Saturday, September 22, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers!

After months of shopping Teachers pay Teachers and mulling over whether I should join the ranks of thousands of teachers selling their products on this amazing site I have decided to take the plunge and create my own shop.  Thanks to those of you who have purchased my products!  There is something deeply gratifying about creating a great tool to use in my own classroom and then sharing it with other amazing teachers!  (And I must admit it is highly slightly addicting to receive an email stating another product has sold and to watch the download count on my free items go up!)  If you have a moment, stop by, take a look, and follow me!

I am inspired to create...this is just the spark I was looking for!

Some ideas for upcoming items:
- An Election 2012 unit.
- Word Wall Word display
- Spelling Pattern sorts for individual practice
- Math strategy posters
 I'm open to suggestions, too!  What do you need for your classroom?

I have added 2 new products to my shop this week.  One is an opinion writing unit using Amy Krouse Rosenthal's and Tom Lichtenheld's book, Duck! Rabbit!  Another product is an informational writing unit using Gail Gibbons' book, Apples! as a mentor text.

Here are a few freebies to give you a sneak peek!

Thanks for making a girl feel appreciated:)

I hope you're having a STELLAR day in your little part of the world!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's Feeling More Like Fall! is finally cooling down!  Yesterday I rocked my new mustard colored deep v-neck sweater to our neighborhood block party.  It felt sooo good to wear skinny jeans and a sweater, drink a little cider, and sit around a bonfire.  Bring on all things fall!

This week we are diving into beginning of the year assessments.  We have a math assessment, three writing prompts examining narrative, opinion, and information styles, and the SRI!  (Did I mention, it's only second grade?!)  To help my little ones along, Monday and Tuesday of this week I am reviewing narrative writing before administering the 3 day (yes, that's right! 3 day!) narrative writing assessment.  The first day of the assessment, the students brainstorm their topic and use a graphic organizer to sketch and write a few details about the beginning, middle, and end of their story.  On day 2, the children use their graphic organizer to begin writing their narrative piece on lined paper.  The third day, students edit, revise, and write the final draft of their piece.  We use a district created writing rubric to assess their work.

We are only 5 days into the school year and I need to review components of narrative writing before we dive into the assessment.  No big deal;)  I created a short unit using Brian Lies (pronounced "Lees") amazing book, Bats at the Library.  In the unit, I included a Narrative Writing anchor chart to display in the writing center.  I plan to post some of the students' narrative writing pieces with the anchor chart as samples.  I also created a graphic organizer to record the beginning, middle, and end of the story as well as a chart to keep track of interesting words in the story.  Head on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to download the unit for your classroom!

Click the link below to get a free copy of the Interesting Word graphic organizer!

I hope it's cooling off where you live!  Make it a great week!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Addition and Subtraction Key Word Sort

Oh. My. Goodness.  The first week of school has been busy, exciting, and e.x.h.a.u.s.t.i.n.g.!  I have a great group of little sweeties and I am excited to be their teacher this year!  Seriously, their enthusiasm and smiles are contagious!

But...WHOA...what a shock on the system to go from summer fun and relaxing to working full time, being a mom, a wife, and taking my last grad class before I write my thesis.  Just 2 weeks ago I was sleeping until 10:00 each morning and my biggest decision was pool or beach. I'm tired.  Just tired.  I'm sure I will have a greater appreciation for sleeping in on Saturday mornings!

Today we were reviewing some of the key terms for addition and subtraction and one of my kiddos said, "This is fun! Can we sort these words?"  Well...of course we can!  I created this little activity for tomorrow morning.

I hope you are having an amazing start to the school year!  Tomorrow is Friday....ahhh....

Click here to download the {Addition and Subtraction Key Word Sort} file.

Happy Thursday night:)


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Vowel Team Poster UPDATE:)

I'm in that, "I can't believe school starts on Tuesday" mode and can't relax!  I have been working on school stuff all day and my mind keeps racing on!  I'm hoping by getting it out of my system today I can actually relax and soak up all of the snuggles and cuddles I can from my little one tomorrow before we are back to the daily grind.

Over the summer I spent some time tweaking and revamping my vowel team posters that I had previously posted.  My teaching partners and I are increasing our time spent working with words and vowel teams this year.  I want to include an anchor chart display focusing upon the vowel teams in a prominent place in my classroom.  So...this is what I came up with...

