Showing posts from January, 2014

Goldfish VS Goldfish Cracker...Living or Non-Living

To finish our unit about Living and Non-Living I wanted to give my ESL first graders something that would be meaningful, engaging, and "somewhat" hands on to help solidify the terms. I had seen many other teachers do a comparison between an earthworm and gummy worms...but anyone who knows me knows I have an unnatural fear of worms, maggots, snails, that was out. Also I live in Abu Dhabi and wasn't too sure that worms would be available. Anyway after much thought I decided on comparing goldfish to goldfish crackers. It was an easy comparison and the fish move much more than a worm would, so I thought this would be great. Plus the kids got to eat goldfish crackers after which is always a plus.

I made a recording chart that asked a specific question using key vocabulary about what living things needed, which we would apply to both the goldfish and the goldfish cracker. The kids picked up on the topic pretty quickly, and soon there was some lively discussion about …

Sight Word Pulley Cards

The program that I use to assess my student's sight words is called "I Scream for Sight Words", which encourages children to learn 100 sight words in either Kindergarten, (or in my second language learners's cases, first grade). Each child starts with a cone. Every time they master 10 words from a color coded club, they get a scoop on the cone depicting how many sight words they know. They also get a little card to take home telling parents they are ready to practice the next 10 sight words. It really is a great motivator for the kids, and encourages them to practice more at home. I found that with my students this year, I needed to make the sight words more accessible than just on the word wall. I made these little cards front and back, which have all 100 sight words on them, and are color coded to match the "I Scream for Sight Words" corresponding clubs. Then I had a problem...I didn't want to just leave the cards on the tables, as they could get los…

Living and Non-Living Unit

Now that my first graders are finished learning about the 5 Senses, we are progressing into a unit about things that are Living and Non-Living, and recognizing differences. This was the perfect transition between 5 Senses and our next unit about Life Cycles. It is important that the kiddos get as much exposure to the vocabulary that relate to Living and Non-Living, which will pop up again in Life Cycles.

For this unit we did several things.

1. A nature walk outside, where we used magnifying glasses to look for small living things (mainly ants and bugs), and to locate things that were non-living (this was much easier :)

2. We completed a Living or Non-Living anchor chart about several things, then came up with our own suggestions.

3. Students did a Living or Non-Living Scavenger Hunt, which is a great way to get kids moving and talking, as well as repeated exposure to the new vocabulary words.

4. We also played several sorting games throughout the unit on the interactive whiteboard, s…

One Magnificent Mosque

Living in the UAE and teaching all Arabic students, I get some experience that are pretty unique to say the least. Like today for example. I got to take my 27 first grade students on a field trip to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Religion and culture play a very strong part in their daily lives, what with prayer 5 times a day, and learning about Islam and faith at school. So we got to take a guided tour of the mosque. It really is magnificent inside and outside. Check out some of our pictures below.

After the trip we came back to school and drew pictures of the mosque. We even got to write the sentence "We go to the mosque." in both English and Arabic. I was impressed by how much detail they remembered seeing.

Which is Salt and which is Sugar?, and a FREEBIE

My grade one kiddos have been learning a lot about the 5 Senses and I wanted to finish the unit with a fun hands on activity that really got them using the vocabulary they had learned. For full details of the original idea please visit
We took two jars and removed their labels. One has salt and one has sugar.

My school was originally meant to be a high school, but ended up serving as an Elementary or Cycle One school, so we actually have 4 fully functioning science labs. On days like this one, it's fun to take my kids to the lab to let them get familiar with the environment and the setting. It also has some nice couch type seating for whole group activities like today. Makes a nice change from the classroom carpet and allows them to feel like the older students!

Our recording anchor chart. The kids each had their own recording sheet. Both can be downloaded for FREE by clicking Here.
So then we began the testing, starting with sight, then smell, t…