Primary Chalkboard: April 2015

Integrating Art and Writing

Hello Everyone! 
It's Susanna here from Whimsy Workshop Teaching, and I have some fun drawing ideas to share with you today. 

I teach a multi-age class, so I'm used to finding ways to differentiate for students whose ability ranges from Kindergarten to Grade 3. 

When possible, this is accomplished by open-ended projects. Other times, I simply make different versions of the same activity so that all students are well supported. (Sometimes I will put those different versions out and let them choose, which is an interesting study in student confidence and attitude!)

I also try to integrate subject areas whenever possible, mixing writing and math together, or even social studies and Physical Education! 

The two that most naturally seem to go together for me are writing and art. Since my students love directed drawing, I've mixed some with writing prompts to go along with them - everything is right there on the page.

If you'd like to try this yourself, there's a FREE set of printables over on my blog! {click HERE}

You can also grab the whole BUNDLE - perfect for literacy centers, Home Writing, sub tubs, or just fun art lessons!

You might enjoy drawing these along with your students!



An Oil Spill Science & Writing Activity!

Hello Friends! This is Christina, from Miss DeCarbo's Sugar and Spice. Today on my blog, I shared a super fun science experiment and writing activity that I did with my first graders last week for Earth Day! :)

I used water, vegetable oil, and feathers to create a horrible OIL SPILL that took place in my classroom!
My little scientists had to work in small groups to discuss, devise, and write a plan of action for this terrible, environmental disaster! 

They worked together to try to remove the oil, clean up the water, and save the wildlife. They soon discovered this was a DIFFICULT task!

Afterwards, my students summarized what they learned and wrote about what they wanted others to know and learn after their own experience with an unclean planet.

Read ALL of the details, check out even MORE pictures of this experiment, and learn the steps I took for this activity on my blog today by clicking HERE.

*Disclosure* No wildlife was injured or harmed in the making of this experiment. ;)

It's Planting Time

Hi Friends.... Anna here from Simply Skilled in Second.  It's HERE... It's HERE... SPRING has arrived!  I don't know about you guys...but our winter here in the northeast was B.R.U.T.A.L.!  Truly! Brutal.  It felt like spring would never arrive.  But it has...and what better way to celebrate then to talk about Planting!

Every year in my classroom as part of our Science curriculum, we plant sunflowers.  I love sunflowers! But the only problem is that we never get to see our sunflowers actually bloom because school is over by that time :(  However, year after year, I have students coming back to class showing me pictures of their sunflowers and how they replanted them at their homes and they grew taller than them!  I love when they come back and tell me that :)

Here is an adorable video that I have shown my kiddos called Sid the Seed.. They love it!

I also read a few big books to my class on seeds and planting.   Then we usually get to work.

The last few years, we have completed my Plants Flip Flap Book which they really loved!

They write about plants and complete the Life Cycle of the Sunflower.

If you want to check it out in my TPT Shop, just click the image below...

This year, I have decided to do something a little different and change it up a bit... I always change things up from year to year so that I don't get bored with the same projects year after year.

This year we are going to complete my Plants Tab-Its Booklet for our Science Interactive Notebooks!
Click the image below to check it out in my TPT Shop.

We will complete a graphic organizer on what Plants Have, Are, and Need.  They will focus on some Vocabulary development, label a diagram of a plant and write what each part of the plant does, they will label the life cycle of a flower, and the last few pages of my Tab-It booklet is their plant journal where they will write a plant observation looking at their newly planted sunflower.  They will draw a picture, describe the plant and the stage the plant is in, measure the plant's height, and draw a picture of it.  This Tab-It booklet has EVERYTHING my kiddos need to learn and complete for our plant unit.  I literally can't wait to start!!!!  

Anywhooo...I hope you are all warming up for those of you that live where cold winters are brutal and for those of you that live in warm weather climates year round... I am coming to live with you!  :)

Happy Spring!!


