Google Classroom and New Year's Resolutions

My New Year's resolution is  to use Google Classroom a lot more!!!  So I decided to make a collaborative digital book with Google slides for my students where they can share their New Year's resolutions.    If you are interested in trying this project with your students you can click on the picture below and get it for FREE!!!!!!

I have made a YouTube tutorial on how to use this product.  You can find that {here}.

Santa Letter Writing

Writing can be so hard to teach, at least it is for me!  I decided that this year I was going to over haul my writing instruction.  I am so tired of kids writing a list and not developing an idea with details.   I have tried several approaches to tackling this issue and none have worked for me or my kiddos to the extent I would have liked.  And then.... the idea hit me.  Boom!  STICKY NOTES!  Yes, sticky notes.  Kids go crazy for sticky notes and .... and...Santa.  All I had to do was tie in the two and angels would sing.  Okay, angels didn't sing, but it was AWESOME to watch the blending of these two elements to produce  the most perfect letters to Santa.  They were thoughtful, polite, kind and detailed.  Yes, detailed.  My teacher heart was doing a happy dance.  I plan to use this technique for future writing lessons!!!

I knew I wanted their letters to answer the question if they were naughty or nice and give Santa a reason to support their answer.  I wanted the letters to address a need and a reason why they needed that item.  Their third sentence would be an item that they want and why they want that item.  Finally, they needed to close with a compliment for Santa.  I came up with this graphic organizer:

I then passed out 4 sticky notes to each student.  Everyone took 1 sticky note and wrote down if they had been naughty or nice.  Then we all placed our sticky note in box 1.  Next, the students wrote down 1 thing they needed on another sticky note and we put that in box 2.  We then did boxes 3 and 4 in the same way.  When all the boxes were filled with sticky notes I passed out the rectangular sticky notes.  Students wrote their detail on a sticky note and transferred it to the graphic organizer.  We did this one box at a time.  Here is the result.  Box 1 is an N for either naughty or nice because that is private info for Santa only.

I just loved reading these!  It was nice to basically have each sentence on a sticky note.  They picked up the one they were copying and stuck it to the top of the Santa letter stationary.  This really helped kiddos stay on track.  I would love to show you the letters the kids wrote, but those went into super decorated mailing envelopes that went straight home so their elves could take them to Santa.  Whew! 

Google Classroom Collaborative Project

Google Classroom!!!!!!!!  I am beginning to really love you!  I'm usually pretty techy with these kinds of things, but Google Classroom was very daunting to me.  I just could not wrap my mind around the fact that kids could work on an assignment collaboratively and send it to me electronically with the push of a button.  I know this makes me sound 80, but its the TRUTH!  I'm always up for a challenge and I decided that I was jumping in-ALL IN.  I told my kiddos what my vision was and that I anticipated it being challenging but we would work together to figure it out.  AND WE DID!  When our classroom Christmas tree came off the printer I jumped for joy and then ran to show our tech guru.  WE DID IT!  The kids are so thrilled, I'm so thrilled, the parents will be so thrilled.  This is thrilling to say the least.  I'm not going to lie, I made some mistakes but I'm going to share my mistakes with you so that you can either laugh at me or learn from me.  Ha ha!

1.  I'm sure you are finding out that there is not a lot of Google Classroom stuff for second grade.  That was very discouraging for me.   I really wanted to try something that someone else had done so that I could hopefully get a better grasp of how these projects are supposed to work.  I finally found this amazing teacher on Tpt and her high interest projects looked doable for second grade.  I started with her Thanksgiving project.  Which was a perfect first project that I did not blog about.  The Christmas project is our second project (full disclosure).

2.  I pasted the the YouTube video that she provides in her lesson to our Google Classroom page.  I had the kids watch the video on their own device.  They thought that was pretty cool.  So far, things were going great!  Watch video-CHECK.

3.  I had the kids open their ornament page.  This was the first time they had their own slide and didn't see everyone elses at the same time.  This went well too.  CHECK-CHECK

4.  Here is where things started to take a turn, I had them decorate their ornament after watching the video.  I roamed around the classroom to help as needed.  It didn't take long before someone pointed out that they didn't have the paint can.  Heads up-- paint can appears once they make a shape.  FYI!  The kids will either want to turn shapes upside down or they will accidentally turn shapes upside down.  Either way, preteach how to flip objects.  Trust me, this will save you a ton of time.

