Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Blog Best and Brightest

Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge is having a 2012's Blog Best and Brightest linky party. 

Yikes, I've almost waited too long to jump in - but here I go.  Mine are all blog posts that I'm particularly happy with. 

1 - Math Centers - Laura Candler had a linky party about Math Centers and when I joined in, I got the most page views of any other blog post of mine. The things I'm most pleased about on this post was the freebie (I think my one and only) I offered. My Bump Plus games. The Bump Plus games use a 10 sided die and target specific addition facts, like 6 + __.  Other Bump games use 3 dice and add them together, but my kids need to be more proficient at basic math facts. Anyway, you can still download it. And please leave a comment if you do :)

2. Monday Made It - I only did a couple Monday Made Its, but I was really pleased with the inspirational photographs I took. I took pictures of some zoo animals, then added a motivational word to them using Photoshop. I had them printed at Walgreens - 8x10 size, and they are hanging in my classroom.  I really like them! See more about them in my post.

 3. Tell Me Something Good -This year seems like a tough one for me. I've got several interesting characters in my class. But I've really wanted to focus on the good. I was really glad to see this Linky Party that encouraged me to remember the good that's happening.

Well, as I was typing the last of these good things, I realized that these are all linky parties. So I want to say thank you to bloggers who start linky parties. I appreciate the chance to do some thinking and reflecting, even if it is about something silly. I also appreciate the chance to read about what other people are doing in their classrooms.

Right now, my little corner of the world is getting some much needed moisture in the way of beautiful snow. I suspect we've already gotten 3 inches of it this morning. Thank you for reading and thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Yesterday was a normal day in my class, thank heavens. None of my kids mentioned the tragedy and our principal told us not to bring it up. We had a good day and I was glad. 

I also want to say Thank You to all the kind teachers out there who posted poems and ideas for this terrible situation. Thanks for helping me. 

Sometimes when these terrible things happen far away, I feel like I don't know what to do. I send up prayers but I want to do more. Mrs. Bartel is going to do a RACK - Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. So I'm thinking, what can I do to uplift a fellow teacher? I've got 4 days at my school - I bet I can think of something.  What about you? 

{I wanted to say thank you to Ruby Slippers Blog Designs for the cute Christmas blinkie. It was a freebie on her page. I found her blog from Mrs. Bartel who just got an update on her blog - you ought to check it out.}

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Around The World

So, as seems to be my way, I bought Lory Evans' Christmas Around the World


which is FULL of wonderful ideas! But instead, I end up doing my own thing. (I think I just need the ideas to get started!) 

She has cute little suitcases that her class makes - I decided for my first year of doing this, not to do that. So we're just learning about a couple different countries and how the celebrate in December. 

Yesterday, I read Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto.

This is a fun book about a girl that is helping her mother make tamales, but then she tries on her mother's wedding ring and it gets lost! You can imagine what happens next.  My kids really enjoyed the story. And we have a large Hispanic population, including our school secretary. So I asked her to come in today and talk about how she and her family make tamales. 

Then we made mini pinatas. I was so sure my kids would think these were dorky beyond belief - but they didn't. I told my husband I thought it was the 4 Starbursts I gave them to put in their pinata. To make these, I gave them a brown lunch bag and had them decorated it. I did tell them that pinatas at Christmas time are traditionally made in a star shape, so some of them drew stars on theirs. Then they made a Starburst sandwich inside the bag - crumbled up newspaper, Starburst, crumbled up newspaper. We folded over the top, punched two holes in it and put some yarn through so it would hang.

I also showed a quick powerpoint I made. I included tamales and a few steps on how to make them, poinsettias, and Las Posadas.

Tomorrow we are going to learn about Israel. I'm planning on reading the book Lory suggests - Light the Lights. Then I found a recipe for edible dreidels using marshmallows, a pretzel stick and a chocolate kiss. That should be fun!

Hope your December is going festivally! Sara  

** Update - Link to mini pinata how-to HERE, although mine didn't go this fancy.
And edible Dreidel HERE  We're going to use Kisses so they will fit the marshmallow a little better. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Gingerbread People Decorating

We did something fun in my class on Thursday that I'd like to share with you. We decorated Gingerbread People. It's a pretty simple craft and one the kids seem to really enjoy. I cut out a bunch of 12 inch tall body outlines - I used brown paper. I gave each kiddo a body, then told them I had scrapbook paper, construction paper, pieces of fabric, yarn, and some sequins for them to use. I also have 4 pairs of "fun" scissors - they cut zig zag or scalloped edges. To keep from getting run over by an excited mob of 2nd graders, I called up table groups to pick one thing to get started. Once everyone had gotten one thing, I told them if there were less than 5 people at the table, they could come up and get more. 

