Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Toast to a New Year!

New Year's Resolutions 
Last year when I taught kindergarten I read Whistle for Willie By Ezra Jack Keats and we talked about setting goals and accomplishing anything you put your mind to if you practice and try hard. We then talked about what a New Year's Resolution is and why people make them. The students then wrote their resolutions on a slab of butter and pasted it on a piece of bread. I think this is a great activity for any elementary grade level so I plan on doing it again with my second graders. As you know, I have no skill, so I printed, cut, and traced this toast clipart onto brown construction paper. I also printed a page full of lines onto yellow paper and then my fiancĂ© cut out butter slabs for me since he thought my original square ones looked nothing like butter :D It's a team effort. What other cute activities or books do you read? I'd love to try something new. Happy New Year! Enjoy your last few days of vacation. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We compared and contrasted three versions of the Gingerbread man 
The Gingerbread Man By Jim AylesworthGingerbread Baby by Jan Brett, and Gingerbread Friends By Jan Brett then the students created their own Gingerbread person or animal and wrote a refrain to go along with it. This is where their creativity really came into play!

This student made a Gingerbread Reindeer and it says: 
"Dash, Dash
I'm a flying reindeer!
Try to catch me
And I'll give you a loud cheer!

The kids made their parents cookie mix jars as a Christmas present. It tied in perfectly with our math unit on measurement and fractions. Here is the  
ingredient tag. When you print make sure you select 3x5 index card. 

I bought a 2 pack of white gift bags for a 1.00 at the Dollar Tree. On one side the students decorated with markers/crayons and on the other they sponge painted. The bags were so unique and creative looking!

The bow has the lyrics to "Up on the Housetop" and the chimney says "Down through the chimney with good Saint Nick." 
Using cardstock and bows, the students made Christmas presents and wrote what they wanted for Christmas on them. They then put "to/from" labels on it.

My kiddos were super excited to get Christmas homework passes in their goodie bags. Free things that make them happy make me happy too :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sign in the Classroom

3 weeks ago I tried something new in my classroom and I am not the least disappointed. I decided to try a little sign and not only does it make my life easier but the kids LOVE it. These are the signs we use and the cards are posted in my classroom as reminders. 
 The first sign is the bathroom sign. Instead of being interrupted during my lessons or during small groups, the students make the bathroom sign and I either nod yes or no. My students know they can only go during instructional time if it's an emergency. 
Warning: there will be a lot of "emergencies" the first week of implementation because they all want to try it.
The second sign is "L" for whole body listening. We practice a lot what whole body listening looks like and sounds like. When I give the sign, the students immediately stop talking, look at me (or the speaker), and know I mean business. I love the fact that I don't have to sound like a nag. I give the symbol and it doesn't require me to open my mouth. The students know that they can tap the person next to them and give them the symbol if they are not paying attention when I'm trying to give them the "L" sign. 
I have a lot of story tellers this year. I love discussion and participation from my students but sometimes we just need to get down to business. When my students raise their hands they will either show an "I" sign for "I have a question," an "A" sign for "I have an answer," or a "C" sign for "I have a comment." I also like when I see the "comment hands" because I have a few that will go completely off topic and I can say "I'd love to hear your comment but does it have to do with the story I'm reading?" The kids absolutely love doing the signs too. I'm on week 3 and the sign has become automatic for some, but a few still need the reminder.
I use the "F" sign to remind students to remain on task. If I see that they are in "la la land" or are goofing around instead of yelling across the room I just give them the "stay on task" symbol. The students will give each other this symbol if they're being distracted while working too. I was a little unsure about implementing sign at first, but I don't regret it at all!
Here are the cards for display. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Welcome to Second Grade!

Clip chart
I use the clip chart management system in my class. I like that it is a positive reinforcer and encourages and rewards my students that are always on task, which then motivates the students who are not quite always on task. Instead of writing the student's name on the clothespin I assigned them each a number. I do this so there is some confidentiality. The students will memorize each other's numbers but outside visitors (parents, teachers, other students) won't necessarily know who's clothespin belongs to whom.The students keep the clip chart daily report sheet in their BEE binder.There is a spot for them to write homework, teacher to make comments, and parents to respond or write comments. 

Job chart
Since community helpers is a big 2nd grade social studies unit, I decided to model my job chart after that. I only made 7 community helpers but use them if you would like. I'll be creating more next year with a larger class. The heads are attached with velcro as we change jobs each week.

