Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy 1st Day of School!

If you're child is anything like me, they were exhausted at the end of the day! It was a great first day back at school, but it will take a while to get used to the new routines. We will definitely ease into the full routine of the day--we will not follow our "normal" schedule for a least a couple more weeks, but we are still definitely busy! My camera is not charging properly, but I had it up and running after lunch time I snapped a few photos of our afternoon activities...

But, just in case you're wondering about the morning, here's a quick synopsis...
We gathered outside when the bell rang and made sure everyone was with us and knew where to go. When we came inside, we said hello to each other and everyone worked on a name tag for our literacy "CAFE" board (more info about that later) while I worked on sorting paperwork and doing the lunch/snack drink count. Then we had Morning Meeting. The children AMAZED me today! We actually started our entire Morning Meeting routine on the very first day--including sharing! I've always just had adults model sharing on the first day, but since they were such a great audience and asked such thoughtful questions after I shared, we decided to go ahead and start our sharing schedule! Today, Austin and Jack shared. I will post our weekly sharing schedule soon, but the students saw it today. Sharing is nothing that has to be prepared in advance--students simply verbally share something that they have done or are going to do. Anything that's important/interesting to your child makes a great "share"! Today we learned about a fun backyard game and an upcoming trip to NYC! Our greeting today was a chant with children's names: "_______ is here. _______ is here. It will be a great day, cuz _____________ is here!" Our activity was called "Just Like Me!" Our Morning Message included info about our day and a Mystery was Jameela's turn to be the Mystery Name person. 

We then practiced the freeze chime signal, learned about the handwashing/snack routine, ate snack, played on the playground, and then went to lunch! The morning FLEW by! 

After lunch and recess, our afternoon began...

We have a subscription to It's a fantastic website with short educational videos that really capture children's interest. There are great supplemental games and activities that go along with the videos. The videos are 5-7 minutes long, on average, and include many subject areas and topics. I especially enjoy the math-related videos. They are excellent! Today's topic was "School." Pretty perfect for today, I thought. Here's the description of the video from the website: 
In this movie, you’ll learn about different schools, such as pre-schools, elementary schools, middle or junior high schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. You'll also learn about schools that teach about a religion or a language. Find out how students, teachers, principals, nurses, custodians, and aids are all important parts of a school’s community. Learn how schools have rules and find out how you should behave in the classroom to make it a fun place to learn and share ideas.
After we watched the BrainPop video, it was read aloud time--today I had three read alouds planned and only got to one :-(. At least it was a great book--Chrysthanthemum by Kevin Henkes. I read this story to get students thinking about names and what they mean and why they're important. We are about to begin an "All About Me" science and social studies unit. Thinking about our likenesses and differences and what makes us unique is a core concept in this unit. Our names are an important part of our identity. After reading and discussing the story, students started work on a very special name plate that will hang below their self portrait on the wall all year long. We will begin the self portrait project soon. Here are some photos of students working on their name plates at their table spots:

Students were so engaged in their art project, I just couldn't stop them to change gears yet again--so I postponed our math lesson to let them work longer. They just didn't want to stop, and they were working so well together. We'll do a double math lesson tomorrow, which will be great--I LOVE teaching math! Before we knew it, it was time for P.E. I lead them on a quick "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" school tour on our way to P.E. I wanted to be sure everyone knew where to find important places/people at UMS. We have two students in our class who are new to UMS, so this was especially important to them. After the tour, the class went to P.E. They did a great job with Mr. T. Hooray!

After P.E., I surprised everyone with a popsicle. We joined Mrs. Hughes' class outside to eat them. Many students enjoyed seeing friends from Mrs. Hughes' class, and I think everyone enjoyed the popsicle. :-)

After our outside time, we headed inside for some Explore Time (aka free choice time). Students enjoyed reading books, doing puzzles, writing/drawing, building with blocks, and designing with pattern blocks. 

It was a great day. I have no doubt it's going to be a great year! Please keep in touch and let me know about your thoughts, questions, and concerns. Also, please feel free to leave comments on my posts. Thank you!
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