Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook

After reading a blog post on: A Teacher's Treasure, I will be  adding this activity to my New Year's activities.  My second graders were so worried when after the news of the devastating tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook.  The PTA at Sandy Hook is collecting student snowflakes to welcome back their students in January.  Their Winter Wonderland theme will brighten students' hallways and display areas.  They will collect the snowflakes through January 12th.  The address for mailing is: 

 Connecticut PTSA 
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suit 103
Hamden, CT 06514

Friday, December 28, 2012

7 New Year's Classroom Ideas

I have been thinking a lot about my students and how we are going to begin New Year 2013 once our Christmas vacation is over.  I want students to begin the New Year excited. So, I have come up with 7 ideas to celebrate in second grade once we return.  So, here they are: 7 New Year's Ideas for Your Classroom

1)  A Snowy New Year -   I will use a little snowy science experiment to bring in the new year.  It's actually going to snow in our classroom.  I will add a picture of video once I locate the snow that I so carefully put away in a place so secret that I forgot where I put it. Teacher amnesia!

2) Snowmen - Students will create a snowman snack to eat with marshmallows, pretzels, a Hershey's kiss, and other candies for a special treat at snack.  I used icing to get the candies to stick

Students will add little pom poms to the top of their hats.

3) Students will create party hats showcasing the new date 2013.  They will enjoy showcasing these by wearing these to lunch.
New Year's Hat: Students will decorate the blank space in the middle with  colored paper and other materials.

Thanks to my trusty Cricut, I have 2013 ready for students to grab and add to their hats.
4) Pass it On - Students will do random acts of kindness throughout the day to celebrate the new year and bring about good cheer and excitement within their classmates and school.  Students will write on die-cut hearts and leave them by classroom doors for teachers and students and give them to random strangers and loved ones.

Heart Die Cuts are cut and ready to go for our first day back.
Random Acts of Kindness Hearts
5) Students will continue the wintry SNOW theme by listening to The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

6) Pop - Everyone knows you have to have some sound when the clock strikes midnight and the new year begins.  Students will Blow bubble gum bubbles (with permission from the principal of course) to create some popping sound.  They will then use balloons to begin their writing for the New Year's goals.
Leader in Me School - 7 Habits - 7 Goals
I created the 5" blurb with my  Cricut using Plantin SchoolBook.

I picked these up at Wal Mart on the Christmas clearance aisle for 50 cents each.

I also found these balloons to use at Wal Mart - 7 cents a pack for 12.
Goals for 2013 - We cannot forget goals!  Students will write their goals for the last part of the school year.  We will connect it Leader in Me style using the 7 habits.  Trying to make the terminology concrete in my students' minds this year is a concentration with this being our school's first year as a Leader in Me School.  Click here for Leader in Me 7 Habits - 7 Goals writing paper.

I am fully aware that all of you out there are not Leader in Me schools, so I created 2 more variations that you could use with this same idea.  Students could write a how to instructional paragraph on how they blew a bubble.  Click here for How to Blow a Bubble writing paper.  Once they experiment for a few minutes, they will begin making a class chart verbalizing their first hand information.  They will then write their paragraph.  Once the final copy is completed, students will blow up balloons to accompany a face to post with their writing.  They will also properly dispose of their gum prior to leaving the classroom.

Variation 3 would be to use the writing form New Year's Goals and do it similar to my example in the first picture.  Click here for the writing paper to accompany your New Year's Goals lesson.

7) It's time to study time: Students will create a New Year's clock and discuss a.m. and p.m. (real world connection) and create it on a clock.

I did an example and made 4" die cut circles for my students to use. 

At the end of the day, there will be one tired teacher and 18 excited students!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This morning we finished our Christmas Around the World study.  We had to catch up in order to finish on time, so we did 3 countries and managed to finish our little booklet up. 

Green was the definitely color today.  We enjoyed some Grinch fun today after lunch.  The kids are so excited that I can hardly get a word in edge-ways (don't know if that's a word or not, but you know what I mean).  After reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas, students compared how the Grinch was at the beginning of the story and how he was at the end.   Students used their 7 Habits language to tell how the Grinch changed.  Students then made an origami Grinch and enjoyed some Grinch punch.  It was the quietest they were all day!

