Monday, March 31, 2014

Gardens, Seeds and Plants! Oh my!

I don't know about you all but I am dying for Spring to get here! Where is the sun? Where is the warmth? Where are the flowers?

To celebrate the coming of Spring (because it is coming....) my daughter and I spent some time at the bookstore yesterday looking at books about gardening, plants, seeds and flowers. We are planning to build a garden as soon as it warms up so we can grow our own food this summer. It also helps that plants and soils are a part of the Grade 3 curriculum here in Ontario and so I'll be able to use this opportunity to make plans for when I return to work next year!

Here's a sneak peek at the books we purchased.

I'd love for you to stop by Thinking of Teaching and read more about these great books. I'm also looking for TPT product suggestions about plants, seeds and butterflies. You have a great product, let me know!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Out of this world Science Stations

Teaching about Space is one of my favourite science units.  If you read my blog over at TeachingisaGift you will know I post about it quite often.  I have created and used a lot of interesting teaching aids to assist with concepts like phases of the moon.
Picture of Moon Phases board from
Moon Phases board.  Students put their head through the middle and rotate the board counterclockwise to "see" the phases of the moon.  This year I attached labels of each phase, so that when students were viewing the moon face, they could confirm their ideas.
Picture of Moon Phases with Oreos Investigation
Students love to model the phases of the moon with Oreo cookies.
This year I had my colleague Steve Lang come from the Canadian Space resource center and teach the students about Canadian Astronauts and their contribution to space exploration.  He also organizes a Space Day each year.  Students from a local high school present a variety of hands-on astronomy concepts to students in grade six from across the board.  The event is so popular that they are holding 6 space days this year!  My student teacher did an excellent job of teaching many of the main concepts from the curriculum during her teaching block and we are lucky to have Brian Cheney from Cosmic Connections come and host a Star Party for our students and their families. Brian brings special telescopes with him and sets them up in our school yard during the day and evening.  Students and their families get the opportunity to view the planets and moon in a way in which many have never had the opportunity.
Picture of Cosmic Connections Star Party
I was looking for an interesting way to review and assess my students learning.  While I was browsing on Teachers Pay Teachers I came across this Space unit which is meant to be run as stations.   
Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit

Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit
All of the materials were included in the package.  I printed them in colour on cardstock and laminated them.  You can see here a student working on "Sort It".  They sort the planets in order and then record their findings in a booklet which is included in the unit.
Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit
I used my Mac laptops to set up the Tech It station.  Students watched two StudyJams videos and wrote and drew about what they had learned.
Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit

Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit

For this station students were asked to draw a representation of the lunar cycle.  It was an excellent way for me to see if they had retained what had been taught in class and when they had created moon phases flip books at home.
Picture of Phases of the Moon Flipbook by
Just click on the image above to download a FREE copy.
Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit
At this station, students had to use their logic and mathematical skills to analyze a data table about the planets, and then make some scientific conjectures.  
Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit
The unit includes images such as the one above which help bring the actual concepts to life for the students.  Here they are asked to analyze a photo and explain what they observe.
Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit
Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit
At the match it station, students needed to match the concepts listed on one side of the card, with the scientific explanation on the back.  They then recorded their findings in their science notebook.
Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit
At the create it station, students are asked to use materials provided (pencil crayons, paper, etc.) to create a model of why the sun appears to move across the sky.  They then record their model in their science notebook.  
Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit
In this popular station, Explore It! students recreated an investigation we had already done as a class.  They used a styrofoam ball and a flashlight to model why we see day and night.  They had to explain the benefits and limitations of using a model such as the one shown.
Picture of Space a Science Stations Unit
I anticipated that each of the stations would not take the same amount of time for my students to complete.  I gave each group of three students 10-15 minutes to complete the assignment at the station.  If they finished early, they were to review their notes, tidy up the station for the next rotation, and were then allowed to move around the room in a scavenger hunt fashion to find the answers to the task cards I had laminated and scattered throughout the classroom.  
Picture of Moon Phases and Seasons Task Cards

The half sized recording sheet included with the task cards was the PERFECT fit for the back blank page of the science notebook from the Space Science Stations unit.  There are 36 task cards included. I encouraged my students to use the moon phases model shown at the beginning of this post to assist them if they needed to review.  The only change I made to the moon phases board this year was that I attached labels of each phase of the moon to the board, so students could confirm whether they had the right answer or not.

