Adventures in First Grade

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Freebie

One of my favorite holiday crafts is to make Rudolph.  My aunt actually came up with the idea and she was kind enough to share with me.  This is what we make:

Now, I know that we have to base all that we do on our curriculum.  In Virginia, it is the S.O.L.s.  There are LOTS of ways that you could fit this in.  Patterns.  Shapes.  Cutting correctly.  Coloring in the lines.  Using glue neatly.  Okay, okay, it's a stretch.  But come on.  It's so cute!

Preparing for the activity.

You will need brown, green, red, and white construction paper.  I also use red felt for the nose.

I am kind of OCD.  You wouldn't necessarily know it to look at my desk/table, but I am with certain things.  Therefore, I cut out the background for the head, background for the ears/antlers, the holly leaves, holly berries, eyes and nose for each child.  I know what you're thinking.  The point of art is for all the creations to look different.  Trust me.  Even with me cutting out all of those pieces, they STILL all look different.

Background ears and head:  Trace the large head and ears/antlers pattern onto brown construction paper.


Holly leaves: trace the leaf onto green.  Two leaves per student.

Holly berries:  trace the soda bottle top (can you tell that I am very high tech?) onto red.  Three berries per student.

Eyes:  trace the oval onto white paper.  Two per child.

Nose:  trace the large round circle onto red felt.

Copy each child a checkerboard head and checkerboard ears/antlers page.

We start with a pattern.  See?  Educational!  You can even talk about the AB rule. In a checkerboard pattern of tan, brown, tan, brown, etc.  I usually do it with them.  Some of your kids will be able to take off and keep the pattern going.  Others will need the visual.

Next, give each child a copy of the checkerboard ears/antlers.

Pattern time:  tan, brown, tan, brown, etc.

Have your students cut out the checkerboard head and ears/antlers.  They will then need to glue the checkerboard head to the brown head background and the checkerboard ears to the brown ears background.

Next.  We do the eyes.  I show the kids on mine how to outline the eyes in black and give the eyes color.  Glue them on.

Outline the holly leaves.  Glue near one of the ears/antlers.  Outline the holly berries and glue as a cluster to cover where the leaves overlap.

Last but not least, the beautiful red felt nose.  Isn't he cute?     

One of the ladies that I used to teach with in third grade has used this craft and she brought in small pine branches that they actually glued on with the paper holly leaves.  Just another twist to the activity.

I'll be honest.  Depending on your group, it can take a bit of time to finish.  But I always think it is worth the end result. 

Happy Creating!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Okay.  I have a confession to make.  Hi.  My name is Megan.  I have been listening to Christmas music since before Thanksgiving.  But it is not ALL my fault.  XM Radio starts playing Holiday Traditions really early in the season. 

As a result of all the fa-la-la-la-las, I couldn't WAIT to take down my Thanksgiving decorations and put up my Christmas things!! 

As you may know, I like to change my Writing Station with the month/season/holiday, so here it is:

I got the tablecloth from Target last year on sale.  I thought that it was fun without being too over the top.

The crayon and pencil containers are from Target's dollar aisle.

This is my December Holiday Word "Wall."  As you can see, it is not actually on a wall.  I put the page in a clear document frame and have it on the writing table.  Check out my TPT store, and you can pick up one for your classroom.

The other picture that I have to show you is of my Holiday Station:

I know it looks kind of bare now, but I will add more to it as the days go by.  The white envelope on the counter is from my Winter Wonderland Math and Language Arts Center pack on TPT.  This particular activity has the children sort Christmas tree bulbs into categories of complete and incomplete sentences.  There is a recording sheet in the envelope as well.

I also have a small Christmas tree in the front of my classroom, but I kinda figured that once you see one three foot artificial tree, you've seen them all.

The last thing that I am really excited about is the books that I ordered my students for their gift from me.  My kids are REALLY into the David books by David Shannon.  When I saw this in the December SeeSaw book order, I knew that I had to get it for them:

I can't WAIT to see their faces!!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Number Talks

I hope that everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.  I don't know about you, but the break went by too quickly!!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to conference that was being offered about Number Talks:

Oh my goodness!  It is SO awesome.  One of the speakers was a good friend that used to teach third grade at my school.  She got her masters in Math and is now a Math Specialist.

