Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back to School Activities and Lots of Photos!

Happy summer to you!  I am going to start with a refresher on my current teaching position:  This is my second year of teaching ESL (4K through 5th grade) at a year-round school.  Our 2013-2014 school year began on July 10th, so I wanted to share a few activities that we did last month.
I happened to be in one of our 5K classrooms when I heard the homeroom teacher talking about lunchroom behavior.  A light bulb went off in my head, as I remembered that I have the perfect book for teaching little ones about proper lunchroom etiquette:
"Manners in the Lunchroom" by Amanda Doering Tourville.  There are a bunch of awesome books in this series ("Manners with a Library Book," "Manners on the School Bus," etc.), so be sure to check them out!
We read aloud and discussed the book, then we created these cutie patootie lunchboxes.  This craftivity idea originally came from Kindergarten...Kindergarten..., where Kathryn shares more books and activities that go well with this lesson.  She also provides us with a PDF version and a Word document (so you can edit the good and bad choices, so they align with the lunchroom rules of your cafeteria), so you can make them with your own students.  Thank you, Kathryn!
(This is not my belongs to Kathryn.  I need to get back into the habit of taking pictures!)
In order to informally assess what the students learned about lunchroom behavior, I broke out these Hands-Up Answer Boards from Smilemakers.
(I borrowed this image from Smilemakers.)
I read aloud some of the good and bad choices from our lunchbox craftivity.  If the students heard a good choice, they showed me the blue hand.  If the students heard a bad choice, they showed me the red hand.  Easy peezey, lemon squeezey and it worked well for an informal assessment!
THANK YOU to Smilemakers for generously donating these great boards!  The kiddos can also write on them with dry erase markers, so I know I will continually use these boards throughout the years to come.

I do have two suggestions for Smilemakers:
1 - If the boards were thicker, the kiddos would be able to use them anywhere.  Instead, we had to make sure we laid the boards on the floor, in order to have a hard surface to write on.
2 - The red on one side is perfect (kids think "No!" or "Stop!" when they see red).  I would suggest green - instead of blue - for the other side though (kids think "Yes!" or "Go!" when they see green).
So as you can see from the pictures above, I "push in" to whole group settings (4K, 5K, and 1st grade), but I also pull small groups (2nd through 5th grade).  With these small groups, we created this Pinterest-inspired "I am (a)..." writing activity
Just in case the pictures are not clear enough, I suppose I should explain what this is:  The kids created a huge letter "I" and wrote the words "am (a)..." on the side.  I decided to put (a) in parenthesis because some sentences did not need the word "a."  For example, "I am organized" does not need the word "a," where as "I am a student" does need the word "a."  I know...I am picky.
So then the students wrote adjectives and nouns that described themselves.  This actually took quite a bit of guidance, as the kiddos were having a hard time coming up with description words.  So I would come up with an idea, model how to write it, then they would compare that idea to themselves (Am I like that, too?  If not, is there a similar word that I could write?)  For example, when I wrote, "mommy," they would write "son" or "daughter" instead.

I really liked doing this because it allowed me to 1) get to know the kids, especially most of them were new to me and 2) see where they were at with their writing
Oh, and best of all, it was easy to implement.  As long as your have some markers, pencils, and loose leaf paper laying around, you are good to go!  Ah, yes...and I forgot to mention...the kids liked this activity!

Tip:  Play some music while the kids write!  I use Pandora a lot, specifically the Kidz Bop channel and the Disney Radio Stars channel.
We also utilized this FREE and AWESOME resource from Christina Bainbridge called "Getting to the CORE of our Classroom."  (She has a super cute blog called Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge that is totally worth checking out!)
Each student had a pencil, clipboard, and the recording sheet that Christina includes in her freebie.  They walked around my (very small) classroom and hunted for the apple cards.  Once they found a card, they wrote the secret letter that is found inside the apple.  (I especially loved this activity because the kids were able to get out of their chairs and move around!)
I attached the apple cards to the CORE or most important areas in our classroom:  1) the garbage can, 2) the seasonal word wall, 3) the traditional word wall, 4) the drawers with school supplies, 5) learning charts and posters, 6) the Kleenex box, and 7) hmmm...I cannot remember #7, haha!

After each student found all 7 core areas, we joined back at the table and discussed their findings.  Then, I asked them to look at the secret letters and read the secret message.  It was "WELCOME!"

My small groups also helped me with a project that turned out to be FAR more time-consuming than I had originally anticipated.  We tied plastic grocery store bags together and weaved this plastic "rope" through our fence outside in order to spell the words "ENROLL NOW!" (in English and Spanish).  (As mentioned earlier, we are a year-round school and parents often forget that we are an option that starts in July, so enrollment can be iffy until September.)

Two of my kiddos insisted I take a picture of them wearing our plastic "rope," haha!  I have no clue why, but it actually turned out to be a cute picture...if only you could see their adorable face!
Phew!  Two hours later and I am finally done writing this post.  (Does it take all of you that long when you write on your blogs!?)  It is 12:30pm here, so I supposed I should hop in the shower and get my day started, hehe.  Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Oh my gosh! I just came across this and am so happy my free classroom hunt worked so well for you! Yay!!

    *Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge*

    1. Yes, it was super fun...thanks to YOU! :D


Comments make my day!