I have to tell you, I was extremely tired that day, having woken up at a very, VERY unreasonable hour. And when we started, I was just thinking, help me get through this. But after the first rush, it was fun to just sit in my chair and watch them work and visit and be creative. And the kids would come up and get a little more, a little more. 

I'll try to take a picture of everybody's - they are all on my bulletin board - but here are a couple work in progress ones -

I had a sub today, but she told me that when they came in this morning, they all had to ooh and aah over the Gingerbread People. Ah, that's nice to hear!

So easy-peasy craft idea and I'm sure you could connect it to some reading, like Jan Brett's Gingerbread books, if you wanted. 

Anyway, Happy Friday, Happy Weekend to you! Sara 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Did anybody else start their wonderful Thanksgiving break by waking up WAY too early? Too early for even school time? What's up with that? Maybe I'm just too excited about starting a 5 day vacation. I don't know.
I know it's over, but I wanted to share what I did for Thanksgiving. I read two of my favorite books:
My book is the one with the fox characters. I don't think it matters - the story is still the same. In the story, everyone in the family is responsible for a different part of the Thanksgiving feast, and somehow none of it turns out. I make sure the kids are inferring that basically there is no Thanksgiving food. But in the book, they decide the most important thing is being with each other. So I emphasis that, too. (Although, as I emphasis that and look around the room, I wonder about  some of my kiddos. Do they get a big Thanksgiving meal? Does their family do fun things like play games, make a craft or even watch football together?)
Product Details
This is my other favorite book. Mrs. Moose wants a turkey for Thanksgiving, so Mr. Moose goes hunting for one. He finds lots of other guests who help him look for a turkey. They finally find one and catch him and bring him home for dinner! Again, lots of inferring, making predictions, all that good stuff.
I read one of these on Monday and the other Tuesday. After we got done, I had some worksheets from, I think ABC Teach, but I'm not sure. Instead of making copies (that I'm limited on), I did a take off on a Kagan strategy. I have everybody come up to the front of the room and we "wander around." Then I tell them to give someone a light high 5 (so they aren't trying to make somebody fall over from a high five!) {Some of my little friends have the hardest time finding a buddy, even for a 30 second activity. You could infer from that that I need to do some teaching about buddies, but I don't know.} Then I showed the question on the projector and they were to whisper their answer to the high 5 partner. Next I drew a stick and called on somebody to answer. A little something different, but still meeting CCSS.
We also made origami turkeys. The instructions I have are some I tore out of a magazine long, long ago!  I found a couple online ones that are very similar to what I do - yes, I found two, because I'm never happy when I first find something - I've got to search and search to see if it's the best, most terrific, most wonderful idea! Anyway, Origami Turkey #1 and Origami Turkey #2 are the online ones. I don't have the kids color paper. I just use old scrapbook paper I have, or purchased at Hobby Lobby with a coupon. I just cut out about 5 more pieces of paper than I have kids and draw sticks to let them choose. I've also never made the fan for tail feathers.  This year I gave my kids 10 minutes to make feathers out of scrap paper, if they wanted. I showed them how to make two almost parenthesis shapes to make a feather. Some of them prettied theirs up very nicely.
Making origami with a class of 21 is interesting. It really shows who doesn't wait for directions, who doesn't or can't follow directions, and who is right there with you!
I had a little bit of school work I thought of doing this weekend - I even brought it home - yuck, rearranging my groups and centers and all. But I just decided I want to enjoy my break, so I changed my mind and I'm not going to.
I'm heading to my sister's - who lives about an hour a way - later this afternoon. My other sister, who lives further away, is coming, too. Tomorrow my hubby and daughter will be heading over - we dodged a bullet, she works at a restaurant that does a big Thanksgiving buffet and we were afraid she would have to work, but Yeah Hoo and Praise the Lord, she got the day off.
I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with lots of Yeah Hoo's and Praise the Lords! Enjoy your days off!
Happy Thanksgiving! Sara

Friday, November 16, 2012

Teaching Tips

I have been reading all the teaching tips at Miss Kindergarten's Teaching Tips Linky Party. What a lot of great ideas!

