Thursday, April 30, 2015

Summer to Second Grade

Hi everyone! I am Megan from Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade.  Today I am sharing my end of the year gift that I give my students.  I like to give the gift of continued learning {to prevent the summer slide}.  I send a pack of mine called "Summer to Second Grade."  It is loaded with goodies to full of spiral review for the concepts we've learned throughout the year.  There is a reading log, writing journal, Math and ELA mini-books, a summer fun calendar, and more!  To prep this, I copy everything and place in a gallon Ziplock bag along with crayons, pencils, erasers, and a book mark.  This year, I was fortunate to get a YOOBI box full of supplies that I will be sending home.

I'm also having a giveaway!  You can enter to win this summer fun pack by visiting my blog, and taking a look around.  Leave a comment on a post you like. Be sure to reference THIS post and include your email!  The more people that comment, the more winners!  I'll announce the winners on my Facebook fan page so be sure that you follow me.  You can do that HERE.  Good luck!  TGI {almost} F!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Muffins with Moms

Happy Spring to you! I am in the midst of getting ready for one of my favorite events of the year...Muffins with Moms!  This will be my 7th year hosting this event and I couldn't be more excited! Never heard of Muffins with Moms? Skeptical that you wouldn't get any moms to come?  Rest assured, friends. I thought I'd start off by giving a few tips to host your own Muffins with Moms event!
Muffins with Moms can really be held at any point in the year, but I prefer to hold it the Friday before Mother's Day. It is a great way to celebrate the meaningful holiday, and if you live close to your own mom, be sure to invite her as well (my mom comes every year!).
I make it very clear that any and all women are invited to Muffins with Moms. I work in a Title I school. Not all moms can make it. Some are working and can't take the time off. Some are busy at home, are in prison, passed away, live in another city or just plain refuse to come into school forwhateverreason. I have this honest conversation with my kiddos. We come to the conclusion that if it's not your actual "mom" that comes in, no biggie. You can invite grandma, or auntie, or your neighbor lady that lets you jump on her trampoline in the summer. Which leads me to #3.
Even parents with the best of intentions can fail (I'll be the first to admit, I am not supermom). Sometimes we forget important events. Plan on someone not coming. Plan on a few no shows and you'll be happy you asked for more volunteers. Ask your nearby high school if they have any students looking for volunteer hours (cheerleaders, sports teams, health and government classes sometimes require these hours). Ask your school staff if they can take an hour (your principal might be totally on board with this--mine have been!) to come and support any students that didn't have anyone show for them. And if it's not 1-1, don't worry. Students can share any volunteers if need be!
Most parents will need at least a week's notice in advance. If you can let them know as soon as you've put it on your school schedule (check with your admin to make sure there are no other events at the same time!), you'll get a better turnout. You'll also likely get more people that want to help if they have time to plan ahead...which leads me to #5!
I always ask parents to help! Most moms love to help out with events like these, and this is a great opportunity for them to feel like they are supporting their kiddo. I like to provide the coffee and cups (I buy paper travel cups w/lids) and ask parents to bring in the rest.  If you communicate through email, ask parents to "reply all" so they will know what is already taken or you'll get 500 muffins and no orange juice...or vice versa. Or, if you're even more of a tech savvy teacher, a google doc will work great for sign-ups, too. We get the fun and excitement started by making my Muffins with Moms Craftivity. We have these ready to give as a little parting gift as the moms leave.
You can find this craftivity and more in my Muffins with Moms {the complete kit} by clicking below!
 So, there you have it.  A few tips to get you started. So, tell me, have you hosted a Muffins with Moms event before? What tips do you have to share? Comment below! P.S. If you're already thinking, "What about the Dads?!" you might be interested in this!
Until next time!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Have I Got An Opinion For You!

Teaching Opinion Writing

Kids are naturals for having opinions!  They have an opinion on almost everything.....what clothes they want to wear, the vegetables they refuse to eat, which student doesn't follow the rules, etc.... And they LOVE telling us about them!

Books for Teaching Opinion Writing

There are a lot of books that can be used for teaching writing about opinions.  These are just some of my favorites.  I love to hear what the kids think about how the characters are being treated- like in Farmer Duck.  You can almost see some kids feel the pain that Duck feels when the farmer mistreats him.  They also can't wait to tell you why the Pigeon should or shouldn't be allowed to drive the bus.  Don't you just love Mo Willems books?

Task Cards for Teaching Opinion Writing

After introducing opinions with books, your students are ready to get started on applying their skills to writing.  A fun way to do that is with What's Your Preference task cards.  It's kind of like the game Would You Rather, but it takes the students through the entire writing process.

