Saturday, April 28, 2012

Earth Day, Kamikatsu, and Making Wishes

Earth Day has come and gone.  I meant to post about our activities but life happened and I have been super busy at school and at home.  I also lost the pictures I had of their little project.  I asked families to turn in small items that they normally recycle, such as plastic lids, empty toilet paper rolls, empty paper towel rolls, cereal boxes, empty plastic fruit cups, etc.  Out of these we made "litterbugs".  They really turned out cute.  I also had a read and write the room activity for them to use during Work on Words.  They had to search the classroom for pictures&words on their chart and then categorize their findings into reduce, reuse, or recycle. We read lots of non-fiction books about recycling and why we want to recycle.  It sparked lots of conversation about how kids recycle at home and there are a lot of families who compost.  Amazing!  One of my kiddos even found an article about a town in Japan that has NO garbage at all.  They recycle over 30 kinds of trash.  He wrote about this article as part of his global awareness project. 

"In Kamikatsu, there’s no such thing as trash. You won’t find a single garbage bin in any of the town’s homes, and there’s not a dump anywhere within driving distance. Instead, the resourceful residents must compost all waste from their food, and sort other trash into 34 separate categories, with sections for plastic bottles, razor blades, Styrofoam, and various other paraphernalia.
The crazy part? Most locals actually seem to like the extreme recycling process. Kikue Nii, one resident, claims that the town’s no-waste policy makes her more mindful of what she’s using, and helps her to take advantage of every last scrap. “I think I produce less waste because I have to compost it,” she told BBC News.
“When I can’t use the whole vegetable or meat, I try to cook it again with wine and so on. It makes a very good soup. Everyone should have a composter if they can.”  Read more here...

Since Spring has sprung, we used what most people dread in their yards... dandelions and wrote about them.  Really they are just weeds and Mr. Smith and I pay professionals to come and get rid of them but kids love them.  They blossom into these puffy white things and when you blow them, you can make a wish.  This is exactly what we did!  I love a good crafty project because we don't get to do much of it anymore, so I made a writing lesson out of it too.  We brainstormed ideas of what to wish for, made a rough draft of a poem, and then made our final copy.  Once that was done, we made our craft yesterday for Fun Friday.  It is a silhouette of them blowing a dandelion and making a wish.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fairy Tales

I was supposed to blog about my fairy tale unit last week, but I lost the gusto to do so.  It was a two week unit... the first week was fairy tales and the second was prince and princess stories.  The kiddos worked so very hard and it took most of them an entire week to write their fairy tales {planning them out with characters, setting, and a problem/ solution, and then writing it out in story form}.  I was up to my eyeballs in fairy tales and after writing, we read them aloud to two of the Kindergarten classes in our building.  Each year I invite the Kinders to come hear our fairy tales.  My class enjoyed reading them and I hope they enjoyed hearing them.

Our librarian usually does a fairy tale lesson for first grade and she introduces the elements of fairy tales.  After that, I do a lot of reading fairy tales and folk tales.  We talked about the difference between the two and then we create a story whole group.  I typically pick a story line to follow and then we tweak the characters and story line.  It came out really funny!

This gave the kids confidence to do their own.  Some of them picked a fairy tale they knew and changed the story to fit them and then others started from scratch and made their own.  They all turned out really nice.  Here are tid bits of stories I took pictures of... some had great beginnings and a couple had funny endings.  

Our second week I shared some fairy tales based on a prince or princess.  We read the Frog Prince, Princess and the Pea, Cinderella, and the Paperbag Princess.  The Paperbag Princess was a different take on your typical fairy tale.  We then created stories about if we were a prince or a princess and made paperbag puppets to go with. 

"moon ring"  HA!  I love it. 

The paperbag prince/princess idea came from Pinterest.  There are so many creative and fun teachers out there.  Bless them for giving me my own ideas and others to copy! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Boosterthon Fun Run

If you haven't heard of Boosterthon before then don't feel bad.  I had no idea what or who they were until this past week.  It's a company I guess I can say, that puts together fund raisers for schools.  Mainly the fundraiser is called "Fun Run".  Our school's PTA set this up as a HUGE fundraiser for us this year to help fund the making of a track.  I have heard a lot of great things about Boosterthon and I have also heard some negatives as well.  This is their mission:  “The mission of the Boosterthon Fun Run is to Change the World by strengthening schools and impacting the next generation through Fitness, Leadership, and Character.”

