Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just a squiggle...

I see a snail, apple tree, octopus, apple, tornado, flower, clown, hermit crab and a sun! It's neat to see how differently they each saw a squiggle...


In art ancillary the children learned about Piet Mondrian. They explored straight lines, primary colors, rectangles, squares and grids.

color wheel

Today we made our own color wheels to help us learn the difference between primary and secondary colors.

jars needed

Is there a baby in your house that eats baby food from a jar? If so, we could use 2 more jars to complete our class set! We use them for painting in class and don’t quite have enough!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Matthew's Dream

Today we read Matthew's Dream by Leo Lionni. After being inspired by Matthew's Dream, we listened to classical music and painted our own "dreams." When I get a chance...I will display them in the hallway.


Today we broke out the watercolors for the first time! We will be using these often and it is important to get the rules covered so that we can keep them looking great all year long! When we are done with them, they have a "sleepover" at the writing table to dry overnight so they don't get mixed together and all turn brown!

balancing act

During reading groups, one of the "jobs" assigned was to weigh various things from our classroom using our pennies as a unit of measure! We had fun using the balance to see how many pennies equals a pair of scissors, marker, glue stick, etc.

reading groups

We finally got back to our reading groups today! With LDC the past 2 weeks and TPRI testing looming over our was nice to get back into the swing of things!

Penny Grab

Today we played a new game, Penny Grab. Basically, the game was a fun way to add pennies together and to reinforce the idea that one penny equals one cent. Later this week, we will play Penny and Nickel Grab...same idea but with nickels added to the mix!

penny investigation

Can you believe our official Everyday Math lesson today was on pennies? What luck...we have thousands of them at our disposal! We took a few minutes to take a closer look at them using our own very own loupes. We discovered a lot of neat characteristics of a penny. Have you seen the new penny design? Very cool!

Millionaire Club

Apparently, we have quite a few millionaires in our class this year! I'm so happy to see so many of you were so rich with books over the summer. Thanks for taking the time to turn in your reading lists. Well done!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fun with Pennies!!!

Who knew counting pennies could be so much fun! The kids took turns counting the pennies into groups of 100 to make $1. By the end of each week, I imagine everyone will have a chance to count pennies! We decided the bags could hold $10 without breaking.

We found out what 100 pennies looks like...
they didn't quite believe it was a dollar!

We found out 20 nickels equal a dollar.

We found out 10 dimes equal a dollar.

We found out 4 quarters equal a dollar.

We even found a golden Sacagawea dollar coin!

By the end of today's lesson we counted 3 groups of 10...AKA $30!!! Not too shabby 1st graders...job well done. We still have MANY more pennies to count!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Today we used dominoes to help us with our additions facts up to 9. It was interesting to see how differently the children organized their facts...using all the same manipulatives!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

progress reports

Progress reports go out tomorrow. Since this is the beginning of the year, everyone will receive one. Later in the year I will only send one out if I see the need. FYI...our grades will be available online SOON. If you would like a little tutoring on Gradespeed, two sessions will be available to parents. One was today at 9:00am and the other is next week on September 30th at 6:30pm. I will be getting your child's official HISD school ID number to you soon OR you can simply look on your child's report cards from last year! I'm learning right along with you...

telling time

We have been learning to tell time...only by the hour right now. As the year goes on we will add to our repertoire of telling time skills by telling time on the half hour, quarter hour, etc.

Monday, September 21, 2009

International Day of Peace

Today is the International Day of Peace. Mrs. Blakeslee's 5th grade GT students initiated their wall of peace outside her library classroom. They invited all students to add something to her wall. We shared what peace means to us and our wishes for the world...


Today we used calculators for the first was a bit crazy at first but eventually everything settled down! We know how to take the cover off, turn them on, enter a number or two and how to clear them! Baby steps...

journal helpers

I posted a sign-up sheet for journal helpers on the bulletin board outside our classroom door for the month of October. Sign up for as many or as little days you wish. Email me if you would like to be added to the calendar but cannot physically get to the sign-up sheet.

Friday, September 18, 2009


The children experimented with watercolors and crayon resist in Mrs. Cowan's art ancillary class. Next week we will be starting our new art planner... "How We Express Ourselves Through Art." Be on the lookout for more details on this FUN planner!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2 fisted penny addition

By playing Two-Fisted Penny Addition, you are helping your child learn the basic addition facts. Later on, these basic facts will be useful when your child solves more difficult addition and subtraction problems mentally. We worked on the sum of 10...kinda tricky at first but I think they finally got it!


