Sunday, September 30, 2012

Classroom Tour Update

So, here are a few more pictures of my classroom.  Now that we have been in school for a month, it looks a little bit different.

Above the desks, you can see the students' wind socks that they created during our weather unit.  On the desks there are red baskets that hold their "piggy banks" (aka mini Pringles cans from the dollar store with construction paper glued around them).  Their banks hold their coins that they earn for good behavior, completed homework, returned forms, etc.  AND their coupons that they buy every two weeks with said coins.  I used these sweet little coupons here.  The kids L.O.V.E. getting money, and it helps them learns their coins to boot!

Here is a view of my science and social studies word banks.  I add to them all year long, but this is what we have covered so far.  :)

Here is a view of the writing and calendar areas from (about) the same view as I took before school started.  There is a little bit more happening over there you can probably see.  ;)

This is one of the kids' most favorite parts of the room...the writing center.  I created some laminated pages with each kids picture and dotted lines, so they can practice writing each others names.  The other favorite activity is a neon mini-notepad to write letters on.  They deliver them to each other's mailboxes and to me.  They are hysterical.  The last one I read said, "Dear Marco  You can play with me."  Seriously, no signature...just the okay to play.  Sooo funny, and sweet, and it keeps them writing I tell you!

These are just some simple little anchor charts I made for nouns and verbs.  I made one for each part of speech that firsties learn, but these are the only two we have covered so far.  They are basic, but my students really use them. 

Here is a close view of the writing wall.  I have Cara's fabulous writing charts and some things from Lucy Caulkin's Units of Study for my kids to use up there.

Here is a closer view of the calendar area.  Cara's Calendar Companion blown up to poster sized is what we use every day.  The kids have regular sized versions in their binder to fill out.  Also, at the top of the hundred's chart to the right (with his head cut-off) is my number thief.  He steals numbers from our chart, and we have to fill in the missing numbers.  We also decide how many tens and ones are in each missing number. 

This Fancy Nancy writing board that I picked up in the Target dollar spot is awesome.  We use it to highlight new vocabulary words that the kids need to learn.  When we are learning new words, they start to tell me "that word's fancy...that's a Fancy Nancy word", and we add it to our little board!

In my library, you can now see my Pinterest-inspired reading anchor charts.  The kids really remember Read to Self rules because of them.

Here is a shot of my CAFE menu now that we have added some strategies and kid's names to it.  We still have plenty more to add, but you get the idea.  :)

Last, here are my whisper phones and quiet creatures which I got directions for from Pinterest, and my bucket of brain breaks which I purchased here and here.  My kids seriously love all three of these things...I can't even tell you. 

Okay, so there's an update on how things are looking now...just in case anyone is reading yet.  :)

A Little Unit for Firsties at Halloween

So, after a couple of weeks of school I was ready to create some math tub activites that were Halloween themed.  I used what we have already been doing in our classroom, so that the activities would be a good review for my kids.  This is a 53-page unit that has a math tub for time to the hour, place value to 50, comparing numbers, and a spin and graph activity.  I also made a noun and verb sort, an ABC order activity, a fact and opinion sort, a making words activity and two litte seasonal writing pages.  You can buy it in my TPT store here. :)

First We Learned the Rules...Of Course

Like most other classrooms, the first thing on our agenda was to learn the rules of our classroom.  We started by reading this little book:

First we read the book and talked about the United States having a Constitution, or a set of rules, that is meant to keep things safe, peaceful, fair, and to protect everyone who lives here.  Then we talked about how we want our classroom to be a place that is safe, peaceful, and fair too.  I told them that I had some rules in mind, but that I wanted to hear their ideas for rules first.  As the children shared, I recorded their ideas onto sticky notes.  Then I told them that we would revisit the idea the next day.  When we came together again to discuss the rules, I had Cara Carroll's darling set of rules already glued down onto our "Class Constitution."  We reread the sticky notes and placed them under the rule that was closely related.  After we made sure that we could all agree to to follow the rules, each kid came up and signed the constitution.  Then they were given a face and a speech bubble to decorate as suggested in Cara's package above.  This is a sample of how they turned out:

Aren't they just precious.  I love, love, love them! will be an awesome thing to connect our learning back to during our Constitution Week study in a few weeks.  :)

Beginning of School Classroom Tour (a little late)

Okay, so I know that it's almost October, but I also know that no one is reading my blog. (yet)  So, I'm going to backtrack and post a tour of my classroom from right before school started. 