5.  The directions tell you how to save the image.  Great, I get saving an image.  What I did not realize is that it saves to the downloads folder.  Which took me a second to figure out.  Not the best move when you have 22 little faces waiting for direction.  This is where I stopped the project so that I could get things figured out.

6.  Once I had things figured out and knew where we were going to pull our pictures from I was READY.  Well.... not so fast.  I sent out the Christmas tree for everyone to import their ornament too.  I did not make it editable for the students (Which the techie teacher clearly says to do!)  Do not forget to make it editable for students.  Tears will ensue if you don't.  Tears for you, not them.

7.  Biggest mistake of all-are you listening?  Do not have them all import their ornament at the same time.  I repeat, DO NOT HAVE THEM IMPORT THEIR ORNAMENT AT THE SAME TIME.  All the ornaments import to the same spot on the slide.  So.... 22 ornaments were rapidly appearing on their tree, one on top of the other.  Panic took over,  kids were upset that so and so had covered up their ornament!  Things were going Fight Club real fast.  So... I quickly adjusted and had the kids stop with the Christmas trees.  I then pulled them back in groups of 2 and showed them how to import, resize and move their ornament.  Groups of 2 was the key.  We easily got our class tree decorated and the kids are so proud of themselves.

Here is our final product:

We're going to use these to make Christmas cards for their families.  Super cute!

Genius Hour

Well I've decided to jump into Genius Hour.  I keep reading about all these wonderful experiences kiddos are having as they pursue their passion.  I have such an inquisitive group of second graders that I just have to give this a whirl.  So... whirl we are.  I kicked off Genius Hour with this fun video from Kid President. 

I just love that kid!  This was a great video for getting the kids excited and motivated to share their "wonderings."  
I gave each student a square of construction paper with their name at the top.  I decided to write their name all fancy at the top.  By "fancy" I mean with Sharpie.  I told them this was their very own Wondering Wall.  Which of course elicited many oohs and aaahs even though they had no idea what a Wondering Wall is.  I love their excitement.  I told them to just hang on because I was about to share something with them that would knock their socks off- colored sticky notes.  I know- minds were blown.  I gave every student 1 sticky and told them to write 1 "Wondering" on it.  They had to start the sentence with "I wonder..".  Once everyone had their first Wondering we shared them.  They came up with some great ones.  I handed out another sticky (different) color and told them to record another Wondering.  They could use a Wondering that someone else shared if they were inspired.  We shared these out and repeated the process for a total of 6 stickies and we got some excellent Wonderings.  The stickies were attached to their Wondering Wall (square of construction paper with fancy name).  I then had them get into pairs and decide on 1 Wondering to investigate together.  

They LOVED this.  Loved!  Once everyone had their question we read this great book.

That's as far as we have gotten on this endeavor.  I can't wait to see where this goes.  Stay tuned.

Google Classroom

I am blessed to work in a district that provides 1:1 Chromebooks for primary students.  I was pretty nervous at first.  I'm an Apple girl all the way and that was definitely my comfort zone.  I have slowly become a Google Gal though.  My learning curve is steep but I am making progress.  I decided to give Google Classroom a whirl. There isn't a ton of resources available for Google Classroom and primary students so I'm pretty much figuring this out as I go.  For my first assignment, I had the kiddos join our Classroom, add it to their bookmark bar and watch a YouTube video on bats.  That was enough for a first lesson and they did great!!!    I was so shocked and nervous that I forgot to snap some photos.   Trust me it was so awesome to watch all those little faces actively learning with technology.

Halloween Day Fun

What to do when Halloween falls on a Monday?  That is all sorts of wrong.  I really wanted to keep our schedule sorta normal thinking that could possibly tame some of their excitement.  I.THOUGHT.WRONG!!!!  You would think that spending over 20 years as a classroom teacher I would never make a rookie mistake.  Oh Boy did I.   I honestly thought Pumpkin Catapults would be a wonderful science activity to occupy their candy/costume craziness.  Uh No!  Learn from me, people.  Nothing should be catapulted on Halloween.   But... if you wanted to try this activity on another day, I'm sure it would be lots of fun.
I started the activity by showing a couple of pumpkin catapult videos from Youtube.  We talked about what a catapult is and what it's function is.  Next, I let the kids group themselves (I know crazy). I told them they had to be in groups of 2, 3, or 4.   I gave each group a bucket of materials:  rubber bands, popsicle sticks, masking tape, plastic spoons and of course a pumpkin.  I chose the candy variety FYI and probably the only right decision I made the entire day.  Ha!




