December 30, 2020

Gearing Up for New Years 2021 + TpT SALE!


This time of year has us winding down from the holidays and gearing up to ring in a new year. Although many of us this time of year last year were optimistic about what 2020 would bring, I guess we can say that it turned out quite differently than expected.

With 2021 almost near, it's nevertheless an exciting time to think about all of the possibilities and this excitement makes for a wonderful unit upon returning to class (whether in person or virtual).

No matter if I was teaching 2nd grade or kindergarten, discussing goals is something I love introducing and practicing for the remainder of the year. Setting achievable and measurable goals are beneficial for any student (and adult!) and why not use this opportunity to begin those discussions.

New Years Resolutions & Goals

This has been my tried and true activity for years! This year I gave it a bit of a facelift featuring new clip art and font and adjusted a few details. I'm excited to share this newer version with you all in hopes you'll find it just as fun and engaging as I have.

Setting goals, or having a growth mindset, has been a big calling for teachers in the last few years. The purpose is to get kids "unstuck" from attitudes that can hold them back. A growth mindset is a way of thinking that is optimistic, realistic, and achievable. What better time to review or even introduce this to students!

Resolution writing can be quite critical thinking prompt for students - even in 2nd grade. That's why I recommend scaffolding the concept with read alouds, morning meeting discussions about setting goals/ growth mindsets, and modeling. A few of my favorite read alouds that focus on building a growth mindset are:
  • Giraffe's Can't Dance
  • The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes
  • Jabari Jumps
  • Ish
There are a ton more out there, but these are great for kinders to begin thinking about what they're good at and what they'd like to be better at or try. After spending some time on this concept, students will be ready to apply it themselves by setting a goal for the new year.

Goal Writing Prompts

Prompts are a great way to help guide students to thinking about themselves and coming up with a goal they'd like to work on. Some kids already have an idea while others may need some help. These prompts count down from 5 to 1 and help narrow down ideas so that students have a ton of goals to choose from to write about. These pages are optional, but always a fun and easy way to get the ball rolling...

Finally, after all of the hard work of brainstorming a goal and going through the writing process, it's time to decorate their party people! A template is available in both boy and girl form and now you have two styles of party hats to choose from. Simply print directly on construction paper or have students color their people, decorate their hats with markers, gems, sequins, and pom-poms, and affix the writing as shown. To add an additional pop of color and pizzaz, use glitter on the glasses for the year - they make a cute display in the classroom!

To top off this little unit, these read alouds about New Years are always fun to have. It's also a great opportunity to expand students' understanding of how different cultures around the world celebrate New Years (especially if you teach Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year in the coming month).

Photo Credit: Primarily Speaking

TpT New Years Sale!

Coming up on December 31st my TpT store is hosting a little sale to celebrate the new year! Automatically save 20% off on everything (including this NYE Craft!) until Jan 3rd! It's a wonderful way to stock up on all of your needs (winter themed resources, math, spring...) as we all head back to the classroom. 

December 24, 2020

Exploring Ancient China | 2nd Grade

Happy New Year everyone!

When I taught second grade, one of the major units we would cover beginning in January is our Ancient China unit. This was pretty lengthy in that I find teaching cultures to be a lot of fun but it can be a lot of material to cover in just a few weeks. In my experience with teaching Ancient China I’ve found that my kids LOVED it - from learning about their history and traditions to how we celebrate Chinese American culture here in the’s just a lot of fun and a lot of learning!

Plus, there's much to be said about how teachers go about teaching culture within the classroom. This is a great opportunity for self-learning and understanding on our part to ensure we're teaching authentically. Invite Chinese-American student families to be a part of your lessons, be intentional about picking Chinese-American authors or stories that tell accurate accounts of history. These little steps help teachers tackle all of the material that a unit on ancient cultures and civilizations bring.

Now onto the workbook!

Because the material can be quite a lot, I've created this Ancient China Workbook. It's a single packet that has been the proven way to keep all of our learning in one place. It also allows my students to practice early note-taking skills, which I think are extremely important! I’m surprised at how well they learn to take notes and locate information for themselves during this unit.

