Ms. O'Meara's 2nd Grade Class

The 2B Happy Campers

Happy Rodeo Break!


Hello Families and Friends!

We made it to Rodeo Break! I explained to the kids that Tucson is the only place in the WORLD that gets days off for the rodeo. Unique, to say the least! 🙂

We had a couple entries from our class in the “edible car race” last week and I am excited to announce the 1st place winner: Ella and her sister Quinn’s car “Mighty!”

Ella with “Mighty”

All 2nd grade contestants

Speaking of Ella, she also won our class handwriting competition! It was a close race, but her letters were formed and spaced most accurately according to the Zaner-Bloser penmanship standards. Check out her paper:

The good news is: now that I saw just how well everyone who participated in the competition can actually write, I can expect that same level of handwriting accuracy on every assignment from here on out…right!!?? 😉

We had our Valentine’s Day celebration/Hoedown where we created some super cute Valentine baggies, exchanged Valentines with our class and 2A, enjoyed yummy treats, and learned how to do the country 2-step and the “Cotton Eyed Joe” (everyone needs to learn these dances at some point in their lives, right? And for that, you’re welcome!). Thank you to Julie Bowen for bringing the treats!

Does everybody understand the expectations of next month’s book report? If not, please let me know and we’ll talk. The students seem to be excited about working on their “biographies in a can” and we are all looking forward to learning about a numerous amount of notable people!

Our Desert Museum field trip is Friday, February 28th. The kids need to bring their own lunches as we will be there the whole day. Red shirts, khaki bottoms, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are all needed that day as well! The week following Rodeo break, each student will be presenting information on a Sonoran Desert animal during their regularly scheduled Teaching Time slot. If you can drive on the trip and spend the day with us, please let me know or sign up on the sheet outside our door. Thank you!

Ms. Allen is requesting a photo of your child enjoying nature (hiking trip, beach, desert hike, etc.) to be part of our Fine Arts Night slideshow. Please email a picture to her no later than March 20th. Her email address is 


One way that we work on our spelling words in class is by playing a game called “Word-O” which is much like Bingo. In each square, the students will write a spelling word and much like Bingo, when the word is said, the student will place a marker on that word. When a student reaches 4 words across, down, or diagonal, he or she will yell “Word-O“ and will read us the four words. We have also been working on identifying nouns, verbs, and adjectives in sentences and paragraphs. Included in our noun work, we are practicing changing singular nouns to plural nouns and are observing how at times, the spelling can completely change when doing so. We are working on locating and using singular and plural pronouns (I, me; them, us) as well as subject and object pronouns (she, it; him, her). Our spelling patters for the past few weeks have been the ‘ar’ sound and the ‘or’ sound spelled OR and ORE.


We started a new reading unit: “Why do people work together?” That is the big question we are exploring at the moment. To answer it, we are reading, writing, and talking about cooperation. The story “Domino Soup” by Carmen Agra Deedy was a play where neighbors cooperate to make soup from just one domino. “Stone Soup” by John Forster and Tom Chapin was a cool story that talked about a soldier who uses stones to make soup for an entire village. All stories weighed heavily upon teamwork and the benefits of cooperation. Some vocabulary words we have been working with during the past two weeks are: cooperate, enough, possible, society, teamwork, and together.


We have observed various liquids and have discussed their densities, how they move, and if they are transparent, opaque, etc. We learned that the closer the molecules are in a piece of matter, the harder, or more dense, it will be. So, for instance, a liquid like honey is made up of more closely-packed molecules than the molecules in water. We performed an experiment to solidify this concept: we tried to mix water and oil together, but no matter how hard we tried, the liquids would not combine! That’s because they have different levels of density! It seemed like the students had a great time making their “magic potions!” They used their recent knowledge of liquid densities and vocabulary in order to make some pretty interesting concoctions!

Mad scientists!

Social Studies

We began a new study on geography. We are learning that communities have different geographic features and that physical maps show these features: mountains, deserts, rivers, valleys, oceans, lakes, islands, plains, etc. We have practiced identifying geographic features and locating them on a physical map. We also practiced drawing the different geographic features on our own physical maps to show understanding.


We finished our Valentine’s Day stories: some were romcoms, some were tragedies, some were downright silly; but all were wonderful! They are in our classroom author’s library box. We also learned how to write a proper recipe (in the spirit of the “Stone Soup” book we read). We looked at examples of real recipes (read: we visited my eclectic Pinterest recipe board to find these). We noted that there are ingredients and their amounts, plus there are steps on what to do with those ingredients and for how long. We had some pretty unique recipes from good old chicken soup to Unicorn Rainbow soup and Animal soup. Ask your child about his or her recipe!


We have embarked on Investigation 2 of place value in the hundreds. The students have been focusing on strategies pertaining to +/- 10, +/- 100, and numbers through 1,000. One fun game was called “Close to 100,” where the students used their knowledge of place value and known combinations of sums to find pairs of 2-digit numbers that add to 100 or close to it. We played several rounds of “Guess my Number” up to the 1,000s! That’s a game you could totally play at home if you have a number chart; ask your child how to play. More math fun to come soon!

Adding, subtracting, and counting, oh my!

Teaching Time

Check out all the cool things the kids have been teaching about:

Raj – London Eye, community service

Smith – Galileo, Easter Island

Ella – hacky sacks, how to make a pinch pot

Leilah – Helen Keller, Arizona facts

Kenzie – sea turtles, duck decoys

Celeene – iguanas, weasles

Campbell – how to play Labyrinth, how to make pillows

Atticus – Gem and Mineral Show, black widows

Louisa – Trash card game rules, how to draw a mountain landscape

Evan – Henry Ford, how to draw a spaceman

Kirra – armadillos, cacti

Liam – betta Fish, Wright Brothers

Nathan – lacrosse rules, squirrel monkey

Aaron – Saturn 5 rocket, tanks

Nice work, everyone!


We had such fun at the Fox Theater on Friday. We loved the show Miss Nelson Has a Field Day!

Happy Birthday, Celeene!

Happy ½ Birthday, Leilah!


See y’all soon and blessings for a safe and happy Rodeo Break!

Miss O’Meara

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(Almost) February Fun!


Hello Families and Friends!

Happy (almost) February from 2B! We hope that you have had a nice couple of weeks. Interesting weather, wouldn’t you say? It is still a bit chilly in the mornings, so please make sure your little one comes to school with at least a sweater or some other type of layer.

Thank you for all of the love and prayers for my husband during his surgery. Recovery is going very well, he has been a great sport, a pretty good patient, and now he has what our sons lovingly refer to as a “cool robot neck.” 🙂

The students had a successful Math-A-Thon! We appreciate all of your pledges…please see the packet that went home today 🙂

Our 100th day of school was fabulous! We created pictures out of the number 100, wrote some funny books based on 100, and participated in a fun STEM challenge involving floating 100 pennies in homemade tin foil boats!

Did you float your boat?


I am sure by now you have noticed that our spelling lists have grown to be 20 words long. This is in preparation for 3rd grade spelling/vocabulary expectations. There are still phonetic pattern/syllable pattern words as always, but now there are more difficult words included from our reading text and also some words from our science and social studies units. A few of the vowel spellings we have been working on during spelling time are: the ‘OO’ sound spelled oo, _ue, ew, ui, and ou; and the ‘YOO’ sound spelled ue and ew.

We have also been working hard on correct placement of quotation marks. Boy, do we “love” grammar and punctuation 😉


We have finished our unit on different cycles in nature. It was the students’ favorite reading unit so far as it contained so many interesting and thought-provoking selections. “What Makes the Seasons?” by Megan Montague Cash was a cool poem-story where the speaker described the four seasons and explained why Earth has them. “A Winter Wonder” by Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D. was an interesting science article where explorer/scientist Tyrone Hayes explained how the American wood frog adapts to changes in the seasons. Some vocab words we have been using in our reading and writing during the last couple of weeks were: affect, autumn, explain, measure, and reason.


