Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fall Fest and Halloween: Last minute details!

 My school participates in a Fall Festival the Friday before Halloween.  We celebrated with pumpkin races, a hay ride, and a harvest party like no other!  This was the first year of implementing my new "healthy choices" menu.  

The kids LOVED eating the Jack-o-Lantern sticks and dip!

How cute are the "nanner ghosts!"

We had a constant line at the veggie tray buffet!

I found some great freebies from TpT for Pumpkin Fun!  We weighed pumpkins and other harvest veggies.  We experimented with sink or float using the different vegetables.  There was even time for a Making Words activity!  Our work on writing included making books on how a pumpkin grows.

This making words activity is a wonderful freebie by Anna Bradley!  She is AWESOME!

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, and MORE Pumpkins!
Grab the writing activity for free over at Mrs. Reddick's TPT.

Candy Corn Estimation Bags

Estimation Fun

So now that Halloween is tomorrow, what are we planning?
Let's see...  How about some-

Perfect story for introducing our next pair of homophones!

Found this great anchor chart on Pinterest.  Thank you for sharing this great idea!

I created this additional anchor chart to map out a new non-fiction text.
We will use the purple stems first to record our prior knowledge on Halloween customs and symbols.
After reading our informational text, we will then add new learning on the green stems.

Hopefully we will have time to squeeze in a few more read-alouds too!

Signed just last week by none other than DENISE BRENNAN-NELSON herself!

This is my NEW Halloween FAVORITE!

Need more inspiration?  Check out my Pinterest board labeled "Halloween".  

Happy Halloween Everyone! Have a SpOoKtAcUlAr day!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

400 students + one celebrity = Fall Festival Fun!

This year, I have the honor of being President of the Toledo Area Council of the International Reading Association.  The Toledo Area Council of the International Reading Association or (TACIRA) is a non-profit, professional organization whose members are dedicated to improving reading instruction, promoting literacy, and encouraging life-long reading habits. We are affiliated with the Ohio Council of the International Reading Association (OCIRA) and the International Reading Association (IRA).

One tenacious duty of my presidency thus far: organize, plan, and host a celebrity author visit for students and teachers from local school districts.  I started this enormous task in early July.  Four months of rigorous planning and hard work finally paid off!  Today, with gorgeous blue skies and 75 degrees on a sunny, picture-perfect fall day, the TACIRA's Fall Festival welcomed national award-winning, best-selling author, Denise Brennan-Nelson!  I had butterflies all day!  I have adored her books, especially "Willow" and "Buzzy the Bumblebee".  Meeting Denise was truly an honor!

Spending the day with a famous children's author---What could be better than that?  Well something even more amazing was happening all around me.  "Standing room only" and children, children, everywhere!  Somehow I managed to invite 400 students accompanied by teachers, family, and friends that came out to support our LOVE of reading!  Being President of the best literacy organization in town sure is fun!

This was our first session of upper grade students!  Packed house indeed!

This was our second session of primary students and proud teachers!

Denise shared these story board illustrations from her first published book, "Buzzy the Bumblebee".

Denise talked about process and form with illustrations.

Denise used her arm BEE puppet to tell the story of Buzzy!

Look at these precious faces!  They love the BEE puppet!

Denise invited teachers to use 5 yellow and black pipe cleaners to design their very own Bumble Bee finger puppet!  These were GREAT and I can't wait to try this with the kids!

Here is Denise reading aloud "Buzzy the Bumblebee" to the audience!

Denise has a whopping 14 books published!  
Coming Soon:  "He's Been a Monster All Day"

My FAVORITE PICKS by Mrs. Nelson:





Denise also presented to a group of teachers later in the day and she had a very powerful tool with her... Perhaps her secret weapon to her success and motivation.  Take a look down below.  All of those journals belong to Denise.  Her lifetime collection of memories.  Her favorite is the old & delicate green journal on top, wrapped neatly in a polka-dot ribbon.  This journal belonged to her grandmother and was started in the 1930's.  

 I could feel my heart begin to swell as I made an instant connection with Denise's message.  Time may fade away, but the power of our written words last forever!  Reading and writing are gifts to us all
Denise went on to say that we can't expect our students to understand the  "Why do I really have to write this?"  until we, as parents & teachers, give them the motivation and inspiration that only comes from picking up a pen ourselves and modeling each and every day with a tone of excitement, anticipation, and suspense that lingers through the pages of our written words.  

