Exploring Ancient Egypt: Classroom Ideas

Each year my school has Global Night where every class learns about a different part of the world and shares this information with families and classmates. My first grade team combines this event with our Cinderella unit. My class is reading Egyptian Cinderella  so naturally, my kiddos are loving learning about Egypt!
We started by reading lots of informational books about Egypt. We used this great video clip from YouTube and founds tons of others on United Steaming (Discovery Education). We loved going on these virtual tours. We found this great online game with tons of information too!
My craft store shopping addiction came in handy when I scored these super adorable figurines! I love how the little 3-D toys give my firsties a better understanding.
We made a different project each day to display at our Global Night. One day we created stone tablets following this recipe (salt and sand dough) and allowed it to harden overnight. The dough didn't quite turn out right (had to use sandbox sand..oops) but the kids still enjoyed it. We then learned about hieroglyphics and practiced writing our own on the dough with permanent markers.
Students used water colors to paint the pyramids. (We do not have time for much painting throughout the year and I thought my little guys were going to lose their minds!So exciting)
After learning about the clothing and jewelry many of the Pharaohs wore, we created our own. I used this crown template and students could choose the version they liked best. We also created large neck pieces by cutting the center out of a regular paper plate. This blog post was my inspiration and includes step by step directions. We added glitter glue and sparkles to spice them up!

After we were all experts on Ancient Egypt I divided everyone into partners. Each pair used chart paper to write a paragraph about their topic. They did so well! Some of our topics included Pharaohs, Animals, The Sphinx, Pyramids, Mummies/Tombs, Hieroglyphics, and the Nile River.

Now like I tell my students, I went to teacher school...not art school. So, I had to improvise. I found a black and white line drawing (like a coloring book page) of the Sphinx and a Sarcophagus. I copied and pasted the image into a smartboard file and froze the screen (so I wouldnt keep moving the image or clicking the wrong buttons). I taped large white bulletin board paper to the board and simply traced each image. Kids then worked to color in each part. Seriously, it was like a life sized coloring book and they were ALL about it.
We then took our finished art pieces, chart papers, and decorations and hung them in the hallway. I found some cool shiney paper at the craft store to create 3-D pyramids to pop off of the walls. We had so much fun learning about Egypt! For added fun, I suggest this Ancient Egypt music video- my kids cracked up!

Do you have Global Night at your school?
What is your favorite place to learn about?
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Opinion Writing: Tips & a Freebie

I must admit, I was so excited when we recently began our opinion writing unit. In fact...I accidentally planned for it 3 weeks before I was supposed to- oops! Hopefully today I can share a few ideas from my classroom..because in my opinion, this writing unit is the most fun!

 We began by discussing the difference between facts and opinions. This concept is a tricky one for my first graders to grasp. After providing them with multiple examples, we dove right in to some sorting. One way to help them remember was by defining a fact as something they would find in an informational text, not something they could argue. An opinion means people may have different views and believe that their thinking is correct.

I then used my Fact & Opinion Movement Sort by hanging the Opinion Ocean sign on one side of my classroom and Real Reef on the other. I read each statement while students "swam" to the correct sign. This worked well to get them up and moving and was also an easy way for me to spot who understood the concept and who was simply following others. If you want to try this Freebie in your classroom be sure to click one of the pictures below.

Once we mastered the difference between facts and opinions, we thought about topics students may have an opinion about. The majority of these turned into conversations about their favorites (foods, movies, toys, etc.). I allowed the discussion but made sure to reinforce that sharing our opinion does not mean that we just tell a fact about what we like; we are making a generalization that our belief is the best and providing evidence to support our belief

We created this anchor chart (pinterest inspired) to help us think about sentence starters and paragraph organization. It really is just too cute to hear 6 year olds telling guests in the classroom that they "prefer __ to __". The sentence starters and anchor charts are referred to each day and were well worth the time it took to make it with them.
Students then had daily practice writing about their opinions. Our Easter/Spring twist was shared in this previous post, combined with directed drawings. One of the class favorites was cookie writing. I passed out Oreos, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Rainbow M & M cookies to each child. They then had to choose their favorite and describe why they liked it. They used their newly formed paragraph writing skills to convince me to buy a certain kind of candy on Friday (based on adjectives), to decide between indoor and outdoor recess one day, and to convince a friend to read their book during Read to Someone time.

After all of this independent practice I decided to put their collaboration skills to the test- Team Hot Dog vs. Team Hamburger style. First students decided which food was the best and formed into two teams. Each team had to brainstorm supporting evidence for their food. I passed out large chart paper, markers, construction paper, and let the games begin. I was SO impressed by their teamwork, ability to write a shared piece, and creativity.

Once teams finished writing and creating a small craft as decoration, we read each poster aloud. Although we could not decide on a "winning" team, we did decide the task made us hungry and off to lunch we went :)
What are your favorite opinion writing lessons?

Five for Friday: Measurement & Spring

Today I am linking up with Doodle Bugs for a slightly belated Five For Friday post. What can I say? Yesterday was my first afternoon of a much needed Spring Break :)

Our math focus for the week was on measurement. We started the unit by asking "Who cares about measurement?" We made a list of every job we could think of where measurement was important. Talk about making real world connections- my first graders did great with this!
We then practiced measuring objects around the room, carefully checking for no gaps or overlaps. 

Finally we listened to How Big Is A Foot read aloud on YouTube. If you haven't read this book yet it is simply adorable. We discussed how the King's footprint was a different size than other people's and the importance of being clear in which unit of measurement we are using. I showed them an example of Shaq's 22.5 inch foot (YIKES!). My kiddos then traced their own feet to compare to Shaq and each other. They truly are loving this measurement unit!

 This was also the week before Easter so I tried to incorporate some fun Easter themed activities into our lessons. I set out my books for the week for Read to Self time, and used Easter eggs in many ways. One of the favorite math centers for the week was this one where students matched place value amounts. I also had 2 digit equations on a different colored set and answers for them to match them to. So simple! And of course we had to throw in some jellybean fun. We sorted, graphed, and ate. My fast finishers wrote quick opinion sentences on which flavor was their favorite and why.

Last month I saw First Grade Blue Skies' Leprechaun directed drawing and loved it! This week we decided to try a few more directed drawings. To go along with our opinion writing unit I had the class divide themselves into two teams: Team Bunny and Team Chick. Each team brainstormed reasons why their spring animal was the best. I then used the Bunny and Bird (modified to make it a chick) drawings to show each team how to illustrate their piece. They came out so cute!

 Ok. Time for an admission. I clearly have been living under a rock lately and had only heard of Instagram. I  was afraid to get bogged down with one more form of social media but decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. O M G. I love it!! I am having so much fun learning about other teachers and sharing photos/funny pictures. I would love to find new people to follow so don't be afraid to find me @ksclassroomkreations. It's also a great way to get a sneak peak into my day to day classroom adventures.

Lastly, I am so excited to be on Spring Break. After not feeling well for what seems like forever and hurting my hand...product creation has sadly taken a back seat. Well, I am back at it and excited to pump out some new products this week. I am just finishing up my next Highlight and Record pack for Blends and Digraphs. This has to be my favorite set yet- so many pages!

The pictures below are from my freebie. Check it out to see if Highlight & Record packs could work in your classroom.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great week!