Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sparkle Statements!

Who doesn’t LOVE glitter!?  Haha… Ok so I don’t like the cleanup either but I just love how it makes things so much more colorful! We were working on creating “sparkle statements” this week as a part of our unit on RESPECT.  It was one of four lessons on our character trait “respect.”  Students had a blast thinking of respectful statements to put inside their shapes.  They couldn’t wait to make their statement “shine” by tracing it with glitter glue!  Students were so proud to present their respectful statements to the class.  Check out a couple below!


As part of this monthly unit we also read the book Show Some Respect by Anastasia Suen, and The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry

Both of these trade books are great at showing how to respect others and the environment!
This is just one quick glimpse into this character trait/bullying pack which is a best seller in our store.  It consists of an entire year’s worth of lessons!  You can check it out at our TPT store!  
                    Have a great rest of your week!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Do your kiddos struggle with inferencing? I usually feel like my kids do really well with it until I say the word. Then I feel like I'm speaking Spanish. I've decided to take it s-l-o-w this year. We have talked over and over about inferencing and have practiced frequently but I have yet to have them practice this skill while reading a story. I know, I know! That will be my big push after winter break but for right now, they are pretty much rockin' my socks with their inferences. Take a look at an activity we did not too long ago:

First, I found this cute little pack on TpT for FREE!
(Click on the image below to link to the page)

So, I printed out the 'Cookie Clue Cards' and attached clues to the back. (The best part?! This can be re-used over and over!)

The kids had a 'Mising Cookies Case File' sheet where they recorded all of the clues and made their inferences. However they had an even better time making their dective and writing about their inferences. Here is a look at our finished product:

"I inferer Santa is the cookie theif. I think this becuase Santa lives by a snowy environment. He wears a red suit. Santa also wears fuzzy boots. He devours cookies and milk. That is why I think he stole the cookies."

How do you teach inferencing in your classrooms?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December Currently

We are linking up with Farely over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for her December edition of currently.

Speaking of RAK.....we did some with our kiddos last year and we loved it. We spent time talking about Random Acts of Kindness and had the kids brainstorm a list of things we could do around the school. Each day they did something new. Some of the things they chose were: give thank you cards and cookies to our specials teachers, cleaned our room 'extra clean' one day to help out the custodian, they even stayed a few extra minutes in the cafeteria one day to help pick up the 2nd grade tables. We hope to do this with our kids again this year.

Head back later this week to see what we have been working on in our classrooms, thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cyber Monday and New Common Core ELA I Can Statements

We hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving with your families. We both had a wonderful time but ate wayyyy too much;)
We are participating in the awesome Cyber Monday sale on TPT. You can conveniently click the link below to check out our store.

We are soooo excited to announce that we just finished our second grade ELA "I can statements." Each standard is broken into several statements that students are able to understand. A picture accompanies each statement to help make the words more meaningful. This pack is arranged into each of the ELA strands and the standards that go with each strand.  We hope you and your students enjoy!
Have a great rest of your weekend.  We will be spending ours looking at all of the packs we will be purchasing on Monday!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


That is one of my least favorite topics to teach my kiddos about in writing. Really. Out of all of the resources I have gathered over the past couple of years, you would think I would finally have it down. When December rolls around and I reflect on my 'voice' lessons from November, I usually feel that 1/3 of my class really grasps the concept and the other 2/3 are thinking "Whew! Glad that is over!"

This is the year though! We have been working so hard to understand what it means when a writer uses voice in their story and I couldn't be happier with the progress we have made. Here is what we have been up to for the past 2 weeks:

The first strategy for adding voice to our stories that we discuss, is making our emotions stand out. We spent a lot of time looking through various picture books and searching for the author's/character's emotions. These are some of the books we previewed:


Then we started brainstorming other strategies we could use besides showing our emotions. Here is our anchor chart:

And today was by far my favorite lesson so far this unit. I wrote 3 sentences that could be a part of a story. My kiddos worked in pairs to add voice to what was already written. Check these improvements out:

It's hard to read this one but I love it: "Finally, my chick hatched. P.S.- It's the coolest chick in town".
After I demonstrated how amazed I was at their corrections I had some who were anxious to head back to their seats and write their own stories. How fabulous is this one?!

