August 13, 2016

The First Week of Second Grade


I DID IT! I survived the first week of second grade, again!

It was actually probably my best first week yet!

I spent lots of time at the end of the year preparing for back to school. Opening my Back to School box was such a relief, because so much work was already done!

Of course, those are the perks of staying at the same school and teaching the same grade level in the same room. Life doesn't always work out that nicely.

But as for this year, it was wonderful!

We started off the year with First Year Jitters and "jitter juice." I know this is a popular first day activity, but I had never done with before. After researching "jitter juice" recipes, I ended up going with knock-off Sprite and rainbow sprinkles. Although I loved the sprinkles, next year I plan to add some color somehow, probably by mixing in a little punch.



I continued to use First Day Jitters as a mentor text all week, because I am trying Jivey's mentor sentences this year

Another favorite first day activity that we did was a snowball fight! I start off by getting the kids thinking about their summers. Raise your hand... if you went to the beach! ...if you went to the pool! ...if you went to a different state! ...if you watched TV! ...if you read a book! ........ if you had a SNOWBALL FIGHT! Of course not.

I got the snowball fight idea from another teacher a few years back. Students write 3 facts about themselves on a piece of paper but do not write their names. Then they make "snowballs" by crumpling up the papers. I usually give students the length of one song to have their snowball "fight." When the song ends, they unroll and read their snowballs aloud one at a time and we try to guess who wrote it. My kids this year did such a great job that I gave them another chance to throw their snowballs afterwards!

















Another favorite that I always do it graph our first day feelings. I did it at the end of the day this year, and I allowed the students to come up with the feelings. We had had a fantastic fun day, so they were feeling good! (And I am totally flattered that someone came up with "lucky!" Be still my heart!) Results in the morning are always a little different. I saw that a good friend of mine had her students graph their feelings in the morning and then again in the afternoon to compare. I'm doing that next year!


We jump into writing quickly during the first week. Students always love doing Me & We Books, which I have done since my first year teaching (thanks to my amazing first team)! I pair up the students to work on the pages together. I always make sure that lower-achieving or ELL students are in groups of three in order to eliminate pressure during the first week. When they are done, we turn them into a book. I used Astrobrights this year and our book is gorgeous!!





These books always take forever for some reason, so I give them a few days to work on it. While my students were working on their pages on our first day, I called them individually to take first day pictures!

I've never done pictures before, so I have no idea what I'm going to do with them... ha! Any great ideas? They sure are cute, though!  This chalkboard apple is from the Target Dollar Spot. (I have a love/hate relationship with that place.)



Here are some other things that we did during the first day:


















1: First Day Feelings - I promise that sticky note above "afraid" had "lucky" written on it, so I moved it! Scouts honor!

2: We reflected on all of the day's activities, then the students voted on their favorite.

3: After I introduced Class Dojo and my behavior management system, we talked about what makes a good student and what makes a good teacher.

4: Also after discussing behavior, we wrote and signed our own Class Constitution.

WHEW!

This year, I saved some of my favorite activities to do throughout the week, instead of stuffing them all into one day. It made our first day a lot less chaotic and a little more enjoyable!

Students ALWAYS LOVE playing All About Me Four Corners! It's a great way to get the students up and moving. You also get to observe reading/comprehension skills as well as who can follow directions and maintain self-control during a game. It's very telling!



This year, I totally STOCKED UP on these back to school books, recommended by Theresa from True Life I'm a Teacher. I totally trust her and ordered about 8 new back to school books from Amazon to add to my collection!



Some of our favorite books that we read this week are Maria Dismondy's books that are all about character education and promoting kindness. We haven't read them all yet, but so far, Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun is definitely the favorite!

I am in love with Chandra's Kindness Counts unit. Her unit, along with my new books, have definitely improved our classroom community already. Look how cute!!!!


I used this prompt, after reading Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, as the first narrative writing of the year. It was a pre-assessment that also allowed me to get to know the students all in one, and I love how it looks on my writing board!



I also love using my Back to School news writing activity during the first week. This week I did it kind of unofficially, and the students worked on their pages, as they desired, during morning work. I use a choice board in the morning, so it was optional. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to spend on this project this week!



I'm using tables this year instead of desks (for the first time) so we, as a class, spent a lot of time talking about how we were going to organize our supplies differently than they did in first grade.

These caddies aren't mine (because mine aren't cute enough) so can we please take a moment to admire how adorable The Elementary Darling's caddies are?! (Sigh!)



Lastly, I introduced Daily 5 this week with my students. The first lesson we teach is that there are 3 ways to read a book: Read the pictures, read the words, and retell a familiar story.

