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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March Poetry & Craftivity Freebie

It's about time, teachers. . . for March winds to blow in some springtime sun and weather.  Where I live, in central IL, it's beautiful, sunny, and unseasonably warm.  Lovin' it!  

Since March is blowing in, it's time to start some March poetry, my passion.  One of my favorite 1st grade poetry activities is. . .

Use the following poem for handwriting practice (another of my passions, but I'll climb atop my soap box on that topic another time).  As you write each line of the poem on the board for your students to copy, you have the perfect opportunity to conduct myriad mini-lessons.  Think out loud with your students as you capitalize the proper nouns, insert punctuation, read the punctuation, notice rhyming words, apply suffixes, highlight high frequency words, . . .  The possibilities are almost endless, the review priceless, and the ability to succeed guaranteed.  (The latter being 1 of the chief reasons I prize handwriting practice so much.)

March is blowing, 
Huffity puff.
March is showing 
Liony stuff.
March is crying, 
"I really am,
Trying to be 
An April lamb."
by Carol Quinn

Reward their hard work by having them create lions and lambs from paper plates.  My craftivities for this are pretty simple, straightforward, and time friendly (since we all have to feel the urgency in educating our students).  

Each student will need 2 plain white paper plates, crayons, 5 or 6 cotton balls, crayons, glue and construction paper scraps.

The lion is easiest.  Using their crayons, the students draw a lion's face on the flat, center section of the plate.  Then color the mane on the bumpy part, interspersing shades of brown and yellow.

The lamb takes a bit more time.  We created everything on the lamb using scraps of construction paper, except the mouth.  You could simplify this by using crayons or markers to make the eyes and nose, as well.  But, I think it's well worth the time to make the eyelids with curly eyelashes.  Glue cotton balls on the forehead, or, if you have a plethora of cotton balls, they could be glued all around the bumpy part of the plate.  

You can see that we staple the ears on.  After many years of trying to glue them, let me tell you, it just doesn't work.  So break out the stapler and move on.

Make a bulletin board graph using these crafts.  Have your students place their lion or lamb in the appropriate cell of the graph. BTW, a really quick and easy way to make lines on the bulletin board is to use yarn.  

Now, March winds, do your work: blow winter away and usher in spring.

If you like this activity, you may also like:


Find it here.
Spring Poetry Possibilities will be coming soon.  Watch for it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tooth Fairy Fun Freebie

It's about time, teachers, say good-bye to February and Dental Health Month.  But before it's gone, I have another FREEBIE to share.  It's from my Destination Imagination unit on TpT.  It's called Tooth Fairy Mystery and is my alternative to Show & Tell.

Above is the assignment sheet that I distribute 1 week before the project is due.  Then on the due date, the children share their pictures and stories with the class.  Thus, they have the opportunity to exercise their oral communication skills, but with a purpose.  Participation is always voluntary, and encouraged, I have found, by giving out participation certificates.  (See below.)

If you teach the primary grades, then you have certainly experienced children losing teeth in school.  For years, I sent the teeth home in zip lock bags.  Then, once I reached the empty nest era of my life, I found the time to create little felt bags to keep the tooth extra safe on it's journey to the Tooth Fairy.  These tooth bags are super easy to make from a small piece of felt and some cording.  They can be done completely by hand, or speed it up by breaking out your sewing machine.

As my 2 beautiful granddaughters approach the time to start losing teeth, I have created Tooth Fairy boxes for them.  I think they are going to love them!

The boxes were $1 at Michael's.  I found the heavy duty stickers that trim them there, too.  Finally, I dressed up the exterior with ribbon scraps.  My first grandson will arrive in May; can hardly wait!!!  So, I'm thinking about a pirate theme for his Tooth Fairy box.  I guess I have plenty of time to mull that over.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Another Leap Year FREEBIE!

It's about time teachers, ...  for Leap Year.  Actually, Leap Year is already here, but we are approaching Leap DAY.  In honor of that special event, I am offering another freebie.  This one is designed for GATE, exercising your students' fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality.  It's called Leaping Lizards and is part of my TpT product Destination Imagination.  

Before you look at the product, you have to hear how it came about.  After years of hosting Show & Tell without ever really listening, I tuned in one day.  Chrissy came to the front of the class and with all the drama of a diva, pointed out a rather loose tooth at the front of her mouth. Then, one hand on hip, and using the other hand to shake a menacing finger at the class, she proceeded to warn everyone to stay away from her at recess because she was NOT going to lose that tooth at school!  Then she concluded with the additional admonition that the boys, especially, had better keep their distance.  I'm pretty sure I heard a growl.

