Back to School Craftivity & Writing Projects

What are your plans for Open House or Back to School Night?  School hasn't even started for me, but we all know those first days of school are spent getting to know our students.  Here are a couple of projects my kiddos will be working on during the first days of school:

I saw this post on A Cupcake for the Teacher's Blog. It was all about a writing/craftivity project. Students make an All About Me book and then create a child holding the book. Read about the post here.

Here is a picture of what the final product could look like:

Here is the TpT description:
Grab this adorable All About Me craft to celebrate each of your students! Your little ones will create a cute boy or girl, and fill out one of two All About Me booklets! You decide which you want to use!

You can complete this craftivity the first week of school to get to know your class, display it during Open House for all to see, add it to an "I am Special" unit, or assign it to students when they are Star of the Week! The possibilities are endless! :)

Here's what's inside:
*girl and boy craft- pics, patterns, and directions
*All About Me booklet with some space for kiddos to draw
*All About Me booklet with no space to draw
{Note: There are slight variations between the two options.}

I am so excited to make these with my kiddos!

MsT3Another great idea came from Tanja over at Journey of a Substitute Teacher.  Recently she shared on her blog that she had come up with a new writing & craftivity project.  You can read about it here.
Well, I was lucky enough to get a copy of this file.  Here is the cover page:
 The TpT description says:
This pack is perfect for Back to School or open house. Fun for any bulletin board!

Students color in their t-shirt and write their name in the name tag. Optional heads can be attached to the shirt.

*Three different name tag shirts
*Two different heads
*Five writing templates
*Suggested use page with pictures

Cute, right?  Head on over to Tanja's TpT store and pick up your own copy!  I am so thankful to have this file, too, because I would like to have something on my bulletin board and something on the desks inside the classroom. 

Finally, I promised I would announce the winner of my super secret giveaway today.  Thank you to all who sent me info. on your favorite math games for September.  I am excited to try some of these with my kiddos in a week or two.   I drew names and Lily is the winner.  I have already sent you an e-mail with the Math Mania file.  Enjoy!! 

Class Pets (Monday Made-It)

It's Monday and I'm ready to share another little project I have been working on with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics.  I haven't shared a lot of my creations because I am still trying to figure out where everything is going in the classroom.  I start my back-to-school meetings this week so I probably won't be ready to take pictures until the weekend.
Before I begin this post, it is only fair to let you know that this idea was inspired by Reagan over at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits.  Click here to see the post that started it all.
I wanted my second graders to have a traveling class pet this year.  I wanted to encourage some writing at home and thought this might be a good way to get that started.  I looked around for the perfect pet.  One day I was in Target with my daughter and these two little faces were peeking out at us from the aisle. could I not fall instantly in love?  I realized that I had to get them both.  My daughter just HAD to hold them, hug them, and give them kisses while they were in the cart.  Thankfully, she handed them to the cashier when it was time :)

So, I wanted a class pet.  I got two.  You might be asking why.  Originally I thought of using one of the dogs as a back-up.  Then I realized if I had TWO class pets, they would travel to all the homes in the classroom twice as quickly.  The students would not be waiting as long to have their turn.

I had two composition notebooks and got to work.  I found some cute puppy-themed scrapbook paper, took photos of the pets individually, and sat down to type the letter for the front of the journal.  My letter is written to the families from the class pet.  You will notice that the letter has not been signed. I am going to have the students help name our class pets once school begins and then the pets will sign their names to the letters.  It has my name throughout, but if you want me to send you a copy, leave me a comment with your e-mail so I can send it to you.

I remembered that I had picked up a cute pawprint graphic (for FREE) from Mel @ Graphics From the Pond.  She has a blog now, too.  I added that for a decorative border.
That's it :)
Head on over to Tara's blog and find another project to add to your own to-do list :)

Back to School Books

What are your favorite, go-to books for Back to School?  Here are some of the books I love to read.  Click on the book covers to learn more about a book or grab your own copy from The Clever School Teacher.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School by Herman Parish

 Enemy Pie
 Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
 The Crayon Box That Talked
The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf

I just had to include one chapter book:
Gooney Bird Greene
Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry

I'm linking up to share some of my favorites.  Check out some other great back to school books by clicking on the following picture:

This linky is being hosted by:

What I'm Working On & A Little Freebie

Alright, I'm a day late on my What I'm Working on Wednesday post.  My classroom is beginning to come together even though I cannot put anything on the bookshelves yet because one of my daughter's favorite games is to play with anything at her level.  It's hard to convince an {almost} 18-month old that dictionaries are not a fun toy to play with when all she sees is an interesting book she hasn't read yet!  I've been playing around with seating arrangements, but everytime I move the desks she offers to help move them somewhere else.  I realize a lot of school projects are just going to have to wait.  Needless to say I am more productive at home getting my files ready for the first few weeks of school.  I have been able to update my old files and get some of them uploaded to TpT so you can enjoy them, too. 

