No, there aren't major changes in my personal or school life to blog about...not yet, anyway! #pleaseLordletournewhousebefinishedsoon

But *change* has been the theme during our Weather Unit the last two weeks.  And this year, change has been integrated into almost everything we are doing these days!

In literacy, we talked about how characters change.  We read When Sophie Gets Angry, and charted her feelings during the story.

Then, we brainstormed and charted other ways that characters might change during a story...

***side note: not sure that "persons" is the correct English there, but superheroes are one person, with different personalities, and I didn't really know how to express that very well...and I didn't really anticipate that one being a topic, so I had to do some quick thinking!***

And we worked during Guided Reading groups to write about how our main characters changed during the stories.

In science, we've been doing cause and effect experiments that focus on change:
*Day & Night - Shadow Experiment
*Cloud in a Jar Experiment

Even on our 100th day of school, we managed to make connections to change.  We went through our 7 page flip chart of pictures from 100 years ago of cars, planes, technology, sports, schools, an elementary class picture, and a family portrait.

Then we used our interactive flip chart to sort pictures from 100 years ago and now.  What changes have been made in 100 years!

And in math, we discovered how number change...and how they change in strategic patterns.  I used several number talks to engage the kids in conversations about what patterns they can see.  After two weeks of daily number talks, we finally came up with 4 different patterns (for now) that we can see.  We posted this chart with our 8th Standard for Math Practice.

Finally, we have been reading The Wizard of Oz aloud at the end of each day the last two weeks.  We finally finished yesterday and will be starting some work on studying the Oz characters and their changes next week.  Read more about the Wizard of Oz in my classroom and find the resource here.

The 100th Day of school can be a fun way to celebrate with our little learners.  But it's also a great opportunity to continue challenging our first graders along with the fun.  Sometimes, the 100th day celebrations in first grade look a lot like the celebrations in kindergarten...and that means our firsties are doing more review than learning...and as fun as 100 days is, we just don't have time to waste on review.  Let's talk about ways to make the 100th day count in first grade too!

The 100 Year Old Culture

I love taking time to add a little history and culture into our 100th day.  Our firsties came dressed up as 100 year olds. {aren't they adorable???}

This year, for whatever reason, I only had 5 kiddos dress up.  They were all embarrassed about it when we talked about it yesterday and last week...guess I have a group of shy firsties this year!  But the 5 that did dress up were uh.dorable.  The neon orange sneakers with the suit is just hilarious, isn't it??

And one of my little old ladies brought her little brother's golf club and turned it upside down for a cane.  So creative!!

Here's my "senior selfie" I took this year.

And my team from last year...same "OLD" ladies minus one that was missing and one of our ladies that moved to kinder this year!

So since we were dressed for it, we set the stage for 100 days by looking at the Then & Now slideshow included in my 100's Day packet.  We looked at pictures of airplanes, cars, sports, phones, schools, families and first graders from 100 years ago.

My kids were OBSESSED with the fact that nobody smiled for pictures 100 years ago. Maybe they weren't happy because they didn't have computers! Maybe they didn't like smiling! Maybe they didn't like wearing weird clothes! They were seriously cracking me up!  We also sorted pictures into "Then" and "Now" categories using an interactive slide from my 100s day packet.

We also helped set the "culture" stage with a few routine change ups...
*Instead of listening to piano music during work times, we listen to music from the 1920's (ya know, music that 100 year old people would've listened to in first grade!)
*Instead of my usual classroom management attention getter of "First Graders" "Yes, Ma'am," today we did, "Hey, Old People!" "Hey, Grandma!"
*And instead of using their first names, we called each other Mr. and Miss with their last names...I mean, it's rude to call 100 year old people by their first name, right??

It's the little things that make my day and theirs a little brighter! :)

100th Day Trail Mix Challenge

In the past, we have done 10 of each of the 10 snacks to make 100 snacks of trail mix.  But after many years of our kinder and first teams teaching CGI...and with the "beefier" standards of Common Core, my firsties come in being able to count very well and can easily count by 10's to 100.  Each week in counting collections, all but 2 of my kids are counting to 100 and beyond.  And many are counting collections well over 250.  So, counting to 100? Easy peasy lemon squeezy. :) And when I told them today we would be getting 10 of each of the 10 snacks... almost half of them immediately announced that it would make 100 snacks altogether.  Yeah...that kind of fluent thinking just didn't happen 9 years ago when I started teaching.

So, I just had to make this a little more challenging this year.   This year, at their first station, they only got 3 snacks.  Then, after 100 seconds (duh...of course), they moved to their next station, but added 10 more.  The stations were set up around the room with the labels from my 100's Day Packet like so...

After each 100 second rotation, we recorded the number of snacks we had...and it's a much higher level thinking skill to count by 10's from a non-decade number, so it really got them thinking.  Plus, it tied in perfectly with our goal of helping kids see patterns in numbers during our CGI math time this week.

