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Friday, December 18, 2015

Grinch Week Recap

Hello friends - I don't know about you but I've officially made it to Christmas break!  We had an early release today and about 12:20 my principal came over the intercom and told us that all the K-4 kiddos had left so we could too.  It was a mass exit to the parking lot!  We have a nice, long 3-week track-out and return to campus January 11th. 
But, before we could make it to track-out we had a week full of activities all about your favorite Mr. Grinch!  
My kids arrived Monday morning to the beginning of our Grinch/Elf shenanigans
Each morning we did some sort of comprehension activity to go along with the book - comprehension questions, moral of the story, retell - and then Grinch themed centers.  My kiddos are used to 3 rounds (total of 45 minutes) for Daily 5 centers each day, and we did 4 rotations this week, so I was pleasantly surprised with how well they worked on their centers - mostly focused and relatively quiet!  
Centers were a review of skills including Common/Proper Noun sort, ABC order, cause/effect, syllable sort, and more.  We even added in a center Tuesday and Wednesday of making and wrapping our presents for parents - handprinted wooden ornaments - turned out great, forgot to take pictures!
When I came up with the idea originally of having Grinch Day a couple years ago, I had wanted to also incorporate Random Acts of Kindness for adults in our school who don't always get thanked for what they do, let alone get Christmas gifts from kiddos like teachers do.  Last year, it just didn't happen and looking back, I wish I had done it because it turned out to be a great lesson.
Tuesday and Wednesday this week during our intervention block, which is right after lunch, we made Christmas cards for a total of 8 individuals or groups of adults in our school.  We attached their cards to a box of Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes and then delivered them. 
The looks on my kiddos faces when we returned from delivering the treats was priceless - they felt so happy to have done something for someone else - what Christmas is about!

Who did we thank?  Our...
school secretary
maintenance guys (3)
TA who organizes hot lunch and carpool
2nd grade interventionist
technology guys (2)
security officer
Thursday finally rolled around which was Grinch Day.  Our kiddos wore green shirts, jeans and Santa hats - they usually wear uniforms so this was a treat!
After going at it all week, they finally became friends and sat down to read a book - the Grinch's favorite :)
The day seemed to fly by...
We watched the movie
Ate our Whobiliation Snack
"Roast Beast" sandwiches - Kings Hawaiian Rolls, ham, and cheese

"Who Hash" - Bo Rounds, or big tater tots, from Bojangles - should have gotten more of these, they were the crowd favorite!

Cucumbers and Green Grapes

Green Kool-Aid Jammers
No sugar crash happening for this teacher - less sugar makes for a happy teacher.  After lunch and eating cupcakes was a different story though!
Made Grinch Dust (1/4 cup sugar, 2 drops of yellow and 2 drops of blue food coloring)

We also added some green glitter that I found in my closet after everyone's sugar had turned green.
Watched some more of the movie
Worked on a directed drawing of the Grinch
Went to PE, Art, had lunch and watched some more of the movie
Did our quarterly and Class Dojo awards
Had our holiday book exchange
Finished our Grinch directed drawings
Finished up the movie while they colored their Grinch!
The kids had a blast and I was exhausted when I got home!
Throughout the day my kiddos (and I) added all kinds of Christmas and Grinch goodies to their personalized Grinch bags.  I set these up around my room and they make it so much easier for them to keep track of things like their Grinch Dust, gifts for parents, and more!  I added leftover candy, Christmas pencils, a Christmas Break Reading Challenge from Swimming Into Second, and few other goodies throughout the day.
What a wonderful Grinchy week we had!
Does your school do Grinch Day?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Planning for December!

