Friday, January 5, 2018

Winter Evergreen Trees

Are you looking for some new winter activities? How about a mini unit on Evergreen Trees? This is a great topic to study with your kids in the snowy month of January since the evergreen stays green all winter! Who says you can only make evergreens in December, right? So here's a new take on the old Christmas tree!

The perfect place to start this unit is on YouTube.  I have some great, kid friendly, videos on evergreens on my Firstieland YouTube channel.  You can take a look at them here.

After you spend some time learning about the magnificent evergreen tree, work together with your students to create a class web about evergreen trees.  You can do this as an interactive writing where the students will share the pen with you and help write the words on your web.  

Next, take a minute to show your students what you expect when they write their reports about evergreen trees.  This is called "shared writing" and the teacher will act as the scribe while the students help you come up with the words for your report.  Here's a picture of the report that we wrote.  We talked about how every report should have a title, an opening sentence, 2-3 facts about the topic and a closing sentence.  

Now that your students have a good background on the topic, it's time for them to create their own reports.  The first thing they need to do is work on a graphic organizer collecting some facts about the topic.  Allow your students to use your class web to help them decide on the facts that they will include on their web.  Finally, they will use their graphic organizer to write their own report.  

When your students are first learning how to write a report, it's a good idea to give them a template to follow.  I absolutely using LOVE these writing templates.  They are leveled for your struggling writers, on level and advanced writers, so everyone can write a report.....but they work at their own ability! Plus, they make my grading life sooo easy with the built in KID FRIENDLY rubric! You can grab a copy of these writing templates here


Finally finish off your unit with a super cute evergreen craft.  If you are familiar with my blog you will know that I am not a huge fan of patterns.  I use them on occasion, but I really like to let my firsties use their imaginations and see what they come up with.  And, as usual, they didn't let me down!!  For this project, I gave the kids three pieces of green paper...three different sizes and shades.  They folded it in half, vertically, and drew the zigzag lines like a Christmas tree on the fold side of the paper.  They cut them out and voila!......evergreen trees!!  🌲 We used half a sheet of blue construction paper and a small piece of torn white paper for snow.  The kids glued their 3 evergreens to the blue paper, added the torn white paper snow and then splatter painted the evergreen trees with white paint.  And there you have - Evergreens in The Snow!! ❤️

I took a little video of one of my fab firsties in action!! You can take a look at it here. 

You can pick up some great ideas for this mini unit with September to Mrs. May's unit "All About Evergreens".  It has leveled readers with comprehension questions that made a great end of the unit assessment! 



I absolutely LOVED this unit and so did my firsties!  Who says evergreens are only for Christmas?  I thought this was a perfect compliment to a cold and blustery winter in Ohio, where we see plenty of evergreen trees!!! 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Having a Sweet Time with Gingerbread!

It's the most wonderful time of the year.....especially here in Firstieland! We ❤️ the holiday season and all the fun things we get to do during this time.  One of my favorite themes for December is Gingerbread.  I mean, what Firstie doesn't love candy, cookies and sweets??? Now that's how you grab their attention!! So as soon as I got back from our Thanksgiving vacation, I broke out the Gingerbread books and we had a blast.

There are so many versions of The Gingerbread Man, it's hard to pick! Unfortunately there just isn't enough time to read all of them so I chose my favorites.  I like to read one each day to the kids and then we compare them on our chart.

I always begin with the traditional tale of The Gingerbread Man and then follow with The Gingerbread Girl and The Gingerbread Baby. I usually like to do some activities with gingerbread houses too but had a hard time finding a Christmas tale about these yummy treats.....until this year!! I took to google and did a search and found the cutest book about a little mouse in search of shelter who finds a perfect little gingerbread house to call home.  SCORE! Gotta love amazon prime for their  two day shipping....! You can pick up "Gingerbread Mouse" here

We've been learning all about story elements and how they help us in our comprehension. We compared each book:

We wrote letters to the Gingerbread Man / Gingerbread Girl and tried to talk them out of running away! We also made our own gingerbread kids.  Aren't the adorable?? The only pattern that my firsties had was the actual gingerbread.  Then they went to town creating their own gingerbread people.....I love them.  I try to let them "do their own thing" as often as possible.  No patterns needed when they come up with such awesome creations on their own!


After reading Gingerbread Mouse, I made a large gingerbread house and we listed adjectives that would describe our house......yes, we are still working on those adjectives!! How else am I going to get all that fabulous creative writing out of my firsties???

