Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dinosaur Fossils

We wrapped up our two weeks of dinosaur research by reading and learning about fossils. The kiddos learned that fossils do not always have to be dinosaur bones. SHOCKING! You should have seen my kiddos faces when they learned that fact.

After completing our What Are Fossils? anchor chart we decided to make trace fossils. The kiddos mixed salt, flour, coffee grounds, and coffee to make a dirt like dough. We then took little plastic dinosaurs, sticks, and leaves to make trace imprints. Once I baked them in my oven here's how they turned out...
We also discussed how amber was made. I could not believe how many of my kiddos shouted, "Ms. White! That orange stuff is from Jurassic Park. That is how they made dinosaurs." Oh, kiddos. They crack me up. We also made our own amber by melting glycerin soap bars in a crock pot and adding a little bit of orange food coloring (it made our room smell like a hospital). We then placed some butterfly beads into a little dinosaur ice cube tray I found at Dollar Tree and poured the soap into the tray. Here is what our "amber" looked like when it hardened...
My kiddos will use these as one area of our museum that we will set up on Friday. The other second grade classrooms and our first graders will come and visit our Prehistoric Journey room. 



Update to Donors Choose

This week has been such a crazy one, but I was ecstatic when I received an email from Donors Choose. The i-Pad that I was hoping would be donated to my classroom was FULLY funded! Thanks to the University of Phoenix and one personal donor my i-Pad will be arriving soon. I can now download Scholastic Storia that I have been wanting for my kiddos for a while. Thank you, thank you, thank you Donors Choose for helping teachers have a place where they can receive materials for FREE!!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Donors Choose

If you have never heard about Donors Choose you must visit their website! This organization allows teachers to create a wish list of items they would like to have in their classrooms. Individual and business donors can select projects by teacher, city, or state to donate any amount to. There are even certain times during the year that larger businesses will match dollar for dollar all donations by others for a period of time. Here are a couple of the items that have been purchased for my classroom from caring individuals and corporations the last couple of years.
My classroom carpet from Lakeshore Learning

 Six Leapfrog Tag Readers and Carrying Cases
Nook donated by Starbucks

I just received an email from University of Phoenix stating that they will donate to 200 alum projects up to $500 in the next week. Here's to hoping my kiddos projects might get selected!

Non-Fiction Response Writing

What a week! My writing teammate and I had been planning for this week for a while. Our district wanted our kiddos to respond to non-fiction text in the form of a response book. They were to read about several arctic animals and then write and draw what they learned in their own book. I was so excited at the beginning of the week when little snow showers could be seen outside my classroom window falling to make it not so absurd to be reading about arctic animals in mid-April. We introduced the unit by reading a few pages from Big Babies, Little Babies by D.K. Publishing and Wolves by Seymour Simon. As a whole group we completed two anchor charts as a review of what we just read and used the text to label our pictures.

All kiddos then began to read their own copy of Amazing Arctic Animals by Jackie Glassman. It was amazing to see how many connections they could make to other texts we have read throughout the year. We were all ready to begin our writing response book the next day. And then it happened...a delayed start because of the snow (A first for our district)! You would think I would be excited. Not so fast. I run my classroom to the minute...wait let me rephrase the second. Because our second grade rotates all of our kiddos for literacy, math, and writing it was a tad bit tricky to make sure both my writing blocks were able to begin their writing response books. And then some kiddos started to arrive at 10:15. And when I say some I mean I was missing three kiddos and my teammates were missing up to six! Thank goodness I had my Frozen Planet DVDs in my desk! Quickly, I made a response sheet for our kiddos to write three facts and connections from the text we read the day before. It was so cute to hear my kiddos shout out, "Look! The arctic hare from the book." We started Wednesday by reviewing what we read in our text and labeling the animals from activities in my upcoming Arctic Animals Literacy and Math Pack. And then it announcement about an early release at 1:00! WHAT!!! Quickly, I demonstrated to my kiddos how to take notes from their story and record it on their response sheets below through the Reading and Jotting Process.

