April 20, 2015

Dollar Tree Deals: April

Y'all know I love the Dollar Tree! It is my number one stop when I am looking for random things for my classroom. See my first Dollar Tree Deals post here for some general tips about shopping there. Although, my "tips" can basically be summed up in one: Buy it when you see it!

Here are my purchases for the month and my plans for their use:

1. Luau Background: I'll set up a photo booth in the hallway for the entire 2nd grade during the last week of school, and this will be our background. The teachers will all bring their classes for pictures and send the pictures along to their parents! This has been a lot of fun in the past. I have chalkboard speech bubbles that say cool things like "3rd Grade, Here I come!" and "I'm gonna ROCK the 3rd Grade!" (Which were purchased at Party City a few years ago for my Dad's 60th birthday party.) Our costumes include crazy sunglasses, straw hats, leis, funny headbands, a feather boa, a pretend microphone...and anything else we can scrounge up! We used this same background last year, but I put it up with some strong blue sticky tacky, and when I pulled it down, the thin background was a little worse for the wear.
2. Cool Straws: For some reason, I buy these every year for our end of year party! I know I would have been so tickled to drink from my water bottle with a flamingo straw at school when I was in 2nd grade!
3. Pencil Sharpener/Eraser: I'll put these in the prize jar. We'll see what the quality is like, but everyone needs a good eraser and sharpener at this time of the year.
4. Glass Vase: I am considering using these for a Mother's Day craft at church. I'm not sure if we'll go the tissue paper and Mod Podge route, or use oil based sharpies to decorate them, so I am going to experiment a bit. We make crafts the morning of Mother's Day while the Dads are cooking breakfast and the Moms are sleeping in, so there has to be a fast turnaround for the craft. The Mod Podge will need drying time, but the Sharpies will cost more money. So we'll see!

That's all for today! Have a great Monday, everyone! My kids and I only have 4 Mondays left together and we are counting down the days until Summer!

April 17, 2015

Five for Friday


Hi readers and friends! Today I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday linky party! I enjoy seeing what everyone is up to on a daily basis. It's been such a busy week in many ways. But, I think that will be the name of the game for the remainder of this school year. 
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On last Friday, I had a performance with my adult classes at DanceFX Athens. I danced in a contemporary number and a pointe piece. My sweet fiance supported me and came to see me dance! I'm so inspired by the amazing dancing that goes on at my studio, and it's a lot of fun to showcase the things we are learning! Click here to learn a little bit more about my journey as an adult learning to dance and how that has affected me as a teacher. 

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My little nephew had a birthday in March, but between a family wedding and Easter, his birthday party had to be postponed a few weeks! So, we celebrated this Saturday and we all had a grand time! He decided to sharpen and show off his walking skills for everyone, but refused to eat his cake (he only wanted to feed it to his Daddy). He's just so cute I can hardly stand it!

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This is my "Free To A Good Home" pile. It looks like I am retiring, but I'll just be moving. There are lots of changes going on right now in my life, and I have recently accepted a new 2nd grade teaching job in the Atlanta area. So this Monday and Tuesday afternoons, I set a timer for 30  minutes of clean out time after school and I've made quite a dent in my stuff so far. This is going to be an even more bittersweet end of the year time than it usually is. 

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See my blog post here about how we have begun our study of life cycles this year! The kids are not only growing their own plants, but are engaging in some inquiry and changing up variables to examine how it will affect a growing plant. 

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Teaching blogs share freebies all the time and at Teaching Blog Addict, we give you the place to find them all in one spot! Be sure to come back each week to see what's new! Find free downloads and teacher resources for kindergarten, first grade ,second grade, third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade and sixth grade.

I'm the featured blogger over at Teaching Blog Addict this week! Check out the great freebies that teachers post there every Friday by clicking on the picture. Check out my blog post about using student bloggers by clicking here.

April 15, 2015

Will A Seed Grow....?

We are busy growing things around here! My class always plants marigolds at this time of year so that we can observe their life cycle and also paint pots to send them home in as a family gift for Mother's Day. I prefer to do "Family Gifts" instead of Mother's Day Gifts for two reasons: 1. There is always someone who doesn't have a Mom or has a Mom in a tough situation. 2. We are out on summer break for Father's Day, so we don't get to do Father's Day gifts and that doesn't seem very fair to those amazing Dads out there!

I am very excited about how we are extending our plant growing project for this year, though. We came up with "testable" questions about seeds and their growth. Now we are actually going to test out these questions, which means we have plants stuck every where and all living under special rules! There are 8 total, which means a lot to keep up with, but I think it will be fun! Look below the picture for our questions. 

Left to Right, beginning at the top:
1. Will a seed grow with only indoor light?
2. Will a seed grow in no light?
3. Control. Will a seed grow in ideal conditions?
4. Will a seed grow if we turn the planter sideways?
5. Will a seed grow with no water? and Will a seed grow with no drainage/too much water?
6. Will a seed grow in very cold temperatures? (We did discuss that this had two variables and that if we were Scientists we would do everything we could to prevent that. We brainstormed a bit, but couldn't come up with a way to control the light and vary the temperature at school.)
7. (Not pictured) Will a seed grow with no soil?

We actually planted three marigold seeds in each cup. Then, students did a quick write to make hypotheses about what they expect to happen based on what they already know about plants and growing things. We will observe them every few days and fill out this very not fancy chart as a class to collect our observations:

We're sure to do some sort of final writing and project at the end, but that is a while away and I don't have plans quite ready for that yet!

Happy Spring! I hope you are seeing some beautiful flowers where you are already. 

April 10, 2015

Including Kids' Voices In Your Classroom Blog: Freebie Friday

Teaching Blog Addict Freebie Downloads

You are here, reading this blog, because you are fluent in using the Internet and Social Media. Many of our students are already fluent, or are becoming so on their own. I would encourage you to harness their interest and provide for them a safe space to practice skills that they will use in their futures!

Today I want to share with you a new product on sale on my TPT page. Actually, it's not on sale; I'm offering it for FREE! Have you ever used a classroom blog? Ours really kicks into gear in the 3rd and 4th quarters of school. I like to use our classroom blog for  a number of purposes, including:

  • Sharing pictures and happenings with parents.
  • Showing off videos or alternative ways to publish writing.
  • Teaching students to write comments and reply to comments.
  • To provide students with an opportunity to be a guest blogger. 

Today I'd like to offer you the opportunity to download a free blog post planner to use with kids. I've found that the more I can include my Kids' voices in things like our newsletter and blog, the wider my audience reach becomes as they encourage their families to check it out! You can see some examples by clicking on the tab for my Classroom Blog above. Check out the product by clicking on the picture below!

If you download, I'd love some feedback! If you blog, I'd love for you to comment on this post to let me know how you use a classroom blog!

Five for Friday


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This weekend was parent meet up weekend! This was the first time that my parents and my fiance's parents met each other. Aren't they cute in their picture together? They will see each other again in October for our wedding! We are so excited about creating our own family together and joining each other's families, so it was really nice to spend Easter with some of them. I made deviled eggs, my parents brought the green beans, and my future in laws fried up the lumpia...so I was a happy girl!
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Also, speaking of Easter, I saw a bunny hopping around downtown. On a leash. With a cute pink flower on her collar. What? I just had to snap a picture of that!
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We got to go on a field trip to the University this week for some health education. I don't think I have ever been on the basketball court before, so I definitely enjoyed myself!
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In the fourth quarter, we always review all of our genres of writing. For informational writing, I decided to let my students pick a topic for us to research using books, the internet, articles, and a chapter book (for which I required them to use the index). They then created brochures to show what they learned. The kids were highly motivated to find out about the Titanic, but I think they were a little caught off guard by how serious the topic turned out to be. Which to me, means they really were learning through their research. I've never used post-its before for brochure creation, but it was nice to allow them some flexibility with their layout this way. I wish I had gotten a better picture of someone's final product! 
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This is by far one of my favorite days of teaching fractions: the "Which is more?" question! We get to have really deep conversations and my kids actually realize that they are learning something difficult and new. I love seeing them go from a misconception, to a little bit of confusion, to working through it, and finally, to hopefully really understanding that all halves (or fourths) of the same shape are actually the same amount (or area). 

April 2, 2015

Including Kids' Voices In The Class Newsletter

Today I want to share with you an extremely simple idea that has been a big hit with my parents! I send home a monthly newsletter on the first Wednesday of the month. In it, I include important dates, an overview of upcoming learning topics, a note from me, and most importantly: News From the Kids!

Take a look at one of my newsletters below. By far, the favorite part is the "From The Kids..." portion. I hope to update (read: improve) the layout and design of my newsletter next year, but this section is definitely staying!

As a Morning Meeting activity or time filler, I might have kids write their news to submit for publication. If we are running short on time, I may just sit with my computer at Morning Meeting and type up what they say! I am the editor, and since we don't have room for news from everyone, I just pick as many as I can possibly fit in the space! It's fun to reflect on the month behind us and see what really gets the kids excited to reminisce over.

Not only is this a great way to build our classroom community and encourage personal pride, but it also gets students to force their parents to read our newsletter! They are always so proud when their news "makes it" into the newsletter, and they want to make sure everyone reads it. Consider it one of my SNEAKY TEACHER TRICKS!

Do you have any fun newsletter ideas?