Tag Archive: All About

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.

3rd Grade: Sonoran Desert

IMG_5066I’m sorry I haven’t been as good about posting.  My daily is so crazy busy that I barely have any time anymore!  I have been getting SO many comments from all of you and I’ve been trying to email you back as soon as I am able to.  THANK YOU for the positive messages and feedback.  It means more to me than you’ll ever know.

IMG_5839So my 3rd graders were working on a book All About the Sonoran Desert (and just let me say, if you are looking for good books the All About…series is a great series!)

I brought in a cactus from home for the students to analyze.  I wanted them to initially analyze and ‘quick write’ how they thought this cactus survived in the desert and how it protected itself from other animals in the desert.  They really enjoyed getting close to it, touching it, and sticking their pencils in between the spines.

We watched a short video on how plants and animals survive in the desert in different ways.  From there we read All About the Sonoran Desert and divided the book into 2 sections: how animals survive and how plants survive.  The kids needed to find ways in each section that animals and plants survive.  We made an anchor chart to separate our findings.

After we had charted our information we took the post it notes and wrote an informative paper telling the reader 2 ways each plants and animals survive differently in the Sonoran Desert.

1st grade: Farm Life

IMG_1621My 1st graders just finished reading The Fun Club Goes To The Dairy Farm where we learned about the process cows go through to produce milk.  Did you know only female cows produce milk?  This blew the minds of my 1st graders.

We started by reading our mentor text The Milk Makers by Gail Gibbons.  This went into a more in-depth process of how cows produce milk and the process of what happens to the milk after it’s been milked from a cow.  We also took a virtual dairy farm tour from a dairy farm in Wisconsin.

IMG_1622Students thought it was silly that in the book they talked about wearing booties in the milking parlor as we also read that sled dogs where booties to protect their feet in All About Sled Dogs.  The farm in Wisconsin shared with us that one tank of milk is worth $11,000.00 so keeping the milk clean is important as FDA samples all milk and if any contaminates show up in the milk then it all is dumped.  That’s a lot of money!!  We tried to calculate how many gallons of milk we think would come out of $11,000.00.

As you read with my 2nd graders when they read this book, they made butter when the book was finished.  I wasn’t planning on doing this with 1st graders, but they had brought up wondering how they turned milk into cheese, butter, and ice cream.   So I went ahead and brought in the materials to make butter.  I thought this would be a good opportunity for students to be able to complete a graphic organizer on step-by-step procedures and then being able to write about it.

IMG_1620One of the things I learned the last time I did the butter making was it really does taste more like store bought butter when you add just a dash of salt.  It made all the difference this time around.  Students had to write the procedures on an anchor chart to guide their writing after we had finished making and sampling our butter.

The kiddos were very surprised that you had to shake for about 4-5 minutes before it was ready.  After about 30 seconds they were all convinced their butter was ready.  I let them check their containers and they were bummed when it was still pretty slushy.

We have one last session of the year on Thursday before I have to start DRA testing and we’ll produce our final copies of our step by step process of making butter.  It’s been such a privilege helping these kiddos grow in their learning the last couple of months.



1st grade: Spiders

IMG_1290My 1st graders just finished up a study on spiders.  We started with me reading a mentor text about spiders.  (National Geographic Kids’ Spiders!–I absolutely LOVE their books and try to use them as often as possible!)  In the mentor text it talks about the way spiders make their webs and how it differentiates between spiders.  Students watched 2 short YouTube clips of spiders making their webs and the different ways they hunt.  There were lots of ooos and ahhhhs as we could see the spiders pull the silky string from their spinerettes and hook them in different places.  This helped provide a nice foundation of how spiders work.

From there we went over some more difficult spider terminology such as spinerettes so when students came across it in their reading they wouldn’t struggle and also so they would be able to use those same vocabulary words in their writing.

Students then read their book All About Spiders and were asked to make notes about how spiders hunt, eat, build their webs, and how they look.  They placed sticky notes in their books for places they wanted to remember.

Together we created an anchor chart as a large graphic organizer on spider characteristics and how spiders hunt, what they eat, the webs they make, and IMG_1285how they look.

This was a good opportunity for students to see how different spiders really are.  This was a learning experience for all of us as we learned not all spiders have webs and not all spiders eat insects–some hunt for tiny fish and are so light they can walk on water and dive in the water.

Most of the spiders we see around our homes are brown/black so the kids were very surprised when we saw spiders of all shapes, sizes, and colors that looked different from the ones we usually see.  1st graders copied this information on their own individual graphic organizers and we shared the information so they would have it for when they wrote independently.

