Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Organizing Our Text

We worked on sequencing this week. We brainstormed how we could use it in informational text. Structures like life cycles, how to books, and biographies fit perfectly with a sequencing organizer! Then the kids got to work.  I had fun walking around seeing the variety of topics that were out there! 
Life cycles of frogs, butterflies. How to ride dirt bikes, make paper airplanes, dress like Hermione, draw the superman symbol... the list goes on! Can't wait to read the final products!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Five For Friday: Preschool Fun!

My goal this year is to get back to blogging! ;) Since I spend a couple days with third graders and then the rest of the week at home with my preschooler and toddler, I will spend some time each week sharing about both! On Wednesday I wrote about how we wi started our unit on informational text in third grade. You can read about it here!
Fridays will be more focused on some fun things we are doing at home, and this week I am going to link up with Kacey's Five for Friday to share 5 fun things we did this week to build letter and number sense! :) 

Race to 100! Such a fun way to practice counting to ten and then changing out the ten ones for a ten stick! First one to 100 wins! This was his first time playing, but Alex caught on right away and we had fun "collecting treasure" as he called it! Alex is definitely a numbers boy and so we have a lot of fun playing games to keep building that number sense and to let him make connections between numbers!

We love to do crafts! A while back, we started making some of the animals from Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? It wasn't something I had planned, but Alex decided to make a blue horse because of the book and we happened to have a brown bear craft, so we decided to continue the crafts and we keep them in a special envelope! This week we made the red bird, and then did some exploration to figure out how to make another bird whose wings flapped... 
that was definitely a challenge! ;)

Liam sometimes joins our game time for fun, but Alex is a big time game player! We love playing Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, Uno, Candy Land! All are great for practicing numbers, colors, etc. We slowly added in the rules of the different numbers to Sorry, but this is a fun game to practice counting {and stopping at the right number!} Playing games is not only fun but a great way to build number sense! Its fun to realize all the different ways learning can take place without needing any worksheets or textbooks! ;) 

We've had fun playing some games to practice letters and sounds! I love watching Alex's eyes dart around the pictures as he thinks about which one matches the letter he rolled! 

You can find the above set of cards here. We kind of made up this version on the spot because Alex wanted to play with the dice, but didn't want to color! ;) 

We also like to play another version that goes a little faster. I just added this game to my store! Be sure to check it out!

I am trying to put a little more effort into some literacy activities because that is not at all what Alex gravitates towards. I had a friend who had her kids write at least one sentence every day in a journal, and I kind of tucked that away as an idea I wanted to try later too. He is not much of an artist either. So on Wednesday I pulled out a journal and we wrote a sentence about whatever he wanted. So he took his toy Mater and noticed that a light was missing. So we wrote the sentence "Mater lost a light." I stretched out the sounds and he wrote down the letters he heard. I was pretty excited with his effort! The picture was a group effort! ;) 

Today he drew a picture of himself eating a lollipop and I asked him some guiding questions to get him to add a little more detail to the picture. 
What does it look like outside? What are you standing on? Anything else you need to add to the background.
He was a little less enthusiastic about writing a sentence today, so I helped out with the word lollipop. But he is trying and that is what makes me happy! :)

These are just a couple of easy things that I try to add into our weekly activities. Most last 20 minutes or less and come out of interest that Alex expresses about playing with dice or making a craft. I think that activities at this level definitely need to be child driven, and we stop when he loses interest. Liam, who is 2, often joins in for a little bit and then gets back to playing or snacking. His turn will come soon, but for now he is learning and enjoying some playtime by himself! :)

I'm linking up with Kacey's Five for Friday! Be sure to check it out! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reading and Writing Informational Text

When my announcement that we were going to be focusing on Nonfiction/Informational Text in our reading and writing these next several weeks, was met with some loud groans, I have to admit I might have smiled to myself and been secretly thrilled with the challenge of turning my third graders into lovers of all things nonfiction. 

*Disclaimer: I will most undoubtably interchange the words informational text and nonfiction ALL. THE. TIME. but I think you all know what I mean! ;)

I had only lugged 40+ books to school on Tuesday to help introduce my kiddos to the wonderful world of nonfiction. I had spent 3+ hours planning out my reading and writing units over break so that I know exactly where we are headed these next 6-7 weeks and I am very excited. As I sat planning I was very thankful for the freedom I have in planning these units and for the depth I can go into with third graders. I have always loved teaching writing, but its always been a struggle. I have to say that teaching the 6 traits has been one of the best things to help me grow as a writing teacher. I wish I had moved through them with my 1st graders before. There is so much freedom within the 6 traits, but it has been the structure I have needed to help my kids move ahead as writers! 

