Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bathroom Trip Tallies

See?  You guys are really good at playing the Domino Effect Game too! But, it is SO much more fun to play with you!


What is your bathroom policy? 
What is your bathroom policy?
What is your bathroom policy?

You guys are gooood!!  We adore all your comments.  Thank you!  :)

This is a tricky question...especially when we are supplying them with H2O. We realize with every Pro comes a Con...or 23...

We find the excessive bathroom trips more of an issue at the beginning of the school year, and like many other things in teaching, it completely varies from class to class and year to year.

One thing, however, does stay pretty constant ~ There are always a few "Frequent Fliers" who tend to hit the Powder Room a lil' too often, smack dab in the middle of class. Usually immediately following recess. Sometimes one trip immediately following the first...Like they didn't quite finish up?!?  Not sure what that one is all about...Not sure if we really want to know...

Here's What We've Tried to Curb Track Our Class Bathroom Trips:
First and foremost, we always encourage them to try their best to wait until recess.  We tell the story of how the teacher has to wait, hoping they might sympathize. They don't.

When we gift the class water bottles on the first day of school {they are sitting up on their desks when they come in}, we immediately establish our class bathroom procedure, then we spend eternity the first several weeks enforcing it. 

We decided to hold them a bit accountable while teaching responsibility with their bathroom use in case the endless water supply became a "problem" for anyone. 
We stick this monthly tally chart on a clipboard by our door.  Each time a student heads to the restroom, they write a tally in the box with their assigned number.  We use the numbers to maintain some sense of privacy...We wouldn't put it past our Tally Mark Masters to loudly announce kindly share their observations ~ "Wow! Jimmy went to the bathroom 45 times this month!"... 

Note~ Of course, this chart does not apply to any child who has a medical condition or needs to use the restroom regularly.  We have a few who bypass the tally chart altogether for those reasons. This tally chart was not created for them. 

For the most part, most of our friends have learned to wait until recess.  This tally chart was not created for them.

No, this list is more for those kids who need to go multiple times in class and God Bless their honesty when you ask, "Didn't you go at recess?" and they look you straight in the face with a definitive, "N.O.P.E., I was busy playing!" Alrighty then...This tally chart was created for them.

We are really careful about denying anyone for fear of the dreaded accident.Leading to new clothing.Leading to a parent phone call. You get the picture...But, we also feel learning to use the restroom responsibly is an important lesson early on.

We consult our tally chart often and if anyone is creeping up in the numbers, we conference with them, discussing the potential loss of water bottle privileges in class.  They get the picture.   

If needed, we use these tally charts at parent conference time just to confirm whether or not there is a serious condition that we should be made aware of.  They get the picture.   
 
So there you have it...  Nothing fancy or smancy...But, we are meeting standards by tallying our toilet habits! 

So we're curious.  What is your bathroom policy?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Water Bottles in the Classroom

There are certain questions kids like to relentlessly occasionally ask over and over from time to time in the classroom.
   "Can I go to the bathroom?"
and
"Can I get a drink of water?"  

Can you relate?

We tackled our bathroom procedure {here}, so today we're taking on the H20. We know full well that this is a loaded question and one that will most certainly cause an avalanche of askers...It's called the "Domino Effect" and primary students are experts...Olympians...World Champs, really. We are certain they wait with parched tongues waiting for us to exclaim, "Free Drinks for All!", but mostly we sort of just want to channel our inner Seinfeld and exclaim, "No Soup Water For You!".  

We've battled with this procedure in our own class for quite some time.  We truly believe there is a time and a place for fulfilling their basic necessities during the school day, but we also realize that we are the Keepers of those needs, dictating when and where they can partake.

So this year, we decided to implement a strategy of our own and end this lil' game once and for all...or at least try. :)  On the first day of school, we provide each student with their own reusable water bottle to be kept on top of their desk.  We usually pick these up at the local dollar stores, and believe us...We have shopped water bottles. 
We highly suggest using the "pop top" style bottles, rather than the open, "I'm going to spill all over your desk and classroom floor" model. Trust us...It's not pretty. :) We found the above and below water bottles at the Dollar Tree last year. They came with a little snack cup on the bottom, which we quickly removed and created a class set of math manipulative containers. Cha Ching! We always pick up a few extras for new students or the very rare bottle breakage.

We put each student's name on their bottle and they keep them up on top of their desks at all times.  Though they are not free to drink whenever and wherever they'd like, they have learned to be responsible with their water bottles in class. We teach them appropriate times to drink (like when we are headed out to recess or in transition between activities) and inappropriate times to drink (like when we are all sitting on the rug in the middle of a lesson). They learn quickly what their privileges and limitations are with their class water bottle. 
When we are working at our tables, we encourage them to stay hydrated and drink their water as they need.  As time allows, we give them permission to refill their water bottles at the class water fountain.

Our main concern when starting this new procedure, was the spills.  We began the year by stocking up on paper towels and making at least 10 extra copies of every worksheet, just in case.  But, they really surprised us.  Aside from the occasional dribble, we have only had 1 major spill all year.  That's a pretty good track record, we think! 

We also debated about the cleaning procedure.  Surely, we weren't going to bring them home each week and clean them!  So we came up with a Water Bottle Clean Up system for the class.
You can grab your own copy or our Water Bottle Clean Up routine too.
Each student is responsible for and very capable of washing their own water bottles.  We stick this sign up by our sink each time, post a class list for the kids to cross off as they go and call the next friend...It pretty much runs itself.  It does take some time to get through everyone's water bottle, but the few minutes the kids take to wash their bottles are well worth the time wasted getting up in the middle of lessons to quench their thirst. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Earth Week Extravaganza...

