Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkins, Seasons, & Dry Erase Practice Binders

Get ready for an all-over-the-place blog post!

First up: our adorable pigeon pumpkin!
Have I ever mentioned that I. LOVE. PIGEONS?! Seriously love them. Need to own one.
ANYWAYS, I'm sure you recognize that this particular pigeon is from one of our (my) very favourite children's books series by Mo Willems:
HA! Just looking at all the covers makes me laugh :)
P.S. Did you know about "The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!" and "The Pigeon Needs a Bath!"??? ...I'm going to need to get my hands on those ASAP! 
(We're telling the pigeon: "DON'T DRIVE THE BUS!" hehe)

Next up: a new science unit all about Daily and Seasonal Changes.
To kick off our new unit, we split into 4 groups--one group for each of the 4 seasons. The kids worked together to brainstorm every single little thing they could think of associated with that season. I am always blown away by all the things they come up with...more than I ever would have thought of! 
(we also found ourselves referencing books from our classroom library to help fuel our thinking...what a great opportunity to introduce basic research skills! The kids went nuts when they discovered that they were doing research: I overheard one little guy say, "Wait guys, we need to do some more research!" haha too stinkin' cute.)
After creating our brainstorms, we presented them to the class. Next week, we will take ideas from all 4 brainstorms and compile them into one big anchor chart.

In writing, we began our making connections focus with one of my favourite fall books, Spookley the Square Pumpkin:
We first wrote a diagnostic piece (I simply read the story and asked the kids what it might have reminded them of--no prompts, no sharing, cold-turkey writing!)
(click the pic on the right to download your FREE copy!)

The next day we discussed our connections, made a making connections success criteria checklist, I modelled a level 4 connection, and we wrote our same {or new} connections once again.

Last but not least, I'm dying to share our new dry erase binders with you!!!
I spent all last week working on it and launched it in my classroom with a few of my kiddies this week. 
My favourite thing about it?
Read.  Write.  Wipe.
I find erasing dry erase markers from page protectors is way cleaner than on a whiteboard!
(the photos featured in this post do not reflect the updates)
I originally began creating these worksheets as alternative to center activities for a couple of my emergent level learners. But the unexpected surprise was that all of my kids fell in love with the activities! 
Seriously. What is the deal with first graders and dry erase markers?! 
I ended up printing out 3 extra copies of each worksheet and making a total of 5 binders so that there are 3 "community" binders for the whole class to use. I will make them available as a Fast-Finishers activity. SUPER for a little extra practice!
Here's a close up of what I included in my binders:
And the BEST thing about this is...NO LAMINATING OR CUTTING! woohoo! (If you're a teacher, I know you share my excitement!) All you do is print each page and place the pages you want to include in your binder in basic plastic page protectors. Stick everything in a binder, grab a whiteboard marker, and you're ready to go!
If you are interested in using this binder in your classroom or even at home with your own little learner, click the pic:

Have a fabulous weekend :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sight Words & Winners!

Hiya'll! Before I share my weekly sight word "routines," I would like to congratulate Cindy Murray, who was the grand prize winner out of 1,493 entries in our "11 bloggers, 11 freebies" fall blog hop:
Cindy has won my Everything Autumn literacy center activities pack, along with 10 other fabulous products which you can read about HERE. CONGRATS, Cindy!!! And a huge thank-you to everyone who participated in our blog hop...and scooped up 11 fall freebies on the way!!!

Alrighty, now for some sight word fun!
Like I mentioned in this blog post, I will be teaching my darlings THREE sets of sight words this year (pre-primer, primer, and first grade). So, each week, I introduce anywhere between 3 and 5 sight words each week. I start by arrange the words in a "sight word sentence":
(Above shows 4 weeks of sight word sentences--one sentence each's super crinkly since we've been constantly referring back to this page for 4 weeks now!)
We review these sentences throughout day whenever we have a spare moment. We read them forward. We read them backwards. We act them out. We search for letters and words. The sentences are, overall, just a great little tool to help the kiddies learn each word (especially when initially introduced). This chart will eventually hang in our reading center with other class-made big books. 

