Monday, September 19, 2016

Part 1- Unique Picture Books for Social Studies


As a Social Studies and Reading teacher(who also happens to be an AVID book lover), I am always on the hunt for picture books that I can use to help teach content topics, introduce important people and events, and bring some joy and excitement to learning. 

That is why I am so excited about the following 4 books. I learned about most of these titles while I was at Nerd Camp this past summer and knew that they would be valuable stories for me to share with my students. 


The first is Unspoken by Henry Cole. Three major things make this book a must have. 

1) The book has no words. The story is told strictly through the remarkable black and white illustrations. This also means that the students are encouraged to really pay attention to the details of the pictures and the sequencing of the illustrations in order to piece together the storyline.

2) The story offers a unique twist on the Underground Railroad. Instead of telling the story through the eyes of a runaway slave or even a sympathizer, the story is told through the eyes of a young girl who notices a slave hiding in her family's shed. Instead of telling her family, she keeps it a secret and brings the slave food. Confederate troops visit the home, scouts are sent to look for slaves, and yet the girl still helps the slave and remains silent. There is a sweet end to the story that my 5th graders really enjoyed. 

3) Like many of my favorite teaching books, this one allows me to bring in multiple teaching points at once. We can discuss sequencing, summarizing, conventions of standard English,writing crafts,  and Social Studies topics surrounding the Pre/Civil War....just to name a few!






The second book is Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass by Dean Robbins.  I love that this author takes two individuals, from different, important eras, whose paths overlap because they believe in rights and equality for all. 



The two individuals meet over a cup of tea. Susan highlights the rights that women did not have and the things that they could not do. She knew she wanted more and was ready to fight for more rights. Frederick shares important parts about his life as well. He was a slave, but he yearned for more so he secretly learned to read and write. He too believed in rights for all. 



Together, Frederick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony meet and talk about their plans for changing the future. 



Westward Expansion and the Reconstruction were two of my students' favorite time periods last year. I have a feeling that a lot of it had to do with the Social Studies simulations that we did, but I think an exciting reading passage about the outlaws, crime, gold, and new beginnings was also what made it such a big hit. So, when I stumbled across Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall by Vaunda Micheasux Nelson, I grabbed it for my readers!


This book follows the life of Bass Reeves. Reeves was a slave from Texas with a lot of promise. A life changing event caused Reeves to escape to Indian Territory. He lived with Indians until the end of the war and eventually became a Deputy Marshall for Oklahoma. 


The illustrations are engaging, the text is interesting, and the historical events shared throughout the story help readers better understand the time period.  This book would be great for middle school students and mature readers. 




I can't quit sharing this book. The Tree is the Courtyard:Looking Through Anne Frank's Window by Jeff Gottesfeld gives me goosebumps every time I read it. 


This story is written from the point of view of a tree sitting outside the annex of Anne Frank's father's factory. The tree watches Anne and her family. The tree watches her writing in her journal. She sees the family suffering, but does not understand why. The tree loves Anne.


The story changes when the tree watches Anne and her family being taken away, and she is there watching when only Anne's father returns. 


The author of this story has taken events from Anne's published journal and woven them into this story. 

The afterword at the end of the book shares information about the actual tree and informs readers that seedlings from the tree have actually been planted around the world. One is planted at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York. Beautiful story!

So, there are a few picture books that we have really enjoyed adding to our classroom. 

Unspoken and The Tree in the Courtyard and two of my favorites right now! Check back soon as I share some more of my favorites with you!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

You Matter Postcards



After reading the book Kids Deserve It!  by Todd Nelsoney and Adam Welcome, I was eager to find ways to reach out to students in our school because they deserved to be recognized and celebrated! I often wonder how often students, who we love and adore, don’t know that we feel that way about them. Do students realize that we see all of the amazing accomplishments that they are making? Do they know that we notice their hard work and effort? Do they realize that we are celebrating all of their moments with them-both big and small? 

One of my favorite phrases/chapters from the book is YOU MATTER. Those two words are so powerful to me. They mean that we see you. We know that you are working hard. We know that you are giving us everything you have. We know that your story is important and that your struggles do not define who you are. 


This postcard is something that I created for our school to send home to students to let them know that they matter. We leave little notes to them, sign it with love then send it to them through the mail. Students are always excited to get mail at their homes that is addressed to them. 

The postcards in this file are actually a little larger than the standard USPS postcard size. We needed more space to send love and encouragement to our kiddos so the extra money it costs to send these is worth every penny to us. 

I hope this download is something that you and your school can use! Just click on the image to access the Google Drive folder or click here. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

4 Back to School Picture Books-For All Grades!

There is no denying that I LOVE picture books. I am obsessed with reading them, talking about them, and using them to help share important life lessons with my kiddos. So, I wanted to share with you 4 of my favorite back to school picture books that you may not already be using in your classroom. 


Each of these books play an extremely important role in the first few days of school for my class!
 Looking for it on Amazon? Find it here



  Looking for it on Amazon? Find it here



  Looking for it on Amazon? Find it here!



  Looking for it on Amazon? Find it here!



Already back to school? No problem! These amazing picture books are great to implement at any time during the school year! <3 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Back to School BASH 2016- InstaHOP

The Back to School Bash 2016 has been so much fun! Thank you to everyone who has joined us this year. BUT...it's not over yet! We have one final chance for you to win! When we say win, we mean WIN BIG! Anyone needing some updated technology for your classroom? I give you the B2S Bash Grand Prize...



Yes! This is real life!
Yes! This could be in your classroom very soon! 

But you have to enter first! Here's how you do it: 

1) Begin the insta hop by locating @stepintosecondgrade on instagram. You will want to begin with Amy so that you collect the letter tiles in order. Each blogger will link to another letter. Click on the letter and hop to the next location. As you hop...

a) follow each blogger 
b)  collect each letter

The letter tiles look like this....


2. The letters will reveal a question. (Don't worry...the letters go in order so you don't have to unscramble a thing!) 

3. Once you have figured out the question, hop on over to any of our blogs to enter the Rafflecopter to win! You will be asked to answer the instaHOP question! 

You only have 24 hours to enter, so go get your hop on! ;) 

 Yep! That simple! So have you finished your hop? 

Enter below: 


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Back to School Bash

Happy Back to School season!!! It is here and it is going to be THE BEST YEAR YET!!! And, Back to School means that it's time for the annual and much anticipated Back to School blogger bash! There are so many amazing prizes up for grabs this year by some of my favorite bloggers. It is an honor to join in with my favorite peeps this year. 

Here's how it works...  You'll have a couple of days to hop around blogs and enter the giveaways using a Rafflecopter.  At the bottom of each post there will be a button that will lead you to the next giveaway!  The more blogs you enter on, the better your chances are of winning :)))


Check out my Bash Basket. My basket is.......


1) An Amazon Kindle!!!!!!! I am so stoked about this. I use my Kindle all the time. There are just way too many good books out there to read and my #tbrlist is a little out of control at the moment. Pretty sure my FAVORITE thing about the Kindle is the fact that I can take it anywhere that I go. I toss it in my bag when I head to the airport and LOVE that I can read it outside with no glare. 

2) An Amazon giftcard so that you can buy new books to read on your new device! 

And, while you are thinking about all things BOOKS....here are a few of my book recommendations! 





Enter using the Rafflecopter below!  You have until the end of Tuesday!


Now, head over to the sweetest lady in the WORLD, Amy Lemons!!

***We also have another BIG giveaway on Wednesday through IG so be sure to check out INSTAGRAM on Wednesday for the GRAND PRIZE announcement and how to enter!  You definitely won't want to miss out!!! It is going to be amazing!