Butterfly Art

Aloha friends! Corinna from Surfin' Through Second here.  Are you thawing out from the winter freeze?  Spring is here and we are doing lots of fun activities in our classroom.

One of our favorite activities is learning about Monarch Butterflies and their amazing life cycles.  We have Monarchs here in Hawaii and many of my students love hunting for caterpillars and watching them transform into butterflies.

There are tons of fun resources out there to help teach students more about Monarchs.
Check out this post on my blog for more details-----> {Click Here}

We did this fun art project that uses symmetry to make some gorgeous butterflies.

They came out great and my class worked so hard to try to make both sides symmetrical.
This took us a few afternoons to finish, which makes it a great activity for these last 
few months of school.

Click on the template to download it from Google Docs.

Mahalo for stopping b the Primary Chalkboard and I hope you will visit me at my blog for more ideas and resources.

6 Ways to Re-Energize Your Class This Spring

Hi, friends! Laura here from Peace, Love, and First Grade!

Are you as excited as I am about SPRING?
My azaleas are blooming, the sun is shining, and recess could last all day!
Spring is here at last!

Hmm...the weather is absolutely beautiful, so what is it then (testing, worry about the fence sitters, I could go on...) that causes teachers to feel out of sorts in spring??

If you feel the spring time exhaustion, you are not alone. I'm with you, along with thousands of your closest teacher friends!
What's a teacher to do?

Well, there's always the adage, "This, too, shall pass." 
But, let's be honest, when you're in the thick of things, that's not very helpful.

I can't calm the winds or take away the full moon days, but I can share with you a few things I do when the days seem to draw out forever.

1) Try a New Activity
Dig out an activity you love and you KNOW the kiddos will love! 
We have an Author's Craft unit we do each spring, and not only do I love it, the kids love it, too.
You can feel the energy in the room during these lessons.
Dig deep if you have to, but find a lesson or activity to re-energize the class!

2) Read Your Favorite Children's Book
Apply the same tip from #1 to your favorite read-aloud. My firsties eat up chapter books during spring. They love Mercy Watson and Judith Viorst's LuLu, and I know breaking out a book from one of those series will make ALL of us smile! 

This is also a great time to break out a favorite from YOUR childhood to share with the class. I have always loved The Boxcar Children and adore sharing it with my kiddos. I mean, quite honestly, the original Boxcar is about as good as it gets!  

Pull out your favorite picture books, too. I love sharing Russell Hoban's Frances series during spring.

3) Do Something Different
I know. I know. That takes energy! 
But spring is the perfect time to try something new. 
Plan and plant a garden. 
Go outside and have class. 
The clouds are beautiful right now. Take advantage of that and learn about them. Send everyone out to sketch those babies! you've never tried online Brain Breaks before, 
give them a shot.
My kidlets would GoNoodle or Move to Learn all day if I would let them.
Brain Breaks are seriously good for refreshing students AND teachers! 

**Let me preface #4 by saying I don't mean do this every day, and I am not advocating all day recess, just a ONE TIME BREAK.
4) Give Your Kids (and Yourself) a Break
Skip the spelling test this week...or homework...or an incredibly boring lesson in the math program that causes you to breathe deeply for 30 minutes afterward. You know what I mean.
We've all been working hard and we all deserve an unexpected break

5) Get Student Input
Ask your kiddos what they are interested in learning about and plug their ideas into your lesson, even if you just find books about their favorite topics. 
Create a class chart where children can add their suggestions or interests. Children love knowing their opinions matter and feel valued when you take the time to include their interests in your lessons.

6) Spring Clean
Take some time each day to clean out! Spend 20 minutes cleaning out a bin or a drawer. We all know the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a tidy workspace. 

Get the kids in on the act, too. All my littles have class jobs, and those jobs change every 9 weeks. Let your students apply for the jobs that interest them and start assigning tasks. Set aside a time each day when everyone does his job. Your kiddos will love it!

