Principal’s New Clothes-First Grade Style!

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IMG_0601To help students write creatively using many details, we decided to do a fun project.  Especially at this point in the school year, it’s important to create engaging activities that allow students to combine and practice what they’ve learned as their minds wander outside to the spring weather.

After reading the book, The Principal’s New Clothes, students had the task of designing a new outfit for our principal.  Students picked out fabric to create a dress, blouse, skirt, or pants (note: the project requires a lot of prep work creating the paper dolls and cutting the clothes from the fabric) that they glued onto their doll.

This project worked perfectly with our skill of main idea and details as we discussed the writing part of describing our principal.  We brainstormed a list of questions we wanted to know about our principal.  After writing the questions on post-its (what’s your favorite color, do you like being a principal, do you have kids, etc) we sent them to the office and awaited her responses.

The kids were very excited she responded!  I shared the responses and we discussed how to turn the questions into sentences.  We also discussed using lots of details and descriptive word choices.  Students then went off and wrote.

IMG_0595This was a fun activity-the students have really grown as writers this year and had the chance to be creative.  And the principal definitely has some cool new clothes!





Being Creative While Learning to Work in Groups

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One part of the first grade social studies curriculum is called Skills for Growing, which incorporates concepts related to social-emotional learning.  Lessons teach students about being themselves, working with others, and friendship.  While looking over the lesson I would teach about working in groups and different roles of group members, I noticed the suggested activities were somewhat boring.  I decided to adapt the activities and combine the lesson’s theme with our writing skill.  We had just discussed descriptive writing, and sometimes it’s hard for first graders to write more detailed sentences.

First, we discussed what it’s like working in a group and why students may or may not enjoy group work.  We discussed the different possible roles of group members: collector, reporter, and a member.  Then, I explained the project: each group needed to pick an animal and create a web with different descriptions of the animals, such as color, size, where they lived, and what they ate.  I randomly picked the groups, so students could work with different students in the class.  I also modeled how to create a web and we did an example together, so students knew exactly what to do.

I was impressed how well the students worked together and were enthusiastic about the project.  Each group chose an animal, and each person wrote at least one description of the animal.  Sometimes they needed prompting for more descriptions to write, but overall they came up with great ideas.  The best part was that students were completely engaged, and they didn’t want to stop working!

When students are that motivated and engaged in an activity, you know as a teacher that you’ve created a successful learning experience.  The students successfully accomplished the lesson goal of working together in a group.  Sometimes as a teacher you need to take the initiative and make the executive decision to be creative and encourage students to think out of the box!  As a result they’ll have a meaningful learning experience!

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