Helen Keller Activities

We've all had those weeks where some lessons just don't go right and then we have those weeks that go better than expected and those experiences are why we are in the classroom to begin with. Last week my students and I dived into the world of Helen Keller. For those not familiar with the story, Helen Keller is a biography about a young girl who is deaf and blind. She overcomes many challenges while growing up and her story is just beautiful.

This year, I really wanted my students to grasp the concept of what it would be like to blind. None of my students have ever been around anyone with that sort of disability before. Before we read our story I explained to them a little about what we were going to be reading about and I let them ask any questions they might have had. After all of our questions had been answered, everyone was "blindfolded" (I used sentence strips) and the lights were turned off. I laid a sheet of drawing paper and a pencil on everyones desk. They had to find their paper and pencil, then draw a picture of spring. I immediately heard things like "but we can't see anything". EXACTLY! That is my point little sweeties!

I snapped this photo right before I let them take their blindfolds off so that the picture wasn't dark. 
Helen Keller Activities by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

At first there was lots of complaining that their picture was going to be ugly because they couldn't see. We talked about ways they could draw without seeing the paper and techniques they could use such as not picking up their pencil. After a few minutes, the complaints went away and they started to enjoy it.

Helen Keller Activities by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

I tried to monitor the peekers as best as I could. If I thought someone was peeking at their paper, I made them draw with their eyes looking up towards the ceilings (hints the last photo above. LOL)

Helen Keller Activities by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

Helen Keller Activities by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

Once the activity was over and I turned on the lights and they could see their drawings, just about everyone one of them immediately began to laugh at their own drawing. I then said to them "what if we had a blind student in our class, would you have laughed then"? They immediately stopped laughing and got a real serious look on their face. We had a big discussion about what it would be like to have a disability such as blindness and how we would have to adapt our lives. It went so much further than I intended it too but it was such a good experience for them and really opened their eyes to the story we were about to dive into.

In the story of Helen Keller you not only learn about her blindness but you also learn that she was deaf. Before she learned to read braille, Helen had a teacher who would spell out letters in the palm of her hand to form words. I put the students into partners and let them practice their vocabulary words by tracing letters into each others palms and they had to guess. (I don't have photos of this activity but wanted to share in case you'd like to try it.)

After learning more about Helen, the students began to ask a lot of questions about braille and how it was read. Our Journeys book had a photo of the braille alphabet in it and our spelling lesson one day consisted of writing our spelling words in braille. I then would spell a word out on the board and they had to try and guess which word I spelled.

Helen Keller Activities by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

Helen Keller Activities by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

Helen Keller Activities by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

They loved this. I wish we had access to actual braille materials but unfortunately we don't. We had a field trip to the zoo last week and they were excited to see braille on signs everywhere. This was one of those lessons that was so simple but so effective to their little minds. They learned how to be more caring and considerate towards others and really enjoyed learning all about Helen's story. I have a feeling that this will be one of those lessons that they always remember from elementary school or at least I hope it will be. 

2

Money Cups FREEBIE!

Hi friends! We have been working hard on counting coins up to $1.00 the past few weeks. Now that we have moved on from our money unit, I'm incorporating it into our daily math stations. Money Cups are an idea that I originally got from my sweet friend Alison at Stuckey in Second. I took Alison's idea and tweaked it just a little. Our TEKS require my sweeties to be able to count coins up to $1.00 using quarters, nickels, dimes and pennines. They also must be able to write the amount two different ways. Our math curriculum (GoMath) has them do lots of practice putting coins in order from greatest to least, drawing the coins out, and then counting. I wanted some fun ways to incorporate this to have them ready for their assessment they have to take at the end of the six weeks.

Money Cups is a FREE center activity to reinforce counting coins. It is great  for practicing money in the primary grades.

I found these small plastic storage containers at our local dollar store. Inside each cup, I put a random assortment of coins. Each cup has less than $1.00 inside. You can easily change this for differentiation depending on your students skill level and what coins you are learning. I keep all of the containers in a small basket.

Money Cups FREEBIE by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

During small groups, each student selected a money cup. They had draw the coins found in their cup in order from greatest to least on their plastic sleeve (a great way to save paper). Then they wrote the amount two different ways.

Money Cups FREEBIE by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

Money Cups FREEBIE by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

Money Cups FREEBIE by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

You could also use money cups to play scoot. Place a cup on each students desk. When you say go, the empty their cup and solve for the amount. When everyone is finished, say "scoot", and they move to the next desk and repeat. 

I made this FREEBIE for my students to use during their independent math station time. All you need is to create your own money cups and you'll be set! I've included a answer page as well but you can easily have your students use plastic sleeves or whiteboards like I did above to save paper. You can click here to grab it or on the photo below. 

Money Cups FREEBIE by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

I hope you can use this in your classroom! Enjoy the rest of your week. 

Money Cups is a FREE center activity to reinforce counting coins. It is great  for practicing money in the primary grades.


1

Teaching Authors Purpose with Scholastic Order Forms

Hey ya'll! It is that time of the year where we have covered all of our reading skills and we'll spend the rest of the year reviewing. Last week was all about authors purpose and we all know that this can be a tricky thing for 2nd graders to grasp. We learned all about author purpose earlier in the year and I wanted to do something fun to review. You know how we all old Scholastic reader order forms lying around. They either send way to many or you have stacks that just don't ever get sent out. Why not put them to good use?!?