My kiddies are also *obsessed* with playing Sight Word Slap at any spare moment:
(I wrote "and" twice. It drives me absolutely NUTS!!!)
I keep adding our new sight words to this page every week. 
How we play: Each kiddie gets a turn as I call out a sight word and he/she has to first find and then "slap" the spoken word with a fly swatter. Simple and fun!

We keep track of the sight words learnt with our door decor; "Sight Word Celebration." We made a deal at the beginning of the year that for every 20 sight words learnt, we will have a little sight word celebration! I still want to add ribbons to some of the balloons:
I put our "Sight Word Celebration" on our door because, at the end of every day as the kiddies line up and leave the classroom one-by-one to pack up from home-time, I point to a balloon and each kid has to say the word before they leave. It is also right next to my Word Work 2 center, so the kiddies are constantly referencing the words throughout certain center activities.

I've mentioned my "Read It, Build It" filing cabinet once before on my classroom reveal:
I have been adding each week's new sight words to the cabinet for students to practice building their sight words with Alphamagnets. Right now, I am using this as an "I'm done, now what?" activity.

The front of the filing cabinet features an Alphamagnet version of our current sight word sentence:
Throughout each day of the week (whenever there's a spare minute), I will either rearrange the letters in one or all of the sight words and have students fix the mis-spelled words,
OR rearrange the word placement to focus more on sentence structure and deciding "what makes sense":

Next up, are our flash cards:
Each student has a set of sight word flash cards (which the have written themselves) that they keep in their individual book boxes (book boxes contain levelled books and guided reading books, which the kiddies read when they visit the reading center). Every Friday, we take a short moment to write our new sight words for that week on a card, and add them to our rings.

 Last but not least, you might have already read about of our Sight Word Wands:
Again, I add our 3 or 5 new sight word wands to the cup at the beginning of each week. The kiddies use the wands to search for sight words as they read. I really love love loovve these wands especially for my little guys who aren't confidently reading yet; rather than always just looking at the pictures of a book, it gives them more of a focus in hunting for all of the words they DO know and CAN read independently. It works wonders for their confidence!

And that about sums up our main "routine" when learning new sight words!

Now, I would LOVE to hear from YOU!
Comment below to share any tips, tricks, or activities that you use to help your kiddies learn and practice sight words....

Friday, October 11, 2013

Rake Up Fall Freebies: October Blog Hop

Heya'll! I am SUPER excited to be one of the 11 teacher bloggers in this fabulous fall freebies blog hop! The very talented Jayne over at Smart Kids has arranged an amazing little virtual trip for you all, where you will be hopping from blog to blog and "raking up" fall freebies along the way! 
All you have to do is float through all ELEVEN blogs to score ELEVEN fall items...and, um, did I mention you can download all ELEVEN items for FREE??!! 

And the goodie-collecting doesn't end there. 
Every time you "FALL-ow" a blog, you can enter to win the grand prize: each of the 11 bloggers, myself included, has contributed a TpT product to one gigantic fall-themed mega-pack, which we will be giving away for FREE! (check out the links below to see what you could win!)
That totals up to OVER $60 worth of products that you could win for FREE! 
The winner of the grand prize will be announced next Friday, October 18.

You'll have to visit each blog to view and download the free products, but here's a sneak peek at the items in the grand prize. And, if you simply can't wait to see what you'll win, just click each pic to go straight to TpT and get a better look at each item:

Without further adieu, here is my *25-page* fall FREEBIE just for you :)
(click the pic to get a better look at what's included and to download your FREEBIE!)


Now, all you have to do is FOLLOW my blog and enter below to win the grand prize!

To keep collecting your free fall goodies, hop on over to the next blog:
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