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Sunday, November 30, 2014

How To Writing Units and a SUPER CYBER TpT Sale!

I'm finally home from our Thanksgiving trip! It was an awesome extended weekend with family and friends.  It is always a little bit crazy with everyone around.  Despite the craziness, everyone makes me laugh. And to top it all off...I made a special friend down the street from my parents house! !

Now that I'm back home and getting ready for work I started to plan ahead for the month of December. The three weeks of teaching before Christmas break always go so, so, so FAST! I created and updated some products, so that I can teach "How To" writing to my second graders.  The first packet is an oldie, but a goodie! It is my original "Peanut Butter and Jelly "How To" Writing Unit.  It is a week-long unit that is a blast to do in your classroom! I've had this in my store for a while, but now it's updated with newer texts, borders, and formatting.

Click on the picture or click HERE to download this packet

I also took some time to create a camping unit to support our new curriculum, Wonders. In second grade, Unit 3, Week 2 the curriculum introduces stories that are all about the nighttime sky, camping, stars, and the sun.  To support this week I created a mini literacy unit on camping for my second graders to do while they read through Wonders awesome stories. I know there are a lot of camping materials and ideas floating around out in the TpT and blogging world, but I have to say that my packet is specifically made for second grade. It is working on the following skills: "how to" writing, similes, present tense verbs, sight words, compound words, comp skills (including: key details, problem and solution, and plot).  

click on the picture or click HERE to download this product. 

It has literacy games, such as sight word fishing and a board game called "Cliff Hangers" that can be added to your L.A. Center stations. I know my kids have much more fun playing games, than doing worksheets.  They interact more, discuss the answers, and use socialization as a way to practice and learn their skills. Here are a few of the games included in the packet:

And of course, included is a week long "how to" unit on making s'mores! It is taught in the same way as the PBJ how to writing unit, but with ooey, gooey, delicious s'mores. 

Check out these great products and more at my TpT site and enjoy a SUPER CYBER SALE, which will be going on from December 1st through December 2nd.  My store will be 20 percent off and you can get additional discounts from TpT by typing the promo code: TPTCYBER.  ENJOY!!!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gobble Gobble! Getting Ready for Thanksgiving Centers

I have been soooo stressed lately.  It should probably be an indicator that I need to go to the gym, do some yoga, or take a bath; instead I end up eating more comfort food, drinking more coffee, and eating all the candy we have leftover from Halloween.  I've pretty much given up hope on eating healthy until after Christmas.  And one more thing that makes me want to cuddle up, not move, and eat lots of hearty meals....uh it is 20 degrees tonight in Pennsylvania - with a "feels like 10 degrees" because of the wind chill.  Now, we get weather like this is PA, but it isn't usually until January!!!  I wasn't ready for this!!! I ended up safety-pinning my winter coat today, because I never sewed on my buttons that fell off last year. Yikes, it was a sight to see, but at least it kept me kind of warm. And to add on to my was the day of our 6 day cycle that my kids don't have a I have no prep time.....then they cancelled recess because it was too cold for them to go out....soooooo I had a full day with NO break.  I literally RAN across the hall so that I could fit in a bathroom break in the afternoon, because let's be honest, I cannot hold my pee for 3 hours straight (especially since I drink 2-3 Nalgene bottles of water a day). Sorry, was that potty talk TMI? Oh wait, one more thing to add to my list of complaints and then I promise I'm cards are due this week! AHHHHH! After all of these things that make my head spin I had one little girl who handed me a sweet little note at the end of the day, which made me remember why I love teaching primary.  It doesn't take away my stress, but it definitely makes me feel better about why I work so hard.   I really have the sweetest group of second graders.  They are all so kind, caring, and considerate of everyone in our classroom family.   Wouldn't a note like this make you smile, too?

With all that said, I thought that I'd give out some freebies that I've been working on in all my spare time, haha! (that was a joke).  The first one goes along with an awesome freebie that The Peanut Gallery created.  I loved her thanksgiving dinner prompts, but I wanted this to be an independent center, so I made a writing template for it.  Here is a picture of her freebie (click on the picture to go to TpT to download her freebie):

Here is the freebie that I posted that goes along with her ideas! Click on the pictures below to go to TpT and download this if you'd like to print out the writing template that goes with her prompts! 


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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Secrets to Having a Quiet and Well Behaved Classroom

At my previous school we did a school wide system called "Green Cards".  As we walked down the hallway our class could be given a green card from another teacher that recognized how quiet we were.  Once we gained 20 green cards the entire class received a prize.  I thought that the system was fantastic because it was reinforcement and praise from teachers throughout the entire school.

I've now tried out some different methods at my new school and I love all of them.  I don't necessarily have a favorite, but instead I tend to change what reward system I use throughout the year so that the kids don't get bored.  Here is a list of the different reward systems:


One of the teachers that I worked with when I was student teaching used something called a punch card.  The kids would wear them as necklaces in the hallway and if they were walking quietly the teacher would give them a punch-out using her hole puncher.


