Monday, December 30, 2013

Skip Counting-Work Station

One way we settle into our day is through work stations-- they are called work stations because there is usually some type of accountable work to do--we have an important job! I love starting the day this way as it keeps kids active and engaged from the start. They love having a new activity each day and it is a great way to supplement literacy and math, preview concepts and reinforce trickier areas. I have some new winter workstations in process-- but they have not been kid approved yet! In the meantime, try this skip counting activity! I love using pocket charts for workstations so that kids can spread out and organize. All you need to do is cut out the penguins and copy the recording sheet! If your kids finish early have them try a challenge--scramble up all the penguins and try counting backwards without looking at their recording sheet. This tends to be trickier for my kiddos! Follow my tpt store or blog (also have bloglovin') for updates on easy to set-up workstations to start your new year! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Winter Math Fun!

I hope you all are having a nice, relaxing break. I don't know about you but it was very needed! My kiddos were beyond excited the week leading up to the big day...there was lots of energy to be had! To me, the best thing about the holidays is spending time with family. Luckily, my sister and brother in law were able to fly in from Dallas for a few days! It is so nice to have them back home in NH. Thank you to those who have followed my little blog... I appreciate each and every comment and "follow" and love the collaborative part of teaching. Although I do a lot of blogging for families I was ready for something new... connecting with other bloggers and teachers was the first step-- I am in awe of the educators who shared their ideas while balancing their profession and family-- making it seem so seamless.  Wow! I still have a long way to go in the world of blogging but this has been a great start and I appreciate your support! I am excited to share that I figured out how to share a file so you can see what you're getting... being a visual person I tend to go towards resources that I can see first. Click on the image to get a "free" preview of this packet. Would love any feedback. Enjoy!  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Spreading some holiday cheer!

Over the past few years our class has created Christmas ornaments to raise money for a local community outreach. Here are some quick, fun ways to get your kiddos involved in spreading holiday cheer. You are probably familiar with using acrylic paint to create a marbleized look inside the ornament. 
These came out beautiful but took some time to dry. 
Another year we used cut up squares of seasonal tissue paper (about 1 in. each) and used "Modge-podge" to adhere them to the ball. We found that plastic ornament balls were a lifesaver (if you can find them)... much less breakage and worry! Wish I had a picture of the final product... guess I got too busy in the fun of creating...there is always next time. 

Looking for a less messy, quick option? Just add some tinsel, plastic berries, or ting to create a whimsical look and tie off with some festive ribbon. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Character Study and Graphic Organizer Freebie

This past month we have been thinking deeply about characters in our stories through read-a-louds and independent reading. We have learned about character traits, noticed how characters change throughout a story, and thought about the components that make up a story. We have studied how a character reacts to a problem in their lives and how they go about solving that problem. This has also translated into Writers' Workshop as we work to create realistic fiction stories with a developed character. 

This week we have worked specifically on comparing the characters from two different stories. How are the characters different and what similarities do they share? We have also been working on backing up our responses with evidence from the text. 

Characters can teach us many important lessons about life. Although we read and discussed many different characters we focused on the main characters from Kevin Henkes books- Particularly Wendell, Chester & Lily. Who are some of your favorite characters to explore with your class? Click here or on the venn-diagram below to get a copy for your class... plain and simple but gets the job done! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanksgiving Freebie

I can't believe it is that time of year again... Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! Although I am a firm believer we should be thankful all the time, it is a good reminder to be thankful for all the blessings we have. I am sure you have seen this cute placemats before but it has become a yearly tradition in my classroom. The kids love making them and we laminate them for extra durability. Do you have any fun "holiday traditions" in your classroom? Click on the image below for a fun freebie!
 Consider following my blog on blogger or bloglovin and give some feedback! 

