Sunday, March 9, 2014

Olivia Costume and More - Getting Ready for Book Character Day

I promised my husband if I bought this cute red dress I would wear it over and over again.  So, not only is Olivia the pig my favorite Halloween costume, it will now be my go-to March is Reading Month character costume too.  Want your own Olivia costume?  Here's all you need to do:

Step 1: The Dress
I don't sew, but I am an avid online shopper.  Pretty sure any red dress will do, but I saw this one on ModCloth and fell in love.  The dress is called Looking to Tomorrow.  Just type it in a search and it should come right up!
Looking to Tomorrow Dress in Rouge - Mid-length, Red, White, Solid, Peter Pan Collar, Casual, Vintage Inspired, A-line, Short Sleeves, Exposed zipper, Party, Scholastic/Collegiate, Collared, Fit & Flare

Step 2: Ears
This was actually much easier than I thought it would be and it's a good thing because I left the ears in Colorado when I moved to Michigan so I'll be making a new Olivia headband.  

All you need is a headband (mine was 1 inch and covered with black fabric), 2 pieces of medium thick fun foam, and a glue gun.  Cut out two football shapes (one end pointed, one end flat) in the fun foam and do some folding until the ears look like you want.  Then glue.  Easy!  

Step 3: Tights
There is no such thing as ONE size fits all.  I am 5'2" and the tights I found at Target were so short they were falling off all day.  I was waddling around trying to keep them on before I even got to school, but you can't tell in the pictures, so that's all that really matters.  

I'm hoping this year I'll have better luck with these.  I just ordered them on Amazon.

Grab a book, maybe even a little Olivia stuffed animal and you're all set!  Years and years of Halloweens and March is Reading months are covered!    
Don't want to be a pig?  Here are my darling teammates in their book character garb:

Lily from Lily's Purple Plastic Purse

Look at these darling shoes!  Perfect and comfy!

Are you dressing up this month?  I need to wear my Olivia dress a few more times to make it worth the money, but I'm always looking for some cute new dress up ideas!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Making Mentor Texts Meaningful and Memorable

Want to make those amazing mentor texts you spend countless hours hand picking for your mini-lessons more meaningful?  This is a simple strategy I've used to sear these texts into my students' little second grade brains and to help them see the connection between the books we read and their own writing (you could do this in reader's notebooks too, but so far I've only done it in writing).
Just go find a picture of the book - a simple Google image search will do the trick - copy and paste rows and columns of the picture of the book cover in a PowerPoint slide (PowerPoint is WAY easier to play with graphics in than Word), print out the slide and cut up a small picture of the book cover for every student.
As a follow-up mini-lesson after reading the book to the class, students can glue the copy of the book cover in their writer's notebooks and brainstorm ideas for writing that stem from this mentor text.  As I peeked over the kiddos' shoulders during workshop time yesterday I found one of my sweet girlies going back to her All the Places to Love page and adding more ideas of favorite places she could write about.  Success!

Here are some of the mentor texts I love to use to inspire ideas for writing:
Looking Back: A Book of Memories is such a fun text!  I use the chapter where Lois Lowry describes how she went about choosing her dog.  The kids absolutely love seeing the dog that she ended up choosing and can almost always come up with ideas for pet stories.  I also read the chapter where Lois found a dead rat and brought it home thinking it would make a good pet.  It always takes a few minutes for the kids to figure out what she brought home and put in the oven.  I love their little smiles when they finally figure out what happened.

All the Places to Loveis a perfect book to inspire ideas for writing based on favorite places.  It's also a great one to model word choice.  

Knots in My Yo-Yo Stringis a book that really inspired me as a writer.  I use this book as a start for students to draw a map of a place they know well and jot down stories they have in this place.  

Alphabet books can be tricky, but one of my favorites is O is for Orca: An Alphabet Book.  It is a great model for short but interesting research.  Be careful though - if you let kids create their own alphabet books they might just work on them for the entire year.

Do you have any go-to mentor texts to inspire writing?  Please share them!  I am always looking for new books to add to my "writing teacher" shelf.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Last Day for Gift Card and Thirty-One Giveaway!

Win $25 gift cards or a Thirty-One Zip-Top Utility Tote!  It's the final day of the We Love Super Teachers Giveaway and we'll be announcing winners tomorrow, so don't forget to enter!  You can go to the original post to read more or enter in the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck and happy Sunday!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 2, 2014

We LOVE Super Teachers Giveaway! Gift Cards and Thirty-One Bags!

Hello fabulous teacher friends and happy February!  I've been a blog slacker lately as I've been using my snow days (7 so far in January-crazy Michigan!) to work on my newest products.  My goal for 2013-14 was to get the differentiated homework I've worked on for years into user friendly monthly packs, and I'm more than halfway done.  Hooray!  I just uploaded my biggest product yet and thought Valentine's Day could be a great time to give some away!
My Super Homework Pack will eventually cost $75 and will contain an entire year's worth of homework menus and printables.  Right now it includes September-February, so I will e-mail monthly updates to all three winners as I finish the additional packs.   Even if you have your homework system in place, the printables will be a great addition to your classroom files.  I pull them out all the time for challenges for my second graders!  I am also giving away a $25 gift card to the place of your choice because I love gift cards and figure you do too!    
My fabulous second grade teammate, Brandy Resman, is an amazingly hard working Thirty-One consultant and has graciously offered to add some Thirty-One amazingness to the giveaway.  If you're not familiar with Thirty-One Gifts, they are a company that offers durable and adorable bags and totes in a variety of styles and prints.  They can all be personalized too!  Brandy is giving away a zip-top organizing tote to one lucky winner, and a $25 Thirty-One gift card to another.  She is also offering an additional *10% off* orders through the Super Teacher Giveaway Event.  Thank you Brandy for your awesome-ness!  I received two Thirty-One medium utility totes for Christmas and I love them!  I used them for my holiday trips as airport carry on bags and little Lily even took a few naps in one.  The zip up top is such a nice feature that my bags don't have.  I would love one of those!  Look at this darling fabric too!
We will choose 3 winners next Monday, February 10th.  One winner will receive the choice gift card, one will receive the zip-top tote, and the third will receive the Thirty-One gift card.  ALL winners will receive the Super Homework Pack!  You can pin daily, so please come back each day for additional pinning entries.
a Rafflecopter giveaway *Here’s how to place an order and qualify for 10% off:*
*Go to Brandy’s Thirty-One Gifts site.
*Click "Place an Order" and then click on "Shop Now" in the Super Teacher Giveaway area *Place your order and get 10% off!
*Please note: Brandy will have to manually deduct the 10% off after the online event is closed so you won’t see the 10% discount until after she manually submits the orders.

