Now that I'm stuffed from Thanksgiving...and about to be even more stuffed from round 2 of Thanksgiving, it seems about right to SIT STILL and blog about a few random things from our classroom the last month....Five for Friday style!

O  N  E 
We have been researching about animals for over 6 weeks now as part of our Animals Unit {check it out HERE!}  The kids are loving it and even researching specific animals on their own at home.  Love. It.

About 2 weeks ago, our nurse's dad came for a visit with his vast collection of turtles.  He was just as precious as our sweet nurse, knew soooo much about turtles, and the kids were absolutely hooked from the get go!

Look at that tail!  This turtle he name Turnbow because he found it in our school parking lot...I cute is this sweet man?
 Since we live in HOG country {Woo Pig Sooie!}, he brought his razorback turtle...who actually has a razor-back!
 This is the only turtle he brought that isn't from's a Maryland Terrapin Turtle.
 And this guy was the biggest turtle he brought.  Already huge at 15 years old and he still has another 40-50 years to grow to almost 150 pounds!  The kids were in awe of this drooling giant turtle!!

T  W  O
Since we are learning and researching about groups of animals, we have been focusing on informative writing using this graphic organizer from my graphic organizer packet.

Now that we are getting ready to prepare to write research papers on specific animals, we have been looking closely at our informative writing rubric.  Each week we are focusing one of the four areas of our rubric {content, sentence formation, language, and mechanics}.  We use the rubric during our share time to assess each other's work and then once a week, my firsties are self-assessing their own writing.  You can also see my pink highlighter checks where I went around to tell each kid whether or not I agreed with their scores, just for some extra accountability.

 ...and just so you realize that not all of my writers are where they need to's a little reality check for you!  We all have these special babies that need extra care, don't we??
But ya know what?  When I double checked this sweetie's writing with him, he had already changed his score from a 3 to a 2 AND he could tell me what he needed to do to get a 3 {"I write more!"}  I don't know about ya'll, but I call that a BIG WIN in my book!

Grab my self-assessing writing rubrics for kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade HERE!

T  H  R  E  E 
During our animals unit, we have been talking a lot about "inferring" and how good readers infer while they read.  We made this anchor chart together...
Then, we practiced inferring with several of our poems.  We read a new poem each week {You can find my K-2 Poetry Pack HERE with all of my 40+ poems I use, literacy station materials for each, and focus lesson ideas}.

The two poems I choose for inferring over two weeks were Halloween and Who Am I?  Each of these are perfect for around Halloween time, which is when we read these.  In each poem they had to infer what they author was talking about and then give evidence from the text to support their inference...totally Common Core stuff right there!  And, these firsties were fantastic!  

You can see in this poem below where they highlighted the details from the text to support their inferences.  And then illustrated their inferences in the margins.

I even had a first grader argue that the "vampire" costume was a cat, and site compelling evidence from the text to support her inference.  In fact, she was so compelling, that she had quite a following of agree-ers after she finished her argument! :)

F  O  U  R
In phonics, we have been moving into reading vowel chunks....which I LOVE because that means I get to tell all of my secret stories about our phonics sounds.  Some of the sounds I use the official secret stories for and some of them, I have made up my own that I feel work better!  The kids love them, and most of all remember them!  Last week's story was about our smile sound letters... the happiest letters on the planet who are ALWAYS smiling!  So, when we see them in words, we just can't help but smile too!
Each week we introduce our new phonics sounds on Mondays, make words with that sound a couple of times each week {from the Systematic Phonics program} and then we do some kind of sort with them at the end of the week.  This week we did a build-write-draw activity.  Other weeks we do a vowel sound sort.

Check out my K-2 Phonics Sorts packet for  this build-write-draw activity and 50+ activities and sorts that correlate with the Making Words & Systematic Phonics program.

F  I  V  E
And now that we are *officially* in the Christmas season....the classroom Christmas tree is up!

I just love these darling paisley trees from Hobby Lobby!  And they match my classroom perfectly!

