Thursday, May 4, 2017

Earth Day

Earth Day Videos & Songs 
For Kids

Video:  Reading Rainbow:  How Trash is Recycled

Video:  The Magic School Bus Gets Planted

The Earth Song, By Nick Kello:  A calming song about taking care of the earth with amazing photographs from around the world. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Marbled Paper

Shaving Cream Marbled Paper

You can use this marbled paper technique for a variety of classroom projects, whether it be to enhance students writing through illustrations, create colorful kites, Easter eggs or even create a mini planet Earth for Earth Day, the possibilities are endless!
Shaving Cream by meghan
You Will Need:
Shaving cream
Acrylic Paints
Large Pan / Tray
Toothpick / Pencil
Card stock
Scraper / Ruler

If you don't mind getting messy then this is the craft for you!

First spray a layer of shaving cream onto a pan/tray (you can line with aluminum foil for easier clean up).  Next, randomly squirt or dollop your acrylic paints over the shaving cream (I used pastels for kites, but blues and greens would look great for an Earth Day project)! 

Next, drag a toothpick or a pencil to create vertical and horizontal lines like a checkerboard pattern. A random swirl pattern would also work just fine. Then place the card stock face down onto the shaving cream and paint mixture and pat down gently, then slowly lift up the card stock. Warning:  It will look really messy at this point!

Finally use a ruler or scraper to scrape off the excess shaving cream and lay card stock flat to dry. Cut paper into desired shape.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Children In Nature

Living and teaching children in New Hampshire I feel privileged that I am able to teach children who are surrounded by nature.  We have easy access to a school nature trail and use the FOSS science program to teach our unit on New Plants.  One lesson we do is grow our own mini-lawns with rye grass and alfalfa. 

Students observe plant development
Record and communicate observations in words and drawings
Compare the development of different kinds of plants
Organize representations of lawns to show the sequence of events during growth and mowing

If you've never read the book, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, I would highly recommend it!  The book brings to light the increasing divide between young children and the natural world. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Moon Dough

Moon Dough

A simple sensory material made with 2 common household ingredients:  corn starch and conditioner!

 This could also be called play-doh but because I didn't want to add any dye and it is SO soft, I called it moon dough, which somehow made it sound even more exciting to my 2nd Graders. They worked collaboratively in groups to make a large batch of moon dough, which we later divided among each group member to take home in a Ziploc bag. This was a really fun, easy and realatively inexpensive (think enough for 24 students) activity for kids.  Feel free to download and use the Moon Dough directions below with your students:
Moon Dough by Mrs. Mayhew on Scribd

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Reading Buddies

In our second grade class we have kindergarten reading buddies.  Depending on our schedules we meet once a week for a 20-30 minute block. We start the year off with the older buddy reading to the younger buddy and as the year progresses, both buddies get a chance to read to one another.  Sometimes we change up this time together and do a fun art project, game or other cooperative activity.  There are numerous benefits of buddy reading for both individuals involved (improved fluency, expression, self-confidence, leadership skills, oral abilities, friendships, etc). Teacher Vision has a great article sharing some of the research behind the benefits of Buddy Reading along with the logistics and set up which you can read here: Reading Buddies.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 100

How do you celebrate Day 100 in your classroom? 
We made 100 day necklaces using fruit loops and apple jacks. Yum, the classroom sure did smell delicious!  Prior to the activity, as a class we discussed the different ways to group 100 (ex- 5 groups of 20, 10 groups of 10, 4 groups of 25, etc.), then the students decided how they wanted to group their cereal for their individual necklaces.  
In conjunction with Day 100 the second graders also had a homework assignment to bring in a collection of 100 and represent it in any way they would like.  The homework assignment was inspired by the book, Fancy Nancy, The 100th Day of School.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Global School Play Day

February 1st, 2017 is Global School Play Day!  This is an exciting initiative which was started by a small group of educators to bring back the importance and emphasis on unstructured play in children.  After reading more about this initiative, it looked really appealing and I was determined to give this a go in my own classroom.  I would encourage every educator to partake in this fun event! Visit the Global School Play Day website to register your class or school for free. 

Here are some images and student reflections from our fun day of play:

 A quick TED Talk from Professor Peter Gray (researcher at Boston College in children’s play) to teachers about participating in with Global School Play Day:

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!  This is the year of the Rooster! Roosters are hard working, talented, capable and enjoy a good adventure!  They like to travel and wake up early with the rising sun. 

