Hey there Friends…
Here in the northeast the chill is definitely in the air and you can feel that Fall is here! Fall is my all time FAVORITE time of year! So I just wanted to share some things that I do with my kiddos to get them engaged and excited about the activities and lessons that we will be working on during the month.
As teachers we are ALWAYS strapped for time! Teaching has changed A LOT over the last few years and unfortunately allowing our creativity as teachers to shine through has gone to the wayside. But, for me, I need to be creative. I want my students to be creative. But, I also want to ensure that I am meeting their needs AND meeting the expectations of my district curriculum. So, I found a healthy balance between the two! YAY!
Creating a THEMATIC CLASSROOM allows me to add my creativity into the mix, without sacrificing teaching time to meet the standards and teach the curriculum. I want my students to enjoy the holiday happenings and the themes for the month. So the way I accomplish this is by allowing my students to work on different thematic projects throughout the month when they go to their Daily 5 Stations!
When my students go to my Work on Writing Station, Listen to Reading Station, Read with Someone, and Read to Self Daily 5 Stations, I try to make each month thematic. For example, October is all about Columbus, Fire Safety, Bats, Spiders, and Halloween. So I ensure that my Work on Writing Station work and all of the other Daily 5 Stations have books and activities that revolve around the theme for the month. This allows me to create more of a Thematic Classroom without sacrificing a ton of teaching time and still allows my students to learn and read about the monthly themes.
CHOICE is an extremely important part of my classroom. With choice comes responsibility and ownership of our own learning. That is powerful… especially for children! So within my stations I always offer a CHOICE of activities that my students can do. Here are some of the choices that match my October themes for my Work on Writing Station.
Columbus Theme – My students have a choice of what type of activity they want to do. They can create and work on an Columbus Boat-Shaped interactive notebook activity, they can work on my Columbus Tab-Its Booklet, they can free write about Columbus on my Columbus Shape-Its, or they can create my Columbus Flip Flap Book.
Non-Fiction Theme – Being that we are in October, this is the perfect month to add some non-fiction research skills into the mix! I love to offer my students a CHOICE of activities in my Work on Writing center each week. This gives them ownership over their learning and truly enjoy the process of reading and researching topics that they are interested in! I allow my students to research spiders, bats, and pumpkins during the month of October and I give them a choice in how they accomplish their research and how they present it. Here are some of the research activity choices that they have to pick from…
YES! This! I love when my students work together to accomplish a research project or story writing project. They get such a feeling of excitement and are so proud to share their writing and art work for each of the projects they accomplish. They work on the research projects together or create buddy stories. They truly enjoy working with one another and it clearly shows in the work that they do.
Every day my students rotate to Daily 5 Stations. At my Work on Writing Station and my Word Work Station, I always have a MUST DO and a CAN DO. The must do consists of a CHOICE Research Project that they want to accomplish from above. When they finish their research project for the Must Do, then they can move on a Can Do project. However, many many times they choose to work on another research project because they enjoy working on them so much. I ALWAYS have a few baskets of books at my Work on Writing table that correspond to the Choice Research Projects that they can work on. So during October I have a basket of spider books, bat books, pumpkin books, Columbus books, and books on firefighters and fire prevention.
Here is a student’s work sample of my Bats Interactive Notebook activity!
I always save some time on Fridays to Share our Successes! My students LOVE Share Our Successes session! They stand up in the front of the room and share what they worked on as partners or individually and answer some questions the students may have. It really is quite powerful!
So… here it is in a nutshell. Let’s take some time out of our week to truly ENGAGE our students and give them the option of CHOICE in their work…yet still expecting them to read, write, research and learn all at the same time!
Your kiddos will LOVE this time of day!