Good luck and Happy February!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pure Michigan and Perfect Paragraph Planning

Yep.  I now live in Michigan and this was my backyard two days ago.  Can you say Snow Days?! Not just day, but days (with an S!).  Pure craziness and freezing-ness out here.  It's way better today though. We hit 19 and it felt like summer. :)
 Little Lily just looked like this for 2 days straight - poor babe.
 When we did force her outside she had serious reservations.  :)
I loved the break and the excitement of getting the "snow day phone call", but I don't think I'm completely cut out for this whole extended snow day thing.  Day 1 and 2 were so much fun, but Day 3 was a little blech-fest.  Of course I loved sipping my coffee until 10, leisurely making a crock pot dinner at noon, and listening to lovely music all morning long (I can not tell you how much I absolutely LOVE Spotify!).  But, there's something about not getting out of pajamas for almost 72 hours, napping as much as the dog, and posting Instagram pics of said dog in a coat that make me feel a little blah.  It's 7:25 EST now, so I don't think I'm getting another call about tomorrow.  I'm happy and ready to go.  Bring on the second graders!
Are you teaching informational writing in the near future?  If so, this activity might be helpful.  I like to introduce simple paragraphs using "Stars and Bars".  In years past I've had parents use the fancy dicut machine, but this year I had the kids cut out all the parts (T, stars, bars, C) and it went wonderfully.  It took awhile, but I think the kids will remember it better - or at least I'm hoping all that kinesthetic cutting will emblazon the T, star, bar, and C in their sweet little second grade brains.  :)

I think the Star/Bar organizer might be a Step Up to Writing idea.  One of my teammates who shared this idea with me had been Step Up trained.  I don't know a lot about that program, but I do know I love this simple way to introduce basic paragraph organization to kids - even the littler guys.    

It's easy-peasy:
T = Topic sentence

Star = Detail

Bar = Supporting detail ("Tell me more" about the detail)

C = Conclusion

I like to color code the T green (go!), C red (stop!), with the stars yellow and bars orange, but it doesn't really matter on the star and bar color - I'm just set in my color coded ways.  I ask students to provide 3 details with supporting details, but for the super little ones, one detail and supporting detail should suffice.
On day 1 we cut and pasted our T, C, stars, and bars.  We also wrote the 3 details we wanted to include in our paragraph on the stars - for this paragraph our favorite winter traditions.  Then on day 2 students wrote complete sentences for each detail and supporting detail.  On day 3 we had a class mini-lesson on topic sentences.  Day 4 was conclusion mini-lesson day.  Day 5 was read your completed paragraph day.  Hooray for paragraphs!    

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Last Week Before Break Freebies & RACK Sacks

I am so, so late to the December party.

I'm currently mentally preparing myself for the week ahead and plan to look for some fun freebies to tide the kids over until Friday at 3:35.  If you're in the same boat, here are a few freebies from me.

First, four holiday printables including a holiday tree dot game (I'm totally using this one this week!), Santa's flight path geography (think I'm going to use this one too), holiday word work and letter writing paper.
Second, in case you're in the emergency "I NEED 30 CHEAP GIFTS IN THE NEXT 4 DAYS" mode, use these editable coupons.  My students always love sitting in my chair or bringing a stuffed animal to class for a day and they don't cost me a thing.
Looking for a great read aloud?  This one is my holiday favorite!  The pictures are beautiful and the story is so sweet.  You can even us it as a mentor text and do a quickwrite about gift stories (birthdays, holidays, etc.) if you're thinking of actually teaching next week.  :)
Lastly,  if you're thinking of doing RACK (Random Acts of Classroom Kindness), think about making RACK Sacks.  We use these like stockings.  Students write letters or compliments for classmates, teachers deliver them to RACK Sacks and the kids get to open these on the last day before the break.
Good luck this week and happy break!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanksgiving Origami - Cross Legged Critters

These little guys are my "go to" week before Thanksgiving activity.  Look how cute they turned out last year?  I love the ones with the giant googly eyes!
If you want to try this one out with your little ones all you need is paper, scissors, and some clear instructions.

I typically model step by step before I give students paper and highly recommend this if you've never done this project before.  Then I have two groups: one that can be more independent following the written directions (I like to make 15 or so copies so all students have access to the written directions) and one group with me that will work on following step by step oral directions.

As a fast finisher, students can use the extra paper they get from cutting their original rectangular paper into a square to make baby turkeys.  

Fun, cute, and time consuming - the perfect trifecta for the week before Thanksgiving! 

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