So I said I’d post one of these every month, but life happens! So I’m combining February and March into one post. We’ve been busy having fun and learning a lot!
In the middle of March we began a study of Tomie dePaola, one of my favorite authors. We began with The Quilt Story, which is actually by Tony Johnston, and illustrated by dePaola, but it is in our Reading Street series, so all students had their own copy of the story to follow along with. I LOVE this book! It is packed with so many skills including inference, changes over time, text to self/text/world connections and comparing/contrasting both characters and setting. The kids soaked up this book! I brought in my own favorite quilt that my mom made me that includes many t-shirts from special events of my youth, from elementary school up through college.
My kids loved seeing my old t-shirts. They asked a lot of questions and began to realize that oftentimes quilts are more than just blankets, but ways of telling a story. They learned some new things about their teacher too!
My students had all kinds of quilts they brought in with their own special stories attached! (It was also the 100th day of school, so some of my kids were dressed as 100 year olds! I’ll get to that in a sec!)
We spent a good two weeks on this story. I brought in other books about quilts and read them during our read aloud/snack time including The Keeping Quilt, by Patricia Polacco, The Kindness Quilt, by Nancy Wallace, The Patchwork Quilt, by Valerie Flournoy, and Sweet Clara and The Freedom Quilt, by Deborah Hopkinson. We compared and contrasted many aspects of the different stories. At the end we made our own literacy quilt by writing about the characters, the different settings or our favorite parts of The Quilt Story.
I was super proud of this guy:
We also hit the 100th day of school in February! We decided to dress up like old people. The kids cracked me up with their outfits! This one took the cake, though:
March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’s birthday, so we read a lot of his books that day! The superintendent was scheduled to come read to us, but she cancelled at the last minute, so we read together as a class instead! One of my student’s parents (who is also one of our amazing counselors) even came in to read The Sneetches to us! The kids loved it!
I also had students choose their favorite Dr. Seuss quote from a list and then make a poster via PowerPoint about what they think it meant. They worked on this during their computer lab time. I was pretty impressed! They really dug deep and were able to understand what Dr. Seuss was really trying to say, which is difficult for this age. I had to encourage them to stop and think for a bit, as their first inclination was definitely literal. But with some thinking and time, they really began to understand the true meanings of these sentences. Deep stuff!
March is also National Nutrition month! Betsy Ramirez, one of my student’s moms, is a Registered Dietician/Nutritionist and created an ENTIRE nutrition unit centered around Minecraft! Her son (along with all other 8 year olds in the universe) is obsessed with Minecraft, so she decided to create a unit around that interest, which I think is AH-MAZING. The kids loved it and were engaged the entire time! They had to first identify healthy vs. “damaging” foods. She had a Creeper and Steve out on display and had printed out cards with hearts on them that resembled the Steve’s health points in Minecraft. The kids had to decide who to ‘feed’ each food to to help Steve keep his health points! Then the kids did a food sort on their own and were given healthy snacks to try. You can find her entire unit for FREE at her Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Our second grade team implements math intervention groups once a week. We assess students every few weeks and split them based on ability level. We each take a group and work with the kids over very specific concepts they have not yet mastered. It is an amazing hour of intensive work, and it has allowed us to get to know other kids within the grade level, which has helped create a sense of community. It takes a village, right? I have an advanced group for our latest round. One of our targeted skills is estimation and rounding, so I created a project for the kiddos that allows them to go shopping for toys. Well, that immediately got their attention! We set up laptops along with our desktops and the kids got into pairs or small groups. They first had to write down a list of toys they found on Toys R Us’s website that they wanted. They wrote the exact price of the item and then had to round it to the nearest dollar. Later they will be given a budget and will have to estimate which items on their list they can purchase based on the rounded amount. Then their budget will change and they will have to modify their estimates accordingly. I tell ya, some of these kids have expensive taste! I will be creating a product for this on my Teachers Pay Teachers store eventually, so keep a look out for it!
We have the opportunity to take advantage of a wonderful program called Money Mammals put on by the Service Credit Union. It is a WONDERFUL program that teaches kids how to make smart choices about money. It hits all of our economics standards, and the kids really enjoy the activities. Each day of the week a presenter came and spoke to the kids about how to make choices regarding their money, how to evaluate those choices and how to make a goal and save up for that goal. The lessons center around a story about a group of characters named Joe the Monkey, Pigs, Marmoset, Clara J. Camel and Vargas the Vulture. Each day they watch a different piece of the story on a video and do activities that center around the things they learn.
This activity involved students evaluating choices based on a set of criteria. They were allowed to buy a pet, but it had to meet the criteria along the top.
On the last day Jo the Monkey actually came and gave the kiddos their own spend/save/share jars! The kids were so excited to see him! (Although, one student later in the day saw Jo the Monkey go into the girls’ bathroom and asked his “Helper” why he was going in there….LOL)
This next activity one of my favorite math projects we do in 2nd grade! Symmetry is part of our geometry standards, so this week we talked about reflections and how to find lines of symmetry in various shapes. We also explored drawing the rest of a symmetrical shape, which is much more difficult. The culmination of this was for students to draw half of their face. I spend some time on this, integrating art and measurement. We figured out what unit of measure would best to use (inches or centimeters) and then began measuring out the eyes, nose, mouth, face outline, etc. Some got it right away and others really needed help spatially. It was very interesting to watch them! But look at these! I laminate them because it’s definitely something parents will keep forever! The kids really had fun with this.