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Monday, March 24, 2014

Money Jars

Counting money could be fun...or painful.  I rather say it is fun because it reviews so many math concepts our students have been practicing since kindergarten (counting by ones using a hundreds chart = counting pennies, or counting/skipping by tens= counting dimes). Once they realize it is not such a brand new concept, they begin to believe it is easy.
When we talk about quarters and combining all the coins...well, I always tell my kids that is the brand new thing they must learn as second graders and that step by step, they will certainly be able to do it.

Counting money is not always easy, and this time, we used 'jars' to learn how to count money.

Check it out HERE :)

We began by exploring coins and looking for ways to describe them.  

After finding out that a few kids did not know their coins, we used these jar to find them. 
I made a quick reference half sheet for them to use when needed. 

Then the counting began...

We used our jars to count one type of coin at a time (only pennies, only nickels, only dimes, only quarters), then two coins (pennies and nickels, pennies and dimes, pennies and quarters...), and lastly three coins (pennies, nickels and dimes...). You get the idea.  I was taking  notes of where they got lots, and then met with them in small groups. 
The kids were told to put their coins on the top of the jar and move each coin while they counted nice and slow (one-to-one correspondence). Touch, count, move...

Once we got to having the four different coins together, they were told to put each coin with their 'relatives'. I told them I like to be with my family so if I was a penny I would like to be with all my penny family members. Then we put them in order from highest value to lowest value. I remembered to emphasize it is not about the coins size, but their values.

I showed them two strategies. On day one, we worked on using the counting up strategy or what you may call number patters.  On day two we worked on counting each family of coins, then using an addition algorithm to get the total.  We practiced both, but they are able to use the one that makes the most sense when it comes down to take any assessments.

We got busy using our money jars. I mainly worked with my kiddos who struggle at this point.  72 jars later and they can count much better than they did before.  

Would you like to check it out?
Find it HERE.

I will send this to two friends who help me pin this (leave your link and e-mail).  Any other secrets you use to help your students count money?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

More Templates and Character Clouds

The day is gorgeous outside.  The kids are practicing their rock climbing skills with daddy, and the house is nice and silent.  I decided that while I think of what to do with my 'mommy-free' time, I'd like to share two quick things with you.

Last night I worked on adding 10 more desktop templates.  After I posted it, I received a few ideas, and I got around to adding them last night.  I added fruits, watermelon, owls, dogs, baseball and superheroes...keep sending me your ideas.

Find them HERE.

42 Templates as of right now :)

Let's move on to today... school... painful, but quick :)  

Beautiful morning. 73 degrees right now. I really need to get out!

Then came the clouds.... 

My student teacher finished teaching about character traits. First, she read this super cute book.  She created a trait anchor chart as a review.  The kids traced a cloud to make and describe the main character in the book.  

Then came the traits...

They added character traits about Cloudette.  She created a chart of inside traits and outside traits.  I wish I had taken a picture of her chart. The kids are coming up with amazing descriptions.

Check out the lightning! 

Lastly... the one thins I dislike to do right before track out. 

Wish me luck,

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Few Pictures of NCCAT

I'd like to share a few pictures of my trip with you.  I enjoyed being surrounded by so many passionate educators.  Meeting new teachers and learning from each other was certainly the highlight of my 4-day trip.  

I drove for 5 hours in the company of Madonna. I do not remember the last time I just felt like singing and enjoying my loud music.  I am pretty sure drivers got a good laugh if they saw me singing the way I did.  I know I had a huge smile on my face.
I do like driving fast. I mean, I know I drive a mommy van, but this thing can drive fast!  I am pretty sure I encountered a few cop cars.  Lucky me, no speeding tickets. 

I arrived a little early so I went for a quick walk and took some pictures.  This is the front of the building where the seminars took place. 

The front part of the seminar building.  

Our luxury hotel :) located right across the seminar building. I did not get a nice view, maybe next time. 

My room was on the back of the building where a beautiful cardinal came to see me almost every day, but refused to pose for a picture. 
We talked about reading, writing, teaching, testing... you name it.  Nothing like venting with a bunch of educators who get how you feel (no offense to hubby). 

