Friday, 21 December 2012

You've Been Grinched! and popsicle stick ornaments

Last day before the holidays and I thought I'd try out the Lump of Coal rice krispies for my class.  Of course it was a stormy night and I realized when I got home that I didn't pick up the black food colouring!  So I revised my plan and made You've Been Grinched rice krispies instead.

1/4 cup organic butter
approx. 300g mini marshmallows
3 and 1/2 cups rice krispies cereal
Melt the butter on low.  Add the marshmallows.  When all is melted add the food colouring.  Stir in the rice krispies.  Lay out on a cookie tray and let cool. 
Cut treats with a heart cookie cutter for the full Grinch heart effect.

I found this idea a few years ago in a magazine.  It takes a bit of prep on part of the teacher with the glue gun (pre assemble popsicle stick trees and attach ribbon at bottom edge).  Guide children through weaving their ribbon through and around the tree.  When they have woven their tree, tack the edges with the glue gun.  Next day provide students with sequins or other ornament like shapes to glue on their ornament.  I added a little poem this year with their tree (font: Kevin & Amanda, frame: Digital Potpourri, poem: The Love Filled Christmas Tree).  You can find the gift tags here.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Polar Express FREEBIE

Here is a little Polar Express booklet that I whipped up for Movie Monday!  The term was coined by one of my students.  Last week it was The Grinch.  This week Polar Express.  They are fantastic movies to explore character, sequencing and are just plain fun.  The quotes are from the movie.  Questions are from the Teacher's Guide for the picture book.  Enjoy!


Saturday, 15 December 2012

the people we want to be

I read an interesting quote recently:  Education as inquiry provides an opportunity for learners to explore collaboratively topics of personal and social interest for purposes of producing a more equitable, a more just, a more thoughtful world.  In this way, curriculum becomes a metaphor for the lives we want to live and the people we want to be  (Harste, 2001).

It was another tragic day for education on Friday.  It makes you reconsider our role as teachers and the impact we have on our students.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Andy Warhol, Letter Writing, the Grinch and Assessment

I love Andy Warhol at Christmas.  Here's a quick and effective art activity.
1.  Provide a variety of Christmas tracers for children to choose from.  They will choose 1 symbol and trace it 4 times.
2.  Students colour each box in a different way.  I encourage children to colour dark (no white spaces) and keep the designs simple.  I also remind them that what they add to one design, they add to all designs.  We use oil pastels to make our art pop.

I love the panoramic option on my iPhone5!
We have been working on writing letters in the classroom.  I loved the Help Wanted persuasive letter writing activity I put into my North Pole Times at TpT.  Being able to choose their writing topic gave the kids opportunity to be specific with their reasons and examples to support their job of choice.

As for assessment, I created some rubric labels for the learning goals and success criteria we focused on.  Here are our I can statements for writing letters with the Curriculum Expectations:
W1.1  I can identify the topic, purpose (opinion) and form (paragraph, letter) for writing.
W1.5, W2.1  I can use graphic organizers to plan and write my ideas with supporting details.
W2.5  I can form an opinion and support it with reasons and personal experience.
W2.4  I can use linking words (first, then) and joining words (because, so).
W2.6, W2.7  I can use feedback from the teacher to improve my writing. 
·  “Can you think of another way you might get the attention of your audience at the beginning?”
·  “Have you provided enough detail to support your main idea?”
·  reorder sentences, remove repetition, add examples, add linking words / phrases (connect ideas)

We read a couple of my favourite books about letters:

Then we revisited How to Write a Letter.  Earlier in the week we watched the cartoon version of The Grinch and talked about how characters can change.  We webbed the character traits of the Grinch at the beginning and at the end.  We retold the story from beginning, middle and end.  In the end the children wrote a letter to the Grinch persuading him not to steal the toys from Whoville.  You can find the Grinch letter freebie here.

R1.5 I can infercharacter traits of The Grinch by his words and actions.
R1.9 I can retell the story from the perspective of The Grinch / Cindy Lou Who
R1.4 I can retell the story using details about specific elements of the text such as characters and theme.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

North Pole Times: Christmas Persuasive Writing Activities

I can't wait to introduce persuasive writing this Christmas season with my new: North Pole Times.  I love that my kids can choose the job they want to apply to!  You can find it at my TpT store here.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

s-blend word sort and Polar Bears Past Bedtime freebie

This week we worked with s-blends.  We also read Polar Bears Past Bedtime by Mary Pope Osborne (#12 in the Magic Tree House series).  Who knew it was a perfect book for sorting all kinds of s- words!

Here is a word sort freebie for the book.  I may have gone a bit overboard with the amount of words from the book!  But I figure I will add the strips to our word work bin and the kids can continue to sort the words until they are pros.

Check out our big class sort.  They even figured out the oddballs (words that looked like s-blends but didn't sound like s-blends: 2 letters = 2 sounds and 3 letters = 3 sounds).
On another note, this week's hangman illustrator got creative!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Into the Garden with Alice in Wonderland

I finally posted my Alice in Wonderland unit on my TpT store!  My students loved the book and asked if I would be teaching the book again this year.  Always a good sign!  You can find the unit here


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Cyber Monday and Making Choices

You can find my TpT products on sale this Monday and Tuesday.  Don't forget to use the code CMT12 for extra savings!

I have finally updated my choice bins for literacy.  You can find my Daily 5 bin labels here. This past week the children explored our Work on Writing and Word Work Games bins.  They were a hit!

I love this choice board!  Research and Word Work Games are certainly the favourites so far.  Here are the kids at work with Word Work Trouble (practicing punctuation skills with You've Been "Punct!) and Research (completing datapillars with these great Lakeshore research cards I've had for years).

