Learning to Draw From an Expert

Remember when Pacifique was here last year and we were SO EXCITED?!  And the year before when we first met them?   Well…since then we’ve developed quite a close relationship with the NIYO Cultural Centre and are lucky to be able to learn from these amazingly talented artists often.  This time Pacifique brought some new friends–Patrick and Figy.  Last time we focused primarily on music and dance, but this time Figy has been able to share his painting talents with us.  WE WERE EXCITED!

First, he did a little bit of pre-planning and basics instruction at the easel.  Everyone really wanted him to start by drawing tigers and lions, but Figy helped us understand that we have to start with simple and THEN we can stretch out and do some harder things.  We were going to start with butterflies.  Just like the lesson Ms. Holzmueller had done with us the previous week, he showed us how butterflies are made of shapes we already know, like ovals.  Easy peasy!

Once we had sketched our butterflies, we gathered for a painting lesson.  Figy is a master with watercolors and had much to teach us.  I was so excited to learn a tip that I had never learned: before you start painting, you “paint” the paper with water!  This helps the paint then “float” around on the water.  SO BEAUTIFUL!

After this next part of the lesson, we tried out hands at adding color to our own creations.

We weren’t finished yet, though!  We would leave them to dry overnight, and then trace the details on top of our paint with permanent marker.  WOW–what a great combination!  Check out Figy’s example he made for us:

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AND THEN (as if it hadn’t already been an amazing time together!), he called kiddos to the rug as they finished painting, telling them he had a secret to tell them.  He quickly had a line forming in front of him as he whispered quietly in each kiddo’s ear.  No one except that kiddo had any idea what he was talking about!

We soon found out that was he was talking to each kiddo about was what other animal they might like him to draw and quickly a pretty impressive list started to form on the easel paper.  And then he started drawing them for us!  Right before our eyes they begin to appear on the paper, like a colorful 2D zoo!

Did you notice what started to happen as he added animals to the paper?  Kiddos were so inspired that a whole new drawing lesson ensued and everyone was trying them out, too! Love it when that happens.  You don’t even have to invite them or suggest that they do it–just showing them is all the invitation that need! So organic. 🙂

So then Friday when we came back, we took our turn with the Sharpies and finished our paintings.  Aren’t they beautiful??

We were so inspired and thankful to Figy for sharing his talents with us!  We have even started another watercolor painting project in math that we’ll finish this coming week, too.  Stay tuned for updates on how we transfer this learning to another situation! 🙂

Lions, Rectangles and Triangles–Oh My!

We have been on a bit of a geometrical journey as of late.  We’ve studied sides, corners (which we know are called angles), diamonds (which of course are really called rhombuses!), square corners, trapezoids and loads of other things.  We’ve taken pictures, manipulated blocks, read books and even drawn pictures.  Pictures of shapes, and now pictures of lions, too.  Let me explain. 🙂

Well, actually, let me let a guest author explain. 🙂

Hi parents, guardians and friends of Room 202 1st graders! My name is Kate, or Ms. Holzmueller, and I work as a TA at Robinson. I’m one of the TA’s assigned to the 1st grade recess (where I often referee kickball) and lunch (where I help maintain order and pass out napkins and embellish hamburgers with ketchup smiley faces!) I’ve been spending time in Mrs. Bearden’s classroom the past few months, supporting some of the fantastic kiddos and doing a few read alouds, too! 🙂
Last week I spent time during math rotations having discussions with kids about squares and triangles and other shapes. (One of the benchmarks for first grade learners is that they, say, recognize that a square is a square because it has four equal sides and four equal angles.) While playing with the manipulative shapes I thought of one of my favorite authors, Ed Emberley and his books that help children (and adults like me who love to draw!) draw animals and monsters and people and cities, etc. all by drawing simple shapes. I showed Mrs. Bearden an Ed Emberley book and she was kind enough to let me share his work with your students.
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So during math centers, we looked at two pictures of a lion, one real, the other drawn. We had conversations about the shapes within the lion–how it’s nose looks like a triangle, how it’s head looks like a rectangle, etc. Then we practiced drawing all the shapes we had identified on white boards with dry erase markers. After that, we followed Mr. Emberley’s tutorial on how to draw his version of a lion, again on the whiteboard. (First by making a rectangle, then another rectangle, then a triangle…) 

Today during math time we practiced drawing shapes again on the whiteboard and then we used cardstock and markers to draw our own lions, still using rectangles and triangles and circles, etc.

