First Observations in First Grade

Hi, sweet friends! I hope those that are back in school have started off with a bang! We've officially completed our first week and it was a whirlwind.  

I begin the first few days introducing rules and getting to know each other. We filled the hours with storybooks, expectations, name games, collaborative activities, problem solving, morning literature tubs, exploring manipulatives, afternoon math tubs, and investigating science tools. 

The independent exploration of morning and afternoon tubs are critical for me to pull away and observe. I meet with a small group of kids to gather information about their academic abilities. The tubs consist of the alphabet and beginning sounds in the mornings and number sense in the afternoons. 

My morning lit tubs have activities that will review standards from kindergarten. The kids trace alphabet roads with cars, match upper and lowercase letters with playdoh, construct letters with alphabet parts, and sort beginning sound pictures to the corresponding letter.  

Freebie from PreK Pages.

The afternoon tubs are equally as engaging for my group of six year olds. The kids build numbers with playdoh in tens frames, work on matching numbers into 100 boards, sort different ways to make numbers through 20, and combine numbers through ten before parking toy cars in the correct parking spot. 

Freebie from Pocket of Preschool

I'm now gathering intel. Are the kids able identify letters and numbers? Can they associate sounds and values? Overall, I have a very diverse group of kids. Some will need letter formations and correlating sounds but most are able to build words in the semiphonetic spelling stage.  A few are devleoping in the phonetic spelling stage.

While determining which students had a strong understanding of beginning sounds, we played an infectiously fun game of Beginning Sound Beanbag Snag. Students were given the task to collect beginning sounds based on words I call. I was able to see which students had misunderstandings. This block of time was filled with giggles!

Yesterday, I met with a group of students and gave them a set of differentiated dice based on my early observations. Some students were building words with the alphabet dice while others were working with the word family dice. 

Based on my observations in the first few days of tubs, I gave students specific dice to see their level of understanding.

Others were given timers based on their ability to write basic sentences with ease. It's amazing how excited a six year old gets when you add a little twist to a simple activity.

A few had enough skills to combine blends with word families.  I quickly identified the long vowel word families were a bit out of the comfort for my group and pulled them for later in the year.

By day six, I've determined my profile groups based on their SIPPs performance levels and my observations of kindergarten foundational skill levels. These groups will remain until I receive data from district required diagnostics.  

Many of the activities in this post are from Oriental Trading's Language Arts Curriculum. The Alphabet Dice are foam and come with upper and lowercase letters with vowel sounds in red and consonants in blue for $4.49. The Word Family Dice are also foam and include letters, blends, short and long vowel word families for $6.99. The Alphabet Beanbags come in four bright fabric colors and will be put in use throughout this school year.

My back to school phonics instruction was based on the needs of my students. We have leveled classes in our title one setting. I have a large percentage of language learners. We will continue to practice basic phonemic awareness and phonics activities to build a strong foundation. The activities will continued to be part of our daily instruction until it's performed with automaticity.  

Best wishes to you as you navigate through the first month back from summer break!

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Otto Storage {Flex Seating Giveaway}

There's no tired like the first day of school tired!  I had high hopes for today and wasn't let down. The kids were fantastic. We explored the alphabet through different morning tubs while unloading supplies. We giggled at First Day Jitters when we met Sarah Jane Hartwell. We collaborated on rules with David Goes to School and hung them for all to see. We generated a list of writing topics and introduced how to manage supplies independently. We combined numbers through six and explored numbers through 20 in different afternoon tubs. We successful created our first sentences in our brand new student planners after recess. See, high hopes met!  

Okay, it wasn't all bliss. I arrived early to place their name tags on the tables and realized I forgot a stack at home. I was first to place my fresh prints into lamination but later realized first is last when other lamination projects are placed on top. I forgot about my coffee and let it get cold, even in my Yetti. I cut out my laminated activities instead of eating lunch to ensure I had enough materials in for afternoon tubs. I never managed a bathroom break throughout the entire school day but I survived.

Insert exhaustion here!

I know it seems crazy but this tired teacher wanted to pop in and share a great flex seating option with additional storage that any teacher would cherish.

