Tag Archive: how to

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.



IMG_9246After Christmas break we looked at student data and switched around our groups to serve the kids who most need our help currently.  I now am the proud teacher of two 2nd grade groups instead of just 1.  My 1st group of 2nd graders recently read The Fun Club Goes To The Dairy Farm by Jane Shaffer.  We’ve read other Fun Club books and the kids always seem to really enjoy them.

IMG_9247In this story the kids learn about what goes on at a dairy farm.  We did some vocabulary work at the beginning and watched a couple of short clips of cows chewing their cud and a milking parlor as the kids had a lot of questions during the book orientation.

We learned that cheese, butter, and ice cream all come from milk.  I have a couple of English Language Learners in my group and they were curious how these products came for milk.  All of the kids had ideas, but none of them were quite on the right track.  I thought this would be a fun opportunity to bring in some hands-on learning.  I told them the next group session we would be making our own butter.

IMG_9245We talked about how milk separates with milk and cream and that’s how we get different types of milk–skim, 1%, 2%, and whole.  The cream that isn’t used for milk is put aside and used to make these other dairy products.  We watched a couple of short clips about milk separation and then we got to work on making our own butter.

If you are doing any kind of work with farms this is a super EASY way to bring in some fun and exciting learning.  I brought in the smallest tupperware containers I had and then poured in about 1/8th of a cup of heavy cream into the containers.  I sealed each container and gave one to each student.  Together we all shook, shook, shook until we couldn’t hear the liquid swishing around anymore (about 5 minutes or so).  We had a student come in late so I gave him mine and poured up a new container.  The kids were really excited when they hear the very obvious swishing in my container and theirs wasn’t swishing anymore.

IMG_9249From there the kids were given a plastic spoon, napkin, and slice of bread.  They were able to sample their butter.  We talked about how you could eat the butter plain or you could add a little salt to make it taste a little more like butter you buy in the store.  When the question came up about how it went from liquid to solid we talked about how we shook the fat particles to the point where they started to clump together and expand.  I put the left over butter in the fridge and they’ll be able to take their butter home with them at the end of the day with the promise they will explain to their parents how to make butter and why it gets thick.

When we meet again we’ll be writing about the milking process and how you can take the fat from the milk and turn it into butter.

IMG_82503rd grade read Road Builders these last couple of days, which is all about the process of building a road from cutting down trees all the way to paving and painting the lines.  There were more steps in the process of building a road than they thought.  (17 steps to be accurate)

IMG_8251After we read through the story then they were asked to complete a Step-by-step procedural graphic organizer from Interventions That Work by Linda Dorn.  They were allowed to use their book to guide them through the steps. 

From there students were asked to make a practical application and make a “How to” on something they knew how to do.  I modeled this for students by making a graphic organizer of how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Some of the kids got bogged down that on a graphic organizer you don’t necessarily have to write in complete sentences because it’s just the planning portion/phase of writing.  This is just how we organize our thoughts to prepare for writing something.  I gave an example of how when I’m writing my shopping list I don’t write in complete sentences.  I just jot down notes/key words of what I need or if I’m running errands then I might jot down places, things I need to do/go, what I need, etc.  This helped put things into perspective and kept us moving again.

My 2nd graders recently read From Milk to Ice Cream by Michael Christopher and learned about the process of how milk is turned into ice cream.  We created a step by step graphic organizer on the process, using our book as help.

IMG_0221IMG_0222The students had the weekend to think about something they knew how to make and could provide step by step instruction to the group over.  I came back with an example of how to make your bed.  I created a giant graphic organizer of the steps and wrote down key connecting words (first, then, next, after, last; First, second, third, fourth…) and students had to decide which connecting words they preferred to use in their writing.

Students then shared what they would be writing about.  We had how to do a back flip on a bike, how to ride a skateboard, how to get dressed, and how to play Minecraft.

Together as a group we started writing a group example using my “How to make your bed” graphic organizer.  The 2nd graders were excited at how easy it was to transition from your graphic organizer to writing as “all the work is already done.  I’m practically copying it.” Hmmmm!!  Could my point of showing how a graphic organizer can be helpful in writing finally be coming through? 🙂

IMG_0220Students then started writing their own stories using their graphic organizers and modeling it off of our group paper we had written.

I was able to conference with each student as they were writing.  The next day we talked about how we can edit our papers to give more spice and add more descriptive words.  Some of the boys were pretty set on “this is what I wrote and this is how I like it so this is how it will stay.”  I had students swap papers and give each other suggestions on how they could make their paper “more spicy” with detailed words or adding onto their sentences.

I even had the students help me add more “spice” to my story from the previous day.  They came up with a lot of great ways we could lengthen sentences and add more detail.  After students had added additional detailed words into their story I had a conference with them again to go over spelling and make sure everything made sense and followed their graphic organizer.

IMG_0224IMG_0223Some needed a little redirecting on following the graphic organizer instead of writing something entirely different.  After more swapping papers with students and conferences then we moved onto the final draft.  This is the first time we’ve ever tried moving our writing to lined paper.  Normally I give the students blank paper, but the lines helped keep students on track for size, spacing, and writing straight.

This ended up being a more laborious project than I had originally thought, but I think we got a lot of bang for our buck.  Students were flipping back and forth between their graphic organizers and their rough draft to help them.  It was encouraging to see the students helping each other and giving suggestions on how to make their paper more interesting.  After one of my 2nd graders finished he asked me, ” Will you read this?  Do you think it’s spicy?”  🙂

How To Make A Grinch Grin

IMG_5860Woo!  It feels good to be back!  While I needed a break pretty badly, I have missed all my kids so much!  Prior to break I was working on “gr-” words with my 1st graders.  I read How the Grinch Stole Christmas and incorporated “gr-” for our word work.  Students helped me to locate words that began with “gr-” in the book and then I also had them build other ones (grow, green, grass, grin, Grinch, growl) and we put them on an anchor chart to refer back to.

From there I had Grinch’s already cut out and assembled (they just had to glue the hat, eyes, and smile on) and they each had to write how they would make a Grinch grin.  This was a lot of fun.

Some of the students wanted to do nice things for their Grinch and some of them wanted to be mean just like the Grinch as well.

Unfortunately we didn’t get very far on this project before break.  I ended up having to sub within the building for another teacher and then we had the 2 snow days.  Almost everything was finished on their writings so I was itching to get their hard work wrapped up and showcased outside of my door.  With the new semester starting I will not be seeing many of these students in group anymore as I will be meeting with other grade levels and students so I stopped by their room this morning to have them finish up their writings.

My 1st graders are super proud of their Grinch’s so please enjoy the photos.