Friday, September 20, 2013

5 for Friday

Happy Friday! 
This week we're linking up again with Doodle Bug teaching for her weekly linky party :) Here's whats on my mind this week.

1. MEALWORMS. I feel like these things never change into beetles. Seriously. Mine always shrivel up and die. What am I doing wrong?? Good thing my kids never really realize that-- they just think they are "shedding their skin" ..... still.

2. Everyday Math. Does your school use EDM? At the beginning of the year I am always STRUGGLING to get my 2nd graders able to complete the activities and the workbook without LOTS of help from me.  I really think it takes until December for the students (and teacher) to stop feeling stressed about this program and start seeing the benefits. By the end of the year, I LOVE it! In the fall...not so much.

3. What a cute idea from Cara Carroll! She made coinapillars with coin clip art that the students count up. I have a bunch of coin stampers in different amounts and decided to let them make their out coinapillars with varying amounts. It made for a great math center while I was helping with those workbooks!

4. Another fun math center! I am always striving to make math center really fun and engaging (with an accountability piece as well) so that I can really focus on helping kids/reteaching instead of monitoring behaviors during math centers.  We don't typically do measurement for another couple months but this is an easy way to get them familiar with the idea and vocab :)

5. Self portraits. This is one of my favorite things to do in the beginning of the year. I love hanging them up on the wall with their names as a little display of "our class." I do them at the end of the year as well and then send them home together so parents can see the growth. WOW! A child's growth can REALLY been seen through their artwork.

and 6. (can I do a #6??) I can't wait to spend my weekend up north with my family! I mean, look how pretty Traverse City is in the fall :) I have a feeling it's going to a good one.

Hope you have a good one too :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Henry and Mudge Mania

My low little buddies LOVE Henry and Mudge. Especially at the beginning of the year. I think that it really appeals to them because it looks like a chapter book but it has pictures and is on their reading level.  Nothing is sadder than having to hand a kid one of those tiny little pattern books when everyone else is getting a chapter book-- saddness!!

I kinda love doing Henry and Mudge books for my guided reading (which I call Book Clubs because...they pretty much are? right?) I think that they are fun, they provide for a lot of connections between text and self and they tell enough of a story where retelling is a bit of challenge (unlike some books that are just too short) and we are able to discuss what is happening.  And of course, they are at a low enough reading level (I find that they are mostly between level J-N for Fountas and Pinnell) that they my kiddos can actually read them!

I've spend some time putting together some Henry & Mudge Units for my kids. I always read them every year so I decided to actually organize what I had and what I like to use into one neat little packet. I like to just print out all the worksheets, vocab, craft instructions, ect. all at once for the entire book, put a pretty cover on it, staple like a book and give one to each kid. This saves me TONS of time because once I print the packet, I don't have to prepare something for my guided reading. Depending on how long you meet with your group each day, this usually take me about 2 weeks per book. No making copies or preparing anything for guided reading for 2 weeks! Yaye! Another awesome thing is that I can use the Henry and Mudge packs now for my mid-level kids and then when my low-mid-level kids get better, I can use it with them in a couple months. Of course, I then use it with my low readers later on in the year. So pretty much, I'm just spending a LOT of time with Henry and Mudge :)

Henry & Mudge the 1st Book Craftivity :) Isn't Mudge so cute?? You could make him with construction paper too. Templates are provided in the Unit.

Henry & Mudge in Puddle Trouble Unit
Henry and Mudge the First Book
Cold Shivers Unit! Just finished this one :)

Craft for Puddle Trouble

Craft for puddle trouble- I forgot to take a pic after she glued her writing to the kitten box :( But how cute are her little kittens??

Just did this craft for the cold shivers :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Small group planning, and all that jazz...

It's always this time of year when I think, just maybe, I might pull my hair out. I love the beginning of the year planning, diving into your very first whole class novel, filling the days with rich review, reading, and just getting to know each other. It's right when you've hit that sweet spot that the beginning of the year assessment smacks you in the face. You spend hours, days even, reviewing the data, grouping and regrouping the kids, and making 8 different small group plans to best meet everyone's needs. Whether it's best practice or not, I mean, yikes!

All that said, I'm feeling a lot better about my small group system and planning this year, and I owe most of that positivity to my new found organizational skills, (so what if it took me 6 years to get here?!)

First things first, my binder.
I'll admit it. I'm a total nerd. I took the 'sisters' idea from the Daily 5 and just ran with it. What was I supposed to do? I couldn't help myself with the Harry Potter reference.

Inside I have a myriad of things. Basically, anything that has any resemblance to student data is kept here, as well as small group schedules, small group plans, whole class data sheets, etc. It's my reading lifeline!
 Reading calendars to schedule student meetings, small groups, etc.
Student reading inventories to keep track of what my kids are reading, and the progress they are making.  
 Each student gets a tab in the back of the binder. Behind there tab are the following things in this order, MAP score breakdown sheets, anecdotal reading/ monitoring sheets, writing conference notes, and the BEAR spelling inventory. This makes parent conferences SO much easier!
Reading small group schedules, to keep myself on track!
And speaking of small groups, I also keep my small group plans for each group here as well.
It might be a labor of love getting this thing organized, but it is amazing in the end to have EVERYTHING in one place!

Here is a link to some of the things I use in my binder, available at my TPT store.

Do you have a binder/ organizational system of your own? I'd love to hear about it! What do you do for writing that works for you? I could use some help there!

Happy teaching!

Friday, September 13, 2013

5 for Friday

Linking up this week with Doodle Bugs teaching :) Click on the image above to visit her fab teaching blog!

1. MEALWORMS! The first MONTH back to school in 2nd grade in my district means that these little worms are living in your classroom. Ughh.....

Making observations about the mealworms during centers least the kids like having the mealworms around!

2. Back to school Bulletin Board! I love love love making new bulletin boards and this one is so quick and easy! I used paint and glitter for the "Happy New Year" and then a marker for a little insert for the word "school."  It's not that easy to see in the pic but hopefully you get the idea :)

 I made these little half sheets to fill in about the "New Year Resolutions" for 2nd grade :) 
Click HERE for your Free copy! 

3. Along with the mealworms, we also get butterflies this time of year-- although they don't become those until October :)

A quick little lifecyle Craft

4. IKEA BOXES! I tell this to everyone! Ikea has magazine boxes that come in a 5 pack for $2! You cannot beat that price!! I use them every year and the LAST (well, I usually replace maybe 1 or 2 but most of them LAST!) I reinforce them with clear packing tape along the bottom and have the kids paint and decorate them the first week of school. Here's the finished product:

5. The weather here is BEAUTIFUL! 50's and sunny....perfect temp for a carmel apple cider with my favorite girl :)

Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11th for Kids

Its always a little tricky each year to decide how to approach your class with the topic of September 11th (or Patriot's Day as they call it).  I usually feel that it is best to focus on the patriotic celebrations of the day as well as giving thanks to first responders.  Of course your students are going to see or hear the news, commercials, adult talk, ect about September 11th and it is good to let them know what it's all about-- without scaring them. For that, I like to rely on some really great children's literature to get the discussion going. Here are a few of my favs:

This one is great for lower El! It was written by a class of first graders :)

Such a sweet story with beautiful illustrations- perfect for lower or upper El

This is a great book to show Upper EL kids how everyone came together to help out. The message is super but it is a little long for lower El to sit through-- I usually show my 2nd grade class the book and read parts of it aloud while showing the pictures-- it has some really great illustrations.

Now that we call 9/11 "Patriot Day" I think it's a great opportunity to kick off a civics unit for primary students with a discussion about what a Patriot is and what is mean to be a patriot.  I made some writing pages for a brainstorm & quick writing assignment (I even added a page with regular lines for intermediate students! I am always trying to remind myself to do that when I make products for TPT)
You can grab this simple little writing paper for FREE here:

Wouldn't it look so cute hanging up with a cute flag craft like this one that I found on Pinterest from

What do you do with your class for 9-11?