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Animal Habitats in First Grade!!

Stacy here and I am lovin what we did during our study of animals and their habitats.  We started the week talking about wild animals and their habitats.  Our project  inspirations came from our story of the week "Animal Park" which focused on animals found in Africa.

And then I was reminded by Shelley Gray of those quadramas (only we did a triarama) that make great bases for a habitat project!!!  Wow!!!  My parents loved this family project!!  They did an AWESOME job!!

And then I thought...Oh my gosh!  I have the zoo unit from Mrs. Jump that would go PERFECT with what we are learning!!  Wow!!!  My class loved this too!

I would love to hear how you integrate Animal science into your busy schedules!!


Hey sweet friends!!  It’s Cara from The First Grade Parade!  I don’t know why, but every year I’m amazed at how much kids LOVE Science.  They get SO excited to explore and experiment.  I think it’s SO important to keep their curiosity and love of science nurtured.   This year, my fabulously creative team leader came up with a fun idea to make sure we keep the kids excited about science.  Her idea was to do experiments with the kids EVERY Friday and we’ll call it SCI-FRI!!!  Do you love that or what?!?!  Major props to sweet Nancy for this fabulous idea!!    My kids absolutely DIE for SCI-FRI!  The first thing they ask me Friday mornings is, “What’s our sci-fri experiment today???!?!”  They love it!  And they’re already such little pros with the scientific process…they’re even using some really great science vocabulary when we’re experimenting!  LOVE IT!!!! 

Our first Sci-Fri experiment of the year revolved around Gobstoppers.  I had to leave early that Friday to take care of a little sickie at home, so I didn’t get any pics.

We did a fun little bubble experiment a couple of weeks ago and the kids went NUTS.  For this activity, we mixed glycerin and water to make a bubble solution.  Then we had our grade level moms make a class set of construction paper bubble blowers for each room. 


We poured the bubble mix into little dishes and soaked the blower for a few seconds. scifri2

We had the kids predict what would happen each time we dunked the blower into the mix.  They finally came to the conclusion that the bubbles would be bigger and better the wetter the blower.  We blew bubbles and told the kids to observe what happened when they landed.  Of course, they popped.  Then we asked what would happen if we touched the bubble with our fingers.  Of course, they popped again! 


When we asked them what would happen when we wet a straw and poked the bubble with it, they were SO not expecting the result…


How fun is that?!  They were SO not expecting the straw to go right through the bubble!!!  We came to the conclusion that when bubbles come into contact with wet surfaces, they don’t pop as easy!



Last week, we did a science experiment involving food coloring, milk, qtips, and dishwashing liquid.  The kids were nuts for this one, too!


We poured a little milk into a petri dish and set it on a white piece of construction paper {to see the colors easier}.  I dropped a little drop of each color into the milk…close to the center of the dish…and asked the kids what would happen if I dipped the qtip into the middle of the food coloring.  They predicted the colors would swirl together. 


Notsomuch.  The colors pretty much stayed in the center of the dish.  Not a whole lotta mixin’ goin’ on there.  SO…I asked them to predict what would happen if I wet my qtip and dipped it into the center of the dish. 


They predicted the colors would disappear.  HA!  As you can see, that didn’t happen either, but they did spread just a bit.   Then I dipped my qtip into some Dawn dishwashing liquid and asked what would happen when I put it in the food coloring.  They predicted the colors would wash away. 


That didn’t exactly happen, but you should’ve seen the colors SHOOT from the center to the side of the dish in an instant!!  It was AWESOME!  The kids LOVED it!!!  Of course, we had to do this several times because it was seriously the coolest. 

{I should mention that we used a new petri dish each time we conducted the experiment.}

One of my little smarties said, “This is kinda like when we wash our bodies.  When our bodies are dirty and dry and you try to clean it off with a towel or something, nothing happens.  When you clean it with water, just a little dirt comes off.  But when you wash with soap, the dirt just washes away!!!”  Ohmiword.  Kiss your brain!

These were both such FUN experiments and we’re looking forward to a year full of more and more!!!  Sci-Fri is quickly becoming my favorite activity of the week!!!  Each time the kids do an experiment, they complete an observation sheet to add to their Science journals.  I love to see their excitement when they talk about these experiments to their friends.  As much as I love Sci-Fri’s, I think the kids love them even more!!!

I’d LOVE to hear about the fun things you do in your classroom to keep your kids excited about Science!

Fall Treat Bags!

