Tuesday, October 9, 2012

passing notes & yellow pants day

Someone has been passing notes in class lately. 

This little someone is pretty sneaky too. 

I found this note on my desk one afternoon. This note came at just the right time ~ just when I was feeling a little frustrated and blue.

This little Shakespeare has left me several other notes as well.  All have some sort of sweet message. Today he requested to learn cursive soon.

In other, unrelated, news. One day the kids were coloring a series little of pictures that related to neighborhoods that they would later cut out and glue on a worksheet.  The Artist comes over to me and tells me her strategy for coloring these pictures. She explained that she used one color at a time, coloring everything in all the pictures that needed that color.

I told her what a great idea she had.

A little while later she showed me her work again and declared, "Look, it's yellow pants day!" Sure enough, all the people in the pictures had yellow pants.



Friday, October 5, 2012

columbus day

Columbus Day didn't sneak up on me like it usually does. In years past I have hastily read a book and done a worksheet or two to settle my guilt of forgetting Columbus Day even existed until a day or two beforehand.

This year, I was on top of things because we started our Columbus Day activities last week. My kids are slow pokes and we just finished. Sweet, yes. But definitely slow pokes.

Good thing we started early.

We watched a movie and took a movie quiz for a listening grade. This little activity confirmed my worst suspicions ~ these guys don't listen so well. They hear me alright, but listening? Not so much. 

The main thing we did was get into groups to read about Columbus and find important facts. After they researched for a couple of days, they wrote an informational paragraph {just 5 sentences this time}. Then, they made this adorable craftivity from A Cupcake for the Teacher.  This was my example.

They look so Columbusy & festive! Not everyone is finished just yet, but we left room at the bottom for them.

I love how even though they essentially all did the same thing, they each came out just a little different.

I told them to glue the writing on first, leaving a little bit of a black border all the way around. This little monkey clearly doesn't have the listening part down yet.

Or the neatness part.

Gotta love the stripped pants and shoes though.

This boat is obviously experiencing some rough seas! Nevertheless, Columbus is stylin' in his stripped coat.

Overall, the kids did pretty well on their first little research project. Most were able to write the five sentences I requested. But we do need to work on what is a super important fact and what is merely interesting to you and no one else.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

fall sale

It's officially fall! Too bad the weather didn't get the notice. Maybe there are cooler days ahead soon. 

To celebrate, there are tons of bloggers throwing a little sale today and tomorrow along with Second Grade Math Maniac. I'm joining in!

In my class we are working on place value. Let me tell you, if I have to repeat how to add and subtract 10 and 100 from a number I just might catch my hair on fire. So we are moving on from that part of place value. 

End of discussion.

I've noticed that the little munchkins also need a little review with even and odd numbers. So this week we will be reviewing that, then doing a little around the room activity. Kids always love these around the room activities. Something about getting up and moving around changes ordinary math into extraordinary math. Amazing! You can get this super fun activity here

You can get other super fun activities in my TpT store, too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

henry and mudge under the yellow moon ~ graphic organizer freebie

Last week we read Henry and Mudge Under the Yellow Moon this week in class. We are using this story to start focusing on story elements. We concentrated on just character and setting for this story.

First, we created a flap book to compare & contrast Henry & Mudge. 

Click on the picture above to get your copy of the flap book. I copied the lines on the inside for the kids, but you can skip that step if you want. 

Then we talked about setting. 

Before we talked about the setting, I read When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant and we talked about the setting of that book. The setting in this book and Henry & Mudge are so easy, but I wanted the kids to really focus on the clues that help determine the setting. This also helps them provide evidence for their answer, which they will need to be able to do later on. 

The idea for the graphic organizer I made for the setting is right out of our Trophies book ~ I just prettied it up. I didn't put a title on it so it can easily be used for any story. You can grab that one too if you click on it.

Linking up with Darling Little Learners for Show and Tell Wednesday!

Darling Little Learners


Saturday, September 8, 2012

currently ~ september

It's time to link up with Farley again for another month of Currently.

Listening ~ We just recently started watching The Big Bang Theory. We have been recording reruns and watching them all summer. This show is so F U N N Y!

Loving ~ I'm still getting used to having to get up early and stay up. This means I need to go to bed earlier, which is difficult for this night owl. The first week of school I was so exhausted I was delighted to go to bed early. This past week I've soldiered through the sleepy portion of the evening only to get a second wind and go to bed way too late. So, a day that the alarm didn't ring at a ridiculous hour is quite welcome.

