Wednesday, March 14, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Writing

Here our some kids making maps to find a pot of gold.  Under their map, they have to write the directions to the pot of gold.  I'm amazed at how detailed some of them were and how well they matched their pictures!  I love their creative writing!

"Go over the bridge, over the fire-water, then past the prickley bush, then over the striped tree, then there's gold!"

"Go past the apple tree and go past the rocks and look behind the tree."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

St. Patrick's Day!

Below, the kiddos are reinforcing their number recognition by playing a game that I found on another blog (go figure).  You can find it at  They spin a number, then color it in or trace it on their sheet.  The first one to get four in a row wins...they have to think strategically!

Below, they are practicing their popcorn words with a pot of gold!  They get a sheet with blank, clear coins on them.  They have to write their sight words on the sheet and then take turns choosing gold coins out of the pot of gold.  The coins have the sight words written on them and if they have the word on their sheet, that word turns to gold (they get to cover it with a gold marker).  The first player to get four gold words in a row wins!  They love this game so much! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Reading Center

This is a picture of our reading center.  We have a cozy tent that we use to snuggle up with a good book and read.  The kids love that they have a quiet defined area in the room that is used only for reading.  (Of course, there are specific rules for the reading more than 3 kids, always quiet, always reading).  The tan and brown shelf has books sorted by categories.  The yellow shelf is full of picture books...nothing specific...just all different kinds of books so there is always something interesting to each student.  The colored book bins are full of leveled readers that the kids can use to "shop" for books. 
*See below about reading motivation...the kids use these book bins for this.*

Reading Motivation

At the beginning of the year, I give every student a "Reading License."  I tell them that adults get a driver's license which gives them special permission to drive a car when they're old enough.  This is their reading license which gives them special permission to read because they are now old enough to become great readers!  They love it when I compare it to a drivers license! 
On their reading license, I put their name, age, birthday, a picture of them, and the last thing is a dot sticker.  They all start with a black dot.  The black dot means that they can read any of the books that have a black dot on them.  When the books with black dots are getting too easy for them, they can sign up to read with me during center time to see if they are ready for the next level.  This is how my leveled library is set up (it's nothing scientific...I used mostly professional judgement to level my books)...

                        Black 1-Wordless Stories
                        Black 2- Easier-Medium level A
                        Black 3- Challenging A

                        Green 1- Easier level B
                        Green 2- Difficult B-Easier C
                        Green 3- Level C

                        Blue 1- Level D
                        Blue 2- Level E
                        Blue 3- Level F

The color dots on the books correspond with the color of the book bins (with the exception of the black dots...they go to the orange bins.  I found the perfect size bins at Target after I already leveled my books...go figure!)

When the kids sign up to read, I test them on their level and then see how challenging the next level is going to be for them.  If I feel like they can handle the challenge of the next level, I put a new colored dot on their reading license, and they get a little reward along with a Good Reader Certificate to take home to show off to Mom and Dad.  They also, of course, get lots and lots of praise!  I have found that this system gives them a ton of control over their own success.  They're always trying to get to the next level and they're also really excited when their friends move up a level and that encourages them to do better as well(which is always so wonderful to see them so excited and proud of their buddies!)!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dr. Seuss Week!!!

We had a blast celebrating Dr. Seuss this week!

We had special days that the whole school participates in...the more that celebrate, the better the celebration!  My kids were so excited to learn about the author and all of his silly characters and stories.  We did so much reading and writing this week and the kids really enjoyed it.  Mixed up Monday, Top Hat Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, Theodore Thursday, and Funny Food Friday were a blast.  
 Here are some of the Dr. Seuss activities we did this week...

 Below... We read Fox in Socks (in our socks of course).  Then, we took turns practicing our best speaking skills to tell the class all about our socks.  When we were finished talking and listening about our socks, we wrote about our socks.  The kids loved this activity (and so did my principal who came to observe me during this time!)!

Below... After reading The Cat in the Hat, we talked about whether or not they would tell their mom the truth about what happened while she was out.  Most of my kids said they would tell her the truth, but of course, a kiddos said they would make something up and not tell her the truth!

Below... After reading a TON of Dr. Seuss books, we had a discussion about which ones were our favorites and why.  Then the kiddos had to practice writing complete sentences to tell me which one was their personal favorite.

Below... And of course, we made the famous Top Hats after reading The Cat in the Hat.