Monday, February 20, 2012

Abe in Charcoal

Hi all!  Please don't hate me, but I have this entire week off.  But since my classroom is a mess and my house is a mess, I will be super busy doing boring cleaning while most of you are having fun with your students.  Really!  As I cleaned toilets today I thought about how I could be doing a read aloud.  Sad, but true!

Now onto something fun for me!  One of my favorite art projects involves Abraham Lincoln and charcoal.  I love using a variety of art mediums with my students so every year we do a directed drawing of Abraham Lincoln using art charcoal. I bought a box of 100 pieces of art charcoal years ago.  I think that box is going to last F.O.R.E.V.E.R!  But just because I did this in charcoal doesn't mean you have to.  Crayon or pencil would work just as well.  Here are two finished masterpieces from last week.  I am always stunned by how wonderful these portraits all turn out.
Lincoln drawn in charcoal by two firsties!

Step-by-step directions for directed drawings of Lincoln AND Washington can be found at KinderKorner.   Special thanks to Victoria Smith of KinderKorner for posting these directions years ago for all of us to use!

My laundry is calling me, so away I go.

Love to all,

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Belated Valentine's Day Post

Even though Valentine's Day was almost a week ago, I am posting my activities now.  Better late than never, right?  Or is it "better never late"?  Sigh.

Valentine's Day was a delight in my classroom!  Lots of fun, fun, fun activities!  
(... and the children enjoyed it even more than I did!!!!)

The day before Valentine's Day we decorated bags to hold our valentines:

Then on Valentine's Day the children rotated to five different stations.

Station One:  Estimation Station

I am THE worst estimator in the world so I love to have my students work on this skill.  At this station, students began by estimating how many wooden hearts fit in a Valentine bag.  (I found these cute little bags at the Dollar Store a few years back.)  The children recorded their estimate and then counted how many hearts actually fit.  Then they repeated with red trapezoids and red tiles.  Along the way I asked questions like, "Do you think more hearts or trapezoids will fit in the bag?  Why do you think that?" as I tried to push their mathematical thinking.  (I try to do something similar at each holiday "party".  For Halloween we estimated with small Halloween bags and for Christmas we estimated with small red Christmas stockings.)

Station Two:  Valentine Crowns

(Lots of fine motor work - drawing and cutting those pesky hearts!)  The students had a choice of pink or white sentence strips for the crown.

 Stations Three:  Valentine Fortune Cookies

Super silly, but oh, so fun!  I gave the students red and pink construction paper circles to cut out.  Then they wrote Valentine wishes for friends and family.  Ahead of time we brainstormed comments that they could write.  I made a large chart of their ideas for the children to refer to if needed.  Once a "fortune" (Valentine wish) was written the child folded the circle in half with the fortune inside and a parent helper stapled it into a fortune cookie shape.

I just saw a post from Jill at Marvelous Multiagers that made me realize I could take this idea to a whole new level!  Jill used really cute scrapbook paper for the circles and made a jarful of these "cookies" for her boyfriend.  I am thinking that by Mother's Day my kiddos may be able to fill a jar with sweet notes for their moms.

Station Four:  Valentine Sudoku

I personally LOVE Sudoku puzzles so, of course, I expect my students to love them, too!  I found this one as a freebie at a local teacher store.  I copied the board on white paper and the pieces that needed to be cut out on purple.  This made is easy for my kiddos to see which pieces to cut.

Station Five:  Valentine Bingo

Just plain old ordinary Bingo, but with a few heart stickers thrown in for good sportsmanship.  (Right now my firsties are working on numbers to 100 so this was great practice for them!)

After our stations, we passed out our Valentines.  Every year it makes me smile to see how excited my students are to receive so many cards!

Here are the valentines I gave to my students.  (They look much cuter in real life!!!)  Thank you Pinterest! We have learned quite a bit of sign language so my kiddos LOVED the hands!

My Valentines        

A belated Happy Valentine's Day to you!!!

Love to all,

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Color Those Numbers!

Hi all!

