Thursday, December 22, 2011

December Fun

A Peek into December... How do you turn a square piece of paper into a beautiful candy cane??  We had a lot of fun discovering the process.  We took a square piece of paper and colored the outside edges of it with red marker (about a quarter of an inch).We flipped the paper over, and started rolling the paper around a pencil starting at a corner.  The kids were amazed when a beautiful striped stick emerged.  They wanted to make more and more and more.  Some kids ended up making some beautiful rainbow striped canes!! So much fun!

 If you are one of my VIK parents and you have not opend up the gift your first grader made for you, please scroll past this next section :).  We worked hard on our gifts for our parents the week before school got out.  We bought some simple off white plates and hade the kids paint a light blue sky background using acrylic paint and cotton balls. When that dried, we painted a snowman head using white acrylic and cooton balls. We added some snowflakes using a cotton swab.   We let that dry and then painted the sweet face using cotton swabs and a foam brush.  Spraying the entire plate with a clear acrylic spray helps everything stay put.  The kids then wrote with pencil the cute saying and then traced over their letters with a sharpie.  We hot-glued the fabric on to look like a scarf and...... Ta-Da!!  Finished!  The kids are so proud of their hard work and can't wait to surprise someone special with their gifts!!  Great job, Kiddos!!!  Merry Christmas, families!!!!

As I enjoy a few days off  with my family to celebrate this wonder-filled time of year, I am sending thoughts of a joyous holiday season to my school families!!  Stay safe and see you all soon!
Have a happy tomorrow!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Grinch Day

A Peek into Grinch Day... I've been busy planning for Grinch day for a while and it finally arrived last Thursday! Kids were invited to come dressed in green and were able to wear Santa hats if they wanted. Because it was also "Think Outside the Box Thursday" for morning warm up, I had the kids start with 5 green dots and a piece of paper.  They could create anything they wanted.  My kids always surprise me with what they create!!

After Calendar time, we enjoyed practicing our addition facts with a grinch dice game.  Paired activities always show me so much about how kids work together.

We practiced our "words to know" with spaghetti, of course!  If you want to try this, simply cook spaghetti noodles and drain. Add a couple drops of green food coloring to about a teaspoon of oil and mix into wet spaghetti.  Some kids loved the feel.  Some wanted to eat it!  Some wanted to take it home and feed it to their little brothers!!! :)

It was finally snack time.  My kids got so excited when I told them they were going to make their own snack today. Who Pudding!!! I happened to find some color changing pudding mix, that actually turns a grinchy shade of green when milk was added.  I gave the kids 2Tablespoons of milk in a small cup and 2 teaspoons of the pudding mix in another small cup.  They mixed them together and stirred for one minute with a spoon.  They were amazed with the color and dove right in for a taste!!!  Most kids loooooved it and were excited to get the recipe for Who Pudding to bring home!

We, of course, read the well loved Dr. Seuss book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and talked about why the grinch was so grumpy. This led to a discussion on  what makes us grumpy or grinchy, and then what makes us happy.  Great insights into my sweeties' hearts!!
It was then time to include some science into our day.  We have been working on the properties of matter, so of course we had to make some gak!  I renamed the substance "Grinch Grime."  Each table group mixed 1 teaspoon of borax powder (in the laundry section of the store), and 1 cup of water in a container.  They then mixed 4 oz of Elmer's glue (I used clear glue) and half a cup of water in another container.  They added 2-3 drops of green food coloring to the glue mixture and stirred. Both containers were then mixed together. The Grime got very thick very fast. The kids commented on the fact that everything started off a liquid and now was turning into a solid.  YAY!  Each kiddo got to take some home in a resealable container. Soooo Fun!!! I sent the recipe home and many kids came the next day and told me they were going to make some more at home!
OH! Can't forget the Grinch song we learned (written by DeannaJump), and the Grinchy word pointers we got to use as we learned the song!!  I found some green plastic icicles at Walmart that were perfect for that task! We put all of our treasures into a Grinch Folder labled with the lesson the Grinch learned in the story!!

We had a fabulous day, learned a lot about how characters in stories change  and the connections we can make with the characters in books!!  Thanks for taking a peek into our Grinch Day!!

Happy Tommorrow!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Math Mints (practicing fact families)

A view from today... We have been working very hard on fact families.  This week we decided to incorporate the practice into the season by creating math mints.  The inspiration of course was starlight mints with the red and white stripes.  The kids drew swirled lines coming from the middle of the bottom of two paper plates (just the cheap plates!), and then colored every other one red. I gave the kids two numbers for each plate.  They had to derive the four facts (two addition and two subtraction) from those numbers.  The facts were written on the white stripes of each plate. We glued the plates together, top to top and wrapped  the mint with clear wrap.  Kids helped each other tie yarn around the ends and we trimmed the edged.  Voila!!  Math mints! They look cute hanging up in the room! Simple, easy, cheap, fun! Try it!
Happy tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ick ack ock practice!:)

A view into today...This week we have been practicing the chunks ick, ack, and ock.  I wanted to have the kids practice in a unique, but substantial way. So to tie our chunks in with the season, we created ock socks, ack sacks and ick sticks.  Kids were able to bring many skills in as they enjoyed creating the craft connection.  Here are some pics!
Happy tomorrow!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Santa Wants...