Spelling Activities

We build word work into our daily routine. Research says that hands on, tactile formation of words is meaningful. We rotate different materials into our word work area each month to keep them fresh and new. It is an effective way to practice new words as well as continue to reinforce previously taught word patterns. Sometimes my kiddos like accountable work too. They can complete extra spelling activities during their free time each week for "Blair Bucks." (Our classroom management incentive) Check out my sight word scavenger & sight word graphing for some fun interactive approaches. What are some materials you use to practice spelling? 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tree Exploration

Exploring our big backyard is one of my favorite units each year-- I love that it is an ongoing exploration throughout the year. What better place to observe trees than New England....We are so lucky! Throughout the year we will be observing the seasonal growth and changes and grow in understanding of nature. We ask questions, explore our questions and enjoy interacting with the outdoors. We still have many wonderings about trees...these will drive our investigation this year. Now that it is getting chillier we took the opportunity to use our science inquiry notebooks and do some observations. We started by observing a dry pine cone using our senses. We used words, pictures & labels to document our experience. We then made predictions about what would happen if the pine cone got wet. It took awhile to get results, although we noticed the water quickly changed to brown and mucky. The next day, we were surprised to find that the pine cone was completely closed up! We learned about making predictions and using the evidence of our findings to support our beliefs and thoughts. This is just the beginning of lots of hands on, inquiry based science fun! More to share throughout the year-- check out the tree freebie below to get your unit started! Would love to hear about your ideas! Try the leafsnap app to help identify different is pretty cool! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I have been looking for an easier way to keep track of all the blogs I come across, especially now that igoogle has been phased out....  I found it! If you are looking for an hassle-free way to keep track of the world of blogging give Bloglovin a try-- and don't forget to follow me too! :) Click on the icon below to check it out! 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Going Batty For Bats!

 When we began our unit about bats we debated about the question of: Are bats are considered birds? We had mixed feelings on this idea. After all, birds and bats both fly... In the end, although bats and birds do have some things in common, we came to the conclusion that bats are not birds. In this activity we worked together to sort learned facts about bats and birds. We had been doing a lot of work using venn diagrams to help compare in different ways. When we finished we completed our own sort to reinforce the information we already knew. Check out my new bat packet. It includes lots of fun goodies to get your kiddos engaged in learning about these helpful, misunderstood creatures. (Including venn-diagram sort) Leave a comment with your email and become a new follower of my blog, and I will send you freebie from the packet! I can't wait to try it with my new 2nd graders this year...Will update you on how it goes! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Doubles Fact Fluency Freebie!

One thing my students struggle with every year is fact fluency....there just are not enough hours in the day! Now with the common core standards it is an area I am working really hard to address. One way we began was through learning our doubles facts quickly and efficiently. We even learned a catchy doubles rap that they cannot get out of their heads. Here is the 6-10 version...they were so excited when I found it.... Doesn't take much to entertain us! I created a number sense packet to reinforce doubles concepts. You can find it by clicking the picture below. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hopes & Dreams

 Each year my students' create Hopes & Dreams for their year in 2nd grade. Throughout the year we reflect on our goals and our progress towards meeting them. I am looking forward to sharing my students' Hopes & Dreams during our upcoming goal setting conferences as it sets a positive focus for our meeting. From the start of the year I work hard to create an environment that reflects each learner, making them feel safe to take risks, try something new and grow in their learning. Children have an active roll in helping to create a productive, encouraging environment for each other and understand we have values & expectations to help meet our Hopes & Dreams. (See post below) The Responsive Classroom approach nicely encompasses my belief in the importance of social learning and environment created in the first few weeks of the new school year. You can learn more about RC here. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Classroom Community-Back to school!

We have spent a great deal of time establishing our classroom community and getting to know each other. It is important that we feel safe and comfortable with each other... This allows us to take risks and put our best efforts into our learning. The social curriculum is as important as the academic! We have worked hard to make our classroom a place of respect, trust and fun and weave these concepts into our curriculum each and every day.

Next we will be creating individual hopes & dreams for our year together in 2nd grade. We talked about the importance of having classroom values to help us in accomplishing our goals and grow as learners.

We worked together to create classroom values and expectations. Rather than having many "rules" they really boil down to 3 main "values." The 3 B's-Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be Safe. This year we added two more to make it the 5 B's: Be Creative, Be Prepared.  

We talked about what these three values meant, what they look and sound like and broke them down into language we developed to have ownership over them.  

