Sunday, December 16, 2018

Happy Holidays, Christmas Crunch, and New Year!!

Hello Everyone!!
Gahhhhhhh!!  I hate how long it has been since my last post!  I don't have to tell you, though, how busy this time of year is!  We, of course have had a ton going on at school, but we also have had some wonderful things going on personally.  My oldest son has finally popped the question to his loooooong time girlfriend!!!  We couldn't be filled with more joy!  Jordan and Jenny who live up in Cleveland, Ohio, and are in the broadcast arena, are so great with and for each other.  So incredibly blessed!!  
Amid the family time, the celebrations, and the travel, I was able to put together a couple of new things for the holidays, a Christmas Crunch activity, and an Ultra mini New Year Unit.  Thank you to those who e-mailed as asked for the updated version from last year.
First, the Cap'n Crunch Christmas Crunch mini, mini unit includes a math review and a cr word work activity. 

If you want a little sweet, crunchy fun added to your last week before break, grab a box of Christmas Crunch (I got mine at Target) and print off the unit.

Next, I have an ultra mini new year unit for you!!  Finally! Sorry it has taken me so long!

That's it for now!  I have got to get started on my gifts for my kiddos! Time is running out!! 

If I don't get back to posting before Christmas, I hope you know how much I appreciate your sticking with me, being patient with me, and supporting this little blog. I want to thank you for what you do for kids! The world is a better place because you care about kids!  Have a wonderful holiday season and a most blessed 
New Year!!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Kindness and Santa's Sack of CK Words

Hello Everyone!
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving break.   We had so much lovely family time filled with cooking, laughing, playing games, reminiscing, getting Christmas stuff up, shopping, and showing kindness in so many ways.  I am truly a little sad to see it winding down, the last of the feast gobbled up, and family going home.

Over the week off I did have some time to think back to the teachers who have made the greatest impact on my life.  All the ones who came to mind are the ones who were kind. Showing kindness helps to establish trust and rapport, which in my case opened the door to learning. Even discipline was more effective when administered with kindness. I have tried to show that to my own children as they grew, and I strive to show that same kindness to my students.  Some days are harder than others.  Days when I'm not as organized as I should be, when the kids just aren't getting "it," or when the interruptions keeeeeeep coming (You know those days!). I am absolutely going to work my very hardest to be the example of kindness I know I can be.  
Speaking of kindness, my kids learned all about the kindness of both the Pilgrims and the Native Americans during the first few years of life in the New World.  Here are a few pics of our celebration of that kindness.

Getting Ready For The Feast!

A Cornucopia of Fun For Dessert!


I love their words so much! 

My first act of kindness after this break is to share a quick little unit with you!  "Santa's Sack of -CK Words"  is a quick, fun little intro and practice of when to use ck at the ends of words. We are tackling that tricky spelling rule this week.  Here's what I came up with!

If you have that spelling rule coming up in the next few weeks, you can get this little mini unit...

I hope your week back is filled with much kindness!
Till next time...thank you for stopping by this little window on wonder! 


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Matter Matters

Hello Everyone!
I hope you're having a great weekend!! It has finally stopped raining here and we were able to get outside for a bit.  The sunshine felt so good!!  And the dogs....They were so ready to play, play, play!!  We finally wore them out, so it's now time to get some school stuff done! 
We have parent/teacher conferences tomorrow all day, so my first big job was to get ready for that, organizing test scores, writing samples, math notebook samples, etc.  I really love meeting with parents and sharing what their little ones are working on. And getting to know my kids better by getting to know their parents is so incredibly helpful!!! I'm very thankful for a full day to meet with everyone!
So, with that all organized, I now have time to share my new Matter unit with you.  It has a little bit of everything for our young scientists, but there is an emphasis this year on the properties of matter, and not so much the states of matter. Here are some quick pics!

I will take some pictures this week of kids working on this.  Hopefully I'll have time to share those in a bit!  Till then, here's the link to the downloadable unit so you can get started too!!!  I hope you and yours have as much fun as my kids have had so far!

Thanks for stopping by this little blog!  If you have any questions, problems, or concerns, please don't hesitate to holler at me! I am not too sure the comment section has been working lately, so just email me!

Thanks, All!!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

"Water" You Writing? And a Year of First Grade Word Work

Hello Everyone!
I truly can't even believe that it has been so long since my last post!  I am sooooo sorry! It just seems as if I have been barely staying afloat this year.  We have had some huge events going on, both at school and on the home/personal front.  
My goal for today is to fill you in on what we've been doing in writing and in word work. I writing we are working hard on expressing ourselves in small moments.  This year I wanted to use the well documented "Watermelon vs Seed" analogy for focusing on small moments.  In the past I've used "Catch a Small Moment" and a "Pea" idea.  But I know that the upper grades use the watermelon idea, so, alas!  Here I go as well!  
I started off reading Watermelon Party which is a fun little example of small moments, and of course, it's about a watermelon!

 Then we talked about the difference between a watermelon story and a seed story. We sorted some cards on an anchor chart.

I showed the kids how I would make the difference in my writing by finding the seed stories in my watermelon story.

 And they got busy with theirs!

We put the seed ideas up to help remind ourselves of the seeds!!!

Here are a few pics of what is included in my "Water" You Writing?" ultra mini unit.

I have already seen a difference in my kids' writing!!  Our small moments are growing into amazing stories!!

Next up?  Word Work! I get a ton of e-mail asking what I do for Word Work/ Spelling with my first graders.
Here you go!
The unit I'm sharing includes the reasoning behind our word work or spelling practice. We tend to use a Scientific Spelling type influence to our spelling practice. It is a curricular idea that teaches students to spell words they do not know by using reliable patterns and rules of the English language.
We believe spelling instruction should be ongoing, daily, and purposeful.  Instruction should be interrelated and interconnected with all strands of language.  The primary focus of instruction should be on teaching a variety of effective spelling strategies, rather than on just memorizing lists of words.  Students must be given opportunities to work with words, to proofread their own writing, and to study spelling patterns.  The key to spelling development is the understanding and application of spelling strategies that enable students to become independent and competent spellers.
In first grade we focus on one scientific rule at a time along with some high frequency words. This unit give some ideas for sequencing, brainstorming, activities, and ways to check student mastery throughout the first grade year.

A Sample of our Brainstorming sheet

This 190+ page unit could keep you on track for the entire first grade year. We start during the 4th week of school after reviewing letters and sounds, vowels and consonants, abc order, word wall, high frequency words from kinder, etc.
Kids take home their brainstorming sheet, generate more words for "homework" with parents. We take a "spell check" on Fridays, and allow kids to write words from the list we generated or words they came up with!  They love our Spell Check time!  All spell Check sheets are kept in a folder so we can watch growth and progress. I love how we allow differentiation, and self selected words.  We of course, also watch for use of the spelling rules to show up in their written expression. That's when we really smile!!
If you are at all interested in trying what we have developed for word work/spelling...good news! I have the link below! I am happy to share my recipe for success in spelling.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask away! Email or comment.

Well, thanks for hanging in there through all of this and for being patient with me! You all are the best!  I hope you are off to a great start this year.  If I can help with anything, please let me know!! I love hearing
 from you!
Nancy VandenBerge