Monday, December 30, 2013

See ya later 2013!

2013 was a year of constant learning. The best part about 2013 was that I started this little blog! My 2013 summer project has turned into a lasting hobby. Through blogging, I have met so many amazing educators. I can't tell you how much time I spend on my computer reading other teachers' blog posts to get ideas for the next week of teaching.

 Thank you to all the amazing teacher bloggers out there! 

See you in 2014!

I'm linking up with Simply Kinder for her Teaching Blog Round Up. I'm excited to meet other bloggers this year!

 If you're new to my blog, stop by and say, "hi" and I'll be happy to follow and learn from you!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Digging into The Legend of the Poinsettia with Art

Do you have a favorite holiday book that you can't help but read year after year? I love this time of year so much, I have book after book about the Christmas season and other December holidays, but the book with a special place in my heart is The Legend of the Poinsettia

We read The Legend of the Poinsettia as a whole class. It isn't very often that I do this since my class is full of many different reading levels, but I wanted all my students to experience reading this book vs. me reading the book aloud to them. 

While reading the book, I would pause and have students turn-and-talk to discuss the book's story elements. Students used post-its to write their reading responses on and we put them together to create this anchor chart. We took a picture walk to find evidence of the story elements and of the theme. I'm all about having evidence!

The next day, we dove deeper into the theme of the book. We discussed that the theme of the book was that any gift is a great gift if it is given from the heart. This was a great transition into making poinsettias for our families. 

This is the third year I've made these, and they always turn out amazing! Kids love that they are 3-D! 

To make them, I printed this pattern of a pinwheel on red construction paper. All students need to do is cut on the dotted lines, then fold each large triangle segment in half so that the dots in the corner meet the dot in the center circle. The ends are glued together and this is repeated so that each student makes two pinwheels. 

Students them glued both pinwheels together, glued it to the black paper, and added green leaves. To create the flowers in the center of the red poinsettia leaves, we made a dot of glue and filled it with gold glitter. 

I'm sure my students' parents will love these! Each and every one of them are unique! 

I must say, I am not strict on student-created artwork. There are times when this philosophy doesn't work as planned and students created some pretty interesting creations (to say the least) but there are other times when students create an art project in a way I never thought of! 

Today, we made a stocking craft. I had my high school student helpers cut-out a quick stocking pattern I drew and had them punch holes along the sides. 

My students were very excited to "sew" their stockings together. They really thought they were sewing! 

Once the stockings were done, we filled them with compliment cards. Click {HERE} for the compliment card freebie. I didn't let my students look at their compliments yet, although I took a peak to make sure they were appropriate (every once in awhile some interesting things pop-up when we do activities like this). 

I'll have these stockings around the classroom for the rest of the week for students to put compliments in. On Friday, the kids will be able to take these home. I'm hoping they'll wait till Christmas to open them up and read the notes their classmates gave them! 

Two more days! These next couple of days, my plan is to just keep my kids busy! I know buys doesn't mean their engaged, but I'm focusing on keeping my sanity before the break! The busier they are, the less chance they'll be bouncing off the walls with energy! 

I made this worksheet to practice and reinforce the concept of regrouping with addition and subtraction. Feel free to snag this FREEBIE and use it in your classroom to keep your second graders out of trouble :)

Hang in there teachers! We've almost made it!

What is your favorite holiday book you share year after year?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Honoring Sandy Hook

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School.  We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children.  We honor their memory with our service.  Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook.

God Bless the teachers and children of Sandy Hook. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Little Christmas Five for Friday!

One word... exhausted! I just can't keep up with the "Christmas is coming so I'm going to go wild" energy of my students! This Five for Friday is perfect because there's just FIVE more teaching days till two weeks of vacation... Yes, Yes, Yes! 

We got the first snow day of the year! It doesn't snow too often at the beach. My pond completely froze over... frozen enough for my dog to walk across. There was snow on the sand. It was a beautiful sight! Luckily, my pipes didn't freeze! 

I finished decorating my little house for Christmas. It's not much, but it makes me cheery every time I turn the lights of my Christmas tree on. When I was a child, my mom went full-out with the Christmas decorations. I am starting to accrue my own decorations so I can carry on this Christmas tradition.  