One of the games I have recently finished is my Pencil Pair-Up games.  There are two versions: Numbers Less than 100 and Numbers Less than 1,000.  The games are played like Go Fish.  There are four cards in each set, but you can always have students just find matches instead.  Click on the pictures below to grab your own copy of the games.

 (graphics courtesy of The Digital Bake Shop)

Thank you to Rachel & Sarah for helping me proofread my Math Mania file.  It is now available in my TpT store.  Thank you to those who have already picked up your own copy.  I hope you enjoy the games and centers!  I'm now working on sprucing up my money games & centers.  I'll let you know when I'm ready for someone to help preview those files :) 

Now, here is the little freebie I promised you.  You can either print the brightly colored set or allow your students to color and design their own bookmarks.  I do recommend printing them on cardstock for durability.  Click on either picture to grab your own copy. 

(striped background graphics courtesy of

Now, head on over to Blog Hoppin' and see what other freebies are available today:)

Math Workshop, Part 5

Math Workshop Binder

Divider #10 - Math Boxes
This section goes along with Everyday Math.  Inside the student workbooks, there is a math box page that goes with each lesson.  It provides a place for students to review skills.  Inside the differentiation handbook you can find extra math box pages.  The intention is you can create your own math boxes for differentiated instruction.  In the past, I have had some of my top math students create their own math boxes to swap with a partner (after I review, of course).  I plan to continue that idea.   I keep copies of the blank math boxes behind this divider.  Sometimes I will make a copy of a student-created math box if I find it well done.  Here are pictures of what the math box pages look like:

Divider #11 - Pattern Blocks
Years ago I found pattern block activity pages.  I mounted them on construction paper and laminated them for durability.  I'm not sure the exact resource book I found my pages in, but this picture is similar. My book has pages with the blocks shown, but plenty more with just the black and white outline (some of the black and white cards have challenges already written at the top):

They are a great way for students to practice spatial awareness skills.  You can easily add extension activities for enrichment, too.  For example, students can write the fractional part of each pattern block included.  Also, you can create math problems (__trapezoids + ___ triangles = ____ total blocks).  Another idea is to graph the pattern blocks used.  You can also have students calculate the perimeter of the shape using  a triangle edge as the unit.   I plan to continue adding extension activities for these activity sheets behind this divider.

Divider #12 - Tangrams
Currently I only have a couple of sets of tangrams and I need to track down more.

This is one of the books I have found resources in.  It has puzzles of varying abilities so it is a good thing an answer key is included in the back.  This book challenges the students to make letters of the alphabet, animals, and more.  It is about half the size of a normal workbook so there are several small images on one page.  I have make copies of some of the pages and cut them apart to make smaller playing card-type pieces (mounted on cardstock and laminated for durability, of course).  I keep the masters for the copies I have made in the binder.

Whew!  That's it for posts about my math workshop binder.  If you have missed my previous posts, I have included the links below.  Thank you to those who have been e-mailing me or commenting with new ideas and resources you have used.  School starts after Labor Day here so I am enjoying your stories about how math workshop is going.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Math Mania {Need Some Feedback}

I have been busy updating a few of my math games/centers to prepare for the start of the school year.  I have compiled all five into one file called Math Mania.

I could use an extra pair of eyes to look over the files to make sure that my directions make sense and that I don't have any glaring typos or errors in the files.  Leave me a comment if you are interested and have the time to not only look the files over, but provide feedback.  It's an 80-page document.  Thanks in advance!!

Some Sneaky, Peeky Spying

 I have been trying to work on my classroom with my {almost} 18-month old in tow on several occasions.  It is taking me twice as long to get things accomplished.  I am very thankful when my husband is able to watch her while I sneak off to school to try to tackle my to-do list. 

I moved into a new classroom.  Let's just say it isn't in the same condition as my old classroom.  The walls have a lot of areas where the paint has been chipped off and the carpet is less than desirable.  I am working on some strategic furniture placement and decorating ideas to cover it all up. 

On the bright side, my classroom library is coming along...slowly, but surely :)  My cupboards have been wiped clean and some of my materials are being organized and stored away.  I managed to cover up two of my bulletin boards with paper and borders.  I have a ton of things ready to be laminated.  After that is finished I'll be able to get things up on the walls and start taking pictures. 

In other news, I did it...I survived my first TpT Back to School sale!  Thank you to everyone who spent time shopping the deals in my store.  While I was reading your blogs tonight, I saw this linky party:

I don't know about you, but I like to hear about great products that I may not be aware of.  This seems like a good way to see what everyone else picked up during the big sale.  So, here are just a few of the items I picked up during the sale (click on the images to be taken directly to the product).

Cloudy with a Chance
Cloudy with a Chance: A Weather Unit by Hope King

We use the FOSS Science Kits at my school.  One of the second grade kits is Air & Weather.  It's also one of my favorite units to teach.  When I saw this product, I just had to grab it.  There are 10 lessons that will tie in perfectly with the FOSS kit. 

Sweetheart Snatcher Valentines Day activities
The Sweetheart Snatcher by Abby Mullins (Babbling Abby)

I picked this one to support teaching inferences and predictions.  This unit was created to be used around Valentine's Day, but I figured that if I end up teaching inferences earlier in the year, I can always modify the activities and lessons to suit the time of year. 

Graphs Galore      
Graphs Galore & Genres Bundle
by Michelle Harper

I am always on the lookout for quality graphing activities and worksheets.  Michelle has included practice with 5 different types of graphs.  Each graph has a worksheet with questions students must answer using the data provided.  The genres bundle I picked up because I want to put more focus onto the features of various genres.  There are a lot of great ideas to use with fables and fairy tales in this packet.  I also think her idea of using a Facebook template with the biography genre is very creative!

So tell me, what did you pick up in the TpT sale?  What must-have items should I know about for second grade?

Math Workshop, Part 4

Math Workshop Binder

Divider #6 - Math Scrolls
Obviously, this section is pretty small. I have a copy of the blank 100 grid as well as directions (with pictures). I keep the directions just in case I am having a volunteer help put them together.  I first heard about number scrolls through the Everyday Math program.  If you aren't familiar, it is a way for students to practice writing large numbers.  They begin with the first set (1-100) and continue on at their individual pace by adding sheets, as needed. 

Here are some pictures in case you are interested:

 (name goes on the inside of the tube)

 (start by attaching a small strip of paper to the tube)

 (attach all additional sheets end-to-end as they are completed)

 (roll your scroll)

 (keep your scrolls closed using rubber bands or paper clips)

Divider #7 - Versatiles
I enjoy the independence and ability to self-check that Versatiles present.  There are individual math strand workbooks.  Students need the workbook page and the tile set.  There are 12 problems and 12 answers.  Students work through the problems, placing the tiles into the appropriate answer spaces in the case.  When students have placed all of the tiles, they flip the case over, open, and check the pattern with the provided answer. 

If you really had some extra time on your hand, you can create your own worksheets.  The book tells you what your answer key should look like to create the pattern you desire.

Click here to learn more about Versatiles.

Divider #8 - Think Tank
My district purchased Origo math materials a few years ago.  One of the items we received was a Think Tank for computation and number sense.  The box is definitely "eye-catching".

Inside the box, the cards are sorted into categories.  Each category has about 20 cards and an answer key.  Once you teach the procedures for how to use the cards in the box, the Think Tank can be used for independent or partner work. 

The box has a section called Teacher's Notes.  The assessment card gives a suggested activity from each section to use as an assessment piece.  The final card is a Student Progress Chart. 

So, if all of this is contained in the Think Tank Box, why do I have a section in my math workshop binder?  I have created my own individual student progress charts and I keep a master copy in this section.  Students keep track of the cards completed in their math folders.  The folder is also where students record their work for the Think Tank.  I will also keep a copy of the suggested assessment activities in my binder.

Click here to learn more about the Think Tank.

Divider #9 - Task Cards
Behind this divider I keep a master list (which needs to be updated) of all of the task card sets I have been collecting. The masters for these sets are kept in a file cabinet because there just isn't enough room in one binder for them.  There are task card sets floating all over the internet.  You can find them for just about any skill you want.   

If a set has 20 cards in it, you can break it down into 4-5 cards a day, depending on how many days your students do rotations.  You could have a self-checking card with each set, collect and grade, or correct together as a class. 

There will be one more post about my math workshop binder.  It will include info. on Math Boxes, Pattern Block activities, and Tangrams.  If you missed my previous posts, click on the links below:

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