A quick link up with Christina DeCarbo over at Sugar and Spice for her Wordless Wednesday.


A little Halloween science each day this week.
What do you think will happen?  The results were surprising - and amazing!

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Happy Saturday!  Phew!  I am beat!  I went to bed pretty early last night so I never had a chance to finish this post - and announce the winners of my spider unit.  Parent conferences went great!  I loved meeting and chatting with everyone and I know this year is going to continue to be fantastic!

Now, on to the spiders!

As you know, we spent all of last week researching, writing about and loving every minute of spider central.  My plan was to incorporate our unit on nonfiction text features with these creepy crawly guys for a great finished product (you can see that blog post HERE) - and the week did not disappoint!  (My picture... not so much.. we were so involved in everything I forgot to take pictures of every step!)

We started with a "what do you know/what questions do you have?" activity.  We sat in a circle and rolled a ball of yarn to each other.  Each person shared something they knew about spiders or a question they had.  After they answered, they had to hold on to the yarn as it got rolled to someone else.  This created our "web" of ideas to start our spider investigation.

After doing some general spider reading and sorting (these are from my spider unit - you can see that HERE)

we created a list of 6 different topics about spiders: body parts, babies, what thy eat, webs and silk, fangs and venom, and different kinds of spiders.  Everyone was in a group and their job was to read and research and find 3-4 facts about their topic. 

I met with each group myself, along with having them work independently.  Here's what they came up with:

The next step was to take our facts and write a quick expository paragraph.  This turned out to be a great way to introduce nonfiction writing in a blink.  We're focusing more on this next week.  They worked together to write their paragraphs and then edited and copied them for the display.

One text feature that has been tricking my kiddos has been what a caption is - and what it does.  So I used this opportunity to have every group create an illustration for their paragraph and write a caption to go with it. 

Perfect!  They were now finding captions left and right in all the nonfiction books we had, and rather than asking me what the picture was about, I could hear them saying, "The caption says..."  Made my teacher heart smile!

Our final step was to work together to create the table of contents, index and glossary.  For the glossary, each group chose a word or two that they thought was an important word to know.  They highlighted it in yellow and then we wrote a simple definition for the glossary.  My main goal for this part was for my students to really understand the difference between the table of contents and the index.  When we worked together to create both of these using our own information, the difference became much more apparent for most of them.  Success!

Now I have to tell you.. my original plan was to do all this during the week and then put the board up on Friday after school.  But that didn't happen.  My kiddos were sooo excited to share their work with everyone they really wanted to put it up for Thursday after school when parent conferences started.  Didn't want to disappoint them, so here it is!

The were SO proud of their work and every time we go down the hall I can hear them point out the text features and how they help support reading... definitely a successful week!

And since we had everything done and up by Thursday afternoon, I needed something different to complete our spider study on Friday morning.

I used Amy Lemons' quick and easy spider poems for a great way to review parts of speech.  And they turned out so cute! (The spider poem is glued inside the spider do you can't see it in the picture.)

Now on to the winners!  Earlier this week I decided to give away one of my spider units to one lucky person who left a comment with a spider book idea or a spider fact.  And since we had such a great spider week, I'm going to give a unit to everyone who commented!  Congratulations to Angie, Cherie, Lori and Paula! Check your email!

Enjoy the weekend!

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Hey there teacher friends - do you know what time it is?  It's parent conference time!  I am knee-deep in everything spiders and nonfiction over here in second grade story-land... but tonight I'm busy getting everything busy for parent conferences later this week.  I'm blogging today over at Who's Who with some tips for successful parent conferences - and an awesome freebie!
Click on the image to head over and see what's  up. 

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Are you afraid of spiders?  I really am not.  I don't particularly like them, but I don't run screaming like I do when I see, a moth, let's say.... Then again, where I live we don't have many really scary looking spiders, so that's a good thing.