My firsties have been working on number sense to one hundred.  This includes using a hundreds chart.  One of the activities we do involves coloring in the hundreds chart to make a variety of designs.  For Hundreds Day our design looked like 100, for Valentine's Day a heart, and yesterday Lincoln (well, sort of Lincolnish).

Valentine's Day Heart

Abraham Lincoln (with eyes and a smile added)

You have probably all done activites similar to this.  The teacher calls out a number, the students color in that number on their chart.  At the end, "Surprise" they end up with a cool picture.

When I do this, I change the way I call out the number based on the concept we are working on.  (Is is okay if I say "concept" instead of "standard"?  I am just so standarded out!!!)

So when we first start working on numbers to one hundred my clues might be:
37, 45, ...

Color in the number before 38, color in the number between 44 and 46

Another time the clues might be:
3 tens and 7 ones,  four tens and 5 ones

Another time:
36 plus 1, 46 minus 1

27 plus 10, 55 minus 10

23 plus 14, 67 minus 22

You get the idea.  You can make the clues based on whatever you are studying and as easy or hard as you like.  As I give harder clues, I also mix in the previous concepts for review.  My procedure is to state the clue, give time for students to color in the correct number, call on someone to tell us the correct number, model coloring in that number using my document camera.  Since I have kinders in my class also, they know they can just wait for me to color in the number and then color in that same number.  (I think of it as "exposing" them to higher numbers.  Although, some of my kinders can do this without my extra help!)

As you have probably figured out:  I LOVE MATH!!!  I can hardly wait until California (FINALLY) jumps on board with the Common Core Standards.  On paper we are on board; in fact we are one of the lead states on paper.  But we are still teaching to the California standards because we are still testing those standards and our districts do not want us to change until the Common Core assessments are in place.  Which, I get.  BUT I just wish it would all happen a whole lot sooner.  (Should I mention how jealous I am reading the blogs of teachers in other states who are already using the Common Core standards?  Nah, you all know it!!!!!)

Love to all,

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Family Science Night

You know that feeling when you have spent time planning an event and then it goes really smoothly and you are on a high afterwards?  Well, I have that feeling tonight!

I am on my district's science committee and I have to say that this is the BEST committee I have ever been on EVER.  I LOVE all of the other teachers on the committee: they are compassionate, innovative and very bright.  Just being around them makes me feel so much smarter because I think some of their smarts is wearing off on me.  

So this amazing committee planned a free Family Science Night for the students in grades K-5 in my district.  (We are a fairly small district with just four elementary schools.)  There were about 20 science stations, about ten local non-profit groups, and about 500 students in attendance.  It was UNBELIEVABLE!!!  My part was very small, yet I feel so empowered by the success of this night. Hurrah for all of us working together to make this such a success!

What amazing events occur in your school and your district?  Please share!

Love to all,


Monday, February 13, 2012

One Hundred Letters in My Name

We just (finally) completed one of my favorite Hundreds Day tasks.  I got this idea from Mathwire a million years ago (really).  First, I gave each child an empty hundreds grid and their job was to write their name over and over to fill that chart.  Then they picked one color and colored ONLY the capital letter in their name whenever it appeared on the chart.  For example, Mike's name begins with M so he colored every M on his chart.
Then comes the really cool part.  Once everyone is finished, they look at the pattern that is made on their chart and see if they can find anyone else with that same pattern.  If (when) they do, their job is to figure out WHY their patterns are the same.  Here are some of the patterns:


...and here are two girls with the exact same pattern:

Sometimes it takes my students awhile to figure out why some patterns are the same and some are different.  But once they figure it out, they have that beautiful aha moment and they go a little crazy running from group to group to check out their theory.  In case you have never done anything like this before, I will let you figure out why each pattern turns out the way it does.  I so love math!  Problems like this make me smile because of the beauty of our number system.  (I am a geek, aren't I?!?)

Love to all,

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I Heart Hundreds Day

Hi all!

We just celebrated our one hundredth day of school.  Such fun!!  Here are some of the activities we did before, during, and after Hundreds Day  . . .

To prepare my students for bringing in collections of 100 items, I read this book to them:
Product DetailsFind it on Amazon by clicking here.

