Friday, January 9, 2015

Fine Motor Matters

First grade fine motor skills can always use a tune up now and again. We like to keep things in the class circulation that are disguised as fun, but double as fine motor practice. Here's a few of our favorite tricks of the fine motor trade that have become popular with the little fingers in our classroom. 
Given a box of beads and some pipe cleaners, these kids would rule the world. We pulled these out in December and the kids loved making wreathes, candy canes, bracelets, necklaces, headbands...You name it, they were bedazzled. 

This could easily be done any time of year, with any color pipe cleaners and beads. The kids loved it and we loved how they were using their fine motor madness.
Once we get over the initial shocking (and teacher depressing) question, "What is that?!", we relive our 80's Glory Days by schooling our little ones on the amazing Lite Brite. It's great practice for patterns, pictures, build a letter, build a number, spell a high frequency word...But, above all else, it works those little fingers!
We've got a few of these bendy bands for the kids to manipulate. We don't actually know the name of them, but bendy bands sounded good to us...Did you buy it? ;)
Legos in the classroom may look like uneducational play to some, but we beg to differ. We offer these up during choice time sometimes and they are great for working their little fingers. 
Lacing activities hit the Dollar Tree every once in awhile. They can be found on Aisle Impulse Buy...Next to the containers, stickers, and seasonal decor we don't necessarily need. :D But, these ended up being a great find! The kids love the colors and have fun tying on what they've coined the "Giant Shoe". 
A few more Dollar Tree finds, but these we meant to buy. Pom Poms, tweezers and ice trays. Done! The kids pinch the poms into the tray and if they had it their way, they'd do it all day. 
{Yes, we realize that totally rhymes...As we've said before, it's a curse.}
Printing development continues through first grade. Sometimes our first graders need a little extra support with printing and this trick has worked wonders for us for many years...
We truly want them to learn how to print their letters, not just repeatedly make the same mistakes, so at times we model for them by grabbing a highlighter and helping them out. They dictate the words, including spelling, and we print it with a highlighter on their paper. This can be done for journals, workbooks, worksheets, and even homework. We've shared this tip with a few parents over the years and they've implemented it at home too! Then, they print on top of the highlighter words with a pencil for printing practice. 

Though we don't do this for a long period of time, we have seen repeated success and allowed a sense of pride and accomplishment in an area that our students need support and confidence in. As they grow more comfortable with the highlighter, we wean them off by only highlighting some of their words, each time decreasing the amount. Or, we have them write the sentence twice...Once with the highlighter and pencil on top and one underneath on their own. 

Every little bit helps when it comes to fine motor skills. What activities do you love for practicing fine motor?  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Snowmen, Snowflakes and Snowballs...Oh My!

Winter is one of our favorite seasons in the classroom
From snowmen to snowflakes, snowballs to snow days...
We love winter! :)

Some of the first activities of the new year come from our Snowtastic Snowman unit.

Here's What's Included:
Step by Step lesson for Snowman Directed Draw
How to Build a Snowman Brainstorming Page
How to Build a Snowman Rough Draft Page
How to Build a Snowman Final Copy Page
Snowman Cards 1-99
Snowman Pile Up Game
Base-10 Blizzard Game
Snowman Before and After

We also focus our winter Workshops around the story Snowmen at Night. This is one of our all time favorite children's books, so of course we had to create Booktivities to go along with the story.
Our class had a blast with Shape Elf before winter break, so we're reviewing our 2-dimensional shapes learning with Shape Snowman in January.
Post winter break, it's an addition avalanche in our class. They need to learn their math facts! So, we'll also be working on our Add-a-Snowman activity from our Frosty in First Grade Centers for the Season pack. 

Who doesn't love a snowball fight? You can see {here} how us 
So Cal Gals do it and grab a freebie to go along for your own indoor snowball fight.
Snow disguised as shaving cream (Dollar Store) is an all time favorite class activity this time of year. It is the perfect medium for spelling, practicing addition and subtraction equations, free doodling...Just about anything you can think of for them to do! Oh, and it cleans the tables too.

