Monday, July 30, 2012

Making Play Dough for Back To School Fun

I love to have scented play dough for my kids. I use these little Rubbermaid containers and give each student a hunk of clay or playdough the first day of school. We call it "Fast Finisher Playdough" and it helps the first few weeks of school when I am doing lots of ability assessments.

Here is a fun recipe for a Kool-aid Play Dough that is colored AND scented a yummy flavor! Just tell the kids it is NOT for EATING. (Especially if you have little kinder

I'm making some Koolaid Playdough for Back to School Fun! 
The KOOL-AID comes in so many colors and flavors now it will be fun to pick up a package of each one. Then I can split the recipe between two colors and make a half batch of all 6 of the colors of the rainbow!

All these colors and flavors of Classroom Playdough would be a lot of fun to choose from! 
 It's so delicious smelling! You actually could eat it....but don't......just play with's pretty cool.....Here's how I make it:

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 pkg kool-aid (unsweetened)                           
2 tablespoons cream of tarter
Mix together then add in:
2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons oil

Mix 3-4 minutes or until cool. Then knead and store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

I think I'll try  making purple and yellow Playdough  for Back to School Play Dough fun too!

I think my class kids will love this for the first day of school and I KNOW my grandkids will love making it with me! I'm going to make a batch of each color. Mmmm!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


I just found a huge list of 2nd grade blogs. How fun is that!  I will have a lot of fun perusing each one for ideas. I just love bloggers!

Redoing the Classroom Bulletin Board

I repainted a bulletin board that used to be bright red. I LOVE how it turned out. It will be pretty in the classroom too! Don't you think? Or I could put it in my craft room. I wish I had 2 of them!! 

And I covered it with fabric and ribbons and glittery butterfly pins....
Taping up the bulletin board with paper, trash bags, anything will do to cover  up the cork portion. ...not too bad for prep! 

It use to be a dull gray when my husband used it. Then he brought it home for me and I tried a fire engine red for my grandkids' play room....But I ran out of walls when I made a giant chalk board for them to play with.
 Now I want it for my classroom, since my new book box colors are blue, lime green and hot pink. I got all new classroom library bins from Hobby Lobby last spring! So this will match! 
Here is my painted bulletin board after I sprayed 2 coats of the  Rustoleum spraypaint on  it....You can see how I taped the edges with a trash bag and masking tape....
KILZ primer and Valspar are the best primers...they go on smooth and don't take too many coats. I think I only used one coat of primer for this project. 
Valspar and Rustoleum are good spray paints too....I liked this light blue color. It will match my little book boxes in my classroom library. 
All done spray painting.  I did it on the front lawn in the shade. So next time the hubs mows, all evidence will be GONE! 
Here were my 2 fabrics and my ribbon I wanted to use for the top of the cork section of the bulletin board redo.
I sewed the glittery, striped fabric onto 2 sides of the butterfly fabric....and cut it to fit the bulletin board cork outline....
Then I just glue gunned it all around the edges of the cork after letting the paint dry overnight. Lookin good!  (too bad I couldn't just wrap the fabric around the backing. I couldn't get it to come off it was GLUED DOWN for keeps!) 
Then I added a butterfly to each corner....then I just had to go buy some cute push pins from Hobby Lobby! 
Check out my 6 tips for using spray paint at Patties Place, my other blog. 
I bought some glittery, giant push pins at Hobby Lobby for my painted bulletin board redo.  I pushed one into the center of each of the cute flowers. It turned out so sweet.  
I really like how it turned out.  I think it will brighten up a cute corner of my classroom, won't it?  
And it's a great improvement.  A LOT better looking  than the plain red one. I love spray paint! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Writing Topics for the Year (January to June)

I love writing. I think it has such reciprocal properties. Kids learn to spell, handwrite and understand what they are reading through the synthesis of writing and responding to literature and non fiction books. I already posted August to December last week, so here is my writing topics linked to my core for January through June. 

Happy New Year Goal Writing for kids....

 We do a journal on Friday, and a Weekend News every Monday. So these writing topics take place Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The project starts on a Tuesday, and goes through the entire writing process by Thursday at lunchtime.  Fast finishers can go to learning centers.
New Years Goal Writing....
So if you are just starting out with a writing program, here is the way I like to do my yearly PROCESS WRITING (going through all the stages, prewrite, sloppy copy, edit, final copy, illustration, publish). I have topics I do each month. It is not a complete list. But it is the bones of my yearly writing plan.
Hilarious penguin stories like "Katy the Rock Star Penguin" 
Check out these January Penguin Stories HERE. They really turned out funny. And the tear art project was cool and easy to do!
Graphic Organizer of penguin facts....just for fun....notice the quotation marks? That was my mini lesson. 

In January we do New Year's Goals writing, Snowmen Stories, Winter Acrostic Poetry, Penguin stories with a character, setting, problem and solution, Weather Facts Reports on Clouds and Tornadoes,  and Martin Luther King biographies. We also do a Chinese New Year Parade and write about it for Social Studies. (and make the cool dragons of course!) We write what we'd do with $100 for hundred's Day.
We read about arctic  mammals as part of our animals unit, on the snowy fox and the polar bear, and we did a pretty watercolor and wrote Winter poems 

Arctic Animals go with Winter Acrostic Poetry....
We start by doing a literature book, a weekly reader, and maybe even a Basal story in text sets. Then we do a mini lesson using the 6 traits of writing, then kids go start their sloppy copies.

