Denise is back with My Truth Monday!  This week, it's all things creepy.



In the spirit of Halloween, I have some free printables for you!

These are the goody bag toppers I made for my daughter's preschool class.  I shared a pic on Instagram here:

In the bags, I put some Hawaiian animal crackers, organic fruit snacks, a fun-size Starburst, an organic lollypop, a plastic spider ring, and a reflective Halloween sticker.  I hope the kids all love the goodies!

If you can use these toppers, as well, I've uploaded them to Google Drive for you!
There are two versions.  One with the little heart to write your child's name (or yours!)
One without the heart.

There are also ones with a boy instead of a girl! :)

Next up, I have some awards for you!  I went to a pumpkin carving/chili-making/costume party this past weekend and made these awards.  I figured, some of you might be having contests at school among the teachers or even this upcoming weekend.  I hope you can use them!





What do you think is creepy?
Last week my class learned all about the pumpkin life cycle from my Pumpkin Life Cycle and Experiments pack!

We started off by reading the mini book and filling in the blank spaces with the correct life cycle terms.

We then reviewed the vocabulary using posters and vocab cards, then added some activities to our interactive science notebooks.  We also filled out a life cycle sheet as a check-in assessment.

Then, I brought a pumpkin to school and we got started on the experiments.  There are 4 experiments that follow the scientific method.  As practice, we walked through the steps of the method and did Stephanie's egg experiment from her Life Cycles pack as practice.

First we found out if a pumpkin could sink or float.  Boy, were those kids surprised when it bobbed in the sink!

Then, we read the book How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?, then we predicted how many seeds we thought were inside our pumpkin.  

Here are my kids counting out the seeds on laminated 10's frame mats.  I divided the seeds into 5 bowls, then gave 1 bowl to each table and had them work together to fill up their mat.  At the end, each group reported out how many seeds they counted and we added them all up (by 1's, 10's, and 100's!) to find the total amount.  We had 674!  Only one kid got a close prediction, he thought 602.  Most kids chose either 100 or 1000! :)






After we counted them, I collected all the seeds and filled the bowls with water.  I walked around to each table and dropped a spoonful of seeds into each bowl so the kids could see if they sank or floated.  Only one boy predicted that they would sink.  I think he wanted to go against the majority :)

Our last experiment we will do on Monday, because I had to take the seeds all home.  Our school permits teachers and parents to bring in food cooked at home, so I roasted all the seeds in my kitchen, then flavored them 3 different ways: salty, savory, and sweet.  

Lucky for you, I made a freebie for this last experiment, as well as a How-to writing prompt: Pumpkin Seed Experiment, Recipe, and Writing Freebie!


 Three different writing pages:



I love teaching about pumpkins around Halloween time!  The kids love it, too!  I have a Jehovah's Witness student this year, and since I don't want him to feel left out, I am not doing any traditional Halloween activities.  This unit is a perfect alternative to Halloween, or even a perfect supplement!

What other things do you do with pumpkins?

I'm Linking Up

Freebie Fridays

Recently, I gave myself permission to let go of our math adoption.  I haven't been happy with it for quite some time and I see no need in using something that I don't feel meets my kids' needs (with the approval of my admin, of course!).  I'll still follow our grade level pacing guides and teach the same skills as the other 2nd grade teachers in my building, but I'm not using the curriculum anymore.  I'm going to rely solely on my interactive math notebooks, guided math groups, math centers (that I implemented last year and blogged about here), and supplements either I make or find on TpT.  Thankfully we were granted an awesome calendar curriculum this year by The Math Learning Center, which spirals skills throughout the year, providing additional practice and review.  The program also has awesome assessments and manipulatives.  However, it's not a complete program.  It's just a supplement.

Earlier this year, I started using interactive math notebooks to supplement the curriculum.
Via Instagram

My favorites are Yvonne Crawford's that go with every Common Core math standard.  You can find them on TpT here.  They are super fun and have several activities per standard.

The other ones I love are by For the Love of Teaching on TpT.  Kimberly's go along with the topic from Pearson's enVisions.  I like these added hands-on activities to reinforce the skills.  Since I'm actually ditching the curriculum, I think that continuing to use these activities, the kids will get enough of a taste of doing math the enVisions way.  I like these packs better than the actual curriculum in the fact that there are journal prompts for kids to explain their thinking and there are I Can statements that kids glue on the page.  My school is big on the kids knowing what they are doing and why, so these packs are great for that.

