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A week of spiders {How do you fit it all in?}
5 Oct, 2013. 7 Comments. A Day In First Grade, Crafts, First Grade, First Grade Science, Kindergarten Science, Science, Writing. Posted By: Kristen Smith
This past week we went CRAZY for spiders. My students LOVED every.single.minute of each day and they came out stronger readers, writers and math students. How? by the power of engagement and interest. I will go down to my grave raving about teaching with themes. Every 1-2 weeks I change the theme in my classroom and use it to help me teach whatever objectives we are learning about. This week our learning objectives were: phonics: decoding words, improving our fluency and working on our word attack skills. 
Our target skills were: understanding what a  sentence is and writing them, writing stories (using sentences), adjectives and understanding characters. 
In Math we were studying time, addition sentences and number concepts with a number line. 
I am lucky because I have the whole morning until 11:10 with my students without any interruptions. This allows me to fit in a whole lot of learning in the morning. When I start a theme (Mondays), I generally start my morning with a K,WL. I ask my students what they know about the theme and they share with the person they sit next to everything they know. As they are doing that, I jot their facts on post it notes and post them on an anchor chart. 
I then will read a Non Fiction book to my class to begin to build more schema. Throughout the first day we will watch short youtube videos during our transitions and during snack and I will let them take my non fiction books and put them in their book boxes for Daily 5. They love reading with a partner on these days and sharing all the “cool” things they are learning. 
On Monday of this week we made spider poems which reinforced our grammar skills that we had been working on. {We did this in the afternoon from 2:10-2:40}
The poem is super simple. It goes:
Spider
verb, verb, verb
adjective, adjective, adjective
Spider
I called back my students 4 at a time to paint their hands and create their spiders. I always do these type of projects at my guided reading table and only let a few students come back at a time. The rest of the class was busy working at centers during this time. 
For crafts that involve paint I always have an extra piece of construction paper ready for “my mess” (the paint brush, paint and ‘trash’) I also use baby wipes to help clean the kids up before they go to the bathroom to wash their hands. For this craft you paint the kids’ hands but leave out their thumb. 
 I turn the paper so it’s easy for the kids to make a handprint and then repaint their hand. Then I turn the paper around and have them make another handprint (in the opposite direction) on top of their first hand print. This gets rid of the hole! 
 Then after they dry, we added google eyes and their poems! 
{These are now hanging from our ceiling!LOVE!!}
On Tuesday and Wednesday my morning consists of literacy centers and small groups. I lay out the centers on our tables and we go over the expectations of each center as a class. I only allow two students per center to keep the volume level down and the engagement high! 
This week my centers were: sorting sentences for facts and opinions,

 

unscrambling spider sentences,
and they worked with spider vocabulary.
 In the vocabulary center my students matched their words to the definitions and then recorded them in their Spider Vocabulary Books.
They even used the vocabulary words in sentences and drew pictures to help them remember their new words. {My students took these books home to teach their parents about their new words. My parents loved hearing all the big science words their children were learning.}
I was able to have guided reading groups in which I used a few Reading A-Z books and also the curriculum books. My students loved the “tarantula” book from Reading A-Z. {level K}
 
And my other students did read to self (with spider books), and used Starfall and ABCya on the computers. 
My students LOVED these centers. At the end of each “rotation” I brought them back to the rug and my students could share something interesting they learned. My students loved showing off their fact and opinion books, their favorite pages and facts from the spider books and using the new vocabulary they learned. 
During this time I was able to help students with our phonics patterns for the week, help students in small groups on vocabulary, confer with students and use our curriculum pieces. My students learned so much and really liked working together. (I grouped my students heterogeneously. This allowed everyone to be successful!)
In writing {this happens from 12:30-1:00} this week we focused on characters and created our own characters inspired by Eric Carle. My students worked on this for 3 days. The first day we painted on white construction paper using sponges and two colors. (We did this after we read “The Vey Busy Spider.”) We painted in the afternoon from 2:20-2:40.
The next afternoon my students created spiders out of their two pieces of construction paper. They used sharpies to add in details such as hair and and fangs and glued the pieces together. 
 They also added details to their black piece of construction paper. 