This workbook consists of these major topics we cover during the unit:
  1. Geography 
  2. Climate
  3. Written Language 
  4. Inventions
  5. Contributions
Plus some fun topics that adds to the engagement of learning about Ancient Chinese culture:
  1. Silk
  2. Chinese New Year/ Lunar New Year
  3. The Chinese Zodiac
  4. Clothing and Hair

Utilizing Online Resources - BrainPopJr & Reading Rainbow

When I first began teaching this unit I wanted to incorporate a variety of mediums of which to teach each topic. Some would be lecture and traditional note-taking while others would be a video, a read aloud, or some kind of activity. My school at the time had a subscription to BrainPop and BrainPopJr, of which I used all the time! This workbook was created for students to take notes during the videos instead of just sitting there.

Don't have a subscription? No worries! A teacher answer key is included at the end of the packet as well as a companion .PPT presentation.

The videos I use for this entire unit can be found here:

Map Reading Skills

Learning about maps and how to use/read them are a part of the Social Studies standards early in the school year (at least when I taught in Virginia). It's a skill that has so many benefits and this Ancient China workbook begins with an introduction of where China is geographically located and its landforms and climate.

Next, students begin to dive into Ancient Chinese culture! These pages go on to cover their written language of calligraphy, the importance of silk, and a little mini-lesson on Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year.

One of the best learning days during this unit that year after year students get most excited about is when we discuss the Chinese Zodiac or Chinese Horoscopes. The zodiac comes with its own folktale about the 12 animals that represent the 12 months of the year. Each animal symbolizes a birth year and it is believed by the Chinese that babies born within that year have characteristics that the animal represents.

This is a highly engaging mini-unit and my students have always loved finding their zodiac and discovering a little more about themselves...

Ancient Chinese inventions and contributions can be used and seen even today, which makes this topic so interesting to my young learners. This section of the workbook students learn more about Chinese customs as it relates to clothing and hair styles as well as the inventions that helped contribute to everyday life.

Optional Extension Activity

One thing I added to this revamped version of my packet is an optional student brochure project. I found my first year teaching 2nd grade I had students who enjoyed being challenged and grasped the content pretty quickly. So, I created a project that can either be done with the whole class or as extra credit for those thirsty for more.

I’ve included a parent letter explaining the purpose of the project, an info page for students explaining what’s expected, and a rubric. I’ve also added blank templates of these forms so you can edit them to fit your classroom’s needs!

I’ve loved this unit since I first began teaching it and I hope you find this resource helpful in tackling the content!

December 3, 2020

Winter Break Activity Packet


Winter Break is coming up in just a few weeks for many teachers around the country and what better way to prepare for some much deserved time off than getting ahead on student take-home materials. Whether you're teaching in person or still distance learning, take-home activity packets are easy ways to keep your students engaged during that time away from you.

Parents always have appreciated the option for their child to continue practicing key concepts while on vacation and therefore I have this Kindergarten Winter Activity Packet ready to go just in time for break!

For my students it's all about keeping them engaged with the skills we've been practicing during class time. So, in this packet you'll find:

  • A two week reading log (featuring hot chocolate mugs to color in for every book read)
  • ABC lowercase review
  • Name writing practice using lowercase letters
  • Bucket Filler activity (SEL)
  • ABC "What's Missing" activity
  • Rhyming words practice
  • Sight Word rainbow writing
  • ABC home scavenger hunt
  • Beginning sounds activity
  • Winter Break Adventures writing prompt
  • Story Sequencing graphic organizer
  • Syllables counting
  • and Color By Sight Word activity
Of course there can be plenty more activities added to this packet and teachers can add and take away whatever they need to fit the needs of their individual students/classes. Use this as-is as a complete packet to send off with students before break or weave in your own practice pages to make the ultimate packet.

However, I believe that activity packets should also leave room for fun, days off, and relaxing during the holidays. Students deserve a break just as much as us teachers, so keep that in mind when creating your own take-home packets.