Students were allowed to use whatever colors they liked and embellish their lion as they best saw fit–some have freckles! Some have angry eyebrows! We had conversations about how many triangles they used to show the teeth, how many triangles to make the mane, etc.

The results are very colorful and scary and fun and are now greeting passers-by in the halls. 

(And BOY are they BEAUTIFUL! Sorry–this is Mrs. Bearden.  Had to throw in my two cents about how great they are.  AND how great Ms. Holzmueller did as she taught the lesson! Learned a few things myself that I will incorporate tomorrow. 🙂  Really, I did!  Ok…back to the guest post…:) ).

If your student mentioned drawing a lion today know that Mr. Emberley has lots of other fun books they might like, too! (I found two of them in the Robinson library just today!)  And remember it’s just as easy to play “I Spy” with geometrical shapes as it is colors! “I Spy with my little eye something that is a square…” 

Rm. 202 Literary Lanterns Project

A few weeks ago I started seeing tweets about Literary Lanterns and they were so interesting to me.  Basically think of a pumpkin painted like your favorite book character, and that’s what they are.  We toyed with the idea of doing this on a school level, but it didn’t happen, so Rm. 202 decided to do it for ourselves!

First I showed my friends some examples of some pumpkins other kids had created, since I figured most of them didn’t really didn’t have any idea what I was talking about. 🙂

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Then we brainstormed a list of characters kiddos would like to create, with two minor rules: NO ONE could do Piggie or Elephant and NO ONE could do the Pigeon, because well, EVERYONE would want to do those characters and that would be a very boring pumpkin display.  Once everyone was clear on those guidelines (which really meant that EVERY OTHER BOOK CHARACTER in the world was fair game), kiddos got busy creating a list of ideas.

I pulled up our book pictures on our ActivBoard, and many also studied our door display (see?  Another reason why this project has been SO GREAT!).

Originally I was going to take our ideas and make a list and then have everyone pick the one they wanted, but instead had them circle the one they most wanted to create on the list they first brainstormed.  Then I just had to cross-reference everyone’s choice (which was much easier and much less work!) and surprisingly it all worked out really nicely.  Some kiddos were paired up (if they chose the same book) and some worked alone.

These choices were made on a Friday, so that kiddos could then work at home over the weekend to secure their pumpkin and any other supplies they might need.  To my surprise and delight, this showed up on Monday:

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Once we had our pumpkins, our plans and some time, we got busy!!

Oh my goodness they looked great!

Then we had a super idea about how we’d share them with our Robinson friends.  I asked Mrs. Meihaus if she would let us make a display of them in the library so we could show up our hard work and creativity, and she so kindly said YES!  Most teachers at Robinson know about our #classroombookaday challenge and how this went along with our crazy reading love, so were interested in what we were doing anyway.

Then we had another great idea: we would use this project as the basis of our learning on elections and voting.  Our display was set up, we created a sign to hang above our pumpkins and then everyone of them was numbered.  I created a Google form for Robinson friends, family and teachers (anyone who views the display, really) to cast their votes and now we’re off!  We are so proud and very excited to see what happens with this project now that it’s in place in the library. 🙂

And without further ado, here are our final products:

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We’d love to include you in our voting, too!  If you’d like to vote for YOUR favorite pumpkin, scan the QR code or click on the link below and cast your vote!  We’d LOVE to see how far this project can spread outside of our walls in Missouri, so please also share where you live!  THANK YOU in advance!!

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goo.gl/PXrKZb

Global Read Aloud Week 3: The Reader

This week was the half-way point of the Global Read Aloud.  We have so enjoyed the texts we’ve read so far, and this week’s book was no different.  Lauren Castillo has become a new friend to all of Rm. 202 kiddos and we enjoyed interacting with another of her great books: The Reader.

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As we read this beautiful story of a boy, his dog, a cold, snowy day and a good book, we discussed many parts and made many predictions.  We talked about who we thought “the reader” was, where we thought they were going, and we even connected a part of the story with the punctuation investigation we started the other day (which OF COURSE I’ll tell you more about later on!).

We got to this page of the book, when the boy heads toward home, and thought that maybe something was missing (sorry, Lauren Castillo!).

