Wednesday, September 24

Short Vowel Freebie

Like everyone else I am loving interactive notebooks. My students have a math one and a word study one. They work so well.

I have made things here and there for them because I can picky and like things my way...what teacher doesn't?

I wanted to share with you my latest creation for our short vowel review. Maybe someday I will actually put them altogether.

After reviewing the short vowel sounds we made an anchor chart and became word detectives to see what we noticed about them. We made many great observations, but the one that stuck with us is that when it is a short vowel it only has one vowel. Brilliant, right?

That is what the short vowel is to help us remember. This is what it looks like in our notebooks.



Grab your copy here

Happy Wednesday!


Sunday, September 21

Making Number Lines Come Alive- One of My Favorite Things

By far our calendar routine is my favorite part of the day. Since I have a little more freedom this year, I decided to try something my mentor teacher introduce me to it when I student taught first grade. However, it was not used quite to the extent I have made it this year. I have never seen or used it since. It is all about making a number line come alive!!! Our classroom number line will not just be used for keeping track of the number of days we have been in school or practicing addition and subtraction. I am not saying those skills are not important. Our number line is going to be so alive with knowledge we will be referring back to it all year even when multiplication and division come around at the end of the year. If I kept them until they were fourth graders we would still be using it. It is that handy!

Meet our ever growing number line!

How are we making it come alive?
Every day after we complete our calendar routine we add a number to our number line to keep track of our days in school.
I show the number then ask "How can you get to this number?"  During the first week it was "What can we count by to get to this number?" So right away when we are building our number line we began practicing counting by 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, 10s, 11s, and yes 12s is built into our routine.

Once we discover the different ways we can get to a number we use a symbol to represent it.  Note: since we can get to any number by counting by 1s, 1 does not have a symbol. Every other number does. For example we represent 2 with two matching dots as they are a pair. 4 is a square for its four sides. 7 is a rainbow for the seven colors it has.

The symbols get taped right on the number so pretty soon it starts looking like this.


We also tie in money to it so every time we reach an amount that a coin or dollar is worth that gets taped there too.

Now you can make your number line come alive too with my newest packet.


It includes everything you need to make your number line do so. Click here to check it out.



My students don't know it yet and yours won't either, but they are creating a number line that shows odd and even numbers, addition and subtraction facts, prime and composite numbers, multiplication and division facts, factors for each number. That is on top of what they do see: what numbers you use when you count by a certain number, addition facts, and money values.

I am currently working on a packet of activities to go with the number line to make it even a greater math tool.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 17

Zero the Hero Arrives in Second Grade

I have missed the Zero the Hero train in the past. Not sure how, but I am on it now.
As we were counting down up our days in school (one of my favorite things to teach...more to come on this), my students kept asking about Zero the Hero and if he/she were appearing this year. I couldn't say no especially since I have big plans for the 50th day of school.

I knew I wanted to spice it up for what had been done in Kindergarten and first grade. This is what I came up with.
Zero the Hero goodies for 10th, 20th, & 40th day

I found this book Zero by Kathryn Otoshi and loved it. My students love stories. So perfect fit! Love when this happens. The story is about how zero goes from trying to fit in and then realize how it can be important. This happens by finding the light. Notice how the "o" is different colors. I figured the round object to go with it would be glow sticks.

To make it more then just a treat, Zero the Hero left notes on everything. The note on the book told why we received this story.

 There was note about why we received the lights. But...

before we could open it we had to answer three questions based on the story. 

Once it was all put together, it looked like this. 

 Zero the Hero left the treats in two of the book boxes. Solved the problem of who got to open and read what. 
Here we are with the first present and reading the note. 

 Opening the second goodie. 

 Then what fun would it be if you can't pretend the glow sticks are light sabers, right?

Any other great Zero the Hero ideas?


Tuesday, September 2

Welcome to My Second Home!!

It is time for the big classroom reveal. But we all know it is more than just a classroom.
It is my second home.
It is a safe place for my students and me.
It is where magic happens.

View from the entrance. All three tables ready with goodies and an activity for tomorrow. Also that's our word garden on the real chalkboard. Forgot to get a close up of it. 

Probably my favorite area of the whole room. Reading nook filled with books pillows but also where calendar and math instruction will be thanks to great finds at Costco and Jo-Anns. 

Two shelves of math manipulatives. Why yes please!

Book boxes, daily supplies, games, and my "desk" area. 


The entrance way. Students will be picking what cubby is theirs tomorrow. 

Another view of our tables and all the word work materials and reading games. 

Art supplies, BRAVO door, and sink area. I really don't know why all lower elementary classrooms don't all come with sinks.

