Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Engaging Measurement Activities

Well hello there, friends!  Sorry for the absence this week... soccer season started for our little one, plus lots of birthday parties, family gatherings, and the such... all of which have kept my family very busy!  

But, I'm back and here to share some fun measurement activities with you.

I love using Hope King's Measurement unit each year.  The activities are hands-on and very engaging!  No one knows how to engage students quite like Hope!  We read "Inch By Inch" and made our own animals to measure in inches.  This was the opening activity to our measuring unit :)
 Of course I always love kid art and seeing their unique little personalities shine through their work!
 The next day we completed another engaging activity from Hope's unit.  We read "How Big is a Foot?" and worked in cooperative groups to make beds for the queen.
 It was so funny to see the groups with little feet try and make theirs larger or look at it like, "ummm this isn't right!!"  We had great a great conversation about the benefits in measuring with standard units.  Only a few of my groups got really creative with this.  I love how these two groups even drew the queen in bed!  The purple one says, "Keep Calm and Boss On!" on the blanket... so cute!

 I was thrilled to pieces when I saw that Alisha posted this measuring activity on Instagram.  She used First Grade Blue Skies' Bunny Directed Drawing to practice measuring with a ruler.  So, we did the same today!  Such a fun way to incorporate the holidays, a little art, and math!!!  You can get her measurement printable HERE :) 
 Jennifer's Directed Drawings have become some of my favorite activities!
Only one more day and then PTL for a long weekend!  This tired teacher/mama needs some rest!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Random Wednesday!

Ready for a Random Wednesday Night kind of post?!  

We are finishing up our unit on Fractions!  Today we made our Cookie Fraction Booklets that consisted of one whole, one-half, one-fourth, and one-eighth.  These two little cookies crack me right up!  The little girls who made these booklets are the best of friends, but they are opposite in almost every way possible.  Can you tell?!  One wanted her cookie to be veiny and creepy while the other made hers with a pink bow.  I just love them to pieces!
We have been trekking along with learning cursive.  I realize that not every 2nd grade teacher is able to focus on cursive, but it is a district requirement for us.  Honestly, I've never gotten through the entire alphabet in lower and uppercase.  This year I was determined to tackle it completely!  So far we are finished with lowercase and now into uppercase letters!  My students love it, and it only takes between 5-10 minutes every morning.  We start standing up, ready to learn the movement with our arm.  I model, give little tips, and then we write in the air.  Afterwards I walk around with a smelly marker and put hearts around a letter and a word that they wrote neatly.  Works like a charm!
 Last week my school celebrated a Literacy Day on Friday.  I mentioned in *this* post that I'm just not a fan of dressing up.  Well, I decided that I just HAD to be Fly Guy because my students are SOOOO into those books this year.  I've bought several to add to our classroom library, and that is always my first bin to be emptied!  Plus, when we weren't doing our Fly Guy stuff I could take off the wings and hat because they just weren't something I could wear all day... hello, headache!!!

I just used two pieces of poster-board to make my eyes/wings.  The eyes are glued to a sentence strip, and then stapled to another sentence strip that was fitted around my head.  I added wikki sticks for the eyelashes and popsicle sticks with pom-poms for the antennae.  I hot-glued the wings to a pair of fairy wings that Joelle never plays with anymore :)
My team decided to do book rotations throughout the day.  Each class traveled to each 2nd grade teacher to see their character/read a story.  So, I read Hi, Fly Guy six times on Friday!  After reading we did a directed drawing of Fly Guy... they loved it!  I don't have a link to share for this directed drawing because I just made it up on the spot.  We just went step by step together :)
 On a different note, last week I noticed that my kids were getting LAZY when they were writing our reflections throughout the day.  Their sentences were pitiful... they weren't communicating their thoughts clearly... and I could barely read their handwriting.  I knew I had to do something!  I can't send them to 3rd grade writing worse than when they came to me!!!

So, I decided to make these little "Quick Writes/Exit Slips" for my kiddos.  I noticed a difference immediately.  They aren't forced to write just a ton, but they are required to communicate thoughts and write neatly with correct sentence structure.  

My students were able to define what a prefix was after just one lesson... AND, now they are able to tell me what it is everyday before we get started!  It definitely helped the definition to stick a little better!

