Being scientists: Making Egg-cellent Observations

In science, we’ve been learning about our teeth. The students could tell me many things that they already knew about teeth, like we should brush them each day. But why should we brush them? This is the question we’ve been exploring. Like all good scientists, we made an experiment to help us see why we need to brush our teeth- especially after we eat or drink sugary things. Here is the worksheet that we use to make predictions, observations, and conclusions: Egg-Cellent Observation Worksheets!


To start, we learned the word “enamel”. The outside of our teeth is made of enamel, which is hard and white. To begin our experiment, we took 3 eggs (hard boiled of course!) and decided that the white shell of the egg is JUST like the white hard enamel of our teeth. We put water in one cup (made sure to label it) and put one egg in that cup. We put Coca- Cola in one cup (made sure to label it) and put one egg in that cup. And lastly, we put Coca-Cola in another cup, but BEFORE we put the last egg in that cup, we covered it in toothpaste.

Our 3 eggs in their cups

We used our worksheets to write down our predictions. What would happen to the egg in the water? What would happen to the egg in the Coke? What would happen to the egg in the Coke but that had toothpaste on it? Students wrote down what they thought.

Writing down their predictions

(We’ve been using our clip boards on the carpet during these observations, and they are LOVING it!) The first day we used the prediction worksheet to write what we thought would happen to each egg. The next day during science time, we checked back on our egg-speriment 😉 We related the eggs back to the enamel of our teeth and pulled each out of the cup to see what they looked like. Here was the water egg:

The water egg after one day.

And the Coke egg:


And the egg in the Coke that was covered in toothpaste:

It’s still white!

We use the observation worksheet to write down what we see and notice. Are there cracks? What color is it? What is different? We repeat this process all week and on Friday, the eggs basically look the same. We use the conclusion page to write what we found: Sugary drinks and foods will decay our teeth and turn them brown! It can even weaken our teeth like it did to the shell. But, if we brush our teeth 2 times a day, we can protect them and keep our enamel white!

Using Ipad Apps in Class

We were fortunate to get an Ipad donated to our classroom through donorschoose, a wonderful website where teachers can post materials they’d like for their classroom and people can donate money towards the projects. This Ipad has been an amazing addition to our class! We’ve used it in reading, math, science, and more! Not only do the games, stories, and apps we use help us learn, but it is so engaging for the students. They love whenever the Ipad comes out- they all start saying, “It’s Ipad time!” 🙂


One of the apps we’ve used is called “SandyStories”.

You can find this in the app store

It’s a FREE app you can find for apple products (it might also be for android, I just don’t have one so I don’t know). It’s call “Sprout a Sandy Story with Nina”, based on the TV show where they often make pictures and stories out of sand. In this app, you can draw or trace pictures onto the screen that looks like sand. When you draw on the sand, your pictures looks like there is light coming from behind it. We’ve used this app two different ways. In a small group, I worked with students who needed practice retelling a story. So, I read them a story and let them use this app to draw their summary of the story. It was so engaging! They loved being able to draw what the story was about and it truly made them listen and visualize what had happened.

As a whole class, we’ve been using this app for creative writing. Using our Ipad and this app, I draw a “doodle”.

The doodle drawn on the Ipad

The projector projects (duh) the picture for the whole class.

The projected image

The students all have white boards in front of them. They look at the doodle and decide what it looks like to them (a snail, a snake, a lollipop, etc). Using their white board, they write a creative story about the shape. It’s so much fun to see their creative juices flowing- they really get into it! And once you tell them that the stories can be silly ones….well, that’s when they really start writing!

To him, it looked like someone being hypnotized!

He saw a snake!

Writing about the doodle

I let the students share their stories with each other and with the whole class when we’re finished. We all love hearing the different ideas and how creative they all are. This is such a fun activity for writing because it allows them to use their imagination, write about something fun or silly, and add details to their writing. You could extend this by having the students check each others boards for mistakes or after, letting them draw their own doodles and stories.

