Friday, May 30, 2014

Still Plugging Along

We only have 8 more days but we're still working hard. I am amazed with the growth most of my students have made this year, but I'm also freaking out because I keep finding new things that they haven't mastered yet AND I don't want them to leave me without knowing these things. Anyways, I'm teaming up with Doodle Bugs' Five for Friday Linky to share 5 things we did this week. 

We finished life cycles this week. I love teaching animal life cycles, but I'm also always so excited when the unit is over. I think it's because we go full force into animals and that's basically what we talk about, write about, read about, and do math about for an entire month.

This year we spent a good about of time on the frog. I found this cute poem/song from Super Teacher Worksheets. The best part is that it's FREE -- you don't need a subscription to grab this goodie. CLICK HERE to download it. 

I created this worksheet to go along with the poem. It touches on several Common Core Reading Informational Text Standards that we've already learned this year.  This was a great review for many of my students.  CLICK HERE to download the worksheet. (border is from Krista Wallden.)

We also spent some time on folktales this week. We've already read fables and fairy tales, but somehow skipped folktales.
We started by reading Anansi the Spider and made predictions about what we thought the book would explain. We wrote our predictions on post-it notes and stuck 'em to the board. If you don't have a copy of the book, CLICK HERE to watch it being read.  

We also read two different versions of Stone Soup (ok, to be totally honest with you, I never knew Stone Soup was a folktale . . . did you?). I had one of the original versions (I also didn't realize how many different versions of this story exist) so we read it and then watched a second version on PBS Kids' website.

Y'all NEED to check out this website, especially the section Between the Lions  because they have 13 short videos of different fairy tales and fables. Each one includes closed captioning too so the kiddos can read the words while they watch.  CLICK HERE to check them out. My kiddos could watch them over and over again -- ALL DAY LONG. 


We also wrote (I should say attempted to write) our own folktales. THIS WAS HARD, but they actually had a lot of fun. We had some good laughs when some of the folktales were read. 
 We folded a large piece of white paper in half and everyone wrote this on the front cover. 

Then on the inside, each student wrote their own folktales. Some students wrote one folktale that included lots of details and other students wrote several short folktales. 

We're also still working on adding and subtracting 3-digit numbers with regrouping. I tried to switch it up a bit and gave each pair of kiddos a deck of cards. Each person was required to make a 3-digit number with cards, then they put the cards next to each other and added the numbers together. Nothing fancy, but it got the job done.

Each person completed the work on their own paper. When they were done, they checked to see if they got the same answer. If they did, they moved on to a new problem. If their answers were different, they reworked the problem to discover the mistake.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Memorial Day Ideas

Are you looking for ideas on how to incorporate Memorial Day into your plans? If so, I highly suggest having your students watch the Reading Rainbow episode The Wall. In this episode, the book The Wall (by Eve Bunting) is read and LeVar visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC.  CLICK HERE to watch the episode (it's 27 minutes long -- whoop whoop).

After the video we'll discuss the overall tone of the story and provide reasons for our answer.  We'll also take out our United States maps and find where Washington DC is and compare the location to where we live (this will reinforce the map skills we've already learned this year). 

I also checked out all of Eve Bunting's other books from our school library. I'll show each book and read its title, then I'll tell my kiddos that if they enjoyed this book, they'll probably enjoy her other books as well.  I'll set the additional books in a basket and let them read the books when they get time. This is a simple way to expose your students to a wide variety of texts.  

I also think it's important to review Veteran's Day and discuss the similarities/differences between the two holidays. CLICK HERE for a worksheet that compares the two holidays -- this worksheet is actually found within my product Spend  a Day Teaching About Veterans Day.  

And last but not least, Super Teacher Worksheets has a FREE reading passage with questions available for download. CLICK HERE to get it.  They have it marked at a 4th grade reading level, so I plan on reading it with my 2nd graders.  Not that you can read the text from the picture, but this is what it looks like:

At some point, we'll also discuss what our traditions are for Memorial Day and we might write a letter to a member of the military thanking them for their service. I'll also encourage my kiddos to teach their family about the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Do you know of any other great Memorial Day resources? I'd love to hear about them. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Five for Friday - Inch by Inch

For the second week in a row I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share  some of the fun things my kiddos and I have done this week. I hope you can use some of these activities in your own classroom.

This week we continued learning about measurement. Last week I posted fun activities to go with the book The King's Foot. If you need some good stuff to use for teaching feet, CLICK HERE to be taken to that post.

This week we read Inch by Inch (by Leo Lionni).  If you don't have a copy of the book, CLICK HERE to view a video of the book being read. And if you have access to Bookflix, go there to see a super cute animated version of the book. 

The book is about an inchworm that measures different animals. At the end a nightingale wants the inchworm to measure his song and tells the inchworm that if he doesn't, then he'll eat him. The clever little inchworm says 'ok' and ends ends up measuring the nightingale's song by inching out of view. 

If you're studying animal life cycles, you can pull up images of the inchworm life cycle and share those with your class. The inchworm transforms into a moth, so if you're students are familiar with the life cycle of a butterfly, you can have a great discussion comparing the two life cycles. 

