Monday, March 19, 2012

John Hancock Club, Motivate your students to learn cursive!

Here in Utah our second graders need to know how to sign their names in cursive!  This is such an exciting new way of writing for my students!  They were thrilled when I told them they would be learning their names in cursive!  Some of them need a little motivation to do their practice though, so this is what I came up with.

Have you heard of this book?  The John Hancock Club by Louise Borden is about a third grade student and his class that is learning their cursive.  Their teacher tells them all about John Hancock and how he is famous for signing his name REALLY big on The Declaration of Independence.  When the students in their class learn their cursive they get to sign a scroll, joining the John Hancock Club.  Then, when everyone is inducted they have a celebration.  

In our class we are only learning our names in cursive and then they get to sign the scroll.

I made this scroll out of brown butcher paper.  I just rolled the ends and taped them.  

Go to this website where you can make your own handwriting worksheets.  I made a packet with 20 pages for each of my students with their first and last name in cursive.  Like this:

When they have successfully finished all 20 pages they will get to sign the scroll and officially be inducted into the John Hancock Club!  We will have a little celebration when everyone is inducted!

To make things even more fun each student got to pick a feather and we taped it to their pencil for a fancy cursive writing tool!  They can only use these when they practice their cursive writing!  They absolutely love them.  

When my students complete a page they have to check their own writing using my handwriting rubric stamp from Zaner-Bloser.

They have to look at the shape, size, spacing and slant of their writing.  They are checking the last line where they write their name on their own.  They love using the stamp and it is a great way to get them to pay attention to their writing!  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Compound Crowns!

 When I initially taught compound words I had my students make crowns and write as many compound words that they can think of.  We made a big list together as a class first.  Then the students wrote the words and drew a picture of the word on their crowns.  

After we had talked about compound words my students were still in need of some motivation to pick out compound words when they read.    

So I made some crowns out of KFC buckets.  I just went to KFC and they gave me two buckets for free.  My mom use to make crowns for us when we were little out of these buckets.  That's where I got the idea!

After I cut out the desired shape I covered them in tin-foil and glued on gems. 

Here is the Girl Crown.

This is the boy crown.  It's a bit more masculine.  Don't ya think?

You could buy a crown at your local Dollar Tree, too.

Here is how it works.  When someone finds a compound word they give me a thumbs up and continue reading.  Then when I call on them they can tell me the compound word and they get to wear the crown.  If someone already has it then that person congratulates their friend for finding one and passes the crown.

Warning:  This will cause your students to go a bit compound word crazy!
I had to really structure it so that they were looking for them at specific times.  Like during guided reading or reading from our basil as a whole group.     

Do you think this is something you might try in your class?  What do you do to teach compound words?  I love feed back from my bloggy friends!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Persuasive Writing With FREEBIE!!

I love using the book I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff as an example for persuasive writing. This is such a sweet and funny book about a boy named Alex who corresponds with his mother through letters.  Alex is trying to persuade his mother into letting him have his friends iguana.  My students love this book and the illustrations are hilarious!  

As we read the book I had my students think-pair-shair about the exact lines that Alex uses to convince his mother into letting him have the iguana.  Then, I had some of them come up and write down the convincing sentences as we read.  

{Note:  Having students write on a vertical surface is really great for their fine motor skill development and shoulder strength}

 After this I let them pick an animal that they would LOVE to have as a pet.  It can be any crazy, outrageous, silly animal that they want.  The sillier the better actually!

I have my students draw a picture of their animal.  I made this worksheet that you can use for this step.

Next, I model for my students how to write a persuasive paragraph.  I made this graphic organizer to help them organize their writing.  They wrote these as a letter to their parents or to our principal.  

Finally, my students peer edit their writing.  Then write their finall drafts.  I have included a page for that as well.  

{Click the elephant for the download!}

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cherry Blossom Math Art Project

Out here in Utah we have been patiently waiting for spring and it is just a few days away now!  The spring equinox is on March 20th!  We have been talking a lot about our trip around the sun and we are excited to meet this milestone!  

I showed my students a few pictures of cherry blossom trees that I found through google.  This one is from

I also showed them the oriental style of painting cherry blossom trees and branches.  There are many examples to be found through google.  This one is from: 

I showed my students how to use a q-tip to make the branches and the flowers.  To make the flowers use the tip like a stamp and make little flowers by clumping together pink circles.  

I work with a fabulous aide, Mrs. Gurule, who also happens to be a very talented artist!

This week my class has been practicing dividing a set of objects in half.  
They had to have equal blossoms on each side of the tree or branches so that they were thinking about dividing a set of objects in half.  

Here is how they turned out.  Didn't they do a great job?!

While my students were painting I played some youtube videos with birds chirping like this one...