Sunday, July 31, 2011

Seriously CUTE & Easy Fireflies for Classroom...

During my Independent Reading block, my kids love to grab a cushion, their book, and turn off the lights. At first, this drove me bananas-I was worried about them reading in the dark. We reached a compromise; half of the lights stay on and the other half off with soft, ambient lighting. Today, I stumbled upon (lol) an awesome why-didn't-I-think-of-that idea. Using plastic Easter eggs, make Firefly lights! I am thinking that these could also be made into bumblebees, butterflies, turtles...the possibilities are endless.
Here are the pictures and the link if you'd like to check them out. I will be making these and posting pictures of what they turned out like (very soon).

Aren't they sweet? Am thinking that maybe the kids can even make them on their own...maybe...possibly...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Organizing MONTH-BY-MONTH FREEBIE...Part 2

Voila!! All done my month at a glance templates. I am soooooooo excited to print them and try them out this year. Please follow the link if you'd like to use them.They are to serve as reminders of what tasks I want to do in each subject area. As mentioned in my prior post, my plan is to photocopy my newsletter on the back of each month. Please leave any suggestions or feedback- I {love} feedback!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Making Life a Little Easier One Month at a Time-Organizational Freebie!!

I've been thinking...I have all sorts of ideas for the upcoming year and I need a way to organize them. Personally, I like to make lists, lists and more lists. So, I've made these monthly templates to keep my thoughts in order. I've started with Sept-Feb and will finish the rest tomorrow.
Learning Goals and Focus refer to what I will be working on in my class (ie schema) My Focus is the group of students who I will be working with one-on-one (Guided Groups).
The box at the bottom refers to the units I am teaching.
The right hand table is for the tasks and assignments I will be assigning. For example, in September a Technology focus will be making avatars and trying out MS Office.
On the back of these templates, I will be photocopying my monthly Grade 2/3 News, which will also keep me on track.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Fun Craft for Kids using Clipart and Picnik

I have been playing in Picnik using free clipart. I uploaded a free image of a bare tree from clicker into Picnik. I then added the frame, words and resized the whole image. Lastly, I saved it as a jpg on my desktop.
I was at our dollar store and purchased simple, black 8 x 11 diploma frames for $1 each. I am going to print out this image in my MS picture program and have the kids put their handprints on the blank tree using three different colours of paint. I think it will make a lovely keepsake for parents etc. I am excited to try this out!
If you haven't yet, I recommend getting a membership to Picnik. It's free for the basic (which is the one I've tried) pkg and affordable for the premium.

This project isn't my idea. I added the Picnik element but the first time I saw this idea was on a blog (I cannot find the blog/post but will keep looking)-what an absolutely wonderful idea for Christmas, Father's Day etc.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New School Year Resolution Linky Party

Clutter Free Classroom is having a linky party that really made me stop and think. What do my goals need to be for the upcoming school year?

1) Prioritize my time betterMy kids started coming to my school this past year. Until then, they had been going to a school close to our home. It is a BIG change for us all, and I've decided that I need to prioritize my time much better. Next year, I have asked for my planning time to be at the end of the school day. This way, I can get things (my desk) tidied up and ready for the next day earlier. I am hoping that we will now be able to get out of school at a decent time. On the other hand, the kids have to be better at getting out of the house on time in the morning. Ergo, lunches made the night before, clothes out and ready, etc...Fingers crossed, this works because it's REALLY difficult entertaining a third grader and eighth grader until 4:30 while trying to get stuff ready for the next day.

2)Finish up what I've started. I need to take the time to finish one project before starting another (no matter how cool). I have an office crammed full of projects that I have started, almost finished, or need to fix up. For example, last year I purchased four Mickey Mouse MP3 players to use during the Daily Five. I had each kidlette in my class read a book into Audacity on my laptop, which I fully intend on someday putting onto the MP3 players for use at Listen to Reading. Sheesh. Or the almost-finished Vocabulators. I even dyed rice, bought special beads and trinkets, and laminated the words...still not done. Double sheesh. Definitely an area for improvement. S-L-O-W down, Keri. I am going to start using a coil notebook JOURNAL for my ideas and inspirations. That way, I don't have to worry about forgetting anything and can start things with time to finish them.