Thinking ~ I need more hours cuz I have more stuff to do. Simple.

Wanting ~ I'm done with the heat. The air conditioning at school has been alternately working and not working, with a whole lot of not working the past several weeks. I'm tired of feeling stinky.

Needing ~ I didn't finish my lesson plans yet, in spite of the fact I stayed at work really late last night. I brought them home. The fall craft shows will be upon us soon. I need to get busy. A nap? See "loving" above. :)

Favorite Things ~

  • I love my Mr. Sketch markers for writing on charts. I was going to make do with a set from last year, but at the last minute I decided to get a new set. They smell lovely!
  • Mmmmm ~ Mexican food.
  • When I have a lot of stuff to take back & forth to school I love to use my rolling cart. I love to throw everything in there and be on my way. 

I haven't forgotten about that really fun project I promised you, but I keep forgetting to take pictures of it while I'm at school! Hopefully this week.

Go check out Farley's blog to see what other people are up to.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

a finished room still in progress

Here's a peek inside my finished room, which isn't really finished after all. We are really never finished with our classrooms because there's always something to add or change. 

But this is how it looked when I snapped a few quick pictures after our Meet the Teacher night the week before school started. 

My door gives the kids a colorful welcome. I forgot to take a picture of the owls just outside my classroom. Too bad because they are pretty adorable.

For years, I have had only three rules. Simple. Easy to remember. Just about any behavior you can think of, good or bad, can fall into these three categories. I saw this idea for the rules in frames on Pinterest (can't remember where) and knew it was perfect for making my room a little more homey. These are just dollar store frames that I painted the colors I wanted to match my class.

This is the view from the door. See that brown paper on the pink bulletin board that's totally buckling? I'm not that sloppy! It's very humid around these parts in August and everything in the classroom buckles and waves. It will straighten out as soon as the air dries up. 

Most of my bulletin boards are bare because either student work or anchor charts we make in class will be put up soon.

See that wavy border?

I'm completely in love with the paper lanterns! Funny story ~ I ordered those over the summer online. I was having a really hard time imagining how big they would be, even with the measurements given, so I ordered many sizes of each color. Many. Then I only used three of the smaller ones. Hmpf. Stephanie and Heather are excited about that, though, because they both want one in their bedrooms.

This is our "carpet" area. It's not really big enough and some kids spill into my library.

I didn't get a chance to get name tags on the desk before the Open House. Gotta keep them wondering for the first day, right?

Now that school has started, I'm really glad I ditched the kidney table in favor of the rectangular table. It gives me more room in the class. This week we had our grade level meeting there and it was plenty large enough for five adults, so it should be fine for a reading group of small people.

This is the view from the sink. I caught my favorite visitors coming in at the end of the night.

I saw this on Pinterest too, and made one to match my class ~ again with a dollar store frame. I created the print on the computer and had a photo printed at Costco.

My first week of school was a good one. I have some very noisy boys who will learn this year the value of keeping your random, off-topic thoughts to yourself. Either that or I will become very acquainted with each of their parents. BFFs if I have to talk to them too much.

Remember we were getting a new principal ~ and assistant principal ~ and office manager? That feeling of the unknown is never comfortable. Thankfully that feeling is over and a breath of fresh air has been released into our school. With the addition of three new people in our office, the morale of the school has improved drastically in the matter of weeks. So far, this change has turned out to be just what we needed.

This is going to be a great year!

Next week I have a fun project from our apple unit to share with you when the small people are done with it. We've been painting and it's turning out so cute.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

art for the classroom

This year I wanted to incorporate art more in my classroom ~ both visually and in the activities we do. When I was still deciding on the theme for my class, I was inspired by this photo on Pinterest.

I love the paintings these kids did. They are all the same, yet so individual. Don't they look happy about what they have created? I knew this would be the perfect painting for my class. 

By the way, this is a really popular picture. It has been repinned 65 from my boards alone. I wonder how many other people actually made an owl painting.

Here's my version. The main colors I used in my class this year are pink, orange, turquoise, and green, with the neutral of brown. I incorporated most of those colors into the painting.

It was fun creating this and thinking about the kids who will be in my class. I thought about the atmosphere I want to create for the kids and how I want them to feel at home. I put all of my positive teaching energies into this painting.

