Sunday, December 13, 2015

Kindness Snowman

Some of you may be doing Elf on the Shelf -- And more power to you on that! A teammate did it last year, and her class really enjoyed it. 

I personally wasn't that excited about all that went with Elf on the Shelf -- so after happening upon a couple blogs, I decided to do a Kindness Snowman. Well, I started with the Kindness Elf, but College Girl said she thought Kindness Snowman would be better. 

He's the cute little guy. So every day last week, I wrote a little note and taped it under his arm. Then they all tried to find him as soon as they came into the room. And somebody read the note -- and we tried to do what it said. 

We've done things like say Hi to someone; write a nice note to a teacher, compliment someone; pick up trash, etc.  So Thursday, they wrote me a note telling 3 reasons each one was proud of themselves. 

And Friday, this was the note from the Kindness Snowman:
"Shhh...It's a secret. Don't say a anything til the end of the day. Kindness Snowman"

My class got really quiet after my person read the note. Finally, one of my quiet little sweeties asked, "Does this mean we can't say anything until the end of the day?" I was almost busting out laughing, because, yes, that is what it says. But of course, the Kindness Snowman just meant please don't keep asking about the secret surprise. 

And at the end of the day, the Kindness Snowman sent home a packet of hot chocolate, after asking Mrs. Sanders to write a quick note back to each student about what they were proud of. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Our series has this wonderful story:

It is a story about a girl who can't find anyone who likes music as much as she does, but she keeps looking and looking. Of course, it has a happy ending! I think it's a good story for reminding kids to be their own selves, to persevere in finding people who like the things they like, and it's ok to be different. 

At the last minute on Thursday, I decided yes, we'd do it. So I told the kids we'd make instruments on Friday. I let them bring things, and a few did, but it was mostly me. I had a ton of toilet paper rolls from some other craft I hadn't actually done and I had a couple big peanut butter jars {empty, of course!}. When I got to school, I realized I didn't have anything to do the shaking - like dried beans or rice. So I found some old water bottle caps that I didn't use for whatever project I had been saving them for, and some buttons for - yes, another project I didn't do. Found some rubber bands, too. Got out my box of scrap pieces. And here's some of what we did:

And then they all played their instruments - it was definitely a beautiful noise! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Stone Soup

I've got a teammate {love her to pieces!} who's always thinking of fun, creative, exciting ideas.

Like, "Let's do Stone Soup right before Thanksgiving!" Why not? 

So we got all the kids to bring a can of veggies or crackers or juice boxes -- yep, all of mine but 2 did. {I don't know if I'm considered mean, but I "make them work" if they don't bring. So those two boys helped me bring some stuff in from my car and put stuff out on desks. It was about 10 minutes of work during their recess.} 

Everyone got to "toss" their veggies in the crockpot. And look!!!

Oh my goodness... It almost wouldn't all fit in the crockpot!

So my kids broke down into about 4 groups --
I barely tried a bite; don't like it.
I picked out all the stuff I like and ate it and a ton of crackers.
I told Mrs. S. I liked it, but I left half a bowl and ate a ton of crackers.
I liked it and still ate a ton of crackers. 

I was happily surprised at how good it was. 

And since I figured the day was shot -- we played some math games and tried to do a Froot Loops math activity {which I didn't leave enough time for, so soon it became, "just eat your froot loops!}

Pretty good day for just before break. 

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Hope it's just the type of break you need - whether that be peaceful and restful, or get bunches done, or reconnect with family and friends. 

Monday, November 23, 2015


So the other day, we were doing some phonics in class. And I was making up dorky little songs to go with the words. And I said the word, "Brick." And proceeded to sing....
       She's a brick....
But of course I couldn't sing that song, so I just did a super job of ad libbing and said,
       She's a brick word.

And then one of my little sweeties raised her hand, and said her dad sings a song like that, but it goes,
       She's a brick house.

Yep, my little friend, you've got the real song there! Thanks for sharing. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Math, again

Agh - I spent a lot of time last weekend on school stuff, then had something every night this last week while I tried to squeeze in some more school work, and spent my whole afternoon yesterday on school stuff -- in great hopes that I wouldn't need to today {Sunday} and that I wouldn't need to this next week. 

I was stuck on math. Blech, Blech, Blech. 

