Donovan’s Word Jar Unit

DONOVAN'S WORD JAR cover

When it comes to instilling a love for reading, there is nothing better than using "real" books. My students love to be read to and constantly adjust their heads trying to get a better look at the illustrations. I'll pause at suspenseful moments and ask them to predict what might happen next. Eagerly we hold our breath as I turn the page. Were we right? Did the characters respond as we had thought? The children cheer at the end and beg for more. It doesn't get much better than that. Research … [Read more...]

Batty for Bats Scavenger Hunt

Bat cover

I like to teach the difference between facts and fable. Young students have many preconceived ideas along with misconceptions. It can be amusing at times to hear their explanations. In October, a great theme for fact and fable is bats. So many people fear these mammals without understanding their importance to controlling the insect population; especially mosquitoes. A fun way to have your students learn more about a topic is through the use of a scavenger hunt! I created a series of fact … [Read more...]

Solution to No Name Papers

ready-for-homework

If you had a dime for every minute you spent trying to figure out whose "No Name" paper belonged to, you'd be rich! For years I have been frustrated by this chronic problem too; especially when there is more than one child forgetting. Then over the summer, I stumbled across this simple, yet amazing idea from Jamie at 2nd Grade Stuff Labeled Clothespins!! Here's what I did: I chose two different colors (boys / girls) that matched my classroom decor colors. I applied acrylic paint to … [Read more...]

Identifying Character Traits in Literature

Character Traits rev 2014

Readers learn about a character  through their actions and words. Rarely does an author directly say the character is curious or hardworking. Instead, the reader is actually using the skill of making inferences to figure this out. For developing readers, identifying character traits can be a challenge. When I introduce this skill, I like to read aloud a story that has a very strong character such as the little wolf in The Wolf Who Cried Boy.   After reading and discussing the … [Read more...]

Organizing for the Common Core K-4th Toolkits

CCS-PROMO-K-4-web

Starting the school year with confidence includes effective organization of all the wonderful resources we've collected. As teachers we are notorious for collecting ideas. It doesn't take long for our files to be filled with potential learning activities. The problem is after all these years, it is hard to separate the good from the clutter.  I knew it was time to revamp my files and what better way than to design attractive labels that also correspond to the Common Core … [Read more...]

Common Core & More Morning Work

Back to School Common Core & More 2nd Grade

Do you wish you had an easy way to review the skills that you have taught? Are you frustrated when your students "forgot" what you taught them a few weeks ago? Have you been wondering how to incorporate the Common Core Standards into your classroom? Are you worried that it is "one more thing" you have to cram into your already busy schedule? Well, I've been in your shoes and it has motivated me to create a solution that will work for students as well as teachers. I am happy to share with … [Read more...]

Frog and Toad: Facts and Fiction

frog and toad characters

Arnold Lobel's beloved characters Frog and Toad are popular stories with developing readers. The characters in this series  provide a great opportunity to practice the skills of compare and contrast. I like to use this story as a launching opportunity to read and write about factual information about frogs and toads. We continue the skill of comparing and contrasting by having the  students analyze a table of data that I created about frogs and toads. Did you know that toads don't have … [Read more...]

Spice Up Their Words

SpiceUpYourWordsPreview

One growth area my students usually need is a wider vocabulary. Frequently,  they get stuck using dull adjectives and boring verbs. So I began thinking of a creative way to get them to spice up their writing. I quickly latched onto the word "spicier" and images of cooking, recipes, and mixing up a tastier paragraph whisked in my brain. Below is an interactive word wall that I created. The bowls are glued onto envelopes to create pouched. The spoons contain synonyms for the overused words. The … [Read more...]

Community Helpers – Booklist

Community Helpers 17

This week we are launching a unit on communities. One area of focus is on the importance of people helping other people to meet their needs. As part of learning about goods and services, we spend some time learning about different ways people make our communities a better place. Last week, our Harcourt Trophies story was Good-Bye Curtis by Kevin Henkes. In this story, Curtis has faithfully delivered the mail to his community for 42 years. During that time he has befriended many families. He … [Read more...]