No Bones About It!

This week we are kicking off our Animals Unit....which means that, among other *amazing* things happening in our room, we get to add the groovin' Bee Gees song to our list of brain breaks! ;)

Friday we went to a local petting zoo and drive through safari to get the kids pumped and ready to learn about animals!  And MAN did that ever work!! :)  And as a side note....look what one of my sweet firsties brought me the morning of our field trip!  Uh-dorable...I wish I were as creative as all of the people around me!

Our animals unit is all about using non-fiction texts to learn information.  We study non-fiction text features (grab the anchor charts), main idea and detail, informative writing, asking informed questions, and we manage to learn about animals and the human body {from our state's science standards} along the way!  Gotta love literacy-based science integration!  Kills lots of birds with one stone... {okay, so maybe that was a really bad and corny animal pun...oh well, you should be used to me by now!}

Monday, we started off reviewing fiction and non-fiction.  At the beginning of the year, we had charted the difference between the two genres. {Sorry, but no pic.  I sent that anchor chart home with a kid on Monday and then realized I never took a picture!}  Monday, we charted descriptions of non-fiction texts again as a review.

Then, we talked about two features of non-fiction text: photographs and labels.  We really have been talking about photographs since the beginning of the year, and working on that during guided reading, so this time we focused mostly on labels.
(This is a picture from later in the week.  We added 1-2 features a day.  We still have captions and headings left.  And if the feature bubbles look old, it's because they are...probably older than my firsties!  Hmmm...probably should get on top of making a newer, cuter version...***EDIT: It's finished.  Grab it HERE...)

I introduced labels and showed them the label "bubble" that goes with our chart.  Then, I asked them to help us label me.  I had volunteers that labeled my head, leg and hand with sticky notes.  Then, as a quick reinforcing activity, I had them partner up and label each other with 3 sticky notes.  This literally took 10 minutes or less, but they LOVED it!  They were so engaged, really trying to sound out words so they could write the words and label their friend, and they had a BLAST!  Plus, it was a great "learning brain break" since we had been sitting on the carpet and were going to have to sit to read our story some more!

Once we had labeling down, we read the non-fiction book on bones from this **awesome** scholastic series:

It was the perfect book because it's about the skin AND bones.  No, I'm not crazy.  I know we weren't learning about the skin Monday.  But we had just discussed and charted that non-fiction books do not have to be read in order and you don't have to read the whole book.  So, we used the table of contents and found only the parts on bones and skipped the rest!  As we read, I had the kids listen for information from the text that they learned about bones.  They also helped me watch for labels in our text and loved pointing them out to me!

We stopped after each section and did a think-pair-share on information they learned.  At the beginning of non-fiction, I always have to stress how the information they share must come from the text.  That's a BIG deal in Common Core.  And it's hard sometimes for first graders.  They want to share what they know {or think they know} about the topic. So as each person shared information, I asked, "Did that come from ____'s head or from the text?"  When they answered, "From the text," we had to prove it!  So we turned in the book and read the sentence(s) together that taught us that detail or information.  This has been a huge shift with Common Core over the last few years, but I think it's definitely for the better.  Not only is it a deeper understanding of the text, but it is also very engaging. First graders get very lively when trying to prove something they learned actually came from the text....and this teacher might just be guilty of throwing out the ole, "I think you just made that up.  I don't remember reading about that..."  Gets 'em good.  Every. Time.

Back on track...We charted our research....

Then, they each assembled their own skeleton and we practiced our labeling skills.  We used words and arrows to label our skeleton.  My favorite bone to label is ribs.  That's because I get to tell my sweet firsties that I have an extra pair of ribs.  Yes, you read that right.  I have 13 pairs of ribs...not 12.  I found this out because of some severe numbing and pain I was having in my arm and fingers.  I had surgery when I was a teenager to remove one of the ribs.  So now, I'm an even weirder person with an odd number of ribs.  Go figure.  They absolutely love that story and year after year, it's one of my favorites to tell!

Tuesday, we read reviewed what we learned about bones and we wrote an informative paragraph about bones together.  I introduced our informative writing graphic organizer {found in my literacy graphic organizer packet}.

This is the actual chart we use in class.  And yes, there is a reason for the magnet.  Right now I expect  at least 3 detail sentences.  So the magnet is a visual for our expectations--silly, but it works!  They know if they want a 4 on our writing rubric, they must have 4 or 5 detail sentences, too!

We did an interactive/model write together as a whole group so we could just learn how different informative and opinion are. {We spent the better part of the first nine weeks on opinion writing!}  I used the message on bones from my animals packet as a guide. {There are messages for muscles, heart, brain, lungs, stomach, intestines and kidneys too!}

The rest of this week and next will look very similar except with other organs and muscles from our body.  We will be learning about the brain, heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, kidneys and muscles!  And we will be learning about more non-fiction text features along with our content!  I can't wait and the kids are literally on pins and needles too.  This unit is hands down a winner in my classroom every year!

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