It's a New Year at School! ( Magic e, Fairy Tales, and Measurement)

I spent last week with my family soaking up every ounce of holiday bliss and relaxation that I could!It was wonderful. Then, this week I decided to get ready to kick off 2015 at school. These two days of prep are going to make my January 5th work day no work at all!!! I think I'll just socialize with other teachers and keep them from working ;-) No, really, I plan to clean and organize my classroom.

Anyway, my firsties are starting off the new year learning about silent e (magic e), fairy tales, folk tales, and tall tales, and non standard units of measure. Here's my prep work:

I created this little resource that includes CVCe and CCVCe word work

I made sure to include something for Daily 5 word work and something for assessing my RTI kiddos. 

We are kicking off our fairy tale unit with Cinderella. I have lots of versions of this book. One of my faves is Dinorella. This is a craftivity I made last year to go with the book.

Of course, I've started a Fairy Tale Pinterest board for a little inspiration. I have a thing for cute anchor charts. Right now I'm filling up the board with them. I'll add some more stuff too. Here's an easy anchor chart I pinned. The blog I pinned it from seems to have been deleted. 

In January we will begin a unit on measurement, so I whipped this up. I like that some students can just measure, while others can measure and compare for a little extra oomph. It's a $1 math tub ya'll, or a super engaging independent measurement activity. 

On a personal you Instagram? Me and some other teachers are starting Whole 30 tomorrow. Check out For the Love of First Grade on Insta.. I think it was her idea. #teachersofwhole30 

Happy New Year!

Christmas Questionaire 2014

Christmas is my favorite time of year...summer time is a close second.

 I love the lights! Christmas lights are my favorite. I could drive through neighborhood after neighborhood to look at the lights. 

Oh, and the weather is nicer at Christmas than during the summer. I'm from Houston, ya'll. It was sunny and 73 degrees today. 

I'm in a festive mood, so I'm linking up with Fabulous in First for her Christmas Questionaire.

1. When do you decorate?
I usually decorate right after Thanksgiving, but this year me and my littles decorated the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving. My husband and teenage boys were out of town for the weekend and we had the house to ourselves. I feel like I get way more done when the boys ( husband) are away. 

Me and the girls went looking for some cute Christms decor items at At Home and ended buying this Christmas tree instead of yard ornaments. My five year old told me it was too tall, but I thought it would work. Ha! I got it home and couldn't even stand it up all the way up. Fortunately, my neighbor is super handy, so I took the top to him and he cut off 4-5 inches so it would fit. I know, I would've just returned the tree, but I'm make-it-work kinda girl. Sheesh!

I want to start collecting Nutcrackers. That's on my bargain-shop-afte- Christmas-for-next-yea- to-do-list.

2. Elf or no elf?
I do NOT have an elf, but I am considering getting one. I know, I know..we are already 12 days into December. I think I could do it for two weeks, but an entire month seems daunting. I'm afraid I would forget to move the elf. I have been "collecting" lots of super cute elf ideas on Pinterest for when I take the plunge though. I can't imagine what the girls would name our elf. Our hamster is Stripey Zander. Yes, for real!

I just saw this!

3. Christmas Cookies or No Baking for You?
I bake once a year. At Christmas. Not cookies. Bread. I bake mini loaves of banana nut bread and pumpkin cranberry bread as gifts. The loaves turn out so super moist and delicious that I just keep baking them up every year.

4. Favorite holiday tradition
I'm all about dem lights, bout dem lights, bout dem lights, no darkness...(seriously THAT song is stuck in my head)...

We take the kids and drive through a few neighborhoods just to see the lights. One year my neices and nephews all came and brought their bicycles and we biked our neighborhood one evening just to look at the all the lights. The kids loved it!

These are just a few of the pics I took at Santa's Wonderland in College's ALL ABOUT the lights. We went the day after Thanksgiving. 

We are going to see Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo again this year.

I recently heard about the Christmas Ranch in Cleveland, TX. I'm going to check it out over the break.

5. Favorite Christmas Movie
I heart the classics from the 1960s and 70s. 

6. Snow or No Snow?
I'd LOOOOOVE a white Christmas. I've never experienced it. It doesn't snow in Houston. I have as many Christmas day pics of family in shorts as I do in sweaters. 

7. Favorite Christmas Song?
It's soooo hard to pick just one, but I'm kinda into Baby, It's Cold Outside. The link is to the Idina Menzel and Michael Buble version. If you've never heard of Idina Menzle, she's the voice of Elsa in Disney's Frozen.

8. Favorite Gift to Give and Get?
Oh man! I did a ton of Cyber Monday shopping on the Toy R Us and Amazon websites! No less than 10 boxes have been delivered to my house. I'm trying not to be mad that I just found the Barbie Malibu House that I bought for my daughter on the Toys R Us website for about $17 less than I paid two weeks ago! My favorite gifts to give are for my children, but I can't risk listing them all here. Here are few things on my wish list:

I made my husband an make up wish list. Watching make up tutorials on YouTube is my new obsession.