You can find my research paper chains here.

I added 5 whole class journals to my Work on Writing literacy bin.  Here's how they turned out:
You can find my 5 whole class journal labels here.

There are some great freebies for Work on Writing online.  Check out: The School Potato and Second Story Window for some great ideas on whole class journals and journal prompts.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

A Lot Can Happen In The Woods: A Fairy Tale Companion

I have a child in my class on an IEP with modified curriculum.  She loves participating in our Word Work activities at the beginning of the day.  But by after morning recess she no longer has the attention span to remain in class without a break.  So I created this resource to be used with her EA to address the curriculum expectations that are on her IEP but she would be missing in the classroom.

I was inspired by a TpT resource I purchased: Stephanie Kinley's Goldilocks Literacy and Writing Fun!  It is a great resource and complement to these fairy tale printables.

My resource can be found at my TpT store and is aptly called: A Lot Can Happen In The Woods.  Enjoy!

Explore 6 popular fairy tales with graphic organizers, flip books, Venn diagrams, word sorts, highlighting, drawing, writing, cut + pasting:
  • retell stories
  • sequence stories
  • beginning, middle, end
  • story vocabulary
  • high-frequency words
  • write sentences
  • compare characters
  • compare fairy tales

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Hallowe'en + descriptive words

This Hallowe'en I was inspired by Vocabulary on Parade by Amanda Nickerson.  With sticky notes and a marker in hand, the children visited their peers, decided on a descriptive word for their costume / Hallowe'en character, and delivered their note to the child's desk.  It was a quick but effective activity.  They even described Jack!
One of my favourites: miney, crafty.  Can you guess who he was?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Words Rule - spelling program

When I changed to grade 2/3 I asked my teacher colleagues what Word Study program they used.  Here is the current program I follow which came from a friend, who got it from a friend and so on.

Monday - Write 5 new words for the week in a sentence on a chart paper.  Cover the word.  Students guess the covered words.  Discuss what the words have in common (word pattern).  Students write the words in their agenda.
Tuesday - Students box the words and write a sentence for each word.  If students are unsure how to spell a word in the sentence, they underline the word.  We share sentences at the carpet and 5 new students add sentences to the class list.  When I review their notebooks, I use the editing marks.  Students make corrections.
Wednesday - Whole group Hangman.  Students follow along in their Spelling Journals.  Like Hangman, students guess letters to reveal the mystery word.  Choose 1 student to draw on the whiteboard.  Students build small words from the mystery word.
Thursday - Word Sorting and Word Work Games.
Friday - Spelling quiz: 5 words + 1 bonus sentence. The sentence uses a few of the week's words. The sentence has to be completely correct, including all: spelling, capitalization and proper punctuation.

Each week as we edit writing, spelling or when students ask how to spell a word, I write it down.  I add them to a pocket chart Words from Writing.  We sort these words according to pattern rules on our word wall, or other sorting means.  You can find 2 weeks of words from writing here.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Must Have Recipes for Teachers: lice + laundry tips

Well I had my first case of lice in the classroom this week.  Yuck!  Luckily I am also a Certified Aromatherapist, so I went straight to my cupboard and made up an essential oil blend for myself and the colleagues I share a classroom with.  I wanted to share my recipe since I know how itchy the topic makes all of us!  If you have questions about the essential oil blend, please contact me at:

I am also including a great laundry tip to remove art stains from clothing.  Click the picture to download the freebies.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Stellaluna - book study flip book freebie

Here is a double decker flip book for one of my favourite stories: Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. 
Enjoy - Kerri

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Spiders and Bats oh my! + a couple freebies :)

This past week we have been reading informational texts on spiders and bats.  I wanted to start from the beginning so that my students had a foundation to build on. 

We started with a read aloud from a section on spiders.  As the children enjoyed their snack, their job was to listen for important, interesting and cool facts.  After the reading and snacks were away, we came to the carpet and listed everything we could remember from the reading.  I have been alternating colours on my charts this year so the students can differentiate between facts / words.

We focused on facts from the text (not opinions or prior knowledge of spiders).
The children were in groups of 2/3 with a new text on spiders.  The following day they viewed all of the posters "museum style"(idea from:
They chose their top 3 facts and wrote them on paper chains.  Next they ordered their facts and wrote out their planning sheet.  We edited together, they wrote their draft and again we met briefly to check for capitals and periods.  Good copies were written on their spider craftivity.

On to bats.  Here is a bat companion to spiders.  This time we highlighted important keywords and parts of sentences.  I'd recommend checking out: Kids National Geographic, 42explore, Bat Conservation and even eHow.  All are great for projecting onto whiteboards for an interactive lesson.  Click on the page below for your copy :)

Here's a quick music + sound effects in movies activity.  Perfect during Hallowe'en season!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Text Features, Sticky Notes + Writing a Paragraph

Last year I reviewed text features with the Titanic.  This year its spiders and bats.  So far we have talked about the index, labeled diagram and glossary.  Here are a couple of the lesson anchor charts:
We completed the glossary poster on Friday (the blanks being glossary, keywords, definition (meaning).  We practiced highlighting keywords and parts of sentences with a Bat Fact sheet that I projected onto my whiteboard.  Of course I Xd their highlights out twice!  The next day we looked at a great Mailbox sheet about bats and the glossary (no Xing it out that day).

A few weeks back we looked at writing our notes on sticky notes.  Here is the list:
We have also begun to write paragraphs.  Here are our charts for writing a basic paragraph.  We used this format to write about spiders and now bats as well.