Mother’s Day Gift

May 07

About 6 months ago, my son was cleaning out his room and making a pile of really great stuff he could give to Goodwill. His really great stuff included a box of 30 Memorex Jewel Cases. Mind you these were brand new, never been opened and he was giving them away. While the teacher in me just couldn’t let him go through with it, so while his back was turned I took them for my stash of “things my kids might be able to use in class one day” pile.  I searched for something to make with them on Pinterest and Google and finally found all kinds of picture frames and boxes that other bloggers had made. Although none of the ideas fit my needs perfectly, they did inspire me to come up with this picture frame for my kids to make for their mom’s for Mothers Day this year.

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All I had to do was cut the cardstock to fit the two inside panels of the case and take pictures of my wonderful students. These pictures or of the example I gave them. They glued, used tons of stickers (way more than they should of in most cases) and had an all around wonderful time making these for their moms, aunts and grandmas depending on who was raising them.

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! I hope you will be able to enjoy it with those who are the dearest to your heart!!!

My Phone Number Is…

Apr 08

An important part of being a young child is and always has been, knowing how to get a hold of your parents in case of an emergency. As parents we have all been there. Trying to get our children to memorize their phone number, address and state they live in so God forbid, if there is an emergency they are able to tell someone this important information.

As a teacher I worried about the kids who just didn’t seem to be able to or want to learn their parent’s phone numbers. So, I came up with this work page where they could use their counting skills while coloring in the number of boxes for each number in their phone number, but they could also practice their number in the classroom.

After each child had finished their page, we placed their picture in the box and bound all the papers into a book (we would also send home a copy of it to parents for much needed practice at home as well). The originals became our classroom phone book, left in the kitchen play area with a couple of old, disconnected cell phones so the kids could pretend they were calling each other. This made for lots of practice and fun during center s.

Several years ago, I found myself with a grandson that was having a hard time remembering his mom and dad’s cell phone numbers. So I printed out two of these pages. Put my daughter’s cell phone number and picture on one and my son-in-law’s picture and number on the other. My daughter took them home and put them on their refrigerator. Every day my son-in-law would ask my grandson about the numbers and eventually he memorized both of his parent’s numbers. After he had memorized the numbers my daughter and son-in-law took this one step further and left these on the refrigerator so babysitters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends would have easy access to the numbers when they were watching their son.

Have fun with your little ones!!!

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Persuasive Letter Writing Chart

Feb 11

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My second graders have been busy this month working on writing a persuasive letter in order to get something changed. But I am finding as each year of teaching goes by, writing a letter and all its parts seems to be a harder and harder thing for them to accomplish. Most of my students know all about e-mails, texts, snapchat and even receiving a card, but not a good old fashioned letter. I have tried describing the parts of a letter, discussing it with them and reading literature full of letters but since people in general tend to be writing fewer letters, it is a hard task to explain to 8 year olds.

So I decided to write a chart size letter and add all the parts on to it so they could see the pieces with an example. Today we went over the chart, talked about the parts and I sent them on their way to write. I just kept hoping it was going to help and then it happened. One of my little gems asked me “Do I really have to put a request into my letter?” I smiled, told him “Of course you do,” and thought to myself, “YES!!!! Someone was listening!” Enjoy your Wednesday evening!

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Counting To 1000

Jan 30

Part of being in the second grade is learning to skip count to 1000 by 10’s. Most of my students come into second grade being able to count to 100 by 10’s with ease. SO\o our goal is to practice to 1000. This activity is a part of my calendar time each day and only takes a few minutes to accomplish. Each day the helper counts out 10 straws, and bundles them into 1 group of ten. After they place them into the tens bag, they tell me what number we need to add to our chart that day and how they know their answer. On days when we have a group of ten in the tens bag, the student helper gets to bundle the 10 groups of 10 into a group of 100 and place it into the 100’s bag.

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At the end of 100 days, students get to bundle the 10 groups of 100 into a group of 1000. The kids love this activity and as they work on this day after day they notice more and more patterns in the numbers, how to skip count by 100’s and place value ideas dealing with zero. Which is a concept that is almost always a challenge to primary students. It is helpful that the one’s bag stays empty through out this entire activity, showing them that the value of the ones place stays at zero.

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This activity could also be done by adding one straw everyday and counting to 100 by 1’s in Kindergarten and first grade.

Concept/Question Boards

Dec 29

My school district currently teaches reading from the Imagine It! curriculum. We have a walk to read program throughout our building in first through fifth grades. I, of course, teach second grade, where we have three sections of walk to read. We have the above grade level students, benchmark students and two classes of intervention students. I teach one of the two interventions classes.

