Monday, April 24, 2017

Life Cycles

Spring is in full swing and that means so is our life cycle unit! Life cycles is my favorite science unit of the year! We have so much to cover, so I rely on engaging text, fun crafts, and BrainPop Jr. to help my kiddos make connections to the content!

Let's start with insects...

I begin insect week by making a KWL chart, watching BrainPop Jr. on insects, and reading Fly Guy Presents: Insects. Throughout the week, I like to read books by National Geographic Kids on different insects. The insects I focus on are butterflies, ants, and bees. I like the book about the butterfly migration because it helps explain another aspect of the Monarch butterfly life cycle. The book A Butterfly is Patient is also a great book to use when teaching about the butterfly life cycle. I plan on reading that book tomorrow since our caterpillars have all just formed their chrysalises. 

The book Puppy to Dog is a great book for teaching about the life cycle of a mammal. It is two books in one. If you start from the back of the book, you can read from kitten to cat. My Book of Life Cycles has many different life cycles included. My kids like this book because of the variety of animals mentioned. They love to compare different animal life cycles!

A life cycle unit isn't complete without a week long plant investigation! I like to read A Seed is Sleepy, A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds, From Seed to Plant, and National Geographic Kids Seed to Plant

I also like to keep materials consistent each week, so my students know what to expect. This helps them stay organized. For each life cycle, we complete a flip book to help us describe each stage in the life cycle. I also keep a life cycle poster hanging on our science wall for students to refer back to. You can find National Geographic Kids Frogs! here.

With our plant unit, in addition to learning about the life cycle, we also plant lima bean seeds and observe their growth. 

You can find my life cycle units in my TPT store. The unit pictured above is a freebie! If you download the life cycle of a dog, it will give you a good look at what the other units include! 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Weekly Recap

Boy oh boy... it has been a busy week! I'm feeling the end of the year rush to get everything in before I have to say goodbye to my sweet second graders. Anyone else?! Today I'm sharing a few Insta posts from a couple of weeks ago...

In my class, we have green marker checkers. This is how it looks in my class... I select a few students who have shown mastery on a skill and those students become peer coaches. I try to choose different students each time, so that every student has an opportunity to share their strength. These students either help me check independent work, or coach their peer through an assignment as I work with other groups of kids. For example, in math, I give a quick independent assignment after my mini lesson and before students go to their math center. I select students who can help check the assignment and help others who have questions. 

I have used this book recently to help me plan my reading mini lessons. The Reading Strategies Book has great ideas for every grade level!

We used my Letter Writing with a Fairy Tale Twist mini unit when studying letter writing and fairy tales. I just love singing the parts of a letter to the tune of head, shoulders, knees, and toes. This handout really helped my students connect the song to how we set up a letter!

I hope everyone has a terrific weekend and a happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Weekly Recap

Happy Easter! I hope y'all had a wonderful Easter spending time with family and friends! I'm popping in to share a weekly recap in case you missed it.

I shared this resource that I use on a weekly basis while planning my lessons. This Common Core flip chart by Mentoring Minds has many great ideas!

My little man so enjoyed his Easter Basket. I was able to get most of the items from Target or Walgreens. The book, Where Are Baby's Easter Eggs?, I ordered off Amazon. 

Did you watch the Masters last weekend?! What a great finish! Little man got this book, Badges, Egg Salad, and Green Jackets, as a gift last year. It has great information! 

This past week in math we've been working on 2- and 3-dimensional shapes. I had students build shapes using marshmallows and toothpicks, based on attributes that I called out loud, as a review for our test. They loved it and I loved the conversations I overheard while they were trying to figure out what shape matched my descriptions! 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easter Gifts

It's Thursday, so you know what that means... It's Friday Eve y'all! I'm stopping by today to share a few teacher and student quick/inexpensive gifts for Easter.

I really enjoy giving my little man's teachers a small, themed gift each month. This is just a little something to show how much we appreciate them. I filled snack size bags with chocolate eggs and attached a "you are an "egg"cellent teacher tag to it.

