Saturday, June 1, 2013

LOTS of Spring Activities, Fun Photos, and a FREEBIE!

While many of you out there are thinking more along the lines of SUMMER BREAK - maybe your vacation has even started already... lucky you! - our school is still thinking Spring, or at least I am.  We are on a non-traditional year-round schedule, so our last day of school is not until June 20th.  Anyway, I have LOTS of photos and ideas for some fun Spring activities to share with you today!
You may have read in the past about the calendars that my two First Grade groups work on each month.  I love having the kids do these because they incorporate numbers, writing, art, discussion, and the calendar concept.  Here are the calendars that we created for the month of March:
My kiddos also had the option of creating a bird (with their handprints as the bird wings) or a kite, if they chose not to create an Easter basket.

As always, the students had to respond (verbally and through writing and illustrating) to the following question, "What can we do this month?"  The actual calendars are glued at the bottom.
This was my May example.  You can see how we always highlight holidays, birthdays, and special events that are going on at our school.
I wanted my students to create Spring scenes as their artwork for the month of May, but there was NO WAY I was going to take the time to cut out these little pieces and there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I was going to waste valuable learning time having the kids cut out all those pieces, soooo...
I contacted the Production Center at our district office building!  Do you have something like this in your school district?  They will cut out designs and letters, laminate, bind books, etc. all for a minimal fee.  Such lifesavors, they are!  And they are FAST!  I sent them an e-mail and in a matter of a few days, these arrived in my mailbox.  How easy is that!?
I was able to get all of these for a little over $3.00!!
Here is a close-up of one, but I am sure you get the picture:
Creative minds at work!  I love providing my students with opportunities to use their artistic sides, but yet not taking up too much of our valuable time doing so.

 Here are some of their Spring scene creations: 

Almost all of my groups participated in some sort of Easter egg hunt.  I couldn't just let the kids "have fun"... I tied the activity to academics.  (What a mean teacher, I am!  Hehe.)  My intermediate kids, who are reading chapter books, found eggs that had questions inside about the stories they are reading.  They, of course, had to write the answers on a provided recording sheet, after the hunt was over.  My primary kids found eggs that had high frequency words, questions about books we had read recently, etc. depending on their needs.

You would think the egg hunt would go rather quickly, given the fact that I teach in a small room... but it took them longer than I anticipated to find all the egss.  Some of them seemed to be lost for good!

In the 4K classroom, we were learning about how living things grow and change.  One week, we focused on gardens, plants, and flowers.  We read the book, I'm a Seed, by Jean Marzollo (super cute book)!
Then, I partnered up the kiddos and gave each set of partners a little baby food container that held various types of seeds:  corn, watermelon, sunflower, pumpkin, peas, etc. 
I just bought the packets of seeds at Wal-Mart for a buck each.  The plastic containers are Gerber baby food containers that my husband so kindly washes for me, after my baby boy is done eating.  :)  My hubby keeps asking me if I need more... really I don't, but I just cannot stand the thought of recycling them. 

I instructed the kids to sort the seeds into groups, any way they liked.  But I told them they had to EXPLAIN to me how they sorted.  Hard at work!  I just love this sight!  :)


A group of my Second Grade students read the following books for Earth Day:
(Todd Parr is one of my very FAVORITE children's book authors and illustrators!!  His illustrations are colorful, simple, and clean.  His words are easy-to-comprehend, yet powerful.  I highly recommend any and all of his books!)
I found this one by accident at Barnes and Noble.  Once I started skimming the pages, I knew I had to have it!!
Then, the students wrote about ways they can help the Earth.  I required them to include an opening, 3 support statements, a closing, and temporal words.

We glued their writing pieces to green construction paper.  They made a green handprint on light blue paper (to represent the land and water on Earth) and sprinkled it with glitter.  Finally, we took their photos as though they were holding the Earth, cut them out, and glued them accordingly.
Here are some close-up shots of their work:

(The Earth is heavy!!  What a hoot, she is!)

(Or maybe it's not such a challenge to hold.  This guy is taking a nap!)

