A Fabulous First Grade Friday in February! :)

Sometimes we have whole days where great things happen!  Last Friday was just one of those days.  🙂

It started in the morning when we got to visit the 5th Grade Black History Museum.  For the past few years, 5th grade has done a project to research famous black Americans and then share their findings with the rest of us.  This year it was extra special for our class because we have LOTS of 5th grade siblings.

It started with an introduction by a few 5th grade greeters and a giant sign:

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Then we were able to walk quietly through the museum and learn about the exhibits from the 5th grade historians.

When we returned, we recorded some of our learning in Seesaw to share with each other and our families.  We were excited to notice that some of the people we heard about in the museum were not new to us, as we’ve been doing lots of reading of our own, including a great book I’ll share more about later, called 28 Days.

Later on in the afternoon, we got to show off our baking skills (which we first honed making pumpkin pie, remember?) as we made brownies to share with families in the Robinson Food Pantry which was open that evening.  All of the first grades baked a treat, which was accompanied by a sweet note.

See?  A fabulous first grade Friday! 🙂

Kindness Quilt 2.0

Over the last few years, our school has begun to look differently at Valentine’s Day, choosing to celebrate an entire week (or even month!) of kindness, rather than just one day of candy and treats.  We even had a team of teachers to brainstorm and share ideas that kids might do to show kindness, a calendar with suggestions and videos and displays around our school.

Another such idea that our whole school took on was the Kindness Quilt.  It was actually a project that my class started last year, but something that never made it to the blog!?  It was a project sparked by a book–as many of our best ideas are!–which we started with ourselves and then shared with others, eventually inviting our whole school to participate. 🙂

This year many kiddos and teachers knew it was coming, since they had made the quilt last year.  We all started again, though, with the same inspiration: the book The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace.

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The story is about a little bunny who is also celebrating kindness in her school, looking for kind acts around her life as she goes through the week.  Instead of finding just ONE kind thing she did, she finds SO MANY she decides to make a quilt out of her random acts of kindness.  The quilt started with just herself and her classmates, then grew from the small bulletin board to the big one, and then eventually spread to other grades in her school.  OF COURSE we wanted our kindness quilt to do the same thing!

I invited (and reminded) the rest of Robinson to join in our quilt endeavor again, and asked for teachers to let me know who wanted to participate.  Very quickly classrooms started to tell us they needed supplies, so we got busy putting together supply bags for them to use.  What great counting practice!

Once we had shared quilt squares with so many classes, we also had to make sure we had made quilt squares of our own!  The directions were to 1) show your act of kindness on the white square using a torn-paper picture, 2)  use the words “Kindness is…” and tell about your picture, 3) matte your picture on a bigger colored square, 4) decorate the edges of your colored square.

(A quick aside on why they have to use torn-paper: first graders can always benefit from activities and movements that increase their fine-motor skills.  Using pinchers to tear small bits of paper helps strengthen their fingers, which helps in handwriting and other small movements.  Also, there is a different level of planning and thinking involved with making a picture out of tiny shards of paper than just drawing it with a pencil, and I want them to be challenged to think in a different way. 🙂 We have done this before, so they were not surprised by the request, but yes, there are still some who fuss about not being able to use scissors!!).

Once we had enough squares done to start mounting them, I pulled out the butcher paper and got to work.  Ms. Pachan and Makayla (a SUPER 5th grade helper who works in our room–and Makhi’s big sister!) helped out with this job, too.

Check out some of our AWESOME squares!

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And just so you can get a sneak peek of how our quilt will look (although at the end it will be MUCH MUCH bigger, here’s all the quilt squares as of Thursday afternoon):

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I can’t wait to share updates as it grows and grows and we continue to celebrate kindness, long after Kindness Week is over!