As I read, we kept track of the items that Jessica was bringing in for 100s Day.  (Poor girl just couldn't decide so her family helped her out and she ended up with a variety of items that add up to 100.)  This made for a great math lesson.  Here is the chart I made as students dictated equations that matched the story.  Afterwards, I wished my chart was as cute as the amazing charts out there in Blogland, but my humble chart served its purpose.

On Hundreds Day I surprised the children by having our door decorated.  I am not exaggerating when I say the door was their FAVORITE part of the day.  Thank you Pinterest!!!!!!  

My door:

This sign was on my door.  It matches my shirt from Really Good Stuff, but so sorry, I have no photos of me wearing my totally adorable shirt!  : )

Other activities:
  • I handed out stickers to my students that read "I am 100 days smarter!"  (From Really Good Stuff.  Do you see a theme?)
  • We learned several songs.
  • Throughout the day I read several picture books about hundreds.  My favorite
  • We used a hundreds chart to make a design.  I called out numbers for the children to find and color on the chart.  They ended up making the number 100 on their chart.  (Big surprise!)
  • We made crowns from Heidi.  (Love you Heidi!!!).  To decorate the crowns, my students had to make 100 dots.  After every ten dots, they switched colors because I wanted them thinking about groups of ten.  (My first graders were very successful with this, but my kinders had a hard time keeping track of how many dots they had made - not surprising!)
  • Our fourth grade buddies came to visit.  We sang our songs to them.  (Well, more like I sang and my students lip synced.  Thanks guys!  The fourth graders clapped so I guess I didn't harm their ears.)  Then the children were split into groups.  My kiddos took turns reading their three clues to their group.  (The clues were about their 100 items and were done for homework.)  The fourth graders helped us infer what items each child brought to school.  My very favorite came from a kindergartner:  
                         1)  You can eat these.  
                         2)  You cook these before you eat them.
                         3)  They are named after a body part.

I immediately knew the answer and when none of my kinders, none of my firsties, AND none of the fourth grade buddies could guess, I proudly raised my hand and then offered my brilliant guess:  kidney beans.  "Wrong!"  WHAT?!?  No, really . . . you can eat kidney beans, you can cook them AND they are named after a body part.  I was so sure I was right, but nope!  Can you guess what my student brought?

We haven't completed all of this ... but I have several writing activities that take advantage of the excitement of Hundreds Day.  I like to have the children write about their favorite Hundreds Day activity.  They also write about something they can do now that they couldn't do at the beginning of the school year.

Love to all,

P.S.  Elbow macaroni!!!!  Who would have thought?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog Day!

I am trying to have more celebrations in my class this year so today we celebrated Groundhog Day.

Prior to today, we read about, talked about, learned about groundhogs.  I found a Smartboard lesson on Smartboard Exchange and used that.  We also named our groundhog.  (I had an old paper groundhog that I had made when I used AIMS lessons.)  The class naming came down to a three way tie between Philly, Luigi, and Smartypants so one of my students suggested giving our groundhog a first, middle and last name.  Thus our groundhog is Philly Luigi Smartypants.

Today we began by predicting whether or not our groundhog (Philly :) would see his shadow.  After we made our predictions, I asked students to justify their answers.  Their responses were great.  "Yes, because I saw my shadow when I was walking to school."  "No, because I saw some clouds and I think it will be too cloudy to see shadows this morning."  But obviously, most of my students know that in our sunshiney area, we WILL see shadows (even in winter).  Here is our prediction chart:

Here is the one and only Philly Luigi Smartypants ... and yes, that is his shadow that you see!

I am not allowed to post student photos so this is not a great photo of children, but it gives you an idea of a typical winter day in my neck of the woods.  This is us at recess at 10:30 on Groundhog Day.

Later we wrote about Philly and then we made an art project thanks to Kerri at Teacher Bits and Bobs.  I forgot to take photos of the adorable finished groundhogs.  But you can check out Kerri's here.  I love, love, love everything that Kerri shares!
Happy Groundhog Day to all!