Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Teacher Talk Tuesday on Instagram

Confession time!  We have a new addiction...INSTAGRAM.  It is so fun.  We've hooked up with a lot of our blog buddies/idols and joined this weekend.  And let me just say...obsessed.  It's perfect for the me, I love to look at other people's pictures.  Ha!  So..find us and follow us for some new fun!

Monday, April 29, 2013

It's TIME!

That's right all...it is time to teach TIME!  We are just getting started but there is definitely a wide gap in how much knowledge my kiddos have....from some who think it's "easy peasy lemon squeezy" (no kidding that is the exact words) to some who asked which hand is which.....see?  Large gap!  So today we started easy and are going to spend lots of time practicing! 

We started talking about the differences between analog and digital clocks.  Enter problem #1!  Our school opened 11 years ago and they installed ALL digital clocks.  That is right....in a school....in an elementary school....where we teach time. I mean come on people...way to make this TOO easy for the students!  In all seriousness, most clocks and watches these students see/have are all digital which is why some don't really get it when it comes to analog!  But despite our clocks (which all three of us lovely sisters cover up...yes we are mean), we will get them to be able to read the "other kind" of clock!

After discussing analog and digital, a.m. and p.m., which hand is which (trick....tell them the word hour is short just like the little hand and the word minute is long just like the big hand....no not rocket science but whatever helps it stick) we worked on telling time to the hour and half-hour.  We worked in a whole group then I gave them each Judy clocks and called out times they would have to hold up.  Next, we moved to partner work where they "quizzed" each other.  All simple but all great beginning practice and they love working in pairs! 

Stay tuned for upcoming time fun....

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Classroom Garage Sale

Yesterday, we hosted our classroom garage sale!  This is one of my favorite things we do all year. 

The first day of our money unit I post a "Classroom Bank."  I'd really love to show it to you but unfortunately because it has all their names on it, I can't. :( But it's really simple to make.  All I do is get a piece of poster board and a meter stick.  On the poster board I section it off into 1 inch rows, one row for each student.  Then I write all their names along the side.  Of course I add some cutesy details!  Then I hang it up in the classroom, where it's nice and visible.  It's the first thing they noticed when they walked in!  There was quite a buzz around around the new addition to our room. 

So I sit them all down and explain that today we starting to learn about money and throughout our money unit they have a chance to earn some moolah!  They just LOVE that.  The next question is, "How can we earn money?" So I tell them all the things they can do to earn money: stack their chair at the end of the day, random acts of kindness, turning in homework, following directions... the list goes on.  I found some coin stamps at our local teacher store, they are a life saver! Every time someone earns money I stamp the coin in their "bank account."

Then I tell them in a few weeks, after our money test, we will be having a "Classroom Garage Sale" where they get to spend all the money they've earned! You might be wondering... "Where do you get the things to sell?" I send home this note with every child...

You can grab a free copy of the note here!

Yesterday morning, everyone counted up the money in their account and withdrew the money.  Then they took their earnings out to the sale. You would have thought it was Christmas morning! 

I had a WONDERFUL mom come in and run the whole thing! She priced and sold everything.  It was so much fun!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Five for Friday Linky

We're linking up again with Doodle Bugs for a little fun this Friday! 

This week has flown by and we want to keep you up with some happenings around our rooms...

1) We have a school-wide fundraiser going the next couple of weeks for Leukemia and Lymphoma.  We've participated in Pasta for Pennies the last few years and our school has raised a ton of money.  Anyways, today was PJ Day.  The kids and teachers love it!

2) Today, we also wrapped up our Money unit.  Before we took our assessment, we found this gem from The Primary Techie. 

The Primary Techie

The kids went crazy for it!  They watch the ppt, solve a math problem, and then color in the corresponding box on a hundreds chart.  The BEST part of this was that the students were so engaged and we got 15 minutes to check papers and get our lives together. :)
3) We had our 2nd and 3rd grade concert this week as well.  Talk about exhausting!  Try lining up 170 kids the morning of the show....but that's a whole story of its own.  In the end, the kids were cute and the parents loved it.   While we were waiting for the show, we ran up to California Pizza Kitchen for a bite to eat.  That place is sooo yummy!  We're trying to figure out if we can get this guy will deliver for lunch.

