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February Writing Freebie

I wanted to share a fun February writing freebie I have in my TPT store.  It is a February set of my "Let's Write!" series.
You can head here to download this set.
These writing pages can be used in SO many ways in your classroom.  

They work great for morning work because the consistent format lets students get started right away without needing instructions.  
They also work great at a writing center.  I focus on students starting their sentences with capital letters and ending their sentences with punctuation.
The Abe Lincoln and George Washington sheets could be used as part of a Social Studies lesson.
Seven sheets are included: three Valentine's sheets, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Groundhog's Day, and We Love Mail.
I hope you enjoy this freebie!  
You can head here to download this set.  
Happy February!

United States Symbols Lapbook

An interactive lapbook is a fun way to teach about United States Symbols. I recommend teaching one symbol each day.  Start with a book, video, or internet resource to teach about the individual symbol.  I love using the website PebbleGo, if your school has a subscription.
Click here to see the lapbook in my TPT store.

Here are the individual projects:
Students fold and glue to create the front cover of the lapbook.

The Bald Eagle


The Statue of Liberty

The United States Flag

 The Lincoln Memorial

 The Washington Monument

The Liberty Bell

and Mount Rushmore

My favorite project is the map.  Students draw lines to connect the projects to where they are located in the United States.  It helps students to see how many of our United States Symbols are located in Washington, D.C.
Click here to grab the lapbook in my TPT store.

Close Reading for Winter- Paired Texts

Today I wanted to share with you one of my Paired Text Units.  This unit is perfect for coming back to school in January.  It is for the books Animals In Winter by Henrietta Bancroft and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.
I really enjoy pairing a fiction and non-fiction books on similar topics.  It is a great way to be sure and get a 50/50 balance of narrative and expository texts.  It is fun for students, and a great way to introduce close-reading to beginning readers.

In Animals In Winter the authors explore the different ways animals survive in the winter such as hibernating, migrating, storing food, and no special adaptations.  It explores two or more animals that fit each category.  The text has amazing illustrations.   
A "pre-write" of what students already know on the topic is a great way to begin.  I have included themed paper in the unit, but you could also have students write this in their journal, or on plain paper. Next, read aloud the story and give students some time to discuss what they learned with partners or small groups.
The next day introduce the vocabulary: migrate, hibernate, gather food, and nothing. (The set has these great little cards ready to print with the vocabulary and a definition.)  As you read, have students listen for the different animals, and which category they fit into.  Then you are ready to sort the animal picture cards.  You can create an anchor chart or use a pocket chart to sort.  
There is also a student sheet, for students to cut and sort the animals into the categories. 
 Read the story several times throughout the week.  Students should now be ready to work on Main Idea/Details.  The sheet has the main idea already listed for students to scaffold their learning.  I have also included pictures of some of the animals by each bubble.  This supports students in remembering details from the text.
The last activity for this story is a close study of a diagram.  I have included a questioning guide to help you lead this activity. 
After the discussion, students complete three facts they learned about woodchucks from the diagram.

In the classic story The Snowy Day we follow along with a little boy named Peter and his adventures in the snow.  This book won the Caldecott Medal for the illustrations, which are very unique, and an important part of telling the story.
A questioning guide is included to guide your discussion for both a first, and second reading of the text. Click here to download the first days questioning guide.
The second reading focuses on noticing the illustrations and how they help to tell the story.
A story map is included.
Students think more deeply about the character Peter by exploring what he thought, saw, and did with his hands and feet.

Students also compare themselves to Peter by thinking about what they like to do on a snowy day.

Want to learn more about this set?  Click here.

Opinion Writing

Teaching opinion writing can be a lot of fun in First Grade. Firsties have LOTS of opinions, and they love to share them!

Here are a few ideas that have helped me to teach opinion writing to first graders.

Start by teaching students how to write a topic sentence.  I have found that having an anchor chart with sentence starters for students to refer to is super helpful.  I like to create the chart in front of the students.  It might look something like this:

Once the chart is completed, hang it in the room for students to be able to refer to throughout the year.  

I also find it works best to start SLOW!  At the beginning of the year, I like for students to be able to write a topic sentence and two reason sentences. I like to do modeled writing in front of the kids before I ask them to do it on their own. If that is too much for your students, then start with a topic sentence with one reason sentence, or teach students to use "because" as a linking word.
As the year progresses, we will add a third reason.  By the middle to end of the year, we will be able to write a five sentence paragraph with topic sentence, three reasons, and a closing sentence.

Usually the hardest part for Firsties is thinking of good reasons for their opinions.  I love using a “Discussion Web” to help develop this skill.

This is a simple strategy to use.  I like to gather students around me by the easel.  Start by having a question in the middle of your chart, and two columns on the sides.  It should be a question that can have strong opinions on both sides.  The chart above has More/Less as headings but you could also have Yes/No, or other headings as needed. Then lead the class in a discussion of both view points. List student responses on the chart.  Then students are ready to complete an opinion writing piece on the question.

Last, have fun with opinion writing!  There are so many great topics students can write about.  I have created a chart to get your started.  You can download it here.

Looking for more great writing ideas? Check out my Writing Interactive Notebook for First Grade.

Christmas in July!!!

Hi Everyone!  I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July and are enjoying some much needed R and R. 
I am joining up today with other I Teach K-2 bloggers to bring you lots of treats this month!!!  We decided it was the perfect time to celebrate Christmas in July!  

Let's start with a freebie!  All of the bloggers have a special freebie for you on their blogs!  Just follow the links at the end of the post. 
You can click here to grab this freebie.

Here is the freebie I am sharing!  It is so great for the beginning of the year.  It has two activities, a "Find Someone Who" with lots of picture clues that is perfect for primary student
 An interest inventory is also included.  
Use it to get to know more about your students the first week of school!

Next, all the I Teach K-2 bloggers are throwing a sale!  I know many of you are already prepping for back to school.  Here is a great chance to head to our stores and stock up!

The sale is running now through July 9.

We are also having gift card giveaways! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter for your chance to win these AMAZING prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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