Hey all!!  This is Stacy again from Mrs. Johnson's First Grade sharing a cute treat bag activity I do with my students (and daughter) to celebrate Fall and to take home party favors after our festival activites.  I am also giving away 21 of these bags with decorations for you to make with your students!  Click the link at the bottom to find out more.

My 4 year old daughter (Blondie on the left) and her cousin (who are 3 days apart in age) really loved this activity!  I was drawn to the craft stores and found these adorable canvas bags and cute fall foam stickers. 

They peeled the stickers and I helped them put some extra fabric glue on before placing them on the bags.  I recommend soda bottle lids to put glue in for students to use.  I also put a sheet of wax paper inside the bag to keep the bag from sticking together.

When they finished, I wrote their names on them with colored fabric glue.

Thanks for looking!!

Just click the link below to find out more about my giveaway!


What Do You Do With Your Word Wall?

Hello Blog Hoppers!  It's Erica Bohrer of Erica Bohrer's First Grade and author of 50 Just Right Reading Response Activity Sheets for Young Learners.  I hope your school year started off awesome.

This is my 10th year as a teacher!  Over these ten years, I have changed how I set up the word wall in my classroom.  My first year, I cut up the words from the
Learning Sight Words is Easy! book.  The next year I used spelling words, which were a mix of sight words and word family words.  I would put them up on the word wall as we went through each reading story.  Then last year, I just printed up 200 high frequency words and put them all on the word wall at once.  That was not the best of plans, as the words became like wallpaper to the students and they really did not refer to them. So this year, I decided to use high frequency sight words and type them up with pretty polka dot backgrounds to match my classroom (click {here} to check them out on TpT).  Each week, we review a new phonic element and new sight words that follow that rule.  For example, the second week of school, we focused on words with consonant m.  I focused on reviewing those sight words with initial m and those words then went on the word wall.  For word family work, we worked on words in the -am word family and those words were on display in a word family house.

To get my students to review the words on the word wall, I created a simple Read/Write the Room Worksheet, that I used during literacy centers.  This worksheet asks them to record words they find around the room.  The directions ask them to find words that begin with letter _____.  You can fill in the blank for any letter that you like and/or may be reviewing with your students.
Click {here} to get this center activity for free Read/Write the Room Worksheet through TpT!  Look around my store, I have 23 other free items!

How do you utilize your word wall?
Happy Teaching!
-Erica Bohrer

P.S. -Here is my book if your are interested.  Click {here} for a post on how I became a published author.

Bee-utiful Bees!

I live in Central Illinois and we are harvesting apples here! This is a perfect time for my kinders to learn how bees help apples to grow!
We sing the parts of an insect:
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen
I have 6 long legs and compound eyes
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen!
(Tune: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes)

We explore how insects see through their compound eyes.
We learn how bees gather pollen and nectar from blossoms.

This is not my original idea. I think that I got the idea from a Mailbox magazine a few years ago. You will need a bag of Cheese Puffs or Cheese popcorn, life savers, and a large bowl. I drew flower petals onto construction paper and used masking tape to attach to the sides of the bowl. Put life savers (nectar) in the bottom of a large bowl and cover them with Cheetos (pollen). The children take turns plunging their hands into the Cheetos in search of the life savers. When they remove their hands from the Cheetos, there should be “pollen” all over their hands! Wow – just like the body of a bee looks as it moves from blossom to blossom gathering nectar.

We make a Styrofoam bee.

Directions for Bee:

Supplies per student: 3 two-inch Styrofoam balls, (Styrofoam balls can be pricey, so I ask each parent to supply 3 for their own child. They often come 6 to a package and many parents are willing to share their package with a family that cannot afford to purchase them. You can get Styrofoam balls at Michaels and Hobby Lobby. Sometimes you can get them at Wal-Mart in the craft department. Make sure that they are craft balls and not floral balls. Floral Styrofoam is harder than craft Styrofoam and difficult for little fingers to use!)
1 wooden kabob stick, black felt cut into 1/2 inch strips, 4 black pipe cleaners, 2 large craft jewels, plastic (I use laminating film scraps) or waxed paper, 1 coffee stirrer or small diameter straw, yellow paint (I use Tempera), straight pins, 6 yellow pony beads

Teacher does steps 1,9, and 10.
Step 1: Push the Styrofoam balls through the wooden kabob stick. Seal with hot glue where Styrofoam balls meet. Trim the ends if the stick is too long.

