Winter Cultural Celebration 2018

A couple of years ago we had our first Cultural Celebration (which took the place of the traditional Winter/Christmas party) before we left for our Winter Break.  It was SO MUCH FUN and based traditions that came from our class culture.  We loved it!

This year we did it again, and again it was SO MUCH FUN!  I think the thing I love the most about the way this celebration is planned, is that it all comes from the families in the class.  Every class is different and special and so therefore so is every Cultural Celebration!

As I have done in previous years, I sent out a survey to families, and received many responses. :). This told me the direction of our gathering, building on the ideas for traditions and family favorites that they had shared with me in their answers.

After the Winter Sing-A-Long (which is definitely a tradition in our school culture), we all met in our room for some fun and togetherness!

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Sing-a-Long Selfie with Avant and Mrs. Bearden 🙂

I am pretty sure that EVERY KIDDO had someone there to celebrate with them (we even had some siblings show up!), and even if they didn’t have their own family member, they had someone’s visitor, because we’re all one big happy first grade family!

In order to keep things low key, we offered several activities and had kids/families decide beforehand which one(s) they wanted to complete together.  This was totally led by the kids, which I think added to the fun and originality of our party.  Check out what we offered:

Making reindeer food: Did anyone besides me NOT know this was a thing?  I don’t spend much time on Etsy or Pinterset, so maybe that’s why, but goodness–this was a hit!  Getting ready for Rudolph and the others was high on almost everyone’s list!

Decorating sugar cookies: I mean, what says winter-party-fun more than cookies and icing?  There were many different shapes, colors and as many sprinkles as you wanted, and goodness–kids could have probably stayed at this station FOREVER!

Stringing popcorn:  Several families mentioned that they string popcorn every year for their Christmas tree.  I haven’t done t for years, but I actually did this for several years early on in my marriage.  IT was so much fun to watch families do it with their kids, although I’m not sure how much actually made it onto the string–MUCH of it just went right into bellies!!  :). This station made me want to try it again at home, this time with my own kiddos!

Holiday Read Alouds:  You know we HAD to include books in this celebration!  Families shared their holiday/winter favorites, and I pulled many from our classroom library as well.

Gingerbread Playdoh:. I knew (because it was mentioned as a special love of many families) that I wanted to have something gingerbread related, but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t too cliche or too messy, or require too many materials.  Ok, well, I may have lost on that last requirement, but Ms. Turken’s class has just made gingerbread PLAYDOH with their learning buddies the week before and that seemed like a SUPER idea for us to try, too.  This one ended up being such a hit that it might have to become a regular holiday activity in our first grade room!

Our Cultural Celebration was just what I had hoped it would be, and everyone seemed like they enjoyed it so much!  Enjoy some pictures of our winter fun!

What a great way to head into a relaxing Winter Break! 🙂

First Semester in Review

I take pictures of EVERYTHING, with the intent of blogging about it once we’re finished.  But then life happens and I end up with a computer full of pictures, lots of stories to be told, but feeling a tug to move on because it’s been so long since the activities happened.

So when that happens (like it did for most of what we did in our classroom in December), I usually just move on and blog about the next big thing, sad that you missed out on the awesomeness that is Rm. 202.  But not this time!  I figure I am going to give you at least a quick glance at the fabulous things my kiddos did during 2nd quarter.  So let’s commence with the show-and-tell. 🙂

Halloween (Man–see, I told you I’m behind!)

We had a great time in our costumes, but it rained and so our school-wide parade went around our building instead of through our neighborhood.  Our class parties were done with the whole grade level together, and probably the hit of the day was the photo booth.

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Veterans’ Day

We wrote letters to veterans at Aberdeen Heights.   Our whole-school Veterans’ Day celebration was pretty fabulous, too, and we were able to share a great song we’d learned called “The Heart of America” with the rest of the school.  Some boys from our class, who are a part of a group called iLead, got to be ambassadors and lead our guests to their seats.  Honor choir, which also had many members from our class, started off the whole thing with the national anthem.  What a great day!

Honor choir

Honor choir

Mia, Haleigh and Hanna sang the solo at the beginning of our song.

Mia, Haleigh and Hanna sang the solo at the beginning of our song.

5th grade shared "The Heart of America" with the audience and it was FABULOUS!

5th grade shared “The Heart of America” with the audience and it was FABULOUS!

