Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Wonder about Worms

An idea from a friend coupled with the delayed arrival of our 2 worm species led to a great science / writing station this past week. I covered the back of the cubbies with a paper that said: "I Wonder about Worms" with "questions" and "experiments" listed below. I picked up a dozen worms from the bait shop in town. Then at stations the students used stickie notes to write and post questions they had about worms. The kids could look at - but not touch the worms. They could also check out a few books (few did). I encouraged the students to think of experiments that would lead to answers to their questions too. At some point during the students' turn at the station I had them take a photo of themselves using my laptop photobooth (my friend used the classroom ipads which I do NOT have). The FDKers tried to look like they were wondering. The photos are a stitch (hoot, laugh riot, adorable, precious . . . . ) I cut them out and glued them to brown construction paper to make a cover for their worm journals. I put thought bubbles above their heads. They will write "I wonder. . ."  in the bubble.

Now I've got my fingers crossed that our worms show up this week. We will touch and truly examine the worms and try out some of our experiments. I am also going to put the kids in small groups to do research on those questions that require a book or web site to answer. Fingers crossed on that too.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sticky Sight Words

So much fun! Yes, I'm using that overworked word - fun!

He whips his tongue on the cards.
He snags some sight words.

She gets 5 cards at once!


I originally was looking for those sticky toys you toss and then they stick. I was going to make a poster with sight words. The kids would toss the sticky toy and then they would read the word the toy was stuck too. I couldn't find any of the toys. I couldn't believe they didn't have them at Walgreens.
Well, my aide brought in these frogs she purchased at Walmart. When I opened the package they had these long tongues. Perfect. I put flies on the sight words, laminated them (but you wouldn’t have to) and our station was born. I also added cards that say “yuck.” 
Here’s how we played:
  • sight word cards with flies (printed on paper and laminated)
  • some cards that said yuck and had a plant picture.
  • 4 lily pads (I cut mine from green construction paper)
  • 4 sticky tongued frog toys
We put the cards in the middle of a round table. The kids insisted the cards be turned upside down. We took turns. The kids held the frog and tossed the tongue at the sight words. When they lifted the tongue they had to read any sight words that were attached in order to keep the card. “Yuck” cards were set to the side. We originally were going to “lose a turn” if you got a “yuck” card but we didn’t because we were having too much fun to put a damper on the  game. When all the cards we gone we counted up the cards on our lily pad and then started again.
As my stations were 30 minutes each last week we began making variations. Some kids tried to snatch words off the other kids’ lily pads. They decided that was okay but they quickly started stashing their cards UNDER the lily pads.
Some of the tongues started to lose their stickiness (certain kids just have that effect on things). I had lots of frogs so it didn’t matter. We rinsed them off afterwards and the stickiness came right back.

I had an adult at the station this week but I think if I put the game on our cart (where kids can take activities for quiet learning times) it will be okay. I thought they would get loud, but they didn't.

I put the directions and cards on Teacher Pay Teacher for free. Click link on top right.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Monster Glyph - now on TPT


Finally got this all on TPT  - Monster Glyph, Writing Lesson and Display

Glyphs are a pictorial form of data collection. After reading Glad Monster / Sad Monster by Anne Miranda, Ed Emberley the FDKers made their own monsters according to their answers to either/or questions. Naturally, they added their own special pizzazz to their monsters. The monsters got magnets and now adorn our lockers. We looked over the monsters to gather and analyze data about our class. A graph will hang outside our room.
We used the monsters from the story (Sad, Silly, Worried, . . .) as writing prompts. The students wrote some funny and even insightful comments. We will display the monsters and comments at the upcoming Open House.

I am putting the finishing touches on the templates and activities for TeachersPayTeachers.

Sight Word Glasses

At the beginning of the school year I introduce "sight word glasses" for finding our first sight word - the. The TOP DOG (our star of the day) walks around with a basket full of children's sunglasses or 3D glasses with the glass poked out. Each student puts a pair on - even over glasses if necessary. We wear them a lot for the first month or so and then we back off. Now I get them out every once in a while and it always tickles me. 

