A Fun Student Gift Idea

Hey everyone!  This week, I will be passing out small gifts to my students and thought I would share the idea with you.  It turned out really cute and wasn't all that difficult to put together.  I found a similar idea on Pinterest and made it my own.

Ta da!

Here's what I did.  First, I cut out the snow caps using my ancient Cricut.  Ancient, as in it's one of the first models they made.  I'm not cool enough to own a Silhouette Cameo-ha!

The snow cap can be found on the Simply Charmed cartridge set.  If you don't have a cutting machine, you could always just fold over the top of the bag, staple it in place, and glue a bow on top of the staple.

Next, I placed a packet of hot cocoa, some marshmallows, and a small card into a cellophane treat sack (you can find these at Michael's, Walmart, and even Target).
Click the image above to grab a copy of the cards from Google Docs (remember, I've already shared it with you, simply select download from the "File" menu).

After that, I folded the top of the bag down and stapled the snow cap to hide the fold and to serve as a bag topper.  Again, if you don't have a Cricut, skip the bag topper idea, it will still be a huge hit with your kiddos!

Are you planning to do students gifts this year?

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Five for Friday {12-6-2013}

It's Friday!  It's Friday!  That means I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday.


Warning: you are about to be photo bombed.

School Related Random #1: We have been working on two-digit subtraction this week.  We use the enVision series, which means there is a lot of repetition and not a lot of high interest.  As I pulled out today's lesson, I just about gagged over another boring lesson.  Inspiration hit and this was born.

As the students took their two minute timed math fact quiz, I ran out to the copier in our pod and copied a class set of light bulbs.  Each student created four lights.  After they solved their four problems, I checked their work and gave them a Sharpie to trace over their pencil. They cut out the light bulbs and I taped them to a piece of yarn.

Side note: We used some of the enVision worksheet.  If you are familiar with the series, we did the "Guided Practice" together, and then the students chose four problems from the "Independent Practice" page and used those number sentences to create their Christmas lights.  They were actually excited to do their subtracting today!

School Related Random #2: The other day, I served my students a small sample of hot cocoa, as well as a small sample of chocolate milk.  After trying both beverages, they wrote an opinion paragraph about which drink they preferred.  Today, they published their writing in the form of a mini book.  So cute!

This prompt and craft are from my Write On! The Winter Edition pack on TpT.

School Related Random #3: On Monday, I sent home a take-home project.  The students were asked to decorate a Christmas tree.  I always encourage them to be as creative as possible.  Here's a sampling of our creative trees.  The trees are now decorating our walls.

Home Related Random #4:  This past weekend, Little Peanut's Elf on the Shelf returned from the North Pole.  We welcomed Chihuahua back with a little North Pole breakfast.  Little Peanut loved waking up to this table and fun meal!

 Home Related Random #5: Elf mania continues!  Chihuahua has been up to a few antics this week (nothing too over the top, Little Peanut is only 4).  My favorite is the one where he covered himself in stickers.  Ha!

He also took a marshmallow bath, but I didn't take a picture that day.

Be sure to head on over to Doodle Bugs to see what everyone else has been up to!

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Snowball Scoot {Just Sharin' a New Freebie}

I am a planner.  I am always thinking down the road and prioritizing my tasks.  I take a slight thrill in making a to do list, only to cross things off that list.  I think I've made my point.  Hehe.

Well, because I'm a planner, I have been busy planning out my next few weeks and decided that it would be a good idea to review two-digit addition and subtraction before our Winter Break.  I immediately thought of Scoot.

My students never, ever tire of Scoot (and thank goodness for that).  Click here to read all about this amazing engagement strategy, and grab some tips and tricks while you're there.

So, back to our review.  I needed a resource that had my students practicing both addition and subtraction, so I made one.  :)


Now, I know I can't be the only second grade teacher out there looking to review these skills, so if you could use this activity, then be sure to grab this freebie on TpT.


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Learning About Thanksgiving, Part 2 {Pilgrim Life and The First Thanksgiving}

Last week we spent a great deal of time learning about Pilgrim life and The First Thanksgiving using my Thanksgiving unit.  Like a lot of teachers, I like to integrate language arts skills with social studies, so we did a lot of reading (independent and whole group), fact gathering, listening with a purpose, recording, and so forth.

We started the week by reading this Scholastic mini book about Pilgrim life. After using a Reading A-Z book the week before, the students were beyond excited when I told them they got to keep this book!

