Monthly Archives: April 2012

31 Down 6 To Go



I totally meant to write this post yesterday morning, but I got sidetracked in a major way browsing these ADORABLE reading posters!!

In language arts, we finished up our author study of Kevin Henkes books, but to the sadness of the class and myself. The munchkins did a great job recording the title, author, characters, setting, problem, and solution on their story map all by themselves (which they were convinced they could not do, and I convinced them otherwise). We also finished up our blue book on Monday (finally!) and did complimentary chairs, the munchkins favorite game. If you haven’t heard about it before, the kids dance around the room to music, and when the music stops, they have to run to a desk that is not their own, read a fellow student’s book and write a compliment on their “compliment sheet.”  When the author returns to his/her desk, she has a page full of nice things from his/her peers. SO CUTE!

In math, we did a whole week of geometry. The kiddos did a great job at identifying plane shapes and solid figures, but they still mix them up sometimes and call a cube a square, a sphere a circle (actually, they have trouble saying sphere even if they know what they’re supposed to say) etc.   They also learned about faces and vertices (which a parent came and asked me about, because she couldn’t remember).  The only problem is that the book cannot decide whether a cone has 1 vertex or 0. It’s one way on one workmat, and the other way on another workmat. I have informed the students that the number of vertices on a cone will not be tested.

In social studies, we did very little because math took up so much time. But, while we were finding time, we began learning about choices.  Students picked scenarios and listed the benefits and costs of each choices. They also, hopefully, learned what opportunity cost means.  This week, we will begin talking about the choices that families make.

In science, we observed the worm-filled terrarium all week. They made observations, desperately searched for their worms, cried that they worms must have surely died,  and jumped for joy at the sight of a worm bit poking out from beneath the soil. After observations, we did a mini-activity like reading an animal/plant interdependence book, using a venn diagram to compare our terrarium to the environment outside the school, and taking a nature walk to observe plant and animal interdependence. On Friday, they took all their observational notes and wrote a report about what they learned.


Also taking place on Friday, my teaching partner was out sick, so the class had a substitute.  Usually on Fridays, I take half of both classes and do an art project, and my teaching partner takes the other half of both classes and does a drama activity. However, this substitute was clearly not ready to be in charge of the class, and eventually I figured out that I needed to take both classes so that anarchy did not reign.  I ditched my plan in favor of a read-aloud/fill-in-the-rhyme activity with “The Cat in the Hat” and a Magic School Bus video.  37 kids is just too many kids to do anything at desks, especially since there are only 18 desks in my class!




30 Down, 7 To Go


Wow! I feel like this is a turning point: 30 down, 7 to go. I will be ready when it comes, let me tell you. I love my munchins, but I need a little ‘patience break’

In language arts, we began an author study of Kevin Henkes books.  They are all ADORABLE. He is probably my favorite children’s author (no surprise that I picked him for the author study, huh?)  He writes realistic fiction with animal characters, which is a great model for the animal fantasy books that the students are finally finishing up (by Monday, hopefully). They have been chomping at the bit to do writing. As soon as language arts begins, the kids ask when they can start writing. woohoo!

In math, we finished up adding and subtracting tens (aren’t my munchkins BRILLIANT?!), and we are now on to geometry which should be a cake walk, since my kiddos already know their shapes and a lot of 3D figure names are in our vocabulary already (like counting cubes).

In social studies, we talked about a job well done. We made flowers for all the teachers at school (for the good job they do) and talked about how if we do a good job, someone might thank us or ask us to make more. It worked like a charm. We got a letter the next day from a teacher thanking us for his flower. Now, we’re on to how goods and services have changed over the years.

In science, we are learning about the interdependence of plants and animals, by building terrariums! The kids were SO excited to be building them, and now I finally have something worthwhile to hold over their heads and make them behave. I wrote Terrarium Privileges on the board and put everyone’s class number. I only had to erase the number of one student for being irresponsible earlier in the day, and the class whipped themselves into shape. We filled them with “forest soil” (soil from my backyard),  “deciduous plants”  (weeds from the playground), and “Lumbricus terrestris” (nightcrawler worms).  We will observe them throughout next week. The Terrarium Privileges note will stay up all next week too.  On an unrelated note, I am expecting excellent behavior next week.  🙂


29 Down, 8 To Go


This week we had Culture Day on Wednesday. My munchkins went around to 12 different “countries” learning about food, language, history etc. When I read the announcement to the children, the following actions ensued

Today we are going to go to the High School presentation of Culture Day  *Students eyes bug out*

It says that we will get food samples *Students’ mouths drop in a huge smile*

We will learn some words in each language *Students’ arms go up in the air*

There will be 3D replicas of geographic features *Students stand up on their chairs*

And much more *Students begin yelling with uncontrollable glee*

Needless to say, they were very impressed with the whole thing. Other than that….

In language arts we finished up our media unit successfully, with all students making As (Thank you Jesus that I was able to create a fair test that didn’t fail them all!) Evaluating media purpose and techniques is TOO HARD for my six and seven-year-olds! We’re also plugging away at our blue books.

In math, we began our topic on adding/subtracting tens and ones. We start by adding tens on a hundreds chart (practicing counting how many rows we go down) then add tens and ones using a hundreds chart. Then addition without a hundreds chart. It was pretty slick…

In social studies, we finished up goods and services and then learned about markets: the places where goods and services can be exchanged. All the munchkins got 100s on that quiz. Yay munchkins!

In science, we began learning about the parts and functions of plants through activities including a two-day plant lab. *OOOOOO! AAAAAAA!* I stuck a stalk of celery into a vase of blue water and the students observed how the blue water was traveling up the stalk. They also tried to pull plants out of soil: Plant A had no roots and plant B did. All the kids now know that roots keep plants in soil. We made leaf rubbings and examined the ways that flowers attract bees and butterflies.


28 Down, 9 To Go


I’m so glad that things are back to normal! The Iowa Tests are over and now we’re plugging away again.

In language arts, we began our much-anticipated blue book–an animal fantasy narrative. The students looked at books and created a list of characters and settings that they thought were interesting. Then they began outlining the plot of their book. In reading we began to talk about different types media (books, magazines, newspapers, internet etc.), their purpose, and the techniques they use to accomplish that purpose.

In math, we finished up our subtraction unit.  It was all about relating subtraction facts to the addition facts that they had already learned. We called them “related facts” and “fact families.”  Some of the kiddos got the hang of it right away and could easily see how 3+2=5,  2+3=5,  5-2=3,  and 5-3=2 are related. Some had no clue…and it drove me bananas! I would ask them about a fact family and they would say: 1+2=3 , 2+1=3,  3-1=2, and 3+3=6.  Argh!

In social studies, we talked about goods and services.  We played lots of games and did lots of activities and they all basically came down to sorting into goods and services. But it was fun.

In science, we began our large unit on biology by classifying objects as living or non-living and identifying the characteristics of living things.  They memorized: Living things need food and water. Living things can grow.


Oh, I almost forgot. We also did a mini-lesson on manners during the time we usually work on our end-of-the-year play.  We read an alphabet book that instructed students about different types of manners. Then students created their own manners page, just like the pages we read for a class book. Here are two of my favorite entries:

D-Don’t use the b-word. Don’t use the d-word or the f-word or the st-word, or the sh-word, or any bad words.

N- No pushing, no hitting, and stay out of people’s kitchens