Sunday, 29 September 2013

Puzzle trees

We pulled out the paints for the first time this term to try a seasonal project that I found on Gail Bartel's wonderful blog -

If you've never visited her blog I highly recommend it!! She has amazing ideas and gives step by step instructions for all her wonderful projects so when I saw these cute puzzle trees I knew I wanted to try them with my kiddies.

They turned out beautifully - and we got most of the project finished in one afternoon.

We started by painting our backgrounds and while they were drying we painted puzzle pieces in fall colors.

I totally forgot to take photos until they were finished with the puzzle pieces so you can't see the different stages properly here - but Gail has it all step by step at the link above so definitely visit. (Plus her trees DO look more professional than ours :) )

Once the puzzle pieces were finished and drying we returned to the backgrounds to paint the bare trees. I think my kiddies did a really good job with these!!

And then we let everything dry overnight and glued on the puzzle leaves in the morning. I've mounted four, ready for the bulletin board and will finish the rest of them tomorrow. Then we're going to create some fall-themed word problems on giant puzzle pieces and scatter them among the art work for a fun display. (And it will give my girls some practice in creating word problems - I think we'll stick to addition and subtraction for now :) )

What do you think of our trees so far? Pretty nice, huh? :)

We don't have much of an autumn here - no real seasonal changes at all - so we have to create our own autumnal displays. This was our beginning!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Number lines continued...

Day 2 of number line exploration was... interesting.

Following on from looking at horizontal number lines - and exploring, discussing etc. the relationship of numbers to each other as well as doing a whole pile of thinking and explaining activities in our activity pack - I really thought that vertical number lines would be a snap. After all, we were only rotating the things a quarter turn.

Here's what really happened...

another hmmmmm...
Very creative but not
quite there :)

So we repeated our round the room view and discuss - we looked at the one and only different number line and compared results ...

... and again a chorus of "ohhhh"s echoed around the room as children scurried to fix their number lines saying to each other, "See, I told you it was..." and "I knew we'd done something wrong because what was going to come after negative 1?"

I count this as a success. My kiddies are discussing and explaining and are getting used to the idea that it's ok to make mistakes. :) I've got to say I love this kind of Math!!

We moved on to the white board to see if we could figure out where to put numbers on different number lines with no scale markings. Do you know what the best part of this was?

EVERYONE wanted to try!! There was no worrying about getting it wrong or being embarrassed. They wanted to come up and try - and then explain why they put the number where they did. It was wonderful - and they ALL explained their choices in terms of numbers!!

"I chose to put the 10 here because the number line goes from 0 to 20 and 10 is half of 20 so I figured out where the halfway mark was and that's where I put the 10."


"Well, this number line goes to 100 and I know that 10 is a lot closer to 0 than to 100. I looked at the halfway mark and sort of made spaces in my head to figure out how close to the 0 to put the 10."


Another child had already filled in the 50
and this student is trying to figure out
where the 10 should go.

These were the three guesses - each
child explained why they made their

Then we filled in the scale
to see who was closest!
They were really all quite
good, I thought!!

So... an awesome Math lesson. The time flew by and the kiddies loved every second of it!! We even had time to look at some thermometers and start to discuss different scales.
We continue tomorrow - learning to add and subtract on a number line. We've pulled out our froggy number lines and are ready to HOP!!!

Happy Thursday tomorrow, everyone :)

Monday, 23 September 2013

Monday stuff...

Normally I link up to Positive Points on a Monday but I was a little premature and listed most of them yesterday so today I thought I'd focus on what we've been doing in the classroom for the last couple of days.

Despite our exciting science lesson with breakages and water spills we did actually manage to finish writing up our experiment. There were some very nice drawings of the liquids in the various containers.

In Math we started looking at number lines and!! We are definitely going to have to spend a little bit of time on this concept.

I started the lesson by giving pairs of children a blank number line and 12 random numbers including a 0, four negative numbers and assorted positive ones - just to see what they would do with them.

It was interesting to say the least. Look at some of the first attempts.

Interesting ideas :) They hadn't decided where to put
the zero at this point.