My second graders finished up our Gingerbread unit. We read a TON of versions of The Gingerbread Man and compared and contrasted their story elements. My second graders are pretty darn good at knowing their story elements now. I love it when they use the new vocabulary in their friendly conversations... "I liked how the setting was in the woods..."

My second grade Dears wrote letters to Santa. They received a letter from Santa that they were on the 'Naughty List.' They worked really hard at convincing Santa that they should be placed on the 'Nice List.' One of my kids said, "I've never been on the Naughty List before. This is not good!"

Every week should end with a fun art project! To tell you the truth, I hardly ever have time for craftiness in the classroom! I always see cute ideas on Pinterest or TPT, but have a hard time letting my kiddos do something that isn't directly connected to a standard. But, it's Christmastime, so I'll let it go! 

My second graders wrote Haiku poems and make a background for their poetry. We made these cute ripped Santas (some kids made wreaths instead of St. Nick). They were super easy, and I came up with it at the last minute! 

I printed a circle and triangle on construction paper. The students cut out the shapes, glued them to the black construction paper background, and began ripping white paper. They used the ripped paper as the texture in Santa's beard, eyebrows, and hat. They had so much fun! 

That's a peak at my crazy busy week!
 How was your week? Did you do any fun crafts or art projects? 

Be sure to head on over to Doodle Bug Teaching and link-up or read about other blogger's week!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ho Ho Ho! We're Writing Letters to Santa to get off Kris Kringle's Naughty List!

When your kids are bouncing off the walls, it's a good plan to have a few pieces of motivation to pull out of your hat! I must say, I missed out on The Elf on the Shelf this year! BUT, I had SOOOO much fun reading my students a letter from Santa Clause himself! Read on to find out how I was able to get my class completely silent without saying a single word and help my students produce some amazing opinion writing... Oh, the magic of Christmas!

As soon as class started, I was so excited to pull out an envelope addressed to me from the North Pole. Without saying a word, I held up the envelope and pulled out the letter. I slowly opened it, spilling out a large amount of red glitter. It was the red glitter that really made the letter seem legit! 
I read the letter silently, stopping to make silly dramatic faces that showed the emotion of shock!

Finally, a kiddo spoke up to say, "Is that a letter from Santa?"

I read the letter aloud to my students, making sure I was especially dramatic. Oh the horror to find out that my class was on the temporary naughty list! The class was in *shock* and so very worried! 

But, their teacher was there to save the day! I told them not to fear, this issue was now pushed to the top of my list of things to do for the day, besides math, haha! I let my kiddos know that while they're at art, I'll be busy working on getting the class prepared for writing our letters. 

I had students hugging and thanking me for allowing them to write letters during the day. It was the sweetest, most cutest, most precious thing ever! 

I went with my students' engagement and ran! This letter was all my kids could talk about! When we walked down the halls, they swore they saw an elf. They even "heard" elf voices in the walls. I had to stop myself from laughing when my kids were trying to guess which staff members were really elves who were reporting our class' behavior to the North Pole (their reasoning was hi.lar.ious). 

While my kids were in art, I quickly drew-up this anchor chart. The night before, I made a quick printable with the different parts of a letter and a little explanation of what they were. You can snag a FREEBIE of the Parts of a Friendly Letter printable {HERE}

I cut-out each of the parts of a letter and handed them to a few of my students on the "Nice List." Together, we went over the parts of a friendly letter and students placed their cards on the Santa anchor chart as a reminder of how we write a friendly letter. 

Now, it was time for students to write a friendly letter to Santa on their own. Their mission was to convince Santa that they should be on the "Nice List" and be removed from the temporary "Naughty List.

Students used examples of how they have been nice in school and at home. My goodness! Some kiddos were mighty convincing! Even my writers who struggle to think of ideas has a page-full of writing to Santa. 

Opinion writing at its finest! 

Did you have your students write letters to Santa?
How are you motivating your students to carry on these last few days?? I could use a few more ideas :)


Monday, December 9, 2013

It's All About The Gingerbread and Story Elements In 2nd Grade

Happy snow day from the Oregon coast! I'm enjoying my extra day to plan and create... and do a bit of cooking. Can't every day be a snow day?!?
Be prepare for a lot of photos... I mean, a lot! 