For students and coworkers, I filled snack size bags with peeps. They turned out so cute!

If you're interested in these tags, stop by my TPT shop to pick them up for 50% off through tonight!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Weekly Recap

Happy Sunday friends! I'm fresh off my Spring Break vacation and wanted to drop by for a little weekly recap, Spring Break edition, in case you missed my Instagram posts this week. 

One thing I was especially excited about was having the time to read a book for pleasure! It's the little things am I right?! Nicholas Sparks is my go to author for beach reads! The Best of Me, like most of his other books, did not disappoint. I literally could not put it down! The ending wasn't what I was expecting, but I've recovered. Ha!

Little man had to have his share of beach reads too! You Are My Baby is a cute book that is like two books in one. There is a larger section of the book made up of pages that show the adult ocean animal and a smaller section of the book pages that shows the baby that belongs to each animal. My little one just loves finger puppet books. Little Fish is the second one he has and I plan on buying more in the future. I bought Seashore Baby because of the lift flaps. Little man loves to lift the flaps! Under the Sea is a fun book with textures to touch. I loved this book because it has real pictures. The last book I purchases was Good Night Beach. We always read before bedtime and I thought this book would be the perfect ending to a perfect day at the beach!

The best part of my vacation was who I spent it with! I love my little family beyond words! I hope you are able to enjoy a relaxing Sunday spent with family and friends! 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

April Themes #onelittleword

The beginning of a new month is always an exciting time! A new month, for me, is a time to set new goals and try new things. I began using #onelittleword in my classroom last month (If you missed that post you can find it here.). I was blown away with the reflections and connections my students made to our weekly word. My kiddos looked forward to their word of the week and were excited every Monday to see what our new word would be. So I'm back to share what words I'll be using this month in my classroom! 

This month's themes make me happy! April makes me think of renewal and growth!

I also chose to include some words that have prefixes and suffixes because we will be focusing on those this month in reading. 

If you want to try out #onelittleword in your classroom, you can download it here. Let me know how it goes! 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Weekly Recap

Happy Saturday! In case you missed any of my Insta Posts recently... here is a quick recap!

After reading Rosie Revere Engineer, we read a nonfiction text about Amelia Earhart. We determined the main topic of each chapter and ended the week by determining the main idea of the entire text. My kiddos determined the main idea of the text by identifying Amelia Earhart's legacy. We used the sentence starter "Amelia Earhart is most famous for..." to help us. They wrote this sentence on a strip of paper made to look like a banner that flies behind an airplane. We then made airplanes using a clothespin and popsicle sticks. The idea for the airplanes came from Amy Lemons at Step Into Second Grade and the nonfiction reader came from Rooted in Reading March. You can grab the airplane banner printable here.

Everyday I end the day with a read aloud. Reading aloud to my students is one of my favorite things to do in the classroom. It also helps them to settle down before the craziness of dismissal begins. Right now we are reading The Boxcar Children. My kiddos have really enjoyed this book so far. It has made for really great discussions! 

Another way I like to end my day is by writing a quick to do list on a Post-It of the top three, or four, things I need to accomplish the next day. Keeping short lists has helped me prioritize my day and keep me from feeling overwhelmed! I use Post-Its because, besides loving them so, I can stick it right to my table and throw it away at the end of the day. If you haven't tried this, you should! Let me know how it goes for you! 

I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chaperone Kits

As I'm getting ready for our field trip tomorrow, I thought I'd pop in to share the chaperone kits I put together for my parents. 

I put Band-Aids, Kleenex, and peppermints in sandwich size Ziploc bags.

On the back of the Chaperone Kit label, I wrote the name of the students who will be in their group, the schedule, and my cell phone number in case of emergencies. 