I always use Peter Spier's RAIN to teach about reading illustrations, but I bought a new book this year to teach reading the words. My students ABSOLUTELY LOVED The Book With No Pictures. Why did I wait so long to buy this book?! It's hilarious and so perfect for this lesson!


Other than all of that, we filled the rest of our time with learning and practicing behavioral expectations and classroom routines. I taught lots of PBIS lessons (given to me by my admin) and made sure my students know that I have very high expectations for them. 

Did I miss anything? 
What are you favorite first week activities that I should add to my repertoire? 

Let me know in a comment below, and good luck with your first week!




**This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By purchasing an item from Amazon using these links, 

I will receive a small commission on your purchase.**

August 3, 2016

Simple Back to School Student Gifts (with a FREEBIE!)

It's about that time. My Sneak Peek (or Meet the Teacher, whatever you want to call it) is on THURSDAY MORNING. Eeeek!

I truly cannot believe that it is already time to meet my next batch of babies. I can't wait, but I'm also on edge! What a crazy time of year this is, filled with so many emotions!

At my school, we are encouraged to have treats at Sneak Peek for students to take home with them.

I prefer to do treats that are practical and not annoying, that was parents don't immediately hate me, and affordable for me!

The past few years I have done Goldfish with a cute tag glued onto them. This year I decided to be a little more exciting and I bought the RAINBOW goldfish instead of the original orange Goldfish. Crazy, I know!


You can download the printable card HERE for FREE! They are available for grades K - 6. Print the ones you need, and sign your name on the bottom. Buy some boxes of Goldfish, and ta-da!

What are you giving your students this year?

I'd love for you to follow along, especially on Facebook and Instagram, to see all of my back-to-school ideas and adventures!


July 29, 2016

Back to School Team Gifts (with a free printable!)

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links.**


My team is AWESOME, y'all.

I am so unbelievably lucky to work with them, honestly!

So like so many of us do, I wanted to give each of my teammates a small back-to-school gift.




Well, this idea stemmed from necessity. Our doors are HEAVY, the cheap plastic door stops don't work, and apparently decent door stops disappear in the night. We are all running out of wooden triangular prisms to steal from our geometry kits.

So I decided to give my sweet coworkers a gift that is cute AND practical.

I took to Amazon and chose these door stops because they are white and the sides are smooth - perfect for decorating! They come in packs of two and the price is reasonable, I think! But you can also buy door stops at the Dollar Tree and hardware stores.

 


Next I bought some Sharpie paint markers. I bought the pack with basic colors because I wanted to match our school's colors, but I love the neon pack, too!


I also saw at Target recently that they were selling Sharpie paint pens individually!

Here's the final product:


Want these printable gift tags for yourself? You can download them for free - in a variety of colors -  here!

Ta-da! I hope my teammates absolutely love them!

What do you think? Will you be buying or making gifts for your co-workers?


**This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By purchasing an item from Amazon using these links, 

I will receive a small commission on your purchase.**

July 26, 2016

How Do I Teach ECONOMICS to 2nd Graders?

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By purchasing an item from Amazon using these links, 

I will receive a small commission on your purchase.**

It covers needs and wants, goods and services, & saving and spending. Includes 10 days of lesson plans, all assessments, and a variety of resources. Just add books! Best for grades K-2.

Oh, econ. It was the bane of my existence in college.

Fun fact: Econ was my second lowest grade in college. 
(My lowest grade was the class that I met my husband in... I guess I was a little distracted.)

So how in the world am I supposed to teach ECONOMICS to 7-year-olds?!

Actually, the first time I taught economics, it was to kindergartners. It was during my student teaching, and I had to create my own unit and materials.

When I started teaching second grade and realized I had to teach "financial literacy," a prettier name for economics, I was much more confident. I took my kindergarten unit and expanded it to meet the academic needs of my second graders. 

I will admit that second grade economics is much easier than my college course. Elementary school econ focuses on needs vs. wants, goods vs. services, producers and consumers, and saving and spending. 


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How do I make these concepts fun? 
I use lots of songs, pictures, SCOOTs, great books, and many visual aids. 

Take a peek!

I think music is a great way to teach vocabulary, so each section of the unit has at least one song to go along with it, teaching vocabulary words and meanings.

I also use lots of real images and real life scenarios when teaching this unit. Students are more likely to comprehend when they can make a connection to real life. 

It covers needs and wants, goods and services, saving and spending. Includes 10 days of lesson plans, all assessments, and a variety of resources. Just add books! Best for grades K-2.

All second graders love to SCOOT! This pictured SCOOT is for needs and wants. Students "scoot" around the room and determine whether each card shows a need or a want. Students record the answers on their SCOOT chart. (Answer key included!)

