Sunday, September 17, 2017

Growing Our Literacy Lens

Over the last few weeks, we've been working on growing our reading and writing stamina. We've also begun to think beyond our stories through read-alouds, turn and talks, and partner reading. 

Mrs. Belanger, our new Assistant Principal at SMS, came into our classroom to read the story Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds. During the story, she asked us to think about how we could work together to create new ideas and collaborate to make our work even better. We loved seeing how two brains could be better than one!

The giraffes continued to do an amazing job talking about and sharing stories when we began partner reading at the end of our Reader's Workshop. Everyone was focused on their partners and they were all very flexible when it came to taking turns reading and sharing the stories from their book bins!

In order to help us generate ideas for our small moment stories, all of the giraffes were asked to bring in pictures of the people, places, and things they love most. On Thursday, we used those pictures to decorate our writing folders, which we will use throughout the year to inspire our writing. 

We loved seeing everyone's folders once they were complete. Many of us were able to make several connections over the pictures we had! We will continue to grow our literacy lens as we begin to dive deeper into our reading and writing, and we can't wait to see where our new literacy skills will take us in second grade and beyond!

Math Game Mania!

This week, we've been reviewing and learning all sorts of math games to help us build up our math fact fluency and number sense! Here are the rules to a few o the games we have played in class so you can play at home--you can make your own number card deck with a deck of cards by removing the jacks, kings, and queens!

Fishing for Ten
Number of players: 2-5
Directions: shuffle number cards and deal out 5 cards to each player, putting the rest of the cards in a "draw" pile. Make "matches" with your cards by finding two cards that make 10 (for example, 7 and 3, 4 and 6, and 9 and 1 would all be matches). Once players find the matches in their first hand, they can begin asking the other players if they have certain cards in order to match the rest of their cards. If that player has the card you are looking for, they give it to you and you get to ask again. If not, they will tell you to "go fish" and you take 1 card from the draw pile and wait for your next turn. The first player to get rid of all of their cards wins, as does the player with the most matches!

Number of players: 3-4
Directions: Two players sit facing one another, with the deck of cards between them. Player #3 (and possibly #4) sits off to the side so that they can see both players’ faces. Player #1 and #2 each pick up a card, and without looking at it, place it on their foreheads. They can see what each other has, but they do not know which card they are holding. Player #3 (who can see both cards) mentally adds the cards together and says the sum out loud. Once Player #3 has said the sum out loud, Players #1 and #2 each try to figure out what card he is holding. So if the sum is 16, and Player #1 can see that Player #2 is holding a 10, he can perform a mental subtraction equation to figure out what he has (16-10=6). The first player to correctly state which card they are holding keeps both cards. The player with the most cards at the end of the game wins.

Here are a few other games we've played in class that you could play at home: 

Addition Top-It
2-3 players
Directions: each player is dealt the same amount of cards, facing down. Once cards are dealt, each player takes two cards and puts them in the middle of the circle, facing up. The player whose cards have the highest sum gets to keep all of the cards and they start a new pile. Once they go through their first card pile, they move onto the new pile. The player with all of the cards or the most cards wins!

2 players 
Directions: each player makes two rows of 5 cards, facing down, and they put the remaining cards in the middle. Each player takes turns taking a card from the middle pile, and placing that card in numerical order (so, if the card drawn was a 4, it would go in place of the 4th card in the top row, facing up) The player then looks at the card that was previously holding that spot, and they continue to play the cards until they are no longer able to make another move. If they pick up a card and they already have that number card, it goes int the discard pile. The goal of the game is to get all numbers 1-10 in numerical order as shown:
1   2   3   4   5 
6   7   8   9  10

The first player to get all 10 cards in order facing up wins!

We hope you will try out some of these games at home, they are lots of fun for the whole family!

Friday, September 15, 2017


This week, we've begun to get used to our classroom routines. We've been focused on building a safe and mindful classroom community where everyone can learn, and have fun, and we've also begun to focus on incorporating the practices of a growth mindset learner in our classroom.

The first growth mindset skill we've been introduced to is empathy, which is the ability to understand feelings and other people’s points of view. A fundamental aspect of a healthy child and a healthy community. We've read lots of books over the last few days that demonstrate empathy and we've begun to think about times when we've shown empathy. Each of us added an empathy leaf to our growth mindset tree, where we drew or wrote about a time when we experienced empathy or showed empathy for others.

Every week going forward, we will introduce a skill of a growth mindset learner, and we will create goals for ourselves throughout the year surrounding these stances. We will continue to add leaves to our tree for each of the four remaining skills we will focus on!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Exploring (and Tasting) in The Garden

This week, we got to spend some time in the SMS Wolves' Green Growing Lab to do some exploring, writing, drawing, and even some tasting!