Hello friends! 
It is so hard to believe that it is November 28th and that December is 3 days away!  Where has this year gone?  I do hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday and are ready for my favorite time of year - Christmas!!  There is something magical about Christmas and I think I feel it more since I work with 7/8 year olds every day.  Seeing their excitement about Santa, gifts, goodies, our Elf on the Shelf, and more, makes Christmas that much more magical.  Since I don't yet have children of my own, I get to sort of experience Christmas through them - which makes it much more fun!
Now that Black Friday is out of the way, and you may (or may not) have started (and maybe finished) or Christmas shopping, it's time to think about what you are going to do with your kiddos for the next month.  We have 14.5 school days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, and I know I've got to keep them engaged and learning so that I don't go crazy (well, that might happen anyways!)
So, I've loaded up my planning and copies box with all sorts of Christmas activities for language arts, writing, math, and even our Grinch Week the last week of school.
Check out some of the resources I made for my classroom for December below:
(click any picture to go to see all of my Christmas products in my TPT store)

Christmas with your Favorite Cats - companion activities to go along with Christmas books about Bad Kitty, Pete the Cat, and Splat the Cat

Judy Moody & Stink - The Holly Joliday - book study and craft for a short chapter book all about Christmas wishes and show

Christmas Jammies Fun - 5 ELA and 5 Math Centers
Topics Covered:
ELA - type of sentence/punctuation, noun sort, ABC order, possessive nouns, and facts/opinions
Math - double-digit addition/subtraction with and w/o regrouping, making numbers, word problems, spin tally and graph, and geometry/shapes

Rockin' Reindeer - 12 Math Centers
Topics Covered:
true/false equations, 3-digit numbers place value, double digit addition and subtraction, hundreds board hidden picture, skip counting, word problems, money, measurement, quantity discrimination, and fractions

Our Classroom has an Elf - perfect if you do Elf on a Shelf in your classroom!  Daily morning work pages/journal along with other Christmas activities and elf craftivity

Elf Writing Craftivity - this craft is included in the Our Classroom Has an Elf set - so don't buy both!! Check out my class' elves in action on our bulletin board.  We made our elves this past week when we had a couple short days.  That way, when we come back after Thanksgiving - we are ready for Christmas!

I'm sure that we are like many other schools that integrate The Polar Express or How the Grinch Stole Christmas into some of their holiday celebrations.  We celebrate Grinch Week Monday - Thursday of our last week of school with our Grinch Day being our culminating activity on Thursday of that week.  We will watch the movie, have a "Who feast" snack, hold our holiday book exchange and more!

Both products above included TONS of ELA and Math activities that can be used in a center as well as some other goodies to keep your kids occupied and learning during the final days leading up to your Christmas vacation.

Now friends, I'm sure many of you are like me and love a sale!  Were you a before the crack of dawn Black Friday, or even shopping with a turkey leg in one hand on Thursday looking for a deal?
Did you know that TPT is having a sale too!  Monday and Tuesday my entire store will be 20% off.  But WAIT, THERE'S MORE (cue commercial voice)!!  TPT will be offering an additional percentage off with the promo code: SMILE, so you can get a total of 28% off!

Happy shopping and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

12 Books of Christmas Giveaway

Hey y'all (yes, I'm from the south!)
I'm Allyson from Going Strong in 2nd Grade and I teach at a public charter school in North Carolina.  I've been teaching 2nd grade for 5 years and blogging for a couple years now.  I'm excited to be teaming up with 11 other AMAZING bloggers to share some of our favorite Christmas and holiday books in a fun 12 Books of Christmas Blog Hop!

Along with FREEBIES for each book, we are also giving away a copy of each book. Make sure you read all the way to the end of this post to find out how to WIN!

One of my favorite book characters is Splat the Cat.  Splat is always getting into trouble of some sort and has a mouse as his best friend - my kids find this strange.  So my book is Merry Christmas, Splat by Rob Scotton.

In this book, Splat begins writing his letter to Santa to tell him how good he has been during the past year, only for his sister to remind him that he hasn't been all that good.  So, what would any cat (or child) do in the days leading up to Christmas - try to be super helpful of course!  But, if you know Splat, his help isn't all that much help.  Come Christmas Eve, Splat is a furry ball full of worry that Santa won't visit his house that he stays up all night to watch for Santa.  But we all know Santa always sneaks in and out without being seen.  Christmas morning is quite a surprise for a tired Splat, and like always, the story ends on a happy note that'll keep your kids smiling.

So, I've got a little freebie to share with you that goes along with Merry Christmas Splat.  A couple weeks ago, we did an activity with cause & effect and my kids looked like deer in headlights, so we've been tying cause & effect into our lessons since then and they are really starting to become cause & effect experts.  This freebie is a cause & effect chart that will have your students identifying causes or effects for different events that happened in the book.

This activity is a part of a larger set all about some of our favorite cat book characters at Christmas.  The freebie above (only found here on my blog) is included in my "Christmas With Your Favorite Cats" set.  This product can be found in my TPT store!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Before you hop onto see my sweet friend, Tori over at Tori's Teacher Tips, don't forget to grab my number! Each blogger will have a number at the end of his/her post. Collect all the numbers along the way, and when you're done, add them all up and enter the total number in the Rafflecopter below!

Click on the image above to hop over to Tori's blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pumpkin Week!!

We've had a busy week in 2nd grade this week!

We had Pumpkin Week Monday through Thursday and then went on a field trip today.  So...this teacher is T.I.R.E.D but satisfied with all of the fun and learning we had this week!

We started the Pumpkin Week fun last Friday.  We had an Early Release day so families could enjoy the NC State Fair without pulling their child from school, so after we finished up some things from our Spider unit, we "planted" pumpkin seeds to germinate.  The kids were so excited to see what would happen to their seeds.   We ended up having quite a few to germinate, so they got to take their seeds home yesterday to plant and try to grow a pumpkin.

I forgot to take "after" pictures, but here is a video clip of some excited kiddos checking out their seeds Wednesday morning - 5 days after "planting".

We did all of our pumpkin fun at the beginning of this week focused in Language Arts.

We kicked Monday off with a nonfiction book called Pumpkin Circle about the life cycle of a Pumpkin.  The photographs in this book are awesome.

After reading Pumpkin Circle, we did an activity with Main Idea - a concept we did before track-out back in September - so it was time to cycle back to it again to jog their memory.  They did a good job coming up with the main idea and finding details to support the main idea.

On Monday we also did a KWL about pumpkins as well as using adjectives to describe pumpkins by size, color, shape, and texture.  It was a full 40 minutes of Language Arts on Monday -we were almost late to specials!

On Tuesday we read a book with one of my favorite characters - Splat the Cat!
We read Splat the Cat and the Pumpkin Picking Plan to talk about author's purpose.

Obviously Rob Scotton writes all of his books to entertain his readers, but I made them come up with some details from the book as to what was entertaining.  We brainstormed together and worked on writing our details as a class.  Then they got to color (their favorite part) and put their pumpkin together!

Wednesday we read one other pumpkin fiction book called Pumpkin Town and retold the story using Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then.

We worked on the top chart together retelling the story.  I have used SWBST with some of my reading groups, but not everyone had used this retelling strategy before, so there was a good bit of guidance with them helping me fill in the boxes.  Then, I gave them time to transfer the information from the chart to their retelling paragraph.  Maybe this strategy will stick, but I'm sure I'll have to keep going back to it.

I only wish I had had time to read all of the pumpkin books I had - we had so much going on there wasn't time to touch even half of them unfortunately.  Note to self for next year - gotta read more of them :)

During our excel intervention time this week, we had a pumpkin twist - seems only right!
We made life cycle of a pumpkin flip books!

We did read a couple books with one of my groups that covered the life cycle a little more in addition the Pumpkin Circle we had read on Monday.  Most of my kids didn't know about the Green Pumpkin stage.

Then, came Thursday - the day - Pumpkin Day!

After a couple of assessments we had to complete, we finished our Pumpkin Diagrams that we started on Wednesday.  We have been talking about diagram and labels a lot recently between spiders and now pumpkins.  While they colored, I set up our Pumpkin Taste Test snack!

Mixed review on this picture of the inside of the pumpkin I had taken for them last weekend - some said "eeewww" and some said "cool!".  I love how it looks, so I'm with the "cool!" kids on this one!

I wish I hadn't been so busy passing out snack, doing our graphing, and dealing with a fire drill (of course!) to take pictures of all our pumpkin food.

