Monday, October 31, 2011

Wrapping up October...Wow!

It's hard to believe that tomorrow brings November. Time is cruising by in first grade. That's a good sign! :-) As I write this, the smell of roasting pumpkin seeds is wafting through my house--the product of a fun math lesson today! We explored the weight, height, and number of lines on our classroom pumpkin last week. Today we cut it open and counted the seeds. Students put them in groups of ten to count. There were 448 seeds in our pumpkin, and they are all in my oven right now. Tomorrow we'll eat them and students will share if they like them or not. We'll tally the results and make a graph to take home. Here are some photos from math today (and a couple of other things too). Happy Halloween!

I saw some great teamwork today counting the seeds. Even those who don't like the slimy feel of the seeds were willing to help!
Putting the seeds in groups of 10 made it much easier to count!

Making bracelets with special beads was a fun way to practice patterning during math today!
I hope the bracelets made it home safely!

Students estimated how many seeds were in the pumpkin BEFORE we cut it open and counted. 500 was the closest estimate--448 was the total.
This is starting to be an unintentional tradition--I forgot to hand out the treat bags I made for the students.  Oh well...they'll be extra special tomorrow after the excitement of this evening! 

Students from the CHS Drama Club came last Friday to perform The Big Pumpkin. What a great show and a wonderful tradition at UMS. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Four Winds

The puppet show is always a favorite!

A big thank you goes out to Katy Gamelin, the mother of a student in Mrs. Hughes' class. When she learned we did not have a Four Winds volunteer, she offered to teach our class too. Hooray! This month's Four Winds was about Leaves. Students learned about how/why leaves change color in the fall, the purpose of leaves, and the structure of leaves. It was a great lesson!
Students searched for and found one leaf to bring in to study and use for leaf rubbings.

The rubbings turned out great!
Check out our leaves!
Beautiful leaves

Students studied the structure of the leaves too--they are quite observant scientists! :-)

Fun, Games, and Exploration

Much of our learning in first grade is hands on, and I try to incorporate games whenever possible...

The PTO gave each classroom a pumpkin, which we used for our Pumpkin Investigation book and will use for  more fun math activities on Halloween!
Students practiced estimating before measuring the actual weight and height of the pumpkin. They also  estimated and then counted the number of lines on it.
Pumpkin Jumble was a fun way to think about probability of dice rolls and also to practice tallying results. 
Roll-a-Skeleton was a popular game during math time!
Students could practice patterning with Halloween materials during math time. Check out this AABC  pattern. Awesome!
Swap It! was an engaging way to practice reading short vowel words during my SWR station. 
Free choice allows students to unleash their creativity!
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Harvest Party 2011

It was a fun, busy party on Friday afternoon. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend and to everyone who sent in decorations and goodies for our special snack. Our party began with a couple of songs, then students worked on art projects, and we ended our party with a great snack! For the project, students "ordered" their projects ahead of time. They were given a choice between two scratch art projects (pumpkin or bat) and making a foam pumpkin frame or a spider bracelet. I apologize for not getting photos of everyone and everything. I was on a hunt for some missing items for our craft projects. I had a mystery to solve! Here's a snippet of the happenings at our great party!

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The Beanbag Boogie!

Our Friday morning started with music and movement! We start each day with a Morning Meeting. Every Morning Meeting includes Greeting, Activity, Sharing, and Morning Message. I wrote about the "Shoe Greeting" last week. This week I wanted to give you a glimpse into a recent activity--The Beanbag Boogie! Students each had a beanbag and had to follow the directions given in the song. For example, "Put that beanbag on your head, while you move your body to the sound." As you can see in the photos below, it's a happy way to exercise our bodies and minds and get ready for learning. The Activity component of Morning Meeting is also a way to build community and camaraderie. This one worked!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fire Station Field Trip

Wow! I am really proud of how well our students represented UMS today when we visited the local fire station. They were a great audience and seemed very interested in learning about fire safety. October is Fire Prevention/Safety Month. What a great way to learn about how to stay safe and prevent fires! Thank you to the Colchester VOLUNTEER fire fighters (Jason and Jeff) for taking time out of your days to show us around and teach the children about fire safety. I know I learned new things during our trip--the saying is now, "Stop, Drop, COVER, and Roll." Ask your child why "Cover" was added and what it means.

Way to go, 1st Graders! I am so proud of you!

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Fair in Library this Week!

I did not send a Scholastic book order this month because the Book Fair is at UMS this week! Here's the info, straight from Mrs. Flanagan's blog:

The Scholastic Bookfair will be in the library the week of October 24th-28th . Students will preview the books with their class on Monday and Tuesday. We will start to sell books on Tuesday, the 24th from 6:30-7:30pm. We are also open for you to purchase books all day Wednesday  until 3:00pm and Wednesday night from 6:30-7:30pm. We are also open  Thursday  until 3:00pm and Friday until 1:00pm. Please feel free to come to the library any time to check out the books!  The holidays are not too far away. Our library will receive the profit from this bookfair.  Thanks for your continued support.

