Sunday, July 31, 2011

Word Study Game

This year, my team decided to use Beth Newingham's (one of my favorite teachers!!) Word Study Program to teach Spelling/Phonics. She created a game to use during her Word Study Centers called "Trash or Treasure." It's really just a word sort, but so much more fun. Students sort cards based on if they fit the weekly phonics rule or not. I love this game because it goes right along with our 95% Group instructional methods. To make it more hands-on, I created a treasure box and trash can so that the kids can actually move the cards to one side or the other. Then they write the words under the appropriate column on a recording sheet.
I had so much fun making the treasure box and trash can. I bought an unfinished wooden chest and pirate pieces (also wooden) from Hobby Lobby and the mini trash can from Dollar General.
Here's all of the materials:


I glued gold-colored sequins inside to look like treasure...

I didn't know what to do at first because the wooden pirate pieces were too tall to fit on the sides of the treasure box when it was open. Then my husband (Mr. Fix It) said, "I can just cut them in half and you can glue one part to the bottom and one part to the top so that when it's open nothing sticks up..." I never think of things like that!!! So, here's what he came up with... Genius!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good Behavior Rewards

In my classroom, I use a ticket system to promote good behavior choices. Throughout the day I give out tickets and students sign their names (in pencil-- we reuse the tickets) on the back. They can choose to save them or spend them. Spending means putting them in the daily drawing. At the end of the day, I (or a student helper) draw a ticket out of the bucket. The chosen student gets a quarter to use at the prize machine: My kiddos LOVE the prize machine!!! I found a dealer on Craigslist who sells used machines like this. He gave me a great deal once I told him what I'd be using it for. It works wonders! How do you reward good choices in your classroom? I love to hear what other teachers do!

Blog Mixer Linky Party

Denise over at Yearn to Learn is having a Blog Mixer Linky Party. Here's my answers to her four questions:

1. New Kid on the Blog: I absolutely adore Mrs. E's blog The Sweet Life of Third Grade! Like me, she is a new blogger! Her blog has taken off- she already has over 200 followers in July alone! Way to go, Mrs. E! Since I'm a new blogger too, I'm going to add my link here as well-- Farmtastic Fun in 2nd Grade.
2. A Blog in My Grade Level: I love that Monica at The Shroeder Page is assembling a 2nd grade teachers blog group! That's so exciting!!
3. A Blog in Another Grade Level: Third grade teacher Christie has so many cute ideas and creations over at Teaching in Flip Flops.
4. Cutest Button: I don't know if it's actually a button, but I love Alicia's logo at {i HART my preschoolers} (her last name is Hart!!). So cute!!!

It was so much fun searching for these blogs! I didn't realize there were so many out there!

New Sqworl Group for 2nd Grade Blogs!!

I used the 2nd grade links from The Grade Level Link Up Party to create a Sqworl group for easy access to blogs in my grade level. If you're interested, here's the link!!

Grade Level Link Up Party!!

Wow! I'm so excited to find the Grade Level Link Up Party at The Teacher's Lane! I can't wait to meet new 2nd grade bloggers!

Love those giveaways!!

Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade is having a "Freakishly Fabulous Four Hundred Follower" giveaway. I'm so excited to discover new 2nd grade blogs!!! Check it out here!


Rebecca at Create-Teach-Share is having a Linky Party about creative ways to use Post-Its. So, I thought I'd share one of the many ways we use Post-Its in my class.

When we're studying visualizing in Reading Workshop, students draw the pictures they "see in their heads" on Post-Its. Then they attach them to their graphic organizers. Under each Post-It, they write the part of the story that their picture illustrates. Then I have them switch papers and retell each other's stories using the pictures. They can self-check by lifting the Post-It to read the description. Just another way to practice summarizing and retelling.

Here's a picture of our anchor chart for this strategy:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Class Library

I love children's books! I just love them. It's a slight addiction... Ok, it's a bad addiction. I scour my local Goodwill (especially on the first Saturday of the month when everything is 1/2 price!), yard sales (check Craigslist for yard sale ads specifically featuring children's books), and I've even made the trek down to McKay's in Nashville. Of course I'm also a regular at B&N, but I've had to curb that habit-- it's bad for the bank account!!

