Sunday, September 29, 2013

Community Detective and Giveaway

My 2nd graders are studying communities, comparing and contrasting the 3 different types.  So, I made this activity where they could be community detectives.  This activity enables students to be a "detective" as they look at 3 mystery communities. There is an example of each type of community: urban, suburban, and rural. Using pictures clues, and facts about each community, students need to infer as to which type of community each one is and provide reasons for them thinking so.

There is also a writing piece to have students choose which of the three mystery communities (names of the real communities are provided at the end) that they would want to live in when they grow up and what characteristics of the community would make them want to live there. This activity works well in pairs or in small groups so that students can discuss their reasoning, but could also be completed individually as well.

I am willing to giveaway this activity to the first two people who leave a comment about how they think this would work best in their classroom (individual, pairs, or small groups), and also includes their e-mail as well.  It will also be available in my TPT store as well.  Click here if you are interested in looking at it there.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fall Leaf Similes

I really enjoy Facebook for keeping up with friends and family (and former colleagues at my old school). After the fall giveaway that many teachers had, I love it even more!   Hopefully you too were able to stop by and pick up some free things to use in your classroom!  One of the items that I picked up, I used this week in my room was this product: (click on the picture to purchase it from TPT)

My students really enjoyed writing and sharing their similes about fall. I also posted the definition so the kids can walk down the hall and possibly learn something while they are doing so.  When I taught 3rd grade and we had to take bathroom breaks, students had a choice in the hallway: book, writing notebook, or practicing their math facts.  It worked well and kept them quiet:)  We use our fingers to silently practice our math facts if we have an extra minute or two.

I are some pictures of my board:

"Leaves are orange like tigers."  I love how the leaf has tiger stripes!
"A fall leaf is orange like a pumpkin"
Being a split teacher, I try to take what I can from what each grade is doing by keeping up with my teammates.  After talking with one of my 1st grade teammates, I have decided that our next writing project will be a shared writing project about leaves which integrates nicely into both curriculums (1st grade-seasons, 2nd grade-plants).  Then the students will be able to choose from several other fall topics: pumpkins, bones, bats, and owls to write their own research reports as well. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Adding Details to Writing

My mentor teacher (she was my mentor when I started but 10 years later I still learn from her) shared this idea with me and I think that it works really well!  Many of you like me probably use sequencing cards such as these:
I have used them for many years.  However, my mentor  teacher showed me how to extend them even more.  I copy a set onto a piece of paper with picture space, but this is optional.  We talked about the pictures and what was going on and the order that they go in.  Then, I told them it was their job to think of a story about the pictures.  They could not just say, "The dog is dirty.  The dog took a bath.  The dog is clean." 
I told them that they had to name their dog, and tell a story about how it got dirty.  Then they had to think about the bath...who was giving it a bath?  How did the dog feel?  Then they were able to work on their endings.  After everyone wrote their stories, they had time to share them.  They really enjoyed (and so did I) seeing how they all saw the same pictures but had very different stories about what had happened in them.  This really helped my students with adding details.

It is very interesting to see how kids can sequence these sometimes.  I had one student who told me that the dog was clean, but then it played in a mud puddle, and the ending was that it had to take a bath. 

Happy writing!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Social Studies Fun!

I have had so much fun with social studies these last few days and so have my kids! First, we started to write to our pen pals in Manitoba, Canada.  I am excited for many reasons for this, especially being able to be pen pals with a class from a different country.  They are a 2/3 split class so this will work nicely with my 1/2 split.  Since we live in the Detroit area, many of my students have visited Canada as it is a short drive away.  Once we looked at the map to see where our pen pals live, they learned quickly that it was much more than a short drive away!  Both the other teacher and I purchased this product on TPT so that we can have a variety of ways to write to each other.  I highly recommend this product if you want to try some different things than just sending letters!

We also started our "Green City" (named after our school) project this week as well.  This will be a yearlong project that both 1st and 2nd graders will work on.  This is also a TPT product that I purchased for this year.  It says that it is for 2nd-3rd grade, but I am making it work for my 1st graders.  I will be adapting this project as needed to fit the needs of my class and curriculum.  The students are really enjoying it so far!
First, a very sweet friend of mine came in before school started and drew the bird's eye/plane view map on a bulletin board that I have.  I think that the board will be helpful so I can easily staple/tack up what we need on there throughout the year.  The students came up with names for our city, and the final vote (and not a close one) was to name it "Green City."
We also discussed the various landforms shown in the picture.  Before I colored it, they made sure to tell me that they wanted their mountains to be snow-capped.  This is perfect as my 2nd graders study landforms.  We also discussed our pioneers that were arriving to our land.

Today, the 1st graders made water color fall trees as we are studying fall in science.  We discussed the different colors that we see on trees in the fall.  They will be making trees for the other seasons as well as the year goes on.  The 2nd graders were limited into their water color painting of their log cabins, but understood after we discussed the materials that the pioneers had available to them.  I promised them that they would have a chance to use more colors later this year:)  

Monday, September 9, 2013


I have been busy settling into my new year with my students and my new school!  I am really enjoying my class!  After leaving school today, I feel like I am finally catching up to what I need to do.  Now, I get to do sub plans for Thursday as I am helping match the report card with the new math program.

Well, anyway...for those of you who are interested in a flash freebie, please check out my Facebook page as I am giving away one of my products for the next 15 minutes or so!  Make sure to follow that page so you can watch for my flash freebies.  Have a great evening!

Monday, September 2, 2013


I am having my first flash freebie tonight! Check out my Facebook fan page to see what popular product that I will be giving away for free until about 9 eastern time!  It has to do with math.   Please leave positive feedback if you find it to be helpful. I'll give you a has to do with math. Now...back to trying to relax as tomorrow is my first day at my new school with my new 1st and 2nd graders! :)