Saturday, August 4, 2012

First Day of School Fun & Currently

Have you started school yet?  Students start on August 27th in my school district and teachers officially start on August 20th, although many of us have been busy attending staff development and making things for our classroom already.

Today I thought I would share with you some of my tried and true first day of school activities.  They are favorites of mine and my students and a great way to start off the year.....  Puzzle Races and Saving Fred.

First the puzzle races.  All you need to do is to divide your class into groups of 4-5 students and you need some puzzles.  I set up my student desks in in groups of 4-5 students so that is how I decide my groups. You can find inexpensive puzzles at the dollar store and even Target's dollar spot.  Of course you should pick a puzzle size that is appropriate to the age of students you have. I buy 100 piece puzzles and its perfect for my 4th graders.  I always buy the same puzzle for each group so no one can claim that their group's puzzle was harder or easier. :)  The puzzles I am using this year are pictured to the left.  I bought them for a dollar each at Target. 
 I give each "team" a puzzle and tell them they must work together to complete the puzzle before the other teams finish theirs.  The conversations that go on are priceless.  You will learn a lot from your students by just watching and listening.   Once every group has completed their puzzles we have a talk about what some of the groups good strategies were.  I've heard everything from "we did the border of the puzzle first" to "we didn't get bossy with each other".  

Now for the Saving Fred.  For this fun activity you will need: a gummy worm, a gummy ring, a plastic cup, and paper clips per group.  You can do this activity in partners but I prefer to do it in small groups.  In fact, I like to use the same groups that did the puzzles together.  I also usually do this activity the second day of school and do the puzzle race on the first day. 

To set this up you will need to but a ring on the desk with the plastic cup upside down over the gummy ring and put a gummy worm on top of the cup.   The story is that Fred (the gummy worm) can't swim so he always has to wear a life preserver (the ring). However, his boat (the cup) capsized/flipped over before he put on his life preserver.  It is the students job to work together to get the life preserver on Fred and the only rule is you cannot touch the Fred, his boat, or the life preserver with your hands. Hence, the paper clips... the only "tool" the students can use is the paper clips. Talk about team work and strategies!  This is a great activity for both!
If you try either activity, I would love to hear how it turned out!  Now it's time to link up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade's currently linky!
The back to school must haves are a bit of a weird combination but they are definitely must haves!
I don't have the Silhouette YET but I will one day soon!  It doesn't require cartridges like the cricut but does the same thing!
I love gummy bears and keep them at work for whenever I need a sweet treat!  They also are good treat to have when you are stressed like testing time. :)  Of course post its don't need any explanation...who doesn't love them?
Have super weekend my friends!

36 comments:

  1. I love this entire post! I'm going to alter my lesson plans for the first two days and include the puzzle and the "Saving Fred" activities.

    Great ideas!

    Ashley @ Fierce in Fourth

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  2. Awesome activity ideas! Thank you for sharing. I will try them out with my students when they return (August 28th)and let you know how it goes!
    Stephanie Back in Fourth

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  3. I've also used Saving Fred as a first week activity! An added bonus is buying gummy worms and life savers! I might have to go to Target and get some puzzles as another activity! And I love gummy bears!! Yum!

    Mary
    Teaching Special Kids

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  4. I love gummy bears! When I was in college, my roomie gave me a 5lb tin full of gummy bears for my birthday (which didn't last very long).
    Kimberly
    Funky First Grade Fun

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  6. I love those ideas! They seem really fun. I've never done puzzles with second graders. You think a 50 piece puzzle would be appropriate?

    cgeiser@gmail.com
    Adventures in Room 5

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    1. I have used puzzles with second graders before and they have completed larger puzzles but for the purpose of this activity a 50 piece puzzle might be best. It probably all depends on how long you want them to work on them.

      Katrina

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  7. I LOVE your first day of school activities! Definitely writing them down!! Thank you:)
    ~Holly
    Fourth Grade Flipper

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  8. I love your first day activities, I'm going to have to try them out!

    ✪ Miss W

    Miss W Teaches

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  9. What great first day activities! Love the saving fred activity.

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  10. I love both of your back to school activities!!! I think I will have to give them a try. I love watching and listening to my students as they work through problems, you're absolutely right anyone that does these activities will learn a LOT about their kiddos! Thanks again for sharing your ideas with us.