Another tool I began using is the rekenrek.  Nope, that wasn't a fake cough.  A rekenrek is a Dutch math tool, similar to an abacus, with 2 rows of 5 white and 5 red beads.  It helps children develop number sense from 0-20 by physically moving the beads and thinking in groups of 5 and 10.  Another weakness I have been seeing in our math adoption is a lack of number sense.  It focuses too heavily on standard algorithms and not enough on mental math.  There are mental math chapters, but they fly through the strategies so fast that the kids don't end up actually learning them and applying them when faced with problems.  Daily practice on this rekenrek and sharing our thinking helps students try new ways of thinking.

To get started with rekenreks, I first found a DIY tutorial.  I didn't want to buy them and I thought that the kids would feel more ownership if they made them themselves. 

Lucky for me, Math Coach's Corner has an awesome post about how to make them.  I followed it to a T.

I rounded up my supplies online (remember, Lanai has hardly anywhere to shop and no where to buy craft supplies!  Amazon loves me!)

Here were my directions:
  1. I pre-cut the foam sheets down to 4"x6" using a ruler and a sharpie.
  2. I made dots as to where the pipe cleaners will be poked through the foam.  I measured the dots 1" from the edge of the foam and tried to center them.  
  3. I then passed out the foam and the pipe cleaners and showed the kids how to poke holes in the foam.  
  4. Once they each had both stems sticking in one side of the foam, I passed out a bowl of white beads to each table group.  
  5. They took out 5 beads and threaded them on the top stems and 5 more for the bottom stems.  
  6. We did the same with the red beads.  
  7. We poked the other end of the pipe cleaner into the foam and twisted the stems together on the back. 
  8. I had each student write their name on their rekenrek with a Sharpie.





Now, how do you know what to do with them?  Remember The Math Learning Center who makes my calendar program?  Well, they have a rekenrek guide for FREE!  

K-5 Math Teaching Resources has a handy page about the rekenrek with possible lessons and even free downloads.  

I also found a free resource on TpT that explains the thinking behind the rekenrek and gives some lessons, as well.

After teaching a few of these lessons, my mind has already started spinning with other things we can do with our rekenreks!  The kids love them, I love how hands-on they are, and I know that our math discussions will start to become much more rich, detailed, and authentic.  I'm excited for our future in math!

Do you use rekenreks?  Have you started interactive math notebooks?  Did you throw your math adoption out the window?  Please share so I don't think I'm the only crazy math teacher out there! :)

I'm linking up with Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade for her new series - My Truth Monday.  This Monday is all about fitness.  

You may have remembered me sharing on The Fit Lives of Teachers about my 5k training.

I downloaded the Couch to 5k free app on my iPhone and I was training for a 5k in my town, called the Tri Lanai (who donates all proceeds to local groups - including Adventure to Fitness DVDs for my classroom!) and also for a 3 mile obstacle course called the Spartan Race.  

It rained during the Tri Lanai, but it was really fun and I was proud of myself for finishing in the middle of my group.
My son running the last little bit of the race with me to the finish line.

For the Spartan, I flew to Oahu with a group of 5 other people, rented a condo in Kailua, and a crappy Mazda mini-van cross over thingy.  We had the best time, but the race was definitely hard.  I knew it would be, since I'm NOT in that good of shape, so I was just proud I finished!  5 of us ran the race and the other one took pictures for us.  We ended up splitting into two groups: one fast and one slow.  No surprise, I was in the slow group, but thankfully sweet Anna stayed behind and ran the race along side of me.  We were able to help each other over wooden walls, she propped me up when I feel and badly scraped my leg, and we cheered each other on as we crossed a mud pit on giant monkey bars.  That race was no joke.
Before, getting ready!

We did it!

Muddy, but happy!

I'm proud to say Anna and I finished the race only 12 minutes behind the other three members of our team! {Dont mind my ugly sunglasses - they were the only ones I could find that wouldn't fall off if they got wet!}

To train for these races, I was getting up 3-4 times a week at 5:15 and running three miles with another co-worker.  We'd meet at my house, turn Couch to 5k on my phone and Spotify on her phone, and jog with her dog.  Mind you, I'm NOT a morning person, but this actually helped me become one.  I loved it!  I got my workout out of the way AND I got the see the sun rise over Maunalei each morning!

