Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fun Fall Ideas...for next year

I have to admit I have no idea how the super bloggy teachers do it. With two grades, two languages, and 20 kids, I have no time to post daily, or even weekly. For that reason I must start this post with an apology that these ideas will be of no use to you until next fall. However, when Halloween and Thanksgiving 2012 roll around, I hope you will enjoy these fun crafts and goodies.
Halloween Party Ideas
My head room parent this year doesn't celebrate Halloween, so I got to do the party myself. I was actually pretty excited since the Halloween party is my favorite of the year. I get pretty into the festivities. Take a look at my costume - I was Perry the Platypus from Disney's Phineas and Ferb (my favorite show to watch when I'm home sick!) 

Instead of just giving the students snacks to eat, I had the kids help make their Halloween treats. They turned out really cute and the kids loved making them themselves.
Popcorn Hands
*plastic gloves -the kind food preparers wear, NOT latex first aid gloves. I had a hard time finding these to purchase, so I went to the bakery section of my local Meijer (grocery store) and asked if I could buy a pack from them. They just gave me a free box of 100 gloves, so I'm set for the next 4 years!
*Popcorn - I had a helper mom come in and pop popcorn for us just before the party so it would be fresh.
*Candy corn
*Spider rings

Quick Steps:
Give each student one glove, a cup of popcorn, five candy corn pieces, and a spider ring. They should start by placing the candy corn pieces at the tip of each finger like nails. Then they should fill the glove with their popcorn. I recommend starting with just a little popcorn for each finger, and then filling the hands because otherwise it gets tricky to maneuver and the popcorn gets crunched when you try to squeeze it in the fingers. Finish by tying off the glove end and add a spider ring!

Spooky Owl Cupcakes
I found these cute cupcakes on Pinterest [See the original blog post here]. At my school we aren't allowed to bake anything ourselves for students since there are so many allergies, so I purchased the cupcakes in a variety of Halloween colors from the grocery store. Then I gave each child an oreo, a piece of candy corn and two M&Ms. It was a really quick little crafty snack, so they had more time to try and find a neat way to eat them. They were a big hit and so cute!

Spider Hand Prints
Our final activity was not edible (thank goodness - we had SOOO much food!). Each child was given a piece of paper where I had already drawn and copied a spider web. I went around with help from other adult helpers and painted each student's hand. Though it does take a little longer than just having them dip their hands in a plate of paint, I think it was well worth it. We avoided wasting paint on the plate and I was certain that each student had just the right amount of paint so that their spiders would dry in time to go home. Clean up was easy too, cause they just had to wash their hand! After stamping their painty handprint, the students designed and cut eyes and any other paper features they wanted to add to their spiders. They turned out really well and no one can object to spiders!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Monsterously Fun Writing Center

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I guess I never grew up past the phase of loving to play dress up and imagine there is magic in the world. For that reason I go ALL OUT for Halloween in my class each year. In preparation for Halloween week I created a writing center in which the students would write about how they would act, feel, look, and be if they were monsters. This built up their conditional tense writing in Spanish and just looked really stinking cute in the Hallway! So here you go, enjoy!
Step One: Find monster glasses. 
When I was helping my dad clean out his basement this past summer I found a huge bag of these monster glasses. He thinks he got them from Oriental Trading Co. (my favorite) for really cheap. I had each of my students pick their favorite of the glasses and wear them for a picture. I took these in advance so that I could print them and have them ready for the students when they did the center. The kids LOVED IT! There were so many giggles :)

Step Two: Gather supplies. 
For the writing center I gave each child a long piece of black paper, a die cut frame in neon colors, their picture of their monster glasses, and a "Si fuera un monstruo" writing paper.

Step Three: Write your monster story. 
The students looked at their pictures and used their imaginations to write all about what they would do if they were monsters. Here's a sample of one of my student's work and the translation:

"If I were a monster...I would go outside of my house and scare everyone. I would leave and walk around outside and scare people. I would be worried that they would take me to jail or call the police. I would miss my parents and wouldn't want to go."
I thought her's was so cute - she really got into character and was thinking about the repercussions of her actions. I guess our character traits teaching is working :)
Step Four: Put it all together.
Once they finished writing I had the students color the monsters on the paper and put their page together. We had the picture up top with the frame, and then glued the writing page below it. I hung them outside our room in the hallway. We have gotten so many compliments from parents and teachers. I can't wait to do this again next year. Best of all, it doesn't have to be Halloween themed - you can use monsters anytime!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Munching on Matter

We're studying matter in science right now, and what better way is there to learn about science than to eat it? Here are a few matter ideas I stole from the web. Check out my pics and follow the original links to the amazing teachers who came up with the ideas.

1. Matter's Molecules with Froot Loops
States of Matter Froot Loops paper thanks to Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes

Froot Loops Matter Bulletin Board thanks to Beth Sawyer

2. Checmical and Physical Changes with s'mores
After our study of the states of matter, we learned all about changes in matter. For the section on physical and chemical changes, I thought it would be most fun to see the difference between these two processes by making and eating s'mores. Many of my students had never heard of or made s'mores before so it was a real treat!
Chemical Changes:
-Burning the marshmallow     
-Eating the s'more               
Physical Changes:
-Breaking the graham cracker
-Melting the chocolate           

 I was inspired to use the s'mores activity by the lesson idea I found on The idea was originally submitted by Diana, a 7th grade teacher from Kentucky.

