Back to School Activities for 2nd Grade {with FREEBIES}

Hey there friends, 
I know many of you get giddy thinking of meeting your new students and planning the perfect back to school activities. For some of you it might create stress and worry thinking of how to make that first week just right. Now, I am not going to tell you my back to school routine is all fairytales and perfect behaviors, but I do have some fun and effective routines and projects that I can count on! I thought I would share five of my favorite back to school activities for 2nd grade. 
My 5 Favorite Back to School Activities for 2nd Grade


1. Supply Time {Freebie}

AGHHH sorting through supplies with kids can be crazy if you don't have a plan. They always come in with tons of materials and the chaos will ensue without activities to keep your new little kiddos engaged. I always have a couple different activities ready for kids so I can pull over small groups to go through and sort the materials. I make sure to go over expectations for behavior, how many kids at puzzle/manipulative centers.


  • I have bins set up and labeled in the front of my classroom with the various supplies. 
  • I have buckets of crayons on all the desk groups and I put out a fun coloring sheet with all my kids names on it. They love seeing their name and friends names on the sheet. You can download the coloring sheet FREE in my store. (click on the image below)
  • When kids are done coloring I have puzzles and manipulatives in different areas around the room for kids to explore.

2. Establish our back to school rules and expectations in a positive way! 

I was so excited when I discovered the book "Back to School Rules" by Laurie Freedman

I read this aloud with my kids and it helps us to create clear back to school rules and expectations in a positive way. It also lends to review various story elements and comprehension strategies. I have multiple guided reading activities I can choose from, and when we are done we do an adorable pencil craft where the kids choose their favorite new "I can" rule. It makes for a colorful bulletin board too. (Check that off the list too... boom!)


3. Read Aloud

I don't know about you, but my kids love a read aloud. No matter the group, my kids are always their calmest listening to a good story. I try to make a point of reading multiple books the first week of school. 


When choosing a read aloud, I like to be intentional with the theme in my selections so we not only read for fun, but there is a purpose. This then lends to great first week discussions and establishing classroom norms and expectations in a more organic way. 

Growth mindset, being flexible, being respectful to ourselves and others and problem solving are my favorite topics that I try to target that first week of school. 

I have created resources that facilitate these important topics in conversation, that review story elements, check in on comprehension and wrap it all up with a meaningful craft to display our learning! 

These back to school activities also help me make some informal observations of where my kids are with following directions, fine motor, focus and academics. My favorite part is seeing their little personalities really come out throughout the various projects and interactions.

Click here to check out these easy to implement resources: Establishing Classroom Expectations Guided Reading with Mentor Text


guided reading with a purpose poster examples

guiding reading with a purpose craft examples

4. Share Bags

Years and years and years (lol) ago my cooperating teacher introduced me to share bags. She sent home a simple paper bag with instructions to fill it with 3-5 items to share. The items needed to help us learn a little bit more about you. The items could be photos, toys, awards, etc. 

Every year I do this activity and it is one of my favorites. I send them home on the first day and we share the bags as they come in throughout the week. The kids love sharing about themselves, their classmates interact by ask questions and we all get to know each other a little bit better right off that bat and that is priceless. I recommend doing your own  share bag as well. The kids think it is pretty fun to find out more about their new teacher. 

5. Classroom Scavenger Hunt {Freebie}

    scavenger hunt checklist freebie
This is a fun way to  help kids get to know your classroom and where things are. I have done the scavenger hunt two different ways. I have done it either during meet and greet when parents are there to help or the first day to get kids up and moving. 

I love this activity because it's not me just talking at my kids,  it also helps decrease the questions and it gives the kids a sense of ownership and independence in their new classroom.  

I generally choose 5-8 different places in the classroom that I would like kids to discover. Some places you might add to your list are the job chart, bathroom passes, their cubby, the classroom library, extra supply drawer, different classroom materials you want them to find, etc. As they find the things in the classroom they put a check mark next to it. 

When we are all done we meet on the carpet. We go through all the different areas we had to find and I call on a volunteer to walk over and show where they found it. The classroom scavenger hunt has been a purposeful and fun back to school activity in my classroom.    
 

  • Here is a link to the scavenger hunt I use in my room. https://bit.ly/2IulZN8 Feel free to use it or to inspire your own scavenger hunt back to school activity


Good luck planning  and I hope you enjoyed hearing about my back to school activities I use in 2nd grade. Feel free to share activities you like to use in your own classrooms! 

