Sunday, 28 September 2014

Crafts for Younger Kids

Mouse Puppet Craft

I always worry that when I pre-cut some of the craft materials for students that I am taking away from their unique design of a work of art. The only reason I am pre-cutting some of the materials is to save precious time that I just don't have in a day.  If anyone has any suggestions on how they deal with this dilemma please leave me a comment. :)
I was relieved that with this particular art assignment it still turn out so unique and individual.
We have been working with the "If you give a Mouse a Cookie" books. I found this craft on pinterest and we have been using it for drama/retell/play.

Pre-cut pieces

This student put an oven mitt on the mouse's hand, to hold the hot cookie. Wow, how clever. 

Hope everyone had a great Sunday. 


Another Classroom to Reveal

This quote couldn't be closer to the truth. After 3 weeks at teaching grade 7, reorganization has moved me to another school to teach grade 6/7. I was devastated to leave my lovely 7's! They were the kind of class a teacher could only dream of. It was a challenge to move and begin again. But the show must go on. And after 8 years of moving and shuffling, I am getting use to it.... BUT very tired.

So, I got the call last Thursday...went to meet the teacher at my new school the same evening.... and started this past Monday.

Here is what I walked into (minus the books on the desks). Yikes! With 2 days to get my act in order, I got to work cleaning up this space with the help of one of my dear friends (who always comes to my rescue when my moves happen!) LOVE HER!

She helped me gather and sort books, and I labeled and put them into bins.
I used napkin holders to display books and added a lamp to warm up the space. 

With a combined grade, I try a little extra hard to stay organized. My grade 7's are using one large binder (as that is what they came to me with), but my 6's are using duotangs and notebooks. Once I am done assessing their work, I use these bins to store books until needed.

I added a few plants around the room and some inspirational artwork pieces (frames from the Dollarstore).

The white magazine boxes are being used for independent reading, but also as test-taking-dividers (purchased at IKEA).

With only TWO bulletin boards *actually one divided in two* I decided to use the space for numeracy and literacy.

The frames are currently holding Learning Goals. I change them in and out as needed.

The back walls of my classroom are BARE as can be. So I have an art idea that I am planning on executing in the coming days. I am still working on bringing the 6's and 7's together as one class. I have some canvases that I had hanging around at my house..... so stay tuned :)

 So here we are.
Students came from 4 different classrooms, and had begun a slew of different units. The past 4 days have been a BLLlluuUrrrrRR....But every day is better than the last. I did quite a bit this week, but didn't get around to taking snapshots, so my next post will be more helpful/interesting! Ha! Promise.

Have a great week! :)

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The First Nine Days

It took 9 days and I am loving first grade!

Nine days at a new school, new kids, and a new staff and I love it. 
I would be lying if I said the first few days weren't challenging. First grade is very different from third and different from what I used to. The time goes by slower and the students have shorter attention spans (obviously) so our transitions are happening every 15 minutes (sometimes less).  I have already noticed that this is getting better and I do see that instruction and task time will soon be increasing. I keep telling myself that slow and steady wins the race. 

The class has spent most of the last 9 days working on daily routines and getting use to classroom procedures and each other. They are also getting to know their teacher and how she does things and they can already read my facial cues and have a pretty solid idea of my expectations of them. 

I have a couple MUST HAVES I want to share with you.


I have used clipboards and have a class set for a couple of years now. Storage has always been an issue. They are awkward with the clip at the top of them. This year I hung hooks up in the classroom and it works beautifully!  Not only is it storage but, it ended up being the easiest way to display the student`s work.  I was in a rush the first couple of days and couldn`t collect the students work from the clipboards so I had them just hang them back in their spots. After school when I went to take the work down I sat back and noticed that it looked fantastic. It was a display of their work, I had to do nothing. I left the work up for a few days and the students admired their work as well as their classmates. This is something that is now a must have in any classroom I teach in. 

Our Crayon Leaf Rubbings

The Second Must Have

This year I found the cutest visual schedule on TPT that I have ever seen. It is editable, so you can put in your own names for subjects and activities. 
I have used classroom schedules before and have even purchased ones that fit in pockets. I found them hard to use, time consuming and not large enough for the students to actually make use of them. The ones I am using this year are visually pleasing and so big that the students refer to them as much as I do. No more running back to my day book to see what comes next, I can see from across the room. The schedule each day is pretty similar so it is easy to keep up. Definitely a must have from now on in my classroom. 

You can get this editable classroom schedule here.

