Saturday, June 30, 2012


I like to WRITE EVERY DAY.  I'll do a blog post of each of my days of the week and how I incorporate writing into our daily themes.  The first day is MONDAY. We do Weekend News on Monday. I use dotted lined 2nd grade paper and I have a bigger rectangle for an illustration. I also have lines all down the backside for my really good writers.

Writing about our Weekend News in 2nd Grad

We call it Weekend News  because we write about what our family did on the weekend; whether it was a birthday party, a soccer game, shopping at Walmart or a trip to the movies, we write all about it. I always start with a REAL MINI lesson on one of the 6 traits of good writing. I ALWAYS start with  IDEAS, then move to CONVENTIONS. I probably work on these 2 for at least 2 months. 

I've always used the 6 Traits Writing Model. Our district is moving to the 4 Blocks method which is easier to teach, but it doesn't have enough breadth for gifted kids, so I'll be using both.  It is an unedited weekly writing project, but I help with spelling harder words as I peruse the room. 

 I do a brainstorm on my white board of activities the kids dictate to me. The other thing I have always done is write out a sentence frame;

      On Friday I played....         On Saturday I went........   On Sunday my family and I......

A white board  brainstorming we did on Earth Day on the 3 Rs....

That way the kids get some sight words memorized and have a way to cut up the weekend into 3 simple paragraphs. Each week I write a new brainstorm.  A great website for graphic organizers to write  on just about any topic can be found  HERE at vrml k12. They have lots of powerpoints on lots of subjects good for kids brainstorming in 1st and 2nd grades. I teach ORGANIZATION mid year

Did YOUR family go out to eat like we did? Did you go to Jimmy Johns too?  It's super  yum! 

An easy way to design the paper you want your students to use is to go on this website and peruse her various grades and styles of writing paper.  Check out Donna It is all free and I loved the different sizes of dotted, lined paper you could print out for a booklet of "Weekend News" or for a Journal. You could just add a small rectangle for an illustration and the words WEEKEND NEWS across the top.
Or maybe you had a birthday party like we did! My granddaughter turned 2 on Saturday! 

A good CHECKLIST for students to use when they are done with their Weekend News can be found HERE at Read Write Think. This is a silent, at your desk, unedited writing activity. Kids can use their personal journals or the word wall to help with sight words. Otherwise they are sounding out words they write.
This was an idea for "WORD CHOICE"  from Cheryl Sigmon's website on 4 Blocks Method for writing.... link is HERE.
I teach  Word Choice the 3rd month of school. It reduces how many "good" and "nice" words you get in student writing.....and you get spectacular "$100 words" as we call them!! 

My rules are to write the DATE on each Weekend News because I save them in a writing portfolio.  I add a weekly writing and art to the portfolio. (By years end it is about an inch and a half thick).They also have to write 4 sentences to start the year. Some struggle to get 4 and that is ok too as long as they try. 

Weekend News is a very valuable and simple way to start your week writing on Monday.  Check out what I do on Fridays HERE. Check back to see what I do the rest of the week!! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Journal Writing and Journal Jars

Every Friday all year our writing time is our school journal.  This is a place where we review and reflect upon all the things we did at school for the week and write about them.  The students can also include any really important things that happened during the week at home if they want, such as a birthday party or a family event.
A cute journal you can get for $3.50 from Lakeshore or Amazon. I just make up my own and get it zirloxed.

A really good way to brainstorm for this is doing a whiteboard brainstorm and have the kids help by coming up with all the things we learned that week in science, social studies, math topics, art projects, what we did in computer and P.E. and maybe what we are reading aloud for our chapter book after lunch. Many times the school is also hosting such things as Book Fairs, Red Ribbon Week, Fun Runs, etc. that we could include. 
Another cute one for purchase.  I just made a cute cover and copied 30 pieces of  paper in mine. 
Then I have the kids often times do a fun activity using the portable computer lab. They all get a laptop and we go to this website HERE at Read Write Think. This is a fun, fill in the blank quickwrite to get them thinking about fun things they could write about.  Sometimes we write about school, other times we may write about a holiday or our favorite sport. It helps with all kinds of topics to develop some background knowledge.
This journal is from Really Good Stuff 

Then we go to our Friday journals and write.  Really the only other time I have them write in their journals is on the first and last days of school and after field trips.  We use the brainstorming game at Read Write Think to help with that too.  The other days of the week we do thematic writing to go with a topic from our literature story of the week, or else we do science or social studies integrated writings.
Autumn Acrostic Poetry
It went along with our cute Scarecrow art project that week....
I ALWAYS start with a method of brainstorming. I will sometimes cut out a shape using colored butcher paper from the rolls and design a frog or sun or turkey or whatever we are writing about and we write the brainstorm phrases on that and leave it up during the writing process. Other times I just use the white board or document camera.  But we always do a brainstorm. HERE at vrml K12 is a bunch of brainstorming activities and a powerpoint on brainstorming to use with your class.
This idea is from Craftster....I'd just decorate up a jar and add  writing prompts in little colored papers. 

This idea is from Journal Keepers and you can buy the whole kit for $14.00. 
Another way to go on Journal Writing is to do a Journal Jar.  This is a really cute idea. I found a few websites that had great prompts already made up that you could just copy and have kids paste one at the top of each sheet in their journals.  The link for a good one is HERE at Organized Home.  Another listing can be found  HERE at Scrapjazz.  And a third listing with a cute poem is HERE at Utah 4H.

Journals are a good weekly writing activity....use prompts or use a brainstorm of ideas each week. 

