Monday, March 14, 2016

Simple Science Observation Activity - Apples and the Five Senses

My kindies and I had a lot of fun exploring our 5 senses. There are so many experiments that you can do with kids and we did many of them over the year but this exploration was one of my favorites.

I gave each of  my students and apple and have them look at the apple very carefully. What could they see about the apple with their eyes?  My kiddos noticed the colors, spots, lines, and the shape.

I then had them feel the apple with their fingers. What could they see with their fingers? We talked about words like smooth, bumpy, pointed. One student was very excited to discover that the stem of an apple wiggled, another was thrilled to find the bottom of his apple was tickly.

After touching the apple we smelled the apple.  First we smelled the skin then we took a tiny bite of the apple and smelled inside. Students described the smell in all sorts of interesting ways. They all agreed that the smell was way more interesting inside an apple.

When I told the kids that we would be listening to the apple they laughed at me.  I asked them how we might listen to an apple. Students tried various things until someone realised that the apple made a sound when they bit into it.

Finally we explored taste. I had students taste the apple. We licked the skin of the apple then they took a normal bite. The second time I have them bite into the apple and chew 20 times before they swallowed.  Words like juicy, sweet, sour, plain were all used. Even my little guy who was sure he hated apples decided to try - afterall he didn't want to miss out on the fun.

Once we had finished students went to their Thinking books and drew what they experienced. I then had students come and explain to me what they saw, heard, felt, tasted and smelled.  It was a pretty simple experiment but the students loved it and we built some much vocabulary in that 30 minutes.

What did I learn at school today? Sometimes simple experiences can be very powerful. The conversations my students had about the apple were rich and full of wonder. They were excited to discover their senses in this way. What about you? Do you have a favorite activity to do with the 5 senses?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Five Freebies Free for all and the Five More Free Contest

So I thought you might all like some free stuff? I started a Teacher pay Teacher store in March this year and I have been busily adding new things that I think would be useful to French Immersion, FSL and French teachers and some things that are good for teachers at all levels.

I have some freebies for you below and I also wanted to give you the chance to win  five paid products from my store for FREE!  Entering is easy, just follow me on Teacher pay Teacher or follow this blog.  You'll be first to know when I add new products and new freebies!

I will be drawing for a winner August 31st. Don't miss out on your chance!

Now for the freebies!

Here are a few freebies for you to check out:

French writing prompts- La FĂȘte

One sample writing prompt that includes 3 versions.
Two versions have a word bank included and one only includes the image. This document also includes two pages of lined writing paper for those students who want to write more.

Other Writing Prompts

Pirate Writing Prompts at La classe de Mme Hawtree

Spring Writing Prompts at La classe de Mme Hawtree

Roll and Cover Game - Snail

A great center or game for the beginning of the year. Students roll a dice and count the number of dots. They cover the number.

Includes - 3 games
Roll 1 dice.
Roll 1 dice add 1.
Roll 2 dice add 2.

3D Shapes - Cut, glue and color

3D shapes center activity or worksheets

Page 3—Students color in shapes as directed and count the number of each shape type.
Page 4– Students cut and glue shapes into one of the two columns following the rule. They can cut out shapes on the bottom of the page or shapes from magazines.
Page 5– Students create their own sorting rule and sort shapes into the two categories. Again students can cut out shapes at the bottom or find shapes in magazines.

Speech Bubbles

Free printable sheet of speech bubbles to print and cut out.

Use as thinking bubbles for predicting lessons or create comics. Use for writing activities too.

J'ai, qui a +1

Have students practice plus 1 addition facts while playing this game. Can be played whole class, in small groups or individually. Instructions are included.

Freebie includes 9 cards.

Click here for full version with 24 cards

Science maker project with the three little pigs.

"I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down."

The 3 little pigs has always been one of my favorite units to teach in grade 1.  The students have a lot of fun hearing and reading different versions of the story. They also love to rewrite this story. The last few years I have tried to do something different. I decided to see if we could use the three little pigs to teach a little science too.

