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October Resources

It feels like we just started school, and already we're looking at October in the not-so-far distance. 


October Resources: Here are several resources, including a few freebies to help your students learn with seasonal fun! (Fire Safety week, football, and Columbus Day!)

October brings fall, Fire Safety Week, football, Columbus Day, and, of course, Halloween!

Brain research tells us if the children can make a connection with their learning, then learning will happen. I find most children can easily make a connection with special days and sports, which makes them more enthusiastic about learning! In face, I'm banking on their enthusiasm, and have plenty of resources to celebrate learning and building skills, in a fun way!


Teachers can project these questions as the children arrive in the morning in order to get them thinking about the day. These also can be used for daily writing prompts.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/October-Morning-Meeting-Greeting-Activities-hellofall-4034538?utm_source=October%20Resources%20post&utm_campaign=October%20Calendar%20Questions

Here's a little something to maintain positive communication with parents: October Parent Communication Brochure

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Parent-Communication-Brochure-October-Edition-4036607?utm_source=october%20resources%20post&utm_campaign=October%20Brochure

In an attempt to "fit in" more Science and Social Studies concepts, I've looked over my grade level College and Career Ready Science and Social Studies Standards, and found ways to squeeze these concepts into my day. Most of the work is done, all you have to do is print and go! I even have a S.T.E.M. activity with an October theme! Check out this resource here: Science and Social Studies Activities for October.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/October-Science-and-Social-Studies-Activities-2094195?utm_source=october%20resources%20post&utm_campaign=October%20S%20and%20SS




Check out this freebie sample here: Bats Informational Mini-Book
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Bats-Informational-Text-Mini-book-2092614?utm_source=october%20resources%20post&utm_campaign=Bats%20Mini%20book

Here's a freebie to get the kiddos thinking about Fire Safety: Fire Safety What If task cards.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fire-Safety-What-ifs-159688?utm_source=October%20Blog%20Post&utm_campaign=Fire%20What%20Ifs



Here's a Columbus Day Informational booklet:  I realize the whole Columbus thing is quite controversial, with good reason! I left my opinion out, and kept just the facts. Feel free to include your opinion when you present it.  :)

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Christopher-Columbus-Informational-Text-for-Visualization-and-Illustration-159469?utm_source=october%20resources%20post&utm_campaign=Columbus%20book%20for%20illustrating


Here's one to get them thinking and practicing reading skills: Christopher Columbus- Common Sense for Active Learners

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Christopher-Columbus-Common-Sense-for-Active-Learners-3398400?utm_source=october%20resources%20post&utm_campaign=Columbus%20for%20Active%20Learners

It's fall in New England! There are so many beautiful changes here that make it one of my favorite seasons:  warm days, crisp nights, football, and the beautiful fall colors on the trees.  To make your life (and mine) easier, I've combined important concepts with fall ideas in these Fall No Prep Activities!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fall-No-Prep-Math-and-Literacy-Activities-for-Second-Grade-1446400?utm_source=october%20resources%20post&utm_campaign=Fall%20no%20prep


One of the best parts about Fall in New England?  Football! I've got plenty of Football Resources! Just click the images for each link!

 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Football-Phonics-and-Counting-326949?utm_source=october%20resources%20post&utm_campaign=football%20games
Here's a freebie from the set above: 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Counting-to-1000-Football-Freebie-199093?utm_source=october%20resources%20post&utm_campaign=football%20freebie
 



https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Adding-and-Subtracting-Ten-Football-Themed-BINGO-Game-301248?utm_source=october%20resources%20post&utm_campaign=Touchdown%20add%20and%20subtract


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/R-Controlled-Vowels-Football-Themed-BINGO-Game-295619?utm_source=october%20resources%20post&utm_campaign=Touchdown%20r%20controlled

And, of course, there's a Football bundle, combining all the resources above!!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Football-Learning-Fun-Bundle-4322284?utm_source=October%20Blog%20Post&utm_campaign=Football%20bundle

If you're really looking to make your life easier, at a huge discount, check out this October Bundle!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/October-Morning-Meeting-Greeting-Activities-hellofall-4034538?utm_source=October%20resources%20post&utm_campaign=October%20bundle

Enjoy these October Resources!


October Resources: Here are several resources, including a few freebies to help your students learn with seasonal fun! (Fire Safety week, football, and Columbus Day!)



My Secret Ingredient to Open House Success

I've been through lots of Open Houses.  The purpose of the Open House is usually to let parents know what's going on in school. There are loads of blog posts about setting up your classroom, scavenger hunts, parent stations, brochures, and presentations.
 
