I am waiting for my first class to come and thinking of first grade at the same time. First graders are so excited about school and learning with their teachers. It's a difficult grade to teach because you are constantly on in the room and there isn't much down time to recharge.
Maybe the computer lab could help. On the school's computers there is an icon of a penguin. The penguin stands for a program called TUX PAINT. It fascinates most first graders. It is also a way for them to respond to their learning. I've used it to complete a math benchmark about patterns because it has so many great stamps. The stamps change size, orientation and are easily erased and fixed so the first grader doesn't have to rub a whole in the pencil to change their mind. I used it with first graders to respond to an author study too. The kids drew pictures of the book characters and setting. Jennifer Kling (coolpen16)