We’re off to see the Wizard…

…the wonderful wizard of oz! Along with the new Common Core state standards (the new objectives that will be used across the entire country), there is a list of Common Core exemplar texts (books that are at a level your child should be reading or listening to at each grade level). One of the books on the first grade list for exemplar read-alouds is “The Wizard of Oz” by Frank Baum. Typically I’ve also read the students chapter books after lunch because I feel it was a skill they needed to learn- how to sit quietly and listen to a book with not many pictures, so they could learn to visual things in their heads. This year, I’ve been trying to incorporate more of the exemplar texts into this time of the day. Starting with- The Wizard of Oz!

We started the book the day we got back from winter break, the beginning of January. Each day, we read about half of a chapter, sometimes more and sometimes less, depending on the day, the students attention, etc. We finished the book about the second week of March- whew! It did take us a while and at times I was worried the vocabulary was too high, but the students were actively engaged in the book each day! They could summarize parts and chapters to me and partners. They loved repeating funny lines or parts from the story. And when we were done and I gave them a comprehension test, all of them did wonderful on it! Most of all, I think it was such an enriching experience for them. The words drew us in and started conversations for us. The students got to practice picturing cyclones and Munckins, and Wicked Witches in their heads. I am very glad we read it in class!

After we finished reading the book, we (of course) watched the movie version. While the students loved watching the movie, I loved watching the students! Every time something happened in the movie that had been in the book, all their hands shot into the air! They could make tons of connections between the two. Small details in the movie (like Glina kissing Dorothy goodbye or Oz calling himself a humbug) were BIG parts in the book and the students pointed them out in the movie.

When the movie was finished, we started our opinion pieces about which we liked better: movie or book? For teachers out there, we used this organizer:Β Wizard of Oz Opinion ProjectsΒ to complete our projects. The students filled out the organizer with what their opinion was and supported their opinion with 3 reasons. Writing opinion pieces is a Common Core writing skill, so incorporating it into this project was important! The more Common Core we can do, the better prepared the students are!

The next step in the project was decorating it. I wanted to do something that would visually show what their opinion was and something that related to the book. The perfect thing- Dorothy’s shoes! The students each cut out and color Dorothy’s famous slippers and glued them to the tops of their papers. The students who picked they liked the movie better, colored their shoes red- like in the movie. The students who said they liked the book better, colored their shoes silver. Why? Because in the original book, her shoes are silver! Isn’t that funny? Who knew? πŸ™‚

We also attached white strips of paper for her legs. The last step was adding some sparkle.

Adding red sparkle to his shoes!

I had the students bring their papers over and put their papers in the top of a box. That way, the glitter could be contained πŸ˜‰

Just outline in glue, then shake on the glitter!

Here are two final products, one from a student who liked the book better (silver shoes):

Their opinion: Book was better!

And one from a student who liked the movie better:

Their opinion: Movie was better!

Overall, the experience of reading this book and doing the opinion writing was fantastic! The students worked hard, showed what they had learned, and had fun!

Animal Research Project- Final Day!

Whew! We worked soooo hard on our animal research projects! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about us creating them as much as we’ve enjoyed making them. The final day of our project, we shared our stories with each other. When students work so hard on something, they feel so proud of it! And I can tell you, they were SO proud of what they had accomplished. So, instead of simply sharing with a partner, we tried something new for us.

Sharing our projects!

Half of the class stood in a circle around the room with their projects. They were the first group to be the “teachers”. In the above picture (it was so hard to get a good picture of them all at one time!) you Β can see the “teachers” are the ones with the projects in their hands.



Then, a “listener” student went to a teacher. The listener didn’t have anything in their hands. Their job was to listen to the teacher explain their project and listen to the facts about that animal.

Teacher and listener

After about 3 minutes, I signaled for the students attention. The “teachers” stayed right where they were. The “listeners” rotated to a new “teacher” (we moved in a clockwise rotation). Then, we started the process all over again. The teacher had a new listener with them and they began telling about their animal to the new friend with them.

Teaching their friends

The students were engaged! Their eyes were glued to the “teacher” and were such respectful listeners. We kept repeating this process of rotating until the teachers had talked to all of the listeners. Then, we all sat down again. Next, the people who had been the listeners became the teachers. They stood in a circle around the room with their projects. The students who had been the teachers were now the listeners. They went and stood by a teacher and began listening to their facts and animals.

Listening to the facts!

And again, we kept rotating through until all the listeners had heard all of the teachers projects. This was a great way to share all of the facts we had gathered and the projects we had worked hard on throughout the week.

Because the students worked so hard on these, we wanted to share them with other people too. So, we put our animal projects in the office so other teachers, staff, and parents can take a look at them! The staff is SO wonderful here and have been nice enough to leave post-it note comments on the projects! The notes are so nice and encouraging! I can’t wait for the students to read all of the nice comments that have been left on their projects- and I bet you can’t wait for them to come home so you can see them too! πŸ™‚

Magnetic Hunt!

What does push mean? What does pull mean? These are the essential questions we’ve been exploring during our magnet unit!

We’ve spent the week learning and feeling how magnets can repel (push away from each other) and attract (Pull towards each other or other objects). One of the students FAVORITE things was seeing ring magnets repel from each other when placed on a stick. One of my FAVORITE things was hearing them be able to explain WHY this was happening (and no, it’s not from magic πŸ˜‰ )

After doing some experiments ourselves, like seeing which metals are magnetic and which aren’t, we were ready for our very own MAGNETIC HUNT! We used this packet to help us:Magnet Worksheets!

