DOT DAY 2017!!

Oh my goodness–one of my FAVORITE DAYS of the whole school year (maybe even the whole year) happened last week: International Dot Day 2017!

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We choose to celebrate in first grade on September 14th (Thursday) because of a crazy schedule on Friday that would cut into our time to play and create.  Every year it seems the day gets bigger and bigger (I believe this is my 3rd Dot Day), and this year was no exception.  Check out what we did! (And a little warning that this post might be a wee bit long and meaty!)

We started our day with a reading of the book by Peter H. Reynolds that sparked the whole thing in the first place, The Dot.  And who better to read it to us than Peter himself??  My favorite part of the video we watched was when he read the cover and said, “The Dot. By me. ”  HA!  Bet that’s SO COOL to read a book you wrote.  He also shared the story about how he got the idea for the book (ask your kiddo about that one–I’ll bet they remember it!) Anyhow, moving along…

After we talked about the story, and how the character Vashti used grit and encouragement with her friend, as well as what it means to make your mark, we added in another video—this time a song–that helped us further the idea.  Have you ever met Emily Arrow?  She created a genre of music called “kidtlit tunes” and first grade kiddos met her on Dot Day as they learned her song that she wrote about the book we had just read.  We’ll probably get through ALL of her books and songs by the end of the year because they are just that good.  Check her out on YouTube if you haven’t yet!  Here’s the one we sang together:

After we had sung (and danced!) a couple of times to that catchy tune, we were ready to do our first (of a series) of dot-related activities, and we made our mark with some art.  I shared a flip chart to get the creative juices flowing, if they weren’t already:

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Kids got to “shop” from the table filled with LOADS of art materials and then get busy with their creation.

Even before they were finished they made me so happy just laying out to dry:

Later, after lunch, we HAD to do math with dots. 🙂  And you know what is shaped like dots? SKITTLES!  We had been working on sorting and graphing anyway, so it just made sense.  And then–there was a Dot Day snack!

Whew!  By that point we had already had LOADS of Dot Day fun, but it wasn’t over yet!  After we came back from specials, we returned to the fun with Dot Day Games!  We had collected Connect 4, checkers and Twister from families and other classes.  Kiddos got to choose which they wanted to do on a chart:

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Then they got busy with more Dot Day–even I got in on the fun and played a few rounds of Connect 4 with Celia. 🙂

I have add a couple more pictures–the dots that kiddos WORE for Dot Day!!  I didn’t remember to take it until the very end and so you can’t really see many of them, but trust, me–these kiddos were decked out and READY to celebrate.   Check out Campbell’s shirt–he made it especially for the day, and Sarah who had dots on her dress AND her socks!  Wow!!

Ok…well, our Dot Day was not really over, but there was TOO MUCH FUN for one day, so I’ll share part two in another post.  Whew!  Thanks for lasting all the way to the end! 🙂

 

#FDOFG2017: Marshmallow Challenge 2017

I learned about the Marshmallow Challenge about 5 years ago and I’ve been doing it with classes ever since!  It’s always fun to see what a new class with do with the challenge–how they tackle it, how tall their towers are, what strategies they use to work as a team, etc.  Like with most years, we did it twice, with a debrief in the middle to help us think about what worked and what we could change.

Take 1:

We had an ok start, and kids took pretty quickly to what they were supposed to do.  Teams (which I chose ahead of time and are groups we will use periodically all year) worked well and learned to negotiate who did what/when/how, etc.  After our first round–where all of the towers fell over–we talked together on the carpet:

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The black words are from our first conversation; the green arrows denote the things we changed that made our second went much better.  So yeah–spoiler alert!–we tried again and this time teams were much more successful.  Successful, we thought, meant that our towers stood up and everyone participated and helped the activity work.

Check out our 2nd go-round:

Our final towers were pretty impressive and our teams were pretty proud!

Great job, Rm. 111 friends!  🙂

LEGO Lessons: Leading and Following

I have been a LEGO lover for a long time…yeah, probably my whole life in some form or another.  Those forms have been many: as a kid building houses with my brother; admiring whole LEGO towns that a friend had built in his basement; watching my kids start to play and build with them (in a much more sophisticated and creative way than me, I might add.  I could only build houses.  Because those are rectangles and that’s what you dod with LEGOS is build rectangles, right?  I kid, but that’s how my brain used to work); learning how to best organize them based on how a 6 year old plays with them (it’s not by color, by the way, as many Pinterest boards will suggest); and then as a teacher learning to incorporate building, creativity and play into my classroom.  I have had opportunities over the years to try new things and learn from other LEGO-loving educators and so have been learning how to better use LEGOS as a learning tool (in addition to them just being a super fun toy during choice time and inside recess!).

