Monday, November 25, 2013

Field Trip to the White House!

All aboard Air Force One for our flight to Washington D.C.!

I recently found this wonderful resource on TPT for our Government Unit! I was trying to think of ways to make this a really fun, meaningful unit for my kiddos because it's not the funnest topic on the planet (at least to me).  I was thinking.. "well, we could create our own town, rules, leaders, etc... take a virtual tour of the white house, hold an election.. it will be great!"  So naturally I went a searchin'.  I'd much rather use an amazing resource someone else made than take time to make my own!  Barnard Island had a great "Branches of Government" unit that included a fun little virtual tour to the White House! Hip Hip Hooray! So today, we headed off to Washington, D.C. to tour the White House on Air Force One!

We took off at 8:00 this morning. Our room was all set up like a plane!  Students had brochures that I made on their seat with Fun Facts about Air Force One! They read it as they filtered in during arrival this morning.

(You can google plane take-off and landing to find some videos your students can watch for both of these!)

Here's our Co-captain, helping fly the plane!  I was the captain, of course.

Our flight took a little over an hour.  During our flight we watched Kid President (Thanks to the helpful suggestion from Matt over @ Digital: Divide and Conquer!! I know I can count on my bloggy buds for some fantabulous ideas when I'm running short!)...

and reflected on what we would do do make the world AWESOME!

 We even got to do some reading...

When we landed in D.C. we were taken straight to the White House for our tour.  Of course, we had to have our official "All Access Tour Pass"

Too bad we didn't actually get to meet the President!  He must've been out on some very important business (or maybe pardoning this years turkey?!)

While at the White House, we learned all about the different gardens and rooms and what they are used for.  It was so fun getting to see where Mr. President and the first family live. (I projected pictures of each room on the smart board for them to see!  Also courtesy of the great resource mentioned above!)

We were sad to leave, but we made it back to school just in time for Lunch! 

Here are some pictures of my lovelies with their Plane Tickets and White House All Access passes.

What a fun day at The White House!  I even heard a tiny little, "This is the BEST field trip EVER!"  Seriously warms my heart!

What do you do to make learning fun & exciting for your kids?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cooking up a Caring Classroom: The Worst Day of my Life Ever!

I'm teaming up with Laura Candler and a bunch of other bloggers for a wonderful blog hop for teachers to share strategies to help build positive caring classrooms with Julia Cooks ah-mazing books!  We are cooking up some caring classrooms!

If you've never picked up one of Julia Cooks books, you are missing out on some serious lessons for your kiddos.  These are perfect for teachers and parents alike!  Check out all of her books by clicking here.

Today, I have the privilege of telling you all about The Worst Day of my Life Ever!  No, not really truly the worst day of MY life ever, but this wonderful story about listening and follow directions.  In this story, RJ is having the absolute worst day!  He woke up with gum in his hair, missed the bus, wasn't allowed to attend morning recess, got a zero on his math test, and used 12 eggs instead of 1-2 in his recipe!  When his mom gets mad at him, he explains how he's had the worst day ever.  RJ's mom helps him understand that he could have had the best day ever if he had just listened and followed directions.  She goes on to help him learn how to REALLY listen (like looking at the person who is speaking, not talking, and acknowledging that you heard), and ways to follow directions.  (Like looking at the person, doing what you were asked immediately, and checking back in).  RJ uses everything is mom teaches him the next day to have the best day ever!  

One of my favorite things about this book is how Julia Cook makes it real for the kids.  RJ is easy for most kids to relate to and they can understand what he is going through.  One of my kids even shouted (yes shouted) after I read the title.. "HEY, that's like ME!"  And is absolutely was.  I loved that this child, in particular, would benefit from this humorous story.  This story made for a great lesson during our morning meeting.  My kids definitely needed the reminder.  Sometimes it's easy to forget the small things that are the most important to help make your classroom and caring, respectful classroom.  I think the next one we need to read is My Mouth is a Volcano! I've got lots of those.

If you have any social/emotional problems in your classroom- or just want to proactive and prevent them from happening (Of course we do!)- Julia Cooks books would be a great option to add to your classroom! Great lessons and Great stories that any child will adore!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Government, Campaigns, and a plethora of freebies!

We have been all about government the past few weeks in 2nd grade! (OK really just this week because last week was full of craziness!) Check out what we've learned in our jam packed week and grab a few freebies along the way!!

To learn all about government, we are creating our very own town! (Our town will also come into play when we start economics) We've talked about what makes a community, including what rules are important to help a community run safely and wrote some rules that we would want everyone in our community to follow.  My kiddos worked in teams to come up with some laws... (They had like 8 minutes to come up with these!)  Then we met together and talked about a few of them..

We also talked about the fact that because we are a small community within our state and country that we have state and federal laws that we have to follow (Like obey traffic laws).

Then we talked about citizenship and the rights/responsibilities of citizens within a community (BrainPop Jr has a GREAT video about rights and responsibilities).  Students filled out this sheet...

(Click to save to your computer!)

Yesterday, we started learning about government leaders and their roles!  We discussed how the Mayor runs the local government and he is in charge of a town, the Governor is in charge of the state government and he is in charge of the state and all of the towns that make up the state, and the President is in charge of the National Government and he is in charge of the entire country.  We discussed how these leaders don't just lead on their own, they have teams of people that help them out.  

We talked about campaigns...

We talked about voting...

We talked about good leaders...

They wrote why they would be a good leader...

(Click on each of the pictures to save to your computer)

 Seriously, SO cute.  One promised to enforce limited poaching. ( I don't know where this class wide sudden obsession with limiting hunting, poaching, and protecting animals came from.  2 of my girls are starting a fund to collect money to try to help protect the bats from "White Nose Syndrome" that we recently read about!)

Today, we read a great article in Time for Kids about government.  We learned more about campaigns and, more particularly, debates.  We watched an example of a debate (I can't find it now but I'm sure if you just search on youtube you can find some appropriate for your kids).  Then, we had our own! Students pondered the positives and negatives to student being given a free cookie at lunch everyday.

Then, I chose which side they would be on and we debated!  

To make sure everyone had equal opportunity, we started with one side and let them make their point, then let the first person on the other side give their point/respond.  Next person on the other side and so on.  Hopefully eventually we can get to the point where they have a friendly debate without needing me to call on the next speaker.  I have a class full of talkers who love to have their voice heard so I think it would be fabulous!

I'm planning more debates to have throughout the year!  I've put together a few more.  Click the picture below to head to google docs to download the freebie.  There's even an editable one where you can add your own topic for debate!

All this in just 1 week! Crazy.  I've never really been a fan of our government unit but I am really enjoying it this year!

Until next time...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winners & a feelings journal freebie

Thanks to everyone who stopped by yesterday to enter my birthday giveaway!  The winners were...
Cherie M., Regina M., and  Cheryl H. Check your e-mails.  Your winnings were sent a few minutes ago!

This year with my lovely, handful of a class.. I have been struggling with one student when it comes to feelings.  Anything not-so-nice that happens suddenly turns the day into "The Worst Day Ever!"  This child can never see the big picture, always blames everyone else, and struggles with negative feelings/views.  While I know and realize that this child's special needs have a lot to do with this, I absolutely had to do something about it.  I don't want this child having a negative view on school, life, the world.. and I desperately was seeking a way to get this child to see "the big picture." To analyze why they had a certain consequence, or why a classmate was acting a certain way, WHY they were having the feelings they were having and HOW we can change that.  So I created this feelings chart and journal for my friend to keep track of them!


Everything is over in this students area (They have their own desk) and it is easily accessible.  

My friend uses the calm down thermometer when they are angry.  It tells them when they are angry they have to think "Stop", take 3 deep breathes, and stay cool!  The arrow is on velcro so it can be moved up/down as their "temperature" changes.

We are only into week 1 of implementing but so far it has been great for my little friend to reflect at the end of the day and see how, even if there was one (or multiple) bad parts of the day, it didn't stay that way.  The key is to make sure you have your student check at multiple times throughout the day (Happy, Angry, Sad) so that it's not all negative feelings! I wish I took a picture of it filled in but I completely forgot!

The other thing that is great about our new feelings journal is that if forces this student to think about "why" I am feeling this way.  Currently this student is blaming other kids, but I make sure we talk about it and my hope is that eventually we can stop blaming others and start thinking about ourselves.  Fingers crossed!

Click on the picture below if you'd like to download of a copy of our chart and journal!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

I am 26 today!  Only 4 years from 30, WHAT? Ugh.  Oh well, no need to whine! 26 is a beautiful age and I'm sure when I get to 30, I think the same of that too!

To celebrate my birthday I decided to give away one of each of my vocabulary mats! Check them out below and enter the giveaways.  I'll choose 4 winners (1 for each) tomorrow night! :) You can check out {this post} to see how I use these resources in my classroom!

Giveaway #1:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #3:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #4:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for celebrating with me!

And don't forget to head over to The Teacher Studio to enter into her Day 2 of her All New giveaway.  Head back all week to enter!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

An "All New" Giveaway

Have you been to Meg's blog, The Teacher Studio? If not, you are truly missing out.  She has ah-mazing ideas/resources that are easy for you to implement into your classroom.  I love her Math Enrichment resources for my high kids.  They love them!

Anyway...Meg's having an "All New" giveaway to celebrate her new blog and I'm super excited to be part of Day 2! Here's the deal, you enter over at her blog and you get $10 worth of products from everyone's stores! How awesome is that?  She's got giveaways going on for the rest of the week so don't miss out! You've got 2 days to enter for each giveaway!

Speaking of new, have you seen my Vocabulary mats in my TPT store?  I've recently revamped my Government and Economics Mats.  I also added a Weather and Matter Mat! Each comes with vocabulary cards, essential questions, study mat, and a sort or two to practice some essential unit skills! I use these resources in my classroom for a number of different things..

First: We use the vocabulary words and the knowledge mat to assess what we already know about the upcoming unit.  We also do this vocabulary sort at the end of the unit and compare our knowledge before/after!  The kids love to see all they've learned.

We use the study mats at different points throughout the unit so that they can practice those very important vocabulary words.  It's quick and fun if you have 5 minutes at the end of your S.S./ Science lesson.

Of course I use the vocabulary word cards to put up on our Science word wall...

We use the sorts to practice important concepts related to the topic...

And the essential questions as discussion guides (whole class & small group)...

I've found these resources to be an effective way to incorporate content vocabulary and discussion into my science & s.s. units!  I'll give one of each away tomorrow to celebrate my birthday so be sure to stop by and enter!



Ok, now what the heck are you waiting for?? Head on over to The Teacher Studio to enter the big giveaway!