Students do Steps 2 - 8
Step 2: Paint all three Styrofoam balls with yellow paint. Let dry.
Step 3: Use straight pins to attach black felt strips to the abdomen.

Step 4: Push black pipe cleaners into the thorax. I cut them in half - three to a side. Thread yellow beads to the back legs. These are the pollen baskets.

Step 5: Cut a coffee stirrer in half. Push into head for a mouth. (A bee has a mouth like a straw.)
Step 6: Cut a black pipe cleaner into thirds. Use two of them for antennae. Push into the top of the head.

Step 7: Draw 4 ovals onto plastic film or waxed paper. Cut out.
Step 8: Attach wings to thorax with straight pins.

Step 9: Use tacky glue or hot glue to attach the eyes. I use craft jewels with facets to make them look like compound eyes. (Students can do this step if you use tacky glue. It frustrates them, though, when their eyes don't stick right away! :) That is why I let them pick out their eyes and I hot glue them to the head!)
Step 10: Push an opened paper clip into the top of the thorax for a hook to hang your bee.
Seal with hot glue.

This is such a fun project for my students to do! When they are finished, they can name all the parts of an insect, tell me how many legs an insect has, and what type of mouth part a bee has and how it uses it! It is well worth the time it takes to complete!

Personalizing Book Boxes

Here's a quick tip!  If you're looking for an inexpensive way to incorporate book boxes in your classroom without breaking the bank, have your students decorate cereal boxes with wrapping paper, magazine cutouts, scrapbook paper, pictures, or anything else that has meaning to them.  The obvious downside is that they aren't as durable as the tubs you can purchase from Really Good Stuff...but the kids handle them with care because they are personalized with things that are important to them. 

Click below to check out my blog! 

Bird Project and Video

We had a lot of fun this week with birds and I wanted to share some of it with you.  All the details of our activities can be found at Mrs. Johnson's First Grade, but here are just a few things we did.

Baby Fly Catcher Video

Bird feeders and observations

Light Up Your Phonics Instruction

Hi Friends,
It’s Hope King from Second Grade Shenanigans and I am so excited about one of the newest strategies that I have implemented into my classroom to help my sweet little struggling spellers/decoders. Lately, my little phonics group that is still hard at working mastering the “sound it out” technique has really been uninterested bored out of their minds  straight up struggling!  I have tried everything…AND I MEAN EVERYTHING to get their attention, catch their eye and really get them focused on the importance of spelling and the knowledge of how words work. I must say…if you can’t pay attention to the CRAZY lady practically standing on her head…I don’t know what will work. I will have to say I was beginning to become a tad frustrated {not with them of course…with the “situation”}…yes we have ALL been there! So, I decided to try yet another little method to get them going. I bought some very inexpensive lights at Walmart to help them visually see how many sounds are in the words that we have been trying to spell. I was a hopin’ and a prayin’ that this would literally give them a light bulb moment.
I decided to use the lights {I refer to them as tap lights} during small group phonics instruction for my struggling readers and spellers. {A little note: these lights are now used with all of my groups…the kids are dying to get their hands on them}. Here is how the lights are working in our room.
As we sound out each word, the students tap a light for each sound.
Here we were working on the word scuff.
Once the students know how many sounds are in the word, they build the word using magnetic tiles.  Scuff has three sounds /sc/ /u/ /ff/ so the students turned on three lights. Then they pulled down the letters that represented each sound.
Now…here is the BEST part! When the student creates the word, I tap out the lights of the sounds that are correct. For example, in the word scuff, the student had the middle and ending sound correct, so I turned those lights off. They now know that something is wrong with their beginning sound. Rather than saying, no…you got the word wrong, they can correct a specific part.  {Ahhh…just thinking about how well these little lights have been working just makes this girl giddy!}
When all parts of the word are correct, the lights are all turned off and the student knows they are right on track! {I totally forgot the next picture had the word track until I looked down at the picture!}
I have had more success in the past three days of phonics instruction than I have had all year. My students are seriously on fire during phonics time and are beginning to manipulate letter sounds and create new words. Phonics Tap Light + My Students = A Match Made in Heaven. My other groups have been using the lights to segment words into syllables. They tap a light for each syllable in their word to learn how to break words apart.
If these lights are going to motivate my students with phonics {seriously…it was bad y’all} I may need my parents to provide a year supply of batteries to incorporate these little gems into all subject areas! J
How do you get your students enthused about phonics??? I am dying to know...just in case all of my lights burn out!