We Had Lots of Apple Fun!

This week was all about apples!  I love this theme, and so do my second graders!  Despite our jam packed schedule these days, I still managed to bring out my favorite apple activities.  Here's a look at what we did this week (well, with apples, anyway).

We made a class graph which shows who does/does not like apples.  I'm pretty sure that the student who picked "no," did so just for the sake of doing so. You know what I mean!  I wish the chart paper would have been taller so I wouldn't have needed to make multiple rows of apples, but oh well.  They got the idea!

We read a book about how an apple grows, then put together a mini-mini book (no, that wasn't a typo, it was just a really small book) about the apple life cycle.  Since the pages contained the text, I mixed the pages up so the students had to put them in the correct order.  I forgot to take pictures of this.

We made an apple diagram craftivity.  What a fun way to teach them about what a diagram is!

We also read The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree and made our own Seasons of an Apple Tree mini book (a regular sized mini book this time).  They used the provided word bank to complete the sentences on each page and then illustrated each season.  Jeez, no pictures again!! 

We also investigated an apple using our senses and magnifying glasses.  The students were apple scientists as they busily examined and recorded their observations.  They wrote adjectives to describe the inside and outside of the apple and made sketches.  They also made predictions about what they might find on the inside before we actually cut it open.  Finally, they got to eat their apple!  This was probably the highlight of the year so far.

I had planned on having the students gather some information about apples from various nonfiction books, but due to an assembly I had to bump that lesson.  I'm sure I can use that activity out for another topic one of these days, though.

Finally, we made some crockpot applesauce today.  I gave each student a copy of the recipe and tasked them with telling me how to make their treat.  I also brought out my apple peeler from Pampered Chef and they thought it was the coolest thing ever.  Well, it kind of is!

We enjoyed smelling the applesauce cook throughout the day and I let the table groups come over to see how the apples were cooking down; they loved this!  At the end of the day, I dished up the sauce into little plastic cups and they ate away.

Then, they compared apples to applesauce and did really well with this task!  They also loved their treat and asked if we could make the applesauce again next week.

It was a great week and I would have liked to fit in more, but I'm telling you, my science time is very limited this year and I was lucky to get to all of this!  I'm grateful that I was able to do what I did and that the kids enjoyed it so much.  You can purchase these activities, and more, on TpT.


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Got Saxon Phonics? Do you lead your students in whole group sight word practice each day?   Looking to spice up your routine a bit?  Then, this post is for you!

Part of the Saxon program includes daily sight word practice in the form of whole group flash cards. And, I'm sure that there are plenty of non-Saxon users that also do this.  Flashing though the words each day becomes quite lackluster, as I'm sure you can imagine.  Well, here is  a simple solution to that problem...BOOM cards!  I absolutely love these cards!     

I made these cards several years back on a staff development day.  One of our first grade teachers shared the idea...best idea ever!  At our "make it and take it" that day, I used some glitter glue/paint to create these three cards. So simple, and surprisingly, one thing I've never felt the need to recreate.

I place the cards in the stack of sight words and whenever we get to a "Boom!" card the kids read it with expression, and in some cases, arm movements.  They love this!

There is the potential for the students to get loud, so you need to discuss that when you introduce the cards. But, I love how they bring a bit of life to an otherwise dull and monotonous exercise.  The kids' faces light up when those "Boom!" cards appear.  The best part is, they never tire of them!

I hope you can find this super simple idea useful!


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Party On!

We've been partying it up in Room 44 this week!  What are we celebrating, you might ask?  Plural nouns, of course!  I thought I would share some of the fun activities we've done so far.

I introduced our unit with this:

I passed out party hats and opened the gift, after students had shared a few guesses about its contents.  They were convinced that a cake was inside.  Sadly, there was no cake.  I wrapped their Plural Noun Party workbook in there!  I'm sure it was disappointing to them, but still more interesting than me simply passing them out without the fanfare.

Here I am posing (awkwardly, as usual) with the booklet we made together.   Once we finished up the booklet, the students added it to their writing folder so that it can be used as a reference.

We also sorted a set of words into the categories "singular noun" and "plural noun."  My students looooove sorts.

The students also worked in pairs to match up singular nouns to their plural counterparts.  I had each pair of students work together to match up each pair of words so they could record the words on the provided recording sheet.  Then, I let them play "memory" with the cards.

We also went on a word hunt.  I posted 12 nouns around the room.  The students were tasked with writing the plural form of that noun on their recording sheet.  They were allowed to use their workbooks from earlier in the week to help them remember the rules for forming plural nouns.  Once they completed the hunt, I had them pair up with their "teaching buddy" to compare answers.  They were told to see if their answers agreed and if they did not, they were to go back to their booklet for help.  This proved to be very successful and there was a lot of great conversation taking place at this point.

To help keep the party going, the students wore their party hats during each day's activity (they wrote their name inside the hat).  They complained here and there that the hat hurt, but overall, they loved it.  A few even realized today that they could wear their hat "unicorn style."  Silly kids!

You can find these activities in my TpT shop; just click here!


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Part Part Whole Fun {Freebie Alert!}

We've spent the past two weeks using the part-part-whole model. For those of you who use enVisions, that would be Topic 1.

This topic teaches lots of vocabulary (part, join, whole, separate, and so forth).  We also get to talk about what I call "secret magical math words." Those words that tell us when we need to add or subtract to find an answer (i.e. "How many in all?"  "How many fewer?" etc).  Finally, we get to use a fun voice when we refer to "The Big Guy in the Sky" (the whole). 

In my quest to make all things fun and hands on, I created some materials for my students to review for our test today.  First, I made some colorful workmats.  I gave each student a handful of counters and some mini post it notes.  I told them a math story and they were tasked with making a model of the story on their mat.  I just made the stories up on the spot. They used the counters to represent the parts and the post it to write the whole (using a crayon). 

They loved this, and for some, it proved to be trickier than they thought (they had to listen, and we're still working on that skill!!).

After we practiced building our models, I paired the students up and gave them a baggie of part-part-whole puzzles.   The puzzle sets included some part-part-whole models as well as some number sentences.  Their job was to work together to match each number sentence to its model.  

Please excuse the dried grass all over the floor.  It's an epidemic on campus right now.

They did really well with this and enjoyed it!  I had them record their number sentences when they finished matching up their cards.  No only does it hold them accountable, but it also helps the linguistic learners out there.  Some of us need to write things down for reinforcement; trust me, I know firsthand.

Even if you don't use the enVision Math series, this model might be useful to you.  And, I don't know, maybe other series out there use it too.  It can be a useful aid with addition and subtraction (putting together, taking apart, and comparing-CCSS 2.OA.1).

If you are familiar with this model and you're looking for some hands on goodness, then look no further!  Here's a freebie for you!  Simply click {HERE} to get your free copy via Google Docs.  If you're visiting my blog, please consider following so you'll never miss out on any of my freebies.

I'd love to hear what you think!

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Fact and Opinion Fun

This trimester our designated writing focus is informative writing.  Not narrative, mind you, informative.  Hmmmmmm.  To help prepare the students to do some informative writing we are spending this week distinguishing between fact and opinion.  Surprisingly, the class is doing pretty well!

On Monday I introduced the terms fact and opinion and we practiced writing a few examples of each.  Yesterday, we focused on writing facts.  I printed out some clip art (KPM Doodles) of a shoe, a tree, an apple, a cupcake, and a dog and glued them to some posters (thanks A for brainstorming this idea!).

I placed a poster at each table group and explained that the picture was the "topic" that they were to write about. I gave each student a blue marker and had them write one fact on each poster.  To manage this activity sanely, I had the students rotate from one table to the next, on my cue.  This worked really well and they loved it!

I was so pleased to see that one student realized they were about to write an opinion and crossed it out.  Nice!

This student is writing a fact about the end of a shoelace.  Did you know it's called an aglet?  I had no clue!

Once they made their way through all the posters, we looked at each one individually and discussed the sentences that they wrote.  To check for understanding, I had them show a thumbs up if a statement was indeed a fact and thumbs down if it was an opinion (forgetting that I had made some double sided paddles they could have used-duh!).  Generally speaking, they did very well sticking to the facts. Now, if I could just get them to remember to use a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end!
Today, I brought out those same posters and gave each student a red marker.  They rotated around the room like they did yesterday, but used their red marker to write opinions about each topic.  We discussed each poster and the statements written on them, using our paddles this time (which I forgot to take a picture of...seriously, what is it with these paddles?).  Again, they did a good job with this!

One student wrote a fact instead of an opinion, but realized it and crossed it out.  They are thinking!!

We will continue to work with fact and opinion through the end of the week, but I wanted to share this activity because it took very little prep, it was highly engaging, the students really enjoyed it, and it was a great way to check for understanding.  I hope you find the idea useful!

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All About Me...Success!

What. A. Week.  Four day weeks are both a blessing and a curse.  You know what I'm talking about, you get a day off to relax but then you only have 4 days to plan/prep for the following week.  Needless to say, my Thirty-One bag is full of things to cut and glue before Monday rolls around.

This week we worked on our All About Me unit.  Writing can be challenging and most students don't do a whole lot of it over the summer.  So, to help my students feel confident and successful upon returning to school, I created a mini unit that includes several organizers and fill in the blank writing topics to ease them back into narrative writing. 

I love this can/have/am organizer.  It isn't intimidating or overwhelming for the students, and I especially love that they are actually classifying information about themselves at the same time!

This is the "When I Grow Up" fill in the blank writing page.  They did really well completing their pages.  I love that this girl wants to be a fashionista...I do too.

Over the next few days, we worked our way through the other fill in the blank writing pages in the unit.  At this point, they were ready to write a "group" of sentences about themselves.  I'm not using the term "paragraph" with them just yet.

Before I had the kids begin their writing, I modeled how to do this by writing my own group of sentences.  I wrote a paragraph about myself and pointed out the use of topic sentence, some details, and a concluding sentence.  I didn't necessarily focus on these terms, but I did use them.  I mostly explained each part and its purpose and then quizzed the kids before I let them loose.

The students did great with this writing assignment.  They all had a topic sentence and details.  Most had a concluding sentence, but a few did not.  That is usually a toughie for second graders and I'm not holding it against them at this point.  I think the subject matter also helped too.  They know a lot about themselves and they had spent several days classifying and brainstorming information that would be helpful.

There is also an art component to this unit.  I had the students paint a watercolor portrait.  I have had my students do this every year because they turn out great and I love looking at them every day!  I keep them on display all year long and the kids take them home at the end of the year.

I was pretty excited when I created this unit, and now that I have used it with my class, I am excited to use it again next year.  I like to bundle it all up into a special keepsake book.  It's always a hit with the parents!

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The Desk Fairy Left YOU a Little {FREE} Treat!

If you're like me, you like a clean classroom, and that includes the inside of your students' desks.  Like many teachers, I use the mythical being known as the Desk Fairy, to help motivate my kids to stay clean and organized.

Our Desk Fairy is kind and gentle, but she can't stand the sight of a messy desk.  When she sees a clean desk, she shouts with joy and leaves a note and small treat behind.  Needless to say, the kids love it when she visits.

I know I'm not the first person to use the Desk Fairy concept, but I did want to share how I use this tool in my classroom. Many teachers leave a small sweet treat on a student's desk when he/she has been visited by the Desk Fairy. I used to be one of those teachers, that is, until our district adopted a policy prohibiting us from passing out sweets as a reward.  I can't even bake brownies when we earn Brownie Points!

Instead, I rely on the Dollar Spot at Target, the party favor section at Walmart, and our school's supply closet to find things that I can use to reward my students.  I try to vary the reward so that the organized kids stay motivated and the not so organized kids get inspired to be clean.  Here are some of the kinds of things students might earn over the course of the year for having a clean, organized desk:
  • silly band
  • bookmark
  • mechanical or "fun" pencil
  • special sticker (i.e. a 3D sticker, or those ones with googly eyes)
  • new pink eraser (I always have lots of these on hand from the supplies the kids bring in at the beginning of the year.  By mid-year, many of them are ready for a new one anyway!)
  • glue stick (this is popular when it's a bit later in the year and they are running out of glue)
  • a brand new crayon (I pass these out later in the year as well, once their original packs start getting yucky; sometimes I give them a box of 8, if we have enough in our supply room)
  • anything else I might stumble upon that I think the kids might like (and is cheap-tee hee!)
The Desk Fairy comes to visit periodically. I tell the kids that she does not have a set schedule.  This keeps the kids on their toes and it allows me to check their desks when I have the time to do so.  Also, I laminate the notes and have the students return them to me.  I tell them that the fairy reuses them so as not to waste paper.

I explain to the students that she is very selective when it comes to leaving behind a treat.  Translation: not everyone will get a note and a treat.  In order to get a reward a desk must be super clean, with everything in its place.  This means:
  • No loose papers (everything should be in its folder) 
  • No loose supplies (everything should be in the pencil box)
  • No trash or small pieces of paper strewn about the inside of the desk
  • No pencil shavings or eraser "jibs" strewn about either
The Desk Fairy will be visiting our classroom this week and I'm sure that the organized students will be pleased that she noticed their hard work.

Since you have read to the end of this post, the Desk Fairy has left you a nice, little treat!

You can grab this freebie from my Freebies tab.  Click here to get a free copy of my Desk Fairy notes.


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