My Secret Ingredient for a Successful Open House: There are plenty of great Open House ideas out there, but this one will have everyone feeling great!
 
I do all those things, leave plenty of things for parents to take with them and get to know my classroom and my procedures.
 
But I do something else that seems to be an added extra that makes a difference: 

I play happy music!


You know, that kind of music that just makes people feel good. 

I got this idea years ago when I went to an all day conference, and was walking into my "mid afternoon" seminar with dread: it's a tough time of day, and I was feeling like I'd prefer to take a nap.

When I walked into the room, the presenter was playing "happy music". I don't remember the specific song, but I remember it made me feel like moving.

I immediately felt a smile on my face, and I looked around the room and everyone else was smiling and moving to the music. 

Research tells us music can affect our feelings. 
So I play "happy music" to help people feel good about my classroom.


THIS POST has a freebie list of song ideas to download!

It works!

What music makes you feel happy?


My Secret Ingredient for a Successful Open House: There are plenty of great Open House ideas out there, but this one will have everyone feeling great!

Ten Freebies for Back to School!

Yes, you read that right, that's a full ten back to school freebies!

 
 Ten Freebies for Back to School - These include parent communication, brain breaks, Science, Social Studies, literacy, and math freebies for second grade.

These are  some of the things that will help me through those first busy of weeks of school!


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Literacy-Center-Organization-4715661?utm_source=Blog%20Post%20back%20to%20school%20freebies&utm_campaign=Literacy%20Center%20Cards 
Here's a freebie to help organize your literacy centers, including what the children do when they're not with you!


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Research-Based-Sight-Word-Task-Cards-Freebie-4697727?utm_source=Blog%20Post%20back%20to%20school%20freebies&utm_campaign=Spelling%20Fun%20Freebie 
We all know those children who struggle to learn sight words. This Research Based Freebie will help!



https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Addition-and-Subtraction-Fact-Fluency-Freebie-940781?utm_source=Blog%20Post%20back%20to%20school%20freebies&utm_campaign=add%20and%20subtract%20fluency%20freebie 

This system has helped many children master their basic math facts. This freebie is the first of 8 research based, brain friendly levels toward math fact fluency.


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Parent-Communication-Brochure-Back-to-School-OR-September-Edition-4009883?utm_source=Blog%20Post%20back%20to%20school%20freebies&utm_campaign=Parent%20Communication%20freebie 
 
Here's a great way to keep communication open with parents, and give them some information that will help their children be successful!



https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Fact-Fluency-System-Level-One-X1-Fact-Families-4407806?utm_source=Blog%20Post%20back%20to%20school%20freebies&utm_campaign=Mult%20and%20Div%20Fluency%20Freebie#show-price-update 
Have your students mastered addition and subtraction facts? Move them on to multiplication and division! As with the addition and subtraction facts above, these are research based and brain friendly. This freebie is the first of 8 levels toward multiplication and division fact fluency!
 


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/August-and-September-Science-and-Social-Studies-Freebie-1977769?utm_source=Blog%20Post%20back%20to%20school%20freebies&utm_campaign=S%20and%20SS%20august%20freebie
This freebie is a great way to start the year in Science and Social Studies.
 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/6-Team-Building-Games-and-Activies-3873797?utm_source=Blog%20Post%20back%20to%20school%20freebies&utm_campaign=Team%20Building%20Freebie 
Looking for some fun ways to get the children comfortable with each other and learn to work together? These Team Building Games are very popular!



https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Dolch-Warm-Up-Phrases-Pre-primer-level-264900?utm_source=Blog%20Post%20back%20to%20school%20freebies&utm_campaign=Dolch%20Freebie 
 
I use these phrases to help the kiddos warm up for reading groups. These help build fluency!
 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Dolch-Warm-Up-Phrases-Pre-primer-level-264900?utm_source=Blog%20Post%20back%20to%20school%20freebies&utm_campaign=Dolch%20Freebie 
Here's a fun way to get the kiddos thinking about their learning and how they can take charge of their learning.



https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Back-to-School-Brain-Breaks-Freebie-1343253?utm_source=Blog%20Post%20back%20to%20school%20freebies&utm_campaign=Back%20to%20School%20Brain%20Breaks



This one will help the kiddos get all those summertime wiggles out!


If you find these freebies useful, I'd love if you left some feedback!


I hope these freebies make your teaching life a bit easier!


Ten Freebies for Back to School - These include parent communication, brain breaks, Science, Social Studies, literacy, and math freebies for second grade.


