Tag Archive: activities

My 1st graders have really been struggling with contractions when we come to them in books.  If the word is can’t they say can not.  If the word is can not they say can’t.  The same with I am and I’m.  I was looking for a way I could really help my 1st graders remember contraction.

I had briefly read online about contraction surgery.  There wasn’t any information or details so I kind of just had to run with it.  I work part time for an orthodontist and I was able to get some surgical masks and exam gloves for each of the kids in my group.  The day before this activity we worked on turning I am into I’m, do not into don’t, and can not into can’t.

Today I played it up like we were all doctors.  I greeted each student as Dr. (first name).  I asked them to suit up for surgery and they all got super excited.  It was a lot of fun seeing the kids put on their gloves and their masks.  Some jumped up and down and some clapped.  From there I handed them their “doctor tools” and asked them to prepared for surgery.  They were each given “scalpel scissors”, “scar markers” and glue (I didn’t have a clever name for that.)

We started with the easiest work I am.  Students had to cut in between I and am.  I asked them what letter they would need to surgically remove to make I’m.  Once they had gotten rid of the ‘a’ we then had to glue ‘I’ and ‘m’ together.  We used our “scar marker” to give the new word a little “scar mark” or apostrophe where we put it back together.  They were then supposed to write the 2 words we used to make the contraction.  We did this for can not and do not.

This was so much fun.  Students were clapping after each “successful surgery” and saying, “Good job, Dr. (first name)” to each other.  It was absolutely adorable.  Some students struggled with different portions of the contraction surgery, but they really came together as a team to help each other figure out the parts.  I’m hoping after 3 successful surgeries the students will read these a lot more accurately when they come to them in group.


1st grade has been working on problem, solution, characters, and setting in their classrooms.  Today, I decided to do a little comprehension check and incorporate what they’ve been doing in the classroom as a quick little “get up and move” activity.  My 4 boys absolutely loved this activity.

I first had the boys re-read the story Pinky the Pig.  I told them to read carefully as I was going to be asking/telling about certain things that happened in the book later on.  We then went out into the hallway and I put 4 pieces of paper on the lockers in 4 sections of the lockers: Characters, Setting, Problem, Solution.  I had the boys take pieces of paper (although I think tape would work better so no one slips, but I didn’t want to take the extra time since this wasn’t my classroom and couldn’t permanently be there.) and divide the hallway into 4 sections/squares.

I then made a series of statements or questions (I.E. Who is Pinky?) and then said–is Pinky a problem, solution, character, or setting?  The students then had to move to the appropriate square.  Sometimes the students agreed and sometimes they disagreed.  Characters and problems seemed to be the easiest for the students, but for some reason (and it could have been because of the way I phrased the question) the students struggled with setting.  The solution questions made the students really think, but they were able to get those questions relatively easily as well.

The boys absolutely loved hopping into different squares and were all eager to tell their teacher what we had just played once we went back into the classroom to write.  This definitely was a good strategy to use with the kids and I’ll try to incorporate it again at different times throughout the year, but maybe fashion it with different categories as what they are learning will change throughout the year.


One of my students’ very favorite reading strategies is called Stepping Through The Story.  Today I did this retelling strategy with my first graders.

What is this strategy for?: To be used as a retelling tool for students.

How does the strategy work?: Students are given 1 piece of paper per plot point in the story.  You hand each student their pieces of paper and ask them to lay them out–can be in a line or a curve.  I ask my students to lay them out with spaces in between.  (My kids in the photo above didn’t leave themselves very much room.  I typically like there to be a good 8-12 inches between the papers so the kids really get the movement of stepping through the story.)  Students are to start on the first paper and tell what happened at the beginning of the story.  Students then step to the next paper when they tell the next plot point or what happened next in the story.  They continue stepping to the next pieces of paper as they retell the story until the land on the final piece of paper and tell what happened at the end of the story.

Why use this strategy?: Students in our building really struggled with retelling when it came to DRA2 testing throughout the year.  We quickly realized this was something we needed to work harder on.  Brain-based research has shown a connection with students retaining more information when you cross both sides of the brain–such as involving moment/Physical Education into the learning.  My kids love getting out of their seat and hopping on pieces of paper to retell the story.  It always seems that they remember the story much better after we use this strategy rather than just a verbal retelling or just comprehension questions alone.  Students are eager to share and can’t wait to move to the next paper.  It’s good to get the wiggles out while having fun and learning.  I’ve found that all of my groups in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade love this strategy.

Materials needed: 1 piece of paper per plot point in the story times however many students you have in a group.  (10 plot points x 4 students = 40 pieces of paper)  I am big of visual representation and so I really like to use a different color for each plot point.  I think it just really shows that this is a different point in the story and it’s easy to see with the color change.

Helpful information: The first time I did this last year I used one piece of paper for a group of 4 students.  I thought they could each put a foot on the corner of the paper.  This did not work.  There was plenty of pushing and arguing and I spent more time doing crowd control than helping them with retelling.  I decided to cut the paper into 1/4th the size so they each could have their own section.  This takes up more space, but it has eliminated all behavior problems.  Now they get to lay down their own cards in their own space and it just makes more sense!  All students love to help so I have them each pick up their own papers and hand them in when finished.

This is a strategy that I use with my groups as frequently as possible.  I usually devote 10 minutes to this strategy by the time you hand out papers, step through the story, and pick up the papers.  It’s a quick way to move, learn, and have fun!

Event: Grandparents’ Day


DATE:  October 26, 2012        TIME:  2:30 p.m.      LOCATIONLowell cafeteria

Please bring your favorite recipe!! We are going to copy the recipes to make a Lowell Grandparent Cookbook.


~Make a snack activity.

~Fresh lemonade to sip on while reading recipes and getting helpful hints from Grandma, Grandpa, or the other special person in your life.

~Spend time playing games in the lunchroom after snack making time. (Board games can be borrowed from classroom teacher.)