Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fall Literacy and Art Fun

Welcome back to the Crazy Critter Café!
Is it already Saturday again? I'm certainly not complaining that the weekend is here, but last week flew by! That means another week of school down and there's still lots of learning left to do! {stress level just escalated a little}
I want to share some fun things we've been working on to celebrate the fall season and improve literacy skills.
We started with one of my favorite activities...
We read Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by, Julia Rawlinson and discussed character traits of Fletcher. He was very persistent, but didn't understand why his tree was losing its leaves. Some of the other character traits mentioned were: caring, friendly, helpful, didn't give up, and confused.
Then we created our unique fall trees from torn paper. This isn't nearly as messy as it sounds. I love how these turn out each year. Some of my little first graders can get so creative!
Here's how we do it (I use a document camera to project so everyone can see):
(Step 1)
 I give students a plain, white piece of paper and tell them this is a listening activity, so they must listen closely to hear what fun part will come next. I tell them to write their name in the middle of the paper. Once I've checked to see they all have their names, we move on to step 2.
(Step 2)
I tell students to take out a brown crayon from their table tub and hold it up "high to the sky". Once they've done it, and everyone has a brown crayon, we're ready to begin. I tell students to turn their papers over {so their name is now on the back} and draw a tree trunk, starting from the bottom of the page. {I model this, drawing two lines to make a fat tree trunk.}
Then I model drawing lots of branches. I tell them it doesn't really matter what the branches look like because we're going to cover most of them up with leaves. I make sure to remind them there's no wrong way to do this ~ it's their unique tree and they're supposed to look different. {and believe me, they do all look different}. Then students color in their tree trunk and any large branches.
(Step 3)
I tell them we have to have some grass, so they take out a green crayon {any shade of green} and I model how to draw the landscape and color it in.
(Step 4)
We now take out a blue crayon {any shade of blue--may be a daytime tree or a tree at night} and I model how to color in the remaining space for the sky.
(Step 5 - time for some leaves)
I explain to them that we will not use scissors, but we'll tear little pieces of paper to use as leaves. I show them how to use the glue stick to put glue on the branches they've drawn (NOT ON THE LEAVES THEY TEAR--been there, done that, what a mess!)
I have tables, so I prepared 6 containers with construction paper scraps in fall colors (dark green, yellow, red, orange, brown..) and let them loose on decorating their branches with leaves. They're reminded to keep all scrap torn paper in the container.
Here are a few more of our adorable trees:

As a follow up writing activity to practice writing a complete sentence, students use the fall leaf template to write a sentence about fall leaves.
Another fun fall activity we've been working on is thematic phonemic awareness and reading fluency. These skills are so important for helping students become successful readers. {and like I mentioned earlier, time is ticking and we have a lot of work to do in order to meet reading goals}
During guided reading group time I've had some of my students use these word triangles to help practice fluency skills.
The half sheets below can easily be copied, colored by students and sent home for extra practice.

These are from my Fall Phonemic Awareness and Fluency Fun pack. These are great ideas for literacy centers and small groups. The fall theme keeps them interested and makes reading even more fun.
I hope you've enjoyed these fall ideas!
Hope you all have a super week!!! 

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