Appletters

Ok, so first of all, before Sunday, I didn’t even know this game existed.  Did you?

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I mean, I know about Bananagrams, and we had a TON of fun playing a variation of it last year at the beginning of the year.  So really, Appletters is just another version of Bananagrams (and there’s even Pairs of Pears, too)–really it’s just a fruit-shaped bag filled with letters.  But this one was cheaper. 🙂

So like with last year’s Bananagrams, we started by giving everyone a letter.  Then they had to find other friends and make words.  The first time around there are no rules (outside of the one that says you have to make words, hee hee), and we came up with these:

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So for the second round I added the guideline that the words had to be at least 4 letters:

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I wasn’t sure this one was actually a word, but then was informed that it’s a character from iCarly. I think next time we’ll change the rule about names.

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I like the story behind this one. It started as “bands” until we noticed that there were two friends with I and T who needed a group. Voila! BANDITS!

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I am hoping that this is a game we can come back to again and again this year.  I am excited to see how the words we make grow and change as we work with words and vocabulary throughout the year.  I’m thinking I might make it an option during Reader’s Workshop, too, as a word game.

Have you ever played Appletters?  What about Bananagrams?  How do you use them in your classroom? What other games do you play with words or vocabulary?

I Need Your Help!

The rush to get ready for school is in full swing, and I need your help (you being the parents in my classroom or  friends of mine who want to donate something fabulous to my class or whatever other category you might fit into as a generous person) to finish up a couple of things:

I am going to try a new idea with how to engage with vocabulary this year, similar to our Words We Know board from last year…

As we read books together, we investigate words we don't know, and connect them to what we do know to help make sense of them.

As we read books together, we investigate words we don’t know, and connect them to what we do know to help make sense of them.

…but is even more visually appealing and organized:

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 8.22.14 PM(I feel like I should apologize for the fact that this is not actually the video, but instead a link to Teaching Channel where you can find it.  Silly embed code just did not want to work….)

So as I was at Home Depot today, I grabbed 20 or so paint chips, but would LOVE IT if you could help me collect even more!  I figure they would notice less if 10 or 20 people grabbed a small stack then if I filled up my cart!  Any color will do. 🙂

Secondly, as we are working to more deeply engage readers with nonfiction text this year, I am beefing up that section of my classroom library.  I want to put in lots of different kinds of nonfiction text at many different levels.  The upper end is really in need of some attention, and following a great suggestion (from somewhere or someone really smart–I just can’t remember who), I’m adding in college textbooks and technical manuals, as well as travel books and whatever else might be of interest to a kid (and believe me, 10 and 11 year olds are interested in TONS of different topics!).

If you happen to have any books you need to clean out at home or if you’re shopping at Goodwill or a garage sale, and you see anything you think our class would benefit from, could you grab it for us?  I’d love to be able to do an even better job of surrounding my students with rich, complex, challenging text that they can dig into! (Ok, and that being said, ANY other books you’d want to donate would be TOTALLY welcomed as well….we’re easy here in Rm. 202 🙂 ).

You can feel free to leave me a comment here if you can help us, send me a message on Twitter or Facebook or even just drop it off at school in the office with my name on it!  THANK YOU in advance for whatever kind of help you can give! The readers in Rm. 202 GREATLY APPRECIATE you! 🙂

List-Group-Label with Weather Words

We just started a new unit in science this week.  It’s an Earth Systems unit on Weather.  So just like at the beginning of all of our units, we started with talking about vocabulary.  Check out how we did it in our geometry unit.

So just like last time, we started writing as many words are we could think of that were related to weather on post-its:


Notice how the first time around they’re not in any real order.  The directions during the “list” portion are just to write down words you think are related to the topic.  The grouping and labeling part came next (the next day, actually).  And ok, I’ll apologize ahead of time for the quality of the video–I’m still working on learning how to edit!  Hope it doesn’t make you dizzy….

I’m excited to see where this takes us.  I have a group of deep thinkers who will for sure continue to ask questions and make connections that will help us all learn more about weather!  Stay tuned to find out more about what we’re doing. 🙂