Will You Be My Valentine?

I'm linking up with Sunny Days in Second Grade's Show and Tell Tuesday to share a fun Valentine's project to brighten your hallways and your students' faces!
We're always sending homework for our students. This Valentine's homework is actually for the GROWN UPS! About two weeks before the beginning of February, I give each student a giant heart cut out of tag board. I usually use white tagboard, but this year my teammates did pink and red, and I love how that turned out as well! The directions are very simple: parents are to make a Valentine for their child using whatever supplies they have. My hearts are due this Friday, but I've had a few come in early. Here's how some of them have turned out so far:

This mom wrote her child THE SWEETEST message on the outside. I got a little teary reading it <3
I loved all the photos this family included!
This mom glued Legos and candy all over it... two of her child's most favorite things!
(I apologize the photos look a little goofy, but I blurred out the students' names and the photos for privacy reasons. Thanks for your understanding!)

Aren't these parents so talented and creative?!?! I will hang these in the hallway close to each child's coat hook. It's just a great visual, daily reminder to the students that their grown ups love them. Each year, I frequently see my kiddos smiling and admiring their hearts as they grab their cold lunch, put their library books away, get ready for recess... basically any time we're by our coat hooks. I will keep the hearts up throughout the month of February. It's so easy to do (on my end... ha!), and it's so meaningful for my kiddos. I've also heard from my former students that they still have their hearts after so many years!


Who's Hungry? Author's Purpose: PIE and T

I don't know what it is, but Author's Purpose is SO TOUGH!! Even after I teach the different purposes, the kiddos still mix them up!

I'm fairly certain you all have heard of the acronym "PIE" for teaching Author's Purpose:
P = Persuade
I = Inform
E = Entertain

I was having some trouble wrapping my head around just these three, because sometimes authors don't write for one of those purposes. Example: most traditional literature. Fables, folktales, and legends are usually written to teach a lesson. So I got to thinking. How can I add "Teach a Lesson" to the PIE?
Or maybe use the "L" from "Lesson?"
Yeeaahhh..... no.

I like PIE. When I eat pie, I usually need something to wash it down. T? Tea??? Hey, I'm onto something! Here's the anchor chart we created:
My kiddos were really diggin' this! After we defined each purpose, we practiced identifying the different purposes with texts found in our classroom. Adding "Teach a Lesson" as another purpose for writing is also a good way to foreshadow the Traditional Literature genre, which we will be working on in the coming months.

My next dilemma? How to incorporate poetry? Because not all poems are silly and happy a la Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky. Thoughts???



MLK Jr. Freebie!

Any Last-Minute-Larrys out there, like myself? Need something to do tomorrow (or Tuesday, if you don't have school tomorrow)?

We've been inferring machines in my classroom the last few weeks, and this week we're focusing on inferring character feelings and motivations from the author's description, what they do or say, and what other characters think about them. Hello, CCSS ELA-Literacy RL2.3: Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges!

Who doesn't love Martin's Big Words?
(Or you can watch the video of the book HERE)

So my plan is to first activate prior knowledge, by asking my bunnies to pair/share what they already know about MLK Jr. and making a list on chart paper. We are located in a suburb/rural community with not a lot of racial diversity, so it will be interesting to see how much they know. Then, as I read this book aloud, they will complete this worksheet:
You like? You can get your own FREE copy here!

I'm a little jealous of those of you who have off tomorrow. Although we are going on a field trip on Friday, so I only have to plan for four days too! Enjoy your five (or four!) day week! :)

Inferring and Context Clues *FREEBIE*

We've started learning about the reading comprehension strategy, Inferring, this week. I L.O.V.E teaching inferring!! It's so fun to see the kids' gears turning and putting the pieces together to figure out what's really going on!
WOW! This is FULL of lesson ideas and activities for teaching inferring using context clues! Post includes a list of books, a YouTube video and a freebie.
This blog post contains affiliate links. To view my entire disclosure policy, click here.

