If you haven’t started a portfolio of some sort for each of your children, I strongly suggest you do now. At the beginning of each year, I get a 1 inch binder for each student (well, I have them get it) and we put either actual writing activities in it or copies of writing that you go ahead and send home. A journal is something that you can have your children write in also, but this portfolio is for work that they are proud of. These are things they’ve worked on more than just a few minutes. Some examples are short stories, acrostics, letters, seasonal stories, word processed things, poems, and so on. Have them illustrate and really make this portfolio nice. I tried to put one piece of writing in per week, so by the end of the school year, the children really had something they were proud of. I also made some copies of the work from the begining of the year for them to edit and learn from. It also helps them to see growth in what they’ve accomplished with their writing skills! I usually wrote letters to them and placed them at the end the of the portfolio and passed them out with awards at the end of the year. So….if you haven’t started, it’s not too late! Your children will be so glad you did!
In a second or third grade classroom, there are so many different ways to arrange the students’ desks- however, not all of these ways are very effective for learning and teaching. It is important to arrange your desks in a manner that the children can learn best based on their learning style, need, or due to behavior circumstance. In my years of experience, I’ve got it narrowed down to two arrangements that I alternate between that are the most effective for everyone involved.
Keeping and maintaining a constant schedule is of utmost importance! It will make life easier for you, the children, your co-workers, and even the parents of your students. I realize the first day (maybe two days) of school is hectic, so starting a routine is a bit difficult then. If you take anything at all from this post, take this: DO NOT start your school year off without a routine-DO NOT take more than a couple of days of “flying by the seat of your pants”. You will pay for it in the long run. Children, especially elementary aged children thrive off of routine. They feel more comfortable in your class because they know what’s coming next.
Oh, how I remember my very first open house night…I was SO nervous! Getting the classroom set up, getting lesson plans done for the first day or two, and so on was all a breeze compared to the waiting….the waiting…for all the children AND their mom AND their dad AND their grandma AND their siblings running all over the place…and so on- I think you get the idea! After 7 years of open house, I still get a little nervous. Here’s a few tips to help you get through that night and meet YOUR objective- get a “snip-it” of the children you’ll be teaching for the next nine months!
Read one of the following books to the class; Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levinson or Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington. They are both about the life cycle of pumpkins. These are short books, so the order of events should not be that difficult for the children to remember.
Type up a generic list of the events of the life cycle of a pumpkin. Mix up the entire list so that all of the events are out of order. Give each child the mixed-up list, a sentence strip, a sheet of green construction paper, a sheet of orange construction paper, a small square of yellow tissue, a pumpkin seed, and a di-cut or color sheet of a large pumpkin.
The children use all of their materials to glue the steps of the growth of the life cycle of a pumpkin in order, and make the process as they go along. They will start with the seed, then use the tissue paper to make the pumpkin flower, then use the construction paper to make a small green pumpkin and a small orange pumpkin, and finally use the di-cut or the color sheet for their final grown pumpkin. All of these things are glued on the strip in a sequence of events.
To inspire your young writers to “think out of the box”, pass out sticky notes to each child in your classroom. Tell them to think of an adjective to describe the season of autumn. Collect all the sticky notes and make a large, visible list for the children to see.
Read the book Autumn by Steven Schnur to the class:
After the story, tell the students that they are going to act like the author of this book and write their own acrostics. Create a class example using the word â€œFallâ€ so they know exactly what to do. Then, let each child write their own acrostics using some of the adjectives they all listed. Here’s an example:
Apples are yummy on a stick!
Usually, my family rakes colorful leaves together.
The best part of fall is going to the pumpkin farm.
Under stars we toast marshmallows by the fire.
My mom puts a scarecrow in the yard.
Nuts, acorns, and pine needles are all over the place!
After they write their acrostics, they can type them on the computer onto seasonal paper or they can re-write on large paper and illustrate their ideas.
“Pumpkin Cluster Chart”
This is a great way to check the children’s oral comprehension skills and abilities to summarize details. It’s also a fun fall/autumn/Halloween activity!
Before reading the The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons to the class, remind them that after hearing the story, they will be asked about what they remember. Also, remind them that they are going to have to remember specific details from the story to make a graphic organizer together.
Once the children have heard the story, ask them about four main parts of the story. (For example: growing a pumpkin, varieties of pumpkins, things to do with pumpkins, and so on) Make a large cluster chart on the board or on a sheet of chart paper using their ideas. Once completed, give each child a sheet of chart paper so they can create their own cluster chart. After that is completed, they can illustrate all of their ideas with drawings to match the ideas.
To get your second grade students in the spirit for the season of fall/autumn, the following writing activity and craft usually is a lot of fun and it turns out really nice too! It’s definitely a colorful fall hallway display or bulletin board activity idea.
Begin the lesson by reading the following book to the class:
It’s Fall (Celebrate the Seasons)
After reading the book, make a list of the following senses on chart paper: see, hear, smell, touch, and taste.
Creative writing, whether written in a Writer’s Workshop style, in a journal, or in a basic writing assignment is a crucial part of the day for any second grade child. Whether this child is an emerging writer, becoming a more productive writer, or an established writer, including creative and interesting writing topics into your curriculum is very important and it can be SO much fun!
So many creative writing lessons can stem directly from a read-aloud.
- Have your students become the character or another character in a story and tell a new point of view.
- Let the children rewrite a new ending to the story that you just read.
- Instruct the children to change the story into a play, write the play in groups, make puppets, and act out their play for the rest of the class. Visit www.janbrett.com for some great materials to use with her books!
- Only read half of a book and let them write what they think will follow.
- Put “Imagine if” with just about anything! (Imagine if _____happened to you, imagine if the character did something different, imagine if it took place somewhere else, etc.)
I absolutely love making learning as fun as possible, so whenever I can include some sort of learning board game into my curriculum, I will. The following games are just a few that I really enjoy using!
Great Games For The Overhead: Math – This is such a fun way to include the entire class into various math games. This book comes with fun overhead transparencies and printables for the children to use during the game. SO much fun!
30 Wonderful Word Family Games – This book has a lot of fun games to play with students with teaching word families!