Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Crafts to Brighten the Season


After our Holiday Breakfast, the rest of the morning was centered on creating some holiday favorite crafts. As you can see, it took a lot of parent help at each table in order to keep thirty-five children organized and moving in order to successfully complete each one. We had snowman hot chocolate, reindeer hand bags, popsicle stick snowman ornaments, to name but a few. The best part of the morning was having us all eat a great breakfast together, provided by our parents and of course the fun crafts. This is a special time of year and "The Mall-ards" would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel, Nadolig LLawen, Fröhliche Weihnachten, Maligayang Pasko, I'd Miilad said oua sana saida, Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan, Sretan Bozic, Glædelig Jul, Vrolijk Kerstfeest
Hyvaa Joulua, and/or Kala Christouyenna!

Mystery Readers Galore!!


The last few weeks were highlighted by our "Mystery Readers" who delighted the children by reading some of their favorite books to the class. Claire L. read "Oh Christmas Tree" Phineas and Ferb series by Scott Peterson and then donated the book to the class! Melanie H. was the Cajun Red Riding Hood complete with the costume and accent. She read "Petite Rouge" by Mike Artell. Crystal C. came in with "Frosty the Snowman" and Carmen D. read one of her favorite books "Piggie Pie" by Margie Palatini. Each Mystery Reader brought her special love of reading and showed the students what fun reading can be. We appreciate our Mystery Readers taking time out of their busy day to spend some moments with first graders who are just starting to understand how fascinating books can be.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Procedural Writing - How to's in First Grade


How To Trap a Mouse by Lexie
Need: cheese, string, wood, mouse, fly paper
1. First you check if you have a mouse hole. Then put fly
2. paper by its hole. Then to catch t, tie a string
3. to wood then the string to the cheese. Then get ready.
4. Put the cheese by the fly paper and the mouse's feet are stuck to the fly paper.

Writing "How to" papers is one of our classes' favorite genres to write about in Writer's Workshop. Learning that they are all experts in something makes this writing a fun type of writing that they look forward to. They have written "How to" papers on "Getting Ready for School", "Washing the Car", and "Going on a Plane". They have also put their "How to" books together and made one big "Book of How To's" which includes a title page and table of contents. They have also learned that Procedural Writing includes: recipes, directions to locations and rules for board games. So, if you would like to learn how to trap a mouse or grow a flower these two papers may help you. Each paper provides a clear title, what you will need, and pictures with captions. "How to Grow a Flower" includes where to go to find out more information on growing a flower. These are great examples of the writing we are doing now in Writer's Workshop.

How to Grow a Flower by Sarah
Need: seeds, water, dirt, sun, flower pot
1. First you get a pot and put dirt in it. Then you plant a seed.
2. Put water in the pot. But not too much - just middle size.
3. Put your plant in a sunny spot.
4. Just wait and wait and wait.
For more information, go to a plant store.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

SBBB: Pigs in a Blanket


In Math, we completed a unit called, "Making Shapes and Designing Quilts" (2D Geometry) in our Investigations Curriculum. This included students designing their own quilt pattern and repeating it over several times. In this way, they can see different shapes in their quilt patterns.

As a culminating project, this bulletin board called "Pigs in a Blanket" involved the entire class in its creation. By copying a design, each child made a piece of the quilt and together we made a blanket. When the blanket was formed, the students noticed the different shapes that appeared. The repeating squares made combinations of triangles and rhombi. Because we are "hog heaven", we thought it appropriate to have our pigs in a blanket. The students wrote their own commentary on each blanket demonstrating their understanding of the assignment. The kids just love this bulletin board and so do we!

Hanukkah Traditions and Story 2010


We are so fortunate to have a previous student S. come to our room each year and share the story and traditions of Hanukkah. Her brother J. was also assisting in explaining the history of Hanukkah to the class. Most of the students were very familiar with it because of her visit last year. However, this year they understood it better and were very ready to play the dreidel game.

S. & J. explained the story as follows: After three years of fighting, the Jews defeated the Syrians and, to celebrate, they restored the Temple of Jerusalem. As part of the celebrations they lit an oil lamp which should have been kept burning all the time, even though they could only find enough oil to keep it burning for one night. However, the oil lamp stayed lit for eight days, which was the time it took to make new oil for the lamp. This was the Miracle of the Oil.