I've got a couple to share.
First is this cute little thing! OK, not the filing - the cute little decoration on the filing folder.

That way when I (ugh) decide to do my filing, I first see a little something that makes me smile. I've done this with a couple things - my laminating folder, my bag that goes back and forth from school. It just makes me a little happy :)
Second, I feel like such a dork that it took me forever to figure this out - But I am SO doing it this year! I've always had jobs in my room, but this year, those kiddos are really working. I have 21 kids - so I have 10 or 11 jobs, depending. I decided they have their job for a month. Yes, a month. (I sometimes threaten, but I've never had to fire anyone.) This way it's easier for me to remember who has what job. So they get every other month off. In the past, my jobs have been little bit things. But this year ---

Office -- run all my errands around school
Mailbox -- puts all their papers into their mailboxes
Computers -- turns the computers on and off
Class Librarian and School Librarian -- send two kids at a time to the respective libraries
Book Worm -- straightens up my library (hehe, now I don't have to any more)
Center Helper -- tries to straighten up my mess after centers are over - if they even try a little bit, it helps me a lot!
Responsible Reminder -- helps this forgettful teacher remember things. I also press them into service by having them put stickers on papers or any other little jobs I can think of :)
Math Racers -- I use Soaring Through Second Grade's Math Racers - and I have one of my little friends get the new set of these ready. What a big relief for me! Saves me so much time!
Squeaky Cleaner -- Hehe, this little friend gets my center board ready for the next day, and also looks around to see if anybody has books, papers, etc. just oozing out of their desk. I don't even care about the 2nd, because the 1st is such a super help.
Teacher's Assistant -- This month, I have a little guy who is almost annoying in that about every 5 minutes, he says, "Teacher's Assistant, reporting for duty." He's been a great help. I had him grade some papers that I wasn't going to enter into the grade book, take down Halloween decorations, use my Smartboard to "pick" names...the list goes on.
The great thing about this is it seems like the kids enjoy having jobs. My two librarians, both this month and last, are some of my challenging behavior kids, but they take their jobs VERY seriously. My Math Racer person is one of my high students and she just loves organizing this.
All in all, this is one happy teacher for implementing all these jobs!

Well, it's the weekend, if you have some time, check out all these great teacher tips at Miss Kindergarten!

Monday, November 12, 2012



Oh, my goodness gracious! Two weeks since I've posted on my blog.  What happened? Well, my hubby got pretty sick and we had to go to the Big City to find out what the deal was - and it turns out it was food poisoning. I told my sister it's a little strange when you are happy that it's just food poisoning.  He was a miserable guy for several days, but he's better now. 

This has kind of been on my mind to write about, and then I got zinged again today, so I thought I'd go ahead and do a post on it.

For a little background: In my classroom, the kids' coats aren't in a separate room. We just have hooks on the back wall and they put their coats and backpacks there. I've sort of had a standing rule that you don't get in your backpack during the day. Sometimes if they ask, I'll let them get something out of there - like my little friend that has asthma and needs her inhaler :)

But this year I've had a bunch of kids forget and leave their library books in their backpack. So when they want to go to the library, I've been a bit of a meanie and said no, they can't go get their books. If they have them the next day, and remember to get them out, I try to make it a point to let them go.

Well, something got me thinking about this. (Yuck, sometimes I hate that!) How many times have I wished for a little grace or mercy? The latest was today, when I forgot to write down that my gluten intolerate student was eating at school. I got a "fun" reminder email from the secretary. (I wanted to say, what about all the times I DID remember? but oh, well.)

I guess what I'm thinking about is does this need to be something that I need to be so strict about? What does it matter if tomorrow, on our library day, about 5 kiddos that forgot their library books in their backpacks go get them so, yahoo, they can check out new books.

I've been reading "Teaching with Intention" by Debbie Miller.

As I start this book, she asks, what do you want your classroom to look like? Well, what I've said to myself is that I want my room to be welcoming, inviting, you are wanted. How does that correlate with how I act? Maybe this is just a small thing, but maybe it's really a big thing.

What are you "thinking" about concerning your teaching? What's giving you pause? What are you considering changing up a little to hopefully make things better?

