Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Using Menus for Homework

If you saw this post by Mrs. Claborn a few weeks ago, then you already know that she's using menus for her second graders' homework. After just 2 weeks of homework in first grade, I decided it was time to change ours up too! First grade is now also doing menus for homework and the feedback has been GREAT! This is our very first homework menu, so it's a work in progress. Like Mrs. Claborn, we're using the Laurie Westphal Differentiating Instruction With Menus for inspiration. Our principal got a set for each grade level and they are a fabulous resource! I created our menu to look like a restaurant menu with three categories: Entrees, Appetizers and Dessert. Within each category, there are 3 choices. The students choose one from each section to complete throughout the week in addition to their reading logs. We just sent the first menu home on Monday and on Tuesday morning the kids were SO excited to tell me what they'd chosed to work on so far! I can't wait to see what they bring in on Friday! Anyway, you can check out our menu below. When we send it home, it has a reading log on the back and a list of about 30-40 example short o words for them to study for our spelling test on Friday. If you're interested in how we do spelling, check out this post.

October 3

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Last Week of School Texas-Themed Activities (Yes, you read that correctly)

So here is a post that I apparently started on June 8, but never finished. I'm having a little bit of a lazy Saturday today so I thought I'd finish it up and post it, even though I'm sure everyone's Texas units are a long way off. You can just file this away for later!

(Written on 6/8) School finished on Thursday for students and it's taken me this many days to even turn on my computer, much less write a new post. I wanted to share a few crafty activities I did with my sweet firsties-now-second-graders. My team decided to save our Texas unit for the last week this year so that we could have something fun and engaging to do, even though some of our curriculum materials are already packed up/turned in. I loved it! It was a really fun last week before sending them off!

I'm picking this post up here on October 1st... and now of course I can't remember all of the great books I read and all of the activities that I did. I know I have them written down at school in my Texas unit file, but I don't have that with me right now... so instead I'm going to share my 3 favorite non-book related. In first grade so many of the things we do when working within a theme are responses to reading, but the things I'm going to share today are just some fun extra little things we did to enjoy our last week together and sneak a little learning in at the same time.

Lone Star Crayons

The kids thought this was magic. They LOVED it and it was a great science connection. We talked about heating and cooling and about how the crayons were a solid then a liquid, then a solid again. I did this in the classroom with the kids just using a toaster oven. I've included the instructions below. If you're not teaching in the great state of Texas, I am sure you could adapt this and make your own special crayons, but they might not be as cute;). Just kidding! I could definitely see some of my Louisiana friends making purple and gold fleur-de-lis crayons!

You will need:
Old crayons (red, white and blue)
Non-stick cooking spray
A cupcake or muffin tray or other star shaped mold (I used silicone ice cube trays)

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Peel the paper off of the crayons and break or cut them into small pieces. It depends on the size of the mold you are using, but you will probably want them to be smaller than 1 inch. Spray the tray or pan with non-stick spray. Fill the cups or molds with crayon bits. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until they look completely melted. Take them out and let them cool. Enjoy your new crayons!

*Note: I put mine in the fridge for about 2 hours and they were completely cooled and ready to use!

Playdough Texas (Disclaimer - I have NO idea why Blogger keeps flipping my pictures. I didn't take them upside down, nor are they upside down when I view the file on my computer. Yet every time I insert these into Blogger they come up like this. I give up.)

We made red, white and blue homemade playdough. The kids helped me measure, mix, dye and knead the dough. Everyone chose which color they wanted to use for their Texas. I had them first trace Texas onto the paper plate so that they could use that as a guide for molding the playdough. When they finished, they used a toothpick to mark Austin and Richardson. That's really hard to see that on my low-quality, upside down iPhone pictures though! When everyone had finished their Texas, we tallied and graphed how many people chose each color of dough. It was super messy and even more fun! Again, I'm including the instructions although I'm sure you can find these anywhere, it's a very simple water, flour and salt recipe.

1 cup flour
3/8 cup salt
3/8 cup warm water
Food coloring (optional)

Mix all ingredients together with a  spoon, then knead with your hands for about 5 minutes. You may need to add more water or flour if it's too dry or wet. Have fun!

Texas Flip Book

We worked on these throughout the course of this 3 day unit. As you can see, this example is very detailed. Not all of the books looked like this! The students decided what information they wanted to include on the book. We worked on 2 flaps per day, so on the first day we worked on the cover, labeled the tabs and worked on the first flap. Each day they would draw a picture and label the information for that particular tab. It was a great way to show and record what they'd learned about Texas throughout the week.