If you'd like the bag labels, you can download them from here free! Do you make kits for your chaperones? If so, what do you put in them? I'd love new ideas for next year!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Guided Math

I use to have a love/hate relationship with teaching math. Some days I loved it; some days I hated it. It wasn't until I began to incorporate Guided Math into my daily math block that I started to actually look forward to teaching math everyday. I've changed how Guided Math looks in my classroom every year, but this year, it all of sudden has just clicked for me. I've said it before on my blog... I love teaching small groups! It just gives me an opportunity to really get to know my students. Here is a little peek into how I teach Guided Math.

I begin my math block with a 10-15 minute mini-lesson. I typically chose one skill/standard to cover during the week. I either create an anchor chart, work on problem solving using the I Do, We Do, You Do instruction format, or play a quick whole class game.

Here I simply wrote balanced equations on sentence strips. Some were true and some were false. Students had to work in pairs to determine if their equation was correct or not. If it was incorrect, they had to work to make it a true equation. 

After my mini-lesson, students go to math centers. One of the rotations is called instruction time. This is where students work with me in their Guided Math group. This usually lasts about 30-45 minutes. Students are grouped based on pre-assessments that are taken prior to the unit. We begin Guided Math by reviewing the skill we learned during the mini-lesson. After I see that my group is comfortable with the skill, they play a game with their Guided Math group. The lesson above has students arranging the steps to solve a word problem, in order, and using the steps to solve the problem.

Sometimes I have my kiddos record their answers on a recording sheet in a clear plastic pocket protector or we just write on the table with dry erase markers. 

These activities are part of my March Guided Math product. Each skill has a small group lesson and small group game. I've also included recording sheets for the small group game and assessments for each skill that can be used as a pre- and post-test. The small group games can be easily differentiated based on your students' needs.

I hope you're enjoying your Sunday friends!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

St. Patrick's Day

I love taking the time to celebrate holidays in my classroom. Even if that means something simple, I think the kids really appreciate it! 

We created this cute little tear art craft and writing piece the other day. I think tear art is so gosh darn cute! You can find this craft for free here.

On Friday, I plan on doing activities based on the book That's What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting. We will also build a leprechaun trap (STEM integrated) and see who is lucky enough to catch a leprechaun! In the morning, I'm leaving a bag of Trix cereal on my kiddos' tables to get them excited about our day of mischievous fun!

I'm also giving these yummy treat bags to my son's teachers. They work so hard and treat my little man so good! I like to do a little something to show them how much they are appreciated! 

I filled this clear baggie with rainbow Twizzlers (to look like a rainbow) and Rolos (to look like gold). So fun! If you want these tags, head on over to my TPT store to grab them for 50% off through tomorrow night!

How are you planning on celebrating St. Patrick's Day?!

Saturday, March 11, 2017


#onelittleword is a huge thing at the beginning of a new year. For the past two years, I have chosen a #olw on New Year's Day. Last year my word was focus and this year it is joy. I leave a picture of my one little word on my camera role so that every time I scroll through my pictures, I come across it and am reminded of my goal for this year. I began thinking about how I could use one little word throughout the year to set smaller goals for myself and #onelittleword for the classroom was created. 

I started thinking about bigger themes for the month that I could use to get my kiddos to reflect on and remind them of our weekly goals. After a Google search (ha) I found that besides the typically March holidays, there were also some lesser known things to celebrate this month. 

I printed out my hashtags on lime green Astrobrights paper.

The first word I chose was #read. We were just coming off of Read Across America week and I thought what better way to continue our celebration of reading than to use read as our word for the week.

I told my kiddos that they could write a reflection on a sticky note throughout the week that had to do with reading. We referred back to our word every morning to discuss what that word means to them and set reading goals for the day. I also wrote a note to my kiddos to tell them that we would be starting a new read aloud book! This really helped them get excited! Some of the responses I got were... "reading is getting me smarter" (bless) and "work on our character voices" (all the praise hands for that reading goal). I may or may not continue to keep the word up for a week. I might find that a particular word would be beneficial for just a day. The possibilities are endless, but oh so fun! 

If you would like to try this out in your classroom, you can download it here for free. If you like it, feel free to pin any of the images above and leave me a comment!! I'd love to hear how it works in your classroom!