Saturday, June 3, 2017

Numbers and Operations

Here are some of the books I use to introduce first graders to addition, subtraction, and skip counting.  

(counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s)


Books to Inspire Writing

Here are books that I read to my first graders to introduce them to writing styles and story ideas.

This charming tale has both a happy ending and a sad ending.  After I read this book in class, my students spontaneously start writing their own happy and sad endings!

Mother's Day Diagrams

My students have been drawing diagrams all year in Engineering Lab, so it was natural that we would draw and label our moms for Mother's Day, too.  Here are some of their creations.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Community Helper Books

In the spring, first graders learn all about community helpers, the people who do jobs that make our neighborhoods healthy and happy places to live.  Here are some of the books that I'll use to teach kids about different jobs.

The story of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first American woman to become a doctor.

Step by step, how the houses we live in are constructed.  Great introduction to the building trades!

From drawing the blueprints to constructing each story and painting every wall, this is the perfect explanation of how a tall structure can be so strong and stable.  Introduces many, many building professions clearly, in kid-friendly language.

A charming guide to careers.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Starting the Year Off Right

Here are books that celebrate feelings, working together, friendship, honesty, and the bravery that kids show when they enter a new classroom.

the folly of wanting to be someone else

the courage to tell the truth, even when it's scary

standing up for others

feelings come and feelings go

how to find and nurture a friendship, 
just like you would grow a plant

When things are scary, how do we become brave?

the little things that add up to make life interesting

terrible days come and terrible days go

even punctuation marks have feelings

taking a risk helps us grow

Friday, December 2, 2016

Beyond Cute: Why Animals Look and Act the Way They Do

Our study of animal structures (body parts) and functions (what they allow the animal to do) has been wide-ranging. 
Here are the big questions that guided our study.  We displayed this poster throughout the unit: 

You can go to this link to find a full list of books that we read aloud during this unit.  These books taught us how different animals catch flies, dig holes, and hide from predators and prey alike. 

In the project below, students showed how specific animals use their feet/paws/claws/talons in specialized ways: 

"Alligators use their feet to swim."

"A gecko uses their feet to stick on the rock."

"Peregrine falcons use talons to catch prey in the lake."

Next, we explored the various ways that animals' eyes help them to survive:

"A cat uses their eyes to see in the dark."

"A frog uses their eyes to push their food down."

"Squirrels use its eyes to hunt for nuts."

"A fish uses eyes to see under water."

"Owls use their eyes to see in the night so it can find its prey."

We borrowed animal skulls from our sixth-grade teacher, and found even more skulls in a long-forgotten box in the art storage room:

By examining these skulls closely, students had the opportunity to synthesize everything they'd learned about animal structures, especially teeth, to deduce the animals' diet, jaw strength, brain size, position on the food chain (predator vs. prey), and position of the spinal cord.

 Since some of the spelling is a little confusing, here's a translation: "I notice that the bobcat has sharp canines.  I wonder if the bobcat skull has a sagittal crest?  I wonder if the bobcat has a spinal cord hole from the spinal cord?"

We learned how animal parents take care of their offspring in order to keep a species going, and compared our own parents' behaviors to animal parents' behaviors:

The right side reads, "My mom goes to the store for food that is soft so I don't choke."

We compared animal structures to human inventions. Through biomimicry, we imitate animals and plants in order to solve human problems. For instance, turtle shells and mushroom caps keep off the rain; so do umbrellas.

We examined many pictures of bird beaks and compared the size and shape of beaks with common tools found around the house: tea strainers, pliers, hammers, needle-nose pliers.  We found that, once again, human inventions imitated animal structures.  Then we used these human tools to grab small objects off of the grass and out of the water, just as birds would do in building their nests or catching food.

This was such an exciting unit!  Students loved exploring one set of questions over and over, in myriad ways!