Sunday, September 22, 2013

Owl Love First Grade!

Oh my goodness, it's been a few weeks since my last post and I've got to say that I'm glad that things are settling down a little bit.  We started school right after Labor Day. My beautiful dog, our 15 year old Chow Chow named Pippin, passed away after the second day of school. We had her for 15 wonderful years, which is 3 more years than an average Chow lifespan, so we were more than blessed. We had her before we had children, so my two girls have grown with her (they are 10 and 6), and you can imagine how hard it's been. I was hoping that it wouldn't happen right when school started, but in hindsight I'm glad that if it had to happen, it was during a busy time when there is so much on our minds to help distract everyone from being sad.
Just as my sweetie class of crazy smart first graders began settling in, we got a new student on Day 8 and then two more new students on Day 9!  I am up to 23 now.  I am really lucky to have a big room, so space is not a big issue, but you know how hard it is when new little friends come in and have missed all of the classroom routine setting and getting to know one another activities. But at least it is still early and soon no one will remember that they were new.
Speaking of new, when a new school year begins, I try to do some special things with my kiddos to bring us together as a community. My class is called the Wise Owls, and first we made fridge magnet clothespins to send home to display their great work:

Click HERE to get this FREEBIE on TpT!
 And here are the class t-shirts that we made:


Finished! I like to do this really early on to bring us together as a class. I ask parents to send in a white or light colored t-shirt that we can paint.  I buy fabric paint in brown, green, and a bunch of other colors for the owls.  I ask for parent volunteers (which parents love, since we do this even before Back to School Night, they get to come in and see what our class is all about!) and they work with one child at a time while I continue working with the rest of the class.  (I also have a sink in my room so it's easy to wash off the fabric paint, which won't come off of clothes, so be careful!)

How to make our owl shirts:

You need:
 fabric paint (I squeeze it into paint trays)
 fat paintbrushes
 t-shirts (I have the kids bring them in so I know they will fit!)
 large foam stamp (I use an owl, you can use anything!)

1. Put cardboard inside the shirt to both spread the shirt out flat and to prevent the fabric paint from bleeding through to the back of the shirt.
2. Paint the child's hand brown, including a few inches of the wrist/arm. Do not paint the fingertips!
3. Paint the fingertips green.
4. Press the child's arm and hand into the front of the shirt - thumb straight out to give the owl somewhere to "sit".  Be sure that once they put down their hand, an adult presses it in to make sure all painted areas meet the shirt! Hold the shirt down when the child is pulling their hand off - their hands will stick!
5. Have child wash hands.
6. Child comes back to table, they get to choose the color for their owl and paint the foam owl stamp.
7. With adult guidance, the child stamps the owl stamp onto the tree branch.
8. Let it dry for a day.
9. I like to add wording for our class with fabric marker (Sharpies also work) - "Whoooo's a Wise Owl? (student name)

I had parents come in for one hour on two consecutive days, but they were finished with plenty of time left over.  Yes, it seems like a big project but with help, it's really easy and is a great community builder... plus I got TONS of great individual and class pictures in our new shirts!

In other news, Johnny Appleseed's birthday is coming up this week (Sept 26)!  Check out my new Apple Unit, aligned to CCSS ELA/Math and Next Generation Science Standards!  It's chock full of skills, content, and fun!

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