This week we went to LDC for the first time with Mrs. Diaz. We will be going this week and next week...remember, no reading groups/jobs during these days. The children usually listen to a story, have a class discussion, work on a writing project, go to various centers and participate in writer's theater every single day of LDC!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


We had a lot of fun with this! After we read Numblers, we decided we could hide number's, too! Enjoy our first slideshow of the year!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Open House

I look forward to seeing everyone tonight at Open House. Meet in the cafeteria at 7:00PM for Mr. Baker to introduce the teachers. We will continue the evening in our classroom! Mrs. Norris will be meeting at 6:30PM in her classroom next door to the library.

Rolling for 50

Today we played "rolling for 50." It is a game to better familiarize ourselves with the 100's chart and how to move around the board. It was very much like the game, Chutes and Ladders! We learned that if you go forward 10 or backward will end up directly above or below your starting number! I think playing "Give Your Dog a Bone" (link is on the very bottom of this blog...scroll down) online during reading group rotation helped us to play this game with better ease!

Grandparent's Day

Thank you to the grandparents that came to school to eat lunch with their grandchildren today. The cafeteria sponsor's a day each year to the grandparents of our students. Mark Twain likes to have a more festive day for Grandparents in the on the lookout!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Noun Markers

Remember articles in grammar class? In 1st grade we simply call a, an, & the noun markers. They are color-coded red to warn us (like a stop sign or stop light) that a noun is coming! These will help us to be better equipped in writing full and complete sentences!

daily edit

The kids LOVE to find mistakes! I write sentences using simple sight words, words using recent spelling rules and words that can be easily sounded out. I like to also include spacing problems and lack or misuse punctuation/capitalization. Try this at home...they think it's a game!

Quote for the Day...

“My heart is singing for joy this morning. A miracle has happened! The light of understanding has shone upon my little pupil’s mind, and, behold, all things are changed.” - Anne Sullivan

dates to remember

Get out your calendars, we've got a busy few weeks ahead of us...

September 15 -GT -Open House with Mrs. Norris 6:30-7:00pm
September 15 - 1st grade Open House, meet in cafeteria first
September 17 - Intenational Potluck 6:30...LOTS OF FUN!!!
September 18 - Sally Foster/Entertainment book sales due
September 23 - 5th grade coffee with Mr. Baker...I am asking someone (or a group) to
watch the class for me while I attend. The children will be doing journals.
Sometimes it is hard to be a teacher AND a parent at the same school. Let
me know if you'd like to volunteer your time.
September 23 - progress reports will go home for everyone
September 28 - Gradespeed will go LIVE...and you can look up your child's grades online!

Friday, September 11, 2009


I didn't mention 911 but I was prepared to if someone in the class did. Nobody said a word. Even still, we made flags. Today was a good day to introduce US national symbols...Statue of Liberty, US flag, bald eagle and the Liberty Bell. The whole lesson about the number of red and white stripes, stars, etc. went over their heads a was evident when we got 22 DIFFERENT looking flags! Some got it. They're cute...all in their own way.


Homemade cookies will make any lesson fun! We concluded our week of using descriptive words to express what we see, feel, hear, taste and smell with a tasty snack.


We finally made it to library...I forgot last week! The children are allowed to check out 1 book and I give them the option of taking home their chosen book or keeping it in their desk. Either way, books need to be back to school on Friday for return before a new selection can be checked out.

pennies update

Apparently, the children found time to devote to our Pennies for Peace project overnight! They came to school with big hearts and their backpacks heavy with pennies! FYI...we will be collecting until Thanksgiving.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Last summer (the only time I can actually find time to read!) a friend suggested I read 3 Cups of Tea. What a wonderfully inspirational book! I knew immediately that Pennies for Peace would be a great program to implement in my classroom and a nice addition to our current PYP planner. After meeting with my team, it was decided that all 1st grade classrooms would participate also! It was a wonderfully successful addition to our program and many of the children wanted to share the idea with their older siblings and their classes, with grandparents, neighbors, etc...1st grade raised a little over $600!!! We've been talking about how kindness can be was apparent they really wanted to spread their hope to everyone they knew! The kids today loved hearing the story and learning all about Greg Mortenson's mission to promote peace one school at a penny at a time. I think they could see how it could be possible for children working together to make a difference for children halfway around the world! Last year one of my students impulsively yelled out, "I'm SO doing this!" The others unanimously agreed. This year's class is no different...

