Tuesday, May 29, 2012


This week we spent our phonics and whole group reading blocks on the magic of Cinderella.  The girls loved it, the boys put up with it (unfortunately my library transfer request for Cinder Fella didn't come in). I promised them that I would make it up to them by dedicating the last week of school to a true modern day fairy tale...Shrek.  This did the trick.

As usual, we began our week with a four square organizer with the major story elements that we are studying - character, setting, problem and solution. This time we broke the character column into two sections, good characters and evil characters.  This really only became a problem when deciding where to put Cinderella's father, since in every version we read he was mentioned but never elaborated on.  We began with an original version, Cinderella by Kinuko Craft.  Some of the wording was a bit difficult and since I teach an ESOL class I had to explain a bit of vocabulary, but overall they enjoyed the story and the beautiful illustrations. 

For writing this week, I created a "How To" writing activity about how to get Cinder_____(enter student's first name) to the ball.  We first reviewed the sequence of events that occurred after Cinderella met her fairy godmother who then helped her transform ordinary objects into magical ones.  From there we had a mini-lesson review on how-to writing, which we have done a bit of this year.  I modeled using some elements that were true to the story, and some that I changed.  I then set the kids free to brainstorm their own objects to transform into magical elements.  We had pizzas, crayons, and dogs that were turned into various objects to help CinderCarlos (ex.) to the ball.  Funny how many students wound up with a batmobile like finale.  Here are the writing pages that I created for this activity.  

                                                                      Get it FREE here

We worked on the writing all week and it came out really great.  We didn't have much time to create an art activity to go with it, so we created a Reward Poster for our missing shoes to go along with the unit.  The version I created is here.

                                                   Grab it here

I did create a template for creating our own carriage which I ran out of time to use, but I am including it here.
                                                  Carriage Template

We continued reading various versions of the story throughout the week.  Not as diverse as I had hoped, but our school library was a bit limited.  I am hoping my wish list materials will be here in time for next year's unit.  We worked on our writing daily, and I purchased a great unit from First Grade Fabulous Fish.  I purchased the unit on Teachers Pay Teachers at:

We wrote about what we would wish for from our Fairy Godmothers and also used her ABC order to practice our alphabet skills.  The kids loved the colorful vocabulary cards as well.  I used them in my classroom writing center.  I also purchased her entire Fairy Tale unit as well at:

which was WONDERFUL.  Great activities for literacy stations and especially templates for the Writing center.  Here is our version of her Fairy Godmother writing.
Finally, after a busy, action packed well in Cinderella-land, we wrapped up with our hallway display. 

Not quite as fancy as our Jack and the Beanstalk unit, but still not so bad.  :)  Next week, on to the Three Little Pigs!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Let the Fairy Tale Adventure Begin!

This past week has begun my absolute favorite part of the school year (and no, I don't mean the countdown to summer vacation :).  We started a seven week unit on fairy tales!  We have seven first grade classes, and so each of us teaches a different fairy tale each week, so that we can share materials and have all versions available to our kiddos in the classroom library and big book stations.  The only problem with this approach is that at Library resource this week I discovered how much my students love fairy tales as well when they went looking to check them out, but the teachers already had them!  I quickly put in a wish list for our librarian to hopefully order additional copies for next year.

My class began with my favorite tale - Jack and the beanstalk.  I purchased "Once Upon a Time (Fairy Tales for Little Learners)" from teachinginhighheels.blogspot.com.  Here is a link directly to the package on teacherspayteachers.com.  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Once-Upon-a-Time-a-Fairy-Tales-Unit-for-Little-Learners.  It had a great way to introduce the unit with colorful charts which described fairy tales, folktales, and fables.  We always focus on four key elements when reading fairy tales:  character, setting, problem and solution.  We create a four square chart for the original version, and continue to add to the chart in different color marker for each version that we read.  It can get a little busy, but I have found that it works better for the kids to see all of the information in one place.  We spent the week reading a variety of different versions.  Here are a few that we have read:

The base of my writing and phonics activities came from a site I found on pinterest.  http://mrsbumgardners1stgradeclass.blogspot.com/2011/04/earth-day-plants.html.

We completed the ABC order beanstalks and also our very own books "_______ and the Beanstalk".  I stapled three empty pages onto each book and focused on the writing mini-lessons that we had done on beginning, middle, and end as a reference.  I found it was helpful to the kids to have an idea of what should go on which page.  It also prevented the three sentence "I'm done!" culprits from trying that one.
We did our mini-lesson on Monday, and for the rest of the week the kids had writers workshop to work on their stories.  I cut it a bit short this week because I was very ambitious when I came across yet ANOTHER incredible art activity on pinterest....

This one is from http://paintedpaperintheartroom.blogspot.com/2012/03/fe-fi-fo-fum-jack-and-beanstalk.html.  We began this on Monday and did a bit each day before finally finishing on Thursday. Once I had finally displayed all of our hard work the walls outside room 501 looked pretty amazing if I do say so myself!

Next week, it's on to Cinderella!