Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Make-at-School Mother's Day Gift Idea!

My class made their Mother’s Day gifts this week! This is a project that I’ve done for three years now, and it’s always such a big hit I just had to share. It takes a little bit of effort, but the outcome is worth it, and more importantly, it’s something different that Mom probably hasn’t gotten before. So what is it? Grass Heads! (basically home-made Chia Pets)
This may seem daunting, but I’ve done it with 1st, 2nd, and 5th graders so I know kids of all ages can handle it! Obviously with the younger ones, you just have to model very clearly and be explicit with your directions.
Here is all you need to know to make these cute, springy Mother’s Day gifts:

The Materials
1 knee-high stocking per kid (I get the kind that come as a pair in a plastic bubble for 33 cents at Walmartthat’s around 4 bucks for my whole class)
grass seed
hamster bedding (1 bag was enough for 25 students)
2 googly eyes per kid
1 rubber band per kid
1 styrofoam bowl per kid
8 ounce plastic cups for measuring and scooping
any materials you want to accessorize with (pipe cleaners, scraps of material, etc.)

The Directions
*The kids need to work in pairs to help each other. One student will need to hold the stocking open while the other stuffs it with grass seed and bedding. *

1) Put about 1/8 cup of grass seed in the bottom of the stocking.

2) Put about 4 cupfuls of bedding in the stocking
3) Smush the stocking to turn it into the shape you want.

4) Tie a knot in the bottom of the stocking and cut off the extra material. 

5) Write the student’s initials on the bottom of the grass head near the knot. Hot glue on the googly eyes and have the students create their grass heads’ noses by pulling a little bedding outward and wrapping a rubber band around it.

7) Soak all the grass heads overnight.

8) Put in a sunny spot and water regularly (spray bottles are great for this!)

9) Decorate with accessories, if you so desire. (I had first graders hot glue on “dresses” and stuff. They also like to make things out of pipe cleaners to glue onears, mouths, glasses, barrettes)

10) Send home for Mother’s Day!
I recommend you do this gets messy!
This is a great book to invest in! It has lots of great ideas. I got mine on for just a few dollars.
I will post update pics of the Grass Heads as the grass grows. Like I said, this is just something fun and different you can have your students take home as a gift for Mom on Mother's Day. Have fun! I know your students will!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring Break SALE!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on Spring Break this week and it’s been glorious! The weather is finally warm, I haven’t had anything to worry abouttotal bliss. Sadly, tomorrow is already Friday. L When we go back to school Monday, we’ll be in that home stretch! Nine weeks til summer! Anyway, to brighten my mood (and hopefully yours, too!), I’m throwing a sale! Check it out! Thanks for dropping by!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

{FREE} Emergency Sub Plan Idea!

So I’ve seen this idea around the Internet before. It’s not mine (please let me know if it’s yours so I can give you the credit!), but it’s so great I had to share.

Most elementary teachers know and love the Miss Nelson books by Harry Allard. And most elementary teachers dread creating plans for those days we can’t be at school and have to have a substitute. So here is a super easy idea to add to your emergency sub plan file.
All you need is a copy of Miss Nelson is Missing and a paper for each student. (Click on {HERE} to download it for free.  Copy back to back, using whichever versions are better for your students.) Have the sub read Miss Nelson is Missing to your class, then discuss with them some ideas about where you might be. Then have the sub give each student a sheet, and have them write and draw about their ideas. Viola!

 Your kids will absolutely LOVE doing this, no matter what grade they’re in. Mine came up with some super creative ideas and their drawings were adorable. Several thought I wasn’t at school because I had fallen in a volcano, been eaten by a shark, gotten stuck in a waterfall.there were a couple who thought I wasn’t there because I was out getting a divorce. Haha. (I swear I’ve never given them a reason to think that!) One thought I was out having a baby. (Definitely not prego.)Anyway, it’s just a lot of fun for the kids to create, and a lot of fun for you to read, as well! Enjoy!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Take Me Out to the {Verb} Ball Game!

So my hubby is an athletic trainer and his life revolves around baseball. His baseball players get to see way more of his handsome face than I do! I was sitting at a game last weekend thinking about how it’s a darn good thing I love baseball or my life would stink. And I was also thinking about verbs, because what else would a teacher be thinking about on a Sunday afternoon?
I had recently done a week’s worth of verbs with my cute 2nd graders and the next Monday when I asked what a verb was, they had no clue. UGH!!!! I swear I’m not that bad of a teacher! So I knew I needed a game. Kids always learn from gamesbaseball and verbs, baseball and about a Verb Baseball game? What would apparently be the best game my kids had ever played was born. J

The game focuses on the different verb tenses, rather than just the idea that a verb is an action word. My kiddos have never had so much fun with grammar. I played the game in my small group and the kids just couldn’t wait to have their small group turn! Some of them thought it was rigged. Haha. Anyway, you should {check it out}! And if you are one of the first three readers to leave your email address in a comment, I’ll send it to you for free!
Five days ‘til Spring Break!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Personal Narratives Made Easy!

