Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Apple Week Activities for the First Grade Classroom: Days 1 & 2



I have to be honest - this is the first week of home school that I was pretty excited to teach.  The weeks leading up to this haven't been bad, just kind of mundane and repetitive.  No complains from Beck, but my teacher heart just wasn't feeling it.  Something about the changing seasons, open windows, and apple spice scent wafting through the house were all kinds of inspiring.  I dug a little deeper, planned a little better, and decided we would be a little less rigid this week and a lot more exploratory and creative.  {Honestly, I continue to struggle with the transition from traditional public educator to a home school teacher.  I used to doing things Only This Way, where teaching should be about This Way or That Way or All The Ways In Between.}

So!  Apple Week!

Mondays are a little slow at Mullins Academy.  We made Apple Playdoh as seen in Kathleen's apple pack at Growing Kinders.  Becks was responsible for reading the recipe, highlighting the ingredients, and helping me mix it all together.  Of course, he was *thrilled* that it looked like a pot full of blood before it solidified.  #boymom

After it cooled, he played with it, told me how wonderfully it smelled, and made his spelling words out of it.  
Today, we took off extra early for the grocery store to purchase ALL THE APPLE THINGS.  Seriously.  So. Much. Apple. Stuff.
Afterwards, we came home and worked on our weekly memory verse.  It is such a blessing to me that I get to share this part of the day with Becks.  
If you would like a copy of this very simple activity to do at home with your kiddos or use in your classroom, click the pic below and you can download it for FREE.  I will *try* my hardest to put these out monthly, but I make no promises!  Whenever I say I'm going to do something (i.e. 2nd Grade RTI pack...a year in the making), it never gets finished.  However, they will always be shared free of charge.  That I will promise :)

Another fun activity that I saw circulating Pinterest (credit >>> HERE) was building with apples.  Becks had just finished his reading activities - which I will share tomorrow - and needed a snack.  What better than to build with and eat apples all at the same time?!  He LOVED this.  

We finished the day out with math, where he's been working on counting on and using a number line as strategies to solve addition problems.  We snagged Cara's fantastic Three Way Apple Math *freebie* >>> HERE, arranged the number baskets in a number line, and then he matched the apple pieces with the correct number.  LOVE.  Oh, and there's the Faifa Waif and her daddy.  Also, LOVE. 


And, now, it's time for me to pop a loaf of beer bread in the oven and wait for the pot roast to finish.  Happy Tuesday to you!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Math Activities in First Grade: Number Sense

Y'all, math is not my favorite thing to teach or learn.  In fact, I would really rather enjoy a day full of books and reading and writing and not pay one lick of attention to anything that has to do with numbers and be alright.  But, apparently, first graders need to know math, so I guess I'll teach it out of obligation for the greater good ;)

What I have found - in teaching a classroom full of first graders and now educating my own 6-year-old, - is that math games (or math activities disguised as games) are particularly effective in reinforcing math skills and making math seem less like math and more like F-U-N. 

I've also learned that the male species is rather competitive.   If there's going to be a declared WINNER, Becks is all about it.  Even if he's the only one playing.

I've focused a lot on reviewing number sense the first few weeks of school, so our daily reviews, curriculum, and games have all focused on that.

Fortunately, Guiding Firsties, the math workshop curriculum we are using (by Deanna and Deedee), has a host of game-like activities.


This is a super simple game where a pair of partners each draw a playing card.  Whoever has the greater number 'wins' the round and circles his number.  Play continues until play reaches ten rounds.  The winner is the player who had the greater number the most times.  Alternatively, you can play the same game with the lesser of two numbers.  

Download More is Better & Less is Best for FREE >>> HERE.



This game is called Toss, Tell, Take and is actually from a kindergarten resource pack from my sweet friend, Jonelle Bell at A Place Called Kindergarten.  Since subitizing has been a big focus, this activity was perfect!  {Check out her pack >>> HERE}


A little video I captured of Mr. Competitive playing - and also shows you how easy it would be for your kiddos to play independently at a center!  

