Skunks at Christmas Time

I've been trying to teach about mammals now because I'm moving on to penguins and then oviparous animals when we return to school.  To make sure I cover everything, I've been teaching about a different mammal each day for the past couple of weeks.

It's amazing how much children learn in just a few short months.  My kids were reading and writing in their science logs and one of them showed me how long his entry was for the day and it was over a page long!  Yes, I know he didn't start from the left margin, but he has improved so much from the beginning of the year.

Here is a sample from the first day of school:
He actually went back on his own to his beginning of the year entry and he was shocked at how he used to write. He said he couldn't even read what he wrote back then.

And here he is now:
He was so proud of himself!  And so was I!

We also learned about skunks and wrote about them.  I used Cara Carroll's Camping Unit for this adorable craftivity.  I chose to show you these two because they made everyone smile:)  Warning...They may not be the most factual pieces of work. 
 Here is another one.  This one is priceless!
We ended the week with a visit from two special people.
Santa and...
our dear friend Jack!  He even sent us a special gift from the North ant farm!  It made it on time to be unwrapped by the end of the day!  How did Jack know that I didn't want anything with hair or that needed to be taken home on the weekends??  He knows it all I guess :)
I am linking up with Teaching Maddeness for Flashback Friday.  Now it's your turn to link up!


The World's Best Sharpener

I got an opportunity to try out the famous sharpener everyone has been talking about.  I kept this sharpener for real?  Will it really last and sharpen all types of pencils like people keep saying?  Well, I'm here to say that I'm a believer!

I have now had this sharpener for about 5 months! Yep, not a couple of days, I've been using it heavily for 5 months now.  We are never in shortage of good sharpened pencils now because of our trusty sharpener. 

This is what it looks like closed:
 When you open it up, it looks like this:
You squeeze the top black parts to open the entrance for the pencil and sharpen away!  The metal piece pulls the pencil in as you sharpen the pencil.  So easy!

I have some really helpful moms this year and they all want to help me.  So once or twice a week the moms rotate taking a box of pencils home and sharpen them with this sharpener.  Makes my life so much easier!!  I found a tote bag in my room that they can put the box and sharpener in.  The next day the pencils come back nice and sharp!
 Just take a look at how sharp these are after the sharpener has been used on a daily basis for 5 months! 
Would you like to pick up your own?  They are very inexpensive and if you can get together with your team mates, you can order them in multiple quantities and save on each sharpener!

Click on the picture below to go shopping for your very own at Classroom Friendly Supplies!
Thanks to Troy for giving me the chance to use this awesome new tool! 


Elf On The Shelf

We've been having so much fun with our dear friend Jack.  To get us started we did some elf activities.

We applied to be Santa's Elves first.

This activity is so cute! This idea is from Cupcake for the Teacher.  The original idea was for the kids to create a face and to write a story about elves.  But I wanted the kids to dress up as elves instead and we attached the elf application to the body.  Soooo cute! If you look closely you can even see that the kids had to get finger printed to apply :) Everything here is included in her file.
 The kids blended in so well that Jack wanted to hang out with the rest of his elf friends!
We are so fortunate in having Santa come to our school every year.  Jack left the morning of Santa's visit. How else would he tell Santa who was naughty and who was nice??  I then snuck up to speak with Santa right before my kids got to go to him and asked him to say a little something about Jack.  The kids freaked! They kept talking about how Jack is now at the North Pole and how he is the newest elf:)

I have some more stuff in store for my kids with our little elf friend.  He may be gone but he has not left our hearts!

I am linking up with:
Click here to link up your Elf ideas.


Spider Study Launch With Charlotte's Web

I never realized how busy of a month October is till this year.  I made a list of everything I need to teach and it is a bit overwhelming!  I didn't even get to Columbus Day, which I moved to next week.

Each month we read a chapter book and this month we are reading Charlotte's Web.  The kids LOVE this book and it gives me a perfect way to bring spiders into the curriculum. 

I HATE spiders, but I love teaching about them :)

We began with a couple of chapters from Charlotte's Web.  I can't say enough good things about this book.  I first heard it in third grade.  I loved the story, but I didn't appreciate how beautifully written it was until I read it as an adult.  I am pretty sure it is one of the best written books of all time.

Have you ever seen the read along edition from Barnes and Noble?  It is a large text that is perfect for the classroom.  My kids could never see the illustrations with the little one.  I spotted this book at a used bookstore last year and picked it up even though I already had a couple of copies of the book.  I brought it out on Monday and the kids went nuts for it!  My classes have have always enjoyed this book, but this class was so mesmerized by the size of it. They are more into this story than any other class I've had.  

Here is a picture of this book.  It's about 12 inches tall and 8 inches wide.  Pick it up if you get a chance, you will not regret it.

We had not met Charlotte yet, but I wanted them to know a little bit about spiders before we met her so we started with a schema chart.

The next day we read another chapter and studied the different parts of a spider.

On Friday we met Charlotte and she explained her diet.  Perfect timing for some more spider facts!

This paper is from a set from Lakeshore. I use this set all the time! It is amazing!  We learn about something and it has comprehension questions at the bottom. 

Finally, we wrote about our new learning in our science journals. 

Next week we are continuing our spider study and we are also going to learn about Christopher Columbus!  I created a mini-unit for Columbus Day and I am going to keep it on sale for a few more days.  It's on sale for $1.60, if you are interested please click HERE.

I am linking up with Teaching Maddeness for Friday Flashback.


Read Alouds

I love Monday Made It! I'm so happy that Tara decided to continue it on a monthly basis.

Like other teachers I try to read as much as I can to my students.  I teach an ELD classroom that consists of all second language learners.  They are so excited to hear these stories and they pick up so much proper English from these books.

I have approximately 800 read alouds and I can't store them in  my classroom due to space.  So I have  some bookshelves at home where I store all my read alouds, or as my kids call them "Special Books."  I have found it beneficial to have all my books at home so that when I lesson plan, I can go take a peek at my books to see which ones tie into my curriculum for the week.

Each month I read a chapter book to my class and we read about 1-3 chapters daily.  We also have an "Author of the Month" study and we read one or two of their books each day.  I also have certain books that tie into the curriculum or writer's workshop.  I organize them each week and bring them in to school.

I have always run into the problem of misplacing my books.  I have to stop and look for my book before I can read it and that can get real annoying.  Some of my books have also disappeared all together :(

This has happened too many times and I began to think of how I can keep track of these books that I'm bringing in.   A few months ago I made  book hospital where all my damaged books get placed.  That system has worked so well and it got me thinking of how I can use the same idea for my read alouds.

This weekend I finally sat down to make this read aloud book holder.
 Here is a closeup of the little owl.  I have an owl theme going on so I had to give this an owl theme as well.
I cut out all the pieces using my Cricut.  The owl is from the cartridge "Hoot n' Holler" and the font is from "Nursery Rhymes."

So go on over to 4th Grade Frolics and link up your projects with Tara!


American Symbols and Bugs!

I am using Deanna Jump's America unit for the month of September.  I've always taught American Symbols in February but I always ran out of time.  I have also always run into the dilemma of how to teach about September 11th.  So this year I decided to focus on America in September and tie everything together.  So far it's been wonderful!  I taught about the flag the week of 911 and we are working out way through the symbols.

Here are some pictures of our activities.
I received Time for Kids, Weekly Reader, and Scholastic News last year and my class voted on saving the issues for my future classes! So I organized them and have them ready to go for my themes.  My kids this year are loving them!

I love how Time For Kids sometimes includes a large edition of their magazines!  I was so excited when I remembered that there was a specific issue on the bald eagle.

This tree map was directly from Deanna Jump's America unit.  Even the graphics are from there.

I also read a chapter book each month to my students.  This month we are reading James and the Giant Peach.  The students are always so curious about those insects that they hear about so I placed my insect unit  (Deanna Jump's unit to be exact) in September as well.  The kids have been loving every bit of it!

Here are some pictures of what we have been doing.
This graph was from Deanna Jump's Insect unit.  The kids were supposed to make a survey and graph of their own but in order to conserve paper, I took the chart route.
I found the idea for this anchor chart on Pinterest right here
Jump's unit also includes this really cute poem.  We glued them into our science journals and highlighted the rhyming pairs.  We then drew and labeled the parts of an insect.
I'm not sure how long we will spend on insects.  I have never taught a unit on insects but it has been fun and interesting so far.

Synonym Rolls

Our second grade team decided to work on synonyms this past week.  I love working on synonyms because it can really help to expand children's vocabularies in a really easy way.

We made our synonym rolls in class and the kids got to make their own synonym chef hats!  

So cute!  Totally not our idea, this was all inspired by Cara Carol at the First Grade Parade. 

Each grade has a board display in the cafeteria so we got together and put up our second grade board after school.  The kids came in the next day and flipped out!  They loved seeing their synonym rolls on display.  The letters were cut out using a Cricut with the "Hello Kitty Font" cartridge.  The little chef was also created using a Cricut.  I cut him out from the "Everyday Paper Dolls" cartridge at about 10 inches.

Here is one of my cuties making her synonym rolls and wearing her chef hat!
This idea is also from Cara Carol! She is amazing:)

I also received my famous sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies! I have been using it for over a month now and I am currently working on a review.  If you've had any doubts in purchasing one, stop rethinking it and buy one! It's everything you've heard about and more!

I am linking up with Teaching Fourth for Kelly's second Fun Friday linky party.
Now it's your turn to link up your fun activities!


Monday Made It, Classroom Pictures, and Craftivities!

I just finished up my second week of school and I'm exhausted already!  It's always rough starting up the year in AZ because we usually have heat advisories and the kids can't go out to play for recess.  The energy has to come out one way or another and it's usually tough to teach during these days.  The weather has eased up a little and they are going outside now, thank goodness!

I missed the last Monday Made it but I'm back :)
Lots of things were made for my classroom recently and I had to share some pictures!
First off my objectives board:
Objectives Bulletin Board from Learning in Wonderland
I made the headings using my Cricut. The objectives are in page protectors so that I can easily slide them in and out.  They add a nice splash of color to my room.
 ****Update July 2014****
I received many requests for this bulletin board so I created a set of objective headers that you can use to create a similar display.  I have several designs in my store :)  Click HERE for the set that resembles my bulletin board the most. 

Up next is my compliment jar: 
 Each time we get a compliment for walking in a nice life, or doing a great job in specials class etc they earn a star.  When they reach 15 stars, we will have a small celebration (early recess, puzzle time, computer lab time)
I also made these with my Cricut and the faces are stamps form Peachy Keen Stamps.

Even my kids have a Monday Made It this week:
My goal is to do lots of writing.  We have writer's workshop every day and we have guided writing in the afternoons.  They worked on their Bird writing all week and they got to make their craftivity on Friday.  They couldn't wait to make their bird!! 
This poor bird's teacher was real mean apparently... LOL!
Too funny!
Do any of you have trouble teaching science every day?  I have in the past but I found something that has been working for me.  I've been using Evan Moor's daily science for the past few years and I LOVE it.  It's something that you can incorporate within your existing science program or use instead of a science program.  Our basal is not too great so I use this instead.

With this program you hit all the major concepts for your grade, the students like it, and it's flexible in the way that you can either teach in a quick lesson or stretch it out as long as you'd like.  When I first started using it, my science time would last about 10-15 minutes.  I've incorporated journaling with it and now my science block takes about 45 minutes to an hour.  Again, the beauty of this program is that you can fit it into any schedule whether you have a little or a lot of time available and cover all your science standards no matter what.

My science runs something like this on a daily basis:
  • Activating prior knowledge: Schema chart
  • Science lesson: We complete the page together and go over the vocabulary 
  • Adding today's learning to our schema chart
  • Journaling: teacher model (about 1-2 minutes of teacher writing for students to see)
  • Journaling: Students write (8-10 minutes)
  • Shared reading: I choose 5 students to read their journal entry to the class
I have loved seeing what the students write after each day's lesson.  They have been truly comprehending the concepts much better than in previous years thanks to the journaling.  They are also using the key vocabulary from their science lessons throughout the day as a result.  I love it when they use words like "adult" and "liquid" in their conversations and other writings.

I've always taught life cycles during the spring but life cycles are the very first thing you hit in their science program.  So right now we are in the middle of life cycles.  We learned about the life cycle of a kangaroo (a good way to tie in a social studies unit and learn about continents/Australia) and butterflies.  We read the very hungry caterpillar and even though they all heard it in first grade, they are still in love with this book.  We also started up an illustrator study and they were so curious about Eric Carle's illustrations.  They love the caterpillar!  I decided I needed to have them make a very hungry caterpillar of their very own!  I made this mini-unit for butterflies.  It includes two cute craftivities and activities to use with a butterfly unit.
It's on sale 20% for today only.  You can pick up a copy HERE at my TPT store if you are interested.
Now it's your turn to link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics!


Library Essential - Book Hospital

I got around to making a book hospital and I'm so glad I did. 

My library consists of hundreds of books.  Every so often they start to fall apart.  When this happens my kids freak out!  They stop everyone around them and come and get me to fix it for them that very second.  This will happen no more thanks to this:
It's a book hospital!  So when a child finds a book that needs some repairs, they can put it in this bin and I can fix it when there is time.

Here is a side view.  I wanted it to match my Box Tops holder I made a few weeks ago.  This was my FIRST time using Mod Podge.  It was tricky but not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. 

This is what it started as:
It's just a book bin from Lakeshore.

This is where my inspiration came from:

I love that this tool gives my kids the chance to be problem solvers.  They get a ripped book in their hand and they know what to do with it.  Just in case they don't, a friend is always around to guide them towards the book hospital.  This is definitely an organization/classroom management idea I recommend to all my friends!

Like this idea?  You can also find me on:

Thank you for stopping by! Now head over to 4th Grade Frolics and link up your projects:)

Recycled Box Tops Container

One of my hobbies is scrapbooking and it definitely comes in handy when decorating my classroom.  I love bringing in things that are functional but still look nice.

Last year our school began participating in Box Tops for Education and we had a contest to see who brought in the most Box Tops.  Our class collected the most for the second half of the year.  My class was very proud!  I think part of the reason they brought in so many Box Tops was because I made a special container that the kids could put them in to.  That container was raffled off at the end of the year, so I needed to make a new one for the upcoming school year.

I didn't want to buy a container to decorate, so I went into my pantry, found a container from Trader Joe's, and got to work!

 I used some scrapbook paper and covered the container all around.

I used this cute owl that I cut with my Cricut.  My husband suggested she be holding a Box Top!  He's just brilliant :-)  She has a little heart over her head because she loves Box Tops.

It was pretty easy to put together and the payoff was great!  The kids get psyched about our little container.

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