What To Do With a Box

Every year when we consider what to do in our first days, there is a hope and a plan to make the first day (or two) so exciting that kiddos can’t wait to come back for more.  Rather than spend our first times together as a class sitting and talking about rules, consequences, expectations and well, more of the same, we strive to SHOW them what’s important to us, and at the same time give them opportunities to have fun and make memories form the very beginning.  This year on our first day we made ice cream butter, read lots of great books and got to build with boxes!!

Several years ago Ms. Turken and I found this book by a beloved author (Jane Yolen) and loved it right away.  Then when we realized the invitation it gave kiddos for creativity and imagination–and that we could do it on day #1–we loved it even more!

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The concept is very simple: you can do SO MANY THINGS with a box and your brain. :). After we read the story, we just looked at the box pile (sorry! I forgot to get a picture! 😦 ) and brainstormed what we thought we might do with those boxes.  Many kiddos started to list problems they could see solving with a box (which was not necessary but a really great stretch of thinking!), or just fun things they might create to play with or use for something at home or school.  We took turns choosing our boxes and then got busy!

We built and created for most of the morning (or maybe the day?!) and it was great to watch what happened!  Kids were busy, working, cooperating, trying things out and trying again, and using all the grit and creativity they could muster.  It was exciting to see that already this class knows how to tackle an open-ended situation where there are many possibilities.  They took on the challenge with smiles and excitement and produced some pretty great results!  AND they had a super fun 2nd day of school and were excited to come back for more!! 🙂

Guided Discoveries 2019: #1 Colored Pencils

We spend LOADS of time in the beginning of every year learning how things will work.   How to do things, when to do things, why to do things…all with the intention of getting procedures and protocols in place and foundations solid so that the rest of the year can be spent on learning.  The more we do up front and in many ways the slower we go, the faster and deeper we can go later on.

And because this group will be together for 2 years (yes, we’re looping!!), it’s even more important that I set things up well now so that they will work for us well for many days and weeks to come.

As a means to do this, we use a protocol that I found in the book The First Six Weeks of School called guided discoveries.  They are just how they sound–where students are guided through finding out what they need to know and how they can use an item, how to get it and put it away, how to share it, etc.

So…we started around our kitchen table with a well-organized (if I do say so myself 🙂 ) box of color pencils and 19 curious first graders.

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We started with just some silent thinking about what we noticed and what we wondered.  I was really impressed with their noticings.  Kiddos mentioned things like:

*They are in different cups.

*Most cups have only one color in them, except for two.

*They are mostly in rainbow order (red, orange, yellow, green…then the purple cup was next for some reason).

*Someone put them in there like that.

*They are the same colors as things in the world.

After we talked about what we saw, I guided them through a discussion about why the pencils are like that, and why we need to keep them that way–as well as WHO was responsible for doing so.  They understood that this organization makes it easy for us to find what we are looking for, and WE are responsible to put them back where they belong every time, or it will become a mess and we’ll have a harder time finding what we need–and therefore waste our learning time.

After we had laid down the foundation for how to use the pencils, we got busy practicing what we had just learned.  Kiddos could draw/color anything they wanted during our discovery, using their creativity and imaginations.  I was super impressed with how well they followed the procedures, and helped each other when they forgot, or put a pencil in the wrong place.

Once we were finished, we took time to work on another important part of first grade learning–sharing with a friend!  We got together to share a sentence about what we had decided to make.  Many friends–without my prompting–even started working on asking questions to help their partners elaborate!  What a great first guided discovery!  Super foundation for more to come! 🙂

Misunderstood Principal Shark?

I love Twitter.  I love Twitter for lots of reasons, but one of them is because things like this pop up sometimes:

And then I’m in the right place at the right time and we win SHARK SWAG for our whole school!!  The WHOLE SCHOOL!?  Pretty cool, right?  And because we’ve gotten book swag from Ame Dyckman before, I knew it was going to be great. 🙂

So after a few messages where we exchanged information and numbers and such we got a super box in the mail:

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I ran right to Ms. Davis to start brainstorming how we’d get all this fabulous stuff into our Roadrunner’s hands, and to open that awesome box!  We found 600 bookmarks and stickers and the nicest note from one of the nicest authors around. 🙂

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We made a plan for something fun, and it included a shark costume, a principal and a read aloud.

