Monday, December 24, 2012

Handprint Calendar

When I saw the post about a homemade handprint calendar on The Sharpened Pencil blog, I knew I had to do it for my students' parents as a holiday gift.  It looked simple enough...boy was I wrong! It was s huge undertaking! It required lots of planning, time, and resources. In the end I couldn't be happier with the result, and the tearful words of thanks made me glad that I did it. With all that has happened in the world lately, this was a meaningful and precious gift that the students (and my TA and I) could give to the parents!  Would I do it again? Maybe...but I would make some changes to the way I handled a few aspects of the project.  Here are pictures of each month along with my tips for success with this project.  It's not too late to whip up one for your parents as a sweet New Year's gift!


1.  Add water to your paint bottle to thin the paint.  Thinner paint is easier to stamp and much easier to wash off. The paint also dries quickly and the paper flattens more easily as well.

2.  Always make two handprints at a time so students wash two hands  at a time and speed up the process. 

3.  Use the same color on hands to make multiple prints (the shamrock and Christmas tree can be made from the same hand and then the other hand can be used to create another single hand design, creating three months in one round!)

4.  Assign a student as the "soaper" and another as the paper towel helper. This eliminates the mess and makes the process into a clockwork like system. The water stays on and kids move through the line quickly! I had another student that was the "paper transporter" moving painted papers to a shelf space for drying.

5.  Do all of the "extra" painting while you are creating the handprints. (When students make their September tree, have them wash their hands and add the fall leaves. When students make their American flag, have them add the white dots for the stars after washing.). I dried the paper and then had students add details creating twice the drying time and twice the work. 

6. Assemble the calendars and allow students to use a box of sharpies to decorate each page on their own. Show them examples of  how to embellish each page and then let them get to work. I worked with groups of 4 to 6 and walked them through each page. I could have just as easily put out a big bag of sharpies and let the kids work at the same time, taking turns with the different colors and working on different pages. It would have taken the whole class about 20-30 minutes to embellish their calendars all at one time.

7.  The last step is to add computer label poems. I should have printed all the poems on a single sheet per student and let them match each poem with the correct month.  I printed the poems by month and it was a labeling nightmare. If each child had their own sheet of stickers to work with the task could have been accomplished in a few minutes. The kids new which poem went with each month and didn't actually need my guidance with this. If only I had done all 12 months on a single sheet.  Feel free to download the full set of poems that I adapted from the cute poems on The Sharpened Pencil blog.  I wanted my poems to fit on a smaller labels (to save on cost) so I made the poems each just four lines long.  

8.  When a set of month papers are dried, stack them under a pile of dictionaries to flatten.  It will help them to bind more easily.

9.  Paint hands as students come in during arrival. You have tons of energy to power through the process while making it enjoyable and meaningful for each  student... and they'll be dry for you to stack on your lunch break.

10.  The different color papers for each month were cute, but make it easier and more cost effective by simply purchasing a ream of off-white/tan/cream card stock. It will save you time on planning and eliminate counting out sets for each month's specific color.

Here's a great order that I will use next year when/if I create these adorable handprint calendars again.

Day 1 - green and red paint: March shamrock with palm print, May caterpillar body with palm print, and December Christmas tree with palm and fingers (no thumb), red palm print for caterpillar head (use other hand), and half of the February heart (be sure to note which hand you are using and then begin with red on the other hand tomorrow).

Day 2 - white and red paint: February heart (be sure to paint the correct hand for the remaining side of the heart), January snowmen with palm prints, and March rabbit with palm and fingers (no thumb)

Day 3 - light and dark purple paint: June butterfly with light purple, and calendar cover with dark purple (paint over students light purple hands swirling the colors to make the darker shade consistent)

Day 4 - black paint: October spider with palm and fingers

Day 5 - brown, red, orange, yellow, and green paint:  September tree with one hand, November turkey with brown on palm and thumb, and other colors on each finger for turkey feathers

Day 6 - red, blue, and orange paint - July flag with palm blue and fingers red, and August fish with orange handprint (you could also begin with a red palm print and make an August apple instead of a fish...)

