Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Are You My Mother?

Every year I have my students write about their mothers.  Then we post all of the paragraphs and see if during Open House each mother can find the paragraph that describes her.  Some do.  Some don't.

Here are the steps I take for this lesson:
1)  Read the book Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman.  Discuss.  What made the bird's mother special?
2) Ask "What makes your mother special?"  Discuss what our mothers look like, like to do, are really good at, etc.  Sometimes students don't remember their mother's hair color or eye color or know their favorite color so I tell my students their homework is to find these things out.

The next day:
3) Students fill out a prewriting web for their mother.
4)  Students write a paragraph about their mother.  Their opening sentence can be "Are you my mother?"  I also have them use this for their final sentence.  I am sorry I don't have a closeup of the actual writing.  Here is a sample:  Are you my mother?  My mother has blonde hair and brown eyes.  She loves to wash dishes and does them every night.  My mother is a great reader.  I love it when she reads to me.  We go to the library once every week.  My mother is a wonderful cook. I love her spaghetti!  I love my mother and she loves me! Are you my mother?
5) Students write their names on a secret card that I staple in front of the writing.  Thsi way the moms can peek to see if they guessed correctly.

I post these paragraphs for Open House because all of our famiies come to that.  Moms are challendged to find the paragraph that describes them.  Pretty funny reading!

Love to all,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Walk Around My School

Lots of you are starting to talk about Open House so i thought I would share one of my very favorite Open House activities: School Walk.  This is actually a whole school tradition that we have been doing for a zillion years.  (Not that I have been teaching a zillion years, but almost!)  Our Open House is always on a Wednesday night.  The next morning, right after we take attendance EVERY class in the school goes on a walk around the school.  It reminds me of a parade.  We weave in and out of every classroom in the school so that by the end of the walk, students have visited ALL classrooms.

In the beginning we did this so that we (THE TEACHERS) could see every adorable classroom all gussied up for Open House.  But then we found many, many side benefits.  The children love seeing the classrooms they used to be in. ("There is my old desk."  "Why are those chairs so small?" "I remember when we did that project.")

I love being able to show my kiddos what lies ahead.  ("When you are in second grade, you will be writing animal reports like those on the wall." "Here is an art project you may do.")  I take forever in each room because I love foreshadowing what is to come for my students.  I think other teachers hate following me in the parade because there is always a traffic jam behind me.  As I enter each classroom, I really do try to be quick, but ... there are so many things that I want to show my kiddos!

I LOVE this tradition and encourage you to get your school to try something similar.

So ... what traditions do you have at your school that you would like to share with us?

Love to all,

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Super Heroes!

Hi Bloggetts,

The idea I am sharing today is a fun, joyful idea.  Looking at this project on the wall always makes me smile!

Here is the background:
Last year I went with my neighbors (who are dear friends) to their first grade daughter's Open House.  I brought my camera, which they thought was a little weird, but you all understand, right?  Well, thank goodness I brought my camera because I found LOTS of great ideas as I ran from class to class (which they also thought was a little weird).  There was one idea I loved so much that I quickly incorporated it into my own Open House.  How cute is this?!?!

That's my girl flying through the air!

I loved this idea so much, that I incorporated literature and even music into the lesson.  Here are the steps I took:
1) Read Quick as a Cricket to the class.  
2) Discuss the nouns (animal names) and adjectives in the book.
3) Play "Everything at Once" by Lenka.  (I learned about this song from a blog.  If it was your blog, just tell me and I will credit you for your great idea!)  I downloaded the song from iTunes to play to my class, but I just found a YouTube link that displays the lyrics while Lenka is singing.  (But you will have to quickly skip the ad if you use this!)
   Everything at Once
4)  Discuss the nouns and adjectives Lenka used in her song.
5)  Create a class list of adjectives that describe us and related nouns.  (Although I let my students choose whatever nouns and adjectives they wanted.)
6)  Students complete write five cloze sentences (I am as __________ as a __________.)  I actually gave mine a form to fill in to make it simple.
7)  I took photos of each student "flying".  At first I was too controlling and was trying to tell them how to stand.  This led to unhappy campers in my class and a very frustrated teacher!  I even had blue paper for them to pose in front of, thinking it would make it easier to cut the pictures out later - but it really didn't matter and it was sooooo hard to keep them in front of the blue paper!  Then I let them pose however they wanted for their flying photos and the results were much better!  Here are some examples:


Super Hero stance!
Original pose!

Superman pose!

8)  I typed up all of the poems and copied them on cloud paper (which I have never, ever been able to find at Dollar Store - sigh).
9)  I cut out my kiddos and glued their bodies to their poems and laminated.  (If I was brilliant, I would be able to do this all on my computer - but I am not brilliant!)
10)  I created a display titled: Mrs. Johnson's Super Heroes!  Thank you to the unknown teacher that had this on display in her classroom for me to see!

To close, I will leave you with the poem created by the future Steve Jobs / Bill Gates / Donald Trump.  (Andrew, when you make your first million, please remember your first grade teacher!)

When I questioned Andrew about the fat wire, he patiently explained to me that "fat wires" are actually very thin.  Who knew?  Oh, and the third line reads "I am as shocking as a circuit board."

Love to all,

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I LOVE Bloogyland!

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your sweet emails and for all of the warm thoughts and prayers you sent my way!  My dad is doing really well right now!  He had a few more emergency room visits since my last post, but has steadily been improving and is feeling stronger.  His official diagnosis is "Chronic Heart Failure" which means his heart will keep failing, we will keep rushing him to the emergency room, the doctors will do amasing things, and then dad will go back to his home at assisted living.  In the meantime we are all savoring the moments when dad is feeling good!  Today my dad is spending time with his amazing friend Stan, who flew down from Fairbanks, Alaska to spend the weekend here in California with my dad.  Yep, his flight was almost longer than the time he will be here!  Stan couldn't get any time off of work, so he decided that coming for the weekend was better than not coming at all. I told you he was amazing!  Stan is like a son to my dad, so I know their time together will be precious!

So ... I am sending LOTS of love your way!  Thank you for being the marvelous community that you are!  I APPRECIATE you all!  

Love to all,

P.S.  It has been so long since I last posted that Blogger has completely changed their look.  When did that happen?  Or is it just me forgetting how to create blog posts?  Sigh.