.  But then, Ramon’s sister, Marisol, shows him her wall in her room…covered by all of his paintings!  They are wrinkly and crumbled but she thinks they are BEAUTIFUL! She convinces Ramon that he should keep trying and that making something that looks kind of like the thing you want (so fish-ish, vase-ish, house-ish, etc.) is perfect!  He tries again and decides that he will indeed try again, take some risks and paint his feelings. :).

What a great message, right?  I mean, who wants to feel pressure to be perfect, never making a mistake, ensuring that your work and your performance is always just right??  I sure don’t!  And this book works so well into conversations we are always having about how making mistakes is a GOOD thing and how it’s OK if things aren’t perfect–you can always try again, making it better next time, Or the next time. 🙂

We decided it would be a great thing to create our own ISH paintings, and so kiddos chose something (anything!) and then followed these directions:

1.) Think and plan

2.) Draw with pencil first

3.) Color with watercolors, colored pencils or crayons

4.) Write on a notecard what your creation is, adding ‘ish’ to the end

Rm. 111 created such beautiful paintings! Most decided to paint (watercolors are a much-loved medium in our class!), but a few chose crayons, and a couple even used more than one of them. :). Everyone had to follow the directions that they were not finished until the WHOLE PAPER was filled up, and they traced their pencil lines with Sharpie to make their picture crisp.

This was the first project that I’ve gotten hung out in the hall (but it’s definitely not the first–I’ve got a huge pile I need to get to–and blog about, too!), and it has definitely made our hallway look so much more beautiful-ISH!! Enjoy!

I feel like I should explain that this started as our back-to-school bulletin board and is only half changed.  It used to say Welcome to Our Family! Not sure what that word is now. 🙂

Thanks for reading!! 🙂

 

How Will You Make Your MARK Today?

Remember Dot Day?  And then our Dot Day Mystery Skype? Well, I know it’s been a month since that fabulous day, and so you probably weren’t expecting another Dot Day blog post, but SURPRISE–here’s another one!!

We’ve been looking for a place in our hallway to hang our amazing dot creations, and it seems that it took us a LONG TIME to make that happen.  Yesterday we finally decided to put them in a doorway where they could hang indefinitely, with an invitation to the rest of Robinson to make their own mark on the world EVERY DAY.  Here’s what we came up with:

See how it’s double-sided??  Originally our paintings were big and on whole pieces of paper, but we made them into dots to make them fit better in that space and to highlight the designs.  The best part?  Someone (our art teacher even!!) already noticed and pointed out how much she loves it!  YAY!!  Great work, first grade. 🙂

 

 

The BEAUTIFUL Skin We Live In!

Seems like I have been waiting FOREVER to share this post with you, but I wanted to wait until the final products were hung up before I finally wrote a about it.  Man, it’s been hard!

If you have every visited my classroom, or if you have read this blog before, you hopefully know that diversity and community are two important parts of my classroom.  I have done much over the last year to incorporate more diverse texts into my classroom (and life!), have celebrated cultures of our classroom families, and stressed with my kiddos how amazing it is that we are NOT all the same!  Different is BEAUTIFUL!

I used some similar books from years past, because they are great and still worked to share that diversity, appreciation, celebration, inclusion message I wanted to send.  Kids really enjoyed them. 🙂

I have done portraits many different ways over the years, but wanted to really focus on making them LOOK like us, especially the beautiful COLORS of us.  It was a fun experiment to find just the right combination of paint to represent each kiddos’ face, and we had some great conversations about what we noticed, what we liked and what each color looked like.

The walls in this new room have afforded me the best place so far to display these masterpieces.  They are high and smiling at us and we can see them from everywhere.  I LOVE that you can see each kiddo’s personality in their portrait and even if they weren’t labeled we’d be able to tell who is who because they did such a FABULOUS job creating them.  But most of all I love that they represent how beautifully and wonderfully made  is each and every one of my Rm. 111 kiddos. 🙂

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DOT DAY 2017–Another Day of Making our Mark!

We had a SUPER Dot Day this year, and a lot like last year, there was too much fun for just one day! Oh, and I realized that I forgot to mention that in addition to The Dot, we shared many other Peter Reynolds titles, and sang another Emily Arrow song, too!

OK, moving on…If you read the post from Dot Day 2016, you’ll notice a fabulous Skype opportunity we had with Ms. Hachen’s class from Kansas.  This year we were not quite ready to chat with a “stranger” class yet, so Ms. Turken and I figured out a way to have our first graders learn what to do–with each other!

