Wednesday, May 18, 2016

End of the Year Prep Ideas

The end of the school year buzz has already begun. Whether you have a week or several weeks left of school, the warm, summer sun and lazy summer days are quickly approaching! And believe me, I am counting down the days until I can enjoy it!
I always like to spend some time, at the end of the year, prepping for the new school year that awaits. I know some of you are just surviving this year, however, I tend to enjoy my time off in the summer when I know some of the prep is already complete!

The following ideas are just a few suggestions of things that work for me. I hope you can take one or two of the ideas away with you and ease your way back into the classroom in the fall.

Copy School Forms 
I always take the time to copy all my Back To School forms, which I will send home the first week of school. I put them in my file cabinet and label a folder "First Week of School". This helps me find them easily and I spend less of my summer standing at the copy machine when school is headed back into session.

Bind Books
I also spend some time preparing my "what do I do when I am done?" books. These B.A.T. books from Lucky To Be In First are an awesome fast finisher resource. I take time at the end of the year to copy and bind a class set of books. I use her first grade book as review skills at the beginning of the year. Then I use the second grade book for the second semester until the end of the year as review of the second grade skills I have taught. I used a Book Creator heat binding machine to quickly seal the published books...into my closet they go for the new school year!

Create Labels
 I make sure to create as many of my generic labels ahead of time. I can't put the kids' names on anything just yet, but I can make my folder labels and stick them on. Here I have my unfinished work, writing folder, and warm up folder labels already printed and stuck on the front of a class set of folders. All I have to do in the fall is add their name stickers!

Prep Interactive Notebooks
I LOVE using interactive notebooks in my classroom. But my little second graders need lots of help learning how to organize themselves. I make sure to prep their interactive notebooks by putting on the cover and adding standards tabs so they know where to glue the pages they are working on. Everything is color coded and labeled so there is little room for error. I also glue an envelope to the inside cover for small pieces that may not get glued if time runs out.

Copy Morning Warm Up Pages
The first thing my students do in the morning, when they arrive to class, is to turn in their homework and put their personal items away. When they are done, they take out their warm up folder from their desk and complete one page in their printing/sight word packet and their daily review page. This gives me time to deal with morning business and my students are all engaged (for the most part). I like to have these pages copied and stapled ahead of time. 

Prepare Supply Boxes
I like my students to have individual supply boxes. I know many of you feel otherwise or have a different system. BUT I like everyone to have their own supplies and take ownership and responsibility for them. There are some supplies we share such as glue and scissors. The basic items (crayons, pencils, glue stick, erasers etc.) are kept in their own boxes. I like to reinforce the boxes with our duck tape of our school colors and mascot's paws! I personalize the boxes in the fall with each student's name.

Create A Countdown Chain
This isn't really an idea to help you prep your classroom for the new school year. It is however, a really fun way to get your current students excited for the next grade. I created a paper cloud and attached color paper chains for each of the days we have left in school. I usually do this for the last 2 or 3 weeks of school. At the end of the day, one student gets to tear the bottom chain off. You can number the chains, write a memory from the year on each one and have a student read it at the end of the day....the ideas are endless. You can grab your grade level cloud HERE for FREE! 

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you can grab a few ideas to use to help you prepare ahead of time and give yourself some well deserved downtime during your summer break! 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Poetry Keepsakes

Are you looking for a great bulletin board display for the end of the year? A meaningful keepsake that will melt your parents' hearts and make them tear up a bit? Then this is the activity for you! Our self portraits and All About Me Poems are one of my most favorite activities I do all year! I love to have them on display for Open House if possible too, 

We start off by drawing self portraits of ourselves. I teach the children about proportions, spacing, using the entire piece of paper etc. We draw everything in pencil first. Then, we use oil pastels to add color to the drawings. My students learn to smudge and blend with the oil pastels to create a smooth skin tone. They love learning how to blend and mix colors to find the perfect blend.  

After we complete our self portraits, I introduce the kids to our poetry format. I give each student a copy of the template. We complete each line one at a time. This can be done as a whole group or small group. You know your students best. I complete it as a whole group. We brainstorm ideas for each line. This seems to get the ideas flowing and gives the kids inspiration to write about themselves. 

You can grab this FREEBIE template for the poems HERE.

Once the students complete the rough drafts of their poems, I type them and print them on bright colored paper. I mount them on black paper to make them POP and stand out.

I display them next to their self portraits and.... TA-DAH! A beautiful display is created. At the end of the year, I put these into each students' art portfolio and they take them home to their parents. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Directed Drawings: More Than Just Art

Directed drawings....have you tried it? In my opinion, it's a MUST in every classroom! I have witnessed so many of my quiet, introverted, students who never raise their hand for anything, flourish during our directed drawing lessons. Let me tell you why directed drawing are so much more than just an art project.

 Improve Listening Skills
During a directed drawing lesson, students are forced to listen and watch each step of the drawing process. This skill can be very tough for many students to master. I breakdown each step so that the entire process is manageable for all the students. I model the first step in front of the whole class. Then, it is the students' turn to try it. I walk around the room and monitor their progress, make adjustments where needed, then I introduce the next step. I try to encourage my students to limit their erasing. Their picture needs to be unique just like they are. It does not need to be a carbon copy of my sample. 

Connect To Other Learning
I always connect our drawing lessons to something we are studying and learning in language arts, science, or social studies. Currently, we are studying the life cycle of plants. This directed drawing lesson was a great connection to that learning. We used our new vocabulary words to describe the parts we were drawing. We discussed how each part functions and its importance. 

