Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Birds of a Feather

In my class we have two finches, a couple named Ping and Pong. They are a breeding pair, and I knew this when I adopted them and brought them into my first grade class. Little did I know that within a few weeks my students were going to get excited because they found a finch egg in the bottom of the cage!

Since I wasn't expecting the birds to lay eggs that quickly, I tried to make a makeshift nest and put the egg in it, but the birds knocked it out of the "nest" and it cracked on the bottom of the cage.

That evening I purchased a finch nest and the makings to go into it. The next day I placed everything into the cage.

When I came into school the next day, the finches had laid a new egg in the nest. The next day there was another one. And then another one. And then another one. Finally, after less than a week, the finches had laid a total of six eggs. The male and female took turns sitting on the eggs. The kids were pumped! They rushed into the classroom every morning and after recess to check to see the status of the eggs.

Four finch eggs in their nest.
They are about the size of Cadbury Mini Eggs.

Never having taken care of breeding birds, I was nervous about cleaning the cage. Did they reject the first egg from the bottom of the cage because I had touched it? If I touched items in the cage, would they reject the new eggs?

Ping (the light colored female) and Pong (the colorful male)
in their dirty cage.

Finally, I googled it. I learned that the cage should continue to be cleaned because of the risk of disease for the chicks once they hatched.

The cage is now clean. (Phew!) I am a bit of an organization and clean freak in my classroom. The new status of my cage was comforting to me.

Students began to ask me when the eggs would hatch. I had been told about two weeks, originally. To be certain, I asked the staff at my local pet shop how long it should take and they told me it would take about 24 to 28 days for the eggs to hatch.

Yesterday, after lunch hour, a student came into the classroom, raced to the birdcage, (as usual) and exclaimed, "A bird hatched! There's a baby!"

I figured, yah, right. His wants to play a trick and tease his classmates.


Nope! An egg had hatched! It took about 21 days after laying for the first egg to hatch.

I tried to fend off the students since the parents had gotten jittery and nervous with all of the kids racing to the cage and sticking their faces in to get a look. Instead, I took a picture with my phone and showed it to them.

This morning, another egg had hatched.

Two babies out and four eggs left to hatch.
This adventure sparked my creative teacher side and made me wonder, how can I use this opportunity to motivate and teach the students?
I created my Birds of a Feather unit.

Available at teacherspayteachers.com

Through my Birds of  a Feather unit, I am teaching my students vocabulary, grammar, about facts vs. opinions, list writing (what do pet birds need?), instruction writing (how do you take care of birds?).
I also used this experience to teach math through bird and egg themes math problems.
Finally, because the kids are so keen on observing the birds and checking their progress, I made an observation journal.
Below you can see the cover and the first page. In my Birds of a Feather Unit, there are pages for follow-ups and progress observed by the students.
We started working on this unit on Monday, the day the first egg hatched. This kids are loving it. It is concrete and allows them to spy on the birds, talk about their experiences and share what they are learning.
If you are interested in downloading my Birds of a Feather Unit, click on the link to find it in my TeachersPayTeachers store.
I hope you enjoy it as much as my students and I are!
Miss Chantal

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My first post!

Well, this is my first blog post ever. In this blog I will share what we are working on in class, as well as systems I use to organize the classroom and various activities. I am open to suggestions and would love to answer questions anyone may have about what I post.

Coming soon: Photos of my classroom this year.

Library Organization

I recently added new books to my classroom library.

In the past, I hated my classroom library. I invested a lot in books and took the time every year to organize the books into different bins, only for all the books to end up being mixed up and misplaced a few days later. I think we hope that if we explain to students how our library is organized at the beginning of the year that they will understand right away and sort classroom books efficiently. Shortly afterwards, our students remind us that they are in 5, 6, 7.... years old.

This year, at the beginning of the year, I took the time to sort my books again, but this time I organized myself differently. I made labels for each bin, as organized teachers usually do. However, I realized that to help students return books to the correct bins, they need visual cues. To provide these cues to them, I printed the same images that I have on my book bin labels onto stickers labels and put them on the back of each book.

When students have finished reading a book, they flip it over, look at the image I've stuck to the back of the book, and they proceed by putting the book back in the correct bin.

This is what my classroom library looks like.

This is one of my library bins and books that belong in it, all clearly labelled.

My Classroom Library Organization Pack is FREE for a limited time on TeachersPayTeachers.