Thursday, June 5, 2014

Need an easy end of year tradition? Wonka Week!

Our last weeks (we finish up with kiddos June 6th) have been so busy that I didn't have the time for Camp Coyote.  Instead, I pulled out the tried and true Wonka Week.  If you're still in school and need a little something to motivate those little ones, this might do the trick.  If you're already out (summer!!!) then put this in your little bag-o-tricks for another year. Here's a few things we did for Wonka Week.
Wonka Tickets
Throughout Wonka week(s) these are the new incentives for student behavior.  All students who receive a Wonka ticket get to draw from the candy bar jar at the end of the day.  If their candy bar is one of the lucky Golden Ticket Winners then they get one of the BIG prizes.
For maximum effect put out the candy bars and prizes a day or two before you introduce the Wonka tickets. My little second graders' curiosity was piqued after an hour looking at the candy.  The cool candy jar our PTO gave us for Teacher Appreciation Week didn't hurt either.  Way better than a glass bowl.
If you're interested in a little Wonka motivation you can get free copies of the golden tickets I use here.  Then all you need to do is print these out and do a little candy bar finagling (see my finagling steps pictured below). 

Wonka Factories
How cute are these?  For math we worked on creating our own Wonka Factory floors. Students get a letter from Willy Wonka asking them to design a new floor for his factory. They have rooms they have to include and then get to add rooms of their choice with any left over area.  Here are the results.  I always love hearing them talk about their ideas for candy rooms.  Jelly bean fountain!  Cotton candy island!  :)
Wonka Science
Tons of fun and easy science experiments can be centered around candy:
Which candy bars will sink when put in water? Which will float?
What will happen when a Gobstopper is put in water? soda? juice? vinegar?
What will happen when you put Skittles in water? (The S floats!)
Of course we had to do a little movie watching as well - gotta love that Gene Wilder.  I think I love this movie even more as an adult than I did as a kid.  Classic!    
Happy end of the year!  I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

It's May!  Another school year has flown by and Teacher Appreciation Week is over.  How did that happen?!  I've had pictures from last year's Teacher Appreciation that I've been waiting to post and I'm not going to wait another year just because I'm lame and didn't do this last Sunday.  :)

I pretty much LOVED the door decoration my room mom did for appreciation week last year.  I'm a tad bit (understatement!) of a coffee fan, so this door was perfect for me.  All the kids had their own cup and they even made one for Lily too!
The PTA also had each student bring in a flower and our room moms put these together to make amazing bouquets.  I love flowers!  I know they don't last, but I love having them in my classroom!
This year one of our amazing moms was in charge of the entire week and was so thoughtful!  Check out these very kind gifts!  The sweet book was full of students' writing about what they liked about their teachers.  Mine is now sitting on my coffee table.  Priceless!  :)
 Happy end of teacher appreciation week to all!  I hope you're enjoying the end of the school year!

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.
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