#FDOFG2017–Choice Time!

There are many things that are important in first grade: reading, writing, listening, speaking, using grit, working hard, being a good friend….but perhaps the MOST important thing (at least in my opinion) is PLAY.  Play is a child’s work, and is how they learn.  And when things are fun, you want to keep doing them!  When you keep doing them, you usually get better at them and then you want to do them more and more.  This works so well when you want kids to be curious and hardworking.  I also think play is an important part of learning since it is through play (and problems) that kiddos begin to work things out for themselves and can take ownership for their learning.

So…there is lots of play in Rm. 111, both structured (in our “regular” subject choices and projects) and also lots of time for unstructured play during choice time.  As I put the room together this year, I was afforded lots of space for play things as well as lots of places to play.  I was able to find a kitchen, bugs, puppets and Little People figures to add to the mix, and I of course brought along my big blocks, games and Legos from Rm. 202.  We start our day with choice time, and kiddos are able to play in our room, or with a friend in our team room next door.  It’s so fun to watch what happens during this time, as well as to see who plays together and how they interact.  There is much learning going on during time time–both by the kids and the teachers!

The first days of first grade are FUN, but believe me, there is MUCH more to come and I hope you’ll hang around to read more bout how we learn through play as we go on down the road this year. 🙂

Pictures of the Day: May 6, 2015

 

Ok, hold on tight–today was a VERY eventful day and so this post is picture-heavy. I think I counted 10.  But then I may have added more. 🙂  You ready?  Let’s go!

I usually put the pics in these posts in order based on when they happen, so these would come first anyway, but I’m also putting them first because I think they set the tone for the whole day.  The way things usually work in Rm. 202 is that I have a plan and then we decide how that will work for us that day, and often times things change (sometimes really drastically, sometime they just take a little bit different direction).

I was meeting with a group today and after our book, we got out our whiteboards for word work.  I remembered that we had talked about a chart/sign to help kiddos remember what to do with the pencil sharpener (we just got 2 new crank ones–you know, old school!) and for some reason people are CRAZY with them.  What I know about what this group knows and what they need, they were the ones to make the chart!  As we talked about what the sign should be called, they agreed that “PENCIL SHARPENER RULES” would make sense (like the chart we made to help our friends remember how to wisely use our construction paper).  As we got started talking about how to write PENCIL, we clapped out the syllables, wrote the PEN part and started working on the CIL chunk, talking about how it could either be PENSIL  or PENCIL.  It wasn’t a clear decision about which was correct (I thought for sure they’d be able to tell which one looked right), so I took it to mean we needed to learn something new.  So we started talking about C and how it has a soft sound and a hard sound.

Now…being me and doing what I do, I didn’t just start saying something like “Now these are the rules for hard C and soft C and when the C proceeds these letters it’s this and when it’s these it’s that,”–you get the idea.  Instead, we started making  a list of C words and put them in the correct column together.  Almost immediately, Makayla noticed that there were lots of Os on the hard side.  We kept going and pretty soon we noticed that the letters on the soft C side were E and I and that the other letters were on the other list.  Voila! We had a rule.  Well at least a conjecture that we thought we could use and teach our friends.

So…being Rm. 202 friends and doing what we do, we thought another sign was in order.  This one they decided to hang on the word wall–right by the letter C. 🙂  Hopefully we’ll finish soon.  Who knows?  We’re working on at least 3 other interactive writing projects and we’ve only got 15 more days!  Oh well, guess there’s always next year!

Whew! That was a long one. Ok…so I know that it looks like Nate is just being a super-silly 1st grader in this picture, but he’s actually posing like that for a reason. I tried to kill 3 stones with this one picture and show you: the yummy (and tiny) chocolate bar and SUPER cute gift card he brought from Whole Foods today (yep, I said CUTE–there’s a picture next to show the detail) AND the tooth he lost on Monday. Ok, I guess he didn’t actually lose it, he had to get it taken out but it’s gone nevertheless and you can finally see his big ‘ole grown-up tooth coming through!

See, I told you it was cute! It’s funny because without the scale of that bag to Nate in the previous picture you don’t see the funny size of these 2 objects. It will be hard to spend that gift card because it is seriously one of the cutest things I have ever seen. I told the kids I’d probably ask for it back after I redeem it and save it in my Writer’s Notebook. Um…just because that’s what I do. 🙂

C.J. and I worked really hard with build a castle with the Lincoln Logs during choice time today.  It’s the first time I’ve done that.  So fun!  The rest of the class was really impressed too, I guess, because they kept coming over to take pictures of their own!

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Um…yeah, so this happened during choice time, too: Emily made me a bonnet! She came over at one point and had to measure the string so she’d know the strap was the right size, and she pointed out how she put a little tag in it, too, so I’d know what way was the back. First graders are kind of amazing, I’d say!

Alright, two more, and these fit into the I’ve-officially-lost-track-of-how-many-teeth-we’ve-lost category.  I am pretty sure it’s over 20 now, but needless to say, 1st grade mouths are VERY HOLEY at this time of year.  So cute!!

Pictures of the Day–April 15, 2015

I am creating a hashtag now for this feature, so share it if you like as an easy way for people (including you!) to peek into what’s going on in Rm. 202.  I think I’ll use #RM202POD1415.  Ok, maybe it’s a little long….got any ideas?  Please feel free to share!

