Apr 6, 2015

Butterfly Life Cycle 2015

Did you see my post over at Classroom Tested Resources

Today, I'd like to share with you how I plan ahead for the Butterfly Life Cycle Unit that I do in my 2nd grade classroom every year.  

The Importance of Planning Ahead

I think we all know the importance of planning ahead. However, when caterpillars are involved, you really have to plan ahead and make sure you are ready for their arrival. Our district studies the Butterfly Life Cycle in every 2nd grade classroom. The day that the “box” arrives is always an exciting one…more so for the students than the teacher. The box with the big red letters LIVE on it can only mean one thing. Drop everything you had planned for that day and it’s caterpillar time! It’s important to have a PLAN! 

A few weeks before the anticipated arrival of the crawly little caterpillars, I start front-loading my students on the butterfly life cycle. We start talking about what they already know, what they want to learn, what they think will happen, etc. Usually many students know Eric Carle’s story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  However, we need to plan ahead to know that all of those things that caterpillar eats will not be part of our real caterpillars’ diets. 

Starting with a KWL

I use these to help me understand what the kids already know and what they want to know. I also make my own to remind myself of what I want them to know when we are finished with the unit. You can click the KWL organizer below to get a FREE COPY for yourself from my TPT Store!

Planning Ahead Through Reading
 My other favorite way to plan ahead and front-load my students is to completely immerse them in caterpillars and butterflies in the classroom through books. 

I put these books in our seasonal book basket for literacy center rotations. We also read some of these books in our small groups and for read aloud time. I let the students choose these books for their independent reading time. All of this planning ahead will pay off because we will be ready when the caterpillars arrive. Plus…it builds excitement!

Caterpillar Arrival Day

This year, I am planning head for this arrival day. I have created an anchor chart to remind the students of all of the steps we must take when the caterpillars arrive. Plus, I have added some rules for handling the caterpillars.  We also work together ahead of time to make sure we have all of the materials needed for the caterpillars’ arrival.  

Daily Observation & Recording

Here is where we record our observations daily (Or almost daily!) Sometimes it can be a hard task to get everyone’s caterpillar cups out to observe, but our goal is to observe every day! We use the magnifying glasses, then draw a “life-sized” picture of the caterpillar, along with a description, especially if it has changed since the day before.

During these daily observations, we are still reading all of the books that we have to learn even more about our caterpillars while we anticipate the next steps of the life cycle. 

Chrysalis Transfer

Soon, the students start to observe the caterpillar transforming into its chrysalis. At this point, it’s important to have a plan to transfer the chrysalis into the classroom butterfly net “home.” This is mainly done by the teacher, as each chrysalis can be very fragile.  

Butterfly Arrival Planning

Soon, the kids will start notice a lot of wiggling going on inside the net. When this happens, you know that some of the butterflies will start emerging soon, so you need to have "food" available. You'll want to have food available before they come out, but not too soon, or it will dry up.  We use small dishes of sugar water. It is possible to have a straw coming out of the net so you can continue to add water to "wet" the food in case it dries out too soon.  Your students can also help plan for the butterfly arrival by bringing in sticks and flowers for the butterflies. But, once all of the butterflies emerge (depending on how many you have) there isn't much extra room in there! 

Butterfly Flight Day

It's important to plan ahead and be honest with your students from the beginning of the project by telling them that you WILL be letting the butterflies go soon after they all emerge inside the net. This will be upsetting for some of the students (it is every year...), but you can assure them that if they stay in the net they won't be getting the right food and they will not live. It's more important to let them go so that they can find the correct food that they need. Make a party out of it and a big deal! You can even write letters to the butterflies once you come back inside! I have had a lot of students have "sightings" of their butterflies in the weeks following flight day.  

Butterfly Life Cycle Kit

Everyone has their own way of completing the butterfly life cycle with students, but if you are looking for a full set of already prepared activities to get you through the life cycle, here is my full kit in my TPT store. Also, in case you missed it, click on the KWL picture above to get that for FREE from my store. My entire kit is listed below. I hope all of this will help you plan for butterflies in your classroom, whether it's a requirement of your district (like mine) or it's something you've always wanted to do, but didn't quite know how to prepare for it! 

Apr 3, 2015

Organizing Toys and Teaching Colors

This week has been my Spring Break. No, I didn't have big plans of a warm weather destination like many of my friends. That’s okay because I couldn't wait to catch up on some things at home! Plus, spending time at home with the kids has honestly been great this week. The weather here in Indiana has been okay could be better, but I won’t complain.

