Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Making It To Summer!!

Hey friends!
Quick post for you today!
Last year, I did a blog post series with some of my favorite things that I use in my classroom to help me make it to summer!  I was going to recap each individually over the next few weeks, but I figured, it'd be just as easy to give you links to all of them at one time!
Read one at a time, or read them all at once - it's up to you!
Part 1: Countdown to Summer
Part 2: End of Year Gift & Summer Games
Part 3: End of Year Award Medals
Part 4: Beach Day!
Each of my TPT products in the posts above will be on sale though Friday - so make sure to hop over to my TPT shop and grab them on sale!


Sunday, May 7, 2017

End of Year Behavior - It's all about the MINDSET!!

Happy Sunday friends!

I'm sure you're not quite ready to hit the ground running tomorrow to start a new week - but that just means we are one day closer to summer - so there's a good way to look at it!

I wanted to pop in and share an idea with you and a new freebie that's in my TPT store to help you with student behavior as we wind down the school year.

Throughout the post, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon tosses a few nickels my way if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you, that help keep my corner of cyber-space running!
For the past few weeks I have been using the phrase "show me how almost 3rd graders would..." when I am wanting my students to show me the right way to do something.  I usually try to follow that up with what I am expecting to see (quietly and quickly walking, looking forward, etc).  Most times this quick and easy phrase does the trick and they show me exactly how to walk in line, go back to their seats, whatever it is.

It's all about a mindset shift for them.  At this point in the year, they are eagerly anticipating summer and knowing that they are going to get to move up to the next grade level when they return to school. But with that comes a greater responsibility to act a certain way - that's what I tell them at least!  So when I saw "show me how almost 3rd graders would..." their mind shifts to acting like an older student would act.

But in the last 2-3 weeks of school, I add a visual reminder for them as well!  I am going to give each of my students a lanyard with a "3rd Grader in Training" name tag attached.  They will wear these each day and when they are not acting like a 3rd grader, they may lose their badge.  In addition to it saying "3rd Grader in Training", it also says "How am I doing?"  When other teachers on the hall see my students wearing these and see them acting responsibly, they can easily compliment their behavior and encourage them to keep up exactly what they are doing.  This verbal praise from another teacher (or better yet - the principal!!) is exactly what they need to hear.

Now, before I give my students these badges - before I even SHOW them to them - I have them sitting in a brown paper bag with a note on them.  I'll leave them there for a few days, if not a whole week before they find out whats in the bag.  I will refer to this bag throughout the week - "Oh, you know almost 3rd graders are the only ones that get to find out what's in the bag - if we can act like we are 3rd graders, then we'll find out whats in the bag."  Play it up really big - because to them - it could be a bag full of candy!

When I introduce them to my students - we most definitely will talk about what we should and should not do with our lanyards - and how they could lose their lanyard.  Putting them in their mouths is definitely NOT a 3rd grade behavior - so they would lose their badge.  Swinging them around in the air like a lasso is MOST definitely not a 3rd grade behavior, so they could lose their badge, and so on and so forth.

Now, at the end of the day, all of my students will return their lanyards to the hook where we are keeping them in the classroom.  And at the end of the year, I will bag them all up to keep for next year!  I found my lanyards over at Amazon and they seem to be good quality!  Hopefully they will stand up to my 2nds!

You can grab the freebie tags for Kinders in Training up to 6th Graders in Training over in my TPT shop!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

We "CAMP" Wait for Summer!! Can you?!?!

Happy Friday-eve friends!

Are you counting down the days till summer yet?  We have 25 days left - but there is so much to do between now and then!!  Assessments, report cards, countdown to summer, end of year activities, awards, and more!  But one thing I'm super excited about is our 2nd Grade Camp Day during the last week!

Last year, I did Beach Day as my end of year review classroom flip, but another teacher in my building did a very similar thing and so I wanted my kiddos to be able to have a different experience this year - thus Camp Day!

Throughout the post, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon tosses a few nickels my way if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you, that help keep my corner of cyber-space running!

I am going to transform our classroom into a campground complete with tent, lake, and even bears!  I found lots of ideas on Pinterest - so I'm excited to put it all together!
But behind every classroom transformation - there has to be some educational value!  On our camp day, my students will rotate through centers - Language Arts centers in the morning and Math centers in the afternoon.  Each center will be a campground with a fun camp name!

To set the ambience, I like to pull up a video with a "scene setter" as well as background noises to make us feel like we are really camping!  Here are a few YouTube Videos you might want to use as your scene setter on your whiteboard or classroom TV.  I like to run my videos through ViewPure to make sure we don't get any ads.

After a camping warm-up morning work and reviewing expectations for the day with my students, we will dive right into learning and having fun!  My students will be split into small groups to rotate through each of the centers.

For Crystal Lake Contractions - I'm going to set up a lake in my classroom!  Easy-peasy using blue bulletin board paper!

I even had my kiddos collect sticks for me at recess a few weeks back!  I've got to get them to collect some more for me soon so I can make a campfire!

In addition to having each of these language arts centers set up, I am also going to have a tent set up for students to read in - this will be Camp Read-A-Lot (camp sign included).  I found this AWESOME tent at Amazon for less than $20 - it should easily fit at least 5 kids - especially since they don't mind being close to each other!  It's super easy to assemble - took me maybe 10 minutes to set up in my living room one afternoon!  My kiddos also LOVE using finger flashlights each week for Flashlight Friday - so I got a new box of finger flashlights so they can have one to keep after Camp Day!

I'll keep the tent up in our room all day with a basket of books about summer and camping.  My kiddos love to read - so I know they'll be excited about getting to read in a tent!  I'll share suggested books later in this post.

After lunch, we'll have our math camp stations!

May favorite math center is the Build Your Own Campsite using arrays!  Students will get to design and create their own campsite using arrays - so all of the tents, cabins, lakes, etc for all students should be the same size - but they get to design the layout!
All of the centers are aligned to 2nd grade Common Core State Standards!  I have tried to include a wide variety of skills that I have taught my own kiddos this year.  And this isn't just a "fun" day of easy review centers - some of these will definitely get your kids into using their brain to problem solve.

What I love best about these centers is that the kids can check their own work!!!  It's the last few days of school - one of the last things I want to have to do is to go behind my students to check their work - ain't nobody got time for that!  So, all but one of the centers have self-checking QR codes so students can check their own work!

We have plenty of iPads in our classroom, and my students are very accustomed to using the QR code reader to access videos, articles, and now answer keys!  When students scan the QR code, they will access a screen with the answers in a plain text format so they can check their work.  My students will check their work with a marker so I can see as I am monitoring what they are getting wrong.

After students check their work - just like at camp - they will earn a badge!  I use brag tags in my classroom, so my students will earn their camp badges to wear on their brag tag necklace.  I have included both round and rectangle camp badges so you can choose what is best for your classroom.

I love the look of the circle camp badges - BUT - cutting all those circles gave me a nightmare just thinking about it!  But, Fiskars came to the rescue!  I got an XL Circle Hand Punch that allowed me to easily and quickly cut out all the camp badges in no time at all. 

If you don't use brag tags in your classroom, I have included camp badge collection sheets that students could put their badges on.  I'd suggest using 8.5x11 Avery label sheets so that these are like stickers for students - just cut out for students and they can add to their collection sheet.

I've also included LOTS of other goodies in this set to make for more than a days worth of camping fun in your classroom!

I mentioned earlier that I'm going to load my Camp Read-A-Lot tent up with a basket of books about summer and camping.  Here are some of the books that I'm going to include for our Camp Day reading!


What kinds of fun do you have planned for your students for the end of the year?


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Testing Candy Treats!

Hey friends!
Testing season is rapidly approaching - or you may already have started!  Here in NC, we don't start state standardized testing until 3rd grade, so my seconds don't have to do the standardized tests, but we do pair up with a 3rd grade class to provide encouragement - through candy!
This will be a quick little post - and a freebie included!
Each year each 2nd grade class pairs up with a 3rd grade class to encourage the 3rd graders on their EOG.  It is such a nerve-racking test for the kids and with it being their first time - we know they need a little encouragement.
So, we send up testing treats starting about a week before the tests.  the easiest way I have found to do this is to one large bag of candy with one tag - rather than individual.  I a couple of my students deliver the candy to our partner class and then the teacher can pass out the candy when she finds it convenient for her.
If you have students paired up, or if you are using these for your own students, I have also included smaller tags that you can attach as well.
Well that's about it friends!  Hop over to my TPT store to grab your testing treat tags!
Happy Hump Day!!


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Kahoot! for Spelling

Do you Kahoot?  My kids LOVE it and their faces light up every Thursday morning when I get the iPads out and they realize we are playing Kahoot!

First of all - you might be asking "what is Kahoot?"  Kahoot is a game-based learning platform that allows you to quiz your students on a variety of concepts.  This is a great platform to review a concept before a test or quiz.  We use this as a type of practice spelling test on Thursday before our actual spelling test on Friday.

How does it work?

First, you'll need to set up an account at  Setting up a quiz is easy and Kahoot will even walk you through the set up.  You can find quizzes made by other teachers or you can create your own.  You input your questions and then up to 4 choices for answers.  At least one must be marked correct, as this is how student accuracy and points is determined.  After you set up your questions and answers, you save, and then your ready to play.

How do I utilize Kahoot for spelling?

I utilize Kahoot! for spelling by making my students become very careful word detectives as they read the 4 choices of a word spelling and have to determine which one is correct.  I have created quizzes for almost all of our spelling units that align with our spelling curriculum.  Some weeks we will have multiple spelling patterns that make the same sound but use different letters (such as air and are in the images below), so students have to determine which pattern is the one for that word.

When it's time to play you will login into your Kahoot! account, select the game you want to play, and choose the way you want to play.  We play Classic, since I am 1:1.  If you want students to play in groups, you can also choose that option.

Students will then see this screen projected that will have their game pin.  Students will input this code to join your game.  That will keep others from all over the word joining the game you are playing.  

As students login on their devices they will choose a username.  I usually make students put their first name only, but if they choose to do a silly name - I can delete them and make them log in again.  They will have a  confirmation screen on their device that says they are logged in and their name will display on the board.

What students see on their device when they log in:

Once everyone is logged in it's time to begin!

Because I tell the students the word that they are choosing the spelling for, all of my questions are the same "How do you spell...?"

After the question is displayed, the time begins to choose the answer.  Students will see this screen on their device for EVERY question.

But - the words will be different on the board!
For Question #1, students are deciding the correct spelling of the word "square".  I do sometimes get a little funny with my misspelled spellings and the kids enjoy it!  I sometimes try to channel my inner 2nd grader and think of some of the misspelled sounds that they make in addition to including our different weekly spelling patterns.

You can also trick them by making two answer choices correct!  I don't have one pictured, but sometimes I get so stumped on funky ways to spell the spelling word that I just make 2 choices correct and spell the word correctly for 2 answers.  Because I have selected both of these choices to be correct, any students that choose either of these get it correct.

You can change the amount of time that students have to answer the question.  I have mine set to 30 seconds and most times all answers are in within 10-15 seconds.  Once every has answers, Kahoot! will automatically show the correct answer and how many students got the answer correct.

Woohoo! I got it right! haha
In class though - we do celebrate it everyone gets one right!

At the top right, you see the "Next" button.  By clicking that, you'll be taken to the scoreboard screen.  Students get answers for getting the correct answer as well as how quickly they answer (you can turn that off though).  My students LOVE competing against each other and themselves to up their score and get on the leaderboard.

We go through all of our spelling words in the same fashion.  I usually do between 10-12 words depending on the list, which sometimes leaves us time to play GHOSTMODE!  After you have played one round of a Kahoot! game, you'll have the option to play Ghostmode.  The order of the questions will be the same, but you'll have twice as many players because each player has a ghost.  So my 22 players in my first round would become 44 players during Ghostmode.

In Ghostmode, students are competing against their ghost, as well as their peers to get on the leaderboard.  We have figured out that the ghosts are their score from the first game, so we make it a class goal to improve our score and keep those ghosts off the leaderboard.

Be warned - this is not a quiet game!  I do try to make my kids keep their excitement and agony (when they realize they picked a word to quick and chose the wrong one) to indoor voices - but it doesn't always work.  But, I can guarantee that your kids will LOVE this game and don't even get upset that they are practicing spelling words (or whatever other subject you choose!).

Do you Kahoot?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Meet Gerald: The Easiest Class Pet in Town!

Meet Gerald the Giraffe - our class (stuffed) pet!!  Isn't he the cutest?

Back in January, I got an "itch" to have a class pet for my kiddos - but I've been there done that years ago with a hermit crab and I didn't want a living class pet - it needed to be a stuffed animal - so after searching high and low for the best one, I found our Gerald on Amazon!

Throughout the post, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon tosses a few nickels my way if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you, that help keep my corner of cyber-space running!

So, Gerald stays in our classroom during the week and on Fridays he rides home with a kiddo in his bag along with his journal.  

Inside the front cover of the journal, I have some directions for parents and then at the end of the weekend, the kids write about what they did with Gerald that weekend.  Hind sight is 20/20 - next year I'll do a better job of setting expectations for student writing in the journal each week.  I didn't want to make it another homework assignment, but we struggle to write complete sentences (all the time!), so I've got to make sure I set the expectations better next year!

The first weekend, Gerald went to Taekwondo with one of my sweet girls.  She fed him snack at Taekwondo and then they went to Applebees for dessert.  They had to go to their babysitter's house for a little while and then on Sunday she took him to church to learn about Jesus!

The next weekend Gerald got to go to the Park, Farmer's Market.  While at the park, he got to play soccer and Pokemon. Then he had to come back to school on Monday!

Yay!  We got pictures!  The kids are encouraged to take pictures of what they do with Gerald to add to the journal.  This weekend, he got to play at the playground with one of my sweeties and her little sister.  They played on the swings and the slide.  Gerald had a blast!

Now...this one is my favorite so far!  The family who was taking Gerald home this weekend was going to the NC Mountains to go snow tubing and have some fun in the snow.  BUT, my sweet kiddo accidentally left Gerald at home - so he didn't get to join in on the fun!  So instead of Gerald having fun snow tubing, mom emailed me that Gerald had a weekend with their dogs!

His journal entry made me laugh!

I had a bad time with Gerald because he was at home while I was in the cabin with my friends for my mom's birthday part in Boone, snow tubing.  
We felt bad for Gerald so we made him think he went with us.

Photoshop is an amazing thing!  The family sent down an empty snow tube for Gerald and then photoshopped him in when they got home!  I LOVE IT!

I manage all of my parent sign-ups on Sign Up Genius.  Directions and info for parents goes in at the top and then parents can scroll to the bottom to select the weekend they want to host Gerald.  Then on Friday, I check to see who Gerald is spending the weekend with and off he goes!  

This is seriously the EASIEST class pet in town and my kids enjoy seeing what Gerald does on the weekend.

On Mondays, when Gerald returns to school, we take a couple minutes during our morning routine for the child who took him home to share with us what they did.
What's Gerald up to this weekend?!?!  Well, we tracked out for 2 weeks for our spring break/track-out  on Friday, so today Gerald is jetting off to Florida with me and hoping on a Disney Cruise tomorrow! Can't wait to share pictures with the kiddos when we get back!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Leprechauns Are Poppin' Up Everywhere!

Hi friends!!
Happy Birthday to 2 wonderful people - Dr. Seuss and my Grandma!  My grandma passed away in April 2013 and I miss her everyday.  But, she always treasured children and reading with children, so I think it is very fitting that she shares a birthday with Dr. Seuss!

Happy Birthday in Heaven Grandma!
Throwin' it waaaayyyy back!!  This is probably in 1990 or 1991 - my cousin Lillie, me, and my Grandma!

Now that Read Across America week is almost behind us, it's time for those little pesky Leprechauns to start popping up everywhere!  This year, I will be tracked-out from school during the week leading up to St. Patrick's Day, so I won't be able to do all the fun things that come with this famous green day, but that doesn't mean we won't be missing out on all the fun.

Throughout the post, you’ll find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon tosses a few nickels my way if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you, that help keep my corner of cyber-space running!

This activity is perfect if you are studying money - something we started today!  With this fun 3-D craftivity, students are given a cloud with a money amount.  They have to use coins to make the amount on the pot.  Then, you use strips of construction paper to make the rainbow.  We did this last year and it was a huge hit and made for a very colorful bulletin board!

Up next is a new language arts and writing craftivity project!

Grab the book on Amazon!

There are lots of different activity sheets you can have your kiddos do with this project.  You don't have to have the book to do all of the activities in this set, but it definitely will provide your kiddos with some inspiration!

Then there comes the crafting part - my favorite part!  There is a head, feet, and hands included.  There are lots of ways to display the craft with your students' work.

Just the head and hands...

Or just the feet...

Or put both of them together!

Last up are March Math Centers!  Since we will be out of school for 2 weeks of March, we started our March math centers this past Monday.  February has been so long and the weather is looking and feeling like spring, why not start the next month's centers a couple days early?!?!

It's almost Friday - we can make it to the weekend!