Math Workshop

Themes & Holidays

My Classroom

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.


During our shared reading time, I choose to read aloud the book Bad Apple. You can find it here with this affiliate link. Its the perfect text for back-to-school season. It stressed the importance of kindness and reminds students how important it is to be friends with everyone. I'll pair it with this reading response sheet for practicing to identify to author's message. 


You can grab your free copy of the response sheet here!

If you're looking for a community building activity, have each family in your class submit their family favorite apple recipe and turn it into a class recipe book! You can find the link here to my Editable Class Apple Recipe Book product below! Here is a sample from a few years back!



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 note 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. 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!!


1 comment

  1. Really liked these activities you are performing with these toddlers. Will share them with my child’s school teacher as he goes to one of best Phoenix kindergarten. This is something great and children can learn easily.

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