4) Since it's Poetry Month, we've been working, working, working away on some super cute poems for our upcoming Poetry Day next Friday.   These poems are just a sample of some of the poems added to their Poetry Folders.  The shape poems turned out so cute!

5) WARNING...this may frighten you...but it's too funny to not share!  This sums our our feelings completely!

Get out and enjoy this spring weather!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat!

So the end of the year is quickly approaching.....don't try to hide it, I know you probably have a countdown going! :)  As exciting as it, it also means it is crunch time!  Time to wrap up units, finish standards we haven't gotten to yet, and review all of what we have learned this year.  In our district, our grade level does an end of the year assessment. This includes a DRA, a writing piece, and a large math assessment so reviewing our core concepts throughout the year is important.  Imagine the dismay when we say...."Hey, remember we learned how to regroup?  Let's do a few problems as a math warm-up" and all we see is S-T-A-R-E-S.  Seriously?!?  "We start in the what place?  Where is that again?  Do I regroup the 1 or the 3?"  UGH!  Just makes us realize that even though we move on from things, we should always keep reviewing because how quickly some forget! 

This is true with everything we teach.  You are probably thinking....review? Who has time for that when I have 187 more standards to teach (I hear you giggling and nodding your head) but retention of information is what our ultimate goal is right?!  The three of us have decided that is one of our goals for next year....to keep things fresh even when we have moved on.  We are hoping to construct a variety of year-long activity packs. These can be used on a math shelf, in centers, as quick warm-up activities, etc. 

We just finished our first one...it is a fact or opinion yearlong pack.  We identified through STAR testing that differentiating between fact or opinion is a skill a lot of our students need work on.  So our pack has 20 fact or opinion sorts with topics that range over the year (2 per month).  Check it out here and keep coming back to see what new yearlong packs are coming soon!

We have loved Teachers Pay Teachers for so long....it's a great place to share your creativity and kick start someone else's new great ideas in your own classrooms.  So I will leave you with something TPT sellers and buyers can truly appreciate....

Have a great Friday....TGIF!

Bring Your Child to Work Day

I really can't believe this is an actual "day." I mean, I'm not complaining seeing as how I was down 9 kids all day.  What a difference 9 makes, it's a third of my class!  Needless to say we didn't get too much done because I'd just have to reteach it all again tomorrow. So you might be wondering what we did do?

Well, we spent the morning drafting and creating acrostic poems to add to our "Book of Poetry."  Each student used their first name to write an acrostic about themselves.  Then they did a watercolor self portrait.

To celebrate April is Poetry Month we are dedicating all of our writing lessons to poetry.  To celebrate our classrooms will be hosting, "An Afternoon of Poetry" next week. We are inviting the parents in to enjoy all of the hard work we've been doing.  We'll blog more about this later. ;)

Then we moved on to science, we decorated a face on a small cup and planted grass seed inside.  This way when it starts growing they can cut the "hair."  After they had them planted I found some of them holding their cup up to a lamp [because plants need (sun)light to grow] hoping to see a sprout. They are too cute!

During math we played Making Cents, a SmartBoard game, that I found at Lakeshore Learning.  It was a great review!  I love hearing the "Cha-Ching."

Speaking of money! We've been working hard to get a good handle on this skill.  I don't know about all of you but counting money is always a struggle!  We pulled out all the stops... worksheets, games, activities, journaling, practice, scavenger hunts.  I even established a classroom bank, they could earn money for various reasons.  They money they earn will be used at our classroom garage sale tomorrow. Check back for details on how I run that, this weekend. I think they are finally ready for the unit test tomorrow!  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Laughs and Scavenger Hunts

Tonight the sisters and I went to California Pizza Kitchen after school for a quick bite to eat.  I have to say I haven't laughed so hard in a while... or eaten so much.



