Sunday, May 3, 2015

Open House and Our Ocean Research Center

At my school Open House is a HUGE deal! Teachers and students go all out and completely transform their classrooms to celebrate the hard work and fun we have had all year long. In first grade we transformed our classroom into an Ocean Research Center. We have spent weeks learning all about the ocean and many ocean animals. We used our new knowledge and integrated art and writing in a variety of engaging projects. Check out our magical ocean wonderland below!

We called our room "Ocean Research Center" because we have spent weeks learning as much as we could about sea life. The children felt like research scientists and took our study very seriously!
This picture shows many of our "Have, Can, Are" charts. These charts are perfect for organizing information learned. The students can use the information to write informational pieces. The whale wonderings chart is another chart that helped us with our ocean research. At the beginning of our whale research, I asked each child to ask a question about whales that they would like answered during our study. We then read books, watched videos, and researched information on the internet. As we found answers to our questions, we recorded them on our whale chart. 
 This cute little crab project was inspired by this post. The students loved creating these little cuties out of actual shells.

We learned about sea turtles and created these adorable 3-dimensional sea turtles for our classroom. We also created divers, complete with student pictures attached.
After our study on whales the students created a diagram of a humpback whale. 

These cute little clownfish were a favorite project for my students. They were so interested in the little fish that are immune to sea anemone stings! We decided to hang the fish from the ceiling to complete the "Under the Sea" feel.
These pop-up aquariums were fun for the students to complete.
We couldn't leave all of the ocean fun to just informational stories. Our class read Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle and created these cute watercolor seahorses to celebrate the sweet story. We then compared the fictional elements with the events that occurred and compared them to the factual information we learned about seahorses.
Clownfish and Jellyfish
We have also completed a variety of writing pieces to go with our ocean study. Here is an example of a "How to Draw Ocean Animals" page my students completed. These activities have been great writing centers for my students. It not only teaches them how to draw the animal, but it provides them an opportunity to write about what they have learned. Each ocean animal comes with a fact page, word bank, and two versions of the draw and write page. Check them out here!

Check out the How to Draw  Humpback Whales Freebie here!

We had so much fun with our study and it made for a magical experience. It will be difficult to take down the ocean wonderland, but I know my students are excited to take their projects home to recreate the ocean in their own rooms! 

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Frog and Toad Opinion Writing and Art Project

Today I want to share a cute project that my class completed to celebrate Frog and Toad. My students LOVE the Frog and Toad stories and as you can see in this post, we learned so much about the central message by reading the adventures of these characters.

I wanted to showcase our knowledge of these characters in an exciting way, so I had my students write an opinion piece on their favorite character. I had them choose their favorite character and tell me the reasons they liked this character the best. I think there are definite "Frog people" and "Toad people". "Frog people" usually love his kindness and enjoy his great advice. "Toad people" think his stubborn ways are hilarious and enjoy his silly antics. It was interesting to see which students chose Frog and which students chose Toad. Some of my students really surprised me with their choices!

We then created scenes from the stories we read and I taught the students how to draw both Frog and Toad and a few scenes from the various books. The students outlined their characters and scenes with black marker. Then they used watercolor pencil to color in the scenes. The watercolor allows 6 and 7 year-old fingers to get the pigment right where it needs to be. Then I had them use a small brush and water to make the paint blend nicely. We then used a pop-up method to help our characters pop out of their scene.

My students LOVED this project and it is one I will use year after year. Frog and Toad are classic characters and they are perfect for a first grade study of characters and central message!

If you want to check out my Frog and Toad Together Unit click here or check out this post!

Happy Teaching!!