Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Writing and More Writing!

We've been writing a lot lately.  I made these fun little story journals to change up our morning work routine.
Everyone picks a different journal every day, and each child writes at least five sentences about the topic on the front of the journal.  Afterward, each child goes over his/her work and checks for uppercase letters and punctuation.  It's Day 2, and so far things have gone impressively well.  We'll add more topics from time to time, but right now students can choose from food, animals, vacations, snow, family, movies, sports, and the ouch! journal.  First graders have loads of interesting injury stories, so that one is pretty popular! 

We've also been learning about adjectives in writing.  Last week, we made adjective wheels. 

 We discussed that adjectives come before nouns in English.  Miss Berbert has also been using adjectives in Spanish class, and one of the first graders astutely observed that adjectives come after the nouns in that language.  It's always amazing how much you can learn about your own language by learning another one...
After the wheels were done, it was time to write.  I asked the class to make up a story about the pet shop on the wheel, using the same animals if desired.  They needed to use at least three adjectives in the story, and they could not be the same as the adjectives given on wheel.  
We just started a new chapter in math about number relationships and patterns.  I am going to put lots of place value activities in our work stations, because even though we've finished that chapter, I don't feel like kids can ever get enough exposure to place value!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lemon Soda Recipe

Here are the rough estimates of what we used for the lemon soda in class:
1 Liter of water
Juice from 2 lemons
5 tablespoons of sugar
1 tsp of baking soda

We tasted the concoction after each addition. Feel free to add more or less of anything, as this was not an exact recipe.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What we've been doing...

What can you make with lemons, sugar, water, and baking soda? Lemon soda, of course!
First, we mixed water and lemon juice and tasted the result.  Next, we added sugar and tasted the result of that.  Last, we added baking soda, which reacts with the lemon juice to make a fizzy soda-like drink.  Some kids liked it, and some thought it was not so appetizing.  Either way, it gave us the chance to  continue discussing solutions and reactions. 

The past few days in math, we've been learning about basic place value, estimation, and patterns on a hundreds chart.  You might remember signing a piece of paper in the beginning of the year that acknowledged wether or not you would like to subscribe to Highlights magazine.  Well, just for sending that little slip back to school, they sent me this beautiful hundreds chart for free!

As you can see, the cards are two-sided for patterning.  We have been learning about moving left and right on the chart to count by ones and moving up and down on the chart to count by tens.  

During Religion class, we've been learning about the Good Samaritan.  This is an awful picture, but it shows the little figures I am using on the felt board to tell the story. 
I know we didn't have memory work this week, but the new verses will be in your child's G.O. book tomorrow. 

That should give you a little update on what we've been doing.  I'll be posting tomorrow or Friday on our recent verb and adjective projects. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day

Yesterday was our fantastic Valentine's Day party! We made bags for our Valentines...

...played a game that involved frosting on the nose...
...and picking up hearts with that frosting covered nose...
...and ate tons of yummy snacks!
The kids shared lots of love with each other. 

The poem we're reading this week is about Valentine's Day, too:
Speaking of reading, I love this time of year because first graders can read so well! They're able to put all the skills and sounds we've been learning all year to use and read with such fluency and comprehension.  I hope you're hearing this at home, as well. The stories in our reading books are getting so long that it's hard to finish them during our reading time, so you'll see the reading book coming home more and more.  Your child should be able to read the stories independently. 

On a different note, the silent auction this past weekend was a huge success. Thank you to  everyone who donated items or time for this event. As a teacher, I am so appreciative for all the work the PTL does to create a better environment for our students.  The kids really do benefit directly from all that hard work!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

This Week in First Grade

This week, I changed our normal morning message routine.  Instead of me writing the message, the kids get to tell their "news" every Monday morning.  Here's what it looks like this week:

Those ovals are Wikki Sticks (or Bendaroos) that we use to circle words that we're looking for.  For example, I might ask one child to find a word with two syllables, another to find a word with a long "e" sound, and another to find a word that rhymes with "rice".  Everybody gets a turn every day. There are endless possibilities with these messages!  We've been doing this every day since the beginning of the year, but normally I would write the message about what we were going to accomplish in the week.  Now the kids get to have their say.