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So…we added it. 🙂  And the best part was that Rm. 202 kiddos knew that it needed exclamation points to make it sound exciting, and they also suggested that it be written in all capital letters because that also tells the reader how it should sound. 🙂

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Great, right?  And of course, no disrespect to the way it was actually written.  Reading lots Elephant and Piggie books makes us see speech bubbles EVERYWHERE!!

After we read and talked, we decided to get artistic and kiddos were invited to paint in response to the story.  They were asked to answer one of these two questions: Where is YOUR favorite place to read? or What is YOUR favorite thing to do in the winter?   Once their paintings were complete, they chose a paper to matte their piece, and wrote a card to explain their creation.  We brainstormed words we might want to use and created a chart to use a resource in our writing.  I CANNOT wait to see what these look like altogether on the bulletin board at school, but I had to go ahead and share them individually with you here from home.  They sure are pretty!!

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And I know I have said this every week of the GRA so far, but maybe this is the week that we finally join the slow chat about the books we’re reading.  Maybe. LOL 🙂

 

 

Dot Day UPDATE: We Made Our Mark!

I hope that you have already enjoyed the story of our Dot Day 2016 celebration, but if not, you might want to check that out first, and then you will have an even better idea of how we got here.  This is an update–one thing I forgot to share (what??) and our amazing paintings that weren’t ready to share yet.  Believe me, these MARKS are amazing!

First our favorite parts of Dot Day (not surprisingly, it was the DOTS for most kiddos!)

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Now the BEST part.  🙂  We made dots and watched them splatter…and we wrote about them, too!

 

 

 

Happy in Our Skin!

For the last few years, I’ve started the year with creating beautiful things to hang in our room.  It’s so great to watch as our bare walls fill up with amazing creativity that spills out of our first grade minds!

This project is both fun and meaningful as it’s based on helping kiddos see that while we are all different that’s an amazing thing, and that within those differences we can celebrate ways we are also the same.

As with many things, we started our conversation with books.  We read Shades of Black by Sandra Pinkney and Happy in Our Skin by Fran Manushkin together.

We talked about how each of us looks different, has different talents to share and brings many different things to our classroom community.  Also, we have many things that are the same because we’re all kids.  We all want to be loved, to belong, to contribute, to learn.

We wanted to create beautiful images of our unique and different selves to hang on the wall, and we did so with lots of different creative things in our room.  We also borrowed a mirror from our friends in Ms. Turken’s room so we could see some of the close-up details of our faces.

Now they hang along the top of our wall and we can see them smiling on us every day!  We are definitely learning to celebrate the beautiful skin we live in, and appreciate how different we all are!

Dot Day 2016: Too Much Fun For Just One Day!

If you follow Dot Day or you have been to the official website, then you know the date for Dot Day is advertised as “Sept 15th-ish.”  Now being a fan of the Reynolds brothers, I figure there’s probably a joke in there because of their amazing book Ish, but I also love that it probably just means teachers can have some freedom in when they celebrate.  I mean, we all know that things like that can rarely fit so nicely right into our schedules.

We were able to take advantage of a great Skype invitation from Ms. Hachen’s 2nd Grade Ms. Hachen’s 2nd Grade class to take place on Sept. 15th, and so in order to have something to talk to our new friends about on that morning at 9 am, we did our “official” Dot Day work the day before.  If you have visited 20somethingkids before, then you know Skyping is not a new thing to my kiddos, BUT this was to be the first one this particular class had made.  I was excited and I’m pretty sure that until it happened, many of them didn’t know what we were doing. LOL

Ms. Hachen and I had planned to have our kiddos share their dot art, and tell the rest of the class what they decided to do to “make their mark.”  We gathered on the floor in front of our screen and computer, and oh my goodness I wish I would have taken a video of what happened next.  You can imagine I’m sure…I turned on Facetime just to give them an idea of what it would look like  once we got started and everyone started making faces at themselves in the camera, putting bunny ears on their friends, waving their hands…you get the idea?  I mean I guess I couldn’t really blame them–if you have never seen yourself on screen before like that and you are a 6YO, you’re probably going to do something goofy, right? So I asked them to get all those sillies out and then we waited patiently for our friends to call.  They did, and we listened to our new friends from Kansas (hey, they’re our neighbors!) tell us about their Dot Day creations.