Because we were doing some graphing of our favorite pumpkin treats, I made my kids take at least one taste of the following so they could pick their favorite:
Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Pie
Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Swirl Bread
Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

The favorite was the swirl bread.  I have quite a few picky eaters this year, plus 7 and 8 year olds haven't all acquired a taste for pumpkin quite yet, but they loved this bread!

Then I let them choose if they wanted to try the following:
Krispy Kreme Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts (MY FAVE!!!)
Apples with Pumpkin Fluff (most just wanted the apples - okay - more fluff for me!)
Keebler Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripe Cookies

Needless to say - they had tons of sugar - which probably explains part of their hyper-ness that came later in the day - I should have known better.  We also made pumpkin hats with facts about pumpkins - I let them loose on this one, no guidance at all - so it was interesting to read their facts!

After lunch, we became scientists and mathematicians!  We covered our tables and pulled out our pumpkins.  A couple had rotted, so I was glad I had extras so that each table could have one.

For each activity, they would estimate and then actually measure/count.

So we started by estimating the height of their pumpkins using unifix cubes, tens sticks, as well as inches.  Then they got to use the tools to measure.  We haven't covered measurement this year, so considering that, they did well with this activity.

I LOVED how this table decided to measure the height of their pumpkin with the unifix cubes - I hadn't thought about going across to make sure that they had the height right.

We also measured the circumference of our pumpkins and talked about the right tool to measure around the pumpkin - and guess who forgot to bring the right tool to school?!?!  This teacher!  So, we modified and I pulled some old Christmas curling ribbon out of the closet, they worked together to measure around the pumpkin, and then cut it, and then we laid it up against a yardstick (or 2!) to find their circumference.

After measuring the height and circumference, we moved on to weighing our pumpkins.  Unfortunately, but fortunately, the scale I ordered to weigh our pumpkins did arrive in time (it came today - ugh!).  BUT, since our school nurse is directly across the hall and she has a doctor's office scale in her room, she was nice enough to let us pull it in the hall to weigh our pumpkins and it actually turned out better!  So Nurse Sami for the win!!
After each group weighed their pumpkin we ranked them from lightest to heaviest.  Two groups were tied at 11 pounds, followed by an 19 pounder, and our biggest pumpkin at 22 pounds!

We then did a quick Sink or Float experiment with a big storage box full of water and one of the pumpkins.  Almost all of them thought it would sink, so it ended up being a good lesson about how the inside is hollow and the air keeps it from sinking below the surface.

Then, came the most time consuming, and loud part of our afternoon - cutting the pumpkins open and counting all the seeds.  As I carved each table's pumpkin open, I talked to them about strategies for counting their seeds.  They were going to put them in groups of ten, circle the ten, and then move on. That would help them when it came time for counting.

"YUCK!  Pumpkin guts!"

"This feels awesome!"


And the counting begins...

By the time it was all said and done, this table came in at the winner with 583 seeds!  Of course, it was the 22 pound pumpkin too!

Little tip for you - as I was helping this last group count their seeds, to make sure that we didn't count a group twice, as I helped them count, we moved 10 groups of 10 seeds into piles of 100.  Then once we had all the groups grouped and counted, it was easy to count the hundreds, tens, and ones.  Goes back to place value - wish I had thought of it WAY earlier to help the other groups count their seeds!

And that was our pumpkin week and day!

Did I get to everything I wanted to do?

Did I get to everything I made for my Punkin' Day unit?
Not even close!

Did my kids have fun?

Did my kids learning something?

And those last two are what matters most.  At the end of every special day like this, I always go "Why am I doing this to myself?"  But then I have to think about these two last questions.  If they learned something and they had fun, then it was worth it - messy floors and all.  Seeing their excitement this week over something has simple as sprouting pumpkin seeds made me realize why I went into teaching.  They were exploring something new and that was so exciting for them and me.

Where did I get all of these activities for Pumpkin Week from you ask?
You can find them in my It's Punkin' Day unit in my TPT Store!

Now I'm off to finish some updates to my Grinch Day unit, enjoy some Friday night shows, and hit the sack!  Big football game tomorrow and looking forward to that extra hour of sleep tomorrow night!

Have a great weekend y'all!