Monday, October 29, 2012

Mr. Giso's Class Celebrates Halloween with Pumpkin Globes

The first grade in my school (all three classes) was fortunate to have pumpkins for each child donated this year.  WOW!  I had always wanted to make pumpkin globes, so this was my chance.  It was definitely a project!  I was very careful and knew it would be important to test each step ahead of time.  Also, my two grade one team members and I put our heads together to come up with a variety of solutions when we ran into trouble with this project.  The result is these fool proof directions for you to enjoy.  They look fantastic, so save this blog post for next season.  

First the pumpkins got cleaned with a bleach wipe.  After they dried, we used a small sponge to dab on acrylic blue paint.  Water based paint will not stick to the pumpkin.  We even did the bottoms of the pumpkins and lay them back right on the newspaper.  I placed the paint in cleaned meat trays for easy disposal.  Also, each desk was covered with a sheet of newspaper. 

Here are the pumpkins set out to dry on my kidney table.  The children thought they looked like Smurfs... so true.  After they were fully dried, I sprayed the pumpkins with a clear, acrylic spray.  Make sure it is low odor!  Also, I used the gloss can because I wanted the pumpkins to shine.  I let the pumpkins dry and resprayed them two more times (see below).  For about 20 pumpkins, I bought two cans and had plenty left over.

In the meantime, I conducted a few geography mini-lessons.  My goal was to introduce my students to the following points.
•Maps and globes show our planet in different ways
•Our planet has more water than land
•There are 7 main continents
•There are 4 main oceans
•Being a cartographer (map and globe maker) means being as accurate as possible. 
I used these catchy poems by Evan-Moor.  They came from an old big book of poems.  I tried to find the item, but I don't think it's made anymore.

Next, students colored a set of labels for the continents green.  You see them in the photograph above.  I printed these out from a geography blackline I had.  I printed them on full page labels made by Avery.  The box said they worked in copiers.  After that, the students cut out the labels and stuck them on.  We did this together, label by label.  I had plenty of maps and blow up globes around.  I also used Google Earth on my ENO board.  If you have not checked that out yet, let me say WOW!  I was able to spin the globe around and zoom in and out.  Click HERE to download this.

Before the labels were put on, I had a helpful parent cut out leaves out of foam board and write each child's name on them for me.  I punched a hole in the leaf and tied it on with two shades of green curly ribbon to look like vines.

Here is the finished project.  I love these!

Simply click HERE to printout a free set of the globe poems and directions for making this terrific project.  Happy Haunting to All!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It Looked Like Spilt Milk--Art and Science Integration

I'm sure many of you are familiar with this handy book with the repetitive text on which early readers rely to be successful as a beginning readers.  It's called It Looked Like Split Milk by Charles G. Shaw (scroll to the bottom of my blog to order it from Amazon).

In the first trimester of first grade, we study weather.  A fabulous colleague of mine shared this my first year as a first grade teacher. It's a fun and quick writing and art project that supplements our learning of cumulus clouds.  In the book, we are given "ink-blot like" images of things that look like an ice cream come, tree, birthday cake, etc., but really aren't.  After sharing the book in a read aloud, we make the connection on how the white and puffy clouds known as cumulus clouds, often look like different things in the sky.

Now, the fun begins!  I have students use an eye dropper to suck up and drop a few drops of white tempera paint on blue construction paper.  They fold it in half and rub the paper.  Next they open it up.  If they are satisfied with their creation, they are done.  If not, I let them add no more than two drops of paint in the center a final time.  They repeat the rubbing process.  

After that, students examine their paintings and imagine they are cumulus clouds.  What do they look like?  Students fill in a cloze prompt that copies the repetitive text in the book.  The end result is an interactive bulletin board.  I have students predict what each student said his or her cloud looked like and then lift the flap to confirm their predictions.  Here's the final products.

How about you try to guess a young artist or two's creations?  No peeking!

Ready for the answers?  The first one is a fish, the second one a spider and remarkably, the last one...check for yourself...

What's Mr Giso Making "Room to Read?" Pick #3

Sammy in the Sky
Written by Barbara Walsh
Paintings by Jamie Wyeth

"His name was Sam.  But I called him Sammy.

He had black and tan fur, large brown eyes, and a snout that could sniff three-day-old smells.  My dad said Sammy was the best hound dog in the world.  All I knew was that I loved Sammy and Sammy loved me."  

