Last week we delved into some non-fiction reading and science learning with a mini-unit on spiders.

Here are some of the texts we used...

In addition to the books we read together we also used the resources in A Year of Many Firsts Non-Fiction Spider unit - which is amazing, as are all her non-fiction units.

We also watched this video....

National Geographic for Kids has some great videos and information like this page on the Sparklemuffin Spider.

What is that crazy dot paper in the background you may ask....that is an art activity fail!!! It was supposed to look like this pin but it did not (#Pinterestfail) it became background paper : )

This week we have moved back to fiction (just for the week!!) and I will be back tomorrow to share some Room on the Broom ideas.

Happy Sunday morning afternoon to you! Today is the day I should be finishing my progress report writing, planning for the week, grocery shopping and doing laundry. So of course I am online reading blogs and looking at Pinterest. I have a LONG night ahead of me. Since I am avoiding my actual work anyway I thought I would share a few ideas from my classroom.

At our school we focus on a virtue each month. We have a kick off assembly introducing the virtue and at the end of the month students are recognized for displaying the virtue. This month's virtue.....Gratitude. Here is the song that was presented at our kick-off assembly (kids + singing = awesome)....

 So of course we don't leave it at that. We have to teach all about the virtue. My favourite way to teach about virtues is with picture books. Here are a few that we have used.
Splat Says Thank You is a great book (and not just because I love Splat above all other cats). His friend Seymour is feeling down and Splat wants to cheer him up so he writes a book saying thanks for all the things Seymour has done for Splat. One of my students actually said "Why is he saying thank you so much, there are a lot of thank yous in that book.". Yes for some of my students saying thank you is not something they have been taught to practice. There is a free little activity booklet available online that has cute thank you cards your class could use.
Thankful by Eileen Spinelli was new to me this year. I love this book because it shows what different people might be thankful for. It fit in perfectly with our social studies unit on roles an responsibilities in the community.
Here are some examples...

We made a class list showing different roles and what those people might be thankful for....where the picture of this is I have no idea : (     We brainstormed ideas for students, teachers, moms, dads, bakers, police, fire fighters, dentists etc.
It is a great book to show the variety of things people could be thankful and helped push us beyond....thanks for being nice or thanks for being my friend.
After learning about gratitude we made this board. I made some thank you note cards and we have been writing thank you notes. Some are to God, some are to me (warm heart, yes please!), our custodian, their parents and most importantly each other. I love the way we are filling our wall with thanks. I live a little basket of thank you notes out so that students can write one up whenever they need to.
 Now, we started our Gratitude Attitude wall before I read this amazing post by Erin over at Mrs. Beattie's Classroom and will be moving on to Peace and Respect in November (not that we will forget about being thankful!) but I just love this idea.
She has her students grow a Heart Garden!!!! and has a fabulous resource that I will be using this spring!! If you want to check it out click here.

Look!! I am early for another holiday, it is a Autumnal miracle : ) I am so excited to be linking up with a great group of teacher/blogger/creators for a fun Halloween blog hop. Hop along to all the blogs to pick up some great Halloween tips and freebies.....and then enter for a chance to win a fabulous prize.

Alright, let's get this post going : )
Tip #1
Have a Non-Halloween Mentor Text Ready
"What?" you may be saying to yourself and "this is a Halloween blog hop!!!"...yes I know that, BUT some years we have a class with a student that makes it hard or impossible to do a full on Halloween theme. So my first tip is to be prepared with books that are fun and fit the season but are not full blown Halloween books.

Here is my suggestion:

It is a fun book to make predictions, discuss mood (all the pictures are black, white, grey and orange and eerie), message of the story or big idea, story elements and so on. It is just a good all around book for shared reading.

Here are the follow up sheets we did in our class if you are interested in trying this book out. Click on the picture to pick up a free copy (pics are linked to opposite pages, sorry).

Here is a great video that you can use to show the illustration process.

Polka Dot Kinders had her students write how they would deal with creepy carrots and made their own creepy carrots.

Tip #2
Dollar Store Halloween Themed Manipulatives
First up....eyeball ping pong balls. I put numbers on them, place them around the room. Students grab two eyes and add them up (or multiply if need be). We have also done an activity where they get one eyeball and record it, then write the number that comes before or after the number. You could write larger numbers on your eyeballs and make it a 10 less, 10 more activity. I have also had them pick one eyeball and create a number bond. Simple, fun and gets them working on skills without even knowing that they are working. They love eyeball math!! Click here for a copy of an eyeball math recording sheet.

This year our focus is spiders (non-fiction and science learning). So I have this great collection of bugs. We will be using them to write addition and subtraction sentences.

I also have a collection of Halloween erasers, perfect for continued patterning practice (as an early finisher activity or as a center on Halloween). I also have finger pointers, a Halloween must have. Lastly dollar stores have so many great Halloween containers to hold all these great goodies.
Now that you have read my tips and picked up my freebies it is time to ask yourself.....

That's right 4 gift cards!! Perfect to purchase some Halloween themed activities or get a jump start on Christmas planning!
To enter, hop through all the blog posts and collect the secret words. Then enter the secret words into the Rafflecopter. Here is my secret word:
Okay, now that you have my word, click on the picture below to head to the next blog....

When you get back here with all the words enter the Rafflecopter...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Growth Mindset in the Primary Classroom

The term "Growth Mindset" seems to be all around us these days. I was first introduced to this term and concept two years ago while I was taking my Math Specialist courses. We watched a number of videos from the fabulous Carol Dweck and talked a lot about the importance of building a growth mindset in our young mathematicians. This year I am trying to be very explicit in my teaching about growth mindsets with my students.