In the meantime, my class got busy divvying up the bookmarks and stickers so they’d be ready for everyone on the special day.  All the while I told my first grade friends about part of the plan, but that they had to cross their hearts to NOT TELL ANYONE about the secret book swag.  I also kept the rest of the plan (the shark-principal-read aloud part) a secret and told them they’d find out later.


We had to reschedule once, but finally it worked out for today’s big event.  We sent a generic “tune into Facebook Live at 2:45–it will be worth it!” email to the school and crossed our fingers.  I corralled some of my 1st grade and kindy friends to be present for the actual read aloud and we were set. 🙂 ❤

But when we showed up for the actual read aloud, it was EVEN BETTER THAN I HAD EXPECTED!  I mean I’ve heard our fabulous principal read before, and I know she’s got some mad skills, but this was above and beyond.  I mean–the whole thing in a SHARK COSTUME!  It was just too much. 🙂 .

 

Check out how AMAZING a time it was in our library today!

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After we returned to our classroom, we did a few end-of-day things and then got busy delivering all those book goodies to our Robinson Roadrunner friends!  They were so happy get our (ok, well Ame Dyckman’s) swag and we were SO EXCITED to share it!

Thank you, so much, Ame Dyckman, for writing amazing books that we love to read and thank you, Mrs. Sisul, for being such an amazing ambassador for reading and books and fun in our school!! WE ARE SO LUCKY!!

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of February 25, 2019

This week we got to 367!  February is a weird month–feels like almost every week we’ve had something extra or surprising with our schedule, and this week as no different–we had a surprise ice day on Thursday.  But then Friday was a 1/2 day, which includes school-wide programming, so it means less reading time for us in Rm. 111.  Anyhow, we did get 7 new titles on our wall, and enjoyed everyone of them!

Here’s our wall currently:

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This week we added these new books!

We have happened in to a Dan Santat study, as he has written and illustrated SO MANY amazing books–most of which become our new favorites!  This week were two I had never even seen before!  Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is an oldie that I had never read, and Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon was a not-so-oldie that I’ve read lots and lots of times and never gets old!  Cows Can Moo! Can You? came as a recommendation from a first grade friend, which always makes for a good read aloud.  Be Kind is a goodie that you can read over and over and over (and connects to our recent Kindness Week activities as well as the Kindness Quilt our school school is working on), and Little Dragon and the New Baby is a sweet story and loads of first graders can make connections with the way Little Dragon didn’t want to have a baby to share his things with–at first. 🙂

Another great week of read alouds in first grade!  Can’t wait to see what this upcoming week brings!

Kindness Quilt MATH

I have shared about how we started building our Kindness Quilt and then an update on how it’s growing!

Here’s another SUPER idea that grew out of it, based on a conversation we had in math a week or so ago. 🙂

Kids had been asking questions about how big the quilt might be, or how many squares we have gotten so far from other classes, and also just “What will it look like?”, so I pulled up this picture for them to reference.

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Then I asked them to think of two things (based on the protocol you might do with a 3 Act Lesson): What do you notice?  What do you wonder?

These were their answers:

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Now…the whole point of the wonderings was to give them some tasks to complete, right? So we then went back through that list of questions and tried to decide which were ones we could actually use math to figure out.  We noted connections, as well as marking off ones that were just interesting, but not “answerable.”

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After we had discussed the ones that we could actually tackle, mathematicians were invited to choose one with which they could get started.  Everyone declared their favorite and went to get started.  There were no “rules” except that they had to find a way to record their thinking so they could show us their answer.  (As a sidenote, as we got started, we had to have a conversation about what “recording” might mean–we use Seesaw so frequently that it only meant “using your voice to tell about your work.”  Oops. Guess we should talk about that more often. )

As kids got started, it was fun to watch the different strategies that they employed, including iPads, number lines, and fingers.

