Saturday, May 9, 2015

Filling Buckets with Class Books {Love Notes}

Hi, Friends! Long time, no blog! We’re down to the final stretch of the school year and things are starting to clear away a little….we have exactly 18 days left! 18! That’s it!

While it’s hard to believe that we ARE actually in the days of the final countdown, we have worked hard as a little school family and are ready for some rest and relaxation! I’m linking up with my bud, Kacey for a Five for Friday bucket filling idea!


As we’re winding down the final six weeks, our focus in writer’s workshop is creating class books. By doing so, we can review a number of topics in a fun way that the kids can’t wait to get their hands on. Alliteration. Rhyming. Phonics patterns. Conventions. Punctuation…..BUT, most of all….filling buckets and continuing to build our classroom community right up until the very last minute!

Like normal, I gave my littles a voice in the planning of this endeavor. We brainstormed a list of topics they’d like to write about. After compiling the list, students voted to choose their ‘Top 3’ ideas. To my surprise, their #1 choice was little ole ME! I have the best class of littles on the planet, but it can be a little scary to give them free reign to write a book about YOU! =)

After a little prayer…..and prepping a cover… [Yep, they told me EXACTLY what they wanted on that too!]…the kids set to work with a starter sentence to give the book a little rhythm. The starter sentence was……Ms. Dwyer is my teacher. Beyond that, they added anything they liked to describe me as a teacher and tell what or how I taught them in 1st grade. We were reviewing adjectives that week and let me tell you, those little stinkers made me cry! Like….for REAL TEARS!!! I cried! I tried to wipe them away and play it off, but ya’ll, the things they said were so heartwarming…..and I’m a big ole softie when it comes to my kids…..melted my heart as I read every page! That little book is one I’ll treasure for a long, long time!

….and just like THAT, one idea birthed ANOTHER!


It started with bringing adjectives to LIFE! We used one courageous friend as a living anchor chart! This brave little stood at the carpet, glowing from ear to ear as friends used adjectives to describe HER. As they provided adjectives, I jotted them down quickly and we labeled away!


We couldn’t exactly leave her there standing all day, so we created a “Flat Stanley” version and placed the sticky notes on the chart. After the adjectives were added, she got to add a noun under each adjective to name what it was describing. The next day, we used the chart as a class again to review each item students described and how we use adjectives in sentences before beginning a surprise project! It was super top secret and we had a limited amount of time to get it down while our friend was out of the classroom!

Did you notice the other little book covers on the 1st picture? Well, if my bucket was filled as an adult getting such a sweet gift from my class of littles, I got to thinking about how each of them would feel getting the same thing! So, as one of my littles was out of the room, we each sat down and wrote a note to tell her exactly how terrific she is! As she returned, I projected the book on the document camera and turned the pages. Each student read the page aloud and you could just see the pride and warmth bursting from each of their pores! It was one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever seen as a teacher. To hear each student, one by one, tell a classmate what makes them special…..especially, during the wonky times of these last few days was uh-mazing!!!!

I wish I had taken pictures of the actual book, BUT I think its now under guarded lock and key because the student receiving it LOVED it just that much! Each day from then until the end of the year, we’ve decided to fill a bucket for a friend or two! Love, love, love my littles and the care they show for each other.


Our guided reading groups have all blended to form strategy groups. During the first 20 days of school, we worked to build routines to foster a collaborative learning environment. During the final 20 days, students are collaborating and sharing what they’ve learned throughout the year as they review comprehension skills in mixed ability groups. In short, they’re teaching each other! Again…..teacher heart melted!


We’ve had a great year filled with lots of learning with great friends! While I get a little teary eyed this time of year, it’s only because I’m so proud of my kiddos. They don’t need me anymore. I’m just in the room to make sure there’s adult supervision. They know the routines because they’ve helped to create them and practiced them all year. They’re working together. They’re teaching each other…..and they’re ready, ready for all 2nd grade has to offer! And me, I’m the lucky one….because I got to be a part of their journey! I got the privilege to make learning fun!

…..and that little book that we created as a surprise? The student receiving it, proudly declared THAT day as the BEST day of her life! She felt special and was stronger than me because she was able to hold back her tears of joy! It’s the little things that make teaching so fulfilling, that remind me daily of why the extra effort to love on each kiddo in my class is the most important part of what I do. It’s what makes the learning possible.


Think your class might like to end the year filling each other’s buckets too? Click the pic above to grab a cover and a writing page insert to use! There are options to print the cover in color or in black in white to be colored. There are also 3 different simple double-sided writing pages to choose from. Enjoy these last few days…summer will be here before you know it!


Thanks for stopping by!


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