Pennies for Peace

To go along with our current planner, 1st graders will be raising money to help build schools and provide community-based education for children in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will be collecting pennies using a non-profit program called Pennies for Peace through the Central Asia Institute (CAI). Our hope is that this will be a memorable “feel good” experience and will broaden our cultural awareness by making a positive impact on a global scale…one penny at a time! Today we read a new book that was recently published, Listen to the Wind (ask your child about the significance of this title) that beautifully explained what the program is all about. We also watched a wonderful video ( I encourage you to watch this with your child) that gave the children a glimpse into another culture very different from their own. The kids are VERY excited and seemed to have grasped the idea that even 6 year-olds CAN make a difference! Spread the word, be creative and start collecting…make it a family project!

Roll, Write & Add

Today we played a game called Roll, Write & Add which involved adding 3 numbers together to equal a sum. At this point in the year, it is still OK to use manipulatives to count to help with this task.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

name-collectin boxes

Today I introduced name-collection boxes. Basically, they are used to collect equivalent names for numbers. It offers a simple way for children to experience the powerful notion that numbers can be expressed in many different ways. A name-collection box is an open-top box with a label attached to it. The name on the label identifies the number whose names are collected in the box. The box shown above was a 10-box, a name collection box for the number 10. Names can introduce sums, differences, words in English or another language, tally marks, Roman numerals, money and so on. We had a lot of fun with this...and even learned a few numbers in Chinese!

PTO meeting/Open House

Our "Manner Gardens" have been watch them grow!
Please plan to attend the All Parents' Meeting to show your support of Mark Twain and the PTO. Your children will receive a free dress pass if you attend. Please encourage others to attend! Also, just a friendly reminder...please plan for a babysitter and attend Open House next Tuesday, September 15th 7-8 PM so that I may explain how my classroom works in more detail and give you the opportunity to ask questions. Mrs. Norris (GT) will meet in her room half an hour before at 6:30pm.

The Kindness Quilt

As we begin our new planner, “What the World Needs Now” we are learning how to problem solve conflicts that come up over the course of our day and why good attitudes are essential to getting along with others. Check out our “Kindness Quilt” displayed on the gigantic bulletin board between the 1st grade and kindergarten hallways. As each class adds their piece, it keeps growing and growing...just like the quilt in the book, The Kindness Quilt!

3rd week update

As we continue our 1st planner, “What the World Needs Now” we are learning how to problem solve conflicts that come up over the course of our day and why good attitudes are essential to getting along with others and being a good friend. We are especially enjoying a series of books called “Help Me Be Good.” For whatever reason our class is obsessed with them…luckily there are at least a couple of dozen in the series!

We have a great class…unusually even in the girl/boy ratio! We are focusing on LISTENING to each other and responding to directions the first time they are given. I’ve seen a huge improvement in this area for many of our kiddo’s.

I am proud to say we started our Guided Reading/job rotations the first week of school so our daily routine is very established as we plow through our 3rd week! I have 6 reading groups and I seem to be changing them a little bit each day according to each child’s needs! Our first grade reading goal is that each child leave in May at a level 16-18 or higher. I feel that this is private information and I will not tell the children what level they are on (although some children may know to look, and figure it out by my private records, book labels, etc.) I will let you know from time to time what level your child is on. My goal is individual progression, no matter where they are on the spectrum. Learning to read is a developmental process and differs from child to child.

Next week we will start going to LDC (Literacy Development Center) daily for the next 2 weeks. I will also start administering the TPRI (Texas Primary Reading Inventory) which is required by the State of Texas. After all this, we can hopefully slide right back into our routine reading groups. During this time there will be plenty of opportunities to practice reading in our large group format. We will also focus on our writing.

I subscribed to a weekly Scholastic News magazine for each child. They do a great job supplementing to our social studies, science and current events currently in our world. They are a lot of fun and the kids really enjoy reading them. It would be hugely helpful and appreciated by me if you could contribute $5.00 to help me cover the cost.

It’s that time again! Keep a look out for and start saving General Mills Box Tops. At the end of the year we collect them and our school gets money for equipment and supplies! Our collection jar is in our reading corner in the classroom. We are about halfway through our chapter book, Trumpet of the Swan. I want to show the movie after we finish the book! The kids are really enjoying the story and really do want me to read more than a chapter each day…unfortunately, we just don’t have that kind of time!

Thank you for your continued support!


Thank you for the speedy turn in of the $5 for Scholastic News subscription, signed science lab contract and completed class directory forms. All of this makes my life go a little bit easier. Hint, hint...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Scholastic News

I subscribed to a publication called Scholastic News. We will be getting 4 issues each month. Each one comes with an additional activity to do. They are great at incorporating social studies, science and current events into our busy day. It would help me tremendously if you would please consider contributing $5 to this cause.