Happy full week before Thanksgiving - at least here it is - we don't get Veteran's Day off.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Motivational Monday

Oh, what a Great Idea - Motivational Monday! So Smiling in Second Grade, The Learning Tree and Classroom Cupcakes had this idea to help us all get started on those Mondays!
(And mine definitely was - started with trying to water my plants at school, dripped water all over the mailboxes and papers to go in the mailboxes - yikes!)

Here's my first one:

Ah, isn't this the truth? And isn't it hard to remember sometimes? Mostly when you need it. I don't remember where - I saw the saying some place and took the words and made it my own. It's hanging behind my desk.
My other motivational thought is:
I found this some place - oh, yeah, in the Bible :) I so much want the law of kindness to be on my tongue. Sometimes, it forgets, but I'm trying. (I actually have been thinking about a whole post on this - maybe later this week.) And Of Course, I want to open my mouth with wisdom! Particularly when one of my little stinkers, I mean, sweeties, destroys something of mine - well, a little something, like an eraser, but still.

Hope your Monday has been a good one. Link up with the ladies!
And have a great Tuesday, Halloween crazy day, Thursday and Friday :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Another Linky Party? Well, I can't resist. This one is
A long time ago, when I actually had time, I did a lot of scrapbooking. I collected fonts like crazy. Now, well, it seems like teaching is my hobby. I haven't bought many graphics because I don't make items to sell on TpT or Teacher's Notebook. But I have bought a few things to jazz up some things I use in class. And (smile) after some ideas I saw this summer, I bought some graphics to pretty up some things I use in my classroom. Like my folder where I put things that need filing. I printed out a cute graphic that included the word filing (like I wouldn't recognize the file with papers spilling out of it as things that needed filed.) Or my folder with things that need laminating. Or my notebook with info about my kids. So it's been a fun, nice little personal thing that makes me smile.

I have gotten some graphics from:

They seem to have a pretty nice collection. AND if you sign up for their newsletter, on Fridays they send out a freebie! Wow, who could beat that?

I mean, isn't this Too Cute?? I just adore them!

So Second Grade Math Maniac wants to know - Where do you get your graphics? Why don't you link up with her and let us know.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tell Me Something Good

Oh, I'm trying SO hard to do this! I've even taken to (when I remember) writing in my school calendar - 3 good things that happened that day. So this is a Linky Party from Rowdy in First Grade.

 She says: "So it's time for another Tell Me Something Good linky party so we can focus on the positive things that are happening! Just tell me at least one good thing that's happening at school and at least one good thing that's happening in your home life."

One Good Thing at School: My sweeties. You know the ones, when I say, "Get your book out," they have it out before I finish the sentence. If I say, "Somebody please help so-and-so clean up," they are over there before I can turn around. And they are just sweet. They like to say something nice to me. They like it when I ask them to help. They want to sit by me during Guided Reading. They try SO hard when something is hard for them. And sometimes, in the midst of some of the not so good behavior things going on, these sweeties are forgotten. At least by me. But they are definitely One Good Thing at School!

One Good Thing at Home: It's happening right now: my hub-bub is grading my math papers for me! How in the world did I get this to happen, you might ask? Well, I got hired to teach 3rd grade for the 2nd semester when I started teaching. I only taught Reading. There was an opening in 2nd grade, and I thought I might like it better, but I would teach everything. I was talking through (whining) about I didn't know what to do. My husband said he'd grade the math papers if I wanted to move down. Now, 4 years later, he still does it for me. (And he's a harder grader than I am - I always tell my kids that. If he can't read it, if they don't follow all the instructions - it's Wrong!) Anyway, this is one thankful wife to have such a wonderful guy!

Now it's your turn. What's going good? What's making you happy? Link Up at Rowdy in First Grade!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Ideas

Yahoo! Pocket Full Of Kinders is having a Linky Party:

I've got a couple ideas I'm adding. The first is one I did a couple years ago - the first year I taught 2nd grade. Was I naive? I don't know, maybe. I had them collect leaves. Then we carefully painted the side that the veins stuck out on. Next we pressed them onto our paper. Most of them just put random leaves on their papers, but I was really pleased that the lines on the leaves showed through.