Just grab some lime sherbet and Sprite, Twist Up, or 7 Up and you have yourself some good grinch punch!
Don't you just love these little Santa hats!  My teacher friend made them up on the spur of the moment this afternoon so they kids would be decked out for the assembly.
We ended the day with a little 7 Habits pep rally with our entire elementary school present.  It is so fun to see the students taking such great leadership roles at these early ages.  Today was second grade's turn to lead the program and we did 2 Christmas songs - Away in a Manger and Jingle Bells.  The kids did great and there is just something special about hearing kids sing Christmas carols.  It brings the Christmas spirit right to ya!
My Little Santa Babies!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Candy Cane Math

Can we say hyper!  Boy going to school up until 4 days before Christmas can be wild!  The students are so excited they can hardly stand themselves. I have been doing my best to keep them entertained and actively engaged.  They could hardly wait for math time to complete their candy cane tasting activity.  Students were given 4 different kinds of candy canes to sample.  They then decided which candy cane was their favorite. It was hard for some to pick just one, but they managed to decide.  Students chose from peppermint, blueberry, cherry, and strawberry.  We ended up with a tie between blueberry and strawberry.  Students recorded each vote and then graphed the results.  Hands-on/mouths-on learning was a total hit!  

Tomorrow will be Grinch punch and Grinch writing using the 7 Habits!

Christmas in Mexico

Students were all hands on for our Christmas in Mexico craft.  We used our hands, green and red construction paper, yellow markers or crayons, and thin round paper plates to create these Poinsettia.  I got the idea from Enchanted  This was our Day 2 of our Christmas Around the World tour.  They loved the activity!  

In the background of the 3rd picture you also see Santa legs.  Students told how they would get Santa unstuck using the 7 Habits after listening to Santa's Stuck

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Around the World

Cinnamon Ornaments
     Well, we started our study today of 9 places around the world and how they study about Christmas.  This cinnamon and applesauce ornament craft is a favorite every year with my students.  We tied it in to America's Christmas celebration today on Day 1 of our unit.  Boy did the room smell scrumptious!   
     Some students asked about eating their ornaments, but I told them that it would totally make them sick!!  Too much of a good thing would make bellies hurt!  

     By the way, most of my ideas from this unit came from a teacher I found on the Internet several years back.  Her name is Christina Bainbridge.  She has some really awesome ideas!
     Our math lesson was sooo much fun.  We used a ruler and construction paper to make a tree.  We measured by two's counting backward with 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 inches each to make different strips of green.  Then I showed my students how to cut and arrange the strips of paper into a tree on larger paper.  They then decorated their trees with presents and ornaments American style to go with our Christmas Around the World tradition.

This is how I showed the students how to make their strips.

This student topped his tree with a star.


Rudolph is an oldie but goodie.  I enjoy this reindeer writing craft each year.  This year students told how Santa would get the presents delivered after the reindeer got a stomachache following a chocolate binge.  They came up with some really cute ideas from giving them medicine, letting some more reindeer help with the special night.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary

My thoughts and prayers have been with this school and community since Friday.  I pray for healing and comfort during this terrible tragedy. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Elf from Santa Teaches Leader in Me: 7 Habits Elf Style


Well, my sweet second graders received a special delivery today all the way from the North Pole.  You should have seen their eyes when our office lady walked in with a package just for them.  Santa's special package included non other than an elf from the North Pole.  Now the kids have heard of Elf on the Shelf, but they had never heard of a school elf.  Inside the box Santa sent was a letter from Santa himself.  It explained to the students that he had heard that they were learning about the Leader in Me and the 7 Habits. He sent his best elf to help us out learning how live the 7 habits way...even after Christmas.  Let's hope!! HeHe!

At the end of hte day, I had the students reflect on their behavior and tell me how they had shown one of the seven habits.  Each student was excited to get a chance to dip into the box filled with Christmas goodies from candy to card sets, note pads, etc.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Migration and Hibernation

Animal Survival: Migration and Hibernation
Migration Poster I prepared for Table Groups
This past week, students enjoyed working in groups and learning about animals and how they survive when winter comes.  My second graders worked in cooperative groups.  Each member of the group had jobs: writer, text reader, animal reader, and speaker.  The writer wrote down information on the group poster.  Students had to answer 2 questions either about migration or hibernation and list animals that either migrate or hibernate.  The whole group stood with their poster at the end of their work time and the speaker told the findings.  After all groups had a turn presenting, students completed a chart together with me on the SMART Board telling the differences and similarities of migration and hibernation.  The next day, students enjoyed choosing their own animal and researching their science book, other informational text, and the computer to find out information about their animal of choice. This was a huge hit!!  They especially loved the computer research time!
Hibernation Poster I prepared for Table Groups

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Whew! Did I just look at the date correctly??

