Thursday, October 31, 2013

Recess Tattle Journal

Children say the sweetest things like: “You’re my favorite teacher!” or “I love being in your class!” But at recess those comments turn into: “She’s chasing me!” and “He touched me!” It’s exhausting listening to the tattling. So let your students tattle in the Recess Journal.
Use any kind of notebook and cover it with a homemade label. Then be extremely clear when speaking to your students about telling vs. tattling. For example, “tell” when someone is hurt. Take your recess journal and some pencils when you go outside. When the students start coming up to you with tattles, hand them the journal and a pencil. They will have to take their recess time to write their complaint. You will be amazed at how fast students start to distinguish telling from tattling and decrease the latter. It also comes in handy to use a similar journal within the classroom and simply call it “The Tattle Journal.”

Monday, October 28, 2013

Solution for Chapped Lips

As winter approaches our students start coming to school with cracked and sometimes bleeding lips. We’ve tried the petroleum jelly on a Q-tip trick but that isn’t exactly convenient. So we ask our parents to send in a tube of lip balm for their child. Some parents even donate extras for those who don’t have one. If you aren’t comfortable asking for donations, visit a local dollar store and buy generic. We label the balms with each student’s name written on a colored dot sticker. If a balm happens to roll off somewhere it is easy to identify the owner. Choose to keep the balms together in a basket or separately in the students’ personal pencil boxes. We’ve done both and either works fine. All lips will be healed and happy!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin Properties

It’s so easy to have fun with science. In order to become proficient in this content area, students need lots of practice making observations. One skill we like to firm up at the beginning of the year is using senses to observe differences in physical properties. Because this topic contains some difficult vocabulary we discuss it often. We like to use many things readily available during this time like apples, rocks, leaves and pumpkins.

Pumpkins are especially enjoyable because you can use all five senses to explore the physical properties. We created this table (which is set up to print on legal-sized paper) for students to record their observations as they explore their own miniature pumpkins. (Check your local farmer’s market for a class set of these and ask about a teacher discount!)

We also get one big pumpkin and cut into it to help students come up with additional adjectives to describe a pumpkin’s smell, feel, and sound. When we get to the taste column students can taste different things like pumpkin seeds, pumpkin muffins or pumpkin pie

What do you do to help students understand physical properties?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Glow Stick Reading

During the last week of October my students get super excited about Halloween. One way to incorporate this enthusiasm into the classroom is to read ghost stories, like Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara.
To  create a spooky atmosphere we turn out the lights, crack a glow stick and read by the luminescent green, orange, yellow or red light. It’s the perfect way to expose students to the great literature surrounding one of their favorite holidays.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mysterious Introduction

Spark interest in a new topic of study with this kid-pleasing suggestion. Write a different clue about the topic on four blank index cards. Have a student read the most general clue aloud. Invite the class to guess the topic. You can even write their ideas down on a list.

Proceeding from general to more specific clues, ask volunteers to read the remaining cards. After each clue, encourage students to make additional guesses and affirm or reject previous ones. Then reveal the topic’s identity with some fanfare (pull it out of a fancy envelope, decorative box or flash it up on your SMARTBoard). Mystery solved!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Very Busy Spider Has Laid Her Eggs!

This spooky take on the traditional fall treat will surely surprise your students when they walk into the classroom!

If you’d like to make some delicious spider eggs (some may call them popcorn balls), print out our recipe, courtesy of Betsy Killion, an amazing volunteer. Don’t forget to add a nice big spider to the top of the pile for extra fun. If you can’t find a big spider, grab some spider rings and put one on top of each egg.

Make sure to read Eric Carle’s Very Busy Spider while your students are munching their treats!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Verbs on the Vine

Faced with the challenge of teaching verbs to your first graders? After studying verbs for a week, I passed out pumpkin patterns and asked my students to think of a verb for their pumpkin to do. They came up with some amazing choices and then set to work decorating and making props. Here’s how it went. What a blast!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hallway Tour

When your class walks to the cafeteria or another group destination, no doubt some students linger to check out the hallway displays. Here’s a way to satisfy their curiosity without causing delays or disruptions.  Once or twice a month, take your students on a hallway tour. To do this, choose a time of day when the halls are fairly empty. Then lead your class through the halls, allowing them to stop and quietly admire the displays. As soon as students understand that they’ll have special times to look at the displays, they’ll be better able to walk with purpose to your class destinations.