I partitioned my whiteboard using bulletin board trimmer and created sections for our weekly spelling list, word wall words, the spelling pattern of the week, and vocabulary.  (The fifth title you see "P.A.W. Award Winner" is part of our building behavior management plan.)

I created vowel team posters giving the specific name of the vowel team, examples of words highlighting the vowel team, and gave visual interest to the word by writing consonants in blue and vowels in red.

 I have posted these posters in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  You can find them by clicking on this link: {Vowels Make the Words Go Round!}

For all of you teachers out there who have been back in school for a few weeks, I hope you enjoy the extra day off tomorrow!

For all of my teaching friends in Michigan, enjoy one more day before we head back to reality!!

~ Nichole


Helllloooo!  After a much needed, relaxing, care-free summer, it's time to head back to the classroom and get back in the routine of blogging.  I seriously have debated for a few weeks whether or not to continue blogging since I haven't posted much of anything all summer long.  Yet, as soon as I stepped back into my classroom to prepare for my new batch of kiddos, I quickly realized I have a lot of ideas to share and what better way to do that than to blog about them!  I have been stalking all of the great teacher-bloggers out there and I am uber-inspired!  Amy Lemons from Step into Second Grade with Mrs. Lemons and Hope from 2nd Grade Shenanigans are seriously amazing!  I want to be just like them when I grow up:)

Each summer I spend weeks trying to let my mind wander and relax and push school further and further out of my brain.  Every summer...until this summer!  Pinterest is amazing for so many reasons...yet I found myself up at midnight each night scrolling through amazing images from other teachers' classrooms and ended up creating a gigantic to-do list for myself.  One item I saw that I just knew I had to have is the check-in board!

In my eight years of teaching, I've never lost someone (Whew!  It feels good to say that!)  BUT....I have come close. You know that moment when you're working with a small group and someone leaves to go to the bathroom, someone else leaves for a reading group, someone else leaves for testing, someone else has to go to the bathroom, then a students remembers where they left their library book after weeks and weeks of it being MIA and heads in search of it....and...before you know it...the fire alarm goes off and you're like, oh, this is just perfectly awesome timing and you start counting kids like they're ducklings as you head out the door?!  I'm hoping the check-in board helps with a scenario just like this one and all of the other crazy moments throughout the school day.

Here is what I created!

My check-in board is hanging right on the front door of my classroom at my students' level.  The plan is that they all start "in the classroom" at the beginning of the day.  If any student is absent, I will move them to the "other" category and write an "A" by their name.  The students will then be responsible for moving their number to the appropriate category as they come and go throughout the day.  {BONUS!  Did you notice I only have 22 students this year?!  LOVE!}

Head on over to Teachers Pay Teachers to download your own FREE headings and labels to get started on your own check-in board!

I hope you're having a great Labor Day weekend!!!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Wow!  It has been nearly 2 months since my last post.  I needed to have surgery unexpectedly and have been out of commission for awhile!  I'm feeling much better now and am ready to start posting for a great 2012-2013 school year.  Stay tuned for spelling lists coordinating with the Treasures series and RTI continuum, 2nd grade common core standard displays, and Daily 5/CAFE displays!  I'm also toying with the idea of having a "Brain Book" learning log for students to keep track of their learning throughout the year as well as sending home book bags with a weekly book to read.  If you have any ideas on these topics, I'd like to hear them!   I hope you're having a fantastic summer!
Happy Independence Day!
From my family to yours;)

~ Nichole

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Motherhood is a wonderful thing:)  I joined the club almost 3 years ago and the experience of being a mom never ceases to amaze me.  I appreciate my mom more.  I appreciate my grandmothers more.  And, most importantly, I appreciate the fact that I am blessed to be a mom to my little Lilian.  Our journey to have Lilian was a long one and I know many people who had or are having a difficult journey to become a mother.  Be patient with yourself.  Becoming a mom is well worth the heartache:)

Women are amazing, resilient creatures and this post is to all women...WE ROCK! 

Happy Mother's Day!

Now...on to the craft!

My mom had silhouette portraits of my brothers and I done about 10 years ago.  I have always been in awe of this art form and wanted to create a silhouette portrait of my daughter.  Now, I don't have the art skills to look at someone and draw them, but I am pretty crafty and knew that if I searched around (PINTEREST!) I could definitely find a silhouette idea I could work from.

It didn't take long before I stumbled across an amazing find from Better Homes & Gardens.

So, I quickly got to work creating this portrait of my daughter...

First, I took a profile picture.

Not knowing exactly what I was looking for, I took MANY pictures before I realized that just about any profile shot will work as long as it is just the profile of their face.  Once the picture is printed, you can move the photo around on the canvas until it is at the "just right" angle.

 Then, I printed out an 8x10 in black and white.

And cut around her sweet little face.

 Then I realized that her bangs in the photo would give the sense that her forehead was larger than it actually is, so I trimmed off the edge of her bangs in the photograph.

In pencil I traced around the edge of her photo onto a 10x10 canvas.

 Here are my painting materials.  I used an acrylic paint.

 First, I painted an outline using an angled brush.

Then, I painted the outside of her silhouette with a 3/4" wide brush.

 I created the look of her hair by drawing pieces of hair with painted space between each section.  I used a smaller, 1/4" brush for this detail work.
 It's starting to come together!

I finished the project by painting the edges of the canvas. 
 Overall, I used 3 coats of paint on the whole project.

 And here is the finished project on my fireplace mantle!

I love the way it turned out!

I love it so much, in fact, that I decided to make 2 more canvas silhouette prints of Lilian on 8x8 canvas for my mom and mother-in-law for Mother's Day! is the C.R.A.Z.Y. part....

I helped all 25 (yes, twenty-five) of my second graders make one for their own moms for Mother's Day!!!  I followed all of the steps described above...just on a much larger scale!  I purchased the canvases at JoAnn Fabric and Michaels.  I used 8x10 and 10x10 size.  I do not recommend using 8x8 size for 2nd graders.  Their heads are just too big for 8x8 size canvas when you're using an 8x10 picture.  So, depending on the age of the child, you will need to adjust the size of the photo and the size of the canvas.

It took about 2 weeks of slowly working on this project with my students.  For the most part, they did very well.  I did do a lot of the work upfront to help them complete the project to perfection.  For example, I traced their photo in pencil onto the canvas and painted the initial outline for them.  They painted the rest of the front of the canvas and the edges of the canvas on their own.

As with everything, the kids who took their time, were patient, and followed directions had BEAUTIFUL projects!  And...those kids who are not as neat have a cute project to take home, just could be a little cuter:)

AND...if a student (or you!) makes a mistake, the canvas is WASHABLE.  I just put a little water on a paper towel and dabbed at any paint that strayed onto the child's face on the canvas.  It was easier to remove when the paint was wet.

Here are how a few of my students' silhouettes turned out...

The project and the artist. 
(used with parent permission)

 My students also made self-portraits in art.  We used these as wrapping paper!

We folded the sides of the self-portrait around the painting, put the Mother's Day card on top, and secured the whole package with a ribbon.  CUTE!

And a few more...

I just loved this little card;)  This little boy tries so hard and he is at his best when he's creating something.  He took great pride in this Mother's Day project!

Is your heart melting?

If you decide to tackle this project in your classroom, give yourself plenty of time.  If I do it again next year, I will definitely give myself more than 2 weeks from start to finish.

If you chose to do this project with your own little one, the sky is the limit!  I think I have found THE GIFT I will be giving people for years to come!  
So, if you're reading this, and we're related or friends...know that a silhouette painting will be coming your way in the future!




Monday, May 7, 2012

Do You Wonder....

Do you wonder what it would be like to be 7 or 8 again?

I find myself thinking this often as I watch kids skipping down the hall, whispering about sleep overs, and  talking about the yummy graham cracker and chocolate frosting snack their mom packed in their lunch.  Ahh....the simple things in life;)

All of these musings led me to create a "Day in the Life" journal for my kiddos to record what it's actually like to be them for a day!

Each sweetie documented 7 different events in their day beginning from the time they woke up until they went to sleep at night.  During the school day I stopped them several times during the day, set the timer for ten minutes, and let them write about what they were doing, seeing, thinking, and feeling. Each child recorded the time of the event, wrote a paragraph, and included a quick sketch of the event.  Then...we moved on with our day!  And, in order to capture their after school lives, the kiddos completed a 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. journal entry to round out the day.

After collecting information about their days, the kids published "A Day in the Life of..." stories in either a storyboard, comic strip, or timeline.

I have included the journal here for you to use in your classroom!

Click {HERE} to download the Day in the Life Journal!

You can download Comic Strip Paper here!  It's different than the one featured in the photo below:)

I hope this activity helps you get through the next few weeks with your kiddos!!

I am definitely experiencing Spring Fever in my classroom!  

Counting down the days until to June 8:)

Happy Monday!