Friday, December 23, 2016

Theme Days

I don't know about you, but I just love a good theme! I don't always get a chance to do theme days due to a busyness of trying to fit everything in, but I do love to incorporate theme days right before a break to keep my kiddos engaged in learning! This year, I did a Grinch Day and a Gingerbread Day. Here's a little peek into some of the activities that we did...

For Grinch Day, I began the day with a morning meeting to discuss kindness and ways that we can show kindness to one another. I then told students that they would be working to earn hearts to make the Grinch's heart grow by showing acts of kindness to one another. We set a goal of how many hearts we would like to obtain by the end of the day. If we reached that goal, they got the Grinch surprise in this green bag. The surprise was "Grinch licked" or green candy canes. Boy were they excited when they reached their goal and got to see what was in the bag!

We also had our class party on Grinch Day. At my school, room moms are in charge of planning and setting up for our class parties. I asked my room mom to create activities that were Grinch themed. She did a fabulous job and the kiddos were so excited! Here is a look at some of the centers that she set up...

{Grinch ornaments filled with torn green tissue paper, a Grinch mask, and Grinch pops made out of rice crispy treats and marshmallows}

Gingerbread is probably one of my favorite themes for this time of year. In second grade, students are expected to compare different versions of the same fairy tale. What better way to hit that standard than to read Gingerbread stories. If you don't own Gingerbread books, no problem! You can find so many read aloud variations on You Tube! After we read some of my favorite books, we created a disguise of our own so that the Gingerbread Man/Girl wouldn't be eaten. Here are a few of my favorites...

Gingerbread flower girl

Gingerbread leaf

We also created paper bag Gingerbread Houses and they turned out so cute!

Not only did we do a little bit of writing to describe our Gingerbread Houses, but we also incorporated math by graphing the pieces of candy that we used to create our houses. 

You can find the Gingerbread Disguise activity here and the Design a Gingerbread House activity here.

Just for fun, here is a look at juice boxes I made for my little man's class party...

These were just too cute not to share!

How did you wrap up your final days before winter break? I'd love to know in the comments!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Quick Gift Ideas

Happy last Monday before Christmas friends! If you're already out for Winter Break... LUCKY YOU! If you're like me, you have a few more days left with the kiddos and might be scrambling to get all your last minute gifts taken care of! 

Here are a few easy, but cute, gift ideas to help check everyone off of your list.

For your students... Snowman Soup (hot chocolate, marshmallows, a spoon, and a cute straw)

For teachers or room moms... the gift of no dishes (plates, napkins, silverware, cups)

For your coworkers... wish them an extra special holiday with a pack of Extra gum!

You can grab these tags, plus a few more, in my December Gift Tags product over in my TPT shop!

Happy gifting!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Student Interest Project

 This school year I incorporated Genius Hour into my classroom. After reading how it worked for other teachers, and talking to other teachers at my school, I came up with my own take on Genius Hour.

What I loved about the Genius Hour concept was the focus on self-directed learning. I wanted to give my students the chance to have complete freedom over what they wanted to learn about and how they wanted to learn it. Also, to be honest, I didn't want this new endeavor to become another burden on my never ending to-do list, so I knew I had to give my kids just the right amount of direction in order for them to take over the responsibility and ownership over their projects. 

The Student Interest Project books give my second graders just the right amount of direction that they need to plan, record, and share their research.

Each of my students were given a manila folder to store their interest list, resources used recording sheet, and their current Student Interest Project book. 

Student Interest Project book font cover


back cover

I take my kids to the Media Center every other Friday to research. After they have completed their book, they present it to the class and I take a Speaking and Listening grade on their presentation. Then, they begin another book on another self-selected topic.

If you're interested in using this in your own classroom during your Genius Hour time, you can find it here

The pictures used in this post are of my own example that I made for my students. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Revising Writing with a Hamburger Twist

Last week I had my last formal observation of the year! Woo Hoo! Done and done! Since we are knee deep in revising our opinion writing pieces, I decided to channel my inner Hope King, from Elementary Shenanigans, and throw in a little hamburger writing twist!