I try to do something different or interesting for the introduction of each sight word. Well, sometimes my creativity is busy somewhere else. And really what is exciting about the word THERE? So we put on our glasses, grabbed a partner and looked through books for the word THERE. We needed to find 5 THEREs and list them in a notebook before starting the THERE page (see earlier post on the paper we do for each word). Someone remembered Green Eggs and Ham had THERE. Pretty smart. I loved watching the FDKers work together, especially in their Sight Word Glasses.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Georgia O'Keeffe

Students study the still life they set up before drawing.

Georgia O’Keeffe is a great American artist. We have read a number of books about her life and art (see my book shelf below). The students like that O’Keeffe was born in Wisconsin (they've all been to the water parks in the Dells) and rarely painted people. It is impressive the information the FDKers retain. Georgia O’Keeffe is known for her paintings of bones, shells, and scenery from the west. Monday we drew a shell together, noticing the lines and shapes and shadows. We used our fingers to smudge the pencil marks and made shadows and added depth. Later at our Art Station the students chose from a small selection of items reminiscent of O’Keeffe’s work (and a horn to remind us of JAZZ and a stuffed bunny for an Easter flare) to set up a still life. Then the kids went to work drawing. Talk about impressive!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Five Time Friday - Fluency Secret Weapon

These two higher leveled readers loved the chance
to share some non-fiction about sharks.
I hate to admit it but I don't always get to my Guided Reading groups as much as I should would like to. I rarely miss a phonics lesson, Heggerty phonemic awareness, or an opportunity for a read aloud. My stations each week include writing/word study, phonics, and the reading corner with the computer available for RAZ-Kids. But I know that fluency is built with repeated readings. . . so I came up with an idea that turned out to be a huge success.  Who knew? We call it 5 Time Friday (I am a sucker for alliteration). For 20 - 30 minutes on Friday we read. I give each child an A-Z book. At the beginning of the year I gave everyone the same book. Now I choose 3 - 6 titles for the class. It is easy to find books that reflect our current classroom interests or themes. I try to find books that come in the pocketbook format to save on paper. When the child receives her book, she writes her name on the back. Then the student reads the book to someone - a teacher, parent or peer.  Each time the listener initials the front cover.  The student is to acquire at least 5 sets of initials. The kids get right to reading as soon as they have their books. Students can read together by taking turns or choral reading.  Then the FDKers just initial each other's book. I usually have a student or two that I want to read to me right away. As I'm sure you can imagine a line tends to form next to me. I insist that students waiting to read to me read to each other while they wait. When I get ready for the next student I check to see if someone is reading the same book.  I put a kid on each side of me and they take turns reading a page.  I follow along with the child who is NOT reading. This helps me get through lots more kids and helps the kids learn to take turns reading a book.  They almost always go off and read with each other again. The high students listen to the lower leveled readers and vice versa. Some kids flock to the parent volunteers - some not.  But everybody reads.  If someone gets their five initials and tells me they are done - I tell them to go be a pal and listen to others, which tends to make the student want to read some more too. This 5 Time Friday has seemed like a productive time to me and the teaching assistants. I have been assessing and marking some running records this week - WOW! My class has made tremendous gains. The higher leveled students are so smooth and fluent.  The lowest students have moved to year end / first grade levels. And they LOVE to read!
Hmmm, which one thinks he is the teacher?
Reading together while waiting for a chance to read to the parent volunteer.

UPDATE: Students enjoy rereading the books at home (and parents should be encouraged to ask about the books). Many kids bring the books in to show us all the initials they collected at home.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Directed Drawing

I love, love, love Directed Drawing! I tried it last year by chance - all teachers had to teach art as they eliminated all specials.  I always integrated Fine Arts into my class curriculum but I had never really taught "drawing." I drew a scarecrow step by step on my big white board while the students drew on paper. The scarecrows turned out adorable and individual. Anyway, I went to a great workshop on directed drawing and the presentation confirmed all the fine motor benefits as well.

I use a document camera and Directed Drawing regularly. The students focus, model my pencil grip as shown on the document camera, and produce drawings that are individually wonderful.  Here are some from our Teddy Bear Week (Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear looking oh so fine).
Fashion family.

Unique style.

Colored every bit of the picture - impressive.

Cute hats!

Love the claws.

True-to-Life Twistables add to the interest.