Friday, July 31, 2015

Five for Friday: Last Days of Summer

My mind is definitely starting to gear up for school again! My to do list is getting longer and I am ready to start lesson planning! Will started orientation yesterday and he is officially in school mode, but the boys and I still have another week and we are going to enjoy it! :)

The beginning of the week I wrote about some of my favorite wordless books and how they can build inquiry into your writing block! Click on the picture to check out the post!

My parents came over from Georgia and we went to Charleston for the day! It was great to be in the ocean. The water was perfect. The boys loved it, but Liam comments a lot on how his eyes hurt at the beach! ;) 

Doesn't this look capture it all! Total JOY!

This has been the summer of games! Games are great for building number sense, building problem solving skills and using lots of social skills to learn that losing is OKAY! The last two years we spent a lot of friday afternoons playing games to help my first graders learn those skills too! Sorry is Alex's favorite, but we were taking a break from that game to play candyland!

Alex was disappointed that the summer reading challenge was over, so I made him a new chart using his favorite number-100! I have no idea what the end prize will be, but I thought it was a fun way to build in some number concepts too.
Liam wanted his own chart, but he is not quite as organized as his brother! First he had to fill up the stars. That is totally his personality though. Alex is much more structured and Liam has more of a free spirit! ;)

Everyone needs some freebies to help them as they get back to school! This is a fun measuring activity using nonstandard units. It is simple enough that kids can work at it independently, but it still provides lots of formative assessment! I have found that when setting up my workshops it is best if the kids have activities that they can work at independently and take up some time so that they understand what the process looks like without having to come up and ask a ton of questions. BUT I don't like busy work and lots of worksheets either! This is the perfect activity to keep them engaged with a hands on activity! Click on the picture to download it!

Hope you all enjoy your last day of July!
Head over to Kacey's blog for more Five for Friday fun!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wordless Books

A great way to build inquiry into your writing is through wordless books! After reading the wordless book together, your kids can write the text to match the pictures. This guided inquiry give them the freedom to use their creativity and think outside the box. Some books are a little more straightforward then others, but each child has the opportunity to write their own dialogue, think about the character's feelings, and develop their tone for the story.

Here are some of my favorite wordless books! 
(Click on the picture to view on Amazon)

I discovered this one last year and it quickly became a favorite. There is so much room for wonder in this story and it would encourage the kids to think make sure that their word choices convey the emotions of the characters.

This books is a new discovery! The illustrations are stunning and the character's facial expressions help the kids understand his emotions and feelings. Another great idea for writing is to extend the story. Many wordless books have open endings that leave room for the imagination of what happens next!

This is a sweet story. I always love how the illustrators use color to draw your attention to the main idea of the story. That is a great way to get kids thinking about main idea and important details they need to write about.

This is the story that I first used in my writing class to add text to a wordless book! I love this one because the storyline can go so many different ways. Not a single one of us had the same story! I love how it shows such diversity of thought! Be sure to write with your students. They need to see their teacher being an inquirer as well! :)

The use of red in this book to draw your attention to the character is wonderful. The story continues in Quest. The detail in these books is wonderful. Her adventures could almost take up whole chapters! Might be a good extension for some of your high flyers! :)

I LOVE this book! Not only is it such a sweet story about siblings, hard work etc (so many learner profiles and attitudes are present) but it gives kids an opportunity to think about the importance of the endings of their stories.

As kids inquire their way through these stories and think deeply about their word choice, voice, and organization, they are growing as writers and thinkers! Wouldn't wordless books be a great way to introduce or practice the 6 traits?
Or think about the lively discussions you might have if kids defend their story choices based on the details in the pictures? There might be lots of persuasion going on there!
As you plan for the first weeks of school don't forget to include some wordless book fun in there! Such a great way to set the tone for your writing workshop by helping your kids to see that writers are inquirers too!

Of course there are LOTS more wonderful wordless books and the possibilities of ways to use them are endless. What are some of your favorite books? How do you use them in your room?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Five For Friday: Building Inquiry into the First Weeks of School

Summer. It's so lovely. But now that my August calendar is filling up, it's hard to realize July is almost over! The summer has been a good mixture of keeping busy and relaxing at home! 
This week I thought I would take a different approach than my normal Five for Friday! We are going with a theme! ;) 

This week we did a lot of fun science experiments at home this week and I was thinking about how they would be great experiments to introduce the idea of inquiry and the scientific process at the beginning of the school year. Kids need the opportunity to learn to ask questions and we need to give them some fun opportunities to build their questioning skills while also giving them opportunities to work together.

