Go Team!

This is most definitely NOT a sports-related post – and anyone who really knew me would know that that’s not a possibility!  Broadway, film, music – all very likely, but sports – not so much!!  No, the kind of team I’m referring to in today’s title is team-teaching, and I was able to do a bit of it yesterday.  April 25 was Take Your Child to Work Day, and since so many students participated, I was left with only 8 children!  A colleague had only 5, so it was a perfect time to combine classes…and teaching talents!


We spent the first part of the morning in her room, where she had the laptops ready for us.  They explored ABCya and found lots of choices to help them practice reading, spelling and math skills. After they, they came to my room, where I read (my speciality!!) “Miss Rumphius” while they children sketched their visualizations.  Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Tonnessen lesson unless there was a craft involved, so they used dot paints to paint lovely lupine flowers.IMG_1889

After one more story at the end of the day (“The Curious Garden” – an ode to the Highline park in NYC), we went outside in the amazing April weather to conduct a plant scavenger hunt.  It was a gem of a day….but it’s back to the same ol’ stuff (albeit very cool stuff!) of a regular school day today.

I’ve gotta plan more of these kind of days….


Back to Hollywood…one last time


This should be the end of the classroom tour!  Here you see my sink (more lovely cabinetry) and the corner of the classroom by the door.


I consider this this the heart of the classroom.  We gather here for smartboard lessons, readalouds, demonstrations and so much more.  My calendar is on an easel that doubles as a display space


Another view of the meeting area.


The view standing by my orange teacher’s chair.  I don’t know how many times a day a child gives me something and I say “Put it on the orange chair!”


The best thing about this room?  The storage!!!


One more cute bulletin board – this one’s in the “alcove” by the classroom door.  More book storage in the shelves below, with writing folders and paper choices on top.

And as they say in Hollywood, THE END (until the sequel…..)

The Birthday Girl!

Happy Birthday to Shirley Temple!

She’s 85 years young today – and has been my inspiration since reading “A Little Princess” and watching her 1939 version of that classic story on Channel 5 on a Saturday in the ’70s. When I need cheering up, she’s my number one go-to gal! And that day in the fall of 1988, when I met her? Still one of the highlights of my life. There’ll never be another Curly Top!

Hollywood Revisited

I’m back with a few more photos of my Hollywood-themed classroom!Image

Several years ago, some brilliant person out there in cyberspace came up with the idea of using beanie babies to help teach reading strategies.  I believe the original website is now defunct, but you’ll find variations on this idea out there.  I extended the idea to cover elaboration in writing too!


Here’s a photo of the front of my desk; behind it you can see the gorgeous cubby area!


A corner showing some of my leveled books as well as math manipulatives.


A view from my classroom door. Another bulletin board and my pride and joy – my AIR CONDITIONER!


A bit further to the left – this is my small group area. The closet doors have my objectives and Core Standards on them. The pockets are adhesive and I just slip the papers inside!


Students desks as they appeared on visitation day.

More beanie babies - these are for reading and comprehension strategies.

More beanie babies – these are for reading and comprehension strategies.

A close up of the cubbies.  I ADORE my baskets of books.  Really Good Stuff has some REALLY GOOD STUFF!

A close up of the cubbies. I ADORE my baskets of books. Really Good Stuff has some REALLY GOOD STUFF!

Leveled books, blocks and toys for indoor recess and a big, beautiful bulletin board!
Leveled books, blocks and toys for indoor recess and a big, beautiful bulletin board!

We’ve Got the Whole World….