Improved Self Esteem
So many students struggle to meet academic benchmarks on a daily basis.  Our directed drawing lessons always seem to boost the self esteem of all my students, but especially my struggling students. These lessons give them a time to shine! There are no right or wrong answers. They can just be themselves and with a little guidance, they flourish! 

Evidence for Portfolios
I keep all our directed drawings from the year and create a "photo album" for the students to take home at the end of the year. They can see their growth from August to June. It also is a wonderful keepsake for their families. Sometimes we connect a writing assignment to our drawings, which is also a wonderful way to document all they have learned.

I hope you will give directed drawings a try in your classroom. Use the picture above to model the steps and get started today. Your students will love it!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Differentiating Instruction With Task Cards

I am super excited to be linking up this month with the iTeachSecond linky! This month I am sharing my love of task cards with all of you.

I LOVE using task cards in my classroom!! They provide such a versatile way to review skills quickly and in a meaningful way. My students love to grab a set of cards and a recording sheet. Sometimes they work with a partner. Sometimes they work independently. Sometimes we work on them as a whole class. But no matter how they are being used, the kids are engaged and learning!

To help differentiate my instruction, I make sure whatever skill I am working on with my students is asked in different ways and at different levels. Some of the cards contain multiple choice responses. Sometimes they need to fill in the blank. And sometimes the answers are open-ended and they need to write a sentence or explain their reasoning.

Just this week, we reviewed cause and effect skills. I had the kids work in groups of four to discuss and reason their answers with one another. Each group received 3 task cards. After 4 minutes, they rotated to the next table together and completed 3 different cards. Once they had rotated through the tables, we met as a whole group and discussed the answers they came up. It was great to see them working together, justifying their answers, and explaining their reasoning.

I keep all my task card sets on metal rings. I hang the skills we are working on, along with a few review concepts on hooks in my classroom. This makes it easy for the kids to independently grab what they need to work on. When they are finished, the find the corresponding answer sheet, I keep in our task card binder and correct their work. When we work on a set as a whole group, I project the cards for everyone to see. Then, they record their answers on the provided student recording sheet. We always discuss our answers and correct as we go.

Are you ready to start using task cards in your classroom? To help get you started, I have this set of task cards as a FREEBIE for you to try out. If you love using them in your classroom, as much as I do, head over to my TpT store and check out all my MATH and ELA task card sets to help differentiate your students' learning.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Winter So. Cal Blog Hop & Giveaway

I am so excited to be joining a fabulous group of bloggers from sunny Southern California to bring you....

I love winter in Southern California! The weather is usually cool and crisp, but NOT too cold that you can't be outside playing some baseball (yes, we play it year round here) or enjoying the outdoors. 

Hikes in the nearby mountains are always a family favorite!

Although we love our So. Cal winters, it is sometimes fun to visit other cities. This winter we took a family trip to the amazing city of Chicago! My kids got to experience snow falling and daily temperatures below 32 degrees. It was an incredible trip and a wonderful experience for my kids.

With the New Year upon us, it is always a time to reflect and carve a path for this coming year. 
I hope I can help you start your New Year off right with this little FREEBIE! These pages are a great compliment to my Math Interactive Notebooks and Word Problem Math Task Cards.

After you grab your free goodies and enter our fabulous Rafflecopter giveaway, continue the hop by heading over to visit my fellow blogging buddy, Shelly, at Smiling and Shining in 2nd Grade!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

MLK Activities and a FREEBIE

It's hard to believe it is 2016 and we are already half way through January! I just went back to work this week. We had an incredible three week vacation and now reality has set in. My teacher planning wheels are in full gear. 

We jumped in with both feet and started learning about Martin Luther King Jr. I was able to get some of the activities done that I had planned, but our learning is going to continue for several weeks. Tolerance and acceptance of others is not a one month lesson! 

I started off the week by reading this book about Martin Luther King Jr.'s life. It was just the right amount of informational text for my kiddos. I hooked them, but didn't lose their interest! Win-win!

Then I used the vocabulary cards from my Martin Luther King Jr. packet to help with comprehension and understanding. We followed up with a vocabulary review page that we used in our ELA interactive notebooks.

As we were reading different books about MLK's life, we created this classroom timeline. It is a great visual reference for my students. I have seen several of them getting up and checking the timeline while they are working on follow up activities. A teacher's dream! 

We also started working on a paper bag interactive books about MLK's life. Oh, how the kids L-O-V-E-D this activity. It was engaging and meaningful because they were in the process of learning about MLK's life. I prepped and stapled the paper bags ahead of time for the kids. They colored and cut each of the parts. Then, as a class, we assembled the books, so there was little room for error.

All these activities can be found in my Martin Luther King Jr. packet

And now it's time for a FREEBIE. Here is a True and False Flap Book to kick start or add to your Martin Luther King Jr. activities. It can be completed whole group, in partners, or independently depending on your group of students. Use the link above or click on the picture to download your copy.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope everyone enjoys their long weekend! 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

New Year Resolution FREEBIE

It is hard to believe that 2015 is coming to an end and 2016 is just around the corner. Most of us are just fully  emerged in winter break and can barely think about anything except making sure our alarm clocks are turned off! 

However, some of us are planners! Me.. Me...Me!!! In preparation for the New Year, I created and prepped these resolution crafts for my kiddos to complete the first week we are back from break.

All the templates are included to create a boy or girl New Year's Resolution booklet.

All you have to do is copy the templates on white paper. Next, choose if you want your students to write a personal resolution or a school resolution. I am going to make an anchor chart  and have a discussion with my class, so they have ideas about what resolutions are and what they mean. Finally, cut and staple the pages together to make your booklets.

You can grab this activity with all the templates for your class too! Just click on the picture below and grab your FREE copy! 
Happy New Year everyone!