The above starts this poignant story about an unnamed girl and her beloved best friend named Sammy.  Sammy didn't mind wearing a pink bonnet to play house or being bandaged up to play doctor.  Sammy always seemed to know when the girl in this story was sad; he had a way of nuzzling his nose in his proud owner's lap and handing her his paw.  The love between the girl and her best friend Sammy was so powerful, she though it would last forever.

On Sammy's twelfth birthday, the girl's father found a lump on Sammy's neck.  A lump that made Sammy sick.  A lump that had no medicine to fix it.  Turning away to hide his tears, the girl's father says "We've got to love Sammy as much as we can because he's not going to be with us much longer."

One day Sammy was no longer able to stand up in the kitchen.  In an emotional, child friendly manner, mother explains the reality that Sammy is going to die.  She describes his body as an "empty shell," but his spirit as something that will be kept alive forever.

The girl's younger sister serves as a foil character in this story.  She didn't understand why Sammy couldn't come back--even if they got a really TALL ladder to get him down from the sky.  Before the summer ends, the healing family takes an emotional journey to Sammy's favorite spot.  They send up bubbles to the sky for him and share some of their favorite memories.  A cloud that looks exactly like Sammy floats by.  They all know that Sammy will always be with them.   Together, they grieve.

This book is worth reading in honor of all dogs loved and lost.  It's perfect for buying young readers who have suffered the loss of a loved family member.  It provides a springboard for talking about death and offers children comfort in coping with it.  The paintings radiate the illustrator's love of our furry friends.  Coming from a dog family adds a personal connection to this fine piece of literature.  Grab this read by scrolling down to the end of my posts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mr. Giso's Room to Read's Bright Idea #10

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Make a Story Necklace

You may have seen this idea before.  I've created a new graphic organizer to get the most out of my students this year, as shared on Classroom Freebies, Manic Monday.  I had such great results, I wanted to share.  Like usual, I selected three books for my guided reading book groups.  Each one is fiction with a predictable narrative structure.  Check them out in this photograph.

Next, I had a group of students read "A Job for Clown" with me, another group read "Spider's Web" with my fabulous student teacher and a third group read "The Chick and the Duckling" by themselves.  I was thrilled to have an extra adult for support.  Her job was to check in with the group reading independently.

After reading was completed, we each did a minilesson on what it means to retell the important parts of the story.  We made sure to stress that you need to pick the three most important events.  A trick I like to say is pick how it began and how it ended.  THEN, pick one thing you found interesting in the middle.  This works great with my first graders.

For the next step, each child got 4 index cards.  They completed the following.
•Card 1:  Write your name, title, author, illustrator
•Card 2:  Number it "1" and draw how the book began
•Card 3:  Number it "2" and draw an event from the middle
•Card 4:  Number it "3" and draw how the book ended

Check this out!  "A Job for Clown"

Here's another example.  "Spider's Web"  How fun!  Can't you tell Spider's despair by the look in Spider's eyes in illustration #2?

Next, students used the illustrations to help them record on a graphic organizer what happened in the beginning, middle and end.  This was the new part for me.  They wrote the retelling rather than simply using the pictures to do an oral retell.  After these were checked over, the students recorded this information on the back of the matching index card (using the lines).  See. . .

Lastly, we punched holes in the cards and tied them using a ribbon.    When this was complete, I paired students up with a buddy that read a different book.  Each student read the book over to his or her buddy using a reading wand (for fluency, of course!).  Then, students used their necklaces to retell what was read for each other.  My first graders liked this part the best.  They love sharing good books with friends.  Here's my Bucket O' Reading Wands.

This project ended up taking me two days.  Click here to printout the directions and the graphic organizer.  Enjoy this month's freebie.   I'd love to hear how this works out in your classroom.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Introducing My Newest Item: 20 Reader Response Activities

Here's a bundle of 20 of my favorite Reader Response Activities.  I've created these over the years and have decided to give them a makeover with some fancy fonts and borders.  I enjoyed going through my binders upon binders from my former years in fourth grade to create these for my upper elementary educator fans.  I've put them together in a bundle which can be found by clicking HERE.

The activities are geared for grades 2 through 5.  They cover all the essential reading skills such as these:
•asking questions
•making predictions
•point of view
•sensory images
•analyzing story setting
•making connections
•and...much more!