After reading and discussing this text, we created an anchor chart of facts that we learned from the book (see the chart on the left pictured below).  The students used this information to complete a Venn Diagram comparing Pilgrim life to life today.  I helped them get started, and then they finished it up on their own.

The following day, we watched a Scholastic Video about pilgrim life (Pilgrim Village).  I stopped the video periodically and had the students write down a fact they had learned up until that point.  At the end of the video, the students shared the facts they wrote down and we made an anchor chart (see the chart on the right).

The students used both of these charts (plus older charts from the previous week) to complete this could/had/were organizer.  This always seems like such a simple task, but really it provides some challenge.  The students had to draw conclusions in order to fill in some of the categories (i.e. they knew the Pilgrims worked from morning until night and did most things by hand and from scratch. They concluded that this meant they were hard workers).

I love how this student remembered that the Pilgrims wore colorful clothing.

On Wednesday, we read another Scholastic mini book.  The photo below shows the resource book that I got the two mini books from. 

After reading the book, the students completed a circle map.

Then, they shared their ideas with their teaching buddy and added facts to their circle map as needed.  After that, we discussed the facts they had recorded. 

On Thursday we continued to learn about The First Thanksgiving.  I read The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving aloud to them and they used their listening skills (and mini whiteboards) to write down facts as I read.  In keeping with tradition, the students shared their facts and we created another whole group anchor chart.  We really worked on gathering facts this week!


On Friday, the students used all of our anchor charts to complete this Truth or Lie? activity.  They LOVE this activity so much because they get a kick out of trying to trick their friends.  I always tell them to take a true fact and change it ever so slightly so that it isn't an obvious lie.

I usually include some some paragraph writing when I cover Thanksgiving, but we were finishing up our turkey writing and we also started preparing for our school play, which means, unfortunately, that some of our regular learning gets replaced with daily play practice.

This week we will wrap up our unit with a game of Thanksgiving Fact and Opinion Scoot and learning about turkeys (both activities are also included in my Thanksgiving unit). I can't wait to tackle these last few activities! 

Happy three day week, everyone!!

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Do You Know How to Cook a Turkey?

I know the "How to Cook a Turkey" theme is not a new one, but this year, I took a different approach to this fun and endearing writing topic.  Hopefully, you'll get a new idea or two from this post!

Last week, I introduced this writing topic to my students by pairing them up and giving them a set of recipes.  They were tasked with identifying what all the recipes had in common (i.e. they all had a list of ingredients, step by step directions, etc). The students recorded their ideas on their mini whiteboards.

We then discussed, whole group, the similarities in all the recipes and I was then able to relate that to the writing they would be doing.  Their writing would also include a list of ingredients, step by step directions, and specific details related to how long the turkey would need to cook, etc.

The next day, the students once again worked with a partner, this time to brainstorm possible ingredients. Then, the students shared their ideas and we made a class anchor chart (forgot to take a picture!!).  Most of their ideas were realistic, but there were a few questionable suggestions such as caramel sauce (this is not the first time a student has suggested this ingredient) and peanut butter. 

The students then wrote the first sentence of their recipe/directions that told the reader what they would need to cook their turkey.

The following day, the students set out to write their directions.  First, we brainstormed the kinds of information that they might include for each step (see anchor chart below).  Then, the students wrote their own sentences, making sure they included details such as baking time, how to do certain tasks, etc.


Enter Monday.  The students worked with a partner to peer edit and revise. 

We spent the past two days publishing.  Instead of publishing their recipes in the form of a paragraph, they published them as a recipe book.  They wrote out each part of the recipe on its own page, and created illustrations to go with each step.  Here is a sampling of their work.

 I love how specific this student got when she wrote her "next" step.

I love this student's concluding sentence and diagram and just had to share it.

I love how these turned out!  They are pretty well written and oh so sweet.  I hope the parents enjoy reading their child's recipe...and, I wonder if any of them will be brave enough to try it out.  Ha!

This writing prompt and materials are from my Write On! The Fall Edition pack.  Click here to see this product on TpT.


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Learning About Thanksgiving, Part 1: The Mayflower

This week we started our Thanksgiving unit.  I always begin my unit with the Mayflower.  The kids always find it fascinating.  They love learning about who was aboard, what they ate, what they were allowed to bring, and so on.  Here's a look at what we did with this historic ship/voyage this week.