We still have another week or so of working with voice and I am excited to see where my kiddos take it.

We also wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! It is a bit early, but we're stepping away from posting until after gets to be a bit hectic! Enjoy the time with family and friends, we will be back to catch up soon!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A tribute to Veteran’s Day

Both of our grandfathers fought in World War ll so Veteran’s Day is a special time for us to thank them for all of their bravery and dedication to serve our country.  Many of our kiddos had either fathers or relatives who are currently enlisted in the services.  We are so blessed to have all of those courageous soldiers fighting for us!
What better way to start out our Veteran’s Day lesson than with a great book…Pepper’s Purple Heart by Heather French Henry is a great book for students to connect with.  Through the little girl Claire, and her friend Robby, children learn all about this day and why he honor veterans. 
 After reading this story… students were eager to create their own soldiers and bald eagles that we displayed. Our kids had a great time individualizing their soldiers and brainstorming words to describe the soldiers.  The web below our soldiers was inspired by Mrs. Williamson on her blog Welcome to Room 36 A Kindergarten Blog. You can check our her super cute soldier by clicking on the blog name. 

Students also had a blast making these bald eagles!  We don’t use paint often in second grade so when we do our students go crazy...of course the whole time we were engaged in a discussion about Veteran's Day. By the end of our two projects, students had a greater understanding of this important and special day dedicated to the men and women who serve our county. 


Monday, November 5, 2012

November Currently

This year is just flying by! I keep hoping that it will slow down so that I can do a better job of keeping up with this little blog. But....that's life!
We are linking up with Farley over at 'Oh Boy, 4th Grade' for November's edition of currently.

There are just too many cute Veteran's Day packs on TpT and I just can't pick! I did find a cute craftivity on Pinterest so I'm pretty sure that is what we are going to attempt. I'm not a fan of breaking out the paints but these bald eagles were just too cute to pass up. I will be sure to post some pictures next week after I try it with my kids. (and I want to make sure I link up to the webiste where I found it!) How do you discuss Veteran's Day in your classroom?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spiders and a Halloween Freebie!

Halloween time is perfect for integrating skills using a “spider” theme. The Boys couldn’t wait to discuss the creepy, crawly critters, and the girls got excited to use their crafty skills to create pom pom spiders.
This year we are implementing the new common core standards along with still teaching the old standards to ensure our kiddos are ready for the Ohio Achievement Assessment in third grade. Writing an opinion piece is a part of the new ELA Standards for second grade. After brainstorming several opinions, students were quick to share how they felt about the hairy 8-legged creatures. (One of our favorite opinions was "they are gross because the guts splatter on your shoe when you step on them." ) haha

They were quick to engage in meaningful discussions about spiders after reading several nonfiction texts.

(I was so exicted when this student called me over to point out a label which was one nonfiction text feature we already learned!)

Students were sooo excited to make their very own spiders to go along with their opinion writing. Aren’t they adorable! (Hobby Lobby is one of our favorite places! ;)

To celebrate our week on spiders, we made our “cheesy spider  web” snack thanks to Christina Bainbridge’s snazzy snack recipes. Students had a blast creating their own spider webs and spiders.  It was a tasty way to end a great week on spiders!

Click on the image below for a Halloween freebie I have, Who has game with doubles and doubles plus one facts!

Happy Halloween! =)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Save the Literary Pumpkins

Whew! We have made it through our first party of the year. Although we are exhausted, we couldn't wait to show your what our kiddos have been up to!
Last year we purchased the 'Save the Literary Pumpkins' pack from the LessonPlan SOS Teachers and gave it a try with our kids. It was a HUGE hit! This year, we did it again.
Each student is trying to 'save' a pumpkin from being carved by disguising it as one of their favorite storybook characters. After they disguse their pumpkin, they write about how this disguise will save their pumkin from being carved. Take a look at how neat they turned out!