We have been completing some fun writing assignments lately! One was another “snowball fight.” The students had to use descriptive language to write clues about their favorite season by describing how a tree looked during that season. We then crumpled up our papers and threw them across the room a couple of times. We picked up a “snowball,” read the clues, and guessed based upon the language used what season the author was talking about.

We also have been refining our writing to flow a little better for the reader. This includes understanding how compound sentences (2 simple sentences joined together with the words ‘and’ or ‘but’) and compound questions (2 simple questions joined together with the word ‘or’) work. We practiced writing compound questions by pretending we were waiters and waitresses. We wrote mini-plays where we pretended to take a customer’s order and wrote compound questions such as: “would you like fries or apple slices?” The kids had such a good time pretending to be servers! They also did a similar activity in their Spanish class using content vocabulary and conversational Spanish phrases. Very cool!

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we have just started writing the rough drafts of some V-day stories. According to some initial story outlines, we will be having some Valentine’s Day tragedies. The students are getting pretty creative with their writing!


We completed our introduction work with line plots and bar graphs and have moved on to Unit 5 in math. This unit has a focus on the place value of three digit numbers, fluency with addition/subtraction within 100, and identifying, reading, and writing numbers up to 1,000. Weaved in an out of each unit are randomly placed time-telling sessions. The students have been getting more comfortable with how to use the terms ‘quarter until’ and ‘quarter past’ in addition to ‘half past.’ If your child doesn’t have an analogue clock or watch, it may be a good time to purchase one!

Graphs and math games!


We continued our study of solids and used our senses to decipher which properties different solids share in common. We completed an activity including a “sorting circle” where we sorted objects according to common properties, and we also had fun with “guessing bags” where we used our sense of touch to feel properties of a solid and hypothesize what the solid was based upon the properties we felt. We “solidified” our knowledge of solids by creating an object which represented a property which is unique only to solids, i.e. bumpy, rough, pointy, etc. We had a great time creating these solids and they are displayed on our room for all to observe! Next matter up: liquids!

Working with solids and representing their properties 

Social Studies

We reviewed how to use map grids on a larger scale. Then we tried our hand at making our own grids…which we quickly found out was harder than it looks, but still a fun challenge! We practiced using our cardinal directions in pairs by playing a fun game. We had a game board and some cards with directions such as “take 2 steps south and 1 step east.” The goal was to get to our specific house on the game board through all these directional steps. Finally, the students are feeling much more comfortable with NSEW direction-giving. Practice makes perfect 😉

We have also been completing some logic and “following directions” activities. Such important skills to practice!

Teaching Time

Check out what the kids have been teaching each other (and me) about!

Raj – how to field a ground ball

Smith – chess rules

Ella – how to make a mosaic

Leilah – sushi

Kenzie – how to make a blanket, black bears

Celeene – Venus flytraps

Campbell – how to make an ice cream cone out of clay

Atticus – A-10 Warthogs, citric acid

Louisa – weaving

Evan – prickly pear cactus, Thomas Edison

Kirra – coyotes, baseball players

Liam – Disneyland, Pluto

Nathan – red pandas, velociraptors 

Aaron – pirates, UFOs

Important dates:
Friday, Feb. 7th: red tops and khakis for a Fox Theater play field trip (going by bus), also STEM Night at school. 5:30pm

Feb 7th and 8th: Uniform Exchange

Feb. 12th: “Fee Dress” (WIRES Charity) / Math-a-thon pledges due

Feb. 14th: Relaxed dress day

That’s about all of the big news for the past 2 weeks! Have a great weekend!

Miss O’Meara


Smith doing a chess demo

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Happiness in the New Year!


Hello Families and Friends!

Greetings and happy 2020! We started the new year strong here in 2B! The students seemed to all be excited to get back to the grind and are doing quite well.

Thank you for attending your child’s conference. If you have any further questions or concerns that we did not cover, please do not hesitate to let me know!

My dear husband will be having a neck fusion next Wednesday, so I will be out that day and the following day to put on my nurse hat. Mrs. Bly will be in my place taking care of business in 2B. You may see me around campus at pickup and drop-off like a “normal parent” though 🙂

We will be exchanging Valentines with 2A and 2B on Valentine’s Day. I will send a name list out soon, but for planning purposes, there are 26 students in total.


“Why is nature always changing?” That is the big question we are exploring in this new reading unit. To answer it, we are reading, writing, and talking about cycles in nature, including weather and the seasons. When the Wind Stops by Charlotte Zolotow was one reading selection where a mother explained that things in nature don’t end; they only change or move on to another place. Day and Night was an article and experiment by Glen Phelan which explained what causes the patterns of day and night. While discussing our reading, we have tried to use our new vocabulary words: appear, motion, observe, pattern, repeat, and shadows, to name a few.

Spelling and Language

Here are all the various spelling patters we have studied over these past two weeks: long I spelled I, ie, igh; long E spelled e, e_e, ie, y, ea; soft G spelled gi and ge; soft C spelled ci and ce; the N sound spelled n, kn, gn; the R sound spelled r, wr; and the M sound spelled m, mb. Many of the kids think it is cool to point these spellings out when they are reading independently. You can encourage them to do this at home too. Strong reading and strong spelling go hand-in-hand. In language, we focused on complete sentences with correct subject/verb agreement, adjectives, and antonyms.


We have been practicing persuasive writing. This group of bright students is already good at being convincing; however, we can always use practice on using stronger words in our writing paired with details to support out thoughts. We read the book Dear Mrs. LaRue and wrote a persuasive letter to the main character (Ike the doggie) where we used persuasive language to convince Ike to stay at his obedience school. The students had such a great time with this assignment, so we decided to do more persuasive writing: they were given a chance to try to persuade me to take them on a field trip to a place of their choosing. The students had to provide enough concrete examples as to why their field trip would be best and most useful for our class to attend. Boy your kids are wonderful at finding reasons to help them convince others! They also must think I have sacks of money sitting around my house or something…read: proposed field trips to see Aztec ruins, the rainforest, the bottom of the sea etc. Haha!


We have started a new chapter called “Working with Categorical Data.” We kicked off the new unit with a game of “Guess My Rule.” During this game, we sorted our classmates into two groups according to a secret attribute or rule. They made representations of the data for one rule, compared different representations, and were introduced to the conventions of picture graphs. We have started learning different ways to collect data and how to organize that information into a picture graph or bar graph. I love this chapter and I’m sure the students will be creating their own surveys and graphs at home soon!


Social Studies

We are continuing to work on making and reading maps. During our Social Studies block, we also discussed how we can do our part in society to make things better. We wrote some touching word poems for MLK Day where we named things we wished to improve about the world “with our two hands.” They are displayed in the classroom. We also learned a lot about each other by doing a little snowman hieroglyphic activity. Those are also on our East bulletin board; come see!

We had a guest speaker from Tucson Water come to talk to us about being “water smart” in our desert community. We learned that Tucson’s main sources of water are groundwater, the Central Arizona Project, and reclaimed water. We learned about aquifers and groundwater as well as the value and importance of water. We completed some writing activities on how we can be Water Smart kids and brainstormed different ideas on how and why to conserve water.


We dove into a new science unit of matter: solids, liquids, and gases. We learned that everything in the universe is made up of matter. This past week, we focused on solids. We analyzed several different solids and observed their properties. We played a guessing game where our partner had to guess what property two chosen solids had in common. The students are looking forward to more fun projects and experiments having to do with matter!