We found this snowman science activity the other day from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas and are excited to try it this year in our class.
It fits perfectly into our science curriculum for changing states of matter. We will predict, perform, and process a class experiment to see how long it takes for the solid to change to a liquid...AKA for Frosty to melt away. Do you want to build melt a snowman? 

We whipped up these experiment pages to go along with our own snowman melt in class. Ideally,we would run the experiment for 5 days, but of course that depends upon where the snowman sits and how fast it takes him or her to melt...But, for the 5 day goal, we created this experiment worksheet. They will observe, draw and write each day as our snowman changes. 
But, we like to give ourselves options for differentiation...
Sooo in case you can't swing the 5 day melt away, we've simplified it to before, during and after the experiment is conducted. Take your pick. :)
You can grab these Snowman Melt science worksheets for free by clicking the butterfly below. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fourteen in '14

We're linking up with a few of our favorite friends for their Fourteen in '14 Linky Party!
 

We're what we call a "work in progress"...
Attending the Southern California Kindergarten Conference and spending some much needed, rejuvenating face time with our teacher blogging buddies was by far our favorite 2014 memory.These women have truly touched our lives in so many ways and we are so blessed to call them our friends. We're excited to head back there again this year as presenters!
 
Definitely our selfie from the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference!

 And definitely this picture with all of the presenters...

About a year ago this week, we received an email telling us we would be presenting at the first ever Teachers Pay Teachers conference. We literally dropped our cell phones on the living room floor and walked out the front door. We then picked them up, and just walked out of our own houses around our blocks about a dozen times, chatting on the phone and trying to soak in the news...It was a dream come true. What followed were months and months of anticipation, planning, and planning, and planning, and planning. It all came together in Las Vegas last July, and we feel beyond blessed to have been a part of such an amazing experience.


We loved sharing this super secret blog post with you...


This Rudolph EOS lip balm gift idea has already saved our antlers more than once this holiday season...
This is an absolute Christmas 2014 DIY gift favorite!

After the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference, we decided to gift each other with Alex and Ani bangles! We wanted to commemorate our time in Vegas and according to our husbands, find an excuse to buy jewelry. We prefer our rationale, but whatever the case, we bought 3...Each. :)

And, we just added this one to our arm candy collection too. We love Alex and Ani...and our husbands. ;)
 
If you have an iPad, you need an Osmo. We had the privilege of snagging one of these on pre-sale before they even hit the market last summer. Since then, we've acquired 3 more, are gifting some to a few nieces and nephews this Christmas, and convinced our school to grab some too. They are now available in the Apple Store and online too. The Osmo basically brings hands on play and plugged in play together for an amazing interactive experience.  


For quick and snappy lunches, we always choose Snapper Jack's Taco Shack. Yum!

For long and lazy lunches, we always choose The Lazy Dog Cafe.

We've been Survivor fans since Season 1...It still remains a weekly family favorite in both our homes. 


It's sort of sad when the only movie you remember watching was Elf...the other day...Neither of us are huge movie goers, but we're BIG movie sleepers. If we ever have time to sit and watch movies, we'll likely just fall asleep...Mostly during the opening credits...Before the movie even starts.  But, we made it through Elf the other day no problem...So, it's our favorite! Smiling's our favorite too. ;)


Infinity scarves to infinity and beyond. Love, love, love. We wear them in the dark and in the park...On boats and with goats...We wear them here, there and everywhere!

As we walk down our personal 2014 Memory Lane, we realize what an amazing year it has been for us. We are so grateful to our friends and family, readers and customers for fluttering along this journey with us. May you have a wonderful holiday season!

Be sure to head over to Miss Kindergarten, A Teeny Tiny Teacher and Dragonflies in First to read more Fourteen in '14 memories.
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