Why… It’s the Polar Express!

Well, today has certainly been an interesting day! With a late start this morning, we came to school and practically went right to lunch and recess! The students had so much fun playing in the snow (and in the chilly weather!) outside. Back inside, we warmed up doing our normal routine of yoga and our Friday book treasure book. We read “The Polar Express” and the students treasure is a silver bell. Can you see the connection??


Finally, it was time for our holiday party! Thank you to all of the parents who I asked to bring in treats- I really appreciate it! First things first for our party, we put on the movie version of “The Polar Express”. What a fun connection- we just read the book and now were watching the movie! The students started at their desks while eating some snacks:





And after some seconds, we pushed all of our desks to the sides, got out our pillows and blankets and snuggled in to watch the rest of the movie. During much giggling, wiggling, and readjusting 😉 they finished the movie! And they loved it!

Watching the movie




All in all, it was a fun, busy last day here! Even though it was a half day, we still did so much. Remember, over the break- don’t stop reading! This is a very important time in your child’s reading  development. Read to them, have them read to them self, and have them read to others- all of this will help them become better readers! Have a fantastic break and a very Merry Christmas! See you in 2013!


We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear”. Sound familiar? 😉 Well, we took a cue from Buddy the Elf and have been practicing singing some Christmas carols with our fifth grade buddies, Mrs. Ward’s class. On most Fridays, we spend some time with our buddies, working on writing projects, reading to each other, or simply listening to stories together. It’s such a good way to build relationships with other students and the first graders love to see the older kids! For this holiday season, we decided it would be fun to practice singing some songs together and go around to different class rooms to carol.

Singing to the Kindergarten kids!


My first graders were especially excited to go singing in the Kindergarten rooms. Most of them went here last year and I think it made them feel like really “big kids” to be going back and visiting their past teacher and classroom.

Singing in another first grade room


The fifth graders did such a good job helper their smaller buddies. They held their hands in the hallways and helped them sing the words of the songs. It was very cute to see.

Singing in 2nd grade


Singing for the office!


We even invaded the office and spread our holiday cheer! A very big thanks goes out to ALL of the teachers and staff who let us into their classrooms. We’re all so busy at the end of the year, so we really appreciate you allowing us to interrupt your day. The students had so much fun and loved singing for the other students and staff. I hope these pictures brighten your day as well! 🙂

A Look into Our Classroom…. Daily 5 Word Work

When it comes to classroom favorites, Daily 5 time is sure to be the winner! Everyday when it’s time for Daily 5, the kids faces’ light up and they are ready to go. It’s actually amazing to see them so excited to read, write, and spell. And hands-down their favorite choice is word work. After doing Daily 5 for a couple years now, I’ve found some ways to organize my word work choices that are easy for the students (and also easy for me!) I LOVE things to be in their “place” and having all of the choices together in the same shelves helps me stay organized and the students to know where to get their supplies from. I got these plastic boxes at Target (5 for $5.00- I love Target!) and they’ve been the perfect way to store the choices.

My Daily 5 word work choice bins


You can see all of my boxes on the top rows. The students book bins for Read to Self are on the bottom shelves. They are labeled with their numbers so they know where to find them and put them away. But- back to the bins! Each bin is labeled with the name of the word work activity. I tell my students to put them away with the label showing (this took practice 🙂 ) But that way, we can all easily see what’s inside it.

Word Work bins, labeled with their names


When I first started Daily 5, I had all of these games in the boxes they came in (because the boxes were all so cute and looked nice when they were all stacked!) But, after first graders use these boxes and put them away… well, you can imagine they don’t look quite as nice. Most cardboard game boxes are not designed with students in mind ;).  So these plastic boxes have worked great for me! I make sure that in each box, there are ALL of the materials a student would need for that game. For example, if it’s something that needs a dry erase marker, I put those AND wipes inside that box. That way, you don’t have students coming up to you asking for things  and they can get started right away. Here is what the inside of one of the boxes looks like. It’s the beans and play-doh box.

Everything is in the box ready to go!

As you can see for this box, the beans are in individual bags. In each bag, there are also laminated letter and blend sound cards. There is also a jar of play-doh. Having everything in one box means that they can grab and go! For this game, students use the play-doh to trace the letters or blend sounds. Then, they use the beans to trace over the play-doh. They think this is SO fun and call it “decorating” the word. Here is what it looks like:

Tracing letters and sounds with Play-Doh and beans


When it’s time to clean up, they put the beans in their bag, put the play-doh in the jar, and put everything back in the bin. Then, they simply put the box back on the shelf. It’s a fun way for them to practice their sounds and letters. You could do this with sight words, spelling words, or sentences. Enjoy!



What Makes Your Heart Grow?

That’s a very interesting question- especially when you ask it to a first grader! At first the talks were about nintendo’s, Wii’s, dolls, and games. But after reading Dr. Seuss’ story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, we realized (just like the Grinch!) that Christmas doesn’t come from a store. The MOST important things in our lives are our friends, families, schools, teachers, and helping each other. Wow! We had a great discussion about what makes our hearts grow-and also discussions on what makes your heart grow DIFFERENT sizes. (For the record, apparently your friends makes your heart grow only 2 sizes bigger, but helping others makes your heart grow 10 sizes bigger. Who knew 😉 )


The students had a blast making the Grinch faces. Whenever we do something like this, they always ask, “Is this a project?” Apparently calling something a project makes it WAY more fun. (I should remember that for math time). This project did involve a lot of cutting- which they mentioned over and over, so brace yourself for that. But, they really enjoyed making them.


Enjoy the pictures of the students creating their Grinches!





The Mitten

What could fit in YOUR mitten?

It is starting to feel like winter around here! Although it’s been unseasonably warm, all the students can talk about is the upcoming holidays. In the winter mood, we read the story “The Mitten” by Jan Brett. It’s a great story about a young boy who loses one of his white mittens in the snow. Animals passing by outside crawl into the mitten- which the students LOVE! They love to see the different animals cramming into the small mitten. You should have heard the laughs when a bear squeezes in! After the story, we began discussing what could fit into our mittens. A pizza? A soccer ball? A teacher?! We brainstormed a list of things that could fit into our mittens. Then, using the mitten cut-outs, students created their own mitten writing projects. They got to decide what could fit in their mitten and write a list about it. This was also a great way to introduce using a comma between words in a list! After writing, we cut them out and attached them with a piece of yarn. To make them look even more like cozy winter mittens, we pulled out some cotton balls to glue to the bottom of our mittens!


You can check out the mitten printables here: The MItten Writing Extension


Enjoy our pictures! 


Drawing Pictures to Help Solve Problems

An example problem

Lately around here, we’ve been talking about “proving” our answers. It’s not enough to just tell the answer, you need to be able to show HOW you got the answer. When students have to give a reason as to how and why they got their answer, it makes them critically think about their actions. This is a big skill for first graders! They are doing a great job at it. One of the ways they can prove their answers is to draw a picture. This not only helps them visually see the problem, but helps them explain their answer. We worked on this during math. The students worked in pairs. Each pair had a white board. They worked together to read the story problem, draw a picture, and find the answer. Working in partners allows the students to support each other and learn from each other. It is a great way to practice our math skills!

Working together to solve the problem

Proving their answer with pictures