On three little pigs day we sat down as a group and I introduced them to my little pig (a green piggy bank) and the big bad wolf (a hairdryer the first year, a large fan with wolf ears on it the second).  I explained that we would be building a house for our pig that would protect him from the wolf.

We brainstormed materials that we had available on the board.

I had brought in hay and wood for the occasion. Other materials were things the students found around the classroom.

Some materials that students suggested:

Paper, wood, straw, bricks, wiki sticks, pipe cleaners. books, pencils, paper cups and blocks.

I asked each student to choose 1 material they would like to try to build with.

I limited groups to no more than 4 students per material. If students first choice was gone they simply chose something else.

We made a prediction chart and all voted on if we thought the house made of each material would fall or stand.

When we had decided on our materials everyone student individually took out their "Thinking book" and they had 15 minutes to come up with a sketch or plan for their material.

They then showed their ideas to the rest of the group and explained why they thought it would work. Students then worked together to decide on the best plan.

I gave the groups 40 minutes to build.

After that time we all looked at each others designs and returned to the prediction chart. We checked to see if we wanted to change any of our predictions based on the designs we saw.

Finally it was time to huff and puff and blow the houses down. Very exciting stuff!

We reflected on our designs talked about possible improvements.

We looked at our prediction chart and spend a little time in our thinking books recording what we had learned.

I loved this project and so did the students. It was fun to watch them think through a problem and work together to create something. The learning was varied and students all felt successful, even the ones whose houses fell.

What did I learn at school today? The three little pigs made a great jumping point to science concepts like force and motion and predicting. It made me look for other literature connections with science topics. Do you have a favorite story that you use to teach science? Have you done this with your students before?

Friday, July 17, 2015

15 classroom activities for Earth Day

 Earth day is a great excuse to learn about all sorts of things. Conservation, recycling, reusing and reducing, humans effects on the natural environment and of course crafting and ingenuity.

15 Fun things to do for earth day:

1) Read - J'aime la terre by Todd Parr.  

2) Draw tiny drawings on tiny pieces of paper. Don't forget to use both sides!

3) Make junk statues out of materials that would normally be thrown out.

4) Visit the recycling plant.

5) Visit a local thrift store.

6) Plan a playground clean-up.

7) Try a Earth day Je lis et je dessine.

8) Watch  "Sid le Petit Scientist - Jour de la Terre" and do a soil exploration.

9) Plan a sharing/caring swap.  Have kids bring in items they no longer need from home. Students take turns choosing a new item that a friend has brought it. 

10) Plan a clothing drive and donate to a local charity.

11) Plant some seeds. Talk about the effects of plants on the environment.

12) Pretend you are the earth. What would you want people to know? Write a persuasive poster to ask people to help you! Template here.

13) Host a recycling relay race.  Have students bring recyclables from home. Have students sort recycling by type and ask a parent to drop it off at the recyclers for you.

14) Plan a maker day reuse it challenge. Have students try to come up with new uses for old junk. 

15) Create recycle scrap paper collages. Use old paper and scraps from the year to create new and exciting art pieces.

What are your favorite earth day activities?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Butterfly Life Cycle Fun

We are having lots of fun in grade 1 learning all about butterflies. The butterfly kit we ordered was very disappointing. All the caterpillars died and so we have been reading books, watching videos and making art to try and figure out what should have happened and what might have gone wrong.

In this video the photo and text explain the life cycle of a monarch butterfly. By watching this we were able to determine that we didn't have monarch butterflies in our classroom because the caterpillars look different.

This video from Ce n'est pas sorcier showed us that their are lots of different kinds of caterpillars and butterflies.  It has some tricky language but some amazing images too. My students loved being able to see different types of caterpillars and butterflies up close. We also liked learning about how silk is made.

We also read lots of different kinds of books from the library about butterflies. They all seemed to tell us the same thing. Butterflies have a 4 part life cycle. We decided we would paint the life cycle. We painted one stage in each wing.

After we decided we would try and write about everything we learned. We used this template.

