Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fabulous Finds Friday -- September 27, 2013

Today is Fabulous Finds Friday! Time to share some great finds...

There's a Dragon in My Art Room

I actually found this fabulous website earlier this summer, but I just sat down this week to continue browsing the WONDERFULLY CREATIVE ideas that are overflowing on There's a Dragon in My Art Room.  Phyl, a retired art teacher of 36 years, shares the amazing masterpieces created by students of all ages.  I was especially taken with the Slavadore Dali mustache portraits created by her second graders. I am always thrilled to find art websites/blogs.  Fly over and check this one out!

 Photo Credit: There's a Dragon in My Art Room 
Place Value Bull's Eye

A couple of days ago I was did a generic search for place value base ten activities and I stumbled upon Place Value Bull's Eye shared by Natalie and Rachelle from What the Teacher Wants!--a post from way back in 2011.

Loved this easy prep way to practice place value, so I whipped up some bull's eyes to coordinate with the place value arrows we use in the classroom.  We played a table-top version with ten regular sized paperclips.  The gist--the kids drop paperclips onto the bull's eye and then record the number of 1s, 10s, and 100s on their recording sheet.  Then students write the number in expanded form.  You can find these recording sheets, and an explanation of the game, on What the Teacher Wants!  Fly on over to check it out!  You can also download the bull's eye boards I made HERE!

Better Homes and Gardens: Food Gifts

OK--I know it's not even Halloween yet--BUT I found this goodie on my latest trip to Sam's Club--been finding some great things there lately!  It's never too early to start thinking about the holidays--I think... This holiday edition is all about creating tasty food gifts in crafty packages.  I picked this one up because it has some great ideas that can be used for parent helper, colleague, and student gifts for the holidays.  

Some of my favorites...

Toffee-Pecan Cookie Mix (in a decorative Mason jar)
Hot Cocoa Mix in a Jar (decorated like Rudolf)
Spiced Apple Tea Mix
Kitchen Towel Wrapped Cake Mix Kit (with store bought mix)

Feel free to link up your fabulous finds, and have a splendid weekend!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Traits Tuesday -- ANYTHING GOES!

Weighing in a little late in the day for our new linky--Traits Tuesday... This week's topic is ANYTHING GOES!

I have chosen to share a wonderful idea that I found on Make, Take & Teach from back in 2012--focus sticks.

The picture comes directly from Julie's post on Make, Take & Teach.

I found this idea some time ago and will be making some of these goodies soon.  Before I do, I am going to have my students brainstorm some picture icons to represent each of the traits we focus on for much of the first half of the year--ideas, organization, and conventions.  I will then create a cup of focus sticks that will be housed in the writing center for students to use as they are writing and editing.  Love this idea!  I think having this visual/kinesthetic item will help guide and motivate students.  I will post a picture of our finished focus sticks after doing some further work with my students... :0) Fly on over to Make, Take & Teach to learn more!

Join us in the learning fun and link up your ANYTHING GOES traits ideas for this week's Traits Tuesday!

Just grab our button, create a post, and stop back to link up!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Potato Chip Champ -- A Champion in More Ways Than One!

Just read a post over at Digital: Divide & Conquer yesterday, and I loved how Matt used the work LINKTACULAR when he was linking up with several bloggers! So I will use his wonderful term and call today's post linktacular as well...

Here goes... This is a CHAMPION story in more ways than one!

At the beginning of September, Tara at 4th Grade Frolics shared a wonderful text she was using with her fourth graders--The Potato Chip Champ by Maria Dismondy.  I was immediately taken with the story and asked her if it would be appropriate for second graders.  Indeed, it was!  I hopped on and ordered several copies so I could share it with my students...

The last couple of years, I have used A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon for a dual purpose--to teach students about character traits and as a character ed lesson about how important it is to be yourself and to like a person for who he/she is.

This all changed when I discovered The Potato Chip Champ by Marie Dismondy, a story of kindness and a perfect text for learning about character traits.  I read the text aloud to students (more than once), and then some students reread the story in smaller groups.  Let me say that the responses from students were heartfelt.  Many thoughtful comments were made throughout the read aloud and afterward.  When asked to share a lesson/moral that the author was teaching us, we heard--kindness rules all, it's about who you are, etc.

Tara at 4th Grade Frolics also shared Maria Dismondy's website in her post, so I went over and checked it out.  I found a wonderful unit created by Runde's Room to accompany the story.  I especially liked the potato chip bag activity that included a bag template and questions about the story printed on potato chips.  My kids LOVED this!  Not to mention, their responses to the questions were spot on! 