We've been spinning through the week celebrating our Earth, Earth, and more Earth. We've recovered nicely from our 2 mile walking field trip to the local supermarket, and moved onto more eco teacher friendly activities.
We had an on-site field trip about 20 feet from our classroom today ~ We ran there! :) When we arrived {out of breath ~ us, not them} we were in awe to find the Wyland Clean Water Mobile Learning Experience.  It was 45 minutes of pure hands-on Eco-ness, as we learned about the importance of keeping our waterways clean in this mobile classroom.  We loved it! 
As we were leaving, one of our friends asked, "If that thing is all about keeping the Earth clean, why did they drive up in a BIG truck that pollutes the air?"  Hmmm...Future Eco Activist or Mother Earth's heir to the throne?  Trying ever so hard to keep a completely straight face, we told him that was an excellent question and one he should ask his parents to help him look up at home.  No seriously, of course we had to go find the real answer...turns out it runs on Bio Diesel. Phew!  The Earth can keep spinning...

When we returned, we worked our way through some of our We Love the Earth activities.  
Digraphs seem to be a challenge this year, so to help our friends we threw out this Sort the Trash digraph activity for practice.  Next week, this smelly trash will stick around in our Workshop for independent practice.

  To practice some key eco friendly vocabulary, we played "We Love the Earth Bingo".  We have to admit, we were a little concerned how well our first grade friends would catch on to some of these terms.  Trying to explain global warming and e-waste to seven year olds would typically be setting our lesson up for a good 'ol fashion snooze fest, but they surprised us!  
We discovered,             
        If you teach it, they will learn                 

Plus, putting it into 'game' form usually helps. Ha!  By the time we were done playing, the kids knew these words so well they were telling us all about their piles of e-waste at home and how much pollution they have contributed to poor Mother Earth.  It was like an Eco Confessional!  We listened patiently, forgave them of their wasteful ways, and sent them off to recess so we could decompose rest.

In an effort to Reduce the amount of energy we had already poured into our day, we decided to Reuse this gem of a video we found a few years back...
We really don't show videos in class very often, unless they tie nicely into the curriculum, but this one has fast become an Earth Week tradition in our class.  It was a great way to Recycle another busy day in first grade. 

Good Night Friends...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Earth Week Wildness

We feel like we hit the floor running Monday morning and are just stopping to grab a quick breath.  Only not like marathon or 10k running...No, more like one of those cartoon characters whose feet just keep spinning and spinning in place, never really getting anywhere kind of running.

After Friday's "Southern California Typhoon" (as we're calling it) hit our school, sweeping all control from our precious classroom, we had no idea what we would be walking back into come Monday morning, but we knew it'd be busy and maybe a little messy...
As usual...

We've been busy still digging our way out of Friday and into some fun Earth Week activities this week...Here's a peek at what we've done so far~

Have y'all heard about www.fieldtripfactory.com?  
Field Trip Factory - Free field trips!
We discovered it last year, when we found this free field trip for our kiddos.  It's called "Speak Out.  It's Your Earth." The visit takes us on an eco friendly tour through a local supermarket and encourages children to make a positive impact on the environment.   So yesterday, in honor of Earth Week, we hit the streets with our 3rd grade Study Buddies...Come on...you can't drive a big bus or cars during Earth Week, can you?  Walking is a great alternative!  This is where the term " free" field trip makes us wonder...Is it really free?  Don't all field trips come with some sort of cost? 

Have you ever walked 2 miles with young friends?!?  WE have...
The walk there.  Piece.of.cake.  One mile of pure hopping, skipping, jumping "Are we there yet?" bliss.

The walk back.  Notsomuch.  "Are we there yeeetttt?"  "Where's Our Schoooool?"  "Can you carry meeee?"  Oh, and our personal favorite - "I'm dying".  Oh the poor things!  But they made it!  And so did we...we think. 

When we returned from our trip, we spent the afternoon fluctuating between utter exhaustion and making these owls for Earth Week.
Whooo Loves the Earth? bulletin board for Earth Day

Remember Woodsy, the Owl? 
We thought we'd age ourselves a bit by going back in time...  We used Good 'Ol Woodsy the Owl's motto to create these lil' "I Give a Hoot" craftivities.  We brainstormed ways we don't pollute our Earth and the kids wrote about it. 
Earth Day writing and craft activity

Earth Day writing and craft activity

Earth Day writing and craft activity

Earth Day writing and craft activity
We made a body and writing template, gave the kids a choice of Earthy green, orange or red paper to trace their hands and raided our cake making supplies to recycle some old baking cups for the eyes.  They cut an orange beak and yellow feet to finish them off. 

Here are the supplies we used:    
Earth Day craft                                                                            
We've put the free directions and templates in our TpT Store if you are interested.  Please leave us some feedback in our store if you choose to download.  Thanks so much!

Click HERE to fly on over to our TpT store and grab yourself a free copy of our "I Give a Hoot" craftivity. 
Earth Day craft
Our "We Love the Earth" Unit is there too if you'd like to take a peek.  
Earth week lesson plans and activities
Off to see if our feet will hit the floor today or if we are continuing on the road to nowhere.
"Are we there yeeetttt?"  "Can you carry usssss?"  Ha, Ha...
Happy Earth Week!

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