I'm nearly certain that those moves mimic her MOTHER.  = )

Then Jeff took his turn at Show & Tell.  With great ceremony and exaggerated courtesy, Jeff asked if he could use a chair for his Show & Tell. Naturally I agreed.  He sat on the chair and quickly removed one shoe and sock.  Then, holding his foot straight out in front of him, he declared that everyone needed to line up and take a look at the planters wart on the bottom of his foot because after school his mother was taking him to the doctor's to have it removed.

By the time all of this occurred, I had been teaching for 15 years.  What did I miss all of those years?!?!?!?

Following that unforgettable day, I decided I needed to up the ante on Show & Tell day.  Hence, I devised and instituted Destination Imagination.  Succinctly, an assignment sheet is sent home each Friday describing the coming week's challenge.  The following Friday, students who choose to participate, present and explain their products.  Participation generally runs at around 70%, which is better than traditional Show & Tell.  My kiddos have a purpose for their oral presentation and a week's worth of working in a positive and productive way with their families.  It is also a wonderful home-school connection that directs eager parents to work with their children in a constructive manner.

Following is the assignment sheet for the Leap Year activity:

These activities became legendary in my building.  Parents loved them and my colleagues clamored to borrow them.  So, I created "Notes to the teacher" explaining some of the pitfalls and lessons I learned through years of using the challenges.  When I became the enrichment specialist and resource teacher for the school, I found these Notes saved me many, many repetitions in answering questions from the teachers.

First graders will do almost anything for a participation certificate, at least in my experience.  Each challenge then, has a certificate that is ready to print and distribute to those who participate.  Following is the page with "Notes to the teacher" and the certificate.

If you like this product, you can find it in my TpT store here.  For another example of a component of the unit, check out my Jazzy Jack-o'-lanterns freebie on TpT.

You may also like:
Or you may enjoy:

For younger G/T students, you may like:
find it here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Presidents' Day Craftivities

It's about time, teachers, to honor our presidents, especially those born in Feb.  I've got 2 craftivities that will brighten your classroom and engage your students.

#1:  Presidential Silhouettes and Weaving

For every student you will need 1 sheet each of red, white and blue 9"x12" construction paper.  You will also need cardboard patterns of Washington & Lincoln.  The beauty of this project is that by encouraging your students to choose 2 colors of their choice for the background, saving the 3rd for the silhouette, you will give your classroom a burst of color without having all 20+ projects look the same.  

Since paper weaving has been around forever, I'm assuming you know how to create the woven background.  After each student has chosen which 2 colors to use for the weaving part, ask them to exchange 1 of those sheets for about 6 - 8 pre-cut strips of the same color.  I always cut my strips about 1" wide for 1st graders. 

When the weaving is completed, each child should borrow the silhouette pattern of their choice to trace on their remaining sheet of paper.   After tracing, if they are careful about cutting out the silhouette, they can actually make a 2 sided craft.  One side features the traditional silhouette.  The other side can host the scraps from the silhouette making a reverse or negative image. (See Lincoln projects above.)  Of course, just gluing the silhouette on 1 side makes a perfectly good craft.

I strongly recommend cutting the patterns out of sturdy cardboard, such as from the back of a tablet of paper, in order to have them survive for next year's students.

You could also do the weaving project with patriotic symbols, such as the star, above.  And, again, you can use the scraps to create the negative on the backside.  A star and liberty bell pattern can be found below.

#2 Patriotic Chalk Art:

This is one of my all time favorite crafts, but please realize it can be quite messy.  The pattern piece above actually reflects 2 methods of making the chalk rubbings.  One uses the shape pattern and rubs out from the edges; the other uses the scrap or negative of the shape with rubbings going in toward the center.

For the bell images above, provide cardboard patterns for the shapes.  Ask your students to trace the pattern on construction paper (color doesn't matter).  Insist that they trace the pattern onto another piece of paper because if they all try to rub chalk on the pattern, you will endure many complaints about purple symbols.  Each child should use his/her own shape.  

After cutting the shape out, students should generously rub blue or red chalk around the edges of the shape.  They MUST do this on what I call a "dirty" sheet, which is actually paper reclaimed from the recycling box.  It is essential that they rub the chalk on while on the dirty sheet, then move to the chosen construction paper background.  Demonstrate holding the shape securely with one hand while pushing the chalk out onto the background paper with 1 finger (hence the messy part).  You can make this project as easy or challenging as you like by making a single shape on the background or using multiple shapes and colors all on the same background, perhaps creating complex patterns.

The negative version of this craft works much like the presidential silhouettes above.  After cutting out the shape, the student should tape the scraps together (see lower left corner) and then rub the chalk around the edges of the missing shape.  Again, this step must be done on a dirty sheet.  Then, holding the negative steady with one hand, have the children rub the chalk toward the center on their background paper.  

Clean up absolutely requires lots of soapy hand washing in order to prevent chalk smudges everywhere, and especially on their clothes.

