The 112th Day of School?

If you’ve been here for a while, you know that I have done some reflection on the appropriateness of celebrating the 100th Day of School (at least outside of kindergarten).  Last year we decided to commemorate the 111th day of school in a small way instead because that was our room number. Not the most creative reasoning, but Rm. 111 kids really stepped up and we did some awesome things around the number 111!

This year we talked about doing the same thing again (new class, same plan) after I explained to them about how we didn’t need to do the same thing they did in kindergarten–this is first grade, after all!

Well, because of two “too-cold” days off, our 111th day of school fell right after World Read Aloud Day, right after Global School Play Day, after a visit to the Black History Museum and some brownie baking and smack in the middle of Kindness Week!  Whew!  We were (and would be!) so busy–and no one had asked about it in a while–that I figured I’d let the day come and go and no one would notice.  I know–not fair, but hey, it’s what I did. 🙂

And it did come and go….at least for one day. LOL . On Wednesday, the 112th day of school, Ali noticed on our ten-frame number on the board that we had in fact missed our special day!  Oops. 🙂 . She asked me and I was honest with my answer.  She seemed fine with that explanation, but pretty much insisted that we fix it by doing something that day.  Ok, Al, you’re right. 🙂

During our Morning Meeting that day we talked about our new plan for the day (and yes, I admitted my mistake).  They had ideas similar to what some of my previous classes have done, and thankfully most of their suggestions were totally appropriate and “doable” without much planning.  Together we decided that we would read 112 books, have 12 extra minutes of math (which sounds weird but was the concession I could give them when they first asked for 112 extra minutes!), and that we’d do some reading/writing/drawing about Black History Month later on in the day.  Pretty great ideas, I’d say!

Before we got busy with our reading goal, we talked about how we would make 112 books happen.  Sam had a great idea of thinking about it like a math problem, and he helped construct a ratio table to figure out how many books each would need to read.  We ended up with 7 or 8 each, and quickly discussed how we’d keep track.  Chart paper and post-its for the win!

Remember how in the post about Twenty Yawns I talked about how great it is when the numbers work out for you?  Well, it happened again as the chart we used could fit 9 sticky notes across.  You can use multiples of 10 – 1 to figure out how many you have pretty quickly.  LOVE IT!

Anyhow, we worked pretty much all morning on this, but ended up getting to our goal (and a bit past it!) just as it was time for lunch.  PERFECT!

Oh, and I’ll share what happened in that extra 12 minutes of math in another post soon!  The afternoon when they worked on Black History Month was also great, but I didn’t get any pictures of it. 😦 . I LOVE how excited these kiddos are about learning, and how much of that includes books!

Kindness Week 2019: Ms. Dale’s Kindness Sale

As I mentioned in my post about the Kindness Quilt 2.0, Robinson has begun doing a variety of fabulous and kind things throughout a whole WEEK instead of just focusing on Valentine’s Day.

One of the REALLY fabulous things that happened during Kindness Week was a Kindness Garage Sale held by Ms. Dale’s First Graders.  They have been working on a service-learning project related to poverty, food scarcity and helping our neighbors.  We have a Little Food Pantry on our school campus (and it’s shaped like George, our Roadrunner mascot!), but they had noticed that it is often in need of filling; many people in our community benefit from what is available inside.

Ms. Dale’s class put together a garage sale to raise money to take a shopping trip to Aldi to shop for food to fill up our pantry and invited all of our school to come shopping!  Everything was 50 cents, so everyone was able to get a little something.

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We were amazed that everyone in our class seemed to find a trinket that was seemingly made just for them.  Zach found dinosaurs, Brock found a Transformer, Ariya chose a little porcelain egg with a kitten on it, Avant found bouncy balls, Riley found a dog, Hailey found a book she LOVES from our classroom and now she has her very own copy!–even I got something and found a 1000 piece puzzle! Several kiddos discovered sunglasses and were THRILLED when two days later it was finally sunny. 🙂 . Beckett and Isaac both made a point to choose something for themselves, and also for their moms. ❤ . And I’m sorry–I didn’t get a picture of everyone.  They were too quick for me!

Besides the treasures that we were able to find for ourselves, the big benefit of the sale was the almost $400 that the class raised!  They were able to take their shopping field trip on Thursday of Kindness Week and stock up the pantry!  What an incredible way to spread kindness and love to our community!  Can’t wait to see what happens as they continue to support the neighbors who live around us.  We’re also hoping that maybe the rest of Robinson can join in and do some learning with them. 🙂 Stay tuned for more chapters to this story!

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! 🙂