It covers needs and wants, goods and services, & saving and spending. Includes 10 days of lesson plans, all assessments, and a variety of resources. Just add books! Best for grades K-2.

Each important vocabulary word in the unit has it's own mini-poster to serve as a visual aid for your students. Sometimes I hang these words one at a time, and sometimes I put them all on an anchor chart. Each topic uses different colors so that students can easily see which words go together. 

This year, I plan to print these posters 4 to a page, laminate them, and put them on a binder ring for students to refer to during small groups, buddy time, or independent work. 

It covers needs and wants, goods and services, & saving and spending. Includes 10 days of lesson plans, all assessments, and a variety of resources. Just add books! Best for grades K-2.

I love using sorts with younger students. You can use a sort as a pre- and post-assessment or as a comprehension check mid-way through the unit. I usually do picture sorts as a class (using my document camera) soon after introducing the new topic. It's the perfect opportunity for meaningful discussion. Then, I allow students to do the picture sort throughout the unit own their own or with partners. 

It covers needs and wants, goods and services, & saving and spending. Includes 10 days of lesson plans, all assessments, and a variety of resources. Just add books! Best for grades K-2.

I just LOVE the look of the real images, which help little learners make connections to real life. 

It covers needs and wants, goods and services, & saving and spending. Includes 10 days of lesson plans, all assessments, and a variety of resources. Just add books! Best for grades K-2.

The last topic is saving and spending. It's my favorite! (Spending, I mean.) The section allows the opportunity to reinforce students' knowledge of money and counting money. However, there are plenty of resources that do not require students to be able to count coins.

 It covers needs and wants, goods and services, & saving and spending. Includes 10 days of lesson plans, all assessments, and a variety of resources. Just add books! Best for grades K-2.

 The culminating craftivity for saving and spending is a cute piggy bank. Students set a goal to save money for an item that they would like to buy. The following picture is from my kindergarten unit - sorry! - but I do make it more rigorous for my second graders. They choose something under $5 that they want to buy, they write that amount on the piggy bank, and they must show that exact amount using the coins. Social studies AND math - ta da!

It covers needs and wants, goods and services, & saving and spending. Includes 10 days of lesson plans, all assessments, and a variety of resources. Just add books! Best for grades K-2.

Last but not least, also included in the unit is 10 days of lesson plans, quizzes for each section and a final assessment, and lists of resources for both teachers and students. 

It covers needs and wants, goods and services, & saving and spending. Includes 10 days of lesson plans, all assessments, and a variety of resources. Just add books! Best for grades K-2.

You can find my economics unit here.

It covers needs and wants, goods and services, & saving and spending. Includes 10 days of lesson plans, all assessments, and a variety of resources. Just add books! Best for grades K-2.

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MY FAVORITE ECONOMICS READ-ALOUDS:

The following books are my favorite read-alouds for teaching wants / needs, goods / services, and saving / spending:



Those Shoes is about a boy who really wants the shoes that all of the cool kids at his school have. It is a great way to introduce needs and wants. There's a read-aloud video of it on YouTube that I used to use before I bought a copy of the book for myself. Love it!

 

I like to use If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to practice identifying goods and services. We make a T-chart and categorize all of the things that the mouse asks for as either a good or a service. (This chart is part of the unit on TPT, or you can grab it for free here.)


Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday is my all-time favorite book to open discussion about saving and spending. It is hilarious to read about Alexander trying to keep up with his money! (I feel his pain!!)


Here is my complete list of books I've used to deepen my students' understanding of financial literacy:

·      A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams
·      Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
·      Arthur’s TV Trouble by Marc Brown
·      Berenestein Bears and Trouble with Money by Stan and Jan Berenstein
·      Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco
·      How Much Is that Doggie in the Window? by Iza Trapani
·      If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numberoff
·      Just Shopping with Mom by Mercer Mayer
·      Max’s Dragon Shirt by Rosemary Wells
·      The Bag I’m Taking to Grandma’s by Shirley Neitze
·      The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
·      Those Shoes by Maribet Boelts

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"Financial Literacy" (soooo fancy) is the first social studies unit that we teach in second grade, so I will be starting to use these materials, for the fourth time, very soon! 

Do you teach economics? If so, what are your favorite activities?

Have a question? Leave it in the comments!


**This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By purchasing an item from Amazon using these links, 
I will receive a small commission on your purchase.**

July 22, 2016

Sticky Notes Saved My Sanity


As we approach a new school year, I'm here to remind you that your sanity is important!


Last year, I had a particularly chatty class. I was able to manage them pretty well until spring break hit. At that point in the year, they were always excited and roaring with energy that they couldn't seem to contain. I do give my kids plenty of time to talk via brain breaks and think-pair-share, which helps eliminate inappropriate chatting, but I expect them to listen respectfully while I am teaching.

