Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lapbook Fun

I came across the lapbook idea a few years back and felt it would be very useful in my classroom. Lap books are file folders that record student learning on a topic. I use lapbooks the most in Science and Social Studies. Basically, I teach one small component of the topic a day and then the students complete the activity that goes with it and glue it into their lapbook. At the end of the unit the students then have a record of their learning. We use the lapbook to review what we have learned.

We recently completed a mini lapbook on butterflies. I always let the students do their own cutting and gluing, but I know the books would turn out neater if I did the cutting and gluing ahead of time. I fight with myself all the time because I know that kiddos need to take ownership of their work, but my micromanaging teacher side wants them to be uniform and neat. As you can see,  my "let the kids have ownership" side wins every time! Lapbook downloads are available from Hands of a Child in a million different topics.  These would also make great home projects if you want your child to do some extra learning over breaks.

Here is a picture from the Hands of a Child website that shows a very nice lapbook on Beavers.

They can be very large and use two folders taped together, or small using one folder depending on the time available. I usually try to do two a year, a small one at the beginning of the year, and then a larger one in the spring. Overall, I like how the lapbooks provide another way to make learning memorable for the kids

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


This is a fun little incentive for kids who bring their homework back to school finished and on time. It works exactly like the game Monopoly. Each kiddo rolls the dice and then moves his/her picture around the board the number of spaces that were rolled. Landing on Chance or Community Lunch box allows the student to pull a card from the corresponding bag. The cards have extra privileges that the students can redeem during the week. The Brain Bender space gives the students a fun thinking activity instead of their normal morning work, and landing on the "Take a Seat on the Bus" space gets them to the prize box.

While this is fun and encourages kids to do their homework each week, it also serves another purpose. In today's world of "everyone wins" (our city sports teams don't keep score until they are like 10) I have realized that many kids have trouble with losing. They need more practice with sportsmanship and learning how to be gracious losers. So, not every spot on the board wins the kids a prize or incentive. Really, out of 4 rolls (a month of homework) most kids will only land on something "good" one time.

I am actually pretty amazed with how well my kiddos have handled landing on the dud spots. So far no tears or outbursts. Actually the only kids who have been upset are the ones who didn't get to play at all because they forgot their homework. I bet they don't forget two weeks in a row!

You can download game pieces and instructions at

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monarch Shirts!

Each year I have my class paint shirts that go along with our class theme. The kids love this activity and enjoy wearing their shirts on Fridays and on field trips.

We completed our shirts on Friday and let them dry over the weekend. Today I let each kiddo put on their shirt for some fun class photos. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mystery Reader

Everyone loves a great mystery, especially second graders. Every Friday in our room we have a guest mystery reader. The mystery reader can be a mom, dad, granparent, aunt, uncle, or any other member of a student's family. Parents sign up to be mystery reader ahead of time and keep their date a secret from their students. Then on Friday, my kids wait with anticipation to see who is going to walk through the door during storytime. It is so much fun for the kids to see their family member walk in unexpectedly!

Our first Mystery Reader was Mr. Marquez. What a great job he did reading aloud the book "The Wolf who Cried Boy". Thank you Mr. Marquez!