I usually start with wordless picture books. Here are a few of my faves:

After they start to get the hang of it, I move onto these two gems:
Seriously... ah.MAZE.ing!!

After we've mastered inferring with pictures, we move onto inferring word meaning using context clues. This video super cheesy and the music is annoying, but the message and idea trumps the obnoxiousness.  

It's hard to teach inferring word meaning using context clues because of the range of students' prior knowledge and vocabulary. I like to use books that have made up words or words in another language. Today we used this book:
This book is about an alien explaining to his teacher why he's late to school. He uses all these "made up" words in his tall tale, but the pictures and the text are easy to follow. Since I only have one copy of the book, I read it aloud while students recorded their inferences on this worksheet:
Awesome FREEBIE lesson for teaching inferring with context clues at the word level!
It's nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. Click on the pic above to snag your own FREE copy! The kiddos were SUPER engaged while I was reading the book: sharing ideas with neighbors, writing furiously, asking me to reread paragraphs/pages... It was so fun to watch! The neat thing about the book is that at the end, there is a "glossary" with all of these words (plus a few more that didn't make the cut), their meanings, and the origins of the words. It seems like the words are made up, but most of them actually originate from other languages!

Next week we'll go even bigger and infer at the story level with books that actually have words! Woo hoo!! What books do you use to teach inferring?


New Year, New Ideas, New Possibilities Linky Party: Grab and Go Math Centers

I am super excited to link up with Primary Possibilities for the New Year, New Ideas, New Possibilities Linky Party!

Everyone involved in this linky party is guest blogging on someone else's blog, so if you follow the circle, you'll actually end back here! How fun!! I'm actually guest blogging at Fun in 1st Grade, so make sure you head over there once you're done reading. So sit back, relax, and ENJOY this awesome post written by Julie from Primary Pointe. She has a FAB solution to keeping your math bins organized!!

Hello Hippo Hooray for Second Grade followers!  My name is Julie.  I am a kindergarten teacher, blogger, ballet student and crafting-crazy cat lady!  My blog is called Primary Pointe.  I use my blog to reach out to my kindergarten families and other teachers of little learners.    
Today I will be sharing my math manipulative bins makeover.   These bins are for the early finishers during our math center rotation.  Let me tell you…  they definitely had little hands all over them!  Here’s what they looked like before winter break.

I totally hear Jimmy Fallon's "EW" voice!
I like the idea of having open-ended activities available, but with structure.  These activities provide little learners an opportunity to select their own materials and activity to support their math learning.   I work hard to train the children to be responsible and purposeful during this time.  It builds a sense of self-motivation and responsibility for their own learning… skills that will take them well beyond a practice worksheet!

Here are the changes I made to add some structure to this messy BUT essential independent learning time!  I am calling them Grab and Go bins.  That way the kids know to just take a bin and take it to a spot in our classroom.  It’s meant to be a quick and easy transition from their assigned math center to independent learning time.

1. Control how many options the children have. I decided to take out a lot of the manipulatives, so the bins weren’t overflowing and CLOSED (YES, I did!!!) the bins that I did not want to be used yet.  Don’t worry…  I’ll get back to this part soon!

2. Label it and bag it up!  I posted labels for each manipulative to showcase them for the week.  These four bins are what we are starting with.  Ziploc bags aren’t the prettiest way to store all our “stuff” but they are easy for the children to manipulate, organize and find the manipulatives they are looking for.  I used Ziploc bags for the beads bin and for storing sorting cards for the linking shapes.  Like the labels?  You can grab them right here!