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week of February 11, 2019

I gave a little sneak peek of the newest books last time I updated but here are the titles up close.  We’re up to 349 and are as excited as the first day–maybe more since we’re getting closer to the top of the wall every day! 🙂

IMG_7037(Btw, yes, I know there’s a book missing.  I hung the wrong one there last week.  Oops. 🙂 )

So this week we added these new books to our display:

Ok, so there are some of our newest favorites on this list, books that are new to us this year.  Everywhere Wonder was a great reminder that if you look at the world in the right way, there is wonder–and a story–everywhere! I loved this one as a writer, and will use it next year as we launch Writer’s Workshop.  Crankenstein was super funny, and we already knew we loved the illustrations from Dan Santat (um, hello, Rodzilla?  Genius!).  Grammy Lamby might just be the sweetest story ever about a secret handshake, and Whistle for Willie is a just plain classic. 🙂 . We continued our reading about important people (as well as enjoying another book illustrated by an author we know, Don Tate!) with She Loved Baseball, and read about another important person we recognized with Mae Among the Stars.  This one was written about Mae Jemison as a child, which is a take on her story that I’ve never seen before. The pictures were beautiful and the story was so real.  Kids could absolutely understand how THEY could become an astronaut when they grow up.  Oh, and see that Toy Story book?  That’s the one we got from the library when we won BINGO on World Read Aloud Day–Makhi and Hailey picked a favorite for us to keep in our classroom. 🙂

As I always ask, what did you read this week?  What should WE read next week?  Share your title suggestions in a comment down below! 🙂

#GSPD2019–Play ALL Day!

I have told the story of how I first found Global School Play Day, and so I was looking forward to it as February got closer. :).

I remember when I told my friends that it was coming and how I already knew before they said it what their response would be: “All day?”  Yes, friends, you get to play ALL DAY LONG!  And you’re in charge!

Kids were invited to bring something from home to enhance their day (as long as they followed the no electronics rule), and they came in with some pretty great things to share with their friends in Rm. 111.  We usually start our day with choice time anyway, so in many ways this Wednesday was the same as every other Wednesday.  The easel question for the morning asked them to make a plan, get their things and PLAY!

Once we had lunch count, attendance, morning announcements and the Pledge taken care of, I pulled them together for a quick meeting.  We had to set the ground rules for the day.

Together we talked through these guidelines:

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Really I think many kids didn’t believe me about this whole “play day” thing, but after our meeting I sent them back on their way to get to work play.

Even from the beginning it was fun to watch how varied their choices were in activities.  We had blocks, Legos, cars, toys from home, stuffed animals, trains, board games and even arts and crafts.

Now I’ve worked with kids for many years (and have two of my own), so I’ve seen kids play before.  But, as with every new group of kiddos, there are some unexpected surprises that show up even when you think you’ve seen it all.  Let me share some that happened with this group.

1.) Kiddos incorporated a variety of mediums into one “game.” Wyatt and his friends played with Legos, wooden blocks, cars, recyclables, a stuffed elephant  and army men all together.  At one point they even had a book out as they followed along to build something “official” together with Legos.

Lucy, Riley and Ariya did the same with blocks, a pillow, Legos, LOL Surprise dolls and a wooden dog marionette. 🙂

2.) Kids could sustain long amounts of attention at the same activity.  The “game” that Lucy, Riley and Ariya were playing went on from about 9:00 until 12:30 or 1:00 (except for the time we were away for lunch and recess).  They changed the story, added in details (and new toys) and even had other friends move in and out throughout the whole thing.  They negotiated, took turns, shared ideas, laughed together, pretended–did all those things kids do when they have time and choice to play nicely without the interference of adults.  There was no arguing, fussing, misbehaving….and they probably could have gone on like that for much more of the day if they’d been able to.  They just seemed like they were having so. much. fun. :).