This week in writing, we learned how to write thank you letters.  We worked on a couple letters all together, and then everyone got to write their own.  That's when I got to see how thoughtful these kids really are! There were some really precious things being written down. If you didn't see a letter come home, it's because your child wrote one to someone in the school and gave it to them.
This week in our work stations, we're practicing ordinal numbers, sorting long vowels and short vowels, determining whether equations are true or false, and putting words in alphabetical order.  You'll probably see a lot of station work coming home.  Sometimes our stations don't have worksheets that go with them, but this week there were a lot. 
We also had a math test yesterday, and those went home today.  We'll start a new chapter tomorrow, and there will be a take-home packet to go along with it.  

Whew! I hope that gave you a taste of what we're doing at school. Everyone is working really hard!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Green Milk?!

We experimented with another type of reaction in science on Monday, and I wanted to post some pictures of it.  This was a new one to me, but it actually worked really well. First, each person got a little dish of 2% milk. Then, we added a few drops of liquid food coloring to the top of the milk.
Next, we took popsicle sticks and got a little bit of Dawn dish soap on the end. 
When we gently dipped the end of the stick in the milk, the colors immediately raced away from the stick. 

This has to do with the fact that the dish soap weakens the chemical bonds that hold the proteins and fats in the solution. The soap molecules race around to join up with the fat molecules, and the food coloring molecules get bumped around in the process.  This reaction does end up looking pretty cool!
Tomorrow I'll be posting some of the other things we're doing this week.  I know right now the blog makes it look like we just do science experiments all day, so I'll take some pictures of our writing, art, and other activities. 
Have a great night!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

More Science and an Announcement

First of all, I apologize if your child incessantly demands vinegar and baking soda all weekend. Our science lesson on Friday was about reactions, so of course we had to try that one a couple of times.  

First, we made a solution with baking soda and water, and then we predicted what would happen when we added vinegar.  After all the "explosions", we recorded the results in our science journals.  

Another activity we've been enjoying this month is sight word Candy Land.  I happened to have an extra Candy Land set, so I put high frequency words from our reading series on the cards.  If the child can read the word, they get to move to that color on the board. It's been a real hit. 

Last, I would like to officially announce that I will no longer be teaching first grade after this year.  Mrs.  Schulz (our preschool director) is retiring at the end of the year, and I was selected by the Board of Education to become the new preschool director.  They wanted to get someone in place now, since registration has begun and prospective families for next year will want to know who their child's teacher will be.  Don't worry, though - my first graders have my full attention as long as I'm their teacher!

I really appreciate all the support I have already received. St. Matthew has the most wonderful families. I feel very blessed to be here!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

100th Day!

The 100th day of school is just the best. When else do you have a good excuse to do things 100 times? Since the first day of school, we've been adding money to the pocket chart by our calendar.  Yesterday we finally had 100 cents!

We celebrated this milestone by making crowns with 100 things on them first thing in the morning.

After  reading a story about 100 day, predicting where 100 steps from our classroom would be and then  actually walking 100 steps, and counting 100 objects in a visual discrimination activity, we finally ate our 100 snack.  

I had 10 plates of different snacks lined up, and everyone got to take 10 things off of each plate.  

After everyone got their snack, we shook our 100 pieces up.
Look at all those happy faces!

  Of course, P.E. was 100 themed, and later we wrote stories about pictures we had created using the numbers 1, 0, and 0.  Those will be hanging up at the open house tomorrow night!

Today, we had our second chemistry lesson. We tried to answer the question, "What is a solution?" We discussed what happens when something dissolves. The kids decided that it's a good thing sand doesn't dissolve in water, or there would be no ocean floor. I thought that was a pretty good observation. 

Tomorrow is Groundhog's Day, so we'll have another themed day this week. I can barely keep up! :)