We even went on a field trip to a tiny cute town nearby. Our first stop was a cute little book store where we heard about the latest in children's literature. I resisted and did not buy anything. Boo!

Can't wait to go back...soon!  What was the last professional development you attended?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Interactive Animal Research

It. is. done.  O.M.G.  I can't believe it.  It feels like the kids have been working on this forever.  Let's blame the snow days and the 'I need to change this a bit,' I forgot my camera to take good pictures or I watch too much TV instead of working.

The kids really liked it!  I tweaked it a billion times, I added a few things, and by now, I am happy to say it was a success.  We are saving them for conferences, because, well, they are that cool.

Animals are always a big hit when it comes to research. Making it interactive added a nice touch to the entire process.

The kids began by choosing an animal they did not know much about. This way when they reflected on their learning, they realized how much one can learn from other sources.

Two file folders get transformed into an interactive animal project. Kids choose an animal, get books from the library and use all the templates to create a draft.   Then use the interactive templates to complete and glue to their file folders.  If you do not want to use file folders, you can always use construction paper or glue right onto any other interactive notebooks you may have.

Sticky notes, nonfiction text, folders, scissors, glue, crayons and color pencil are the magic ingredients. 

Draft templates and more nonfiction reading included :)

Final animal reports using strong beginnings, details, facts and a closing sentence.  Informational writing at its best. 

How you do teach informational writing?  

It is on sale until Friday HERE

Monday, March 3, 2014

Read Across America - Favorite Books and Authors

Due to weather conditions, we were sent home three hours early, which means, I have some time to link up to Primary Chalkboard.

My two kids are doing homework right now, and I am under the blankets waiting until they need me to check their homework. BTW, who invented homework? I must have a talk with that person :) Not a fan of homework (as a mom) at all.

Must-Read Monday Linky

Celebrating reading is it for this week! Let's begin with you know who :)
You guessed it!  Skippy is my favorite book character.  When I read his books, I get to use my first language and roll my r's like I did since I was born. I do like to show off my thick Mexican accent every time I get a chance. hehehe   
My Spanish is getting rusty and my mom gives me a hard time when she visits. She can't believe I am forgetting it, but I am :( not too much though.

 I used Mr. Henkes' books a lot during reading mini-lessons. Anything he writes is perfect for my second graders.   They can relate to many of the mice happenings in Henkes' books. 

 Michael Garland's illustrations are to die for.  When I read his books, all I want to do is stare at the amazing job he did while illustrating. Gorgeous!  You must check him out :)

 When it comes to nonfiction. I love the Who Was? series.  We read them while working on biographies.  We do tons of group work since the vocabulary is a bit hard for some of my kiddos.  Perfect for the end of the year!

Reading a variety of versions of one story is one of my favorite things to do in second grade. LOVE  The Princess and the Pea options available.

Happy Reading Week!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Photo Prop Discount

Getting ready for Monday is what I do best on Saturday and Sunday nights.  That is of course apart from doing the laundry, pretending to clean the house, and entertain my own two kids.

If you are still getting ready to celebrate reading next week, reading Dr. Seuss' books,  and need something fun to do. Well... I have great news for you!

Photo props are the answer!

Let me introduce you to Allie, my granddaughter.  She has fancier outfits than her grandma, and she used to live at the mall!  Now, she is my newest model.
My daughter wanted to be in the pictures, but she was in her pjs and I do not post pics of my kiddos here.  I am still hiding :)
Super duper cute! Isn't she?

Here's the ETSY shop where you can get the goods. 

Chela is awesome and sent me a discount code for all my awesome followers!  Woohooo! 
Please tell her I told you about her awesome props. Your Karma will thank you, and so will I.

One more thing I made and finished today.
Dog tag necklaces for my kiddos.  I so hope they like them. I adore how they turned out.  If you'd like a set e-mail me (

Allie helped with the necklaces too.  

I had planned to buy ball chain necklaces,but plan but red and white twine had to do :)

Go on, get ready, and strike a pose!