Teaching Authors Purpose with Scholastic Order Forms by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

After reviewing the three types of stories, I busted out some old scholastic reading order forms. They created a graphic organizer with drawing paper then they had to find 4 examples of each type and sort them onto their paper. 

Teaching Authors Purpose with Scholastic Order Forms by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

They did really well with each type except for persuade. This was tricky for them because a lot of the stories in the order form they haven't heard before and I hadn't either. So we brainstormed a list of books that we have read as a class that fall under that category. While they were searching for inform and entertain, I printed off the covers of some of the books we came up with as a class. All of their "P" books are the same but everything else they did on their own. 

Teaching Authors Purpose with Scholastic Order Forms by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

Teaching Authors Purpose with Scholastic Order Forms by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

Teaching Authors Purpose with Scholastic Order Forms by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

This activity was quick, easy, and required NO PREP! Even my lower learners were able to do this without much guidance. It is visual, hands on, and ENGAGING! 

Teaching Authors Purpose with Scholastic Order Forms by Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

They are proudly being displayed along the bookshelves in the back of our room. I've seen them use these as a reference poster for what type of books they want to get from the library and that makes my teacher heart happy! 

So next time, don't throw those old Scholastic order forms away! 

2

April Fools Day!

Happy late April Fools everyone! I may be a day or two late making this post but better late than never right?!? I have never been a big April Fools person but this year I knew I had to do something. The day before all I heard all day long was "you'll never be able to trick us." Oh yes my sweeties! I sure did! 

All day I suffered through loved being told....
"Mrs. Bernethy, you have a spider on your head. APRIL FOOLS!"
"Mrs.Bernethy, your shoe is untied. APRIL FOOLS!"
"Mrs.Bernethy, there is a snake behind you. APRIL FOOLS!" 

They enjoyed it so that is all that matters. 

This group LOVES word searches. I let early finishers do them all the time. About mid-morning, it was time to pull out trick number 1. I got this "wordless" word search from The Original Math Maniac. 

Kids LOVE April Fool's Day! I had so much fun tricking the kids in my classroom. We also did a writing activity to go along with all the fun we were having.

All I heard for the next few hours is...
"This is so hard!!!"
"Why did you give us such a hard one?"
"These word aren't in here!!!"

I was secretly laughing the entire time! Finally, I could tell that they had had enough. I asked them if they remembered when they said I couldn't trick them from the day before. They immediately started shouting "I knew it!" (They had no idea!) I told them that I felt really bad for tricking them and to say that I was sorry, I had "brown"es to apologize! The only way they could get their treat was to put their head down and not peak. After passing them out, this is what they found on their desk.

Kids LOVE April Fool's Day! I had so much fun tricking the kids in my classroom. We also did a writing activity to go along with all the fun we were having.

Kids LOVE April Fool's Day! I had so much fun tricking the kids in my classroom. We also did a writing activity to go along with all the fun we were having.

At first they didn't get it. Once I explained it to them, huge fits were thrown! They were so mad at me but it was so fun! It wasn't much, but it was just enough to trick them and make the day enjoyable! 

On a different note, all last week we worked on our April Fools Writing. This group loves to write so I took this opportunity to let their little imaginations come up with their own April Fool joke. We spent the week talking about how we could trick someone. Their writing has improved so much this year. We are at that point where I only have to guide them with their writing instead of walking them though the process step by step. 

We started out by brainstorming our ideas and working on our pre-writes. This sweetie came up with a great idea. Who puts popcorn kernels in a waffle maker? LOL! 

Kids LOVE April Fool's Day! I had so much fun tricking the kids in my classroom. We also did a writing activity to go along with all the fun we were having.

Every idea was different. Some were simple, some were out of the box. I loved them all! 

Here is the classic whoopy cushion trick! 
Kids LOVE April Fool's Day! I had so much fun tricking the kids in my classroom. We also did a writing activity to go along with all the fun we were having.

Another whoopy cushion (I better watch out!), and a trick played on our principal! 

Kids LOVE April Fool's Day! I had so much fun tricking the kids in my classroom. We also did a writing activity to go along with all the fun we were having.

I better watch out for those untied shoes too! Oh and those crazy popcorn kernels! 
Kids LOVE April Fool's Day! I had so much fun tricking the kids in my classroom. We also did a writing activity to go along with all the fun we were having.
Oh no! I have a spider on my head! 
Kids LOVE April Fool's Day! I had so much fun tricking the kids in my classroom. We also did a writing activity to go along with all the fun we were having.

I think my kids are out to get me! What do you think?

Kids LOVE April Fool's Day! I had so much fun tricking the kids in my classroom. We also did a writing activity to go along with all the fun we were having.

You can get this April Fools writing craft here. There are 3 different templates included. 




Overall it was a great week! We had lots of fun with our writing and making those personal connections. 

Want to save this idea for later? Pin the image below so you won't forget. :)

Kids LOVE April Fool's Day! I had so much fun tricking the kids in my classroom. We also did a writing activity to go along with all the fun we were having.

2
Back to Top