 

During writing we went over the difference between non fiction and fiction stories and wrote stories about our spiders. 
Here’s what they looked like after we attached our stories to them! I love how they came out!! 
{Kid writing}
This week we also had a visitor in our classroom. “Wolf Spider,” as he came to be called, spent three days with us and now has kids begging parents to get pet tarantulas. Whoops!! 
 On Thursday afternoon after a lesson on spider webs, we created glitter webs.
 To do this all you need is 2-30 minutes, enough glue bottles for 4-5 students, black construction paper, a box, and glitter. 
We made our webs with glue and then put the paper inside a box. (to contain the mess) 
 I had my students sprinkle glitter over their webs inside the box.
 Then you gently shake it to cover all the glue with glitter. 
 
{These are also hanging from the ceiling!}
On Friday for our Science activity we created edible webs! 
For this you need white melting chocolate, mini pretzel sticks, a microwave, a microwave safe bowl, ziplock baggies, scissors, wax paper and sprinkles. 
Melt the chocolate in the microwave while your students are creating their webs out of pretzel sticks. 
Next pour the melted chocolate into ziplock baggies for each kid, snip the corner and have them make a web of white chocolate. Last, add sprinkles to the web.
 I let my kids lick their baggies before they threw them away. {This may have been their favorite part!}
When the webs harden (we waited about 30 minutes) your students can enjoy a YUMMY treat! 
Using themes, centers and my afternoons as my science extension time I am able to fit these projects in and the kids learn SO much. I didn’t get to write about our math time but if you click on the picture of the web you can read my blog post from earlier this week about a spider themed activity that we did during our math block.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions as to how I fit it all in and gives you some ideas that you can use in your classroom. If you would like any of the centers, they are all available in my “All about Spiders” pack. My students LOVED it and I’m sure yours will, too! Click on the button below to get taken to it! 

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7 Comments
  1. Wow! It is so inspiring how you fit it all in, meet your standards, and have a great time! I have never taught thematically before this year, but I am definitely persuaded to try it out more! Thanks for your great ideas!

    Bethany
    Ship Shape First Grade

  2. Amen, Sista! I still say it too….Thematic Units cross all curricular areas…..and creates Lifelong Learners because interest is high…..and students dig deep! AWESOME job!

  3. Do you have to do worksheets from a curriculum? I have to use ABeka and am trying to find time to get the worksheets done (which I have to do) and have engaging centers!

  4. I agree about themes but we have to fit them in around our other mandated curriculum. It just takes is a bit longer to complete the theme.

  5. I just love those spider webs and your spider craft! It looks like your kids had a great week. I love the thematic units too. It also makes teaching more interesting for us, not just the kids! :)
    Sarah
    Sarah’s First Grade Snippets

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Love all of your fun spider activities! I’d love for you to come share on our After School Linky Party. It’s been a spider theme the past two weeks! I think we’re doing a spider themed Halloween Party for our class this year, should be lots of fun! Here’s the After School Party Link. http://theeducatorsspinonit.blogspot.com/2013/10/spider-writing-prompt-after-school.html

7 Comments

  • Wow! It is so inspiring how you fit it all in, meet your standards, and have a great time! I have never taught thematically before this year, but I am definitely persuaded to try it out more! Thanks for your great ideas!

    Bethany
    Ship Shape First Grade

  • Amen, Sista! I still say it too….Thematic Units cross all curricular areas…..and creates Lifelong Learners because interest is high…..and students dig deep! AWESOME job!

  • Do you have to do worksheets from a curriculum? I have to use ABeka and am trying to find time to get the worksheets done (which I have to do) and have engaging centers!

  • I agree about themes but we have to fit them in around our other mandated curriculum. It just takes is a bit longer to complete the theme.

  • I just love those spider webs and your spider craft! It looks like your kids had a great week. I love the thematic units too. It also makes teaching more interesting for us, not just the kids! :)
    Sarah
    Sarah’s First Grade Snippets

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • Love all of your fun spider activities! I’d love for you to come share on our After School Linky Party. It’s been a spider theme the past two weeks! I think we’re doing a spider themed Halloween Party for our class this year, should be lots of fun! Here’s the After School Party Link. http://theeducatorsspinonit.blogspot.com/2013/10/spider-writing-prompt-after-school.html

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