Wednesday, June 1, 2016

End of the Year Autograph Book

I still have another week of teaching. I wanted to share one of my students' favorite end of the year activities. It's part of our June I Teach K-2 Link Up where we share ideas, activities, and freebies!

The activity is an end of the year autograph book signing. I prepare autograph books for the students. I give the autograph books to the students on the last day of school. It begins with a quick writing lesson on what to write in an autograph book. The students then spend about an hour or so signing each other's books.

Here's an explantation of how we do it.

I start the writing lesson by asking the children what they think someone might write in an autograph book. Thru brainstorming and discussions we come up with a list of sentences that the children could write in their classmates' books. I post the chart in front of the classroom. It's a scaffold for those who have difficulty thinking of their own sentences. Some children choose to use these. Others write their own.

Here's an example of some of the sentences that we've come up with as a class.

This is the cover of the autograph book. I usually print it on bright colored card stock and add a back cover to it, too.

This is what the pages look like. Each booklet has identical pages. 

Each student has a box with his/her name and a picture that tells something about that student. For example, a picture above may be by the student's name because:

Nathan loves football. He has older brothers and cousins who play on the high school football team.
Tim is good at math and can't wait for math time each day.
Caren loves to read and enjoys sharing about the books she's read. 
Jan enjoys acting in plays.
James is a great artist and loves to draw.
Erin is interested in all things having to do with science. 

Each student signs each autograph book in the box that has his/her name.

Here's a sample page of what a completed page looks like after it's been signed. 

The students write at least one sentence when they sign an autograph book. They take breaks during the signing and may sit, color the pictures, and visit with friends. It's a wonderful time for the children to say their good-byes to friends and classmates. The autograph books makes a great school year keepsake, too.

If you decide to try the activity, I'd be happy to answer any of your questions. 

Here's an end of the year FREEBIE for you. These are EDITABLE graduation certificates. 

 Click on the picture above to download.

You'll want to check out the posts below for more great ideas and freebies. You'll also want to enter our giveaway for a chance to win a $25.00 TPT gift card!

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Books & Brackets Blog Hop!

It's a Books & Brackets Blog Hop!

I'm excited to join an awesome group of bloggers to talk about some of our favorite books to use in the classroom during the month of March. We're sharing some FREEBIES and have some GIVEAWAYS for you, too! 

I decided to share one of the activities our first graders do for St. Patrick's Day. 

We send a letter home to our parents and students explaining that we know that the leprechauns messed up the kindergarten classrooms last year and played pranks on the kindergarteners. We don't want the same thing to happen to our first grade classrooms. So this year, we're going to make leprechaun traps to try to catch the leprechauns before they get into mischief in our classrooms.

Sometimes we have the students bring in materials from home to build the traps at school (a great partner or small group activity). Other times we have had the students make the traps at home and bring them to school to set them up in the classroom.

In preparation, we read and learn about St. Patrick's Day. The book I'm highlighting is brand new to me. It's the perfect book to read before sending the students off to create their own leprechaun traps.

It's called How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace. The illustrator is Andy Elkerton.

A leprechaun tells the story in rhyme. He describes how he'll make a scene in each place he enters. He explains that leprechauns are really quick and will NEVER be caught. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and vivid. It shows the traps that the leprechaun encounters and easily outwits. The story ends with a challenge: the leprechaun won't get caught unless a PERFECT trap is designed. He asks the question, "But who will that child be?" Isn't that the perfect introduction and motivator for building a trap? I can't wait to read it to my students!

I created a packet of leprechaun activities to have some fun as we learn and celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

It includes leprechaun drawing and writing activities and a leprechaun roll and draw partner game that's just for FUN!

Students can design and write about a leprechaun trap.

They draw and write about leprechaun pranks, too. You'll find more leprechaun activities in the packet. It's a FREEBIE! You can download the packet HERE!

I'm having a GIVEAWAY for a free copy of How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace. You can enter below.

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You can also enter our Teachers Pay Teachers® gift card GIVEAWAY! You can enter to win a $75.00 gift card below.

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Continue our blog hop for more fantastic March ideas, free resources, and a chance to win 14 more books! Have fun!

Hop back thru on Monday to see if you've won any of the books or are the GRAND prize winner of the TPT GIFT card!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Kindness Matters

Today I'm sharing some of the kindness activities I'm planning for the week before Valentine's Day. It's our I Teach First February Link Up. We are sharing some ideas, activities, resources, and some FREEBIES, too!

My school will be participating in The Great Kindness Challenge. We have four main school rules. BE KIND is at the top of the list.

Be kind.
Be respectful.
Be responsible.
Be safe.

Our school decided to take the kindness challenge to help create a kindness culture. This will be our second year participating in the challenge. It's an opportunity to focus on kindness in a bigger way. The official date for the kindness challenge this year was January 25-29, but schools participate at a time that works best for each school. Valentine's Day and kindness go hand in hand, so we're celebrating during the week leading up to Valentine's Day.

The school-wide kindness activities will include a checklist of 50 kindness challenges, a kindness art contest, and class kindness banners for a "Wall of Kindness." We'll also have a spirit day: "Peace, Love, and Kindness." Students will dress up in hippie attire. Kindness quotes over the intercom will start our mornings. The quotes will also be written with chalk on the blacktop areas of our school.

If you want to participate in The Great Kindness Challenge, you can find out more about it HERE.

I'm planning complementary activities in my classroom and wanted to share some of my favorite kindness-themed books.

One of my favorites is Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. It's a heart-warming story about a lonely man. He receives a package one day with a note that says, "Somebody Loves You." He  thinks he has a secret admirer. His happiness has him interacting with others with kindness. At the end, he is surprised with the kind and loving way others return his kindness.

Little Red's Schoolhouse  has a wonderful Storybook Study of Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch that I will use with my students. Click on the picture below for a preview.

Another book that's perfect for first grade is Pink Tiara Cookies for Three by Maria Dismondy.

It's a story about a new girl who moves into the neighborhood and how two friends work thru accepting her into their friendship.

Jen at Sparkling in Second has a great blog post about the book and how she promotes kindness in her classroom. I will be using her Kindness Cards {free download} in my classroom. 

The Potato Chip Champ: Discovering Why Kindness Counts by Maria Dismondy is a story about a boy (loves potato chips) who has everything and wants for more and learns an important lesson about kindness from a boy who has very little. You can listen to Maria Dismondy read her book HERE.

The next book is beautifully written and illustrated.

The book is Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. It's about a new girl in school who tries to reach our to other but is ignored. It is a lesson on how even a small act of kindness can make our world a better one.

I created some Kindness Printables to use during the Kindness Challenge. You can click on the picture below to download.

If you want to join the Kindness Challenge or just want to promote kindness in your classroom, I hope you've gotten some ideas here. They fit well with valentine-themed activities. If you're looking for Valentine's Day activities that support kindness, check out Valentine's Day Writing for Firsties.

I'd love to hear about any books or activities that you use to promote kindness in the classroom.