Annie: The Magic Tree House Series

The Lorax


Hello Kitty

Cookie Monster (who came with a plate of real cookies!)

Then, we filled our school display case with all of the pumpkins and the accompanying books:

Our kids have truly enjoyed working on their pumpkin. They love when we have time to walk past the display and look at all of the different characters (Out of 3 second grade classes, we only had 1 or 2 kids use the same character as someone else....there was definately a variety!)

Interested in trying this with your kids? Use the link above to head to the LessonPlan SOS TpT store and purchase the pack. You won't be sorry!

We hope you all have a spooktacular Halloween!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Linky Party

We are linking up with The 3am Teacher for this fabulous linky party! She is celebrating her 1 year blogging anniversary!

We are very new to the blogging world, seeing as we have only been blogging for a few months. With that being said, it is hard for us to pick out our favorite memory. We feel that we have learned so much not only about the blogging world, but about ourselves in the process. We have met so many fabulous "fellow bloggers" and have gained so many resources along the way.

Since we have to choose, one of our favorite memories about blogging would have to be hosting our first giveaway. There were so many questions running through our minds....Who would be willing to donate an item for our give away? Would anyone even enter? How-in-the-heck do people get that cool Raffelcopter thing on their blog?! Pushing our questions aside, we plunged forward. We asked some friends to donate items to the give-away, we spent waaayyy to many hours figuring out Raffelcopter, and yes, we even had some people enter! We will never forget the feeling after it was all said-and-done. Phew! We made it through. That's what is like for us as newbies....stepping out on a limb and hoping for the best. We know that we're probably not the only ones who have felt like this but all you bloggers are so dang good, it can be hard to keep up sometimes!

Are you interested in joining this linky party? We hope so, becuase we want to read some of your favorite memories from your first year of blogging. (and meet some new bloggy friends of course!)

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fiction or Non-Fiction?

This post is going to be short and sweet. We have our Fall Festival tomorrow night and I still need to get some last minute things done!

We have been working really hard  (Ok....I've been DRILLING) the difference between fiction and non-fiction. My kiddos have been doing great with this concept this year....until we discussed the difference between realism and fantasy. Now, when I ask what type of story we are reading I either get 'fantasy' or 'non-fiction'. So I decided to create a simple flow-chart to help my kids. It's nothing fancy, but hopefully it will get the point across. 

Think you might be able to use this in your room? Click on the picture to download. Leave us a comment below and share how you teach the difference between these various types of stories.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Introduction to Science--Tools, Terms, and Scientific Method

Just the mentioning of the word science sparks our kiddos excitement and ours as teachers…I mean what better way to elicit higher order thinking than to perform experiments! Although experimenting is a HUGE part of science, we wanted our students to have an understanding of what it really means to be a scientist. Therefore, we have created a mini unit consisting of rules, terms, and tools. Our students absolutely LOVED the tools matching game (a.k.a. memory). You can see a sneak peek below.

In addition to the basics, we also felt it was essential as “scientists” to understand and USE the scientific method. After students learned the method by reading the steps on the kid friendly posters, they got to experiment. What better way to truly understand the scientific method than to utilize it in action! Some of the experiments consisted of using candy (their favorites of course). Others in the pack are titled “Salt Art,” “Balloon Rockets,” and “Homemade Bouncy Balls.” Honestly by the end of unit, our students could not only recite the steps of the scientific method, but they could tell us when and how they used each step while conducting their experiments…this was a slam dunk moment for us!
At the end of the packet are several assessments on tools, terms, and the scientific method. Students also will be awarded a certificate congratulating them on their hard work and informing them they are now ready to be “real scientists.” This gave our kiddos the extra confidence to tackle any science experiment in the future! Click on the picture below to check it out at our TPT store!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October Currently

So excited to be linking up with Oh Boy Fourth Grade for our *first* currently. (I  know, I know! We're a bit behind on the times but hey, life gets in the way sometimes!)

