Monday, March 31, 2014

Weather Study: Clouds

It's That Time of Year Again! Our firsties are studying all things weather. I love teaching weather units. Kids seem to be naturally interested in learning more about their environment, and weather is of particular interest to them at this point in the year. Spring has sprung (even if the weather has still been a bit on the chilly side recently), and there is much to discuss about different types of weather we could see in the coming months.

Today, I am sharing some of the activities we have used lately with our study of clouds, as well as links to some additional resources that may be helpful for you if you are teaching this topic as well. I will continue to share different aspects of our weather study, but it will take multiple posts to cover it all … there's so much to learn and do! :)

Now, about those clouds...

I started with two wonderful texts for teaching about weather -specifically when you want children to think about how clouds are formed and change. Both of these are great supplemental texts for teaching about clouds and the water cycle. 

   

Then, the students used finger-paint to mimic Eric Carle's illustrations in Little Cloud. We started with basic white paint on blue construction paper. The only rule was that they cover the blue space; no shapes or specific patterns were necessary. 


I was amazed by the individuality that still emerged among their finished paint smearings. You just cannot escape the uniqueness of childhood. 
We let the paint dry completely, and throughout the unit, the students pulled their painted pages to complete the following activity in a center.

The students walked outside and looked at the sky to find different shapes. Then, they returned to the classroom to recreate the shape with their painted paper. To coincide with their artwork, each student used the writing prompt "I looked up at the sky and thought a saw a _____ but it was just a cloud."

Here are a few finished samples:


Additionally, the students made these awesome little flip-books that focus on three different types of clouds. This was a great follow-up to their analysis of cloud shapes.



More to come on weather! :)

Reading Recap: March 2014


This Monday reading-list blog link-up is available through Teach Mentor Texts. This event was originally hosted by Book Journey, but I also love the idea of establishing a link-up with a kidlit focus. Therefore, I am linking up with Teach Mentor Texts and sharing my recent "must reads," but I will also link up with Book Journey  since some of my texts fall outside the kidlit genre.

Just Finished (March):
As you know, this year I have taken on my 52-book reading challenge, and so far, I'm hanging in there!  The images below show my reads for March. Simply click on each book image to be redirected to my own corresponding book review via Goodreads.

    

Goodreads 2014 Challenge: 52 books
Current progress toward goal: 12 of 52 books, 23% of goal

Currently Reading
This will be an ongoing read for a while.
To Read:

Happy reading, friends! :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday: Be Inspired and Rest

Happy Sunday, friends! I wanted to share a few of my most inspirational encounters online this week.  I can't take credit for any of these gracious expressions or hopeful links, but I do hope that passing them on will provide some joy to you today! If you find something you would like to Pin, please take time to visit the original source, if available, and Pin from there. I have provided an easy-to-click hyperlink credit to any traceable sources. When applicable, I've also included my favorite quotes from some of the reading passages so you can have a small preview before you read on.

I hope this is encouraging for you! Have a lovely, restful Sunday!

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P31 Daily Devotions
Reading Passage: "You Will Be Okay"

"When we trust the compassion of God, our problems and fears do not consume us. Because of His love and compassion, we are not overwhelmed. "


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"With every breath I take in, I'll tell you I'm grateful again. 'Cause it's more than enough just to know I am loved, and You are Good." ~Point of Grace, "You are Good"

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Source: Indulgy
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Source: A Sunday Scripture at (in)courage

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Literature Circles, Roles, and The Cool-Itch Kid

I absolutely adore this point in the first grade school year. It seems like the students just leap ahead in independence and maturity, and it's so amazing to witness the transition among many of them. With increasing independence and capabilities has come the implementation of literature circles for some of my groups. They are loving it. 
One of our recent texts has been The Case of the Cool-Itch Kid. If you have a young reader at home, or young readers in the classroom, I highly recommend placing this book in their hands. If you visited me here earlier this week, you probably read my brief review of this text. I will share it again for those of you who missed it:

This is a lively, imaginative, and altogether realistic tale of a young girl attending summer camp for the first time. Young readers who enjoy sassy characters, much like Junie B. Jones, will find another favorite character in Dawn Bosco. An engaging read with many potential connections for readers of all ages.

It has been a pleasure to watch some of my students become so absorbed in, and delighted by, this text.





Upon completing their reading in the text each day, the students completed their own individual tasks related to the text. Their roles were determined by "spinning" for their part at the beginning of the week, before beginning the text.

Each role has corresponding tasks to complete for the text after each daily reading. These are the roles and tasks my students have been using this week.


I think their favorite is the "Wild Word Wizard," but they have been pretty excited about all of them. For some reason, they were sure that I would give the wizard a "really cool hat" to wear… I'm not sure what I have done to earn such expectations from them! ;) Regardless, I love the fact that they have been so eager to take on these roles. 

