Math Workshop

Themes & Holidays

My Classroom

Groundhog's Day, Valentine's Day, President's Day, 100th Day, Dr. Seuss... We haven't been busy at all!

  PHEW! I am still catching my breath from this past month over here... and maybe a few extra hours of sleep. :) But we MADE IT.. almost...  Even though it's the shortest and most eventful month of the school year, which can be exhausting, I'm thankful for it because it allows for more opportunities for meaningful thematic cross curricular integration. 
Groundhog's Day is the perfect opportunity for some review of graphing skills. The first grade CCSS math standards require students to transfer data into a bar graph. I find the more opportunities to practice this whole class, the more my students find success in meeting that standard. This year's data was particular interesting because most of my students anticipated Phil to see his shadow however, it was all the rage that he shocked us with no shadow. 

Our school celebrates Kindness Week the week of Valentine's day by hosting a school spirit week. Each day we wear a different color to show our kindness... green for the earth, yellow to brighten someone's day, blue to keep calm and kindness on and of course red to show love for others. It's a great way to build community with our class and among the whole school. We spent time discussing the topic of kindness in morning meeting and even read a few read alouds surrounding the message of kindness. Lastly, each class spends time writing a class kindness book that is entered into a school wide Kindness Book contest. Our 4th grade student council officers then vote on their favorite book.

Our class quickly noticed the common central message surrounding the read alouds. That being, kindness is contagious and can have a "circle effect" as one of my firsties called it. :) Therefore, our class decided  to spend time writing about what makes our hearts "full" because when our hearts are full, kindness follows. I was so proud of their thinking and coming up with this idea!! It paired nicely with Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to LOVE as he inspired us with kindness quotes of so many famous people. You can find the book here.  You can also find the fabulous idea and "My Heart if Full" printable from the fabulous Anna Brantley from Crazy for First Grade here. 

We spent time thinking about what makes our parents happy by making them a Valentine's Day coupon book. I was surprised to see how seriously my kiddos took the job of coming up with great ideas and of course... keeping this coupon book a secret. You can find this printable in my store here

One of my absolute FAVORITE Valentine's Day projects year after year are these cuties!!!! You better watch out, this love monster just may steal your heart.... or "suck your blood" in the words of my firstie. HA! The kiddos always have such a great time creating a personalized monster. The colored sacks are from Michaels in the party favor section and the Love Monster printables are from The Teacher Wifey here. My favorite part is that they are strong enough to hold all their valentines and withstand the adventures home on the bus. :) 

And now on to President's Day! Our year is spent discussing community in all shapes and sizes for our social studies curriculum. The beginning of the year is spent exploring it on a smaller scale as we discuss our class community, before moving to our school community and lastly our town. Focusing on the town fits in nicely with maps/geography. The holidays allow us to explore our family communities and traditions. Come February, we can now gain a strong understanding of our country and who is in charge of that community of people in terms of the entire world. 

We started by identifying and listing the roles of a President. As we read and discussed, we found that their job is much like the leaders we aim to be in school each and everyday. :) We teachers LOVE that reminder anytime we can get it haha!

I was amazed by how much background knowledge my kiddos had on previous presidents.. kuddos to their preschool and kinder teachers!!! They were able to name every president on this anchor chart (with a few hits for good 'ole Teddy Roosevelt!) We spent a great deal of time learning about Abe and George as we tied it in with our Reader's Workshop curriclum of comparing and contrasting nonfiction texts. These great presidents are perfect for comparing and contrasting because there are so many similarities in their life despite living in two different time periods. This of course had them eager and engaged!!

 One of their favorite facts about Abe was that he not only lived in but built log cabins... how COOL?! We spent some time crafting log cabins of our own. :) 

In just 4 days we went from Valentine' Day to President's Day to the 100th Day *AND* parent teacher conferences. PHEW! Is your head spinning yet? It was for me at that point but looking back now it's nice reflecting on all that we learned in such a short period of time.

My kiddos already know my favorite day of each and every year is the 100th day. If you don't already know, I am obsessed with math.... doing it, learning it, teaching it.... the whole shibang! :) I love doing math ALL DAY LONG... and making it fun of course. 

In full disclosure, I could not have pulled it off without the help of so many inspiring teachers out there who helped me come up with a full day of fun and so many parent volunteers in my class that helped supply supplies, prep the supplies and join us in the classroom that day to help things run smoothly.

In the past, the first grade team at my school has the kiddos do a 100th day project at home to hang in the halls (including me when I went to school there :)). I can remember doing a Skittle rainbow like it was yesterday. This year a few teams and I decided to switch it up by having a 100th day t-shirt fashion show. If you haven't already done this, I HIGHLY recommend it. It was an absolute BLAST! We had a "red carpet" and student audience all along it. We played the cupid shuffle and had each kiddo say their name and explain their t shirt before strutting their stuff down the isle. 

It was such a trip I tell you. Our door was opened and all the teachers and students kept poking their heads in to see what all the fun was about! :) It was a great opportunity to build classroom community and practice our speaking and listening skills. 