As I am wrapping my mind around the fact that in a few weeks I will begin my 14th year of teaching, I still fill like it's the beginning again.  I still get excited and a little overwhelmed at the fact that I will have yet another group of young minds to learn from.  I am so thankful to have summer time to regroup, refresh, and renew my mind.  As August quickly approaches, I am starting to really think about getting in gear for setup, room theme, and plan of action.  I started tonight organizing my files on my jump drive for the upcoming year.  I like to get lesson plans outlined for the year according to the new dates in word documents and put them in month by month files.  I also like to look at unit plans and map things out on a written calendar.  I got the written part done on the plane back in June on the way to Michigan, so I can now refer to that as I get myself organized.

Something I would like to share with everyone is the way I started doing my back to school plans a few years ago.  I created a numbered list of tasks to accomplish each day so that I can check them off as I get things completed with the kids.  Then if I don't finish something, I just copy and paste to the next date and print.

(I was going to put a link, but couldn't find the button.)
Here is a Day 2 Example:

  1. Greet Students
  2. Tell where to put book bags.
  3. Tell about Pencils
  4. All About Me Packet
  5. Finish Rock Star Profile.
  6. Take up all finished work from yesterday.
  7. Tell students what to do when finished working on packet – read books in book basket.
  8. Model Pledge – Point to Pledge, Show them where the pledge words are in case they don’t know them.
  9. Model 1 Min. of Silence
  10. Attendance folder, lunch forms, money to office
  11. Tell that I’m going to give numbers today
  12. Tell about not going behind tables and where cabinets are
  13. Practice Hand Signal
  14. Hall Expectations  - How to walk, where to stand
  15. Restroom Expectations – Restroom Break
  16. Fire Drill Practice – Line Up – Walking outside
  17. Remind about Name Tags
  18. Discuss 1, 2, 3 consequences 1–verbal warning as I call attention to his/her action with a “1” and 5 points will be taken off
  19. 2- verbal warning as I call attention to his/her action with a “2” and 5 points will be taken off  - Time out
  20. 3- verbal warning as I call attention to his/her action with a “3” and 5 points will be taken off, also immediately sit in time-out.
  21. Go over procedure for Paper bag show and tell
  22. Time Capsule – Work on Towel Roll
  23. Lunchroom – Fork Person
  24. Lunchroom – Clean Tables
  25. Door Holder
  26. Line Leader
  27. Empty Tray – Then sit with head down or quietly talk to a friend beside you.
  28. After lunch – Restroom Break – Where to Line up – Don’t go inside room yet
  29. Discuss Lunchroom/Hall/Restroom – What went well, What didn’t
  30. Read David Gets in Trouble – Text to Self
  31. Paper Bag Show & Tell
  32. Talk about 100’s chart – Have students work on their 100 or more if they have time – Meet on the rug to discuss
  33. Show & tell bag Model & Tell
  34. All About Me Packet – Finish
  35. Rock Star Music
  36. Bushel of Fun Activity
  37. Fishy Snack
  38. Morning Routine – Discuss where to look if forget – What do I do in the morning? Chart
  39. Clean Up
  40. Before PE Chair Routine
  41. Leaving for PE
  42. ******Talk about What to do after PE
Thanks so much for stopping by!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Measurement, Weather, and Bees

We have been measuring everything in sight for the past couple of weeks. This is one area I feel is very real-life connected, so we are spending enough time measuring with actual standard and non-standard units of measure. My kiddos really enjoyed getting to create feet in a yard. I found this idea on Pinterest, and I really think it helped my sweeties connect and put in their little brains that 3 feet make a yard. They then used their yard's to measure during the hands-on part of our lesson.

We had such a fun week continuing our weather study. I purchased Hope King's Cloudy with a Chance unit from TPT and my kids have learned so much. They have enjoyed making weather tools, writing about meteorologists, researching severe weather, and so much more.

Next week, we will wrap it up with cloud watching and reporting as well as performing a weather play.

We were feeling a little lucky today as we celebrated St. Patrick's Day today since the actual day will be on Saturday. Students wrote about their lucky day. They really enjoyed writing their final copy with green ink pens, I got this idea several years ago from a friend I met when I was taking my master's classes. Her name is Kamesha Brown. For math, we created a leprehaun using a glyph. We also made tally marks and created a graph using Lucky Charms cereal. Students really enjoyed eating green cupcakes at snack made by one of my fabulous student's grandmother.