A few years ago when I was teaching kindergarten we made this was one of our shared writing activities.  The kids made the entire thing with no patterns and we labeled it together.  

We also made this gingerbread boy:

Next it was time to make their own gingerbread house with some tasty descriptions! Again, no patterns for these houses and I think they look delish!


And of course, we couldn't do a mini unit on gingerbread without making some REAL  candy houses!! We used milk cartons as our base and frosting as our "glue".  We covered them with graham crackers and candies.  What a fun way to end the week!!

The firsties LOVED playing these math games.  I like to add real objects to my games as often as possible.....I picked up these cute erasers at the dollar tree, the candy canes and cookie cutters at our local craft store....and I had the buttons in my teacher stash!  You can pick up these games in my TPT store here.

Well..... you can see we had a pretty sweet week. I hope you'll come on by next week to see what's happening cause I hear we have a special visitor coming for  a visit! Here's a sneak peek:

Thanks for stopping by and come back soon! There's always something fun happening in.... 

Firstieland 🍭

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Gingerbread Baby

Have you read the book Gingerbread Baby with your class?  I love Jan Brett and all of her wonderful books, but this one is my favorite.

What if Matti (from the Gingerbread Baby) dropped off a tray of gingerbread babies for your students to care for?  Well that's exactly what will be happening in our class next week! My Fab Firsties will be so excited when a special letter from Matti is delivered to us with a tray of gingerbread babies! 

Our Gingerbread Babies will be delivered in adorable little baby strollers all lined up on a cookie sheet! Oh my cute is that??

The firsties will get to name their baby, fill out it's Birth Certificate and make it a baby book.  

I even found tiny little rattles and baby bottles at the Dollar Tree! What????? I know! Sooo cute!!

After a few days of caring for their babies, the students will get a final letter from Matti thanking them for taking such good care of the little Gingys.....and a box of gingerbread cookies as a treat!  I am SUPER EXCITED to start this with my kids! Be sure to tune in next week to see all the fun and surprises with this fun unit! 

Want to do this with your kids too?  You can grab your copy of Adopt A Gingerbread Baby here! Or if you'd can have your kids Adopt An Elf! Both activities will add some fun and magic to your classroom this holiday season! 

Click here to take a look at all my December activities! 



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Chattering About Chipmunks

Here's a peek at what we've been working on this week....I love this time of the year to delve into my sciences standards. I think fall really lends itself to woodland creatures, habitats, how they prepare for winter and hibernation.
This week we did a little mini unit on these animals and focused on those pesky little critters, chipmunks! 🐿

I always like to begin with a read aloud and this time I read "Chipmunk at Hollow Tree Lane".  Have you seen this book?  It's part of a great series called "Smithsonian Backyard" which focuses on lots of different woodland animals.  It's fiction, but written in a way that really gives a lot of great information on the animal, it's habitat, it's habits, etc.  The illustrations are beautiful,  very well written and keeps the firsties engaged in the story.  You can pick it up here

I'm also lucky enough to have a subscription to Scholastic News magazine....which if you don't have this great resource, you should really hit up your principal for a subscription!! It's great for Science and Social Studies standards, has a super online component with games and videos that go along with each magazine and all of the past issues are available to you as well!  We used this resource to view several magazines about woodland animals and how they prepare for winter.  

Next we were ready to begin our web about chipmunks.  We always do a shared writing before we begin any independent writing.  It's really important at this age to give lots of guidance and modeling if you really want to pull that great writing out of your firsties. We made a class web with some of the things we learned about chipmunks and then the students helped me compose my report about chipmunks.  We made sure to use our "opening" and "closing" to make it a good report.  

After this, the firsties were ready to begin their own reports.  They used our classroom web as a guide to create their own web.  They chose four things to include in their web and then they wrote their reports using their web.  I never leave my report on the board for the children to copy from.  They must always create their own.  They are encouraged to use our word wall or mini word wall dictionaries to help spell words correctly and they are also encouraged to used "kid writing" and spell things as they sound.  


I think my fab firsties did a GREAT job on their reports, don't you?? We finished the week by making a picture of the chipmunks habitat and a couple of cute crafts to go along with our reports.  


So that's the chatter this week in our do you teach this science standard in your room?  Please feel free to post your ideas so we can learn from you as well!! Thanks for stopping by and come on back next week, cause there's always something fun happening in ......