A View from today...Well, the day we get back from thanksgiving break, and the talk about Santa and Christmas is already in the air!  I love this time of year with my first graders.  They bring so much sweetness to the hustle and bustle already intact in the world.  I love slowing down with them and talking about fun things like what if Santa lived in Texas instead of the North Pole.  It reminded me of an activity we did with the kids last year. After reading several books about Santa, and talking about all he does, we got on the subject of what he would want for Christmas.  If Santa lived in Texas and could tell us what he wanted for Christmas, what do you think he would ask for?  After brainstorming, we created Cowboy Santas and added speech bubbles with Santa's words. They turned out sooo cute!  Thought I'd share.  Easy to make.  Create patterns, kids can trace, cut,  and personalize.  Have fun!!
Have a great tomorrow!! Enjoy the wonder!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Star Polisher, November 27, 2911

A peek into today...As I was getting ready for tomorrow, (the first day back after a week off) I really was excited to share with the kiddos some new things I want to do with them, and then it occurred to me that I am so glad that I am excited!  My job as an educator is so important.  I want to make that difference that everyone talks about.  I believe that every kiddo is important and worth every bit of my time and energy.  I have a poem hanging in my classroom, right by my desk.  It has been there for many years, but I need to read it every day!  It is called "The Star Polisher" written by Leah Becks.  She reminds me that I have such an important "job."  I have posted it here for you so you can download and print.  I think every teacher needs a reminder once in a while.  You are important to your kids!!
Have a great tomorrow!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

No Bullying- crumpled hearts

There has been a lot of talk about bullying the past few years.  Kids are being taught strategies for what to do when bullying comes to play in their lives.  One very good visual is to read the book Chrysanthemum.  I love this book because it shows that mean words can and do hurt. They hurt hearts. As Chrysanthemum enters school she is bullied by classmates about her name.  As I read the book to the class, I pass around a large paper heart.  Everytime one of the characters in the book makes fun of Chrysanthemum, the kids take turns crumpling up the paper heart.  As it turns out, at the end of the story Chrysanthemums teacher has an interesting name as well.  She announces that she might name her child Chrysanthemum!  The other characters stop bullying Chrysanthemum!  In class we try to smooth out the crumpled heart, but it never is quite the same.  I let the kids put bandaids on the heart and hang it up as a yearlong visual to the importance of using kind words!!

Candy Corn Activities, October 2011

We had a lot of fun using candy corn as a jumping off place last month.  We, of course, needed to use all of our senses to experience candy corn. Yum! (Because I have a peanut allergy kiddo in my class, I had to be careful of the candy corn I got.  Kroger brand is peanut free. )  After experiencing the feel, smell, and taste of the sweet treat, we brainstormed words for a "corn-quain" (cinquain.)  We made a large chart for kiddos to have access to as they worked on their own.  For the kids version, we cut orange, yellow, and white paper to write each section of the  cornquain.  My kids had a lot of fun playing with words in a simple way.  Great way to review verbs and adjectives, too!!
Along with our cornquains, we did a lot of addition and subtraction practice using candy corn, as well as creating patterns with candy corn pics I printed from the web. 
We also practiced our best handwriting using a poem about 5 candy corns, and then glued a star made from candy corn.
As a culminating activity and to celebrate cooperation we created a large star made from collage candy corn. (Magazine colors glued to paper)  Sounds corny, but the kids had a blast!!  Enjoy the pics! Hope you had a sweet Ocotber!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


As a team we have started something new in order to get all of our Science objectives in this year.  Every Friday we will be celebrating what scientists do by having SCI FRI!  We are dedicated to finding simple science experiments which will keep our first graders motivated to think like scientists.  We have done several already, but I think my favorite has been the "Bubblemania" activity.  The idea came from Family Fun magazine.  We mixed a bubble solution with dish soap, glycerin, and water.  We had the kids make bubble blowing cones which they soaked into the solution for a minute. They were able to blow giant bubbles. We then told them that they could put their finger or a straw through the side of a bubble. They had to figure out how.  Some of the kids figured out that if their finger was wet with bubble solution, they could stick it right into the bubble without it popping!  Scientists try different things in order to solve probles or answer questions.  We all had a bubblicious time! 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wonderful Word Work

Gold Nugget for the day: "I'll never learn how to spell. the teacher keeps changing the words." (Henny Youngman)
It is no surprise that spelling is a challenge for many kids.  Our first graders will begin our Word Work this week. I love the suggestions that the Two Sisters of  "Daily Five" fame give us.  I have found that giving my firsties two or three word chunks from which to develop their own list helps with differentiation in this area. We will start with chunks an, at, ap.    Each kiddo will have a Word Work Notebook in which to experiment and have fun with letters, sounds, chunks, words, etc.  They will have letter stamps, play-do, wikki sticks, markers, magazines, and other manipulative type supplies to practice.  Below you will find a poem I wrote to include in the front of the notebook.  

Word Work Song

(I’ve Been Workin on the Railroad)

I’ve been workin’ on my Word Work

All the afternoon long.

I’ve been workin’ on my Word Work

Just to make my writing strong.

Can’t you see me getting better

At spelling my words right?

Learning chunks and families

Word Work is dynamite!

                                         N.Van J

Friday, September 9, 2011

Howdy Friends!

Ladies and Gents,
Pull up a chair or sit on the floor!
Cause here's someone we all adore!
First Graders! 
There's nothing like 'em!  They are fascinating little people who make me smile every day!
Welcome to my first attempt at blogging.  I have to admit I've stayed away from this venue because it made me nervous.  But I've decided to step out of my comfort zone and give it a try.  I've looked at a few teacher blogs and decided I'd like to join the 21st century and the fun!  Please be patient as I learn the ins, outs, ups, and downs. I promise to share some of the little nuggets of learning fun that have helped my first graders be the best little nuggets they could be!  Check back soon!!