This was such a special gift to so many of my families this year!  I hope your students and their families will enjoy it as much as mine did!  Happy holidays and happy handprinting!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

ID Badge Verse - Ecclesiastes 3:1

My verse this week, Ecclesiastes 3:1, says that "For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven."  This makes me reflect on the Christmas season.  Many of us are filled with joy as the spirit of the holiday is all around us.  I was reminded in church this morning to prayerfully consider those that may be experiencing added sorrow during the holiday season.   

gwhizteacher, Broken Hearted Christmas by Harriet Williams, ID Badge Verse, Ecclesiastes 3:1

As most of us experience added joy during the holiday season, some experience heightened sorrow due to the loss or absence of a loved one.  I can't imagine how difficult it must be for so many families to embrace the joy of Christmas without their most precious blessing present to share in the joy. I heard a song that beautifully captured the feelings of many teachers and parents this ChristmasBroken Hearted Christmas was written by Harriet Williams for families and teachers experiencing sorrow due to the recent tragic loss of students and teachersAs a first grade teacher it, touched my heart and offered the specific words of comfort I needed to hear.  The chorus is an especially beautiful reminder that we can share our burden with the Heavenly Father because he knows exactly how we feel...and can offer His perfect loving understanding and support as we journey forward.

If you have a broken heart this Christmas,
Give it to God, He knows just what to do.
If you can't find joy and peace this Christmas
Tell the Heavenly Father - He knows the pain
Of losing a child for someone else's sin.
He can make you heart whole again.

Many teachers, even ones that weren't directly effected by the tragic and senseless loss, can identify with feelings of fear and questioning.  I spoke with my night custodian this past week and he expressed his intense emotional realization that "evil must really exist.So many of us have heavy hearts mixed with joy at the same time.  It's difficult to sort out and understand.  I hope that this Christmas offers rest, relaxation, peace, joy, and comfort to all of my teacher friends this season.  Blessings, friends!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Math Games

Christmas is right around the corner and I am so excited to share my holiday themed game boards with you!  I posted the set to TpT last nightThere are 12 game sheets (one game has two parts to it).

The games include many first grade skills in addition, subtraction, counting, and tens and ones.  I use these games to teach and then review basic operations concepts in my 1st grade classroom.  The games can be used in 2nd grade as independent practice or review. 

Games titles include:
*Candy Count (skip counting by 2s, 5s, 10s)
* Elf Doubles (doubles of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, & 10)
* Reindeer Race (add two dice and tell if odd/even)
* Naughty or Nice? (add three dice and tell if < or > 10)
* Plus Five (add five to 10, 25, 40, 65, 75, 90)
* Subtraction Stars (subtract ten from a two digit number)
*Trim the Tree (spin a tens number and cover the tens number that makes 100)
*Stockings and Candy Canes (chutes and ladders – adding ten to a two digit number)
*Ornament Roll (roll a die and subtract that number from ten)
*Shop ‘til you drop (spin for pennies and dimes and find/cover the total)
*Fact family fun (add or subtract to make a fact family equation)

My favorite part of designing these math games is using them with my students.  They always have such fun with the creative approach to practicing skills.  Today I used the Candy Count game and the Reindeer Race game.  The students loved trying to make their way to the gingerbread house and trying to "harness" all of their reindeer for Santa's sleigh.  

It blesses my heart when students say "thanks for making this for us" and when they ask to play the games again.  The rule in my classroom during math game rotations, is that you must never have the same partner.  Students look forward to switching partners with each rotation and have learned how to work with ALL children in the classroom.  I love how they recognize that different students have different strengths and favored strategies.  I appreciate how they will try new strategies with their partner and feel comfortable working toward the "win" as a team.