We also were treated to a class with 8th grade science teacher, Ms. Sanders. We took part in an experiment called “Can you Spot the Dot” which involved testing whether or not we can take advantage of the way our eyes and brain talk to each other to make dots on a page disappear. We learned about how saccades (fast eye movements) can help us see the edges of where one object begins and where another ends. What a great activity and a big thank you to Ms. Sanders for sharing her time and expertise with us!

Teaching Time

Raj – how a Perplexus works, frog facts

Smith – Iceland trip, Northern Lights

Ella – how an instant camera works, how to draw animals

Leilah – Bob Marley, Tae Kwon Do

Kenzie – javalina facts, giant Triton snail facts

Celeene – Statue of Liberty, koala facts

Campbell – panda facts, how to draw an ice cream cone

Atticus – Uno rules, NERF

Louisa – Word Round game rules, Amelia Earhart

Evan – homemade “how-to” videos on basketball moves, Tesla cars

Kirra – Pokemon rules, the water cycle

Liam – Dash robot game, Scott Kelly

Nathan – Japanese anime

Aaron – Spartans, whirlpools


Important dates:

Friday, Jan. 7th: TSO field trip by buses…please wear khaki and red!

Friday, Jan. 7th: STEM Night 5-6p


What a great start to the New Year! See you soon!

Miss O’Meara


Happy birthday, Evan!

Happy 1/2 birthday, Liam!

Awesome TSO brass quintet plus one cool percussionist

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Holiday Happiness in 2B!


Hello Families and Friends!

Season’s Greetings to one and all! We just passed our 81st day of school, which means that we have less than 100 days left together…get ready, because it’s going to (sadly) fly by. The second half of 2nd grade is much more demanding as far as the level of difficulty in the curriculum, and also in the area of personal responsibility. By this time, the students should be able to complete tasks on their own without the constant reminders to get the jobs done. They are also expected to be able to better work on projects in collaborative groups in terms of communication and positive participation. I appreciate your support in these areas, and of course, I’m here to support you as well!

Bravo on the St. Nicholas Day performance. Didn’t the kids sound great? It was a wonderful performance and I was proud to be a part of it! We also had a visit from St. Nicholas (my buddy Mr. Paul Vernon) who gave us chocolate coins and a historical reenactment of the life of St. Nick!

RehearsalWaiting for the boys to change

St. Nicholas’ visit

Thank you to Julie Bowen for planning a fun Christmas party for our class and thank you to the parents who contributed their time to help out! A wonderful time was had by all!

Speaking of thank yous, I loved all of the Christmas gifts and cards that I received! I feel like a very loved and special person! Benjamin is especially thankful for the cookies and candies 🙂 Thank you so very much!

We hope you like your homemade decorations. 15 years from now as you hang those on your trees, I hope you fondly remember old Ms. O’Meara and our wonderful second class 🙂


We have been reading several non-fiction texts which have illustrated our theme of responsibilities towards each other. We read, wrote, and talked together about community members far and wide who have done heroic things to help others. In one story, “Giving Back” by William Albert Allard, explorer William Allard described how a photo he took inspired people to help a boy in need. “Iraqi Children Get Wheelchairs— and Big Smiles” was a web-based news article which reported about a charity that donates wheelchairs to Iraqi children who cannot walk. These are just a few of the examples of texts we have been reading to explore community responsibility. Some vocabulary words that popped up were: aid, decide, example, generous, heroes, leaders, serve, and support.

Spelling and Language

We worked on a few different types of words this week: long o spelled oa and ow, and compound words. In addition to our spelling word work, we read stories and poems that contained words with these spellings. Through much exposure, the students will recall the spelling of these words when writing and reading them. We also have been working on subject/verb agreement i.e. how verbs need to change depending on the subject. Example: She digs vs. We dig. Understanding what parts of language are needed in order for sentences to make sense and be complete makes us stronger writers!


We have been working hard on writing Christmas stories. The stories are written in the voice of an elf who has to save Christmas because Santa is sick! We are getting used to organizing our writing better by first listing our beginning, middle, and ending ideas then creating a fluid story using those thoughts. This makes for better stories with smoother transitions which is something that all of the 2nd graders need to work on! We also had fun writing in a different format: we wrote a R.A.F.T. This stands for role, audience, format, and topic. So we looked at a picture of a town getting hit by a blizzard. We pretended that we were snowflakes in that blizzard (role), who were writing to another object in the picture (audience) a letter (format) about the damage that was about to happen to that object (topic). FUN! This is something that the kids may enjoy doing at home…be creative!


We have been continuing working on adding multiples of 5, 10, and 20 up to 100 and 200. A couple of fun games to help us practice are in the pictures below. At home, if you’d like to play these games (called “Get to 100” or “Get to 200”), simply mark on some dice with a sharpie the numbers 5, 10, and 20. Roll and write down the numbers and keep a running addition problem with each roll until you get to 100 or 200! We are in the process of developing efficient strategies for adding and subtracting 2 digit numbers including drawing pictures, using 10s and 1s sticker strips, using hundreds charts, and good old regrouping. Also, we have been working hard on solving two-step story problems involving larger numbers and money amounts. When solving story problems, the students are given opportunities to explain their solution strategies to another student so that we are all seeing different routes to the same answers. Explaining math reasoning is a tricky thing, but we are all improving in this process!

Social Studies

We are still continuing to work on making and reading maps. We also created our very own maps of the North Pole. We were given a few places to include on our map like a runway for the sleigh, Santa’s house, and the elves’ workshops. Each map of course included a map key. They turned out super cute and creative! The students also worked on special Christmas coordinate grids which revealed hidden holiday-themed pictures. These grids introduced the students to trickier grids using a numbered X/Y axis. Now, we need to continue practicing giving directions on how to get from place to place only using the cardinal directions!


We finished our spider study up by touching a real skin shed from Harry the tarantula, my faithful class pet who was with me for 12 years and brought much happiness to many of my past students. Rest in peace, sweet Harry.

We completed some Christmas-themed STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) challenges over the past 2 weeks. The first one was a “STEM Christmas Tree Building Challenge.” Can you build a 3-D Christmas tree that will stand up by itself, using just paper, 2 popsicle sticks, and tape? Well, maybe you adults can’t, but the kids sure did! They had a fun time, lots of trial and error, and loooots of tape. The other project was “Build a STEM Shelf for the Elf!” Working in pairs, the students had to build a sturdy shelf for a paper elf using popsicle sticks and a very small amount of clay. These shelves served as wonderful lessons in planning, communication, and teamwork. I was proud of how well the students worked together to successfully build strong, tall shelves for their Christmas elves!

Teaching Time

We learned a lot from our peers this week:

Raj – Eiffel Tower, soccer tournaments

Smith – Mr. Rogers, emojis

Ella – Christmas mosaics, tapeworms

Leilah – Disney princesses

Kenzie – reindeer, hedgehogs

Celeene – her family, rabbits

Campbell – space

Atticus – Dan Aykroyd, how to use a compass

Louisa – Mindcraft, sharks

Evan – making a dollar paper airplane, Native American pottery

Kirra – Frida Kahlo, magic 8 ball

Liam – card game War rules, escape rooms

Nathan – saber tooth tiger, Chinese dragons

Aaron – St. Nicholas history, Mt. Rushmore

Great job, everyone!

Important dates:

January 6th: first day back at school – happy 2020!

January 13-24 – conferences – stay tuned for a SignUpGenius invite!

January 15th: noon dismissal

Blessings to you and yours during this holiday season! See you soon and enjoy the break!

🙂 Miss O’Meara

Happy birthday, Kirra!

Playing games with our 8th grade buddies!

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Happy St. Nicholas Day!


Hello Families and Friends!