The idea of Number Talks is to take about ten minutes of your day and write a math problem (the book gives you the questions for each day.  I think that is has them for grades K - 5.) on a piece of chart paper.  The children have to work the problems in their heads.  No paper.  No number line.  No manipulatives.  This is a time to share mental math strategies.The teacher will then record each child's solution.

When a child gets the answer, he makes a thumbs up, but holds it at chest level.  This is so the other children aren't distracted by those who "got it" early.  As the children are waiting on the others, they are to be thinking of different ways to figure out the problem.

We then broke into small groups and were the "students" in a Number Talk situation.    Of the eight of us students, we each figured out the question in a different way!  It was amazing. 

I remember thinking, oh this is neat, but we're ADULTS.  Of course it looks fabulous when the students are grown-ups!

The next Monday, I nervously introduced Number Talks.  I demonstrated how they were to show me that they had an answer and explained WHY we were doing it that way.  I then told them that they were to think of different ways to solve the problem while they were waiting on the other students.  Then I taught them the "Me Too" sign.  If someone solves the problem in the same way you were thinking, you don't shout out "That's what I did" or "I did that!"  You make the "Me Too" sign.  To make this sign you stick out your thumb and pinky with the rest of your fingers down facing your palm.  Then move your wrist back and forth (I think of it as the princess wave, just minus a few fingers!)

After explaining what I expected,  I drew the first problem (first grade begins with dot patterns).  I waited a few minutes and saw that my students were putting up their thumbs.  First I called on several children to see how MANY dots were in the pattern.  Then I nervously called on my first student to explain HOW their brain got that answer.  I expected to hear crickets at this point, but NO! They were VERY into it.  They had so many different solutions!  I couldn't believe how neat it was!

I am a much more visual learner, so I am going to show you a picture of the chart of our first Number Talk:

Just so you know, those weird tree things are actually hands where the children said they used their fingers to count!  The clouds with the numbers in them are think bubbles because some kids said they put that number in their head and then counted on.  Isn't this amazing!  All the different ways that they came up with?  They would have gone on forever, but we had to go to our first grade meeting.

Here is a close up of the first dot pattern:

After we finished our first Number Talk, a couple of interesting things happened.  First I asked the kids if they like the thumbs up at the chest answer better then raising their hands.  They did!  Some even said that it helped them because they didn't know who was finished and who was still working.  (FYI:  We don't raise hands anymore in my classroom, we do the chest level thumbs up.)

The other AWESOME thing that happened was this.  After first grade meeting, we came back to the classroom and began working on addition practice.  One of my firsties, let's call her Jan, came up to me and said, "Mrs. Nunley, I just figured out that
5 + 2 = 7.  Well, this question says 5 + 3.  Since I know that 5 + 2 = 7, 5 + 3 must be eight because three is one more than  two."

I must say that was one of my prouder moments as a teacher.  I could actually see and hear how Jan was taking what we had worked on in Number Talks, and was applying the mental math strategies to her practice. 

Needless to say, Number Talks have become a part of our daily math routine.  I am seeing a lot of growth in their thinking skills as well. 

Switching gears, I would like to introduce you to my WINTER WONDERLAND MATH AND LANGUAGE ARTS CENTER ACTIVITIES!  It is a collection of four math and four language arts activities.

I also have created a December Holiday Word Wall page.  You could print this as a poster.  I print it out normally and then put it in a clear document frame to put in my writing station.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas Freebie!!

I am so thankful for Thanksgiving Vacation, that I was feeling inspired to create something to get us in the holiday spirit.

This freebie is an addition math sheet.  Your students will first have to solve some addition sentences.  Then, they use the answers to help Santa get through a maze to find Rudolph!

 Head on over to my TPT store to download it for free!  CLICK HERE!

I hope that you enjoy!  If you download it, I would love if you could leave me some feedback!

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Mrs. Nunley

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nouns, Nouns, Nouns!

I spent most of the weekend working on my Nouns, Nouns, Nouns! packet for Teachers Pay Teachers.  This packet includes:
    - A pocket chart noun sort with the headings people, places, things, and animals.
    - A cut and paste noun sort.
    - Noun assessments with specific holiday/season themes.  They include:  school days, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, winter, spring, and summer.
    - Answer keys accompany each component.

To check out Nouns, Nouns, Nouns!, CLICK HERE!

Today is our last school day before Thanksgiving vacation....

Happy Tuesday!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Thankful...

