Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Creature Crunchers

When I saw Heidi at Swamp Frog First Graders posted her adorable number crunching monsters I knew I needed to post my Creature Crunchers!  This activity is very similar to word ladders or change one sound.  The children start off making the first word with magnetic letters and then change one sound to make a new word. For example, they make the word pig and change pig to wig and wig to dig and dig to dog and dog to dot.  This is so great because it focuses on initial, medial and final sounds. I hope you can use this with your kiddos!  I would love for you to leave me a heart note and let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Animal Detectives

When you have cute clip art, you MUST find an activity to make so you can use it (lol).  We do OODLES of Word Study activities on listening and isolating the beginning, medial, and final sounds and they really help to teach the kiddos to stretch out words when they are spelling.  This activity calls on the kiddos to be "Animal Detectives"!  I will probably even write a little note from one of the animals calling on my kiddos to help these animals remember how to spell their names (Any time I can write a letter so we can get mail helps make the kiddos even more engaged!).  You can focus on initial, medial, or final sounds or give the kiddos a mixture of each!  This activity will also help with the TPRI. Please leave me a heart note and let me know what you think!
Graphics by DJ Inkers and Scrappin Doodles

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In This Room

Many of us teach children who have been through things we as adults could never fathom having the strength to go through. I have taught children who do not have running water or electricity. I have taught children who the only meals they eat are the ones they eat at school. I have taught a child who was homeless and a child who was so malnourished she did not learn to sit up until she was 4 years old. I teach children who touch my heart and change my life. God is using me in the lives of these children and He uses them to teach me patience, unconditional love, forgiveness, grace and humility. I am blessed in so many ways by the children I teach. I want to create a room they love coming to and being a part of. This is not something you go to the teacher store and buy. And when you take down all of those decorations this is what matters.....teaching from the heart. I hope this poem helps you think of what you want your classroom to look like through the eyes of a child's heart. May God bless your school year and each of the little ones He has blessed you with!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Word Wall Cheers

LOTS and lots of you already have these in your classroom.  We call these our "word wall cheers".  I took a Cheer laundry detergent box and cut the top off and put our cheers inside.  Each week we have 5 new word wall words.  We use our "cheers" to help practice spelling those words.  The kiddos LOVE choosing a cheer from the box.  There are loud cheers, quiet cheers, lots of moving cheers, and very still cheers.  The cheer box stays in the Word Study center and the kiddos can pull cheers to help practice spelling the words when they go to that literacy center.  Please leave me a heart note telling me what your favorite cheer is!  =)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Don't Break the Bank

I love differentiation strategies! There are some I use everyday and some that are more difficult to use. Don't Break the Bank is a favorite of my kiddos and me too! We model this one at the beginning of the year and create them together with interactive writing. Here's what you'll do. Choose a topic you have been working on, the amount of money in your piggybank, and how much each word is worth(we always do 5 cents so the kiddos can practice counting by 5's.) The goal is to write the most important information about your topic without breaking the bank with how much you spend for each word. This is great practice for developing the main idea of a topic. I've included an example in the download. This would be great in 2nd grade as a beginning of the year "All About Me" activity where the children share about themselves. Please leave me a heart note if you like this.....your encouraging words inspire me to create and share more!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Learning Rug Promises

First, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of my followers and all of the sweet comments! I am still in Blogging 101(hahaha) and am having trouble commenting on my own posts. Your comments make my day and are so encouraging! They inspire me to create more!

As much as I love creating activities for my kiddos, one of my passions is thinking of ways to build my School Family. Yes, I LOVE what most consider classroom management/discipline. Having a "helpful heart" is the core of my classroom. We come together on the group rug lots. I want my kiddos to understand how important that time on the rug is so our rug is called "The Learning Rug".

The first day of school we come to the rug and I start whispering like I have some special secret to share with them.... this is sooo cute to watch them lean in and listen so quietly. I tell them magic can happen because this is no normal rug, it is a Learning Rug that will help their brains getting smarter but for that to happen they need to help and make some promises. We start discussing what those promises might be and I *guide* them to those promises. Then I start acting silly and showing them the "what ifs". For example, what if I start rolling around on the floor(yes, I start to do this!). They tell me that could hurt the person sitting next to them. So I ask, what would be a good promise we make to keep our friends safe so everyone can learn? This helps them say a good promise would be to sit crisscross applesauce on the rug. We usually have 5 Learning Rug promises but you can do whatever you expect on the rug. Here are our's:

*We will have our eyes on Ms. Price.
*We will have our ears listening to Ms. Price.
*We will sit crisscross applesauce.
*We will have a bubble in our mouth and raise our hand.
(For us, a bubble is just saving their sounds)
*We will use the quiet sign to help remind friends to listen and turn their sounds off.
(Our quiet sign is a quiet finger on the lips and the peace sign raised in the air. Either they or I put the quiet sign up and we stop until everyone is putting up the quiet sign and we refocus the attention back on me or whoever was speaking. This regains focus VERY QUICKLY!)

We take pictures of what these promises look like and write the promises with interactive writing.

This chart is from a couple of years ago and doesn't include the promise of putting up the quiet sign. We don't add the part about hands in our lap anymore. I am sorry this doesn't match but I hope it helps give you the big idea.

Here are some choices you can use to make your own sign. One of our School Family jobs is the attention helper that helps remind friends of these promises. This has been very powerful! I'll be glad to answer any questions if I didn't explain well!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spell or Spill

I am always trying to think of fun and engaging ways to practice reading and spelling sight words. This is actually a Kamii math game that I turned into a sight word game and my kiddos LOVE this game! Here's what you need:
*a pizza tray
*a 20 oz bottle filled with marbles or those colored jewel/rocks
*sight words you want the kiddos to practice reading and spelling
*recording sheet

How to make the game:
1. Fill the bottle 1/4 with the marbles or rocks
2. Cover the pizza tray with stickers. I used those colored dot stickers.

How to play:
(You will need to balance the tray on top of the bottle first.)

1. Player 1 draws a card and reads it.
2. Player 1 takes the same number of counters as there are letters in the word. If the word is "have", he takes 4 counters.
3. Player 1 places a counter on a sticker as he says the letter. He continues to place counters as he is spelling the word.
4. After he places the last counter, he says the word and both players spell the word and record it.
5. Players continue until the entire tray is covered.

Objective: To spell as many words as they can without spilling the pizza tray.

This game is great because the kiddos have to balance the tray. They very quickly realize that if they place too many counters on the left side, the tray becomes too heavy and it spills! This is one of my kiddos' favorite games. Please let me know if I need to explain it better!

The pictures are not great but I hope it helps some!

I included several different recording sheets for you to choose from.