It looked and sounded a little like this:

You know, I love it when I watch videos of things that happen in our classroom, because I often notice or see new things that I didn’t notice in the moment.  Honestly, I remembered that many kiddos were NUTS and had a hard time being patient as we watched and listened, and I remembered having to give many reminders for them to be respectful audience members.  I’m so glad to see that most of them did a GREAT job of waiting, and am not surprised to see that there are still some who REALLY wanted to show off their art work.  I’m going to take that as a sign that they were really proud–and that we need more practice with Skype. LOL  No worries, we will get lots of that as we go through this year. 🙂

When we were finished with our Skype, we had some other things to do (like regular 1st grade curriculum stuff!), but we came back to another art challenge later in the afternoon.  I had seen a blog post about creating a circle painting with your class and wanted to try it.  After all the paint fun we’d had the day before (did I mention that we had to throw three kiddos’ clothes in the washer?), I needed to figure another way to make it work.

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We didn’t exactly follow the directions, as we didn’t use paint, and I didn’t have them only paint circles, but we did indeed work together to make our marks on a class art piece together.  That was really my big idea anyway, regardless of the medium.

So, we started with a big yellow piece of paper, 8 kiddos and a box of markers.

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They were given 30 seconds to work at the part of the paper that was in front of them, and then we rotated around the table.  They were supposed to add something new to the picture that they moved to next.

Not only did we create a BEAUTIFUL art piece together, but not a single person fussed during this time, nor did anyone argue, fight over a spot, or not follow directions.  It was quiet, ran smoothly and kiddos seemed like there were really enjoying themselves!  They took this “making our mark together” business really seriously. 🙂

And then when we were finished (we went through three rounds of 8 kiddos each), we had to do the most important part–sign it!

I have not had a chance to frame it yet, nor have I decided where to hang it (we should decide on that together, I think!), but I am surely impressed with what we were able to do.  My favorite part?  When I heard Johnny say to me as he rotated to the next spot, “I think this is supposed to be a carnival, so I’m going to add part to the roller coaster!”  What a great example of paying attention to others’ intentions.  Saw that happening all over the place after he said it.  Way to go Johnny and Rm. 202 friends!

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Just for fun, a few closer looks:

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Ok, and just one more.  It was a good thing we had Double Dot Day, because on actual Dot Day I wore stripes to school.  I know, wah wah. 😦  But I remembered the next time and was excited to sport the RIGHT outfit!

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Oh, and look–they’re even DOUBLE DOTS!!  Like it was meant to be. 🙂

What a great couple of days focusing on reading and creativity, helping and working together!  Thanks for reading and ’til next year, keep on make, make, making your mark!!

What’s in a Name? (One More Time!)

Picture books, Notability with pictures, inch tiles, Legos, games and paint??  Who knew there were so many ways to practice writing, reading and CELEBRATING our names?  Well, Rm. 202 kiddos knew, because they’ve been doing loads of things with names lately!

As we continued our study, I shared another great book from the unit Mrs. Wessel shared with me:

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This is a great story for many reasons.  It’s a story about a refugee family, where the little boy is struggling with fitting in, and many keep mispronouncing his name.  He feels like he’s “lost his name in America.”  He comes up with a great idea for how to help his classmates (and teacher!) learn his name, and it includes pictures.  I also love this book because it features main characters of color.  We’ve been talking about (and reading!) books in our room lately with African-American characters and authors (as well as some that are of other backgrounds), and how important it is that kiddos see themselves in the books they read!

Well, along with reading this gem of a book, we send kiddos home with a little job to do.  It’s a suggestion from the What’s in a Name unitWhat’s in a Name unit that was shared with me, and was too good not to try.

The sheet asked families to share their stories about the origins of student names, any family connections, info about meaning and nicknames, as well as what the kiddos thought were interesting about their names.  What fun it was to go around the circle and share personal stories about kiddos’ names, and watch their faces light up as we talked about THEM and THEIR special details.  We heard about things we never would have learned without this activity, and I think in many ways the special thoughts (and giggles) we shared here will continue to help weave us together as the beautiful quilt we will become.  All different and unique, from different places and made of different cloths, but tightly stitched together with respect, experience and love. 🙂

After we shared the book and some stories, kiddos got busy creating art like Sangoel did (his name is pronounced Sun-goal, by the way).  I gave each kiddo a slip of paper with their name written on it and they were to use a variety of mediums to create a colorful representation of themselves.  Many chose to use what they had learned about the meanings of their names (Aadish means “sun,” Allie means “nobility” and Ayonna means “beautiful flower,” for instance), and others just added their favorite colors and patterns or images of things they like.  Regardless of their choices, we will add this to the collection of beautiful things in our room that remind us of who we are and how special each one of us is. 🙂  Plus they look pretty great hanging in the hall right now.  I LOVE our bulletin board out there!

