Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Reading And A Little Writing

I have come across some good information lately in terms of reading and writing...

First, I found this website, Reading On The Run. I found it because I was looking for more information on The Daily 5. On the website, there is an audio interview, with the sisters, which is awesome.  If you are a Daily 5er you will want to watch this interview! After listening to the sisters, I clicked on an interview with Jim Trelease . In the interview he talks about his book The Read-Aloud Handbook

You. Must. Own. This. Book. PERIOD!

I bought it and so far have read the intro, part of the first chapter and skimmed the rest, and it is really, really, really good!! I'm embarrassed I did not know about this book before! Anyway, he talks about ACT scores and their link to reading. He answers questions like, "My son loves comic books is that good or bad?", "If teachers are role models how much should teachers read?" and one chapter title is, "TV, Audio, and Technology: Hurting or Helping Literacy?" At the end of the book, he has compiled a list of read-alouds, short novels ect., their grade level, number of pages, and a summary of the book. This is obviously extremely helpful! The entire book looks amazing. I can't wait to read it cover to cover and will re-read it many times.

Another website I found is Lazy Readers Book Club. The author of this website is a guy who was a reluctant reader as a child but ended up getting his PhD. in education and is a professor in the Teacher Education Department at California State University-Dominguez Hills. He reviews 10 books a month and lists the reviews on his website....according to this website, Google ranked Lazy Readers Book Club #1 for 'cool short book recommendations'. He was also a guest blogger here which is how I found him.

For writing, I found this book...

I started reading it last night. Oh my gosh this book is good!! It's what you'd and why to teach writing with mentor texts. I like it because when you read it you don't feel like you have to change your entire curriculum (or at least wish you could), it just explains more of why a teacher should do what he or she is already (hopefully) doing...if that makes sense...

I have so much more but need to go and be a mom right now :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More December Stuff

The Grinch from Deanna Jump's Grinch mini-unit...

The AB pattern Chinese lanterns and the ABB pattern chain... Sooo simple but a TOTAL hit!! In the background are the Santas from Deana Jump's Christmas unit.

During December we have also been learning about different countries and their Christmas traditions. This day we learned about Mexico. I found this craft for the poinsettia from Rachelle's.... Around The World Unit. I was so happy to find this unit because I was able to add her fun stuff to what we were already doing!

 Last thing...I made some reindeer food to give to my kiddos...I just mixed oatmeal and gold glitter and put it in a cello bag w/a cute bow then added this poem that I found online here... I made these little cards to go with it... you can download them if you click here or on the picture above.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gingerbread Houses...

Ok, this little ditty was not as easy as anticipated...but it all worked out and the kids had so much fun! Here's how it all went down...

So I find this free unit from the guru herself....Mrs. Jump....knowing her units are amazing, and she reveals all her secrets... I thought, like any sane person,... no problem ...we can whip these babies out! So, pressing onward, and short on time, I proceed to buy 13 small, heavy whipping cream cartons. I get home and my sweet husband helps me unload the contents of these treasures into all available household pitchers. All is well... so with cleaned and dried cartons and anticipating the delight and excitement of my students.... I happily get my graham crackers and hot glue gun ready to make the houses. Beginning, I realize {slight detour} the graham crackers do not neatly fit on to the cartons... problem... I'm going to cut them and make them fit...hum... that is seeming a little more B...let the milk carton 'show' a little on each side rather than sporting a neat and snug graham cracker fit...the kids can just cover the milk carton part really well with icing... problem solved....

FOUR. HOURS. LATER. ... still gluing.... crackers start falling off the sides of the milk cartons... my index finger is numb and purple from pressing the hot glue gun and right at the peak of my frustration my 15 year old calmly walks into the kitchen, looks at the torture to which I have subjected myself, and informs me that none of the graham crackers will stick b/c I have not 'roughed up' the sides of the milk carton, and without waiting for a response, or more importantly offering any sort of help, he exits the kitchen....well, knowing, but not admitting out loud, that he was probably right {darn it} I decided to 'test' some of the other by one, they all start popping now, sweating and slightly panicking, I briefly entertain a fleeting thought that the mentally healthy thing to do would be to calmly acknowledge the fact that..." family comes first and as such, I am going to stop obsessing with this gingerbread house thing... and it's really okay... and we do not need to make them this year....and family first." In direct opposition, however,  I march straight to the computer and proceed to google 'hot glue gingerbread houses' which point this website pops up... I click on it and find that this lovely woman simply hot glues the graham crackers to THEMSELVES! Brilliant!...I proceeded to do all 13 houses in about an 1/8 of the time it took w/the milk cartons.
Feeling rather smug...problem solver that I am...I head toward school... all 13 houses in tow. As expected, the students were giddy...couldn't wait to decorate those houses! Later in the day, as they were happily decorating their little hearts out, and I'm hanging the Grinch activity we had recently completed.... I hear from behind me....."Mrs. Downing! Mrs. Downing!! Gabby's roof just collapsed!!!" WHAT??!! I rush to her side and see that indeed, with all the weight from the peppermints and super-sized candy canes, her roof has in fact collapsed! "Not to worry Gabbs...We can fix this...just take this frosting and use it like glue... see we just put it right here and... there... all, let it dry a little and then you can decorate your roof again...remember don't put as much weight on it." Again, I think...problem solved...

All told we had 3 roof collapses... but most fared quite well.

Bottom Line....
1) I will do this again next year BUT with milk cartons for stability
2) does anyone know how to hot glue graham crackers onto milk cartons...
3) a really hot glue gun is much easier to squeeze
4) Walmart brand Heavy Whipping Cream is actually quite good in coffee

Love these little boogers!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Elves, Chains, and Lanterns

We have done so much for Christmas! I'm exhausted, but we are having so much fun....One activity they loved were the elves! We made these adorable little helpers....which I found here....then filled out an elf application...which I found here. The applications were hilarious and the elves turned out great, but... I kind of thought maybe... the kids could {quickly} cut out the patterns, trace them onto the construction paper, cut those out, then assemble {no big deal...right...HA!}!! Well, they did do it! It just took a realllly long time :)

A fun little mathtivity we did was our Christmas chains and Chinese lanterns...They made the chain in an ABB pattern and the lanterns in an AB pattern. When the firsties finished their part of the chain they had to connect their individual sections. It was awesome to see them working together to keep the long chain in the ABB pattern. I couldn't believe how proud they were of this chain. It is now hung, in all it's glory, outside our door and part way down the hall! The lanterns are in our room but I guess I forgot to take a picture of them. Tomorrow we are decorating gingerbread houses... :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

"I Have... Who Has" Games! {Free}

I just posted a freebie on TPT and TN... 3 "I Have Who Has" games.  My students have loved playing them....Cick on the picture above to download it!