Friday Flashback: Judge Madden Presides

While I know many of you are already lounging poolside, we are wrapping up our last FULL week!  Next week we will have one full day, three half days, and a teacher workday.  The end is so close. ;)

Speaking of the end, if you didn't snatch up our Week 1 Freebie, click here to grab it!  Sunday will be the last day to get it for free...but no worries, we'll be putting our next freebie up!

We have pretty much kicked into survival mode at school.  That's right, Rachel, it's not always cuppy cakes around here! ;)

However, I'm giving it my best to keep the little ones engaged until the very end.  One of my very favorite end-of-the-year activities is to have my kids write persuasive letters to me telling why they are ready to move on up to 3rd grade!

I swear, I get some of the best writing from them.  They really want to convince me, so they provide lots of details! :)  I tell them that they will read their letter to a JUDGE and the judge will decide if they are indeed ready for 3rd grade.

They asked me ALL week long when the judge was coming.  Then, on Thursday, I had another teacher walk them back from PE.  I was sitting in the front of the room in my judge attire (old graduation gown), glasses down my nose, hair up in a bun.  As soon as the first student saw me, a trickle started to go through the line, "The judge is here, the judge is here!"
They were so stinkin' excited that there was a loud murmur spreading throughout the room.  I banged my gavel (an old hammer the hubs painted black for me) and demanded silence in the classroom.  They giggled.  I banged my gavel again and said, "There will be no giggling in this courtroom."

Silence.  Crickets.  Seriousness.

Until I cracked.  Then we were all rolling in laughter.  I finally pulled myself together and we carried on.  I called one student at a time up and had them read their persuasive letters.

They were nervous.  Sweaty palms.  The unknown.

They were supposed to tell me ways that they had become smarter and more responsible this year.  If they failed to provide details, I questioned them.  If they said they kept their desk clean, I may have went to inspect it.

Once I was satisfied, I banged the gavel and "sentenced" them to 3rd grade.  The court room would then explode in applause and cheers!

Of course, there were some students who I knew would love the humor in this, so I might have made them sweat a little more.  Sometimes I took a page from American Idol and worried them just a bit - "Joe, I'm so sorry *long pause* but I'm not going to see you every day next year.  You are sentenced to 3rd grade!" or "You are sentenced to come back to this classroom next year *long pause* and visit often because I will miss you.  You are sentenced to 3rd grade!"

I couldn't do that with all of the kids...some of them would have been in tears, but these took a dramatic swipe of the forehead, let out a huge sigh of relief and said "you had me sweating bullets!" or "whoa! I was worried for a minute!"

They loved it.  Obviously, we still have a few days of school left, so I let them know that just because the judge had sentenced them to 3rd grade didn't mean it was official.  They still needed to be on their A-game because the judge could always "revoke" the sentence.  I let them know that it's not official until they get their final report card in the mail with the judge's signature!

Once everyone has been sentenced to 3rd grade, we usually take a "field trip" to visit 3rd grade.  Last year, we went to one class and the teacher told them a bit about it and then my students partnered with her students and asked questions they had about 3rd grade.  This year, we're just going to stroll down the 3rd grade hall and make observations.  What can I say?  The end is near!

You can find a couple of resources I use for this activity at Teacher's Clubhouse (Movin' on Up and A Trip to the Future), if you're interested.

What have you been up to??


Memorial Day Tradition

Doesn't Memorial Day really put you in summer mode?  While we still have a couple weeks of school left, this day always seems to kick summer into gear.

We have a 32 year tradition in the upstate where I live called "Freedom Weekend Aloft" (correction...changed to the cooler sounding "ALOFT" as of this year) that we anticipate each and every year.

When I was a child, the festival was held about a mile from my house.  It's a weekend long festival with concerts, rides, arts/crafts, and more - but, the highlight of it are the hot air balloons!  Balloonists from all over the world come to launch mornings and evenings and it is such a beautiful sight!

