Sunday, March 29, 2015

Authors We Love: Ezra Jack Keats

We've made it through the week back from spring break and now we're on the countdown to the end of the year . . . craziness.  I was so happy that our author study of Ezra Jack Keats fell this week.  Since I love, love, love, Ezra Jack Keats, I had a little bright spot returning from break.

Here are a few of the activities and resources I used as part of our learning with Ezra Jack Keats . . .
Early in the week we watched a Brain Pop Jr. biography about Keats.  There was also a companion episode about collage that we watched as well.  For the rest of the week my young learners were all about spotting collage and other special elements in Keats' illustrations.

Of course we read as many Ezra Jack Keats books as we could.  We primarily focused on the Peter books.  They offer so many opportunities for comprehension discussion and character comparisons.

After reading all about Peter, we made a super quick and easy graph showing our favorite Peter books.  I gave students a "Willie" to color and cut.  I arranged our Peter books on our white board tray.  Students placed their Willies above their favorite books.
This year, Peter's Chair was our class favorite.

We did a little Willie themed addition and subtraction review.  I made a few versions of Best Dishes Willie, focusing on mixed addition and subtraction and three digit adding.  One version includes touch numbers for students that need a review of that strategy.
If you would like a FREE copy of these printables, click on one of the pictures below.

We also created some Ezra Jack Keats inspired artwork.  Students used construction paper, crayons, and glue to make their cityscapes.  They had so much fun making them.
My classes have made this project for a few years and I love how they turn out.

We had a great week with Ezra Jack Keats.  Now I think my kids love his work as much as I do.  Planning class activities around favorites is a perfect way to keep the weeks leading up to the end of the school year fun, engaging, and productive.

I'll leave you will a few pics from our spring break.  We took a trip to Disney World.  We had a magical (and exhausting time).  After this winter, it was such a blessing to go somewhere warm and sunny.  It was exactly what we needed. :)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

All Things Green: Fresh Finds for March (Including FREE Literacy and Math Activities)

Can I just say how happy I am to see a little sunshine.  February was brutal.  It made me even more grateful for March's longer days, tiny buds, and early flowers.  Plus, spring break is next week.  
Before we left for spring break, we did plenty of green inspired learning.  One resource we've used (and will continue to use throughout the month) is my Oh So Lucky Literacy {10 Literacy Centers for March}.  With these centers, we're reviewing many skills that we've worked on so far this year, verb tenses, parts of speech, rhyming words, synonyms, antonyms, and syllables.

Students also practiced sentence sorting (determining if sentences are statements or questions).  We've worked on this type of activity in different centers over the few months.  It's encouraging to see how much better my young learners are at sorting sentences in this way.

We also did a favorite writing activity, How to Catch a Leprechaun.  These assignments are so fun to read.  It's a great way for students to practice using sequencing language in their writing.
For a FREE copy of my How to Catch a Leprechaun handout, click here.

We made these St. Patrick's Day themed glyphs to hang outside of our class.  Students answered various questions to create their glyphs.  Then, to get in a little math practice, we did some data collection and analysis, based on our glyph display.
This was the first year we made this particular glyph and they turned out terrific.  

If you are interested in making this project with your own students, click on the picture below for more details.  My Lucky Lad {A St. Patrick's Day Glyph} will be on sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store through St. Patrick's Day (Tuesday).

Many of our math centers for March are green as well.  We've been using my Oh So Lucky {10 Math Centers for March} to review and sharpen our math skills.  
Students have been working on time to the half hour, fact families, missing addends . . .

number comparisons, fractions, addition, subtraction, balanced equations, place value, and more.  
These type of activities offer the ongoing review that my students need.  Before I started using math centers on a regular basis, students would forget that they learned certain skills.  But, with math centers, they can have that much needed review all year long.

Speaking of review, we did a little green themed nonstandard measurement write the room during math at the end of the week.  I printed two sets of these cards and placed them around the room.
I then divided the class in half.  One group rotated through one set of cards and one group rotated through the second set of cards.
I set it up this way because there are only ten cards to measure.  I wanted the students to work independently.  With our class size, two groups measuring at the same time worked out perfectly.

Students measured each picture with their clover rulers.  My more advanced students had to use a standard ruler on each picture as well.
If you would like a FREE copy of Lucky Day Measurement, click on one of the pictures.

March is passing by so quickly.  So many things going on, both in and out of the classroom.  I feel like if I blink, it is going to be April.  If that means pretty weather, green grass, and more sunshine, I'm a happy lady.

Oh, one more green goodie you'll want to check out is a awesome spring giveaway over at Primary Powers.  More than 20 fabulous products for your classroom and 10 winners.  Be sure to visit and enter.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Wrapping Up Read Across America (Ideas and FREEBIES to Celebrate Reading)

Be careful what you wish for . . .
Over the past couple of months I have been wishing for a snow day.  I live in an area that gets very little snow.  When it does come, we get out and take full advantage of it.  Plus a surprise day off from school is always welcome.
Snow-wise, this year was shaping up to be a total dud.  Then, about three weeks ago, everything changed.  We had ice and snow and then snow again.  Leaving us with more snow fun than anyone wanted.  Long story short, we haven't been in school for a full week since Valentine's Day.
Planning for these interruptions is a bit of a challenge, especially when special events are on the calendar.  
Our school celebrated Read Across America over the past week.  While everything I (and our school) planned for Read Across America didn't happen.  We still fit in some fun Seuss inspired learning activities to mark the week.

We started by reading The Cat in the Hat and making these writing craftivities to display in the classroom.  Students wrote about what would happen if the Cat in the Hat visited their homes.  I love how they turned out.

We also "played" a round of Seussical Scoot.  I placed word cards around the room; some on the walls, some on my shelves, and some on the desks.  Students read the words and determined if they had a long vowel sound or not.  Then they wrote the words on their recording sheets.
My kids love scoot and write the room activities.  They think they are playing a game.  I'm all for this format for many reasons.  It's a great way to get the wiggles out.

Of course we had a chance to read a some Dr. Seuss books.  We made this quick and simple graph on our white board of our favorite Dr. Seuss books.

Friday was Green Day.  We read Green Eggs and Ham.  We used this book as a jumping off point for a differentiated number order activity.
I put together four sets of green plastic eggs that had numbers inside.  Students worked in small groups to write the next three numbers, either counting by ones or counting by tens.  As a bonus, they colored the eggs on their recording sheets green if the number inside was even.
They kids really had a great time doing this activity.  It's definitely one I'll use again.

We had a green eggs and ham snack.  I saw this treat on pinterest.  I thought it looked simple enough to pull together on a weeknight and would store easily if we had yet another snow day.
To make them, I used pretzels, white chocolate chips, and M & M's.  I placed the pretzels on a cookie sheet with two chips on top of each one.  I melted the chips in the oven and them took them out.  While the chocolate was still hot, I placed an M & M on top.
I used mint M & M's.  The entire bag was green, which was perfect.

I found the perfect shirt to wear for Green Day at Teacher T-Shirts.  I ordered a couple of different ones for this year's Read Across America festivities.  But, because of the snow, this is the only one I got to wear.
The site has several cute shirt options.  They not only have RAA shirts, they also have grade level specific tees, 100th Day tees, St. Patrick's Day teacher tees, and more.

All and all, I feel like the interrupted week didn't dampen our celebration of Read Across America.  RAA is a great way to welcome March.  
If you would like a FREE copy of my green eggs math activity (you do not have to have a class set of plastic green eggs to make it work) or a FREE copy of my vowel discrimination scoot, click on the pictures below.


Well, that's it for now.  Thanks so much for stopping by.