I really thought about doing this again this year. But alas and alack, I have one little sweetie-pie who comes back from Art every week with paint stains covering all his fingers. And I'm not even sure they do painting every week :) So I decided that was just pressing my luck.

I was reluctant to do the following because I teach 2nd grade and a Kindergarten teacher had already done it and they were hanging in the hall outside her room. But my ever encouraging hub-bub said, Just do it! So I did. I gave my kids a baggie and told them to bring back some leaves. Whatever they brought had to fit in the baggie; if they bought sticks they had to be no longer than their pinkie finger and not as big around. No living things (You can't imagine how many times that was asked :)

(I really like the middle one, but don't tell anyone.)  The Kindergarten teacher gave her kiddos goggly eyes. I told my 2nd graders they had to figure something out. Pretty cool - they did. Some of them tore up leaves to make eyes, others used little seeds.

Well, my ideas are all crafty. I sure would like someone to include some Fall Festival party / Halloween party activity ideas. Please??

And don't forget to join up with the Pocketful of Kinders Linky Party.

Oh, Oh - I just thought - maybe I can make a mini- Scavenger Hunt like Pocketful of Kinders has done. I like it!

Friday, October 19, 2012

For the Upcoming Week

Half a day of school, half a day for a workday. I'm now home eating Goobers which have 5 grams of protein (oh, gee, they must be good for me!).
(obviously this is a dated picture because it doesn't mention the 5 grams of protein)
I'm eating Goobers because my hub-bub bought them for me when I asked for chocolate covered peanuts. Well, whatever!

Next week is a short week because we have Parent/Teacher conferences on Thursday and Friday. I have already had 2 conferences, yeah! Usually I try not to schedule many on Friday; then I can do some work in my room. But it just worked out this year that I have 5! So I'll squeeze in work between conferences. (I will NOT EVEN mention how interesting/ strange/ crazy it is that our district has scheduled conferences for the coming Thursday and Friday - when just a week later, Thursday and Friday will be the days after Halloween. And we all know how fun those days are!  Why would I want to miss that??) 

For my reading centers, I'm doing a few different things - a break from the usual - for me and for them :) I've seen several "read around the room" ideas, so I decided to do that. I took a couple of the phonics patterns we had done recently - Vowel Consonant silent e; Consonant Blends with r, s, and l; and Common Ending Blends (I'm not going to type those all out - but like ng and nk.).  I put them on (now it seems rather bright) orange paper. Then this afternoon, after all the kids left, I put them around the room. The kids will get a clipboard and their recording sheet and write the words under the correct phonics pattern (I hope!). I know I'll have to move some of the cards each day to keep those little stinkers guessing, but it's a rather fun activity for them.

I also do an activity that I call "Beat the Teacher." What could be more fun to a 2nd grader than trying to beat the teacher at something? I get a bunch of letter tiles (I usually try to spell out something - this times it's "Halloween is Great.").  I have a recording sheet to go with it - sometimes I just put a piece of notebook paper with it. Then I tell them I made __ words. Like this time, I say that I made 32 words. So if they can make 32 words using only the letter tiles that they have, they Beat the Teacher! (Well, I guess they'd have to make 33 words.) Whoo Hoo, what bragging rights!

New subject: Inquiring minds want to know - what are you doing for your Halloween party? Or does anyone still have those? Our school had a vote whether or not to do costumes and the whole 9 yards, and doing costumes won by 1 vote (those darn kindergarten teachers :)  So the three 2nd grade teachers are each going to do a 10 minute activity and we'll rotate our kids around so they'll go to each room. I was going to do some relay activities, but then I got to thinking I didn't want to get them all excited like that. So I'm looking for some calmer activities. Any help?? Please leave a comment if you have a super idea.

Happy Weekend to you all. I'm hoping to have a No Homework Weekend! I'm painting the living room so maybe it won't be that hard :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Nouns (mostly)


