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Friday, February 27, 2015

Writers Block = Randomness

I've had a bit of writer's block the last week or so.  I've opened up Blogger several times and just couldn't write out words that made sense.

Not that THAT is unusual! haha! :)

But seriously...I've decided maybe some random, Five for Friday thoughts would help pull me out of this writer's block I'm experiencing!

1.  Hurt Hearts
Usually, I do this lesson at the beginning of the year, but for some reason I didn't.  And now, 2 weeks after Valentine's Day, this lesson was necessary.  My firsties have gotten a bad case of the meanies!  This truly is one of the sweetest classes I've ever had and they really love each other dearly.  But I think they last few weeks we've graduated to a brother/sister relationship between my firsties.  Ya know, cat fighting, name calling, I love you, I hate you kinda stuff???

We sat in our class meeting circle on the carpet and read Chrysanthemum.  I had made a beautiful clean red heart....and forgot to take a picture....because this was not a preplanned activity.  This was a "Okay, everybody stop what you're doing and come to the carpet right now" kinda lesson.  You know the kind.

Every time one of Chrysanthemum's classmates laughed or said mean things to Chrysanthemum we crushed her heart.  The heart got passed around in our circle so everyone had a chance.  There is actually not enough for all 25 of my firsties to squish the heart.  So when we finished the book, we talked about other things friends or siblings have said that crush our hearts.  Therapy session 101!

At the end, our heart looked like this...

Usually, when this is a preplanned activity, I use butcher paper to make a large heart and we each sign bandaids promising to be caring and to help repair our friends' hearts when they are hurt.  But I didn't have room on my impromptu construction paper heart!  However, I use this same lesson with my preschool Sunday Schoolers at church and this is what their response page looks like after the lesson.

You can find this lesson and other love & Valentine's lessons in my Love One Another packet.  Perfect all year long!

2.  Math Games
I've super pumped about my newest pack because it is WAAAAAAAY overdue!  I've been using these tried and true number sense games for the last 9 years, and it was about time I updated the Comic Sans versions I had from my first year...*wince!*

Here's the Game of Double Compare from this packet from a few weeks ago...so still the less exciting version of handouts... It's basically double war.  Each partner draws 2 cards, adds the numbers and then they compare the sums.  The partner with the greatest sum, keeps the card.

And for my low babies, they just played Compare with me in a small group while the others played Double Compare with partners.  We used cubes to build the numbers to make it easier to compare!  The packet has cards with ten frames and without for differentiation as well!

9 games, 20 total differentiated version.  Posters, I can cards, instruction posters, playing cards, and student recording sheets!  The only thing it doesn't have ready for you are dice!  Print and play.  It's that simple!

3.  Seasons Writing
After a short break to research and write about presidents for President's Day, we are back to trucking along in our Weather Unit!  This week we started researching seasons.  We researched Winter and Summer this week and 2 next week.


Unlike last year, I decided to chart the details for each season within categories.  And this actually was for a more important reason other than my OCD...

We've been doing informative writing for a while. And while most of my firsties could write an informative paragraph in their sleep, their detail sentences are quite random.

Like this...

So, we've been focusing on grouping related detail sentences together instead of randomly writing whatever about a large topic.  Having a "categorized" anchor chart REALLY helped.  We were able to easily see during share time who had facts from all over the place versus kids who wrote all of their details about weather together and animals together, and so on...
During share time, we highlighted and color coded the related details.  
And while my lower writers didn't quite get this independently, my on and higher kiddos did really, really well.  And now I can totally see how much easier the transition to writing multi-paragraphs will be for these kiddos!
4.  Dr. Seuss
Next week is Dr. Seuss' birthday and I can't wait to celebrate with some old and new activities!
Follow me on Facebook to see all of the literacy activities we use from this mini-unit!  My firsties love becoming poets like Dr. Seuss!

5.  Cat
Speaking of cats in hats....errr...cats....you may remember my crazy cat saga with our new house we are building.  {Have I mentioned I hate cats???}

Well, 2 and a half weeks later, he is caught.  And my firsties are none too happy that the "cat news" section of first grade is over.  But I had some pretty happy campers that he was caught with a cage trap...which was the idea several of them had!  ....watch out, Rogers Animal Shelter, you may have 25 firsties coming to adopt a new pet cat soon!