Wow- I don’t know about all of you, but this second full week of school felt SO incredibly long! I felt like each day was like four days in one…but it still was a good week…so here’s five things that went on this week!
1. Part of the reason this week felt so long was because of all the testing I was doing…F&P, AIMS, etc. I was excited to see that a few of my little friends actually went up over the summer which is pretty rare, but awesome! One new little 1st grader was quite the little reader and he was cracking me up during his F&P testing. One of the books has this sentence: “My brother is a neat freak.” This little boy who was reading to me saw the word ‘freak,’ stopped reading and said, “That’s a bad word. No for real, that’s a bad word!” He was very adamant about it so I told him not to worry about it and just skip it…but really wanted to laugh out loud– it was very cute!
2. After doing the F&P testing with a few little 1st graders who were reading below an A level, I wanted to get a better idea of what they knew about letter names and sounds, so I pulled a few of them one-on-one and did some practice with letters and a little writing practice. I used my Back to School Think, Draw, Write journals to see what connections they were making between letter names and sounds. I created these Think, Draw, Write journals a few years ago and have continued to use this format because I find that it works really well with the little kindergartners and 1st graders as they develop themselves as writers. The format of first taking time to think about the question/prompt, then drawing a picture of their thoughts and last writing words/phrases/sentences to describe their answer really gives them time to think about their writing before diving right into it!
I usually lead a discussion about the question first (sometimes with a read aloud) and model how I would answer the question and then have my little friends go and work on their own journal. If I have little friends who take too long on the drawing part, I’ll just let them draw for a few minutes and then encourage them to stop where they are in their picture and start writing so that the writing is actually happening too!
Check out this post for more information on these Think, Draw, Write packs and how I incorporate technology and a read aloud into our Think, Draw, Write journal time. You can check out this Back to School version here!
I also have this pack bundled together for the entire year. My Back to School, Fall, Winter, Spring and End of the Year Prompts are all in one place in this bundle. There are 20 prompts for each season so this should keep you busy throughout each season with a journal to complete a few times a week. I also include a writing extension page that can be used once a week or however often you want so your little friends can extend their writing from one of the prompts. You can check out the entire bundle here!
3. I also used this other writing activity with a few students so they could show me their writing. My little friends made a list of all the things that they do at school and then added a picture to go with their list. It’s hard to read what she wrote because the pencil shows up so lightly, but basically so far this little girl is really loving all the coloring, pictures and playing outside time. My favorite is #3 though- sounding out letters! We’ll be doing a whole lot with letters in the next few weeks, so hopefully she likes it. 🙂 It also cracks me up that she drew a slide in her picture seeing how we have no real playground equipment- aka, no slides, no swings, etc. This page is a really nice and simple activity to get your little friends writing and to get an idea of what they think the classroom is all about! You can grab this freebiehere to use with your little friends!
4. One of my favorite beginning of the year activities is to read a book that is related to school (really any book that talks about a school day works) and then I give my little friends a few minutes to walk around and explore our classroom. Each little friend knows they need to come back to the group with an idea of something they are excited to use this year– I also emphasize not to touch that special thing yet as we want to learn what we will be using it for first. (This stems from my own paranoia of them messing things up right away in the beginning!) We then make a list together on the board of all the things they are excited to use and I explain how and when we’ll start using those items. This is just a nice way to get students comfortable with the set up of your classroom and gives them an understanding of what they’ll be doing in there! Mr. Frog tends to be a repeat answer…check out more about how I use this guy here!
We heart Mr. Frog!
5. I am super excited for this long weekend! The weather this week has been crazy hot in Chicago- like middle of July ridiculously humid hot. The little friends have been coming in from recess so very sweaty and just a tad smelly…I’m so very thankful we have air conditioning in our room and school– truly makes a world of a difference. So this weekend is still supposed to be warm like summer (but not quite as hot as earlier in the week) and I’m very much looking forward to spending some time outdoors!