Monday, August 24, 2015

First Grade Homework

Today's post is all about homework.
Shh, don't say that too loud. 
It might be a dirty word where you're from.
But in my classroom, it's not so bad.
First, I thought I'd give an update on the summer homework packets I sent home with my kindergarteners last year.  I bought them from Mrs. Jones' Creation Station, click here to check them out.

I loved that everything was organized and already put together.
Much better than my usual thrown together summer homework pack.
I told my kids that if they brought back their homework folder to me, completed, at the beginning of the next year, that I would give them a treat.
You can check out my post on summer homework here.
Of course at the time, I had no idea I was going to be moving up to first grade with my class.

I knew I wanted to get my kids something pretty special for all of their hard work during the summer.
So I bought Smencils!
My kids were obsessed with my Mr. Sketch smelly markers last year.  Especially when I graded their papers with them.
I wasn't quite ready to buy them each a pack of smelly markers, so I figured smelly pencils were the next best thing!
I bought the big set here on Amazon.  Yes, it was a bit pricey.  But it came with 40 pencils and I figure that will last me through a lot of summer homework folders throughout the years.

Of course I sniff tested each one right away.

My kids, who brought their homework folders back, LOVED picking out their own smelly pencil.  I let them keep them in their desks and they use them all the time.
Yes, I do catch them sniffing their papers every now and then.

This was my favorite of the bunch, root beer!
I held one of these bad boys back for myself.
And sometimes when I write notes home, it smells like root beer.

These summer homework folders were such a hit, I decided to buy the first grade set for the school year. 
Check it out here.
If you buy the whole year's worth, it's editable!

So we started these homework folders at the beginning of August.
There is a monthly calendar in the front pocket that explains what to do each night.
It also has a place for the parents to initial at the end of the week.

Then I tucked 4 weeks worth of homework behind the calendar.
What a nice feeling it was, knowing that the whole month's homework was ready to go.  No more rushing around on Monday trying to figure out what to send home that afternoon.
As you can tell from the above picture, each week fits on a page.  Monday and Tuesday on one side, Wednesday and Thursday on the back side.
I love that there's not too much to do each night.  A quick review of what we've learned. 
We had conferences last week (yes, I've now been in school for 4 weeks) and several of my parents wanted to talk to me about the homework folders:
  • they liked the organization of the homework folders
  • they liked knowing what they would need to work on with their child in advance, so that if they had a busy night they could make it up before or after
  • they liked that it was just enough practice without being too much
  • they liked that it left them time to read to their child and spend a few minutes on spelling words
So overall, my parents are pretty pleased with the homework situation going on around here.
Every Friday, my students place their homework folders in this tub.
I then check that they completed the weekly work.

Then I give them a little sticker for completing their weekly homework.
My plan is that at the end of the month, I will give treats to the students who have a sticker in each weekly box.

Here's a glimpse inside:
A letter to the parents.

Alphabet and phonics charts.

Reading tools and a reading log.
My school participates in Reading Olympics where students receive awards at the end of the year based on how many books they've read.
My parents would always start off with a bang and write down every book they read to their child.  Then around October, they would fill up their page, forget to ask me for another, or I would forget to give them one, and the reading Olympics page would be left forgotten in the back of their BEE Book until I took it out in April.
So I added the monthly reading log, included in this set, to the back.  I thought the parents might be more likely to write down the books if I'm giving them a fresh sheet of paper each month.  Then I'll keep up with the reading logs and give out Reading Olympics awards based on the logs.

And this is where my kids put their completed work so that I know when they're finished.
As my kids would say "easy peasy lemon squeazy."

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