January Round Up

Hey everyone!  I'm back with another monthly round up of ideas.  I hope you are able to use a few of them!

Be sure to pin your favorite ideas!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am that crazy teacher that enjoys changing out her bulletin board each month.  It's true.  But, with that said, I do like to keep it simple!  At the beginning of each month I have my students complete some thematic writing and create a simple craft to display next to their writing.  Last month, I mentioned that poems are a great way to quickly get some writing up on the board.  So, how about this little combo for January?

You can grab this quick and easy bulletin board project here.  Did I mention that it's free?  :)

P.S. the download actually includes two different poetry templates, so be sure to check it out!

January is the month of new beginnings and fresh starts.  Resolutions are made and most everyone is ready to conquer the new year.  Over the years, I've found that students also enjoy setting goals for the new year.  I like to read this cute little book to help explain this concept to students.

And, this year, I am going to have my students share their goals for the new year in this class book.  Who knows, it might be a great way to remind them of what they set out to accomplish.

You can grab this free class book here.  :)

One of my favorite things about January is learning about polar animals.  The kids enjoy it too.  Haha!  Seriously though, penguins are my all time favorite.

I usually begin by reading aloud a simple text like the one below.  Then, the students complete a can/have/are organizer.  I love this organizer because it's a great way to have students classify information. 

After we read a bit more about penguins, take notes, make anchor charts, and so on, the students show what they know by making this fun little hat.  It's always a fun project that allows the students to show off their knowledge.

Fact and opinion is a great way to encourage students to use their critical thinking skills.  Second graders are typically pretty good at distinguishing between fact and opinion, but asking them to write their own fact and opinion statements can be challenging (and good practice).  This little flap book gives students an opportunity to practice this skill.  

Vocabulary is a big part of any unit of study and these vocabulary flap books are a fun way for students to show their understanding of important penguin words.  They can be worked on throughout the unit, whenever a new word is encountered, or they could be used toward the end of the unit when students have been exposed to all of them.

You may or may not know this, but I am a huge fan of integrating language arts and science. ;)  Interactive readers, like the one below, are a great way to sneak in more nonfiction reading and practice.  This little book tasks students with drawing diagrams, using close reading skills, and more!

You can find all of these activities, and more, in my Penguins unit.  Click here to see it on TPT.

Last month my students worked on expanding their sentences.  We practiced adding who, what, when, where, why, and/or how information to simple sentences to make them stronger and more interesting.  While I plan to encourage them to use this skill in their writing pieces, I also plan to have them practice it a bit more using this booklet.

We've been working on self-monitoring and setting goals lately, so I created each page with a built in means of self-monitoring.  The students can color (or circle) the types of information they add to  each of their simple sentences.  This will help them to be a bit more thoughtful in their approach when expanding each sentence.

You can grab this freebie here.  :)

I hope you are able to use an idea or two.  Thanks for stopping by!


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December Highlights

Oh my goodness.  It's been a few weeks since I've blogged.  I blame December.  It's the craziest month of the year...and also when we do our parent teacher conferences, which makes it even crazier!  I know I'm not alone, right? So, here's a peek at some things we've been up to.

We spent a week reading various versions of the Gingerbread Man.  I don't know why I love this story so much, but I do. The kids always love it too!  We worked on our retelling skills and made some super cute retell hats. I love watching them march out of the building at the end of the day with their silly little hats.  We also worked on our comparing/contrasting skills, and character traits.  Of course, we also snacked on gingerbread cookies while we worked.  Hehe.

This is our class elf, Candy Cane.  Last year, I joined the Elf on the Shelf (in the classroom) bandwagon and I am continuing the tradition this year.  My kids are loving it!  Our elf arrived on December 1, and we've been having fun with him ever since.  This was the kids' favorite elf antic, for sure!

They were so excited to come in and find all the candy canes!

They were even more excited to take one home with them at the end of the day.

One day, our elf brought us this super fun math coloring project from Pink Cat Studio.  The students made one in class and then they also got to take one home.

Ok, that's enough elf talk.  This week, my students finished up their parent gifts.  How cute did these little pots turn out?  You can read all about them here.

We also spent some time reviewing cause and effect.  My Christmas Cause and Effect pack was the perfect fit!  The kids already have Christmas on the brain, and it was great being able to tie that to our learning.
The week for Winter Break is always rough. The kids are antsy and lacking focus.  And, let's face it, teachers are tired!  Well, that was my day exactly when I decided to lead my students in a directed drawing of Rudolph.  This idea originally comes from ARTventurous, and it is adorable!

After drawing Rudolph, they traced it with a Sharpie.  Then, they used oil pastels to color it in.  This was our second attempt with the pastels this year, and this time, they got it!  #theynailedit #lasttimenotsomuch

This past weekend, I put together some gifts for my parent volunteers.

I was inspired by this pin.  I filled each mason jar with Chex Mix Muddy Buddies, glued on three buttons, and tied some fabric around the lid to look like a scarf. They are supposed to look snowman-ish (hopefully you picked up on that-haha). Anyhoo, they turned out pretty cute, and they were so easy to make!

