I'm linking up to a great collection of fall books and activities hosted by my friend Ashley from The Teacher's Treasure Chest. Here in South Florida fall is pretty much non-existent, but we join in on the fun anyway. Growing up here I have vivid memories of sweating off my halloween make up and planning the costume with the least amout of fabric possible. Writing this post sent me on a wild internet goose chase to find one of my childhood Halloween costumes. Anyone remember these? The whole costume basically consisted of a blow up decoration you tied to your head, a tube of face paint, and a plastic cape. I remember the make-up just dripping off of my face and the blow up bat slipping off with it. Ahh, Florida Halloweens...

Fun trip down memory lane! Now back to business at hand - Ashley's linky par-tay!

I sometimes obsess over things that really have no business occupying space in my brain. One year it was the theme for my Just Say No door decorating contest. Yes, really. The thought for my door popped into my head over the summer and I was just busting to put it up! It actually did come out pretty cute AND I won first place ThankYouVeryMuch! Just thought I'd share with you in case you're searching for something similar. Here's the winning door...drumroll please...

Don't Get Wrapped Up In Drugs! Cute right? Each kid made a mummy using a plastic spoon and a popsicle stick. The stick was broken in half and stuck to the spoon with glue dots to hold it in place. We had some help from a parent volunteer for that part. Then each stick/spoon combo was wrapped in toilet paper. To age it a bit, we used a small brown ink pad and dabbed it on the toilet paper. Add some googly eyes and a red ribbon - and there you have it! We brainstormed things we could do for fun instead of drugs which is on the speech bubble. I can't share the lettering I used for the title because it's against the terms of use for that site. Really, the mummies are eye-catching enough that any cute font would work.

Speaking of mummies, my friend and teammate Mrs. H made THE cutest storybook character pumpkin that I HAVE to share! Every year each class decorates a pumpkin and we display them in the main hall. We've all now started using the craft pumpkins because carved pumpkins in South Florida, well, let's just say they don't last very long and our creepy crawlies find them quick! Here is her display based on the book Where's My Mummy? By Carolyn Crimi.

Love all the details from the story! The little green blob, skeleton and Dracula are all characters from the book. There's a creepy tree to represent the setting and there's a little mouse in there too! The whole thing is balanced on some styrofoam pieces. I love, love, love it! This has me re-thinking my No, David pumpkin. I'm going to have to step it up a notch now!

Speaking of Halloween - feel free to check out my latest TpT unit. I finally created something to accompany MY personal favorite Halloween book - The Hallo-wiener. Click {here} to preview the unit.
I love this story so much that I almost forgive him for writing Captain Underpants!

Check out some other great fall books and activities by visiting the blogs below:

Estimation station has been a favorite activity in my class for years. In fact, this will be my third post about it! #overload? I hope not!

You can read my first post about how I was doing it here. In a nutshell, I was having each child write their estimate on a square of paper and we would line them up and do some cool math stuff. Here's a little peek, but the post itself has lots of details.
Then last year, I was super excited to review the most adorable little estimation station jar from Educational Insights so I updated my post and also added a little freebie you can use to introduce the estimation station jar to your parents at Open House, which is probably a little late for most of you this year. Sorries! I've been just keeping my head above water these days...but things are finally falling into place. You can read all the details about that here, but there's a little peek below:
And now, I've updated yet again! That's what keeps things fresh, right? I tend not to subscribe to the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mantra. However, if I did my life would be much simpler - but I've never been about simple, so... on to the update!

I'm still using the cutie estimation station jar from EI. It's holding up really well. I actually send it home each week with the winner and so far it's traveling ok. (Of course you know what's going to happen now that I said that. Everyone, quick! Knock on wood together!) This is the note I stick in the jar when they take it home. Click on the picture to download a copy. If you work in an area where parent participation is not something you can count on, feel free to fill the jar yourself with things you have in your room - dominoes, counters, legos, etc.
I really did like the way I was doing it before with the little slips of paper, but I did find it was taking me a long time and we all know, there's not really time to spare these days. So this year, I created an actual printable that the kids can use for the activity as we walk through it together. I like that I now have something to send home too, so the parents can see what the heck we're doing with jars full of gummy worms and jelly beans.

I created two versions, one if you have the cutie jar from EI and one if you don't. Click HERE to download them both.

