First Grade Reading — Commercials

As the culminating event for our advertising unit in first grade reading, the students created their own commercials.  Each group came up with a concept, picked one or more advertising techniques, created a story board, and then rehearsed, filmed, and edited their commercials.

Today, I am proud to present their finished products.  I know, way to work until the last minute!  We’ve been frantically editing up until now when I am typing this post.

The commercials are on YouTube, but they are unlisted.  This means you can get to them if you follow the links, but they don’t appear in a Google search.   There is no way to get to the commercials unless you have the direct link.  And without further ado, here they are:


Lucie, Lauren, and Josie’s Loggles Commercial

Mohan, Ethan, & Landon’s Water is Precious Commercial

Ava, Aileen & Julia’s Carrots Commercial

Aila, Pauline, Stella, Sanaa, & Liliana’s Smart Readers Commercial

Thomas, Cyrus, & Bijan’s Scroon & Scrork Commercial

Riley & Jocelynn’s Peaches Commercial

Charlotte, John, Wes, & Blake’s How to Play Golf Commercial

Yasmine & Ella’s Tomatoes Commercial

I’m so proud of the work these kids did.  I don’t know about you, but I think the commercials look pretty darn professional.  Go first grade readers!

Thank you so much for sharing your children with me this year!  Have a wonderful summer!

Second Grade Humanities: Goodnight Moon Parodies

The second grade humanities students have been diligently working on their Goodnight Moon parodies.  Today, we managed to finish filming most of them.  Since this is our last day of class, I told the students that if they finished their book (at home or in class during free time), I would be happy to film them reading it later.  Just have them stop by and let me know, or send me an email.

Today we also briefly discussed satire and the difference between parody and satire.  After all our work this session, the kids had no problem defining parody.  I explained that satire is like parody but that is has the purpose to bring about change.  We then read Birthday Bunny and Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett.  Birthday Bunny is supposed to be a typical children’s book — pandering, predictable, overly sweet.  Scieszka and Barnett wrote this book specifically so that they could turn it into Battle Bunny, which is Birthday Bunny with numerous alternations made by Alex, a child who received it as a gift for his birthday.  Alex alters the pictures and plot to create a tale about a bunny bent on destroying the world, an evil plot eventually foiled (by Alex, of course).

Battle Bunny‘s purpose is not simply to make fun, but to point out the lack of imagination, excitement, fun, and real life experience in so much of children’s literature.  When the kids finished their Goodnight books, they worked on Birthday Bunny satires of their own.  Baffled Bunny couldn’t quite figure out why it was his special day.  Bad Bunny just couldn’t fix his attitude. Burping Bunny… well, I’m betting you can guess what happened to him.

Here are links to the Goodnight Books.  These are on YouTube but they are not searchable — you can only get to the video if you have the direct link.

Goodnight Jail by Lili

Goodnight World by Claire

Goodnight Asher by Isabel

Goodnight Lion Den by Lorien

Goodnight Belly by Jack K.

Goodnight Minecraft by Nick

Goodnight School by Jack M.

Goodnight Minecraft by Gracie

Goodnight Zoo by Hannah

Goodnight Hobbit by Binyamin

Goodnight Millennium Falcon by Jack C.

Goodnight Splatoon by Max

Goodnight Spaceship by Jacob

Goodnight Library by Evan

Goodnight Dirt by Atticus

Goodnight Card House by James

Goodnight School by Ryan

Goodnight Tomb by Brooks

Goodnight Mount Olympus by Mason

Goodnight Farm by Ezra

Goodnight Cave by Corinne

Goodnight Trash Can by Anna

It is hard for me to say goodbye to these students, many of whom I’ve seen on a weekly basis for three years.  So I’m not going to.  I gave lots of hugs and “see you soons,” and that’s about all I can bear.  Thanks for sharing them with me!

First Grade Math: Choose Your Salary

When the first grade math students came to class today, I told them that I was going to hire them for a special kind of job lasting 7 weeks.  The only thing the job requires is that you calculate your salary.  What a deal!  Even better, the kids get to choose their own salary from two options.

Option 1: You get $100 the first day, $200 the second day, $300 the third day, and so on.  Each day you are paid $100 more than the day before.


Option 2:  You get 1 cent the first day, 2 cents the second day, 4 cents the third day, and so on.  Each day you are paid double what you were paid the day before.

The kids selected an option and circled it on their worksheet.  All but two students chose Option 1 (lest you think those two had some special insight, they both claimed to have selected Option 2 “because it’s easier.”).

I ALLOWED THE STUDENTS TO USE CALCULATORS FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT.  PLEASE let them use calculators at home!  Please force them to use a calculator if necessary!  For their sake, your sake, and mine.

Using our calculators, we started figuring out the salaries.  We worked out the daily pay for week one for both Options, and then calculated the weekly total for both Options ($2,800 for Option 1; $1.27 for Option 2.  The kids who picked Option 1 were feeling pretty smug).

I let the kids loose to work on their own.  Most kids stuck with calculating daily pay and weekly totals for Option 1.  A handful worked on daily pay and weekly totals for Option 2.