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits
    www.mrscorbitt.blogspot.com

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  11. Congratulations. You have been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award. Check it out on Teise's Tidbits when you get a chance.
    Congrats!
    Debbie

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  12. I like your idea of a puzzle race. I have used puzzles in the past for rewards, but I have never thought about using it for a first day activity. Great idea!

    Kelly
    Teaching Fourth

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  13. Your ideas are so thoughtful and fun! :) I'm totally into the puzzles. Thanks for sharing. I'm totally a new follower. I will have to pass on to my 4th grade teaching friends too.

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  14. I like the idea of the puzzle races. That could lead into a great conversation about working in cooperative groups. I always use puzzles torward the end of the year but never considered using them the first week of school. This may be an activity that I add to my list of activities. Thanks for sharing.

    Katrina
    Teacherofscholars.blogspot.com

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  15. I am in love with you firt day ideas!! I am SO borrowing them! Thanks so much for sharing!!

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  16. what a great first day activity... love that idea and the FRED... LOVE!!!! thanks for linking up friend

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  17. Great ideas! Will definitely be doing them!

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  18. It is fun to watch how kids "Save Fred." A good way to see how they work together and solve problems!
    I like that your B2S list included gummy bears!
    They are awesome.

    EmilyK

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  19. Lorraine, great minds think alike! The puzzle race is one of the activities that I do at the beginning of the year too. I even have the exact same puzzles from Target! It is so much fun!

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  20. I always forget about the teacher discount at Michaels! I was just there the other day too...darn.

    Sara :)
    Smiling In Second Grade

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  21. I love these ideas!! I am desperately wanting a Cameo as well. I was obsessed with the Cricut..and then I saw this...and now I'm going crazy wanting one!

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  22. These sound like so much fun! I will definitely be trying out both. I'll let you know how it goes.

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  23. These are great back to school ideas. I've actually gone out looking for some puzzles already with no real luck. I will head to Target (was it the dollar spot, maybe) to try find a good one there. Fred~ Adorable!!!

    Elizabeth
    Fun in Room 4B

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  24. Love the puzzles and the worm activities! Great!

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  25. Just one question on Fred---can the kids poke him with an unbent paper clip (fishing hook style) to pull him through the "life preserver?" LOVE the puzzle idea---adding the Dollar Store to my "to do " list for tomorrow!

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  26. Just one question on Fred---can the kids poke him with an unbent paper clip (fishing hook style) to pull him through the "life preserver?" LOVE the puzzle idea---adding the Dollar Store to my "to do " list for tomorrow!

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  27. I LOVE the "Saving Fred" activity! I will def be trying it the first week of school. I will let you know how it turns out! Thanks for the great idea!
    lattesnlaughter.blogspot.com

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  28. Love the idea! It's hard to see in the picture, but the life preserver is trapped underneath the cup? So students have to move the cup first with the paper clips and THEN get the preserver on?

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  29. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing your ideas!!! I am going to try them both this year with my 5th graders!!! Thanks!! :)

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  30. When I read about the puzzle idea, I thought, "wow, what a great idea, but I'll never find the puzzles." My Target never has what the bloggers are talking about. But, lo and behold, a trip to Target today and I struck gold! I bought the US states maps. I thought they might be a little easier for 3rd graders. I am very excited to try this. Thanks for the idea!

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  31. I love both of those activities! I have used them both in my class and plan to use them again this year. I have also used Save Fred in a Parent Night. I wanted them to get a glimpse of the kind of teamwork I expect from their kids. The students were there too, but they couldn't help. It was so fun to watch them as they watched their parents struggle through it, when they knew what to do because we had already done it in class. It also helped the students get a feel for why I don't just "jump in" and help them with a problem. They got a kick out of seeing their parents figure it out after several failed attempts. :)

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  32. Hi. I want to thank you for all of the wonderful ideas you have shared thus far. I will be implementing both of your first day activities. I especially love Saving Fred. Can't wait. Thank you again.

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  33. I like it! I also teach fourth grade and I'm currently laying out my first day, Sept. 5. In your directions for Fred, it says "...and paper clips per group." Do you give them a certain number of paper clips, or one per student?

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  34. Was so excited to walk into Target and see those same puzzles! I'm so excited to try these activities in my room! Thanks for sharing!

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