Several weeks ago now, we started talking about fiction stories and their elements.  We had already discussed and charted {sorry, no picture, but grab the anchor chart masters HERE} the difference between fiction and non-fiction stories.  So, our kids were ready to focus on fiction and retelling stories.  And we managed to weave in opinion writing and adjectives, too--OH MY!

Fiction Elements

We started reading various versions of Cinderella stories.    We charted each of the 4 elements of fiction.  I added a new element each day and we focused on that element with our read aloud.  So, the first day, we really talked about the characters.  The second day we reviewed characters, but focused on setting.  The third day, we listed the characters and setting in the book we read, but focused on the problem.  Day 4, we reviewed the first three elements in the book we read and focused on the solution.  Day 5, we reviewed all of them, and really looked at the idea that the solution needs to match the problem.  This was especially important because most read aloud level books have multiple problems and solutions and when we retell, that can get confusing.  Making that connection really helped the kids!

They loved brainstorming other ideas for each of these elements...and putting it in the context of a movie really helped get lots of ideas going!

I have several graphic organizers that I use during whole group and during guided reading groups {get them HERE} to reinforce fiction elements and retelling.  Since we had just started guided reading during this time, we used some organizers whole group.

Opinion Writing

This year, we are teaching opinion writing at the beginning of the year instead of the end.  So, here is what opinion writing looks like at the beginning of first grade!  We first discussed the difference between fact and opinion.  We charted the differences.
Our first "real" experience with writing opinion paragraphs was last week.  Before last week, we had been working on writing a complete opinion sentence with a supporting detail.  We did this as we were wrapping up responsibilities in our School, School, What Do You See? booklets.  The wrote, "I like ______.  She _______."

Then, last week we "beefed up" our opinion writing and turned it into a paragraph.  We also changed the opinion sentence to a more first grade sentence instead of those silly kindergarten "I like..." sentences. :)  You can read more about the OREO organizer HERE, but I love this graphic organizer.  And the kids love that I buy Oreos as rewards for writing complete paragraphs! {Those who have only half of the paragraph only get half of the Oreo. :)
It's hard to see, but I write the sentence frames on the black part of the oreo.  And, yes, I forgot the "s" on "That's," but I've fixed it now.  My white chalk marker was not being very nice to me during the lesson.  But once I laminated the chart, I was able to go back and fix it!

Later in the year, we will add the other sentence frames for the first opinion sentence {The best ____ is _____, and Did you know _______ is the best...?}

I do not put sentence frames on the reason sentences.  And we do not use "because."  Those linking words are in 2nd grades standards and, honestly, it is just too hard for them to understand.  Especially in September.  I always tell them it is possible to start a sentence with because, but when they write, "My favorite sport is football because...." it either becomes way too long of a sentence and I can't tell the difference between their opinion and reason sentence, or it becomes an incomplete sentence.

Character Traits & Adjectives

Last week, our focus was on character traits.  By the end of the week, our kids needed to be able to describe a character from a familiar Cinderella story just by looking at a picture {This was a task our district asked us to do!}  So, we spent a good part of the week talking about adjectives.  On Tuesday, we talked about what and adjective was {a describing word}.  We brainstormed 3 of the categories on our anchor chart {feel, smell and sound}.  I had one of our class stuffies, "Moosie," for us to describe.  First, we described his feel, then smell, then sound.  After 15 minutes of discussion and sharing with partners, I could tell we were getting restless {it was also 2:00 in the afternoon...hello???}  So, I decided to stop at those 3 categories.  I dug through my reward tubs and found 6 objects--one for each table group.  I had them go back to their tables and describe the feel, smell, and sound of their object.  And they made webs describing them.

This was the basic "on the fly" idea here and it wasn't "pretty!"  I didn't even take pictures.  But it was REALLY good.  I could easily see which groups were getting it and not.  And having the 3 categories gave me a frame for scaffolding my questions: "How does it feel? Smell? Sound?"  After they had written at least 5 adjectives, we went back to the carpet and I quickly shared {for time} each poster.  They actually really liked this and even liked finding groups that came up with similar adjectives.

Wednesday, we brainstormed the other 3 categories {taste, look, how many} and I used my left over almonds for us to describe whole group.  Since Tuesday's group work was so successful, I was able to plan a little better and decided to give each group an Oreo to describe.  They had one Oreo and I told them we were leaving "taste" for last!;)  They did SO well again!  And, really, their hand drawn webs were just as cute, so I didn't even make up a handout for this.  They just did it on blank paper again.  Nothing fancy with 2 late nights of parent conferences! *wink*

Here is the anchor chart we made together!

Adjectives are not something I normally do a whole lot with at the beginning of the year, but the group work made it fun and accessible so early in the year.  And it was great background building for describing characters in a story.

Because of our great adjective work, they have done an even better job writing about their favorite character this week. {We have been reading a version of Cinderella and then they are choosing their favorite character to write an opinion piece on.} The supporting details for their favorite character writing have been great describing sentences and I know it's because they got so good at using adjectives last week!
My baby turns 2 today.

I'm just gonna take a break and cry for a moment...or two... *sniff sniff*

Okay, I'm better.  For now!

At 2 years, Cooper...
*is potty trained and wearing underwear all the time {except for sleeping} and rarely has accidents.
*knows 50% of his capital and lowercase letters.  Probably closer to 75%, I just haven't officially counted.
*can rote count or count objects to 10 {and sometimes 13} all by himself.
*recognizes the numbers 1-9.
*cries every time someone screams or cheers...whether for good reasons or not. {From what we can gather from him, he thinks when people get loud or scream that they are hurt.}
*Talks A LOT--just in the last 2 weeks his speaking vocabulary has grown so much!
*still loves to be rocked for naps and bedtime.
*Can help me quote 3 of our Bible verses we work on daily.
*loves to be the center of attention and if we don't laugh at him, he will just laugh at himself...although he will not perform on command. ;)
*can put slip on shoes and his flip flops on by himself.
*is very close to taking his pants/underwear on and off.
*is silly, smart, serious, and sensitive all wrapped into one little sweet boy!