Summer Writing Journal

Hey there friends, 

Every spring I get parents worried about keeping their child's academics fresh over the summer. They are looking for activities or programs to help support various areas of the curriculum. One area I love to keep kids working is on is their writing. I know how much the expectations jump from year to year and if there is a way I can help support that transition and growth I'm going to.

I used to use the generic composition notebooks for writing journals, but I decided a few years back that I wanted their everyday, free style writing to align with our more focused writing expectations. The more that our kids were exposed to the format, graphic organizers, checklists and other tools the better. We have seen nothing but improvement since we made this transition.

So, to avoid that "summer slump" I decided to modify my daily in class journal with a summer theme. There is a large variety of writer's tools to support all learners. This allows you to tailor your summer writing journal to exactly what your kids need or add it all!

This year I am including:

  • A summer vocab word list organized from a to z
  • Prompt ideas for stumped writers
  • "What I might want to write about" graphic organizer 
  • Writing checklists, brainstorm sheets and other graphic organizers
  • Commonly misspelled words 
  • Transition lists for: opinion, narrative, informative 
  • And of course... writing paper! 



Some years I have even offered prizes for kids that write a certain amount of stories in their summer writing journal. (Like a book, fancy pencil or pen or even certificate) They can drop them off to me in the fall or meet the teacher night. The kids love showing it off and I love seeing my kiddos again. I have gotten great feedback from not only parents and students, but summer school teachers and tutors who love using the journal to guide and support their students.

If you want to see more of the product click on the image above.

I hope you have a great summer and cheers to sunshine and relaxation.




Guided Reading With A Purpose!



Hey there friends,

I'm wondering if you have had the same dilemma as my teammates and I... A few years ago we made an amazing reading workshop curriculum map packed with the standards, themes and elements to be taught throughout the year. So great, we now knew exactly what we need to teach but...now how to really hit those standards is what we were left wondering. Of course we have a reading curriculum, but it always felt shallow and we were always left scrambling to find activities that really connected with our kids. We really needed to deepen our students understanding of the story elements and comprehension skills. Sound familiar??

So, I decided to do something about it. I wanted something thorough, focused and of course fun.

Later that week, I was talking to my good friend Megan Mitchell of First Grade Roars about this. I asked for her input because we had talked about this struggle before. Even better she had decided to do something about it over a year ago putting together an elaborate guided reading program for her first grade students. She thoughtfully tailored each week to coordinate to the standards, incorporating impactful activities, crafts, supportive mentor materials and exciting literature. She was the exact person I needed to collaborate with on this project. She talked me through her plans, how she supported the learning and how to effectively implement the activities. I was so inspired to hear about her overwhelming successes I could barely wait to start crafting my own guided reading with a purpose series for my second grade kiddos.

Here is a link to her blog post all about her first grade guided reading program: 

I started brainstorming about all the themes and units I love to do throughout the year. From there I  collected all my favorite mentor texts (who are we kidding I bought a bunch more too!) and grouped them into each theme. I was already feeling hopeful about the project especially when I could find multiple teaching points in each story.

The most important piece to remember is that we don't need to rush through multiple elements and strategies each week. What our kids need is to be able to slow down, make connections and analyze what they are reading. This leads our students to making deeper connections to concepts. Exploring entertaining text, creating fun crafts, completing themed activities and participating in focused book talks can't help but lead to memorable learning for our students.

I am so excited to finish creating and start implementing these units in my classroom. You can check out the units I already have finished and posted in my store through this link: 
Guided Reading with a Purpose for the 2nd Grade Classroom





February Update


How is it Already February?

So, I feel like I blinked and now it is February. Rush, rush, rush after winter break to get back in routine and now we are approaching another break next week! I hope you are handling this winter well!

Life: Teacher+Mom= TIRED
This last month we have been working hard to establish some new routines and norms with my two boys. My oldest son has Autism and our youngest is currently struggling with transitions and overall excitement for school. Say what?! I’m a teacher and one of my kiddos isn’t loving school. That is stressful FOR SURE. So my husband and I have been working overtime to assess the situation and support him how we can. We luckily have had a few weekends away with the family at the cabin to relax and enjoy quality time together!BUT I am going to be honest when I say I have had a few moments of pure emotional exhaustion. I made a little mindfulness journal and so far it has really been helping me to put things into perspective and get through the muckiness. 
Click on the image below to get your free copy! 

