Thursday, April 17, 2014

Animal Classification and Habitats Unit
Animal Group Posters from my Animal Classification/Habitats Unit

     Okay, so I seriously put off writing this post all day because I'm totally embarassed by how long it's been since I last wrote a blog post......whoops.  I think I may have set a new record for blog neglect. But it's all good because it is SPRING BREAK baby, and I finally have some time to blog!!  I seriously don't know what I would have done if Spring Break had not come this was SO late this year and me and my kiddos were SO ready for a break.  I love my little ones, but you all know how it gets when it's been too long without a break....whew!  Anyway, I started off my break by skipping town and heading down to Atlanta to see my sister.  It was great not being home, because when I had free time there was nothing I could do! And I never get to just do nothing. You know, when you're at home and you have a moment of free time you feel like you need to be DOING something....laundry, unloading the dishwasher, paying bills, checking email, etc. you know the drill.  But when you're at somebody else's house you aren't at your house to do anything, so you can just chill.  It was bliss.
Animal Group & Habitats Student Response Booklets

      And........ then I came home and did what only psycho teachers do - I sat on my laptop for two days straight making the unit that this blog post is featuring.  I didn't shower, I didn't leave the house, and I didn't get out of my pajamas.  It was ridiculous and totally unhealthy....but it's done and it's going to be awesome!  I can't wait to start my animals unit!  This is the first time I have gotten to teach animals, because the past 5 years I was in 1st grade and we didn't have any animal standards.  And now that I'm in 2nd grade, we do!! So I'm really excited, and I know my kids are going to love their animals and habitats booklet.
Animal Habitat Posters with Fact Sheets

    My motivation for creating this unit was the fact that I sometimes feel like social studies and science gets pushed to the sideline and done "halfway" if you know what I mean.  In 2nd grade at my school, social studies and science is not actually graded, so it tends to have less emphasis put on assessment, but I always want to know what my kids have learned and I want them to have some record or hands-on proof that they have learned something in our thematic unit....hence the animals and habitats student booklets I created!  The two main standards for animals in our unit are on classifying animals into their different groups and learning about the different habitats and how they support life for the animals who live there. So I made a poster set for each animal group and habitat to help my students learn the different types (in addition to some great videos on the animal groups and habitats on United Streaming/Brain Pop, etc),  and then I made a booklet for students to respond to and record what they have learned!  My kids love having something to take home with them to show their families what they have learned in class as well, so it's a win win! I'm also working on some animal life cycle and food chain activities Animal Unit Volume 2 will be on the way soon!   
     I hope this helps some of you guys who are getting ready to teach animals.  You can get this unit in my TPT store right now! Just click any of the pictures above to purchase.  And for those of you out there on your week off....Happy Spring Break!!!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Holiday Snowman Fun!

      Hey friends!  It is a very rainy and dreary Saturday, and the hubby is away, so I figured what better kind of a day to sit on the couch in my bathrobe and blog!  I just wish all this precipitation coming down was snow!!! :(  That's good ole South Carolina for you though...cold winter rain and NO snow! 
     So, now that the holidays are over I actually have some time to blog about them! Pretty sad, huh?  I sometimes only find time to blog about holiday related stuff AFTER the actual holiday has passed (Does anyone else have this issue??) and now nobody wants to read about the holidays, but maybe you can use the ideas for next year!!  This year was truly the year of the SNOWMAN! Everything this year ended up being snowman themed. I didn't really plan it that way, but it all came together and was a blast!!
       One thing that I had seen on the internet several different time is this neat concoction called "snow paint."  I've been wanting to try it forever, so I figured what better time to do it than for our holiday party.  Basically, snow paint is just shaving cream and Elmer's school glue mixed together.  But what's so cool about it is it dries puffy so it looks like actual snow!   All I did to make it was just squirt a big pile of shaving cream on a plastic plate and dump a regular sized bottle of Elmer's glue on top of it and mix it up with my finger.  I put one plate of snow paint in the middle of each table group and let the kids go to it!  I told them they could only use two fingers to put in the snow paint.  This made it MUCH easier for them to paint and made the project much less messy.  The couple of kids who chose not follow directions did not have nearly as good of a turnout on their picture. Because they used their whole hands, it smeared all over and made it look really messy and not like a snowman.  The ones that turned out the best were done with two fingers in a swirling motion. They turned out SOOOOOO cute!!!   I loved them!


