Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Night Before First Grade

The Night Before First Grade. I'm sure that phrase has a different meaning for teachers and kids. For kids, the book bags are packed and the clothes picked out, and it is hard to go to sleep because of all the anticipation of seeing friends from kindergarten and wondering what the new teacher will be like, and there is almost the same kind of excitement as the night before Christmas. almost
     Well, this is my 20th year of teaching, and I am still a nervous wreck the night before that first day! I worry that I do not have everyone's transportation information and I will send a child home the wrong way. I worry that I will lose someone. Literally. That I will leave someone behind on the playground or in the cafeteria. Or that one will have an asthma attack or one will cry all day for their mama, or I will plan too much or I will plan too little. So I overplan. And I double check. Obsessively. And I pack my lunch 24 hours in advance. (It's the only night of the year that I actually think ahead about what I am going to eat for lunch the next day....usually I just grab a pack of  Jalapeno Cheetos and a Coke...and plan to do better tomorrow:)
     So when I found this book last year, I decided this was so me!  I read it to my class and they loved it. It is about a teacher who is scared to go to school on the first day. 
 And I found an adorable unit on TpT by Babbling Abby, with some perfect first week of school activities for first grade, some of which go right along with this book. I am so addicted to that site.  I had planned to actually publish some ideas to sell, but I can't stop downloading the good stuff I find there. I'm seriously going to go broke. Oh. Wait. (if you are reading this and you are a teacher in NC, I shall say no more)

 We all made Jitter Juice. Yep. Jitter Juice. It took those first day jitters right away, and they have been gone ever since. We read a poem, wrote a recipe, mixed an interesting drink... first grade style (rainbow Sherbet, Sprite, and Kool-Aid) and graphed our preferences.

And truthfully, it was a fun first day. My nerves finally calmed down and everyone got home the way they were supposed to (for the most part, but that's another was all good, really).
This little group is full of sweetie-pies. I always forget they are more like kinders at the beginning though.  And I ask them to do a simple activity and they say things like "I don't want to write." or "I don't know what you're talking about." or "When do we go home?" And I just keep saying, "Just wait until next week...we haven't even gotten cranked up yet." That's what I love about first grade though. I see an astounding difference at the end from the beginning.  These babies grow so much in maturity and independence in just one year. So I am trying to appreciate them exactly as they are, and nurture them and watch them grow.
We are starting with a camping theme (this one by Cara Carroll...I have blogged about it before) and so yesterday we did a little "fishing". We wrote a fishing tale then sorted some goldfish for math, added groups together to find how many "in all".

 Today we brainstormed words that describe S'mores. We did a sequencing activity and wrote steps for making S'mores. Of course that discussion also led to fire safety tips, which led to a little girl informing everyone she had learned to be a fire breather. I really hope she was fibbing. I made everyone promise they would not try that. Ever.
We also are learning about animals and habitats we might encounter while camping. Today we talked about skunks, did a skunk "crafitivity" and wrote about things that stink. If you ever want to get a six year old talking, just start asking about stinky stuff. They get on a roll.
     Tomorrow we are hiking. I hope everyone remembers their tennis shoes. And that we don't encounter any skunks on the trail. Or fire breathers.
     Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!