My First Day of School Promise

Every year, I sit down with my brand new class and have a little chat about why we come to school. My second graders figure it out right away: we come to school to learn.
 
My First Day of School Promise: Ever since I can remember, I've made this promise to my students on the first day of school. It's a win-win!
 

That's when I make my yearly promise. 


I'm very dramatic when I make the promise. I include dramatic pauses, and I make the same gestures whenever I say it. 

I move my right hand outward as I say the first part, then I move my left hand outward as I say the second part. It goes like this:
My First Day of School Promise: Ever since I can remember, I've made this promise to my students on the first day of school. It's a win-win!

These phrases are used all year long, and I repeat the gestures each time. After a while, I don't even have to say the words, I just do the gestures, and the kiddos realize they need to put the effort into their learning.


Of course, I make a point to keep that promise!


My First Day of School Promise: Ever since I can remember, I've made this promise to my students on the first day of school. It's a win-win!


Science and Engineering Practices

After spending time studying the Next Generation Science Standards, I wanted to share the Science and Engineering Practices.
 
Science and Engineering Practices: These are part of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This post explains what they are and how we can interpret them in relation to STEM.
 
After several years with Common Core, I'm sure you'll remember the Standards of Mathematics Practices. If you recall, these practices apply to all grade levels, and all math learning. 

The Science and Engineering Practices are straight from the Next Generation Science Standards. The whole appendix dedicated to these practices can be found HERE. As with the math practices, these Science and Engineering Practices apply to all grade levels. Here they are:
Science and Engineering Practices from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

HERE's a nice article I found that discusses each of these practices from the science and engineering point of view, for the different levels from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve. 

As I discussed these practices with my STEM Innovation Network, we came to the same conclusion: 

These aren't just Science and Engineering Skills, they are LIFE Skills!


These are the skills we should be teaching our students.

Even if it's not on the test!

These practices can be embedded in many activities across the curriculum, can't they? 

As a second grade teacher, our priorities are building the foundation: teaching the important skills of reading, writing and math. (As they say: K-2 Learn to Read, Grades 3 and up, Read to Learn!)

Science and Engineering aren't a priority in the classroom yet, but it's a strong area of interest for the kids! These practices are something we should be sharing regularly when we can fit them into our day.

How do you embed these Science and Engineering Practices into your school day?  

Science and Engineering Practices: These are part of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This post explains what they are and how we can interpret them in relation to STEM.

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain!

This is an awesome read for the first day of school!

 
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain! This is a great book for starting the school yea! Plus, there's a freebie to accompany the book and get to know your students at the start of the school year!

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D is appropriate for kids K-3.


If you've ever read my blog before, you'll know that I am absolutely fascinated by the brain and how it works. This book explains how the brain works in kid-friendly language! 

It tells the specific parts of the brain and the specific jobs they have, and how each brain is different, which makes us all uniquely different. 

I particularly love the part that discusses things that kids have learned, such as playing soccer, that were hard at first, but with practice, got easier! They might have even made mistakes, but the mistakes helped them learn!

If that's all it were about, this book could be used any time of year. The reason this makes a great beginning of the year book is because it tells the reader they can stretch their own brain

Who wouldn't want to stretch their brain? 


Isn't that our job as teachers? To stretch their brains?
(I refuse to believe that our job is to have the kiddos score well on tests!)

I feel it's our job as teachers to teach the children to be better learners,  and to stretch their brains as much as they can!  

That leads me to this freebie, based on this awesome book.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-Can-Stretch-My-Brain-1990743?utm_source=Your%20Fantastic%20Elastic%20Brain%20Blog%20Post&utm_campaign=I%20Can%20Use%20My%20Brain


It has some activities to let the children tell what's already in their brain, a chance to challenge their brains a bit more, and a few coloring pages to give them a chance to think about their brains! See the image or see HERE for the link to the freebie! Enjoy! I Can Stretch My Brain!

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain! This is a great book for starting the school yea! Plus, there's a freebie to accompany the book and get to know your students at the start of the school year!

How to Squeeze in Social Studies and Science

Teaching is harder than ever these days!


How to Squeeze in Science and Social Studies: Suggestions for primary grades to fit these important (and fun) subjects into the day with an overscheduled classroom.

I'm about to start my 39th year teaching. Honestly, it's a lot harder now than it was back in the 70s when I started! Luckily, experience has taught me a whole lot, and I have a repertoire of tricks up my sleeve.