Heather made one of her own, but she's not quite finished yet. Hers looks wonderful so far ~ the same as mine, yet so very different.

The next piece of art I created was inspired by Farley. She did this project with her 4th graders last year. Check it out on her blog ~ here and here.

I looked at her students' projects a bunch and a bunch, but when it came time to do mine, I forgot to let the rays go off the side of the canvas. Hmm. Oh well. I still really like how it turned out. All along I was going to have the sun at the bottom until all the rays were done and it happened to be sitting on the table sideways. I decided I like it that way better. Good thing it was before I put the letters on.

She had her kids use a Sharpie for all the black. But, I'm really comfortable with the brush, so I just used black paint and varied the thicknesses a little.

Here they are hanging up in my class. I think they look lovely together. Hopefully they will inspire the students to embrace their creativity, remind them to shine & do their best, and make them feel our class is a homey place to be. The canvases are not huge (11" x 14") because I didn't want them to be the focus of the classroom. But they are just enough.

My art is certainly more "tight" and more controlled than the examples of kid art I was copying. At first that bothered me that I wasn't able to let go and let it be more loose. But then I realized I love what I created and that's all that really matters. I made the art the way I wanted.

Soon I will give you a tour of the whole class ~ including the bubbled paint from a leak from recent rain storms. See it above the bulletin board? Awesome, right?

School starts tomorrow.

I'm nervous.

I'm excited.

I'm ready to get back to work, but not ready for summer to be over all at the same time.

I won't sleep tonight.

I will stay up really late so I will be exhausted enough to sleep.

But I will have nightmares and won't sleep well.  Happens every year.

But tomorrow will be a great day! And this is going to be a great year! I can feel it in the air.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

back 2 school sale

Isn't Back to School such an exciting time?!

New pencils...new crayons...new clothes...new haircuts...new students...new beginnings.

To celebrate this exciting time of year, there is a big sale going on over at TpT. Join in the celebration with so many teachers and stock up for the year.

Everything in my shop is 20% off on August 12 & 13. You can get an additional 10% off by entering the code B2S12 at check out.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

august currently


Time for another Currently with Farley.

I love how my Silhouette makes my classroom decor so much easier. Big, smoochy kisses for my Silhouette.

Don't we always want summer break to linger just a little bit longer? I am excited for a new school year, but still.

Back to school must haves ~ well, a hair appointment and a pedicure are obvious necessities.

I l.o.v.e. office supplies. I have to have some new pens, markers, etc. at back to school time. Well, anytime is a good time, really.

And a cute classroom. It seems superficial, but think about how many hours we spend in our classroom. Think about how many hours the students spend in there with us. If it's a cute, fun place to be, then that makes the hours there more meaningful. Plus, a happy teacher is an effective teacher, right?

I'm staying away from school today, although I will be working on things here at home...in my jammies.


Monday, August 6, 2012

monday made it

I'm liking up today with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It.

Although I've been thinking, surfing the net, and pinning all summer long, I haven't really starting making anything for my classroom. Come on, actually making it might bring the summer to a close far too quickly.

I went to work in my classroom three mornings last week. Well, it can be counted as only one and a half mornings, because there was a lot of time catching up with the office ladies, my 2nd grade buddy, and my next door neighbor. I've hung fabric and border on my bulletin boards. My furniture is mostly in place. And there are books strewn out everywhere being sorted & checked for the class library.

I did finally get started on a few things at home and have several things in progress.

I finished the signs for my CAFE board for the Daily 5. I used a modified-to-my-taste version of the CAFE and Daily 5. Having the strategies on the board for the students to reference is a great tool. This year I am aiming to remember to post all the strategies we talk about.

I am doing an owl theme for my class this year. I bought some premade items, but I really like to give my class a custom look.

This little baby helps with the custom look. My Silhouette was whirring away the morning cutting out more things for me to glue together.

I'm not sure where this little darlin' is going yet, but I couldn't resist making her. So cute!

Here's a sneak peek at a project that's about half finished. I'm hoping to get it done this week to share with you next week. It's turning out great! I'm so excited!

What did you make this week?


Thursday, August 2, 2012

starting off with place value

I'll be starting my year off in math with place value.

Oh, place value.

Some students get it right away. No worries. Others need a little more time. And then there are still others who need a lot of time and reinforcement.

I've been working on some place value activities to add to our math time.