In our class we celebrate the Chinese New Year by reading some books:

Followed by making lanterns and practicing painting some Chinese symbols:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Maps made by my second grade students. 

Me On The Map, is a great read aloud to do as in introduction to this activity.

National Geographic has a really great website all about spatial thinking and map skills for elementary students that we also spend some time exploring during our class computer lab time.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pumpkin Math

Fall in New England = All Things Pumpkin

Pumpkin math lends itself to classroom discussions around the ideas of estimation, grouping, skip-counting, collaboration to name a few!  This is also a great time to do some integration across the curriculum and tie in science and language arts; seeds, plants, life cycle, scientific process, science journals...and the list goes on and on.

I start off by passing the pumpkin around in a circle at the rug. I ask the kids to use their senses when it's their turn to hold the pumpkin.  We talk about what they see, hear, smell, taste (later with the cooked seeds) and touch.  We talk about all things pumpkin really! 

Next, I read aloud the book, How Many Seeds In A Pumpkin. Each student makes an estimation of how many seeds they think will be in the pumpkin on a post-it note.  The students then go back to their table groups and count the seeds in their pumpkin.  I cut the tops of the pumpkins prior to the activity and give each group a large metal spoon to scoop out the pumpkin guts. The groups decide how they would like to group their seeds (1, 2, 5, 10, 20). 

We also watch a short video clip about the life cycle of a pumpkin. The students sketch, label and journal in their science journals about their pumpkin before and after the activity.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Kamishibai (kah-mee-she-bye) a form of storytelling, is also known as traveling paper theater.  Kamishibai was a well-loved form of entertainment for children in Japan, mainly from the 1930s to the 1950s. As television become more popular in homes, Kamishbai became a thing of the past. Allen Say writes a great book to introduce young learners to this unique form of writing called, Kamishibai Man.

Using Kamishibai in the classroom can be an enriching experience for all learners. Kamishibai can be used to develop writing skills at a variety of levels. Another great aspect of using Kamishbai in the classroom is that it uses oral, visual and print methods of literacy.

We (my 2nd grade students and I) team up with our 4th grade writing buddies to teach this fun writing unit. We meet for as many consecutive days as our schedules allow, usually for 45 minute time blocks. Our 4th grade buddies introduce this unit to the 2nd graders by presenting some real Kamishibai stories (you can purchase these on The students are divided into groups of 5 or 6 depending on class size. By the end of the unit we usually have 8 to 9 completed stories. The students are exposed to the writing process, from generating ideas, developing setting and characters, using a story mountain graphic organizer, writing and illustrating their rough drafts, to a final typed and illustrated Kamishbai story which they then orally present in front of a large group of students and parents.

practicing how to use the Kamishbai frame

glimpse of rough draft story

rough draft of illustrations/slides

creating the artwork

working on more artwork

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mentor Texts for Six Traits: Voice

Mentor Texts for Six Traits: Voice

A warm up activity to introduce the trait of voice is to have each child write an emotion on an index card. After collecting the cards, we gather at the rug and kids get to choose an emotion to act out. It just gets them thinking of different ways to convey feelings using voice.  A good mentor text for this activity is: Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day, by Jamie Lee Curtis.

We Are In A Book! by Mo Willems- This is a book about 2 best friends, Gerald and Piggie, who find themselves in a book! They just can’t believe this new adventure and use some great “voice”. The book is composed of back and forth dialogue along with great simple pictures.  Once I read this book to the class, we talk about the different emotions the characters displayed and how the reader knew this. Many respond with things like, because of the speech bubbles, the punctuation-exclamation points, expressions on Gerald and Piggy’s face.  All of these ideas the students generate, I then link back to the trait of “voice” and tell the children that they are going to write their own comic. We brainstorm ways that authors show voice and then the students try to incorporate some aspects of voice into their own comic strips.

Dear Mrs. La Rue:Letters From Obedience School by Mark Teague- This is a great book to teach about using your own voice in letter writing.  After reading the book, we discuss ways in which we could tell how a character was feeling by reading the letters.  I then link this to my own students’ letter writing. I ask them to write a letter to Santa convincing him why they would be the best elf for the job! They have to create an elf character, with a name and a personality and convey all of this in a convincing letter to Santa. The kids love this and it’s amazing what ideas they come up with. I think my favorite line so far from one of my students was, “not only can I become invisible but I am also a trained reindeer tamer.”

Professional Learning Communities

Do you participate in PLC's in your district?