This is how I organize most of my math manipulatives. It is 4 shoe organizers stacked on top of each other. I think I originally got them at Walmart. The bins with the blue lids are word work bins labeled 1, 2, and 3. They all contain the same items and are used during Daily 5's word work choice. They contain: colored pencils, markers, alphabet stamps ($1.00 at Target in the back to school bins), magnetic letters, clothespin letters, and dry erase crayons. 

Author of the month
Each month I focus on a specific author. I write the author of the month on this laminated file. As we learn about more authors, we compare/contrast writing styles. The students LOVE finding out who the author is each month. By the end of the month the students are talking about the author like they're best friends. It's great! 

  CAFE board
I implemented Daily 5 and CAFE this year which is off to a great start!

To begin reading, the students sit on the carpet and we spend the first 5 minutes making our reading block choices. This sheet is laminated (you might have to edit/play with the text since the font I used is a downloaded font). I, of course, have guidelines regarding their choices. 

While learning about habitats, we created a fresh water habitat facts bulletin board. The students colored and created pond plants and animals and wrote facts on lily pads. 

  BEE binders
Here is a look inside the BEE binder. This is my first year using this organization system and I think next year I want to use a smaller binder (1inch) and only keep their reading journals in it. 

 My library area
Each bin has a designated number and the back of each book is numbered. Let me tell you, this has made my life so much easier. I rarely have books out of place now. You can't really see it, but on top of my mailboxes I have a "book doctor." This avoids the emergency interruptions during small group instruction to tell me a book has a rip. The students put a sticky note on the page that is ripped then they drop it into the "book doctor" bin. Ahhh love it!
The book shelves are plastic storage shelves but instead of doing them 4 tall, I made them 2 tall and got two sets out of them. Perfect and affordable! 

My students' mailboxes are on the left (very small class this year). The middle section stores birthday pencils and certificates, birthday certificates, absentee forms, and CAFE materials. The section on the right houses a lot of my writing supplies: construction paper, white paper, lined paper, stationery, fancy paper, envelopes, and writing prompts and topics that I change out monthly. 

I made pattern calendar pieces for each month of the year with a variety of difficulties. My students love trying to guess what the pattern will be.

Math/calendar area
 The bags are for the hundred day count. Each day the students put a base ten block into the "ones" when they reach ten they transfer a base ten tens stick into the "tens" bag. When the "tens" bag reaches 100 then the students will transfer a base ten hundreds block into the "hundreds" bag. 

I had several questions about my magnetic pig, so let me explain it in detail. First of all, this was a trial and error project and it's finally working out :) I bought a three piece cookie sheet set. I used the largest of the 3. The other 2 sheets along with a couple other sets are used in my word work station for magnetic letters. I'm not very artistic so normally my fiancĂ© does anything requiring skill for me. He's in law school, so sometimes I'm just stuck doing things on my own... like the pig. That's when I rely on google. I printed this pig template, cut it out, and traced it in pencil on the cookie sheet. I painted the pig using pink acrylic paint. It will take 2-3 coats and you must let each coat dry completely before applying a new one. After the last coat dries you MUST spray it with acrylic spray (can be purchased at any craft store) or the magnets will peel the paint. I have 4 quarters, 10 dimes, 10 nickels, and 10 pennies on the magnet board. The first trial I used the magnetic strips with the sticky back, but the magnets were not heavy enough and the kids would constantly knock them off. I replaced those magnets with disc magnets which are in the school supply section of Walmart and are about 6.00 for a pack of 50, I think.. I couldn't find them online. I used hot glue to attach them to the magnet. I've had no problems since I changed magnets. To attach the heavy cookie sheet to the wall, or in my case the door, I used picture frame velcro grips. They're fantastic! And supposedly, they're supposed to remove easily from the wall, but there hasn't been a need for me to remove them. Lastly, I cut, laminated, and hot glued this tag  onto the magnet board. My school uses Saxon math, so I write the money problem of the day on it and my math leader puts the correct number of coins on the pink pig.  

Writing celebration
We created t-shirts to celebrate our first published writing piece. The kids decorated the front with their name and year. For the back, I scanned each student's published writing piece and printed onto iron transfers. This was A LOT of work.. I'm not going to lie, but worth it ;) 

Friday, December 17, 2010


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