What have I been working on TPT?

Wait what? It’s 1AM and I am still working on a product?! #tptteachermomstruggle
Jokesaside,Ihavebeenworkingonmy new writing unit series which I amLOVEing. I have created a narrative writing unit, and opinion with informative on the way. They are full of my favorite graphic organizers, writing templates, posters, checklists, anchor papers, rubrics and more. Each unit also has a few lesson ideas and an explanation of how I use each piece throughout the unit.

Teaching theme this month:Kindness

We have had so much snow/ice here in Washington we have had to miss a few days in February and it’s currently snowing now! I am really excited to start working on all our kindness activities, including our new journal!! I love being intentional with the teaching of compassion and kindness. The discussions we have and their ideas on how to show kindness are absolutely priceless.
Kindness JournalEach Kindness Book Companion ActivitiesKindness Activities Book Companions and Posters BundleKindness Bookmarks

FREEBIE ALERT

I made a fun little kindness freebie with a coloring activity and word search. 
It is part of my Kindness Matters Pack.

Teaching Tip: Accommodating your slow workers

We all have those kiddos that take a long time to get things done. Maybe they are perfectionists, lost in thought or adding intricate details in every which way. We don’t want to rush them, but help them to be mindful of the time they are taking. It can become a cycle of anxiousness when a kiddo is so worried about not finishing they cannot even get started.
Supplies to help: Timers
I have six different kitchen timers in my classroom I keep in the front of the room in my sensory bin.
What next:
At first I suggest that they might want to use a timer to help them be on task. At first I ask, “How long do you think this problem/portion should take?” I always go with their choice the first few times. They always over estimate and when they have time left it is SO motivating and rewarding to those kiddos.. I mean we are high-fiving. Soon, when they build up that confidence I can challenge them by taking 30 seconds off their estimate. They always rise to the occasion. I also like to set a timer on my watch so I can be checking in as well. Sometimes you might have to touch base. Once I introduce these many kids want to try. That’s ok. They novelty wears off, but the kids who actually need it realize its worth and we all reap the rewards.

I got mine from Lakeshore: 

Connect with me through my newsletter!

I love to stay connected beyond the blog with fun teaching tips, FREEBIES  and the occasional parenting/teacher blunder HA!

Snag these biography templates by clicking on the image below. 
They are a part of my All About Report Wheels & Report Template Packs! 


Game Time: MOBI

Hey there!

I love games! When I see a new game that I think my students and my own kids would love I buy it! This game was an easy purchase because it is all about manipulating numbers and my oldest is obsessed with math. I wish I grew up with a love for math like him.

The game... 

The game is called MOBI. It is a lot like Bananagrams, except it is with numbers. There are blue number tiles and white operation tiles. Kids will draw 5-7 number tiles depending on how many players there are. They have access to all the operation tiles. (Click on the image to check out on Amazon)

The skill

Kids will be working on their number sense skills and computational fluency forming different number sentences using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. You can remove multiplication and division for a simpler game.

Why I love it... 

I love this game because it is so differentiated naturally. Kids can do as simple or as complex of a number sentence as they can handle. I always leave all operation tile options out because it allows for that challenge component. If students don't use them, no worries! Finally, this game makes for an easy prep center to have a parent volunteer run. I typed up simple directions  and game basics for volunteers and to have displayed when it is used as an in-class center.


Extension... 

I made a fun activity to extend the learning where kiddos record 4 number sentences they used, 2 of their most challenging number sentences and get to create their own new puzzle! Just click on the image and you can check it out in my store for FREE!


Have fun!!

Welcome Winter Newsletter

Well I have no idea where December went! We are officially almost into the new year and I am excited to see what 2019 brings!

My life outside teaching

(Yeah, that really exists lol)

Winter break has been pretty great. Our school got out the Friday before Christmas. I thought it would be way too rushed, but I got all my stuff done and now we have this excess time after the holiday to spend relaxing and hanging out! We are looking forward to spending a little more time at our cabin in Leavenworth (an adorable Bavarian style village in Washington). We got an amazing Christmas gift from friends for a sleigh ride and snowmobile tour and we cannot wait to go this week!! We did manage to visit the adorable Reindeer Farm before the holiday though. I even had a chance to teach the boys how to make my grandma's Christmas candies. (The key to sanity in my house is keeping these boys busy..or mom tears. LOL)
I have also decided that my life theme for 2019 will be BALANCE… 
So, here’s to hoping we go on more random adventures, see friends more often and hey maybe I will even sleep more (ha)!