Following the story, the fun of playing dreidel began. Everyone received their own with chocolate kisses to use as gelt (coins). The game was explained again and the children had a wonderful time learning the story and traditions of Hanukkah. Next year S. will be moving on to sixth grade, so J. will visiting us from second grade to keep our tradition going!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pine Cones and Turkeys - Thanksgiving Fun


On Tuesday, the day before our Thanksgiving break, we tinkered with some pine cones, feathers, and pom poms. We came up with some very cute pine cone turkeys for each student to take home. These were just too cute not to share. A very Happy Thanksgiving from the Mall-ards in Hog Heaven!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Read Aloud - Magic Tree House


During the past few days, the children have been learning about the Pilgrims, the Native Americans, and the first Thanksgiving. We have been reading several books on the subject but the one they most liked is from the Magic Tree House series. The book is called, "Thanksgiving on Thursday" by Mary Pope Osborne. Eight year old Jack and his seven year old sister Annie get transported in time whenever they open a book in their magic tree house. On this adventure, they are in Plymouth on the first Thanksgiving. They meet Squanto, Captain Standish, and Governor Bradford. They befriend a pilgrim girl, Priscilla, who has them helping to prepare food for the feast. The first book in the series, "Dinosaurs Before Dark" was read last week. "Thanksgiving on Thursday" is book #27 in the series. Reading these chapter books aloud is a great way for the class to come together as a community. Reading aloud is the best way we have to immerse children in the glories of reading, showing them both how and why one reads (Calkins, 2010). We will be going on several more Magic Tree House adventures in the future, such as mummies, knights, and moon visits...and we can't wait!

Calkins, L. (2010). A guide to the reading workshop. Heinemann.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mystery Reader: P is for Pom Pom!


Our mystery reader this week surprised her brother,sister and the class by coming in and reading "P is for Pom Pom" by Laura Purdie Salas. Her arrival was announced and then five clues about our mystery reader were read. Some of the clues were: She used to go to this school; She was our patrol; and she has siblings in this class. While students were guessing, V came in and we all clapped. She was wearing her cheering uniform, brought pom poms, and was carrying the book with her. She then read "P is for Pom Pom! The Cheerleading Alphabet Book to the class. The girls could not wait to imitate some of the moves she read about. V was brave enough to chant and show us the routine of some of her cheers. During the finale, she showed us a jump and the kids just loved it. Thank you V for a great reading and being a wonderful mystery reader. The children enjoyed it and C and L were very proud of their big sister!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Literacy Centers - Time to Practice Reading


A favorite part of the student's day is when they get to enjoy authentic reading by engaging in Literacy Centers. A popular station is "Books on CD". Children have the opportunity to read along with the CD. By listening and reading along, they get to hear and practice fluent reading. The books we are using are from the county sponsored Houghlin Mifflin series for first grade and each come with a CD. These readers have some wonderful trade books incorporated into one leveled book. The CD players were sponsored by some of the student's parents. We asked for CD players at our Open House and now have six which makes a great listening center. Other stations the children visit are the computers. We have four that they visit on a rotating schedule. Also there are various genre baskets of books and magazines that they love to dive into. This is a time where students have time to practice reading either on the computer, CDs, books or magazines. They can read about sharks, finish up a chapter from Magic Tree House, or grab a Dr. Seuss book...Oh, the places they can go...during literacy centers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Readers to Leaders: Principal Slimed


The whole school was in for a special treat today when Mrs. Phillips, our principal, kept her promise and was "slimed" because most of the students met their twenty-five book challenge this quarter. Readers to Leaders comes from a county incentive to have students read one million words a year. The one million words is broken down to approximately twenty-five books per quarter. The students are also recognized during our awards ceremony every quarter for this achievement. Mrs. Phillips was a good sport and the children really enjoyed seeing her get slimed! What's next? Oh...it only gets better!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Koala Lou...We Do Love You...bulletin board


The Mall-ards actually look forward to creating a new bulletin board presentation each month. We love sharing the learning that is going on in our classroom and the bulletin board is one way to do just that. Our board this month was on reading which featured our Author Study of Mem Fox literature. It consists of a sampling of the work that was completed by our first grade students during Reader's Workshop during this study. The first piece is a text-to-text connection between Shoes from Grandpa and There Was An Old Lady. Next is a a retelling of Possum Magic by sequencing the story in six parts. Then we have students reporting on story elements from Hattie and the Fox listing characters, setting, problem and solution. Finally, there is a Venn Diagram showing the similarities and differences between between Shoes From Grandpa and On Halloween Night. These pieces are just a sampling of showing how students are making meaningful connections and comprehending text every day in Hog Heaven!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Character Parade and Fall Fun Festivities