I didn't get a picture of the notation I wrote as we kept track of our snacks, but it looked something like this for those math nerds, like me, that want to know!
3 + 10 = 13
13 + 10 = 23
23 + 10 = 33
33 + 10 = 43
43 + 10 = 53
53 + 10 = 63
63 + 10 = 73
73 + 10 = 83
83 + 10 = 93

At this point, we left our snack bags at our desk and came back to the carpet.  I asked them to solve...
93 + 10 = [  ]

...when we realized this would be 103 and that would be too many snacks, we solved this equation for box...
93 + [  ] = 100

I was really proud of my great math thinkers. "It's 7 because 3 + 7 = 10."  and "I know it has to be seven because we already put in 9 groups of ten and then you just take the 3 from the beginning and it takes 7 more to make the 10th group of 10."  Oh, how big my math heart swelled to hear my firsties talk like this about our numbers.  They really have learned lots in 100 days!

...just think of all of the math I've been missing out on during the 100th day when we just simply count our snacks by 10's.  This was a winner!

100th Day Balloon Release

Another new thing we added this year, was a balloon release.  This is a definite must-do every year now!  Thanks to our amazing interns for blowing up a balloon for each of our 125 firsties and tying them to each of their chairs!

They used sharpies to write 1 thing they've learned in the last 100 days ("In 100 days, I learned...")  And then they got super sad to learn that we would be releasing them at the end of the day.  So, I told them that they would be traveling in the sky until they eventually fall to a secret person somewhere out in the great unknown (*wink*).  And that got them SUPER pumped.  So much so that they were really concerned about how their secret person would know where the balloon came from.  So almost all of them added their name and our school in hopes their secret friend would track them down. :)

At the end of the day, all of first grade went outside to release.  It was a 5 minute ordeal--TOPS--but so perfect and beautiful!  I loved the reflective nature of this activity too!  And we couldn't have chosen a more beautiful 100th day!

Check out these activities and more in my 100's Day Packet!

How do you beef up your 100th Day activities in first grade?
We are loving our Weather Unit so far!  This week we've had a visit from our local meteorologist, shadow experiments, and lots of water cycle fun {which I blogged in detail about last year, so I won't reblog this year.}  Then, Friday, we ended the week with a science experiment: Cloud in a Jar.
{this post contains affiliate links.}

This one was on taps last year, but my baby decided to get Croup....*major frowny face* and I just never did get a chance to add it back into the plans!  But on the plus side, I didn't even have to make copies of the lab handout this year because I had saved it from last year!  I LOVE it when that happens!!

Let's back up for a sec.... earlier in the week we've been learning about the water cycle and charting our learning about clouds {condensation} and rain and snow {precipitation}.

One thing I love about the weather unit is that instead of one or two bigger projects for the unit, we have at least one project or experiment planned each week.  The kids are *SO* engaged during these science based units.  Here are the materials:
    *shaving cream
    *clear jar or cup (I'd suggest these plastic cups)...2 for each group, 1 for rainwater, and one for the cloud
    *food coloring
    *droppers ...these can be tricky to find locally, but you can grab them here easily!

First, I told them what we would do and they predicted how many drops it would take before the cloud would rain.  And despite my referring to what we learned earlier in the week about it taking millions of drops of rain before a cloud gets heavy enough to rain, I still had predictions of 14 drops to rain, 6 drops to rain, and...2 drops....  Gotta love it!  After our predictions, I had them record them on their paper and then they worked as a group to get their materials.  I had died the rainwater cups before hand, but they were in charge of filling the other cup 2/3 full, getting a dropper, and carrying their rainwater cup to their table.

Yes, I did the shaving cream myself once they had their materials ready.  Easiest decision of the day! LOL!!

One of my precious teammates let me use her left over shaving cream from last year to save me a trip to the store...and this is how my first cloud turned out...
Not exactly Hollywood worthy, huh??

It didn't feel like it was terribly empty, so I just thought maybe it was lame-o because it was a year old.  But when I finally decided to use the second, unopened can, BAM!  A puffy cloud!  Just the puffy cloud alone got some pretty amazing "Oooohs" and "Ahhhhhs" from my firsties.

After all the clouds were formed sprayed on, they started dropping rain drop by drop.  They used tally marks to record how many drops of rain they had in their results box of the lab sheet.
 ....and at least 38 drops later...

...we had rain!

This is honestly one of the most engaging labs I've done in a long time.  They were absolutely glued to their cloud and very particular in making sure everyone had the same size drops.  And the stretching of the heads to see underneath the clouds was hilarious!

Once everyone had rain, they drew, colored and labeled their observations and then we recorded our learning together.

This lab along with several other weather labs are included in my Weather Unit...
***Every now and then I just need to use my blog as therapy for my teacher and mommy soul.***

Last week, my 2 year old woke up saying, "Poop, eveweruh, Momma!" to which I came into his room to find it on his sheets, up his back, down his leg....and because of the extra time it took me to clean him all up, I was 5 minutes late to school.

The struggle is real.

Every so often {or more often than I want to admit}, I shed tears on the way to work at the thought of leaving my son for the day to teach instead of staying home with him.  Regardless of the passion I have for my job.  Regardless of the wonderful team I work with.  Regardless of the calling I have to teach.  2 years later, I still shed tears.

The struggle is real.

