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Monday, March 8, 2010

The Class Store

Every class has to have some kind of positive reward system, right? Well, I have the class store. This is how it did it:
1. I got little small, plastic containers at the Dollar Tree, they're in the baby section and you get 5 for $1.
2. I put labels with the kids' names on the containers, this way they act as a name tag too!
3. I bought a giant tub of play money at Lakeshore Learning.
4. I went to Wal-Mart and purchased an over the door shoe organizer.
5. I had parents send in small items to stock the class store then I placed the items in the organizer and labeled the pockets with price tags.

How it works: When the kids are behaving I reward them with a play coin or two. They save the money in their plastic "banks". On Friday afternoons a parent volunteer comes in to help the children count their money. The children then shop at the class store. I allow them to buy one item per week so the store doesn't get depleted too quickly.

Most of the kids say the store is their favorite part of first grade... What, you mean I'm not their favorite part? ;) Tee hee!

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Writer's Eye Glasses

I teach my students to use their Writer's Eye. The Writer's Eye was taught to me when I took my CLIP class through ASU. The basics of the Writer's Eye is to teach the children to ask themselves questions while writing. Here are the basic questions:
1. Do I see a capital letter at the beginning of my sentence?
2. Do I see finger spaces between the words I wrote?
3. Did I use lowercase letters throughout my sentence, unless I needed to use a capital letter?
4. Do I see a punctuation mark at the end of my sentence?
5. Does my sentence make sense when I read it?
To remind my students to ask themselves the above mentioned questions I created this bulletin board. Actually, Mr. Phippen was the genius who came up with the idea of using embroidery hoops to form the glasses. Anyway, you need 2 hoops, a small piece of wood to join the hoops, 2 black paper plates, and spray paint to create the Writer's Eye glasses man. The kids love it!

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PS  I have updated this Writer's Eye board and even made a Writer's Eye Bulletin Board product on my Teachers Pay Teachers store if you'd like.  Plus, I posted a tutorial on how to make the giant glasses too.

Author Showcase

Getting the children excited about reading and writing is sometimes hard to do. One thing I try to do is showcase an author each month. Here's how I do it:
1. Choose an author that will appeal to the children.
2. Research that author's life story and the books he/she has written.
3. Find a photo of the author and a few snippets of their book covers.
4. Type up a little blurb stating the facts I learned about the author. I especially try to include facts that the kids will like.
5. I print out the blurb and photos and prepare them to be pasted onto a 12 x 12 sheet of scrapbook paper. Sometimes I have to re-size all the pics to ensure a proper layout.
6. I build a layout on the scrapbook paper that showcases all the info and photos I collected.
7. I place the finished showcase in a 12 x 12 frame and place it where the children will see it. (I found mine at Michael's craft store).

Note: I use the same frame each month, I just switch out the author showcase!
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Classroom Jobs

I believe that every child in a class should have a job for the week. Keeping the jobs organized is another matter.
Here is how I do it:
1. I laminated book pockets.
2. I made labels stating the name of the jobs in my classroom and stuck them on the pockets.
3. I wrote the names of my students on craft sticks.
4. I paired a girl and boy, if possible, to be job partners for the year.
5. I put the paired name sticks in the job pockets.
6. On Monday mornings I rotate the sticks in a particular pattern so the children have turns doing every job.
It's simple and effective. Hooray!

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Morning Meeting

Each morning the children come in and do morning work. After that is completed we hold our daily morning meeting. During morning meeting the star student of the week gets to run the meeting. The children have little notebooks they bring to the carpet and we go over the daily business.

Here is a sample agenda:
1. How many days have we been in first grade?
2. What is the date today?
3. Did anyone loose a tooth and/or are there any birthdays today?
4. What is the weather like outside today?
5. What was yesterday, what is today, and what will tomorrow be?
6. Review months of the year & days of the week.
7. Build a word for the day using the magnets and wall mounted cookie sheets.
8. Solve the daily math word problem using the magnets as well.
9. Add a new word to the monthly word list.
10. Review any other skills as needed.
11. News and schedule review for the day.

For each of the tasks on the agenda the star student picks a stick out the basket. Each stick has a student's name on it. When the star student picks a stick that child completes the task on the agenda. The morning meeting builds classroom community, instills public speaking skills in the children, and helps cement learned skills in the kids' bright brains. All this is accomplished in about 15 minutes...I love having a morning meeting!

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Books Galore

I heart books. I hope that my students will heart books too! My little obsession with offering a variety of reading materials has landed me with way too many books to mention. Having a plethora of books raises a very serious organization problem. Well, here are my ideas on that subject.

1. Have an amazing shelf that showcases the covers of the books you'd like your young ones to see. The cover is what entices the young reader, so entice them!

2. Separate the books into categories. After you've categorized them make labels to distinguish that the particular book is part of a certain category. This makes keeping the books organized much simpler and offers the children a system for browsing certain types of stories.

3. Label the book shelf with signs that correspond with the labels on the books.

4. If you have special and/or seasonal books that you only want available at certain times place those in bins. Mine are sorted according to months. For example, all of my leprechaun and Dr. Seuss books that I want to read are in my March bin. When March comes around I pull that bin of books down and read those books. This prevents the children from shouting out,"I already read this book", as well as protects those books from rapid handling decay.

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Book Shelves a la First Grade

I believe that a child should be in love with reading from a young age. Well, when you were a little person, what enticed you to pick up a book? It was the cover of course! The problem is that most bookshelves are not designed with the young child's mind in mind, so most shelved showcase the bind of the book. Well, Mr. Phippen built me this first grade friendly book shelf. It is fashioned out of vinyl rain gutters found at Home Depot as well as a few sturdy 2 x 4's. It shows off the book covers and keeps my students going back for more. Maybe I can get Mr. Phippen to post a little tutorial on how to make this beauty!
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