One of the issues I have had in my classroom in the past with this curriculum is it is very hard for my kids to come up with questions or bring in concept ideas to go with what we are studying. In fact, to be honest, last year my board stayed empty 90% of the time. This drove me crazy. I racked my brain trying to think of ways I could get my kids to become involved with the concept/question board. After much debate I decided to help them with the concept or theme of each story but following the curriculum prompts and us completing the board as a class. We have now finished two units of the curriculum and I wanted to share with you our completed boards so far this school year. To be quite honest, I am not sure that this is what Imagine It! Had in mind for the concept board, but my ESL readers ( who are at least 12 to 2 grade levels in reading below the benchmark) are enjoying this part of reading each week. So I will call this a win just for helping to bring more interest and understanding to each story we read.

Our first unit is titled: Kindness is…

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And our concept /question board question is: How can you show kindness to others?

These are the questions we posed to the students during each of unit ones stories and what we used as for the concept/question board.

Lesson 1: How can you help make the world a kinder place?

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Lesson 2: In what ways can you show kindness to the earth?

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Lesson 3: Is it better to give kindness or to receive it?

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Lesson 4: Can animals be kind to one another?

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Lesson 5: How can being kind help you make friends? Tell me about your favorite stuffed animal and how you are friends with it.

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Our second unit is titled: Let’s Explore

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And our concept/question board question is: What did you discover outside today?

Lesson1: How much do you know about the daily lives of ants?

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Lesson 2: Have you ever found a rock that reminds you of something? Tell me about it.

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Lesson 3: What other insects might you find in the grass?

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Lesson 4: What other animals might use a birdhouse for their home?

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Lesson 5: Compare and label a conifer and a deciduous tree.

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I hope you enjoy our examples. We are a couple of stories into unit three. I will try to put those pictures on in a timelier manner. Have a wonderful last week of December

100 Ornament

Dec 19

As a gift for their parents for Christmas this year, my students and I decided to make 100 ornaments. Not 100 of them, but one ornament with 100 items in each ornament . It was great fun. The kids enjoyed all the sparkly things they got to use to make the ornament and I enjoyed all the counting they did. I gave them each a counting cup from our math center and they had to put:

20 pony beads

20 plain sequins

20 shaped sequins

20 pompoms

17 pieces of glitter paper

And 3 feathers into their cup.

I had purchased big clear plastic ornaments at Walmart after Christmas last year for only .o5 a piece for them to use this year. I purchased everything else at my local dollar store.

The kids transferred everything from their math cup into the ornament, we wrapped them up and they went off to home yesterday.

This was a fun, education activity and they turned out really great!!!

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November Is Over!

Dec 01

Wow, where has this time gone. I can’t believe November is over today! And with that all my good intentions to get things onto my website for the fall have now fallen to the wayside (Sorry!!!!) So I am going to continue to try to get all my fall stuff on here throughout the next two months while still trying to get my Christmas stuff on here as well.

I love this time of year, but the craziness of trying to get my family Christmas ready, while still getting the Christmas stuff done for my students is an overwhelming job every school year. These next three weeks will be flying by as I try to squeeze as much fun stuff as I can into the curriculums already set from my school district.

So, today will be my first lesson to include a Christmas theme. I am planning to do a interactive read aloud with the story “Too Many Tamales” by Gary Soto. I absolutely love this book for a variety of reasons. Most importantly because it is fun and the kids can relate to both the problem and the solution the kids in the story come up with. Gary Soto has filled the book with a great life lesson as well as great language in both English and Spanish that you can discuss with the kids and they can discuss with their reading partners.

That said, let’s talk interactive read aloud. They are by far one of my favorite lessons to teach. I wish I had more time to include more of them into our class learning but I only have time for once a week on Monday afternoon. (I choose Monday for the interactive read aloud since Mondays are a hard day for everyone to be at school missing our weekend and this teaching brings both me and the kids a lot of joy).

Each week I focus on two things during the read aloud- 1. A discussion strategy for the students to work on with the reading partner and 2. A craft that the author has included or used in the story. Since I teach in an ESL classroom a lot of my focus is also on language during the year.

This is an example of the chart I use with my second graders during the read aloud. We use it both as our expectations for the session and as a reminder of what we are working on.

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Here are some of the books I use throughout the school year for my read aloud time. I have also tried to list what strategy or focus I use with the book. Also, since I am now teaching second grade (after many years in Kindergarten and first grade), I have listed my 6 favorite books ( and it was so hard to just pick 6) by the grade level I used them in. I am sure many of you use these books in other ways or for different reasons than I do. I would love to hear how these books are resources for you in your classroom and what strategies you use them for each year.

