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Magnet Experiment FREEBIE

My kids absolutely LOVE this simple magnet experiment. I use it as a fun way to conclude my unit on force and magnets. You can find the recording sheet and instructions for the experiment here:

You will probably already have all the supplies that you need in your classroom.

Materials Needed:

·One pencil per group

·String or yarn

·Small magnets (Circle, ball, bar)

·Large and small paper clips (colored ones are more fun)

·One paper lunch bag per group

Teacher Prep

1.Construct “fishing poles” by attaching a magnet tied to a string to a pencil. The pencil serves as the pole. The string or yarn is the fishing line. The magnet is the hook.
2.Put an assortment of large and small paper clips into each paper bag (at least 20 large and 20 small in each).

Instructions for students

1.Without looking in the bag, drop the fishing line. Carefully pull up the line to see what you “Caught.”
2.Record your results and put your “Fish” back into the bag.
3.Pass the bag to the next person.
4.Continue until your charts are full. Compare results with your group members to see who is the better “Fisherman.”

Kids finish early? Copy the recording sheet double-sided and let them "fish" again!

Using Thanksgiving to Teach "Now and Then"

I absolutely LOVE Thanksgiving! I love the holiday and teaching everything about it. However, by the time that the kiddos hit second and third grade, they have done all the cutesy Thanksgiving things that us teachers love to do. The turkey hat is cute, but it loses its charm after first grade;)

I have found that Thanksgiving is a great way to incorporate some of my “Now and Then” standards. You can teach about the first Thanksgiving while comparing it to the Thanksgiving that we celebrate today.

Fantastic discussion starters for comparing the First Thanksgiving to the present Thanksgiving:

How long did the first Thanksgiving last? How about ours?

What did they eat at the first Thanksgiving? What do you like to eat at yours?

How did they talk back then? Now?

Always a favorite – What did they wear at the first Thanksgiving? What about you?

This Thanksgiving Now and Then Unit covers all these questions while teaching about the first Thanksgiving. It also contains several interactive components that allow to you use this in your interactive notebooks or to make lapbooks! You can buy the unit alone or as BUNDLE that includes a fun presentation to spark your students’ interest.

Alternative Seating Storage

I've been using camping chairs in my classroom way before the alternative seating trend started. My students really enjoy reading in the chairs and I've really never had a problem with them (and I'm in the second grade). My only struggle has been the storage.


The chairs fit, but the kids struggled putting them away each day.


They are much easier to store! This drawer is from an old dresser. Legs have been added to it and the chairs fit perfectly!

Teaching About the Presidential Election

I love election years! There is almost too much stuff for me to cover in my allotted time for Social Studies. I try to carry over some of the election material into our Language Arts and Reading block. How do we start our unit on the election? I usually try to make sure that I teach our unit on leaders before I start our election unit. Teaching about leaders is the perfect lead into the election unit. I have an Election 2016 Presentation that I use with the class. This presentation is a great review of when the elections are held and who is currently in the office.

We then move on to talk about the different major two parties and the two party nominees. It is extremely important to check your feelings about the candidates at the door. Your students should have no clue about your presidential preference. I always stress that the right to vote is confidential, while at the same time encouraging my students to talk about the election and the candidates at home. I only teach my students the facts ABOUT the candidates, never about the candidates’ stances on issues. Those are conversations that should be left at home. My job in the classroom is to give basic factual information (biographical) and to inform my students on the election process.

We also talk about the electoral college. This concept is sometimes a little tricky for grownups too. It makes for a great math lesson though!

The Election 2016 Unit has tons of activities that keep my students engaged while learning about the election process. My students love taking home their lapbooks full of information to share with parents!

Or, you can find both the unit and presentation together in a BUNDLE!

Goodbye Word Wall!

Goodbye Word Wall!
I have ALWAYS had a word wall in my second grade classroom. It was filled with vocabulary words and sight words. However, most of the words that were on the wall were in their writing notebooks, which they use for reference while writing. We weren’t really USING the word wall. In order to make the word wall more effective, I decided to make it a wall for all of the over used words. The words on the wall are the words that I notice they use way too often in their writing. I thought that I would change up the wall to encourage more colorful words. Instead of fun…
Instead of sad…
Instead of happy…
Instead of good…
Instead of bad…
They really enjoy using these words in their writing and even push themselves to think of other words that are not on the wall!

Books Boys LOVE

 As a second grade teacher and a mom of three boys, I am always searching for books that will capture the interest and imagination of boys. For most of my second graders, the end goal is for them to be reading chapter books before the school year is over. There are numerous book series that girls enjoy. However, books that captivate boys are much harder to find. The following series are currently working for me in my classroom (and house) right now.

A long-time favorite for me in my classroom has been Hank the Cowdog. There are now over 60 books in this series. 

My oldest son got hooked on them in the second grade and is STILL reading them as a sixth grader. My husband is also a big fan (so there really is no age limit on these books). In my second grade classroom, I start reading these aloud while my kiddos are practicing their handwriting. I teach in a rural farming/ranching community and these books grab the attention of my kids like no other book series. The author, John R. Erickson, is a master of capturing ranch life in rural Texas. It helps if they are read aloud with a strong Texas draw ;) By the time that my students are heading to third grade they are dying to get their hands on a “Hank” book for themselves. 

The characters in these books are so entertaining and endearing. My sons have literally laughed until they cried retelling me the stories from these books. At home, even my husband will stop to listen if I am reading one aloud with my boys.

A new favorite of mine is the “I Survived” series by Lauren Tarshis. What I love about these books is that it teaches the reader about an historic event through the eyes of a fictional character. I never heard of this series until my middle son (in the third grade) started talking about the Nazi invasion at the dinner table. He had been reading “I Survived Nazi Invasion” and was curious about learning more. He loved all the books in this series and was constantly returning to the school library to see if other ones were available yet.

Lastly, any book by Gary Paulsen is a hit with boys. Honestly, I read some of his books when I was in school and I didn’t think they were too great. However, boys seem to LOVE these books. My oldest is completely fascinated by any of his books. Of course, “Hatchet” is the book that he is best known for. However, he has dozens of books that hold the interest of boys.