It was another festive day in Hog Heaven as our First Graders came dressed as their favorite literary characters. We had everyone from Toto to Darth Vader present and accounted for. The day started with a Character Parade that went around the first floor of the school. Students brought a book with them to represent their costume. Older grades lined the halls and cheered on the Kindergarten and First Grade students as many of them remembered when they were the ones parading through the halls. Afterward, students worked on center activities including Q-tip skeletons, stained glass (tissue) pumpkins, and bat hats. In the afternoon, students also tinkered creating their own haunted house. In the evening, many students returned to school for trick-or-treating through the hallways and then enjoyed the fall carnival on the school grounds. October ended most memorably for all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mystery Reader Delights Students


Today we had a mystery reader come to visit. Mrs. W. came in to surprise her son and the class. Dressed up as the Reader Queen, she delighted the students with "Trick or Treat" by Bill Martin, Jr. Also, Lola, the Chihuahua was the featured guest and had treats to give to all the children. Everyone loved the surprise visit and we are looking forward to having more mystery readers come in to class and read aloud a favorite book to the students.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mem Fox Author Celebration - Skyping and so much more...


Today we celebrated the end of our four week unit on the literature of Mem Fox. Our culminating activities started off first thing this morning with technology. We were lucky enough to have a teacher friend of Mrs. Holtsman's skype with us from Australia. Amanda Marrinan is a second grade teacher in an Australian school and she told us all about what her students are doing at this time. Also, she told us that she had met Mem Fox through a workshop she attended. Ms. Marrinan showed the students samples of the food that was featured in the book "Possum Magic", including pavlova (a dessert similar to meringue with fruit), lammington (a sponge cake with chocolate and coconut), and Tim Tams (a chocolate biscuit). Each first grade class prepared a question to ask her, such as "Have you ever been to the Australian Zoo?" and "Does your class read Mem Fox books too?" It was a wonderful visit and kick off to our "Down Under" day.
Next, we had a former student of our school who was born in Australia play the digeridoo for the students. He explained the background of the instrument and its markings. That was another wonderful experience for the children.

The rest of the day was filled with arts and crafts, reader's theater, books about Australian animals and a Mem Fox book that we saved until last called, "The Goblin and the Empty Chair." They were captivated by this thought-provoking story. Enjoy hearing Mem Fox read it to you:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Writers Sharing Writing


Over the past few weeks, we have been enjoying the literature of Mem Fox. In Reader's Workshop, the children have made connections to her works in Reader's Response notebooks, charted similarities and differences on Venn Diagrams, and retold the stories using story maps. In Writer's Workshop, we used Mem Fox as our Author Mentor. We wrote great beginnings like Mem Fox, told stories with some great details like Mem Fox, and always stayed in the moment for a great ending, just like Mem Fox. As our mentor, her books were used as a model for students to borrow some of the wonderful ideas and techniques of Mem Fox in our Small Moment (personal narrative) pieces. One of the classes' favorite activities is to share their writing with each other, much like they do when partner reading. They take turns and read their writing to each other. Each reader/writer can use this time to make edits to their writing from suggestions from their peers. They compliment each other on the great writing they are doing and everyone feels very special. They take this reading and editing time very seriously...as you can tell from the pictures. Mem Fox would be very proud...as are we!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Open House: Settling into First Grade


Last night was our First Grade Open House. Students have been in school for 31 days as of yesterday, and their learning and growth have been amazing. The children were very excited to show-off the classroom to parents. We called the children to the floor as we usually do with our morning song, "We're Going to be Friends" by Jack Johnson. After a few housekeeping items, we started our Power Point featuring a day in the life of a first grader. From reading books in the hallway before school starts till the end of the day, parents received a snapshot of the day. After the Power Point, students took their parents on a self-directed tour of the classroom using a flow chart. Included on places to visit were the Math Counts board, book bins, vocabulary word wall, class library and class promise. It was wonderful to see everyone and share our great learning.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mem Fox Author Study - The Beginning


