With the high ESL population at our school, language skills like verb tense is a real issue.  And, unfortunately, it's not as noticeable when we do informative or opinion writing because we use so many sentence frames to help them write.  But narrative is more of a "free form" style and so language errors happen A LOT!

The first thing we have to master is verb tense.  Even my English kiddos struggle with some of the irregular verbs, so these lessons are perfect for all of my firsties.

So, last week, we spent the week focusing on verbs.  The first day, we talked about the difference between past and present tense.  We discussed the common past ending -ed and how they indicates something already happened.  Then, we charted an example of a common past verb and several "weirdos," or verbs that don't follow the -ed rule.

After we discussed and practice past and present tense whole group, they worked in their table groups to sort past tense verbs used correctly and incorrectly.   {I also have a laminated copy in a literacy station this week}

And one group just had to make theirs into a book, so how could I not take a picture of that cuteness?!?!

The next day, we introduced future verbs and they did another sort with past, present, and future tense.  Of course, I ran a fever that day for like the first time in FOR. EVER. so my intern took over and I didn't get any pics!

We spent the rest of the week modeling verb tense in our model writes during writers workshop and using our "check yourself" language rubric to grade ourselves on our verb tense!  Check out my Verb Tense Sort and other language ideas for our sweet ELL babies in my TPT store!

And find TONS more language and grammar anchor chart templates HERE.
The kiddos were so excited to get Santa's workshop in full swing... Making ornament gifts for parents gets giggles every year and I love that sweet sound of cheerful givers in my classroom!  Read to find out more about the two ornaments we made for parents this year!

I've been making this Rudolph ornament for a really long time...probably at least 6 of the 9 years I've taught.  I found it on a friend's Christmas tree at a party a while back and thought it was adorably simple and cute!  My first graders can make this entire ornament without any adult help...which is one of the things I love about it!

The other ornament we made, ribbon Christmas trees, was a new one I found on Pinterest and loved!  And unlike the Rudolph, it needs LOTS of adult help....but is perfect to work on during table station rotations or to do during small group time those last few crazy days before break!

First, I cut 6 ribbons for each kid:
*2 eight inch greens
*1 seven inch green
*1 seven inch red
*1 six inch green
*1 six inch red

I also die cut yellow stars out of laminated yellow card stock.  The last thing I prepped was cutting brown pipe cleaners in half and adding a loop to the top for hanging.
I called the kids back in groups of 4 kids at a time.  The rest of the class worked on letters to Santa while I did this.  It's also included in my Elf Packet.

Anyways, in our small groups, they each got one of the 6 lengths of ribbons.  They each ordered the lengths of their ribbons from shortest to longest {Hello, Common Core math standard!}.  Then, they worked with a partner to help each other tie on the ribbons, tying the shortest one closest to the loop and working down to the longest.
 Once all the ribbons were tied, I tightened them and then "trimmed" the edges with scissors to make the ribbons into even more of a Christmas tree shape.  Last we added the star on top with some hot glue! **TIP: the ribbons are cut extra long to make it easier for little fingers to tie.  You trim them down to a more appropriate size when you trim the edges! :)**

 By the end of the day we had a stack of ornaments on our back table ready to be gifted!

Gifts and Christmas cards were sent home Thursday afternoon...with one day to spare before Christmas break!  What are your favorite ornaments to make with kids?  (Read more parent gift ideas here).
Years ago, I taught with a precious girl who made these yummy smelling gingerbread ornaments with her first graders.  They smelled so good you could seriously smell them all down the hall!  Through the years, I've made them as parent gifts with my first graders and when we had my son, we started making them at home for our kitchen tree.  It's a tradition I look forward to every Christmas!

I can smell them just looking at the pictures!! :)

No Bake Gingerbread Ornaments Recipe:
*3/4 Cup cinnamon (1 tall spice bottle)
*1 Tbsp allspice (about 1/3 short bottle)
*2 Tbsp ground cloves (2/3 short bottle)
*1 Tbsp ground nutmeg (1/3 short bottle)
*1 Cup applesauce

Mix all of the ingredients together.

Roll on wax paper.


Repeat until you've used all of the dough.

Let dry on the wax paper...

Make a hole in the top with a tooth pick (when I made these in the classroom, the kids and I used a pencil to make the hole!)

It takes about 5-7 days for them to dry completely!  But man do they make your classroom and house smell like Christmas!  My first graders always loved the smell!

I added twine to mine this year for my tree, but you can add any yarn or ribbon you like!

This recipe makes about 12-15 so you will need to double the recipe for your classroom!

Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays and a blessed Christmas season!  You can see them on our kitchen tree and the rest of our Christmas decorations HERE!

It's November and it's STILL 61 degrees down here in Arkansas!  I'm definitely ready to wear hoodies and boots, but I grateful our leaves have turned colors more slowly...because that gave Cooper and I more time to explore our fall leaves!  Read to find out about our mini, at home unit about leaves in the Fall.

Leaf Collection

First, we collected leaves from several trees and with many different colors.  I let Cooper choose ones he was drawn to and then I picked a few more that I knew we would need for our project (varying colors, shapes and sizes!)

Observe & Sort

Once we got back home, I spread the leaves out on some craft paper and let Cooper study the leaves.

Then we sorted the leaves by similarities.  This was a challenge for my 4 year old.  But I love pushing him because it means he's learning! :)  We charted ways to sort our leaves as we sorted.

He easily thought of sorting them by color...and notice the "green and red" leaves in between the red and green category!  That was his solution for the leaves having both colors.  I love the mind of preschoolers!!

Then we sorted by their what tree they came from.  Yes, I know the two green leaves came from different trees, but I couldn't convince my stubborn 4 year old of that.  So I just chose to let it go and not fight that battle.  #keepinitreal #hegetsithonest

Finally, we sorted our leaves by size.

I love how our anchor chart turned out!!  Craft paper makes some pretty awesome anchor chart paper, doesn't it?!?!

Fall Painting

After we were inspired by all of the beautiful colors of fall, we spent our next learning day reading Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert.

Then, we talked about the colors of leaves.  I added paint colors to his palette as we listed the colors and then he did a q-tip painting!

Cooper LOVED painting with q-tips and I loved that it was an easy cleanup! :)

Leaf Art

Our last project was to read Leaf Man, by Lois Ehlert.  I love the creativity this book inspires!

When we finished reading, Cooper used some of the leaves from our collection to make his own leaf man! I'm hoping we will have more time later this week to let him make other things out of his leaves...that would make an *adorable* creation station to explore leaves, create leaf art and then write about it!

Grab all of these activities and more in my Fall Leaf Collection Mini-Packet!
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