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This year Instead of doing the Whooo’s in first grade owls I wanted to make something a little more colorful and creative. I took inspiration from Oh the Places You’ll go illustrations… I used water colors to create the landscape, and scrapbook paper to create the hot air balloons. The balloons have pictures of my students inside.
I do Earth Day lessons throughout the week. Here are a few activities that I do with my students to get them thinking about the planet we live on, and how to protect and celebrate it…
Day 1: Read The Earth and I by: Frank Asch
This book is about a young boy who names all the reasons why he is friends with the Earth. This is a great stepping off point to get your students talking about why they are friends with the Earth. For the end of this lesson we brain storm a list of all the reasons we should be friends with the Earth.
Day 2: The Earth and I are Friends Because…
Today we start out by looking at our list of the ideas we came up with in day 1. I tell the students that they get to create their own The Earth and I are Friends page. One of the things that I really love about Frank Asch’s book is the illustrations. So for these projects we use water colors.
I make some basic outlines for students who want to water color some basic nature pictures.
The students watercolor their picture, then cut them out and paste them on their The Earth and I are Friends paper where they wrote their sentences.
The Final Product:
Then I make a display board to post all of their projects:
I begin by reading the Lorax, and talking about “stuff”… We identify how a lot of the “stuff” we have is sort of like a Thneed… It takes resources to make, and we only use it for a short while and throw it away. I then pull out a plastic bag and ask how many kids have these at home. We talk about how long something like this will last on the earth, and where it goes when we are done with it. I then give each student a plastic bag and tell them to pretend their bag is in the water. What would it look like. They start moving their bags like waves are happening. I ask what it looks like, and most kids reply “Jelly Fish!!” I collect the bags back and we are able to discuss why these bags looking like jelly fish is bad news for sea creatures that eat jelly fish. I show them some pictures of sea turtles eating plastic bags and dolphins becoming trapped in plastic bags. We then watch the mockumentary: The Majestic Plastic Bag
Through this amazing program Conserving Now, teachers can request a classroom guide to teaching about plastic bags, and a classroom set of cloth reusable bags. So because of the amazing organization, I was able to get these bags for my students. I showed them the box of bags, and they just exploded with excitement. We made a list of all the ways we could use these cloth bags instead of plastic, and made a class pledge to cut down on the plastic bags that we use, now that we each have a clothe bag. Each student decorated their bags with an Earth Day message. I put inside each bag a list of ways you can help the earth from The Lorax Project and on the other side of the same sheet of paper I wrote a list of local Earth Day goings on for April.
Our last day before Earth Day we took a practical approach. We did a waste sort. I collected a box of things the students have used over the last few days. It’s great when they see something from their lunch. It really gets them to make the connection that this is their waste. I make sure to have a great selection of waste.
I then have a student scribe, and have them call on students to think of all of the things we do with something when we are done with it. After they have their categories I call on students for the “GARBAGE CHALLENGE!” and each student gets to make a guess about where on the list the item goes.
After our Earth Day Week, my students feel empowered and ready to make some change. We finished up by becoming the “litter police” and spending our last afternoon recess picking up litter around our school.
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Here is how we celebrated the birthday of Dr. Seuss and Read Across America Day
PJ DAY! (If we were going to be reading all day, we might as well be comfortable!)
My morning message to my students: I just used a red and black white board marker.
We started out with a Dr. Seuss read to self, for 20 min. and did 1 more that afternoon
I borrowed about 20 Dr. Seuss books from the library, and had many of my own, but I also asked families to label theirs with their student’s name, and bring them in too! So we had over 50 titles for students to choose from.
The first whole group activity that we did was to graph sight words in The Cat in the Hat.
I chose a few students to listen for the sight words and make an X each time they heard it. Half way through the book we stopped and made a prediction about what word was going to win… Then I switched to new students, to give more kids a turn. In the end we discussed the graph and answered some great math questions about it like:
-What word had the most
-What word had the least
-How many more did ____ have than ____
They LOVED this activity, and it got them tuned into sight words.
Hop on Pop bubble wrap
Though not a direct link the the book, after a whole group reading of Hop on Pop, to get out wiggles out, we all jumped on bubble wrap. Our challenge was to as a class try to pop all of the bubbles! it was great fun!
The Sneetches life lessons
My favorite Lesson for Read Across America Day is always The Sneetches. I love doing this lesson, though it can be difficult, because I feel like this is one concept that sticks with my students.
1. Read The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss while stopping every few pages to make connections to the student’s real life. Ask questions like “how do you think the not star belly sneetches feel?” or “How would you feel if that was you?” really go slow with this read aloud and take the time to invite connections from your students.
2. Randomly divide the class in half. Half of the students get stars on their hand. These students get extra treatment. For example my “star sneetches” were aloud to get drinks of water whenever they wanted, they got to choose one of my stuffed animals to carry around, and they got to line up first.
3. After or at lunch I set aside some time for reflection. How did it feel to be a “star sneetch”? How did it feel to not have a star? You will be surprised to hear what your students say. Then we switch, and the not stars get stars, and we repeat this activity for the last half of the day.
4. Finally, with some time to spare at the end of the day, we do a final reflection. We really talk about what if feels like to be treated differently because of something you have or don’t have. The students are able to draw up some great text-to-self connections. I ask them what they think we should do about the stickers. And usually, without my suggestions we get the current star sneetches off to the garbage to toss out their stars to make things fair.
For 100 Day we do center style activities where students in groups of 5 or six take part in a 100 Day “triathlon”.
Station1: 100 Fruit Loops on a necklaces
I use a 100′s chart, where the students first count out 100 fruit loops. Then they string them on to make a 100′s Day Fruit Loop Necklace. I use Oriental Trading’s Tipped Yarn. It makes it easier for the students to thread, but is still a great fine motor activity.
Station 2: 100 Exercises
The students go outside with a family volunteer and:
1. Toss a bean bag 100 times
2. Jump up and down 100 times
3. Bounce a ball 100 times
4. Hop on one foot 100 times
It not only gets them counting to 100, but it’s also a great way for them to get some energy out.
Station 3: 100 Dot Hat
The students write “100 day” as the title, then they draw 100 dots on the hat.
Happy 100 Day!
I use posters as a classroom management tool for primary grades. The pictures and words help to build literacy, and remind students of expectation when they are not readers yet.
The students use sign language to ask to use the bathroom. It is silent I can nod and continue teaching or working with small groups without interruption.
Part of the sign is covered up because I went from a classroom where we had our own bathroom to having to use the “big kids” bathroom.This changed the expectation.
I use DRA (developmental reading assessment) levels to allow students to choose their “Just Right Books”. They are able to choose from the bucket at their level when they choose shopping during Daily 5.
I also have the students choose a few “Free Choice” books by genre. Here is how I organize these books.
I use pictures and words to show the students the genres, I change out the buckets every quarter with new genres. I have 8 different genres out at one time.
I use Velcro to stick each label on.
Inside each holder I have gallon baggies containing games and activities.
I get many of my games from blogs, TPT, Pinterest, or I make them myself.
I also use Origo games. They focus on subitizing and addition and subtraction strategies.
I organize my math tools in this shelving unit:
Each tub is labeled with its contents for easy access by teacher and students
I love Where the Wild Things Are and used my love for this story as the inspiration for my library corner.
How To: I used dark blue butcher paper as the base, it fit the feel of the book the best. I made the trees from butcher paper, using the tree’s in the story for inspiration. I cut the stars out of reflective plastic and placed them all around the board. I made Max out of construction paper and pipe cleaners. I got my Caroll cardboard from Barnes and Noble