Students also generated a HUGE list of character traits that could be used to describe both characters, and they had to give evidence to back up their inferences before we would add a trait to the list.  Finally, students paired up, chose a character (Walter or Champ), chose four character traits to best describe the character, and came up with a reason to support each trait.  This was done in the form of a character web. Download a copy of the character web template here ! Template is for legal sized paper and frames clipart courtesy of KPM Doodles.

I cannot say enough how this story MOTIVATED my students. At times, I have overheard students talking about the story, now almost two weeks after reading it the first time.  When parent visitors came, the story was one of the first things they shared--in detail along with the lesson.  I have heard from many, "I LOVE that story!"  Even more importantly, I believe the story has motivated my students to show the kind of kindness that Walter showed in the story.  I think it is truly rare when one story is adored by all and creates such an excitement for reading... 

Looking for a story that will motivate your students--I believe this one will!

Well, it did not stop there! Champ is a lover of potato chips, and so is my class.  When I brought the bag of question chips out, many asked if they were real chips!  Regretfully, I had to answer with a "No" that was followed by a resounding "AAW." The weekend after reading the story, I was talking to my husband about it and decided to pick up some chips at Walmart during our Saturday errands.  It was an easy math connection--a potato chip taste test!

As you can imagine, the kids were PUMPED!  They tasted like real champs! We surveyed, collected data, and created a graph.  I will also post these templates for you to download when I return to school on Monday...

Wow! What a fabulous time had by ALL!  You MUST pick up this book, if you haven't already.  It has made an entrance into my top ten of all time. Thanks to Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for sharing, and a HUGE thank you goes out to Marie Dismondy!

Fly on over to these wonderful blogs to read more! Monday's linkups will be active tomorrow...

Smiles for a wonderful week!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fabulous Finds Friday - Septemeber 20, 2013

Whoo-ee, it's been a busy week! We are ending the week with Fabulous Finds Friday...

I have been wanting to add some nonfiction books on CD to our classroom listening library, yet they have not been easy to find.  Just recently I stumbled across a series of nonfiction (many written with a blend of facts and a "story") texts on CD called Read, Listen, & Wonder.  SO I ordered three that I thought looked especially interesting, and they came in the mail a couple of days ago.  They are truly wonderfully written and illustrated and are the prefect fit for my second graders.

After finishing dinner the night the books arrived, I passed one of the books to my husband and told him to take a look at "these awesome books."  He looked through a book and came to the inside of the back cover where about 15 books in the series were featured.  He asked me if I was going to get the whole collection.  I chuckled and said, "That would be nice...".  He asked me how much they were, and just like that he said he would like to buy the collection for my classroom.  My response, "Dear, you don't have to do that!"  His response, "I said I wanted to buy them, so you better order them before I change my mind!" Anyway, I hopped on and placed my order!

Here are just a few of the titles I purchased...

Cost: $8.09 each (includes book and CD) on

We would love for you to link up your fabulous finds! Just grab our button, link back to us in your post, and link up below.  

Have a wonderful weekend!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Traits Tuesday - Best Traits Lesson

It's Traits Tuesday, and today's topic is Best Traits Lessons...

We have spent the past few days of school really diving into the writing trait, ideas.  Through my years of teaching primary students, I find that it is difficult for the majority of them to come up with off-the-wall, imaginative ideas (typically my higher level students are able to do this).  So because of this, we have focused a lot on our own experiences and writing from the heart. 

Author by Helen Lester is a true story about how Lester became an author. She tells of her experiences growing up and how writing wasn't always easy for her. I like how students can see that even people who make their lives writing books sometimes have difficulty getting ideas, but one can always look at things happening in their lives or interests to spark some ideas.

I usually read this book a couple of days after we have talked about ideas so that students are a little familiar with the trait. After reading the story, I begin modeling a writing about my own life. We then discuss what our ideas are that we would like to write about for the day. This keeps kids focused and on track. If I ever have a child that says, "I don't know what to write about", I tell them I will give them more time and come back to them when everyone else has shared their ideas. Usually at this point, they've thought of an idea from listening to their classmates. If they still are unable to come up with an idea, I give them 3 choices of ideas they can write about. This is the child that I will work with one-on-one, during conference time, to make a list of ideas from their interests. They keep this list in their writing binder for future reference.

Hope you can join in to share your best traits lessons! We would love to have you link up for Traits Tuesday!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fabulous Finds Friday {September 13, 2013} -- Picture Book Finds!!

Friday means time to share some fabulous finds--It's Fabulous Finds Friday!