3.) There were many things that were in our play day that were from our “regular” day.  I don’t know if I should take credit for this, or if it’s just the activity itself is fun, but I’d like to say that maybe the way we do things has added enjoyment in Rm. 111?  Anyhow, there were many times I looked and students were choosing to do things they regularly do at school.  🙂

I think my favorite example of this came when I looked over at the easel by the rug and saw this:

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For those of you who are readers or this blog, or fans of phonemic awareness, or maybe teach a primary grade, you recognize that big spiral bound book as the Heggerty teacher’s manual.  Yep, on a play day where he was his choice of activity Brock. is. doing. Heggerty. I CANNOT tell you how big this made me smile and also how really it didn’t surprise me as much as I let on.  Kids love the motions and the pace of our phonemic awareness work and I think they appreciate how much it helps then in so many aspects of their literacy lives. 🙂

He added in some friends and “students.”

The best was when he got out the “choppers.” 🙂

Additionally, someone found a small pad of Catch of the Day tickets and kiddos started passing them out to each other for positive things they saw their friends doing. :). Again, this made my teacher and mama heart happy.  And if you are for some reason NOT familiar with Heggerty and the work it addresses in phonemic awareness, check out where I wrote about it here.

So…we had a SUPER GREAT Global School Play day and yes, we played ALL DAY.  I have one more video to share, and I want to see if you notice the same thing I did when I recorded it.

Listen.  Do you hear it?  I know, right?  There’s that buzz of kids who are engaged, busy, cooperating–LEARNING!  Again, I’m not sure I was surprised (ok, maybe I was), but the whole day went off without behavior problems.  Kiddos didn’t argue, fight, bother each other, mess around..they negotiated, solved problems, made choices and enjoyed their time at school with each other.  Man…that’s what we strive for every day, right?

So that being said, I had to reflect on what I would take away from another Global School Play Day.  First of all, it’s a nice reminder that kids. need. to. play.  I feel like we do a pretty good job of this in Rm. 111, but I can always step up my play game.  Letting kids have more ownership of their play, leaving them alone to do what they choose is one way I could improve.

Additionally, I was reminded of how long it takes to settle into a groove.  You, know, to achieve “flow?”  Where you are so busy doing and enjoying what you’re doing that you don’t even notice time passing?  That happens so little in a classroom where our day is broken into small, segmented subjects and we transition from one thing to another so frequently.  Granted, we do this for a reason, but it’s probably good to ask whether its best for teachers and their schedules or kids and what they need.  Just watching the girls and the length of time they were “into” the world they were building made me wonder how (or if) we could accomplish the same thing in an academic situation by allowing kids more freedom, choice and TIME to settle into what they are doing?

I love that I work with a team of teachers who also think this way and who are willing to chew on this idea with me.  We have taken on the idea together and are really working diligently to figure it out.  For ourselves but mainly for our kids.  Because they deserve it. 🙂

 

#classroombookaday UPDATE: See What Happened There??

Did you see it?  Let me post the latest picture and see if you see what I see. 🙂

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We made it to 300 books!!

I finally got around to adding the numbers to the side the other day (yeah..200 was there for a bit and I’ll fix it soon…long story), and kids of all ages are interacting with the wall  in a new way.  Seems like first graders (who have read all these books) weren’t really able to fathom that there were that many–the wall is just filling up and they know they’ve read a lot, but didn’t know just how many.  “Big” kids were suddenly amazed that “little” kids had read so many books!  Funny how just having something to relate to make you see things in a new way.

And, as you can see, we’ve actually read MORE than 300 books!  We added 36 from World Read Aloud Day, and then finished the row with some from last week (plus a few that I haven’t had a chance to get up there yet).  It’s been fun to make plans for what we will do when we fill up the wall (right now the plan is to go up and over the ceiling!). 🙂

Since I just posted all the additions from WRAD, the list from this week is small, but they were good ones nonetheless:

The books we added this week are all so different, but all so great!  I remember first reading Yard Sale during the Global Read Aloud in 2016 when Lauren Castillo was the featured illustrator and LOVING it, and this class did, too.  Such a simple story with such deep ideas.  The Rescue of Winks in one in a series of books that are written about real animals from the Second Chance Ranch (and we even Skyped with the author the other day and got to meet lots of her animals friends!).