Hope you are having a restful weekend. The weather in Tecumseh, Ontario has been cool and sunny all weekend. Welcome FALL! 


Abstract Art Lesson, 4 Square Planning & Math Workbooks!

Well folks, there is a little bragging that is going to take place right now. Beware.

First off, I feel like I am in some sort of dream land right now. After teaching my grade 7 group for 2 weeks, I feel more at peace than ever! My students are lovely. I can get through an entire lesson without putting out 2-3 fires. Secondly, My kids say "please" and "thank you" and "sorry Miss". Everyone has their homework complete. Pinch me. I do believe in honeymoon phases.....but man-o-man. Two weeks? Really?

It's very ODD.

I feel like I am in another dimension.

So with that begin said, I have been able to do A LOT with this group so far. My creative juices are in overdrive! SCARYYYYYY!

Here's a few of my favourite lessons from the week.

VISUAL ARTS-- As mentioned on Instagram, I said I would post a very simple, yet very effective art lesson that I did with my kiddos this week. We have been learning about abstract art and how art is available to everyone (each person can interpret pieces in their own unique way). For the past two weeks, we have been doing mini-lessons on creating small works on art that focus around feelings, emotions, words, thoughts, memories and experiences. We have looked, and will continue to look at various pieces created by Kandinsky, Pollock, Matisse and others.

Here's our abstract print making lesson:

First, start with acrylic paints. I purchased these at Dollar Tree.
Each student will need a plastic sandwich baggie.
A roller would work best, but I am not a millionaire, so I purchased foam balls at the Dollar Tree to act as rollers.
White paper.
Paint brushes
Q-tips (optional)

I gave each student 2 paper towels-- one to put paint on, the other to wipe their brush, or fingers etc.
Next, have the students decide if they would like music on to create their piece or silence.
My students chose no music, so it was a very peaceful activity. Their focus needed to be on one or more of the following:
 Using their finger and/or paint brush, they let their creativity take over. They painted their print on the baggie and pressed and rolled over it with their "foam ball (roller)". The print will lighten, and that's ok. Pressing it down again on another location on the paper will allow the students to create another print on the same baggie.

Here are some finished pieces.

Each student has named their work of art.
Tomorrow, each piece will be displayed and the students will partake in a gallery walk (walking around and using sticky notes to analyze each others works of art). Our goal is to see how art can interpreted, and how important the elements of designs are if you want your viewer to see the piece as it is intended.

WRITING-- I have been displaying our learning goals very clearly in the classroom this year and have trying to continue to refer to them. I had some old frames in my basement from our last move, so I use those to display each goal.

This week we worked on generating writing ideas, focusing on "Hot Topics". I knew the kids would be able to write more with a topic they were passionate about and that we could debate about at a later time.
From there, we planned out our writing using the 4 Square Planning Method:
This is a great visual for students when writing just about anything. I read about this idea HERE for opinion writing, but it is very easy to use with any type. For my stronger students, I increased this to 6 squares, as they were busting at the seams wit more ideas.

In the first square I had students write things they wanted to include in their intro--
-Why they chose the topic etc.
-What the purpose was for the rest of the paper.
-The Main Idea they wanted their reader to get to by the time they read the entire piece.

In the next 2 (or more) squares, the students wrote details that supported their main ideas.

For instance, as a class we chose the topic--> Wearing Uniforms in Elementary School. Our 2nd and 3rd boxes included reasons why we thought it would be a good idea and backed those reasons up with support.

The fourth square would included a summary of their points (in different words), and a conclusion (final thoughts).
Once we were done with the planner, we created a shared writing piece. I colour coded the paragraphs for the students to follow. Click HERE to see our shared piece of writing.
This was a basic writing assignment, that allows them to get back into "school writing mode" quickly and easily.
We did a lot of shared brainstorming and writing, so the students knew what I expected of them and so they didn't freak out once I said begin.

 This week is 'writing-go-time'!!

MATHEMATICS- Lots to talk about here, but I will share just one idea this week! I have been trying out a lot of new math lesson ideas. My goal this year is to give the kids as many hands-on and concrete examples and lessons as possible. Interactive notebooks are for sure the fad right now, and I am jumping on the bandwagon!

What a great way for kids to keep organized and clear note to refer back to before tests etc. I have made a few of my own but have also loved using Runde's Room's ideas, too!!! 

Ok, it's sunny out and I am heading outdoors with The Hubster!
Have a terrific week, everyone! :)