A photo update!

You should have received the official update in printed newsletter form today--The First Grade Free Press was sent home in your child's green home-school folder. I hope you had a great weekend and a happy Monday. Here are some photos of a few happenings last week. Enjoy!

Many students choose to make a candy corn person at the Art Station during literacy stations this week. This was a follow-the-directions activity. The directions are always posted at the Art station on a chart.
Here's the candy corn person!
The Writing Station is almost always full when it's open. I have been encouraging students to hang writing they are proud of--there are thumbtacks for students to use right there. Many students are into book making right now, and one student is really into writing comics. It's great to see eager writers!
Mrs. McCleary came in last week to teach her Tuesday guidance lesson. The focus was knowing the difference between big and small problems. Students learned about how to tell if a problem is big (they need an adult to help them solve it) and small (they could take care of it on their own or with a friend). 
I love Mrs. McCleary's use of visual aides in this lesson--the heavy basket represented big problems--a child couldn't carry those on his/her own. The very lightweight paper bag was easy to carry--this represents a problem that a child can solve without help.
Here's a glimpse into the "Shoe Greeting" at Morning Meeting. Students all take off one shoe and put it on the middle of our circle. Students then take turns coming to the middle, picking a shoe, and find it's owner. When they find the owner of the shoe they say, "Good Morning, _______. How do you do? I think I found your shoe for you."
We are exploring patterns galore in math--visual patterns with shapes, designs, colors, etc.; odd/even number patterns; patterns on the number grid (as in the picture above) when we count by 2s, 5s, and 10s. We even talked about patterns in books/words can help us when reading.
It's the time of the year to do seasonal math activities! Last week students did Leaf Math they  measured with candy corn. They even got a small packet of candy corn as a reward for their hard work. It's a pretty good life in first grade! :-) Tomorrow we'll begin our Pumpkin Exploration Book...with a real pumpkin!
Our read aloud today (Monday) was called Spookley the Square Pumpkin. It's a great story about a pumpkin who's different from the rest in the patch since he's square! His square-ness ends up saving the day and his unusual seeds are saved and planted for the next harvest. The result--a patch full of unusually pumpkins of all sizes and shapes. Students make their own "Spookley" to hang in our classroom pumpkin patch. See some of their very unusual (and creative) Spookley's below...

And, last (for today) but not least--book bags. Your child has been reading regularly with our volunteer reading program. Those books come home in the colored fabric book bag. Our classroom book bags are falling apart (already!!!) so I have not been sending our classroom books from Reading Workshop. I decided to get the inexpensive alternative--plastic gallon-size ziploc baggies. Your child will bring this bag home this week with the following items in it: a book, a bookmark, a reading log, and a packet of sight word cards (when possible...we still have volunteers working hard to make class sets for the Fry sight word lists beyond List F). A quick note about book bags--if your child brings home more than one book bag, please don't feel as if you have to read all/both books the same evening. Send them back within a day or two if possible.

Sight Words--the goal at the end of first grade is that all students know the first 100 Fry words. We recently assessed students on their sight word knowledge, so that sight word ring in your child's reading bag reflects the next list your child should practice to mastery. Thank you!

The book bag, reading log, and sight word ring.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We are Alike, We are Different

As a culminating activity for our 'All About Me' unit students having been working with a partner to complete a venn diagram comparing one another. I have been very impressed with the level of cooperation as well as the thought they put into their work! We used the venn diagrams as planning sheets to organize our thoughts before creating a student video. We've already practiced a few lines which will be the opening to our video. Be watching for the finished project in the days to come!

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Snippets from Math

Games are an important way that first graders develop early math skills. Ask your child to tell you about the "Leaf Mat." Which number should go on the large leaf? Which should go on the small leaf? I also taught students how to play an Everyday Math game called "Before and After." I will post directions to play at home, as this is a great way to practice number sense. Stay tuned!

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Trip to the Burnham Library

We took our field trip to the Burnham Library today! It sprinkled on our walk there, but it was actually quite nice on the way back. Thank you to Hannah and Pam, the two lovely librarians who hosted our visit. They were quite gracious and were excited to show the first graders what the library has to offer! Before our trip the fire station on Tuesday, I will be talking to the class about appropriate audience behavior. We have been working on this at school, but it's important for students to realize that our school rules also apply when we're out of the building. Thank you for reinforcing this message at home too. All in all it was a good visit and I think students are excited to take their families back again soon!

We took a bunch of photos outside the library. Did you know the Burnham Library has been around for 110 years?
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