 I will admit the kids were learning the entire time.  They had a blast and I loved listening to their science discussions.  It only got crazy when we tested the catapults.  They did a fantastic job and we all survived Halloween on a Monday.  

We've Gone Bat Crazy!

Our first order of business during our bat study was to figure out what we already knew about bats.  I loved the way Amy Lemons made her schema chart so I gave it a whirl too.   You can see my version on the left in the photo below.
Next, we generated a ton of questions we had about bats.  When I say a ton I mean a ton.  Their brains were working overtime.  So exciting!  We could officially jump into some very serious research now that we knew what we wanted to learn.  To start, each of my researchers were given a sentence about bats.  They needed to decide if their sentence was a fact or an opinion.  We sorted these sentences into the fact and opinion pocket charts.  You can see this in the photo above.  
Next, I gave each kiddo a short paragraph about bats.  The passage I used was from Amy Lemons (again). We went through the paragraph together highlighting the facts one color and opinions another color.  The kids made the bat craftivity to record one fact about bats and one opinion about bats.  I had them write their facts and opinions on stickies from the Dollar Tree and put them on their bat.  I think they turned out adorable.  
You can see these in the photo above.  You can see all these ideas on Amy's blog {here}. 

The Bat Cave

Oh My Word! My kiddos absolutely LOVED our Bat Research Week.   I knew they would love learning about bats, but I still wanted to take the opportunity to set the stage to engage these little learners and boy did they love learning in the Bat Cave last week.   I covered every possible square inch of table space in my classroom with black tablecloths.  I hung the purple lights around my Smartboard.  I hung bats from the ceiling (thank you Target $ spot).  I bought each student a glow bracelet to use on our first day of learning.  I turned off most of the lights when the students entered so that the glow bracelets would really pop.  I played bat sounds over the speaker system.  The kiddos were absolutely over the moon excited!!!

Making Matter Pop!

The kids had a blast making Matter Pop today. I was impressed with how much knowledge they brought to the table.  My little scientists made me proud. I started by putting the sodas, pop rocks and balloons on the table. I asked the students what we could do with these items.  They immediately said to put the balloon over the soda and shake it up to blow up the ballooon. Pretty smart.  Let's be honest, they were dying to shake the soda.  We recorded our question and hypothesis on our lab reports and set to work.  We used a funnel to fill each balloon with 1 packet of pop rocks.  I attached the balloon to each soda.  My volunteers were tasked with holding up each balloon so the pop rocks could go slide into the soda.  Once the balloons started filling with air the kids were actually screaming (I love that!). We had a wonderful discussion about how the soda and pop rocks are producing the gas to blow up the balloon.  Of course they wanted me to shake the sodas to see what would happen.  Nobody volunteered for that job.  I had to do it in the name of science! Once the balloons started to blow up even more the crowd went wild.  I must say this lesson really provided the kiddos the opportunity to see gas in action and have meaningful discussions about solids, liquids and gas.

Solids, Liquids and Gas!

It's finally here!  It's finally here.  We started our unit on Matter.  I LOVE this unit.  I mean I seriously LOVE this unit. We use Foss science kits in our district, but I supplement the kit with Hope King's Matter unit and I can't say enough about this fun unit.   I began the lesson by having the kiddos watch, Bill Nye the Science Guy's episode on solids, liquids and gas.  After the video I had the kids go back to their seat and find the Matter picture I had left under their name tag.  I used the pictures from Hope's unit.  As a class we discussed and sorted the pictures onto Solids, Liquids and Gas posters.  After we sorted the pictures together I gave each student a set of their own pictures and a flap book to sort their pictures into.  I hung the posters up so the students could reference them if needed.  They really enjoyed demonstrating their knowledge on the flap books.   

Desert Research Writing

Last week our story was the riveting selection, "A Walk in the Desert."  It is not the most exciting thing to read, but the desert is a topic of interest to seven year olds and I wanted to capitalize on that.  I decided to use this selection as a tool for "researching" the desert.  The first read of the selection story I always have the kiddos listen to the audio version.  The next day I buddied up the kiddos and had them read the selection and fill out this graphic organizer together.  They did a great job.