The first thing we did is watch this video....

We talk about the power of yet - that there are things we can not do....yet, but we need to keep trying and practising and we will get there. We brainstorm things we can not do....yet. We watch this video about once a week, to remind ourselves of the "Power of Yet" and to celebrate some of the things we can move from our "not yet" category to our "now" category.

Next we moved on to some picture books. The two books we have focused on the most are "The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School" and "The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes". But once you start focusing on growth mindset you start to see how many books have the message of not giving up. When we were reading Turkey Trouble for Thanksgiving we even noted how Turkey had a growth mindset - he kept trying different costumes - lots of them where not quite yet costumes but he did not give up.
growth mindset picture books

The message in Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School is great! He keeps saying that he is not smart, he'll never get it and he doesn't belong but at the end of the book he learns that he is smart, he will get it and he does belong. We chant this in our class "We are smart. We will get it. We belong." It is kinda like the line from "The Help" is smart, you is kind...... : )

We made this display for our door (on the other side is one of my teaching partners door with her growth mindset display!!)

We used this freebie craft template to make our Pout Pout fish (click on the picture or here to check out this great freebie from First Grade Blue Skies)

I photocopied the template on to cardstock (blues, purples and greens) and let the students pick the same colour for the body and fin or two different colours. I think they turned out great both ways.

With the book "The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes" we talk about the importance of taking risks and facing challenges....this is how we grow. We talk a lot about challenging ourselves and with many of our activities I point out ways they could challenge themselves to do more or better. We also talk about how mistakes make our brain grow. First we learn from trying. Second we learn that our first try did not work - our brain has to work to realize when something isn't working. Third our brain grows again when we try and fix our mistake or try again. The only way our brain doesn't grow is when we don't try or don't learn from our mistakes.

If you want a copy of these signs click here.

We also completed this fabulous freebie from Growing Firsties (make sure to check it out - it is part of a fab post). It is a great little book that helped my students focus on what they had to work hard on and for me to share my own struggles. Also it allowed us to write out phrases we could repeat to ourselves over and over to keep ourselves trying!!

Here is another fun freebie of 2 posters to get you going (or just decorating more) with growth mindset in your classroom.

One last thing my students are loving....Ormie the Pig. Yes we love this video every year, but since we are focusing on developing our growth mindset we watched the video with our eyes open to how Ormie demonstrates a growth mindset. Now it is not just a fun video to watch but something that my students refer to when we are talking about the power of yet....he hasn't got the cookie....yet : )

How are you promoting growth mindsets in your classroom, I would love some more ideas : )

Do you know what I love about Thanksgiving? The food, the sweater weather, the falling leaves, the family, the coffee with Baileys....well yes, I love all those things. BUT what I really love is that it is the only time that I can post some holiday themed ideas and some people can actually use them on time (since Canadian Thanksgiving is like 5 weeks before the American Thanksgiving)!!!

So here it is a blog post (shocking in and of itself) with some fall and Thanksgiving ideas from my classroom to yours.

This fall we have had a bit of a "scarecrow" theme going on. Here are some of the texts we used in our classroom...

The Little Scarecrow Boy was helpful in identifying the role of a scarecrow. We are working on roles, responsibilities and rules in Social Studies so we tied the role of a scarecrow and we are working on list writing so....they wrote a list of the roles of a scarecrow.

We also made a class list of the materials needed to make a scarecrow. The Scarecrow's Hat and There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves were very helpful for this writing activity.

Here is a blank writing page you could use for your writing activities. Just save the picture and insert it into a ppt file and add your own text.

Next we decided to build a scarecrow. We watched this Berenstain Bears video (great for Growth Mindset - they don't give up) and they figure out how to make a scarecrow.

Here we are building our was a group effort. The students decided on each step and I recorded the steps as we went.

Setting up the sticks (rulers) and clothes)

Tying the pants and sleeves to keep the paper in. Rolling up the newspaper balls - fun for everyone!!

We only got the legs done, we placed him on the table and they thought it looked like he needed surgery.

We named our scarecrow (David) and used the scarecrow theme to do loads of math.

We made button patterns...

They wrote about their patterns too. My teaching partner does this activity with beans to look like seeds which is super cute too.

We sorted buttons into jars and Venn Diagrams. Click here for a copy

We made number bonds. The scarecrow card is the number they needed to make in total. They put groups of corn (yellow base 10 blocks - the ones cube) into each wheelbarrow - boom a number bond is created. They made different combinations and recorded.  I laminated the recording sheet so they can use the materials in a center too. Click here for a copy.

Our Thanksgiving activities were all turkey based (not basted, hahaha!)

We made these turkey decorations (inspired by this post on Crafty Morning found on Pinterest). We added red balloons - cause they just make them that much cuter.

I love holiday confetti - I sprinkle some on all the students' desks before they arrive - I just love it....even thought it is messy.

We read Turkey Trouble (which they super duper loved - one little boy kept telling me how he wished he could have that book, and wondering how I ever found such a good book!!).
Then we made these adorable turkeys based on the ones seen here on The First Grade Parade blog.
We made a list of food items we could eat instead of turkey. 
Well there you have it, some holiday ideas shared in a timely manner!!
Believe it or not if you drop by again tomorrow I will be back with Halloween ideas (freebies, tips, a hop and prizes!!)

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