 I also use these during math.  Here my students explained what they knew about fractions.
 We are reading a Horrible Harry book during our ELA block.  For a reading response I had my students write about their favorite insects.  I love this one so much!!!  How neat that she even knows about the Beatles!
 We glue most of these into our spirals.  If students finish early then they illustrate underneath their writing.  If not, no big deal!
I've put 100 of these quick writes together in one easy pack!  There are several different types for your students to use throughout the year.  These are not intended to be used during your formal writing block.  They are great for reading responses, tickets-out-the-door, and lesson reflections!
That does it for me!  Just about as random as can be!!!  Goodnight, y'all!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Open House 2015

Well hello there!  It's Sunday.  The sun is shining.  A nap is in my *very* near future.  I've got my pup laying at my feet.  My daughter is reading aloud.  Church was amazing and convicting this morning.  Life is good!

Last week we had our 2nd Grade Open House and Music Program on Tuesday night.  I've been gathering student work for what seems like months now.  I was happy to get rid of mounds of student work, plus it's always to fun to watch kids show off their hard work to their parents!  When I taught first grade we would do more of a theme night... and our work would all revolve around one topic.  Since moving to 2nd, I've done more of a mod-podge of concepts and skills.  I'm going to take you on a little tour of every.single.thing we had up around our room.  Also, most of these things I have blogged about before, so rather than explaining everything again, I will just give you links to blog posts with lots of details!  AND, if I don't know where something is from it's because my teaching partner did lots of the cute stuff in her class :)

Math Board:  Fraction Sundaes turned 3-Digit Addition With Regrouping Sundaes!
Bulletin Board behind my teacher table (wrapping paper stapled to the wall):  Chocolate Fever reading responses
Writing Board:  Our fable writing!
Cabinets:  I printed pictures from throughout the year and hot-glued them to the front of my cabinet doors :)  They look so sweet under the welcome banner!  This idea came from an ah-ha moment I had at the Ron Clark Academy!  Put pictures of the kids up in the classroom/school and they will be excited about walking in the doors!
Desks:  Biography bottle projects (done in Spanish class), Salt-Dough Landforms (done in Spanish class), Book Report booklets, and we made a big envelope to house all other work!
Social Studies Board:  Leprechauns made in Spanish class (from Stephanie Stewart)
Officer Buckle reading responses made in Spanish class!
Hallway Display:  Chocolate Fever Fun!
More Hallway Display:  Dr. Seuss Week
Directed Drawings:  First Grade Blue Skies
The Lorax idea came from HERE
And here is a peek from my door into my classroom!  Lots of stuff going on, but we had a lot to show off :)  
Now that Open House is over I'm excited to have my clean classroom back, ha!  I feel like a HUGE weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and we can just enjoy our day-to-day life in 2nd grade :))

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Strategy 6: Humor!

Hey y'all!  I'm linking up with Amanda from One Extra Degree to talk about Strategy 6:  Humor.  Now, I'm going to be the first to admit that I am NOT the funniest person around.  I really don't care to dress up at school or look silly all day while I'm teaching... it's just not my thing.  I guess it's because I like consistency and order... but, that's no excuse to not have fun every once in a while!  Since I like things structured, I often let humor go by the wayside.  Do we have fun in our classroom?  Absolutely!  But, I can't say that I'm going out of my way to make my kids laugh... and quite honestly, I never really thought it was important until reading "Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites!"

BUT, now that I've thought about it and spent some time digging into our book study, it makes 100% complete sense that we should be using more laughter in the classroom.  I mean, I love to laugh on my own time... whether it's with friends, by watching a movie, or having Joelle entertain me for hours!  And, if it helps our brains (plus get our kids get excited about coming to school) then I need to do more of it in the classroom!

Thankfully this little girl has helped me come out of my shell a little... normally you'll finding me ducking behind her because she draws attention and laughter wherever she goes!
 So, first I thought... what have I done in the past to encourage laughter and make my kids smile?!!  