On Tuesday, I read aloud some pages from If You Sailed the Mayflower.

Rather than make an anchor chart of facts, we completed a graphic organizer.  

I prompted the students along the way, but they provided all the answers. I realize that most of the time organizers do not require the use of actual sentences, but I'm always looking for ways to practice writing complete sentences! Then, the students decorated the background to go with the Mayflower image in the center of the organizer (thankfully, they all colored theirs to look like the ship was out to sea).

On Wednesday, we watched a video about the Mayflower on the Scholastic website.  They have a series of videos about the Pilgrims and Plymouth.  We will be watching another video next week.

The video was a bit long (just under 20 minutes), so I stopped it periodically and had the students write down one fact they learned up to that point.  They wrote these facts on their mini whiteboards.

What I loved about this is that they were watching the video with a purpose and they were held accountable because they knew they would be doing something with the facts they collected along the way.

I'm sure you're dying to know what they did with their facts. They made a book!  OK, OK, first, they shared their facts and we created an anchor chart.

In any event, the students used the facts from the anchor chart to make a book.

(OK, I just realized that two of these kiddos wrote about the same fact...sorry about the repetition...I tried to show some variety, but I guess I wasn't a very observant photographer-eek!)

I let them pick any four facts they wanted/liked and tasked them with writing a complete sentence for each fact (one sentence per page in the book).  Then, they illustrated the pages in their book.

Today, the kids completed a sort activity.  We read about what the Pilgrims could and could not bring aboard the Mayflower and then the students completed the sort. I always have the students color code their sorts as this helps them to focus a bit more and it keeps them organized.

After learning about the Mayflower and the voyage that the Pilgrims endured for 66 days, the students all agree that they would not have liked to be on that ship.  The thought of eating moldy cheese, salted meat, and being crowded in dark, damp quarters just didn't sound like fun to them.  And, I have to admit, I totally agree!

The Mayflower book, sort, and organizer are from my Thanksgiving unit, which is available on TpT.  I'm looking forward to next week when we will focus on Pilgrim life and The First Thanksgiving.  Stay tuned!

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Whoooo Loves Owls?

Whooo loves owls?  My class does!  This week was a super short week for our students (not us).  Short, as in, the kids had two days of school.  This meant that our regular curriculum was put on hold and I took full advantage of the opportunity to do some fun thematic activities centered around owls.

We did lots of learning over our two short days.  Here's a peek at our "week."  **Warning, you are about to be photo bombed.**

To get the week started off right, I sported this theme appropriate sweater that I found at Old Navy one day.  It's so cute (and so different for me)!!

I read Owl Moon to the students.  They were really into this book, like really into it; whenever I glanced up from the book to sneak a peek at their faces they were all fixated on the book, no one was fidgeting or staring at the wall.  I think it was the poetic nature of the book. 

After reading the story, we sequenced the story events and identified the setting of the story.

These activities are both from Little Red's Schoolhouse on TpT. 

Next, I led the students through a directed drawing of an owl.  I found a really great set of free directions {here}.  I cut out each of the students' drawings and placed them on two branches that I made out of butcher paper.  I am in love with this display and it may stay up for a while.

In writing, we worked together to gather information about owls.  We focused on gathering "big idea" facts (where owls live, what kind of animal they are, etc).  The students then used this anchor chart to write a paragraph about owls.

We read Owls Overhead, a Reading A-Z book.  We read the book together, talked about some of the text features present in the book (there were a few), and also discussed the text.  Then, the students were paired up and they had a discussion about the book using some discussion cards that went with the book.

The following day, we used the A-Z book to gather more facts about owls.  This time, I encouraged the students to recall any kind of fact and I recorded their suggestions on this chart.

The students used the two anchor charts to complete this can/have/are organizer by Loreen Leedy.  It was a preview freebie on TpT (you can purchase the entire file, or you can access this page as a freebie via the preview file).

We also revisited Owl Moon and the students identified some "facts" from the story and then wrote some opinions about the story.  Again, this activity came from Little Red.

My teaching buddy and I really, really, really wanted to order owl pellets (we wanted to get one each so we could use it for demonstration purposes), but we just didn't think about it soon enough.  But, we decided that we may just get one down the road and share it with the kids anyway.  I think they will love it!!

We had lots of fun breaking out of our routine and the theme was perfect for our short week.  Next week, we're back into our regular routine.  How do you plan for short weeks?

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