IMG_1798As time allows, I’ll continue uploading my classroom photos, but I’m taking a moment to show off the adorable Earth Day pillows we created this week.  It was a two day project, but well worth it!  On the first day, they used a circle tracer to cut their own blue felt circles.  They used simple continent tracers on green felt – yes, they could cut felt!!  Then, using Tacky Glue, they glued the continents in relatively appropriate places on the circles.   The following day, I had three adult helpers thread their needles and sew the circles together with just a few stitches.  This got them started.  Then they were able to stitch three quarters around, then stopped to stuff, then finished sewing.  The adults remained to help rethread needles, knot thread, untangle, etc.  The only glitch was the thread.  I had purchased heavy duty thread, which worked very well, but the “silky” thread that I used to supplement didn’t hold up – it tore too easily and the knots slipped out.  An easy fix for next year.   For me, a true testament of a project is if I’m wiling to do it again!!Image

I’m Going Hollywood!

This title is another Little Rascals reference – don’t know what it is about that show, but lately it’s been on my mind!

When I moved to second grade, I moved classrooms as well.  My new room, although much smaller than my previous one, had been updated several years ago.  It now has new cabinetry, shelving, sink, a cubby area – tons and tons of gorgeous storage.  And if you knew me, you’d know I NEED tons of storage, ’cause after 20 plus years, I have TONS of stuff!


I wanted to try a classroom theme for my decor, something I’d never done before.  Hollywood was an easy choice – I put on a show every day!  After spending countless hours scouring the web (thank you, pinterest!) I was ready to go Hollywood.  Over the next few days, as time allows, I’ll begin posting photos of my classroom as it looked at the end of August – bright and shiny and ready to go.  It’s still pretty bright and shiny, and we’ve been going all year long!IMG_1399

This is the front of my room – the classroom door is to the left of this photo.  Notice the popcorn alphabet (teacherspayteachers) and the matching red pocket charts.  Symmetry makes me smile!  My red drapery pulls it all together and has gotten many compliments – another idea I borrowed from another brilliant teacher out there in cyberspace!

Another thing that makes me happy is being “ahead of the game.”  It’s a phrase I use constantly with my class – there is no game, of course, but it’s my way of saying that you’re well-prepared and ready to go.  That’s the case with this display – in September we weren’t required to post our objectives, but I just loved this way this looked.  The objectives are slipped into clear pockets that stick to the cabinet doors.  Recently it’s become a requirement, and I now include the Common Core Standard as well.  And most importantly, it looks cute!    Will  post more soon….


My New Favorite


Sometimes, nay, ALL THE TIME, these kids amaze me!

This is my first year of teaching second grade.  I began teaching preschool, then spent more than ten years in kindergarten, followed by about 14 in first grade (at least I’m going in order!!).  And every time I changed grade levels, I was heartbroken to leave what I was sure was my favorite grade to teach.  And then, each and every time, I began to actually teach that grade, and lo and behold, it was my new favorite!!  And it was never more apparent that second grade is my current new favorite than when this happened:

We read “An Angel for Solomon Singer” by Cynthia Rylant as part of our study of realistic fiction.  At first glance, it might seem a depressing story about a lonely older man, but there’s so much more to it than that.  In it, he meets an waiter whose name is Angel – clearly a metaphor for one who rescues Solomon from his loneliness.  BUT GET THIS!  One sweet little girl said, after I’d read about half, “Oh, I get it.  His name is Solomon – like SOLO MON, which is close to SOLO MAN and he’s alone, which is what solo is…”  I NEARLY FELL OFF MY CHAIR and that is no exaggeration!  I was staggered!  Naturally, it led to a rich discussion on the names of characters, etc., but all the while we’re talking, I’m thinking, “Did this really just happen?”  I couldn’t get over it.  This girl is 8 years old and is analyzing text the way I did in college, when I discovered that Nathaniel Hawthorne used that same literary device in “The Scarlet Letter.”

Like I said, these kids amaze me.  I like being amazed.  Being amazed is really my favorite.

And so it begins….

url-1  As Stymie (of Little Rascals fame, for all you young ones out there) once said, “I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way!” My goal for this blog is to create a place where I can share some ideas, activities, thoughts and anecdotes that come from teaching 7 and 8 year olds!  This is only the beginning…I’m planning on devoting a good part of the summer to “fancying this up,” but right now, it’s strictly bare-bones.  Well, a girl’s gotta start somewhere.