Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year, Old Stuff

Well hello, hello friends,

With just a little over a week of my winter vacation left, it's time to start getting back into lesson planning mode and gearing up to prep my classroom for the new year. Of course just as my luck would have it, after I took everything, and I mean everything, off the walls, I find out we're having one of the assistant superintendents come through for a visit. Really?!? Two days after a three week long vacation - playground balls.

I love the fall mural we completed last season and am looking forward to uncovering new winter facts, writing, and illustrating with my kids.


Starting with the sentence stem "It is fall because..." we wrote the following facts interactively:
  • birds like geese migrate.
  • the leaves turn red, yellow, orange, and brown,
  • the temperature falls and it is cooler.
  • the days fall shorter.
  • animals like squirrels store food like nuts.
  • we harvest crops like apples and pumpkins.
  • the leaves fall down.

My Gingerbread Unit was a HIT with the kiddos! It was a two week long unit where we compared characters, settings, and endings for various Gingerbread stories. The first week we focused on the Gingerbread Man/Boy, where our LOTW was "Hh" and I introduced the sight word "he". The second week we focused on the Gingerbread Girl and it was a super easy way to transition and introduce the "Sh" digraph and sight word "she".

FYT #85 - If you don't have extra money to spend to expand your read aloud library at the moment, look through local libraries in advance. I was almost a little too late last year and many of the Gingerbread stories I wanted were checked out, but I contacted numerous SD libraries to scavenge what I could and luckily managed to get my hands on a good variety.

My favorite part of this unit was the Gingerbread art! My students created fantastic paintings and their very own Gingerbread Boys/Girls.

Prep for the Decorate Your Own Gingerbread Boys/Girls: Buy card stock cut outs of boys and girls and paint them brown. Once they are dry they are ready for students to decorate with brightly colored 3D puffy paint and some imagination!

The set up of this project was probably the most fun part. For the last story of the unit, I re-read The Gingerbread Boy by Jim Lawrence.

This specific version works particularly well because unlike other Gingerbread stories, an eagle swoops down and takes the Gingerbread Boy away from the fox. After the read aloud I asked, "Boys and girls what do you think happened to the Gingerbread Boy?". Most of them responded with, "The eagle ate him", but nudge until you get someone who thinks the eagle flew away with the Gingerbread Boy.

I then took my students out for a walk in search of the eagle and the Gingerbread Boy. We put our detective goggles on and we were off! I had my parent volunteer spread out the blank Gingerbread Boy/Girl cut outs on the desks and baskets of puffy paint while we were gone. When we got back, my kids were shocked to find Gingerbread Boys/Girls on their desks. "Look! The eagle must've eaten all the decorations off these poor Gingerbread Boys and Girls. Looks like we'll have to redecorate them!". It was a fun and memorable art project after two weeks of hard work.

Lastly, I took a quick survey and a majority of my students had never tasted a gingerbread cookie before. I made sure to contact parents regarding any allergy concerns and threw a gingerbread party for my kids on the last day before our winter break. It was a sweet ending to a challenging and rewarding first half year of teaching.

I haven't put much consideration into any New Year's Resolutions this year but I just thought of one - don't drop the ball on my LOTW* posts like I did toward the end of 2012.

As always, thanks so much for reading!

*I can't be the only one that accidentally reads LOTW as LOTR right?

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