Have a great last day of November!

 

Kindergarten:

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (Reading the pictures)

The Napping House by Audrey Wood (Great for showing the passage of time as well as cause and effect)

Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen Fletcher (using picture clues to understand the story)

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann (problem and solution)

Clip Clop by Nicola Smee (Reading the pictures and adding those ideas to what the author has written)

A Dark, Dark Tale by Ruth Brown (Voice)

First Grade

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams (the pictures set the mood, what is the mood or emotion the author wants you to feel)

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant (Wonderful language with what does the author mean by)

The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog by Cynthia Rylant (Making a connection to your own life)

Charlie Anderson by Barbara Abercrombie (A story within a story, or inferencing to understand the deeper meaning of the two lives in the story)

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Time passing)

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (connections within the story between what is happening to the baby bear and Sal and how it is the same)

Second Grade

New Shoes for Silvia by Johanna Hurwitz (Time passing)

Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin (making a connection)

The Wall by Eve Bunting (the pictures set the mood, what is the mood or emotion the author wants you to feel)

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto (problem and solution)

Going Home by Eve Bunting (Wonderful Language and what does the author mean by)

Abuela by Arthur Dorros (Telling the difference between realistic fiction and fiction within a story and how both genres can be used within a story)

New Old School

Oct 19

Last spring I wrote about having to pack up my classroom for the second year in a row and move to another building. The new building is old, really old, and hasn’t been well kept up over the years by my district. It is a temporary school. Each year an entire school moves into while their building is either remodeled or replaced. So last spring the entire staff and all of our junk was moved to the temporary school.

It wasn’t a shock to me that the school was in bad condition. We had visited it twice before the other elementary school moved out. But once I actually got into the room in August, I wanted to cry. I just couldn’t imagine how I could make this classroom, which very badly needed to have holes filled, walls painted and spiders killed, into an actual classroom for my wonderful students.

So, I got on Pinterest, started making things out of paper and fun stuff from Hobby Lobby and this is what I came up with. I think I might be able to make it through the 2 years we are in this building while our new school is being built if I can survive the lack of air-conditioning in the spring and the radiator in the winter. I hope you enjoy my before and after pictures.

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Z Is For ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Jul 06

Please make sure your child gets plenty of rest. I know that in our crazy, hectic world it is often hard to make sure everyone in the family goes to bed on time each evening. And children are often tired at school due to work and daycare schedules or special events the night before. Occasionally a little less sleep is not going to hurt their education, but not getting enough rest night after night makes for tired kindergarteners. And tired kindergarteners have no interest in learning or socializing with their peers.  Remember setting that all important bedtime and sticking to it as often as possible will be a wonderful gift to your child and their education.

Y Is For A Year

Jul 05

A school year! It is really hard sometimes to imagine how much a 5 year old grows in just 9 months of kindergarten but they do. I find myself telling parents not to worry or let’s see how it goes for a couple of months and then look at things again. This is especially true when it come to the CCSS standards. Often parents look at those standards and their immediate reaction is, “Oh No!! My child can’t do that!!!!” So this is my please don’t panic entry!!!

  • Your child’s teacher is going to assess your child and then add to the knowledge they are coming in with.
  • The CCSS or standards are what we want a child to accomplish by the end of their kindergarten year, not come to the first day of school with.
  • If your child is behind and continues to stay behind, we will be discussing it with you and coming up with alternative teaching styles, ideas, curriculums, etc… Schools have a wide variety of resources we can pull from to help.
  • Remember some children are slow starters! It often seems that in January a little lightbulb goes off and they know, “That’s what you are talking about! Or that’s why I come to school!!”
  • Kindergarten is a huge growth year for children both educationally and socially! It is a hard transition from pre-school to kinder! Give them a little bit of time to adapt!
  • Remember that kindergarten today is not what kindergarten was 10 years or longer ago. We now expect kindergarteners to leave us reading, adding, subtracting and doing all kinds of other skills that were not expected in the past.
  • We need your help! Please help by making sure homework is completed and turned in, that your child comes to school regularly and on time, and that you emphasize to your child how important their education and working hard is to their future.
  • Lastly, remember these 9 months are a huge learning time for your child! But we are going to take it one step at a time!

The most important thing I would like you to know is please be an advocate for your child throughout the school year! We both want the same thing! Success for your child in their first school setting. We need to all be involved in order for that to happen.