Being SO close to the action as a child, my memories are incredible.  My mom loved the balloons more than anyone else I knew and she looked forward to the weekend all year long.  She would be up at the crack of down waiting for the first glimpse of one while I usually slept on until the excitement of them being over our house woke me up.  Often, it was the "whossshhhh" of the fire being pumped in a balloon right outside of my bedroom window that would wake me up!  I would shoot out of bed like it was Christmas morning and pull the curtains back to wave vigorously at the people in the baskets.  Yes, they were so close that I could see them from my bedroom and they could see me!  They were always super friendly and they were like celebrities to us kids!

I would then take off outside, sometimes still in my pjs to find neighbors gathered in the road talking to the balloonists and taking pictures.  Sometimes, they would be ready to land already and would ask permission to land in our yard or a nearby yard.  My favorite one was a "Mr. Peanut" balloon that landed across the street one year.  It was shaped exactly like Mr. Peanut and they handed out jars of peanuts, peanut pins, etc.  They even tethered down and took everyone up for a view.
It was always fun to watch for all of the balloons, but we (as kids) especially loved to search for unique ones that were in odd shapes.  The Burger King Whopper balloon was always easy to spot!

Those are some of the best memories.  We really didn't know how blessed we were to have those experiences each year.  Sometimes it seemed like a headache because traffic was horrendous on that weekend.  A trip to the grocery store that used to take you 10 minutes could now take you an hour because of all the looky-lous and balloon chasers, but it was worth every minute!

When the year came that the festival moved to a neighboring county, it was such a disappointment.  Luckily, it only stayed away for a few years and then came back to our county.  Unfortunately for my parents, it moved across town to a different location - closer to where I live now as an adult.

So, this morning, my mom and I spent the morning watching the balloons go up and we even got to see a few land.  It was magical....and it took me back to all of those wonderful memorial day traditions of childhood.

Waking up to the sounds of balloons firing, get excited to see them coming down to land, and making memories with family and friends.

I'll be heading to my parents house in a bit for a cookout by the pool, but then I'll be headed back home so that when the hubby gets off work (who works on Memorial Day?!) we can watch the balloons for one last time....until next year!

Happy Memorial Day everyone, and a BIG THANK YOU to all, past and present, who have served to protect our country....true heroes!

I'll leave you with some of the pictures we took this morning....enjoy the view!
Don't forget to go pick up your 86-page SUMMER BUCKETS FREEBIE to kick off our 6 Week Birthday Celebration Giveaway!  Almost 1,000 people have already downloaded the freebie!  Feel free to use the image below to share it with is our hope that it will help save you a bit of time during the end of the year craziness!  Summer is coming, friends!


Six Weeks of FREEBIES: Week 1...Buckets of FUN!

Our Primary Site, Teacher's Clubhouse, just turned SIX!  It's hard to believe that we started the site six years ago!!  My, how time flies! :) 

As a THANK YOU to all of the teachers who have supported us, inspired us, and encouraged us over the years, we're throwing a HUGE celebration this year!  SIX WEEKS of FREEBIES!

Our first FREEBIE may be a little late for some of you for THIS YEAR, but we're hoping you will all be able to use it at some point!  As you may have seen in previous posts, or on instagram, I've just completed by SUMMER BUCKETS.  I've had lots of questions about the things I put in them, so our first freebie is something to help you assemble SUMMER BUCKETS for your kiddos!

This file is 86 pages of goodies that will help you create a bucket that is FUN and EDUCATIONAL so that your students can kick off their summer with  BUCKETS OF FUN!
This packet includes everything I used to create my buckets - plus MORE!  Just click on one of the images above to go to our TpT store to download.

If you download this freebie, we would LOVE for you to leave some feedback love on it.  We would also LOVE for you to share our SIX WEEKS OF FREEBIES BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION with others....let them know that they can go pick up this freebie - with more to come!

You can include the above image on your blog if you'd like to let others know about it.  We will leave the "Summer Buckets" unit for FREE all week and then it will be for sale. 