We finished our plant unit today.  Yesterday we did a scavenger hunt as a review for our test.  Our classes are all about the scavenger hunts.  It gets them up and moving and talking about science! (or math, or language arts, or social studies... whatever the topic may be.)

Tomorrow we start timelines... check back next week, we have some fun activities planned!  


I'm in a food coma... I'm going to veg on the couch! Any good TV on tonight? 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Birthdays, Boyfriends, and Bees!

Happy Birthday Sister 3!!  Today is the big 2-6 for her and we hope she has a wonderful, fun-filled day! 

And more birthdays....I went to my niece's birthday party last night.  I know you heard all about my shopping experience in Friday's blog.  I arrived at the party to 13 screaming 4th graders.  Loud does not begin to describe it!  My best friend's from high school are her parents and they let her have a sleepover....can you say "SAINTS??"  The Abercrombie clothes were a huge success and all the girls seemed to be having a great time.  The most interesting thing I saw was that at least 8 of them had cell phones!  Boy have times changed....I never knew cell phones were a necessity at 10. I mean who exactly are they calling??  LOL :) 

All of this birthday talk reminds me of our first freebie on TPT...we did a birthday graph pack!  It's a fun graphing activity that you can do in a pinch or even leave up as a classroom display....check it out!

My boyfriend missed out on the festivities.  He is sick.  Now I am sure many of you out there have boyfriends and husbands and maybe you can relate....when your men are sick, is it like the end of the world??  I mean the things we go to school with, feeling the worst ever, and a man gets a cold and it's the Swine Flu right??  Anyone else have this experience??  I do love him to pieces though so I hate seeing him not feel good.  I gave him lots of TLC before I left for the party but it doesn't mean I can't have a few giggles.

Before I leave you all for today, we have a little something new for you!  Our classes LOVE learning about informational text this year....it might be because we really focus on it and do so much of it but the good thing is they are always SO into it!  We have planned our next thing to learn is about bees!!  Not my favorite insect or topic (I think it is right up there with snakes) but a perfect season for it!  We haven't started yet but have made up this freebie to help guide us through our instruction.  It has a KWL, a Can, Have, Are chart, and an informational text graphic organizer and writing page.  Students can turn their writing into a bee craftivity.  We will post pictures of our bee study when we start but we wanted to get this bee freebie out to you!

Enjoy and happy Sunday!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five for Friday

We're linking with Doodle Bugs for some Five for Friday fun! We can't believe how fast this week has gone by!  

1. We had our annual field trip to a science museum this week!  Unfortunately, the sisters had to split up... Sister 1 and 2 went together. I went a few days later with one of our other second grade teachers.  But I have to say we probably had a little more excitement than they did.  After a nice morning exploring the museum we went to the cafe to enjoy a quick, quiet  lunch.  Little did we know how NOT quiet it would be thanks to me.  We walked into the cafe and oops...I opened the door like a beast (a light door or a strong sister??) and it hit the fire alarm behind it!!  If that isn't "funny" enough, I actually thought I had won something and it was a slot machine going off!  I didn't even realize I had just set the fire alarm off.  Needless to say I didn't win a jackpot but it was the most memorable part of the day.

2. Sister 1 had to shop for her niece's birthday party this week.  She wants to be the "cool" auntie so of course she headed to Abercrombie Kids.  Now she is not a prude in any way, shape, or form but have y'all seen the clothes in there???  For kids???  To escape "Club Abercrombie" she picked the first acceptable choice and ran.

3.  Sister 2 took a day off this week to join her own kiddos at their school for their fun run.  It would have been the perfect mother-sons bonding day except for the weather.  It was a really cool fundraiser for their school though.  Guess what for?  They are getting iPads for their classrooms!   Check out this website for a great fundraiser that you would have to do nothing for.....  http://www.thegetmovincrew.com/

4.  Wow...we feel like our Five for Friday all sounds like a mess so far!  We had some great things going on in our classrooms this week.  One of them is that we have been working on literature studies.  This week it was Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith.  The kiddos love this fun story.  Thanks to Amy Lemons at "Step into Second Grade" we had some wonderful activities to go with it!  Here is one where they created their own stories ....