I provided activity pages for each role. Each page is designed specifically for the role, and it has a section to complete each day of the reading. I love having a record of their responses to their reading, and I can easily track their progress throughout the whole week with only one page for student. The fewer papers we have to manage, the better, right?!?

This is an example of the activity page for one role:
This product, "Literature Circles Roles & Activities" is full of reading goodies. It is available in the Tally Tales TPT store here.

All in all, this process has been a smooth one for us so far. I am pretty sure the success with our literature circles so can be attributed to that Cool-Itch Kid and this young readers' mystery. Still, I'll take what I can get… 

Monday, March 24, 2014

On the Menu: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

    I recently had one of those nights in which I just had to have something warm, baked, and sweet. I frantically started searching the cabinets and my cookbooks for a recipe that would work. This particular recipe was adapted from Alicia C. Simpson's Vegan Comfort Food. I changed the ingredients a bit to fit what I had on hand at the time, and the outcome was perfect for me. You can always substitute ingredients that fit your preferences, but I had a really great experience with this combination.                                               Also, I have to note that this was my first experience with using applesauce in a baking recipe, and I think it will become a staple ingredient for my baked goods in the future. If you've never tried it before, let this be your first time; you won't be sorry!             Okay, on to the good stuff...
Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup non-dairy butter
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Blend the granulated sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, non-dairy butter, and almond milk with an electric mixer until the mixture develops a creamy texture. Then, beat in the applesauce until it is evenly blended.
Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl. 
Add this mixture to the peanut butter mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, blending well after each addition is made. 
 Fold in the chocolate chips to complete the batter.
Use a teaspoon to scoop out pieces of dough and roll them into one-inch balls. I have this handy little cookie dough scooper, and while it's perfect for this task, you could just as easily use a teaspoon. 
Place the balls about two inches apart on a cookie sheet, and use a fork to flatten them in a criss-cross pattern. 
Bake for ten minutes, or until they are a light golden brown color. 
Remove from the baking sheet, cool, and enjoy!


It's Monday! What are you reading? 03-24-14

Here's my weekly dose of book love...

This Monday reading-list blog link-up is available through Teach Mentor Texts. This event was originally hosted by Book Journey, but I also love the idea of establishing a link-up with a kidlit focus. Therefore, I am linking up with Teach Mentor Texts and sharing my recent "must reads," but I will also link up with Book Journey  since some of my texts fall outside the kidlit genre.

Just Finished

The Case of the Cool-Itch Kid by Patricia Reilly Giff
This is a lively, imaginative, and altogether realistic tale of a young girl attending summer camp for the first time. Young readers who enjoy sassy characters, much like Junie B. Jones, will find another favorite character in Dawn Bosco. An engaging read with many potential connections for readers of all ages.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I won't spent a great amount of time detailing my opinion of this text. I was really excited about reading Divergent  so many people told me it was incredible, and with the release of the movie this month, I was eager to read it before going to see it on the big screen.

Then I read it. As I read, I found myself thinking, "This is almost The Hunger Games… but not quite."

There are many similarities between the two texts, and I could write an essay drawing parallels between them, but at the end of a lengthy argument, my summary statement would be something like the following: I'm not a huge fan of Veronica Roth's writing style, and the entire plot felt eerily similar to The Hunger Games. I really, really loved The Hunger Games. Divergent just felt like a copycat text. Had I read Divergent first, I might have felt differently… maybe. But it's doubtful.

I can close Divergent without jumping headfirst into the second book in the trilogy, and I'll be okay. For that reason, it's a 3-star read at best.



Currently Reading
This will be an ongoing read for a while.
This will be an ongoing read for a while.

To Read:

Happy reading, friends! :)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday: Be Inspired and Rest

Happy Sunday, friends! I wanted to share a few of my most inspirational encounters online this week.  I can't take credit for any of these gracious expressions or hopeful links, but I do hope that passing them on will provide some joy to you today! If you find something you would like to Pin, please take time to visit the original source, if available, and Pin from there. I have provided an easy-to-click hyperlink credit to any traceable sources. When applicable, I've also included my favorite quotes from some of the reading passages so you can have a small preview before you read on.
Source: "Why You Don't Need a Big Story" from (in)courage
"No matter the testimony or the story, each of us must live out our carpool, cubicle, laundry and take-out-on-Saturday-night lives... And these are the stories that, perhaps make more of a difference. They are the tiny, daily steps forward into faith that make us into better mothers or sisters or friends or mentors."
Source: Unknown
Source: ToSuchAsTheseDesigns, Etsy
Source: Oh So Beautiful Paper
Source: A Holy Experience
"And Jesus gives you the One Life Hack that you need: the sharp edge of His Word… Because the Word is the only Life Hack that will hack up the lies from the pit and let you live free." ~ Ann Voskamp

This image is from my own Bible. This truth is so well-said, and I need this advice daily in my own life. I hope it reaches some of you in the same way it does me.

Happy Sunday, friends!