Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm Thankful For

This is one of my favorite fun activities of the year. We always have a list of words that are applicable to whatever occasion is upcoming.

Since we are working toward two projects expressing gratitude (one writing piece and one art piece), we spend a bit more time brainstorming things we are thankful for. 

I gather my kiddos in the classroom library and have my two special helpers of the day pass out a large white paper on each student's desk. 

I have my own white paper on the easel and draw two brown circles on my paper. I send them to their desk to do the same. When they return, I show students how to draw 5 large feathers and then send them to their seats to do the same. It's important that they make their feathers as wide as the paper will fit (so they can write clearly). Then, they write in the lower circle, "I am thankful for…" and draw on a couple little feet. 

Then, I gather everyone up again and explain that on each feather, they will write one thing they are grateful for. I ask if there are other things they would like added to the list and do so at this time.

I model for students writing on the feathers with white crayon. It's important that they write their letters clearly- as neat as possible.

Then comes the fun! Once students have written what they're grateful for on each feather, they are ready to get some watercolors and paint each feather whatever color they choose. Here are some of my favorite quotes from today, "It's like magic!" and, "It's like uncovering a mystery."

Then, we add finishing touches onto the face of our turkey. I recommend using crayons for the face because the watercolors can be so runny, but most want to use them anyway. The kids just love this project and so do I!

I look forward to hearing your feedback and to follow each other for more rich experiences for our students.
Have a fantastic day!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fall Into a Good Book

Creating a love for all things literacy is an on-going goal of mine. Students are learning as they go and developing a little more as each day passes. Here's a fun current tasks complete activity I have done with my students this fall. Enjoy!


Construction Paper (small size- prob 9x12ish)
   • blue (background)
   • green (grass) (cut lengthwise so that one piece is enough for two students)
   • brown (tree & arms)
   • red, yellow, orange, green (ripped into ~1cm pieces for leaves)

Little paper books
Paper eyes
Fall into a good book sign

I usually draw a bare tree with arms (I try to make the arms 2-3" in length) onto a piece of white copy paper. Then, copy it onto brown construction paper.

Students can make their green strip into a mound of grass and glue it to the bottom of their blue page.

Students will cut out the tree and arms and glue it onto their blue paper on top of the mound of grass. Arms should only be glued where they attach to the tree- about 1 cm- not the entire length of the arms (see sample).

The tree looking really perfect isn't necessary because it'll be cut out and covered with leaves.

I set the ripped paper leaves into separate plastic containers and have students get a few leaves of each color and glue onto the branches of the tree.

Once the students have their trees full of beautiful leaves, guide them in attaching the trees' eyes and Fall Into a Good Book sign.

Students should have about 1cm of each arm attached to the trunk of the tree. Bend the arms away from the paper and then make another bend at the hand (about 1cm). Students will then attach the book to the hands (blue hands to the back (color) side of the book (see sample).

Finally, I teach students to sign their name like an artist. The finished example (above) doesn't show he did that, but here's one that does.

I look forward to hearing your feedback and to follow each other for more rich experiences for our students.
Have a fantastic day!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First Day Goal Setting

Wanted to start the year with a goal setting activity this year and the kids did just awesome. The product turned out cuter than expected, but the learning was just out of this world!

In the morning, I had students tune some fine-motor skills by tracing their hand and cutting out the hand with an extra long arm. This exercise gave me some good data on where I could focus my time with my English Language Learners, my students who need more practice with fine motor skills, and those who struggled to follow directions.

When we were ready to start the main activity, we put the arms away.  I began by asking the students what things they were really successful with as first graders. They had a fantastic list of things that we celebrated.

Then, I asked what they could think of that they would like to improve upon as 2nd graders. I loved their openness and willingness to be vulnerable to disclose so much. They were so expressive, which was a welcome surprise, considering it was only the first day of school. Here is a list of what they shared as goals:

Read each night
Listen to the teacher
Show respect
Do my homework every night
Be quiet when teacher is talking
Solve problems
Be nice to others
Be honest
Be a good friend
Do my work neatly

I had each student pick five goals they really wanted to focus on. The above list was typed onto a word processing document and projected onto the screen to aid in spelling. I distributed the arms they had made and asked each child to write one goal on each finger. Once that was finished, they could draw whatever they wanted on the arm. Wow… the creativity was awesome.

That evening, my amazing husband and daughters came in to help me tie up some loose ends. He covered the door in black and we arranged the title REACH FOR THE STARS on the top of the blank door.

The next morning, our entry task included some calculating with coloring (stars and moons).
Each student cut out 2 of their favorite stars they had colored. They brought their stars to me at the door and glued their star where they wanted it to be, then each child added the arm they had made.

It's so awesome that we have a beautifully decorated door that all of the students are proud of because it's their work and their goals.

Here's to a great start of the year.

I look forward to hearing your feedback and to follow each other for more rich experiences for our students.
Have a fantastic day!