Lots of these are "what do you think will happen?" experiments, with great chances to build observation skills in the middle, but offer lots of room for "what ifs" after the experiment is over. The best inquiry experiments are ones that lead to more questions when it is over! ;) 

So. Here are FIVE fun experiments to try with your kids at school!

baking soda + food coloring + vinegar
This has been one of Alex's favorite experiments for a long time! I did it at school once two and the kids thought it was so amazing! :)

glass cups + water

We all know this one. ;) but we had a fun conversation about why there were different sounds. He had a little trouble figuring out how to do it, but overall it was fun to try!

bottle + yeast + water + balloon

This was really cool! Check out the link for the measurements. We didn't think it would work, and Will did double the measurements because we were using a bigger bottle.

hydrogen peroxide + dish soap + yeast + water + food coloring + bottle

Alex's reaction is so funny! :) He did play with the foam a bit after it was over. He noticed how warm the reaction was as well. Follow the link for more info!

string + straw + balloon + lots of tape

The possibilities with this are ENDLESS! It would have been a fun to have races too. 

I thought these would be some fun ideas for the first weeks of school! It would also help your kiddos be really excited about school. 

See what other teachers are up to this week at Kacey's Five for Friday!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Five for Friday: Enjoying life!

The this has been a fun, but busy week! After I got my LRP and syllabi figured out for next year, I felt so much more at ease. I had to make some last minute changes, but I am excited to start planning for next year. 
But in the meantime, I am enjoying EVERY minute with my sweet boys. I think I love it even more because I get to KEEP being with them next year. I love that I can still pursue teaching, yet get to be at home more! 

This weekend my brother-in-law got married! While Will was busy with groomsmen stuff, the boys and I enjoyed a day in Charleston! They loved the water taxi, and I got lots of new ideas for fun things when they are a little older.

Then we headed to the SC Aquarium (free for teachers!). The Madagascar exhibit was lots of fun, especially when the lemurs came over to say hello. We had lots of fun seeing all the fish too! ;)

In the evening we enjoyed a fun and fabulous wedding! I'm not going to say how much I had to bribe the boys to keep their boy ties on ;), but there were LOTS of treats in my bag to help! 

I reached 100 followers this week! I know some people may hit these milestones a lot more quickly, but I was proud all the same.  Blogging this past year has been a great outlet for me and the point I was at in my teaching. And now that I split my time between some fun preschool activities at home, and 3rd grade Literature, Writing, and History for 2 days a week, I am looking forward to continuing to share my inquiries and creating resources to help me, and hopefully others too!

Earlier this week, I wrote about some schedule cards I made for us at home. It has helped us get up and moving quicker in the mornings and Alex loves planning out our day.  You can check them out here!

One of the things I have LOVED about watching my boys grow is the fact that I get to see new learning everyday! Isn't it such an amazing thing! What makes me really excited about being at home with them is the fact that I can really build that sense of wonder and inquiry into them. My goal for Alex is to help him learn as much as possible, but in a way that he doesn't even realize it. 
Lately he has been into mazes. He asked for a maze book one afternoon, so I found some on the internet and printed them off, and stapled them into a little book. 
It is so interesting to me to realize that he is building his problem solving skills by retracing his path until he got back to the right one!
Early Childhood education is so fascinating to me! Having taught first grade will always be a gift because I got to see the reading process unfold in front of me, but now to watch language, number sense, problem-solving skills, (and so much more) develop in my 2 and 4 year old is also so beautiful.
It makes me just love being an educator and a parent! :) It also makes me want to keep exploring so many more avenues of education. So much to keep learning! I love it!

Linking up with Kacey's Five for Friday

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Inquiring our way through Preschool!

When summer hits I usually try to come up with some kind of schedule of fun things so we all don't go crazy over the summer, get stuck in a rut watching TV, or get TOO overwhelmed by boredom.
I also believe though, in giving myself some grace because summer is usually when I am exhausted from the school year too! And then there are the days, like after a fun-filled wedding weekend, that we all stay in our pajamas until dinner time and then get dressed so we can go on a walk. 
But this summer I was thinking that SUMMER was not going to completely end. We will only have 2 days a week of going to school, so we need to keep up some routines for the year too...
Thats when I decided to make us some schedule cards! Inside I was thinking that it was a little ridiculous, I mean, do I need to have our day that organized, BUT, I love/crave schedule and organization so I thought that this would help.