Well, I really mean to blog more than once a week. It just obviously isn't happening. My days haven't even been that full. It's just that about 3 nights (or was it 4, I'm in such a stupor, I don't even know!) of waking up between 2:30 and 3:30 make it hard for me to think about much. So I try to save up all my thinking for school time!
(Ok, I just put that smiley star in 'cuz it's so cute!)
Anyway, my sorta cool thing I did this week. Well, really, it was just a fun thing the kids enjoyed. I sorta borrowed and adapted this from Swimming Into Second.
(When I scrapbook, you call it "scraplifting." What do you call it when you do that with teaching ideas? teach-lifting? idea-appropriating? I don't know - we're teachers - surely we can think of something cute :)
OK, so she had posters or charts that said "A Noun is a Person" and a list of people nouns. Hers are so cute! However, I'm not a cutesy person. Or was it that I just decided to do this 10 minutes before kids came in the room. It could go either way.
Anyway, on mine - I just wrote "A Noun is a Person." Then I gave each kiddo a sticky note - wow, a sticky note. To a kid, these are the best thing since candy! I really think that's true. So they thought of a person noun - wrote it on the sticky and put it on the little poster. We did the same for Animals, Places and Things.
(Little  aside, on places, one of my little sweeties put "jail." What would make a 7-year-old think of that? OK, I really don't want to know.)
And as much as I hate to admit it, we have just moved on from place value for now. My little guys that "just don't get it yet" (I make them add the yet :)  just don't get it yet. So time for a little break. I just can't think of any other way to explain or show or tell or help them. So we'll give it a rest for a bit and come back to it again.
Happy weekend to you. I have gotten things wrapped up pretty good so I won't have to do much school work. That's a big Yahoo!
Would you leave a comment if you have a terrific idea for place value? It would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Money, Money, Money

It's Friday! 
This week went zooming by, I have to say. On Monday, I was feeling pretty good about the week. Still did on Tuesday. But by Wednesday - whoosh! It felt like it was zooming by!
My two 2nd grade co-teachers and I decided that for 30 minutes each day, Monday through Thursday, we would switch classes and do some enrichment type activities. (That way we teach the same thing 3 times, less planning, more expertise!) One co-teacher does some technology things - computer activities. Another teacher does Social Studies - thank heavens or we'd never get it in there :)  And I do some math things. My thought is to try to preview things that we are supposed to teach with Common Core. 

So this week I had one of the other 2nd grade classes. Quite frankly, sometimes it's just a little nice to have that change of scenery - I mean, change of faces looking at you. 

We were doing coins. I took typing paper and cut it in half. My plan was to make little books. With my class, we did coin rubbings. That was a little difficult. Most of my kids rubbed too hard and the image didn't come through. So for the other 2nd grade class, I stamped, for example, a penny on the half sheet of paper. Then we shared ideas about what made a penny special. For example: it has Abraham Lincoln on it; it's brown; etc. We did this for each coin. Even with me stamping the papers, it still went slower than I thought it would. I was hoping we'd get through all the coins and have time to do a different activity, but that didn't happen.

I did find two fun songs that we sang. One is:

Money, Money, Money - the gal that sings this has one of those nice, low, rumbly voices. We all enjoyed singing the Money, Money, Money part.

Here it is on School Tube- if your school is like mine and you can't show anything on YouTube. 

The other one is called Show Me the Money. Right now, I can only find it on YouTube. I can't remember the same site I found it on before.

Anyway, I think the kids enjoy singing. Maybe because they think they are getting by with not working for 2.30 minutes :)

Well, it's a work weekend for me. My reading units have 5 lessons in each one, so I try to plan my lessons for 5 weeks at a time. That's what I'm working on this weekend. There's always something that makes planning a little challenging, and this year it's the Common Core math and the fact that we've added writing. 

Ah, my little sweeties and place value. Who will be bald first from tearing their hair out - me or them? If you have any terrific Place Value ideas or songs or strategies, please leave a note. I can use some help :)

Happy Weekend to you - whether you're doing school work or not! 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Apple Day

I have to give my co-teacher credit for this...I didn't think of it at all. And it worked out great for two reasons. 
First, for the past two years, we've had a school wide behavior plan, and students that met expectations were able to attend a fun event at the end of every month. Those that didn't - well, they went to sad times (writing about their bad behavior).
But this year, the school wide behavior was turned over to the classroom teachers - by grade level. So we needed to think of something for that. 
And 2nd - well, it was just a fun day :)
So we (or should I say, She - my co-teacher) planned an apple day. We had apple races, wore Johnny Appleseed hats (pots), and did a couple other fun outside activities.
Then we headed inside for some more apple activities. First, we tasted Granny Smith, Red Delicious and Gala apples. Then we graphed which they liked. Most students like Granny Smith - What? Those are SO tart. Well, whatever. 

