Saturday, April 12, 2014

Calendar in the Primary Grades

I'm super excited to be teaming up with the ultra-talented bright ideas group again this month to bring you another round of inspiring ideas to take back to your classroom! I hope you're finding lots of things you can use as you make your way through all of the awesome posts!

Today, I want to share a little about how I use calendar time in my classroom.

Calendar is one of my favorite times of the day and with the recent shift to common core, I became very disheartened when I heard from many teachers saying they weren't doing calendar anymore because it's not "common core." While there may not be a specific standard in the common core that states to do calendar, you can meet SOOOOOOO many standards by having a well thought out calendar time, and I am a huge advocate of keeping a calendar time in the the lower grades. {It's also a social studies standard in many states, including Florida, where I teach}. Here's an wide view of what my calendar looks like {it's in the front of my room in front of my group rug}.

After morning work, where my kids do a quick review activity page and I check folders, do attendance, etc., we come to the rug and start our day with calendar. I know this isn't possible for everyone, but after 10 years, I HAVE to start my day this way! The first thing we talk about is the date. We turn over the card with the big number for the date at the bottom, then we decide what pattern piece we need for the day. Yes, I know patterns aren't common core, but it doesn't hurt to be able to repeat a pattern ;).  At this point, we also use the calendar to answer questions such as, "What day of the week was April 3?," or "How many Fridays have we had in April?" {As a side note, on the first day of each month, we write any important dates on the calendar so I don't have to be asked a million times when the field trip is!}.
Next, we discuss what day of the week it is, what day it was yesterday, and what tomorrow will be. This is a great opportunity to teach those positional words {before, after}!
Then, we use money to make the number of the date {this is not a kinder CC standard, but we just do it for exposure and it's great for working on counting on} and then we use base ten blocks to determine how many days we've been in school. This has helped my kids so much this year go beyond the kindergarten base ten standard of just using base ten for teen numbers.
Probably my most favorite aspect of our calendar is our ten frames. Each day, we add a dot to make the amount on the ten frame match our number for the date. I start by asking how many we have, then continue by asking if we put one more, how many do we have. We also determine how many more we need to make 10, 20, or 30 and once the date gets past ten, we talk about how we have a group of ten and so many more. It is an awesome number sense activity each day!
The last two parts of our calendar are tally marks {just to work on another way to make a number} and our weather graph. The graph is great for a quick review of more/less/equal.
We finish up by singing the days of the week and months of the year, which is also not necessarily a CC standard, but it's definitely a life skill!
I hope that if you're not currently implementing a calendar time, you'll reconsider next year. In just a few minutes, you can get in some great math vocabulary, number sense activities, and hit some social studies standards!
If you would like to see more ideas from my classroom, be sure to follow me on Instagram {I post there a lot!} and Facebook!
Now, be sure to check out the amazing bright ideas below. I'm sure you'll find lots to help finish your year on a high note!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Loving our Centers!

While we've been learning about insects these past two weeks, my kids have been loving our literacy workshops and math centers. I love having a variety of centers, so my kids are practicing lots of different skills! Not all of my kids do all of these centers either - they do the ones related to the skills they need the most practice with. Here's a quick peek at what we've been working on. {If you click the picture, it will take you to the pack the centers are from...most are from my Spring pack and my friend Deeanna's Going Buggy pack}
Rolling Word Families: The kids spread out pictures, roll the dice, then find a picture in that word family and write the word on their recording page

Caterpillar Vowels: Making caterpillars by matching pictures with the same medial sound
Words That Bug Us: Discriminating between real and non sense words
Matching Words: Matching more difficult words to pictures...they know their is only one picture for each letter of the alphabet, so that helps them :)
CVC Word Match: Not technically insects, but the kids love reading their words and finding the matching pictures
Ladybug Addition: Counting spots and adding them together
Honeybee Subtraction: Writing subtraction equations for what the picture shows
Rolling Numbers: Working on forming our numbers correctly
More or Less: Determining if a number is more or less than another
Ladybug Number Lines: Finding missing numbers on a number line
I forgot to share these pictures yesterday, but last week, we went outside to see if we could catch any bugs. My kids LOVED looking for insects! We only were able to get a few ants, but during recess, our neighbor Mrs. Calloway, caught a hornet for our classes to inspect. The kids loved it!

My kids are so into all things insects and they're eating up everything we're doing! I love this time of year!!