What The Teacher Wants! is having an I'm Thankful Linky Party!!

1.  What are you most thankful for in your classroom?

Besides my sweet students, I am most thankful for my team of fellow first grade teachers.  They are wonderful people to work with, and I am so happy to be a part of such an amazing group of ladies.

2.  What person are you most thankful for?

Wow....that's hard to narrow down!  I am thankful for my husband, sons, family, and friends. 

3.  What three blogs are you most thankful for?

Again....SOOOO hard to narrow down.  I am thankful for:

This blog has given me a lot of inspiration and support!  Thank you so much!

Cara Carroll is the reason that I began blogging in the first place.  I was so blown away by all of her wonderful ideas.  She has made me become a better teacher.

Kristen never fails to make me laugh!

4.  What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?

I have two.  First is blogging.  Second.  Oh, this is very embarassing.....I really like to watch......The Real Housewives.  There.  I said it.  Please don't think less of me!

5.  What are you most thankful for?

I am thankful for all that the Lord has blessed me with. 

Your turn!  Head on over to What The Teacher Wants! and link up!  I can't wait to read what you are thankful for!

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Wonderful World of Paper Folding

About a month ago, we had an inservice about the Four Square Writing technique.

First grade has used Four-Square for several years, but we did learn something really neat.

The presenter taught us how to fold a paper to make a four-square model.

I always start with a piece of manilla paper and fold it in half "hamburger" style:

Then, fold the top down to the bottom:

Find the corner that cannot be opened and pinch it:

Fold that corner toward the middle of the paper about half way:

Unfold the paper all the way.  Trace the fold lines of the diamond in the middle.  Then trace the other fold lines. 

The center diamond is for the topic sentence.  The top two and bottom left box are for details.  The final box is for and "I think..." or an "I feel...." sentence.  You now have a paper set up for your students to organize a paragraph!

My kids think that it is neat that THEY are the ones creating the sections for the paper.  I like that there is only one place for an opinion sentence!!

Happy Writing!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sad Situation

You know how you have those kids that have a home life that you can't even imagine?  I have several of them this year, but one that really broke my heart today.  This little guy, let's call him Josh, poured his heart out to me about his life at home.  I was shocked.  Some of these kids have seen more by the time they are in first grade then I will see in a lifetime. 

Without going into specifics, the school has been able to get this family some much needed help.

What is scary to me is that every year, I have more and more children who are falling into this category.  I want to bring them all home with me and try to give them a better life.  Sometimes I get so sad when I think about these students, but I have realized that I can try to make their lives better at school. 

On a lighter note, I would like to share my Winter Wonderland Adjective book with you.  CLICK HERE to check out my TPT Store.

Have a happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Mayflower

In our school, there are many very LARGE bulletin boards in the hallways, and each grade is responsible for one of the boards.  The other first grade teachers and I rotate board decoration duties.  November is one of my months. 

This always gives me some anxiety because the bulletin board is in one of the main halls for all (and I mean ALL) to see.  We started working on our bulletin board the last week of October.

First I read from this book:

In it, there is a section that talks about what the people who traveled on The Mayflower could bring with them.  We learned that each family could only bring what would fit in a small trunk:

We then brainstormed ideas as a whole group:

Once we listed all of our ideas, I gave each student a piece of paper to write the eight things that they would have wanted to take on The Mayflower.  The paper I used was manilla drawing paper that I ran through the copier.

That evening, to make them look older, I burned the edges of each child's paper.

 A couple kind of got away from can be tricky!!

Here is the final result:

My kids are very excited about their board, and cannot wait to take home their burned papers!!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November Writing Station

I am sorry that I haven't posted many pictures lately.  My camera died, and we had to get another one.  But now I am back in the picture taking business!!

I wanted to share my November Writing Station with you.  I try to change my writing station decorations/theme each month.

I have added a fall green table cloth, a (fake) white pumpkin, and this cool wooden divided box that I found at an antique store.  One side holds golden pencils and the other has crayons.  I also have a tin container to hold autumn themed writing paper.

I have a word wall that I created on a project display board that I keep up all year long:

In addition to the word wall, I like to put an anchor chart of season/holiday specific words:

However, my favorite part of the writing center is my GIGANTIC, PURPLE CRAYON!!  My husband won it for me at a theme park, and then made ME carry the crayon around for the rest of the day.  Keep in mind, that the crayon is taller than I am!!  I knew that it would be a hit, though, because every kid I passed would say things like, "WOW," and "Cool!!"