Happy holidays everyone!  I will be back soon with another monthly round up of ideas.  Stay tuned!

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December Round Up

I'm back with another monthly round up of ideas, activities, and freebies!

Be sure to pin your favorite ideas!

Every month, my students do some thematic or seasonal writing to display on our hallway bulletin board. To spruce up the display, I also have them create some sort of craft to display next to their writing.

Trying to display process writing each month can be a challenge, so one way I like to make sure our work gets switched out quickly is by having my students write a poem.  It gives them some great exposure to poetry, and we are able to put together a great display in almost no time!

This month, my students will be writing a cinquain about Rudolph and creating this super cute craft to display next to their writing. 

I've done this project for the past few years, and the kids really enjoy it.  To prepare them for writing the poem, I first read Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to them.  Then, we brainstorm words and phrases that they could use in their poems.  From there, the students choose their favorites and use them in their poems.  Then, we make Rudolph! #glitterynoseisoptional

Click here to grab the FREE poetry template.
Click here to grab the FREE craft templates.

Last year, my students participated in a winter card exchange.  Each student made a winter themed card at home.  Then, they exchanged cards in class. It was lots of fun, and the creativity was just amazing.  You can read all about this idea, and grab a freebie, here.

In December, I love taking a break from our basal for a bit and reading different versions of The Gingerbread Man.


I don't know what it is about this story, but it is just so fun to read and it lends itself to so many important skills, like retelling.  These retell flap books are a fun way to practice this skill.

And, so is this retell hat!

Using adjectives to identify character traits is another great skill that can be practiced with this story.  This cut and paste activity is always a hit with my students! We usually complete one about the fox too!

I also love using these books to practice our compare and contrast skills. The kids are always so successful at identifying similarities and differences between the different versions.

As an extension activity, this Disguise a Gingerbread Man project is lots of fun!  The students create a disguise for the Gingerbread Man and then write about it.  Best of all, they can do the disguise project at home, or in class. 

You can find these activities, plus so many more, in my Gingerbread Man unit. It is perfect for use with any version of the story!  :)


Five in a Row is a classic in my classroom.  My students always love this game!

Students play in pairs.  They need two number cubes and some game pieces (I use the red and yellow counters).  Player A rolls two number cubes and adds them up.  Then, he/she covers the sum on the board.  Player B does the same.  This goes back and forth until one player manages to get five of their markers in a row.

You can grab this game for FREE by clicking here.  And, you can download other seasonal Five in a Row boards here.

Note: My students play the "Sums of 10-20" version of the game which is played with number cubes, but the freebie also includes a "Sums of 2-12" game board which is played with dice.


Happy December!

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Holiday Gift Ideas {Weekend Warriors}

Can you believe that the holidays are just around the corner?  You know what that means, time for gifts!  

If you're starting to think about gifts for students, colleagues, or parents, then read on because my fellow Weekend Warriors and I are sharing some of our favorite holiday gift ideas!

While I know that giving my students a gift isn't a must, it is certainly something I like to do. :)  But, of course, it can be a bit challenging when you have so many people to shop for!  So, like many teachers, I turn to Scholastic.  Kids love getting new books, and I can use my bonus points to purchase all of the books I need.  It's a win-win!

Depending upon the group of students, and what Scholastic has available, I may choose books that meet each student's reading level, or I might just choose a fun holiday book that would appeal to most second graders.  

I like to wrap the books and then top them with a bow and a bookmark.  These adorable bookmarks are from First Class in 4th Grade, and they are free!

Every year, I have my students make a gift for their parents.  I have a few "go to" projects. The first is this super adorable tin can snowman that a dear friend shared with me years ago. You can read more about it here.

My second go to project is another snowman themed creation.  How cute is this snowman pot?

This is super easy to make!  Here's what you'll need:
  • terracotta pots (any size)
  • acrylic paint: white, blue, black, and orang
  • wooden furniture buttons (in the wood section of the craft store)
  • sponge brushes
  • paint brushes
  • Hersey's Kisses (optional)
Here's what you need to do:
  1. Use a sponge brush to paint the outside of the terracotta pot
  2. Paint the rim of the pot blue (you could use a sponge brush or a paint brush)
  3. Use the end of a paintbrush (the non-brush end) to paint white polka dots on the blue rim
  4. Use the end of a paintbrush (the non-brush end) to create the mouth and eyes
  5. Paint the wooden furniture button with orange paint and attach it to the pot with a hot glue gun 
  6. Fill the pot with Hersey's Kisses!  
TIP #1: I fill the bottom half of the pot with tissue paper so that I end up using fewer Kisses.

TIP #2: To help cover the cost of parent gifts, I ask families to send in small donations, usually $1-2.  I tell them we are working on a super secret project.  It helps to cover/supplement the cost of materials.

And, finally, here is a quick and easy gift to share with your colleagues (I've also used it as a student gift in the past).

Here's what you'll need:

Once it's all bagged up, attach a label and a bow.  You can grab this FREE label here.

I hope you've been able to take an idea or two away with you today!


Don't forget to visit these lovely ladies for more great ideas!

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