Then he mentioned jewerly (he always gets me jewerly...swoon). I'm totally into rose gold or mixed golds right now. 

 Head on over to Fabulous in First to check out the line up!

Deck the Classroom

I love the three weeks between Thanksgiving break and Winter break (errr...Christmas break)! The atmosphere at school is so festive and the hallways and classrooms are full of holiday writing and craftivities.

In my classroom we are getting most of the crafts done during Work on Writing. Students must complete a writing assignment before they make a craft. This keeps them motivated. It's easy to be off task this time of year seeing as a two week vacation is tempting us with thoughts of sleeping late, no homework, and gifts galore. Correction....tempting ME! He he. Normally we free write in our journals during Work on Writing but this time of year we free write after we've completed our writing prompt and craftivity. 

I choose writing prompts and crafts based on Christmas literature for each week. Last week was Rudolph week.

Craft template from Nikki Sabiston.

Craft templete from First Grade Schoolhouse

I promise the kiddos wrote, but I only think to take out my phone and snap a pic when I see a cute craftivity! We wrote alternate versions of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,  "My Pet Reindeer", and "If I Were a Reindeer". For the third craftivity the kiddos cut brown construction paper into strips, then snipped the strips into little peices. Easy peasy. 

We also read Rudolph books during Interactive Read Aloud. We compared the original poem to a more contemporary version of the story. We read Olive, the other Reindeer too.

I found this nonfiction book about reindeer on Amazon. It did not arrive in time for Rudolph week, but I'm going to fit it in because 1) it's Christmas-y and 2) it's nonfiction and I like to couple fiction with related nonfiction as much as possible. 

This week is Gingerbread week! We are reading, writing, and crafting gingerbread galore. Tomorrow we will sample some gingerbread cookies just for fun and to make connections to our reading. I picture-failed this week in my classroom. But I did snap pics of these cute gingerbread in other hallways at my school. 

This week our big book is The Gingerbread Man and we read these ginger favorites too!

We are also working on hand print calendars for parent gifts. So much fun and so dang cute (but time intensive for sure)!

Next week is Polar Express and Twas the Night Before Christmas week. In the plans: a pajama fashion show (we wear pajamas to school for Polar Express Day), the book, the movie, hot chocolate, a package from the North Pole with silver bells for everyone, a nonfiction book about the North Pole, and LOTS of different versions of the 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

And let's not forget about Pete! He'll work his way into math next week. 

I'm going to wrap this up with a couple more pics of the holiday cheer I found in the hallways on my campus.

Check out these other Deck the Hall posts!

Merry Christmas, ya'll!!!

Engaging Math Activities for 3D Shapes

This week we've been learning about solid shapes. We've done all the normal stuff: identify shapes, count faces, vertices, and edges, sort into groups, identified objects in our classroom that are a solid shape. And those things are all good learning activities, but none of those things put a smile on the kiddos faces quite like these three fun activities did.

Activity One: Bringing objects from home for a math show & tell. 
Simple, right? But the kids were just so happy to share their objects and tell about them. One day the children brought objects that were cubes or rectangular prisms. Surprisingly, they really enjoyed describing the shape to their friends. Students that brought an object explained what the object was, what 3D shape it is, the shape of each face and how many faces it has, and led the class in counting the vertices. 

The next day students brought spheres, cones, and cylinders from home. (I forgot to take a picture.) There were lots of soccer balls and a funnel, but not a single cylinder in the bunch. 

Activity Two: Constructing a cube using tooth picks and marshmallows.

About three-fourths of the class was able to construct the cube while I built a cube under the document camera. The remaining firsties got a little help from their friends. This lil guy built a very sturdy cube! A few other cubes had the wobbles. 

We talked about how the marshmallows are the vertices and the toothpicks are the edges. 

Of course, the best part was eating the marshmallows when we were done!

Activity Three: Guided drawing of a cone and sphere followed by an ice cream treat.
Today we did a guided drawing of a cone topped with a sphere.

Then I told the class to color their shapes to make them look like ice cream cones. 

They really did a great job! You can imagine their shock and surprise when I told them they could eat their eat their cone and sphere and pulled out mini party cones to eat :-)

Everybody LOVED math today.

This has nothing to do with 3D shapes, but one other very popular activity in math these days is SWAT. I get asked if we are going to play SWAT. 

Plane Shape SWAT

Time to the hour and half hour SWAT
If you are not familiar with SWAT, it's a speed game. Two students race to locate and swat the named shape, time, or object with a ruler or pointer. The winner gets to stay for the next round and the loser passes his ruler to the next player. I drew those shapes on small paper plates one day at lunch and I got the clock flash cards from School Specialty. If you can SWAT it, we've swatted it! (HELPFUL HINT: Make a one gentle swat limit or the kids will just swat them all.)

It's that time of year when I really have to kick it up a notch to keep the kids on task...there's just something about an impending break and a major holiday that gives first graders the wiggles. 

Happy holidays!