After we finished organizing our information on our anchor chart together we greated a group message.  For time sake I only chose to write about one thing from each category, but students were asked to include 2-3 details per category in their own writing.

IMG_1286After we finished our group message, students were able to choose a quiet place to write independently using their graphic organizer.

I was able to conference with students individually and help them refine skills they needed to work on personally.  One of the things I’m noticing is we need to make sure we are only using capital letters in the appropriate places and we especially need to make sure we are starting our sentence with a capital letter.  We briefly regrouped to highlight on our group message where we capitalize in the story.  We also were missing A LOT of punctuation so this was a good time to highlight punctuation as well.

2nd grade: Redwood Trees

IMG_0263One of my 2nd grade groups has been studying Redwood Trees.  When we started reading the book All About Redwood Trees the students were surprised to see that they were so big that there was a car driving through the middle of a carved out tree.  We looked it up on YouTube and even got to see a car drive through the tree.  We saw that the tree was 21 feet wide.  They had a difficult time realizing exactly what was 21 feet so we pulled out Ms. Acuff’s tape measurer and  we started measuring out 21 feet in 4 feet increments.  I had one student stay in our starting place while the other students moved with tape measurer.  Once we hit 21 feet I had them turn towards each other.  It was a pretty exciting moment.  The picture above is after we measured 21 feet.  This put into perspective just exactly how big a Redwood tree is.

IMG_1287We also learned Redwood Tree bark is about 10-12 inches thick. (We used the tape measurer again because this again was a shocking fact.)  We compared Redwood tree bark to regular tree bark we might find in our yard.

While students were reading they needed to locate information about the size of the trees, where they grow, and what makes them grow so successfully since they can be 2,000+ years old!

We created an anchor chart based off the information they found in their book and then students were able to write about these things in their response journals.

IMG_9618My 1st and 2nd graders who are reading at the same level have been working on a book about Sled Dogs.  This happens to be one of my very favorite stories to share with my students because my mom, sister, and step-dad live in Alaska near Anchorage so this is familiar content to me.

We started out by watching a short video on being a musher, or a sled-dog driver.  We got to see the musher and dogs in motion.

From there we located within the book the things sled dogs need to be successful, what commands sled dogs need to learn, and why being the leader of the sled dogs is the most important job for the dogs.  Students did a great job of locating the information in their book and then transferring the information to our group anchor chart.

After we did all of our research we then created a group message on what commands dogs need to know, what they need to be successful, and why the leader is important.  Once we finished our group message then students had to create their own message using the information from the anchor chart and following the format we did as a group.

I was able to conference with each student before they wrote a final copy.

IMG_96202nd grade has been learning about the different ways plants and animals survive in the Sonoran Desert.  We read All About the Sonoran Desert by Kendra Adams.  The book is broken up into 2 parts: ways plants survive in the desert and the ways animals survive in the desert.  (This is an excellent book if you are looking for something similar or comparing/contrasting)

IMG_9567In partners, students had to locate 2 ways plants survive in the desert and put them on a sticky note for our chart. Some of the things they discovered were:

  • A nurse plant shades a smaller plant to help it grow.
  • Plants store water and swell up and slowly use the water over time.
  • Spines on a cactus help it from getting sunburned and also protect it from being eaten by other animals.

The next day students had to locate 3 ways animals survive in the desert and put them on a sticky note for our chart.  Some of things they discovered were:

  • Javelinas rest in the shade of a cactus plant to stay cool.
  • The desert tortoise digs deep holes in the dirt to stay cool or rests under large rocks.  It will also eat the fruit from a cactus plant to get water.
  • The jackrabbit has long ears that let out the heat from its body.
  • Desert birds lift up their feathers to stay cool.
  • Birds make nest inside a cactus plant to stay cool.

IMG_9619After we had found our facts together we came up with a group story on how we could put the facts together into one writing piece.  Students then took from our model and made their own, writing about 2 ways both plants and animals survive within the desert.



IMG_8345One of the things I took away from the JCCL Reading Conference earlier this week was how we need to be better about building background knowledge and vocabulary with my kiddos.  It’s not that I don’t do vocabulary things with my IMG_8346students, but they weren’t remembering the words we went over when it came time to read them.  We’d build them with magnetic letters and we’d locate the words in the book, but then there would be several students who still didn’t know the word.  Linda Dorn showed a picture of how she gave her kids sticky notes to label the different seasons.  I was anxious to try this myself when I got back to school.