This is just one of the apps that we’ve been using and how we’ve been using it. I hope that at home, you can find these types of free apps to use and learn from!

Plane Shape Hunt

Do you remember last week when we did our SOLID shape hunt? (We were learning about solid shapes and wanted to see how many of them we could find in our room). Well, today we’ve been reviewing PLANE shapes (flat, 2-D shapes like circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, etc). The students eyes lit up when they saw the clip boards come out- they knew what we were going to do! Using the worksheet, they walked around the room in search of some plane shapes!

Searching for shapes!

Some shapes were very easy to find. In the above picture, you see students who are finding that our attendance cards are rectangles.

Shapes are all around us!

We found that our name tags were rectangles, the floor tiles were squares, the clock was a circle, and the rug was an oval! The more we looked, the more shapes we found! This is such a fun, engaging way for the students to review plane shapes. Instead of simply listing ideas, they get to move around and discover. It keeps them so motivated and excited!

Shapes are all over our math board!

Some shapes required us to look a little harder. It was tough for the students to find triangles and rhombus’. After a closer examination, we found these shapes in some unlikely places, like….

I spy a rhombus!

these rhombus’! We discovered that if you look closely, the basket we turn our papers into (that we call “Tina”) is made up of rhombus’. And if you look next to that, the holder where we keep our writing papers has a pattern with the same shape! We also found some triangles on our projector and in our shape blocks. So, when you’re at home, point out all of the shapes you see! You’ll be surprised where you find them!

Here is the worksheet we used: Plane Shape Hunt

The Freedom to Move!

It’s very fun to see how much students love to “change things up”. And, it’s even more fun to see how changing these little things can make the activity so much more fun for them! In our writing program (called “Be a Writer”) we are focusing on adding more to our writing. That means that each day, the students are writing for about 15-25 minutes. Can you not imagine your child sitting still for this long to write? 😉 Well, from daily practice and building our stamina, it’s truly amazing to see them get to work! They sit, focus, and write!

A few weeks ago we got a donation to our classroom through for clip boards. We’ve used them in math (you can see them in a previous post about the solid shape search) and now we’re using them in writing. These clip boards are allowing us to take our writing around the room and write in different places.

Writing around the room!

What’s really fantastic is that even though they are sitting in fun places, sitting next to friends, and around the room, they are FOCUSED!

There’s a lot of writing going on!

Here you can see the students spread out on the rug. It’s so nice to see them comfortable and relaxed as they write. Making writing fun will help them enjoy writing- which makes them want to write more! Right now, we want them writing as much as possible. Being able to do these small changes has made writing time a great experience in our room!

Writing on the bean bag chair

Hugging a friend- but still working 🙂


Solid Shapes

What’s a solid shape? That’s the question we are exploring in our new math unit. A solid shape is a 3-D shape. A plane shape is a flat shape. We have been learning the difference between the two! During our math warm-up each day, we name plane shapes. But now we are learning the name of solid shapes, like sphere, cube, rectangular prism, cone, and cylinder. We sat in a circle and passed around each shape so we could get used to saying it’s name and what it looks like. We’ll continue exploring each shape by learning how many vertices they have (corners) and how many sides they have.

After learning the names of these shapes, we began looking for them around our room. We made lists as a class and then the students got to do the exploring on their own. Using a worksheet that listed each solid shape, they got to walk around the room to see how many of each they could find. You’d be surprised how many examples of each solid shape they found!

They found that the cups were cylinders.

Let me tell you, they LOVED this! They thought it was so much fun being able to walk around the room on their own and find these shapes.

Pointing out that the bean bag is like a sphere.

They found shapes everywhere in the room! The wipe containers were cylinders, the books were rectangular prisms, and the dice were cubes!

Finding solid shapes.


We found so many solid shapes!


All in all, it was a great way to practice solid shape names and identifying them in our room! Here is the worksheet that we used: Solid Shape Hunt


Point out solid shapes at home to keep the learning going!