Greetings and happy St. Nicholas Day! What special surprise did your child find in his or her shoe today from St. Nick? This is just another one of the many wonderful traditions we have here at St. Michael’s! The students have been working very hard with Ms. Allen to deliver a fine performance on Friday, December 13th at 2:00. Please plan on arriving by 1:30 as parking and seating can be hectic. Students are expected to look their best for the show! Please have your child come to school in their uniform attire, and bring a bag with a change of clothes for the performance. Clothing should be “fancy” or “Sunday’s best!” Thanks!!

Did you love your little pinecone turkey friends that the students made? I have made one for each year I’ve been teaching in the classroom…that’s now 13 pinecone turkeys to store…and counting!



The holiday book reports were amazing! Another wonderful project completed by my hard working students! We will finish the presentations next week as we ran out of time today due to our rocket building and launching (see “Rocket Day” explanation below).

Book reports



We have had some great stories in our reading series that lend themselves quite nicely to the writing projects on which we have been working. “What are our responsibilities to each other?” That is the big question we are exploring in this new reading unit. To answer it, we are reading, writing, and talking about good deeds and things people do to help others. This week we read “Aesop’s Fables” retold by Shirleyann Costigan. These two fables show that when you do a good deed, help can come from unexpected places. We also read “Wisdom of the Ages” which were proverbs from seven cultures reminded readers to do good deeds. Some vocabulary words of note: character, choice, citizenship, courage, grateful, respect, responsible, right, and thoughtful.

The few days prior to Thanksgiving (since it was a short week), we took a little break from our language arts series and instead, we did a fun language arts activity that I love! It’s called a reading “tea party.” We used the book “The Snowman Storybook” for our tea party. It goes like this: on the first day of a tea party, I make copies of just the text portion of the specifically selected book. Each student receives a portion of the text. Just like at a tea party, the students go around the room and “mingle” while they would read their story portion to another person. Then that person would read their part to the other person, then switch people, etc. The goal of this portion of the tea party is for the students to work on using the information that they are hearing about the story and then putting that information into an order that makes sense as a story. After this, we fill out a character, setting, plot chart where we make predictions about the story elements. The 2nd day consists of matching each individual sentence/story part to a picture from the book by using comprehension, inference, and critical thinking. Each student then has to explain why he or she picked that picture to illustrate their story part. After doing this, we try to write a story about how we think it is actually written, now having a more clear picture due to words and illustrations being brought together. Then we actually read the story and compare our predictions to what really happened. Tea parties make reading fun and different. Also, they help students to realize that understanding stories takes time; however, an understanding can be reached through taking what has been read, analyzing the information, and then making inferences and predictions. So fun!

Tea party!


Spelling and Language

We worked on a few different spellings over the past few weeks: Long A spelled with ‘a,’ ‘ai,’ and ‘ay.’ Also, Long E spelled ‘e,’ ‘ee,’ ‘ea,’ and ‘ie.’ At this point, all students are strong in spelling phonetically. We just need to retain the odd vowel spellings and that comes with more consistent visual exposure to all of these words and spellings through reading! We are getting pretty good at locating nouns and verbs in sentences, as well as complete subjects and predicates.


Our new reading unit has provided wonderful topics for us to write about. We have been describing good citizenship through several different writing forms: lists, paragraphs, and short stories. Within these writing exercises, we have been practicing finding all of the subjects and predicates in our descriptive sentences. We also wrote rough and good drafts of letters to Santa. Going along with our “lend a helping hand” theme in reading, we not only asked Santa for items for ourselves, but we also requested items for others. Did you know that I am privy to Santa’s personal information? As in…I have his address?! Knowing this information helped us learn how to address a proper envelope complete with the correct location of a stamp.


We have been working hard on understanding place value and also representing and solving problems involving addition and subtraction. Throughout our year, the students are asked to make sense of and solve different types of story problems, including adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing. They are also introduced to more complex problem types such as those involving an unknown change or unknown start. Tricky, tricky.

Recently, the context of stickers that come in the form of singles, strips of 10, and sheets of 100 has provided a model for representing and making sense of place value. Students have used this sticker context to represent numbers with hundreds, tens, and ones; consider how the value of a digit is determined by its place in a number; and compare numbers by place. This understanding helps students develop computation strategies in later units and grades. Ask your child how to play “Last Number Standing” – it’s quick, easy, fun, and an effective to solidify place value!

Playing “Roll a Square” to practice place value


Social Studies

We had a fun and educational field trip to Fry’s! We enjoyed learning about the different areas of the grocery store and what the workers do there. We also enjoyed learning about nutrition (and eating lots of free samples!). We are able to talk to a worker in each different section and ask them questions about their particular job. What a wonderful way to appreciate these community workers – by learning all about how they help US!

Produce dept.BakeryMeat dept.Loading dockRx

We have been reading several selections and have shared in many discussions regarding good citizenship and how it effects our communities. From the small community of our classroom to the large community of our state and country, every good deed counts. We also learned how to read grid coordinates on maps. The class LOVED map coordinates – like A LOT. Now these kids will all be Battleship masters! We will certainly do some more of this because I just found some fun Christmas coordinate projects! Another map-reading skill we touched on but certainly have not mastered yet is giving directions using the cardinal directions (NSEW). I personally revolt every time someone tries to give me directions to a place using language such as “turn south on Wilmot, and west on Broadway…” no thanks. RIGHT OR LEFT, PEOPLE! But, it is an important skill and I recognize that maybe I’ll become proficient along with the children whilst teaching them 🙂



We started studying the life cycle of spiders by learning all of the arachnid body parts. Have your child sing you the super cute spider body part song! We will be learning about the 5 different types of webs that spiders weave: orb, tangled, sheet, triangle, and funnel. Ask your child about some spider facts that he or she learned from our many informational texts.

The 2nd graders were treated to “Rocket Day” thanks to our beloved former St. Michael’s parents (both of their boys have graduated!), Merle and Deidre Crutchfield, and their Raytheon counterparts and fellow rocketeers, Steve Lubliner and Jerry King. We built our very own model rockets, learned the physics behind rocket propulsion, and then launched them! How exciting to be part of this process! Thank you, Deidre, Merle, Steve, and Jerry, for volunteering your time and expertise yet again!

Building rockets

Finished products


Teaching Time

We sure do love learning new things from our friends!

Raj – how leaves change color, Coca Cola facts, history of Christmas lights and trees

Smith – Pluto, the Grinch, Niagara Falls

Ella – 3D model holograms, hummingbirds, Koosh ball inventions

Leilah – Sleeping Queens game, parrots

Kenzie – flamingos, wild turkeys

Celeene – ostriches, mice, Arizona facts

Campbell – coral reef, how to make a PlusPlus spinner

Atticus – ravens, silverfish

Louisa – leafy sea dragons, horse facts

Evan – making a rain cloud, history of candy canes

Kirra – hour glasses, macaws

Liam – Lego Robotix, how to draw a mountain

Nate – hockey, shonisaurus

Aaron – Star Wars, rattlesnakes

Great job, everybody!


Important Dates

December 11: “Fee” dress day…bring in $2 which goes towards our mass collection and you can wear free dress to school this day!

Dec. 13: St. Nicholas’ Day 2:00 in gym, students are to bring their “Sunday’s best” to change into before the show

December 20: last day of school before Christmas break, noon dismissal, no aftercare

January 6: school resumes

Happy birthday, Atticus! 🙂


String quartet concert

Evan making rain clouds in a cup

Learning how to set a proper table

Have a nice weekend 🙂


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Falling into the Holidays!


Hello Families and Friends!

The Holidays are just around the corner and the year is just flying by for us! It is now sweater weather…time for our old wing of the school to turn on our archaic radiant floor heater and see crayons melt and children lay all over the warm floor haha 🙂

My son, husband, parents and I are taking off tomorrow for South Bend, Indiana where we will watch Notre Dame (my father’s alma mater and hopefully my son’s future college) beat Navy (my husband is a retired Naval combat medic/chief) in the historic ND/Navy football game. My wonderful substitute, Mrs. Johnson, is ready to take the reins for a few days. Go Irish!

