George or Abe...President's Day Fun!

This past week was the perfect week to learn all about two famous presidents, George Washington & Abe Lincoln.  We used Monday and Tuesday to wrap up our poetry unit and celebrate Valentine's Day which left 3 days to complete this unit.  I could have used more days but we squeezed in as much as we could in the three we had. 

The first two days we did exactly the same thing but with different presidents. We began by using the mini reader and reviewing fact and details.  Then we completed an anticipation guide using the new Scholastic Kids biographies pictured below.   

Next, we worked on our informative writing.  I have to tell you by now they are really shining with their writing.  Most students write one complete page and several are up to 2-3 pages.  You can see that we create a web first and then as we add our facts, we check them off.  My students also include an introduction and conclusion.   I saved both of these pieces for our craft at the end of the unit.

We had a little extra time for Abe Lincoln so we read this cute new book as well. 

Then we wrote what we would put under our hat if we were like Abe.  
I thought they turned out pretty cute!

On the last day, we worked on comparing and contrasting the two presidents.  First we discussed who we would want to meet.  We made this graph together. 

Then we surveyed our friends and created our own tally and bar graphs. 

Next we wrote an opinion writing on who we would rather meet.  
We had to justify why we made our choice. 

After  that, we split into groups and made posters to compare and contrast.  This was by far their favorite activity and they are so proud when they finish. They use a third reader to help them look for similarities and differences plus all the other things they have learned.  

As you can see by their faces, team work is fun and rewarding!

Finally, we looked at our informative writing from the week, picked our best piece and made the craft to go with it.  Half of us made George and half made Abe!  

These kiddos are always amazing me with their love for learning, and amazing talents.  We had a super week learning about these two important presidents and how they changed the America we live in today!  
If you would like to grab these goodies they are all put together for you here.


Inferencing Week with a Little Help from Others!

Education is constantly changing which is something I LOVE about my job.  Who wants to do the same thing over and over again?  Not me!  Well I never imagined that as a first grade teacher I would have to teach my students about inferencing but that was the case this year.  To tackle this skill, I leaned on other teachers for their expertise.    

Our first activity was Babbling Abby's Mystery Box activity.  Of course I had to make mine as cute as hers so I ordered these boxes at Amazon.  You could really put anything in the box but I decided to go with a hat since we were talking about winter and polar bears that week.  This hat actually worked out perfectly because of the black buttons.  When we shook the box, it made a loud noise so many students did not guess a hat at first.  

You can see our guesses in the red marker.  They are clearly off track due to the buttons.  After making our guesses, we collected our clues using her template.  They love interacting and moving around the room. 

After they received all their clues, we gathered together to make our inferences based on their clues. You can see them above in the darker color marker on the web.  When it was all said and done, only 1 student had inferred correctly but they were all close! To say that they LOVED this activity is an understatement.  They wanted to do it all week.  This would be a great take home activity as well. The students could take the box home, fill it and create clues.  Then the class could try to infer what it might be.  I think we may try this on Fridays!  

We also loved Abby Mullins & Cara Caroll's Animal Inferences.  I originally only copied 2 of these for the week but by popular demand, we ended up doing 4.  It was really interesting to see some of their guesses.  I assumed they would all guess a raccoon on this one but the word nocturnal triggered a few other animals.  The owl was a great inference because it does look like it is wearing a mask too.

In addition, we used some of "A Year of Many Firsts" observe and infer pages.  My favorite part of this activity was that they had to rely on their schema a lot.  They used what they knew to make their inference.  Also, when they wrote their inference, they began their sentence with... I infer... 

Every week we add leaves to our thankful tree, check out what we were thankful for.... AMAZING!

Finally, we used my January Paired Passages to infer as well.  We love using our highlighters to find our text evidence before recording our responses. 

If you haven't yet, I highly suggest you check out these AMAZING resources!


Laura Numeroff's "If you ... Stories"

Last week we were focusing on cause and effect.  The perfect stories for one thing leading to another are Laura Numeroff's "If you"... stories.  We chose to stick to her food themed stories because we all love to eat right?  Not to mention all of the food is sweet and delicious.  Fortunately for me, I have the most amazing families and they are always willing to chip in and help out.  So, the week before, we asked for some food items to help us with graphing and also to give us a little extra inspiration!

We began with the original story, "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie".  I remember this story from when I was little.  I'm still curious why there was such a long break between some of her stories.  We began by predicting what else the mouse might want.  Then we wrote what we would want, a little text to self.  After reading the story we completed the cause and effect page.  They did really well with this concept.  After that, we surveyed our friends to see which kind of cookie they would rather have, chocolate chip or sugar.  They love walking around the room and gathering data.  We tally, count, and graph our data.  Finally we do the BEST part, eat the cookies.  I asked my parents to donate small cookies so we wouldn't have too much sugar and they were perfect! In writing we also wrote about our favorite kind of cookie.  Mine is a peanut butter cookie dipped in coffee.  How about you?

Next up was "If you Give a Moose a Muffin". We did the same activities for this story as well.  I feel repetition is sooooo important for young children.  Plus it makes them feel so successful when they are confident learners.  We also invented our own muffins.  They turned out really cute.

Of course we had to taste test a few muffins so we tried blueberry and chocolate chip.  I had the parents send in the mini muffins that come prepackaged and they tried one of each.  It was simple and effective.  We did our survey and tally graph as well.

Then we moved onto "If you Give a Cat a Cupcake". In the picture below you can see the mini cupcakes we used for our graphing.  For writing we wrote about what kind of cupcake we would rather have.  I let them choose any kind but they had to tell why.  

After that, we read "If you Give a Pig a Pancake".  This was the messiest of all but so much fun.  I usually make pancakes on my griddle but I got a little smarter this year.  We used microwave pancakes instead.  I have a microwave in my room so it works out well.  You can see they loved this activity.  

Last, we had a few more stories to read and we had our concepts down pat so it became choice time.  I read "If you Give a Dog a Donut" and then they chose what they wanted to work on and where they wanted to work. Below are a few samples of some things they completed. 

We also read Laura Numeroff's newest story, "If you Give a Mouse a Brownie".  We did the same thing with choice time and collaborating with others.   I love their little inventions and I was surprised to find that they all wanted to do the writing even after we had a whole group writing workshop that morning.   

To end the unit, I thought it would be fun to see which stories they liked the most.  So I quickly put together this graph.  I let them each choose two books that they enjoyed.  Then we completed the activity below to look at our data.  I was surprised to see that the original story got the least amount of votes.  I though it turned out pretty cute.  If you would like to grab ALL the goodies you will need to make this graph, click on the link below the picture.  We also split into groups and each group made a different character.  I didn't think it was necessary to have all of them make each character and honestly I don't have time in my curriculum for that.  

As always thank you for checking out our fun week in first grade!  Stay tuned for more to come!

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