One More, One Less, Ten More, Ten Less

In first grade, we want students to understand what numbers stand for  (their place value). We want them to be able to show and understand, for example, that the number 47 means there are 4 groups of ten and 7 ones. This is a skill we haven’t started learning too much yet, but we do a daily practice of it during our Math Calendar time. We call our everyday math warm-up our “Math Calendar”. It’s on our calendar wall next to our morning calendar and it’s a daily routine led by a student. The student leader leads the class through the math review, including counting, money, numbers, adding, time, and shapes. One of the parts of Math Calendar is what we call “One More, One Less, Ten More, Ten Less”. What a mouthful! But, a GREAT way to review what adding and subtracting 1 more means and what adding and subtracting 10 more means. I used small laminated squares to be able to write new numbers each day. I also used green arrows to show which direction we go when we are adding or subtracting ones or tens.

“One More”


The green box is where I pre-write the number in. The student leader asks the class, “What is one more than 40?” The leader calls on a student who says the answer. The leader writes the answer in the white box. Then the student leader asks the class, “What is one less than 25?” The leader calls on a student who says the answer and the leader writes the answer in the white box. The same goes for the “ten more” and “ten less”.

Ten More, Ten Less

The difference here is that we put the arrows up and down. Each day we talk about what number will be changing. If we’re doing a “one more” or “one less” problem, the number in the ONE’s place should be changing. If we’re doing a “ten more” or “ten less” problem, it’s the number in the TEN’s place that should be changing.


This also enforces how to use a number chart. Above our arrows and numbers, we have our number chart:

Number Chart on Math Calendar Wall


This way, students see the correlation between the numbers and helps them to actually understand/use a number chart. We also do daily counting to a certain number and the students often use it to follow along, especially in the beginning of the year. You can practice this at home by pointing to numbers you see and asking your child to find “one more” than that number, “one less” than that number, “ten more” than that number, or “ten less” than that number. Your child will become better with adding and numbers the more that you practice with them. Have fun!

Daily 5 Word Work Ideas (#2)

My students are loving all of the new Word Work games they get to choose from during our Daily 5 time. And I am loving how easy they are to set up and how the students can do them all independently! When you have everything they will need in the box, it lessens the amount of students coming up to ask questions. It also allows them to begin right away and start learning! Here is a choice that we call “Write It, Build It, Decorate It”.

Write, Build, Decorate!


I have the box labeled so that the students can easily see what choice they are picking. Inside the box, students find all the materials they need. For this choice, that includes the paper and plastic letters.

A look inside the box

The concept of this choice is very simple-and the students LOVE IT! They get to pick 4 words. We use words from our word wall, but you could use basic sight words or spelling words. Using a pencil, they write the words in the first box. Then, they use the plastic letters to spell the words out. You could also use letter beads or stamps. (I like the plastic letters because they are so simple for the students to use and less messy than stamps). And in the last box, the students get to “decorate” the word. So, using markers or crayons, they can write the words however they want- with curly letters, with dots, big bold letters, etc. (That’s by far their favorite part! 🙂 ).

Here is what the worksheet looks like… You can also find the worksheet and an additional ABC sorting page here: Write It, Build It, Decorate It Worksheet

The worksheet in the box


And here is an example of what it would look like as a student was working:

Writing, Building, and Decorating!


I’ve found this choice to be a great way to enforce basic sight words. It engages the students and makes them want to do more. It also lets them have fun as they work! I’ve noticed the students really sounding out the words as they build it because they have to search for the letters. As beginning readers, sounding out words is so important. By having the look for the letters in the bin, they are practicing the sound over and over. And remember, this can be adapted many ways and can be done alone or with a partner or small group. More ideas to come!


