Monday, May 25, 2015

Magnets: 1st Grade Science

Hello, friends1 Today I'm stopping by to share about our recent, Magnet Day. With the end of the year, I'm trying to integrate our learning more than I did at the beginning of the year (this is one of my big goals next year as our school begins to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards), and The Science Penguin's Primary Science pack has made my first-couple of science-themed days much simpler.

To prepare for our day of learning I created exploratory buckets for each of my table groups based on Ari's recording log. I also added in a few extras that I thought my friends would enjoy - paper clips, crayon, rubber bands, paperclips, bingo counters, pencils, straws, marbles. Focusing on a discovery model of learning, we started with the hands-on experience and then, spent time learning the vocabulary/content behind our experience.

Before exploring, each student recorded their predictions - what materials will did we thing would be attracted to the magnet?
Then, it was time to explore. Students worked in their table groups (4-5 friends) to determine which materials were attracted to the magnets. I gave each table group 2-3 magnets from the magnet kits our school purchased from Learning Resources.
As students worked, they determined which objects were magnetic and just ones were not. I set the timer on the board for 20 minutes, so students could budget their time as they wanted.
After cleaning up, we met on the carpet and read, Magnets Push, Magnets Pull. It's a fabulous nonfiction book written so 1st grade friends can read/understand it, but still includes spot-on content vocabulary.
Then, to dig a bit deeper into some of the vocabulary, we used the Projectable Book from Reading A-Z: Power of Magnets. We read the book together on the SMART Board highlighting vocabulary words, making lists of everyday things that have magnets inside of them, and then, learned about magnet safety.
Finally, Annie and Moby taught us about the two forces in the world - pushes and pulls. We love the humor of Moby, and taking the 'HARD' quiz is always very exciting! ;)
After our afternoon of learning, we brainstormed what we had learned and important vocabulary we heard throughout the day. Our 'Brain Spills' are a perfect time to clear-up misconceptions and review our learning.
Then, students wrote paragraphs about their learning. Some students chose to write opinion paragraphs (why magnets are interesting) and some chose to write inform/explain paragraphs. Reading each student's response, I was *really* impressed and reminded how much my students love science.

All-in-all we spent about 2.5 hours on our magnet learning. I snuck it in on a day we were missing specials (50 minutes), skipped morning work for an extra 15 minutes, and then, used our theme time (50 minutes). Although I feel like there is never enough time for science, when we do it, I'm always reminded how important and motivating it is. We read high-level, real-world texts, we get hands-on experience, and are able to share our learning in writing!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Teaching about Sound: 1st Grade Science

Hi, friends! Today was 'Sound Day' in our classroom, and it was a blast. We are in the final countdown (4 days) until Summer Break, so it's the perfect time to use themed days from The Science Penguin's Primary Science pack. With state testing, we don't have morning meeting and forgo specials which gives us an extra 80 minutes to play with each day. So, we've been slipping in some fabulous science! 
We started morning work with 3 passages from ReadWorks. I found 3 passages that were just-right for my three reading groups. Then, in reading groups, we used Leveled Readers from Reading A-Z. I know the Level U book is crazy-hard for 1st grade, but my highest group of readers can independently read Level N books. We worked as a group, and actually learned a lot of about sound. So, scaffolded - it worked!
During 'specials' we make the classic water-in-glass musical instruments. We 'played' the vases with different mallets (a popsicle sticks, pen, metal rod) and then, talked about what we noticed about the pitches of each glass. 
Then, we read Loud or Soft? High or Low? - a perfect whole-class read aloud. It included spot-on sound vocabulary that was expertly explained for 1st-grade learners. You can see some of the vocabulary we learned in the first picture in this post.
 Before we made our own musical instruments, Moby and Annie helped explain some of the new vocabulary we learning. Then, we took the 'HARD' quiz as a class and aced it!
Now, it was time to make our own InSTRAWments (pun intended)! This 'experiment' was from Ari's Primary Science pack. I was able to snag the materials for under $3.00 since all I needed was straws (.98 a pack). The unifix cubes were for measuring the straws and each student needed their own pair of scissors.
Ideally, we would have used rulers to measure, but we are in 1st grade and this is real life. So, we used 7 unfix cubes to measure our 5 straws. The longest straw was 7 cubes long, the next was 6, then 5, 4, and our shortest straw was 3 cubes. It was a simple and safe way to measure. Plus, nonstandard measurement is a 1st grade math standard. Boom!
 That most difficult part of this shindig was assembling the pan flutes with tape. It was hard for the students to manage the tape with the 5 cut straws. Ultimately students ended up partnering (one person holding the tape and one person placing the straws), and it went much more smoothly!
 We were SO proud of our instruments and had a fabulous time forming mini-bands. We played melodies with each other and put our sound vocabulary into action. We loved comparing the sounds of each straw, as well as, how the lengths affected the pitch. It was fabulous!
After a bit of experimenting with our instruments, we went back to our seats and diagramed our instruments. Tomorrow morning, we are going to explain how the lengths of the straws effected the pitch. We love writing paragraphs and get super excited to highlight vocabulary words we use. It's the perfect chance to integrate science, music, and writing!
Well friends, it was a fabulous day! Was it exhausting? Absolutely...but most themed-days are. Regardless, the end of the year is the perfect time to integrate all your learning for the year - writing, science, reading, and music. It keeps our skills fresh, keeps us learning new things, keeps our hands busy, and keeps our minds engaged! Tomorrow will be Race Car Day as we learn about ramps, speed, friction, and velocity.