As I drove home from the festival, I thought about my journals from my childhood days.  I thought about my poetry. I thought about my unfinished draft of a children's book that "Someday" I would love to finish.  Tonight, I am inspired to write.  Perhaps 2 or 3 lines, of anything that was sweet in my day or happy in my heart.  My ambition is to follow Denise's heartfelt advice and write a little, each night, so that someday I too can leave my mark somewhere on the pages of the story that is my life.

How do you intend to leave your mark?

International Reading Association - Newark, DE
Please join your local IRA organization and support teachers just like me!
 Often times we cannot always give from our wallets, but we can give our most precious gifts:
 volunteering our time and our talents to promote literacy in local communities!  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Phonics Dance in Room 102

Friends, don't you just LOVE The Phonics Dance?
Definitely on the Top 10 list of MUST-HAVES in a primary classroom.   Yes, I am a PDL, and proud of it!  The singing and chanting and dancing, OH MY!  Who knew phonics learning could be so fun!

Ginny Dowd's Phonics Dance seminars and professional development courses are worth every penny and stocked full of great resources. But friends, I have one better.... How about visiting her classroom and seeing her "Live in action" with her own students!   
                           Give me a MIGHTY OH YEAH!
From left to right: Nancy, myself, Ginny, Monica, and Melissa
How cute is Ginny's classroom!  LOVED it!
Several years ago, my fellow teaching comrades and I were graciously welcomed to visit Ginny and follow her through a day of Hunking & Chunking and Math Mania in her first grade classroom.  It was....A-Mazing!  In her 20+ teaching years, she has created all of her own materials and made them available for purchase at her website.  Over the years, I have collected ALL of Mrs. Dowd's first grade Phonics Dance materials. Take a peek!
You know you're a PDL (Phonics Dance LOVER) when you have a secret cabinet of ALL the materials!
I have made my own binders of my 2 favorite resources by Ginny Dowd:  "Six Steps to Literacy",
and my personal favorite, "Phonics Dance, the First Grade Way!"
Mrs. Dowd has so many wonderful units and programs available for the primary grades.  I pick and choose what I think works well in addition to my prescribed basal phonics program.  Take a look at some of my favorites...
Launching the first 2 Hunk and Chunks with Chunky, the Sock Monkey from the Critter Cafe!
Accuracy:  Day 1 of Chunky the Sock Monkey introducing
2 new Hunk & Chunks from the Phonics Dance!
We RING in new homophones every week with Ginny's awesome little chant!  The kids LOVE this!
On Fridays, we add our Hunk & Chunks
and Homophones to our PDL word wall.
The Alphabet Chant
The Alphabet Chant is a multi-functional piece:
Daily Alphabet Chant AND
our A to Z first grade word wall!
During the month of October, we practice our 
SPOOKYLICIOUS Halloween Alphabet Chant

What is my favorite Ginny Dowd Material?
Hmmm..  Let me see...

You know, those scary, spooky words that never sound anything like they are spelled!  Those frightening words are so tricky, especially for beginning readers, so first graders learn the monster word chants to help them remember how to recognize those words when reading and writing.

Our Monster Word Wall including MONSTER storage containers!  
This is a hoot---the kids wanted to empty our tissue boxes quickly to use as storage containers for our monster word cards!

Now I must share one final note of LOVE before I go...  Several years ago, I asked my head room parent to help me "create" some monster word cards for our class word wall.  She sends a batch in and the kids absolutely loved them!  I knew Ginny Dowd would take a liking to them so I packaged a set up, and shipped them off to her.  The rest is history.  My monster word cards are now in her revised edition of her Phonics Dance materials!  HOT DOG!  That makes me ONE happy teacher!  
                                        Happy Chanting!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Moonlit Hallow's Eve

Did you notice the moods this week were, how shall I say, "spirited?"  I was also being attacked by this luring spirit, so what does a teacher do to get back on track?
One word: ART
Roll out the butcher paper and roll up them sleeves. 

Time to release those spooky behaviors into a Halloween abstract painting that is sure to catch your eye!  I remembered seeing a beautiful Halloween project over at Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips..


I could not find the crafty little haunted houses to go with the project, but after all was said and done, I think the paintings express EXACTLY what the kids were feeling at that time...  Take a peek at our debut of "A Moonlit Hallow's Eve".  On exhibit now, at a hallway near you!  

PS~ The kids would tell you that our inspiration was Eric Carle and Van Gogh. Can you spot both techniques?

tempera paint
8 x 14 white construction paper
Black poster-size construction paper for backing
Black Sharpies for spooky figure silhouettes 
Gold Sharpies for the little artist signatures
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