My kiddos were such troopers! They worked so hard using their text and recording their responses. One of my teammates even rearranged her afternoon schedule so I could see her kiddos for writing before they all left at 1:00. FINALLY on Thursday, a full day of school. We discussed how to use everything in front of us (book, response sheets, labeling activities, and anchor charts) to begin writing our own book. I modeled for them how to use the pages in their book. The kiddos picked a muskox so I wrote Muskox as the heading and drew a picture. All the kiddos told me what to write and what to label on the picture. So proud of my kiddos when they told me to start with an indent, use my transition words with commas, and not to copy from the book.
Here is what they came up with.
I know I have used the word proud so many times, (my kiddos would say that I am not using good word choice) but that is how I feel about all of these "almost third graders". They spent Thursday and Friday writing and drawing their response books. With all of the interruptions during the week they did a phenomenal job. I believe that we are going to have so many books to choose from when we select "benchmark responses" next week during our SOAR meeting. Big smile!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Writing Prompt

Normally watching the weather forecast and seeing rain and snow for the next three days, in mid-April, would make me so sad. (I have a lot of skirts that I have been waiting to wear!) But, I am secretly excited about it for this upcoming week. My kiddos will become "guinea pigs" for a new writing assessment that our district would like us to give. Our second grade kiddos will write a research report based on whole group and individual readings of non-fiction material. The subject...arctic animals. Do you see now why I need it to snow? It will set the ambiance. The assessment we will give our kiddos does not have many "must do" guidelines so my teammate and I have made additional activities to use to help our kiddos. You can get these in my Arctic Animals Literacy and Math Pack in my TPT store. Click on the picture below.


Word Work Games

I love taking games that kiddos know and love and tweak them a little bit to make them more educational. Using Candyland as a sight word game has been around for a while. There are many versions and examples online. I have also taken a travel version of Connect 4 and made cards of sight words in yellow and red. My kiddos play in pairs, read the word, and then place a red or yellow chip in the game if they read the word correctly. I also have taken a Twister game and written comprehension questions on the color dots for my kiddos to answer after reading a story. I have many Memory versions as well that I write sight words, magic e words, and synonyms and antonyms on. (Memory games are always on sale for $5 or cheaper at Target and they now make season editions like Christmas and Easter) But the go to game in my word work center is Don't Break the Ice. I trade out my games every two weeks, but if I take that game out my kiddos freak! I have just written short and long vowel words on the ice cubes. I then made little white ice cards that state short i, long o, etc. My kiddos set up the ice cubes in the tray, pick a ice card, and find a word on the game that matches. They then use the hammer to break the iced word out of the game without knocking down the little red polar bear. Here is a look at some of my game board games...

Cleaning up my word work shelves reminded me of our end of year district prompt of how to play a game. I love the books Jumanji and Zathura by Chris Van Allsburg. This is the same author of The Polar Express that my kiddos LOVED hearing and watching around Christmas. Jumanji and Zathura are both stories about games that the main characters become apart of. I have created a unit, that aligns with the Common Core, for my kiddos to use over two weeks that includes literary elements, compare and contrasting, and persuasive opinion writing to help lead up to the prompt. After the district prompt I will then have my kiddos create their own game with a blank game board, game cards, and spinner craft. I cannot wait to see my kiddos creative minds at work! I have upload this unit in my TPT account for download. Click on the picture below.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring Literacy and Math Centers

It is supposed to get to almost 70 degrees today. Spring will definitely be in the air! So I could enjoy the day outside with my boys, I have finished and posted my Spring Is In the Air:Literacy and Math Activities in my TPT store. This is my first bundle that I have completed and I am really excited about it and will be using many of the literacy games in my Walk to Read groups next week.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Quotation Mark Cartoons

My kiddos loved using cartoons to practice using their quotation marks. I just had to share this one from one of my kiddos today. It made me laugh! This is from the book I found in the Target dollar bin.
 Policeman: "You are under arrest."
Man in row boat: "Not me take my sister."