We have a short week this week (two early dismissal days for parent conferences), which mean I only have 3 writing blocks.  I wanted to start some nonfiction writing, but I needed something quick and easy because I'm launching into bats next week.  I decided to combine our study of nonfiction text features in reading with our writing about spiders, to create a large hallway display showcasing what we will have learned. 

(Notice this is all written in the future tense - I haven't actually done this yet, but those are the plans!)

We're going to start out with a quick review of the structure of nonfiction text writing - just the basic topic sentence, details, closing sentence.  Then it's time for some research!  I'm going to use my brand new "All About Spiders" unit as the basis for our research.  There are 6 "fact cards" filled with information on different spider topics - anatomy, babies, webs, etc.

I'll project each card on the whiteboard and we'll identify the main idea (start thinking about topic sentences!) and the details of each, writing down interesting facts for our writing later. 

I also want to use this video from Mocomag Kids Magazine.

The facts are pretty much what are already in the cards, and since we'll be reading other nonfiction books about spiders, I think I'll put this up as a morning activity for students to watch as "morning work" one day.

Which reminds me, I also found this article from Scholastic News online -
I'm thinking it will be another morning activity - maybe read and talk with your partner about something....
Anyway (you can see how I get distracted when I'm creating.. it's a real problem sometimes...), after the research we'll use a graphic organizer to plan our writing.  Here are the organizers I'm going to use (you can click on the images to download them for yourself, if you'd like):

Then we'll write our paragraphs - but here's where the fun comes in!  I'm dividing the class into groups and giving each group a topic to focus on for their writing.  (I'll base this on information I get from their work on the graphic organizers.)  Then each group will use the details they came up with to write a group paragraph - along with one or two examples of text features that fits with their topic (ex. bold print, map, diagram, fact box, etc.)  When we put everything together, we'll add a table of contents, glossary, index and headings to the board.

Woo-hoo! I'm getting excited just writing about this!  We'll end up integrating this into our reading block and writing blocks this week, so we'll have plenty of time.  I'll be sure to show you the finished display at the end of the week.

In the meantime, if you're looking for some spider fun for your kiddos, check out my "All About Spiders" mini-unit.  Not only does it have the fact cards, but there are 3 sorts (main idea/detail, fact and opinion and true/false), a fun "walk the room" activity to go with the fact cards and more graphic organizers and writing pages.


I also included a fun and easy craft to showcase all those spider facts your kiddos learn.  I've done this in past years and it always turns out great!

You can check out my spiders unit by clicking the images above, or by clicking HERE.

And just because I'm so excited about my plans this week, I'll give away a spider unit to one lucky person who comments below with an interesting spider fact or great spider book (Don't forget to leave me your email!).  I'll choose a winner on Friday.  Good luck!

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Hey there!  It's Friday (ok, it's really Saturday... but just pretend, ok?) and that means it's time to link up with Kacy from Doodlebugs to get the scoop on what went on this week.

We REALLY needed some practice with our doubles, so I created a grid on the floor with the sums of doubles 2-10.  We played games all this week as our morning meeting activity to practice those pesky doubles facts.  We rolled the dice and jumped to the answer.... tossed beanbags, and played hopscotch.    I also gave everyone a doubles fact for the day - each person was responsible for knowing their fact.  We lined up by facts, transitioned to the rug by facts, and sometimes I just called out "14's stand up!"  I do think most of us know those doubles by heart now!

(And yes, I know there are FOUR different colors of tape there.  I ran out of black, so I used red, which I also ran out of, so I had to go with yellow... which as you can see, I didn't have enough of either.  Arrgh!  That's what happens when you come up with ideas in the shower that morning!)

We had our annual Fire Safety assembly on Thursday.  Our local fire department comes to talk with the kids and show them their equipment, we watched a video and then the best part - out to look at the fire trucks!  Everyone got to walk through the ambulance and the kids were SO excited to watch Mr. Firefighter climb up that ladder.  If you're still looking for fire safety activities, you can check out my throwback post HERE.

Friday was "Free Your Feet" day!  Our school had earned enough Husky paws to reach our first goal and the reward was a day without shoes.  I wonder what our next goal and reward will be?

Can you see it?  Fall has arrived!  (I did not take this photo as I was driving  I pulled over and took it from the side of the road.  For some reason the angle makes it look like I'm in the middle of the road!)  The leaves are definitely starting to turn and we spent the last two weeks working on fall fiction stories.  Next week we'll start nonfiction - bring on the apples and pumpkins!

And of course, what would fall be without high school football?  My nephew is a senior this year, and even though he was injured during he first game of the season and can't play anymore, we still go to all the games, of course!  I am someone who is ALWAYS cold.  I'm cold from October through the middle of May, so I'm always looking for fashionable ways to stay warm.  Here's my latest find - boot socks!  They are warm and cozy and I LOVE the cute little lace and buttons at the top.  I also have a pair of tan knitted ones that are thicker.  LOVE!  (I got them from Grace and Lace, - click HERE - who actually were featured on Shark Tank.)

Next week we have a 3-day school week.  Monday off and a teacher day on Tuesday.  I'm planning on using this weekend to catch up on everything I've let go since school started.  Enjoy the weekend!
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Happy Sunday everyone!  This week is Fire Safety week and as I was planning for the week, I realized I had done a post last year filled with resources to use for fire safety.  I checked the links and only one seems to not be working, so it's definitely still worth checking out.  There's a word search freebie, a link to my Fire Safety activities on TpT and lots of other websites, videos and ideas to help with your plans.

Click on the link below to check out my throwback post and get the link to the freebie.

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October already!  I can't believe the first month of school is already past us.  September is always a blur for me, so it is nice to finally start feeling like the whirlwind of back to school is over and the year can finally get started.

Even though the weather here has not been very fall like, we started our foray into fall with some fiction stories this week.  (I love alliteration :-)  We focused on Henry and Mudge Under the Yellow Moon and spent time talking about how the setting impacts the story.

We did a first reading of the story in partners, looking for story elements.  (This was a great way to review what we'd been focusing on the past couple of weeks, and a preview of what would be to come the following week.)  The story is usually a pretty successful read for most of my kiddos and they always love the way Mudge does things just a little bit different!

The next day, we narrowed our story element focus to setting.  We charted what setting meant, what components made up the setting, and how it impacted the story.  Then we returned to the text to look for clues for the "when" and "where" of the setting in this story.  If you've ever read the story, you know the setting pretty much jumps out at you from the beginning - so it was the perfect way to begin our setting focus.

Students worked in partners to reread the story and look for clues in the text and illustrations that showed the setting.  We did one page together, then I set them off.  They really rocked this activity!  It was great to walk around and listen to them talking with their partner (accountable talk, we call it) and recording what they found.  Here is the sheet we used:

After coming back together and adding all our ideas to one class chart, we were ready for some critical thinking.

The next day we revisited the idea of how the setting impacts the story.  How would the story be different if it didn't take place in the fall in the woods?  After a little "turn and talk," we were set to begin thinking about creating our own setting for the characters.

First, we listed all the fall activities Henry and Mudge did together (that's the middle column).  Then we went back to the text to find how each character did that activity a little differently.

Now it was time for the creativity!  Each kiddo chose a season and an activity that Henry and Mudge might do together.  Then they write how Henry would do that activity, and how Mudge would do it.  Add illustrations and a catchy title and ta-dah - a whole bunch of new ideas for stories!

This was a great way to show how the setting truly can change the story.  During book groups that week, each group read a different Henry and Mudge story set in a different season.  On Friday we all came together and shared what we had been reading, read favorite parts to each other and compared books.  Each group also worked on a reader's notebook for their story.  They LOVED them! 

Check out the notebooks at Michael Friermood's TpT store:

and if you'd like the sheets I used this week, just click on the link below.

Next week we'll continue to focus on fall fiction, but move our focus to how the action rises and falls.  Anyone have some good suggestions for fall fiction stories?

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