Cinderella from Around the World

During the last part of the fall/winter, we were busy in first grade.  Busy reading, learning and thinking bout Cinderella.  And culture.  Many years ago I found a unit I really like that was focused on using Cinderella as a means of getting kids to think and learn about how other people live around the world.  We learned a little about fairytales, and also compared and contrasted what the stories had in common (and of course, what was different).  That first year we enjoyed it so much that when I looped with that group to 2nd grade the next year, I wrote a similar unit based instead on Little Red Riding Hood, which was also a big hit!

This year we dug in again to the Cinderella-culture connection, and another group of super kiddos got to hear many amazing stories (most of which were new to them!).  We started with the story most everyone knew already.

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We followed, over the next few weeks, reading many other versions of the story, from places around the globe.  As we talked about each story, we also wove in geography lessons, and marked each country on a map together.

In the first version of this unit that I taught, I had kiddos choose a country that they wanted to learn more about, and then students worked in groups to learn all about the culture of that country.  This time around, Ms. Turken (my co-teacher), and I decided that it might be a bit too much for some of our friends and we had a change we decided to make: we chose two countries we would research and then students could choose which one they wanted to learn more about.  We offered Mexico and China for this part, and kiddos could work with either teacher for the study.

Once we had our groups, kiddos chose which PART of culture they were most interested in: religion, music/dancing, clothing, food, holidays, sports/games, school and art.  Students worked in pairs to research their topic, taking notes as they went.  (In my class we worked on Mexico’s culture, and Ms. Turken facilitated the study of China in Rm. 112; kiddos from both of our classes worked in both places).

After we had taken a few days using books, websites and videos to gather information, we worked to build a mural (of sorts) to share our learning with the other group.  We began with a blank chart (below) and then kiddos had to work with paper to create a 2D representation of the things they found to be most important about their topic.

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I always love to see pics of kids “in action,” and also love how they incorporate technology right along good old paper and glue. 🙂

Once we were finished, we met to have each group (Mexico and China) teach the other country’s group about what they had learned about the culture of each place.

We did a great job, but we also learned that our kiddos have LOTS to learn about how to present to an audience. :). No worries–there’s lots of time left in the year to work that out. 🙂

Also, as a side note, while our study focused on the cultural parts of the Cinderella story, we also read several versions that were just for fun!

I’d say (without any hard evidence except for my being there during the study) that this was a hit with everyone involved.  We loved all the stories and everyone learned something they didn’t know before we started.  🙂

 

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!

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of January 7, 2019

Welcome back to school!  We are getting back into our routine after a fantastic holiday break and I’m excited to share another great week of reading in first grade!  Check out our wall and how fast it is filling up!

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As of January 11, we were at 266 books!

Check out the books we’ve added since last week! 🙂

You may or may not be able to tell that we are working on fractions, problem solving, persuasive writing, and also did some learning about penguins.  Going Places and I Built a House were included in some design challenges (which I will share soon!) and some were just for fun. :).

I have gotten a couple of suggestions for new reads, please continue to share your ideas for what we should read next! 🙂

**Sidenote: As I was adding the Twitter mentions for this post, I realized how many authors we read this week had written other books we already love!  Thank you, Laurie Keller, for writing Potato Pants!  Just realized you also wrote Arnie the Doughnut, which we loved form last year.  Genius!  And of course, I noticed when we read Mae’s First Day of School that it was the same author as Hannah and Sugar (you’re awesome, Kate Berube!), another one we love–which has a song we love from Emily Arrow! It’s worth a share here, since it’s so good. 🙂

 

Table Talk, Friendship Soup and Pumpkin Pie!

The months between Halloween and Winter Break are my favorite to teach.  Oh wait–I think I will probably say that very soon, as I love to teach January and February, too.  Ha! Maybe I just like teaching in first grade….:)

Anyhow, one of the things I love is the fun we are able to have with out learning and our community around Thanksgiving.  This year we made Friendship Soup (which was a first for me!) as well as the pumpkin pie that has become a common tradition for my classes to make and share together.

Thanks to many generous parents who donated LOADS of things, we were able to work together with out friends in RM. 112 to make two whole crockpots full of friendship soup, which was actually PHONICS friendship soup, full of letters thanks to a recipe from our good pal, Rasheed.  In the morning of our last day before we left for our long Thanksgiving break, we put it all in the pot to let it simmer while we worked on other things.  It was fun to see what kiddos already knew about cooking, like who had heard of the spices we were using or who knew how to open a can with a can opener.  It’s one of my most favorite things about cooking with kids–connections to real life and skills they’ll use forever! 🙂 And they did a great job with following the recipe and man did it start to smell good!!

On that same day, pumpkin pie was on the menu!  Prior to this day we had read lots of books about pumpkins, carved jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, and used pumpkins for our Literary Lantern projects, too.  Well, we ended up with several leftovers, which were PERFECT for our pie project.  I had never used actual pumpkin for the recipe (usually it’s just organic pumpkin out of a can), but why not? It just made sense!

I have a great crust recipe from my husband’s granny that is just flour, salt and oil, which is perfect because our class has allergies to eggs, dairy, nuts and tree nuts.  The pie is a vegan recipe (yep, vegan!) I ran across a couple of years ago–when I was baking for my niece and nephews who are also allergic to many things. :). The recipe was perfect!  Besides the fact that most kiddos had never MADE a pumpkin pie before, there were some who had never EATEN pumpkin pie before, because it wasn’t safe for them.  This was definitely a win-win situation. :). We were even able to have allergy-friendly “whipped cream” that was made with aquafaba (which for those who don’t regular eat this way is the liquid leftover from chick peas).  It whips up just like heavy cream (ok, not just like it–my husband would DEFINITELY disagree that it’s as good–but it’s a great substitute if you can’t have the dairy kind) and is yummy with the pie!