What's Your Preference for Teaching Opinion Writing

After choosing a task card, students plan out their writing using the planning sheets.  The planning sheets are then used to write out their opinions, plus edit and revising before writing the final draft.

Take It or Leave It for Teaching Opinion Writing

Another fun way to practice opinion writing is with Take It or Leave It.  These no prep- just print & use sheets are a quicker way to get students writing and using evidence to back up their opinions.

Take It or Leave It for Teaching Opinion Writing

This Take It or Leave It is specially for the end of the year or even summer school.  Each sheet is themed for summer! 

Opinion Writing and providing evidence

You can have students practicing these quick writes all through the year to build proficiency in their  writing with this Take It or Leave It writing bundle!  Kids LOVE to come up with different opinions to convince you to think the way they do!!

Using quick writes to practice using evidence to support your opinions

I hope you have lots of fun teaching your students to write about their opinions!  It is definitely something they really enjoy and are good at doing!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Hey friends!
I wanted to give away this pack to a comment below! I will choose the winner by 7pm Central time (then you can just wake up and print). 
Leave your email below!
Winner #5 - Check your email!

Click the last picture in this post to see more of this product.

Happy almost Earth Day!

Monday, April 20, 2015

End of the Year Prep

Hi!  It's Megan from Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade.  Today I am sharing some end of the year prep ideas with you.  The end of the year always creeps on up and I try my darnedest to stay on top of it!  I pride myself on my excellent organizational skills and the ability to always stay 10,000 steps ahead!  It's only because my mind does not shut off.  Ever.  This year I'll be in Vegas verrrry close up until the day we start school so....I'm in maniac mode currently.  Below are some things that I do at the end of the year vs. in the fall.

  • Assemble poetry folders-I make 28 {just in case} poetry folders.  These are the paper, 2-pocket folders.  I place 12 clear, plastic sleeves inside for our poems throughout the year.

  • Assemble birthday bags-I purchase small toys, balloons, party horns/blowers, stickers, and birthday bags.  I place the items inside and staple the bags shut.  I keep a basket of the bags out near my calendar and when a child's birthday pops up, I give them a bag and we sing "Happy Birthday."  No last minute scrambling for things!

  • Make a "wish list" of things I'd like to buy for the upcoming school year.  This always is so out of control, so I try to limit what I purchase.  My favorite shops for BTS shopping are: Target, Lakeshore Learning, Dollar Tree, and Learning Resources.   I'm having a linky over at my blog where you can share what's on your teacher wish list for next year!  I'd love to have you come over and link up! 

  • Assemble data binders-This takes awhile but it is SO worth it doing it in the spring vs. the fall. I get all the materials and copies laid out and have an assembly line of sorts.  Sometimes I have a helper but most years I do not.

  • Organize cabinets & De-Clutter-I love organizing!  Each year, I go through all of my cabinets and re-organize them.  I can ALWAYS come up with a few bags of things that I don't need/want.  I like to make room for things I will actually use!

What things do you do to get ready for the upcoming year?  Do you do a lot in advance or wait until summer and/or fall to do them?

If you liked this post, you can check out more organizational tips for your classroom by clicking HERE.  


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Earth Week Ideas and Activities

Yesterday Whitney shared some great Earth Day ideas (find it right here) and today I'll be continuing that pattern with a list of even more ideas, activities, and links to some technology, crafts, and easy to implement ideas.  Let's begin.

1.  Take your students on a Nature Walk.  Seriously!  This is simple and easy but it can give students time to focus on their surroundings and explore.  Just be careful for ticks.  Take it a little further and have kids bring paper, pencils, and clipboards to record animals, bugs, and plants.  There are numerous ways that information can be explored back in the classroom.  This is on my list for the week.

2. Create bird feeders with pine cones and peanut butter (of substitute with something else sticky in case of allergies).

3.  Build a diorama with things students have found out in nature.

4. Watch the Lorax.

5. Soda bottle bird feeder (and many more).

6. Coffee Filter Earth.  Draw, color, and spray.

7. Read The Giving Tree to your class.  Try not to cry.

8.  Pick a video from Discovery Education's YouTube page.  There are tons to pick from and filled with so much information.

9.  Bill Nye the Science Guy:  Garbage Episode.

10.  Visit the Earth Day website for a weeks worth of lesson plans on climate change.

11.  Even if you don't do anything specific remember to talk with your students about the importance of Earth Week.  It kind of matters.

If you're looking for a little Project Based Learning that's not listed above you can grab my Earth Day Invention PBL.  Students brainstorm ideas and create an invention that will help make the world a better place.  My daughter just finished hers and she created a machine that takes oil water and turns it into juice.  She calls it The JuiceMaker!   I'll let her have the first glass.