Dinosaurs: Week One

My kiddos were so excited that they finally got to choose their dinosaur to begin researching next week today. I was excited that most of my kiddos picked some not well-known dinosaurs. We completed various activities this week to give my kiddos a chance to learn a little bit about various dinosaurs before they focus on just one. Monday my kiddos inferred what I had in my giant egg. I was surprised how many of them guessed a dinosaur without any clues. I guess I have found my second calling...egg painter??? Wednesday we read Dinosaur Hunters about paleontologists like Dinosaur Jim. After the story, my kiddos helped sort pictures that a paleontologist would need onto our "Pete the Paleontologist" anchor chart.
We then took dinosaur fact cards and sorted our dinosaurs by their sizes; less than 20 feet, 20-40 feet, and more than 40 feet.
Today my kiddos reviewed why research is important. We again used our dinosaur fact cards to practice taking notes and drawing the physical features of our selected dinosaur.

We ended today with making a dinosaur glyph. My kiddos LOVE glyphs! Here are just a few of my little artists in the making...
Next week we will begin our research reports on dinosaur physical features, habitat, and diet. We will also spend some more time talking about fossils. My kiddos will be so excited to get to make their own fossils and amber pieces. Pictures and updates to come soon!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Quotation Marks

I was so proud of my kiddos today with remembering how and where to use their quotation marks in a sentence (even with a snow day yesterday)! On Monday, we introduced quotation marks with an anchor chart and song. Today my kiddos used macaroni noodles as their "quotation marks" on eight task cards. They then wrote their finished sentence on a recording sheet. I was so impressed with how hard my kiddos worked on making sure their macaroni noodles were facing the right way and copying their sentence with their "almost third grade" handwriting.

My kiddos love reading comics during our "Magazine Monday" warm-up so tomorrow we are going to practice using quotation marks in cartoon bubbles. I found the book below a couple weeks ago in the Target dollar bins that will be perfect for my kiddos to use! I plan on doing a couple together on our Promethean board and then letting my kiddos imagination go wild with their own.
I have put my macaroni quotation mark activity in my TPT store. Click on the link below to download it!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Compound Words

Can I say that I was ecstatic this morning at 5 am when I got the phone call that school was closed for a snow day? Well I was! I knew that I could work on my Spring Literacy and Math unit. I am halfway completed, at 55 pages, but I should have it ready by Friday to post in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I have posted one of the activities, Compound Word Rain Boots, for free! Click on the link below to download it. Maybe instead of rain boots I should have used snow boots with all this snow here?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Writing Center

I was so glad I got to my classroom a little earlier than usual this first day back from Spring Break. My classroom furniture and tables had to be moved back to their spots as the janitors deep cleaned and shampooed my classroom. They even shampooed my three rugs! Those ladies are just too sweet.

My kiddos went CRAZY for the bugs and insects that I put in the writing center today! When I explained to them that my boys were letting them borrow some of the bugs they were so careful with them all and even put them back into the theme basket in little rows. Here is a look at my writing center and the items that I currently have out.

I got these finger puppets from IKEA. My kiddos can pick one out of the box, put it on their finger and write a story about the character or animal.
These are my cups of writing prompts. Each cup has a theme that my kiddos can grab and look around the outside to spark their writing brain. The six themes are superheros, circus, Fancy Nancy, bugs, weather, and transportation.

These are my silly story prompt cups. My kiddos pick one pink cup (character), one green cup (place), and one blue cup (action) and look at the pictures on the cups to write a silly story. Thanks to my writing teammate for creating these pictures for my cups! I change the pictures out every month or two. I got the three baskets and baby cereal cups at the Dollar Tree.
Around my writing center I have posters and pocket charts of adjectives, verbs, No Excuse words, and punctuation anchor charts for my kiddos to reference. I also have the above "Instead of...use..." color charts. We learned to expand our word choice in the fall including use of colors. I love it when my kiddos write, "the mocha brown bear" or "the eucalyptus green leaves". I just took some free paint swatches from Lowes and put them on solid colored construction paper.
Well looking outside the "marshmallow white" snowflakes are beginning to fall. Many large school districts around us have already closed for tomorrow. Maybe I can finish my spring unit tomorrow???

