Saturday, January 26, 2013

Quincy the Questioner and MLK

What a week!  PHEW!  It's done.  We had 3 (2 hour delays) due to extreme cold and snow.  And you know how that weighs on the kiddos and their "on task" behaviors.  I did manage to "teach" a few great lessons that complimented our Heroes in History unit.  Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, and our favorite, MLK.  Today, I made this little topper to go on our bulletin board in the hallway.  After an inspiring week of teaching about empathy, compassion, and forgiveness, this was a little icing on the cake!

MLKjr: Week in Pictures!
We did my version of a Museum Walk before introducing our Heroes in History by  looking at the covers of the books in the baskets. 

Students who had some prior knowledge on any of the 3 famous figures would record their thoughts on a post-it and then place it on the matching poster. 

A Hero's Life
I just love the interactive online Scholastic Weekly Reader.  CCSS aligned with videos, games, and key vocabulary at your fingertips!

 Thank you Miss Latoya Reed for sharing your wonderful follow-up MLK unit for FREE on TPT. The kids loved recording their MLK adjectives/verbs on the bubble map.  

 I borrowed Deanna Jump's idea and the kiddos called this our "EGGSperiment".
What a gentle yet powerful teaching lesson on diversity!
I was so proud of the enormous amount of text-to-world connections the children were making.  I couldn't pass that up so I made this template for us to record on.  
If you would like a copy, click here for the download.

Room 102 sure does have HEART!
These first graders will change the world someday! 
 Big hearts, Big Dreams!

And if that wasn't  enough, Quincy the Questioning Owl was hired in at the Critter Cafe this week.  He is teaching us how to ask great questions as we read!  

 I've tied in all areas of ELA to include Quincy, including our Spelling words for the week and everything else I could find that had the (wh) hunk and chunk in it!!
I love Scholastic's Big Flip Book of graphic organizers for reading comprehension.  The story elements butterfly was a perfect fit this week!

I need to pay homage to the teacher who created these AMAZING questioning cards!
I have been using them like crazy this week and now the kids are picking them up and asking questions as well!
Please help me find this wonderful teacher so I can give her credit and kuddos!
What a short week, but a great week for learning!  Have a wonderful weekend my dear, sweet friends!  I am off to see my better half tonight!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Blog Design and My Secret Crush

Friends, today is a monumental day!  After 6 months of blogging, I have left the world of homemade templates, headaches about script errors, and frustrations of sad image headers that looked so dreary.  Today, I present to you the new and improved 
First Grade Critter Cafe! 
First Grade Critter Cafe
 Can you feel my LOVE!  I am actually stalking my own blog right now!  But how can you blame me...Look at all the fabulous images- the pretty fonts- and this Seusstastic blog header that finally appeals to all my senses as a first grade teacher.
Now, there was no way on this green Earth that I could have taken on this incredible task alone.  Oh, no.  I had a super power helping me!  Behind the scenes- working her magic.  With each new phase she would dazzle and delight me with her creativity and imagination. 
 I smile at the thought that she is my NEW 
super-hero crush!
Let's give a SUPER-POWER, 
Mighty OH YEAH! 
to Miss Megan 
over at
  i teach. what's Your Super Power?
Not only is she a Blogger Design Super Hero, but a wonderful new friend too!  Hands down, no, I mean Hands UP with a ten-finger WOO-HOO!  Megan, you are so incredibly awesome.  Thank you for taking my ideas and making my blog a dream come true!  
Friends, if you are in the market for a new blog design, stop hesitating and sign up now!  Megan has the Critter Cafe's stamp of approval and highest recommendation!
A Bird in Hand Blog Design

Now back to my happy dancing at 1:30 am!!! 
My friends, I can't wait to read your comments!


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Feature Flamingo, and the ART of Powerful Polar Bears

My firsties discovered a new reading strategy this week thanks to our new friend Feature Flamingo. Our first grade Critter Cafe has "hired" Feature Flamingo to help us better understand text features when reading informational texts.  She brought some awesome Arctic non-fiction with her and is demonstrating how to search for some interesting features!  Take a look!

Jen Jones over at Hello Literacy provided this great notebook for students to record specific text features.
You can grab a copy here.
This is the inside of our Weekly Readers!  Perfect fit for our Glossary discussion!
No unit on Polar Bears would be complete without a fabulous Art Project to go with it!  I hit the jackpot and came across the most PERFECT Polar Bear art EVER!  ARTventurous has all the directions and how-to's for this project so I will have you stop over to her blog
and read more about her creative genius with polar bears!

I also found this GEM of a science project over at
 We ran over on the art so we are doing this experiment next week!
The kids were devastated, because they love all things SCIENCE
and I have about 6 who want to be scientists when they grow up!  

SO grateful for this long weekend!
Stay warm my friends, it's a chilly 29 degrees here in Toledo Ohio!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dazzling Dinosaurs Exhibit

Our first week of the new year turned out to be an amazing adventure of dinosaur discoveries!  Instead of saving the best for last, I'm starting with my FAVORITE first!!  We made DINOSAURS today!  YAY!  What a blast.  The gym was available this afternoon so I took long stretches of butcher paper and spread the kids out across the floor.  We used blue 12 x 18 sheets of construction paper and oil pastels.  It was a messy, fabulous time!  Take a peek at my inspiring artists-

The finished result:  Our DAZZLING DINOSAURS hallway exhibit!  

I had so much fun with this project!  Even made one myself...
Do you see the bright green and orange polka-dot dinosaur hanging above?
Yes, that's right.  I hung mine up too.  The kids insisted! 
Deep Space Sparkle is my favorite website for first grade art projects.  I also was inspired by many ideas on Pinterest.  After this post, check out my Pinterest Board: First Grade Art Ideas!
Now, more about our week!

We read some awesome Dino Literature and introduced our new Read to Someone Puppets.

 And speaking of wild reptiles,
Iggy, the Inferring Iguana stopped by the Critter Cafe this week and brought many visual aids to help us infer!

Of course our Writing theme this week was All About Dinosaurs!
We used text features from our favorite Dino books
to guide our topic and help with supporting details.

After school tonight, I received an email from Barbara over at the Corner on Character.  I was her LUCKY winner of this autographed copy of "The Potato Chip Champ" a new book by Maria Dismondy.  HOT DOG!!!  So excited!

  Speaking of hot dogs, Maria is also the author of another favorite of mine, Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun. If you don't already have it, be sure to add it to your MUST-HAVE list!  

You can visit Maria's blog here-
And then head over to Barbara's blog for some much needed inspiration and creativity!  
The Corner On Character
That's all for now my friends!  Have a DaZzLiNg weekend!
Julie ;-)
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