I had so much decorating this tree.  I always do, but especially this year, since this may be the only "real" tree we put up. #apartmentlife {no worries, we will figure out something to get us in the festive spirit, but it just won't be as much as it will be next year when we are finally in our new house!}

 Last year, one of my Marshallese families made this beautiful star from banana leaf and shells.  So I added it as the star to our tree on the backside!  Isn't it beautiful??  Those ladies are so talented!!
 A little burlap ribbon and gingham fabric ties that I left on the tree from last year so I wouldn't have to redo that part!  Plus, some rope garland to add to our western tree!
 Nothing fancy for ornaments.  Just left over red ornament balls from years ago and sheriff badges from Oriental Trading.  We do things cheap and repurposed in Room 210!

And just look who may be appearing come Monday.  Oh, I can hear the squeals now!! Grab your copy of my Elf on the Shelf companion pack HERE!

"Do not be anxious about anything.  But in every situation, by prayer and supplication, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Thanksgiving is a simple holiday.  It is the only major holiday without a bunch of "Hulla-ba-loo."

You know what I mean....

There is no Santa, Easter Bunny, or Cupid to believe in.  No elf to move each night and pinterest new ways for him to appear.  And thankfully, no reason to wait in an unreasonable line for my toddler to get a picture with Mr. Turkey or whatever he would be...

There are no gifts to buy.  No need to send out wish lists.  No need to prepare goodie bags or treat bags.  No need to address cards or send valentines.  No need to fill eggs with candy.

There are no "Thanksgiving Parties" to host or go to.  No one tries to out do another by an over the top turkey day festival.

And there are no major decorations to add other than fall decorations that can stay up for months.  No turkey trees, no cobwebs to spread, and no rainbows to paint.

Thanksgiving is just that.  A time to give thanks.  And it's peaceful.

It's the one holiday of the major holidays that is still celebrated the way it was intended to be celebrated.  Families sitting down together at the table to give thanks to God and each other for all of our blessings.  No fluff.  No lights.  No gifts.  Just the gift of each other.

So on this simple holiday, before the hulla-ba-loo of Christmas begins, let me just pause to say how thankful I am.

For my God, who saved my undeserving soul, answers my prayers in ways only He could imagine, and who loves me unconditionally.

For my husband, who, in less than 11 months lost 100+ pounds the hard way.  And who continues to inspire me to persevere and give my all.

For my baby boy, who, in these short years has taught me more than I learned in the 28 years before he came along.  And whose miraculous existence convinces me that I have a God who, in fact, cares about the desires of my heart.

For my family, who make me laugh, push me to question and learn more, and who encourage me

For my in-laws, who have treated me like a daughter from day one.

For my friends, who know when I need to talk and know when to just be there in silence.

For my first grade team, who make the journey of teaching pure joy each day.

And for the many other people who I will cross paths with in the future, who are sure to each bring a share of lessons to teach me.

On this simplest of holidays, may your thanksgiving to God bring you peace only he can give!

"Do not be anxious about anything.  But in every situation, by prayer and supplication, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7
Hellooooooooo, Thanksgiving break!  Yahooooo!!

Okay, so maybe I'm a *bit* excited for some time off with my family!

Today was our last school day until next week.  During this short week, we have been doing a 2-day cram session of Thanksgiving.  Yesterday was all about Thanksgiving traditions, pumpkin pie, and turkeys! {Read about that HERE.}

Today was all about the history of Thanksgiving and the beloved Pilgrims.

We started off our morning reading one of my favorite history readers on the First Thanksgiving.

This book gives tons of great details, but is perfect for young readers.

We charted our research on the Pilgrims.

Then, they wrote an informative paragraph about Pilgrims and made girl or boy pilgrims to go with their writing.

Since my example was a are a few of the finished boy pilgrims.  Some were bald, with fancy collars! ;)
...and others had beards.  They were loving being creative with their pilgrims this year!

All of these Pilgrim activities and other Thanksgiving lessons are included in my Pilgrims dollar deal or my full 6-week Life Lessons Unit.  In this unit, we focus on fables and economics and the life lessons they teach us.  The Pilgrims are a great tie in for this unit because of all of the lessons the Pilgrims learned through their experiences {"Hard work pays off," "Treat others the way you want to be treated," and "Follow your dreams."}  Unfortunately, our district has changed the timeline of the Common Core units for us, so we are not doing this full unit right now.  However, we did take these two days to learn about the Pilgrims and some of the lessons they learned.  And since this unit also has quite a few Christmas connections, I'll be pulling out bits and pieces of it in December to do on my own!