Total Participation during Phonics

Do you sometimes find that you are talking and no one is listening? As hard as we work and as much as we try, it can sometimes feel like that in class too 😉


To keep everyone’s attention (and improve concentration), one of the total participation techniques I use in class is during phonics time. When we are reviewing new blend sounds, we often play games to help us remember them. To start this review game, I write on the board the sounds we are reviewing or we use our sound cards with the sounds and matching picture on them. I make sure to space them out across the board so the students can visually see the sounds are different and make different sounds. All the students receive index cards or smaller versions of the picture sound cards. If we are using index cards, they write one sound on each card. For example, if we are practicing the “ar”, “th”, and “sh” sounds, the students get 3 cards and have to write one of those sounds on each card. If we are using the picture cards, they will have smaller versions of the “ar”, “th”, and “sh” picture cards. On the board, I will write “ar”, “th”, and “sh”. One student goes up front to the board. I will say a word, such as “ship”. The student up front will use the fly swatter to hit the sound they hear (“sh”).

Hitting the sound he hears

Now here is where the total participation comes in…. All the other students must also hold up the sound they hear. So, all the students must hold up the “sh” card they wrote or hold up the picture card for the “sh” sound. The student up front checks all the cards being held up in the room. Once they are sure we all have the correct answer, they call on another student to take their place.

Holding up the sounds they hear

The students love this game and it truly ensures that ALL the students are paying attention. I used to play this game with just having the student up front hitting the sound they heard. But, the majority of the other students weren’t listening or sat bored as they waited for a turn. Giving them all sound cards help them to pay attention, keep focusing, and learn!

(In the above pictures, we were practicing the “oo” sound as in goo and the “oo” sound as in “foot”.)



Getting Ready for a New Year

And we’re back! This break fleeeeeeeeeeew by and it’s already that time- back to school! I’m very excited to see all of the students and get back to work. So many exciting things are coming up in the months ahead and it’s time we got back on track to meet all of our goals. In the meantime, some new bulletin boards have been made in our room.

I’m done!


“I’m done!” is a phrase you’ll hear a lot in a classroom. In our room, the students know what they are suppose to do when they finish something early. But often, they will still ask what they are suppose to do when they finish. So, as a visual way for them to remember, I created this bulletin board to give them options to pick from. It’s a great way for the students to take ownership of what they’re working on (when they get to choose, they are more focused) and to see all of the things they could be doing. I went ahead and underlined the main verbs of each one to help them focus on what it is that they should exactly be doing. It’s also a nice way to focus those who might otherwise become off-task 🙂 All I did was cut some construction paper to size, put it in my printer, and typed up some ideas. It was so simple and cute!


I also took time today to make new objective cards. At our school, we post our daily objectives for each subject area. Not only does it focus students, but also keeps me on track!


Daily objectives


The bee that’s in the upper left is moved as we move through the subjects. So if we’re on phonics, we move the bee next to the word “phonics”. If we’re on math, we move the bee next to the word “math.” Before we move the bee, we talk about if we accomplished our “job” for that subject. Sometimes we’ll self reflect to see if we met the goal we were suppose to do. (And, it’s the best way to transition between subject AND helps the students understand that we are moving on to a different subject). All I did was go to the teaching store and bought these cute name tags. I wrote the subject on them and used magnetic tape on the backs to put on the white board. This way, I don’t need to be rewriting objectives daily. Some objectives stay the same for a few days or most of the time. It’s such a time saver to have these already written out BEFORE you start the lesson.
The students will be here tomorrow and we will be ready to start the 3rd quarter of our school year. Can you believe how fast this year is going? I hope you are seeing as much progress in your child as I am. Be prepared to see even more as we make the transition around here from “learning to read” to “understanding what we are reading”. Meaning, we will still be learning and practicing our phonics, sounds, and blending everyday, but the main focus will shift from this to more comprehension (understanding the story we are reading). This will be a big transition for your child! Make sure that you continue to read every day at home. The more they practice and hear reading, the better reader they will become. In fact, I found this wonderful illustration to show how important it is to read every day with your child.

Make sure to read!


Wow! If your child reads 20 minutes each day, they will read 3600 minutes in a school year. If they are only reading for 1 minute a day, they only read 180 minutes in a school year. What a difference! It truly shows just how important it is to read!


I’m looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow! Let’s have a great start to our 2013 school year!