We started out on a text feature scavenger hunt. This served as a great pre-assessment for me to see what the kids knew about nonfiction. They each had their own book and I called out 6 text features we were going to be covering in our iBooks that day, one at a time, and we searched for them in the book we had. After we found them we talked about the purpose of each text feature. The more the kids browsed the books the more interested they became in the books they held in their hands. Before break I had asked them to write down some topics they wanted to learn more about. So all the books I chose out of the library were ones I knew they would be interested in! ;)

When we settled down later that morning for independent reading, I introduced my kiddos to their bag of books. I had missed using bags of books (read more about them here) and with the direction we were moving in with this unit, I knew it we needed to start using them again. For the first time they chose 3 books and I added in some post it notes for later one when we start recording more of our thinking. Most kids had one or two nonfiction books in their bags. 

I love Independent Reading. These kids just get it.
What I loved the most about Tuesday was noticing that the kids automatically sat next to other kids that were reading on the same topic. The book talk I heard was fabulous! They would whisper new things they learned to each other. Throughout several conferences I noticed that a couple of the kids were doing a first read of the captions and other text features. We discussed that later on too that we don't have to read all of the text, which can be the nice thing about nonfiction! 

I am so excited for where we will go in the next couple weeks. Be sure to check back weekly for more updates! 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hello 2016!

I promise I am going to start posting more than once a month!! ;) There was so many times I wanted to sit down and write about our adventures in Third Grade or the fun preschool things we are doing at home, but the last months of the year were pretty much survival for me while I dealt with morning , I mean, all day sickness and trying to keep up with the boys, the house, lesson plans, etc. etc. But I definitely turned a corner in December and started to get life {mostly} on track at home, so now I am ready to add more things back on my plate! ;) 

So to start the new year, I will be linking up with Farley's Currently and hopefully I will figure out a good posting schedule from here on out!

Silence is truly GOLDEN. It's been a very wet couple of weeks and the boys' energy is a little too much for this small house sometimes! It's nice at the end of a loud day to have a little peace and quiet. 

That may not make sense to most people, but I spent most of this week thinking the 1st fell on a Saturday. (pregnancy brain!) So when I realized that New Years Eve was a Thursday, and I have a whole extra day, I was quite thankful! And Will has off on Monday, so that gives me an extra day with him at home too... then it's back to school for all of us on Tuesday!

I have not thought about goals, resolutions, or anything for this new year! This pregnancy has left me TIRED and I honestly don't want to set any goals for myself that I am not going to be able to keep up with! BUT I do think some small monthly goals would help me accomplish some of the things that have been hanging over my head. I was able to get a huge chunk of lesson plans figured out this week, but I definitely have some TPT projects that need to be completed, and I want to figure out a way to keep up with the housework that piles up every day!

I want a ME day. At home. Where I can do WHATEVER I want, WHENEVER I want to. With no one needing anything from me, wanting me to get more food, needing me to change diapers, help solve disputes...
I recharge with solitude and I think after a busy couple of months I need to day just to myself. 

Seriously. There are so many areas of my house that need a good cleaning. But its getting harder and harder to bend down, or fit in the tight space, etc. I already have my 5 year old follow me around with a little dust pan to clean up what I sweep up so I don't have to bend over! But I love to start the New Year with a clean house and that is definitely not happening this year! ;)

{one little word}
GRACE--for myself and those around me. I need to show LOTS of grace to my boys even when I am exhausted. Grace to my husband who is swamped with school and classes and trying to help out at home in the things I can't do well anymore. Grace to myself because I am TIRED and don't need to have it all together. Because sometimes pajama days where we watch a little too much TV and snack a bunch instead of eat real food is okay, if it means we can keep being happy and not overtired. So I want to show more grace. And accept it too.

So the goal is for most posts to show up on Wednesdays and Fridays! Wednesdays will be about all that is going on in third grade and Friday will be more of our preschool fun at home. My life is such a mix of both it's hard to not do both! ;) I hope you will follow along! 

Be sure to head back to Farley's Currently to read to find out what more teachers are currently up to! :)