This team had a different idea.

An unusual positive section - you'll notice that the
numbers progress in an unusual way. :)

After giving them all some time to decide what to do with their numbers I invited all the pairs to wander around the room and look at what other teams did. There were some interesting comments:

"They haven't left any spaces. You can't put 2 and 4 beside each other like that."
"Their negative numbers are different from ours."
"Why did they do that?"

We all gathered around one table and discussed the number line. I didn't say what was right or wrong but just asked some questions and listened to the discussion. Then we went to the one pair that (thankfully) had managed to do everything right :) and discussed their number line.

We talked about leaving spaces for missing numbers; we looked at their negative numbers and realized that they could keep going "forever and ever" in that direction (and the other teams couldn't!); we realized that people had put their zeroes in different places on the number lines but it didn't matter because the numbers still had to go in the right order on either side of the zero... It was fascinating!!

Everyone then went back and made any necessary changes to their own number lines and we moved on to some worksheets. The lesson just FLEW by - and it was great exploration.

Tomorrow I'm giving them all the same number lines but this time they'll be vertical. :) We'll see how much they all remember!!

Great lesson! I loved it!!

And finally - I saw these CUTE little place value ice cream cones outside our Grade 2 classrooms!! Aren't they nice?

Looking forward to another fun day of exploration tomorrow :)
Ciao for now

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Super duper giveaway! - and an update.

I had an exhausting week. Parent night went really well - and the classroom looked great - but I was TIRED by Friday.

Today I re-connected with my computer and discovered that Whimsy Workshop - one of my favorite clip artists - is having a FANTASTIC giveaway.

Her. whole. graphics. store!!!

Totally amazing!

I already have a lot of her artwork and it is truly beautiful.

So, hurry over and enter. You won't regret it!!


Whimsy Workshop

And what's happening in school?

Well, we did a bit more on our science unit (solids and liquids) - had a great crash of breaking glass when one child flailed around and knocked over the ONLY glass flask on the entire table - which shattered into tiny pieces everywhere.

Horrified silence from all the girls. Nothing from me. I was smothered in lavender oil and therefore totally calm so I got another work pack for the child whose work was soaked, moved her away from the glass, cleaned up all the water and shards, checked that everyone was wearing shoes to avoid any more drama - and carried on.

Love that lavender oil!! I'm going to invest in a few more bottles. I think I may need it this year :)

I think I'll break out the paints next week! Might as well see what chaos can result from that as soon as possible so I'm prepared for the rest of the year. :) 

Positives this week included:

Everyone got back from Dance 10 minutes faster than last week.
Everyone got their topic work finished and glued into their books in time for Parent night.
The hugs have started.
I remembered all my duties. :) (I was even early to them!)
All the conference spots but one were filled up on Parent night so no need for emails. Looks like I have some super organized parents this year - woot!!

I left my camera at school by mistake over the weekend so no action photos today :( but I'm trying hard to get back to a more regular posting schedule. 

This week we're starting work on number lines, thermometers, history sources - I WISH I had some real Roman artefacts but sadly I'll have to use photos - and will be doing some benchmarking in reading. I still have to get started on the class blog - that's on the to-do list - and introduce them all to Storybird... it feels like time is just rushing by so quickly!!

Well, gotta go and get started on my planning. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, everyone, and have a happy week.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Getting ready for Parent Night!

Aaaah!!! I feel like I've been on a hamster wheel all week trying to get ready for tomorrow night. Today I finally got my kiddies to finish up most of their work - they got their creative writing typed, did Wordles to go with it :), finished their art, did their timelines and some Math and most of them have finished the first few bits of topic work so we can glue it into their books tomorrow and the parents will have something to look at!

I  am feeling exceptionally FRAZZLED! It's critical that my classroom looks halfway decent since parents from the entire year group gather in it for our teacher presentation. Which means that 100 parents will see my room instead of just 34! It's still a little messy but tomorrow afternoon we will do a last minute clean up - and read a story for the last lesson of the day so no-one can mess it up again!

Here are some of our displays.

