Exploring Animal Habitats

This past week we were busy diving into our Animal Habitat unit!  The kiddos always love this unit and so do we!  That's what makes it perfect for the end of the year...it is engaging enough to keep the kiddos motivated!  

We start the unit with this organizer.  We use Brain Pop Jr. to learn about different habitats.  After watching the short video, kiddos draw an animal that lives in the habitat on the recorder.  You can click the picture to grab the organizer!


Next, kiddos select an animal they will study and research.  This year, we have a school subscription to Pebble Go and it is a miracle!  Pebble Go delivers Nonfiction in the perfect format for our young learners.  It is easy to read or listen to and the facts are laid out so nicely!

After selecting an animal to research, kiddos began their Mystery Animal project.  They draw the animal's habitat on the outside flap and on the inside flap, they draw the animal.  On the back of the project, they glue on their facts they researched as "clues."  They love to read them aloud to the class and let others guess their animal!

Now comes the part the kiddos usually LOVE the most...Habitat Dioramas!  Kiddos begin with making a model of their animal (the same one they researched) using Model Magic clay.  

After the clay animals have dried, they are ready to be painted!

With the animals painted and drying, the kiddos were ready to move onto their dioramas!  We started first with painting in the diorama to look like the animal's habitat.

Once the dioramas dried, kiddos started to add fun crafty things to make the habitat look more realistic.  Here's a sample of some things we used:

In the past, we've asked parents to donate items to the classroom and it has lasted us a couple years!  We collected things like sand, small rocks, fake moss, fake flowers, feathers, pom poms (to be bushes, suns, clouds), raffia ribbon (looks like hay, straw, grass), Easter grass, colored tissue paper.

The final products are so neat to look at and the kiddos are SO proud to show them off!!

We display them around the room in preparation for our upcoming Learning Celebration with families coming to class.

As a final wrap up to our animal unit, we had some fun with a Target Dollar Spot find....Animal Grow Capsules.  In partner groups, kiddos watched their capsules grow.

After their animals were finished "growing," kiddos had to do a writing about their animal.  Once again, we used Pebble Go as our resource for animal research.  Kiddos wrote one fact about their animal, such as "Giraffes can...."  After finishing the writing piece, kiddos sponge painted their animal at the top of the paper.  We will turn this into a class book next week and share the facts we found!

Preparing for end of year reading assessments

We are wrapping our ELA assessments this coming week and we wanted to share a few things that we did this year to prepare!  We have almost completed our Running Records!  

Here is what we worked on ALL YEAR to prepare:

Our reading groups took on a new look.  We tried to balance reading books and passages each week.  We knew kiddos needed practice with both. 

All of our students, including our emergent readers needed practice with written response and providing proof / evidence.   The passages below allowed us to reach all of our students. These passages are written in a way that most students can read and feel successful. There is a mix of fiction and nonfiction passages within the pack.  Each passage contains three tasks; all of which require the students to go back to the text to highlight the evidence prior to recording their answer.

We found these very useful in our classroom, but needed more passages, so we created a seasonal version as well.  The passages below are also for emergent readers!  They contain stories about topics specific to each month of the year (holidays, special events, themes, etc).  All of the passages contain three questions that require evidence to be highlighted prior to recording answers; just like the pack above. 

Since we have a mix of reading abilities in our classroom, we also used:

 The questions that are asked within this pack are scaffolded so kiddos have lots of support to provide written response, then some support is taken away, and finally students are responding to text and providing evidence on their own.  

Our practice with reading and written response didn't stop at school; the homework we send home each week includes a reading passage (differentiated), comprehension questions (both multiple choice and written response), nonsense words, and language questions.  We think having exposure to reading passages and responding to text at home and school was beneficial for sure!

One story...3 levels of difficulty; with a fluency table to track improvement through the week:

Comprehension Questions and Language practice:

Available for KG, FIRST, and SECOND

  One last tidbit...handing out "tickets" to a popsicle party after completing assessments has been a big hit!  We are proud of our kiddos and we want them to know it...hard work being first graders these days!

End of Year Survival Guide! {+ freebies!}

We sat down to plan our End of Year activities last week and thought we could throw all of our notes on the blog in hopes that it could help you in your classrooms!  The EOY is all about survival, isn't it?! 

First up....our last week of school plans!  
The last week of school, we have a plan for each day.  One part of that day is devoted to a fun activity that we otherwise don't get to do during the year.  

Our daily themes are: 

Art and Crafts Day:  This is a chance for kiddos to make pretty much whatever their little hearts desire!  We ask for craft item donations and let them use anything we get.  We add things from the classroom that we have as well.  This turns out messy but fun!

Game Day:  We ask kiddos to bring board games.  We let the kiddos rotate through the games so they can play as many as they can.  This day is usually a big hit! 

Centers Day:  We have Math, Science, and Word Work centers set up.  The centers are quick, easy things that review the work we've done.   

Read and Relax Day:  The kiddos bring beach towels and books from home.  Usually on this day we bring a fun treat for them to enjoy while reading.  

Special Project:  This is our End of Year "party" per say.  Our room parents plan this.  Usually it's a summer craft (like visor or water bottle), snack of some kind, and a game.  

If you'd like to have an End of the Year Fun Week, CLICK HERE for the parent letter seen below.  The letter allows you to write the dates in that work best for your class.  


Next Up...awards!

We love to select an award for each kiddo in our class.  We use our END OF YEAR SUPERLATIVE AWARDS for this!  There are over 30 awards; so you're guaranteed to find something for everyone!   

We have FREE EOY awards as well.  There is one for each grade level (Preschool through 5th Grade).   

Need a few more EOY activities?  Here's a few fun ones to grab (for free!):

The kiddos enjoyed this last year!  We brainstormed memories of first grade for each letter of the alphabet: