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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fall Fun {and freebies!} with the Primary Punchbowl!

Let me start by saying, I am one of those people that gets WAY too excited about fall. Crisp air, beautiful leaves, boots, jackets, scarves, pumpkin spice EVERYTHING? Sign me up. I'd 100% definitely probably buy pumpkin spice scented garbage bags if they existed (doing an Amazon search now...) because I truly can't get enough. So take my passionate obsession of this glorious season and add in an exciting new adventure that I'm thrilled to be a part of? Hang on to your cider doughnuts and Ugg boots, because this is going to be good.


The Primary Punchbowl collaborative blog! 

Words can't even express how excited I am to be teaming up with some of my favorite teacher bloggers and friends to bring you this incredible new project. Let me tell you - our blog has been months in the making and we are ecstatic to share with you tidbits from our classrooms, new ideas, products, and resources, and more!

Let's get this celebration started with everyone's favorite...FREE stuff! Follow along to each stop in our blog hop and find a fantastic free fall resource for your classroom and a chance to win a TpT gift card! We will each be offering our OWN gift cards, which means you have almost 20 chances to win. I don't know about you but, since we didn't start school until mid-September, this is totally the time of year when hubs and I are feeling the no-paychecks-over-the-summer squeeze. Keep reading to see all of our favorite fall activities, grab some freebies, and join us at The Primary Punchbowl!

As you can guess from the paragraphs above, my classroom pretty much turns into Fall Extravaganza Central from the first day of school in September until it's time to bring out the down parkas and LL Bean boots. So you can imagine that the struggle was real to pick just one favorite fall activity for this post. However, one choice stood out amongst the rest: Pumpkin Inquiry Science

Each year, I launch my first graders into scientific thinking with a unit on inquiry. During this time, we have explicit teaching on observational skills, differentiating claims and evidence, utilizing our five senses, how to incorporate tools into our investigations, and tracking data over time. By laying a solid foundation of inquiry skills, we set the stage for more meaningful and in-depth learning during science for the months to come. The perfect tool to support these lessons? You guessed it: pumpkins. 

During the month of October, we use pumpkins observe with our eyes, hands, and noses, estimate, count, record, draw, label, read, measure, and more! Partner these hands-on activities with some of my favorite fall read alouds, and you'll find yourself with a class full of pumpkin enthusiasts. 

We start our unit by reading The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons and recording what we think we know about pumpkins in our science journals. We spend a week measuring and comparing different sized pumpkins and using our five senses to explore the outside before diving in. 

The moment we learn pumpkins and pumpkin bread DO NOT smell the same!
After we've exhausted all the learning we can do with the outside of our pumpkin, we choose one to carve open.  First, we use our science journals to predict what we'll find on the inside, then we work as a team of scientists to see what's really hiding in there!

Pumpkins offer a great way to encourage kiddos to use descriptive adjectives in their science notebooks to describe the feel of pulp. (And yes - you'll really want those Cloroz wipes handy!)

We pair my favorite pumpkin book, Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell to begin our conversation about the natural life cycle of a pumpkin. After we've emptied our pumpkin, we give it a name, and seal it up in an airtight container (note: this is very important unless you want a classroom full of uninvited, but enthisiastic insect guests) and let the rotting begin. Students observe the pumpkin daily, noting changes in shape, size, density, mold growth, etc. Depending on your tolerance for mold, maggots, and other creepy crawlies, you can let your pumpkin rot for just a week or two and then send it off to compost, or take the bold approach like my amazing teammate, Exclusively Inclusive, who let hers decompose for the ENTIRE school year! Needless to say, her first graders were STUNNED by what happened in June. (Be sure to click on the link above or the photo below to check out her store on TpT!)

We continue our learning by incorporating math into our pumpkin studies, estimating the number of seeds, and then using counting strategies (such as grouping by tens) to determine the answer. You'd be surprised how many seeds there can be in a tiny pumpkin!

Seed counting allows us to work collaboratively, while applying math concepts such as adding and manipulating tens

So what are you waiting for? Run, don't walk to your nearest farm stand, grocery store, or pumpkin patch, and grab a few to bring pumpkin science to life. Be sure to grab some cider doughnuts and a caramel apple while you're there. I won't judge ;)

Cross-curricular connections are the gift that keeps on giving during our hectic first few months of the school year. Anything that makes my lesson planning easier and keeps our fall theme alive is a win-win in my book! That's why I'm sharing this FREEBIE with you! Roll and Color is always one of my students' favorite games, and this pumpkin version is a big hit during the fall. Simply find a partner, two different colored pencils, crayons, or markers, and a die. Each partner takes a turn rolling the die and coloring in the number of squares rolled. Whoever has more at the end - wins! Think you might like to include this game in your fall math centers? Grab it here or by clicking on the image below!

The celebration continues with 50% off in my TpT store! Head on over to grab some of my favorite products for HALF OFF!  

This is the time of year when I feel like I've finally started to figure out the likes, dislikes, needs, and wants of my new first graders, and when I might tweak or add to the supports I have in place to make sure everyone continues to feel successful. This is why I'm especially excited that two of my favorite products designed to support all learners are on sale. Whether you work in an inclusion classroom like me, or are just looking to add to your classroom resources make sure to check both these out:

1. Visual Schedule Cards: I originally created these schedule cards to support the needs of my beginning readers, kiddos on IEPs, and new ELLs. Too many graphics and cute but hard to read fonts were impeding my students' ability to follow our schedule. So I made a few tweaks, adding in simple pictures and clear fonts and voila! Everyone can now track our day and follow along to see what's next. Each morning our Teacher's Assistant reads the daily schedule, so each member of our classroom community knows what to expect. Find them here or click on any of the images below!

2. How to Use A Classroom Break Space: Our classroom break space is one of my favorite areas in my entire classroom. Interested to know how we utilize this space? You can read all about it here. Or simply head on over to my TpT Store to check this product out for yourself!

The fun doesn't stop yet! Enter below to win a $10 TpT gift card to snag some of the products off your wishlist. Don't forget to check out the other blogs below to find even MORE freebies and prizes to win. And, of course, I hope you'll head over to  The Primary Punchbowl to check out our new online digs and enter to win a pair of Kendra Scott earrings and a teacher goodie basket filled with all our favorites (did someone say flair pens?). 

Thanks for stopping by - it's time for this teacher to go pour a glass of apple cider and light a pumpkin spice candle or two. 

See you soon!

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