It's day 5 of school and we are just starting to find a happy rhythm in first grade. The first few weeks consist of procedure practice, read aloud, character education, and repeat! I am longing for our consistent routine, but my teacher heart knows this time is oh, so valuable. I tend to read Responsive Classroom's book The First Six Weeks every year around this time. It reminds me of the importance of establishing and practicing procedures in a systematic way. If you're struggling with where to start with your little ones, I highly recommend this book! (click the image for Amazon affiliate link)
Interspersed amidst all the procedures practice is lots of character ed lessons. One of my favorites is teaching about friendship. First grade is such a transitional year for young learners as they become more aware of themselves and their peers. We spend a lot of time discussing and modeling what a good friend is. We begin by reading one of my very favorite books, The Sandwich Swap. This is the sweetest story about two girls, one who eats a peanut butter sandwich and one who eats hummus on pita. They learn that their differences make their friendship stronger. It's a must read for any elementary classroom! Click below to find it on Amazon (affiliate link).
After reading this book, we begin a classroom discussion on what makes a good friend. To get my firsties thinking about what they want in a friend, I always start with a turn and talk between carpet partners. This is especially helpful to my EL students who need that extra scaffold before having to share out in a whole group setting. This was the start of our anchor chart - we will continue to add to it over the next week or so.
I next introduced students to their very first "partner poster". Partner posters are a super simple lesson response activity. Student partners receive a blank sheet of paper and a cup of markers. They collaborate together to illustrate a vocabulary word, an important idea from a story, or perhaps a specific story element. Today's assignment was to illustrate what a good friend does. We had some bumps along the way, but I was pleased with how well my students were able to collaborate. At the end, we did a quick share out.
During Closing Circle, we had a conversation about our new friendship learning. I explained to students that we would be creating a "Classroom Promise" about how we would like to treat each other. I took student suggestions for the promise and then re-wrote them after school. The next day, students decorated their own "person" cut-out with crayons and construction paper. We then had a signing ceremony, and students signed their names under the Class Promise. It was a great cumulative activity about all learned together! Of course we will continue returning to this topic throughout the year, but these activities provide a good foundation and common ground for students to reference as the year goes on.