In the middle of the 60 degree weather--in January--I have 25 firsties who have caught spring fever.  And it's winter.  For 2 more *loooooooooong* months.

The struggle is real.

Getting 6 year olds to decode, read fluently and comprehend what they read on a *grade level* text is a daunting task.  A task that, for a few, is a breeze.  A task that, for some, is just demanded too early.  A task that, for others, is developmentally inappropriate.  But a task that is expected of all.

The struggle is real.

Working day in and day out and giving 150% at my job is what I do every day I come to school.  I don't know how to do it any other way.  And there are wonderful, wonderful things that happen in my classroom every day because of that philosophy.  But sometimes, for some people, that's still not good enough.  Sometimes, in a data driven world, it doesn't produce the results others want.  Sometimes, it doesn't produce the results that even I want.

The struggle is real.

But the calling is real, too.

Before school started I blogged about my calling to teach.  Despite my teaching struggles.  Despite my mommy struggles.  Despite my wife struggles.  This is what I'm called to do by my Creator.

Because in the end, I'm not in this struggle to get praises from others.  Not from my firsties, not from my co-workers, and not from parents of my first graders.  I mean, let's be honest, it sure is *nice* to get praised, complimented, appreciated, and patted on the back.  In the words of my precious late grandfather, "Even an old dog likes to be patted on the head."  Sure, I crave compliments from my husband, family, friends, administrators and others.  I'm human.  But my real purpose is pleasing my Savior.  Because His opinion of me is what really matters.  Because He sees my heart.  Because he knows my thoughts.  Because what He has to say about me is eternal.

And THAT is real. a reminder to the teacher, wife, friend, and mommy inside of me, and since 2015 is the year I *ENCOURAGE*, here are some encouraging verses that are good for the soul when the struggle is feeling ever so real.

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

"For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people.  He alone examines the motives of our hearts." I Thessalonians 2:4

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23

A 60 degree afternoon high in January means only 2 things:
1.  It's the perfect day to go for a play date in the park after school with my boys!  And...

2.  It's the perfect day to go outside and do our shadow experiment.

The shadow experiment was our first of many science experiments during our Weather Unit.

We went out at 8:30 in the morning to record our morning shadows....and the 60 degree weather hadn't made it around yet so it was still quite chilly!  We paired up and one partner stood on an X they drew with sidewalk chalk, while the other partner traced the shadow.
...I mean...look at those beautiful blue skies!  Oh, how I've missed those this cloudy, gloomy winter!

 ...if you're gonna make a shadow, you mind as well make one with muscles! ;)

Then they recorded both of their names inside the drawing so they could easily find their drawings in the afternoon.

Once we were back inside, we recorded their shadow drawings and where the sun was in the sky.  Then, they predicted what would happen to their shadow in the afternoon, answering the question, "Will my shadow change during the day?"  Here are some of the samples...every year it's the same variety of answers.

Some think the shadow will disappear.
 Most think the shadow won't change at all....which is why this experiment is so fantastic.

At 2:00, we went back outside to check our shadows and then came right back in to record the exciting news!  Every year it's the same reaction--what?? it moved!?!?!?--and that is why I do this experiment year after year!

We drew our new shadows and then wrote what actually happened to our shadows.  Then we researched about day and night cycles using  And we recorded what we learned.

Check out my 6 week long Weather Unit Packet for this experiment and more science experiments that go along with weather cycles!
Our Weather Unit is the perfect opportunity to work on our how to writing {thanks to severe weather safety!}  I have always loved teaching how to writing because it's such great language practice for ELLs: order words, sequencing, following directions... and bringing in supplies to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at school helps keep my ELL sweeties {and the rest of the class!} engaged too!

To start off our how-to writing, we needed to give our firsties some good practice with instructions before asking them to write how-to's about weather.  So, we started by talking about order words.  We read how-to instructions on "How To Draw a Snowman" and followed the directions by drawing a snowman to match the instructions given.  We focused on order words like first, next, then, last, finally, etc...  And the kiddos *loved* the Frozen themed activity!  Sing it with me: Do you want to draw a snowman??? {You're welcome for that!}

In this activity, students followed all of the instructions and then added the last instructions themselves.  We did the snowman together and the other 3 were copied and put in a literacy station for extra practice!

Then, today we were ready to start writing our own how-to writings!  So, I brought in an oldie, but goodie: How to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

We used our snowman how-to anchor chart {included in the how to draw packet and my bundle of all writers' workshop anchor charts}, to guide our pre-writing.
**disclaimer: you know that time you laminated and it leaked nasty water stains or whatever on your cute poster...yeah...GRRRR!  The struggle is REAL people!*

Ah-hem....Anyways...We did think-pair-share at out table groups to identify the first, next and last step.   After they told me each step, I followed their directions and we drew a picture of that step.  When we finished drawing out our steps, we used the snowman anchor chart to write our how-to paragraphs!

 No special handout for this tried-and-true activity.  Just simply dividing the picture part of their journal into thirds to record a picture of each step.

They did so well doing this together so I can't wait to see how they do when we write about how to brush our teeth on Thursday!
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