Sunday, April 21

Mystery Mail

My grade 1 partner and I have been working on writing letters as well as the concept of inferring.  I found this amazing unit on Teachers Pay Teachers, and this past week I tried it out with my kiddos.  It was such a success!  Pick up the original Mystery Mail Unit on TPT from the Clutter Free Classroom.

The first step was to find some people in the school to 'send' the mail to our class.  I asked our gym teacher, the library clerk, and the principal.  Here is what our library clerk sent us:
Object #1: bandaids (from the time she spends in the office)
Object #2: a ruler (for choosing books in our library)
Object #3: a photocopy of her favourite book, Giraffe and Bird

Next, the students needed to use their 'inferring skills' to explain why the mystery mail person would send the objects they did.  Their next step was to fill in the graphic organizer provided in the pack to explain their thinking using some of the sentence starters on the anchor chart.  Here are a couple of my 'stars' working hard to complete the graphic organizer.
This proved to be a super engaging activity for my reluctant writers because they all wanted to guess who sent the mail to us.  When they were done with the graphic organizers, I read them the letter that was sent with the objects.  It was one of the highlights of our day.

I've made the anchor chart available on my Teachers Pay Teachers store for FREE, so head on over there if you want to download a copy to make for your own class!

À bientôt, mes amis!

Tuesday, April 16

Cloudy with a chance of...freezing rain!

So last week, we had some unusual weather in Ontario for April.  They were forecasting severe freezing rain Thursday and our school board decided to close the schools.  It was an unexpected, yet welcome treat.  So Thursday came and went, and the weather did NOT materialize...and then Friday came...

I said to my hubby "Even if we get 15 feet of snow, there's no way they're closing the schools for a 2nd day!", and unfortunately, I was right.  Friday's weather was horrible...turns out over 20 schools in our region ended up closed anyways because they didn't have any power!!  I thought it was the most opportune time to talk about crazy weather and dug out my copy of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and headed over to First Grade Fever to get a copy of her awesome (and free!) worksheets.

 I didn't know how many kiddos would show up for school, so I thought this was the perfect break from our 'regular programming' and gave the students a chance to show off their creativity.  And boy did they ever.  Here's a few samples of what they came up with!

"I wish it would rain careys (cherries) because it is the best frot (fruit) I had ever tasted in my live (life)."
Awesome justification on that one.  I love cherries too! 

"I wish it would rain ice crem because you don't have to go to the store"
Now this little one is clearly after my heart since they know how I adore ice's actually a running joke with the class ;) 

"I wish it would rain CupCakes because I well (will) try to eut (eat) ole (all) of them in 1 minits (minute)."
Good luck with that one buddy!! 

"I wish it would rain Lego because I wat (want) ol (all) the Lego sets."
Now that's some "outside the box" thinking there.

The rest were equally as cute and I'll be binding them into a book for our class library.

Au revoir, mes amis!

Thursday, April 11

Play-Based Learning...In grade 1?

I had the opportunity about a month ago to attend a workshop with some of my colleagues.  The team included a Kindie Teacher, the DECE (Designated Early Childhood Educator) that works in her class, the grade 1/2 teacher, and myself - representing grade 1.

We were pumped!  The workshop was about Inquiry in the Primary Classroom and we were thinking "Yes!  They'll tell us how to bring 'play-based' learning into our class".  We had lots of questions like: Where does the time come from?  What about assessment?  Will our kiddos learn enough?  The Kindie team was already doing this in their classrooms as part of the All-Day Every-Day Kindergarten program that was implemented in our school this year....

So did we get our questions answered???  That would be a....not really....

We were sent away to learn what we could about it by experimenting in our classes.  So what did we learn?  We have more questions than answers.  Our students loved our 'exploration time'!!  I'm not really loving our 'exploration time' though...  Any ideas how I can keep it meaningful and engaging?  What materials have you put out for students to explore in your class??

I haven't found my groove yet, but my teaching partner has...check her out over at Second-Grade-Alicious to see what she's been up to.  As for what we've been up to, here are some pics...

I brought a cash register from home that I used when I taught Kindergarten and the students brainstormed some places where we would use a cash register.  After some narrowing down, they decided to make a restaurant.  Here are a couple of my cuties working on 'menus' for the restaurant.

Here a couple students decided to build a tower with plastic glasses.  They were all done and I asked: "Is that the tallest tower we could build?"  They said: "Yup!"  I then flipped a cup on its end to show them a different perspective...then off they went to build a 2nd tower!

In Social Studies, my kiddos are learning about communities.  I put out a large scale map of our neighbourhood (thank you Google Earth!) and borrowed the construction paper road idea from a colleague at another school.  The students then went adding buildings according to the large map.  It's definitely one of those times I could see the benefit of this "play" time and loved how engaged my kiddos were :)

Au revoir mes amis,