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#FDOFG: …yet

I have written before about how important the word YET is in the lives of my students.  Well in my life, too, actually.  Even though it’s only the third week of school, I’ve already found many opportunities to help kids change their words from totally negative grumblings of “I can’t do that” to “I am not great at that….yet!”

And so like I’ve done with previous classes (this is one of those beginning-of-the-year activities I left pretty much the same because it works for almost everyone!), we talked about caterpillars and butterflies in relation to the idea of “yet.”  And then we got busy being creative!

After our butterflies were dry, we worked on adding a goal to them using this stem:

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It was interesting to see what kinds of things kiddos wrote; some were related to things in school (like reading, writing or art) and some were about other things like bike riding, cooking, and some were applicable to all parts of life, like waiting or listening.  I’m excited to watch as these caterpillars develop into beautiful butterflies and  they see their “not yet” become NOW!!

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Later these will hang in our classroom so we can be inspired by them each day, but for now they are on view in our hallway.  So great and SO PRETTY!!

**On a side note…the pictures from our work time were taken by Ms. Mimlitz (a FABULOUS teacher who works with us in 1st grade!), and may seem different than the ones I usually post.  I asked her to take care of documenting this activity because I was busy helping out as they worked and it was so interesting to see how someone else “sees” what kids do.  The process was so much more beautiful through her eyes; I realized my pictures never have kids faces, just them working.  I had chosen to do that purposefully in order to highlight the thinking, working, creating, PROCESS, etc., instead of interrupting kiddos to cheese at the camera….but as I see that the photos she took are so much more interesting to me, and I can see the JOY of the learners as they are working (I appreciate this as a teacher, but also with the parent hat on–I know I love to see the faces of my own kiddos smiling back at me on the screen!).  Now that I am reflecting on it, it makes me wonder how I’ve never connected the fact that the absence of students’ faces has meant that a HUGE part has been missing!  Seems so simple but such a big deal…I am there for those precious kiddos, and I WANT to see that they are both busy and enjoying themselves!  As I go forward, I will be looking both at what they are doing as well as HOW they are doing it.  Thanks, Ms. Mimlitz for helping to open my eyes to seeing my students and how I share our stories on our blog in a different way! 🙂

What do you see when you watch your kiddos working?  Did you notice the difference in pictures?  How important is it to involve students’ faces/expressions in the storytelling? How do you involve students in the documenting and recording?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Design Challenge: Bodies of Water

We have been studying Earth and how it changes.  We’ve talked about slow changes like weathering and erosion; fast changes like earthquakes, volcanoes and floods; landforms  like plateaus, mountains, plains, barrier islands (which I have to admit I didn’t really know about!); and about bodies of water.  Because we needed to breathe a little bit of life into our work after having been discussing and watching videos for a few days, and because I know my kiddos are builders and creators at heart, I tried to figure out a design challenge of sorts that we could try.  There were many options I could have employed (and still might), but I thought that bodies of water would be a nice place to start.

So kiddos chose groups (in 4s) and then I explained their job: Create a representation of the body of water they get (I passed out cards to each group) so that everyone else can guess what it is.  They had options for research before they got started if they needed clarification on the characteristics of their body of water, and they could use whatever supplies in our room that they wanted.  There was a 30 minute time limit.

So do you think you can guess what each one is?  Try it out.  Here is body of water #1, a picture and a video (oh, and the video might have a spoiler, so guess before you watch it!):

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Ok, here’s #2:

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Try it with group #3:

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Group #4 made this:

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Check out #5, made with Legos:

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Ok, and now that you’re done, check your answers.  Promise that you’ve tried it?

#1–ocean    #2–creek    #3–lake     #4–river       #5–bay

The best part?  We had fun, we learned alot and the only thing I’ve heard since we finished is “When are we going to do this again??” 🙂