The really super, big, important thing in 2nd grade math is double digit addition and subtraction. As I was procrastinating, and continually running upstairs to tell my hubby about my procrastination, I finally realized why I was procrastinating so much. 

I hate our Math curriculum. 

{You may have gathered this from this post, and this post and this one and the biggie post.}

And I don't know where to go with this. My district tells me I have to use EngageNY. We have now been granted some leeway in how we teach it, but we still need to teach their concepts. I told my hubby that I use many of these strategies in my own head. But, he said, you first understood the basics -- ie, math facts {which the curriculum doesn't spend much time on, but I've been working on with my kids since the first of the year}; and place value, and yes, I even think the algorithm. Which may seem backwards to some, but once they get the algorithm, they can feel successful, and then they can branch out. Instead of branches running all over and saying, "I don't get it."

I got my planning done. I tried to decide what the important thing was in each lesson.But I'm thinking I need to see how far I can stick my toe out before I get into trouble. And I'm really not a troublemaker :)

Sunday, November 15, 2015


I am going to do a blog post this weekend, I am, I am I am!

So here we go!

I feel like I've been a little more -- grumpy, maybe?? harsher than I'd like?? I'm not sure what. But not the way I like with my students.

So Friday, I tried singing little made up songs to them -- 
you know like --- {Singing} put your books up, put your books up, come on everybody
And other ridiculously dorky songs.

And after one particularly wonderful one, a little friend said, "Mrs. Sanders, that's a catchy tune!" 

Oh yes, my friends, I'm the catchy tune teacher! 

I'm laughing as I type this -- I can't even remember what I was singing. But apparently, I have at least one fan!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book Order Hooray!

Got a Scholastic book order on Thursday. Love Scholastic book orders! I got over 20 free books - partly from some saved points, and partly from freebies because we had a big enough order, and partly because I got 2 coupons for $5 free books because of our September order. 

{Big Aside here -- If you aren't doing Scholastic Book orders, you ought to look into it. Scholastic keeps making it easier and easier for the teacher to input orders.}

While the kids were gone, I distributed the books -- just set them on the desks of those who ordered.  

This is what it looked like after I had passed out the books. 
Notice anything?
Yep, me too. 
That set of desks in the back, well, they are some of my higher readers -- and guess what? They all ordered books!
The set of desks in the front -- lower readers -- some very low and some average low. Notice the lack of books. 
I'm truly not saying this to condemn any parents, but it does make a difference what happens at home. {I know, I know... I'm preaching to the choir on this one!} 
As conferences are coming up this next week, I wish there was some way to share this with parents without hurting their feelings. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Honeysuckles and other things

This plant kinda sums up things for me. It's a honeysuckle plant -- you know, those cool little flowers that you can pick and suck the nectar out of. I inherited it from my mom 5 years ago. Yes, that's right, 5 years ago!! And it still sits in this pot. And has only had one bloom. I asked my sister why she thought it wasn't blooming. She said it needed to be planted in the ground. But yikes, if I do that.... honeysuckles tend to spread all over, and where would I put it, and what would I do if it started spreading. Yes, I'm just a bit afraid to actually plant this thing.

And here are a couple pics I want to do in my classroom.

Brag tags I made myself ---

And a take a break idea I bought from Teaching in Progress.

And for some crazy reason, even though they are all prepped and ready to go, I just haven't used them. I'm afraid. I'm not sure I have all the kinks worked out. What if the kids don't use them like I think they should? What if they just flop?

Ummm, maybe they will flop. Maybe I'll see some kinks that will need fixing. Maybe I'll end up just scraping the idea. But shouldn't I at least try something that I was so excited about in August? 

Guess what? I have a place for the honeysuckle plant. Maybe I could just go ahead and plant it yet this fall and see what happens.  

Monday, October 12, 2015

It's not you, it's me

I've got this little friend.... He's sometimes such an annoyance. He talks out whenever he wants, often giving away the answer to a question I've just posed to someone else. He's a bit bigger than my other students, and his size and way he handles himself makes him a bit intimidating to my other students -- plus the fact that he can't seem to leave his hands to himself. He comes up and asks me questions during Guided Reading -- and he knows the answer; or he's actually done the "ask 3 before me" and someone else has told him the answer. He argues with the para who comes in my room. Even when I catch him doing something, he argues and says he didn't.