The categories of the graphic organizer correspond to the Desert Book the kids made the next day.  I hung up posters of each part of the graphic organizer (which I did not get a picture of!!) and collected the student responses onto the poster pages so the kids could see what their classmates had come up with too.
The next couple of days the kiddos worked at writing their research book about the desert.  They really got into it.  I let them work around the room (flexible seating anyone?) and use the class posters, their graphic organizer and the reading book for reference.   I think they turned out GREAT!

Henry and Mudge Camp In

We just finished reading, "Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night."  Who doesn't love Henry and Mudge?  The kids were really into it so my teaching partner and I decided to have a "camp in" complete with s'mores!!!  I know, what were we thinking???   I'm blogging about it DAYS later because it has taken me that long to recover. But, it was well worth it. 
The kids brought in sleeping bags, flashlights, lanterns, snacks and books.   We had a lot of  opportunities to read throughout the day and the campers completed an instruction book on how to make s'mores.  Fun, exhausting day.  Whew!

Reading Street Decodables for First Grade Unit 1

I happened!  It finally happened.  I have finished unit 1 Reading Street decodables and activities.  I even bundled them so you don't have to find each decodable for the unit in my TpT shop.  They are now in one easy download.  Sweet Tomatoes I'm so happy.  This has been on my to do list for months and I have heard from several of you that you are waiting.  Thank you so much for your patience.  I'm starting on unit 2 TODAY!

If you haven't used these decodable activities in your classroom yet, what are you waiting for??  They are FREE!!  I have retyped each decodable and included phonics and comprehension activities.  You can use this whole group, small group or at a center.   The possibilities are endless.

You can download unit 1 right here:  Reading Street Decodables Unit 1

Be sure to follow my store and this blog so that you will be notified when I get unit 2 up.

Angry Verbs!

I'm finally finding some time to pull my school photos off my phone!!  Eeekkk!   I realize this post is late, very late... let's think of it as "early"-early for next year.  The timing of this activity actually fell 2 weeks prior to the Angry Birds movie coming out.  See how long ago this was?!  I was looking for a fun way to review verbs and I found several activities on TpT and Pinterest for "Angry Verb" activities.  Which I really liked and then I stumbled across this post by First Grade Fairy Tales and my whole Angry Bird/Verb vision came to life.  I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE student generated projects.  They make me happy and I loved how she had her kiddos actually cut out and assemble their own angry birds rather than color a picture.  This is where things got a little tricky for me though.  I could not find patterns for the life of me anywhere.  First Grade Fairy Tales explained that she just made the patterns and I thought okie dokie- I'll make my own patterns too.  Holy Cow!  They were much harder than I anticipated.   I did save my patterns to share with all of you, but as of right now they are packed in my classroom.  I will get those posted when I get back to school.  Ugh!  Can't. Even.Think.About.THAT!    The actual lesson was a hit.  The kiddos got to choose their favorite Angry Bird and write a story about their Angry Bird.  They also had to underline the verbs in their story.  Now I am fully aware that the little's work above is incorrect-- they meant to underline 'hit' instead of 'beach'.

Yoda Directed Draw Instructions

Boy oh Boy!  I have gotten a ton of questions about our Yoda Directed Draw.  I took some photos so you could see the steps I went through with the kiddos.  I hope this helps!  Thanks for all the amazing feedback.

Star Wars Day Yoda Directed Draw

Star Wars Legos

At my current rate of blogging I may have all my Star Wars posts up before next Star Wars Day- MAYBE!  I won't make any promises.  But... these ideas could be used at any time of the year not just Star Wars Day.  You could even use these at a Lego themed birthday party!!  I will say that this was definitely one of my favorite activities during Star Wars Day.  I gave each group of 3-4 kids a baggie containing a set of legos that I had taken out of a polybag.  Each group got the exact same set of legos, but nobody got the directions or a chance to see the polybag they came in.

I told the students that it was their mission to create a droid using ALL the legos in the baggie.  All the kids went to TOWN.  They loved it.  I will also add that each student in the group was actively participating.   Some students were thinking up ideas, others were building, some were separating-- they were all busy and working cooperatively.  LOVE THAT!

Star Wars Day Legos
Once all the droids had been completed, each group shared their droid with the class and explained what their droid could do and how they came up with their ideas.  Everyone was riveted to see all the different ideas that came out of the same set of legos.  When all the droids had been shared I showed them the polybag picture and they all felt that their droids were WAY better.  AWESOMENESS!

Design by Laugh Eat Learn // Theme by Pipdig