Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Which Witch?

I may be the only teacher in the whole world who genuinely loves Halloween.

I'm at least in the minority, grouped together with a bunch of other first and second-year teachers who haven't been teaching long enough to hate this day of glorified sugar rushes and approximately zero education, but I really love it! I love the costumes, and I love dancing the Monster Mash, and I love making witch's brew.

Before we started putting the food together, I like to sing "Witch's Brew" by Hap Palmer with my class. They love it and so do I! What do you think the cap is on who would enjoy this song? 4th grade? Maybe 5th? I mean I still like it, but I am kind of a 2nd grader at heart :)

I thought it would be fun to wear a witch hat while making the witch's brew, but since I didn't have one, I just made one out of construction paper when I got to school. And then, since that turned out to be so easy, I cut some paper for my kids to make their own!

The hats are made with one piece of construction paper, cut in half. I put out 4 colors so they could mix and match and choose a half-sheet of orange and a half-sheet of green, or whatever they wanted. 
I gave two stencils to each table. They needed to cut a circular hole in the center of one of the half-sheets of construction paper, and a bit of a slope on the other half-sheet. 

The hardest part was folding the slope-cut half-sheet into a party hat shape, and honestly, I ended up doing almost all of them. I stapled them twice, and it actually didn't take too long.  
How cute are my kids! Ah.
I gave everyone a few minutes to decorate their hats, by coloring them or cutting a special design into the brim.  
They were definitely not the sturdiest of hats, but they were cute, and it was a fun addition to our witches brew activity!

There are a ton of recipes smattered all over the internet, but the one I used this year is one I got from a teacher on my team. It called for

-cinnamon red hots
-gummy worms
-Chex cereal (plain)
-candy corn
-sunflower seeds

So, kind of a lot of ingredients. What I liked about it, though, is that everything coordinated really cutely to something else! The cinnamon red hots were drops of blood, the Cheerios were cat eyes, the gummy worms were earth worms....etc. Not only that, but I have a few allergies in my class and nothing on this list was a problem for any of my allergy kids.

This year, I asked parents to send everything in on the day we made witch's brew in class. Next year, I think I will ask for everything to be sent in a day or two before we make witch's brew. I want to take it out of the original packaging and put them in bags, bottles, or boxes with labels. I found so many cute ones on this Pinterest board, but it was after I had already done it with my class. Some of them are printables, some cost money, and some are editable. I'm sure there's something on there that will meet your needs!

I was the only one who mixed the witch's brew, and I separated them into individual baggies for my kiddos to snack on during seat-work. 

We do this worksheet along with our activity, which I got for free on TPT from the lovely Shelley Gray. This worksheet is perfect for reviewing sequencing, and the pictures on it are so cute! It doesn't exactly match up to the recipe I used, so I just let my kids put the ingredients in whatever order they wanted.
We ended up having several extra baggies, so we were able to share our witch's brew with some of the other teachers and our cute office ladies. Do you make witch's brew in your classroom? What do you do to make it fun?

Happy Halloween everyone!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Spider Week - EEK!

I do not like anything buggy / insecty / creepy-crawly.

Once when I was handing out lunch tickets at the cafeteria doors, one of my students came up in line, holding something in his hand.

"Rolly polly!" he cooed, holding it up for me to see.

"OH, WOW," I said, a little too loud.

He gently set it on the ground. "Make sure he doesn't get stepped on!" he said, and then bopped off to lunch.

I watched him go and promptly stepped on it.

So this might be surprising, but in October, I like to do a Spider Week with my students. It's also surprising to me how much they love it every year!

There are SO MANY cute ideas for spider stuff on Pinterest and on TPT, but spider week looks a little like this in my classroom:

We make a KWL chart - first on the rug, with a shared writing activity. We write what we Know or Think about spiders in one column, and then questions we have in the other column. I give my kids a chance to record some of what we talked about on their K and W. I got this cute worksheet for free on TPT and it has worked great for me!