And aside from the different tools they chose to use, it was great to watch how EVERYONE had a place to enter this investigation!  No one felt like they couldn’t do it, like it was too hard or like it was no fun.  This was a highly motivating topic (they had all made the quilt!), with interesting questions (that they had come up with!), and they got to choose which question they wanted to answer (based on any criteria–which was easiest, which was most interesting, which was most challenging, etc.).  EVERYONE was engaged, for the whole time!  Kiddos worked alone and in partners–again, their choice–to answer as many of our wonderings as they could.

Check out what they discovered!

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What questions would you ask about our quilt?  We’d love to hear them–and maybe even try to answer them! 🙂

 

Building Relationships: Lunch Bunch

Last week I posted about how our Morning Meeting Feeling Circle helps build relationships in our classroom.  That same day something else happened that I was reminded of that also does this same thing: Lunch Bunch. 🙂

Several years ago in my classroom I had a routine of inviting kiddos to eat lunch with me–either I would choose a day to come to the cafeteria or they would be invited to come to our room to eat lunch there.  For some reason (I forgot?) I haven’t done this for the last few years on a regular basis.

This year, however, I have several kiddos who regularly ask me if they can eat with me.  This occasional situation turned into something official earlier this year when I had enough different kiddos ask that it just made sense to make it a “thing.”  So, now, on most Tuesdays, anyone from our class is invited to join me in our room after recess for Lunch Bunch.

I remember the first few times we did it, only about 8 or so kiddos came.  That’s still pretty good odds, though, I’d say–about half of our class.  As time has gone one, though, EVERYONE has started to join us!  Now we even look around and figure out who’s not there with us.  Isaac is usually the one who volunteers to go to the cafeteria to get whoever is left.  🙂

I think we had several kiddos missing on this day, so it’s not everyone, but it’s most of us. 🙂  Oh, and Isaac didn’t make it into this selfie, so he wanted one of his own. 🙂

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And then so did a few other friends.  (And I think if we’d have had enough time for me to work my way around the room, everyone would have wanted a selfie with Mrs. Bearden. 🙂

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Lucy and me 

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Makhi and Mrs. Bearden (and a photobomb from Beckett!) 🙂

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Me and Avant 🙂

It’s funny how just a change of place, or a change of thing can impact how you interact with kiddos (and how kiddos interact with each other).  Ok, I guess it’s not really a surprise, though, since food is such a universal thing and breaking bread together helps people of all ages and cultures to get to know each other better–this is true even of first graders!

I love how our conversations run the gamut and how much they are willing to share about themselves, often without even having to ask them anything!  There are usually quick connections made over foods we have that are the same, or a really funny conversation started by someone asking about something I have in my lunch that no one else in the room would eat!

Lunch Bunch has become a staple of life in Rm. 111 and I don’t think I could (or would!) change that.  A couple of times our Tuesday routine has had to adjust because of a meeting or inside recess and kiddos are SO UPSET!  They are always so quick to ask if it can be moved to the next day or the next day.  And you know, if I’d let them, I think most kids would come to eat with me every day!  I know it makes them feel special and a part of something, and you know–I feel that way, too!  Getting to know my students as PEOPLE helps me in so many ways as I help them as learners!  What a super special time we have together. 🙂 . Can’t wait to see what happens this week!

 

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of February 19-22, 2019

Hi and welcome back to the blog!  I’m so glad you keep coming back to check up on what’s going on–because we’re excited to share it with you!

The wall display is up to 360 and looks so amazing!

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Every day that goes by brings more and more interested onlookers to our display!  I think they might be wondering how long will we fill up the wall!  Or maybe where will it go when that happens.  We do have some ideas for where it will go (spoiler–look up!).

This week we added these new titles to the wall:

You’ll see some of our sweet stories from Kindness Week last week, and also a Mo Willems favorite we hadn’t read yet.  My favorites were the two that included diverse characters–Big Hair, Don’t Care and Whoosh! And the best part, those two were probably the kiddos’ favorites, too!

What should we read this week? 🙂