Thursday, April 28, 2011

Non-Fiction vs.Fiction


Teaching real vs. make believe is one thing, and teaching non-fiction vs. fiction is definitely another.
This week we have been learning many things about the rain forest in fiction and non-fiction stories. Today, we are taking time to note the differences in a fiction passage/story and a non-fiction passage/story. The discussion also lended a lesson to those higher-order thinkers on realistic fiction. I found a cool non-fiction graphic organizer to help with creating a t-chart. We explored books from our unit reading shelf. Then, the students sorted the books from their book boxes. They shared the titles and told why they thought the book was fiction or non-fiction. Then, they completed a t-chart of their own with titles and features of fiction and non-fiction similar to the one we completed together (shown in picture above).

Today, I also read  (well sang with the help of my students as the song/story grew)The Rainforest Grew All Around. This was a perfect book to discuss realistic fiction.

Definitely excited about sharing our projects tomorrow. The students worked hard today and will complete tomorrow. Check back to see their great work!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Today we learned about plants in the rain forest. We discovered that the world's largest flower, the Giant Rafflesia, is also a gross smelling plant. For a short while, the students thought that sausage grew on trees because we read a portion about Sausage Trees. (Too funny!) Again, we sang "Layers of the Rainforest". We discussed the importance of the rain forest for oxygen, keeping the temperature tolerable, medicines, shelter, and products. We watched an awesome video, The Tropical Rain Forest Habitat.
We made bromeliads too. I made tracers for the bromeliad leaves and used cups to demonstrate the "pitcher" effect. I gave a "how to demo" on making the bromeliads, and the students went to work. We decided to add water, amphibians, and insects since these are found in most bromeliads. We used the scrap box to create these. Here are some student's bromeliads:

This week we are also learning the difference between fiction and non-fiction. We are reading  Magic Tree House #6: Afternoon on the Amazon (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))Rain Forests (Magic Tree House Research Guide)

We love The Magic Tree House series. Check out Mary Pope Osborne's website dedicated to the series.

Tomorrow-We will begin our research projects. I will share these on Friday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Animals in the Rain Forest

Today we discussed animals in the rain forest. We watched a short clip from Discovery Education about entitled "Animals in the Rain Forest". It led us to discuss the vocabulary words-endangered and extinct.  We added animals to our 3-D rainforest from yesterday. Here are a few:

Later, we read Slowly, Slowly,Slowly" said the Sloth by Eric Carle. One of my students checked it out from the media center today and was super excited. We made a classbook Rain Forest, Rain Forest What Do You See? Each child drew an animal with the rain forest as a background. They did an excellent job!  Here are a few:

 Cock of the Rock
 Howler Monkey
 Harpy Eagle

 Sun Bear

Tomorrow, we will learn about the plants of the rain forest.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rain Forest Run

     This week we are learning about the rain forest. We started our study creating a KWL chart.
I just love it when the What We Want to Learn questions are exactly what is planned to teach. We discovered where rain forest are located using this cool activity: Using a world map, place a piece of black yarn across the equator. Then using blue yarn, stretch a piece of yarn across the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Explain that the world's rain forests lie on both sides of the equator and are bordered by two more imaginary lines. As children explore vooks and maps during the rain forest unit, encourage them to look at the classroom world map too and compare and contrast.

After exploring, the rain forest through books, pictures, and The Magic School Bus : In the Rainforest. (I If you do not own the video; and you have access to Discovery Education you can view from there too.), we learned a cute song I found this morning about the layers of the rain forest.

Click to here: Layers of the Rainforest
Sing to "If Your Happy and You Know It

Later, we created the Rainforest in 3D and discussed the various layers.