And...they have been wonderful! Alex has loved using them from day one. Its the first thing he does in the morning and he likes to talk about his ideas at bed too! If he is needing something to do, or wanting to watch TV, we usually check out the fridge for different ideas. Sometimes I will put up specific ones, but during the summer, we put up whatever we feel like! Kids definitely crave schedule too, especially ones like Alex! ;)

Check out the schedule cards here!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Five for Friday: Enjoying Summer!

Just another week of summer! It's kind of fun to do Five for Friday during the summer to see all the fun random things we are up too. :)

Yep, I live with a bunch of super heroes! Will is definitely a super hero dad! Liam at 2 can pretty much name all of the super heroes and Alex will forever be batman. Love these boys and the great summer we have been having!

Speaking of superheroes...
My brother-in-law shared these family photos we took on our family vacation in Ohio. Please look at my child, front and center in the striped shirt...
What possesses him to do things like this!?! He is such a character! 

This is NOT a number you want to see in the middle of summer in SC! Our AC broke JUST before I was going to have my teammates over for sushi! Great timing...

But, Oh. My. Goodness.
Seeing these ladies again did my heart good. Its been a busy summer for all of us, but we have a blast making sushi and talking about life. It was good. :)

My brother-in-law is getting married so I was making the boys try on their outfits... because I just finished making them some bow ties....
Poor Liam. I didn't give him enough time after his nap. He was NOT a happy camper, but hopefully we will stay this clean for the wedding... I have some serious bribing that is going to go on to make sure they keep those bow ties on! ;)

Its definitely a challenge to plan for something you have never taught! My mind has been racing with all that I need to teach and getting it down on paper... its definitely been a process. You can go here to read about what my big plans for the year are! 

It's hard to believe we are almost in the middle of July! I am excited about the wedding we have this weekend. It will be fun to see lots of family and share in their special day! Hope you are all enjoying your summer! :)

Be sure to check out what other teacher's are up to over at Kacey's Five for Friday!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Inquiring my way through 3rd grade Long Range Plans...

I thought I would spend more time creating this summer, but I'm realizing it's hard to create when I am still trying to figure out what things should look like. 
We are required to turn in long range plans by next week, so I have been spending time over the last couple of weeks figuring out what things should look like. Even though the ones I turn in our pretty basic, I am still realizing that I need to think through what standards we will cover and when, AND making sure that I can mesh Reading and Writing together.

We cover 4 novels a year and teach a lot of our skills through those as frameworks for genre etc. This year my novels are Because of Winn-Dixie, The Hundred Dresses, Encyclopedia Brown, and (hopefully) Frindle. 
I plan on spending the first two novels digging into story basics and building comprehension skills. I am hoping to use this reading skills packet I made last year, and eventually adding some interactive notebook pages to match. Encyclopedia Brown I hope to start introducing some nonfiction skills, and Frindle will be back into comprehension and vocabulary. 
Thats the ROUGH plan! Subject to change for sure! :)

Constantly making lists of thoughts and ideas! ;)

For writing, I need to teach the 6 traits, so that is providing my framework, focusing on each trait more in depth, but using some ideas from Lucy Calkins Units of Study for third grade to do that. Basically during the first two novels we will focus on Narrative while dicussing the traits of Ideas, Voice, and Word Choice. We will move in to informational text while reading Encyclopedia Brown, and then move into persuasive writing while we read Frindle. And focusing on Organization and Sentence Fluency during the last two, with conventions throughout! 
I'm using Evan Moor's 6 Trait Writing for 3rd grade - we will do a couple lessons at school and then they will do the rest of the week at home.
I'm looking forward to trying a couple of author studies during writing as well. I am thinking Patricia Polacco (during voice and word choice) and Gail Gibbons when we start working on informational text. I only am with these kids for two mornings a week, so I am not sure how much I will accomplish, but I would love to attempt digging deep into writing with those authors! 
We will wrap up the year with a unit of fairy tales for both Writing and Reading! :)

Any third grade teachers have any great resources they like to use? Thoughts on the essentials of third grade? Please share! :)