Math Workshop

Themes & Holidays

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Thanksgiving Read Alouds

Turkeys have finally made an appearance in our classroom and I am excited to stretch them for all they're worth! ;) Thanksgiving holds a special place in my heart. It's the holiday that is celebrated at my house every year. Traditions are everything in my family and it seems that as a teacher, I have a few special traditions in my classroom too- some of the Thanksgiving read alouds are just to name a few! ;) 

There are great discussions to be had around the idea of giving and taking the extra time to think about all the we are thankful for. I find picture books are a great way to spark meaningful discussions around these topics... and of course to throw in a little fiction fun into the mix! I am excited to share with you some of my classroom Thanksgiving favorites and how we will be using them in the classroom during our shared reading/writing block.

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The Thankful Book by Todd Parr and Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes are perfect for your classic "I am thankful for..." activities. Each year after a few meaningful discussions on the spirit of the holiday, we list what we are most thankful for. Last year I found these Turkey "I am Thankful" placemats at Target but wasn't smart enough to grab any of this year. We used these for our "Friendsgiving Feast". It was a total it! They are the perfect little first grade memento.

Our reader's workshop unit in November focuses heavily on story elements, which works perfectly for Thanksgiving shared reading and writing activities. Last year my class absolutely fell in LOVE with The Littlest Pilgrim. We read it for shared reading and worked together to identify and write the title, setting, characters, beginning, middle and end. My friends took the information on the shared anchor chart to put it in their own words in this pilgrim flip book craftivity. Can you even handle the cuteness with those little pilgrim heads?! I know I can't... freckles and all! And we think they aren't listening or noticing the small details...

I got this craft in Bright Concepts for Teacher's store. You can find it here. Perfect for our "littles."


While I whole heartedly believe in the power of writer's workshop, I often find a few rare instances in the year to do some creative writing! Thinking out of the box and writing something silly can often be a tough skill for our littles. I think this is the perfect way to engage writers and get them comfortable taking a chance with their creativity! After reading The Great Thanksgiving Escape and Turkey Trouble, we wrote shared class books about what happened if the turkey escaped on Thanksgiving and what our turkey disguised themselves as. We came up with good "hooks." "I opened the oven and...." or "We sat down to eat dinner when....." Students had to fill in the sentence stem and add all their story elements. Which perfectly ties into our reader's curriculum :) . #winning Run, Turkey Run! would also be a good fit for this lesson and is the perfect opportunity to tie in some procedural writing (I.e. How to catch a Turkey or How to escape a Thanksgiving Dinner)

A Plump and Perky Turkey and the latest addition to my collection, A Very Stuffed Turkey are perfect for teaching into adjectives. We will make our very own turkeys and list adjectives to come up with a turkey name. I am anticipating some of my kiddos will need a stretch, in which I will teach into alliteration and rhyme. I also built this anchor chart and ask students to turn and talk about different "adjectives" they heard in the stories. I added their responses to the chart on post it notes.

I have noticed my kiddos could use some help with identifying and remembering to capitalize proper nouns. I have seen "Proper Pete" anchor charts buzzing around Pinterest which is absolutely GENIUS. Kudos to whoever came up with that genius idea! My kiddos absolutely adore Pete the Cat and I will use Pete the Cat's The First Thanksgiving to build a "Proper Pete" anchor chart to list examples of proper nouns.

Our science curriclum focuses on air and weather in the fall. We have been making all kinds of air and weather tools to explore it's properties and what we are noticing. One of mine and the kiddo's favorites is balloon rockets! In full disclosure, I have a super competitive side... :) The Great Turkey Race inspired me to have some turkey balloon races of our own. Last year, the kiddos worked in their tables to decorate and name their team turkey. Then we took turns racing each table's turkey. We made predictions on whether we thought if there was more air in the balloon, would it travel any faster? This was the perfect day before Thanksgiving break event. Here is an action shot... can you find the adult here? Because I sure can't. :)
If you're wondering what a turkey balloon rocket is... it's teacher language for you take two strings, each with a straw on them and attach them to chairs. Then you take a balloon, blow it up, tape it to the straw and add any turkey decoration. Have the kiddos hold the air in the balloon until the class counts down and you let go! Its AWESOME!!!

I am always looking for new ideas to add to the ever growing collection. This year I am excited to do this darling craftivity I found over at First Grade WOW . Nancy had the amazing idea of reading 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving with her kiddos and doing a little reader's response. "Save the Turkeys! Eat more..." I am hoping to teach into some persuasive writing with this little number. And of course the stuffed turkey character to go along with it seals the deal. The picture below is featured on Nancy's post.

Lastly, we will do a little nonfiction shared writing by reading various nonfiction Thanksgiving books and writing a different fact in the story of the first Thanksgiving on a sentence strip. Then I will type each sentence up on a separate page. The kiddos will then illustrate their page to match their words. I'll bind them up and make ourselves a class book on the *true* (in a first grade friendly fashion) story of the First Thanksgiving. 

Follow my Instagram page Firstgrade_made for posts on anchor charts, complete craft displays and more through this wonderful turkey time! 

Integrating Themes in Your Classroom

Often times when someone sees pictures of the themes and activities in my classroom on Instagram they ask, "how do you fit it all in?" Truth is, it's not always just about finding the time in your day as much as it is about making it work! The answer is yes, I have a curriculum to follow and the demands of the common core. I'm all for challenging my students and ensuring them opportunities to engage in higher order thinking, but I'm certainly not going to stop us from having fun doing so. "Us" meaning my students *and* me. Ha! Let's be honest, it's just as vital for us to be engaged too!