 The next day they get a teacher edit and begin their art project. The last day the rewrite the edited copy and finish the art. We share that day and Friday, and anybody not done finishes while the rest are sharing in the author's chair.
Winter Acrostic Poetry....
 I probably have 5 kids share their stuff each week. I keep track with a little magnetic "face" on the board of all who have shared that month to see who is left to share. Some won't ever volunteer. This is my way to be sure all have an opportunity to share orally. 
We start by doing a class brainstorm.with a list of words for each letter of WINTER........Then the kids pick their own word and  write it on sloppy copy paper. I go around and edit, and they write their final copies on the cute stationary! 

Check out the arctic animal watercolors and winter acrostic poems Right HERE.

100s Day Writing....What would YOU do with a hundred bucks? Kids think they can plan a trip to Disneyworld.  Don't burst their bubble yet!  

Why we love ourselves too on Valentines Day!!! 

In February we make Valentine Cards and write letters for parents, We write about Why we Love Ourselves on keyboards typing, we Write letters to the Tooth Fairy for dental health, and write mammal reports for animal study. In social studies we write short biographies about the Presidents Washington and Lincoln as part of President's Day.
January Snowman Stories and Snowflake Snowmen art....

Snowman Stories....Probably my favorite writing and art activity of the season!  

Here's the dimensions if you want to make a cute snowman too! 

We used snowflake stamps with paint and glitter for the snowflakes....

February Letters to the tooth fairy....she answers them the next Monday with tiny little letters in envelopes with a tiny tooth stamped on the back. 

Watercolor Tooth Fairies with glitter....gotta love some glitter! 

Presidents Day biography writing in February
 Check it out HERE if you'd like to know how we did our President's Day reports and also 2 more art projects that are really cool for Washington and Lincoln.

Our President's Day Activities were a lot of fun and the kids learn all about National Monuments like the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial too!
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln writing in Social Studies

Cute Georgie art project uses doilies for the ruffled shirt! Super cute cotton ball hair too! 
In March we study Reptiles and do a reptile report, We also write about A Person I Treasure, and we create leprechaun metaphor poems, We start an individual book in social studies on the 7 continents and we are world traveler "Tour Guides" across the 4 oceans and 7 continents. It is called Student Treasures, a white bound book.
We studied reptiles all month and made snakes, turtles and alligators.....

We make stuffed turtles with dot painters and long paper snakes with colored masking tape and dot stickers and read poems we stick on the backs. 
 Link to the report writing to see how we did it.......HERE.
A funny innovation poem on Alligator Pie

The kids love the stationary I give them and coloring covers, because when they are done writing and get teacher editing, they can color before they do their rewrites of their sloppy copies. 

We study all kinds of reptiles throughout the month and then the kids choose one to write a report on from a library book and other books from my classroom, and also internet sources. We also do a family tree writing a page for each parent and grandma and grandpa as well as our siblings. It is a fun "bare book", one of those white bound books. 

St. Patrick's Day handprint cards for mom and dad....

St. Patrick's Day Cards...

Friendly letter writing to mom and dad....

Leprechaun art and Poetry....

I usually have 3 choices of stationary for them to choose from.....VERY MOTIVATING!

In April we write about Spring, we do Diamonte Kite poetry, retell of Peter Rabbit in pop up books, We write Easter Cards for parents/grandparents and do Earth Day reports for Social Studies. In Science we write stories about plants (Jack and the Beanstalk retell, Little Red Hen retell/innovation) using reader's theaters as a springboard. We also do Butterfly larva in science so we do a rewrite of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Earth Day art and writing....

Earth Day projects....We read lots of books and weekly readers to teach about how  we must take care of our earth, use ecology and recycle and to promote keeping lakes and parks clean of litter. 

Earth Day art and writing...

Spring Diamonte Poetry on Kites.....we do spelling chains with our spelling words in rainbow colors for the tail. 

Our animal reports Table of Contents....
All month I keep their 4 reports; mammal, reptile, bird, ocean  animal . Then we staple them into a book and add the table of contents. They really know how to write a report when we are done!! Check them out HERE.
Mammal reports...
 In May we study Cinco de Mayo and write about it. We also do Mother's Day Cards and Insect Reports in Science. We study fossils and rocks and write a dinosaur story. We do a summer fun writing too. 

Dinosaur fossils made from plaster of paris....Then we wrote about our dinos! 

Mariachi guitars art for Cinco de Mayo Day......
Cinco de Mayo marraccas out of tin cans and popcorn.....

Kids' Cinco de Mayo writing and activities were lots of fun....
Cinco de Mayo writing project and art...
The kids loved dancing the Mexican Hat Dance....
In JUNE we do Father's Day cards, and Dinosaur Stories as we study rocks and fossils. 
 In social Studies in May and June we make a Me on the Map project and write about all the continents in the world. We also write about Why our Summer will be so Fun! Check it out HERE.
Fun Summer Scene art....check out my blogpost on how to find these cute sticker scenes and
how we did them. 

Summer fun writing project.....It is fun to read all the vacation plans each student has!!  gives me lots of ideas.....Snap! 
Doing weekly writing prompts and going through the whole writing process EACH AND EVERY WEEK, makes my kids go up much more than a grade level in writing by year's end. Also I get so many chances to individually edit for each child, that I can help them more often, 1 on 1 to improve, whatever their problems in writing are. They become better spellers, handwriters and learners through the writing program I plan for the year. 

 Leave me a question if you'd like,  and I'll try to answer them! 

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