5.  Last but not least....it's Sister 3's birthday this weekend!  We started the celebrating with Dunkin' Donuts hot cocoa!  Then had Chipotle lunch....yummy!  She is quickly catching up to Sister 2 and 1 in age....ha ha...we wish! :) 

 Happy Friday!  We hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  Monday will be here before we know it!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Too Noisy!

It's official. Everyone has spring fever. Lately, the noise level in my classroom can be pretty outrageous at times. So today I decided I needed to pull out one of my "secret" weapons.  Last summer, I heard about this app called Too Noisy. It's free to download.

Once the app is ready to monitor the noise level the screen below comes up.  I like to put it under my document camera so everyone can see it.  Our goal is to keep it smiling! And let me tell you they try really hard.   

Unfortunately, sometimes it looks like this. When this happens we have to take some fluff balls out of our jar (classroom incentive jar).

When the smiley face begins to frown they try to quiet each other down. I usually don't have to say a word.  If you don't have this app... GET IT.  It's pretty amazing. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Plant Parts

We are moving right along in our study of plants.  Scholastic has some great books that explain each plant part and why they are important.  They include great photographs and tons of information.

Once we read about each plant part we made a Plant Part's Flapbook.  This was a last minute idea so it's not included in our plant pack.  But no worries, it's super easy to whip up!  All we did was fold a piece of large construction paper to the middle of the page.  Then we cut the flaps into fourths.  Each flap is designated to a plant part, next year I think we'll add a flap for seeds.  Under the flap we wrote what the job of that part is.  Over on the blank side we used scrap construction paper to create a plant.  The turned out adorable!  

It's important for students to know that not only does each part play an important role in keeping the plant alive but that we also eat many plant parts.  At first they found that pretty gross and weird.  They never really realized that all fruits and vegetables are plant parts.  We read the book, Tops and Bottoms and to drive home this idea we did a sort! 

Tomorrow's supposed to be nice so hopefully we'll be able to get out and do some exploring in "nature."  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


One of my favorite science units is plants. We always save it for this time of the year... We have so many fun outside learning activities planned, if only the weather would cooperative that it!! It's been raining for over a week. But we didn't let that stop us.

We began by investigating the parts of a seed. I soaked the seeds over night to let them expand a little so it would be easier for littler hands to manage.  I passed out one seed to every two kids along with a magnifying glass.  We pulled back the seed coat and talked about why it's important. Then we broke the seed open to find the baby plant (embryo) and the stored food.

Next, we talked about the things seeds need in order to grow: sunlight, air, space, and water.  We wondered whether or not seeds would grow without soil.  So I pulled out the Ziplock baggies, paper towel, and seeds.  We got the paper towel damp, put it in the baggie, stapled a horizontal line around the middle of the bag, and plopped in some seeds.

Now we wait.

I thought it would be fun to incorporate some math.  I filled little cups with a variety of seeds.  Then I assigned partners to work on a seed sort.  They had some estimating to do before they could start sorting and counting.  On the back side of this page there is a graph.  They had to graph the amount of each seed they have and then analyze it to answer questions.

Stay tuned for some more plant fun! These activities and more can be found in our Plant Unit.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

XtraMath and a Yummy Birthday Dinner

XtraMath is also a great FREE website for kids that we use to help with math facts.  It's super easy to set up. All you have to do is type in your students names.  Once the names are typed in you can go to "print flyers."  The flyers explain the site and how to use it.  The site generates a flyer for each student, with their name and pin number printed at the bottom.  What's great about this site is that there is no maintenance.  Every week you will receive an email with each student's scores.  This way you can see who's using it and who isn't.  We use it as an at home option.  Sometimes, after I get the report, I'll pass out our school wide positive behavior tickets as an incentive.  This usually gets a few more kids to go on!

On a personal note, tomorrow is my boyfriend's birthday. He's turning the big 2-6!  I'm right behind him... I've got 1 week to be "younger."  We're celebrating tonight with family.  What's on the menu you ask? All his favorites!

Homemade Panera spinach power salad, Coney dogs, and cheese fries! Yummm! Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Looking for a little easy motivation??