So first, we oohed and ahhed over the gummy worms in the jar and then we filled in the top part together about last week's winner and what's inside. I modeled this on the Smartboard as we went along. Then we made our own estimates and recorded it on our sheest. Next week this part will be done in red pen to help one of my little cheaterpants maintain his integrity a bit better. Then I picked up the wormies in groups of five and the kids helped me count out loud and we recorded out actual number.  I filled up four plates because I have four tables and eventually each table would get one plate to share.
Depending on what's in your jar, the numbers to do the subtraction might be bigger than your kids are ready to handle, which was the case for me this week, so we pulled out the calculators. I don't know if they were more excited about the candy or the calculators! I had quite a few who had never even used one before, so this was a great way to introduce them. Then we worked through the rest of the sheet together, with me modeling on the board and the kids recording on their sheets.  The winner gets an Excellent Estimator brag tag and they take home the jar to fill for the upcoming week.

Then the moment they were dying for! Each student got a baggie to hold up like they were trick-or-treating and table captains washed their hands and divvied up the loot to their friends. Sorry moms who hate me right now for giving your kids gummy worms at 9:30 in the morning! But each kid only got a handful. We ate 2 and then saved the rest for lunch dessert.

I would say it took about 25 minutes to do the activity this way, but it was our first time, so you have to allow all the time for directions, modeling, etc. I think I can get it down to 15 minutes eventually. That's a lot faster than the old way I was doing it. I do like both ways and there's no reason why I can't switch it up from time to time.

Key concepts you'll be practicing all year with estimation station: understanding the terms difference and estimate, subtraction, skip counting, using a calculator, benchmark estimations, and cooperation.

However you do it, it's bound to be a favorite classroom activity that adds some hands-on learning and fun to your normal math routine. Have fun, my friends!

One of my most popular TeachersPayTeachers free downloads is my Math Mania file for the Smartboard. It's one of the very first items I shared on TpT three years ago and has over 30,000 downloads - is that insane or what?! Kind of blows my mind a bit.

With all those downloads, comes a lot of questions and many requests to help those who don't have a Smartboard use the file in some way. So, I thought I'd take some time to do that today.

You need Smart Notebook software to use the file the way it's listed, but I'm sharing some things with you today that will enable to use it even if you don't have access to the software - or even if you don't have any sort of interactive whiteboard at all. Yay! So first, the most common request I receive is to share the pdf of the activity separate from the Smart Notebook file, so here you go! Just click on the picture to download from Dropbox. You don't need an account to download, but you can sign up for one here if you do want to set up a free account. It really makes sharing and saving files super easy.
Now, be kind. I made this at the very beginning of my tpt adventure, so it's not quite as visually appealing as my stuff now, but the activity is still pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. ;)

The interactive notebook file shows how to complete each box on the page and looks something like this:

Now if you don't have the Notebook software, I've turned the whole file into a PDF. So if you at least have a projector you can show each page just as you would see it in the Notebook file. If you don't have a projector, you can perhaps display the pages on the board or use them with small groups. I hope that helps! You can download the PDF of that here.

There are a few ways to use Smart Notebook files with other interactive whiteboards, like Promethean and Mimeo, however I haven't had a ton of success importing these files into their software. Smart actually has a free read-only version of the software that will enable you to use Smart files without having the software.  Unfortunately, I've found that not all of the files translate so well and you tend to lose some of the interactivity, but it's definitely worth a try. You just have to download the files you want to use, then click here and you'll see this:

Click on "Open an existing Notebook file" and then choose the file you're trying to open. I'd love to hear if you have success with it!

I have a few other free Smartboard files you can try too. Just click on the pictures to download them from TpT.

Happy weekend, my friends. I've got a long list of things I need to do around this poor neglected house of mine now that most of the back to school craziness is subsiding. Now let's see if I actually accomplish any of it!

One of our most memorable events in second grade is always Tasty Tuesday. Once a month we follow a recipe to create a yummy snack, we snap a picture with it, then we write a review of our creations. We try to keep the recipes seasonal and we pose with some cute props.

It's such a fun way to work in all kinds of skills in math, writing, grammar, handwriting, following directions...just about everything you can think of! We save all of our writing samples from the year and put them together in a binder. We add an About the Chef page, a cute cover and a final review and it makes a great writing portfolio and memento of our year together!

Then at the end of the year, we invite the parents to our very last Tasty Tuesday. This day is a bit of work to set up, but so worth it in the end. The kids share their cookbook from the year and lead their parents through creating the recipe. I always love watching as the kids impress their parents with their independence! Then they enjoy the snack before writing the final review together. This is the best part! I love hearing them talk with their parents about different ways to describe the appearance, texture, and taste of the cookie. Last year, one dad didn't think I'd actually see the review and wrote from the teddy bear's point of view, mentioning how he had graham cracker sand in his shorts. He was embarrassed, but I thought it was pretty hysterical!

I put together a teacher guide with all of the recipes we use, detailed teacher notes with specific details on how to set up and run the program, recruit parent help, sign up forms, thank you notes, and more. You can see it on TpT HERE.

Bon Appetit, my friends!

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