Happy teaching, friends!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Ideas: 1st Grade

Happy Mother’s Day, friends! I hope you have a wonderful day filled with many hugs, cards, and reminders of just how awesome moms (and all women) are.


I just wanted to quickly stop by and share with you what our 1st graders made for Mother’s Day. We went very simple with a watercolor painting and a card. Next year, I’d love to add-in a Mother’s Day song (most likely from Ron Brown Intell-tunes)..but for this year, it was a perfectly simple way to say – “Thank you!”
We started the watercolors as a directed draw. I saw a picture on Pinterest that I really like and used that as the guide. Unfortunately, the photo was never linked, so I can't give credit - sorry! Our class has done several watercolors throughout the year - turkeys, snowmen, Cat in the Hat...so my friends love and know the process. We always start with a pencil drawing, then sharpie, and then, watercolor. This week we added a step and mounted our paintings on black construction paper!






To accompany our watercolors we also wrote about our Mom and what we know about them. I used this Mother's Day card template, and I loved reading the kids' response.
 This sweet friend "My Mom is good at running and washing feet." First graders are definitely the best!
Well friends, that's it - short and sweet. Have a wonderful day celebrating the women in your life!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Celebrating the Kentucky Derby in 1st Grade

The 141st Kentucky Derby is in the books, and our 1st Grade Kentucky celebration was a blast. I'll have to admit Derby is one of those topics that as a former intermediate teacher I said - "Really?!" It's one of those topics/themes that gives Primary Land the rap of fluff. So, over the course of our week, I intentionally surrounded us with great literature and integrated our learning - math and writing - as much as I possible.
Over the past few weeks, we've been working hard on learning to write compare and contrast paragraphs looking at texts, characters, and things around us. This week was the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast Race Horses and Domesticated Horses. We used Reading A-Z's Wild Horses for the base of our comparison.
Since our school is officially out of white bulletin board/chart paper, we used an online Bar-Graph generator to chart our Derby predictions. We chose 5 horses (obviously the ones that had the coolest names) and then, took a class vote. This is a perfect math tie-in, as we're starting to learn about data and graphs next week!
In preparation for running the Derby, we took time to create our own racing silks. I then printed pictures of the kids, cut their faces out, placed them on the silks, and put together a "Run for the Roses" bulletin board for the hallway. The kids love seeing their faces like a 'real' jockey!
Now for Derby Day (Friday, that is) - at the school where I taught last year, the grades not racing made and wore Derby Hats to the races. This year, only the 1st graders and their families attended the race and when we finished the other grades greeted us in the hallways for a Derby Day parade. 
Each 1st grader parent made a shoebox float to drag/pull down the hallway for our parade. The older students did a fabulous job of cheering on our students and shouting praises. It was such a sweet moment. Our 1st grade friends rarely go upstairs to Intermediate Land, and they felt so special to hear the BIG kids cheering for them. One of my sweet littles said to me afterward, "My eardrums are so fragile. I was worried they might break!" #blessthem


To keep the actual races fair, we ran girls heats and boys heats. The top 2 boys/girls from each class raced the other 1st grade winners. Ultimately, two 1st grade winners were name - a boy and girl. As you'll see below each student race with a stick horse that they decorated and named. They attempted to gallop, but in the end, running was what actually happened. :)
Since my friends knew all about the Derby being nicknamed "The Run for the Roses", I awarded my top girl and boy winners with 4 roses. It was such a special moment!
After an afternoon of racing and parading, we came back to the classroom. We enjoyed a final Derby book together and a sweet Derby treat. I would have loved to served Derby pie, but with food allergies we opted for nut-free mini-cupcakes from Kroger. #ohtoteach1stgrade
Well friends, it was a fabulous Derby Week. Although not completely educational, we kept it as focused as possible, and we throughly enjoyed a 1st grade rite of passage - racing the KY Derby. 