So far we have used them “officially” to build our names (pics later!) as well as on Friday in a LEGO lesson on leading and following that was SUPER!  Let me tell you all about it…:)

We started our day with an easel question that looked like this:

 

In case you missed it on those post-its, kiddo shared FABULOUS ideas about leaders:

  • the help people
  • they are teachers
  • they have followers
  • they are the person in charge
  • they are the boss

We talked about what it was like to be the leader, and times in their lives when they have the opportunity to be the leader, or to be in charge.  Some were at home and some were at school.  They also shared times when they had to be the follower, and how sometimes you don’t have a choice about what your leader asks (or tells!) you to do, and that sometimes you might not like it.  We also talked about how sometimes there are situations where you have to be BOTH a leader and a follower: a specific place this happens at school is when you are in line.

After we talked about this idea and had a pretty good idea about what it all meant, we went outside to practice.  We played follow the leader and wound ourselves all around our Robinson playground.  It was fun, but was also a little tricky, because often someone would not be paying attention and their follower would then not know were to go, or would go a different way than the rest of the line!

Once we got back inside we pulled out LEGO learning tools and tried another activity I learned from a SUPER smart colleague of mine, Mrs. Marks.  Kiddos worked with their carpet partners (a friend with whom they sit on the rug for our learning times, use when we do turn-and-talk, and someone they pair up with for a variety of learning situations) to build a LEGO structure.  One person was the leader, and had to lead their partner (the follower) to build the same structure that they built.  Man–this is harder than it seems and requires both partners to pull from a specific skill set.  It’s also a little tricky because they can only use the pile of LEGOS they are given, and so much be careful with their block choices, ensuring that there are TWO of everything so their partner can copy their work.  After a certain amount of time, partners switched and got to try the other role.

For the most part, things went swimmingly and pairs figured out how to work successfully in the role they were given.  Learners knew they had succeeded if at the end they had two identical structures.  Their smiles are proof of their pride. 🙂

As is routine in our class, we had a debrief when we were finished (because the process of an activity is as important–if not more-than the product!).  Kiddos shared what they had to do to be successful in each role, and compared how these were often different depending on which one they were in.

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As with many most of the lessons we do early on in first grade, we will come back to this experience time and time again.  There are so many nuggets of wisdom in that chart that will help us be successful in the future, the first grade future and beyond!

#FDOFG2017–David’s Drawings

A few years ago, my friend and colleague, Mrs. Appelbaum showed me an idea for incorporating collaboration and creativity into a beginning-of-the-year activity.  We tried it that year, and the results were fabulous.   I don’t think I tried it last year (or at least if I did, I didn’t write about it!?), but I knew I needed to pull it out and try it again with this group.  We’ve been focusing on community building these last few weeks, and creativity is a big deal both in my classroom and in our school.  I love this book–the story is great and the conversations you can have around how kind and considerately the classmates treat each other are helpful during the foundation-building days early in the year.

We began by reading and talking about the book itself, and I told about how much I love that the author, Cathryn Falwell commented on our work the last time we did it.  We’ve been talking alot about authors and how we can talk to them “in real life” lately and they were super excited that a book’s author might see their hard work! (No pressure, Ms. Falwell! hee hee).

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After we read, we reviewed the way David developed his drawing in the story: he started with an idea, but then his friends were able to add in details that they thought were important, resulting in a masterpiece that involved numerous perspectives and ideas.  Aside from just a beautiful picture, however, the kids in the story also display such care and respect as they are sure to ask their friend if they can help BEFORE they start to work.  David is kind to oblige and the collaboration begins.  What results is something even better than what was originally imagined; the end would not have been a possibility without everyone’s input.

Once I was sure we understood both the story itself and the concept of what I wanted them to do, we broke up into small groups (which we call “crews” in our room) and artists got to work.

The drawings we ended up with were super creative, colorful and full of everyone’s ideas!  We did a great job and were excited to hang them up on another spot of blank wall (we have LOTS of it!!)!

Perhaps the best part was the debrief on our work when we were finished.  They had such great ideas to the question of what they did as they worked that made our creations so successful.  These kiddos have such great ideas–before, during and even after their work!!

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The hope (and encouragement) is that these behaviors will be repeated over and over in different settings to help make success and cooperation continue for many days to come!

 

#FDOFG2017–Nature Hunt!

During our first days together, we do many things that allow us to work together, get to know each other, learn and practice routines and procedures, and also just have fun.  One thing we did that was a big hit was a nature scavenger hunt!  We are lucky to have an amazing naturescape in our backyard (which was recently made over to allow us even more natural places to play and learn!), and so it was the perfect place to go!

Kiddos were put in small groups of 4, and then we gave them a job to do and a bag in which to collect their finds.

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We were blessed to have 4 adults with us during this time, and so we had lots of eyes on each group as we explored.  It was pretty much up to each team where they went and they could fulfill the categories of the hunt in whatever way they chose.  It was fun to see how many different leaves they found, how many “circles” there were in the woods and also what teams considered “treasures!”

Perhaps the  best part of the hunt, though, was when we found something we weren’t even looking for:

IMG_0675-minCan you see it?  There’s a friend in there….

