Happy Friday, fall friends! Cooler nights, beautiful sunny days... this week has been FAB-U-LOUS! I'm getting into the fall groove with my kiddos, as well. This little display of fall colors got us ready to enjoy the change of seasons!

I could not pass up those mums. My IA was convinced they were not even real :-)
I'm stopping by quickly today to share with you a new feature I'm part of - welcome to "Take a Second to Peek in 2nd."
I've joined up with some other great second grade bloggers - big and small! - in the hopes of helping you find other great bloggers to follow. And this month...
I'm the featured blogger!
(You can click on the image to download it and then click on the hyperlinks
to visit me on TpT and social media.)
It's all hosted by the sweet Katie Palmer at Pop Into Primary. Each month will feature a different blogger for you to visit (and leave some love :-) And.... each featured blogger will be putting one product on sale for a few days to celebrate!
I decided to do my newest nonfiction mini-unit all about squirrels. We'll be using this unit next week, so after I get everything prepped and ready to go tomorrow, I'll have better pictures! In the meantime, here's a look at the preview.



This unit is FILLED with nonfiction texts (at a second/third grade reading level), graphic organizers, comprehension questions and activities, writing fun - and my FAVORITE part - a reader's theater! The unit will be on sale in my TpT store through the end of the weekend, just in case you want to add it to your fall fun!

Happy fall!

post signature
Happy Sunday, folks! It's time to get back on track with my blog posts! Today we're talking about part 2 of our morning meeting - calendar time!

If you teach kindergarten or first grade, you know that calendar time is an important part of your morning meeting. We can teach TONS of math skills here - introduce them, practice them, review them... all in a short amount of time. But by the time kiddos get to second grade, calendar time can become, well, kind of boring. They're doing the same things they've been doing for two years - counting days of school, looking at the weather... it gets old - for them AND for us! So, how can you make calendar time a little more exciting and engaging, not to mention skill appropriate? Here's how I keep things fresh.
(Note: The idea for this blog post was first created as part of my "Mini-Moments" posts. You can check out the original post {HERE}.)

We do our calendar time on the Smartboard.  It makes it a little more interactive and I feel like I have more freedom to add and change things on a whim. Just doing the calendar on the Smartboard, rather than with a calendar bulletin board, makes it more interesting. Many of the slides I'm going to share originally came from the SMART Exchange - a great resource to get FREE activities for your Smartboard.  I modified some to fit my needs, and created others myself.  Normally, my students come up and do the writing and moving things and all that. I use this as a job for my "helper of the day" and my kiddos love getting to be the teacher.

Here is calendar slide #1 - The month of _______

GENERAL SKILLS: Yes, very predictable here.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow... days of the week, months of the year. 
JAZZ IT UP! I also have a little ring of index cards with a TON of calendar questions on them (mainly so I don't forget!).  We talk about things like:
What will the date be one week from now?  Two weeks?  Three weeks and 4 days?  10 days ago? How many Thursdays are in February?  How many of them are odd number dates? What day will Feb. 9 be?  What is the date on the third Wednesday?
How many days until ________? 
My questions change throughout the year and are often inspired by something someone notices on the calendar.

Slide #2 - How many days have we been in school?
GENERAL SKILLS: Simple enough... we add a "ones" piece everyday, trade when we get to ten, yada-yada-yada... but wait!  There's more! 
JAZZ IT UP!: The few weeks prior to this we had been working on reviewing how to write numbers different ways - base ten form, expanded notation, standard form... I discovered some of my kiddos really needed extra practice with this.  I also do some extension by asking how else we can make the number (ex. 46 = 4 tens and 6 ones, or 3 tens an 16 ones, etc.), how many to make 100 (or 1000!)... whatever we're working on, or need some extra help with, or comes up in conversation!

And here's some fun - After our 100th Day of school, we start counting BACKWARDS - how many days left of school?  That helps to reinforce regrouping with tens, something so many second graders need practice with.

Slide #3 - Coins in the Piggybank
GENERAL SKILLS: Again, pretty self-explanatory. Names and values of coins, counting coins, trading...
JAZZ IT UP!: We mix it up every once in a while.  We just put the half dollar back instead of two quarters because we needed to keep practicing counting by 25's.  There's potential for great discussions about using decimals, different ways to make the same amount, etc.  And when we start the backwards counting of days, we'll keep counting up with the money.  (It usually takes a few days before someone realizes the amounts on the two pages are no longer the same!)