They spend roughly two weeks taking over your school.  There is a "team" that comes and they start off with this huge pep rally and get the kids all excited about the fundraiser.  Then the kiddos are sent off to start getting pledges.  These pledges are what raises the money and you can donate any dollar amount or just a flat fee.  The kids get sponsored to run laps.  They will run from 25-35 laps on a small track that is built.  I have heard some schools raised up to $50K from doing this.  Our school has a goal of $20K.

I sure hope it's worth it.  I am mentally tired from these grown cheerleaders being in our classrooms everyday and hearing them on the announcements all the time.  For two weeks, they basically do a mini pep rally IN your classroom on a daily basis.  There are contests to get the most pledges and prizes to be won.  Everyday there is a different goal to meet.  Examples: the first day, they classroom to get the most log ins online won a prize.  Then the next day the class to get the most pledges won a Popsicle party and the teacher wins a Starbucks coffee {which was ME  and several others by the way}, finally today the big prize went to the classroom who had the most pledges from other states.  GUESS who won that one too?!  Yup, MY class.  Want to see what WE won??

It's an inflatable ball that you can get into and roll around in like a hamster.  Yes folk, I have my very own "boulder ball" for my classroom... except we have to give it back at the end of the year... and I have to blow it up one cell at a time... and I am not sure HOW I will be able to get every child to ride in it.  Isn't that some kind of legal issue?! 

It's cool to see the kids so excited about it but there are also down points like... some kids not getting any pledges at all and not winning anything.  It's supposed to build the kids up and teach them character traits but at the same time it's teaching them that they need money to do it?!  That part confuses me. 

Anyways there is this hum about the school because they are visiting classrooms all day long.  My math time is suffering from it.  Again... I hope it is worth it and our school does well with their goal.  I cannot wait for it to be over because these grown cheerleaders that come in all the time, are getting on my nerves.  I should end on that note and say that the TEACHER of the prize winning class tomorrow gets to throw a PIE in the face of said grown cheerleaders.  {my fingers are crossed}. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fractions and Soup From a Stone

Fractions in first grade has been daunting to me.  I think the issue is more of the math program we use than anything.  Our district uses Math Expressions and I actually do like it but sometimes I feel like it skips chunks or doesn't give enough lessons in one area... fractions being one of them.  This year I have thrown in a few of my own extras in hopes the kids would "get it".  My track mate across the hall did a fun activity with pizza {which I am going to to a follow up lesson with next week} and I did an activity with ICE CREAM!  We all love ice cream... what better way to do fractions. {Another GREAT lesson/template I found over on Pinterest.}

The kiddos made ice cream sundaes into fourths.  They all picked four different flavors for their scoops of ice cream and had to complete the fraction sentence. 

1/4 of my scoops are chocolate.  1/4 of my scoops are mint chip.  1/4 of my scoops are strawberry.  1/4 of my scoops are rocky road. 
We have also been reading and writing fairy tales.  The writing is still going in full force.  I am way excited about how much they are writing and putting into their stories.  Next week after we publish the fairy tales, we are having a couple Kindergarten classrooms come and be our audience.  My first graders will read their stories out loud.  They did this last year, and the group I have now remember hearing the fairy tales read by my students.  Pretty cool! 

I spent some time reading different versions of Stone Soup and we ended up making Stone Soup as well.  I sent a letter home to the families asking for donations of vegetables, crushed tomatoes, bullion cubes, and bowls/utensils.  Each person brought in something to add to our soup, just as in the book.  I also added two stones and planned to dish them out when the time came.  The kids were all sorts of excited about discovering a stone in their soup.  One of my lucky kids DID but we had no idea who had the other one.  I started to get worried someone ate it.  Then later on I found out my track mate across the hall accidentally got it in her bowl.  Sorry Kristi!  :)  It was delicious I must say.  The kids actually asked for two and three servings. 

All in all the kids had a great week because I not only was told so from parents during conferences but one of my kiddos was supposed to be working on words and came up with this...

That made my heart happy!