We walked around the garden with our clipboards, papers, and pencils, and we each wrote about or drew three things we noticed. 

We noticed a lot of different crops growing, including squash, peppers, corn, beans, and tomatoes along with all different kinds of flowers!

Everyone got to try a few cherry tomatoes, which were sweet and delicious! We all agreed that food tastes even better when its grown by you and your community :) We are excited to spend lots and lots of time in the garden this year, and we can't wait to get out there again!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Important Dates to Remember

Hello, Giraffe Families! Here is a reminder about important events happening at school over the next few weeks:

September 14th: Curriculum Night: Related Arts (6:00-6:30 pm) and Grades 3-5 (6:30-7:00 pm)

September 21st: Picture Day 
                            PTO Reception (6:00-6:30 pm)
                            Curriculum Night: Grades K-2 (6:30-7:00 pm)

September 26th: Johnny Appleseed Day- All second grade classrooms will travel from class to class throughout the day to learn about Johnny Appleseed and his favorite fruit! Your child is welcome to wear apple-themed clothing on this day, and we will also be asking families to send in their favorite apple recipes to put into a class cookbook! 

September 27th: Early Release: Students will be dismissed from school at 12:50 pm

October 9th: Columbus Day, No School

October 14th: Family Fun Day at Stratham Hill Park

October 27th: Halloween Howl

Please let me know if you have any questions, I will be sure to update this list as events arise!

Writing Folders

Hello, Giraffe Families!

Next week, we are going to be personalizing our Writer’s Workshop folders, which will help us generate ideas for our stories throughout the year. I am going to have magazines, brochures, and printed pictures for students to use, but you child is also welcome to bring in or email their own personal pictures of their families, friends, pets, and places they’ve been to in the last year or so to add at school. We will be creating our folders on Thursday, September 14th, so if your child would like to bring in pictures to add to their folder, you can send them in on or before that date. 

To give you an idea of what these folders will look like, here are some examples of my own writing folders over the last few years:

I am very excited to see how everyone chooses to personalize their folders. Not only will it help us to support our writing, but it will also allow us all to get to know each other on a deeper level ☺Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Wonderful Start to Grade 2!

We have had a wonderful start to what is sure to be an amazing year for the 2R Giraffes! 

We've spent the last two weeks getting to know our new classmates and our new classroom while we ease into our new routines. Here's a quick glimpse at what we've been up to:

We've enjoyed getting outside quite a bit to enjoy our playground

We've been working hard to build up our reading stamina each day and finding some "just right" books to add to our book bins

We created some math mystery pages for our hallway so our friends could use their adding and subtracting skills to figure out who each poster is all about

We've explored math manipulatives at centers and creating some pretty cool structures and designs!

We played the 2R version of "Duck Duck Goose" to learn about the two most common types of giraffe: "Masai, Masai, Reticulated!"

We learned about a giraffe's habitat and drew silhouettes of giraffes in the Grasslands of Africa

We played "The Best Game" which was much for different than we thought it would be! We worked in teams, and everyone on the team had to decide who was the fastest, smallest, highest, tallest, and longest. After we made our decisions, Ms. Riley called up each cadegory, but then she revealed what their task was!

"The Highest" had to build the highest base-10 structure in 30 seconds

"The Longest" had to show who had the longest hair (it was a close competition!)

"The Smallest" had to show who had the smallest shoe size!

We also got together with our friends in the Elephant class to create our second grade safari! with hand print elephants and giraffes!

One of our favorite parts of the last few weeks has been our Paper Chain STEM Challenge

Each giraffe was given 1 piece of paper, 1 piece of tape, and a pair of scissors, and their challenge was to create the longest paper chain in 15 minutes.

Some giraffes cut and attached each strip one at a time, but others decided to cut their paper and tape first and safe the chain making for last. 

It was so interesting to see which methods each giraffe chose to make their chain--some even discovered that they could fold their paper in half so they could cut double the strips in half the time!

After our 15 minutes was up, we compared our chains with our tablemates and the longest chain from each table came up to the front of the room. 

...and we have a winner!!

Later that week, we did the same challenge, but this time, we worked together as a table to make our chains using 4 pieces of paper and 4 pieces of tape. We also added on 10 more minutes so we would have plenty of time to attach all of our strips.

It was interesting to see how people chose to modify their methods and everyone in 2R did a wonderful job listening to ideas, sharing tasks, and working together. Ultimately, the purple table came out victorious when it came time to compare, but all of the giraffes made some impressive paper chains!

Thank you to all of the giraffes for making these first few weeks so fun and exciting! I cannot wait to see where the rest of our year will take us as we continue to learn, explore, and grow together :)