Friday, October 29, 2010

A forgotten treat...

I went to pull things out to change our calendar (November arrives on Monday!!!), and look what I found! Halloween treat bags that I stuffed earlier in the week. I meant to give them to students at the end of the day today. Oh well--now there's something to look forward to on Monday morning! :-) That, and the loft will be opening. Shh!!! ;-)

Harvest Party 2010

I am trying a new slideshow application. Do you like it? Enjoy a few photos from our Harvest Party today!
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Math Mania!

It seems like I post math photos often. It's one of my favorite parts of the day. Math station time is consistently a productive, happy learning time in our room. Today we enjoyed some fun Fall/Halloween-related math activities. 
We honed our estimation skills through our "Pumpkin Investigation Books." How much do you think this pumpkin weighs? How many lines does it have? How tall is it? (14 lbs, 25 lines, and 17 inches from base to top of stem--if my memory serves...). :-)
Graphing M&Ms by color...a yummy way to practice an important math skill!
Measuring using a non-standard measurement tool--candy corns! 
Students each cut a piece of yarn they thought would fit the circumference of the pumpkin--they then checked to see how close their estimates were. 

Rainy Day Reprieve

We often enjoy a mid-morning "Motor Break" outdoors to get our brains ready for learning. Today, due to the rain, we had to take this break inside. A few students request we capture this moment for posterity. :-)

K-Nex are great fun, and they require us to think in different ways.
These students didn't even use the picture on the box to make this puzzle. Wow! And their teamwork was amazing!
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Keeping it fun!

We have lots of important learning to do in first grade, but I do my best to keep it fun! One of the students' favorite tools in the classroom is our interactive whiteboard (which we refer to as the "Smartboard"). Today, I displayed scrambled up words on the Smartboard to emphasize sentence "rules"--sentences should always make sense, begin with an uppercase letter, and have punctuation at the end. I asked students to come up and move the word cards around to create a sentence that made sense and had proper punctuation. After practicing/reviewing sentence rules together, students wrote a dictated sentence special SWR paper. This lesson connected nicely to our Writing Workshop minilesson about spaces between words (see below). :-)

Space Man came to visit during Writing Workshop! Space Man is a finger puppet (I'll try to take his photo sometime soon) who comes to my writing minilessons on occasion to remind students how important it is to leave white space between words. He helped us compare sentences with space between words and without. Which of these sentences is easier to read?

Putting spaces between words makes it easier to read. :-)

Students received their own personal Space Man sticks to keep in their writing folders to remind them about leaving enough space between words. Some students chose to place it on the page to help determine how much space should go between words, and some just used it as a visual reminder. Both are great uses for this fun tool!

We have LOTS of characters that come through our classroom...ask your child about Backwards Bob, Echo, and Word Bird...

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Four Winds!

We had our first Four Winds session today! Four Winds is a nature program run by parent volunteers. We are fortunate to have two amazing moms who come in to do lessons with our class. Thank you, Priscilla and Karen. Today's topic was trees and their importance to our world. The lesson included indoor and outdoor activities. It could not have been a better day to go outdoors! 

The puppet show teaches important concepts and is always a student favorite.
Students looked at slices of tree trunks using hand lenses. So cool!
Students used their bodies to create the parts of a tree--the roots, heartwood, bark, branches, twigs,  and leaves. A great visual!
We walked through the woods behind the school to search and find information about trees. 

Spooky Math!

Students used fun math materials to create patterns at the independent math station and did some "ghostly" estimation today. :-)

I was amazed at how LONG many of the patterns were!
This pattern has many parts!
Skeleton color pattern
Many different patterns!
This got knocked askew a bit, but the idea here was to estimate how many pieces of popcorn could fit on the ghost and then put popcorn onto the page to find how how close the estimates were. The best part--eating the popcorn at the end! ;-)

Volunteer Information

This year in an effort to keep all Colchester students safe the district is requiring all volunteers to fill out a release form allowing a background check to be done.  There is no cost involved, but the paperwork does need to be completed and returned to the central office.  If you have more than one child in our district you still only need to fill the form out one time.  This is a new procedure this year and we appreciate your cooperation!  In addition to the release form Union Memorial School still requires that volunteers sign a confidentiality form.  If you need either of these forms please let me know.  If you have already completed the forms please disregard this message.  Thank you!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Our trip to the fire station!