Next they got a cup of apple juice and one of apple cider. After they tried both of those, we graphed which one they liked best. We had apple juice, apple cider or both. Both won. 

(OK, ours didn't look all fancy like this :)

Then they got to try some dried apples and some applesauce. Those silly heads scarfed that down. Ok, that makes me think some of them are just really hungry. (And then I think about how I act when I'm really hungry - hmm.)

It was a fun day. Better than I thought it might turn out. Of course, we had some extra help that cut apples up for us - Thank You! And for the first time in a couple years, I actually had parents come. Thank You! 

At the end of the day, a parent caught me to talk about some behavior concerns. Yeah - she was Very Supportive. But it got me to thinking. I need to send notes - before conferences - to some other parents. So they aren't surprised. And I don't mean in a good way. 

Happy Friday - it was! Happy Weekend to you! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Math Fact

Today went well. Yep, my life is a series of ups and downs. Today was our PE day - no sub. So I just took my kiddos outside and I took my math book to try to do some thinking and planning.

Then this afternoon... to back up a bit, last week I tried to get all my kids going on xtra math. Ha! Logging in was a chore! First of all, the kids have to log in using my school email address. Needless to say, that's long! So most of them didn't get much done.

So for some reason (I don't understand why, but I'm smiling about it.) the sysop at our school asked if I wanted a cart of laptops. Of course I said YES! So today, I got all my kids either on a desktop or a laptop and told them to try again. I went around and helped {I always start these crazy sessions by asking, how many of me are there? One, they answer. How many of you are there? 21, they answer. So hopefully they will be a little bit patient.}

As we were finishing up our time, I went to my own computer to check out how they did and for about 5 of them, it showed no activity. So I made those 5 get back on. Obviously still trial and error, but I am hoping, hoping, hoping that this will help them get their math facts down pat!

To that end, I also made a simple center activity. I made little cards that have matching math facts. In the past I've done a matching activity with the math fact and the answer. This time they match 2 different math facts. For example 2+2 (=4 but the answer isn't on the card) and 3+1 (also =4, but again, the answer isn't on the card. Click here to a link to this (I hope, I'm just too tired to do all the double checking). Very simple, but print it on pretty paper and there you go :)

We have a central make-it-take-it center, so sometimes I just laminate paper and use die cuts for this type of thing. Sometimes I type them up and cut out rectangles. Just depends on me :)

Anyway, little idea I thought I'd throw out there. Hope your Monday went well!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Friday Flashback (on Saturday)

Well, it isn't Friday :) and I'm not sure this counts, but I'm linking up with Amanda at Teaching Maddness for:

Since school started, we have been talking about different ocean creatures. You can see my post about some of them here.
The first two full weeks of school, we were able to do lots of reading and learning about ocean animals. This week, not so much, because we started our reading series. So for a wrap up to the unit and a nice Friday afternoon activity, we drew and painted pictures of ocean animals. No photos - maybe I can add those Monday. I have to laugh, though. I asked the kids, "Do we see words written in the ocean?" Of course, they answered, "No." So I told them, "Don't put words in your drawing." Had at least one that did. Another of them colored her octopus in purple crayon. When I asked her why, she told me because she couldn't paint an octopus that good. Oh, well, mixed media.
Why do I think this activity is worth mentioning? Creativity! When my daughter was little, even up through and past 2nd grade, she had play dough, markers, colored pencils, crayons, scissors, paints, finger paints... etc, etc, etc. Now, she isn't afraid to try things, she gets cool ideas and thinks about finding answers from a different perspective.
I want to give my students a little bit of that. I'm pretty sure that there are some (or a lot) of them that don't even have crayons at home.
An open ended project like painting ocean creatures gives my students the chance to think and hopefully dream a little bit.