We also read our Pilgrims poem during our shared reading time.  We highlighted the "sparkle words," or vocabulary words.  Then we used 2 of those sparkle words to label our illustrations of our pilgrims.  Then, they circled sight words they know and added it to their poetry binders.

This poem, along with 40+ other poems are in my K-2 Year Long Poetry Packet.

And you can find these pilgrim activities and more in my Pilgrim packet!

We pretty much did turkeys all day today in Room 210.

Well...turkeys and hens, I guess.

We started off our morning rereading The Little Red Hen.
{We had already read it twice last week and done a few of the economics activities included in my Red Hen Packet.  Read another blog post on all of the economics lessons I used in my classroom!}

During this reading, we focused on the goods the hen used and the services she provided.  We used the interactive PowerPoints from this packet to sort goods and services.  Then, my firsties worked in their table groups to sort the goods and services from the story.

Then, we were ready use our own goods and provide our own services to make our own pumpkin pies!  Oh, heavens, the sheer excitement that brought on!

We used our pumpkin pie recipe slide from the Little Red Hen packet and highlighted the labeled the goods and services on our flip chart.  We also highlighted the capital and natural resources {which we learned about last week} on our ingredients.

Then, to quote the Little Red Hen, I asked, "Who will help me with the sugar?" We had already talked about the life lesson of this fable {Hard work pays off.} And we had already established that only the eager helpers get to share in the rewards.  So, imagine my surprise when I had 23 eager helpers for baking our pie! :)

This year I decided to make mini-pumpkin pies so each kiddo could have a whole pie.  The recipe is the same, but you half the cooking time at 350 degrees. {20-25 minutes at 350, not 40-50}.  AND, instead of having to make a double recipe, I was able to make 24 pies with some left over filling from just one recipe.  I did have to buy 4 pie crusts though.

Each firstie got to cut out their own pie crust.
 And press it into the muffin pan.
 ...some of my sweeties were so careful to make their pie crust "pretty!"  Loved the ownership of their little pies.  They were so proud!
And what do you do with left over pie crust?? Eat it, of course!!  {no worries, it's eggless!}  One of my fondest memories of Thanksgiving baking with my mom was eagerly waiting for the left over pie dough.  So, I shared that memory with my firsties this year.  Not so many of them seemed too appreciate it, but it was fun watching their faces!  And I had plenty of left overs for me! :)

Then, we measured and stirred the ingredients. And I should add that I called back table groups at a time for help with each step.  The others were working on our other Thanksgiving project at their desks!

Then, each group got to come back while I poured in their pie filling.  Here they are ready for the oven!
 And AFTER...yum!
I numbered the tins 1-24 with a sharpie so that each kid could have the actual pie they made.  They used their class number so it would be easy to remember.
 I mean....

How darling are these individual pies??  No need for a fork, and we were able to cut them in "half" and talk about how one whole is the same as two halves {reinforcing our fraction ideas we had worked on last week.}

They were so proud...many of them didn't want to finish them at school so they could take it home to share with family!  Presh!!

Our other major project today was thankful turkeys!

We read the book...
We brainstormed things they were thankful for and why. {I am thankful for ____ because ____.}

They wrote 4 things they were thankful for and why, with each thing on a different feather...

...and as a grown up, I'm thankful my daddy mowed our grass too!! :)
And this... "Jesus. Because he gives us what we need."  Amen, brother.  A-Men.

Then, they made these adorable turkey hats to display their thankful feathers.  This is what they worked on while I called back helpers for our pumpkin pies.

And, finally, at the end of the day, these turkeys got to enjoy their pumpkin pie!  Gobble gobble!!

You can find the thankful turkeys activity, plus the Little Red Hen activity pack and other fables, Thanksgiving activities and Christmas activities, in my 3rd Common Core Unit, Fables, Economics, and Their Life Lessons.

I absolutely love days like today {even though I'd welcome a full week off for Thanksgiving!} because we are able to do special projects that allow me to relax a bit more and just enjoy the kids and their sweet little personalities.  Sometimes, when I'm in the middle of a "normal week" of intervention, paperwork, assessments, small group instruction, conferencing, and more intervention, I lose sight of each of the 25 sweet and unique personalities in my classroom.  Today was a special reminder of just how wonderful they each are!

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