I only created one NEW thing myself for this unit, but I have to tell you I am really proud of how it turned out!  I made the signs for the stations using a chalkboard background and a great chalkboard font.  I purchased 4 x 6 plastic frames at the dollar store and voila! I had instant signs for my centers which can be used again and again.  If you would like to download your own FREE copy just click on the image below. 

Picture of 4 x 6 Signs for Stations

Freebie Fridays

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Teaching Geometry couldn't be more DELICIOUS!

This month, my first graders have been exploring 2 Dimensional and 3 Dimensional Shapes, Symmetry, and Fractions.  
I've bought several new units to help add that certain substance to our very outdated Math Program.
One very special find was by my blogging friend and fellow first grade teacher Nancy VandenBerge over at First Grade WOW.
Nancy  came up with this incredible idea of using food and household items to make fast, and easy connections to math learning.
I used her idea of linking marshmallows as "vertices" and toothpicks as "sides".  Students then had to create a cube and triangular pyramid using these materials.

Anchoring the names to each shape was a genius idea and using the good-old-fashioned paper plate helped us do that!
If you are searching for some really neat, hands-on units that are cross-curricular and very yummy,
check out Nancy V. over at First Grade WOW!

Have a great week my friends!
First Grade Critter Cafe'

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring into Science, Hop into Reading, and More!

Hello! I am currently enjoying my spring break in the rain. Seriously though, I WILL enjoy my rainy spring break. I had one sunny day, so I can't complain. ;) Since it's spring break, it is time for me to start thinking about spring and Easter activities for home and the classroom. I have a few different ideas to share with you today.  Here is just a teaser, but if you head on over to my blog, you'll get all the details. :) One of these will be a freebie over there too!

Spring into Science:

Use the scientific method to figure out how to make an egg float:
Take a classic experiment and give it a twist to get your students thinking about the scientific method.

Hop into Reading:
Use the bunny to hop through words as you sound out. 
(I also included some vowel teams to replace the short vowels)

Build some "egg-cellent" words:

Place eggs in the basket to make words.

Make "egg-cellent" Inferences:

Read clues and make an inference about what is inside of the egg.

Head on over to my blog to see more!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Freebie for a Publishing Party and a Video of My Little Reader!

We are gearing up for our Publishing Party on Thursday. Parents will come (hopefully) and listen to their children read their March Journals and they all make bookmarks together. The theme this time is, "All About Me" and the kiddos wrote accordingly. Here is the cutest video of one of my girls reading her finished product. Sound spelling was TOTALLY allowed.

Want this journal? Click the picture below to grab it.

Want the bookmarks that we are making with parents at our Publishing Party?
We are punching holes through the top and everyone gets to tie a ribbon through it and color with their families. 
Good times.
Just click this picture to download.

And I am giving a ridiculous amount of prizes away over at the ol' stompin' grounds. Swing by- I'd LOVE to have you! This is a super easy-to-enter giveaway!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Spring!

Hi everyone!  Happy Spring!  I hope it's warmer for you than it is here in the Midwest!  I'm celebrating spring with a fun giveaway at my blog.  You can win:  a Starbucks card, an Ulta card, a Target card, and my "Bunny Bash" Easter centers!  I just love getting new decorations and clothes/makeup when the weather warms up!  Head over by following the Rafflecopter below.  Winner announced Monday morning {March 24}.  Good luck & have a wonderful weekend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway