Wednesday, April 30, 2014

We Love Our Moms

Today we started working on our gifts for Mother's Day.  I wish we had lots of time to do fun projects, but we don't (I know you feel me on that one), so I decided to have my kiddos create books on why their mom is the best. This would incorporate opinion writing and text features -- plus, what mom wouldn't cherish a book like this. 

Our first step was accomplished thanks to this wonderful (and FREE) planning guide.  Casey Hallett created it and you can CLICK HERE to download it from her TpT store. There's more to her product than this one page, but that's all I used for this activity (I'm almost out of copies for the year, so I'm trying my hardest to only copy what is absolutely necessary).  

We then turned our planning sheet into an amazing book. 

 We discussed how some books are dedicated to people, so we all dedicated our books to our moms. 

Each page in the book has a reason and matching illustration as to why their mom is the best. 

Tomorrow we're going to add two more pages. One page will compare and contrast their personality characteristics with their mom's and the other will compare and contrast their physical characteristics.  I'm including that information because we've started our Life Cycles & Genetics Unit and this is one of the standards. 

In addition to the book, we also made these adorable magnets. And yes, every year I always make my mom the same presents my kiddos make theirs.  And every year, my kiddos ask me why I'm making stuff for my mom -- you never stop loving your momma, no matter how old you get.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Great Kapok Tree

The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry is one of my favorite stories to read with my students. It's a tale of the deforestation of the Amazon Rain Forest.  We're in the midst of our geography unit and teaching central message, so this book was a perfect tie-in to both! 
If you don't own a copy of the book, CLICK HERE for a free e-version! 

Before reading the book, we took a look at the map of the Rain Forest on the first page. This was very important because we used our map skills and read the key to figure out what the green shading represented.  We also discussed what the map was missing -- a compass rose.  So, make sure you don't skip over the map -- I almost did, my kiddos were the ones who pointed it out (so proud of them). 

We read the story twice. The first time we just listened to the story and then we reread it and used information from the text to make a list of the reasons why people shouldn't cut down trees. 
In all, we came up with six different reasons why the trees should not be cut down. I then had each student highlight the three reasons they felt were most important. 

We then used those three reasons and wrote a persuasive letter to stop deforestation. I'm planning on actually sending them somewhere (when my students know I'm actually going to mail their letters to real people, they work SO MUCH HARDER), I just haven't figured out to what organization. Do you have any ideas?
 (he'll be finishing his tomorrow morning...)

 I have lots of books on the rain forest and I'd love to spend time reading all of them, but we're running out of time so my plan for tomorrow is put my students into groups of 2 - 3 and give each group a different book on the rain forest. As a group, they'll read the book and then summarize the most important points. If we have time, I'll require them to give an oral summary -- which will practice their speaking and listening skills too.

Monday, April 28, 2014

We're Still Having Fun Writing

Today was our first day back from Spring Break and even though I had a fabulous time spending the days with my own children and hubby, it was great to see my school kiddos again.  This is the time of year when I look at my students and realize how much they have grown (physically and academically) since the beginning of the year -- it always makes me feel like a proud momma.  

So, since today was our first day back from break, you know exactly what we did for writing . . . we wrote about our break. I wanted to keep it light and fun, but still wanted to incorporate writing complex sentences (since that's what we were working on before break) and I also needed some new spring decor to hang in our room (I still had our shamrocks up -- oops). 

Here's what we did: 

We wrote one complex (or 3rd  Grade sentence as I call it ) on each petal -- and seeing that it was the first day back, I only required them to have three petals.  I referenced the anchor chart (see below) and told them that each sentence MUST use a different connector word (and, so, but, for, because).  They also had to underline the connecting word in each sentence. 

 The factor that made this activity different today than the previous lessons is that I required them to use different connecting words -- and surprisingly, they rose to the occasion and did a great job.  If you have already returned from Spring Break, you could always do this activity about the things they did over the weekend. 
Lastly, I didn't supply tracers to use for the petals, I just showed my students an example and told them to draw each petal before cutting it out. I know it would have been easier to provide the templates, but I really enjoy seeing their creativity come out. 

Here's the anchor chart I have posted in my room: 
You can read that blog post HERE for more ideas on writing complex sentences. 

 Have fun writing this week. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Celebrating Easter with a Sale

Hop on over to my TpT store today. I'm having an Easter sale and everything in my store is 20% off. TODAY ONLY.

Click HERE to be taken to my store.  

Happy Easter everyone. It's one of my favorite days of the year.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Earth Day Fun with The Lorax

The Lorax.jpg

If you're going to be reading The Lorax for Earth Day, try this fun activity.  (Don't have a copy of the book? CLICK HERE for the FREE ebook version.  The author added sound effects which makes it extra exciting.)

