Weekend Warriors: Math Card Organization

I'm back for another tip to share with my Weekend Warriors bloggy friends!
The theme this month is Math! Check out yesterday's post about how I organize math homework.

 We use the EveryDay Math program in my class, which includes a lot of math games to help kids reinforce skills and concepts in a fun way. No matter what the program you use (or even if you don't have a program), I'm sure you use number cards in math. And what happens when you have 10+ decks of cards in a tub? Yep.... a hot mess!

I'm sure that most of you have seen the tip about using soap containers to store the cards. I bought mine at Walmart years and years ago for $0.50 each. But I took the organization of my math cards a step further. What happens when a rogue card goes missing from the deck???
I had a parent volunteer go through all my math cards and put little symbols on the corner of every card. So in the photo above, you're looking at the "red circle" deck. I gave her a bunch of colorful Sharpies and she put different colors/symbols on each deck. So we have decks with circles of various colors, plus stars, triangles, and squares. So when someone comes up to me and says, "I found this card on the ground," they can easily put it back in the deck where it belongs. 

Of course the goal is that all cards make it back to their homes, but I'm not naive. There are some cards that are mixed up, loosely flying around the tub, or sitting in the class Lost-and-Found. So on the last days of school when we're packing up shop, I ask a few of my organized kiddos to go through all the cards and make sure everything is where it's supposed to be.

My favorite math card game is called Name that Number. Kids deal a "target number" and then deal out 5 cards they can use to add or subtract to make the target number. The more cards they use to get to the target number, the more cards they get to take. Whoever has the most cards at the end wins! I love a good riddle/problem solving game! What is your favorite math card game to play?

To kick off our new Weekend Warriors blog hop, we're each giving away $10 to spend in our TPT shops! So after you enter my Rafflecopter, make sure you check out the rest of my bloggy pals!

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Weekend Warriors: Math Homework Routine

I've teamed up with some of my bloggy pals to bring you this *NEW* blog hop:
We'll have a new theme each month, so make sure you check us out on the last weekend of every month! This month, we're focusing on math ideas. Check out my other post about organizing math cards!
In today's post, I am sharing how I assign math homework. As a teacher, I understand the importance and value of practicing reading and math concepts at home. I also understand, value, and appreciate the importance of students participating in after school sports, music lessons, clubs, and good, old-fashioned family time. As a mom, I know how busy life can be after school. My four-year-old is doing some kind of activity 2-3 nights every week-- and he doesn't even have "school-assigned" homework yet! Mom-assigned homework... well, that's another story!

So here's what I do: I give one week to do most homework assignments. Routine homework in my second grade class includes reading, spelling words, and math. By allowing the week, I'm giving my students and their families the flexibility to complete the homework when it works best with their schedule. And let's face it; some days, we come home from work and just want to plant our bums on the couch and do nothing. Kids are the same way too!

I use the EveryDay Math program, and each lesson comes with a HomeLink. I average four lessons per week, so on Fridays, I take the Homelinks from all four lessons I taught that week and staple them together in a packet.
Then I use my date stamper (which I'm pretty much obsessed with!) and stamp the following Friday's date on the HomeLink packet.
Random Side Note: if your date stamper runs out of ink, DO NOT throw the stamp pad away! You can't replace the stamp pads!!! Instead you buy a little bottle of ink (that smells really bad BTW), and squirt a few drops on the stamp pad. I learned that one the hard way...

Some kids go home Friday night, do all the pages, and bring them back on Monday. Some kids take the weekend off and do one page a night. Some kids wait until the last minute and try to crank them all out Thursday night (that would've been me if I had this option growing up...). Whatever works for them, works for me! As long as the packets are returned by the following Friday. I allow them to bring their packets back at any point during the week because, again, if it were me and I was done right away, I would probably lose the packet if I had to hold onto it all week. 

My goal is balance: keep the kids practicing the skills and concepts we've already learned, as well as giving my students and their families the option and time to complete the homework when it works best with their schedule. 