Eventually, I decided that enough was ENOUGH. I couldn't make it through a day block lesson sentence without getting rudely interrupted by a student blurting out.

So I did some research, during which I found the idea of blurt cards and figured out how to make a system that would work for my classroom.

On my first day of attempting blurt cards, I posted about it on my Instagram and Snapchat (@SchoolAndTheCty). Tons of you asked me to share, so here goes!

First, we read and discussed a book.

These are my absolutely favorite books for blurters:

   

I particularly love My Mouth is a Volcano, but Interrupting Chicken is always a fun read as well.

Afterwards, I introduced and explained my blurt card system.

Each time a student blurts out or otherwise interrupts a lesson with their voice (like an inappropriate laugh or sound), they have to mark off a box on his or her blurt card.



I started off with four boxes, but eventually moved to three then two, depending on the student. If a child can make it to dismissal with an empty card, they get a small reward. (PURRR tickets are school-wide PBIS "money" that students can spend at the school store.)



Right now, my fancy-schmancy blurt cards are just good ol' sticky notes. They are easy enough to make a few of each afternoon and stick on desks before I leave. You don't even have to draw the boxes if you don't want to - I just knew my kids needed the visual.

I decided that the best way to go about this is to give ALL of my students the opportunity to earn rewards, not just the kids with poor behavior. I hate when the kids who always do the right thing get left out of behavior incentives. Therefore, each day, 6 kids get blurt cards. Four kids are my special friends that will get blurt cards every day. I also give blurt cards to 2 more students. It's great to compare the results at the end of the day of the volcano kids and non-volcanic kids. And again, I wanted to make sure that my well-behaved students also have the opportunity to be rewarded. Last, I just made a quick schedule to keep in my binder so I can keep track of who hasn't had a turn yet.




The blurt cards worked really well for the last few weeks of the school year. Some of my volcanic littles worked really hard to restrain themselves, and I saw improvement almost immediately. Some of my friends were even weaned off of blurt cards completely before the school year ended.

Good luck with your little volcanoes, and let me know how it goes!


Questions? Ask in a comment below and I'll get back to you!

Pick your favorite place to follow along for more ideas to make your teaching life a little happier! 

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June 23, 2016

From Miss to Mrs.



(IF you are taking your husband's name)

You know all those cute things that you have in your classroom with your name on them? 

They have to go. 
Or else it will cause identity confusion. (Is that a thing?)

Yes, even the cute burlap sign that your bestie made for you.


Even the director's chair cover that a teammate monogrammed for you!



You know all of those things that you made at the beginning of the year for your new classroom? 

Yep, they have to go, too. And you should make some new ones.

Print, laminate, cut, repeat.


Find these letters here for free.


Blog post tutorial here

Do you have vinyl monograms stuck all over the place - on cups, mugs, tumblers (my fave), or tech devices?

It's time to peel those babies off. Get those fingernails ready for battle!



What about BOOKS?!

How many books do you have in your classroom library? 500? 800? Upwards of 1,000?

I bet they all have your name in them. Because no one - NO ONE - wants a students or another teacher to steal your precious copy of The Giving Tree or Holes or Martin's Big Words!!!!

So you'll need to relabel them.

Or, you can have your students do it for morning work on field day. I know a smart teacher who did that... 

...but it wasn't me! I guarantee my students had very rigorous, meaningful morning work, especially on field day... ;)


Special delivery: MORE BOOKS that won't even fit in your book baskets! 


Call me queen of the books... (100th day hat here)


I printed 800 labels at home, and it wasn't enough. THAT'S INSANE.

(Because I relabeled them all myself, remember?)

You'll have to come up with new clever puns or alliterations for team names. 


I am deeply saddened that I can't use this team name anymore... even if my students never understood it.

You'll have to get a new badge since you work for the government and have to wear identification at all times.

Sooooo cute!


Snap with me at SchoolAndTheCty.

If you are lucky, your district isn't a total pain to deal with and they don't charge you $10 for a new badge. (You call THAT a wedding gift?!)

No one will know what to call you next year.

Everyone will know you have a new name (or maybe only Facebook friends and the lunch lady with the great memory) but everyone will know you by your old name, especially kids. Get ready to respond to your old name for a few more years, or at least as long as your former students are still in the building.

But you can set the tone by putting your new name on EVERYTHING to remind everyone.

Especially your gorgeous new planner for next year. 


(Want to try Erin Condren? Use my referral link to get $10 off - no strings!)


All new errrrthing!

Did I forget anything? Let me know in the comments!

I'm off to get married -- EEEEEK -- I'll be back in a few weeks! XO