I wanted to give you a fun freebie, Naughty or Nice, from my game pack to try in your classroom.  Hopefully you can use this to keep your little ones engaged right up to the last day.  If you like it, please stop by my TpT store and pick up the whole pack for $4.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, December 2, 2012

ID Badge - Proverbs 13:10

I always strive to be a reflective teacher.  I want to look at my lessons and approaches to teaching and learning with an open mind.  My hope is that I won't get "stuck in my ways" in the classroom and that I will always seek to improve my pedagogy.  With the new Common Core State Standards pushing today's educators to strive for precise and purposeful teaching I sometimes find myself overwhelmed and wanting to fall back on something tried and true.  It's fun and easy to teach what is already familiar.  Conversely it is scary to try new approaches without your tool belt of tricks ready by your side.  The 21st century approaches to teaching and educating in today's classroom can indeed be scary, but can also provide a fresh lens in which to view your impact on the learners in your classroom.

gwhizteacher, proverbs 13:10, id badge verse

The verse this week reminds me that it's wise to take advice and seek constructive feedback from others in my profession.  I hope to improve myself for the benefit of my students and can only do that by approaching feedback, and sometimes criticism, with a positive attitude and a thankful spiritDownload this week's verse, Proverbs 13:10, and avoid pride to be wise!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Autumn Noun Sorts

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday!  I've been a busy lady lately, but I have a freebie for you today.  I put a set of Autumn Noun Sorts on TpT that includes sorts for singular/plural, common/proper, countable/mass, abstract/concrete, and person/place/thing.  The pack includes mini posters, sorting headers, word cards, blank word cards, and recording sheets for all 5 sets 

gwhizteacher, autumn noun sorts

After introducing each type of noun in a mini lesson, I used the cards as a morning meeting sorting greeting.  Then I put the set in a center for kids to complete the sorting task and recording sheet independentlyEven thought I teach first grade, my kids were able to complete the tasks because the first noun sort we did as a class was the person/place/thing sort that uses all the noun cards from the four other sorts.  Students were already familiar with the words when it was time to work independently.

gwhizteacher, autumn noun sorts

Here's a freebie noun sort for possessive nouns!  It goes with the noun sort pack and includes word cards, sorting headers, recording sheet, and mini poster.  I used this with my kids in the Daily 5 Word Work station.  It works for 1st (after whole class practice or mini lesson) and 2nd grades and would be a good review or grammar mini lesson for 3rd grade.

 Download my noun sort freebie here and pick up the additional five noun sorts on TpT!  Have a great weekend!
Freebie Fridays

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Measuring with Unusual Units

We've been working on measurement for our science objectives this quarter and did two in-depth measurement explorations that the students really enjoyed.  The kids raced toy cars down ramps and measured the distance traveled using links (counting by 5s).  They found the median and graphed their measurements to compare different cars.  I was impressed with students' thinking when they brainstormed reasons why some cars rolled a greater distance than others.  

Another exploration we did was an "unusual units" study.  The kids used pennies, paperclips, unifix cubes, and parallelograms to measure their journal, pencil, and table.  I provided all the unusual measurement tools, making sure to include several different sizes of paperclips, and DID NOT give students directions on how to iterate units or which size units to use.

The children took their time as my only directions were to "measure very carefully and record all your data."  Once the students had collected all their measurements, we transferred our numbers to class charts.  This made the comparison easier.

As we discussed why some numbers were different, students came to their own conclusions about the importance of using the same size unit to measure with.  They began to understand that it was also important to know how to iterate the units.  Students guessed that the smaller numbers for parallelograms were from students that may have placed their parallelograms side by side rather than tip to tip.  The kids realized that the pencil measurements were different because our pencils were all different sizes.  I was able to call students up to demonstrate how they  measured.  We used different size paperclips to demonstrate that using big/small clips would change our number.  

In the end students worked with a partner to discuss "rules for measuring" before we shared our ideas and made a class chart of our top 5 rules for measuring with unusual units.  Students worked with a partner to measure a classroom item with three "unusual units" of their choice and record their data on the back of their paper.  We shared again using our new measurement vocabulary.

Feel free to download the unusual units student recording sheet for your own measurement exploration with unusual units. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giving Thanks!

Its' been nine weeks since I've started blogging and posting products to TpT.  As I reflect on the past two months I have so much to be thankful for.  The blog has had 5000 hits and my TpT freebies have thousands of downloads.  My hope in starting this endeavor was that students and teachers would be blessed from the products I share.  When I look at the numbers I can see the possible impact and it makes me so happy!  The students in my classroom love my themed games and creative centers.  I am so thankful for being able to digitally share with many other teachers and students!