To kick off our new Weekend Warriors blog hop, we're each giving away $10 to spend in our TPT shops! So after you enter my Rafflecopter, make sure you check out my the rest of my bloggy pals!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Pandora in the Classroom

Do you use Pandora in your classroom?
In case you don't know what Pandora is, it's a free site that lets you stream music. You do need to create an account though, and the free account does have some inconveniences: it only plays for one hour and then you have to refresh, and there are commercials that are much louder than the music. But my kiddos have become used to the commercials, and we like to laugh at them and make fun of them.

Commercial: "Do you need a new ________?" 
And then I'll say something like, "NO! Now be quiet and let us work!"

I can't stand silence, so Pandora has been a life saver in my classroom. I used to play music on my iPod, but I got so tired of hearing the same songs over and over and over and over..... Maybe next year I'll upgrade to the commercial-free account. Maybe...

Anyway, this post was actually inspired by a question I asked on my Facebook page. My Facebook friend, Laura, suggested that I compile everyone's favorite stations into a blog post. So VOILA! Here we are!
 I only stream instrumental music. I want my kids to stay focused on their work and not be singing along. Two of my favorites are Solo Piano Radio and Lorie Line Radio. I recently discovered the Lorie Line station and I LOVE it, which is what sparked my Facebook question. It plays a lot more pop songs than Solo Piano Radio. My favorite thing about both of these stations is that they both play some church hymns, which personally brings me a lot of peace and calmness. Again, there are no words, and I'm thinking most of the kids don't know that they're hymns, so I'm OK with it.  Although, two days ago, one of my kiddos was excited to tell me, "Mrs. Nerby, they play this song at my church!" His comment made me smile :) At Christmastime, I also like to play Peaceful Holidays Radio. When we learn about Native Americans, I like to play Native American Drums and Flute Music during work time. Of course I have a few stations for me for when the kids are at specials: an assortment of pop and 80s stations, as well as a calm one called Easy Listening Radio. Although be forewarned... it does tend to overplay Michael Buble....
Here are some of my Facebook Friends' favorite stations, as well as stations that were suggested by blog readers in the comments. I haven't listened to them all, so you will want to check them out for yourself before you use in your classroom:
* The Piano Guys 
(LOTS of "likes" for this one, and I have to agree! LOVE!!)
* Spa Suite
* Radio for Kids
* Elizabeth Mitchell
* New Age Instrumental
* Mozart for Kids
* Kids Bop
* Jack Johnson Children's Radio
* Rainforest 
* Disney
* Children's Indie Music
* Vitamin String Quartet
* Calm Meditation Radio
* 2cellos
* The Mozart Effect
* Relaxation Radio
* Clair de Lune
* Nature Sounds
* Ambient Instrumental
* Classical Radio
* Classical Medley
* Yiruma Station
* Classical Guitar
* Rockabye Baby 
* Kenny G Radio
* Film Scores Radio
* The O'Neill Brothers
* Sleepytime Tunes (Children's)
* Children's Instrumental Ensemble
* Calming Rain with Piano
* Halloween Theme
* Classical for Studying
* Lindsey Sterling
* Yo Yo Ma Radio
* Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Radio
* Thomas Newman Radio
* Kevin Kern Radio
* Jim Brickman
* Toddler Radio
* White Noise Radio

Do you have any other favorites? Comment below and I'll add them to the list!
I love playing music in my classroom! This post has a HUGE list compiled by teachers of {free} Pandora stations that are appropriate to play in your classroom.

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Wordless Wednesday: BIG News!

I'm linking up with the FABULOUS Miss DeCarbo over at Second Grade Sugar and Spice for Wordless Wednesday!

If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know. But if not...

I'm officially on board the Crazy Train, as our two-ring circus will be turning into a three-ring circus at the end of August!

Seriously... I'm kind of freaking out. For all you moms of 3, what is one thing I NEED to know?
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Bright Idea: Organizing Guided Reading Books

I'm back for another installment of...
I love this linky! No products, no sales pitches, just really AWESOME ideas!

Last time I shared how I organize my guided reading logs and anecdotal notes. Today I want to show off how we organize our guided reading books. We? Yes, we! I really have the bestest teaching teammates EVER, and a few years ago, we decided to combine all our guided reading books together in one central location. Check it out!
First off, it probably helps that we have some room for this set up. My school is divided up into three wings. At the end of each wing is a large common area we call the breakout. Then there are 6-8 classrooms around each breakout. Maybe if your hallways are extra wide or if you have some unused coat hooks, you could put yours in the hallway?