 In order to "fit it in," you have to think of all the ways you can integrate a theme across all your content areas. I'll admit, it may take a little longer when when planning to organize all the worksheets, crafts and activities in your files but after some time, cross curricular integration comes more naturally. Follow along as I share with you how I integrated our "apples" theme across most of the content areas all week long.

One of my favorite ways to integrate a theme is in Math Workshop centers/tubs! We're either learning a new skill or reviewing a previous one and themes allow for fun new math manipulatives. Which of course is the perfect excuse to take a trip to Target- where I found a pack of those adorable chalkboard apple tags on sale for 10 cents! Can you believe it? I didn't know exactly what I would use them for at the store but I knew I had to have them. Just like most things at Target... ha! You can find the recording sheet I made here

We use Everyday Math in our school- which if you are not familiar with, is a spiral curriculum. Each unit has many different skills and focuses, which spirals all year long in order to continue mastery. This compliments a workshop style instruction because the math tubs can be so diverse! In this particular tub we were focusing on "exploring," being exposed to, nonstandard measurement. We used the apple tags as our unit of measure. :) 

There are so many great freebie resources online too! Be sure to always scope it out. I found these great subitizing review centers from a Recipe for Teaching here.  They were so easy to print and prep!

We also had a "data day" in our curriclum. Rather than graphing something general like "your favorite color," look at it as an opportunity to integrate a theme. I added in a "challenge" by first tallying our votes and then turning the tallies into a graph show below. 

I found inspiration for these illustrations from the fabulous Cara Carroll over at the First Grade Parade. We did the graph together in our mini-lesson before practicing the skills independently in centers. One of them included this apple roll and color activity. Our graphing skills will come in a little later in the post in science as well. :) 

When it's apple week, you make everything into apples. Even those cute little ten frame counters. 
You can find it FREE in Cara Carroll's store here. It even includes an apple roll, color, count and tally center!

 One of our last skills in math this week was number stories. For our mini-lesson, I modeled one and then we did one together before turning & talking to share out our strategies. As they shared their thinking, I recorded all their strategies on the chart. Then, in one of the math tubs they practice creating their own apple seed stories to solve.

Each year I conveniently plan apple week around Johnny Appleseed's birthday. In Social Studies we did a read aloud, focusing on the "main topic." After reading aloud, each student wrote a key detail on a post-it to PIN to our Johnny Appleseed anchor chart. 
If you didn't know, I'm a big fan of hats! I thought it would be the perfect lesson to sneak in a little hat making since they all worked *so* hard to write their key detail. I Googled some examples and kind of took small details I liked of each to create our own. I didn't have a temple. I just took a 12"X 24"size gray piece of construction paper and cut it in half horizontally. Then I took strips and free cut the "handle" portion. Whallah! Look how stinkin' cute they look!!

You can find the "Blank Appleseed" name template here.

The way social studies and science are organized into our schedule is that they are taught at the same time but rotated throughout the year. I started off teaching community during social studies at the start of the year and this week we transition to science. I'm excited to be joining many other colleagues at school by implementing interactive notebooks this year. Our science units include Air and Weather and Light and Sound, however we do not start that until later this month. I decided to use this extra "time" to squeeze in teaching into the routines of the interactive notebook. 

Each day had a different focus- apple life cycle, parts of an apple and apple vocabulary. Each lesson we read non-fiction read alouds on that topic and then worked in small groups to complete the interactive notebook piece. 

This was our "input" in the interactive notebook. After each lesson, students took some time reflecting on what they did/learned and students wrote in the "output" section of our notebooks. I too have my own interactive notebook to model for students!

Our culminating activity was exploring apples using our senses! Our high school intern, Mackenzie, was there to join in on the action too! We discussed the meaning of the word adjective and listed words that described apples. We were blown away with the level of their content specific vocabulary. We even go into the discussion of organic fruit!! I've got some smart cookies. :) 

We integrated our graph skills into science as well by graphing our favorite color apple!

 Speaking of content specific vocabulary, Lyndsay from A Year of Many Firsts has a great non-fiction resource, as seen above.  In shared literacy, we spent time going back into the text to find the meaning of words. Then we played a round of a word hunt game I created with her resource. In order to differentiate, I gave students either a picture, word or definition. Then we took turns finding the "matches" and recorded them on the board. They loved this and were so engaged!

You can find it here.

 In readers workshop we happened to be learning the skill of using post-it notes as various think marks in fiction and nonfiction texts. Rather than just choosing any random text, I selected 2 texts that were closer to a "just right" reading level for my firsties about apples.  I meaningfully selected a fiction and a nonfiction text that would have similar stories to use as a model for my mentor text.

Below are the texts I selected, as well as my "think marks."

 Lastly, if you're looking for a simple yet effective way- there's always your bookshelf! :)
We turned this apple craft idea from  First and Kinder Blue Skies into a card for parents for back to school night.

We loved sneaking in a fine motor skill activity for morning work and decorating the class with our apple window hanger- compliments of my friend, Maria Manore Gavin. You can find her resource with specific directions here.

PHEW! I know that was a lot. My fingers are as tired as your brain is from reading! HA! But, I hope you enjoyed following along and this provided you with some inspiration on how to incorporate holidays and themes into your everyday instruction!!