 This was our Amazing Dream House creative writing - focusing on use of adjectives and vivid verbs. Once the rough draft was done (and edited) the kids made an art collage to go with their writing and then typed up a neat copy in computers. We Wordled their writing so that they could see which words they used most often. I'm going to use Wordle to edit their writing in a future exercise - they can use it to choose different words for ones that have been used too frequently. :)

There are no names on any of these - it's the parents'
job to guess which writing is their daughter's. :)

A Wordle - not too bad. Only a couple of words were
used excessively.
A Who am I writing activity to help us get
to know each other.

This was our Math lesson today - addition pairs. We matched puzzle pieces for the simple pairs to 10 and then we assembled them all on a bulletin board with other facts. It's kind of pretty!

Putting the puzzle together
Putting all the pairs in order

The final display. The girls decided to stair-step
the puzzle number sentences to save space.

This week we did an open-ended Math project - Back to School shopping - which is now displayed out in the corridor. My girls worked in groups to purchase their supplies with a budget of $50, then explained why they bought those particular supplies and put all their information and decorations on posters.

This group worked really quickly!

Our corridor display. They're pretty good for a first-time
critical thinking project!

So, the classroom doesn't look too bad! Hopefully our presentation will go smoothly. The good thing is we do a group presentation and it's definitely a lot nicer to have company at the front of the room. :)

Hope everyone has a good "rest of the week!"

Monday, 16 September 2013

Monday Positives

This seems to be about the only blog post I can manage at the moment. It's been a busy week - capped, last night, by losing my dog yet again in a thunder storm! This time, however, she didn't come back so I was up half the night worrying, called the dog warden and finally this morning got a call to say he had her safe in jail!
I picked her up at 6:00, happy as a clam and acting like she was in holiday camp instead of in detention! I'm going to have to check the weather forecast every day to decide whether she can be allowed out during the day or not! Oh well, at least she's home safe and sound now. :)

So... my Monday positives:

1. I survived the first week of school and the new 6-day cycle without making too many blunders! We did forget to go to Music on time one day but I remembered both duties and was on time at the pick-up ramp every day. Pretty good!!

2. I didn't stress over an hour long observation this morning that started at 8:45. Actually it was a student observation but normally that has no impact - I still stress. Today, possibly due to sleep deprivation, I was completely unfazed. Which is good because my lesson was bizarre to say the least. :) We had some great Math discussions though. It may have been all over the place but it was a great discussion!

3. Everyone finished their art - hallelujah! So I have something to put on the boards for Parent Night this week! Everyone also finished their rough draft for creative writing and real progress has been made with topic work so there's a good chance I'll have stuff in their topic books for the parents to look at. This is totally awesome.

These are almost-completed Dream Houses. They got
glittered just after this was taken and are now finished

 4. I did an open-ended Math project with the kiddies in the FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL and it was fantastic! They LOVED it! 

Back to School Shopping - always fun :)

5. And finally, I remembered to take photos in just about every lesson so I have lots of great visual aids for the powerpoint on Parent Night. This way all the moms and dads will spend the entire presentation watching for their kiddies' faces instead of staring at mine. :)

Now, for more positives head over to Permanently Primary to see some other blog posts. And link up yourselves - it's always good to focus on the positives! :)

P.S. Just one more positive - completely un-school related: Look at the sunset I saw on the way home tonight. Truly, truly beautiful!!

Happy Tuesday tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Day 2 :)

And so ends day 2!

I am absolutely exhausted!! Every year I forget how young the kiddies are when they move up from Grade 2 - it always takes a while to adjust to the fact that they really don't know the routines, my expectations, what to do when they're finished...

Granted, we go over it all on the first day but the reality is (as you all know) that it takes quite a while for routines to become established. :)

So... on Day 1 I lost 4 children on the way to assembly! This despite the fact that I stopped the line twice en route, re-lined everyone up, counted heads and set off. It's not exactly a 5 mile hike from our classroom to the assembly hall but we were the only class that arrived 4 short - sigh. I had to go look for my missing ones - who I've now nicknamed "the tortoises". :) Naturally they think this is hysterically funny and told me that they were all very slow last year as well and they guess they haven't grown out of it yet! :)

What's this? Keep reading :)

Today we bravely ventured into centers! It was pretty good actually - they adapted surprisingly quickly considering this is a foreign animal in Grade 2 - and most of them finished the set activities within the time frame. I now know who my chatterboxes are!!