My favorite "Cooperisms" are...
*"Oooo-Too." --> love you, too
*"I hold." --> hold me
*"Per-Per" --> Cooper
*"Ha-Ha" --> Help
*"Beep Beep" --> Wheels on the Bus

Thank you for indulging in my bragging session...I just don't want to forget all of those precious memories!

Saturday, we celebrated Cooper's 2nd birthday!  Since we are at an apartment this year waiting for our new house to be built, we decided we needed to be simple and NOT at our apartment! Ha!!

So we used our wonderful clubhouse patio!  It was the perfect size and a beautiful day for celebrations!

 I decided to go with an alphabet theme because it was simple and cute.  And I think it turned out perfect!

Chalkboard ornaments from JoAnn Fabrics made the perfect food signs {with the ornament hanger cut off, of course!}

I used clear cylinders from my mother-in-law for the pretzels and cheez-its and filled the bottom third with vintage wooden blocks from my childhood toy collection. {Thanks for keeping some of our old toys, Mom!}  Then cut a cardboard circle to put in between the blocks and food!

On to the cake table...The wooden "C" is the door hanger on his bedroom door.  Another reason why I chose this theme and color scheme...easy and cheap decorations when I can use what I already have!

How perfect is this old crate my father in law uses for photo props?  I just added some small pennants to dress it up!

 Once again, Shelby Lynn's is the best cake in the country.  Period.

The "Thanks" table...which every other day is a side table in our living room!  It matched the party so well I just had to use it! ;)

 If only my mom's vintage block collection could've included a colorful "T" and "S."  *sigh*  Oh, well, I think it's still cute!
 Alphabits!!!!  I loved that cereal!

Fishing for letters was a HUGE hit with our little guy.  He wanted to do this the whole time!!

He loved the fishing so much, he even fussed when it was time to eat!  And he NEVER does that!  Note to self: Fishing for letters might be some awesome summer entertainment next summer!!
It's Parent-Teacher Conference week.  The longest, shortest week of the year!  Long because I'm on contract until 7 pm one night and 6 the next night and hold conferences until 4:00 two other nights.  And that doesn't count the normal work I'll need to get done after conference hours.  And it's short because it's only a 4 day week for the kids.  We have inservice on Friday.

On top of that, 2 years ago, my beautiful, wonderful, adorable, precious son decided to make an EARLY entrance into the world at the end of conference week.  So again this year, I'll be doing some late night party prep for his birthday this weekend!  Phew!  It'll be so worth it though.  I just love celebrating my little guy!

This year, our district is expecting grades 3-12 to participate in student led conferences.  It's an option for K-2.  And although I'm not quite ready for my firsties to lead an entire conference, I did invite all of my kids to come to the conferences.  I've always invited them to come to help show off their work.  But this year, I really made a bigger deal of it.  And we discussed in detail what we would be sharing with their parents.

We spent last week getting ready for moms and dads to visit.

First, we set end of the year goals on our district PLP's {Personal Learning Plans}.

For the last few years, I've set reading goals with my kids during my quarterly DRA assessment.  It has been amazing for kids.  I can tell a huge difference these last few years in the student ownership and motivation in reading.  They know exactly what reading level they are on and get excited when they notice I have a book on a higher reading level during Guided Reading.  I even have parents that seem to know what their child's reading level is before I even send home new report cards! :)

When I first pull them back to DRA test their reading level at the beginning of the year, we fill in their level thermometer together.

Once I'm finish testing, we set a goal for the quarter as a class.

Then, each additional time I test them, we color in their reading level as it grows {hopefully ;)}.  And I also set a new goal one-on-one with them.  Both of these sheets are stapled in their library/reading folder that stays in their desks.  Both of these goal setting sheets are included in my Guided Reading Packet.

During writing last week, students wrote an opinion piece independently for us to show parents a writing sample.  We had been working on self-assessing our writing all week using our Good Writer's Checklist (check out my writing rubrics packet for more on this!)

My firsties self-assessed using this good writers checklist.  They circled the goal they wanted to set for themselves based on their assessment.  Then I checked it in blue so parents could compare how accurately their child can self-assess his/her writing.

Grab your FREEBIE of this writing page with the checklist HERE.

During our responsibilities unit, we've been learning about attitudes we should show in our classroom.  Students "checked their attitudes" last week and set goals on which attitude word they think they need to work them most on for parents to see.

A full page writing checklist and the check your attitudes page are both included in my Responsibilities Unit.

I'm hoping all of my kiddos will show up for their conference with their parents so they can help lead their conference.  But even if they can't come, I love that I have so many samples of their work to share and so many goals they've set for themselves to show parents.
This weekend, my parents came up and we took Cooper to Farmland Adventures.  It was our first time there and we loved it!!  They had so many things just for Cooper's age which is so hard to find locally.  We will definitely be visiting again!

He played in the corn box.  This was his favorite as long as he was sitting...but he wanted nothing to do with standing up in the corn.

 Fun with Mimi in the sunflowers!
Taking a tractor ride to go feed the cows!
 *click click* Come on cows!

 Did you see that cow's tongue, Mommy????
 Petting the camel...
 Racing Mimi through the hay bell maze!

 Pony ride!  He was the bounciest one out there.  His little curls flopped everywhere!

 Strolling through the corn maze!
He made it to the top of Hay Mountain!
 Peddle bikes with Daddy!

It's days like Saturday that I {sorta, kinda, just a little bit} wish I lived on a farm!

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