  - one plastic plate for each table group
  - 1-2 cans shaving cream (get the cheap stuff - Barbasol)
  - 1 bottle of Elmer's school glue for each table group
  - Paper buttons, eyes, and noses cut out
   DIRECTIONS:   Squirt a big pile of shaving cream (entire diameter of plate and about 5 inches high or so) onto each plate to go at each table group. Pour a whole bottle of glue on top of each shaving cream pile.  Mix the shaving cream and glue on each plate together and put at each table.  After the kids are done snow painting, give them paper buttons, eyes, and noses to press into the snow while it is still wet.  It will dry and stick to the snowman. 

       Every year I also have my students make an ornament for their parents as a gift.  I've done the cinnamon and applesauce ornaments, the puzzle piece wreath picture ornament, the candy cane bead ornament, the snowman hand print ornament, and the list goes on.  This year I wanted a change, so I took a few ideas I found on Pinterest, tweaked them, and the result was a super cute snowman cotton ball ornament!   Back in November, I was shopping with my sister on Black Friday, and I found these plastic clear ball ornaments at Walmart.  I was so excited!! I love the look of the pretty clear ball ornaments and how versatile they are for craft projects, but they totally stink for kids because they are glass.  I cannot tell you how many glass ball ornaments that have gotten broken over the years before they even made it home!  So the plastic ones were absolutely perfect!  They were totally kid proof. :)

        - Class set of plastic ball ornaments from Wal-Mart
        - 3 large bags of cotton balls
        - black fabric paint (the kind that dries puffy)
        - orange fabric paint (the kind that dries puffy)
        - ribbon for ornament hanger

        - Give each student an ornament.
        - Show them how to remove the ornament top.
        - Let students stuff cotton balls into the glass ball until it is filled almost to the top.
        - Replace the ornament tops.
        - Paint eyes and mouths on the snowmen with black puff paint.
        - Paint a carrot nose on the snowmen with orange puff paint.
        - Write names on the backside of each students' ornament with a black sharpie.

  For our holiday party, we also played the snowman race game.  I did not come up with this idea, and I'm not sure who to attribute the idea to, but a friend told me about it, and it ended up being a blast!! I think it was probably one of the funniest games I've ever played with my kids. 
   All I did was put the kids into groups of 3.  I gave each group one roll of toilet paper, three paper buttons, a paper carrot nose, and a scarf (strip of fleece fabric fringed on the ends).  I let them choose which one of them would get to be the "snowman." When I said go, they used the toilet paper to wrap up their "snowman" friend and decorate him.  Whichever group got finished first was the winner.  After each round, I gave the groups another round of toilet paper, and we raced again and let them choose another student be the "snowman."  After 3 rounds, all 3 students in each group had gotten a chance to get wrapped up.  We reused the buttons, carrot nose, and scarf each time and just got a new roll of toilet paper for each round. The kids thought this game was hilarious and so did I!!  So much fun....
  - 1 roll of toilet paper for each child in your class
  - strips of fleece fabric for "scarves" (enough for each group of 3 students to have 1 scarf)
  - paper buttons (3 buttons for each group of 3 students)
  - paper carrot nose (1 carrot for each group of 3 students)

Our day of snowman fun was a blast!!  I can't wait to come up with some fun new ideas for next year! Hope you all had a Happy New Year!!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Non-Fiction Text Feature Book, Non-Fiction All About Book, & GIVEAWAY