We were entertained by a local bee keeper. He came dressed and everything! Our reading story last week was The Bee and so we were so excited when Mr. Beavers agreed to come and talk about beekeeping!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sharpened and Unsharpened Pencils

Well, I finally had the time to work on my sharpened and unsharpened pencil can project. My old ones were looking pretty bad, so I decided to do a make over. I don't let students sharpen their own pencils. I want keep my sharpener for as long as I can and I have found my method to work pretty well. I have a sharpened can and an unsharpened can and have found that this classroom management strategy works with my second graders. They know to make sure they have 2 sharpened pencils in the mornings. I try to keep the sharpened can as full as possible and when I see the unsharpened can getting full, I know it's time to sharpen again. It's amazing what some spray paint and foam letters will do!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

President's Day Learning

We have had a good time learning about President Lincoln and and Washington. One morning this week, I paired students with a fact sheet I compiled with interesting facts about George Washington and numbered each sentence with a 1 or a 2 and partnered each of my students. This way they practiced fluency as they read to each other. All week we have focused on these two amazing men of our past through literacy centers and other activities. Our centers included picture cards I found at Target while on vacation in Savannah, Georgia. They are awesome with great pictures on the front of each president and facts about each on the back. The kids love them every year. I had the students complete an information sheet after they pick their favorite president. They are often fascinated to find out information about the presidents and see what they look like. It also becomes real clear to them how many presidents we have actually had once they see them. Another presidental center I have is of a map of the United States that I saved from Weekly Reader one year. It shows a picture of each president and which state they are from. On Friday, we started off our day with this neat powerpoint from Youtube that I found on Pinterest. I will use this every year. It has great music and beat that the kids loved! I bet we listened to it 10 times yesterday morning. We also enjoyed doing part of this great free unit I found from Amy Lemons on TPT.

I plan to finish the activities as I go into a patriotic unit next week. Students loved the ABC order activity and President word find. We have been studying money the past two weeks, and we concluded it yesterday with a coin glyph in which they had to choose Washington or Lincoln and answer several questions through things they drew on the coin and how they decorated them.

Our day seemed to fly. After lunch we finished one of my favorite chapter books to read this time of the year, Chocolate Fever. After we finished reading it, students completed a character cube in which they answered questions about Henry, the main character. We also discussed how too much of a good thing can lead to unfortunate circumstances. It is so nice to be at this time of the year, when my second graders can sit and listen to a chapter book and create images in their mind. I have been able to read a couple of chapters each day and have learned to try and finish chapter books in 1 week so that students remember the book better. This has really helped with comprehension.

Second graders also assembled in the library for a NetSmartz program to talk about Internet safety. I was amazed to find out how many of our second graders have computers in their rooms and how many are on Facebook and how many get on the Internet without a parent close by. This really alarms me and tells me that I really need to caution them and help make their parents aware of what a dangerous place the Internet can be if they are not cautious. I have already let them watch a Brainpop video about this, but kids really think nothing bad can happen to them. Some are more mature about it and know not to give out important information about themselves, but I know others are not. It really scares me! We are in a whole new world now. I plan to draft a letter to parents this week explaining some saftey tips for them to use with their children.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Interactive Learning: 14 Ways to Keep Kids Engaged

It's that time of year again when the kids get antsy and can't keep still. So, I've been brainstorming ways to keep the kids engaged. They get so tired of staying inside during this cold weather. So, I've made me a cheat sheet to use during the day to make sure I don't keep them sitting too long and to keep them engaged during lessons.

1. Turn & Talk - Partner students before discussion/read aloud and have them turn and talk when you pose a question. Then you can ease around the room to see what they are thinking. (make notes to clarify, etc)
2. Thumbs up/down: When you pose a quick question, check for understanding with a quick thumbs up or down.
3. Math: Show me with fingers.
4. Tell me on the count of 3: Gives students thinking time
5. 1-2-3 Spelling: 1-Say the word. 2-Spell the word. 3-Say the word again (or write it).
6. Stand/Sit - For quick true/false or yes/no answers
7. Tell me with a whisper voice.
8. Look, lean, whisper: partner discussions/class discussions
9. Act out your answer.
10. Popsicle Sticks (Write numbers/student names on Popsicle sticks and remove when you call on a student. This will ensure you call on students equitably.
11. Spelling: Write 3 times - pencil, maker, crayon
12. Spelling Bee
13. Vocabulary Bee
14. Vocabulary Sticker Tally: Put words you are learning on a large card and each time the word is used in writing, speaking, etc. a sticker is placed on the card and when it is filled, the word is retired.