Mooseltoe ~ Differentiated



Have you ever bought something from TpT and you wanted to do EVERYTHING?  I have this problem when I buy products and make them.  I can't decide what I'm going to do with all the choices I have. When it comes to the holiday season I have an over abundance of goodies and it makes my decision making even harder.  So when I was planning for "Mooseltoe", I got an idea.  I decided I would pick my favorite ideas and only make 5 copies of each.  

Then after reading the book, I would let the children work in groups and choose what they would work on.  Yes I would let THEM choose.  Choice is such a motivating instructional strategy and it allows for great differentiation.  There are more challenging activities and  activities that are perfect for my emerging learners.  They had the opportunity to choose and work at their level with other children.  It was so much fun for them and for me.  I got to see what they chose, and see them work on many different things.  Keep in mind, all of the choices provided were concepts we have already learned so it was review.  They did a great job!






In the end, nothing was the same.  How AMAZING is that? 





Happy Holidays!





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Holiday Gift for Parents


Today we made our holiday gift for our parents.  I think they are beautiful.  As a parent, I would be thrilled to receive one of these cute little trees.  I wanted to share with you how to make it. 

In the past we have always used wood because it was cheap.  My husband would cut it, sand the edges, and then the children would have to paint it.  This all had to be done before we could begin.  They were adorable as well, but this was much easier.  

First we went to Lowe's and found these tiles.  
They were only 69 cents each.  One of my teammates chose the square tiles which were even cheaper at 49 cents each. Square tiles!
Check out how cute they are... (I snuck in while they were working so they weren't quite finished.)

Next, we purchased some holiday scrapbooking paper.  Any paper will do.  I love to see the different colors each of us use.  You will also need Elmer's glue and Modge Podge, a small bottle is plenty.  

I had the children come back to our big picnic table and design their tree first.  Once it was laid out, they glued it down with just regular Elmer's glue.  After it had time to set, they went over it with a layer of Modge Podge.  

The great thing about Modge Podge is that it dries super fast.  We did this craft in the morning and we were able to wrap them up this afternoon. 


Here we are busy at work.  Messy but fun!

As an alternative to a tree, you could also do a Snowman.  Depending on your classroom  you could do one or the other or both.  This year all of my students celebrate Christmas and one celebrates Hanukkah.  I offered both options to all of them but only one student chose the snowman.  


Finally, one last thing to mention. I would have a few extra on hand to make for families of children who are divorced.  It is nice to offer the project to both parents and it is such a short project, there is plenty of time to do 2. 
Check out some of our adorable pieces of work!



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A Week Filled with Gingerbread


We spent our first week back from Thanksgiving break on gingerbread stories.  There are so many old and new stories, I decided to spend two weeks on all of the different versions, I just couldn't decide.  
On the first day we read two classic stories, The Gingerbread Boy by Galdone and The Gingerbread Man by Aylesworth.  First we read and sequenced "The Boy" story.  We also made a fun class book to put in our library.  Then we read the second story and use the cards below to compare and contrast the two stories.


I gave students sets of sorting cards and rings to work in groups and sort together.  They then recorded some of their answers on the paper Venn Diagram.


The second day was all about "The Gingerbread Baby" by Jan Brett.  We sequenced again and made another class book.  We used the colorful sequencing cards together before the kids went and did it independently.  I had students line up with their cards and read the card they had to the other children.  We all worked together to put them in order.  They really enjoyed doing this. 


In the middle of the week, we read "Gingerbread Friends" by Jan Brett.  We practiced sequencing by doing beginning, middle, and end.  We hadn't done this in awhile and I was shocked at how much they have grown.  At the beginning of the year I was getting a picture with maybe one word.  Now they are writing sentence or paragraphs.  

Then we did a super fun activity where we interviewed a friend and wrote about them.  They loved working with their friends.  Of course they wanted to choose their friends but after discussion we thought it would be fun to learn about someone new so we did a random generator and it worked out great.  Then we made our gingerbread friends.