But Thursday and Friday of last week were a reprieve for some reason. He was calmer. He was polite. He was helpful -- both to me and other students. He stood in line without touching anyone. No one was whining his name -- I'm sure you can imagine. 

We use Class Dojo at my school. I have to say, I don't give many negative points. I've read some blogs about this that just make sense to me. I try hard to look for the positive. But with this student ... all I could see were negatives, which meant a negative point. And one day last week, can't remember which, I heard a student say "R has negative points." Yep, and he's the only one. Well, that sticks out like a sore thumb. 

And I started thinking:
It's not you, it's me!
{Haha... see this post and this post and this post!}

OK, not totally -- you, my little friend, are responsible for your own behaviors. But I, dear teacher, am responsible for mine - and my reactions - and my decisions. 

So what do I think happened? I think we both had better attitudes on Thursday and Friday. And it showed. And it made a difference.

But guess what - I want to be the kind of person I want to be {and that is not a reactive person} kind and gentle.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Superhero Pumpkins

So I've got this little Superhero theme going on in my room -- not too much... but see here and here.

And I have to admit, I thought this was pretty clever AND it turned out so fun!

Yep, we've got pumpkins with capes and crazy hair and just a little of everything! I love looking at it. And it's definitely got me thinking about what to do in November and December -- maybe January, but definitely February. Can't wait!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Apple Day

My name is Sara and I'm a blogger who doesn't seem to blog much.
{you answer: Hi, Sara}

And this:

is a picture of a couple baggies that hold 180 quartered apples {please don't turn brown, please don't turn brown, please don't turn brown!!}

My hub-bub {yes, he's a good one!} helped me chop these babies up, soak them in a lemon water solution, drain them and bag them {again - please don't turn brown!} so we can have



We've only been to the local supermarket once, and then to Wal-Mart once. 

I hope the kids enjoy - they will get to taste test the two different kinds of apples, applesauce, apple juice and apple cider. They also will play games outside -- not sure what - I was obviously the apple gal. 

Happy Friday tomorrow, friends. I hope there's some fun in it for you!  

Monday, August 31, 2015

Good Enough

So I have this little, mini Superheroes theme going on in my classroom. I had the kids decorate the door with Superheroes. I bought some Superheroes signs and put them up above my shelves {sorry no pic of that}.

And I had this great idea -- I'd give all my student jobs a cool name. I even found a website that would give you Superhero names. Well, couldn't come up with enough {that I liked} for all my jobs.

Then I had these primary colored library pockets -- and I was going to type the job name on contrasting primary colored paper and glue it on. But when I went to go buy the paper --- whoa momma! I'm a teacher here people!

And days were slipping away, and I was doing all the student jobs, which made me think, "This is no fun."

So I did this:

And yes, it's all blurry and everything -- but basically, I just printed the names off on white paper and glued them on to these pretty library cards. Good enough. Done. And now I can have students do these jobs. 

And this all made me think, that if you're anything like this teacher -- well, it just seems like I want to wait until it's all perfect... but really, sometimes it's better just to do it and move on. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Back to School

Well, I made it through my first week.  My district's nice enough to usually start on a Wednesday or Thursday {one year we started on a Monday --- yikes, that was a looooong week!} -- and better than that, they give us a half day the first day, so we have the afternoon to go out to lunch for the last time in forever, change names for those little sweeties who want to be called something else, put up supplies we got, plan the next day, visit with colleagues, and more.

This was my happy for my first day:

My hubby got to go to College Town to visit College Girl, so this was my consolation prize. Well, it is a very nice prize. And if you look closely, you'll see pencils. One of my new little friends {a girl, of course} noticed them first.

And to match my very limited Superhero theme, my new little friends made these for the door:

Yes, I made the night sky scene on the bottom. Pretty much loving it -- except when I kicked the door stop and kicked it, too.

The superheros turned out cute, and some of them added little capes that my hubby designed and some decided not to. I was going to show the Incredibles clip where the designer tells about how bad capes are ---- but my laptop that goes with my Smartboard was MIA. I love how one of my friend's superhero is flying. At least, I hope that's what he's doing!

