Keeping it Intentional With the Ocean Unit

Hi friends,
I hope you all are not so stressed out with end of the year stuff. I know how stressful it gets towards the end of the school year with paperwork, celebrations, and just being plain emotional to see your kiddos go! My Honey Graham says that I say the same things at the end of every school year. I don’t know you, but I fall in love with my firsties every year… and just when they are super independent and you know them well… BAM! It is time to let them go, and time to meet a new group of sweet faces all over again.


I also wanted to tell you that I have TOTALLY revamped my ocean unit during this Memorial Day weekend. This unit, is one of the first products I created for my TpT store…it has a special place in my heart.  I love this unit because I strive to keep things on target and intentional for my students until the very last day of school. This unit allows me to brush up on some important concepts, skills, and standards.
So this is what is new:



I have added a vocabulary section the Marzano way. I love Frayer Models from way back when I used to teach ESL.  If you think about it,  every child in your classroom is an English language learner! This section has 12 puzzles and an answer sheet!



You can also find this anchor chart with all the labels.


All the background information that you need to teach your students about the ocean floor, you can find in this close reading activity. I have provided a full color slide for you to show and model using a projector or document camera, I also provided a black and white with a response sheet to review the strategy of main idea and details. If you are unfamiliar on how to conduct close reads with primary students, no worries1 I have provided step by step directions and a bookmark with research based (Fisher & Frey) markings for a successful close reading with your students.





Who doesn’t love to learn about sharks? What would a ocean unit be without these fierce predators? These section will provide you with an anchor chart to model the strategy of fact and opinion and a fun and engaging literacy center! This is one of my students’ favorites!



And while you are at it, don’t forget to teach about the similarities and differences  between whales and dolphins.



No unit of mine would be complete without an acrostic poem craftivity!

This is seriously the best experiment about the difference between saltwater and freshwater.


You need eggs, two cups of water, salt, a spoon, and some paper towels to clean up the mess. I did this activity with my boys at home to show you here on the blog. But when I do it at school with the firsties, I have them do it in groups of 4 for further discussion. Make sure that the water in both cups are at room temperature… water density changes with water temperature.


First, add one egg to a cup of fresh water.  Make sure to use a clear cup so that your kiddos can  completely see what happens to the egg.  It is difficult to explain the concept of water density to a group of seven year olds. I usually start by showing that two things of similar size can weigh different amounts. This is why the two eggs will float or sink, the water in the cups weigh differently after you add the salt to one of them.


Make sure to add plenty of salt to the other cup of water, a small amount will not make a difference. When we add salt to the water, it makes it more dense and objects float. Fresh water is less dense and more objects sink. As the salt dissolves, it adds more mass (weight to the water!)


Stir, stir, stir!


And there you go!


I have also provided a booklet for  students to complete as they conduct the experiment. The pages in this booklet follow the steps in the scientific method.






Last but not least, making words has been a favorite for teaching  sight words, phonetic patters, and writing. According to Pat Cunningham, the researcher behind “Making Words”, each lesson has three parts. In the first section of the lesson, you (the teacher) help your students  make words by the number of letters. Three letter words, four letter words, five letter words etc.   This is not the type of activity that your students can do by themselves, they need an adult who can help them see letter relationships. The second step involves sorting words into phonetic patterns. This section of the unit contains 5 different “Making Words” activities using ocean animals names. If my students are able to figure out the “magic word” without much scaffolding, they earn a “smarty pants” note home. I am not big on “treat’ rewards… sorry!! The last part of the lesson involves transferring what the student has learned and use the phonetic patterns in similar words. For example, if your students have sorted some words into the phonetic pattern /ake/ They will need the guidance to  transfer into other words with the same phonetic patterns.
Phewwww!!! That was a LONG post!!! I am off to enjoy the day with my sweet boys!

Until next time!

Shades of Meaning, I Finally Get It!

Hi bloggy friends!

I am so excited to be back full time with blogging and TpT. I finally finished working on my project for the GTN, soccer season is coming to an end, and the weather is just plain beautiful!
If you read my blog, you probably remember that I presented at the NCRA last March. While I was there, I met the sweet and talented Jen Jones from Hello Literacy. #starstruck  If you are like me, you are probably  a Hello Literacy fan and love Jen’s blog and store. She is someone I deeply respect and I truly admire her work ethic...especially because her products go WAY beyond any worksheet, and help me be a better teacher for my students.

mostinteresting man

I am not afraid to say that after 13 years of teaching, there are many things that I still don't know. For example, ever since I started teaching first grade, I have had the most difficult time understanding “the shades of meaning” outlined in this standard:

Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs differing in manner (e.g., look, peek, glance, stare, glare, scowl) and adjectives differing in intensity (e.g., large, gigantic) by defining or choosing them or by acting out the meanings.

Click on the picture to check this product at Hello Literacy!

I have no words to express just how this is the perfect literacy  center to meet this standard because:
  1. It gets kids talking about words and their meanings, contexts and connotations.
  2.   This is the type of activity that I use in a cooperative learning structure. Because I teach first grade, I decided to pair my students to do this station during Daily 5. They get SO much out of group work, and I consider it a fundamental step in the gradual release of responsibility model.
   3.  Not only have my students  understood that there are different shades  of meaning to one word, but they have also learned to agree and disagree on their  reasons  to justify their reasons behind their choices. #hellocriticalthinking


Please keep in mind, I teach first grade. What are you thinking so far? Very much on target!
         4. I also love that this center gets my kids moving
         5. Students also   sort and rank!  #hellodepthofknowledge
              6. It  increases receptive and expressive vocabulary
              7. It is one of the most  engaging activities! It is NOT busy work at all... kids are really on it!
              8. It  meets the standards to the max!
             9. It is very low prep on the teacher's part...and not a worksheet!!! Can I get an Amen??!!??!!

I started by doing a whole group focus lesson on how to do the station. I also modeled with Mrs. Wilson (my awesome sidekick) the kind of accountable talk that I wish to hear while my students work on it.


Ideally, I would love to have a longer pocket chart with 10 compartments… but this one did the trick just fine!


We also discussed the rules of successful learning teams, and this is what my students decided. #bestclassever #IlovewhatIdo #thankyouHelloLiteracy

Thank you for reading! Until next time!