We will post a NEW, FREE UNIT EACH WEEK FOR SIX WEEKS.  But, each unit will only be FREE for one week, so be sure to follow our TpT page for reminders so you don't miss out on one!


Friday Flashback: Wrapping It Up!

8 more days until summer vacay for us!  I get so jealous when I see others' posting about their summer vacations beginning already.  I long for those days of no alarm clocks or schedules!  But, I'm not rushing these last few days.  I'm going to savor every moment of these sweet kiddos!  It made me so sad today when someone asked if my kids were ready for summer and one precious girl said, "NO WAY!  I will miss Mrs. Madden."  Then later in the day she said that she was torn.  She wanted to move on to third grade, but she didn't want to leave me.  She said she would be "holding on to me tight on the last day of school."

How can I NOT enjoy every minute of these last 8 days?!?  I'm going to hold on tight to every single moment!  So precious!

I don't have too much to post about this week.  I spent a majority of my time with running records and end of the year benchmarks.

But, we did wrap up our Government Unit.  I have to admit this is probably my least favorite thing to teach, but the students have had fun with it.  Each table group in my classroom becomes a "city."  Students apply to be mayor of the city.  They then hold city council meetings to vote for a name for their cities and create signs to display.  We had everything from "Polkadotville" to "Boystown!"
Then, they hold city council meetings to work on "city problems" - maybe their city needs to work on staying cleaner, talking less, etc. They choose a problem and everyone shares solutions and they put them into action.

Each person in the team (besides the mayor) is appointed a job of "safety official."  The firefighters help put out "fires" (problems) in their city, the police officer enforces rules (gives reminders when people are off task, etc), the EMS provides help to anyone needing it, and the city engineer makes sure the city looks good at all times (cleanliness).

Once the cities are running like well-oiled machines, we combine two cities to form a "state" and begin learning about the state government.  We actually slide our two cities together to form a larger "state" -
Of course, the states need a governor.  We learn about voting and elections, and students create campaign posters to "run" for governor.  They give mini-speeches about why they would be a good governor for their state.  Then, we cast ballots and vote!

Of course, we move on to learn about the leader of our country (the president).  Since our states make up our classroom (the country), the teacher (ME!) is the president....seems only fair, right? ;)

We also wrapped up our Graphing Unit in math this week.  I LOVE to teach graphing!  They love it, too!  Students conducted surveys, created pictographs, and made bar graphs using a question of their choice.
We'll keep graphing next week since it's a fun way to wrap up our favorite things about 2nd grade!

Finally, we did this little craftivity about why we had a "BALL" in 2nd grade.  It was so much fun to read their favorite things!

On a personal note, I am SOOOOOOO glad to have finally finished my end-of-the-year DVDs!  I always add these to their buckets (you can read about those here) and I always forget how long they take!  I compile all of my pictures from the year into a movie with music using Windows Movie Maker (or iMovie/iDVD if using my MAC).  It really does make for a great keepsake!
Speaking of the buckets, I couldn't seem to stop adding to them this year.  Along with everything I previously blogged about here, I also added these cute little MONSTER bookmarks (pinterest inspired of course) to the corners of their books once our Scholastic order came in!
I was also inspired to create "Family Write Nights" for each month of the year (or week of the summer, in this case) so that HOPEFULLY families can have some fun, but educational experiences TOGETHER this summer.  I added that little booklet along with a notebook and pencil.
So NOW my summer buckets are OFFICIALLY D-O-N-E - DONE!
I just might have "BUCKETS" of love coming your way soon!  Be on the lookout!


Friday Flashback: I'm Alive...Barely!

Oh.My.Word.  It has been two weeks since I last blogged, friends!  Is anyone else feeling the end-of-the-year-crunch, too?  I'm sure you are!  In fact, I just saw a couple of my blogging buddies' posts say that they haven't posted in nearly two weeks either.  Whew!  So glad I'm not the only one!

