Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Short and Long Halloween Sort

Happy Halloween time!  I love this time of year.  The cool, crisp fall air.  Leaves changing colors.  Hot chocolate kinda's all fun to me!  The first activity I'm going to post for Halloween is a short and long vowel Halloween picture/word sort.  We have been studying vowels for the last month.  I created this activity for students to get some independent practice.  It's simple, easy, and a great way to quickly assess who still needs additional help with these skills!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wonderful Writers

The school system I work for implemented Lucy Calkins Writer's Workshop several years ago.  Even after years of teaching this form of writing, I am still looking for ways to make it better.  One thing I have done this year is allow the students to use pens while writing their drafts.  They use black pens on lined paper to write out their stories.  This way they do not spend all their time erasing what they have written.  Instead, they mark our their mistakes (which also allows me to see their thought process) and write beside, above, or below their original work.  Once they think they have finished their work, the next day they have the opportunity to use a red pen to edit their work.  The red pen is 'magical' and can only be used to fix up their writing.  They can add punctuation, capital letters, adjectives, details, stretching out their words better, using word wall words correctly, etc.  When they use the red pen, they can use 'magical glasses' (cheap dollar store/party favor sunglasses) to find mistakes in their writing to edit.  It is amazing to see how much responsibility they take for their writing when they get to use these special writing tools.  When it is time for a writer's celebration, they choose one piece of writing from their writing folders and 'fancy it up'.  This is the only time during writer's workshop they use a pencil.  They re-write their chosen story, add colorful illustrations to it, and create a cover, all about the author page, and dedication page.  My students absolutely love writing time, and one reason is because they get to use these pens and 'magical glasses'.  It is amazing how little things can change the attitude of a child toward writing!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Simple Symmetry

This past week I did several activities to teach my students about symmetry.  Two of them seemed to capture my students' attention quicker than the others.  First, I read the book It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Shaw.  After reading the book aloud to the students, we created our own pictures like those seen in the book.  Our paintings, however, had to be symmetrical.  I had the students fold blue construction paper in half, open it back up, and then I let them drizzle white paint in the center of it.  After that, they folded the paper again, mashed the paint around inside, and opened it up.  They were responsible for creating an object out of their paintings.  We discussed how each painting was symmetrical because one side identically matched the other side.  After this, I had the students completed the following in their best handwriting:  "It looked like spilt milk.  But it wasn't spilt milk.  It was a ______."  Second, I had my students create a 'symme-tree'.  (This idea was originally posted on Pro-teacher by Brooke-Jan. 25, 2004)  I made a very large tree out of bulletin board paper and placed it in the hallway at school.  My assistant then cut out various die-cuts from the Ellison machine in our workroom.  Some of the die-cuts were symmetrical and some were not.  The ones that were symmetrical were allowed to go on our 'symme-tree', but the rest were glued down below the tree in the 'dirt'.  This activity was great to use as an informal assessment tool, and it turned out pretty cute also!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Coupons, Coupons, Coupons

This year I have decided to do away with my treasure chest.  In tight economic times, I needed to cut back on the amount of money I am pouring into my classroom.  The treasure chest idea is a constant staple in almost every classroom, and I am not one to follow everyone else :)  I decided, therefore, that I would implement a coupon system in my classroom.  In one of my earlier posts I decided to use a token system in my classroom for good behavior.  I have used this, and it has worked tremendously.  In addition to the ideas suggested in The Cornerstone book (pulling a token whenever you need a helper), I have coupons I give 10 children every Friday.  I choose 10 tokens out of the beautiful token bag, and each child with the corresponding number get to choose a coupon they would like to have.  The coupons I use are as follows:
1. Silly socks (take your shoes off for the day and only wear socks)
2. Hooray for Hats (wear your favorite hat in the classroom) 
3. Homework Pass
4. Show and Tell 
5. Read Aloud to the class
6. Teachers Desk (sit at the teachers desk for a day)
7. Fluffy Friend (bring a stuffed animal to class)
**Most of these coupons were not my original ideas.  I cannot find the website I got the ideas from, so if you know or have seen it before, please send a comment to me so I can list the correct author by name. 
This has worked fantastically for me this year.  My students are tripping over themselves trying to earn tokens.  They earn tokens for doing the right thing, helping others, working together nicely, etc.  I am very pleased with the token and coupon system, and my kids haven't even missed the treasure chest!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Party People!

I always create a sign-up sheet to place out during Open House night.  The parents can choose what snacks or parties they would like to send stuff in for.  Here is the link to it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Morpheus Visits!

This past week I had a very special visitor come to my classroom.  It was Morpheus Fortuna from Pennsylvania.  It is a soft, cuddly, sweet little turtle who travels around the country visiting various cities and towns.  He came to see our classroom and learn about life in Sophia, N.C.  Morpheus learned about reading, writing, math, social studies, technology, and recess.  He even made an "All About Me" booklet to take with him back home.  You can visit him here on his wikispace account.  We created a video about our time with him also.  You can view it at my school's website...just click on the Animoto to see the clip.  Morpheus told me he had a great time!