Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Zoo, Dinosaurs, and Synonym Sally!

Our trip to the zoo was fantastic! Beautiful weather, helpful chaperones, excited students...things went really well.  Here are a couple pictures from the trip. 

Last week, we read this book:
The kids did a great job at keeping up with reading two chapters a day. 
 Each day, I assigned something to write or draw in their dinosaur-shaped reading logs. 
I don't have a picture of it, but we also pulled out specific words from the chapters every day.  We discussed their meanings, their importance to the story, and then put them all in alphabetical order. (That's a skill we've been working on a lot lately!)

Speaking of skill we've been working on, I decided to really drive home the concept of synonyms last week. So, I invited my "twin" sister Synonym Sally to be a classroom guest!
Synonym Sally owns a bakery where she bakes synonym rolls! She brought baker hats for everyone and helped us make synonym rolls for ourselves.

 I drew cinnamon roll shapes on brown paper, and then cut them into spirals.  I wrote a simple word like "big" in the middle. The students took white crayons (to resemble icing, of course!) and wrote synonyms for the simple word all around the spiral. 

 Here's everyone with their synonym rolls!
 And the obligatory silly picture...
 Synonym Sally didn't forget how fun real food can be, either.  After all those synonym rolls, it was time for some cinnamon rolls!

What a day! I will post about our week at Camp Learned-A-Lot tomorrow!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Reading Celebration!

It all started with this book. 
This is a precious book about a little dog that doesn't know how to read.  He's fine with that, but a little bird that he meets isn't about to let him get through life without learning this important skill.  The bird takes the dog through all the steps, and by the end of the book, Rocket is a happy reader.  

So, in first grade, we discussed what not being able to read was like.  Then we got to work on the puppies that came to school for the week.  Our task during this week was to teach the stuffed puppies how to read. Here they are learning the alphabet. 
We discussed what a person (or a dog) needs to know to be able to read.  We made a list here:
After teaching the puppies all those individual things, we spent two days reading books with the dogs. A lot of these books were dog-themed, but all of them were well within our first grade reading level to ensure success.
It was so cute watching the kids teaching their dogs! They spoke to them as if they could speak back, and many of them actually had the dogs follow along in the books with their paws. I could really tell how empowered the students felt, being able to be the teachers instead of being taught.  Here's a little collection of pictures.  They pretty much speak for themselves! 

Next, we wrote about what learning to read was like from a human standpoint. 
On the last day of the reading celebration, Ladel the Comfort Dog came to visit our classroom.  The kids brought in their favorite books to read to her. In true Ladel form, she showed almost no interest, but certainly appreciated the petting.  

As a treat for both the students and Ladel, we went outside to blow bubbles after the reading portion. Ladel got very excited for this!
She loves to jump in the air to catch the bubbles!
I have never seen this dog move so quickly!
This was a very busy day, because after Ladel's visit, we went to watch some dancing from West Africa.  I wasn't sure how the kids would react with the loud drumming and the unfamiliar dance moves, but they LOVED it! 
And finally, our trip to the zoo. I'll have some more pictures in the next post. 
Hope you had a great holiday weekend!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Catching up on Mother's Day

I guess I need to start this post by going all the way back to Mother's Day.  You may have heard that my mom came to visit from Michigan to help us with our Mother's Day projects.  She brought all her fancy photography equipment with her. She took backlit pictures of the kids, and then used the computer to change the image into a silhouette.  Here she is sending those images to her cutting machine:
We painted the mats using different combinations of colors. 
Can you tell who is who?
To make the cards, I had the kids partner up. One partner held the silhouette while the other used a sponge brush to paint around it. 
They turned out pretty well!
I hope you enjoyed your Mother's Day gift! I know the kids put a lot of work into making them. 

In other news, a giant floor clock has been hanging out in our room lately.  We've been learning about telling time. I was very happy with how well they picked up telling time down to five minute increments! 
We also used mini clocks at our seats for more time telling practice.  Now we've moved on to calendar and time estimation skills.  

It may be the end of the school year, but we're still packing in the learning in first grade!