Let's face it! Teaching is an exhausting profession. 
It's a wonderful "wouldn't want to do anything else" adventure, but it's exhausting. 
I hope one of the ideas above inspires you this spring.  
And, remember, if all else fails, "This, too, shall pass."

Have a fabulous week!! 

Stamp a Story: A Fun Writing Activity

When I taught first grade, my students LOVD making sticker stories (click here for that old post) and they loved to "stamp a story." I usually used this as a writing center or early finisher activity. This takes a little more bravery on your part. Let's be honest, ink is a pain. If you leave it open, it dries out. If kids get over excited, their is ink all over their hands, clothes and paper. Yikes. But let's get serious here. If it gets them writing, then I'm all for it! 

The Easter Bunny brought stamp-a-story into our house this year and reminded me how fun it is. Thank you Amazon! (Side note: These little stamps solve a lot of the problems with the big mess because there isn't a separate ink pad that can attract little fingers and smear all over. Wishing I had these when I taught first grade!) 

After Shawn made a few random pictures with stamps (by random I mean as many stamps on a page as he can fit,) I suggested we make a story with the stamps. First, I set the stamps up so we could see the picture. We talked about which stamps could be characters and which stamps could be part of the scenery. Then we brainstormed different ideas for stories with these characters. I asked simple questions like, Where are your characters? What are they doing? 

Before he started stamping, we also talked about what the scene would look like. I told him this is going to be like a picture, similar to if he were to draw it. We started with the grass, then added in flowers and animals. Last, he added in the butterflies and dragonflies. 

Finally, he was ready to do his writing: 

Keep in mind he is a kindergartener. A first grade student may choose to add more detail to their story. (I would add a back page of lines for a first grader.) After writing this, he said he wanted his next one to be all about forest animals in spring. Informational writing... BOOM!

Here are my tips for the classroom when using this as a center:

Where do you find stamps? Amazon baby! 
The top row are all little stamps. The benefits are that they are not as messy and you don't have to purchase a separate ink pad. The negative is that they run out of ink faster and you are stuck with the color they give you BUT you can always use an ink pad with these little stamps after they run out. The bottom row are bigger and you can choose the color based on the ink pad you choose. They are slightly more expensive, but not too bad. They are easy to use when creating a scene though. :) 

Click on the picture to download the links to these stamps. 

To get started, download this template by clicking here or on the picture below.

If you have any additional tips, I'd love to hear them! Share your tips or experiences in the comments. :) 

Visit me at my blog: 

Earth Day!

Hey friends! It's Karen from Mrs. Jones's Class.  

So...I'm one of those "Earth Day every day" people. I am a stickler for reusing, recycling, and trying to live as green as I can. Needless to day, I {heart} Earth Day!

Are you interested in becoming a little more "green" too? It is really not that hard, and just a few little changes to your daily routine can help.

One bigger change I made last year was that I joined an organic CSA. A CSA is an acronym for Crop Sharing agriculture. Basically, we buy a "share" of a local organic farm. Ours is small and family owned. We pay a yearly fee and each week in the summer season (May-October) we get a big ole' box of organic produce that is grown and harvested right at our farm. We also visited a few times last year to pick. We are eating healthier, and feel good that we aren't contributing to unnecessary chemicals being added to our food and our earth. Here are some pictures of our weekly goods, as well as from our trips to the farm. What is better than pulling your own carrot from the ground, wiping it off, and eating it! :)
I would highly recommend googling "CSAs" in your area and looking in to it!

Back in the classroom, I like to show my kids how we can be green a little "greener" to help the Earth too!

I created this Earth Day mini-unit to show my little ones the importance of Earth Day, every day! 

Included is this super cute Mosaic Earth Day craftivity, which you can use some some of those scraps of construction paper up with. 

You can find it here in my TpT shop. 

You can also grab this little Earth Day mini-book 

Peace, love, and green!