Click on image to see full document

What did I learn at school today? Even when disaster strikes I can make the best of it. The students were very excited to learn about butterflies and try and figure out what went wrong with our batch. They still learned about the needs of animals and about the life cycle. Has this kind of thing ever happened to you? What did you do?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Games and activities for reinforcing sight words.

Sight words are vital to unlocking reading for many students but finding fun ways to introduce them and to give students a chance to practice them can be challenging.

I usually introduce one new sight word a day. We then spend the day trying to spot the word when we are flipping through books or when Mme is reading or when we are walking around the school.  Once we have a good collection of words under our belts we can start playing some games with them.

Whole Class Games:

Quiz, quiz trade:

Students each get one sight word. They partner up and show each other the word. Once they have read the word they trade and move on to a new partner.


As we practice our word I will pick a "magic" word, letter or sound. When they hear it they stand-up. When the word is gone they sit back down.

Act it out:

When we read action words, students have fun acting out the word.

Silent Word/Sound:

When we read through the list students are told they can not read a certain word, or word containing a sound or letter.

I have, who has  or  J'ai Qui a?

These are a great choice. Kids really enjoy trying to beat there time and improve.  Here is a fall freebie that looks like fun.

Small Group Games:


Exactly like the card game.... but sight words! Check out one version of the game here.


Lots of different ways to play this game but this is one of my favorite versions. You can use popsicle sticks or cards. I get my students to fold a piece of paper in half, and then in half again. They unfold the paper and the creases make a border for their cards.  They then put a word in each rectangle and the word boom on 1 of the rectangles. they cut them up and play with a partner. Great writing and reading practice.

Board Games:

There are a few games that you can use to reinforce sight words online. Here are a few in french that my students like. These are great for sending home for practice too.


 So what did I learn at school today? Sight word learning and practice doesn't have to be repetitive and boring. With a little creativity there are a ton of ways to play with words. What are your favorite sight word games?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Writing prompts to unblock stuck students.

Using images as writing prompts is nothing new and some would argue that it is an old way of teaching that stunt student creativity and growth when writing. In my experience though a well used writing prompt activity can help students feel successful and give you some important assessment information that isn't tainted by wondering - is my student struggling with ideas, vocabulary or with writing in general?

One activity my students and I love to do together is an oral tell me more activity. I will show them a picture on the smartboard.

With this image I would tell students to tell their partners what they see. In the beginning students will always say "I see a dog" or "C'est un chien."  I then challenge the students to tell each other more. After a few minutes I stop students and we discuss our ideas. Slowly we build from "It's a dog" to "It's a little brown dog with big ears sitting on a blue boat. He is waiting for someone."  I then ask questions like "And then?" "Why?" "What happened next?'  Over time we build vocabulary and create great adventure stories build around these silly images. Often students will use the ideas from these oral sessions to go write their own stories later.

A great source for free images is

You can also download a pre-made set of story prompts at TpT.

In my classroom I also have a bucket of laminated photos that students can use as writing prompts when they are stuck for ideas or need inspiration for writing.

Another tool I use that is even more structured are pages that contain a picture and some vocabulary words about the picture beside the image. Learning to write, especially in another language like French can be challenging for students. Sometimes giving students a picture and vocabulary is very freeing for students. They can concentrate on writing rather than coming up with an original idea, finding the vocabulary they need, Students can produce interesting, unique stories that they would normally find difficult to put together independently. It is a great way to help give students who need a little extra help a boost.

Here is a freebie from my TpT store you can try with your students.

Freebie Writing Prompt activity

I still like to give my students choice when we do these kinds of writing activities so I usually have 2 or 3 options for pages with images and vocabulary bank.  Here are a few theme specific writing prompt activities I created for my students that you might like.

Spring Writing Prompts
Pirate Writing Prompts

So what did I learn at school today?  Writing prompts are still a useful and usable tool in our classroom. They can be used to build vocabulary, expand story telling skills and build imagination. They can help kids get down to the business of writing more quickly and for many students they are freeing rather then being restrictive. Do you use writing prompts with your students? How do you build vocabulary and writing confidence with your students?