Sunday, January 27, 2013

I'm Hosting My First Linky Party! Lunar New Year Ideas (+ Freebies!)

February is such a busy month for all elementary teachers and it's coming up! Just thinking about it makes me tired...all the holidays in this month (Groundhog Day, 100th day, Valentine's Day, President's Day, Lunar New Year) and all the assessing (DIBELS and district math benchmark). For such a short month, we have SO MANY things to get done. Good luck to all the teachers out there who are busy preparing for this crazy month!

But I have news! Lately, I've been joining a couple of linky parties that I've found while catching up on blog reading (so many to read!) and have found a couple of the weekly or monthly ones that I like. I recently saw a linky party (can't remember where I found it) for February holidays but it didn't include Lunar New Year! So I thought, hm, why not start a linky party for that! And here it is! (My first time hosting!)

I'll have to admit, Lunar New Year, or as many people call it, Chinese New Year, is probably one of my favorite lessons to teach. The reason? Well, I'm Chinese so it's the time when I can share my language and culture with my classroom. I am lucky that my school also celebrates this holiday by having a school-wide Lunar New Year parade. Many of the classrooms (including mine) have a luncheon before the parade and the students get to try a variety of Asian foods like potstickers, fried rice, cha shu, etc. I haven't exactly planned everything for Lunar New Year as the day of our parade is still a couple weeks away on February 22nd (Lunar New Year's is actually on February 9th, but it's a two week celebration), but I did want to share some of the things I did last year and plan to do again this year. I'm sure you will hear more about my Lunar New Year plans as we get closer to the actual date! :)

We're all about songs in first grade, so of course I have to introduce to the kids one of the traditional songs you will here during Chinese New Year!

I also went ahead and typed up the lyrics to the first verse and chorus using simplified and traditional Chinese characters along with the romanization and English translation. My first graders last year had a blast with the song and video and they begged me to play it over and over again. I swear, I played the video at least 10 times that day. By the end of the day, they were definitely able to sing the chorus!
Click on the image above to get your own copy!
I also did a fun (and challenging for some) chopstick math activity. I bought some small pieces of candies that I thought would be somewhat easy to pick up with chopsticks like mini marshmallows, gummy bears, and licorice bits. The kids were then given a set amount of time and had to use chopsticks to pick up as many items as they could and transfer them from the cup to their paper towel. It was definitely an interesting thing to watch since all the kids had different levels of exposure to chopsticks so some came up with some very creative ways to pick things up. Once they were done, they had to complete the worksheet below before they were allowed to eat the stuff the picked up. The kids had a blast!
Click on the image above to get your own copy!
That's all for now! Check back for more ideas for Lunar New Years as I come up with crafts and other lessons to do. Please link up if you have ideas to share too! Let's also try to follow the rule of three: visit and comment on the two links before yours and come back later to visit and comment the link after yours. Link away! Make sure to mention the linky party on your blog so that others can join too! Thanks! :)

Classroom Freebies Manic MondayFreebie Fridays
 TBA's Ultimate Linky Party

Saturday, January 26, 2013

TGIF! Five for Friday

My goodness! Even though this was a short week it was definitely an EXHAUSTING one. You know how right when we came back from winter break I mentioned how my kids were doing surprisingly well? Well, the coma is over, and we are all awake...a little TOO awake. This week was the first week I threatened to send a kid to the office. Some kids have gotten to become REALLY good friends and just won't stop talking no matter how much distance I put between them. T_T

On a positive note, the week is over! I really like this Five for Friday linky party that Doodle Bugs Teaching hosts. Hopefully I can get myself to keep joining on a weekly basis!

1. Seattle - Monday is still part of the week even if it was a holiday right? :) So I had Monday off due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I took advantage of the long weekend by going on a mini vacation to Seattle with my boyfriend and friend. It was a great trip! We entered Seattle in the fog and left Seattle in the fog. Read more about it in a previous post.
Entering Seattle
At the airport, ready to leave Seattle. 
2. Clay Fish - My class has been blessed with an awesome art docent (parent volunteer). All I did was tell her what art concepts we need to learn in first grade, and she comes up with all the lessons and materials for each lesson. She comes up with some awesome art lessons that I hope to share some day! Anyways, we are learning about texture right now and so my art docent thought it would be a good time for the kids to do something with clay. so we made clay fish!

3. Handwriting Certificates - We finally finished our handwriting book! We use the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. I find this an accomplishment since we were nowhere near finished with my class last year. It was also very exciting because the kids received "neat handwriting" certificates for completing the book and getting a "perfect" stamp on their penmanship assessment. I told the kids that there's no turning back once they got their certificates. It was a pretty big thing to them! It's a wonder how kids can get super excited just from receiving a piece of paper. :)

Got the certificate from Teaching With Love & Laughter freebie.  Click on the image to get it yourself!
(P.S. See how some of the text is blurred out in the screenshot above? That's what I get on some of my pdf files when I open them. Anybody know how to fix this? I am using a MacBook Pro if that makes a difference. Thanks for the help!)