We had a plan to share our dot creations with each other, as well as prep kiddos for our Skype journey for this year.  We started our Friday with a quick flip chart to introduce kiddos to what Skype actually is and how it works.  We practiced how we would have a greeter (we decided the helper for the week could easily do this); how they would come to the computer and what they would say; as well as what everyone else should do while it’s not their turn (spoiler: they should sit quietly and watch and listen!).  I even gave them a few seconds to do that crazy thing that kiddos always do when they first see themselves on the screen; allowing them to make faces and be goofy for a minute helped quell that desire for once we actually got started.

After we had practiced the procedure and were ready to receive our call, the Skype call rang.  But when we answered there was only a black screen on the other end.  Ms. Turken and I troubleshooted for probably close to 10 minutes, and Rm. 111 friends were AMAZING while they waited for us to figure out what to do.  Jeremiah even had some super ideas about how we could fix the problem (great job, kiddo!), but somehow nothing could get our friends’ faces on our screen. 😦  Eventually, since they were just in the classroom next door, we decided to do this Skype in person.  Yep, it was a first for us, too. 🙂

We headed over with our dots in hand and got all set up.

And..perhaps the best part of the whole deal was when Ms. Turken had the brilliant idea of building a computer out of blocks so kiddos would know where to do and what to do.  It was GENIUS and kiddos did a super job!  Check it out (in pictures first and then a rather long, but super cute video!):

I was so impressed with how well they did, how the mostly were quiet and listening, and how I am sure they’ll know what to do when it’s “for real.”  YAY!!

And speaking of Dot Day creations, here they are.  Can’t wait ’til they are up and displayed for us to see!  Of course, I’ll share again once that happens, but they were too good to keep to myself!

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Aren’t those amazing?  And you know, they so inspired me that I had to join in.  I didn’t do it on actual Dot Day (hope that’s ok), but I did indeed make my mark and make a dot creation with my daughter today (who is also a first grader!).

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I’m excited to see them all hanging up soon, inspiring us EVERY DAY to make our marks! 🙂

So tell, how did you celebrate Dot Day?? 🙂

 

 

DOT DAY 2017!!

Oh my goodness–one of my FAVORITE DAYS of the whole school year (maybe even the whole year) happened last week: International Dot Day 2017!

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We choose to celebrate in first grade on September 14th (Thursday) because of a crazy schedule on Friday that would cut into our time to play and create.  Every year it seems the day gets bigger and bigger (I believe this is my 3rd Dot Day), and this year was no exception.  Check out what we did! (And a little warning that this post might be a wee bit long and meaty!)

We started our day with a reading of the book by Peter H. Reynolds that sparked the whole thing in the first place, The Dot.  And who better to read it to us than Peter himself??  My favorite part of the video we watched was when he read the cover and said, “The Dot. By me. ”  HA!  Bet that’s SO COOL to read a book you wrote.  He also shared the story about how he got the idea for the book (ask your kiddo about that one–I’ll bet they remember it!) Anyhow, moving along…

After we talked about the story, and how the character Vashti used grit and encouragement with her friend, as well as what it means to make your mark, we added in another video—this time a song–that helped us further the idea.  Have you ever met Emily Arrow?  She created a genre of music called “kidtlit tunes” and first grade kiddos met her on Dot Day as they learned her song that she wrote about the book we had just read.  We’ll probably get through ALL of her books and songs by the end of the year because they are just that good.  Check her out on YouTube if you haven’t yet!  Here’s the one we sang together:

After we had sung (and danced!) a couple of times to that catchy tune, we were ready to do our first (of a series) of dot-related activities, and we made our mark with some art.  I shared a flip chart to get the creative juices flowing, if they weren’t already:

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Kids got to “shop” from the table filled with LOADS of art materials and then get busy with their creation.

Even before they were finished they made me so happy just laying out to dry:

Later, after lunch, we HAD to do math with dots. 🙂  And you know what is shaped like dots? SKITTLES!  We had been working on sorting and graphing anyway, so it just made sense.  And then–there was a Dot Day snack!

Whew!  By that point we had already had LOADS of Dot Day fun, but it wasn’t over yet!  After we came back from specials, we returned to the fun with Dot Day Games!  We had collected Connect 4, checkers and Twister from families and other classes.  Kiddos got to choose which they wanted to do on a chart:

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Then they got busy with more Dot Day–even I got in on the fun and played a few rounds of Connect 4 with Celia. 🙂

I have add a couple more pictures–the dots that kiddos WORE for Dot Day!!  I didn’t remember to take it until the very end and so you can’t really see many of them, but trust, me–these kiddos were decked out and READY to celebrate.   Check out Campbell’s shirt–he made it especially for the day, and Sarah who had dots on her dress AND her socks!  Wow!!

Ok…well, our Dot Day was not really over, but there was TOO MUCH FUN for one day, so I’ll share part two in another post.  Whew!  Thanks for lasting all the way to the end! 🙂