It was great to visit the fire station this morning! Students were able to see five fire trucks and to get inside three of them. Very exciting! We had two volunteers who showed us around the Colchester Center Fire Department--Patrick and T.J. I am so appreciative of the time they gave us today to help our students learn more about fire safety. Some of the highlights of our trip were:
  • Exploring the fire engines and seeing them up close.
  • Seeing the living room of the fire station.
  • Asking the firefighters lots of great, relevant questions.
  • Learning about the importance of smoke alarms and escape plans.
  • Watching Firefighter Patrick put on his gear--60 lbs of equipment. Wow!
  • Seeing two firefighters slide down the pole!
Thank you to those who were able to accompany us on this trip. Here are some photos...

Monday, October 25, 2010

October is Fire Safety Month

Our big event for fire safety month is the field trip to the fire station tomorrow, but we've been doing some related learning in the classroom. Students have listened to several read aloud books with a fire safety theme, both fiction and nonfiction. Many chose to make a fire pup headband, as featured in the photos below. Today, we watched a DVD about fire safety, and I've added a fire safety informational website to our blog. Students will be able to visit this website during their computer station time if they wish. I also introduced two new songs about fire safety today, and I took a quick video of students singing the songs.

We are looking forward to a great field trip tomorrow!

Fun headbands! 
The instructions and the final product. :-)
Students from Mrs. Hughes' class joined us to watch a DVD called The Fire Safety Train, which was donated by the Colchester Volunteer Fire Department last year. 

Students sang a song called, "Stop Drop and Roll."

This one is called "Never Play with Matches."

There's another video to's taking way too long to upload. Check back tomorrow--and I'll post field trip photos tomorrow too. :-)

Friday, October 22, 2010

No Reading Program on Tuesday or Thursday!!!

Parent Volunteers:
We will not be following our regular schedule on Tuesday or Thursday morning, due to our fire station field trip and Four Winds (our volunteer-run science program). Therefore, we will not having our volunteer reading program on Tuesday or Thursday, October 26th and 28th. See you soon! :-)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do you want to play math games at home?

The photograph below shows students playing one of the many games they've already learned in our math program. This got me thinking that families might enjoy playing these games at home! I discovered another teacher's website that I thought could be of use to you. We have played most of the games listed on this site, and most can be played with materials you probably have at home. Have fun!

Students played the card game "Before and After" twice this week. 

Odds and Ends...

On Tuesdays, Mrs. McCleary comes in for Guidance lessons. This week, she focused on the important topic of tattling versus telling. To summarize, tattling is usually when someone is trying to get someone else in trouble. Telling/reporting is telling an adult when someone might or did get hurt (physically or emotionally) and there is danger involved. Everyone received a copy of the "Tattle Rules" to bring home. 
These gears were open during a free choice time. It was great to see students work together to make them work! Excellent cooperative problem solving!
The Writing Station has been so popular during both literacy station time and free choice times. This is a community of writers! I can't wait to introduce students to their new writing notebooks on Monday!
Our blocks have also been a hot spot! These students told me this is Fort Ticonderoga in New York. :-)
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Patterns are everywhere!

One of the key concepts highlighted in Unit 3 in our Everyday Math curriculum is patterns. This is a concept which encompasses a lot of our learning, actually. Patterns are everywhere! During math this week, students explored visual patterns and patterns in numbers. A few examples of this are featured in the photos below...

Students explored patterns on the 100 grid., including counts by 2s, 5s, and 10s.
We explored odd and even numbers in multiple ways, including an activity called "Grab the Chips". Students took chips and counted them in pairs to see if there was an "odd one out." If the chips could not be counted in pairs, the number is odd. Stay tuned for a video clip of a new song students learned last week about the pig and cow named Even and Odd! :-)
In the exploration station, students could use stamps, pattern blocks, or unifix cubes to create patterns.
The interactive whiteboard helped with creating and extending patterns with shape and color. We also talked about labeling our patterns.
Ask your child what patterns we discovered in our calendar!
Can your child label this pattern with letters? 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Leaf creations!

Last week during an exploration time, some students decided to begin an art project based the book Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. Several students brought leaves and other items for the project, and I brought some sticks, leaves, acorns, etc. from my house. There is no shortage of fall foliage on the ground where I live! We will get back to these projects tomorrow and/or Wednesday. They look great so far!

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Using technology to teach letter formation!

Today we practiced writing lowercase c and d with proper letter formation. I used the website to model the formation of these letters. I have not been successful with making the voice recording function of this website work, but it was a fun (and valuable!) as an instructional tool during our SWR time today. Students had some great ideas of how they could use this to practice letters, numbers, drawing, and more! Creating an account is free. Let me know if your child decides to try it at home. Here are our videos from today (without sound, unfortunately).

After my demonstration with Sketchcast, students practiced their letter formation in their Handwriting Notebooks.