Do you celebrate the Derby at your school? I would imagine only my KY friends would, be who knows?! Are their other state-specific events your school celebrates? If so, I love to hear about them! :)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Guided Math and Math Centers: Spring in 1st Grade

Hello, friends! It's been several weeks since I posted a guided-math update, so I wanted to share some of the learning that has been happening in 1st grade. With our guided-math structure, students visit 3 rotations each day - teacher table, technology, and a center. We start our math block with a short number-talk and immediately break into groups. You can read more about our routine here.

This is what life looks like when I switch-out centers. A set of centers typically lasts 5-6 days depending on the number of interruptions to our math block. 
The content in our math tubs tend to follow a traditional schedule, so I don't have to spend instructional time explaining what is going on. Tub 1 = interactive notebook (see the comparing numbers foldable below. I put a sample on the top of the bin, so students have a guide. Tub 2 is typically Versatiles, this week money Versatiles (I snagged the Hairy Money poster from Swimming into Second here.) Then, the 3 remaining tubs are spiral review. Below you see Making 20 Go Fish, Spin and Add (double-digit addition), and time math (to the half-hour and hour). 

To keep this weekly schedule manageable, our team shares ideas for centers and we do not use centers with a lot of 'pieces'. We tend to use a lot of dice, spinners, and playing cards. All of these materials are cost-effective, and make differentiation really easy. 

With each tub, I keep visual directions and the name of the title on the tub. The directions are pictures of the center in action, and then, an "I Can" statement for their learning.
Solve the Room is one of my 1st graders favorite centers. Students know to grab a clip board, a recording log out of their differentiated colored folder, and get to work. In these folders I keep different recording logs for the same cards around the room. One group may be writing the time in words and numbers, while my friends who need more support might be choosing if the time is o'clock or thirty.
We're also focusing on adding within 120 using double-digit addition. Below you see the yellow spinners which is for my on-level group. They are working with numbers that do not requiring breaking apart a ten. 
For the same center, I also have green and blue spinners. The blue spinner (below) is my above-grade level group, and they are working to add within 120 with any type of number. I DO NOT introduce regrouping in 1st grade (or even 2nd) so students can break apart the numbers, use the base 10 pieces, use the 120s chart, or an open number line - mathematicians choice! The green spinner gives students a base number and then, they spin to add groups of 10 to that base-number.

Earlier in April, we used Becca Foxwell's 120s Chart Cupid Shuffle song to practice adding 10 less and 10 more on the 120s chart. It was the perfect way to get my friends up and moving, as well as, provide students a tool for working with the 120s gird. It was so sweet to listen to my friends at this math center sing "To the left, to the left, one less, one less" while they worked! 
One of the math curriculums our school uses is Making Math Magic. It is a FABULOUS number sense program and has laid such a strong foundation for our students. Typically, one of our centers each week, is a throw-back to this number-sense foundation that we heavily focused on the first quarter. Making 20 Go-Fish was our throw-back this week. It's perfect for building fluency to 20, and the kids cheer when we play it. :)
Now, while all of this goodness is happening in the classroom, I meet with small-groups of students. I pre-assess based on our unit and regroup students every few weeks based on the skill. Over the past 2-3 weeks, we've been hitting some of our last remaining math standards - geometry (composite shapes), fractions, and measurement.
After learning about 2D and 3D shapes, we marched into fractions using shapes. It was a perfect time to integrate composite shapes again. In first grade, we're only supposed to learn about half, quarter, and whole. With the shapes, though, it's easy to dabble in larger denominators. 
Our college block student led a few small-groups over the past few weeks and helped us review comparing numbers. She used our dice packs to differentiate some teacher-table activities. The kids loved having a hands-on way to practice greater than, less than, and equal to.
With my on-grade level and my above-grade level groups, we're also working on finding different number combinations that equal the same sum. Money has been a perfect way to do this. The skip counting, the open number lines, and multiple combinations are an incredible way to showcase our 1st grade math learning. :)
Well friends, isn't it amazing to see how much our friends have grown over the course of a year? So many days I am left speechless at their progress and their thinking. My kids 'know' how to talk math, and it is awesome! Guided math (i.e. small-group instruction) and building number sense has made such a difference this year, and I cannot wait to hit the ground running next year. It's going to be fabulous!

If you're interested in using the math centers above with your 1st graders, you can snag in here at my TeachersPayTeachers store.

So friends, what does your math block look like right now? What are you focusing on? I'd love to hear about how your 1st grade math life is going!