If you want some quick FREE games for practicing counting up and back, Cara has a TON of themed game boards.  Check out her post >>> HERE.  


This week, we are using Susan's {at TGIF!} Number Sense Pack (find it >>> HERE).  Yesterday, Becks put together her Number Line Remake.  We loooooooved it and it was more challenging than putting together a normal number line.  


Susan just wrote a whole post about the activities included (and she also has a pack for numbers to 120 that you can find >>> HERE).  Read her post >>> HERE.  

What are you favorite number sense activities?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Peek at My Week: Week Four of First Grade!

Linking up with Deedee for Peek at My Week!  Click the button below to follow along or join the fun!


This week's theme is Food on the Farm, which we transitioned perfectly to from our community helpers theme last week.  Not gonna lie, we played a little bit of catch-up today and I have to have a minor procedure on Wednesday, so we might get thrown off a bit more this week.  I planned for a full week regardless! {Aaaaaaaaah, the flexibility and freedom of home schooling}

>>> Click on the product covers or pictures to see the product or activity <<<



Tonight I'm tired and have a busy day tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be back with a review of the past couple of weeks at some point!

Happy Monday!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Literacy Centers for Short A

This week, we are studying short a in spelling and phonics.  Becks really enjoys center-type activities, so I decided to throw together a few that I knew would hold his interest and help him discriminate the short a sound and give him practice spelling short a words.


Trash or Stash -  sorting short a from other short vowel sounds

Trashy Town is a perfect story to read not only for short a, but also before implementing this center activity.  Given a pile of short a picture cards, Becks said each word aloud.  If it was a short a word, he stashed it.  If it wasn't a short a word, he trashed it!  Of course, it was a lot more fun to trash the words and pitch them into the can.  





Afterwards, he wrote some of the short a words in his stash.  


Here's what he'll be doing the rest of the week, along with the corresponding literature...

Alligator Snap - snapping up short a meals by an a short a rime alligator

Bag that Cat! -  catching all the short a snatching cats (mixed among long a cats)

Splat Mats -  splatting short a words among other short vowel words

Each activity has a corresponding writing/recording sheet where he'll practice spelling short a CVC words.

If you'd like to snag a set of these Centers, click the pic below to check them out!


You can also check out Word Work Super Mega Pack (which includes all vowel patterns - short and long, diphthongs, digraphs, and r-contolled vowels, too!)


Happy Tuesday :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Must-Haves for the First Grader!

Hey, hey!  Happy Monday!  And, an even happier Monday because NO SCHOOL.  Amen. 

So, today I thought I would share a little list of Must-Haves for the First Grader.  This is by no means a comprehensive list - just some of our favs!  Maybe you'll snag an idea or two or have a few of your own you'd add.  I'd love to know in the comments!


First up, is an all-inclusive caddy.  Full to the brim of things we use daily.


And, here are a few First Grade Goodies that we couldn't do without.


As clickerific as they can be, we LOVE clickers.  I used to use these all the time in the classroom for segmenting and syllabication.  However, you do have to set up some ground rules - because clickerific can be code word for ANNOYING.  

1) Get all your clicks out for one minute before activity.  Trust me, your kids will LOVE this part because, basically, they get to be clickerific without getting in trouble for one whole minute.  Set the timer and let them click away.  

2) Only click when the teacher says to click.  Anyone who abuses the clickers (i.e. clicks for the heck-of-it or out of turn) gets his clicker taken away and he has to segment/syllabicate with his boring old fingers.  This is a strong incentive to only click when allowed.  

Here's Becks segmenting with a clicker:

If you can tolerate the clicks, add a few to a spelling/segmenting/syllabication center for students to use independently.  By the way, I bought mine years ago at a teacher store.  You'll probably have to ask where they are! {PS.  I got this idea from a *fabulous* first grade teacher when I first started teaching - my Aunt Debbie!}

ETA: Find clickers >>HERE<<.

I've said it before, but we truly love Michelle's First Grade Helper!
Click >> HERE << to grab a copy.

There ya have it!  Some of our favs! 

What are your's?