Informational Text Writing Celebration

I shared the work that we did with our informational text writing unit, but I didn’t share with you the way we celebrated our hard work!  After each kiddo had spent time on their poster, we were ready to share our hard work with each other.  Differently than in past units, we decided to have a whole-5th-Grade celebration, so we could see everyone’s amazing writing.  As we visited each classroom’s writing samples, kiddos (and teachers!) gave compliments to each writer on a sheet that each kiddo then got to keep.   Great job, 5th grade!

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Door Decorating Contest

To celebrate the last week before Winter Break, our school had a door decorating contest.  There were some rules that we had to follow, but other than those, the theme was fair game.  IMG_1983

While we had a week to work on our door, there really wasn’t alot of time to create during school hours (we did still have things to learn, after all!).  We worked at recesses and after school one day to get our ideas together.  The plan looked like this:

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  In case you can’t tell, there was a theme of a night sky, where I would be featured in the moon and kiddos would be showcased on stars.  Lots of glitter was to be included, too.  Sounded like a great idea, and so we got to work.

Now…I wish I could tell you that we ended up with a great door decoration, and that we won first prize–but actually what happened is we ran out of time and didn’t even end up getting all the stars on the door, or the letters, or the Milky Way…instead they ended up with a sign and a bowl of M&Ms to entice the judges to give our door high marks.  Bribery?  Maybe.  Creative either way.

Beginning Another Informational Writing Unit (this time with research!)

If you haven’t had a chance to read about the AMAZING work that we did with our last on-demand writing sample, you must check it out!  It was the beginning of this second informational unit, and after it we were ready to get to work with the next steps.  Those steps involved starting an essay about a common topic, one that all of us had some background knowledge about–Westward Expansion.  But even before we could start talking about what we’d do with that topic, we had a conversation about what we already know as writers of nonfiction.  We used an analogy floating around our school (I’m sure many people use it, but I most remember my friend Mrs. Harris talking about it with her 4th graders last year) about a suitcase that you fill with learning every year.  The idea is to get kids to understand that they are expected to be learning things “always and forever” (not just for that moment), packing it in their suitcase, and then carrying that knowledge or skill with them wherever they go in the future.  So with this image in our heads, we created one on our chart:

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We then began by jotting down as many ideas as we could think of related to Westward Expansion, putting one idea on a different post-it.  We organized our post-its by topic (i.e. some were related to Lewis and Clark, some to the Gold Rush, some to the Pony Express, etc.), and put each topic on a different sheet in a booklet we had made together.

Since we were all working on the same topic, and since this is just the beginning of the unit where we’re learning how this whole thing works, we made sure to steal share ideas to make sure we all had enough subtopics for each category (the idea was to have 5 topics, each with at least 3 subtopics underneath).  We talked together, got ideas from other writers and added to our own work.

Then, when it was time to draft, we again went to our laptops and iPads.  At first when I mentioned that they would flash-draft all 7 paragraphs in one class setting (the 5 topics in their booklet plus an introduction and conclusion), some kiddos were a little freaked out.  Once we talked about the benefits of doing the draft this way, and how easy it would become to add, revise and edit their piece along the way, they were ok.  This is as far as we got before we left for Winter Break, and we’ll pick up at this point when we return in a few days.  What great thinking we started here!

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Winter Sing-a-Long

For one of the last hurrahs before we left for Winter Break, we gathered in the gym as a school for a sing-a-long.  The kiddos knew that we would sing Winter Wonderland and a few other favorites (because they’d been practicing them in Music with Mrs. Kesler), but they didn’t know that we had prepared a surprise song to perform for THEM!  It was The Twelve Days of Winter Break, and each grade level group had prepared a line of the song.  The verses were like this:

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 3.52.32 PMCan you guess which one we were responsible for writing?  One hint: it’s technology related…

Here are some pics of the fun, including Mrs. Sisul as a Roadrunner, and 4 teachers playing 2 pianos simultaneously.  That’s talent, people!!

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Gotta love a principal who will do crazy things like this for her kiddos! WE LOVE YOU, MRS. SISUL!

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Mrs. Bell, Mrs. Kesler, Mrs. Dix and Mrs. Hong tickled the ivories together to accompany our sing-a-long.

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Probably the best part was on the last verse–12 inches of snow–when “snow” was tossed on the crowd. Messy, but fun!

So that’s that.  I was way behind, but I was able to fill you in on a teeny, weeny bit of the fun we had in 2nd quarter.  I will do better in the upcoming months.  Maybe.  I’ll just promise to do my best, ok?  Trust that even if it’s not on the blog, it’s happening in our room anyway!

Thanks for reading, and here’s to a super new year!

(And thanks for staying for such a LONG POST!  Just noticed that as I finished it…)