 Next up that fifty girl!  She is so fun and we love the twist at the end of the story.  Of course we had to make some gingerbread girls!  


Finally we ended the week with The Gingerbread Girl Goes Animal Crackers.  You can't read this story with enjoying a few animal crackers.  Once we practiced our sequencing, we compared it to The Gingerbread Girl using a  Venn Diagram!  


We had a great week.  If you liked these activities, you can find them all bundled up in my gingerbread bundle.  


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Ginger...What??

For the next two weeks, my class will be focusing on this fun Gingerbread Bundle!  There are so many amazing gingerbread stories out there it is hard to choose so we will do two week's worth of stories.  For our unit, we will be learning about sequencing a story.  These books are perfect for sequencing because characters continue to join in the chase.  We will also spend some time reviewing our strategy compare and contrast.

To make this unit easier to teach sequencing, last week I spent some time updating them with colorful sequencing sheets I can use in whole group to help them review before going to work on it independently.  

We begin the first day by reading two different gingerbread boy stories from my Gingerbread Boy, Man, Baby & Friends.
We read both the Gingerbread Boy and The Gingerbread Man.  For the first story, we sequence it together and learn the concept with modeling.  After we hear the second story, we work in groups to compare the two with a Venn Diagram.  They do really well with this concept since it is review.  Of course we have to make a little gingerbread boy/man!

On Tuesday we will read, The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.  This story is a classic and I never get tired of reading it.  We again work on sequencing as a whole group and then work in smaller groups to complete it independently.  One of my favorite activities to do is create a little house for or gingerbread baby and complete a descriptive writing piece about the house.  

On Wednesday we will read Gingerbread Friends.  We make these cute little friends from above and do a fun friend interview as well.  We also take this day to compare the Gingerbread Baby to Gingerbread Friends.

At the end of the week, we work on two of my other favorite stories, the girl gingerbread stories.
Who doesn't love this sassy little gingerbread girl!  My favorite part is the twist at the end of the story!  We learn about "Who is Speaking" during a story and review sequencing with our story sequence cards.  We also enjoy making this cute little girl.


We end the week with some delicious animal cracker treats and the fun animal cracker story.  We compare and contrast the two stories and write about the "Lost Gingerbread Girl".

After this week is over, it is time to introduce our new Reader's Theater.  There are two different scripts, one for The Gingerbread Boy, and one for The Gingerbread Girl.  There are also songs, chants, and signs they can wear for the theater.  We do this fun little gig for other classes in our school.  It is low key and super cute! 
For the next week, we visit several different version of the original.  I have some new favorites to share with you this year!

From the Gingerbread with a Twist packet,  I LOVE "The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Murray!  We make "Wanted" signs  for our missing gingerbread and write a descriptive piece.  I also enjoy reading the other three stories to my students as a read aloud.  We do some whole group sequencing together and then I tie in some activities when I teach small group with my students.  The Gingerbread Cowboy is one of Charlie's favorite stories to read.  It was her favorite last Christmas when she was only 2.  Who would have guessed that a 2 year old with special needs would love a story like this!  I have read it so many times.... I think I have it memorized.  


Now onto some of my new favorites!!!
Last year I found the book, "Catch that Cookie!"  It is so adorable I had to make a packet for it.  I sell it individually but this year I bundled it with some of my other new favorites!   I made a fun little hunt that the Gingerbread Man takes our class on and ends with a little cookie treat in our room! 

This year I discovered another amazing story that is a "sequel" to "The Gingerbread Man Loose in School".  It is called, "The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas".  When I read this book I just LOVED it.  What I liked most about the story was how it talks about the true meaning of Christmas and that is doing things for other people.  This will go perfectly with my Kindness Elf Project.
For this book we will sequence the story, discuss random acts of kindness, work on rhyming and make this fun little guy.  I love how his feet were dipped in dark chocolate so they didn't fall apart in the rain!
Finally, I will read a new story by Jan Brett called "Gingerbread Christmas".  This is not part of any gingerbread packets, it is bundled with my Jan Brett Christmas packet.  I love how she brought back The Gingerbread Baby and Matti!  