Four years but I finally have a love seat in my room. Makes my heart happy. 

Tomorrow the fun begins in second grade. Hope all of you who started today had a wonderful first day and are resting up!


Monday, September 1

September Currently

Oh September, your arrival is so bittersweet. Excited about all the new possibilities you bring but bummed you bring the ending of the summer that never was. 


Listening: Spending my last days of summer at the cabin doing a mix of family time, last minute school prep, reading and playing tourist. It is particularly wavy today.

Loving: My new school. Classroom pics soon. I can't believe a gem like this school exists or that I am encouraged to be as creative as I can be as a teacher. 

Thinking: My first day is Wednesday and the plans for the first day and week keep changing. So much I want to fit in. 

Wanting & Needing: As a small town let's just say we have been hit hard with bad news this summer. As has my family. I just keep praying that soon it will be good news filling the papers and phones. Praying for a successful camping trip at the end of the month and everyone that should be there will.

3 Trips: I have wanted to go to Italy forever. I want to do the bourbon trail in Kentucky. I would love to just go exploring in Alaska. Then probably return there because I know there is no way I could fit it all in. 

Happy September to all!! 

Saturday, August 23

Thoughts of A "Summer" Student - What I Hope For My Students

For the past two summers I spent my summer days donning a tool belt. This summer it even expanded to a pink hard hat. Today was the day I had to put it all on the shelf until next summer. Not gonna lie, I'm sad bummed.
Added more tools to my collection this year. Pry bar does wonders. 

Safety first! Does it suit me?

Not gonna lie I love working in construction. LOVE IT! Every day I learned something new became more confident in my abilities, climbed the taller ladders, hauled one more piece of wood on my pile, tried a tricker angle with the nail gun, tried slightly more difficult cuts with the various saws. 

When these thoughts cross my mind, I realize how much it relates to school. For the summer, I get to be the student. Luckily I have a great teacher. Sometimes he let me figure things out myself, other times jump in to help or fix my mistakes. Because of this I know how to:
put a roof on, 
install wood floors
install insulation
build closet shelves
put up trim and base
pour concrete
install and place beams
the importance of priming
install beadboard ceiling
helped design a fireplace
install stairs
know construction jargon -legs, beveled, plumb, 45, sheet, stud, plate, rip, header, OSB

And yes there were times I messed up. I made the wrong cuts...sometimes multiple times. Used the wrong type of wood. Put dents in walls or accidentally wrote on the walls with my pencil (thank goodness for great painters). Even cut my finger with a circular saw. BUT everyday I was still excited to show up. 

I can only hope that the same is true for my students. That they learn something everyday. That they are excited to come to school. That they feel safe enough to try something new. That they feel supported. That they feel comfortable to share their ideas. That someone takes an interest in them and wants to listen to them and help them. That they are excited about what they have learned and can't wait to show what they know. 

Which is true about me. Here is just a sampling of how I spent my summer days. 


Alas it is time to hit school mode full board. I have been working on stuff (printing and laminating mostly), some classroom organizing, and planning. This is the week to start getting it altogether.  


Monday, August 18

Who Doesn't Love Mail?

Raise your hand if you love a good mail day.  

I'm talking those days where you get real mail that comes in cute or maybe not so cute hand addressed envelope or postcard filled with a thoughtful note and photo.  Not those days with ads, bills, and more applications for credit cards than you need.

Well I am thinking just about most people and that includes students. 

This is where my new packet comes in. It is filled with postcards to send to your students throughout the year for many reasons or a just because reason.


Last year we had to make a positive contact to students outside of the every day to day contact we had with students and parents. It could be an email, postcard, phone call, or a quick little note. I usually choose postcards.
Yes it took a ton of time to write 29 postcards each month but I was always amazed at the thank yous I received from students and parents once their mail arrived. I even had one parent say I turned the entire week around for them with my quick little postcard.

How did I come up with all those ideas to write? 
What I would do was each month I would look for something from each student where they just stood out. Examples for such times:
  • Taking time to pull me up a chair so I didn't kneel at the guided reading table
  • Taking extra time to help a friend
  • Finally feeling comfortable to join in our role plays
  • Taking the leap to read chapter books and loving it
  • Realizing the floor was a little extra messy and cleaning it up without an instruction
  • Helping younger students on the playground
  • When they brought their folder in every day for a week or two after I hadn't since the folder in months
In You've Got Mail, are two postcard designs for each month, two designs for back to school and end of the year, different postcard designs for thank you, Happy Birthday, Congratulations, and Just for Fun!
Go check it out! I have it on sale now through the Back to School Boost Sale!

Happy Writing!