Last year, my colleagues and I wanted to learn how to become better writing teachers.  Our question which we would use to drive our learning was:  How can teachers as writers promote and strengthen writing instruction?  We decided that we would use our own personal writing linked to our students writing process and go from there. Although it made us a bit uneasy to share in front of our colleagues, in the end it made us have empathy towards our students and realize all of the tools writers need to be successful, from the environment to the actual nitty gritty details that writing can demand.

We decided as a group that voice was our hardest trait to teach so we all decided to write a piece about the first day of school. We each chose to write from a different perspective. Some of the perspectives were: bus driver, teacher, student, principal and the school itself. To our surprise this was a pretty fun piece to write and one that we could not only use in our PLC but also with our students.  I’ve found that my students just LOVE when I share my own writing with them, from the brainstorming, to the rough draft, to the final completed piece.

Here was my feeble attempt to write using the voice of a student on the first day of school. 

Voice: Student

I could see the flashing lights approaching in the distance.  The sound of the school bus coming to a stop and the opening of the bus door is one that you never forget.  Ms. Jackie, as we called her, was alright as a bus driver.  She was for lack of a better term, typical.  The bus ride was fine, nothing out of the ordinary.  I climbed up the stairs chose my usual area of the bus to sit and reserved the spot next to me for my best friend, who would be joining us in exactly three more stops. (I thought to myself, I wonder if the other kids I just walked by noticed my new cool coat and backpack?). Things were going well.

Soon we were there. The school smelled, well, like a school should; erasers, Elmer’s glue and old or should I say loved books.  It was just as I had expected.  As I walked down the hall I could see my teacher smiling. I had the nicest teacher in the school this year and to top it all off, ALL of my best friends were in my class. Wow, I thought to myself, could this year get any better?!

I took out my perfectly labeled purple polka dotted sparkly folder, matching journal, crayons, markers, colored pencils and neatly piled them on my desk.

Beep…Beep…Beep! What was that sound? It was then I realized my alarm clock was going off. I was going to be late for the first day of school! My great start to the school year was about to go downhill fast if I didn’t run to catch the bus! Some dream that was!

How do you successfully teach the craft of writing to your students?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pumpkin Observations
The holidays can be an exciting time for kids...especially Halloween! This holiday doesn't have to be all costumes and candy in the classroom so I tied in a fun pumpkin exploration activity for the kids. Pumpkins / Jack-o-lanterns, there's enough of a link, right?!
Science- life cycle- seed to pumpkin
Art- sketch
Word study- descriptive words
Math- seed estimation and counting with arrays, circumfrence, hight in base ten blocks
Reading- How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin, by Margaret McNamara and Brian Karas
Writing- story starter: "3 little pumpkinds were rolling down a hill..."


Personal Narrative Writing

How do you teach Personal Narrative writing?
I have found that kids write their best stories after a lot of modeling and exposure to mentor texts. My go to author to demonstrate personal narrative writing has always been, Patricia Polacco.
Below is one of the graphic organizers I made to use with my students this year to help them generate ideas for their personal narrative. I ask them to think about a time when they felt, sad, hurt, angry or worried. They write down one idea for each box, then pair-shared (adding in some detail words to each event/box).
We spend about a week reading and doing different graphic organizers to generate ideas- small/true moments from our life. After each student has a wealth of topics to choose from, they decide which event they want to turn into their very own personal narrative story, like Patricia Polacco's stories.
I can't wait to see how their personal narratives turn out this year!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

C'est L'Halloween Chanson (It's Halloween Song)

Here are the lyrics to the French song mentioned in my previous post.

Adventures in Grade 2 French Exposure

Adventures in Grade 2 French Exposure

I wish the title read: Adventures in Grade 2 French Immersion, but for now exposure will have to do.  As educators, we all know our school day is beyond packed with curricula.  Despite the cramped school day, I decided to add one more thing (how many of us have said that phrase before?)! However, I truly believe that learning a foreign language as a child is so important! Kids are like little sponges and another great benefit is that they have perfect accents!

So this school year, I have set off to expose children to the beautiful language of française.  I am attempting to do this by integrating French into my morning work and morning meeting time.  The kids really seem to be enjoying this so far! I recently dug up an old french CD for children and it was perfect for the upcoming holiday. Is anyone familiar with the french song, C'est l'Halloween? You may remember this song from your high school french class! You can watch the video and hear the song here:

Needless to say my kids love the song...unfortunately they got in trouble for singing it at computer time! I am going to have to remind them when it is appropriate to sing!

À la prochaine!
(Until next time)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Almost done with my classroom set up! Then again, what teacher is ever actually DONE?!