Here's a preview of a few of the activities for you.

Here's a telephone poem.  Using your phone number, a poem is created.  If the first number in your phone number is an 8, they the first line of your poem (based upon your reading) needs to have 8 words.  I think you get the idea!

This is a character map.  Students turn the stick figure into their character and record their thoughts as to what the character thinks, feels, does, etc.  It's a real comprehension booster and reaches the visual learners.

This setting map reminds students that the setting of the story is not only where, but WHEN the story takes place.  It also makes them think about if they'd enjoy a visit to the setting in the story.

This activity asks students to record their thinking in response to selected passages in the text. They record the text on the book icons and their thoughts in the speech balloon icons.

I hope you find this bundle useful.  Hope you all have a great week!  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Mr. Giso's Room to Read Takes Part in the Magical Product Swap!

I'm pleased to have been a part of the swap put together by Mrs. Stanford from the blog Mrs. Stanford's Class.  My talented swap buddy has been Mrs. Foxwell from the blog First Grade in Foxwell Forest.  

The Teacher Wife

For the past month or so, Mrs. Foxwell and I have been trading messages and ideas back and forth to prepare for our Magical Product Swap blog entries.  We have been pretty bust getting each other's products printed, assembled and photographed.  It's been a lot of fun.  Here's the must have item I received in the swap.  Look at all the printables!

Obviously, I went right to work cutting, laminating and bagging away--all while catching up on some of my favorite reality television shows (Survivor, Project Runway and Dance Moms).  Here's my at home laminator hard at work.

For one of the activities, I got to make these fun tennis rackets.  This was right up my alley!  I love fun ways to get my students to learn concepts.  As Mrs. Foxwell suggested in the preparation directions, I used those paint mixer sticks to keep them nice and sturdy.  Of course, I had a bunch in my garage, just in case of something like this!  You never know when you are going have to make tennis rackets.  Yes, you see a different laminator, this is my at school one. 

Each set of materials came with amazing directions for preparation.  I can't believe how organized things were presented.  Look at this!

And this...

I guess I should interrupt to tell you about Mrs. Foxwell's item.  It's called "Tennis Long e Teams for /ee/ and /ea/" (found by clicking here).  It's a "phonics unit including learning activities, characters, and a long e gesture for the /ee/ and /ea/ pattern."  As you can see from the Table of Contents below, it has 6 "sets" or components, all tennis-themed.  How fun?  

This item includes a way to introduce the students to the /ee/ and /ea/ patterns in "Meet and Greet."  Here I explained to my first graders the Dream Team and the Sweet Team's favorite animal, food, beverage, hobby and color.  Through these introductions, we see words that have /ea/ for the Dream Team and words that have /ee/ for the Sweet Team.  Here's what the first activity looks like ready to go.  Check out the adorable bag labels included.

The next Set in the activities is called "Pick the Teams."  This is a word sort that gives the students practice with the /ea/ and /ee/ words.  They can sort just pictures, words or both onto the colorful sorting mats.  My students loved this.  Mrs. Foxwell suggests, for an extension, using the picture and the word cards in a memory game.  I'm adding this to my list of things to do when "You're Done" in my classroom.   The sorting materials are second from the left in this pic.

The third Set is a whole class game in which my first graders got to identify /ee/ and /ea/ words called "What's the Racket?"  Here's where those tennis rackets were needed.  I was the most excited to try this activity out because of the props needed!  I lined the children up into two teams.  Words on tennis balls were put up on the front board.  I called a word, gave a series of clues, or used the word in a cloze sentence.  The first player to hit the correct word earned a point.  This activity got rave reviews!  You can clearly see why when you check this item out below.

I am a huge fan of Read and Write the Room Hunts.  They are perfect for supporting and reviewing newly learned phonics patterns.  Mrs. Foxwell includes one of these as the fourth Set.  It's titled "Tennis Tournament."  Here I hid a different set of words on tennis balls around my room.  On an very cute record sheet with two tennis courts, my first graders "read" and then "wrote" the /ea/ and /ee/ words in the correct places.  This item has a bonus "Cool Off" class book activity too--WOW.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any batter, there is a homophone component to this bundle of activities too!  Totally Awesome!  Using a homophone poster, students learn what a homophone is.  Then you distribute MORE colorful cards with words and pictures and students find their homophone buddy.  For example, "meet" pairs with "meat."  Then, there's a handy sheet for them to write sentences for a pair of homophones for reinforcement.

