20 October 2012

Money Monsters


We started money last week, and I am super excited about teaching it this year.  I got a Smart Board at the very end of last year, and now I don't know how I ever taught without it.  It makes everything we do super interactive, I absolutely love it! Yay, now I can drag and drop coins on the Smart Board rather than hunting for the coins in my Ziploc baggy of overhead coins.

I decided to create a simple monster themed coin page to spice up my money unit.  The Money Monster strip is just a fun reference strip that I'm going to have my class add to their math journal.  There is also a page for students to practice adding collections of coins.  I plan to use the coin die on my Smart Board to randomly choose coins.  They will write the values of the coins that get rolled in each circle.  I also plan to use it as a station activity.  They have wooden cubes at the craft store that are perfect for making teacher made money dice. 

You can get the FREEBIE by clicking on the picture below.

17 October 2012

How-To Writing

We wrote our How-To's at the very beginning of the year.  It has just taken me a really long time to get around to posting it.  How-To Writing is part of the Lucy Calkin's Units of Study for Primary Writing.  She elaborates about How-to writing in her Nonfiction Writing Unit.  If you are a K-2 teacher looking for fantastic minilessons for writing, then her books are a must read.

I begin my unit on How-To's by explaining that in order to write a How-To, they must be an expert at whatever it is they choose to write about.  I always share my own personal experiences to model that writing has to be about things that come from the heart.  I explain how I am an expert at making banana splits because my very first job was working for Dairy Queen. I share some fun stories about my experiences there and then explain that before we can write a how-to, we must understand the steps to writing a  How-To.  Basically a How-To write a How-To.

After discussing the components of a How-To using the chart above, I then share my own How-To.  My How-To is created on chart paper, so it's large enough for everyone to see.  My example is below.  I have a fantastic student teacher this year, who is also a great artist.  She made me a new chart this year, that turned out super cute.

We talk about each step and I point out that each step is numbered and begins with transition words.  While we go over each of the steps, I have my students copy my example and follow along with me.  I always explain that they are learning how to make a banana split from my How-To.  By the time they finish this lesson, they will be well on their way to being an expert too.

 After we finish working on the How-To together, then they create a cover for their How-To.  I have patterns for students to color to create a cute banana split for the cover. 


 After we finish our banana split How-To's, then they are ready to start choosing topics that they are experts at.  I have blank How-To pages for them to write their own How-To's.

In the past, I've made banana splits in class, and then had students go back and write the steps on their own.  I chose to have them write my steps this year, so that they would have a really clear understanding of How-To's before they undertook the task of writing a How-To independently.

If you are interested in this How-To Writing Pack, you can get it in my Teacher Store for $2.50.  It includes the black lines for the How-To Steps.  I simply ran them off on neon card stock.  It also includes the Banana Split How-To paper, the open-ended How-To paper, and the patterns to create the banana split for the cover.  Click on the image below to head on over to my store.


13 October 2012

Nouns and Me and Spelling Pictures

For this post, I'm combining a few things we did this week.  We have been talking about nouns, and each year I make a Nouns and Me class book.  I simply laminate and combine their pages into a book for my class book nook.  Their pictures are super cute! You can get the FREEBIE here.

Each student had to list a person that started with the first letter of their name.

 They also had to list a place that started with the first letter of their name.  I love that this student decided to draw a profile picture.  How original!
 Then, they listed a place that started with the first letter of their name.
 For best of all, they put their first name.
 In the box to the box to the side, they write the first letter of their name and made it fancy.
 I really have some artists in my class this year.  Love the detail in this picture.
 I noticed that many of them were making connections across the curriculum.  For person, Connor used chemist.  We have been talking about types of scientists in science.  In a picture above, Sydney used scientist.  That's so great!

We also tried something new for practicing spelling words before our test on Friday.  I saw a picture done like this on Pinterest, and instantly thought that would be great for practicing spelling words and the picture goes along with the story we are reading for the week. Click  here to see the original idea on Pinterest.  Below are some examples of my students' work.  I'm thinking of doing one each week.  They did so much better on their tests this week- yay!

Last but not least, my students made this adorable sign for my student teacher's birthday.  I had to share, because it's super cute.  I have a fantastic student teacher, so we had to make her something really special for her. The idea of  the having them draw themselves holding a balloon came from Pinterest, but now I can't seen to find it again-sorry.

06 October 2012

Columbus Day

I never post twice in one day, I'm usually lucky to post once a week. But there's a first for everything! I just realized that I needed something for Columbus Day, so this is what I decided on.  I thought it would be a great follow-up activity to do after a read aloud about Christopher Columbus. If you need something last minute like me, just click on the picture to print. IT'S A FREEBIE!

Mental Image Quad

My students are continuing to learn about visualizing.  This is one of my favorite strategies!  If you haven't read the book, Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller, you really must check it out   The quad I used, comes from her book. I simply replicated her example.  We will continue to use this strategy throughout the year.  Their images are becoming stronger and more vivid.  We read the story, Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night, and they had to record their mental images as the story progressed.  We talked about how our mental images change as the story changes and why everyone has different images.  No two papers were exactly alike.  Their answer always puts a smile on my face- "Because we have different schemas!"