Each week I share my verse for the week.  I need a tangible reminder of my source of inspiration for the week.  I hope that the verses have provided support, encouragement, and inspiration for other teachers as well.  This week I've put together all 9 of the verses I shared so far into one document.  Feel free to download the 9 verses, cut them out, and store them in your ID badge pocket.  Distribute to your teacher friends as needed!  

gwhizteacher, ID badge verses, 9 weeks of scripture verses

I wanted to share a quick and easy Thanksgiving sight word game with you today.  It's called Gobble! and the kids really enjoy it.  For Halloween we called it Boo!...the name changes the whole game for the students.  I am always surprised that they can't get enough of this easy "kaboom" style game.  It's a great reinforcement for sight word practice and a super independent word work center for ABC order skills.  I've included all the cards and recording sheets for a game or center.  Teacher and student directions are included as well as a set of blank cards for adding your own spelling words or vocabulary words to the game.  Download Gobble here!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner so keep your students engaged in learning up to the very last day!  Have fun!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tens & Time - Hands-On Math Games

We've been working on making tens, tens and ones, and time (to the hour and half hour) this week.  I showed the kids a few fun games to practice making tens.  We used a deck of cards to play "go fish" making sets of tens.  Each time students made a ten they had to say the equation (4+6=10) and then count all their card sets by 10s (10, 20, 30...) to keep a running total of which partner had the most "points."  The kids loved this game!  I think I may need to get some dice and playing cards from the dollar store and put them in the prize box...  We are really increasing our addition and subtraction fluency by playing math strategy games during the week. 

gwhizteacher, math games, make ten

We also played "Make Ten" with double nine dominoes.  The students played a domino to make a ten and then said their equation to their partner.  I have two sets of double nine dominoes with pips and another set with numbers.  I wonder where I could get a few more sets really cheap?

gwhizteacher, math games, make ten dominoes

I am so excited about my Thanksgiving games on TpT that I put a few out today for a test run.  We played "Tens and Ones Turkey Dinner" and used tens and ones manipulatives to build each number before we located it on the game board.  The first player to get four in a row was the winner.  My kids kept playing to see how many numbers they could cover.  Even though my kids don't have game markers, chips, spinners, or tens and ones manipulatives at home, they enjoy taking the math games home to practice with family members.  They use a paperclip and a pencil as a spinner and coins as game markers.  I let the kids check out dice whenever they need them.  I really need to put dice in the prize box.  I really really need to find FOAM dice for in the classroom and then give all the noisy dice away!

gwhizteacher, math games, thanksgiving math games for first grade, tens and ones turkey dinner
A very simple game you can create for tens and ones is called "Place Value Pick-Up Sticks."  My friend Jimbo showed me this clever counting game.  Put two different color dots on popsicle sticks or tongue depressors.  I suppose you could draw tens and ones, but we use the pick-up sticks for fives or twos depending on what counting skill we are working on.  Students toss the sticks in the air to begin.  When the sticks fall, they remove all the zeros (sticks that are facing down).  Then they sort the two colors (tens and ones) and count them beginning with tens and then counting on with the remaining ones.  I have students build the number out of tens and ones manipulatives (or money, etc) after they have counted their  pick-up sticks. The kids love this game it is SO EASY to create!  :)

gwhizteacher, tens and ones, math gamesgwhizteacher, tens and ones, math games

Tomorrow we are making our own paper plate clocks.  I saw a pin on pinterest where you put two plates together and make peekaboos for each number to show the increments of five for the minute hand.  I LOVE this idea and can't wait to try it out.  Paper plate clocks are great when talking about the parts of the clock and building an understanding of time, but I really think the kids need to experience a Judy clock or some other type of student clock to practice manipulating the hour and minute hands correctly.  My students inevitably tear the hands off of their paper clocks every year.   I wonder if there is another way to make the clock hands instead of using paper or cardstock.

gwhizteacher, math games, time for pie, thanksgiving math games for first grade

Visit yesterday's post, Thanksgiving Math Games, and download my Thanksgiving game FREEBIE, Turkey Tens, to play with your class!  Have fun!