Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 29, 2013 Classroom Newsletter

At the end of the week, I'll post the animal research writings. :)



Also hanging in our first grade hallway are poems about nature.  Koi colorings are attached to the top and bottom of each poem.  The children were introduced to Haiku after listening to the book, Flower, Moon, Snow by Kazue Mizumura.  Our focus for this poetry writing activity was to capture a moment in time and write about it.  Later in May, we will work on the challenge of writing original Haiku in the 5-7-5 form.

Although Common Core guidelines don’t include poetry writing in first grade, we do have guidelines in the Reading Literature Strand:  “Read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1”.  Since writing activities should be purposeful and genuine, it’s fitting for our creative first graders to extend their learning of poetry with writing original poetry. 
A giant firefly:
that way, this way, that way, this -
and it passes by
There in the water
color of the water moves...
translucent fishes
Squads of frogs jumped in
when they heard the plunk-plash
of a single frog

Earth Day!

Our first grade environmentalists are learning about the Earth's resources, and how our actions affect people and animal habitats. We're practicing as many "going green" activities in the classroom as possible and hopefully developing habits that will last a life time.
At the listening center, the children listened to Be a Friend to Trees (DRA 28), by Patricia Lauber and learned why we can't live without trees. The kiddos were excited to learn about photosynthesis and enjoyed the colorful suggestions at the end of the book for recycling and finding alternatives to paper products.
We enjoyed another wonderful book for our Earth Day studies ~ Recycle Everyday (DRA 30-34), by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. The character in this story, Minna, solicits the help of her family for a Community Recycling Calendar Contest. At the end of the story, the kiddos cheered and clapped for Minna, when they discovered her creative work was chosen for the calendar cover page!
These two books provided the inspiration for several Earth Day writings and activities. The children used Tempra paint for their Mother Earth paintings which are hanging alongside their wonderful "I Am a Friend to Planet Earth" writings!  Besides working on writing conventions, such as applying capital letters appropriately and using ending punctuation, the children worked very hard to make their writings more interesting by beginning each sentence with a different word.
We didn't have time to read Arthur Turns Green yet, but we will this week.
Some of the "go green" activities we completed in class are included in an 8-page mini-packet (Freebie!) which I uploaded to tpt (below). 

To link up to the Earth Day Freebie on tpt, click on the image above.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Robot Activities!

The Harcourt anthologized story My Robot, by Eve Bunting provided an opportunity for project-based learning in first grade.   Project Based Learning is a method that allows students to learn skills through a student-led inquiry process.  This method is structured around a project or task.  The guiding question that led to our first grade project was:  "If I could build a robot, how would I program it?"   
A lot of discussion and learning preceeded the actual event of making the robots.  During small-group center activities, the children researched the use of robots in the military, in medicine and for manufacturing.  The children also worked with class mates in small-groups to consider robot designs.  One of the students, who developed a robot to clean her house once a week, designed a robot with long arms to hold drying towels.  Another child created a heroic pet that could save other pets from evil; his robot had long arms and a protective shield. Acting as "real-life" engineers, the children provided detailed explanations of their robot's function and design to their peers.
The beauty of project-based learning is that it combines real-life scenarios with standards-based learning.  So while the children were "engineers", they also worked on first grade writing skills, math and phonics.  The kiddos wrote informative writings, cinquain poetry and used their imaginations to write stories about their robots.  In math, the children used cubes as the non-standard unit for measuring the robot's arms, legs and body. 
 Informative Writing
 Cinquain Poetry

Narrative Writing

Math - Measurement
There are 34 slides in this slideshow by Smilebox.  I hope you enjoy!
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I had a great time creating robot-theme activities for my students so I uploaded a freebie and an activity packet to tpt.

Click on the collage to link up to the tpt freebie (two poems, cinquain poem template, student writing page and math-measurement worksheet)

To link up to this 75-page packet on tpt, click here.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

April 8, 2013 Classroom Newsletter

We are all about robots in first grade this week!
Thanks to our wonderful parent volunteers, our creative first grade inventors will have plenty of help Tuesday afternoon with building their robots!  I think my son, Alex plans to join us as well. 
We have a great collection of boxes and paper towel tubes already, but feel free to send in extras;  we'll recycle what we don't use.  I had a fun time making my robot - "Mrs. ABC" (pictured below), who will be on hand to greet the children at the door first thing Monday morning.  I am not very creative, but thankfully I had a lot of boxes on hand to put something together.  I used a shoe box, candy, aluminum foil and K-Cup boxes, along with several paper towel tubes, and quite a bit of Reynolds Wrap.  The children started planning their robot designs before spring break, and I can't wait to see how they transform a bunch of recycled stuff to unique robot creations!  I'll share their inventions later this week.

Are you familiar with the children's book, Clink?  We'll use that story for a character study and compare Clink and Cecil, the character in the anthologized story "My Robot" by Eve Bunting.  How to Build a Robot, by Clive Gifford is a child-friendly guide to building a robot, and includes several intriguing science experiments.