At the end of the workday part of our first day, I had a doctor's appointment, and then I went shopping, because a teacher never has all the things she needs:

That's right -- necessities include duck tape, beads, command hooks, labels and eyeliner and eye shadow! Didn't you know that?

And finally.... you know that thing on FB about how you can go by school and see teacher cars in the parking lot and know they are working outside their contract time? I don't work at school that much {except if I need to be going through stuff} -- but this is all the stuff I worked on Saturday at my house that my hubby carted back up to school for me.

Oh, I'll admit --- I loved most of it. 

Happy Monday to you! Whether you're back at it, or just thinking about it! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

First Days

I've started!

A half day Thursday and a full day Friday led this teacher to fall asleep by 7:30 -- and that's when we were watching one of MY shows, not hub-bub's! lol

So.... I don't know if you remember my discussion about Connecting, but I wanted my new students to know that I care about them and I'm glad they are in my class. For the first time, we had Open House on the evening before the first day of school. So I made these signs, and hung two outside my door, and one just inside:

Well, I didn't do as much with these as I had hoped and anticipated -- getting back into the routine, not writing it on my lesson plans, and just plain forgetting --- well, it made me forget! But even as I was typing this right now, I thought -- why can't I still do something with these signs? I plan to take them down Monday morning, but I thought I could still show them to the students when we do our morning meeting and talk about them, and tell them that Yes! I am excited to meet them, and why! So that, my friends, is my new plan!

Have you had your first day yet? How did it go? 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Getting to Know Your Student

For the past couple years, I've given homework on the very first day of school. But the best part, it's not kid homework -- it's homework for their parents. Throw in a small prize for those who return it, and I get a pretty good response. 

I call it "Getting to know your student" because I'm all about the fancy titles!

I ask general questions, like what your child likes to be called, email addresses, what's the best way for me to reach the adult, who the child lives with. Then I ask for words they might use to describe their child, and some of their child's favorite things. I ask the adult to brag a little and also where they hope their student will improve. And finally I ask, is there anything else you want me to know. 

Whoa - that seems like it's really the meat of it. Parents tell me things that I might not know otherwise -- and sometimes they make a big difference, or really help me understand their child. 

But sometimes, that form just gets shoved into the file cabinet.  

Until today -- I somehow happened to see this:

Deep Data at-a-Glance Chart

Which really seems like a dur to me, because I sorta like analyzing the data. 

So instead of that information just sitting in my filing cabinet, I can put it on a chart and maybe do something with it -- like help in forming different groups, have an idea what to talk to a quiet child about, etc.  

I'm really excited to try this!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Planning and procrastinating

And this was me, yesterday....

Yes, this is me -- trying to put together some lesson plans! Oh my goodness -- this brain of mine just would not cooperate. 

So after much procrastinating and stopping and starting, and looking for more ideas, and reviewing what I did last year, and ...
I decided to write down all the big things that I want to do in the first couple weeks of school. That's what all those little slips of paper are in that first picture -- books I want to read, math games/activities I want to teach, writing I want them to do that first full week, rules and procedures things I want to cover, etc. 

Then in the second picture -- first I made a rough outline of each day of that week. We don't get our schedules until we go back to school, but I'm thinking it will be a lot like last year's. So I made a spot for math, reading, writing, phonics. {We have to start math the first full week of school -- after only 1 1/2 days with kids -- not that I think that's moving fast or anything!} Then I plugged in my little pieces of paper on different days. I finally, about 5pm last night, got a rough draft of my first full week's lesson plans finished! 

And I realized, once again -- I really am a visual person. I can't see enough of my plans when I'm typing them on the computer to see the whole picture. This silly little way really helped me. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Hello Friends -- 

No count down here, as one of my regular readers requested I not do that - LOL.  

That same regular reader -- well, I read her blog, too. And a while back, Tammy said something on her blog that caught my eye:

Early in the day before I had even learned all their names I said these words. "I loved you before you even showed up today" and I meant it.

I like that sentiment. But I'm just not that person. Probably won't say "I love you" to my kiddos. So I started thinking -- what could I say to my new 2nd graders to make them feel welcome, to let them know they are special to me, to make that connection that Tammy is talking about? 

I've thought of a couple phrases:
I've been thinking about you. 
I've been waiting to meet you. 
I'm excited to meet you and learn more about you.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this yet, but I certainly like the idea! Thanks, Tammy!!