3. Anchor charts.  Above the labels, you will see blank anchor charts.  These will set the guidelines for what is expected when using the Grab-and-Go bins.  Why are they blank???  Well, the children will show me what counting, sorting, patterning and adding looks like during centers.  I will take pictures and post them on the anchor charts as a visual reminder of the choices they have at the Grab and Go bins. 
Thank you to Graphics from the Pond for the borders!
During the next few weeks, I will rotate the bins so the children have the opportunity to learn and practice using math manipulatives the correct way.  The goal is to take the CLOSED sign down!  It’s going to take a lot of time, practice and daily reminders to get them there, but I know they can do it!
As evidence that they are ready for ALL of the math bins, I have a chart for the little learners to fill out.  Teachers can also use this chart as a summarizing strategy at the end of center time.
Click on the picture above for a FREE copy!
As I mentioned earlier, the Grab and Go bins are in addition to the other independent learning activities assigned during the center rotation.  Of course I get the BEST ideas from Pinterest.  Here is a link to my Pinterest board for math centers.  Hope you can find something to use with your little learners!
Thank-you Primary Possibilities for hosting the blog exchange.  I can’t wait to meet some new blogging buddies and find out about all the wonderful things you are doing in your classroom!

WOW! Thanks Julie for the organizational tips! Now head over to Fun in 1st Grade to check out my post on how to spice up your calendar!



January Shout Outs! + WINNER + Currently

Happy 2013 everyone!! I hope you had a fun and safe New Year's Eve. My family went to our friends' house for dinner. We were home and sawing logs before the ball dropped in NYC, which is 11:00 our time. Yeah, we live on the edge... Hey when you have a 3 year old and a 14 month old who get up at 6:00 regardless of the day, you gotta do what you gotta do!

Anyway, I'm super excited to link up with Growing Firsties and Teacher to the Core for this fun linky:
I became inspired to start my own blog because of all of the other wonderful bloggers out there! So it seems natural to want to shout from the rooftops some of my favorite blogs. The rules are simple: just pick two of your favorite bloggers, one has more followers than you, and the other has fewer followers.

Megan at I Teach? What's Your Super Power? has an amazing blog!
Besides all the wonderful teaching ideas she has, my most favorite part of Megan's blog is her "Blog Baby Blog" section. She gives all sort of tips and step-by-step tutorials to help the computer unsavvy (like me) survive and look pretty in the blogging world :) Thanks Megan!!

Another blog I enjoy reading is Brianna's The Price of Teaching!
She's a relatively new blogger and creates some of the CUTEST clip art designs! Check her out!

Speaking of Brianna... I also want to announce the winner of the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener giveaway..... Drum roll please.....
a Rafflecopter giveaway
How ironic that I am featuring her blog today AND she won my giveaway! Now you really need to hop over to her blog!

Lastly, I'm linking up with Farley for this month's installment of Currently
Listening: I love my babies. And I love how they love each other. For now. Hopefully that lasts a long, long time!
Loving: I love how the holidays brings my family together. My bro and SIL came down from MN, I was able to see my grandpa, and just the extra time with the hubs and my kiddos in general.
Thinking: This year we have to go back on Jan 2nd. No time to recuperate from NYE... not like we were out partying last night (see above)
Wanting: Living in WI, we are HUGE Badger fans! This is the third year in a row they are in the Rose Bowl and haven't won yet. Hopefully the 3rd time's a charm and Coach Alvarez can bring it home!
Needing: I have a little side business called Baby Ella Millinery where I crochet hats for babies and children. My cousin's daughter is turning one this upcoming Sunday and I'm making this hat for her:
From Pinterest. Click on the pic to take you there!
Isn't it beautiful?! Unfortunately there are no size indicators on this pattern, so I've actually made the hat twice and had to take it apart because it's either been too big or too small. I'm using a beautiful pink and green variegated yarn and it will be gorgeous... once I get the size right!!
One Word: Prioritize. I don't know what's happened to me over the last few months, but I just don't feel like I'm putting the majority of my energy into what's truly important. So my goal is to plan better, be more efficient with my time, make lists, and set time restrictions so that I can do the things I truly want to do.

Off to check out all the other link ups before our company comes over for the Rose Bowl! GO BADGERS!!!

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