Click on the picture below for this Freebie. What do you think is important in creating your classroom community? Hope you're off to a great year! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Common Core Math

So, I had the brilliant idea that I wanted to create my own math curriculum based around the common core, rather than buy another program. I am sure a lot of us are in the same place of struggling with programs that don't align quite I am under a time crunch to pull many resources together to make a cohesive unit, starting with building a stronger number sense. Where did summer go?! Luckily I have a supportive 2nd grade partner to collaborate with and a lot of other talented teachers on TPT to support. Anyways, not sure how this will all work but wanted to have practice pages among some of the more in-depth lessons for ongoing exposure as new concepts are introduced. I find it important to have multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding and that concepts need to be revisited to become solid skills.  Want it for free? Just leave a comment below with email and follow my page and it is yours! Would love any feedback for future pages or ideas on how you will be using it. Enjoy the start of the year! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Time Capsules

One highlight each year is burying our time capsules. Our capsules represent ourselves at the beginning of our year in 2nd grade. We eagerly await the last day of school so we can "dig" it up and see how much we have grown as learners. (Shhhh I hide our capsule in our custodian's workroom) In our time capsule we include some basic information about ourselves- a self portrait, hand tracing, favorites at the time and letter about our first week. 
We also include a picture and string that represents our height. Hope your students enjoy this activity as much as we do! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Spelling Activities

It is always a challenge for me to fit in extra activities to reinforce sight words HOWEVER- We all know the importance! My kids love any activity with dice and this activity can be used with any word list to fit each individual. Once kids get the hang of it they are able to complete independently. Happy spelling! FREE if you follow my blog! Be sure to leave a comment with your email so I can send it to you! 

Circle Notebook

Each Friday my 2nd graders write a letter to their families in what is called their "circle notebooks." Entries are kept in a black composition book to keep all their entries in. It breaks up our regular Writers' Workshop routine and is a nice way to reflect on our week, giving purpose to the work we do together. We typically brainstorm ideas for our circles, then I type topic choices into the circle for their notebooks. Our circle notebooks are sent home every Friday and return on Monday with a special note back to their second grader. They become a compilation of memories throughout the year. It is fun to see how much their first entry has grown in comparison to the middle and end of the school year. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Beginning of the year goodies

Before my new kiddos come to 2nd grade they receive a welcome letter telling them about their new school year. Inside I include this contact information sheet. Although our school collects information within the first few weeks, it usually takes a bit of time. This contact sheet is returned to me on the first day of school and helpful for avoiding the end of day chaos. I run them off on bold colored cardstock and keep them in a large index card container. On the back I record communications with families for record keeping purposes. Use if helpful! Would love for some feedback, comments or blog followers if you do download it. Your support is appreciated!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Getting Started...

Like most teachers my brain is never fully "off" teaching. I am always thinking of ways to improve, change or recreate things. That is my hope for this next challenge. As I begin to think of next year, the list of all the "little" items to begin the year pile up--- I am reminded of how much energy goes into the start. EEK! We can do it! 
Here is a book log I use in my children's "APE" book (An organizational communication tool between home and school) We all know how important it is to create a connection between home/school. What I like about this book log is that it is quick, simple and reminds families that it is O.K. to read to their kids! While I have to admit, I pick my battles (not everyone consistently fills them up), it is interesting for me to see the types of engagement kids are having with books at home. Hope you can find it helpful. If you would like a copy please follow my blog & leave a comment with your email and I will send it to you! Thanks for your support. There is a lot more to come... I promise!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Trying something new

For some time I have been blogging about the learning in my classroom as a way to stay in touch with families. For me, blogging has been a great communication tool. I was always amazed at how so many teachers found time to share their work with others online. Let's face it... we have all had moments when we have hopped on Pinterest or other inspiring teacher blogs and grabbed the perfect filler activity for a rain, long day. I am a huge believer in collaboration and sharing in the best interests of kids. I recently married (June 29th) of this year and have too much spare time on my hands, now that wedding planning is a thing of the past. Would love to connect with some new faces and get into the world of digital sharing more. Hope you will join me in this next journey!