Whew! Be sure to link up to this amazing linky party.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

"The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book" FREEBIE

Here is a free ebook that I found (hee hee) while looking for techie ideas. It has lots of great ideas, some of which I incorporated in my classroom this spring. It is definitely worth a scan, if not a read. I only have two computers in my classroom but am fortunate to also have a Smartboard. I model websites on the Smartboard or use some of the computer ideas as a shared writing activity. We have a lab at our school that consists of 21 computers, so once the kids have tried out the activity, they can do so independently. For our ABCya/Smilebox slideshow, kids logged into one of our two classroom computers and completed the task one at at time. I made the slideshow after I uploaded the ABCya Jpegs.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Too Cool For School Linky Party

It is incredibly hot in Ontario, too! 40 degrees C with the humidex-YUCK! So, I am linking up to this linky party with I Love 2 Teach because I agree that it sounds cool.

At our Dollarama (dollar store) we can buy sheets of Avery mailing labels for $1 for 10 sheets of 30. Using MS Word, I have made genre labels for my books. There are two book labels on each shipping label...I cut them in half, stick the label to the upper right hand corner of the book and put a piece of packing tape over the label to "laminate" it. Now, the kids can easily sort the books and make sure that they stay together (they put the books in corresponding bins). I have to admit, it is a work in progress, but worth every minute! I am working on the same thing for my leveled Home Reading books. I am going to include the level and fiction/nonfiction designation. Click on each picture to see it in full screen...


ABCs of Grade 2/3

Voila...I have made a pamphlet/brochure to send home with my class on the first day of school. It has a catchy title and was made in a Scrapbook program that I picked up from a garage sale for five dollars. I've read MANY ABC brochures that were made by teachers-this is not my idea. However, I love it. Last year, I made a class handbook, but it was kinda bulky and time consuming. The brochure is colourful (and won't be expensive to photocopy in colour) and short...gotta love it :)
Here is a copy of my brochure.

I brainstormed one idea for each letter of the alphabet and then wrote a short description for each. The Scrapbook program was incredibly easy to use.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I am sorry to keep posting but...

I have been trying ALL DAY to fix my blog so that people can comment on a post...SO FRUSTRATED
I have tried everything that has been suggested (including clearing my browser history, cookies, etc)


Back to School Freebie Linky Party

Just Add Clipart is hosting a FREEBIE Linky Party. Each year, I do a task where kids fill out posters that are all about their interests, life, family etc. This year, I tried making my own...voila! My plan is to display them for Meet the Teacher (we have this at the end of September) on a bulletin board outside of our classroom (I am even going to make one myself). After MtT, I am going to laminate (my board does this free of charge) the posters and make them into a book for our class library. I am trying to decide whether to enlarge them to 11 x 17 or leave them as 8 x 11. Suggestions would be very appreciated. If you'd like a copy, simply click the link under the posters.

Also, I haven't decided whether to use the buddy biography idea from Tony Stead's book or send it home as a project to complete together...what do you think?

Please leave ideas or suggestions-I LOVE feedback!

ABC Book and a FANTASTIC website

Holy Shmoly...Bembo's Zoo is a beautiful website. Each letter of the alphabet turns into the animal that it represents. For example, the B in bison turns into a bison using the lines from the word...this would make a fun activity to do with the kids...they can each have a letter, think of a word, use the letters/lines from the word to make the animal or object...

Bembo's Zoo

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Printer Linky Party

I have a HP Photosmart c5180 Printer that I got from Staples for around $40. It is an inkjet, and it goes through ink faster than our laser printer but I found a store on Ebay that sells a set of xl cartridges (74xl and 75xl) for $20 (including shipping to Canada).  The ink is perfect and I saved lots of money this way!



This is a website that I "stumbled upon" (hee hee) would be a very cool resource to put on the Smartboard in September and let kids enjoy. It would also be a great project to do with the kids...

Yahoo! My blog button and text box FINALLY work!!! SO EXCITED!

p.s. This is the link for the blog that I used...HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
 How to Make Grab Button

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My New Signature

I used My Live Signature to make a signature for my blog. Easy-peasy. I then copied its html into the formatting section of Settings.

This is me trying out Windows Live Writer

Well, we shall see how it is I suppose…
Here is a map
Light bulb
Kakabeka Falls


My Favourite Blogs to Stalk

My favourite blog to stalk has to be First Grade a la Carte. It has AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME games and suggestions for a fun learning experience. I also love Teaching Blog Addict-another great one to check out.

Tony Stead-Teaching Nonfiction Writing

I received this book in the mail last week and have just finished reading it. I love the ideas and lesson plans that are outlined throughout. One idea that I especially like for September is getting the kids to write biographies about each other. Hmmmmmm...Sounds like fun to me!
These are the recommended steps to this unit: 1)Have every child write a baseline biography of their partner with no prior teaching. 2)Assess where each child is using a master list and skills required. 3) Immerse the kids in biographies about actors, singers, etc (their interests). 4) Plan, plan, plan biography together. 5) Write a biography together on one person (ie teacher, pop star...) 6) Partners write biographies again. 7) Compare pre and post unit biographies.

I am looking forward to trying this out. It is a twist on the getting to know me theme of September.

Wonderful Me Posters for September

These posters will be blown up to 11x17 on the photocopier. Kids will fill them out at school and will ask parents/guardians for the information that they are not sure about (ie where i was born). They will be displayed on the bulletin board outside of our classroom until Meet the Teacher night at the end of September.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Decreasing Anxiety...Increasing Engagement Project

This school year I was very fortunate to be part of an action research project regarding the negative effects of anxiety on kids. Throughout our journey, we gathered resources that we then compiled into "Toolkits" for every school in our school board. Each kit contains books, read alouds, dvds, relaxation cds and lesson ideas.
I loved this project. It allowed me to use many strategies that I strongly believe benefited all students in our classes.
In May, our team presented our project at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. We were pleased to see a wide range of people at our presentation, including; social workers, teachers, education assistants, facilitators, healthcare providers and daycare workers.
Here is our Powerpoint; please let me know if you have any questions or would like further details.
This is the link to our blog!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Grade Linky Party

Grade Level Linky Party

My second linky party already! I teach grade 2/3 but the majority of my kids are in 2 so I am joining the grade 2 section! Thanks so much to The Teacher's Lane for an INCREDIBLE linky party.

**Update-as you can see, I've changed the name of my blog to Teach Play Smile...

Linky Party-Beginning of the Year Read Alouds

New Read Alouds for the Fall Linky Party

I am joining my first Linky Party. I hope I have done it correctly :)

Here are my top read alouds for September.

1. First Day Jitters by Julie Dannenberg

The kids get a kick out of this story as it has a surprise ending...the teacher is nervous about starting school! We all enjoy the story so much it has become a staple in our class library.

2. Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London
I was a little very skeptical about this book as I thought it might be a little babyish for grade 2/3. It is HILARIOUS and appropriate. I read it every September and LOVE it!

3. How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague
This story is wonderful to use for a Writing activity. The boy in the book has a vivid imagination and kids get a kick out of hearing what he says happened during his summer.

4. Wemberley Worried by Kevin Henkes
Actually, many of Kevin Henkes books are perfect for September. They really appeal to kids and provide a great jumping off point for discussions.

5. Wilson and Miss Lovely by John Stadler
A story about starting school. Another theme of being worried about the first days of school but it is definitely worth the read!

* For the first time ever, I had the kids complete an activity at the end of June that I will also use as a read aloud in September. Each student traced their hand and wrote one piece of advice for the upcoming kids. I cut out the hands and glued each one to a piece of cardstock. I then glued a picture of the child who wrote the advice beside the hand. Finally, I laminated the pages, bound them and am ready to go!

Monster Exchange

I signed up for the Monster Exchange today. It looks really cool and I think the kids will enjoy it lots. I am thinking it will be a great activity to do in October. This will also be a great addition to our memory books-my students monsters beside their partners monsters. Yay!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Storybird...LOVE LOVE LOVE

Tips for a wonderful grade 2/3 class of 2010-2011! on Storybird
Highly recommend this site. Simple, lovely and addicting.

Memory Book Part 2

Okay so this has to be a pdf for the fonts, graphics etc to work.  This is a total work in progress. If anyone wants a copy, I'll change my name and my school name. Let me know!

Memory Book for September

Monday, July 04, 2011

Memory Book I am going to attempt to make a memory book for next year. I know that it sounds crazy (since it is only July) but I need to "strike while the iron is hot."
Each page will have a spot for a photo at the top
Should go by month

Sept to include height, info etc for comparison in June
Nov-Family Tree
Jan-Favourite gift and why
Feb-things i love
May-Favourite technology program we used
June-favourites of grade 2/3