Head back to our blog next week for a peek at our newest science unit. We're testing it out with our kiddos now, and we are really enjoying it! Enjoy these last few days of warm weather before it really starts to feel like fall!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Place Value Freebie

It’s been awhile since we have posted a freebie so we thought we’d share our latest math creation. We have found this year that a handful of our kiddos are really struggling to grasp the concept of place value. Since this is the foundation of ALL other math concepts we thought we’d better make sure our students have a good understanding before moving any further. What better way than to play a game right!? Of course our students are at different levels so we have created two different place value activities at 3 levels. We use the varied activities during our small math group time when students meet with us.

The first game requires students to spin the place value spinner while identifying base-ten blocks. The second activity can be used with base-ten blocks or just numbers for students to compare two numbers and fill in the signs >, <, or =. It is versatile so teachers may use however they choose! You can click on the image below to visit our TPT store and download this activity pack for free!

We are strong advocates for technology in the classroom so we have found a great link which practices place value and also has varying ability levels. We were thrilled to find a website that differentiates!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Behavior Linky Party

We are so excited to be joining the linky party hosted by What the Teacher Wants

Each year comes a new group of kiddos and what may have worked in previous years may not work the next. We have tried various ideas in our classroom and here is what is working for us this year.

The first thing we changed was our behavior wheel. Not only can the kids move down if they are not displaying appropriate behaviors, but they can also move up if they are going above and beyond. Any of the students who make it to orange will get a 'gem' to put on their clip.

How do the students move their pins up? Dojo points! Have you ever heard of Class Dojo? If you haven't you need to head over to to check it out! In not so many words, this is a chance for you to either award points to students who are doing what they should be doing and take away points from those who are not. Each student gets an 'avatar' (we call them monsters) and it will track their points throughout the day. You can customize what they earn/lose their points for and each time that someone does earn a point a sound goes off. This sound is differnt from the one that is made when someone loses a point. Its really easy to use on your smartboard, but better yet, there is an app for smart phones. (Which means you can give/take points in the hallways, in the bathroom, at an assembly, etc.!!) 

We utilize this tool during our Daily 4 math block and Daily 5 reading block only. We just take our phones with us to the small group table and we can hand out or take away points as we look at what our students are doing. I don't want my students concerned with who is earning points and who is losing points so I do not turn on the projector at this time. All they can hear is the sound of the points being given or taken away. At the end of Daily 4 and Daily 5, I will bring up the site and everyone gets to look where they stand. If a student earns 3 points throughout the day they can move to purple and 5 points will move them to orange. There is way more to tell you about this site, but I will let you see for yourself!

Any other time of the day, I use a token reward system (I mean how fitting for a pirate theme?!) Each student has his/her own 'treasure chest'. I used library pockets and attached them to my bulletin board.

Each time that a kiddo is doing something wonderful, they earn a token for their treasure chest. 4 tokens at the end of the week earns a pick from our 'tree'

Some suckers are marked with a black dot and those lucky winners get to pick from the treasure chest.
This 'token' system can be used in many ways. For example, Val's students are given a 'lollipop' stick. They needed to earn all 4 pieces of their lollipop to earn a pick from the tree.

The combination of tokens rewards and dojo points is how we keep our little ones motivated to demonstrate good behavior throughout the week and we are lovin' the results!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Autumn Equinox/Teachable Moments