This system is so fun, especially because I use it during the time of the year when I am doing a mystery/detective theme in my room.  In reading we work on mystery books and the kids learn to look for clues.  Then I start using "mystery walker" in the hallway, which means that I will pull a stick with a number on it and that will be my mystery walker for the hall.  Side note: my kids have numbers assigned to their name tags, so that I don't have to write student names on everything in my room each year.  So back to the mystery walker.  As we walk down the hallway I keep my eye on that child whose number was pulled.  Nobody knows who I am secretly watching, but at the end of our walk I will announce if that child did a good job or not.  If they did a good job I'll reveal who my mystery walker was and then give them class cash.  If they did not do a good job I won't reveal who my mystery walker was and I'll let the class know that we will have to try again later with a new walker. This way nobody will be embarrassed and it'll also motivate all the kids to try harder next time. Here is a sample of the numbers that I printed and glued to popsicle sticks for the mystery walker cup: 

RACE TRACK: An individual behavior chart that I just developed for one child who has difficulty in the hallway is a race track. He gets a little velcro car and a race track on his desk.  Each time we take a walk in the hallway and he does a good job he gets to move his car one spot further on his race track.  When he gets to the finish line he gets a reward from me. This little guy loves it so much, especially because he is obsessed with Disney's Cars. So I made sure that when I printed out his little car that I chose a picture from the Disney movie as his car. 

I put all of these into a packet for you all if you are interested in using them in your classroom.  It's only $1 - so grab it if your interested.  It also has my debit card cash system that I recently posted (Click HERE), but that one is a freebie on its own, so you can go to my store to grab just the debit card for free :) For the entire packet click the picture below to go to my TpT store:

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Classroom Cash Replacement - Introducing.....the Student Debit Card!!!!

I have always used some sort of classroom cash system so that my students can earn rewards and prizes for their good behavior.  I have used whole group rewards, such as a jar of money, a jar of marbles and I now use a jar of "fuzzy peaches" which are really just craft pom poms.  I don't where I got the name "fuzzy peaches", but the kids love it!

For individual behavior I've done everything from tickets to fake money.  It works for the most part, but there are always some issues with kiddos who lose their cash and claim they had more then they are showing me.  I want to believe them and replace their lost money, but I never do because it is a life lesson.  Keep track of your money....because in the real world if you lose is GONE! But I guess that seems harsh for 7 year-olds, so I came up with the class debit card that I am going to launch in my classroom in place of the cash. The idea is that the kids get stickers on the back of their debit card as a representation of their earned money.  Then when they spend it I will cross it off.  That way they don't have a bunch of loose dollar floating around in their desks.  Instead, they have 1 debit card with THEIR NAME on the front of it (so nobody can steal their reward money - we don't need any identify theft in second grade, haha)  This one is a freebie, so if you'd like to grab it, click on the picture and it'll take you to my TpT shop where you can download it. 

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Currently November and Phonics Fun with Clowns and Clouds

I can't believe that it is almost Thanksgiving and before you know it it'll be Christmas! This time of the year always flies by with how busy our family is and how crazy work can get! I luckily finished all my Christmas shopping :) Yeah I know you probably want to kill me for saying that...I know my mom rolled her eyes at me when I told her that because she does everything last minute!

Well today I am finally linking up with Farley's November Currently...check it out:

LISTENING: The Cranberries station on Pandora is my all-time favorite! It gives me all of that 90's alternative rock music that I love, but they never seem to play on 90's on 9 on my Sirius radio.  I sometimes get some good 90's songs on Sirius, but then after a really great song they'll put on Ice Ice Baby and while I do love jammin' out to a little Vanilla Ice, I can only take about 1 minute of it before I have to change the channel.  Therefore, I tend to listen to Pandora if I want to get the rock 90's music that I miss so much.  

LOVING: Yes, I am one of those people that goes insane over pumpkin flavored things when they first come out in October.  Well, I had tooooo much pumpkin this year and now I really can't eat anything with pumpkin in it for a year now.  So I've switched over to the December flavor already and that is peppermint.  I got a peppermint mocha from Starbucks and it was to die for! It probably had wayyyy to many calories, but I don't care because it was soooo sweet, and minty, and chocolately, and delicious (did you like my and, and, and sentence...that is just how my kiddos write in their journals, haha)

THINKING: Now that this chilly weather has settled upon us to stay I have been wearing a coat to work everyday.  I swear each winter coat that I've put on is missing 1 button.  I must have a button thief in my closet, because I honestly don't remember losing buttons last winter.  So I guess I'm going to be taking some time today to sew on some mismatched buttons, because I surely don't have the originals. 

WANTING: I love to wear boots in the fall and winter, but they take such a beating! I whipped out my boots from last year and one pair the rubber sole is ripping off and the other is stained from the salt that they lay on the road to melt ice.  Is there a cleaner that would take that out?  They are black boots, so it is almost like they got bleached by the salt. 