Another great way to get started is to read a short literature story. Then do the brainstorm or "LIST" afterwards on the board. This is another way to develop some background knowledge about the topic you are writing about. That's why using the literature stories from your basal is such an excellent way to begin a writing lesson. Use what you learned from a science or social studies story in the same way. Have the kids help you list facts on the board first, and then they have a few things to begin writing with.  And I always give them 3 sentence frames to get started.
This one is from Teachers Pay Teachers...

    Examples: Our solar system ....    We have 9 planets....  Our sun is a giant gas ball that.....
Abraham Lincoln was a president that....We celebrate Presidents day to honor.... Frogs begin their lives as....I love studying frogs because... Thanksgiving is a time when we .... I am very thankful for....

The sentence frames always help those kids who have a really hard time "getting started". If they just sit there for awhile I can help them by saying, "Just choose one of the sentence frames and start writing your own words after that". It prevents them from wasting any time in most cases.

Here was a theme writing we did on our future Summer Vacations.....

I happened to find some cute paper for this writing, but it could have been just in the journals too. 

A great website for graphic organizers to write  on just about any topic can be found  HERE at vrml k12. They have lots of powerpoints on lots of subjects good for kids brainstorming in 1st and 2nd grades.

To see what I do on Mondays for Writing, link HERE. And check back to see what I do the rest of the week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Vacation Writing

Are you ready for summer vacation? Yeah, we are too!

We wrote what we are going to be doing all summer long! It was a lot of fun!

And we made a cute art project using Oriental Trading's Beach Sticker Scenes.  I had 2 kids share a sheet of stickers of anything "beachy".

We read a few stories about summer and summer vacations to get some ideas.....

Then I cut a little strip of newsprint for each kid and they glued it down onto blue paper.  Then they colored the bottom blue paper like blue water. 
Each of these pieces of newsprint ended up on a child's page for the "sand" part.  I just scalloped the top and bottom of the paper; one to look like sand hill, the other side to look like water. 

I ordered the stickers for the beach scene from Oriental Trading. The link for the stickers is HERE.

The kids added clouds, birds and went over the scallops at the bottom of the cream colored newsprint with a blue crayon. It made it look more like waves in the sea.

Then they colored the tops of their beach writing paper.  They did sloppy copies of their summer
vacations first. Then I edited each one. And then they rewrote them on the cute paper and colored it up.
Each of the beach scenes looks totally different. Altogether they made a real beachy look!

I wanted to go jump in the water after these were all done. HERE is a cute song kids can sing about Summer Vaction from Music K8.

Another fun song called Down at the Beach from Music K8 is HERE.

It was a fun summer activity. We all are now off to different summer destinations enjoying time off from school.  Hope everybody has a great time!

The kids wrote about Family Reunions and relatives coming.....

I had to throw this summer vacation pic of my little granddaughters on their first tent camping trip. Aren't they so cute? 

Makes you want to go see the tide pools doesn't it? mmmhmmmm.....

Summer vacation art and writing....

Hope you all enjoy some summer fun down at the beach! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Butterfly Art Project

Using tissue paper behind holes cut in a butterfly shape makes some pretty artsy butterflies!

They almost look like stained glass windows!

Make 2 of the black shapes and cut them out with the same holes if you want the back to look pretty too. Then you can hang them in a window like a sun catcher! So pretty!

Butterfly books to go along with the art project.....

I've been seeing a lot of these in my flower garden this week too!  So pretty!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Slime Recipe from Glue and Borax

Peter had a real big blob of slime.  The kids said it was the best thing we did all year! 
Here's a close up of the FUN, gooey, pink slime! 
Do you want to know what to do with all your leftover half full glue bottles at the end  of the year?  MAKE SLIME!  
Give each student a quart baggie and draw a black permanent ink line an inch from the bottom. Tell them to fill that with glue to the line. It will be approximately a 1/2 cup amount. You just need then to add that same amount, 1/2 cup in water.
Making's a great end of year activity! 
Then add a few drops of food coloring. I have used the NEON food colorings and they work the best, and the favorite colors are pink and green. So get plenty of green. Then seal up the baggie and let them "knead" it for 2 or 3 minutes until the glue, and coloring, and water are all  mixed up.

Then add 1 teaspoon borax to a cup of warm water. Let it dissolve while you stir. Then add 1/2 cup of the borax mixture to each baggie. Then then need to "knead" it some more, for about 3 or 4 more minutes. You will see it start to coagulate and get slimy. It should be the consistency of silly putty when it is ready.
 This is a fun and easy slime to make. Make it with white glue for opaque slime, or glue gel for translucent slime.
Recipe (Taken from HERE at Home Training Tools Blog)
  • Elmer's white glue or Elmer's school glue gel
  • Borax (find in the laundry detergent aisle of the store)
  • Water
  • Two bowls
  • Food coloring (use NEON colors for the best colorful slime!)
What to do:
  1. In one bowl mix 1/2 cup (4 oz) glue and 1/2 cup water. Add food coloring if you want colored slime.
  2. In the other bowl, mix 1 teaspoon borax with 1 cup water until the borax is dissolved.
  3. Add the glue mixture to the borax solution, stirring slowly.
  4. The slime will begin to form immediately; stir as much as you can, then dig in and knead it with your hands until it gets less sticky. (No one makes slime without getting a little messy!) Don't worry about any leftover water in the bowl; just pour it out. 
We made pink, orange, green and yellow slime.....

Some of the kids added marker lines to their slime and turned yellow to's like Silly Putty! 

 I wasn't real precise and all mine turned out great. If it is too lumpy and dry, add a bit more of the borax and water mixture, maybe 2 tablespoons more.  It's a lot of fun to do one of the last days of school.

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