This past Saturday was the first day of fall, thus the Autumn Equinox.  I tutor at Sylvan on Saturday mornings so I was excited to experience the equinox with my kiddos in grades 1-7. What a diversity in ages/abilities huh!? It sure makes tutoring interesting and fun at the same time. Ok so getting back to the equinox… I don’t know if you have tried this but a raw egg is supposed to balance on a flat surface on this special day. Of course being the teacher that I am I bring in a whole carton of eggs to “balance” with my students. I love nothing more than to take advantage of teachable moments with real-world occurrences. My students literally dropped their jaws when I told them to try and balance an egg on our table. They looked at me as if I had just given the green light to be mischievous. 
The third grader was the first to jump to this challenge (I’m sure thinking the entire time “anything to get away from working on math!”) I was astounded and very proud that immediately he was able to balance an egg upright.  I have never seen him so excited and pleased with himself as I did in that moment. It was his time to shine and explain to everyone else how he accomplished this task.
Next, the seventh grader tried and became frustrated so walked away. After some coaxing from his younger peer he attempted again and succeeded! I was literally beaming inside when both of these boys accomplished balancing their eggs. This led them to try some more but for some reason the eggs would stay standing for a few seconds but then fall over.
My little first grader was the last to attempt this balancing act, but she was never able to get it. She was not quite patient or still enough and honestly on a Saturday morning I don’t blame her! So, we got an egg to balance together. She grinned so big that we all started giggling. It was quite an experience that I will always remember with my more “challenging” students. What this taught me was sometimes we need to take a break from all of the work to just enjoy the little things in life.   
Pretty amazing how balancing an egg can motivate three very different and challenging students!!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Character Education

Our school has adopted the OLWEUS anti-bullying program which has noticeably made a difference in the number of bullying incidences.  Our students know what the term “bullying” means and  what it looks like.  Now that the bullying occurrences have gone down, we still want our students to exhibit other good character traits. The question is how???  We are fortunate to be in a school where our guidance counselor comes in to give a mini lesson on a monthly character trait. These lessons consist of the following traits: Citizenship, Responsibility, Respect, Compassion, Honesty, Empathy, Friendship, Cooperation, and Self-Discipline.   They key is to get the lessons to really stick and carry over into the daily routine.  It helps to get students to ask themselves "what does each character trait MEAN to me???" To aid in this understanding, we have created a unit to last teachers through the entire school year.   This pack consists of 57 pages of lessons, activities, and posters. Below you will see a sample. 

 Like what you see!? Head on over to our TPT store to check it out!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Word Wall #3

This is our final post about word walls. We would like to share with you some ways in which we use(d) the sight word side of our word wall.

Here are a few games we play to introduce and review these words on a weekly basis.

During the same lesson in which we introduce our sight words for the week, we play a game called Going, Going, Gone. Each student will need their own dry erase board and dry erase marker. (Don't have a class set? They could easily play in partners or small groups) Using the Smartboard write the sight word in disappearing letters. (On your toolbar, it is the icon that has a pen with purple stars around it) The kids have to write the word as many times as they can with correct spelling before the word completely disappears. Once all of the letters have disappeared from the smart board, time is up. Then they get to count how many times they wrote the word- it adds for some excitement.

To review these words, there are two games we play.
The first game is called BANG! You will need to make a card for each of your sight words. For every 10 or so sight words, you will need to add a BANG card.

Have your kids sit in a circle and place all of the cards face down(You will only use the sight words/ that you have currently taught your kids. As the year progressess more cards will be added to the game) Taking turns, each child will pick up a card. If they can read the sight word they get to keep the card. If they miss the word, they get one chance to call on a buddy for help. If the two of them can't correctly read the word, it goes back into the pile. If a student draws a BANG all cards go back into the center. The object of the game is to get back to start without drawing a BANG!

Another game that we play actually incorporates use of the word wall. First, you will need to break your kiddos into two teams. Line them up in front of the word wall (I put small amounts of tape on the floor). The first person in each team will have a flyswatter. You will call out a sight word and they race each other to be the first person to 'swat' the word on the word wall. Remember in post one where we said we alphabetize the words, which means that those words are constantly moving places? This is one of those instances where they need to use those alphabetizing skills in order to find the word they need. Once a team finds the word, the kids pass the flyswatters on to the next two players and they move to the back of the line. Then a new word is given to the two new kiddos at the front of the line. The kids always enjoy keeping score, but that's up to you!

This game can also be played with two different colored flashlights. This time the kids will stay on the line, but they have to be the first to shine their flashlight on the word. (It is very hard to play without colored flashlights, because it is hard to determine which team got to the word first)

Well, we're finally finished with our posts about word walls. We hope that you have enjoyed them and have taken away even just one small idea to use in your classroom. Check back at the end of this week for a sneak peek at our newest TpT unit!