Saturday, March 15, 2014

Life Happens--Yes, Even to Teachers...

So I have to admit I have been totally lacking on my blogging hobby, however sometimes real life gets in the way of the things you enjoy.  Some have been blissful moments, while some have been things I wish I could put in a bottle of liquid nitrogen and never think about again.  But sometimes we're not that lucky and have to deal with the cards we're dealt and make the best of it.  **Ironic since we've been learning about idioms this week (you can bet your lucky shamrock I taught my kids the 'When Life Hands You Lemons' analogy and all the different times it will appear in your life-especially when you never thought it would).  So, now that that's out of the way, let me tell you some of the things we've been up to in our happy little classroom...

We started and ended our fairy tale unit for the month of February!  **Resources to come--have had ZERO time to start putting this pack together, but it is one of my FAVORITES so I am overanxious to get it posted!  To give you a little preview, here are some darling pictures of my sweeties during our Second Annual Fairy Tale Ball we had to culminate our unit on Fables and Fairy Tales.  #totallypresh

Is this not the cutest picture ever?!

We three pigs outsmarted the Big, Bad, Wolf-he was no where to be found {aka at the doctor's}

I think this should be our class picture for this year ;)

 The kids never seize to amaze me at how seriously they take this and their presentation project I assign them at the beginning of the unit. The students were to present a fairy tale character of their choosing to the class, and answer several "I want, I wish, I can, I am..." callout questions {given} to place on their poster. They then had to answer questions from their classmates and myself by answering in the point of view of that character.

It was so sweet listening to their answers and really getting creative with it!  As they were presenting, I recorded some notes and gave them a score on their poster and presentation.  I then added a photo of them dressed in their fairy tale garb and attached it to their score sheet.  I know my mom would always save things like that when I was growing up, so I wanted my kiddos to remember this special time in second grade as well.

If I had a dime for how many times they've asked me, "Will we learn fairy tales in third grade and get to have a ball, too?"  Broke my heart to say no, but at the same time, brought the biggest smile to my face knowing they LOVED this unit that much!!

Since then, we've been doing some St. Patty's Day fun and working hard on our leprechaun engineering traps!  We started some engineering during our fairy tale unit and the kids are SO in love with it, just like I knew they would be.  Having taught at a STEM school during my time in Tennessee, it really has become one of my passions.  The only problem is finding the time to teach all of our math standards in a week and completing some STEM projects in an hours time.  I'm hoping to really move more into small group math to allow for more STEM time, since some of our weekly standards are starting to spiral.  I shouldn't be concerned since STEM is all about using your math skills in a real world situation anyway!  There, now that I've got that out of the way...

I've always made the leprechaun traps an optional project since we do our fairy tale projects a week or two before {which I made a requirement}.  Also keeping in mind not all my little cuties have someone at home to help them concoct such a thing, so I do give them the option to draw it and explain how they WOULD build it. I was actually thinking about skipping the traps altogether this year (not only because of the fairy tale project, but because our school wide Spring Auction is around the corner, and EVERYONE is very busy preparing for that, and sometimes I have to remind myself you can't do EVERYTHING), however, I'd left pictures up from last year on our Classroom Webpage, and the kiddos couldn't stop talking about making them!  So, I'm very anxious to see what my loves come up with this year.  #greatexpectations

Some of year's past traps:

My OCD can't handle those little green dudes destroying the classroom, sooooo I he usually just leaves a few gold {chocolate} coins and a little note on their traps, thanking them for their hard work and impressive engineering skills, but they'll have to try better next time!

{also have one for the LADS of the class}

I have the students explain their traps and how they work to their classmates in the form of a "science fairy" type setting {lined up like little booths around the room}.  They LOVE demonstrating and talking to their friends about their creation, and I love listening to them explain how they created it, too!

If you'd like to have your little ones construct one in groups this Monday or put this in your files for next year, you can find the directions and engineering project form on the link below.

Grab your freebie HERE!

Our skill this week focused on analyzing characters and how a character changes from the beginning of the story to the end.  If I said it before, I'll say it again...I love teaching character traits!!!  The kids are getting soooo good at developing traits on their own to describe characters in a story and WHY they exhibit that trait--without me even having to ask!  It really is so refreshing and really makes times like these so rewarding. <3

Some great St. Patrick's day books to model character analysis are...

*The Luckiest Leprechaun was definitely our favorite--you could literally hear a pin drop while I was reading it, and they broke out in applause simultaneously when I was finished--adorbs.

We also did a little musical mingling with our traits.  Each child was given a construction paper four leaf clover in which they decorated their name in the center.  

As the music played, the students mingled around the classroom until the music stopped.  They then sat in the nearest chair and wrote a character trait to describe that person {the previews of songs on iTunes works GREAT for this}.  We use musical mingling at least once a week--it's a great way to get the kiddos up and moving around before or at the end of a lesson and you do use it with pretty much any skill! 

The students LOVED reading all the warm and fuzzy things their classmates wrote about them--definitely a bucket filling activity! :)

With the LEGO movie recently playing in theaters, not to mention my kiddos being INSANE over them, I decided to try and incorporate these Lego dudes into this week's lessons...

Enter the BLANK LEGO MAN!  Who knew something so simple could get their attention so...well...intently! 

I blew the document up to poster size, laminated it, and used it for each story we read Monday through Thursday.  The kiddos then used the same template after partner reading our weekly story at the end of the week.  Let me just say how eager they were to complete this and how engaged they were during the process!  They turned out so cute and this is one of those things you can keep on hand and use with pretty much any lesson or story (hello Sub Folder activity!)

Grab your copy HERE and I hope your little ones enjoy it as much as we did :)

Next week kicks off our two week Wizard of Oz unit! Bring on the Wicked Witch of the West, because after these past few weeks, there's nothing that can scare me!


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