Slide #4 - What's the Weather?
GENERAL SKILLS: Observation, more and less, reading a graph
JAZZ IT UP!: How many MORE of sunny than cloudy?  How many would twice as cloudy be?  We save the graphs each month and compare them to each other, which leads to great math thinking.  After we have graphs from a few months, we do a gallery walk of sorts for them to walk around and look at each graph and answer some questions. We also talk about a lot of vocabulary here - precipitation, sky conditions, the fact that just because it is light out does not mean it is sunny.. uh huh... had to go there...

Slide #5 - What's the Temperature?
GENERAL SKILLS: reading and using a thermometer
JAZZ IT UP!: It is the helper's job to look up the temperature on the ipad when they come in.  Again, great math possibilities - how much warmer today than yesterday?  Above or below freezing?  How much?  Exactly what does "freezing" mean? And what is the C on the thermometer for?  Then we roll the two dice and calculate how much warmer/colder it would be.  At the beginning of the year, the dice just have single digits, then we move to multiple of ten, then other 2-digit numbers.  It just depends on what needs some work.  It doesn't take long before we have to discuss negative numbers and how to add/subtract them on a number line.  It may not stick with everyone, but I like to throw it out there, just in case!

The slides in the next group vary from day to day. We choose one to do each morning.

Big Numbers
Set the random number generator to whatever range you want. Then touch it to show a number. We talk about place value, expanded notation, etc.
Fact Families
Too easy, right? Try this: put two numbers in the fact family and ask your students to tell you what the third number would be. Chances are most of them will add the numbers you gave them and give you the sum for the third number. But what if the bigger of the two numbers you gave them WAS the sum> Then what would the third number be? Missing addend at its finest. And don't be afraid to work with bigger numbers!
Place Value
Hundreds, tens, ones, 10 more, 10 less, 1 more, 1 less, showing the number with blocks...
Skip Counting

 Choose a starting number and then roll the dice to see how to count. Touch each number on the hundreds chart and it flips around to be red. Notice any patterns? What comes next? How do you know?

Elapsed Time
This is one of those slides that I modified. At the beginning of the year, just telling the time is a major idea. I start by giving them a time on the hour and then we work on before and after. Then we move to times on the half hour. Again, the best part about these slides is you can do whatever works for your class!

Ordering Numbers
Another skill that just needs review. I change the ordering from least to greatest and greatest to least so my kiddos have to be sure they are reading what to do.

That's it!  Once we get going, our whole calendar time takes about 10-15 minutes, but it's a very important way for me to see who knows what, what we need to work on and where we're going. Having the "Helper of the Day' be in charge of the calendar is motivating and engaging (and the helper calls on people to answer, so everyone wants a turn!) By increasing the rigor, I've made my calendar time focus on many common core standards.

As I said, I got most of these slides from Smart Exchange, although I did modify them to fit my needs. I searched the exchange and can no longer find the original file. You can grab my file {HERE}. If you find the file on the exchange, please let me know so I can give appropriate credit. Also, I deleted the additional graphics I used in my files, since they cannot be shared. You can ad your own clipart and text to the calendar pages to add some pizazz! If you have any questions about how to do something with these files in Smart Notebook, feel fee to email me and I'll try to help!

post signature
Happy Tuesday, teacher friends! (Although it might be Wednesday by the time this gets to you - kind of forgot to publish it when I wrote it!) Tuesdays mean it's time for some Teacher Talk and this week, being week 3, we are sharing something from our classrooms. How do you celebrate birthdays with your kiddos?

Birthdays are a big deal in second grade. Our birthday chart is posted near the door where everyone can see it.
(I assure you there are names on that chart under the cover-ups! :-)
I also have a framed photo of my kiddos who have birthdays each month (all the September ones, then the October ones, etc.) This hangs above our calendar. My students can't wait until it is their turn to be featured.
I have done many different things for birthdays over the years. Right now I have birthday balloon straws ready to go, along with a special birthday sticker.

Nothing too fancy, but my kiddos always LOVE taking their straw to lunch and using it for snack that day, too. The birthday student automatically becomes the "helper of the day" (see my post about ditching the job chart HERE) and gets to be my "go to" guy (or gal!) I also started a tradition last year of having the birthday kiddo bring in a special book for them to read to the class (or for me to read to them, if they so choose.) I got to hear some special stories that were an important part of their lives. This year MY birthday is the first one in our class, so it will be a nice way to start off the book sharing tradition.

That's it! I try to make the day special for my kiddos, without going overboard. Now I'd love to hear from you! How do you celebrate birthdays in your classroom? Do you have a special tradition or activity you do? How about a special song? (I'm on the hunt for a new happy birthday song for my second graders!) Share your ideas in the comments.

Next week is the last Tuesday of the month, so I'll be sharing great books I used this month, and a few to get ready for next month. Thanks for stopping by!

post signature
Science is important. It is engaging. And it is fun!  If you missed the first part about how I set the stage for my little scientists, you can go back and read about that {HERE}.  Now we are ready to apply what we have learned about being a scientist.

Since my kiddos were now pros at being a scientist - they could measure, observe, classify and communicate with the best of them, it was time for the final piece. The mystery box came out again, and this time it held MORE excitement!

We went through each item, one by one, talking about how it might be used. The magnifying lasses and safety goggles we already knew about... but now we had lab coats, too!

The lab coats were inspired by Becca from Foxwell Forest and this great pin!

They were easy peasy to make - I just cut size XL boys tshirts up the middle and voila! This was a great photo op (which unfortunately, I cant show you!), but imagine a class of second graders, dressed in lab coats, and safety goggles, all holding magnifying glasses and striking their best "scientist" poses. What a hoot!

But we're not done with the box yet! There was also a bottle of soda (clear), a box of raisins and some clear plastic cups. Next to those were a set of recording sheets. If we weren't excited before, we sure were now! We all sat together and I posed the question, "What do you think will happen when we add raisins to a cup of soda?" Now I have to tell you, I was AMAZED at the thoughtful, analytic and creative answers I got! We immediately started recording our ideas (spur of the moment, as you can see by the charts pushed over to make room!)

"I think the raisins will disintegrate." (Someone suggested the word "dissolve" instead)
"They're going to get bigger because they'll absorb the soda." (that statement led to "I think they'll turn into grapes because raisins are just dried out grapes!)
"The water will turn purple because the color will come off the grapes. It's like putting a mix in water."


Then came the questions.
"If we put the raisins in the bottle and shake the bottle,, will the raisins come shooting out?
"What if we used a different kind of soda?"
"Will water work the same as soda?"

I'm telling you, I couldn't have asked for a better group of scientists! Now that we had our predictions (we introduced the word 'hypothesis'), we recorded our thinking.

Ready for the experiment? First step, pour soda in the cup. We stopped and observed and draw and wrote and talked about what we saw. Bubbles. Lots of bubbles. Where in the cup were they? How do you think they will affect the raisins? (Didn't remember to take pictures until the next step!)

Next, drop in the raisins! I added a little musical touch to this part by playing salsa music as we dropped in the raisins. If you're going to have dancing raisins, you might as well add some dance music! My kiddos oohed and aahed and laughed and watched as he raisins were covered in bubbles, lifted up to the top of the cup, stayed on the surface for a moment while some bubbles popped, and then drifted back down to the bottom to start all over again. Dancing raisins!

After more observing and drawing and writing we waited a bit to see what the raisins would do. They slowly sunk to the bottom of the cup and stayed there. Why? We noticed that there were a lot fewer bubbles in the soda than when we started. Fewer bubbles meant fewer dancing raisins.

We finished our recording by writing an explanation of what had happened. Then we returned to our predictions to see how each one worked out. We had some amazing scientific talk, had a chance to observe very carefully and had some fun in the process!

If you'd like to do the dancing raisins experiment with your class, you can download the sheets by clicking on the image below. You can also visit my store and take a look at my "Being a Scientist" resource to see how we started our unit.

My kiddos are so excited about everything science related now, and we have some great science vocabulary words to be able to use, as well. Throughout this introduction to science, I've used lots of great books to get my students excited and learn more about science. Head over to read PART 3: Being a Scientist to see some of the titles I use.

post signature
Have you started teaching science with your kiddos? I love science and my excitement is contagious when I get in front of my students. But what exactly does a scientist do? What tools do we need to be scientists? And how do we think like scientists? This blog series shares how I start my little scientists off right so the idea of exploring and observing and noticing is with them all year.

I really wanted this introduction to science to be exciting and engaging so I set the stage right away (thanks to Hope King from Elementary Shenanigans for the inspiration!). Our unit started with a mystery box!

It was filled with magnifying glasses and a big book. Hmm... who would be using a magnifying glass? A scientist, of course! Once we took a few minutes to explore with the magnifying glasses, we turned our attention to creating a chart of what a scientist is. What does a scientist do? What tools does s/he use? We paired up and took a few minutes to come up with as many ideas as we could.
Then we came back together and shared our ideas, creating a quick recording of our thoughts. I didn't worry about making this look good, because it would actually serve as a jumping off point for our activity the next day.

When we returned the following day, we reviewed our chart and focused on what ELSE we could add to our ideas. I introduced the word "schema" to my kiddos, talking about the fact that we all had our own ideas of what a scientist is, and now we would be adding/changing information in the "file cabinet" in our minds. We read through a great big book called, "Being a Scientist." This is where we added new science vocabulary of observe, classify, measure and communicate. (I chose just a few terms I knew we would be using often through the year.) We reviewed the definition of each word and added a movement so we could remember it. For the word "observe," we made circles like binoculars around our eyes. "Measure" became stretching our arms out wide, as if we were showing how long something was. For "classify" we pantomimed putting things in different piles. And finally, "communicate" was a mix of pretending to talk and write. We practiced these motions and added a key word to each vocabulary card as well: classify = sort; observe = look, communicate = explain. (We didn't add one to "measure" because my kiddos said they really were sure what that meant.  Our completed chart looked like this:
Now it was time to see if we could apply the terms we just learned. Day 2 started with another addition to the mystery box - goggles! There were also 4 signs to hang up, and of course, another book! I hung one sign in each of the four corners of our room.

Each student was given a card that had something a scientist used, something a scientist did, or something a scientist said. First, everyone read the card themselves and thought about which word their card was an example of. They signaled with a thumbs up once they were sure of their idea. Next, we paired up and read our card to someone else, explaining our thinking. We talked with each other and made sure we both agreed on which card each of us had an example of. Finally, it was time to move! On the count of 3, everyone walked to the corner that matched their card. We shared a few outloud, always explaining our thinking. Then we switched cards and moved to a corner again. After 3 or 4 times, I could tell most everyone had a pretty strong grasp of what each of those words meant. We came back to the group and I read another book that's great for an intro to science - What is a Scientist?" (The picture shows the big book we read, too.)

We then took a few minutes to look at and try on our new scientist tool (the goggles from the mystery box) and talk about why we would need safety goggles. The kids were definitely getting excited - something big was coming! If you're looking for my 4 corners game and the scientist charts, they're part of my "Being a Scientist" resource that's available {HERE} in my TpT store.

Now we were ready to put our learning into action! The next day our mystery box contained a TON of stuff! A bag of shells, insects, gram scales and a recording booklet. It was time to classify, observe, measure and communicate, just like a real scientist!

I set up 3 centers in different spots in the room. One was an observation center. Here I placed dead bugs (a big hit!), our class shark (yep, it's real!), and magnifying glasses. Students observed their objects closely and drew a "slow motion" close-up sketch of what they saw, along with a brief sentence or two.

In another center, I placed a basket of shells - all different types, sizes, colors, etc. Students worked to sort some of the shells in different groups of their choosing. They really got creative! We sorted by color, size and shape... but also by type, spiral or spotted, rough or smooth.... one kiddo even chose to do "can you hear the ocean or not?!"

In the measuring center (with the help of my fantastic IA!) students had their first experience measuring with a gram scale, as well as a centimeter ruler.

In all the centers, the scientists had a booklet page on which to record their findings. A quick share after each rotation and everyone had time to do all 4 scientist activities!

If you're looking for more ways to introduce being a scientist to your kiddos, you can find all these recording sheets, games, activities - and more in my "Being a Scientist" resource. Click on the image to head to my TpT store to check it out.

Although these centers were loads of fun, I wasn't planning on stopping there! Our big end-of-unit activity was coming up and I knew it would be a great way to use everything we had learned. Ready to find out how we put together everything we learned? Head to Part 2: A Simple Experiment.

post signature
Back to Top