The students got their clip boards and papers ready! First things first, the little scientists made some predictions. They predicted 3 things that would be magnetic in our room. After sharing some of our predictions, we went to work! The students each got a magnet and began walking around the room. They used their magnets to find things in the room that were magnetic (attracted to the magnet) and used their worksheet to record their findings.

Our bookcase is magnetic!

The students moved around the room finding lots and lots of things that were attracted to the magnet.

This book bin is attracted!

Hey, even the garbage can!

As they found these objects, they wrote them down.

Recording what he finds!

After our “hunt”, we gathered in a circle to share our results. The students got to talk to a neighbor to tell what things they found that were magnetic. The students shared what they found and even wrote down more ideas from their neighbors. Being able to discuss things helps the students better understand the process and the vocabulary words.

Sitting and sharing!

This was a really fun way for us to explore and learn! Keep checking back on our blog to see more of the fun things we are doing each day!


Animal Research Project #3- More facts!

It’s getting wild in here! We are fully engaged in our animal research project! It’s so much fun to hear the students talk about the “facts” they have been finding about their animal. They are truly experts on their animal!

To continue our project, we worked on the next page in our packet. This page had 4 boxes on it: how the animal looks, what the animal eats, where the animal lives, and one more fact about the animal.

Research book!

The students went to their research books right away- no need to be told! They found the information and facts in their books and thought it was so exciting to see what their animals eat and where they live!

Finding facts!

What I’m loving about this project is how engaged the students are AND how much they are learning! As we start to move into the Common Core standards, the students will be expected to do more of these research types of projects. This is such a great way to introduce how to find facts and information in books!

Bear research

After we worked on these pages, we took some time to start assembling the pages into a book. We created a cover page (the students drew a picture of the animal and wrote their own names down as the author and illustrator), and used construction paper for the front and back covers. We put all the pages we’ve worked on (and a few we still need to work on) in the middle. We stapled them all together to make our very own books!

As a REALLY fun extension activity, we got up and spread out around the room. Have you heard of the CD called “Carinal of Animals“?

You can find it on Amazon

Each musical song is based on an animal. There are some slow, low songs (representing turtles and elephants) and some high pitched fast songs (like birds or horse). As we listened to each song, the students danced to the beat and rhythm. After each song, we guessed which animal the song was about. Watching the students move to the music was very fun and most of them got really into it! It was the perfect way to give our brains a break after that hard research work, but still connect to what we had been learning about!

Check back to see how our animal research books turn out!


Animal Research Projects Part #2- Diagrams

Rooooooooar! (and chirp, and sqwauk, and grr, and lots of other animal noises πŸ™‚ ) Our Common Core animal research projects are continuing! Today in writing we started by re-reading the animal book we selected. I asked students to focus in on the “facts“. (We’ve already learned the difference between facts and opinions and this was a good chance to review!)

After reading to ourselves, we gathered on the carpet to watch me model how to find facts in our books. I would read a paragraph from a book and pick one fact that I found interesting. I recorded that interesting fact down on my paper. I continued doing this so that the students could see how to find facts in what they read- this is a very hard skill for them, but something they are very capable of doing! It helps the students read for MEANING, instead of simply saying the words on the page. After my model, the students went back to their own seats and used their books to find facts about their animal. They did such a great job doing this!

The next part of the project was learning what is a DIAGRAM (a picture with labels to explain the parts.) I drew a diagram of an orangutan Β (or at least tried my best) and labeled it’s parts. The students got a real kick out of my drawing πŸ™‚ Then, they went back to their seats to draw their own animal diagram and label it’s parts.

A penguin diagram

As they went back to their seats to draw, so many students were excited to show me the diagrams that were in their own books! It’s amazing how many we found when we started looking. The student drawn diagrams turned out so good!

A reindeer diagram

If the student didn’t know what a body part was called, we looked for it’s name in their book. It was amazing to see the students label the picture (and to see how rich their vocabulary was!)

A whale diagram

That’s our update for today! Keep checking back to see what other things we do with this project! (I can’t wait for them to be all done and for the students to share them with each other- they’re working so hard!)

A giraffe diagram!

Common Core Animal Research Projects

Can first graders do research projects? The answer is…. YES! Here is our classroom, we set our expectations high and work with “can do” attitudes to accomplish anything we set our minds to! And this time, we set our minds to do an animal research project. One of the big common core writing standards is being able to research to find information and also to be able to write something that teaches others. We put both of those ideas together to do an animal research writing project!

The first step was going to our wonderful school librarian and asking her to lend us some non-fiction animal books (note: I only chose books about one animal- for example, the book would be about a whale, not all sea animals- which makes it MUCH easier for the students doing the research!) I spread all the books out on a table. After explaining the purpose of what we were doing, the students got to preview the books and pick the one animal they wanted to do research on.

Picking their research book!


Some picked their books right away, while others liked the look at a couple before making the final decision πŸ™‚ I tried to get as many different animal books as I could, so most the students have different animals. I recorded which students have which animals as a reference for me!


Then, it was time to read! After all, if we were going to be doing a research project on these animals, we needed to know about them!

Reading away!




The room got instantly silent as the students started their research reading! After, the students got to share the pictures in their book with a classmate (slightly less silent πŸ˜‰ )


The students LOVED sharing and felt special they all had something different to show. To begin the actual recording our research process, we used this organizer:Β Animal Research Project. The first thing we did was to write down the purpose of why we were doing this research (to learn about an animal) and the materials we’d need to complete this project (pencils, papers, animal books). Then, the students drew a picture of the animal they would be selecting:




How adorable did the pictures turn out? The students loved being able to look in their books at the photographs and then getting to draw their own. So far, we are off to a great start on our projects! Check back in with us to see what else we do and how they turn out! Until next time, safe warm and ENJOY THE SNOW DAY TOMORROW!