But then my races were over.  And I stopped running.  I told myself I deserved a break.  I deserved to sleep in.  I had worked so hard.  Now that I don't have something I'm training for, my motivation is shot.  

So..... here's my Monday truth:

Are you like me?  Quick to give up on yourself but would never let someone else down?  Help me turn that around!  Do you have tips for me?
I love wearing dresses and skirts to school.  And I love when I find cute stuff for reasonable prices.  Imagine my surprise when Shabby Apple, a website for vintage-style clothing, asked me to partner with them for a fun giveaway for my readers!

I picked the Andes Skirt because I loved the pattern and the high-waist/pencil shape to it was so cute!  Living in Hawaii, I was a little curious if it was going to be practical for me, as my style has definitely been more casual over this past year.  But, when it came, I was in love!  It is nice and lightweight, making it great for warm weather.  You could also wear it with tights or leggings, making it a great transitional or layering piece, as well.

The first time I wore it was to an educational conference in Kona with my new principal.  I wanted to make a good impression - I think I nailed!

I paired it with a mustard colored cotton top and coral sandals.  Since the conference was in an air-conditioned room, I threw on a neutral sweater.  It was perfect!  The fabric is so soft and the high waist didn't bother me as I sat in meetings all day.

The next time I wore it was this week to school!

This time I paired it with an orangy top, a green military jacket, different coral sandals (I'm obsessed with sandals!), and a low bun.  I got so many compliments at school!  It was great for walking around the classroom, even sitting on the carpet with kids.  The *only* trouble I had was I had to do a little hop to get into my car because the opening of the skirt near my knees is a little small.  It wasn't a huge problem, though.  

Now it's your turn.  How would you like to win your own Andes Skirt from Shabby Apple?  Just fill out the rafflecopter below!  I'll pick a winner next Wednesday night!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I'm linking up with First Grade in Foxwell Forest today to talk to you about the Daily 5!  This month's linky is all about word work.

If you are new to The Daily Five {affiliate link}, make sure to get the book and read it first.  These blog hops are great for getting ideas of how teachers implement the structure in their rooms, but without the foundations that are explained in the book, you may get confused.  The book is short and is an easy read.  You won't regret it!

On to Word Work!

Like I shared last week, I use Ladybug's Teacher Files free Daily 5 choice signs.  When I call student names off my list to see which choice they want, almost all of them look at the signs to help them make a decision.  I am so glad I put them up! 

In my old school in Portland, my classroom had this big shelf unit.  The bottom cubbies were full of word work activities.

The kids who chose Word Work would choose their materials and practice making their weekly spelling words.  The available materials were:
  • Magnetic letters
  • Bend-a-roos (like wiki sticks)
  • Letter stamps
  • Black beans
The thing I did not like about this set up was that these activities were very open, so my large class (33) or third graders would often get off task and end up playing with the materials.  And since there was not a recording sheet or anything to turn in, I didn't feel that there was urgency to complete the task.

Last year I decided to make my Word Work activities a bit more intentional and less open ended.  I bought 3 shallow tubs from the dollar section at Target, then made some chalkboard labels with contact paper (get the DIY tutorial here).

I decided to have 3 centers up for 2 weeks each.  I only allow 6 students to choose Word Work each day, just to keep the area as crazy-free as possible.  With 3 centers, there can be 2 kids per center each round.  With keeping the centers there for 2 weeks, this ensures that each kid does each activity a couple of times.  

The activities I use are usually from my blogging friends.  Sometimes they are freebies, sometimes parts of paid products.  Sometimes they go with the phonics skill we are working on, and sometimes they have a comprehension component.  I don't just stick to words, I use Word Work to kind of encompass any reading skill that my kids as a whole need to work on.  

Right now, I am using my Halloween Compound Words.  This addresses standard L.2.4d.

The Bubbly Blonde's vowel center that is a part of her It's Birthday Time literacy center pack.  This addresses standard RF.2.3a.

And Surfin' Through Second's main idea center that is a part of her Sunshine and Rainbows literacy pack.  It addresses standard RL.2.2.


I'd love to hear how you have adapted Word Work to make it useful for you and your students!



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