Our author study for the next few weeks will be on the works of Mem Fox. Mem was born in Melbourne, Australia and at the age of six months was brought to Africa with her missionary parents. The mission, Hope Fountain in Zimbabwe used to be called Rhodesia. She married and Englishman and finally moved back to Australia and had a daughter. She is an advocate for child literacy. She said: "Literacy has become the great focus of my life — it’s my passion, my battle and my mission and my exhaustion." Mem has received numerous awards ranging from the Dromkeen Medal for Distinguished Services to Children’s Literature in 1990 to Children’s Language and Literature Achievement Award from the Speech Pathology Association of Australia, 2007. When visiting her website, be sure to go the "How to Read Aloud" section. It is loaded with wonderful pointers on how to make reading to a child a magical and delightful experience for both parties.

With the first week of our author study completed, the students have heard the books Possum Magic, Night Noises, Time for Bed, and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. In Reader's Workshop, we have started an attribute chart listing the title, character, events and interesting language of each book. We also started a chart on Mem's interesting life, took out our map and found Australia, and looked through piles of her books to get students excited about reading them. In Writer's Workshop, we learn how to develop our own small moment writing by using Mem Fox as our mentor. We are anxious to get the second week of our study underway and can not wait to hear the books Koala Lou, Shoes for Grandpa, and Hattie and the Fox.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Multi-senory Field Trip


On Monday we were invited to visit a neighboring school called J. Allen Axson Montessori School. They were hosting a multi-sensory safari field trip in their auditorium. They had animals represented from all parts of our globe including a lynx, tiger, jaguar, zebra, and water buffalo. The children learned about where they came from, their habitats, and how they are sustained. The students were invited to touch the animals and note how different each animal's skin felt. On our way to the school, we felt like we were on a safari getting there Donning our green field trip t-shirts and sneakers and carrying cold water bottles, we ventured to the safari. It was a hot trek but sure worth trip!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's the Matter...with matter?


Hog heaven students have been up to their eyeballs in matter these past few weeks. We have been asking ourselves about matter and what matter is (anything that takes up space), together with the properties of matter. Students use their five senses to describe what it is that they see and feel when observing things. Today we went on a nature walk and students collected matter. They found stones, feathers, leaves, flowers, twigs, pine cones and ants. When they came back to the classroom, they took the items out of their paper bags and used their Science Journals to write about what they found. They described the items as rough, pointy, colorful, sticky and smooth. These basic lessons in Science are building the background knowledge that students will use and need as the years go on. They will scaffold what they know and build on it. But for right now, they are noticing the world around them and coming to realize that we are surrounded by matter, whether it is a solid, liquid or gas.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Writer's Getting Busy Writing

The first two weeks of school was used as a time to get students in the habit of writing again. We gave them time to "free-write". They wrote about their great summer vacations, visits to the beach, and movies they have seen. We were "getting their feet wet" and excited about writing again. This week was the start of a formal four week unit modeled after the book, "First Grade Writers" by Stephanie Parsons.

Specifically, we are working on a chapter called "Pattern Books". A pattern book has a predictable structure and format. It can have a repeated phrase or format that continues throughout the book. They are just like the books that most children are reading at this time so student's can draw a parallel between Reader's and Writer's Workshops. The books that the students write usually start out quite simple, but as lessons are taught and new ideas are presented, the books that the students' write grow in sophistication and are quite impressive. We can not wait to compare the first week's samples to the fourth weeks' and see the learning that has occurred.
Below is a sample of a pattern book that was written today titled "Glasses".

"Glasses" by Grace

"One day I got glasses. We got one pair. It was black and red."

"The next day I got another pair of glasses. They were pinkish purplish."

"The next day I got another pair of glasses. They were blue wire glasses."

"The next day I got another pair. It was turned into sunglasses. It was red with hearts on the side."