Here's a little look at what's been happening in our class lately....

We did host our Poetry Picnic celebration!  It was a fun way to end our poetry unit.  Parents came...students sang poems, read poems, and shared projects that we completed during the unit.  We set the tables...
We served our "Simile Sandwiches" with our "Pyramid Napkin" poems and our Acrostic Nameplates helped parents find their child's seat.
I love all of our learning celebrations.  Students get SO excited to actually share their work with families and be the "center of attention!"
This week was particularly busy because we had a field trip.  We visited our local science center for a couple of programs.
We reviewed matter with experiments with dry ice.
Then we explored lego robotics as students had to follow instructions/diagrams to build a chomping alligator.  They loved making it eat the paper fish and adding sound effects to it!

As if that wasn't exciting enough, we also had Field Day this week!  Have I told you how much I love Field Day? *insert sarcasm*  It *may* be my least favorite day of the year.  At least I didn't get a sub this year. HA!  I've never liked Field Day (even as a child), but I despise it now that the whole competition component has been taken out and it's just a glorified recess.  BUT, the kids do love recess, so they had fun!

We made monster visors to help keep us cool a bit.  It has finally warmed up here and was a toasty 90 degrees for our field day.  Trust me, I have the sunburn to prove it! (I love this weather!!!)
These sweet girls are taking a break from the action and keeping cool with freeze pops!  Such cutie-pies!
At least there was still one or two stations that required teamwork instead of just free-for-all play!

Speaking of keeping cool, with these great temperatures, we've had to pull this back out...
I think I posted about this last summer, but thought I would mention it again since it would make for a great end-of-the-year team gift.  Just pick up the spray bottles at Dollar Tree, tie a ribbon around them, and paint or Cameo a monogram on it!  Super cheap and easy gift!  We take these to recess with us and when students get overheated, they come up and ask for a mist.  They LOVE it...sometimes the teachers need one, too! :)

I've also been keeping busy trying to organize all of that end-of-the-year stuff - like my "student bucket" end-of-the-year gifts.

I decided to put away the paint pens and break out the Cameo this year to add students' names and some designs to the buckets.  I picked these buckets up last year (always thinking ahead) in the Target Dollar Bins.

This is what I include in my buckets....

1) A list of "100 Things to Do Instead of Watching TV or Playing Video Games" - We read Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Effect by Patricia Polacco....a book about a town of people who love their TV sets so much they watch them ALL the time and even have pictures of them on their mantles!....then students work in groups to compile lists of 25 things they would like to do that do not include TVs.  I compile the lists into 100 things and include them in the buckets.  If students complete and highlight at least 25 activities from the list and return it to me at the beginning of next school year, I'll give them a little reward!

2) An envelope with my name/address so students can write a letter to me over the summer.  They love this and I love that they are writing!  In fact, I just got a letter a couple of weeks ago from a past student (now a 5th grader at a different school) who still had my address - so sweet!!

3) A book - purchased from Scholastic (hopefully with bonus points) - still waiting on these to arrive!

4) A deck of cards and a little booklet of all the math games we've learned to play with them this year to keep up with that fact fluency!

5) Freeze Pops with a tag that says "Stay Cool, Kid"

6) An individualized Candy Award - something that tells them how special they are for their unique qualities!

7) An end-of-the-year DVD that is filled with pictures from the year set to music in a video format (still to come) - this will fill my entire day tomorrow, I'm sure!

What do you give your students at the end of the year?  I'm always looking for fresh ideas!


Sundays in the South: Crazy Weather, Winner & a Sale!

My, oh my!  I am over this weather!  It is 50 degrees with record amounts of rainfall here. I feel like vampires may start popping out at any moment.  I'm pretty sure Forks is the only place that gets THIS much rain per day!  What happened to our 80 degree weather??  It is May!  In the South!

I need it to reappear ASAP! The hubs and I went out for our Sunday shopping trip today, but I didn't even get half the stuff on my list.  I couldn't take the cold, wet weather.  I could definitely be a California girl (no need to rub it in you Cali bloggers....I've been jealous of your poolside pics all week on Instagram!)

