Sunday, April 12, 2015

Surviving Until Summer!

Hey y'all!  I was computer-less for a few days which left my hands feeling rather lonely, ha!  Thankfully I got a replacement charger today and am not back to business :)

I'm linking up with Katie and Michelle to let you know what I'm doing to survive until summer in my classroom and at home!

First, I'll start in the classroom!  As much as I'd love to save some time and just use no-prep lessons this time of year, I just can't do that to my kiddos.  Their active bodies and short attention spans need so much more than a worksheet this time of year.  I'm actually spending more time trying to put together meaningful lessons than normal because I've got to keep them engaged and focused!  For the past two weeks my students spent lots of time writing different types of poetry... they loved getting to be little poets every single day, and I loved reading their individual poetry!

These Bio Poems were just what we needed to get to know each other a little better!

 Using ice cream for our simile poems was perfect because what kid doesn't love a little sugar?  We were able to review similes and brainstorm lots of new ideas!  Need to survive without pulling your hair out??  Use high-interest topics!

 Anytime I can bring food or drinks into the classroom it definitely helps provide motivation!  OH, and it serves as a behavior incentive!  If I have to feed my students daily to survive until summer, I'll do it!
 I can't even begin to tell you how much easier it was to write our 5 Senses Poem because we actually tasted the lemonade while writing!

 Another thing we do a lot, but especially this time of year is work in partners while writing.  Working together, having conversations, and getting ideas from one another helps to spur my students on :)  And, sometimes, you just need a little help when writing a limerick!  These were challenging to write, but the partners were able to help each other out!

I will have a sub for probably the worst week of school... state testing week.  My sub will have to be with my class during lunch, specials, and all throughout the day because the upper grades will be testing all day.  Well, in order to keep my sanity and hers, I spent a lot of time prepping every little thing she will need.  I know that my students will be wound up and quick to misbehave, so I jam-packed their week with lots of learning and activities.  Any downtime at this point in the year could be a disaster...so overplanning is key!
 My last little almost-summer suggestion is to keep pencils to yourself, ha!  I am the only one who has the power to sharpen and pass out pencils... this saves us tons of pencils and I have plenty to last for the rest of the year.  Glue, expo markers, and highlighters on the other hand... apparently we eat those instead of work ;)
In my personal life I spend lots of time cheering this little Hot Shot on during soccer games!  She's quite the soccer star and I love watching her dominate!  This time of year also brings lots of family dates, birthday parties, evening walks, and outdoor activities!
To keep myself busy... because I just don't have enough to do ;)... I have been shopping for the bedroom of my littlest boy.  I spent this weekend putting it together, and am so happy with how it turned out!  You can see more of it HERE plus get a little adoption update from my husband!
 Make sure you link up and share what you do to make it through :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Measurement Olympics 2015

Happy Wednesday, friends!  I'm just going to throw it out there that I have not been an amazing teacher this week.  My little family and I are getting ready to visit our boys in Africa in *eleven sleeps* SOOOO I've been doing all that I can to get prepared at home and at school.  I'll be missing five days of work, so it's important that my sub plans are on point... PLUSSSSSS we are taking care packages from adoptive families for about 50 kids with us.  ANNNDDD we are meeting our sons for the first time ever!!!  My mind has been racing, my credit card has been on fire, and my body can't possibly get enough done with only 24 hours in a day.  I have made my first little boys' clothes purchases and I'm trying to cross all my T's so that I can enjoy my time away.  With that being said, my mind is racing constantly and I feel like I can't just catch a breath and enjoy my time in my classroom.  I'm hoping that I'll get everything done by this weekend so that I can be fully present next week in the classroom before leaving!  Not to mention we have our grade level field trip next Wednesday... just add that in the mix of allllll the craziness!

Well, yesterday I knew I needed to step up my game.  It was time for our annual Measurement Olympics!  You can read about my first go-round HERE!  It was entirely too windy.... seriously, papers blowing everywhere, pencils flying across the cement, chalk rolling around, and even our yardsticks were traveling with the wind!!!  But, I just couldn't wait another day.  After all, it is spring in Texas.  Wind all day every day!  We spent the majority of our time chasing our belongings, but the learning was still happening!  Here are some pictures from our day...

We have similar events every year.  They are simple and I just think of them on the spot.  Every students completes every event at the same time.  We get in starting position, I count down (3, 2, 1.... BLOW!).  They use chalk to mark where their cotton ball landed.  Then, they measure away!  I demonstrate each event before counting down :)  We do simple things... blow the cotton ball, flick it, toss it upwards, kick it gently, spin and toss, push it with one hand while holding it with the other, drop it, etc.  Nothing fancy, I promise!!!  Can you see how they tried to keep their spirals from flying around with their jackets... it was such a mess out there, ha!


Let me offer a few suggestions...
-Use pom poms or cotton balls
-Use yardsticks (the cotton balls travel a long ways!!!)
-Do this after teaching addition with regrouping!!
-Let students work together to add up measurements (We shared yardsticks!)
-Use chalk to mark where the cotton ball landed so that it won't blow away!
-If possible, do this on a day with ZERO wind!! Your life will be so much easier!
-Demonstrate each event
-It is easiest if you do all your estimates in class before heading outside.  I demonstrated each event quickly and had my students make their estimates so that once we got outside that wouldn't get pushed to the side!!

We always use our math spirals, but I thought it might be easier to just put a recording sheet on a clipboard and head outside next year.  You can get this freebie HERE!  This takes ZERO prep to do, and your kids will absolutely love it.  They thought it was seriously the best thing ever!!!  I'm trying to think of other activities that we can do similar to this one because they were so excited about learning!!!  It's worth it, I promise!
 Before I go, I posted some iPad freebies on Blog Hoppin' last week.  You can get my backgrounds and iPad rules HERE!
I'm off to do some laundry and get ready for tomorrow!  Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Poetry!

There are so many things that I love about April...it's my birthday month, it's *THIS* close to summer break, the beautiful weather, sunny weekends, soccer games... AND It's National Poetry Month!  I love reading poetry with my class and teaching my kiddos how to write several different types of poems.  We've been hard at work for over a week now, so I wanted to show you what we have been up to!

We started with some of the easiest poetry... Acrostic Poems and a Rebus Poem as a class :).  OH, and I just smile when I look at kidart!
 We spent a day focusing on SNAKES!  We read a nonfiction book and watched a few of THESE videos.  We were so grossed out!!!  One of my classes focused on Cinquain Poems...
While the other did Haiku poems!
 The next day we talked all about cats!  We read fiction and nonfiction books, watched some YouTube videos, and wrote some more poetry!  The books and videos help get my students thinking and brainstorming :)

 All of the poems above can be found in my We're All Poets pack!  We are doing a lot more this week, so I'll be back to show you our finished products!

I just adore these round poems my students wrote today.  It's eye-opening to see which students can visualize themselves as another object and "think" like that object would.  You can get that writing freebie HERE!
 This little girl pretended she was Mrs. Lemons' Head.  She would shake uncontrollably, stare at the ceiling, and tell my brain to throw a pizza party for my class!  So funny!  She just cracked herself up with this one, ha!
 You'll find poetry all over my classroom this time of year.  The students always rush over to read each other's poems when given a free moment or two.
From my class to yours, we wish you a very happy National Poetry Month!!!

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 :))