Check out the very large, purple crayon:

  Tomorrow, I am going to share with you the hall bulletin board that my class was responsible for.

I hope that everyone had a happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 14, 2011


I have finally gotten up the courage to share some of the things that I have been creating.  It is quite intimidating...there are SO many wonderful, creative, and talented teachers out in blog land.

What I am sharing is a digraph /ch/ book.  During work stations, each child will have a turn at seat work.  One thing that I always like to have is a small book that goes with the week's spelling feature.  This week happens to be /ch/ and /tch/.  So, I created Chip the Chipmunk.  The book is five half sheet pages.  Each full sheet that you download has two page 1, two page 2, and so on.  Since this is my very first TPT product, it is FREE!!!  What teacher doesn't like free?!

Head on over to my TPT store, and check it out.  I hope that you like it!!

Have an awesome evening!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Week: From the Principal to the Potty

Let me just start by saying that this has been a crazy week.  It should have been an awesome week.  We didn't have school on Election Day because so many of the buildings are used as voting sites.  Four day week....YES! 

Oh did it go down hill.

I have one little guy in my class who is always bringing something from home.  Like cell phones.  Video game cartridges.  Toys.  Sigh.  On Wednesday after school, the Reading Specialist told me how he had a little book that goes with some kind of video game.  To which I replied yes, he always brings something from home.  I didn't think twice about it.  Until the next day.

The bell had sounded and the children were busy with their Morning Work, when I noticed this little guy was buried in his hoodie, tears dripping down his face as he stared at the paper on his desk.  When I asked him what was wrong, all I got between the sobs were "my book" and "John" (name changed to protect those involved). 

Turning to "John" I asked him where was little guy's book?  He looked very nervous, shuffled his feet a bit and said, "I threw it in the toilet."  Huh?!

You could hear a pin drop in my normally talkative classroom.  As I stood there processing book + toilet, mouth hanging open in astonishment, I finally asked, "WHY?!"

To which "John" replied, "It was mine and he was crying, so I threw it in the toilet."

Well, on our march to the principal's office, "John" insisted that the book was his. 

Entering our principal's office, I told her that "John" had something that he wanted to share.  I have to say the look on her face was priceless (probably a mirror image of my own.)  It turns out, after quite a bit of investigating and talking with both boys, that the book wasn't "John's" as I suspected, and so a punishment was handed out.

I thought that the drama was over.  Nothing else could possibly top this right?  WRONG!

Yesterday morning, my principal came asking for "Jane" (again name change!).  I said that she was in the bathroom.  (Our school was built during the open concept boom.  Our first grade pod has four rooms now, but they are all open to each other.  We have a boy's and girl's bathroom in the pod.  I am including a picture to enhance this story.

The two dark doorways are the bathrooms.  The one that is the closest to my classroom is the girl's restroom.)

Ms. Principal waited a few minutes for Jane and then stuck her head in and called, "Jane?"  To which "Jane yelled back.  From the potty..."Yeah?" 

"I need to speak with you,"  replied Ms. Principal.

"Why?" yelled "Jane."

I was mortified.  Here she is. Sitting on the potty yelling at the principal.  For EVERYONE to hear!  Needless to say, my teaching friends got a HUGE kick out of it.  In "Jane's" defense, she probably thought it was me, since I have to yell at encourage her to come out of the bathroom all day long.

Good grief.  My principal says that I should write a book of all the crazy things that have happened this year so far.  I might consider it....

Hoping for an upcoming stress free week!

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sight Word Work

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased Michelle Oakes' (Fabulous in First) Super Sight Words Packet. is FABULOUS!!  I LOVE it and so do my students (yippeeee!!).  We call it our Sight Word Detective time, and they look forward to it everyday.

To go along with her awesome, well thought out unit, I created our Sight Word Detectives board (really it's a cabinet door...I have run out of space it seems).  The kids really like to check the magnifying glass each Monday to see the new words of the week:

Here is a close up of the magnifying glass:

The clip art of the detective children is courtesy of Thistle Girl Designs

While working on this post, I discovered...gasp...that Michelle also has a Super Sight Words Board Game Extension Pack.  Be still my heart.  Well, I guess that you know what I am going to be working on this weekend!

Happy Wednesday!!