After reading the book I passed out an "inchworm" to each student -- it was a small piece of brown paper (which if you do this, make it green because the inchworm in the story is emerald green) that was one inch long. 
They used these "inchworms" to make an inchworm ruler that was 12 inches long (just like a real ruler):
 Students then made a list of objects they could measure with their inchworm ruler. Once the lists were written, we started measuring and recording the actual lengths. Some inchworm rulers were great and some were not (this was difficult for the students with fine motor issues) so the not great inchoworm rulers were substituted for real ones.

After the measurements were taken, we used the data to create line plots.
I forgot to take a picture of the INCH line plot, but we did the exact same as this picture -- just substitute the unit of measurement from cm. to inch.

Now that we had the inch mastered, it was time to take a look at the CENTIMETER.  We looked at a real ruler to see how long (or short) a centimeter actually is. Then we discussed different animals that are about a centimeter long. Most students said an ant so I passed out centimeter ants (once again, change the color of your ants; mine are green -- what was I thinking?) and we glued the ants to our inchworm ruler. 
Now we had a paper ruler with inches AND centimeters. Plus, my kiddos now knew the difference between inches and centimeters.

We repeated the process and remeasured the objects we already measured in inches. We also had a great discussion about why ALL the centimeter measurements were larger numbers than the inch measurements. And of course, we made another line plot to show this new data (see line plot picture above - lol)

Here's the BEST part of the activity (don't get me wrong, we had a blast with the other parts; but even my kiddos agree that this was the most fun) -- we created our own Centimeter by Centimeter book.  It's a spin off of Lionni's Inch by Inch, but focuses on a 'centimeter ant' rather than an inchworm.
(I actually did this with two classes AT THE SAME TIME -- a bit crazy but worth it because the kiddos had fun and worked on a variety of ELA & Math standards.)

I typed up the beginning and the end of the story. CLICK HERE to download these pages (we used the centimeter ant but I left the downloadable document in Word format so you can change some of the information if you wanted. The parts you might be interested in changing is in red text).

For the middle of the story, each student selected an animal that the centimeter ant measured. They wrote about it (with a refresher course on using apostrophes to form possessives) and drew an illustration to match.

They were SO EXCITED about their finished products (ok, to be honest, I was just as excited -- if not more) that we brought them to the school library and the books Centimeter by Centimeter are now on display for everyone to read.

That's all I've got for today -- have a great weekend. Am I the only teacher in the world that doesn't have a countdown going?? I think so...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Caterpillar and the Polliwog

We're in the midst of studying animal life cycles so today we read The Caterpillar and the Polliwog by Jack Kent. If you don't have a copy of the book, CLICK HERE to see a video of the book being read aloud.
This is an entertaining book that teaches the life cycle of a butterfly AND frog in an indirect way. Not only is it fun to read, but as a teacher, you can incorporate SO MANY literature standards (reading with expression, gaining meaning from pictures, repetition, unknown words, character traits and author's purpose). It's easy to throw in several science standards too.  

We started by making predictions about what a polliwog is. I told my kiddos that we were going to read a book called The Caterpillar and the Polliwog -- I DID NOT show them any pictures or tell them anything else. I gave them a mini post-it note and had them write their prediction and then we posted them on the board. I read all the predictions out loud and we talked about a few of them -- why some made more sense than others (like tree made more sense than dog).
This is them posting their predictions of what a polliwog is on the board. 
 I passed out the books and had them take a picture walk to try and figure out what a polliwog is. Most were able to quickly figure out that a polliwog is the same thing as a tadpole.  We had a good laugh about some of the predictions that were made.  

We then started to read the book. I read most of it out loud and we discussed why I made the caterpillar's voice high-pitched and proud.  We did the same thing with the polliwog's voice, except his voice has more of a curious tone. 

Make sure you stop reading after this page to discuss some very important points.
 This page is EXCELLENT for discussing how illustrations add meaning to the story because the text doesn't say that the polliwog starts changing by growing legs but the illustration clearly does. If your students don't pay close attention to the pictures, they'll miss this valuable information. 
You also need to discussed why the author used repetition of "he watched and watched and watched" to add meaning to the story.

We finished the story and then created our own books about the original story.
 To make these books I cut 4 pieces of white paper in half (the long way -- hot dog style) and then added a piece of colored paper for the cover.

Each student got a question sheet, cut out each question and glued it to the top of the corresponding page in their own book.
CLICK HERE to download the questions (there are 3 sets of questions per page)

Then they worked to complete their books. To make it more fun I let them work with a partner.  And if you have early finishers, you can have them use the extra pages in their book to draw the life cycle of the butterfly and/or frog.  You can also have them create additional questions, then pass their book to a friend and have them answer it. 

This was such a great activity because it addressed so many ELA and Science standards -- I LOVE when that happens.  If you choose to do this with your own kiddos, I look forward to hearing how it went. 

Extension Activity - The next day I had my kiddos look at the pictures in the book to learn about the life cycle of a frog (RL 2.7 -- use pictures to gain meaning). The book shows pictures of 3 stages (polliwog/tadpole, froglet, and frog). I told them that there was one stage missing and it came before the polliwog. They were able to figure out that the missing stage was egg. 
We then took that information and made these cute posters: 

Notice how the headings "Stage 1, Stage 2..." are all in the same color and the labels of the stage name (polliwog, froglet...) are in a different color-- that was on purpose to touch on text features (RI 2.5).