NEEDING: Who doesn't need more time?!?  It seems like my "to-do" list gets longer and longer. When will I ever have a day where I check everything off of it and then I just relax instead of constantly trying to accomplish everything.

READING: I have to be honest...I hardly ever make time to read, because I always have so much reading to do to keep up with my small group guided reading groups.  I have a few groups that are working on chapter books and so when I give them reading assignments at night, I also take home a book and read so that I can make sure I am on the same page as them while I teach.  I have never had such a high group in second grade, so none of these books are familiar to me. But when I do make time for me and my reading I have been working on one of my favorite author's books: Mirror, Mirror.  Gregory Maguire wrote the famous Wicked series, so I have grabbed some of his other titles because I love his style of writing and fantasy is my favorite genre. 

Head on over to Farley's blog, Oh' Boy 4th Grade if you want to see all the other great currently bloggers! Lastly, to recap my week in 2nd kiddos have been working on the "ow" and "ou" vowel sounds.  We did some awesome crafts to reinforce our vowel patterns of the week.  The first was a clown covered in "ow" words.  Then we made a cloud with rainbow "ou" words.  These would be easy for you to do with your kids!  I didn't have a tracer for the cloud, so I made a quick one by hand and ran it through the copier.  Then I had my high school helper cut out strips of paper for the rainbow colors.  The clown I had a template for.  If I get time later this week I'll scan it in for you and share it as a freebie. 

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gingerbread City - A Freebie and Jan Brett

Whoa baby is it snowing at our house today.  They were calling for half an inch and in the last hour we've already gotten three! It's the perfect day to create! Soooo I made a freebie for all of you to grab! My kids have been working on double digit addition for the last week or so. This particular game does not have any regrouping.  I am going to start working on one that does, so you'll have to check back later for that. Click on the picture below to go to the freebie:

Also, this week we will be working on an author study before Christmas vacation.  We are studying, Jan Brett, since she has such wonderful winter stories.  My co-worker gave me a huge file of materials to use on all of Brett's stories, but I also found a lot of great stuff from Brett's website. We plan to start with The Mitten, Gingerbread Baby, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears  We'll be doing tons of activities with all of her stories, so I plan to post as many pictures as I can as we go.  In the mean time, check out her website and all the awesome activities she has. I even plan to do some baking with my kiddos....which they will be thrilled about.  Here is the recipe from

I am also going to do a science activity with some store bought gingerbread cookies.  They will make a prediction about what will happen when they are dunked in milk....and then they dunk them and make observations.  It is a freebie from one of my all time favorite bloggers: Abby Mullins. Click on the pic to take you to her TpT freebie.  

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cyber Monday and Tuesday and a Freebie

Hola! I feel like a total shopping addict these past few days.  I'm not usually into the whole Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals, but since we bought our new house I keep thinking of all the things that I need to buy.  If you've noticed that I've been missing for a while, that's because my husband and I moved two times in the last 6 months, because he got a new job and so did I.  Now we are both super super excited about where we have finally settled down.  I have my dream teaching job - second grade again!!! And I have my dream house!!! We got a such a deal on our home...but it definitely needs some work on the inside.

So like I was saying...that's why I've been missing and that's why I've been going crazy with shopping! My kiddos in my new school are amazing. They are so sweet and caring.  I am glad that my classroom is running so smoothly, since I feel like I've been a chicken with my head cut off since August.  With all the new training for the new job, moving twice, and just being a second grade teacher in general has made me feel ...uhhhh.....exhausted. This Thanksgiving break has been the first time that I feel like I've been able to relax. So now the rest of the school year will get easier (haha except when I start grad school in January).  With all this shopping in mind I am of course participating in a Cyber Monday/Tuesday sale for TpT.  Click on the picture below to go to my store! I have a few new products up and some new freebies too.

Thinking back to my short little week before our Thanksgiving break I had so much fun with my students.  We didn't really get into too much learning since we only had two and half days of school.  So I got to do all the fun stuff that I love! We made turkeys (which I forgot to take a picture of), pilgrim hats, and did a ton of hilarious Thanksgiving centers. 

Each kiddo got a cupcake to frost so that they could make turkey cupcakes.  I can't lie, I was seriously jealous because this center looked like so much fun.  I had one of my volunteers sit at a table and work with a group of 5 kids. They got to dip their knives into a bowl of chocolate icing and spread it on top.  Then they chose whatever color jellybeans they wanted for their turkey feathers. Last, they added candy eyes and a butterscotch chip for the beak. I thought they turned out adorable!!!!

Other stations included: making a pilgrim hat, playing Thanksgiving pictionary, and illustrating Thanksgiving jokes....among some other educational centers. 

Some of my boys illustrating jokes for Thanksgiving. They all presented them later to the class and tried to get their classmates to guess the answer to the joke. "Why did the turkey join the band?" - "Because he had a pair of drumsticks." HAHA (fake laugh hehe).  My kids loved the corny jokes, even if they were pretty bad.
And their adorable pilgrim hats!!!

Lastly, here is my freebie

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