After the fashion show we did a few 100th Day read alouds. This works like a charm for calming the class down. 

Then it was on to the main event. When it comes to teaching math everyday, I am a huge supporter of math centers that incorporate student choice. They get the kiddos up and moving and engaged in what they want to do in order to meet an objective. I was so thankful for Cara Carroll from The First Grade Parade for sharing her math centers. I was able to use so many of her great ideas. 

 She posted a bunch of 100th Day center freebies that you can find here. I was able to use and recreate some of them to address first grade standards and my student's needs. 

When setting up the centers, I allow students to choose and rotate freely around the room. I ask parents to volunteer and help at stations I feel the kiddos will need most assistance with. One of course being the class Froot Loop Necklace. This also has a punch card so that students can refer to to find what can be found at each center. 

I don't know about you but my class always goes CRAZY when we take the "dollar" out at calendar when counting the days of school. Bless their innocent hearts for realizing a dollar can only get you so much these days.... which gets me thinking how cool would it be next year to explore the difference between what you could have gotten for a dollar 100 years ago comared to now. *Mental note. :) The Dollar Exhange center allows students to practice making all the different ways to make a dollar.
This ADORABLE center idea from Cara Carrol stole my heart! I knew the kiddos would love it that much too. We even had fancy Crayola glitter markers for making tallies EXTRA special. :)

Another great idea I found on Pinterest was using a 1-0-0 to make a picture. I knew this would get my kiddos thinking out of the box a little. They are so artistic this year! They were able to come up with better ideas than I could.

The crowd please was of course our 100th Day Crowns!!!! This goodie dates all the way back to my student teaching days where my fabulous cooperating teacher taught me all about this wonderful idea.  :) So thankful for her. The kiddos place 10 stickers on 10 colored strips. Whallahh! Easy as that!

A great "resting" center or "early finisher" center is the 100 book challenge. Throughout the day we try to read 100 books together as a class. You teach the kiddos to record the title after they are finished reading a book from the library.

Our last center is a great reflection for both the kiddos and myself as a teacher.. "100 Days Smarter." Cara you are a genius for coming up with this one! Before beginning the centers, I model this center by listing some of the topics we learned about this year and then ask for volunteer reponses before having them come up to the anchor chart at any point during the day to list their own. It truly alows the firsties to reflect on all that they learned. It also helps me to see which topics they rmemebered/liked most for future planning. :) Hehe! We teachers are so sneaky!

 By the end of the day we all looked like wild and crazy firsties with 100 ALL over us!

Now on to March....

This week we started all things Seuss. Ma' man Seuss is just about the coolest guy I know! He has such a way with words that makes just about any kiddo laugh ... and your tongue tired!  He is all sorts of literary genius. What other way can we seamlessly practice real vs. nonsense words, rhyme, alliteration and onomatopoeia?! Which I might add goes hand in hand with our reader's and writer's workshop unit on poetry this month! 

Before jumping into the unit, we spent time learning about Dr. Seuss as an author and illustrator with the help of our Scholastic News weekly reader. I am so thankful our district subscribes as they tie in perfectly! I'm not sure about you but one common trend among first graders is that they spend SO much time on their writing in writer's workshop but when it comes to publishing, they are in such a rush to be done that sometimes some friends leave what I call "white spaces"...large white spaces. :) Which is not to say they are not artistic, because trust me... I'm about to start having some of them make some anchor charts. My thinking is that in writer's workshop they forget how important publishing is to the writing process. Therefore I was so thankful the video that goes along with the weekly reader focused on how long it took Dr. Seuss to get his words and pictures just right. It's amazing how much they aspire to be like real authors and illustrators. 

This directed drawing from creative The First Grade Blue Skies helped to practice how important illustrations can be when publishing. The kiddos also get extra direction following practice and can learn about seeing things from different perspectives. 

We focused on The Lorax this past week as it had a great author's message. We made text-to-world connections when reading it and also practiced/review letter writing by writing letters to the Onceler.  I loved the way their voice shined through in their writing. You can see just how much of an affect the author's message made on these kiddos. :) Perfect for the start of spring too!

This past week we also had our school's Dr. Seuss night. This event is one for the books. It dates back to my elementary days at my school. This year I was apart of the decorations team. Yay! Any opportunity for a pendant banner and some streamers and count me in! The photo booth I made for our staff holiday party was such a hit that I thought it would be fun to continue it in Seuss style. :)  

All holidays aside, we had our big writer's workshop celebration this past week. Students introduced the class celebration by sharing a little bit of our reader's and writer's workshop process during our two month nonfiction unit to the parents. Then the parents rotated freely to different student readers. Sometimes I forget just how much this day means to them after months of hard work so I surprised them with some fun balloons! 


  1. What a jam packed post. I love it all, and looks like a great time was had. I admit I pinned a lot from your post but what really got me was the Lincoln log cabins. Did you make your own template?
    Ms. K/1 ELL
    A Teacher's Plan


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