Let's talk about the product...

Otto Storage has a collection of stools made of a solid polypropylene material that can support a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs. The stools provide a comfortable place for children and adults to sit. It's remarkable to think 7 pieces assemble so easy without hardware.

Yesterday was a profession planning day. I raced to get all materials set out and ready for today, the first day with kids. I played around with my set up and decided to use this multi-purpose stool/table at each of my team groupings. Having a place to store team materials while providing seating to push into small groups is a key factor in why I selected the solid stools. 

Today was my first opportunity to use the storage and seating during instruction. I was able to easily manage my stored materials. During transitions, I set the materials on the stool which served as tables. Once students began interacting with their literacy and math tubs, I was able to push in with the kids without displacing a child from their seat.  
I have lots of color in my room and decided to balance the colors with white stools. I encourage you to visit their website to see all the colors and designs available. I'm thrilled to be given an opportunity for one of my followers to win a pair of stools for their own classroom. Please answer the question in the Rafflecopter below and make sure you complete the entry by selecting "I Commented" in the Rafflecopter. I will be back on Saturday to announce the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To follow up with a message I've received... 

I'm selective with my flex seating. I wanted to have alternative places to sit on a budget. The kids work, standing or sitting at desks. My independent stations, early finishers, and collaborative times are positioned around the room in different forms.  I have low tables, a hut, scoop chairs, seat crates, a rolling table with stools, rug seats, and cushions for my counters.  Find the balance that works for you and your management.  My students were eager to know more about the alternative places to work but using the options wisely and without conflict is my goal.  I'll incorporate all options by mid September.

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Celebrating Yummy Birthdays

Hi friends! I hope you all are rested from the summer break and ready to head back to school. Today I writing to share how I make birthdays special for each of my students. After all, celebrating the day you're born is a big deal when you're a kid!

Many students don't always have the same opportunity for celebrating their birthdays. Each year a small percentage of parents will contact me to celebrate their child's birthday. My heart breaks for the ones who don't.  It's the little things we do to make the kids feel like they matter.  

The first display you see when you walk in my classroom door is our birthday graph. It's a beautiful and purposeful. Later in the year, it will become a focus lesson for graphing and data entitled "Celebrating Yummy Birthdays!"

The cupcakes are editable.  I not only add the name but a full date so I'm aware how old each child will be.

During preplanning, I prep the materials shown below for each child. Having the materials already prepped and easily available will help later in the year when I am focused on lesson, assessments and data. 

Each child receives a crown to be stapled on a sentence strip and worn at specific times. I have a birthday sign which is displayed for all to see. The birthday badge has a safety pin adhered to the back and is worn throughout the day. The most beloved item is the personalized lollipop from Oriental Trading.  

The birthday file is editable, allowing you to easily enter your student's name. The document autofills each editable fields within the file to make prep and printing easier. I keep a sheet protector adhered to the classroom door and simply add their birthday sign to be displayed for all to see. When my students enter the room, they are aware we are celebrating one of their friends.

The crowns are precut and ready for sentences strips. 

I store all the artifacts in my birthday buckets at the front door. As I enter, I can easily pull the button, crown, certificate and lollipop to place on the birthday student's desk.

From the moment the kids realize the personalized lollipops are for their birthday, I receive real time updates. The personalized swirl lollipops are from Oriental Trading and come in packs of 24 for $13.99. Don't they look delicious?

This is the first year that I didn't say "Love, Mrs. Saoud". I decided to say Happy Birthday without thinking the label already said Happy Birthday. Lesson learned. Oriental Trading allows three lines with 12 characters and spaces per line for your personalization needs. Thankfully, the kids are more excited about the delicious looking sucker rather than the label.

I take super simple steps in hopes that each child's day is a special day on a budget. For my darlings who celebrate during summer break, I feature them in a "unbirthday celebration" in the weeks leading up to our final day of school.  

I would love to hear how you recognize each child for their birthday! Each of the pictures above have a direct link if you're interested in Celebrating Yummy Birthdays or the Personalized Swirl Lollipops from Oriental Trading.

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