Here, look again.  With some help from some first grade fingers:

Yes!  We found a turtle!  He was walking right there across the path, and thanks to the eagle eyes of Jeremiah we got to see him!  It was really hard not to touch and prod and want to pick him up (we didn’t–we left him in his home there), but we did the right thing and just watched as he walked and enjoyed the surprise visit! 🙂

What a fantastic morning outside!

#FDOFG2017–Readers Gonna Read (Part 2)

Before you read more about what’s going on with books in first grade right now, be sure you’ve read the first part, where we got started in our classroom library, began our #classroombookaday challenge, spent some quiet time during our day and visited the Robinson library. 🙂

As I mentioned in the last part of my last post, figuring out what kids like and who they are can happen in many ways–books are one of those ways.  Aside from just paying attention and taking note, we wanted to be able to share our favorites with friends, and so Ms. Turken and coordinated a Favorite Book Museum.  Each kiddo brought in (or checked out at school) their favorite book.  The reason it was their favorite could be for anything–someone special read it to them, it was a favorite from when they were little(r), they could read it themselves, it was funny–whatever.  I was able to take a picture of each kiddo smiling brightly with their favorite, and these fabulous pictures will grace many parts of our room (book boxes and our outside bulletin work-sharing board to name a couple).  I took them in front of our giant map, because reading takes you places!  Before I even go any further, I know you’ll want to see those so here they are.  And yes, they are precious. 🙂

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Aside from just being able to enjoy our books ourselves, we wanted to share them with our classmates–both from Rm. 111 and Rm. 112.  We did this in a format called a Favorite Book Museum.  In the past I’ve done this with bigger kids and called it a Reading Museum (which had a little bit of a different feel and protocol).  This time around, kiddos put together an “exhibit” with their book, a picture of their favorite part and a card with their name (just like exhibits have in a real museum!).   Children were given a chance to walk around to view other kiddos’ exhibits, looking for connections as well as for books they might like to read in the future.  We started in our own classroom and then traded rooms so we could see everyone’s favorites.

Before we could visit the museum, however, we needed to make sure that we knew how we were supposed to act and what we were supposed to do.  I think in the past I have taken for granted that all of my kiddos have been to a museum and understand what I’m talking about when I mention using a quiet voice, not touching things, only using eyes to look and not fingers, as well as just connecting the whole museum idea anyway.  This time I decided it would be a good idea to find a video that might help anyone who needed some support in this area.  We watched this short little video with our Rm. 112 friends first:

After we were sure we were all on the same page, we go busy with our visit!

This was another great, positive literary-focused community experience that we will build on throughout the year.  We will probably even hold Favorite Book Museums again throughout the year, watching how our tastes change and grow.

Have you ever been to a book museum?  If so, we’d love to hear about your experience!

ECLIPSE DAY 2017!!

OH my goodness–today was a TOTALITY amazing day.  hee hee  Yes I know, it’s a bit much.  But really, what a once-in-a-lifetime day to enjoy and experience with our Robinson community.  I am sure many other KSD teachers and families have said it, but KUDOS to Joe Bartin for all of his hard work to get us ready for the big day.  There were websites just for the day, y’all, that had videos and info galore!  If you haven’t seen them, check this out:

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We did some preteaching on eclipses so kiddos would know what was going on and what to expect, using videos and books.  On Friday, we got together with Ms. Turken’s Rm. 112 friends to do some work.  First we watched a BrainPop Jr video on eclipses and learned a little from Annie and Moby.

After the video, we read a book together called Eddie’s Eclipse.  It was written by two St. Louis librarians just for this special day!  We enjoyed it and listened for facts/details we had also heard in the video.

While Ms. Turken read and kiddos listened, I kept record of the important facts that students thought we should remember.  We made a chart of what was essential:

Also on this day, we put the finishing touches on the glow-in-the-dark bracelets Ms. Maldonado helped us make for the big event,

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and tried on the new eclipse glasses that were gifted to us by the Kirkwood School District Foundation:

Today, on the actual day of the eclipse, we did some more reading and shared another book, called Eclipse: Darkness in the Daytime together with our Rm. 112 friends again.

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For the rest of our amazing day, we watched another video, practiced with our glasses, spent the TOTALITY of the eclipse outside with our amazing Robinson friends and family, and commemorated the day with some artwork and an eclipse snack (Capri SUN, SUN chips, STARbursts and MILKY WAYs).  It was pretty intense and fabulous and I can’t really put it into words.  So I’ll just use pictures. 🙂  Enjoy!

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If you haven’t had a chance to check out Robinson’s Facebook page, be sure to see it–there are loads of other fun pics to see and even a LIVE video from when we were in TOTALITY.  Cool, right?

Ok, one more thing…if you’re reading this and you were in the path of totality, please comment and let us know what you experienced today!  We’d LOVE to hear from others about how they celebrated the day and what they thought of the experience.  I know for me it’ll be something I will NEVER forget!