We had a great few weeks here in 2B. Lots of fun was had by all during the Field Day events including my personal favorite, the dance station! Plus, the faculty beat the 8th graders several times in the annual volleyball games…and more good news is that none of us teachers broke any hips or blew out any knees in the interim 😉

Field Day before and after
Thank you for all of the canned good donations given to our Thanksgiving food drive; we are trying to collect 500 cans total combined with Ms. Hart’s class. We have a long way to go and appreciate any and all help for the Community Food Bank.

On another note, the holiday book report is due on December 6th. I can’t wait to hear about all of the cool books the students have read and I’m looking forward to decorating the class for the holidays with their lovely work!



We have been reading some very interesting stories together as a whole group as well as in our small reading groups. We finished our unit called “Water for Everyone.” A few recent selections we read were “PlayPumps” by Catherine Clarke Fox which was an article that describes the PlayPump, an invention that has helped millions of people in Africa get clean water. Another selection, “The Mighty Colorado” by Mimi Mortezai, introduces Explorer Jon Waterman, who works to preserve the Colorado River, a source of water and power for millions of people. Some interesting vocabulary words that kept popping up in our reading were: clean, draws, healthy, invention, machine, pipes, provide, pump, require, source, and wells. Our next reading unit will focus on reaching out and lending a hand to those in need.


We worked on words with long e and long u during the past two weeks. One way we worked on these spellings is by playing a “making words” game. This is where I give the students a whole bunch of random letters and they put the letters together to make several small words. In these cases, the words had many of the sounds that we were working on. At the end of the game, all of the letters spell one big word. This is yet another “trick” to get kids to learn even when they think they aren’t doing so!


We were able to write another RAFT: the students assumed the role of a piece of Halloween candy. Their job was to write a persuasive letter to the trick or treater who owns them to talk the trick or treater out of eating them! We went from being stale to being poisonous! These were incredibly funny! We are all actively working on using more descriptive language in our formal and informal writing. We are currently going through a writers’ workshop session with a fun Thanksgiving story. The students all are assuming the role of a turkey who is narrating the story. So, while writing in the voice of a turkey, the students are able to write a fun and interesting Thanksgiving adventure. When finished, these books will be displayed in our classroom library along with the students’ self-written Halloween books. Spoilers: some of the turkeys don’t make it out of their adventures unscathed.


We have been “all about” fractions over the past 2 weeks! We began by discovering the meaning of one half. The students solved story problems in which they partitioned geometric shapes (which we studied in the past investigation) into halves. Through discussions and exploration, the students have examined the idea that halves can be equal size, but different shapes. The students also worked with fourths and thirds by creating fraction flags and working with the ever-so-fun Geoboards. The students understand that fractions are equally partitioned parts of one whole item. Next up will be Unit 3 which provides students opportunities to engage with ideas that lay a foundation for algebra – cool!

Geoboards and fraction flags

Social Studies

We are still continuing to work on making and reading maps. We worked on making maps of our bedrooms making sure to add all of the permanent fixtures. We realize that maps don’t have details, such as people and cars. Rather, maps include large objects that are stationary. We have also been discussing the first Thanksgiving and how it is important to reach out to our community during this time. We focused on Thanksgiving and the history of this holiday. We will be continuing to learn many facts about the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Next week, we will use Native American symbols to write our own stories. The students will also learn the lost art of setting a formal dining table. I’m hoping they’ll use their knowledge of place settings nightly! 🙂

Our self-created community maps


We started studying the life cycle of bees. We learned so many facts about these amazing little creatures; ask your child what he or she found to be most interesting about bees! We learned various facts about the hexagonal shaped cells that the bees make in their hives, the three different types of honeybees: drones, workers, and queens, and the different body parts of bees. Did you know that only female bees have stingers? Next up: the lifecycle of spiders!

Teaching Time

We had many interesting teaching times during the past few weeks:

Raj – Stonehenge

Smith – Dodo bird

Ella – Western Diamondback rattlesnake, how to make soap (with samples!)

Leilah – mammals, Scotland

Kenzie – narwhals, alpacas

Celeene – bees, elephants

Campbell – Antartica, how to make slime

Atticus – Dead Sea, hot air balloons

Louisa – Warsaw, blowhole air conditioner

Evan – Old Tucson Studios

Kirra – foxes, Lebanon

Liam – Harry Potter, dinosaurs

Nathan – box jelly, mosasaurus

Aaron – boat anatomy and model

Great job to you all!

Ella’s soap demo

Important Dates

Nov. 20th: noon dismissal

Nov. 27-29: Thanksgiving Holiday, no school

December 5th: Fry’s field trip

Dec. 6th: Holiday book reports due

Dec. 13th: St. Nicholas Day performance, 2:00

Have a great week!



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What Fun We’re Having!


Hello Families and Friends!

Happy November! A lot of excitement took place this week when we celebrated Halloween! Thank you to the many parents who donated items and their time to our Halloween celebration, especially Julie Bowen for the planning and festive decorating! It was seriously the best party ever 🙂 Weren’t the 2B Happy Campers GREAT in the Halloween parade?! This is one of my favorite traditions here at St. Michael’s! And the icing on the cake was seeing my own son in the parade for his first time marching alongside my beloved class 🙂

Party and parade!

The haunted house book report projects were absolutely spectacular! The students chose a variety of books to read and every project is uniquely fun and different. They are all displayed in our room, so please come by and take a look. I can tell the students enjoyed doing this project and they were all so proud to present their work to us. The next project will be a winter holiday themed book report…stay tuned for details 🙂

Proud of our book report projects!


We continued to work on our Halloween/Fall stories from last week’s pre-writing stage. When we finished up publishing our good drafts, we then proudly shared our work during an “author’s chair” session where each author read his or her story to the class. We did this on Halloween day with the lights out and candles lit, just to have an extra special spooky effect! These stories are being kept in our class library for all of our classmates to read, so please feel free to stop by and read a few. 


We started a new theme in reading called “Water for Everyone!” “Where does water come from?” That is the big question we are exploring in this unit. To answer it, we are reading, writing, and talking about the water cycle and water as a natural resource. We read “Frog Brings Rain” by Joseph Bruchac. In this traditional Native American tale, Frog helps First Woman when he turns Water into rain and puts out Fire. We also read “Make Rain” by Mimi Mortezai. This science experiment book demonstrates how rain forms and falls from the sky. In addition to the weekly class stories, we also worked in small groups on leveled readers. We reinforced the correct usage and spelling of the weekly vocabulary and spelling words which were then practiced in the students’ workbooks and later tested through a comprehension and vocabulary test. Some of the current vocabulary words which we are focusing on are: absorb, become, carry, change, cloud, lake, ocean, rain, rise, and sky.


We have been working on words that contain the long a, long o, and long I sounds spelled with the “magic silent e” on the end. In addition to our weekly spelling homework, to practice these different vowel spellings, we read poems, short stories, do workbook pages, and complete word sorts that contain words with these long vowels. As I have said before, the more times the students see these spellings in words, the better they will be at reading and/or spelling them during applied spelling times.


We started a new investigation in our “Attributes of shapes and Parts of a Whole” unit: investigating quadrilaterals, rectangles, and squares. We started by sorting different shapes according to their attributes, discussed the categories of our sorts, then focused finally on sorting by number of sides while making sure to use vocabulary words such as: edges, angle, right angle, faces, quadrilateral, polygon, hexagon, pentagon, congruent, columns, rows, array, and vertices. We examined different quadrilaterals by comparing their angles (right angles vs. not right angles). We were given challenges such as investigating how many different rectangles can be made with a set number of building tiles. This helped us to focus on columns and rows within arrays (which down the line will be a very useful tool when learning multiplication facts, stay tuned for that…). We also started Investigation 3 which focuses on fractions (halves, quarters, and thirds). We will continue with fraction concepts into the next couple of weeks.