Yesterday, I introduced the book All About Sharks and hung up different pictures of sharks.  I went over the important vocabulary words with the kids and then gave them each 2 post-it notes to put in the appropriate places on the shark picture.  The 2nd graders were super excited about this part (picture at top.)  I was planning on leaving the labels where they were and then having the kids double check for accuracy after reading, but they were all correct. (Photo to the right)  And I was really excited when it came time for the kids to independently read the book because they were accurately reading all of the vocabulary words we had gone over.  In fact, I saw some of the kids look up at the board to cross-check information and then go back to reading.  It was a wonderful use of using your strategies and using your resources.

IMG_8349Today we reviewed the vocabulary words and I had the students make their own shark fact booklets.  They had to have 5 shark facts they learned from yesterday’s reading.   The students got right to work and it was incredible because there was very little asking of help from them.  They were using the board as their “word wall” and IMG_8348writing sentences with the important vocabulary words we went over the previous day.

I got to go around and conference with each student on the sentences they wanted to write.  Some of the students I had to go back and help them with writing complete sentences instead of just writing down a vocabulary word.  I was really impressed because out of the corner of my eye I saw one of my students re-reading for accuracy and then changing part of the sentence to make sense.

When I see the kiddos again on Monday we’ll be able to finish the books and fix some of the spelling errors on the papers and also to make sure our sentences make sense.  IMG_8347I’m really excited with how the vocabulary labeling seemed to really help with the reading.  I’ll be interested to see how this works with other books that we read.


3rd Grade: Informational Brochures

IMG_8198My 3rd graders are such a joy this year (not that my other kids aren’t) and greet everything we do with such enthusiasm.  They are some of the hardest workers I’ve seen and we have been packing in a ton every 30 minute session.   We’ve been learning so much and having so much fun while we’re learning that one of the 3rd graders said, “I hate Wednesdays because we don’t have group with you!” (Wednesdays are early out so my schedule doesn’t allow me to see my group kiddos)  What a great compliment and a testament to the learning they are taking on.  I love that enthusiasm.  Ok, enough bragging about how awesome my kids are.

This week we read a book called All About Redwood Trees.  (If you are a follower of my blog then you surely know by now how much I love the All About series)  The kids were blown away by the mere size of the redwood trees and other new facts.

IMG_8201I only have 3 kids in this group, which is my smallest group of the day.  It’s really nice because we have plenty of room to spread out and I really get the chance to sit down with the kids and conference with them longer.  They are so excited when we read that we had such great dialogue and question asking regarding this book.

After the kids finished reading, they were asked to make an informational brochure about the information they read.  They needed to come up with 4 facts; one fact per page and a quick illustration to go with it.

This was an opportunity for the kids to practice picking out what was the most important part that they read and also taking what the author wrote and putting it into your own words.

IMG_8211We finished with a few minutes to spare and the 3rd graders had been begging to play an iPad game.  This actually ended up being a perfect time since we did finish early.  I have to share with you a REALLY good iPad game from Lakeshore Learning.  It was free and it’s called Tic Tac Toe Phonics.

We split up into 2 teams: boys vs. girls.  Wow!  It was fun.  The app is just like regular tic tac toe except you have to answer a phonic question before you can put your X or O down.  You pick where you want to play and answer the question.  If you are right you get to put your letter down, if you are wrong then the play goes back to the other person/team.  There were questions about word parts (blends/digraphs), vowelIMG_8212 sounds, syllables, and rhyming.  I thought it would be super easy for the kids, but it wasn’t.  It gave me a lot of great insight as to things we still need to work on.

The boys ended up defeating us 2 games to 0.  The girls will need to rally for the “W” next time we have the opportunity to play.

Kdg Comparison Writing

IMG_6826My Kindergarten boys are blowing me away!!  They are working so hard and taking on so much learning every session we meet.  (Our Chicka Chicka tree is almost full–and boy do they let me know if we aren’t working on a new letter and adding letters to our tree!!  We might even need a new tree pretty soon!)

Lately we’ve been working on, yep, you guessed it–All About books!!  This time my boys read All About Snakes and All About Penguins.  I don’t know what it is, but EVERY time I read these books with my kiddos they get super excited about both snakes and penguins.  The All About Series is actually really incredible reading for our students.  They are high interest and have a lot of really great vocabulary choices.

My boys read about snakes and then wrote about snakes.  Then we read about penguins and they wrote about penguins.  After that we re-read both of the stories and made a chart of how they are similar and different.  It was like their minds were blown when they realized all the similarities between the two animals.  There was lots of clapping and high fiving and giggling while we were doing this.  It’s inspiring to see kids so excited about reading, writing, and discussing what we’ve read in books.

After we made our Venn Diagram, the boys had to write one fact about each of the animals to go with our diagram.  What a fun couple of weeks of learning!