My other little thing I did this week involved our reading series. Our first story is the first Henry and Mudge story. My schedule has changed this year, and it has taken some getting used to. It feels like our reading block is just crunched. We come back from specials and have to start right away and lunch is on the other end, so we have to quit right away. Anyway, didn't get to the story as early this week as I was hoping. So we finished the story on Friday, and I didn't have time to do a paper and pencil graphic organizer, like I usually do. What's a teacher to do? I had them talk to their shoulder buddy about the Sequence of Events. I would tell them what page in the book to look at, and then have them discuss what main event happened on that page. Then I would say something like, "Hopefully you thought... was the main event." I think it worked good, and when they have to retell for their DRA, they have to do it orally, so good practice.
I'm glad that Amanda is doing this. It seems that I tend to remember what didn't go right :( instead of ALL the things that went OK.
Happy Weekend to you! The cooler temperatures we are experiencing is Great! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Testing, testing, testing. I started mine today. Our district just started using Aimsweb this year. The reading was actually not bad. My students read 3 passages and I was able to do the running record part of that on the computer. (I hope nobody is saying, oh brother, that's so old.) To me, kinda cool. So as soon as they were done reading the passages, I had a score for them.
Oh, my poor little sweeties. Five of them are below average - way below.
Were any of you like this in your first year? A student looks confident, acts confident and has coping skills that make it look like they can read, so (poor newbie teacher) Mrs. S. thinks they can.
Well, now with this, I'm know which students need help - intensive help. They can try to fool me, but now I know.
Math is next week - not sure it will be as cool. It's a paper/pencil test that I'll have to score and then enter.
So I brought all my guided reading stuff home tonight to work on - didn't get to it. 
But tomorrow's Friday!!    

Monday, September 3, 2012

What did you do, Mrs. S.?

The first 8 days of school are done, 166 to go :)
In our district, we have a reading series that we have to follow (HM's Journeys), but we aren't starting that for another week. This time is to teach procedures, but I need some content to go with that. So I bought Deanna Jump's Ocean theme.
Ocean Animals Math and Literacy Fun

Ha, I don't think I've used any of it - but trust me, it is good (of course, it's Deanna!) - I've just been doing other things.

So what have I done?
During our first, short week, I read this: What's It Like to Be a Fish?
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It is quite interesting, really. It showed lots of different fish with labels and it talked about the different fins and what they do, what fish eat, how fish breath. When we got done, we did a chart about what fish Can, Have and Eat. I adapted this from Deanna's unit. It was surprising what the kids remembered - and Who Remembered.

On Monday, we read Surprising Sharks.
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Do I even need to tell you that it was good? And that the kids enjoyed it? And everyone had something to add? And one kiddo told me he knew "everything about sharks?" I found this very cool video of a whale shark (they are HUGE!) and showed it to the kids. It is great for showing how big the sharks really are, because there is a man swimming beside the shark and he looks SO small. (Shark video website
I also had a craft activity - crayon resist drawing/painting - but we just didn't get to that. I'm debating whether to go ahead and do it still. We did a Can, Have, and Eat for sharks, too.

I think the Sharks took more than one day - I can't remember for sure now. Next I read Gentle Giant Octopus.
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Another winner. These octopus lay an amazing amount of eggs - like in the 10,000s (can't remember the number for sure now) but only 2-3 of the eggs make it to adulthood. Yummy treats for other marine animals. I had another cool video I showed - it is on Discovery Education, if you have a subscription to that, under Biomes, Coastlines and Seas. The octopus 1) gets into a soda bottle and 2) gets a crab out of a screw top jar. Wow! We did a Can, Have and Eat here, too.

Next up were Whales:
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I have to admit, this book was a little so-so. It did have some corny jokes - which I preface before I read by saying, "This is a dorky joke." It did give information, but it wasn't the best read aloud. After we read it, we looked at some pictures from a Whale Watching blog I had found. I had a whale origami thing I was going to do with the kids, but you know the story - we ran out of time. I can't remember, but I meant to do a Can, Have and Eat on whales. I hope we did it :)

On Friday, just because the teacher needed it :)  we watched a Magic School Bus video - I think it was called Takes a Dive. It was about Mussels. Then I had them do a take-off on a Kagan strategy - we wander around the front of the room - then when I say "High Five" they give a light high five to a friend standing nearby and then they each told their buddy something from the video (they are NOT called movies in my class :)

I also read Sneakers, the Seaside Cat (I kept calling him Snickers, but whatever!)
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and Hello Ocean! The illustrations in this book are so good, at first I thought they were photographs.
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We read these during our Reading Block and did some comprehension activities with them.

When I made my plans, I didn't know when we would start our reading series. It's really a good thing that we aren't starting for another week, because I still have Jellyfish, Dolphins, and Shells to talk about during our 4 day week.

If anyone else has done an ocean unit and has any good ideas to add - please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.
Happy Labor Day,