Array and Geoboard work


We ended our study about plant life cycles this past week. We talked and read about pollination, photosynthesis, and osmosis. The students really enjoyed our tulip dissection project! We each were given a tulip so we could see all of the reproductive parts of flowers. We learned to identify each part of a flower and what its purpose is by dissecting and by color coding a flower part diagram. We also saw osmosis occur in front of our eyes: we placed celery stalks in red water and left them overnight. The very next day, we saw how the colored water traveled through the veins of the stalks and into the leaves! After this process, transpiration begins (which is the process by which moisture is carried through plants from roots to small pores on the underside of leaves, where it changes to vapor and is released to the atmosphere). This has been a lot of fun to study!

Flower and celery dissection

I have noticed through observation that many of our happy campers are deathly afraid of bees. We are most afraid of things we don’t know much about, so this is the perfect time to learn about the life cycle of bees (goes along with pollination anyhow!). We kicked this unit off with a bee body diagram and reading some informational texts and writing bee facts down in our bee journals. We will continue learning about bees for the next week.

Social Studies

To further our knowledge of our community and its workers, we visited Tucson’s fire station #19 (my husband’s station!)! We were able to see many of the special tools that firefighters use and we also got spray their hose! We were able to see where they sleep, eat, study, and workout. They let us ask all the well thought-out questions we wanted to and we were able to fill out some question forms as well as complete a station scavenger hunt. Thank you to those of you who drove us there: Louisa’s dad, Liam’s mom, Ella’s mom, Kirra’s grandmother, and Raj’s dad! I gave the students a fire flipbook to complete regarding safety tips for the students and their families. Please take time to fill those packets out with your child. I hope the packets create a dialogue for you and your child about fire safety in your own unique home environments.

We have been doing several small group activities where we focus on completing a task while using effective teamwork strategies such as positive communication, asking questions, dividing jobs equitably, staying on task to complete the goal, etc. Teamwork is a big part of the social studies and science grades in the second grade. Also, these are such important skills for life in general, don’t you think? 🙂 We also continued to work on maps and understanding map keys.

Teaching Time

We had many interesting teaching times during the past two weeks:

Raj – trip to Bali

Smith – Frankenstein

Ella – how to do a lattice braid, movie synopsis

Leilah – rocks/minerals, barracudas

Kenzie – Harris’s Hawk, koalas

Celeene – Halloween facts, giraffes

Campbell – science tricks, kitten facts

Atticus – cactus facts, Brazilian wandering spider

Louisa – how to use iMovie, Pangaea

Evan – giant panda facts

Kirra – hurdy gurdy machine, history of the Jack-O-Lantern

Liam – how Nintendo works, Dia de los Muertos history

Nathan – Bermuda Triangle, centipedes

Aaron – Komodo dragons, Aztec warriors

Happy birthday, Raj!

Important Dates

Friday, Nov. 8: Field Day, noon dismissal

Monday, Nov. 11: no school

Looking ahead: December 5th: 2B’s field trip to Fry’s (2A is going separately on the 3rd)

Have a nice weekend! 



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Full Steam Ahead!


Hello Families and Friends!

We have had a great few weeks here in 2B! We are “cooking with gas” after feeling refreshed from Fall Break! My family and I went to Southern California: camped beachside in our trailer on Camp Pendleton, swam in the lovely water amongst dolphins and stingrays, broke my toe on a rock, visited Sea World, and so much more! We all had a blast and from the sounds of it, it seems like you had nice breaks too!

We wanted to thank our lovely room parent, Julie Bowen, for planning a fun Fall/Halloween party for us on the 31st! She has sent a volunteer signup to all 2B parents who would like to join the fun. The party is from 1:00-2:00. The students may wear their costumes to school that day as well. There will be a costume parade beginning at 2:45 that your child may participate in if he or she wishes to do so. All are welcome to watch the parade. The beginning of the route is on the east side of our courtyard where the kindergarteners will begin the march over to the west side, then on through the middle and upper school areas. So cute!

Yesterday, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders were treated to a performance by members of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s wind quintet. We were introduced to the lovely yet different sounds of the bassoon, clarinet, flute, oboe, and French horn. They performed arrangements of “Mission Impossible,” “YMCA,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” “Yankee Doodle,” “Let it Snow,” “Silent Night,” and “I Got Rhythm.” What a great show!


Today was a wonderful day celebrating with our grandparents and special friends! In our class, we played a couple fun games, interviewed each other, and had a dance party. There was flossing, twisting, sprinklering…quite a sight to see! Much fun was had by all. I left after the festivities were over so I could spend some time with my big brother and his family who flew into town today for his 30 year Salpointe reunion. I will spend the duration of the weekend watching my sons and my nephews run around like crazy people whilst I proceed to give my brother a hard time about “getting a wee bit long in the tooth.” 🙂


We have been working on a variety of sounds: sh, ph, wh, th. Sometimes, knowing when to use these consonant digraphs is tricky, but the more the students work with these odd spelling patterns, the more familiar they will become with some of the “rule breaker” type words. We have also spent some time on studying abbreviations. I wanted the students to see them because we run across them daily and they’re everywhere! The students understand that we are to read the abbreviation as if the whole word is actually there. We understand that there is also a time and a place to use abbreviations…like in a quick note to a friend, but not necessarily in a formal report.

We pretended we were botanists and worked on writing a friendly letter to our non-growing seeds using proper letter-writing formats. We also worked on where and how to place quotation marks to signify a character speaking in our writing. This is a tricky concept, but the students grasped it well. We worked on story sequencing using the words first, next, then, and last. This will help the students to organize their thoughts in a more systematic way when they are asked to write a story or complete a summary and/or book report. Speaking of book reports, the haunted house reports are due on October 25th! Let me know if there are any last minute questions.


We read several interesting selections; one being “Living Lights” by Dr. Dennis Desjardin in which we learned about plants and animals that use light to attract prey, hide, communicate, and reproduce. Another cool selection was “Clever Creatures” by Douglas Florian which included three poems describing animals with special features that help them survive. We have been working on making inferences when we are reading. By definition, an inference is “the process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true.” In 2nd grade terms, we take information that we have read, combine that with information that we already know about that fact, then put those two together and formulate an inference based upon these facts. This is a great comprehension strategy and also is helpful in creating a dialogue about a story that your child may be reading at home.


We completed our initial investigations into solving addition and subtraction story problems. During our class lessons, the students learned strategies for understanding, representing, and solving word problems. We shared numerous ways to solve problems and had time do discuss how the different problem solving strategies each student came up with were related to each other.

This week, we started a new investigation: attributes of 2-D and 3-D shapes. So far, the students have enjoyed describing and drawing, sorting, and studying these shapes and their attributes using the following vocabulary words: polygon, features, face, vertices, edges, congruent. This will set the foundation before moving on to learning all of the different polygons, arrays, and equal parts of a whole.

Friendly reminder: please encourage your child to continue working on his or her basic addition and subtraction skills 🙂


We are coming to an end of our unit on studying plants. Our garden in the church yard is looking very…bare. Nothing new has sprouted, and the church-yard bunny has successfully eaten the one last sprout that we had! We talked about how pollination needs to occur in order for there to be growth of new seeds. We will continue learning about pollination, pollinators, and the anatomy of flowers next week. We did, however, discuss how all living things consist of many parts that serve different functions vital for survival such as the different parts of a plant that are consumable by humans and animals: seeds, roots, and leaves. This lead to some wonderful studies about about fruits and vegetables and how we should “eat a rainbow” of foods in order to obtain all of the nutrients we need to benefit our health. We made rainbow collages out of magazines which contained different colored fruits and veggies, and then we learned about what vitamins and health benefits each color of food has. What colors did YOU eat today??

