Category: 1st Grade


Opinion Books

IMG_0425My first graders spent the last 2 months working on persuasive/opinion writing in their classroom.  I thought it would be a great partnership between my classroom and their classroom to merge our writing to reflect what they’ve been doing.

I strategically selected books from Reading A to Z that had similar stories, but different enough to form opinions on which book they preferred.  Some books we read to write about were:

  • Shoes Men Wear and Shoes Women Wear
  • Going To The Dentist and Going To The Doctor
  • Bonk’s Camping Trip and Bonk’s Big Splash
  • All About Farms and All About Factories
  • City Animals and Country Animals
  • Rude Robot and Penny the Rude Penguin

IMG_0428We read more than just those books above, but that gives you a general idea of some of the ways we partnered books up to be roughly the same topic but different enough for students to form opinions.  We started by reading both books and then following the OREO format (Opinion, Reasons, Examples, Opinion restated) students picked their favorite book and then had to write about why it was their favorite book.  Each week we would read a new set of books and then write an opinion on one of the books.   We started with their favorite book and then moved to favorite part, then favorite IMG_0431character, then student choice.  Students could also choose to write about their least favorite book, part, or character as well for student choice.

Once we finished our 6 opinion papers, students compiled them into a book order, made a table of contents, and cover page, then we sent the books out to be spiral bound into real books.

The 1st graders then were able to share their books with all the other kids in the classroom before being able to take their books home.  They were so proud of the finished product after 7 weeks of hard work.

Contraction Surgery

IMG_0407I’ve been noticing with my 1st graders we’ve been having a lot of troubles while reading when we come to contractions.  Students say, “it is” when we see “it’s” or “do not” when we see “didn’t”.  Sometimes we’ll even get something a little more wonky like “didn’t not”.  I’ve done some word work with contractions, but it hasn’t really stuck.  I decided to do something with these 1st graders that I did with my 1st graders about 6 years ago–contraction surgery.

IMG_0419Students each got their own surgical mask, gloves, and “scalpel” AKA scissors.  We turned words into contractions by taking out the letters we didn’t need, “stitching them back up” (gluing them to the paper), and giving them a “surgery scar” (AKA the apostrophe).

We did a couple of examples together and then students were able to do 5 of them at their own pace with my support as needed.  They LOVED this and I think it helped because I haven’t noticed as much of the issues when reading as I have previously noticed.

They were extra excited because they got to keep all of their surgical gear AND I called each of them doctor. 🙂

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Social Stories

IMG_0394It’s getting to be that time of the year when friends are going a little stir crazy and patience for each other can sometimes be low.  I’ve noticed in 1st grade especially patience for dealing with peers has been a challenge for students.  We took this as a learning opportunity.

I had the students read Calming Down and The Rude Robot to learn about ways we could practice patience and kindness to each other.

In Calming Down students learned that it’s ok to get angry, but to channel that anger into something positive and find ways to calm down.  Once we finished reading the story, we created a group anchor chart of ways we could calm down at school to help us stay positive and on task.  Each student then received a pocket-sized version of our chart to keep in their book box as a bookmark to use when they found themselves getting upset with another classmate.

IMG_0395We also read The Rude Robot about a boy who gets a robot for a birthday present, but the robot is rude to everyone so the boy has to teach it manners so his friends will want to come back and play.  When we finished reading the book we came up with a list of ways we could be more kind to each other in the classroom.  They also got a pocket-sized version of this anchor chart to keep in their book boxes as continual reminders on how even when we get mad at someone in the class we can still be kind to them.

I was impressed with all the great ideas students had.

Whack-A-Word

img_0371I came across this awesome ipad app called Whack-A-Word and thought it was the cutest thing ever.  I don’t have ipad for all of my kiddos so I tweaked what I saw on the app and created my own using sheets for ABCs, blends and digraphs, and Jolly Phonics.  (If you want any of my materials, let me know!)  My teammate also found some stuff on Teachers Pay Teachers, but we created our own to match with what we wanted.