I had a chance to sit down and have some learning time with my two year old. She is finally starting to grasp colors! She still gets a few mixed up and when she isn’t in the mood (gets sick of mommy asking what color everything is) she just starts saying random color names, but she's getting better!

We are big Kentucky Wildcats fans at our house. When I pointed to our Kentucky blanket and asked the color, she says “Kentucky.” I laughed and said, “No, what color is it?” “Kentucky,” is her only response. Kind of a witty kid...because I know that she knows the color blue. :) If you are interested in this color sorting activity for your little one, check out my product below.
{They are only $1.00!}

One BIG thing on my Spring Break list was to clean the girls’ rooms and GET RID of some toys! AY AY AY, I should have taken some before pictures, but that may have been embarrassing. We worked hard on sorting and organizing. We will see how long this lasts.

I also wanted to share this awesome box that I found. I bought this one at Big Lots, but then I ended up seeing it at Target too. If you have a Big Lots, I know their inventory can be hit or miss, but it was a few dollars cheaper there than at my Target. I feel like this box could be used for so many things and I’m still thinking of good ideas for it in the classroom, but for home it’s perfect for the girls’ crayons and coloring books! The top and bottom box connect together! Love it!

Sharing this quick freebie of the labels I put on the girls’ boxes. Some are obviously pretty specific to my kids, so I'm not sure if you can use the same labels or not, but just thought I’d share!  Enjoy!
{Click the picture below}

Back to work on some TPT projects I have started. Treasures 2013 packets coming up soon! Unit 5 is soon to be finished! 

Apr 2, 2015

Scheduling...How do you fit it all in!?

Well, I have been asked by two AMAZING teacher-bloggers to join them in this #2getherwearebetter LINKY PARTY! Some linky parties are definitely better than others (in my opinion). This linky is going to be a very informative read for you! 

LINKY=We are all posting about the same TOPIC this month and after you read mine (informative or not), you can look at the bottom of my post at the LINKY and find all of the LINKS that other bloggers that are part of this have added and you can easily hop over to their blogs to see what THEY have to say about this same topic. TOGETHER WE ARE BETTER! :) #2getherwearebetter

The topics that these two ladies have scheduled are to help all of us! TOGETHER WE ARE BETTER!!! Collaborating about important teaching topics from state to state and across the country, what could be better!? Well, I suppose we are even doing it AROUND the world! Let me know where you are from in the comments. I would love to hear how far away people are reading my blog posts!

Thank you Angie and Ashley for putting this together and letting us collaborate about SCHEDULES this month! Also, thank you for inviting me to a part of something so awesome! I'm honored!

Lucky Little Learners        Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd

I'll start by just showing you my overall schedule for the day! Keep in mind that I teach in the biggest district in Indiana and a lot of my schedule is not very flexible and determined by the district. When it comes to the length of blocks and intervention, it's district mandated. Then when it comes to the placement of those blocks, that is determined by our school. This is important so they can schedule para-pros to be in our room during our reading block, etc. 

Intervention Block
Our intervention block is a time that the reading and math interventionists (sometimes ELL too) come and pull groups of second graders from all of the second grade classrooms to work on skills. We also have a small high ability group that is pulled at that time.  Depending on the class, that sometimes leaves just a few kids in the classroom. Other times, that may leave a huge group, so depending on the time of the year, I do different things during that block. It’s always some kind of enrichment for the kids that are left with me in the classroom.  I say “depending on the time of the year” because at the beginning of this year, I had a lot pulled out, but now that they are learning and succeeding in the intervention some of the kids have graduated from intervention and now I don’t have as many pulled at this time of the year. So, depending on how many kids are still there, that makes my decision on the kinds of activities that they do.  Usually, I have students doing either math games or reading/literacy games. Right now, we are working on money, so I use every chance I can get to give them a few extra minutes of practice with coins!

 Reading Block
We use the Reading Wonders reading series. This is our second year using it. I have a more in depth blog post about how I use Reading Wonders and my “thoughts after one year of using it.” Our basic reading block schedule is 30 minutes of whole group reading, 60 minutes of literacy workstations/small groups. This year, I have four small groups and I do 20 minutes with each group. I meet with Groups 1 & 2 everyday (lowest), then I alternate meeting with 3 & 4 each day. I also have many posts about how I do workstations in my classroom! My workstations are differentiated and each student has a work plan that indicates which stations to visit, based on their readiness level. 