The first is a set of six centers that reinforce:

  • identify the value of a digit;
  • number forms;
  • comparing numbers;
  • number patterns (skip count by 5, 10, and 100); and
  • adding or subtracting 1 or 10 from any number.

Each center activity comes with directions, game cards, and a recording sheet. No other manipulatives are needed for these centers.

Next, is an around the room activity. My students always love doing the around the room activities. I don't think they realize they are just doing the same work we have been doing for the entire unit. They just know it's fun.

We typically do the around the room activity as a review for the assessment.

There is also an I Have... Who Has.... activity. This can be done whole group, small group, or students can order the cards individually. Also an excellent review.

All of these place value activities are available in my TpT store.  And just for fun, since everyone is getting ready for the new school year, these three products will be 15% off through Sunday.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

fruit snacks and a freebie

Do you have a favorite activity for the beginning of the year? A few favorites?

Second Grade Sparkle is having a linky party for favorite back to school activities.

Second Grade Sparkle

The first day of school can be tough, especially for the littles. They are excited and just a little scared. They may or may not be with they friends they wanted in their class. They are used to sleeping later and being able to have a snack whenever they want.

Sometime in the middle of the morning I like to give the kids a fruit snack.


There are strings attached! Each snack has a question taped to it. One at a time the kids read and answer the question. This activity serves several purposes.

The kids get a snack.

We all get to learn a little bit about each other.

It also gives me an small opportunity to see the kids as readers and their level of comfort in reading & sharing. I stand behind each student as they read their question in case they need a little help with the words. Right away I can get a sense of how they read or whether or not they tend to be shy. Sure, I will already know their end of first grade reading levels, but this just adds to that bit of information.

I let the kids eat their fruit snack as soon as they are done with their question as long as they are quiet and still listening.

I have a list of 24 questions for you that I have used in the past. If you have more than 24 students, just print the sheet twice and repeat some of the questions. Don't forget one for yourself to start the activity. Click the owl to get the questions.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Do you limbo?

Yeah, me neither.

I can't bend that way.

At our school we are in a big ol' game of limbo! The outcome is still undecided. We could make it under this fiery bar or we can fall!

Our principal decided to move back to her home state. We found this out a few weeks before school ended. Now, recently, we found out that our assistant principal is going to another school.

Oh, and our office manager retired.

We also ended the year with many teacher openings.


Getting a new principal can be scary. Combine that with getting a new assistant principal too can be super scary.

Then again, this can be new and exciting! Our school was suffering from some h.u.g.e morale issues and this can be be just what is needed to turn some frowns upside down.

We will soon see.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

monkey see, monkey do

Normally, I don't step foot back into our school until August. When the office staff returns from their month break on August 1st is the time when I feel the need to shove some furniture around.

Never July.

Until last week my friend, Suzanne, texted me and said the rooms in our area were done being cleaned and she went in to move some furniture. Then I couldn't get it out of my head.


I gave in.

Monday morning, on a whim I decided to go in for just a couple of hours until the public library opened because Heather wanted to go to the library.

The carpets have been shampooed, the walls washed, the tile waxed, and the furniture shoved to one side of the room.

I took some before pictures standing at my door, then at the sink. These two pictures side by side make my room look kinda big.

It's not.

More like kinda tiny.

You can see my little helper (and her oatmeal breakfast).

Did I mention there was no air? It was h.o.t!

Here are a few after photos standing in the same places. I am moving back into the room I had for two years before my brief interlude in 4th grade, so I pretty much knew where I wanted the furniture to go.

I do have a small table with the Mac on it that I didn't have before, so my guided reading area is proving to be problematic. Remember? Tiny room. So I experimented switching out my kidney table with a smaller rectangular table for guided reading.

What?! I know. That's primary teacher blasphemy!

I didn't move the kidney table out of my room just yet. I was feeling wishy washy about getting rid of it. I couldn't figure out why this was such a hard decision to make until it dawned on me that I have taught for 16 years with a kidney table for reading. It is just a part of teaching.

Well, I'm 99.9% sure that my 17th year of teaching will not include a kidney table. Plus, I can always get it back if I need it.

My intention was to leave after two hours, but after I took these parting shots, the air came on and it wasn't entirely miserable. So we moved the desks into groups and did a little more work for a couple more hours. It's looking more like a classroom.

I'm going with a new theme this year, so I have some crafting to do to get ready for it. I'll show you more pictures later.

In August.