We also went outside one day, so the students could write about what they saw, heard, smelled, and touched outdoors.  They love any reason to go outside; I love any way I can get them excited about writing.  :)  Oh yeah, and anytime students get to use a clipboard...that really gets them geeked!
 (Random side note:  Do you see the yellow and blue playground set?  Along with several very generous donations, our students raised money to purchase that set!  Our staff is currently looking into ways to raise money for phase 2 of the playground.  If you have any great ideas, please share!  I would so appreciate it!)
So I have a group of primary kiddos (1 Kindergarten, 3 First Grade) that are pretty low, in terms of their English language acquisition (though they have made awesome gains this year).  Academically speaking, each of them is quite high.  But we focus quite a bit on vocabulary and the 4 domains: speaking, listening, reading, and writing in the English language.  All the activities they have been doing are tied into our "Spring" theme in one way or another.  So we had to build that Spring vocabulary.  We started with a Word Wall.
We created booklets, in which they had to read the vocabulary word, say a sentence using that word, write the sentence, then illustrate the sentence.  This took several of our sessions together, but it was totally worth it and the boys really loved making their booklets.
Recently, the kiddos participated in a vocabulary review using technology - iPads... and boy were they ever excited!  (Our school is quite fortunate because we have an entire class set of iPads.  We do have to share with the whole school, but our school is kind of small, so getting our hands on them is not that difficult.)
Are you familiar with QR Codes?  If not, I recommend checking out QR Stuff.  It is a free, easy-to-use, pretty self-explanatory website for creating, downloading, saving, and printing QR codes.
I created 12 QR codes for 12 of our Spring vocabulary words.  Then, I printed them, cut them out, and taped them around our classroom.  I also stuck a number card next to each QR code.
First, we discussed my expectations for iPad usage:  1) Only use the iPad in the way that Mrs. Unger is instructing you to do.  In other words, they were not allowed to poke around on other apps...stay on task.  2)  Use the iPad with care.  We talked about things to do and NOT do with the iPads.
Then, I gave each of my kiddos a recording sheet and explained the directions.  Their job was to hunt for QR codes, scan the code, verbally identify the picture that popped up, go back to the table (I teach in a very small room, otherwise I would give the kids clipboards to write on), read the word that matched the picture, then write the corresponding number in the circle next to the word.
By the way, the name of the app on our iPads that we use to scan QR codes is "Scan."
If you would like to snag a copy of this FREEBIE to use in your own classroom, please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking HERE!
(The green scallop frame was a generous freebie from Kyp McLaren.)

So this was my first experience trying out QR codes and it went over REALLY well!  The activity was easy-peezy to set up, the kids LOVED it, they were using technology, and the kids were able to get up and move around, while reviewing vocabulary.

I have a group of 1st graders who also spied the QR codes taped around the room.  When the kids asked what they were and I explained, they also wanted to partake in the fun.  This group did not need help on Spring vocabulary, nor was that something they had been working on, BUT I just could not resist allowing them to have a little fun with the iPads, too.  (Next time I will be better prepared and have a QR Code Hunt ready that aligns with what they are learning and doing.)

Anyway, back to my Kindergarten / First Grade group of ELLs that was working on Spring vocabulary... here is another review activity that we did the other day.  This was a listening activity.
First, I had the kids start at the table, standing with their hands on the table.

Then, I gave clues by describing a Spring object / one of our vocabulary words.  The boys then had to walk around the classroom until the found the corresponding picture laying on the floor.  I had told them to stand on our around the picture, but they decided a group hug seemed more appropriate.  ;)
 I really liked doing this activity with them because it was easy to set up, it was quick to implement, it focused on one of the 4 ELL domains (listening), the kids were up and moving, and it was a fun way to review our vocabulary again.
 This 1st Grade / Kindergarten group read Spring-themed poetry.  I assigned each of them a different poem, based on their reading levels.  They practiced independently and with the teacher before reading it aloud to the small group.  They were so proud of them themselves when they were able to read them in front of the group!
 I had planned to work on acrostic poems with a group of my 2nd grade students, so you can imagine my excitement when I found this book in our school library!  We started off by reading this mentor text.
Then, we created an anchor chart of Spring-related words.  My intent was for the students to use this (along with our Spring-themed Word Wall) when they got stuck coming up with sentences that started with the letters in their chosen Spring word.

Next, the students chose a Spring word and got to work.  I have to be honest... I was expecting to have to provide LOTS of support with this activity (I thought it would be challenging for them to come up with sentences that started with a certain letter AND related to their chosen word), but these kiddos with their creativity.  They came up with better sentences than I would have ever thought of!

(Side note:  I laminated some scrapbook paper and taped them to my door to provide pretty backgrounds behind my students' work.  I really like the way it turned out!  I intend on changing up the scrapbook paper each season.)
 Well, I have run out of pictures, so I guess that means I am (finally) done.  I hope you were able to snag a few ideas that you can use in your own classroom.  Have fun!  As always, thank you for stopping by.  :)

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