Last week we spent our literature block reading different versions of The Gingerbread Man. It has been a great way to start the holiday season and the kids are just eating up the different versions of this classic story. All in the name of Common Core compare and contrast story elements! I read some of the stories aloud to the class, and together students mapped out the story elements on a worksheet of their own, and I created the anchor chart below. 

To continue down the scaffold train (whole-group to small-group), I divided my second graders into cooperative learning groups of 4 or 5 kids and had each group pick a version of The Gingerbread Man that they were interested in reading as a group. The objectives of the lesson was for the students to read their version of The Gingerbread Man and work together to map out the story elements. 

I was absolutely amazed at the engagement while in their cooperative learning groups. Every group met the objectives. Each student had a particular section of the graphic organizer that they were in-charge of. The group members held each other accountable if  group member was goofing around... my class turned into a dream class! 

Tomorrow, the kids will do a quick presentation of their story and I'll add to the class anchor chart we created. 

Here's a peak of my kids' work. They may not all be pretty, but they're complete and show me that we're well on our way to mapping story elements independently. Yay! 

Here's a copy of this story element graphic organizer. I enlarged mine and printed it on 11 x 14" paper. I hope your students enjoy working together to map out a Gingerbread Man story! Just click on the picture to be taken to a Google doc

Tomorrow, I'm going to introduce my students to writing literary book reports. That sounds scary, especially for second graders, but I made a little holiday lights craftivity to make it more fun and festive! I can't wait till they're finished and I can hang them up in the hallway! I'll be sure to snap a few photos and post them on the blog. 

Click on the picture below to be taken to my TPT store to snag your copy of this story element display craftivity! 

What are you doing to make the days counting down till Christmas more exciting??


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

You Can't Catch Me! I'm Reading the Gingerbread Man!

Nothing says Christmas like the aroma of gingerbread, and nothing says compare and contrast story elements like reading different versions of the Gingerbread Man!

Because I just love Christmastime and want it to last for as long as possible, I started my time back from Thanksgiving break with reading different versions of The Gingerbread Man. I reintroduced story elements to my students, and together, we filled-out our story element graphic organizer {get the freebie HERE}. 

My favorite part of this activity was introducing theme to my second graders. I gave each table group two post-it notes. I had each table discuss the theme, or lesson, of the story and write it down on the post-it and stick it to the board. Their answers were just amazing! 

My favorites were, "You can't run away from your problems" and "Be careful who you trust." Their thoughts really impressed me, and I boosted their egos by telling them they thought of themes I wouldn't have come up with. 

I got a brand new set of Mr. Sketch markers over the break, and so I just HAD to bust them out and use them to make an anchor chart to remember what the different story elements are. I just love, love, love the colors! I never bought the set of 18 before... LOVE! 

Here's another peak at my Gingerbread Man anchor chart. The 'Theme' is blank because I plan on placing my student's post-it notes there. 

Throughout the week, I'll be reading more versions of The Gingerbread Man to my kiddos. We'll continue to compare and contrast story elements, all in the name of loving literature, and the second grade common core of course! 

Here's a few of my favorite Gingerbread Man stories...

I'm always looking for more Gingerbread Man stories to share! If you have a favorite, share it in a comment and I'll have to check it out!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Classroom Community Building: Bring On the Warm Fuzzies on Cold Winter Days

Man... the first day back after a break is always tough! I am so ready for a two week vacation just around the corner! We ended our day one of my countdown to winter break activities. Today was "Warm Fuzzies." 

A positive classroom community is very important to me. I can't control what it will be like for my students when they leave my classroom at the end of the day, but I can make sure that they feel safe and loved when they're in my classroom. 
I love quick and easy classroom community building games, and warm fuzzies is just that! 

I started this activity by giving each of my students three fuzzy poms. While music was playing, students walked around the room smiling at one another. When the music stopped, students turned back-to-back with the student closest to them. When every student was matched up, they turned around and gave their partner and heart-felt compliment before handing them a fuzzy pom. 

This repeated three times until all of the students' poms had been exchanged and each child gave three meaningful compliments. 
There were smiles all around and the kids were so excited when I told them they could keep the poms. 
After my kiddos spirits' were high, I asked my kids to raise their hand if they received a really good compliment from a partner. Every hand in the room went up! 

Activities like this make me realize how important it is to stop and lift each other up with compliments. I think my kids would agree that we left school on a positive note. 

Click on the picture above to snag your countdown to winter break freebie!
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