We purchased these carts and book bins from Calloway House (thanks to FB friend, Renee, for tracking them down!). The OCD in me had to put them in rainbow order :) The red & yellow ones have our literary texts (fiction and traditional lit) and the green & blue ones have our informational texts.
The books are all organized by Fountas & Pinnell guided reading level, going in order of course! On the outside of each bin, we typed up the book titles, so that we would know where each book belongs. Depending on the size of the book and how many copies we have, we can fit quite a few titles in each bin. Some levels need just one bin, while others have 3-4 bins.
Don't hate on the Comic Sans font! We don't have cute stuff on our school computers :(
Why I Love This Set-Up:
1. I don't have to store my guided reading books in my classroom anymore. Don't worry, I quickly filled up that space with my math manipulatives!
2. We each have a set of about half of our titles. So that means we have 18 copies of one book. It makes it a lot easier if one book gets chewed up by the family dog to still have enough copies to read with future groups.
3. We only have one set for the whole grade level (six copies) of the other half of our titles, so this system is MUCH more accessible than when we stored them in the supply closet. 
4. We have a basket in the breakout where we put the books that need to be put away. So whenever one of us has a parent volunteer, we share the responsibility of putting them away. And by "we," I mean the volunteers :)
5. I don't have a mountain of used books stored in my classroom. Because I know that two other teachers are using the books, I don't hoard them as much as I used to. Now my actions affect others. And it makes the task of putting the books away a lot more manageable.

We actually got this idea from the third grade teachers at our school. They actually have NO books in their classrooms! They don't have classroom libraries; they have a GRADE LEVEL library! Can you imagine all those books their kids have access to?! We thought about doing that for our second grade readers, but decided against it because our kiddos go through books a lot quicker than third graders do.

If you enjoyed this bright idea, hop on over to my FacebookInstagram, and TPT and follow for more great ideas!

For more bright ideas from more than 130 bloggers, please browse through the link up below. They're all listed by topic/grade level. Thanks for stopping by! 


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KEEP CALM! Letters to Next Year's Teacher


How many days do you have left? We have 16, and we still have SO much to do!!! Some of my second grade bloggy friends and I have decided to team up and bring to you a little blog hop:
There are 15 of us that will be sharing some end-of-the-year ideas for those, "ahhhhhh!!!" moments, when you aren't sure what to do, but you need something to keep those kiddos' brains fired up!

Here's a little writing project my kids do every year. Actually all the kids in my school do this, kinder through 6th grade, so it's definitely adaptable if you don't teach second grade. We write letters to our third grade teacher! The kids won't find out who their teachers will be until the end of August, but the teachers will get the letters over the summer. I LOVE getting letters from my incoming class! It gives me an idea of what kind of writers I will have, and it's always fun to learn about what they like and what kinds of questions they have about second grade!

We started by reviewing the Parts of a Letter song. We use this song, sung to the tune of the Addams Family theme song, but there is also a cute version sung to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (not my class, but these kiddos sure are cute!).

I then model what kinds of things to include in the body of the letter. Start with an introduction, tell a little about yourself, ask the teacher some questions about third grade, and don't forget to end with a conclusion sentence. Check out a few of our finished products!
This is a letter from one of my higher students.
I couldn't be prouder of this guy's work! He has come such a LONG way from the beginning of the year :)
We focus on using our very best handwriting, spelling, and conventions to impress our third grade teachers! I don't do much teacher editing of the students' letters, because the goal is for the third grade teacher to get a glimpse of each student as an independent writer. I will quickly glance over them, and make comments, such as, "You might want to go back and make sure you have all your capital letters and end marks."

I uploaded my letter template into Google Drive if you want a copy for yourself! Click on either image below:

Two styles of paper: regular lines and handwriting lines
Two versions of each style: boy and girl!
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you are able to use this idea in your classroom. Now make sure you hop on over to see my girl, Jaime at Bright Concepts 4 Teachers by clicking on the button below!
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