"Then I had all my pairs of glasses."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rituals and Routines: Settling in - in First Grade


Oh, how we love to loop! Having our kindergarten students come back as first graders is wonderful. After a short refresher course on the rituals and routines of the classroom, they are back, ready for the learning and challenges of first grade. They know that they start each morning reading books out in the hall. They unload their folders while they are out there. When the bell rings, the children come in and go right to their cubbies to deposit their belongings. Their morning work is waiting for them at their tables. This quarter the morning work is handwriting practice. Letter formation is modeled for them and they practice in their handwriting journals. After the pledge and morning announcements, the students are brought to the floor with a song. Our class promise (which we will share next time) is said and then we promptly start Skills Block. This is where they learn about capitals, punctuation, word families, sight words, vowels, and practice with skill games. It was a great first week in Hog Heaven and can not wait to make more memories!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Day of First Grade


The first day of school is a very special and memorable one at Chets Creek. It is the day we love to "WOW" the kids and make the first day exciting and fun. With our new theme, "Cultivating a Community of Excellence", the principal Mrs. Phillips, and her team WOWed all of us with a day at the farm. But instead of us going to the farm, she brought the farm to us. There was a watermelon patch where the children learned some fun facts about watermelons. Did you know the average watermelon has 750 seeds? There were ducks, goats, mules, tractors, bee keepers, planters, and singers. The day had its own special magic that only the first day of school bring. Mall-ard's Hog Heaven is looking forward to cultivating the best crop yet of first graders yet. We will do it by planting the seeds of knowledge, watering them each day with new discoveries, and nurturing each one until they are ready to take on new challenges.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Welcome to First Grade!


We have been busy the last few weeks preparing the classroom for our new first graders. The school theme this year is "Cultivating a Community of Excellence". A lot of ideas popped into our heads about where we could go with this theme, however, the one that sounded "just right" was "Mall-ard's Hog Heaven". In the dictionary "Hog Heaven" is termed as a noun/slang and the meaning is: "A state of utter bliss or contentment." That is exactly what we want a child's first grade year to be! Learning, growing, making new friends, and having the time of their lives in first grade! We can not wait to get started on Monday. Hog Heaven will be open for business and we will be cultivating our community of excellence!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Postcards Arriving


Because we loop our kindergarten class to first grade, we always ask that the children send us postcards during the summer. We love to hear about their adventures and vacations. We save the cards and use them for our first "Welcome Back to School" bulletin board. Above is a sampling of the postcards we have been receiving this summer. They love to see the board and find their pictures or cards that they sent to us. These postcards also are a great tool to use in Writer's Workshop if they choose to write about what they did during their summer vacation. So far we have received cards from Washington, DC, Mississippi, Georgia, Chicago, and of course, Florida. There have been lots of visits to family members, ocean resorts and theme parks. Our summer time window is going to be closing real soon. Teachers go back on August 16th and the students will be starting on August 23rd. Our bulletin board will be loaded with fun memories and we are sure, lots of stories to tell. P.S. Yes, that is a flip flop postcard :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Postcard from Italy - Summer Vacation

As a way to keep in touch during the summer, we always send our looping class our addresses so that they can write to us. This also serves as a great "Back to School" bulletin board which welcomes the students back to school with their fun summer time adventures to share. We have received several postcards so far and everyone is having a great time in Chicago, in Orlando, or just at grandma's house. We received this e-mail postcard from our student "C" who has traveled to Italy and France for a few weeks. Wow-what a wonderful experience and we can't wait to hear more about it in August!!

Holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa is hard work! We had a great time in Italy and Paris. I didn't want to come home. Some of the highlights were seeing the Catacombs, Colosseum and Vatican in Rome; climbing to the top of the Duomo in Florence; taking a gondola ride in Venice; and in Paris the Eiffel Tower. Did I mention the food - especially the gelato? I can't wait to go back some day!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Time for The Mall-ards


It is hard to believe that our Kindergarten journey has come to an end. The class of 2009-2010 is heading off to summer vacation. When we see them in August, they will begin their first grade year with us. It is wonderful to be with this great group of kids and their parents for another year...that is why we love to loop! The postings will be fewer but they will continue during the summer. Have a great summer...the Mall-ards are signing off or should we say flying off for summer vacation!! :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Star Spangled Kindergarten Student

We wanted to share this rendition of the Star Spangled Banner from the talent show yesterday. Thanks W for the great job!

Star Spangled Kindergarten Singer from Maria Mallon on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Loads of Talent in Room 104

The Mall-ard Talent Show 2009-2010 was in full swing this morning. We had more talent than you could imagine! Ballet dancers, singers, poetry readers, interpretive dance, karate, guitars, piano playing, and even a singing of "The Spangled Banner" - we had it all. It was a great way to spend the morning and a chance for everyone to share their special talent. Note: The boys were over the ballerinas -- "Please no more ballerina dancing," said Michael. :)