If you STILL haven't joined the Instagram bandwagon - do it!  Today!  You can follow along with the "Madden"ess by clicking below!

My little Gallopade giveaway ended yesterday and the winner is.....
I have sent you an email. :)


will both be participating in the BIG TpT sale!  This will be the last sale of the school year, so you will not want to miss out!  Go ahead and stock up for next year!  I know I'm not the only one thinking about next year already, right?!  *sigh* #theteacherlife

Friday Flashback

In Math this week, we continued to practice our measurement skills - with worms!  Since they loved the clay worms so much last week, we kept the trend going.   I told them that since they did such a good job using the rulers correctly, we were going to measure worms again this week - but not those silly clay worms.

That's right.  I hinted that they were the REAL deal.  I even had them close their eyes while I went to get them (I mean,  they can't know where I keep my secret stash).  When they opened their eyes, I was holding a film canister.  I told them that I put a worm in each canister that morning - you know worms like dark places, right?  I went around and sat a canister on each child's desk, but they weren't allowed to touch them yet.  Then, once everyone had a canister, I modeled what we would do.

On the signal, we very carefully pick up the canisters (so we didn't hurt the worms) and hold them high above our heads.  I told them they would feel extremely light - possibly like there was nothing in there at all, but I promised them they were NOT empty!  On the next signal, we would use our other hand/thumb to remove the lids while keeping them held high above our heads.  I didn't want any of the girls to see the worms and "freak out."  ;)  Then on the third signal, we would turn our canisters over and DUMP THE WORMS ON OUR DESKS!

They bit.  Hook, line and sinker.  Every year.  Look at these faces!
Squeamish much?.....Then, dump!
Yarn worms??  Oh, Mrs. Madden!  You fooled us, again!
We used our "cans of worms" to estimate and measure in inches and centimeters and then make comparisons of the two units.

Pretty soon, they're going to stop believing me, but I think I have one more great worm idea up my sleeve for Monday! :)

We also started our ABC Countdown this week!!  WooHoo! Can I get a Hallelujah on that one??

In Science, we wrapped up our Matter Unit with a virtual field trip.

Our instructor was from Texas and she did some really cool experiments with dry ice and nitrogen with the kiddos.
Then they got to do more experiments on their own.  I think our record was 35 drops of water on a penny!

In writing, we did a mix of things....we reviewed "how-to" writing with a fun worm recipe - Worm Pudding - this also knocked out our "A is for Art" on our ABC Countdown calendar - boomyow!
Students used templates for the craftivity and then we glued real spoons to them.  We put black glitter in the "dirt" to make it seem more real and also added the black glitter to the spoon for a realistic effect.
Enjoying worm pudding while we work!
The finished products on display!

We also wrote and published our "pyramid poems" - onto napkins to use at our Poetry Picnic on Monday, of course!
Notice how one poem is about ME?? {heart} And, how I'm the best teacher in the world because we get to measure WORMS in math!?  I'm tellin' ya - they love some worms! :)  I'll be working to get my new worm unit finished up this weekend!

We also tackled possessives this week.  The quiz I made only had 17 questions.  I'm a 20 question kind of teacher, so I had the kiddos flip it over on the back and create a "possessive diagram" of themselves.  They turned out adorbs!  One little girl drew herself in her "mom's wedding dress" - precious!  This little kiddo drew herself wearing "Mrs. Madden's dress".
There was a lot of "Mrs. Madden's high heels" or "Mrs. Madden's lipstick" and they get all the details right, too!  Here's a pic of me wearing the dress above!
This was for "College Day" on the ABC Countdown Calendar.  Gotta love my Gamecock boys! :)

And, finally, we practiced and practiced for our "Poetry Celebration" that we're hosting on Monday.  They were so excited to have a real stand for our microphone and the little spotlight shining on them!

Back to Top