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Sight Word Games

Cleaning up the yard, planting some flowers, and my bird nest in the grill gave me a couple "spring" ideas to add to my word work centers tomorrow to review sight words. When I make activities or games I like to use what I already have around the house or cute items I find at the store that are "cheap"! The first is called Spring Words. I just took a little box and a bag of butterfly confetti (both I found at Dollar Tree) and wrote some sight words on them. I made sure to write the word "Spring" on at least five confetti pieces. I will have my kiddos pick one word out of the box. If they can read the word, they get to keep it. If not, they will place it back in the box. If a kiddo pulls out a "Spring" piece they will have to put all of their words back into the box.
 My nest in my grill made me think of Angry Birds. If my boys are not reenacting Jurassic Park they are throwing Angry Birds at each other. I found these cute little plastic containers at the Dollar Tree (12 to a pack) a few weeks back and bought them for a future project. I just took strips of white paper and wrote sight words and green strips to make the Bad Piggy. My boys got two sets (12/set) of mini Angry Birds from Costco at Christmas. They gave me the approval to let my classroom kiddos borrow them. I am also borrowing one of my boys "boomerang launchers" from one of their Angry Bird games. I am going to have my classroom kiddos pick one word at a time, read the word, and begin to build the "tower" in a minute. Each kiddo has three tries to launch their Angry Bird to knock down all the Bad Piggies on their tower. I already have visions of birds flying through the air! Good thing these birds are soft.

Upcoming Spring Activities

It was a beautiful Colorado day to start working in the yard. We have a huge snowstorm planning its way in on Tuesday so we wanted to do a little spring cleaning outside before it arrived. My husbands idea of a "little cleaning" turned into buying every possible fertilizer, grass renewal, fertilizer, pellets, and more fertilizer at Lowes. Right now it smells a little "fresh" around our house and I am pretty sure after the snow melts mid-week I am going to have a forest in the front yard! While the husband was prepping his grass my boys helped me plant some flowers and clean out our garden.

Our strawberries and raspberries have seemed to have taken over! All this spring cleaning gave me some inspiration to start working on some Spring Literacy and Math Activities. Maybe we will have a snow day on Tuesday so I can finish it up??? Here is a little sneak peek....


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring Writing Center

It must be almost the end of Spring Break because my blue IKEA bag (AKA my Mary Poppins bag) is full to the top. I had just enough room to add some spring items for my writing center. Other than my classroom library, my writing center is my second favorite place in my classroom. I switch out all of the materials every two weeks to keep it fresh and new for my kiddos to be inspired. All of my kiddos know that if they finish their work during our writing block they may use anything in the writing center to continue the writing journey. I will change out my Easter items with these on Monday...

I love bugs...if they are plastic that is. I have one themed basket in my writing center and my kiddos know they can pick anything out of it and write about it! I have found the last two years that if I have anything my kiddos can touch, hold, wear, etc. they are much more excited to write about it than just a boring anchor chart to refer to. I found most of these items at the dollar spot at Target, Dollar Tree, or my boys playroom.

Long i

I always love going to Target to see what items they have added to the dollar spot. It was hard to contain my excitement when I came across these...

To the normal person,like my boys, these would be perfect to serve dinner fries in. Not to me though! I instantly thought of an upcoming lesson in my F.A.S.T. Literacy with Long i words. These are just too cute to eat out of. (My boys would strongly disagree to the point that I will have to go get another pack for them tomorrow!) I updated my boring construction paper yellow words, that I used last year, to new brightly colored fries in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I have even added red fry pockets just in case you cannot find these at your store. I have included a link below to my store, but the first five people to leave me a comment will get a freebie!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Dinosaur Unit

I just got back from the movie Jurassic Park in 3D with my two boys. They have both seen the movie so many times that they can reenact every scene, but you would have thought in the theatre it was their first time. They were both glued to the screen and didn't even touch their candy! Watching the scene where the characters find the Velociraptor eggs gave me a little inspiration of how to introduce my dinosaur unit on Monday. My boys got these giant eggs from the Easter Bunny that have just been laying around their playroom. I just took a little bit of brown and black paint with a sponge brush and created...
 This is what the egg looks like when it is opened. I am going to place one of my boys Velociraptors inside of it and have my classroom kiddos predict and infer what is inside. Maybe I can incorporate this with my nest in the grill???Hmmmmm...
Watching Jurassic Park tonight motivated me to complete and upload my Dinosaur Research Unit in my Teachers pay Teachers store. Click on the link below to be taken to my store.