In mid-August, we were able to attend a wonderful one-day literacy institute, and we found some fabulous picture books that we would like to share with you today.  All of the following picture books were published in 2013, and we have given a brief synopsis of each.  Hopefully you will find something that grabs you... :0)

Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom by Jon Rocco

The outstanding curly mop that is donned by the boy on the cover of this book immediately caught my eye.  Have to say that I just skimmed this one and bought it without reading it all first.  I was so taken by the illustrations that portrayed the spunky personality of the main character--I knew I must have it!  The main character is a super hero whose powers are derived from, of all things, his hair. "The more my hair grew, the more awesome my superpowers became."  AND his buddies have hairy super powers, too.  All is well until their super powers are stolen by none other than the barber! In the end, these super hair-oes realize that even without their hair they are "...still super!" This would be a great one to use in an everyday hero unit... 

Cat Talk by Patrica MacLachlan and Emily Maclachlan Charest 
Illustrated by Barry Moser

I saw this one and knew I had to have it because I absolutely adore the other two poetry picture books written by this mother daughter pair--I Didn't Do It and Once I Ate a Pie.  In this beautifully illustrated picture book, the authors introduce us to the many personalities of our feline friends through poems--from Tuck who likes to slumber by his owners' feet under the covers to Princess Sheba Darling who is in love with her beautiful self. 

Dog-Gone School by Amy Schmidt
Photographs by Ron Schmidt

I have been collecting a variety of poetry books over many years, and it seems there are more and more being published with photographs to accompany the text these days.  The photographs in this text depict canine kids in various places around school.  I just wanted to reach right into this book and give the dogs a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ear. The poems are just as adorable as the photos.  My grandson loved this one, too!

Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian
Illustrated by Tim Bowers

If you love Memoirs of a Goldfish, you'll have to have this one as well! A hamster named Seymour is content in his cage with his water bottle and his wheel--he's "the luckiest hamster in the world."  That is, UNTIL he learns about the SUNROOM! He makes a break for it!  You'll have to read to find out Seymour's fate... Hilarious!

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld 

When we were introduced to this book at the conference, I instantly knew I had to have it! Poor little exclamation point just can't fit in with the periods and tries everything to fit in. He meets question mark who, of course, is quite curious about exclamation point. This meeting allows exclamation point's true self to come out!  I HIGHLY recommend this book!

That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems

Mo Willems does it again with another fabulous book! My students love the Pigeon books he writes, so when I saw this book, I knew the kids would love to read it. Willems does it again by allowing the audience to interact with the characters. The evil Fox is trying to lure the the goose to dinner. She is willing goes with him, even with the chicks telling her "That is NOT a good idea!"  You will be surprised by the ending of this story...I know I was:)

Feel free to link up with us for Fabulous Finds Friday! Just grab our button... 

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Traits Tuesday - Teaching the Traits Mentor Texts

Today's Traits Tuesday topic is Teaching the Traits Mentor Texts...

The first trait I start off introducing is ideas.  I told my students just the other day that if I had a nickel for every time I heard a student say, "I don't know what to write about" in my 13 years of 2nd grade, I would be a millionaire!  So we have been working with where to get ideas and there are two books that I would like to share with you:)


Flip's Fantastic Journal by Angelo DeCesare is one of the best books ever!  My students L-O-V-E this book! It goes great with the writing trait of ideas because at the beginning, Flip doesn't like to write.  I typically have a handful of kids who do not like to write, therefore they say they don't have anything to write about. We learn that Flip has a pretty ordinary life, but with a little creativity and imagination his feelings about writing take a drastic change!


The second book I like to use with the writing trait, ideas, is The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli (don't you just love her books?!?)  In this story, the narrator (the little girl) wants to enter a writing contest and takes advice from her family members on what is included in the best story. After putting all of their ideas together, she realizes (with the help of her mother) that she needs to write with her heart. 

After I read this story, we create a heart map together. I got this great one from 3rd Grade's a Charm.


Interested in linking up your traits mentor texts? Just grab our button, link back to us, and link up to your post below.  You can also learn more about our Traits Tuesday linky by clicking here! We look forward to reading about the mentor texts you like to use to teach the traits.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Monday Made It -- Inspirational Framed Art and Sub Tub & Binder

" When you enter this classroom..." Framed Art


My first made it was directly inspired by a free download from Ashley McKenzie on TpT. Check it out! I decide to create my own framed art/saying with a couple of items added to the list and a rainbow background and bunting to match our classroom decor.  Feel free to download this version by clicking here.  The 8.5" x 11" frame was $3 at Walmart!

Sub Tub & Binder

Well, it has only taken me 20 YEARS to get my act together! Yep, this is my first year using a sub binder and tub.  I purchased this wonderful template from One Extra Degree on TpT this morning, customized it, organized it, and viola!  Ready for my sub tomorrow and ALL YEAR!

Fly on over to 4th Grade Frolics to check out more Monday Made Its!

Don't forget to stop by to join in for our two new linkies Traits Tuesday & Fabulous Finds Friday!  Click the links on our sidebar to find out more! We hope to see you back here to link up...

Have a wonderful week!