 After reading the story, we made these Truffla trees and proudly displayed them in our hallway! I put students into small groups and gave each group a tree to work on. Each tree had a different question related to The Lorax and the questions also aligned with Common Core Reading Literature Standards. SCORE.

Before the groups were allowed to write their answers on their tree, I had them answer the question on a piece of paper. Once I checked their work, they copied it to the tree.  If you'd like to download the questions for FREE, click here

My kiddos had so much fun completing their Truffla tree! As each group finished, I allowed them to create a Barbaloot or The Once-ler and  we added them to the display of trees. 

To get my kiddos up and  moving, we also danced to the music video How Bad Can I Be? from the movie.  Click on the blurry picture below (sorry) to be taken to the music video.

Do you read The Lorax in your classroom? If so, what activities do you do?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Another Giveaway!

Cheryl, from Techie Turtle Teacher, just turned 30 and is celebrating by having a huge giveaway.  Just click on the picture below to hop on over to her site to enter.  One of my Words Their Way products is included in the first K-2 giveaway.  Good luck. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Writing Compound Sentences Can be Fun!

To my surprise, we actually had fun writing, expanding and rearranging simple and compound sentences this week.  The factor that made it fun was that I told my second graders we were going to write like THIRD GRADERS. Since they're in second grade, anything third grade is super cool. 

Our first activity was creating this flip book:

 Under the first flap, we wrote the requirements of any sentence.  Then under each grade's flap, we wrote an example of a sentence from that grade level.  What we wrote for a 3rd grade sentence is actually a Common Core requirement for 2nd graders (L 2.1f), but my students get so excited when we talk about becoming third graders, so that's why I told them it's a third grade sentence. I thought it would motivate them to write compound sentences, and it sure did work.

We then practiced identifying who wrote different sentences and combined the two simple sentences to create a compound sentence.
If you want this worksheet, click here to download it for FREE.

Afterwards, I partnered my students with their writing buddy and they had to create an example of each type of sentence. They recorded their sentences on a sheet like this:
After they wrote each type of sentence, they brought it to me to check. If they wrote it correctly, I gave them a smiley.  If the sentence was incorrect, I had them correct it.

Last but not least, I made this anchor chart to go along with this lesson.

I hope you found some goodies to use in your own classroom. 
Thanks for stopping by. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday Trio Freebie

I'm so excited to be teaming up with  Fern and Michelle for their Throwback Thursday Trio Freebie. A year ago they began  their Dynamic Duo monthly giveaways and have recently started inviting a guest blogger each week to join in on the fun -- so here I am, their guest blogger for the week (yipeeee).  Today my Create-A-Book About Spring product is FREE.  With this product, your students will create a nonfiction text about various aspects of Spring. I hope your kiddos have fun and learn lots.  And don't forget to follow our blogs for upcoming freebies!

Click HERE to download the freebie.

Just a reminder:  You will not be able to leave feedback after we change it back to a paid product.

Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you loaded up on some great freebies and have decided to follow my blog or TpT store. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Do You Need to Motivate?

How long has it been since you've asked yourself this question: How do I get my students MOTIVATED to learn this skill we've been working on for so long? For me, it was just a few weeks ago. 

We had been working on adding and subtracting with REGROUPING and my kiddos were not getting it. Well, maybe I shouldn't say they weren't getting it, because many of them were, but I had at least 5 students who weren't getting it and one of the reasons why was because they DIDN'T CARE. You know what I'm talking about, don't you?!  So I brainstormed different ideas of how to motivate them  -- and viola, I figured it out. Here's what I did:

I made a goody bag for each student and set them out for everyone to see. I told them that when they met their goal, they could have their bag to discover the goodies inside. So what was the goal? They needed to obtain a perfect score on three quizzes of adding and subtracting two-digtit numbers with regrouping. 

This is what each quiz looked like.  I wrote four problems on the board and had them copy the problems on a piece of notebook paper. When they were done, they brought it to me and I checked it. They got one point for each correct answer (so a score of 4 was a perfect score since there were four problems on each quiz).

I recorded their scores on these sheets.  A score of 4 was a perfect score and when they earned three scores of 4, they got their goodies. As you can see, these three students started with really low scores but quickly became motivated to earn their surprise bag, and learned the math skill at the same time-- that's what I call a win-win situation.  Some students earned their surprise bag after the sixth quiz and by the tenth quiz, everyone earned their bag. Hip, hip, hooray.

Are you curious to know what was inside each bag . . . . 
A special pencil, two pieces of candy and a homework pass.  

This worked really well in my classroom and we're going to start this process over again, but with a different skill. We're having difficulty writing in complete sentences, so I think that will be their next challenge: to write 3 perfect sentences.  And of course a NEW surprise will be waiting for them.  

If you're interested in using this in your own classroom, download the score sheet here.  

If you do this, I'd love to hear how it goes. I used this idea with regrouping, but it could be applied to almost any skill you teach.