   Happy Veteran's Day friends!!  Thank you, Veterans, for your service to our country and for this fabulous day off from school!!  It's been sooooo nice to get some things done today. I've got laundry in the wash, cupcakes in the oven (I get to celebrate my sweet niece's 2nd birthday tonight with the fam!), did some major Christmas pinning on Pinterest (that was a SUPER productive 2 hours....NOT!), and some school work!
    Anyway, I've been meaning to blog about this FOR - EH- VAH, but as usual, blogging gets overtaken by that pesky thing called LIFE. :)  But anyway, my kiddos have been overtaken by some non-fiction lately!  Oh, and little side note.....what do you guys call non-fiction??  Do you call it non-fiction or informational text, or both??  And do you use the two terms interchangeably? I know that's random, but it's been bothering me because I see activities listed under both terms, and I know it's the same thing, but I never know which one is more appropriate to use or if it even matters!!  Goodness gracious..that was a bird-walking moment if I've ever seen one.  BUT...we've been reading non-fiction/informational text (there, I covered all my bases), we've been studying non-fiction text features, we've been writing non-fiction, and more!  The kids are loving it too.    I don't know about you all, but when I'm about to do a project with my kids, I have to have some kind of an organized template for how they will record/write down information or I just go crazy.  I know some teachers can just let their kids staple some paper together and write and glue random things on it, and I envy you.  But I just can't handle it.  It makes me batty...  I like uniformity.  I have control issues...I know this, and I'm working on it.  But in the meantime, making a template for my kid's projects keeps me sane. 
      We have done two projects lately with our non-fiction study. The first was a non-fiction text feature scavenger hunt type project where the kids went through Time for Kids magazines and other magazines and found examples of all the different text features we studied and made their own book.  This project was a blast!!!  It was incredibly messy and quite time consuming, but it was authentic work and worth the time and effort.  Click the picture above to find this great book on my TPT store!
It's only $1.00!!
Here are my sweet babies (no pun intended) with their AWESOME non-fiction text feature books!  They did such a great job!!

       The next non-fiction/informational text (this term thing is driving me crazy..) project we did was in writing.  Each student chose a topic that they wanted to research.  We gathered books, articles, etc on each students topic and they are creating "All-About" books on their topic.  Now this kind of thing is another type project that just throws me into a tizzy sometimes too.  Research projects are so meaningful and so much fun for the kids, but they can be utter chaos.... because every child is doing something different, and it can be hard to manage if there isn't organization....which is another reason why I've created an entire set of documents devoted to "All About" book organization!! 
This unit ties in seamlessly with the non-fiction text feature book project because it basically has the kids write a non-fiction book using a lot of the text features that they just learned about!  It has a planning form for students to brainstorm ideas about their topic for research, then a rough draft form that is organized so students can plan out the names of their headings for each section, their text, and their glossary, etc.  Finally, it has the actual book template where students can publish their own non-fiction "All About" book.  It has a cover page, table of contents, pages with places for headings, captions, labels, and photographs, as well as a glossary and all about the author page!  I love it!!  And I hope you do too!
    If you are in the middle of a non-fiction unit and would like these two units, I would LOVE to give them away, so the first 3 people who FOLLOW MY BLOG, FOLLOW MY TPT STORE (, and COMMENT ON THIS POST with your email will get these two units for FREE! Happy Veteran's Day!
     Love, Beth

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Math Station FREEBIE!

Click to download this FREEBIE!!!
         Happy Fall Ya'll!!  I can't believe it's already the end of October!  It's so crazy.  I feel like school just started...  But tomorrow will be a wake up call reminding me that we're already 1/4 of the way through the school year, because 1st 9 weeks report cards go home!  Yet another highlight of this week is going to be Halloween!  Although I'm SO not into all the creepy, scary, vampire & zombie stuff that has overtaken the month of October, I do love fall and the silly-fun side of Halloween..which is why I'm looking forward to doing some neat Fall/Halloween activities with my kids on Thursday.  I've been working for a couple of weeks on a Halloween math activity pack for my math stations that are based on the 2nd Grade Common Core standards.  I can't wait to use it with my kids this week!  I think they are going to have a blast! Anyway, for those of you who are needing a last minute fun and engaging activity to do with your kiddos on Halloween, here is a freebie for you! (Click on the picture to download).  If you like this freebie, check out my Spooktacular Halloween Common Core Math Activities Pack in my TP Store.                            Happy Halloween!!     Love, Beth

Friday, September 6, 2013

Short Vowel Word Work FREEBIE (Short e, o, & u)