Monday, April 7, 2014

All About Insects

Y'all, this poor little blog has been a little bit neglected the past few weeks! Spring Break has come and gone {and it snowed on us!!} and we are back in full learning mode as busy as ever. Fortunately, the weather has been beautiful here {until yesterday and now there's flooding - boo!} and this sweetie and I have been in the yard almost every afternoon {hence the reason no blog posts!}.
She's finally walking pretty well {if you follow my instagram, you know we struggled a little!} and she is into everything now!
At school, we've been busy learning all about insects. This is always one of my favorite themes and my little ones are pretty into it as well! We started last week by discussing what we already knew about insects. Then, we read a non-fiction story about insects and added some new learning. We used our big bug to help us learn the parts of an insect then each of the kids made their own diagram of an insect. They turned out great!




We learned all about honeybees and wrote an interesting fact we learned.


We also learned all about ants. We wrote two interesting facts we learned and attached them to these cute ants. I gave the kids the red pieces and a big black piece and told them to make an ant. No step by step directions for this one. I love the way they all turned out so unique!


While we were learning about ants, we read Hey, Little Ant and charted reasons the boy should or should not step on the ant.
The third insect we learned about was fireflies. I don't have a non-fiction book about fireflies, so it was a good excuse to talk about other ways to do research. We charted what we learned, then the kids wrote about fireflies. We also read The Very Lonely Firefly and charted what happened in the beginning, middle, and end on a big firefly. This was a great visual for my kids to see that most of the story happens in the middle since the thorax/wings were the biggest part of the firefly.


In math, we made insects to hold our Buggy for Math journals. The kids loved doing these each day and they were great practice to get my kids thinking about which operation to use! This is part of my Buggy for Math craftivity pack. 



I used the insect fact book from that same pack to let my kids write a little informational book about insects. They turned out so cute!

Whew, that was a lot! Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow to share some of our ELA and math centers we've been using. Hope you all had a great Monday!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Could you hear my kids squealing with excitement this afternoon? We love each other dearly, but we are all over the moon excited about spring break! The weather here is perfect and I can't wait to spend a week playing with my sweet girl!
For the past month or so, I have been reading The Wizard of Oz with my class. We finished it up a week ago and to say that they were obsessed with the book would be an understatement! They loved it, and they especially loved finding differences between the book and the movie most of them had seen. It was actually my first time reading it and I enjoyed it too! To celebrate finishing the book, we had a week of Oz and rainbow fun!
We started with some literacy workshops, which the kids were so engaged with {it's amazing what cute clipart can get a kid to do!}. We worked on word families, long and short vowel sounds, sight words, and good/wicked words {I didn't snap a picture of the last one, but they loved it!}. These are part of my Wizard of Oz mini pack, along with lots of graphic organizers and writing pages.




We also used my amazingly talented friend, Kristen's, Weather and Making Predictions packs to have some rainbow fun. My kids love any time I say that we're doing a science experiment and these were a hit!
First, we learned the colors of the rainbow with her cute Roy G Biv craft.

We started our experiments by seeing what would happen if we sprayed rainbow colored vinegar on baking soda...they loved that their predictions were close or right!



We also did a rainbow cloud experiment where we put shaving cream as our cloud on top of water and dropped colored water into it. The pictures turned out no so great because we were on the rug, but the kids loved this one also!

By far, the most favorite was probably the "Walking Water" experiment. We took two cups of colored water and put them on a bucket then put two cups underneath, with a paper towel between them. The kids loved going to check how far the water had walked and when they came in the next morning and the bottom cups were full of the water, they flipped. Total joy!!


Of course, we tied in St. Patrick's Day and talked about what we would do if we got to the end of a rainbow and found gold. Then, we made these cute torn paper rainbows that I love doing each year!


We also made these cute fruit loop rainbows and wrote a poem together to attach with it. This came from my sweet friend Alisha and it's free! Check it out here.


We couldn't do a Wizard of Oz unit and not watch the movie! It really is crazy how much different this movie is than the book {I know most are, but there are LOTS of differences and my kids made sure to point them out!}. One of my sweet moms got us this super cute cake and the kids were in heaven!!

Now, I'm off to enjoy this weather and get packed...we're going to Nashville tomorrow just as soon as I watch my sweet teacher neighbor {and mentee - is that a word??} get married tomorrow! :)
Happy Spring Break!!