What have I been working on?

I am pretty excited about all the treasures I have been working on! Early in December I posted my “How to Catch a  Snowman” STEM and book companion activities. We did the STEM activities with our big buddies and it was one of my favorite teaching days ever. The kids had a blast. 





So I decided to create a similar unit called,
“How to Catch a Leprechaun” to do this spring. You can check out both units in my store by clicking the product covers. 

Classroom update

I have to say that even though the kids, to put it nicely are a bit “off”, I absolutely love teaching in December. I stop teaching the exact district curriculum and supplement with my creations and other great teacher author’s work. Of course everything is aligned and my kids are doing what I love to call “disguised learning”
I am absolutely in love with gingerbread books so we compare and contrast, sequence and analyze story elements with a variety of stories. 


I use Megan Mitchell’s from First Grade Roars amazing “Gingerbread Unit” to help with all these pieces.

We also so much fun doing gingerbread math, science, reader’s theatre and writing! Using my Gingerbread Fun Pack and Gingerbread Narrative Unit! The kids loved creating their own version of the gingerbread man story. They get so creative. I even picked up one of those GINORMOUS cardboard gingerbread houses for the kids to decorate. We used it as a prop for the reader’s theatre and they could earn time, for on task behavior, to work or read inside of it with a friend! BONUS!

Connect with me & a FREEBIE!

I love to stay connected beyond the blog with fun teaching tips, FREEBIES (only for subscribers) and the occasional parenting/teacher blunder HA! This month I created these fun and super helpful STEM posters. I made them in B&W, color and with and without guiding questions. They are perfect posters to display in the classroom as you head through the STEM process. 11 posters 4 different options is yours for FREE when you subscribe!

Just Click the Image Below for your FREEBIE!




I hope you have a great rest of your break and 
cheers to 2019! 


Back to School Rules

Hey there,

As we get ready to head back to school I of course start thinking about that first week. What can I do differently, what worked last year, how can I spice it up, etc. One activity that always makes the schedule of course is to create our classroom rules or expectations. I typically read aloud a story all about rules like "No David" or "Officer Buckle and Gloria" they all focus on the no.  So our great list making conversations always end up with a lot of "Don'ts." 

Over the years I have not only shortened up our list, but tried to make a point of positivity in our rules. I just got tired of listing all the things that they couldn't do, I am so tired of "no" ha.. maybe I say it too much at home I guess. LOL

So. this year I decided to give my kiddos some more in-depth work on rephrasing our statements from negative to positive. We will be focusing on what we can do while implying the can't do.

I discovered a fun book at my last library visit with the boys. It was called "Back-to School Rules" by Laurie Friedman. If you have read it you are probably thinking, well it is FULL of don'ts. Well you are right it is... the perfect book to practice on. I also LOVE that is it full of silly don'ts, for example, "don't slither on the floor" or "don't whistle, burp or bite." You and I both know those do come up at the carpet and we have to pause and "mini lesson it up" on what common sense means. This books helps to get some of those silly, crazy rules out of their system at the appropriate time and helps to not detour the good conversation following the story.

I chose a handful of negatively toned rules from the story and made "I can" rules that featured the same outcome, but in a more positive light. I then created  mini posters for sorting whole group or in small group. I also created a few activities that allows them to practice rephrasing, making up their own "I cans" and then a fun craft to present them. I also made a few comprehension activities to introduce author's purpose and review main idea, setting and supporting details.






Click here to check it out in my store!


I really love creating my classroom expectations with my students. If you haven't already started doing that, I would definitely recommend trying. There is so much more buy in and they truly do have great ideas, even if the occasional "don't cut your hair" or "swing from the lights" does come up as suggestions. Ha! 

Typically my list ends up something like this: 

We can try our best and work hard. 
We can be kind to others. 
We can be good listeners to others. 
We can make safe choices.
We can have fun. 

Of course each year has variations, but usually very similar. If my kids keep coming up with lists like this it feels like a win to me. Cheers to another great upcoming year!