Math Block
I spend a lot of time on math in my room! My district uses Envisions Math. In my opinion, it doesn’t have enough included with it for the kids to really gain a solid understanding, so I have added many other things in. I have a detailed post on how I do my math centers/rotations that I recently posted. I start my math block with some kind of activity on the kids’ desks when they get back from lunch. This gets them busy right away and lets me have a few kids at a time do a quick bathroom break. Usually, it’s one of my monthly problem solving activities that they glue in their math notebooks and complete. Other times, it might be an interactive notebook page (From LuckyLittle Learners) that they know to cut, paste, and complete the activity in their math notebooks. All of these routines are taught at the beginning, so whatever is on their desk, they know what to do. I give them 15 minutes to complete this (along w/ bathroom!)


Then, we do whole group. (Approx 15 minutes) The kids come down the carpet with their white boards and dry erase markers. We use Envisions, so at that point we do the “Technology Bridge” video. I’m going to be honest and admit that at first (like the first three years!), I didn’t like those videos. I tried them, got bored with them myself and had decided I could teach it better. It wasn’t until this year that I really started to see the value in the videos because I started having the kids LEAVE THEIR DESKS, come down in front of the screen and interact with the video on their white boards. (Also, I’ve gone to math rotations after the video, so then I feel better that I can teach them anything they didn’t understand in the technology bridge when they are in my small group!) If you are teaching Envisions and get frustrated with the videos, I’d love to hear if we are on the same page. Like I said, it took me awhile and I had to give them a chance again this year. Also, it’s all about the logistics of it. I have a laptop that is always hooked up and ready to show the video. In the past, I had to move my laptop, hook it up to the projector every day during math time and honestly, I didn’t have time for that!

After the technology bridge video is finished (we have interacted and I have stopped the video throughout to show things to them on my own white board, etc.), we break into our groups and rotations. Each group/rotation is about 10-12 minutes. I don’t set a timer for it anymore. I take the time I need with each group. The first group that comes to me has the highest need, so they take a few minutes longer. The last group that comes to me is my highest math group, so if I have to cut that one short, I can! I have an entire blog post on how I do my math rotations in more detail! My centers each day are: Teacher Table (my small group where I teach the concept in more detail!), Computers, Math Games, and Seat Work. Students always go to seat work after they meet with me. They complete whatever we started in small group! They always go to computers after seat work because that way, if their seat work isn’t done, they can skip computers. The rotation schedule that I have works PERFECTLY for me. I am completely in love with it!

After math rotations/groups, I do the Envisions Quick Check that is included with each lesson as an actual grade and check for understanding. This can help me determine what needs to be worked on the next day in small group and if we are ready to move on in small groups. 

Science/Social Studies/Health
These are subjects that I have always had an extremely hard time fitting in! I don’t have much advice on this and I know that a lot of teachers have gone to completely integrating these subjects. The good news is that I have come up with an answer for myself now that I have moved to a new school. The great thing about the new school is that we have FOUR second grade teachers and they already had a plan! (Better for me, right!?)

Here is what we do:
4 teachers/4 subjects/4 days/4 quarters

(The 4th subject is something extra that we need to cover, could be another science unit, a monthly unit, a needed unit like “Character” and/or anti-bullying.)

Here’s how it works. The last twenty minutes of each day, the TEACHERS switch classrooms. We each have a subject assigned to us for the entire quarter. We teach our own class on Mondays, then we switch Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays. We don’t switch on Fridays. So, for example: I’m teaching Science right now. I teach my class on Mondays, class B on Tuesdays, class C on Wednesdays, class D on Thursdays. Then while I’m teaching science to them, my kids have a rotation each day of social studies, health, and an “extra” subject. 

I’m not sure if my schedule can help others, but I hope it can give you some ideas! Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, and ideas that you’d like to share!


Where are you from? {Comment below in the comments section!}

Apr 1, 2015

Egg Hunt Sale

You are not going to believe this one!

This is an exciting sale because not only is my WHOLE store 20% off, but there are FOUR hidden 50% off products!

HOP HOP HOP through my store to find which products are marked down by HALF. But, shhhh don’t tell anyone once you find them!

These will only be marked down April 1st and 2nd.

since you visited my blog today, I will give you a few clues

Clue #1: One product includes 30 centers!
Clue #2: One product is originally $12!
Clue #3: One product has a sport theme.
Clue #4: One product is BRAND new and will be perfect to use RIGHT NOW!

Click on the sale picture below to HOP over to my store!

Good luck!