I’ve been really stressed lately about my kids’ writing and the things I should be doing and haven’t, and all that great stuff. Where has the year gone?!
Anyway, to help cement the things they’ve learned about personal narratives so far this year, I put together a unit on personal narratives. It includes an introduction to personal narratives, an example personal narrative, blank personal narrative templates, and a personal narrative checklist. We also have Literacy Night coming up in a little over a month, and we have to display some of our kids’ writing. I thought it would be sweet if they each wrote a book about their families, and then included a personal narrative about their families at the end of the book. This is included in the Personal Narratives Made Easy unit. As usual, the first 3 readers to comment and leave their email addresses will get the Personal Narratives Made Easy unit with the bonus family book for FREE!
What advice do you have for other teachers who are stressed about teaching writing? I’d love some fresh ideas!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Research Reports Made Easy! {Get yours free...}

This week we are tackling the oh-so-exciting research report! I threw together a unit to help teach this concept to my kiddos. It includes planning advice, organizers, a checklist, and templates. One thing I debated including was information on bibliographies. I don’t want this to be too complicated for my second graders, but I still want them to know the right way to do things. In this day and age, it is too easy to “steal” information and not give credit where it is due. I want my students to know the proper way to cite others from an early age, but like I said, I don’t want it to be too complicated.
So I included just a little on bibliographies.
I'’m hoping this unit will make teaching this concept a cinch! We are getting library books on animals, and that is what they'’ll write their reports on. You can get your copy of this unit {here} and the first 3 people to comment below, including their email addresses will get the unit FREE!
Let me know how it goes for you!
Have a great week!

Geaux Ravens!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fight Hate With Love--in the Classroom

I know it’s been far too long since I got on here and blogged! Life kind of took over!
I had an experience with my students today that I just have to share. I’m not offering any products or lesson plans, but I feel like this is a story that needs to be told.
I am HUGE on teaching my students to work together as a team--to respect one another--to love and take care of each other. We had parent teacher conferences this week, and they just left me feeling kind of defeated. So many parents brought up social concerns that I was largely unaware of. It made me feel quite ineffective as a teacher. But I decided I would try to nip this problem in the bud. After all, my sweet students are only second graders! I don’t want them to think at such a young age that teasing and bullying are acceptable.
Now I did not have any hard-core bullying going on…mostly cliquey little girls who “don’t want to be friends with HER,” and “don’t want to play with HER!” I have way too many bossy girls this year! Throughout the years I’ve found various teambuilding activities that I’ve tried with other classes, and decided to merge a couple of those to help my second graders. So here’s what we did today:
First, I used an activity that I read about last year in the Teaching Tolerance magazine {see this post for more info on Teaching Tolerance.} I gave each student a mini-Tootsie Roll Pop. I asked the kids to tell me some things they noticed about their Tootsie Pops, or some things they know about Tootsie Pops from their background experiences. I wrote their ideas on the board as they mentioned them.
I then directed the conversation to the idea that Tootsie Pops look different on the outside. Even though they’re all suckers, they are different colors and flavors. But if you keep licking and get to the center, they all have a Tootsie Roll in the middle—they are all the same on the inside. This is like our class! We are all people, but we all look different on the outside. However, we are the same on the inside. We all have a heart, lungs, bones, tummies…we also all have feelings. We all have a need to be loved. We all need friends. Just like all Tootsie Pops are the same on the inside, all of us are the same on the inside. We all get hurt sometimes. We all hurt others sometimes. But no matter what our background experiences are, we all have the same, basic emotional needs.
I used this activity to segway into my next, another idea I got online, although I don’t know its original source. (My friend posted it on Facebook a few years back.) I gave each student half a sheet of scratch paper. I told them to look at their paper and tell it “I hate you!” …tell it “You are ugly!” …tell it “I don’t want to play with you,” “I don’t want to be your friend,” “You are dumb!” Then I told them to stick their tongues out at it, crumple it up and throw it on the floor. I had the kids stand up and stomp on the papers, grind them into the floor, and so on. Then I had them pick the papers back up, put them on their desks, and try to smooth them out. While they could do this to some extent, they could not get all the wrinkles out. I told them that this is like what happens when we are mean to people; when we tease others; when we bully others. I shared with them a story about a boy who called me fat when I was younger. I explained that it hurt me so badly that I can still remember it. To me, that boy will always be known as the boy who called me fat, and nothing more. I am sure he has grown up and doesn’t even remember that day, but it will never leave my memory. (I think we all have a story like that.) I told my students that when we say hurtful, mean things to others, it’s like the wrinkles that we made in our pieces of paper; we couldn’t get all the wrinkles out and we can’t take back the hurtful things we do and say to others. We never know when we might be making a permanent impact on a person’s life with our words and actions. This really hit home with my kids. The looks on their faces made me want to cry! I told them that we have a choice in whether we want to be a “good, positive wrinkle” in someone’s life, or a “bad, negative wrinkle.” I asked them which they’d rather be, which they would prefer to be remembered for. I told them that it is our job as teammates, as a class, to support and build each other up. I told them that I know none of them want to be remembered by others for something hurtful they said or did.
The amazing thing is, they got it. We talked a little about apologizing and how that can help, because none of us are perfect and we are all likely to make mistakes and hurt others from time to time. One of my sweet, darling seven year old students raised his hand and said, “It’s like what Martin Luther King taught us…Fight hate with love!” Yes! Yes it is! We have too much strife to deal with in our world to tolerate having it in our own homes and classrooms. And my darlings got that today. I know it’s not over. It will take consistency and a lot more work, but I could see a change in their attitudes and demeanors. It was peaceful and beautiful.
We are doing a challenge for the remainder of February. I gave each student a checklist with all the names of our classmates on it. By the end of February, they are to have worked one-on-one with each person on the list. We do a lot of partner stuff during math and Daily Five, so I told them I want to see them working with other people. Branching out. They have to work with everyone on the list by the end of the month.  They were excited to meet this challenge. When we gathered on the carpet at the end of the day, I asked them what they had learned today. One little girl said, “I learned that I want to be a ‘good wrinkle’ in others’ lives.”
Praise the Lord. J  
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