Ok, so here’s the cuteness from first grade on this BEAUTIFUL St. Louis Wednesday:

It’s a little heard to tell from this picture, but there are MORE LOST TEETH from Rm. 202 mouths!! The best part of this picture is that Amelia and Charlie lost the SAME tooth last night! Picture-of-the-day-worthy for sure!

After we got done with interactive writing today, Emily said, “WOW–look at all of the words I wrote today!!” OF COURSE I had to take a picture! Way to go, Em!

Remember how Cardinal Day and Hat Day were on Monday? Well in order to do Hat Day, I had to abstain from wearing Cardinal gear (it just didn’t match…). So when I saw Ms. Lewis also wearing her navy Cardinal shirt, we had to pose for a pic. Say cheese!

Nate came over to me at Choice Time and said, “I made a B from the Jenga blocks. Wanna see it?” First of all, I was thinking he meant a BEE not a B, so I was impressed anyway, but then he showed me the detail that he added of the green parts (“I made them from paper and colored them green!”) it was even better. I wonder if he made it that way on purpose because it’s my favorite color….:)

Global School Play Day 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a tweet about Global School Play Day.  Being one who truly believes in play as an important learning tool for kids (and adults!), and being one who likes to jump in with both feet when I see something that looks like fun (like I did with World Read Aloud Day, for instance), I knew that this was something I wanted to try.  And honestly, we have choice time and recess every day anyway, so it wasn’t that far out of our norm.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 8.11.07 PMBefore the special day, I told kids to bring something they could play with during our time, but the rules were it couldn’t be electronic or have batteries.  There were a couple of “whys?” but really it wasn’t any big deal to them.  I wish I had taken a picture of all of their toys in the bucket when they brought them in, but what I thought was funny was that most everyone brought something stuffed–My Little Ponies, dogs, cats, and all other sorts of animals.  There were some cars, a couple of American Girls and 2 Barbies who attended our GSPD as well. 🙂

We reserved the afternoon for our official time, as we had some exciting and necessary work to do in the morning with our current studies in reading and math.  Before we got started with our fun, we had a little chat about why we were even doing it.  They had great ideas, like for them to learn to take care of their things, as well as how to solve problems and how to play together.  All were right, and I had some additional ideas of my own:

1. Negotiation: By participating in free play, children get to learn how and practice what it is like to initiate play with someone else, as well as negotiate with that playmate about what to do, where to do it and how to do it.  They get to learn give-and-take, as well as how to work with others in a positive way (because unfortunately, if you choose NOT to do it positively, your friend may not want to play with you anymore!).

2. Problem Solving: Much like negotiation with friends, kiddos learn and practice problem solving in many ways when they play.  From what to do when the Legos don’t go together they way you want or you don’t have enough big blocks to build your castle, or even where to put the pieces of the puzzle you’re working on, problem solving is a crucial part of play.  Even choosing what to play at any given moment is a kind of problem solving in itself.  Letting kids figure these things out for themselves helps build and encourage grit and perseverance.

3. Winning (and losing!) Graciously: Child-directed play (including playing games) allows kiddos to learn how to win–and also to lose–graciously.  We all know an adult who didn’t get the chance to learn this when they were younger, and now has such a hard time knowing what to do when things don’t go their way.  That same adult might have a really hard time not being overly proud or boastful when things do.  Allowing (or even planning for) situations where students DON’T win are crucial!  Life is not fair, things don’t always go as planned and sometimes someone else does better than you.  How great that kiddos have a chance to learn to deal with these disappointments when the stakes are low, so that when they are higher, they’ll know the appropriate choices to make.  And yes, winning is a good thing that can happen occasionally, too (and how great that kids can learn how to deal with their happiness without sacrificing the feelings of others).

4. Creativity: A big pile of paper, blocks, Legos, cars or any other open-ended toys allows for such a great development of creativity in kids!  Being able to figure out what that pile of “stuff” can become is a great practice in trial-and-error, trying new things or even working with a friend to put two great ideas together to make an even better one.  This practice of creativity in free play can easily be transferred to learning, then, when a kiddo is given open-ended opportunities for both gaining information and showing what they’ve learned.  When they’ve had a chance to try out new things and take risks in a safe, play environment, many students will be more willing to take the same creative risks with their learning.

5. Beating Boredom: I guess this one is another idea that’s related to some others on this list, but being given free time to play is a great way to figure out how to entertain yourself (either alone or with a friend) and keep a kiddo from being “bored.”  Knowing what to do when there’s [seemingly] nothing to do is a life skill, really.

6. Respect, kindness and including others: Play is a great opportunity for kiddos to practice skills they’re learning about showing others respect, using kind words and helping make sure everyone is included.  Helping kids pay attention to who doesn’t have a playmate is a lesson in empathy and is definitely a bucket-filler for a friend who longs to be involved but is perhaps unable to initiate themselves.  Knowing how to speak to others kindly is a skill that can never be mastered and can always be improved upon.

7. Fun!: Um, how have I not mentioned that playing is TOTALLY FUN!?  Yep.  Should have mentioned that one first. 🙂

8. Organization and Care: Emily was the first to mention it, and I hadn’t really thought of it until she said it, but yes, I think that kiddos can learn about and practice putting things away, organizing and caring for property (theirs and others’) when they’re playing.  Great idea, kiddo!

Ok, so enough of my rambling…I know what you really came to see were the pictures of Rm. 202 kiddos PLAYING!!  Here you go!!

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