 I am very excited about this week's homework. The students have each been given a different rain forest animal and a couple of facts to get them started. They are to answer simple questions: Name, habitat, diet, and other interesting facts about the animal. They are encouraged to use other resources to help them with their research. Some internet sites that help might include:

Enchanted Learning
National Geographic
MongaBay for Kids
Rainforest Alliance

Seems like a lot for Day 1--I'M TIRED! Stay tuned for Day 2!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Reading Adventure

If your students love to read, here is a cool web-based reading incentive sponsored by Sylvan.The website is A parent told me about this website years ago because my school at the time did not allow Kindergarten or First Graders to use Accelerated Reader. My students immediately fell in love at the time. I recently "remembered" the website again and have recently introduced my students to this along with AR. I hope you enjoy too.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Math Tub Signs

Each week (sometimes every two weeks), students have the opportunity to practice math skills through Math Tubs/Games. I have 5 baskets. Sometimes I have two baskets with games about the concept we are learning, two baskets with games about a concept we have learned about, and one basket with a game about a concept that we will learn about in the future. However, some of the time all the games are about the concept we are learning. The students play one game per game. I use this chart to manage Math Tub Rotations. Therefore if we do not use Math Tubs a day or so, the next time that we use Math Tubs rotations will not be any trouble. Just move the clip--WALAH!

These are my Math Tub Baskets.

  I made new Math Tub Labels. You may click here. Add Math Games and Enjoy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

I added a signature to my blog

Isn't it amazing the things that get us teachers excited? Well, I am excited because I finally figured out how to add a signature to my blog. Asprec's Apple told us about My Live Signature last month, but I have been so busy with my family, Spring Break, and the return from Spring Break jammed pack with fun and games, as well as, genuine learning to review for Testing that begins next week. A fellow first grade colleague, Miss Law from First Grade A La Carte also planned a review rotation among our grade level. This was fun for the teachers and students. Hopefully, I can relax this weekend before testing on Monday. Anyway---add a signature and check out the blogs above for great ideas.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In Honor of National Scrabble Day

I thought I would share a Word Work idea in honor of National Scabble Day.
I like to use lessons from a variety of sources. Some are Making Words by Patricia Cunninham and Dorothy Hall and Systematic Sequential Phonics They Use  by Patricia Cunningham. At the beginning of the year, we play the "making words" way. However, as the year progresses,we play with me giving the students the letters and thestudents  making as many words as they can- substituting  beginning sound, medial sound, ending sound, substituting the vowel(s), and yes simply just looking around the room and making a word. The students organize their words and read their words. Then, we play the game  together in a similar manner using the vocabulary substitute the : beginning sound, medial sound, ending sound, make a plural, change the blend, change the vowel, etc. . We do not always sort, but most of the time (especially at the beginning of the year as the students are understanding words.)  The students love to do this whole group, small group, with a partner, or individually. Here is a template for the students to use for Making Words.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spin, Count, and Record--A Money Game

Here is a game my class absolutely LOVES! It is so easy! I use it to introduce how to count money. I use a spinner that I can write on and the overhead or digital camera and screen . (My school has two smartboards-housed in the media center.) Anyway, I begin just using pennies and nickels as direct instruction. Then, I transfer to math tub (group games) and last individual game. I proceed with pennies and dimes. Then, we use pennies, dimes, nickels. Last, we use pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.Of course, this takes several daysand/or weeks (depending on your class). Once, they understand how to play--It is "easy, breezy!" Students can count money before you know it. I have even used this game with kinders. Just add a spinner and money--Let the fun begin!

Click here to download Spin, Count, & Record

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You Know You Teach First Grade When....

Okay-Once again, I have been inspired by my friend, as well as The Inspired Apple.

You know you are a first grade teacher when....
1. You stop by a kiosk at Universal Studios to pose as a "Thing" just so your students can see.
2. You discuss good choices and bad choices at the dinner table.
3. You get excited about using spinners, cubes, and dice during math games.
4. You use the restroom at certain times of the day.
5. You sing off key and your students do not care because they follow your  lead.
6. Your teacher bulletin board behind your desk is filled with love notes, coloring sheets, and pictures given to you just this year by your students.
7.  You look for items that you can use in your classroom for calendar time, centers, reading, and/or math.
8. You blogstalk during Spring Break to look for creative, new ideas to use in your classroom upon return on your phone while driving to the beach.
9. You sing Kid Songs in the car (well, I do have an excuse--I have a one year old, seven year old, and a ten year old.)
10. You love teaching students how to read, write, and do math. First Grade is where my heart and soul are--I love the smile on my students' faces each morning as I greet them and the hugs I receive as they leave each day.