Our Robert Munsch author study!  No one can get your kids smiling and laughing quite like Mr. Munsch!
 Silly Poetry!  A lot of the humor that I've incorporated into my classroom over the years has been through my students' writing.  I may not joke around a whole lot, but I do like to foster silliness and creativity when it comes to their story-telling!  Poetry is a really fun unit to incorporate some less-serious topics!
Last year I incorporated an "End of the Year" countdown.  Many of those days involved a silly book and a fun snack.  My students LOVED Pickle Day!  And, I loved reading their inventive stories about their very own Pickle Person :)  Things like this just help ease tension and open the door for lots of laughter!
 When we write stories together, a lot of interesting topics come up.  While I don't encourage my students to constantly write about potty topics, it does come up every so often!  They LOVED writing this fable about a dog and cat going to obedient school for potty training... and of course, they had to make the cat potty on the pillow at the end!
I could show you countless other ways we integrate silly writing into our day... or the use of silly books, but I think you get the jist!  After reading this chapter, and while I was preparing for this blog post, I decided to do some browsing for jokes/riddles I could incorporate.  I found this website and immediately tried out a few animal jokes with my class as they were getting lined up.  They LOVED it, and pretty much now think I'm the funniest person ever.  The laughter made my teacher heart happy and wonder why I haven't been doing these all along!
Then I looked for some apps since we have iPads in the classroom.  Here's what I found:
I also want to try incorporating humor through short videos that lend themselves to story starters or quick conversations.  How fun would it be to end the week with a silly animal video on Fridays?!  You can find thousands if not millions of funny animal videos on YouTube.  I though this was especially funny!
Sometimes it is hard to find the balance of having fun and teaching the content.  What I like about this book is it gives you simple techniques to try in the classroom.  All it took today was for me getting my toe wet with a few riddles.  Will I be telling jokes all day everyday?  Nope!  But, why not crack a joke every once in a while?!  AND, it's an added bonus if you can get it to connect with the content!  Head on over to Amanda's blog to see how she uses word play to inject humor in her classroom!  Then, make a stop at Elizabeth's blog... she loves to dress up and create theme days that get her kids excited about school!  Oh, and you have to see how Holly uses her sons' old costume to brighten up a lesson!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

New Fraction Fun!

This year our fraction standards in Texas changed quite a bit.  I'm not sure exactly what they were in the past, but they are pretty specific now.  I've had to modify the majority of my existing lessons to meet our new standards, but while doing so, it helped me think of some new ideas!  So, I want to show you what has been working for us, as well as some updates that I made to my "Become a Fraction Fanatic" unit!

We started our fraction lessons with this simple lesson that was recommended by my district.  I gave each student 2 blue circles.  We talked about dividing it into two equal parts, and just what exactly we should do.  Then, we made two unequal parts.  This allowed us to have a really good discussion about the importance of equal parts and making things fair... which should help jumpstart our division units in a few weeks!  After the circle, we did the same thing with fourths and eighths.  Overall, I really enjoyed this because we were able to discuss, discuss, discuss!
 It was very hands-on because the students were doing all of the folding, thinking, and cutting!  
 Today I brought out the pattern blocks to talk a little more about equal and unequal parts.  I simply drew a line with an Expo marker over some of my pattern blocks.  I passed them out around the class, and they came up to sort the shapes under our document camera.  
 Then it was time for our Fraction Booklets!  This is always a class favorite!
 Since, in Texas, we are now only doing halves, fourths, and eighths, those are the only pages that I copied.  This led to great discussions about how halves are larger than fourths, which are larger than eighths if given the same whole.  We were also able to see that two-fourths made one-half, and six-eighths made three-fourths.  It was great!
 Since we are just focusing on halves, fourths, and eighths (and only writing fractions in word form) I had to update a few things.  So, I made the following sorts for our math spirals.  We will be tackling these guys in the next few days!

 All of these sorts have been added to my Fraction Unit, so if you have already purchased, make sure you re-download!
 I still wanted to incorporate our fraction hats, but I needed to adjust those a little.  So, I decided that we would order fractions given shapes that are divided into fourths.  It is still the same concept as the other hat that was included, but just with a different skill!
If you are in Texas, and you are struggling to find fraction activities that only involve the halves, fourths, and eighths... I feel your pain!  You can snag these fraction posters for free below!  Just right-click the image and save to your computer!

If you are wanting to make your own fraction goodies, you can get great clip art from the following TpT stores:

Also, if you would like a chant for teaching halves, fourths, and eighths you can snag that HERE!
I hate my voice on video, but here is the chant in action :)