For this final story we will sequence and work on retelling a story!   

I hope you were able to gather some ideas for your upcoming Gingerbread Unit!  I look forward to a great two weeks!










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Whoooo's Learning their Shapes?


In my first grade classroom we are just finishing up our unit on plane and solid shapes.  I thought it would be fun to review the plane shapes by incorporating a little craft.  Owls are the perfect animal to work on shapes plus they also look super cute this time of year.  

First we start by making our fun little owls.
After they are assembled, we write about the parts of the owl and what shape they are associated with.  This year we used our mini offices to help spell the shapes. 

When they were completed, I stapled them to yellow paper and hung them in the hallway.

It's always fun to bring a little math into your crafts.  Head on over to my store to grab this fun freebie.

Don't forget to gobble up all of the other goodies  and enter to win a gift certificate!







a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
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Election... A Fun Way to Teach to Little Learners

Are you gearing up for the upcoming election?  I'm not sure how excited I am about the REAL election but I am thrilled to share with you how my first graders will be learning the election process.  

We are going to begin the day after Halloween. I have already started setting up things around the room and the children are getting super excited! My comprehension strategy for the week is COMPARE & CONTRAST.  I tell you this because you will notice that we do it a lot.  

On Day 1 we read the mini book I wrote called "What is an Election?"  This introduces the children to the whole big idea.  After reading I tell the children that we will be holding our own election in the classroom.  We will be electing a class MASCOT.  I have two candidates, Freddy the Frog and Oscar the Dog.  We compare the two candidates using the Venn Diagram.  We are only comparing them on looks and what we know about frogs and dogs, no facts yet.  Finally on day 1 we register to vote.  I let them know that each morning when they come in, there will be something to vote on.  We will practice voting, tallying, counting, and choosing all week.  They get really excited about this. 


On Day 2 we learn about surveys.  I teach the children that this is an easy way to get to know your candidates.  We survey both Freddy and Oscar.  You can see my little cards above.  We fill out the survey together using the cards provided.  When we complete the compare and contrast page above.  I purposely made some of the answers the same and some different.    Finally, in writing I read "Otto Runs for President".  We write an opinion piece on who we would vote for from the story.  It is a super cute book, perfect for elections.


Day 3 is probably the most fun day for the students.  In guided reading we read Grace for President.  We complete the digging deeper page and the Venn Diagram.  This is my first freebie at my store so make sure to grab it Here!
Next we learn about making a campaign.  We draw paper strips to see who will make a campaign for Oscar and who will do Freddy's campaign.  Each group creates the animal craft and then writes fun rhyming campaigns on plain white paper.  They always turn out so cute.  We hang our campaign on the door when they are finished.


On day 4 we read, "My Teacher for President".  We again dig deeper and compare and contrast.  For our election process we learn about taking a poll.  We poll 10 classmates to see who is in the lead for our election.  Then we graph our results.


Plan for extra time on day 5!  This is the big day!  First we read, "Duck for President".  Since we have read all of the other duck stories by Doreen Cronin, I know my students are going to love this one.  We sequence this story in groups.  Then we hold our election.  We vote, find our winner and then celebrate.  I usually make cupcakes for my kiddos. I also made "I Voted" signs that I tape on them.  In addition, I snagged leftover 4th of July candy this year to have as a treat.  Finally, I read "If I were President". We use this book for writing.  We make these cute little kiddos and write about what we would do if we were president.

*If you decide to do this unit, keep track of the winners each year.  My students always ask.  I tell them each year who has won the most in our classroom.  

Here is a photo of my supply cabinet.  It is normally covered in curtains, which I kept up, but I added streamers. Inside I put the ballot for the day.  They cast their vote and put it in the voting box inside.  Super Secret!!


Here are my little daily ballots, some word work activities, and my word wall that I  keep up!  


I am VERY excited to start unit with my children.  I will be blogging about it as we go too!



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