Social Studies

We completed studying the differences between urban, suburban, and rural communities. We are now discovering what a map is and we are learning to use its basic features. We are becoming familiar with the compass rose and with map keys. Through different activities and our social studies text book, we will discover the purpose of maps and we will apply our knowledge in a few processing activities by drawing our own maps.

As part of our community building focus in 2nd grade, we always have a buddy class to participate in community-building projects with. This year, our buddy class is right next door – Mr. Gould and his 3rd graders! Together in mixed teams, we made paper airplane designs then had several flight competitions: distance, height, and speed. All of the kids had a blast and it was wonderful to see them working together and participating in reciprocal teaching. Thank you to Mr. Gould and his wonderful 3rd graders for a great afternoon!

Teaching Time

We had many informational teaching times over the past few weeks!

Raj – human teeth, Indonesian Rupiah

Smith – dogs, Russia

Ella – stars, making tangram shapes

Leilah – the Beatles, bats

Kenzie – Emperor penguins, otters

Celeene – MLK, puffins

Campbell – how to make a scrunchie, Blackbeard

Atticus – the human body, orb web spiders

Louisa – California sea lions and angler fish

Evan – hot dog eating contest, tallest Lego tower

Kirra – dolphins, bunnies

Liam – Civil War, 3-D printers

Nathan – pugs, 2 hour marathon

Aaron – velvet ant

Great job to you all!

Ella making Tangram figures

Leilah presenting on the Beatles

Campbell making a homemade scrunchie

Liam presenting a Civil War model

Happy birthday, Kenzie! 🙂

Important Dates

October 25th: Halloween Book Report due

October 31st: Party 1:00, parade 2:45

November 1: Fire station field trip 8:30am – 10:30am

Happy weekend!


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Fall is Here!


Hello Families and Friends!

It is finally beginning to feel more and more like Fall everyday!  We have had a great few weeks together here in 2B! I am happy to report that our class surpassed our goal of 250 homework tickets and earned our first homework party!  100% of the students in our class contributed to our goal which is awesome! Treats were eaten, games were played, and fun was had by all! Next homework goal: 400 tickets! 🙂

Progress reports will be going home next week. We have been in school for 30 days, so these grades are a collection of both formal and informal assessments to date. If you have any questions on your child’s progress reports, please email me.

Don’t forget that the fall house/haunted house book report is due on Friday, October 25th . Let me know if you have any questions on that fun project.

**And finally, we are in need of magazines/ads/newspapers/flyers with colorful pictures of different fruits and vegetables for a STEM project next week. Please and thank you!**


We have been working on several consonant blends.  I already see a difference in the students’ spelling when they are writing – they are really remembering the spellings of long vowels and words!  They are also using syllables to more accurately sound out and spell longer words. We continue to review the high frequency words of the second grade.  These are words that constantly pop up in our reading and may contain unconventional spellings – like the words because, people, were, their, etc.  Have your child point out nouns and verbs during your nightly reading!


We had a lot of fun in our writing over the past 2 weeks! We started to write full paragraphs using a topic sentence, 3 supporting detail sentences, and one concluding sentence.  Paragraph writing will be our main focus for the next long while. The students  were able to pick any animal and write about its unique camouflaging abilities in paragraph form. We revised and edited our paragraphs and had a great time sharing them in our “author’s chair!”

Author’s Chair time

We also worked on making inferences by doing a fun writing activity: we each drew a picture, then we passed the pictures around, we next used our inference-making skills to write a sentence on back of the picture stating what we thought was was going on. This was a great activity, though I should admit that I basically ripped this idea off from the super-fun party game called “Scribblish” 😉


“What does it take to survive?” That’s the big question we are exploring in this unit. To answer it, we are reading, writing, and talking about animal adaptations and how they help animals get what they need to survive. In our small reading groups, we worked on leveled readers.  We focused on using character voices when we come across quotation marks in our reading.  We worked on locating action and helping verbs in our reading and in our workbooks.  We took a test today which checked comprehension, writing, spelling, and vocabulary skills. A few stories we read were: “Twilight Hunt” by Norelle Oliver where animals use camouflage to hide as a Screech Owl hunts for food, and “Hide and Seek” which is a science article that tells how animals use color, shape, and size to hide in their habitats. Some new vocabulary words that have popped up in our reading are: adaptation, defend, habitat, insects, safe, and survive.


Over the last two weeks, we started and completed a new math investigation: comparing quantities and counting by groups. We worked in a large group setting, partners/small group settings, and independently on the following skills and activities:

-Solving “enough for the class” problems where the students discussed strategies for finding the difference between two quantities.

-Subtraction facts and investigations into whether order matters within this operation.

-Coin equivalencies combined with addition. Ask your child about the “Collect 25/50 cents” game where partners rolled dice, added the dice roll numbers together, and then collected that many cents. The first partner to collect 25/50 cents wins! They would also try to make that amount with fewest coins. Great game which can be played at home!

Collect that money!

-Grouping a set number of cubes into towers of 2s, 5s, and 10s, charting the numbers of whole towers that can be made, while focusing on remainders when different quantities of towers were made. This was challenging but led to some great discussions!

Tower math with remainders

Next up in math: strategies on solving addition and subtraction story problems.



We continued learning about the life cycle of plants. We planted all of our germinating lima beans into the planter outside of Mr. Gould’s classroom (those of us with moldy seeds planted fresh, new ones). Out of 14 seeds…..about 3  sprouted into a pretty decent sized little plants which my leaders will ever so lovingly water very day. This led to some fun writing: we wrote a R.A.F.T. (stands for Role, Audience, Format, Topic).  So, the students pretended they were plant scientists (role) who are unhappy about how most of our science class’s seeds aren’t growing.  They wrote a letter (format) to the seeds (audience) explaining why they should start growing (topic)!! These got quite creative!

Germination!One of the successful ones!

September 26th was Johnny Appleseed Day, so what better day is there to have an apple taste test with different types of apples? We discussed and charted color, texture, and taste differences and talked about how cross-pollination (more to come on that) leads to different variations of fruits.

Social Studies

We are continuing to work on our community unit. We are “building” a whole city ourselves, and are discussing all of the necessities of a healthy and well-functioning community. A large part of the students’ social studies grades are based upon their effectiveness and use of collaborative skills during these types of teamwork activities.

We have also been focusing on three different types of communities: urban, suburban, and rural. We are discovering the similarities and differences between all of these different places.

Job well done on the heritage projects! We discovered that even though we are from different families and cultures, we share many similarities. We learned a lot about each other and our families and I trust that it led to some fun conversations at home.

Proud of our projects

Teaching Time

We had many informational teaching times over the past few weeks!

Raj – taught a magic card trick, human eye

Smith – quarter collection, grandfather’s history

Ella – cheetah facts, magic tricks

Leilah – biography of Shel Silverstein, American Sign Language

Kenzie – world’s largest puzzle, wolf spiders

Celeene – hermit crabs, horses

Campbell – Thailand

Atticus – fox facts, outer space

Louisa – how to make a mandala, beluga whales

Evan – his father’s flying history, stamping with markers

Kirra – owls, King Tut

Liam – Titanic, Weird Al

Nathan – being double jointed, history of Halloween

Aaron – scorpions, D-Day

Raj and his magic card trick

Leilah presenting on a favorite author

Cool stamp art demo by Evan


Important Dates

October 7-11: Fall break

Tuesday, Oct. 15th: Blessing of the animals mass – each student can bring a stuffed animal to have blessed

Friday, Oct. 18th: Grandparent’s day 8-10:30am

Friday, Oct. 25: Halloween book report due



In height order for picture day!