CHAMPS in my classroom

CHAMPS (which stands for Conversation, Help, Activity, Movement, Participation, and Supplies) was introduced to our school at the end of last year. During our back to school staff meetings this year, each of us teachers received a CHAMPS board made especially for us by our wonderful TAB and SEDOL ladies. Here is my board:
I use this board everyday with my students. Before we start a new activity or lesson I just switch the cards around to provide a visual reminder for students of the behavior expected of them.

Conversation: I use the numbers 0-4 to tell the students the voice levels they should be using (0 = silent, 1 = whisper, 2 = group work, 3 = whole class, 4 = gym/recess only)

Help: This category tells the students the ways in which they can get help if they need it. On the board posted you can see that students can raise their hands or ask a buddy. I also have a card for walking up to the teacher's desk and for re-read the directions. It is important to remind students that if the card is not shown, it means you should NOT use that method for help. For example, the teacher isn't shown here because this is the board set up for centers work, and I am with a guided reading group and cannot be interrupted.

Activity: There are probably twenty different cards for this section of the board. You can see the seat work picture shown, but I also have cards for group work, tests, reading, art projects, game playing, computer time, writing workshop, etc. I use the three different velcro dots to put the activities in order for students so they know what they are expected to do next.

Movement: This is probably my favorite category, and definitely the most helpful. Movement tells the students what they are allowed to do during the activity. You can put up the bathroom, drinking fountain, pencil sharpened, book shelf, and many more cards to show when and how students are permitted to move around the room. I am also planning to make some cards with the "not" sign (like on a no smoking sign) to re-emphasize when it is not appropriate to get up and go to the bathroom, get a drink, or sharpen pencils. Providing the students with visual reminders of these rules has helped keep students from getting up while I'm teaching or giving directions.

Participation: The participation category is a reiteration of the help and activity sections rolled into one. It shows students how we will be working; whether it may be in centers, independently, as table groups, or as a whole class.

Supplies: I added supplies onto the board myself, so that's why you don't see the pieces up yet. I made different cards of our textbooks, notebooks, and school supplies to help show the students what they will need for each lesson of the day. This saves me a lot of time explaining to students what they need to get out. I love this category!

*Oh, and please note that the velcro dots across the top are for the subject cards. This way I can put up "math" or "centers" to specify what the board is for.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Math with M&Ms

One of the first things my students learn about me each year is that my favorite food is chocolate. For this reason, I try to incorporate chocolate into my lessons whenever I can (in moderation, of course). M&Ms make incredible math manipulatives, so I thought I'd dedicate this post to my M&M math resources.

At the beginning of first grade we work on mastering the recognition of basic numbers through dot patterns. Think of it like the numbers you see on dice. These are the same patterns we use to help students learn to visually recognize numbers quickly. Since dot patterns just use little circles, I figured it would be way more fun and motivational to use M&Ms to make our dots! Here are some pictures of the dot pattern mat I made and of my students creating dot patterns.
We teach the dot patterns for the numbers 1-9, so there are enough boxes for each number pattern.

I also found that this same mat can be used for a lot more than just dot patterns. I had the second graders in my class use this activity the next day, except they used the three boxes to make addition and subtraction sentences.

For example, the first box would contain 3 M&Ms, the second box 2 M&Ms, and the third box 5 M&Ms. Then, in between the boxes they would add the addition sign and the equals sign. When they were finished they ended up with the addition sentence 3 + 2 = 5 all in a wonderful, chocolatey and edible form!  I also plan to use this same mat when we practice place value for three digit numbers. I am convinced the possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More owls!

As promised, here are a few more pictures of my owl theme. I also promise I will be posting tomorrow or Friday with fun, free Spanish (and English) classroom printables and activities, so check back soon :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Everybody's got a theme

Hi all! As my very first blog posting I thought I'd start with the basics. Last year my classroom was cute, but it was missing one classic teacher touch - I had no theme for my room. For a first and second grade teacher that's pretty much a sin, so I got searching to find a theme for my room this year. At first I thought cupcakes (I have a minor obsession) but that was too girly. My next thought was crayons (I have a major obsession with Crayola) but I wasn't finding much variety. Finally, after a late night of weeding through Oriental Trading Company's ENTIRE teacher resources section, I found my theme. It was love at  first sight. Owls. I bought all the owl things I could through OTC and then widened my search to other teacher sites, Etsy, and even my Cricut machine. Here are the fruits of my labor.

This is my job board. I got this set by Carson and Dellosa from Oriental Trading Company and I love it! There is an owl for each student and little tree houses to put them in. Since this picture I have labeled each owl with the students' names and put my job titles on the lids of each tree house. I laminated this first so it would last longer, and it also added the nice effect of having a window instead of a hole in the tree. Click here for the owl job board

You can't miss my room from the hallway because you are greeted by my owl bulletin board and welcome sign on the door. These are both from OTC. Again, I laminated everything so I can keep this adorable theme for years to come!

I got this poster as part of a set from Oriental Trading Company (see here for the set). I just copied the little die cut owls and used them to make my daily schedule cards. I have a different set of these cards for each day of the week. I put little plastic pockets for each line using leftover laminate I had after cutting all these pieces out, but you could just velcro yours on.

You can't see the last picture very well (I'll try to take a new one soon) but they are owl buckets I made after being inspired by OTC. They had the picture of a finished bucket on their site, so I went to the Dollar Tree (my favorite place, holler!) and got sheets of felt and foam along with the colored buckets. I think I spent $5.00 total and now I have these super cute owl buckets.
Ok, well that's all for now. School has started for us already so I should get back to grading now. Since my room is all finished I promise I'll get more pictures and ideas up soon. You can look forward to lots of bilingual resources from me, since I wish I'd had more available to me when I started teaching. Just keep checking back. Thanks :)