This is the view from the door of my classroom as you first walk in.  I love my blue wall, but I think they are going to paint it white next summer.  :(

This is the view of my student desks from about the center of the classroom. 

Here is a close up of the welcome packet each family gets on back to school night.  Got the cute "O-Fish-ally" tags for free from here.  My coworker gave me the idea of just folding up a large sheet of construction paper and stapling it to make the folder.  Much easier and cheaper than pocket folders or file folders. 

I'm sorry for the blur...didn't realize that I hadn't gotten a clear picture.  You get the idea though.  Writing table and soon to be made writing wall above it.  Calendar area with a poster-sized version from Cara Caroll's calendar companion which you can buy's worth it!  I also have a free number line from A Day in First Grade.  Pick up one for yourself here.  It is perfect for firsties!

This is from the same spot as the last one, but looking to the right.  In the middle of my room you see my four math tubs, and then my cubby shelf which holds math manipulatives and word work materials.  The back shelves hold other various center supplies (white boards, ABC arcs, boxes of letter tiles, baggies of plastic letters, phonics stamps, etc.)

Here is the view to the right.  My teacher table, my student computer,  and my class library.  Behind my teacher table is my CAFE board. 

This is a closer view of my class library.  Some of the baskets are leveled, and then some are grouped by book series or content as well.

Behind my teacher table is my storage for desk supplies, awards, treasure box, textbook materials, decodable readers, binders, lesson plan and guided reading plan crates.  My crates are where I store all my copies and plans for the week.

Last, here's the view as you are going out of the room.  You see my filing cabinets and my (hideously-sponge-painted-by-some-unknown-previous-owner) blue bookcase.   I just haven't taken the time to paint it over again.  On that shelf I have my student's browsing boxes where they will keep their required reading textbooks and their books from my classroom library that are currently checked out. 

I know I always LOVE to peek into other classrooms for ideas and inspiration.  I hope you enjoyed taking a look at what I've done with my little space. :)

Why Wolves? Funny You Should Ask....

The first thing you might be wondering is why the wolves?  Well, five years ago I decided that I wanted a class mascot.  So, since animals are the typical choice I tried to think of a good W animal.  I'll pause to see how many you can think of on your own....done?  How many did you get?  If you're coming up short, don't feel bad.  I couldn't think of many either, but there are actually quite a few.  Don't believe me...check it out here.  Anywho...walrus, wildebeest, and weasel just weren't working for me.  Then I came upon the wolf.  Hmmm...that could work I thought. 

So, I dug a little deeper and read up on our furry wild neighbors.  I found out that they actually possess many characteristics that are PERFECT for a classroom analogy.  For example, when they have an important job to do, like hunt for their next big meal, they work together.  They work as a pack, or the hunt probably won't be successful.  Nothing says classroom climate like I right?  They also take care of the other members of their pack.  When there is danger, they howl.  We call that communicating here in the wolf den.  When we need help, are worried about our classmates, or just need to tell each other something, we need to communicate with one another.  Wolves also adopt pack members when there is a stray without one.  This is my analogy for those sweet little firsties who move in the middle of the year.  They are currently without a pack, and we welcome them with open arms.  Lastly, wolves have an alpha.  (Typically the alpha is male, but not always. ;))  Of course each classroom teacher is the alpha in their room, and the kids really understand the correlation.  I am the leader.  It is my job to make sure the pack is safe and getting what they need, and it is their job to follow my lead.  That is how we will be successful. 

Now, when I became the wolves I taught 5th grade.  They were awesome  too, because on the first day of school each year their first assignment was to read about wolves in small groups.  Then they would work in that group to list characteristics that wolves had that were things important for the classroom.  They came up with the full list.  Every.Single.Time.  Now that I am in first, we watch a short video on wolves and read a book, and then I help point out the reasons why we are the wolves.  The firsties get the lesson just as well.  My best example to prove this came just yesterday.  I was explaining to the kids that our student teacher was coming by to meet them before she starts next week.  One of my sweet girls raised her hand, and said, "We are going to have two alphas."  (heart melted)  All I could do was laugh and say, "Yes, we are!  You are exactly right!"

If you have a last name that starts with W, and you are looking for a mascot for your classroom, you know what you can do!  (Also, I can't forget to mention that it's fun to howl together as a class at awards assemblies and field day.  The kids love it as much as I do!)