While we don’t have a classroom kitchen (or a kitchen for us to use with our classes, which would be AWESOME!), we do have pretty a great kitchen staff who was more than willing (thanks, Rachel!!) to put our pie in the oven, and even watch it for us while it baked.  Gotta love it when all the adults in the building support kid-focused activities, no matter how crazy they are!

Toward the end of the day, it was finally time for our Friendship Feast, which we had created with our very own hands. :). I hadn’t done this in such a formal way before (most years prior we just had pie and ate it in a hurry during our regular snack time), but my teammates went all in and set a big long table, complete with table cloths and everything, so I figured I’d join in at least part-way. :). I didn’t have table cloths, but I did create a table space big enough for us all, and Avant even put a flower on it to make it fancy. 🙂

Those pics are a little sad, though, right, because they needed kids!  As they walked back in after specials, they were excited and surprised to see a table set for them and quickly sat down.

Before we were ready to eat, we reminded ourselves of some other things we had learned prior to this day.  I thought that since we were going to sit at a table together, we should use it as an opportunity to learn about table manners.  I have learned over lots of years with little ones, and by having my own kiddos at home, that you cannot assume that kids KNOW what to do in certain situations.  So instead I read a great book by Julia Cook called Table Talk.

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Just as was in the book, we waited for everyone to be seated, for everyone to be served and put our napkins in our laps.  We chewed with our mouths closed, waited our turn to talk, and also remembered to be quiet and respectful at the table, rather than playing around or being loud and crazy.  Before we ate, also, we went around the table and shared what we were thankful for.  We listened carefully and then once everyone had had a turn, we dug in. :).  And realized we had done a GREAT JOB with our Friendship Soup–it was YUMMY!! (Oh, and another thing we all did was at least take a “thank you bite,” which means you have to at least try the soup and then you are allowed to not eat the rest–as a thank you to the chef for making it for you. 🙂 ).

Most kids like the soup, and everyone at least tried the pie.  Some decided it was AWESOME and had more than one slice, and others just had a bite–which is totally fine, of course.  The big deal here wasn’t that we were great cooks, or that we were master bakers.  Instead it was that we could work together, take time for each other, show kindness and respect to our friends, enjoy time with classmates and also see the fruits of our labor.  Kids did things they didn’t know they could do and were so excited to see the results.  They laughed together, solved problems together and listened to what makes their friends happy.  We had table talk, friendship soup and pumpkin pie, and we did it all together.  And for that I am thankful!

 

 

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!

 

#classroombookaday UPDATE: A New Year’s View–January 2019

I am pretty sure I write the same “I’m-so-sorry-that-it’s-been-so-long-since-I’ve-posted” apology every year.  So, wait, maybe that’s just how I roll on this blog now and I should stop apologizing for it and instead accept that this is just real life for me now, huh?  Whew!  That feels all of a sudden so free and clear and we can start a new year on a good foot. Ready?  Here we go!

This year has been another amazing one as far as books and literacy and introducing great new stories to our first graders, and we are again watching our wall fill up with BEAUTIFUL pictures of books!  Check our what our wall looked like when we left for Winter Break:

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We are currently at 243, which is well on our way to the 561 book goal (based on last year’s numbers)!  I am amazed at how many books on this wall are NEW and DIFFERENT from the titles on the wall last year.  We added so many great stories last year, discovering new authors and new ideas that it’s surprising how many equally great ones we’ve found this year.  Can’t wait to get into a regular routine of sharing our wall pics and taking YOU with us on this reading journey! 🙂

As I ask every time…what are some titles YOU have been reading, or ones you suggest we share with our kiddos?  We’ve love to add them, and then tell you what we think. :). PLEASE leave a comment with a book idea for us! 🙂

Literary Lanterns: 2018 version

I found this project a few years ago, and have tried it with three first grade classes now. 🙂 Last fall must have been a busy time in my life because the 2017 version of this project did not make it to our blog. 😦 Oh well–here’s another iteration of this awesome project, which is a great combo of fall, pumpkins and books!

As with the last times we’ve done it, we started with the explanation, and this picture:

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We talked about the possibilities for books and characters we’d use and made one really important rule: you can’t do anything in this example. :).  As you might be able to tell, these are many of our favorite characters and EVERYONE would want to do them.  This challenges them to think “outside the book” so to speak, and not just copy someone else’s idea.

Kids had time to check out our book wall (another GREAT reason to display them low for all to see!), and shared their book choice (either from one we’ve read or one they’ve read or just love).

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After their books were chosen, and Ms. Turken and I had given them their assignment (with the idea of trying to make sure all our our lanterns were different), they were to draw their plan, including a list of materials they would need to complete their pumpkin.  Learners shared their plans with us (and each other) via Seesaw.  Here are some of them:

Once everyone had brought in their pumpkins (plus some extras via some very generous families!), we finally got busy with the decorating!

We were finally ready to share our creations after we’d gotten our displays together–including a picture of our book and a recording of who our character was and why we’d chosen them (can you say “thank you KSD for the fact that we are 1:1 with iPads?  WE are able to do SO MANY GREAT THINGS because of that!). Here’s what a few of those looked and sounded like:

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We set up our Literary Lanterns and our iPads so that as kiddos from the other classes came through to see our gallery they could listen and look at our thinking.  We also had a chance to go through and view our own class’ creations during the gallery walk.   What a great end to a great Friday morning around Robinson school!

Ok, one last little slide show. :). Here’s a closer look at our creations! (It seems now that I’ve missed a few, but I will add them as soon as I get back to school!)

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