Nowadays we have to individualize everything! We have to keep evidence folders, and post learning targets based on Common Core or College and Career Ready standards.  We have to pre-test, post test, follow a prescribed program, teach specific subjects at specific times, and somehow get these kids to learn! We need to make sure we are on the same page (literally!) as the others who teach our grade, and now somehow,we are evaluated based on the tests, no matter what kids we get or what subjects we teach! Many of us lack support from administration, parents, and the government! Phys. Ed, Music, and recess are being taken out of the day, and more kids than ever have learning problems and behavioral challenges.

Yet, believe it or not, there are many of us who still choose to teach.

I find Social Studies and Science are the toughest areas to find time to teach. Finding time to squeeze it in is difficult, and finding time to prepare materials is close to impossible. 

I'm here to make your job a tiny bit easier!

If you follow my blog, you know that I've studied brain research, and l have become very focused on how the brain learns. 

Here are some fun ways to "sneak in" those subjects that the children love, but hardly get to participate in because of the demands of the beginning of the year:

1. Morning Meeting! Squeeze in a social studies topic into Morning Meeting. "On your turn, name something you'd see in an urban community." or "Name one of the planets."

2. Lining Up! Line them up with a fact.  "Before you get into line for lunch, stop and tell a friend the 4 stages in the life cycle of a honeybee." or "Tell a friend the name of one of the oceans."

3. Brain Breaks! Take a brain break with a purpose. "You are a Coastguards man guarding our border along the Atlantic Ocean and need to check out an incoming boat. Speed your ship over and greet the visitors." or "Imagine you are a honeybee in the pupa stage, trying to get out of your cell."

4. Connect to Something Bigger! When developing the rules for your classroom: "The Constitution of the United States is a set of rules developed by citizens of the country. You are citizens of this classroom. What rules should we have for our citizens?" (Of course, when you decide on rules, you can make a copy for the class and have them sign it with a fancy pen!) or "I wonder if farmers measure their plant growth like we do."

5. Calendar Time! Mention upcoming Social Studies or Science days during calendar time. "How many days until the Autumnal Equinox?" or "On what day of the week is Constitution Day?"

6. Read Aloud! Read books about your Science and Social Studies topics (fiction and non-fiction), then stop and chat about them! "Do all spiders have an egg sack like Charlotte did?" or "In what sort of community does Noel live? What were your clues?"

7. Keep maps and globes handy! Whenever any place is mentioned in a book, video, or just in passing, I'll grab the map or globe and find it! "Your dad is on business in Singapore? Let's find it on the globe. Wow, that's on the other side of the earth! They must be sleeping now!" As the year progresses, whenever a place is mentioned, the kids will call out, "Get the globe!" (It's also a good idea to leave maps and globes available for the kids to browse. I've heard some awesome conversations about places around the world while kids are waiting for the bus at the end of the day!)

I've got a little freebie for you here, to make science and social studies a bit easier for you at the beginning of the school year! Just see the image or see HERE!

bit.ly/BackToSchoolSandSSFREE
For a more complete set, see: Science and Social Studies Activities for August and September
 
 

What are your ideas to find time for these valuable subjects?



How to Squeeze in Science and Social Studies: Suggestions for primary grades to fit these important (and fun) subjects into the day with an overscheduled classroom.

Getting Parents to Read Your Notes

I'm sure we've all been there: a note gets sent home, and it's never seen!
 
Getting Parents to Read Your Notes: Here are some hints on how to get your parents to actually READ the notes you send home about their child.
 


Parents are incredibly busy. It's a tough job. But somehow we've got to get them to read those notes!

Here are a few tricks:


Getting Parents to Read Your Notes: Here are some hints on how to get your parents to actually READ the notes you send home about their child.

I send home a newsletter once a week in my classroom. I always write a personal note to each parent on each newsletter. It goes home on Friday, and I ask them to sign them and return them on Monday.

Sound crazy? They are quick notes, and it's a definite investment in time: it pays off... it establishes a line of communication!  

How do I entice them to get in the habit of reading those weekly notes?

Getting Parents to Read Your Notes: Here are some hints on how to get your parents to actually READ the notes you send home about their child.

How to get the kids involved? 

I make sure I write a positive note about that child, and make sure the child knows about it! They'll go home and beg their parents to read it!

Here are a few examples:
Getting Parents to Read Your Notes: Here are some hints on how to get your parents to actually READ the notes you send home about their child.
Once you get the parents in the habit of checking the newsletter each week, they'll look forward to the notes. 

Of course, the notes are ALMOST always positive, but if something comes up during the week, you can be reasonably sure that note will be noticed, because you established the routine right away!

Getting Parents to Read Your Notes: Here are some hints on how to get your parents to actually READ the notes you send home about their child.

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