If you all are anything like us, we have serious cases of Spring Fever.  And by that I mean, the kids and the teachers!  This year my class needs a lot of extra love and I have been needing to change up the routine a lot as well as behavior plans and management ideas. 

Soooo...when my own 2nd grader came home and was begging to go online and do EXTRA math homework to earn a reward, I had to check it out.  I had heard of the website before www.ixl.com but didn't know much about it.  There are some awesome math testing resources here!

I sat down on Tuesday night and looked into.  I learned there is a FREE 30-day subscription (which coincidentally takes me to almost the end of the year), so I signed up.  It literally took me 10 minutes to sign up and enter my kids names.  Then, I just printed parent notes with passwords for each student.

I decided that I would give my kids a little incentive of earning tickets (our school incentive program) dependent on how many problems they completed each week.   Needless to say, I was SHOCKED when I opened my email the next morning and 10 of my kiddos had already spent a total of 3+ hours on the site!!

Today, I passed out tickets to about 80% of my kids...they loved it, I loved it, and they are getting smarter!

Check it out!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Journal Prompts

Getting second graders to write can be quite a chore but the sisters and I have found a sure fire way to get them interested!  We created a journal for each of our students.  

The kids this it's amazing that their name is TYPED on the front!  We used the binding machine to make each journal.  Within the journal are a few important features.  When you open it up they find a "Writer's Checklist."  These are the things we require them to do in every writing piece.

It's a great visual reminder.  Next are 20 writing prompts... we don't want to overwhelm them with a HUGE stack of choices.  We tell them they can pick any page to start on, that's a biggie.  Allowing them to select for themselves is a big motivation.  They love sharing their writing with a friend and of course us!

Coming up write writing prompts can be a daunting task.  So we've made it easy for you!  Check out our Journal Prompts [12 Months Worth] packet on TpT. 120 prompts for less than 10 cents each, it's a steal! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Coming Soon....

Sister 1 here....I flew in last night from Disney World and it was quickly back to the routine today.  As teachers, we are so lucky to have quite a few breaks....however we have those breaks with nearly every other vacationer on Earth!  Needless to say, we tackled crowds and lines at all of the theme parks....but all I can say is WOW!  I am sure many of you know what I am talking about.  Disney World is hands-down a really magical place.  The crowds didn't matter, the lines didn't matter....we still had an amazing time full of fun.  We packed in about 2 weeks of activities into 6 days.  I hate to admit this on a "teaching" blog but I didn't think about school once....it was the vacation I really needed!

Now we are in the home stretch of the school year....about 46 more days!  The sisters and I were just talking about how much more we want to do in that time!  So no more day dreaming about Mickey ears, Splash Mountain, and Dole Whips!  It's time to get to work.  You will want to keep checking back here and in our TPT store over the next few weeks because we have some great units and activities in the works.  I am so excited to be currently working on updating one of my favorite things of the year....memory books!  At the end of every year my students (and their parents) LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these! 

Stay tuned.....

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Back to Reality

As I'm sitting here blog hopping, Pinteresting, and TpTing creating inspiring lessons for the up coming week I decided to take a look at the weather.

Rain! Everyday. Which made me remember this Hey Girl I found a while back...

Indoor recess is quite a bummer, especially the week after spring break when we need to burn off some energy.  So I opened up my Pinterest and started pinning away.  If you've never used these Brain Break  songs in the classroom, you MUST try it! They are a life saver in more then one way.

Here are some of our favs!

There are tons more and super easy to find on Pinterest.  Do yourself a favor and play one or two of these throughout the day to give you and your students a mini-brain break! You deserve it :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted Linky

I'm excited to link up with Latoya from Flying into First Grade this week!

Favorite Place to Shop: I mean seriously, how can I pick just one?!?

Favorite TV Show: The Client List

Favorite Sweet Treat: Dairy Queen Chocolate Covered Strawberry Blizzard. Need I say more?

Favorite Food: Chicken Enchiladas

Favorite Restaurant: Chili's.. love their chips and salsa!

Now, go to Latoya's blog and link up!