I took a pool noodle and cut them into about 2 inch wide slices and inserted jumbo craft sticks into a slit I made with scissors.  img_0372

The kids LOVED THIS!!! “Ms. Acuff, why haven’t we played this before?  This game is AWESOME!”  The way it works is you tell them something to find and they have to locate it and “whack the word” or in this case–the sound.  “Whack the sound that says ch-ch-ch.”  This has been a great way to reinforce letter identification and word parts for the Kindergarten kiddos who have needed some extra practice without it being so “skill and drill” with them.img_0373

1st Grade Sequencing

img_03541st graders have been working on retelling a story in order with many details along with characters, setting, problem, and solution.  The 1st graders have struggled with mastering putting the story back in order using MANY details.  Often we get the beginning and end and a detail or two about the middle, but not necessarily in the correct order.  We’ve been spending a lot of time on making sure we can retell the story using all the important details.  I took some of their stories, typed them up in order, cut them apart, and had students put them back in order.  They were able to use their book to help them or use their book at the end to check if they were correct.  This has helped students remember there are many important parts to a story, not just the beginning and the end, and how order matters!

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1st Grade Comparison

img_03291st graders spent the last 2 weeks learning about penguins and snakes.  Both books are from the “All About…” series.  We’ve been working on noticing similarities and differences in books.  1st graders are working on characters and setting so even in a non-fiction book we are still able to talk about where these animals live and how that’s a “place” just like we look for settings in fiction books.

As the first graders make progress through the year we are looking for them to stretch words out and hear multiple sounds in words along with using words or parts they know to build new and unknown words.

1st Grade Writing

img_02401st grade has been transitioning into only doing Interactive Writing to doing some independent writing applying CAP (Concepts About Print).

We’ve been working on transferring skills from the classroom to the work we do in groups by writing about the books we are reading.  In the picture above, we read a book called Yes We Can about things we can do at school.  We wrote a group story about different things we can do at school and then writing an independent story about things we can do at school.

We’ve had to work hard on stretching words out to hear multiple sounds in the word, using word parts we know to build words, and using words similar to build new words.  This has been a struggle, but that’s why Ms. Acuff has us doing a lot of magnetic letter work to help us build up our word knowledge and known word bank.

img_0257In 1st-grade we are still working on Interactive Writing and learning those foundational skills.  Ms. Acuff has us reading books and applying concepts we are working on in the classroom.  In our class, we are working on the beginning, middle, and end of a story.

This day we read a story about a frog that can’t find his red pajamas.  He has to tear his room apart looking everywhere for them.  We started by making -ed words with magnetic letters.  We’re doing a lot of work with “chunks” to help us problem-solve our reading much more efficiently and quickly.

Next, we read the book and then talked about the book.  The next day we wrote about the book after re-reading it.  We wrote the story together.  We got to write the words we knew and Ms. Acuff wrote the words that are still unknown.  We practice those words on the white board so they become known words in the future.

We practice one-to-one matching by using the large pointer and checking Ms. Acuff didn’t forget anything.  (Sometimes she does and we have to fix it for her!)  We’re working really hard on good spacing between our words so it’s not just a string of letters.  It’s hard work, but we’re really proud when we do a good job.

img_0230I spend an hour of my morning teaching groups to 1st-grade students within the classroom.  We’ve been working on lots of Interactive Writing skills to build up the foundational skills early readers need to become more successful and independent later in the school year.

img_0231We’ve been working on labeling pictures and then writing a group story based on our picture.  This helps show students CAP (Concepts About Print) such as where to start, directionality, return sweep to the left, spacing, capitals at the beginning, and periods at the end.  Students write known words on the chart paper and practice nearly known or new words on the white board in front of them.  This helps build up known reading and writing vocabulary.

IMG_0085My first graders have spent the last couple of weeks working on plants.  Last week I read them Flowers and I also read Leaves by Vijaya Khisty Bodach.  We learned about some of the parts of leaves and flowers and then we read And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano.  We talked and wrote about how things change during winter turning into spring.  We wrote about what we noticed happening in Waterloo with it now spring–flowers blooming, grass turning green, buds on trees, etc.

This week we continued to work on plants.  I read Roots and then I read Seeds, again, by Vijaya Khisty Bodach.  From there students read The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli, which is about a crocodile who accidentally swallows a watermelon seed and is so worried he’ll grow a watermelon in his tummy.

The 1st graders drew and labeled the parts of a plant: seed, roots, stem, leaves, flower, pollen.  I had purchased a see through garden planter so we could grow our own mini garden, but since this is the last week of groups until we start reading tests we didn’t get to that.  It would’ve been a fun addition, but perhaps it’s something I can do with my students in the fall or even next spring.