I told the students in class that once they get to about week 5 on Option 2, they may start to feel like banging their head against the table.  THIS IS THE SIGN THAT IT’S TIME TO STOP.  Please don’t force your child to finish if the numbers are unwieldy and your child is not enjoying the work.  By week 5 or so of Option 2, they get the point — Option 2 yields waaaaaaay more money than Option 1.

I just want them to get a general understanding of how quickly doubling yields huge numbers.  It doesn’t seem possible that starting with one cent would be the more lucrative option, but it sure is.  With Option 1, the grand total is $122,500.  With Option 2, a student would be making more than that per day by Wednesday of Week 4. On Sunday of Week 5, a student would be earning $171,798,656.00 per day.

The students were disappointed to learn that I would not actually be paying them this money.  I only wish I could!

Kindergarten Math: Target Addition and Pizza Fractions

In kindergarten math this week, we played a game called Target Addition.  At the start of the game, the two players agree on a target number between 25 and 55.  They then take turns covering numbers on a board like this:FullSizeRender (21)

The students keep a running total of the numbers they have covered.  The object of the game is to reach the target number exactly on your turn.  If you go over, you are out.

The kids had to play a few times before they really started developing a strategy.  Being able to look a few steps ahead and consider what your opponent might do depending on your choice is key.

I sent home a Target Addition board so you could play at home.  It is not homework and does not need to be returned.

We also talked a little about fractions.  The students have a one-page worksheet about pizza fractions to do for homework. We reviewed it in class, so they should know what to do.

Rooms 3, 4, and 5 were on a field trip at the zoo, so if your child is in one of those rooms and claims to have never seen the Target Addition or homework page before, s/he is telling the truth!  I sent the work home, though, just so they would know what they missed.

Kindergarten Reading: Similes and Metaphors

This week in kindergarten reading, we played the Metaphor Game.  Each student received two slips of paper and wrote a noun on each slip.  We then picked two slips randomly and tried to find things the two nouns had in common.  Sometimes this was easier than others (can you find similarities between Luke Skywalker and an apple?  Or Darth Vader and bubblegum?  [and do I have to tell you that it was May the fourth the day that we did this activity?]).  Once we listed some similarities, we tried to create similes using the two nouns.  The kids came up with some great ones, including:

The inside of the pineapple was as squishy as a blobfish.

Once Darth Vader is after you, he sticks to you like bubblegum.

Luke Skywalker is as healthy as an apple (for the galaxy).

For homework this week, the kids have a double-sided worksheet. The front side is classifying sentences as similes or metaphors.  The back side is creating ironic similes.  We practiced these in class, so the kids should be familiar with what to do.

Second Grade Math: Othello

This week in second grade math, we continued focusing on strategic thinking while learning to play Othello (also sometimes known as Reversi).

Othello is a game played with colored chips.  One player uses the white chips and one player uses the black chips.  To make a move, you need to flank at least one of your opponent’s chips with two of your own.  The chip(s) you have flanked then turn to your color.

We were focusing on a strategy we called “lose to win.”  At the beginning of the game, players are often tempted to flip as many pieces of possible.  They see that their color is dominating the board and feel assured that they will win.  In reality, the best strategy is to focus on making sure you have multiple moves available to you.  To do so, it usually makes the most sense to make small moves (where you flip only one or two pieces) rather than bigger moves (where you flip multiple pieces).  I could hear the kids muttering “small moves, small moves” as they played.

When playing Othello, the corners are crucial because they are stable (they cannot be flipped to another color).  We were also trying to pay attention to the corners and making sure not to make moves that allowed our opponents to capture the corners.

You can play Othello online here.  The kids loved playing against the computer on the Smart Board.  A group of kids came to my room to play Othello and Izzi at recess and they were so excited.  They were jumping up and down and cheering when they beat the computer.  It was a lovely way to spend a chilly afternoon.

There’s also an Othello app.  You can find it here.

Second Grade Humanities: Song Parodies Continue

Second grade humanities students continued working on their song parodies this week.  To open class, we watched a couple quick clips just to refresh our memories.  We started with this clip of One Direction singing about What Makes U Useful, and used it as a jumping off point to discuss the elements that Sesame Street parody songs have in common (it’s usually the original artist(s) singing the parody song, the songs try to teach a concept of some kind).  We then watched this Chick-Fil-A parody song set to the tune of the Beatles’ Yesterday.  We discussed how delivery matters — sometimes the best way to sell a parody song is to emphasize the funny, and sometimes it’s best to play it straight [or overly sincere].

The kids then set to work on their own parodies.  We have several finished songs.  I’ve uploaded these videos to YouTube but they are set to unlisted, so you must have the link in order to view them (they won’t show up in a Google search).  Check out what we have so far:

Hannah & Katie T’s Take Me out to the Bookstore

Lili’s Feeling Sick

Mia, Gracie & Anna’s Cranky Doodle

Claire & Sylvia’s Take Me out of this Classroom

Katie R’s Cranky Doodle Lazy

Jack K & Alec’s Big Fat Wallet

Nick & Jack M’s Take Me out to the Movies

Many of the kids are still working, so if your child’s parody song isn’t included above, tune in next week   After that, we’ll be moving on to children’s book parodies.