Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breakin' It Down

Laura Candler over at Corkboard Connections is having a link up!

She has great tips on organizing and running your math centers. You will also find tons of great freebies to fill your math station so head on over and check it out!

Using math stations has really helped my kids have fun while they master their facts.  They love the play and I love the practice. Here's a freebie pack of activities based on some addition strategies to get things rolling in your math stations!  Just click the pic to download.
Speaking of rolling, if you are like me and the thought of dice ricocheting off the ceiling (not that I've ever experienced anything like that) makes you break out in hives, I've got the perfect solution! 
Drop your dice into clear travel containers and be rid of renegade dice forever!  Be sure to use foam dice unless you want to integrate a music lesson involving maracas into your math stations.  
 I found these eraser dice at Target in the back to school stuff and they work perfectly.  Leave these in a basket with the Shake, Rattle, and Roll recording sheet and your kids will be ready to shake away!

I use addition strategies when it comes to tackling the math facts because my kids can get easily overwhelmed.  Quite frankly, so can I.

 Their eyes get glazed over as they stare at the huge deck of flashcards that need to be memorized.  

That's why I like to break it down.  I like to give them a small set of facts and a strategy to use.  This gives us the chance to master a small set, do the happy dance, and move on to the next set while we are in the groove.  If we have to wait until we have memorized this

to do the happy dance...there's not a whole lot of dancing going on and  A LOT.  Like I said, break-it-down (totally said in my best rapper voice...and yes I'm wearing gold chains).
In addition to visiting math stations, my kids love to play Around the World.  I used to try to pick out all the cards that went with my strategies, but that made me crazy since the cards are two sided.  I ended up making my own sets based on the strategies I use.  Click the pic below to download the Doubles, Doubles +1, and Make a Ten strategies set.  If you don't know how to play Around the World you can find the directions on this great site along with other games that can be played to practice math facts!  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Does Your Pup Measure Up? intention was to join Soaring Through Second's 
and tell you how cute and sweet this little pup is...
but then I found this
and this
and you know how teachers feel about their toilet paper rolls.    They must be hoarded collected and preserved and repurposed into amazing craftivities.  
So the words cute and sweet were not coming to mind. 

Christmas before last I had a moment of weakness...and her name was Izzi.  Just as I had planned the kids thought she was the BEST Christmas present ever.  And just as I had planned it has really helped them learn some mean you didn't see them in the picture cleaning up after their beloved pet?  Oh I'm sure it's because they were busy doing homework or cleaning their bedrooms. 

Puppies may not be great for collecting crafting supplies but they are great for measuring!  Especially after reading Measuring Penny.
Have you read this great book to your class?
It's perfect for getting your students pumped up about measurement because everyone loves puppies (well almost everyone). I created an activity pack that's a great follow up to this book. Click the pic to check it out. 

This activity covers five 2nd grade CCSS for measurement and data.  Have your kids bring their favorite "stuffed' pet and let the measuring begin!  


Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Heart's a Flutter!

It happened again...I went in for milk.  JUST milk.  Then suddenly, the buggy was being guided by some invisible force.  I struggled against it (I promise I did) and I tried to get back on course.  I mentally repeated my mantra.  I just need milk.  I just need milk.  I just need milk.  And somehow I ended up in theTarget  Dollar Spot {GASP}.  I know.  It's shocking.  
But since I was there I had to look.  
And when I look I always find something.  
And when I find it...well, you know what happens then.  SO, I ended up with
I was so excited about my finds that I almost forgot THIS.
I waffled a little on the butterfly catchers because I didn't know exactly what I needed them for and those dollars add up (not that I ever have a problem with that happening).  I'm so glad I got them because they are just perfect for "catching" compound words!  Really they could catch all kinds of things, vowel sounds, sight words, antonyms...the possibilities are endless so head to the dollar spot and grab some!  
Click the pic to check out Capture the Compound.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jump Into Writing

Last month I guest posted over at Teaching in High Heels about some writing magic tricks.  Just in case you missed it here's a recap!  

Let me introduce you to my little writing friends...frogs!  Not the kind you have to kiss but the kind that will make you want to kiss your students when you read their amazing word choices!

These guys are perfect for helping your kiddos jump right into using a thesaurus!  Others will be GREEN with envy over your students' great splendiferous, magnificent, adept writing skills.  After making the Frogs on a Log class book, your kiddos will know how to fill their writing with juicy words that will jump right out and grab the reader!

To get started, we review our INSTEAD OF SAID chart that we have been adding to all year.  When we read we are always looking for words authors use in place of said.  Then we talk about how important it is to use exact words to relay our meaning when we write.  Words that give us all the juicy details!  After reminding them that "said is dead" I read this great story:
We brainstorm ways we can find new words to use when our words seem tired and overused and boring.  Enter the magical thesaurus!  We have one in the back of our english book that we use, but any thesaurus will do. Here's a great printable pocket thesaurus from Mrs. Winston!  

After going over the parts of the thesaurus, I let the class work in groups to complete pages that we put together to make a class book called Frogs on a Log. 
The first frog on each page has a speech bubble with a word inside.  To complete their page, the group has to look the first frog's word up in the thesaurus and fill out the rest of the text by using the synonyms they find for that word.  They also have to replace the "dead said" in each sentence.  After they have filled in the text, they have to illustrate the faces on the frogs to match what the frogs are saying.  We make funny frog faces (it's not my best look but whatever makes it stick right?) and I draw some examples to show them how different facial features can express what the frogs are saying.  When they finish I put all the pages together and read our collaborative story!  

It's always a favorite in the class library. They beg to check it out so they can take it home and read it to their family.  I love it when that happens!  Just click on the picture above to download a copy and let the magical frogs go to work!

I'd love to give you a happy ending right here.  
The kind of ending where I put on my glass slippers and run off to a place where my students immediately apply the skills I diligently teach motivated by an intrinsic desire to strengthen their writing ability, but...
this is not Cinderella's world.  

Nope, this is the real world where my great innovative, thrilling, awe-inspiring lesson might not be applied right away {GASP} and It might need a little help from something sugar coated.  If clicking my heels three times doesn't do the trick I might or might not reach into my bag of treats and pull out a little something extra to make it stick...
That's right.  I follow up my by introducing this little guy.  He's small but don't underestimate his power.  
Cinderella has her fairy godmother...I have Mr. Bubblegum.  For those of you who don't know, that's the hubs, and he draws for a living.  And for me (when I bribe him). He came up with this little character that I just love!  After talking about juicy words I introduce SUPER JUICY.  My kids know he's always on the lookout for JUICY words in their writing and when he finds them he leaves a treat behind.  
You can make your very own Super Juicy labels by grabbing a clipart pack at Mr. Bubblegum's Teacher's Notebook store.  Print out a sheet of labels and slap these on your kids rough drafts for your very own motivational magic!  I have tons of them ready to go in my teacher drawer, right next to my Editing Ed.

Happy writing!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Earthworm Investigation and an Earth Day Giveaway!

Brace yourself...this post involves something wiggly and sort of slimy...but you must put your squeamishness aside for the sake of science.
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to investigate some of the earth's BFF's.  That's right.  WORMS! 
Earlier I posted about some great worm books.  You can read about them here.
Today we're going live.  I'm talkin' creepy-crawly-slimy-the-wigglier-the-better-live!
Nestled between cries of that's gross and a collective chorus of ewwws is some of the BEST learning.  You know I'm right even if you freshly manicured self wants to deny it.  So let's dig in.

To build background knowledge and find some great info on the anatomy of a worm check out this link.   The kids will get to know Squirmin' Herman from head to toe!
Now you are ready to grab a bucket of worms and start investigating.
I put together an investigation guide for the kids to fill in as they work.  Click the pic to check it out.

Now you are ready to measure,

make obstacle courses, 

and scientific observations!

For some other great Earth Day ideas and some AWESOME giveaways check out

She has SEVEN great bloggers giving stuff away and you don't want to miss out!  Hurry on over and get  signed up it ends Saturday at 10:00.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Word Work Wednesday

I know it's 10:55 BUT it's still Wednesday right?'s a little word work and since it's poetry month let's start with a poem.  This is great for inferring.  If you leave off the title and cover the last two words you can have all kinds of fun trying to guess who has a house like this!

It hasn't any windows
It hasn't any doors
Although it has a ceiling
It hasn't any floors
'Twas built without a builder
A hammer or a nail
Because you see this funny house
Belongs to Mr. Snail.

Author unknown

Now on to the word work.  Use this freebie to build ai words on the snail's trail. Click the picture to download.

Happy Word Making!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Digging in to Literature

Earth Day is coming up and I don't need an excuse to play in the dirt!  
I LOVE it when learning gets messy in a good way.  
This is one of my favorite stories.  It's written from the earthworm's perspective and it's perfect for practicing inference and text-to-self connection strategies. 
Check out my literature response activities on TPT for a great follow up to this story!
Wiggling Worms at Work is a perfect non-fiction companion to Diary of a Worm.  This read aloud helps build background knowledge and has some great information to share with the kids before we start our investigation into the wonderful world of worms!
Come back later this week for some live worm action...

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