Trombone Shorty was a toe-tapping addition during our library visit on Tuesday,  and I Don’t Want to Be a Frog is a fun read-aloud with lots of voices and funny lines. :). I have a few more, but they’ll be included for next week since they’re not on the wall yet.

What did you read this week?  Leave us a comment and share your favorites! 🙂

 

#WRAD2019: We are READERS in Rm. 111!

What an AMAZING time we had this year on World Read Aloud Day!  As I mentioned in the beginning of my post about Word Collector, it was at the end of a really weird week at school. We were out on Wednesday and Thursday, but thankfully Friday was a fresh (and much warmer!) day back and we were ready for a great day of reading!

First of all, it was a SCHOOL-WIDE PAJAMA DAY!!  Coming to school without getting dressed?  Super day for sure, am I right??

We got there and started with our regular choice time, but also with a question to Rm. 111 friends about a title they might like to read for WRAD.  We got lots of good suggestions, and so then started our official day with one they had asked for, The Gingerbread Man Loose in the Zoo!

It was a fun one, like the rest in the series.  It was a great one for kiddos to join in to read with me!

After this start to our day, I shared the WRAD Bingo Card we’d be working to fill up during the day.

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We got right to it and were able to cross LOTS of things off very quickly!  PErhaps our favorites were READ WITH A SIBLING, READ UNDER A BLANKET and READ WITH A FLASHLIGHT!  You don’t ever get to do those things at school!

Next we went to the library to attend an author Skype that had been set up by Mrs. Davis and Skype Classroom.  Her name was Ellen Fischer and we found out she used to live in St. Louis!  She shared her thoughts about writing, and then read us a book she had written, If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant.

We liked the story, which was about animals and what they eat.  I especially liked when she told us that the idea for the story came when she was in a restaurant with her grandson and was waiting FORVER for their food.  She got out the menu out and started talking to him about what different animals might order dinner.  Genius, right?  I LOVE it when “real” authors tell stories that kiddos can relate to, and she definitely emphasized the idea that ideas for writing can be found EVERYWHERE!

After the book, she let us ask her questions, which is always the best part of a Skype.  We learned that she didn’t like to read when she was a kid, but when she was in college she came to Washington University and got an opportunity to work with kids and was hooked!  She told us about other books she’s written and Makhi got to make a request that she write her next book about football. 🙂

After lunch, we were blessed with our first guest reader!  Zach’s mom came to join us and brought along two books we had never read!  One of them, The Seven Silly Eaters, was by both an author I know, and an illustrator I love.  I’m so glad to be introduced to good stories!

After she finished this one, we realized we only had one square left before BINGO, so we asked her for a favor.  Because Mrs. Vanderbunt is a good sport, she let us take her outside to read the next one.  This one was The Underpants Zoo, which was also new, and was just plain silly!

So you know what that meant?

We headed to the library to visit Mrs. Davis and she let us choose a new book for our class.  We didn’t get to read it yet (Friday was a little busy! hee hee), but Hailey and Makhi chose a Toy Story book for us to read together. 🙂

Ok…next we had an opportunity for all of first grade to listen to a story from a mystery reader!  Kiddos were given a choice of 9 different titles (without knowing who would read it!), and they got to go to whichever one sounded interesting.  In addition to our first grade team, our first grade assistant Ms. Pachan, our REACH teacher Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Sisul (our principal), and Isaac and Jonah’s mom–Mrs. Rappaport–had a story to share!  Check out the choices:

This was a great time for students to spend time with another caring adult, who may not be their own teacher.  It was important for kiddos to see that all the adults in our school (and in their lives!) are READERS!!  Oh, and not surprisingly, most kiddos chose Elephant and Piggie. 😉

Even though we’d been busy reading all day already, we were NOT FINISHED YET!  After specials, our very own Lucy read us a book she’d written about how to get ready for school, and we got another bingo on our card!