Here's how it went down...

First, I told my students that I was going to show them the best burger in the world. I showed my students a hamburger with only the top and bottom bun. To say they were disappointed would be an understatement. Ha! I then asked them to tell me what was missing. Of course they shouted out the meat and toppings! I assembled the hamburger with the missing pieces and we talked about how that hamburger looked better than the first one. 

As I walked around to show them the new and improved burger, I "accidentally" tripped and my burger fell all over the floor. Oh no! My students helped me pick up the pieces and put them back into my basket. Now the burger was all mixed up! So, I took the opportunity to talk to my students about how we can't eat a burger with the ingredients all mixed up. This led right into my teaching point... Just like you can't have a burger without the meat and juicy toppings, you can't have a good piece of writing without your details. Also, just like it would be hard to eat a mixed up burger, it's difficult to read a piece of writing that isn't organized. "OOOO! AHHH!", they said. Ha!

We looked at a writing example and broke down the components that make a good opinion writing piece. We talked about how the topic sentence and the conclusion sentence is like the top and bottom bun. The topic sentence states the opinion and the conclusion sentence restates the opinion in a different way. This is just like the top and bottom bun; they are made out of the same thing, bread, but they look a little different than one another. We also looked at the reasons and examples that the writing piece provided to support the opinion. We talked about without those details, the writing would be boring. Just like without the meat and toppings in a hamburger, the burger wouldn't be good. Then, we looked at how each of these components are organized in an opinion writing piece. We also color coded each of the sentences to help us visualize how each sentence helps to form our opinion writing "burger".

After the mini lesson, it was time for my kiddos to get to work revising their own opinion writing piece. They color coded their writing using the colors we talked about in the mini lesson (brown=bun/topic and conclusion sentence, red, yellow, green=toppings/reasons and examples). As they were finding each of their components in their writing, they built their burger. I gave them vanilla wafers for the bun, a York Peppermint for the meat, icing with food coloring for the ketchup and mustard, and coconut dyed green for the lettuce. This was the perfect opportunity for them to visually see what they were missing in their writing. Some only had the toppings, while some were only missing the bottom bun. As they finished building their hamburger, I had them share with the rest of the class what they learned about their writing. The next day, they worked to add in their missing pieces. 

I have to say this lesson was too much fun! My kiddos learned so much about themselves as writers! (Disclaimer... The writing pictured above isn't color coded correctly. I made a note of it and I will use what I noticed about her writing as a teaching point during our next writing conference.)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Menu Math {A Real World Math Activity}

Boy, have we been busy working on word problems involving money?! I wanted to give my kiddos a more real world approach to adding and subtracting money amounts. That's how Menu Math was created! 

If you know me, you know I love doing mini transformations in my classroom. My students now know that whenever our tables are covered and I have props out, they are in for an exciting lesson! Menu Math was no different. My students walked in to our classroom after Specials to find each table had been transformed into a different restaurant. I used butcher paper to cover their tables and various props I either already had or that I found at The Dollar Tree to set the stage.

How cute are these steak coasters that I snagged at The Dollar Tree?! I also put fake flowers in a vase on the table to make it "fancy".


For the lesson, I broke my class up into four groups. I had them take turns choosing a waiter/waitress for each restaurant they visited. The "customers", the remaining kids in the group, each ordered one item off the restaurant menu. The waiter/waitress wrote down how much each item cost and went to the "kitchen" to total up the bill. This also helped us review adding up to four numbers.

While the waiter/waitress was in the kitchen, the customers had to total up their bill too. Then, they checked their total against the server's total. If their totals didn't match up, they had to figure out why.

This lesson was so much fun! The conversations I heard as I walked around were priceless! One of my kiddos said, "Man, I wish I would've ordered the lobster tail instead". Ha! Talk about real world applications! 

If you want to try out this activity in your classroom, you can find my unit here. I also included task cards for each restaurant menu to help my kiddos work on those money word problem skills.