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!
*2016: THIS PRODUCT HAS SINCE BEEN UPDATED*
(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 :)

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