Last but not least, is the Creative Writing option which is now in my Author Corner.  Students get to design a pair of sneakers for both tennis teams.  The catch is the theme of the design must connect to either the /ea/ team of the /ee/ team.  For example, the sneaker for the Sweet Team can include trees all over it.  This is a very creative extension and terrific way to end the unit.  Check it out.

Mrs. Foxwell was nice enough to share her newest unit on Fancy Y (long /e/ spelled "y") with me too.  Lucky me.  What a score!  It's just as good with the same high quality printables, detailed directions and instead of tennis rackets, we get to assemble wands this time.  I'm all over this.  Don't miss out on this item too by clicking HERE to be directed to her TpT store.

It was so rewarding getting to share ideas with Becca, and I can't wait to share more in the future.  Please stop on by her blog to see more of her ideas.  Also, you have to see her review a product of mine.  Check her blog regularly for updates, as she often puts many things up for free if you're on top of her posts!  You will be inspired by her talents.  Why not grab her button?

The Teacher Wife

She is also has a sale going on, so you're in luck.


I'd like to also give a special "shout out" for Mrs. Stanford for taking all the precious time required to set up this Magical Product Swap.  Click the button below to read all about the other swappers and their experiences.  Grab some new ideas, too!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Columbus Day Project Alert: Make a Set of Informational Text Posters

Research proves that students naturally gravitate towards informational text.  As part of my "Informational Text" area, I have a display board which has the name of the informational text feature and an example.  It's all done in Velcro, so that I can easily take off the labels or the examples for teaching purposes.  I have created a set of posters that uses child friendly language in the first person.  I printed these posters out and searched through free sample texts and cut out neat examples of each feature.  These are the results.

Here are all of the posters.

I use these as I introduce each feature to my students.  We refer to these examples when appropriate.  They stay up as a reference.  They are exactly what's needed to address informational text in an appropriate way to our youg readers.  I also print these posters to make a book.  This serves as an Informational Text Scavenger Hunt.  I have students search though old Weekly Readers and Scholastic News for each feature.  They glue it on to complete their hunt.  For the complete set of directions and to download this item, please click here.

Mr. Giso's Room to Read's Bright Idea #9

Look Who's Talking Elbow Pasta Quotation Marks

When it's time to review quotations marks, my first grade teacher neighbor loves this activity!  We have the students write sentences on sentence strips and use pasta for the quotation marks.  This lesson has not been one of my favorites because it's always a challenge for students to copy over their edited sentences with the punctuation in the correct spot.  Each year I try something new to be more effective.  This year, I think I've got it!

First, I began this minilesson with a pocket chart discussion on the rug.  We read several sentences and put in the paper punctuation.

Next, comes the new part.  I created two templates that include the punctuation in the correct places.  I had the students write a sentence about something they'd like to say.  Here's an example.

After this, I edited the sentences and had the students copy their edited writing onto sentence strips using pencil.  When this was completed, they wrote in permanent marker.  Lastly, they glued elbow macaroni for the quotation marks.  Look at these fantastic sentences!

To celebrate, each student read their quotation in our Author Throne.  I chimed in with the "said___________" part.  Click HERE for a previous post about my famous Author Throne.  If you'd like the templates and the directions, click HERE to be linked to my TpT store.  It's a pleasure to share with you this free item.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Good Reader Strategies Bundle

Look at my Good Reader Strategies Visuals.  I designed them due to my being unhappy with the manner in which our core literacy program introduces these skills that are so important.  I have just finished hanging them up.  They look great as long as the fire department agrees, they will stay up this year!  Just in case, I hung them up with clothes pins that I hot-glued to the wall.  Easy up, easy down.  I also can take them down easily as I teach them.

This new item in my TpT store features not only the 9 reading strategies I teach, but also a reproducible I have designed that you can use to introduce each strategy whole class, and then use it all year round for guided reading, independent reading time, homework, small group work, etc.  They can correlate to any core program or be used as mini-lessons in themselves.  

Here you see writing a summary, making connections, visualizing and asking questions. 

Here you see clarifying, predicting, having feelings, using word power and using fix-up strategies.

These great sheets introduce the strategy and can be used multiple times throughout the year to reinforce it.

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