We had a very enjoyable time discussing our Dream House writing activity - things livened up considerably when I told them that I would be making the art project for the class cooperative brainstorm. (I now have to - somehow - create a Book House, made of pink books and a garden of book trees and rainbow-colored book worms, that is housed in a gigantic library! I'll post a picture of my feeble attempts at collage when it's finished.)

I love doing art with my kiddies - that way they can see that it's ok not to be good at something! :)

And finally - our new anchor activities are a great hit. Today I had children working on making thaumatropes (nice new word for them to tell their parents :) ) Roman research and inference comprehension cards. So far they're staying away from the Math - and judging by our unit pre-assessments I have a class of writers this year, not mathematicians. That will have to change!!

Here's some photos of my scientists in action - so far the fish in the thaumatropes have all been dead! (This is because no-one has yet followed the directions properly and put the two sides together correctly. :) It's all learning though, isn't it? )

Getting help from a friend - it's hard to do this
Starting to write up the experiment

Spinning the thaumatropes -
do they work?

They worked quite well :) and the girls were thrilled with them. Some of them still have to do the activity but I'm really pleased with the introduction of my new anchor activities. It's certainly going to make school fun!

Researching the Romans - I love seeing independent
work like this!

Tomorrow will be our first art day and we are going to be CREATIVE and MESSY and thoroughly enjoy ourselves. :)

Hope everyone has a great Wednesday.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Positive Points

This could well be my most favorite linky ever! Finding positives - it's such a great thing to do...

(N.B. I haven't seen Sarah's new post at Permanently Primary about this but I'm going ahead with mine anyway because I like the idea so much. I'll link up later when I see it :) )

Last week I was in school doing PD stuff and finishing the set up of my classroom.

Today is the first day for the kiddies :)

I can't actually talk about the positives of today because (from my perspective of writing this post early) they haven't happened yet. But I am being positive thinking that it WILL be a positive and great first day!!

Last week's positives:

  • I finished my Anchor Activity trays - they're all filled up and ready to go. I really hope the kids buy into this independent type of learning!

I even did an example of our first science experiment anchor activity and took photos of every step for my more visual learners :)

  • I'm definitely getting my new student so I'll have two new little people to get to know this year. Always fun! I like having new kiddies :)

  • I volunteered for the first "rainy day" duty (since we have to eat inside next week due to our extremely hot eating area not having a shade structure at the moment) so I will have one down and one to go. I'm awfully tempted to do the second one as well and then I'll be off the hook for the whole term!! How awesome would that be?!!

  • I have (practically) the WHOLE WEEK PLANNED... AND... PHOTOCOPIED!! This is unheard of. Totally amazing. Completely awesome. 

  • I spent nearly all of Sunday night skype chatting with a wonderful teacher friend miles and miles away, in a different time zone and came away feeling revived and re-inspired!! Teacher friends are the best - and one day I hope we'll actually be able to visit - and talk - in person. :)

Looking forward to the start of a new, great year at school - with tons of possibilities, creative moments,  exciting learning and FUN!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Urk - too much to do...

It's taking me a very long time to get organized this year. Every time I think I have things under control another box of stock arrives or a pile of paper magically appears on my desk or a few gallons of paint somehow sneak in while I'm not looking... and I'm running out of space!!!

Not to mention the fact that I haven't finished my planning, am still trying to finish my first month of anchor activities (which I totally LOVE!) and still don't know if I'll have an extra child or not...

I know it will all be okay on the day so deep breaths.

Actually, it should be "Breathe deep, seek peace." Who are the Dinotopia fans out there? :) Remember these pictures?

Such a fabulous book!! I shall go and re-read it right now....

And will get back to this blog when things are more under control :)