The Concrete

Hi Again!

We have been in full swing construction since September and every week we make more and more progress. When my father and husband finished installing the rebar in one weekend we had to have the inspector out. This means that somebody from the county had to come check out work. Having the inspector out can be very stressful. They are the person who will tell you that you may move on or that you need to stop, redo what you did, and then have me back out to check. We had our inspection the week before Thanksgiving. It was important to pass because we all had time off to dedicate a lot of work on the house that weekend.

My husband and mother met with the inspector and thankfully he was very happy with what he saw! So we were given the okay to continue working. The weekend of Thanksgiving wasn’t really even Thanksgiving all….we had to pour concrete.

Here was the FIRST official pour of the house!!!

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Before we even got to pour the first batch of cement, we had to mix our own concrete. This is what the two main ingredients of concrete look like. There is 2 parts sand, 3 parts gravel, and 1 part concrete.


Here is almost everyone hard at work. My husband’s brother and father came to work. In order to make the concrete you have to measure out the 3 parts in buckets. You have to do this for each load. A whole load of concrete is really not that much either.At least this time my dad purchased an electric mixer….it is the orange wheel barrow in the left corner.



Here is what the wet concrete looks like while it is setting up in the forms. 20151127_143423


Here is my dad smoothing the concrete out. This step gets the bubbles out of the wet concrete and smooths the top layer. IMG_242220151127_143423IMG_2424


Here you can see that the out cove is poured and the front part of the house. 20151130_08034420151127_143410

Pouring concrete is labor intensive and physically draining, but when you see the finish product it is very rewarding.


Teaching Text Features

Teaching text features in 1st grade sounded daunting at first. I wasn’t sure where to begin or what the kids would like. I started my research on the computer and saw that many activities were above grade level. I did  not want my students to get stuck on the content and forget that they were suppose to be learning about text features.

I decided that I would have to make my own brochures and ease the students into finding text features. I created 4 brochures about habitats: The Ocean, The Rainforest, The Desert, The Forest. These brochures are simple and do not have a lot of content. The point of the brochures is to teach students to find text features. The types of text features I included were:

  • Table of Contents
  • Titles
  • Headers
  • Bold Words
  • Pictures
  • Captions
  • Lists
  • Maps
  • Graphs
  • Page Numbers

I really think that by creating more simplistic brochures my class was able to focus on the true heart of the lesson and unit. Which is:

Know and use various text features (e.g., headings, tables of contents, glossaries, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text.

It takes four weeks to go through these brochures and to model how to create your own brochure with direct instruction. First, we go through the brochure I created and color the different text features different colors. We talk about their importance and how you can find them. Then I show them how I created the brochure and walk them through writing their own. We include different text features and make the brochures come to life.

The next 3-4 weeks is dedicated to doing research and creating their own brochures about the 5 different types of animals. The students are to use various forms to research such as, websites, books, or magazines. Now that they have a background of text features they should be able to read informational text with more ease and be able to pull out key details. The unit includes a graphic organizer that can help them organize the information they find about their animals. After they finish research they turn the information into sentences. The goal of the lesson is to use text features to share their information. So, yes they are writing, but I am looking for bold words, captions on pictures, pictures of maps or graphs and table of contents. I want to see them using text features when they write.

I have been teaching the students how to find key details during science with another unit I purchased on TpT. It is a fabulous unit that teaches students close reading. So I knew that when I created my unit, the students would have the skills necessary to help them find key details. It is something that we have been working on for two months. It is also about animals, so essentially they could use this as a resource when they write their own brochures.

I really wanted to create a unit where students weren’t getting stuck on the information and were learning about text features. I made the unit go over animals because kids love animals and seem to know a lot about them before they even begin research. This helps us not put all the focus on content and rather the focus on the standards. I am really excited with the progress I see my students making. I see that they are finding text features during guided reading groups and while were read our text books. They are excited when they find them and they always want to share with me what they see.

Here is what my simplistic brochures look like..
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These are the brochures that I have the students search for and color text features. The brochures end up color coded and the students have seen and discussed different text features. Once they finish all four habitats, they move onto doing their own research. The point of going over text features is to help them when they begin to research animals of their own. This is the graphic organizer I have created to help them do their research.

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Then they transfer their information onto their brochure. I require that they use different text features to teach me about their animals.

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Here are some photos of the first time we did the brochures and a photo of the wonderful resource I use from TpT.


This was our little sloth art project for our Rainforest week! I have them all hanging in a “tree” in class! I will be giving a free copy of the head so that you can make it with your kiddos. Follow me on my blog and my TpT Store so that you can stay up to date! You can purchase the Text Features: Brochures Unit by clicking here!IMG_2434