     TGIF!!  How come four day weeks always seem longer?! Haha. I can't believe I am already done with week 3 of school!  My how time flies....  My 2nd graders are doing beautifully so far this year, and I am LOVING how much more independent they are than my little firsties last year.  I loved my first graders...but WOW...what a difference! The words, "Okay, now let's use our editor's marks to edit and revise our writing" would have never come out of my mouth during the first week of school.  It took us that long just to get procedures down.  So it's been a nice change, needless to say....though I do miss my wonderful first grade team members!
   Anyway, as any of you who have gone from teaching 1st Grade to 2nd Grade know, there are many overlaps with the standards and a lot of review, especially at the beginning of the year. So, while I have been able to use some of my same ideas as last year, I've had to tweak them to make them more 2nd Grade appropriate.  I've been working on revamping my Vowel Word Work packs, and I thought I'd share one of my activities as a FREEBIE!  My kids have enjoyed doing this fun write the room activity,
and it is more challenging than a traditional word sort because the kids aren't just sorting words that are already written.....they are having to look at pictures, think of the sounds, and write the words themselves.  Click one of the pictures to download! Enjoy!!

    Have a great weekend!!   - Beth

Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm O-FISH-ALLY in 2nd Grade! FREEBIE

      Our Meet the Teacher night is coming up soon, and I can't wait to meet my new 2nd Graders!  It is  going to be weird seeing bigger kids! Haha. The last 5 years, teaching 1st Grade, it has been so different because the kids are so tiny coming up from Kindergarten!  I know being in a new place and meeting new people is hard for some kiddos, so I wanted to give my new 2nd Graders (I can't call them "firsties" anymore....geez! What do you call 2nd graders?  Secondies?? That just doesn't sound right!! haha) a little treat from me to welcome them, so I made these little gift tags to put onto a bag of goldfish for a snack!  These tags actually have a page for 1st Graders too... so one page says "I'm O-FISH-ally in 1st Grade" and one says "I'm O-FISH-ally in 2nd Grade."  Click the picture to download!  Enjoy!!
            - Beth

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Clip Chart Behavior Management System with Monthly Calendars FREEBIE

**** 7-10-14 Update!! The NEW 2014-2015 Clip Chart Management System & Calendars are available on my TPT Store at the following link ****  

Hey ya'll!!!  Summer is almost over.... :( Boo hoo....I can't believe the school year is about to begin!! It's so bittersweet.  I'm super excited to start a new school year (I LOVE new beginnings and a fresh start!) but also sad to give up my days of sleeping in and being on my own schedule.  I'm pretty sure my husband does not feel bad for me though....haha.  I think he'll be glad for me to start back so I can't be home spending money! ;) 

    Anyway, I don't know about all of you, but with the start of a new school year, one of the first things I want to have firmly in place is a behavior management system...and a good one at that!  I have tried several different systems over the past several years, and the one that I used this past school year seemed to work the best out of all the ones I've tried, so I am going to do it again!  I did some tweaking to the clip chart system I used last year, though, and changed "Outstanding" to "Outstanding LEADER" since my school does The Leader in Me and focuses on developing the 7 Habits and Leadership skills in our students.  I also made monthly behavior calendars to go along with the clip chart system to help me communicate behavior daily to parents.  This is going to be a change for me since before I was using a weekly behavior communication sheet.  I liked the weekly sheet because I had more room to write in notes/comments, giving parents more detailed information about good things their child did that day and more info about poor choices they may have made too so the parents had some info to follow up with the child at home.  But it truly was getting difficult and time consuming to write notes.  So I came up with a behavior code with numbers that correspond to different behaviors, so I can refer to the numbers to let parents know what specific behaviors their child struggled with (I always feel that is important so the parents have some info to address things at home effectively).   I think I am going to like the monthly calendars because they are going to be more manageable and less paper to have to copy each week.  They are also very self explanatory, so I hope parents will find them user friendly and communicative.
   Along with this management pack is a parent letter to explain the system, student award certificates for when the students reach "Outstanding Leader" and a "Outstanding Leader Hall of Fame" poster for students to retire their clips when they have reached Outstanding Leader 5 times.  The first 3 teachers to comment on this post and leave their email get this pack for FREE!!!  Or if you would like to purchase this behavior management pack, click on the picture to go to my TPT store.  It's only $1.99!!
    Does anyone use monthly calendars in their classrooms now?  I'd love to know what you think about them, how they work for you, and any tips you have!!
    Happy Teaching!!

               Love, Beth