4. Terrariums - Our Science unit on plants and animals is my favorite to teach because the curriculum we have provides some really good hands-on activities. So far, we have grown mini lawns (rye grass and alfalfa) and "planted" wheat seeds in straws. Today, we made our terrariums with earthworms and pill bugs! My first batch of live specimen accidentally froze in my classroom fridge. But I ordered new ones and we got them all on time. The kids had a blast as did all the parent helpers who came to help!
Hopefully our worms survive the weekend! They tend to die super fast. :(
5. TGIF! Went out for dessert with a friend and colleague. Ran into a former student there which is always bound to happen when you go out to a well-known place in the area. Where did we go?

Yup, that's right! The famous Fenton's Creamery in the Pixar movie, Up. That's not what it really looks like but it's more famous than before now that it's made it into a movie!

Okay, that took longer than I thought. Hope you enjoyed reading! Have a wonderful weekend! :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Family Math Night

Does your school have any school-wide evening events? Well, my school has a couple, one of them being Family Math Night.

What is Family Math Night? It's basically a night of math, math, and more math! Each grade level has a station set up with a variety of math activities. Parents bring their kids to school and visit the different stations and work on math activities together. It's a great family bonding time, especially if parents don't usually have time to get involved.

The first grade station...Penny Math!

 The third grade station was already set up so I went ahead and took pictures of it too.

The families who came had a great time! Does your school have events like these? If so, please leave a comment to share what your school does! :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Long Weekend = Teacher Vaca!!

Boy, did this long weekend come just in time! Normally, I look forward to the look weekend as a time to just sit and do absolutely nothing. But now that the boyfriend is working full-time and we are sort of long distance (an hour drive), the long weekend was also a perfect time for a mini vacation. Good thing my boyfriend also works for the government so we have some holidays together. Southwest was having a sale and so we booked a trip to Seattle! I also have a friend in Vancouver, so she met up with us in Seattle too. 

I am so glad I made that trip! It was freezing (in my standards) and foggy for most of it but at least we got a sunny half of the day at some point. :)

A quick recap of what we did...
Evidence of how foggy it was when we landed. We missed the runway the first time and had to go back up and try again.
We went up the Space Needle and had brunch at the Sky City Restaurant (the revolving restaurant).  
The fog half lifted so we still got a view from our seats. 
The entree of my brunch!  French toast with hazelnut cream!!!
We also went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Awesome place!
Morning food tour at Pike Place Market. Awesome food, great tour guide. If you're ever in Seattle, check out Savor Food Tours. (I am NOT being paid to say this. :D)

Roamed around Pike Place Market after which included visiting the infamous gum wall.
We also checked out the Olympic Structure Park.
Lovely Space Needle shot at night!
A foggy farewell from Seattle. View from the airport.

 The best thing about this trip. I did not take any teacher stuff with me! It was a true vacation from work. I'll admit, I did check my teacher email and sent out one email. But that was it! So proud of myself. :)

How did you spend your long weekend (for the other fortunate teachers like me who got one)? :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Help Mend a Broken Heart! (Fundraiser)

To friends in the blogging community and others who happen to just stop by this blog, please take a minute to read about Katelyn, a second grade student in Indiana, who is currently awaiting a new heart by visiting Fun in First Grade. This young child has so much ahead of her, please consider leaving a donation to help her family raise enough money to cover the cost of a heart transplant. As a thank you, donors who contribute $25 or more will receive 22 teaching products (total value $130) created by awesome teachers from all over the country. If you are a teacher, this is a great thing to receive. Even if you're not a teacher, these products would be great gifts to give teacher you know! Please consider donating! :)

(I wish I could more articulate with my thoughts right now but this week has just been TIRING!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Weather Haikus

We are currently reading about weather for our Language Arts unit. Either the kids have matured over winter break or they are truly interested in weather because my class has so many interesting questions and comments from our reading! Before, we would just zoom through our reading in our Big Book and the kids would have nothing to say. But now, there is always at least one hand raised after I read a page in the book!

Earlier this week, we read a poem called Listen to the Rain. My original idea for the follow-up activity was to do another mini-lesson on adjectives (since the last time we talked about adjectives was on Halloween) on rain. But then I wanted them to also do some writing too and somehow I ended up with the idea of creating weather haikus. We have never looked at haikus before so I had to introduce the 5-7-5 syllable rule to them. Came up with my own haikus to give the kids an example.

 This was definitely a challenge for some kids but overall, they had tons of fun writing their haikus. They were required to have a friend check their syllable count before they could bring their haiku to me to check. It was great seeing the students work together to double-check their work.

I am so proud of them! They did a good job! :)