Saturday, March 29, 2014

Plants, Plants, Plants!

This is a JAM-PACKED plant post--are you ready?!?

Plants unit, week 2 ended yesterday! We have had some GREAT fun so far and have learned so much about plants! The kids have just been so excited about it all--makes a teacher feel pretty good!! ;)

In this unit, we are covering not only plants and their parts, but also some ELA objectives, such as main idea, making inferences, compound words, expository text, parts of speech, research, letter writing, revising and editing, and media and its purpose/techniques.

2 weeks ago, I introduced our new unit (we had just finished penguins) to my students by doing this:

Before the unit introduction, I checked out some plant books from our school library and displayed them on one of the counters in our classroom. I also put the plants book box from our classroom library on the counter next to the library books. Here are just a few selections of the many great plant books that we will be using during our unit!

The kids noticed the books early in the day.

I also picked some pieces off of the bushes outside my classroom door and put them in a tote bag to use for our lesson. We passed the tote bag around and felt inside the bag without looking. 
The students quickly started making inferences about what we would be learning about next! The plant books around the room (which they know I do for every unit) and the familiar feel of the items in the tote bag led them to believe that we would be studying plants--and they were right!! :)

We made a schema chart that we add to/adjust daily.

We will also keep track of new words that will eventually move to our vocabulary wall.

After we made the schema chart, we grabbed some hand lenses and our journals and went outside to write/draw about the plants at our school.

We used a classic book, Chrysanthemum, to review main idea. Main idea is SO hard for most of my kids. We have been working at it for a few months now and are getting better and better! Here is an image of the flipchart I made to go along with the book based on a lesson plan I found online.

We did the flipchart together across 2 days and then spent the rest of the week reading/studying short fiction and nonfiction passages about various plants for main idea. Again, we are getting better and better at it.

We also briefly discussed living and nonliving. I used this fabulous PBS video to kickstart a discussion about what those words mean.

We then did this super-fun activity that I posted about on Instagram a few days ago!
We made little cards that said "living" and "nonliving", went outside, placed the cards on living and nonliving things, and took pictures using an iPad. This was great fun! The kids then shared their photos with a partner and the whole group.

I wanted to print some of these pictures so we could add it to our living and nonliving anchor chart, but we (currently) do NOT have an easy way to print photos on the school iPads. We also had to turn them in right after this activity. Oh well.

This week's plant fun was motly about main idea (still) and the parts of a plant. We read this WONDERFUL Eric Carle book to jumpstart a discussion about parts of a plant (seeds):

This book is also for teaching about the life cycle of plants.

We drew what we already knew about plant parts...

...and then studied the parts of a real plant! The kids really picked them apart--they wanted to see and know everything about them.

We concluded the lab with drawing another diagram of the parts of a plant, in case they learned anything new.

The next lesson was about comparing the parts of different plants. Does every plant have a stem? Does every plant have roots? Does every plant grow the same way? This is a great book to start with:

We headed back outside to compare the parts of flowers to other kinds of plants, like grass, trees, and bushes.

Friday's activity about parts of a plant that we eat was fantabulous--we had a Plant Tasting Party!!

We sorted several types of plants by what part of the plant they are and then got to eat them! They did an AMAZING job at this and were obviously elated to get to eat and learn at the same time! :D

We concluded thew party by watching this book on TumbleBooks and discussing why the bear kept feeling cheated. We will read it again next week.

Finally, we planted some grass seeds and are hoping that they turn out as great as these ones did last year!

Next week we will start a big plants research project that will include some wormy fun! I made a little journal for us that I will share after I get it just how I want it...

Soooo, what fun things are you up to in your classroom?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Writing Center Update

Here is a quickie post about the writing center in my classroom! Last year I posted about writing and my writing center here. This year, I have changed quite a few things this year! Check it out:

We work on writing (mostly) every day in my classroom. (I say mostly because, quite frankly, unplanned things happen on occasion!) My students have a writing folder that contains all of the things they are working on and some helper pages that I got from my Writer's Notebook Package. Some of the students' notebooks are kept in these cute magazine boxes from Target:

Other students keep them in their desks.

I actually recently added some new things to our writing center. Here is a whole center view!
On the wall, you will see work from some amazing authors!

My students use the writing center during Writing Workshop and Daily 5.

All of our writing paper and graphic organizers are kept on this best-$3-I-have-ever-spent shelves I got from a garage sale like 6 or 7 years ago.

The students also have access to some prompt pages that are changed often and some helper charts for spelling that are changed monthly.

LOVE LOVE this new caddy I got from Office Max! In it, we have colored pencils for revising and editing, slinkies for stretching out our words, vis-a-vis pens to use to fill in writing checklists, and erasers. There is also a stapler next to the caddy for students to use.

Paper clips, writing checklists, letter paper and envelopes, and list paper. Underneath (which I COMPLETELY neglected to take a picture of!!) are a few more prompt pages and vocabulary cards on rings.

Thanks for coming by! Enjoy your Sunday!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Array Cards UPDATE!

Back when I started blogging (wayyyyy back in 2011) things were pretty different! Fonts came from very few places, clip art was limited, and styles were much different. I realize this every time I look back at one of my old blog posts or when I take a peek at some of my older TPT products. It actually makes me cringe--some of the cover pages I made were just SO ugly--lol. SOOOOOO, I am making it my mission to update them all, one by one. And not only update them, but add in some new things!

So out with the old...

...and in with the new!!!
WHAT was I thinking with that first one, right?!?

I also updated the Array Cards:

This is such a great resource for the classroom that is working on multiplication fact fluency! These can also be used for measurement (area and perimeter).

The Array Cards Pack has the cards for multiplication facts 1-12.

The Activities for Array Cards Pack includes 8 task card activities for students to do independently, in small group, or whole group.

And I now have a discounted pack with BOTH products!!

So, what is special about these products?? Well, there is ample research (and a little bit of common sense!) to support that fact fluency helps students be more proficient in other areas of math. They aren't having to focus on "what's this fact" when they are completing an algorithm (such as long division). Ya know, it just makes sense to have the kids know their facts! Period! ;)

Array cards are wonderful little visuals to support the students' learning of multiplication facts. Each card has the dimensions on the front and the total area on the back:

We all know how important visuals are, especially if students still do not have a concrete understanding of numbers. Students will not only see the fact with its product, BUT they will see how much the product is. They will see the arrangement of the number of squares that make up the product. They will see and compare the area to other arrays. Students will be able to see and hold a visual representation of each fact (1-12) in their hands. And for students struggling with fact fluency and/or spatial representation, this will be a powerful tool in their hands! So play a game with them, match them, have a discussion about them--there are many possibilities and much to be learned.

Interested? Comment below for a chance to win a free copy of the combo pack! :) I will choose a winner around 2:00 p.m. CST. :)

Click below to check out the products! They are on sale for TODAY only!