Then I read to them about spiders. I don't really have a favorite book....I always pick a different one from the library. Here is a great list of fiction and nonfiction books about spiders.

While I read, I have them fill out the L part of their chart, as well as a Can / Have / Are chart that I got from this cute mini-unit by Kindergarten Lifestyle - also for free and also from TPT! (She also has another KWL chart in there if you want it to match with your C/H/A chart.

How cute, right?? There is also a spider labeling worksheet in there that I love and plan on using next year.
Last year I wrote a story called "The Princess and the Spider" for Spider Week. The kids loved it....maybe just because I wrote it? But I actually do feel quite proud of it! Anyway, I read half of this on Monday, and we circle back around to it on Thursday. I put it on TPT if you are interested!


So blablabla worksheets and listening. On Tuesday, we played a super-fun game to review verbs and adjectives. Every student got one of these adorable free verb / adjective cards, which I got from The Applicious Teacher on TPT. There weren't enough cards for my class, so I just had the students who didn't get a card hold stuff for me. One student held the Verb sign, another held the Adjectives sign, and two other students each held a line of yarn. 

The kids holding the yarn and signs were my spiders, the yarn was the web, and everyone else was a bug. For Round 1, I called on students one at a time to stand up, say the word on their card, and then buzz / crawl / flap / inch / hum over to the webs. If there was a verb on their card, the spider living in the verb web had to catch them, and if they had an adjective, the adjective spider had to catch them. 

Just to keep things from getting out of control, I had two rules. 

1. If the spider touches you, you are caught.
2. No wrapping people up with yarn or throwing it over them. Just wrap the yarn once (gently) around their hand and be done. 

When a lot of bugs got caught in the webs, I asked them to participate by either saying "Come over here! Come over here! Come over here!" or "Stay away! Stay away! Stay away!" 
Here are our terrified bugs, all caught in the verb web. They just set the cards in a pile on the desk when they got "caught."
And here's the adjective web! (You can see the spider in blue and yellow stripes creeping in, about to eat one of them. 
It worked pretty well to just do one person at a time for Round 1. 
After Round 1, we did a "Blitz Round." Everyone had to write one word on their whiteboard, either a verb or an adjective, and then they all buzzed over to the webs all at once. My rule for this game was that if they wrote a verb, they couldn't hang out by the adjective web trying not to get caught, and vice versa.

I love the adjectives they came up wth! Red, ugly, gentle, poisonous, big....

I love my art project that goes with spider week! We worked on informational writing with this spider craftivity. Each student needs to come up with a main idea, either an opinion on spiders or a broad fact that can be used as their topic, and 8 details.

Then they glue it all together and put it on a half-sheet of black construction paper. You wouldn't believe how many spiders wear makeup these days!


This year, I decided to do a pumpkin book report. I'm sure you've seen a million versions of this idea on TPT or any number of teaching blogs, but I first heard about it from my teammate. I think it was Hope King, writer of Shenanigans in Second. Oh my goodness, she is a genius! I didn't use her version of the project - just made my own, but she was definitely my inspiration. 

Anyway, I wanted my kids to get a little practice creating a pumpkin character so they would know what I expected for their book report. On Thursday, I finished reading my "Princess and the Spider" book to the class. We split up into groups of 3-4, and I gave one pumpkin to each student. Since there are only 3 characters in "The Princess and the Spider," I had two groups in each class work on each character. (I just got the plastic trick-or-treat buckets that look like pumpkins, and a bag of 3 table pumpkins instead of getting big orange pumpkins). I pulled out a box of just a few art supplies, including pipe cleaners, googly eyes, construction paper, and cotton balls. Then I sat in my pink chair with my hot glue gun and let them go crazy!

