Friday, March 28, 2014

5 for Friday and 2 Freebies!

It's Friday!

Where in the world has March gone?  Only three days left and we've still only seen glimpses of spring.

Unfortunately, you've also only seen glimpses of me.  I keep wanting to blog, but not having or taking the time to do so.  

Anyways, I'm here now for Doodle Bug's Five for Friday.

Persuasive Writing Ideas

my kiddos brainstormed ideas for what to write about.  I made this quick and easy chart for them to use to list their ideas.  They thought of things that they Want or Need, what they think is the Best or Worst of some category (e.g. ice cream flavor, book etc.), and Changes to Make (recycle, throw away trash etc.).  To say the kids were excited by their lists is an understatement.  They were all laughing and shouting as they tried to show me and and each other what they wanted.

Pick up the free graphic organizer here.

Fact vs. Opinion

Opinion and Persuasive Writing UnitOnce again, we are persuasive writing!  My kiddos could not be more excited to try to convince me and their parents to give them everything they want.  After introducing the genre with some great read alouds (Pigeon books, I Wanna Iguana etc.), we began to investigate fact and opinion.  I wanted my kids to solidly understand that they will be using facts to persuade others of their opinions.  To help them differentiate facts and opinions, we used a cute sort from Brigid Ann's pack.  

Character Study

Along with starting a new writing unit, we also began our new reading unit: Character Study.  Last year, I shared a ton of great resources in this post.  You should check it out to get some great freebies.

This week, we began the unit by reading A Weekend with Wendell by Kevin Henkes.  He is our mentor author for the unit because his characters have such clear traits.

Character Education Performance

Today was an exciting day for all the first grade classes at my school.  Each one performed a short skit for our grade level Character Education Assembly.  All the parents were there snapping pictures of their kiddos as they recited Aesop's Fables, The Sandwich Swap, The Crayon Box That Talked, Do Unto Otters, and The Boy Who Wouldn't Share (my class).

Math with Technology

My class this year has trouble in whole class settings, but does quite well in small groups and independent work.  Therefore, I have been doing versions of the Daily 5 for both reading and math.  Actually, both are really the Daily 4 due to time constraints.  Math only became 4 centers this week when I added a new rotation: Math with Technology.

For Math with Technology, I have the kids using the desktop, laptop, and iPad.  A few kids have to share each one, which is not ideal, but seems to be working okay so far.  These are some of the apps they have been playing on the iPad:

Penguin Math

Subitizing Flash Cards
To make up for the fact that I haven't posted in so long, I'm throwing another freebie into this post.  Get your own Math Daily 4 cards by clicking the picture below.

So, that's it for me this week.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Science Mentor Texts and an Easter Freebie

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I wanted to pop in tonight to share a couple science mentor texts for Collaboration Cuties' linky.


This year for our All About Book writing unit, I decided to use Gail Gibbons as a mentor author.  Although I used her books for writing, they worked double time by teaching science concepts.  

Two of my favorite Gail Gibbons books are: The Pumpkin Book and Apples.

These two books are useful for so many reasons.  Both contain various nonfiction text features including diagrams and labels, cut-aways, how-to's etc.  Though they do not have table of contents or headings, students can help distinguish where the chapter breaks would be based on changes in content.  This was a fun challenge for my kids.  As I read, they had to stop me when they thought there could be a new chapter.

Aside from being full of nonfiction features, these books teach a lot about pumpkins and apples.  They include the history, life cycle, as well as common products and uses for these fruits.  Since both books are about fruits, they can easily be tied in with science or health units on nutrition.

Before I go, I have to tell you about some really exciting Compassion happenings.

First of all, I spent several hours on Saturday coloring stained-glassy style crosses and printing out Easter coloring pages to send to my Compassion kids.  Though Easter is still far away, I am already late in sending these out due to the slow international mail process.  Anyways, I think my kids will enjoy everything.

I found the letter writing template, craft ideas, and coloring pages off of links from the Compassion Pinterest boards.  If you are a sponsor, you have to check out these boards.  They are chock full of ideas for what to send your sponsored children.

Letter Templates.Writing Prompts to write @Compassion International International International Sponsored Children #letterwriting #childsponsorship

If you would like a copy of the "Jelly Bean" poem to go with your cross or jelly beans, you can pick up the freebie by clicking the picture below.

Have a great night!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tried it Tuesday: Word Work (Freebie) and Menu Planning

Today was a glorious day!

The weather was beautiful.  My kiddos were positive, respectful, and hard-working!  I was energetic and well-prepared for the day.

Overall, it was a fabulous day.  The kind that makes me realize how much I love teaching.

To finish out my day, I tried out a tasty new recipe and I'm going to share it and a cool tool I found with you for Tried in Tuesday.  Also, I added a new Word Work material to the center and my kid's are LOVING it.  I'll start with sharing about that since this is a teaching blog.  :-)

Wikki Stix

Ever since I started blogging and doing the Daily 5, I have heard so much about Wikki Stix.  It seems like everyone has them at their Word Work centers.  Though I was intrigued by the idea of using them, I honestly didn't fully know what they were.  Then, a few weeks ago, I decided to use some Scholastic Bonus Points to order a pack of them to try out.  

When they arrived and felt their waxy texture it was instant deja vue.  Though I can't recall exactly when, I must have played with them at some point in my past.

Anyways, I cut the long pieces into smaller ones and added Ziploc baggies of them to my Word Work drawers.  After modeling how to use them, I let my kids go for it and test them out.

The result was great.  Everyone wanted to use them, even the kids who are usually unmotivated to do Word Work.  Even a few weeks later, they are still highly engaging.

What's cool to me is that they are a very tactile, kinesthetic way to practice words.  Students can mold the waxy yarn any way they want.  They can make the words lay flat or stand up.  They can use one or more sticks for each letter.  They can use a variety of different colors.  Great fun all around!

Also, pick up the most updated Word Work bookmarks by clicking the picture(s) below!

Editable Version

Pepperplate Menu Planner

After starting the new year off by trying out some new recipes, I quickly fell back into boring eating habits.  I blamed not having time and living alone.  I didn't want to waste ingredients or money planning recipes.

Last week, I somehow got motivated to try planning a menu, so that I could use some of the 500 billion recipes I've pinned on Pinterest.  Yeah, that's only a slight exaggeration.  

When searching for a menu planning tool, I came across Pepperplate and fell in love.

On Pepperplate you can import or copy and paste recipes into a common list.  Then, you can create menu groups and plan meals for different days of the week using a calendar feature.  All of the recipes can be converted to 1/4, 1/2, 1 1/2 etc. of their regular portions.  Perfect for singles and couples.  

That's not even the best part.  

My favorite feature is the tool that plans your grocery list!!!  You just input the recipes you plan to make and Pepperplate makes a list with the exact measurements of what you need.  Plus, they are categorized by what aisle they should be on in the store.  AMAZING!!!!

I used the tools to plan 4 new recipes for this week using some of what I already had around and a few other ingredients.  Then, I made my stop at TJ's with the generated list in hand via the Pepperplate app and had a smooth and enjoyable shopping experience.

As a result of these minimal efforts, tonight I enjoyed one of the best meals I've made for myself in a long time:  

Blackened Chicken and Cilantro Lime Quinoa with Avocado Cream Sauce

Recipe from Sarcastic Cooking
Now, I am definitely not a food stylist, but don't let my poor iPhone picture fool you.  This was DELICIOUS and EASY.  The rice was so flavorful and the chicken had nice spice.  The creamy sauce finished it perfectly.  Definitely a PinSuccess!

So, that's what I've been trying.  Hope you enjoyed!