Opinion Writing: The Best Pet

My class has been busy writing opinions on which animal makes the best pet.  When we begin a unit of study, I like to read lots of books to my students so they get lots ideas on a topic.  Then we do lots of brainstorming together and I model many times.

Opinion Writing:  The Best Pet

Here is a great video to introduce opinion writing.

I like to start the unit by reading the book, Write an Opinion! by Kristen McCurry.  It is a great way to introduce what an opinion is.  We continue reading other books for ideas on what makes a good pet.  After brainstorming ideas, my students fill in their graphic organizers and begin their rough draft.  Click on the picture below for your free copy of the graphic organizer and writing paper.

I have included links to my favorite books to use when teaching opinion writing unit of study. (contains affiliate links)  Click on the book and it will take you to Amazon.      

Valentine's Day Ideas and Activities

It is hard to believe that February is just around the corner.  Here are some ideas, activities, and freebies to help you plan for the upcoming month.

Directed Drawing
My students love to draw.  I found this directed drawing activity on YouTube by Cassie Stephens.   We used oil pastels for the first time and the students had a blast drawing the various animals. 


My students enjoy going to centers.  This gives me time to work with individual students or small groups.  These Valentine's Day centers include missing addends, word problems. skip counting, adjectives, synonyms. telling time, and mental math.  A Valentine's review booklet is also included in the packet.  It is a great review for second graders.  You can check it out HERE.

Second Grade Math Centers

I found this FREE resource from Curriculum Castle.  Students predict whether candy hearts sink or float.  They also observe what happens to the candy when it is dropped into different liquids.  It is an easy way to incorporate science into your curriculum.  

I give my students morning work that reviews the skills that I have taught them.  It is also a quick informal assessment that tells me which students need additional help.  You can get your FREE copy by clicking the picture below.  You can buy the packet at my TpT store.

Second grade morning work

I found this adorable bulletin board FREEBIE and writing activity from Primarily Speaking.  

Grab these counting money task cards HERE.

Counting money task cards

Need more ideas and freebies for February?  Check out another post here.

First Day of School in Second Grade

It is hard to believe summer is over and school is back in session.  I would like to share with you some activities that I like to do with my students.

I like my students to feel comfortable and to meet the other students in our classroom.  Find A Friend activity is a great ice breaker on the first day of school.  It gets them up and moving and is a great way to get to know their new classmates.

You can get a FREE copy of Find a Friend by clicking on the picture.

Next, I like to read Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes. My students love singing along with the music.  You can purchase the book by clicking the picture.  It will take you to my affiliate link for Amazon.


After I read the book, we go on a tour of the school and follow the clues that Pete the Cat has left us.  The students love finding the clues.  You can get a copy of the tour from Inspired by Kindergarten.   When we return to class, we have a snack of Goldfish crackers.  You can get the FREE tags by clicking the picture below. 

One of my favorite books to read the first day of school is Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud.  You can purchase the book by clicking on my affiliate link:   Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids (Bucketfilling Books)
You can get this great FREEBIE below from Alisha, The Bubbly Blonde Teacher.  It has some great activities to go with the book.

Another book I highly recommend reading to your class is What Should Danny Do?  This is an interactive book with 9 different endings.  It teaches children that our choices shape our lives.  My students want me to read this story over and over again.   You can purchase this book from the website whatshoulddannydo.com.  Use the code: TEACHERSRULE for a discount.

Another great book to read to your class is called We're All Wonders by R.A. Palacio.  It is about a boy that is different from other children.  He hopes people will change the way they see things and see wonder in everyone!  Click on the picture for another Amazon affiliate link.

I like to see what skills my students remember from first grade.  This gives me a quick informal assessment of where each one of my students are at academically.   We will do a few pages together and then each morning as I take attendance, they complete a page on their own.  You can get it in my TPT store.

Review for second grade

Review for second grade

Click here and here for more back to school ideas.

I hope you have a wonderful school year!

Easter Breakout Box

My students love breakout boxes and begged me to make an Easter breakout box.  I purchased 4 toolboxes, hasps, and 4 locks for each box.  I have more information about the locks at the bottom of this post. 

I put the various tasks in manila folders.  I have 6 students in a group.   Several students  work together to solve a problem in the manila envelope.  It is too difficult to get all 6 students solving one problem.  Not to mention, there is a 45 minute time limit in order to get all the locks off.  If a team has difficulty solving their problem, someone else in their group can help.  They need to work cooperatively to problem solve and get the locks off.  Not everyone will get the locks off, and that is okay.  We don't always succeed the first time we attempt something.

You can also go to Breakout Edu to learn more about breakout boxes.  It is free to sign up and there are videos to watch.

One of the tasks my students had to solve was to put the eggs together to form compound words.  You need to use the words jellybean, railroad, popcorn, butterfly and flashlight in order to solve the maze.  I also put a few extra eggs in such as baseball, bathtub, pancake, etc. that are not on the recording sheet.   

Do not use the words grasshopper, fireworks, sidewalk, fishbowl, basketball, ladybug, or airplane on your plastic eggs.

After making the compound words, they had to find the compound words on the paper using up, down, left, and right arrows.  I laminate the paper and have my students put a dot on the compound words from the eggs.  Then they connect the dots.  This is the code for the directional lock  (up, right, up, left, up).  I explained to my students how to use the lock and how to clear it by pushing down on the lock two times.


Another task that they completed was finding the secret word by counting the money and matching it to the value.   Then they had to put the letter that was printed on the card to solve the code for the word lock which is "treat."

The next task they had to complete was an Easter sort with adjectives, nouns, pronouns, and verbs. I write the words using invisible ink.  They had to use the UV flashlight to see the words printed on the back of the eggs.  If you want, you could write the clues using a marker.  The combination for this lock is 4, 2, 1, 4.

You decide on on how many words you want in each column and program your lock to match it.

The last task that they had to complete was solving the secret code by using the wheel.  This clue told them where the key was hidden for the last lock.   Each group had a different code to solve.   I had them hidden in books.

I could not think of any good clues to go with Easter books so I made up clues to go with classic books.  One clue was:  "Run, run as fast you can."  The key was taped inside the Gingerbread Man book.  You will need to make your own clues depending on the books that you have.  

Click here for a copy of the secret decoder wheel.  I circled a letter on the inside wheel and outside wheel so they knew how to align the letters on the wheel.

Here is another decoder wheel that has letters and numbers. 

If the students were able to take all the locks off within 45 minutes, they got the prize inside the box.    Click here for the Easter breakout clues that I created.

I used this timer for our Easter breakout.  The timer adds excitement to the activity.


Here is my affiliate link for the items that I purchased from Amazon.

Wordlock PL-004-BK 5-Dial Combination Padlock,

 Black Master Lock 1500iD Speed Dial Combination Lock, Assorted Colors Master Lock 120Q 

Solid Brass Body Padlock, 3/4-Inch Wide Body, 5/32-Inch Shackle Diameter, 4-Pack Findway 5 UV 

Ultra Violet Blacklight 9 LED Flashlight Torch Light Outdoors Novelty Place [Spy Pen] Invisible 

Ink Pen with Built-in UV Light - Magic Marker For Drawing, Secret Message Writing, Currency 

Checking, Security Marking (Pack of 4) Master Lock 421 Lockout Hasp with Vinyl Coated Handle, 

1-1/2" Inside Jaw Diameter HT®The Ultimate 4 Digit Combination Padlock Set - Set Your Own(Not TSA Approved Lock) (Blue)

 Stanley 016011R Series 2000 16-Inch Tool Box