THEN we went to the library again for ANOTHER author Skype, this time with Julie Fortenberry (who was new to all of us!).  She read us TWO BOOKS!

We ended our day with some quiet time (because man, we were TIRED!) with a birthday treat for our friend Will.  We’d missed his birthday on one of our days off and he brought Oreos!

That sweet smile!  The second one is a little blurry, but it’s from when we were singing to him (and no, I didn’t get a video–boo!), and he LOVED it!  Happy Birthday, buddy!

Ok, one more collage.  I just shared the books that we read in our class.  Check out all the reading from ALL of first grade.  WOOHOO for BOOKS!!

Alright.  That’s it.  HA!  I mean, goodness–we were BUSY and had a FULL day of READING and FUN!

Did you celebrate World Read Aloud Day?  What did you read?  What did you do? Leave us a comment and tell us about it! 🙂

 

We are WORD COLLECTORS!

Whew!  This week was crazy!  Besides it being World Read Aloud Day on Friday, we had TWO “it’s-too-cold-to-go-outside-today” days off of school!  It was a nice refreshing mid-week break, but definitely made for a week where NO ONE knew what day it was. LOL

So…remember how last week I mentioned a super project that was sparked from another Peter H. Reynolds book we read?  Well, I finally have enough of it up and photographed that I can share it!

Last week as one of our read aloud we enjoyed hearing The Word Collector.   Basically, in the story, Jerome collects words that he hears and likes–short words, long words, funny words, nice words, you get the idea.  Eventually he ends up have a GINORMOUS bag of words on little slips of paper that he drops and they get all spread around, then being shared with the rest of the world!

We decided that as super readers and word-lovers ourselves, we could also collect words!  It really only took a quick mention of the idea for first grade readers and writers to be IN and start finding great words all over the place!  We “officially” worked on it for one reading/writing time, but I know they literally could have done it all. day. long.  I love how Sam and Jaxon, who were working together, said they collected pages and pages of words for 20 or 30 minutes but said, “I think we could do this for 20 or 30 more HOURS!”

Now, when something like this happens, I can’t ever decide if the best part is what happens in our room, or what happens when someone decides we should share the idea with other kids.  In this case, it may have been both.

I went ahead and covered the door in blue paper, which was supposed to look like the cover of the book. See?

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Then as a class (well our class and Ms. Turken’s kiddos, too), we decided what we might do to share our work with our school on our doors.  We agreed that we should have a picture of Jerome, telling our Robinson friends about our inspiration and the word collecting we began to do.

We decided rock-paper-scissors would be the best way to decide who would create Jerome, and so after many, many games, Makhi, Wyatt and Isaac became our illustrators.     They made a most-handsome version of Jerome, and also a word bubble that we added words to together.

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Beckett helped add some words to our speech bubble, using interactive writing and his best first grade letters!

One of the best things that happened as we talked about what our speech bubble should say, was when Hailey suggested we invite other Robinson friends to collect words WITH US!?  I usually have an idea of what I think the words could say, but it’s generally up to kiddos to decide what they will say. Hailey had the great idea that we should invite the rest of Robinson to collect words WITH US, which I had not even considered.

On Friday we finally had time to get our lists and lists of collected words onto our slips and finish our Jerome and words.  We still have to add the pocket that will house the slips, tape, and sharpie for other people to use, but it’s up and it’s FABULOUS!  Don’t you agree?  I LOVE LOVE LOVE that these kiddos are already learning to pay attention to how words sound and think about the power they have!

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What words would you add to our display?  Please leave your suggestions in the comments and we’ll put them up for you!  Can’t wait to hear what you say and from how far away our words will come!  So in addition to your words, please tell us where you live!