These patterns can be cut out of card stock or heavier cardboard.  You should insist that the students not put chalk on your templates.  Who wants to have to remake the patterns year after year????

Enjoy Presidents' Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Leap Year FREEBIE!

It's about time, teachers, . . . for Leap Year.  So leap on over to my TpT store to download this freebie.  It has literacy center ideas, a craftivity link, and a couple of ideas for sponge activities that exercise your students' verbal fluency and orginality.  Here's what it looks like:

Remember, it's FREE.  You can download it here.  OK, you can start leaping for joy now. ;o)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Poetry Possibilities -- February

Do you love poetry but struggle with how to use it in your teaching?  Do you eschew poetry lessons because your schedule is too tightly packed to allow "frivolities?"  Did you know that reading poetry is the #1 way to improve reading fluency?  What you need is a plan that allows you to include poetry in your teaching while maximizing skill building and efficiently using your precious instructional time.  You can find such plans in my series, Poetry Possibilities.

Poetry Possibilities -- February is a collection of 17 poems covering Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day, and the 100th Day of School.  Each poem is accompanied by a set of Possibilities for your teaching pleasure.  For example, the following poem about Valentine's Day is included in the unit:

The Poetry Possibilities that accompany this poem are:

As you can see, it is possible to use poetry in your teaching every day.  You can incorporate it into centers, guided reading lessons, art activities, movement activities, music, math, social studies, science, etc.  If you like this preview of the product, you can find it here.

I hope you don't think I forgot about Black History Month.  In fact, I created a product, Black History Month Poetry Possibilities with 14 poems about Black Americans of note.  

You can also find a FREE Poetry Possibilities product, Poetry Possibilities -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which can, of course, be used in your Black History Month studies.  There are 3 poems about MLK, Jr. in this product.

You may also be interested in Poetry Possibilities for Winter.  It has 20 poems about winter topics with teaching points and possibilities.

I am hoping to have Poetry Possibilities for March up soon.  Until then, please remember to make the world a better place by teaching with poetry.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine's Day Hink Pinks, ... Freebie

Another holiday, another set of Hink Pinks, Hinky Pinkies, and Hinkity Pinkities.  Ever since I attended my 1st state conference for Gifted and Talented Education, I have seen, heard and read about Hink Pinks.  These vocabulary building, problem solving, critical thinking riddles are staples  in GATE.  Perhaps my decades long connection with Hink Pinks, et al, is best explained by the fact that my students absolutely love them!  They loved them when I was in the classroom and when I became an enrichment resource teacher, my pull-out students literally begged for more of them.

If you are new to the land of Hink Pinks, here's how they work:
  • Hink Pinks are riddles wherein the clues lead you to a 2 word answer.  Each answer word must have just 1 syllable and the 2 answer words must rhyme.
  • Hinky Pinkies are riddles seeking answers with 2 syllables in each word.  The 2 words must rhyme.
  • Hinkity Pinkities are rhyming answer words with 3 syllables each.

Some teachers like to distribute these clues on a work sheet, but I continually strive to eliminate worksheets from my teaching. About 20 years ago, I started putting the clues on 1/4 sheet cards.  By doing so, I was able to create a resource that was ready to use year after year.  

Armed with my Hink Pink, et al cards, I was able to use them as an anchor activity when students were arriving each morning. They also work well as a sponge activity or at a center.  When working as a pull-out enrichment specialist, I used these cards as a warm-up activity.  Without a doubt, G/T students are enthralled with these riddles.  But, I also found that "average" students were intrigued and set their caps to solve them.   

In my TpT store, I am offering a FREE set of Valentine's Day Hink Pinks, Hinky Pinkies, and Hinkity Pinkities.  Here's a preview:

The answer to this Hink Pink is sweet treat.

The answer to this Hinky Pinky is sandy candy.  
The answer to the Hinkity Pinkity below is valentine turpentine.

There are 24 cards in this FREE set.  Naturally, there is an answer key.  Did I mention that it is FREE?  You can retrieve your copy here.

If you like this product, you may like these, as well:
  Find it here.

 Find it here.

Find it here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

100th Day of School

If February isn't the most crowded month for teaching themes (Groundhog Day, Presidents' Day, Black History Month, Valentine's Day), I don't know what is.  In my district, the 100th Day of School also falls in Feb.  I typically immerse my students in that theme for the entire day with centers, activities, and book links.  In our whole group times and in some reading groups, I like to present poetry about this special day.  For example,

My free product on TpT --
-- has 4 poems with Possibilities accompanying each of them.  The Possibilities are an eclectic group of teaching ideas that range from poetic devices to guided reading lessons.  For the above poem, the Possibilities are:

To get all 4 poems and the Poetry Possibilities I created for each one, go here.  Remember, it's FREE!!  Enjoy.

If you like this product, you may wish to look at my other Poetry Possibilities products for February: