Thursday, January 31, 2013

Valentine's Day Literacy Centers... and a sale!

Tomorrow is February, which means all of my work on Valentine's Day activities is about to pay off. Luckily, TeachersPayTeachers is having a sale this SUNDAY, February 3rd (yeah, I know, Super Bowl Sunday) and you can get my Valentines centers at a 28% discount!

So that brings me to my Valentine's Day Literacy Centers! I've been working hard so I can have this weekend free. (49ers being in the Super Bowl is a big deal here in SF). I feel so prepared ;)

First I have a Valentine's Pronoun Packet. 

This focuses on Subject, Object, and Reflexive Pronouns. There is a a subject/object pronoun activity in which students replace underlined words in subject and object pronouns. (Both a cut and paste and write-in option included) 

There is also reflexive pronoun activity in which students paste or write the proper reflexive pronoun in the space provided. (Both a cut and paste and write-in option included)

A reflexive and subject object pronoun matching game in which students will match subject/object pronouns (valentines) with corresponding reflexive pronouns (mailboxes) e.g. you-yourself, they-themselves. 

Next, I have a beginning and ending diagraph center based on a Fountas and Pinnel phonics activity. Students take turns reading the chocolate words to their partner. After the word is read, the student will decide if the diagraph comes at the beginning or end of the word. If they guess it correctly, they will get a point on their recording sheet. (Students are asked to use tally marks). Together they put the chocolate in the "right box" and write down the answer.

Next I created a "Bossy R" bingo game. Students will practice bossy R words with this Valentine's Day themed bingo game. Students will take turns rolling the dice. The dice will either land on ar, er, ir, or, ur, or roll again. Students will mark one square if they have a word with that “bossy r” combination. First student to a blackout wins. There is an optional recording sheet where students can write the words they found during the game. It includes 10 bingo cards, dice template, bingo markers, and a recording sheet.

My last center was created for students to work on irregular plurals. Common Core aligned. Students will match singular nouns to their plural noun form in this Valentine's Day Literacy Center. Includes regular nouns, irregular nouns, and nouns ending in x, f, ch, y, and s. Students can write the answers on the recording sheet when they are finished.

I am so proud of these activities I linked up with Jessica Tobin at Second Grade Nest for her February Holiday Link-up. Check it out to see more February Holiday activities!

P.S. Check back soon for some art project for Valentine's Day as well! I've got a bunch lined up.

Meaningful Art: Teaching Value with Snowmen

Seasonal based activities are pretty irrelevant in California. We don't have fall (really), we don't get snow, and it is colder in the summer than in the spring (at least in San Francisco). That being said, I still enjoy the activities and when I saw this post on how to teach value with snowmen, I knew I had to try it.

The lesson focuses on two aspects of art: perspective and value. First, students draw the outline of a snowman. I told students to try to draw a snowman from a different perspective. They tried making a "close up" of their face, what the snowman would look like from above, from below. Some students got this immediately, others really struggled. In retrospect, I will teach that concept in an earlier lesson when I can focus just on playing around with this idea.

Drawing the outline of the snowman as if we are looking from below

Next, students did the shading to create the value with colored pencils. In order to do this, students must choose two colors next to each other on the color wheel, one lighter than the other. Then students shade the very edge of their snowmen with the dark color, pressing very hard. Next, they take that same darker color and shade inwards, but pressing lighter. Last, they take the lighter color and continue to shade inwards, pressing lightly. The lightest color shades pretty far into the snowman. This creates the pretty color of the snowmen.

Once they have finished shading, students added their details and backgrounds.

Again, I should have focused JUST on value with the students. It was a lot to take in and I think students would've been able to focus more on how to shade if they weren't already focusing on the perspective aspect. Still, I feel like the snowmen turned out really cute and the students were very proud of their work.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Recently I hooked up with a second grade teacher at a school across town to develop a penpal program. I wasn't sure how it was going to go, particularly since my students have been really struggling with letter writing, but they have been LOVING it! When they got their first letter I gave them almost a half an hour to read them, share them with others, and generally be excited. I am so glad I did. They were so hyped up about the letters there is no way they would have been productive.

The next day the students responded to their penpals. I've never heard my classroom so quiet. They wrote pages upon pages to their penpals, which blew me away. (Getting many of my students to extend their writing in like pulling teeth). One of my students even wrote, "You are the greatest penpal ever. I think we can be best friends, don't you?" So adorable.

If any teachers out there are struggling with letter writing, I highly recommend a penpal program. If you can't do it with another second grade teacher in a different school, maybe talk to an upper-grade teacher about it. I can't rave any more about the motivation I saw with my students.

Look at how focused they are!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Meaningful Art: Stained Glass Art Project

So a couple months ago I saw a great post on Yvonne Dixon's blog Sassy in Second about Christmas Wreath Stained Glass. I loved the idea, but December was so jam packed that I could not find the time to fit in. I kept it in the back of my mind and we did a modified version last week.

First, I cut circles out in colored cardstock, cut out the the middle, and laminated them to created the "glass" surface.

Next, I photocopied a white piece of paper with circles for the students to create the own designs.

I showed students examples of stained glass, but geometric patterns as well as landscapes and still-lives. I did a google image search, it was pretty easy. (I would post examples, but I don't own the rights). I showed students an example of my own work as well so they could get ideas for their own work.

Next, student made their own design on the white paper.

When they finished, I gave them their "glass". They used a black permanent marker to trace the pattern of the glass (must be permanent so the color doesn't smear).

For the last step students colored in their stained glass creations. They turned out really beautiful!

P.S. If you want to find some cheaper permanent markers in bulk, I found some on discount school supply. They are perfect for this kind of art project.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Prefix and Suffix Work

I'm back!!!! So I got the dreaded flu over Winter Break and was feeling under the weather pretty much since New Years. I've finally got my groove back (and gotten my work-load under control) and I am ready to start blogging again. I can't believe it's been almost 20 days! I guess sleeping 11 hours a day doesn't allow for much else other than work. Hope most of you avoid it!

So we have been working on prefix and suffix word work since December. As first I wasn't sure how to approach it, but after a few trial and errors I found one strategy for them.

First, I give a few examples of words with the prefix or suffix I am targeting. For example: review, recharge, redo. We as a class define the words and look for what each word have in common. In this set of words we realize that all of these words mean to "do something again." From that I ask the students, what could the prefix "re" mean? Once it has been established that "re" means again, I follow the same routine with another prefix or suffix.

The next step is a word sort. I write base words on index cards and students help me sort the words according to the appropriate prefix or suffix.

Obviously, some words can be put in both categories, but each time we choose where to put the base word we discuss the meaning of the word. Once we have sorted all the words, I ask students to brainstorm more words with the target prefixes and suffixes. Students then do the same activity during literacy centers. I've found that dissecting the words in this active way has really reinforced the concept with the students and they're using the prefixes/suffixes as a strategy during reading.

Anyone else with good ideas for the prefix/suffix concept?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Winter Literacy Centers

New year... new centers...

After taking a lovely week or so off, I'm back to work on my literacy centers for January. My January theme is all things Winter, although we don't have a lot of snow in California, I still think snowmen are adorable so they still make an appearance in my classroom. I've only made two centers so far, trying to pace myself, but I'm excited to have a jump on things!

My first is a phonics activity I created using the philosophies I blogged about here. Students sort words that start with Hard C & Soft C, Hard G & Soft G. For those who, like me, are still learning some of these rules, Hard C is /ck/, Soft C is /s/, Hard G is /g/, and Soft G is /j/.

My second center I made to work on plural nouns that end in Y. Students take singular nouns written on hot coco mugs and write the plural form on the recording sheet. 

I also created a synonym/antonym literacy center where students match synonyms and antonyms on winter mittens. Can be broken into two different activities in one week or done over two weeks!

Continuing our work on prefix/suffix word work, I developed a center for the prefixes mis and pre. Students take a base word and decide which prefix could be added to make a new word.


Click here to see it on TeachersPayTeachers

The last Winter center is for vowel clusters or teams (ee, ea, ai, ay, oa, ow). Students sort the words written on cute penguins by which long vowel sound the vowel team makes.

I wish I could be like many of you who seems to already be moving on to Valentines Day! I must say, I am impressed. I must pace myself, however. No need to start the New Year off stressed and crazed. That time will come soon enough.

Check out 4th Grade Frolics Monday Made It Linky Party for all sorts of great projects to start off the new year!

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