Oh my heck, how cute did this spider turn out? 
I love how they put 8 eyes! Just one fact we learned about spiders this week.
Here's one of the kings. I love the pipe cleaner hair!
Pretty much every 2nd grader loves art, but this year I have a group of kids who are especially engaged whenever we do anything artistic. I loved watching them work together and get their creative on!
Part of our book report is also going to be a short, 3 minute presentation. We did that today just to give them some practice for when they are presenting their projects on their own. 
Do you see that face on construction paper glued on the pumpkin? One of my little guys came up to me very upset as we worked on our pumpkins. "Mrs. Shimp??" he said. "Those kids copied off of my face!" 

I looked where he was pointing. "Oh, did you make a construction paper face too?"

He shook his head. "I'm in the spider group," he said. "But that is my face. They're copying my face!"

I'm sure I looked very confused. 

"It looks exactly like my eyes, and my smile," he continued, very earnestly. 

"Wow! I wish they had copied my face!" I said. That made him feel better and he went back to his spider group. 

His eyebrows!! 

And that's it! Do you do a Spider Week in your class? What is your favorite activity for teaching spiders?

Monday, October 13, 2014


I have always been one of those people who loves my birthday.

So when I was watching HIMYM, and the episode starts out by saying "Lily has always been one of those people who loves their birthday. Loves it" ....well. That's when I decided that Lily was my favorite character. 

If you haven't seen it, Lily's birthday starts when Lily jumps up in bed at midnight and shouts, "It's my birthday!" Marshall responds by putting a crown on her head, and they go back to sleep. 

UNTIL 7:00 when she wakes up again and he comes in with breakfast in bed for her!!

And then he has the whole day planned out awesomely! Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I saw this episode and showed it to Stephen, who does not did not believe in birthdays. 

Then for good measure, I showed it to his mom, too. And his sisters. 

And I think his brothers watched it, too.

And I am happy to announce that my birthday turned out even better than Lily's! 

I woke up at midnight (4 minutes after we went to bed, but it's okay), shouted "It's my birthday!" and Stephen put a crown on my head. 

I feel that it is important to note, that even after like 5 conversations with Stephen about this whole crown business, with two days until my birthday I hadn't seen anything that looked even a little bit like a crown anywhere in our house. But when I said, "We have to remember to get me a crown tomorrow!" Stephen went to our room and brought out a crown that he had gotten and been hiding in his backpack. So then I died, and I knew my birthday was going to be better this year than last year.

The rest of the day was absolutely perfect and included all of the following:

- breakfast in bed (monkey bread of course)
- wearing my favorite dress to school

- perfect weather (always Heavenly Father's birthday present to me)
- a birthday sign a la Stephen

- phone calls and texts and Facebook posts and all kinds of virtual love
- 2 tissue boxes wrapped up beautifully with a bow, from one of my students
- endless pictures and cards from the rest of my students
(They are all suck-ups and I love them for it.)
- a gift card bouquet with gift cards to Chick-fil-A and Jamba Juice, and Sharpies from another student
- presents and key lime pie and cheesecake from the Shimp family

Not sure why I can't rotate these, but apparently I also couldn't blow out all the candles on my key lime pie. It just gets harder as you get older....
 - an unplanned (unasked-for, unashamed, underweared) dance by my youngest brother-in-laws. My goodness I am excited for them to grow up old enough to be embarrassed by the stories I can tell about them! (Even though this dance was actually pretty funny....)

 - hand-picked presents by Stephen, including a new outfit and this new coat that I am obsessed with!

Oh, more entertainment.
- a free food tour, which included free food from Firehouse Subs and California Pizza Kitchen, and later on in birthday month, free food from Dairy Queen, Coldstone, Brio, Baskin Robbins, Krispy Kreme, and Schlotsky's.

I love birthdays!! And I love this boy for putting up with my birthday craziness, and going along with it, and making my birthday perfect, and promising to take me to Hawaii next year, and putting on that stupid hat at Firehouse Subs just so I could take a picture to commemorate the free food. He is such a good sport and I can't wait to turn every other age with him.

Except I really can wait, because 24 is plenty old enough for me for now. But I'm just saying. He'll be there for the other birthdays, so that's good.