I've organized and reorganized my library several times and I think I've finally gotten it like I want it. Now it's just the maintenance... Here's some pics:

My books are organized by topic. The bins with the blue stickers are nonfiction. The white bins are devoted to specific curriculum areas (math, social studies, poetry, etc.). If the book has a Guided Reading level, it's written on the back of the book on a sticker. Each book also has a small sticker on the front with a picture that matches the picture on the bin it belongs in for easy return. I have students return their books to the red bin on the stool and the "class librarian" puts them in the correct bins.

I keep a log of my books on this website. I love being able to type in any key word and it brings up all of the books I have with that tag! So easy! I also purchased a check-out system called CLAS from this website. Each book has a barcode and students have library cards. When they want to check out a book, they simply use the barcode scanner to scan their cards and then the book they want to check out. I love this system because, just like the real library, I can pull reports and see who has what checked out at any given time. I can also see what types of books each student has been reading. Plus, the kids love using the scanner!

I have students store their checked-out books (along with their Reader's Notebooks) in their book bins, shown here:

Just like new!

My friend just got a vice-principal position in a neighboring district (Go, Sherleta!!!) and had to clean out her room ASAP. We all scoured her room looking for treasure and she so graciously gave me a rolling desk chair. She bought it for her kids last year and they took turns sitting in it each week. I had wanted to get one too, but never did. So, I took hers and gave it a new twist. I recovered it in the same fabric I recovered my glider rocker in several years ago. I think it turned out cute!

Curtains, Curtains, Everywhere!

I dusted off the old sewing machine a few weeks ago to make some curtains for my classroom. I meant to only make one set of curtains, but it turned into a curtain-making frenzy! I had seen some other teachers in my building hanging curtains above their sink areas to hide stuff. I found some red material that matched my valances (which originally came from my 13-year-old son's nursery) and made the ones for my sink area. Then, I decided to make a black curtain to hang above my exterior door, which led to making a bandana print one for the actual door. Then came the red curtain to cover the little sliver of a window on my interior door. I love all of the new curtains! It really makes the room feel cozier!

Trash or Treasure?

Last year, my husband went to drop off the trash at the local collection center (in the south, we call it the dump), and came back with one of the ugliest pieces of furniture I've ever seen. It was a bench/pew, painted hunter green with a huge floral-covered piece glued to it. I immediately asked him what he was planning to do with this hunk of junk. He said he was hoping we could refinish it and keep it. I rolled my eyes. Really?
Well, it sat in our garage for a couple of months. Then one day I decided to try and do something with it. I knew I didn't want it in our house, but I thought it may have potential as a reading bench for my classroom. I already had a red/black theme in my room with my bookshelves and book bins, so I went to Hobby Lobby to see what I could find to decorate the bench to match my theme. I bought some scrapbooking paper, Mod Podge, and black paint and set to work. In about a week's time (and a lot of glue-scraping and sanding!!), this is what became of the ugly green bench:

Once the bench was finished, I decided to paint a corner cabinet that once belonged to my grandmother. I didn't have a place for it in our new house, so I thought it would be cute (and useful for storage) in my classroom as well. Here's the finished cabinet:

I eventually painted a stool and door sign to match:

I love these pieces! And to think it all started with a trip to the dump!

Almost Ready!!

I went to school to finish cleaning and organizing today. After cleaning the filing cabinet out and scrubbing sticky goo from old nametags off the desks, I think the room is almost ready. I finally was able to get rid of my huge teacher's desk, so there is much more room this year. Even though I still have a few more things to do, I thought I'd post a few pics.

Views from the door and corner:

Small group area (which now serves as my desk as well):Class library:

Class meeting area:

A small group center:

Student computers:

Word Study Center:

Sink Area:

I'm almost done... Just a few more finishing touches!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A New Year, A New Blog!!

As the new school year is right around the corner, I'm going to try my hand at blogging this year. I have no idea if I can keep up with it, but I'm going to do my best. I'm so excited to share the fun things we do in 2nd grade. Wish me luck!