Thursday, January 19, 2017

Organizing Reading and Math Rotations with PowerPoint

Hi! I wanted to share some info on a timed slideshow I use in my classroom to organize my reading and math groups. In previous years I have used either a pocket chart with cards, a clip chart, or a projected pdf file to show my students where they go during their centers. All worked fine but I wanted a way to control my rotations without having to really do much of anything - ie move the clips daily, ding a bell, set a timer. Doesn't sounds like much but you know how it goes when you have 16 kids moving around the room! You need to have your hands and eyes free. And really... I just wanted my rotations to run themselves. With this slideshow that's exactly what they do.

I can set the slides to any amount of time I want. It's really simple. Here's how I do it:

Open up the presentation and click on "Transitions". You'll see a option to change the timing all the way to the right on the screen. You can change the minutes you want each slide to last by editing the first two numbers. Click on the box next to "After" to make sure your slideshow runs itself (If you select "On Mouse Click" the slide will not change by itself after the allotted time.)

(Click the images to enlarge if needed)

You can also change the sound the slide makes when it switches and the duration of the sound. Select the drop down box labeled "Sound". Preview your slideshow to hear the sound.



That's really all it takes to create a unique center rotation slideshow that fits the needs of your classroom!

You can find these editable rotation boards in my store. You can add your own clipart or use the already designed board. I tried to use clipart that was generic to math and reading but designed an option that allows you to add your own clipart or copy and paste images. There are board options for rotations of 3, 4, or 5 groups.

Check out the Colorful Chalkboard rotation boards *HERE* and the Teal and Grey rotation boards *HERE* (please note this version is still only available for groups of 4. I'm working on updating it :))


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Nonfiction in First: The Arctic


Before winter break began, my first graders finished up their nonfiction unit. We reviewed the differences between fiction and nonfiction, learned a few text features and how they can give us information, and we learned lots of interesting facts about the Arctic and its animals.

We also learned about igloos! We labeled the parts of an igloo after reading an article and watching a few videos about how they are constructed and then we built our own. We did this activity at our Polar Party and it was their favorite!


No party is complete without dessert!
I got all the supplies at the dollar store: frosting, Styrofoam cups, paper plates, pop sticks for applying frosting, and mini marshmallows. Here's where I got the idea.

Another activity  I would recommend if you are learning about Arctic animals is this blubber simulation experiment. All you need is some Crisco, baggies, and ice water in a bucket. I've seen this idea many different times online and I am not sure where it originated but it's awesome. It's a really fun way to drive home some arctic vocab words like INSULATE and BLUBBER too ☺

The kids loved learning about Polar Bears so at our Polar Party we also created some multimedia Polar Bear art.

If you're studying the Arctic following my Pinterest board for some fun ideas.


We also did this adorable activity after reading Sneezy The Snowman. This free download is by Loving Teaching Inspiring. Thank you for the awesome idea and book recommendation!

Mix up some glue and shaving cream (I just eyed it) and add your snowman parts. I  googled "snowman parts printable" and found this resource for all the cute snowman accessories.

Our next unit is all about fictional characters and building reading fluency. I look forward to doing some Readers Theater and reading LOTS of Mo Willems!

Back to school on Monday. Time to go make the most of my final weekend of freedom.



Monday, December 26, 2016

Nonfiction Fun in First Grade - Thanksgiving Edition

One of my 2017 goals is to blog more.  Most of the time it feels like I need to ignore my kids to write so, my posts often get left in the dust. I have got to figure out how to stay up past my bedtime - and my son needs to figure out how to fall asleep before 11pm! Anybody else have kids that just don't sleep!? Currently, I am writing my month-late Thanksgiving post while my kids run in and out of the room leaving messes in their wake! We just returned from Disney World and their Christmas high is still lingering even in the aftermath. At this point I'm just following them around with a dust pan and broom. So, about November...


My class and I did some fun activities centered around the Wampanoag this year. We crafted Wetus (after using this amazing resource by AisforAdventuresofHomeschool to read about them and how they're constructed in a kid friendly way) and we "planted corn" the way Squanto taught the Pilgrims, and we made Thanksgiving timelines too. I used this resource by First Grade Wow to teach about The Five Kernels. I had never heard about this legend before and the entire resource is great. And free! Go download it now! For the timelines, I used an activity from a pack I bought my first year teaching. It's also awesome. Teachers are some of the most creative people!


We enjoyed our candy corn, Goldfish, and Oreos after we planted them.


Hosting Thanksgiving at my home has become tradition and I had fun this year decorating with my mom. We cut some greenery from our yards and found Styrofoam gourds and pinecones at the dollar store to create centerpieces. I also used some authentic falls leaves my aunt sent me from Massachusetts a few years ago that I saved. I'm from Florida so an authentic fall leaf is a thing to me! Haha!

I also love to use the leaves during the Fall season in my classroom. I usually read There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves and Fancy Nancy Fall Foliage before we explore the many shapes, sizes, and colors, of these strange alien objects known as oak tree leaves.

I also made a Cookie Butter Pie for Thanksgiving. It was insane! Here's the recipe I used and I would encourage you to try it for sure. Next time, I think I would do mini pies instead! My daughter made a very cute apple pie. Check out the cute leaf cut-out crust!


I love teaching nonfiction during the months of November and December because between Thanksgiving and winter, there are so many interesting topics. Our December was packed with polar bear and penguins and we also learned a lot about the Arctic. We did tons of KWL charts to anchor our learning, fun experiments, and constructed igloos with icing and marshmallows. I'll be posting those pics soon.

I hope everyone is enjoying their break so far. Happy Holidays!