Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!


This slide show represents the past two weeks of activities going on in our classroom. We made a wreath and advent box for the holiday silent auction. The students participated in these projects - they helped paint the polka-dots on the wreath ornaments and we used their fingerprints to decorate the sides, top, and back of the lottery advent calendar (Santa and the reindeers and snowmen). (Our own Mrs, Shall was the lucky winner!) We had a Hanukah lesson demonstrated by a former student. Did you now that there are 17 different ways to spell "Hanukah"? She brought in a menorah, candles, and dreidel and taught the students about the "Festival of Lights." Afterwards, she taught the children how to play the dreidel game and also how to make one out of marshmallows, Hershey Kisses, and pretzel sticks. Also, during the week, pictures were taken of the children and they wrote a note inside the card that their holiday picture was going in.
Thursday was our holiday breakfast and craft day. Parents joined us for breakfast and crafts. In the afternoon, we were surprised by the horses on the playground (compliments of Mrs. Rossignol) so as we walked up, they invited us to pet them. What a wonderful topper to a great day!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cinnamon Ornaments With A Dash of "How To"


Some holiday crafts just need time to complete, especially drying time. The cinnamon ornament is one of them. On Wednesday, we decided to get a jump start on one of our favorite holiday crafts, the cinnamon ornament, and combine it with Writer's Workshop by revisiting "How to" writing. In making this ornament, students had the opportunity to experience, from ingredients to completed outcome...the step by step, day by day evolution of making this ornament. And what better way to evidence what the children have learned, via nonfiction writing, by having them write a "How To" (functional) writing piece?
As you can see from Chelsea's writing sample, we have a title, "How to make an Ornament." There are clear pictures that demonstrate the task. The pictures are labeled and there are captions under the pictures. Chelsea used transition words "first" and "then". Also, there is a "What you need" section under the writing. It is clear that the labels and captions are a direct link to the nonfiction elements learned from previous week's lessons.
On Friday, the children watched how the ornaments have to be flipped over so that they can dry on the other side. Their creations will soon be wrapped and sent home to be put on their tree.
This is a wonderful way to combine a holiday craft with a workshop lesson. In addition, we were amazed at the writing we received, as a whole. Sometimes you just get the right lesson at the right time for the perfect Writer's Workshop!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Can It" Make a Difference?


As a community project for the holidays, we answered the call to collect as many cans of food as possible for our business partners BJs Wholesale Club. They were asking for 1000 cans from our school. To our delight, we collected approximately 250 cans of food from our class alone! In the beginning of the drive, we asked students to bring in food that they like, not what's in the back of the pantry. We told the students that we are very fortunate to have food and that many children go to bed hungry. To make the drive exciting, we allowed the students to ring the class bell for every can they brought in. Then in order to keep a running total, children used tally marks on the side of the box to log in how many cans we collected. Mrs. Shall told us that she hopes there's not going to be a hurricane because all of her canned food was vanishing! We are very proud of our parents and class -- we were the winners of the most cans brought in by a single classroom!!Can it make a difference? We think so!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Plump and Perky Turkey - Shadow Puppet Play


"The Plump and Perky Turkey" by Teresa Bateman was our "Book of the Month" in November. Our principal, Susan Phillips, asked us to think of a clever way to respond to the book so that it could be put on her "Book of the Month" Wiki. We thought and thought and then remembered Miss KK's (our Media Specialist) shadow puppet idea that she puts on for our First Grade Sleepover in January. Using that as an inspiration, we developed our own, "Plump and Perky Turkey" shadow puppet play. It took a about a week of practice to get it to the point you see now. We hope you enjoy the video and be on the look out for our next shadow puppet play, "The Night Before Christmas."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reading Strategies - Embedding the Code


Even though we teach the basic reading strategies in Kindergarten and First Grade, students need to be reminded to open this "tool box" of strategies when they get stuck on a word or phrase. So many times we say, "Use your strategies." We verbally remind them to, "Look at the picture," "Did you use both vowel sounds?", and/or "Does it make sense?" But what happens if a child forgets his/her strategies or maybe the ones he/she remembers aren’t working? This has been a question that we have been asking ourselves. Also, how do we keep the strategies reviewed so that the children can "embed this code" into their schema? The following is a "Reading Strategies" song that we developed and are using before students go to independent or partner reading every day. If this helps even a few struggling readers and/or higher level readers who occasionally get stuck on a word, it's worth singing everyday.