Fun at the Murphy-Wilmot Library

Rainy day recess shenanigans

Newest addition to our class: a lovely rocking chair handed down to us by our dear friend in KA, Ms. Walrath!


Thank you and have a nice weekend!


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Back to School Night Information


Hello everyone! Thank you to those of you who could attend our Back to School Night information evening. For those of you who could not make it, below you will find all of the information that was presented that evening. But first, a few quick pictures from this week:

All dressed up for picture day!

Good Roxy

Sneaky Roxy

Have a good weekend!



Second Grade Back to School Night Info:


About Ms. O’Meara: I was born and reared here in Tucson. I attended Saints Peter and Paul Elementary School and Salpointe Catholic High School. Because of many special and talented teachers that I was lucky enough to experience in my schooling, I knew from a very young age that I wanted to choose a career in education! I obtained degrees in education and music from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. I taught first grade in Los Angeles for five years while coordinating the gifted and talented program for my school, being a master teacher for college education students, and leading training sessions for new teachers and district interns. After deciding that the daily chaos in Los Angeles was no longer for me, I moved back to Tucson and used my abilities in training and management to try my hand in the business and sales world. After three successful years, I realized that I missed the education arena tremendously and I could not wait to get back into teaching! This is my 17th year of teaching (including both classroom teaching and private piano lessons) and it is my 8th year here at St. Michael’s and I just love it! This school has always had a great reputation within the Tucson community and I feel very blessed to be teaching here! Together, we will make this a successful and enjoyable year for all of the students in the 2nd grade!

About Mrs. Pena: I was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona. I attended A.J. Mitchell Elementary, Wade Carpenter Middle School, and graduated from Nogales High School. I studied elementary education, sociology, and Spanish Literature for Children at the University of Arizona. My first years in teaching were at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Nogales, Az. After 3 years, I married my husband, Oscar, and we moved to Seattle where he received his specialty in endodontics from the University of Washington. While in Seattle, I taught preschool for two years. We then moved back to Tucson to be closer to our families, start our own family, and my husband began his own practice.  I have been a long time member of the Angel Charity, I am the 2019-2020 Tucson Symphony Cotillion Ball chair, and I, along with my oldest daughter Sofia, are members of the National Charity League for Mothers and Daughters. Both of my daughters, Sofia (now a junior at Salpointe) and Kamila (current STM 6th grader), attended St. Michael’s School and I always knew that if I was lucky enough to rejoin the teaching force, St. Michael’s was the one and only school for me! I not only enjoy teaching my students every day, but I just love to see them grow academically and socially!

Ms. O’Meara’s Goals: Education is a life-long process. My mission is to encourage, support, and develop each student’s intellectual, social, and moral journey towards becoming a successful and productive member of our society. In addition to “treat others as you wish to be treated yourself,” my motto personally and for my class is: be the example, don’t be made the example of.

Mrs. Pena’s Goals: My goal for my students is to work hard, ask questions, and use as many hands-on activities for each subject to engage the students in their learning. We will help one another out and we will encourage one another in every aspect of our daily learning. We are in charge of ourselves, and we need to be aware of the effects of our own actions, words, and thoughts. We will learn something new each day and we will share new ideas and finish each day with a positive thought of what we learned that day.



Working with Words: Helps to ensure that the students read, spell, and use high-frequency words correctly, and that they learn the patterns necessary for decoding and spelling. We will be practicing these skills using various activities in large and small group settings, and will be monitored through weekly spelling tests.

Guided Reading: Helps to build comprehension and fluency with reading, and to introduce students to a variety of literature, such as stories, informational text, decodable text, and poetry. This will be done in large and small group settings, ranging in appropriate levels of difficulty. Comprehension will be monitored through tests and the completion of book reports in the forms of written and oral presentations.

Writing: We will build fluency in writing, refine and apply knowledge of phonics, practice proper grammar and punctuation, build students’ confidence as writers, and utilize the Six Traits of Writing (ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions) which will help develop all skills needed for good writing. We will also be using penmanship workbooks to ensure proper letter formation and neatness in our written work.


We work in small and whole group settings using various manipulatives to aid further understanding of skills. We will be working on the following skills: addition and subtraction, concepts of multiplication, and division, place value, problem solving, greater and less than, fractions, money value, rounding to the nearest ten and hundred, measurement, time telling, and geometric shapes and their attributes. Throughout the math curriculum and group activities, the following educational aspects will be present: active learning for strong concept development, effective practice opportunities that reinforce concepts, an emphasis on problem solving, and reasoning skills that support mathematical thinking.


The 2nd grade will focus on many areas in life, earth, and physical science. In particular, we will be exploring the areas of plants, states of matter, weather, and basic nutrition. We will use several avenues of investigation: experiments, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. We will use the scientific method to enhance and solidify our learning.

Social Studies/Geography

In addition to social studies lessons that automatically derive out of our reading program, the students will be learning all about many people and places in the city and country. Our big focuses in the second grade are community and mapping. We will be taking some field trips to explore different aspects of what comprises a community. We will also be studying the history of St. Michael’s and the history of our surrounding neighborhood.

Behavior plan

Our classroom behavior plan revolves around being a good friend to others. Our school’s motto is “treat others the way you would like to be treated.” The various ways of treating each other as a friend includes several things such as: minding our manners, saying “good friend words” like “please” and “excuse me,” sharing, taking turns, not interrupting, following directions, working together, and listening. We are a team and a family, we are together for the whole day, and we will work together to make things as peaceful and enjoyable as possible.

We do not believe in giving extrinsic rewards like candy or stickers. Rather, the students will be rewarded with praise and appreciation; the real reward is intrinsic – the students will feel good, proud, and confident. If we “catch” a student being a good friend and following directions, that student may put his or her name on a raffle ticket and place in into our “That’s What I Like To See” jar. We have to “catch” the student being a good friend by habit, not just because he or she knows that we am looking at that particular moment. The students may also report good deeds that others have done for them as well. A student’s name can be entered into the jar as many times as they are “caught” being a good friend. Every Monday, we will randomly pull two names out of the jar. These two students become my leaders for the week – basically they are out “mini-teachers.” They will pass out papers, go to the office, lead the lines, act as “recess reporters,” etc.

If a student fails to follow directions or is not being a good friend, he or she will be given two clear choices: choose to fix the behavior, or choose a time-out. If the behavior persists, even after a time-out, the student will stay in for part of their lunch recess for “recess academy” where he or she will practice the correct behavior. Of course if the degree of the offense is more serious than regular classroom disruption or typical 2nd grade misbehavior, the penalty will be more rigorous, i.e. missing all playtime for a day, writing a note home to be signed by the parents, missing a fun project, etc. We do not anticipate having extreme problems; however, if they do occur, you will be notified immediately. We can then discuss the student’s behavior and how we can work together to remedy the issue.

It is extremely important that you talk to your child nightly about any difficulties that may have occurred that day at school. This will help him or her to become a problem-solver and also understand how issues occur and how to avoid them.




Research increasingly shows that an overwhelming amount of homework in the early grades can produce negative results. Families today have increasingly less time to spend together due to work, school, and extracurricular schedules. The homework overload along with the time shortage has proven to result in negative feelings towards school, family and student frustration, and poor self images amongst students.The recommended amount of homework for elementary students is 10 minutes per grade level; therefore, 2nd graders are expected to realistically be responsible for no more than 20 minutes of nightly homework in addition to at least 20 minutes of reading (including independent and/or shared reading).

To combat this growing problem, the 2nd grade has started a new weekly homework system which includes 2 mandatory assignments (one spelling and one math) and 3 student choice assignments. Our homework system includes incentive tickets (students are not punished for not doing homework; in fact, they earn chances for a collective class reward by choosing to do the work) and it saves time (the choices offered are brief, hands-on, and largely open-ended explorations with opportunities for self-challenge which will eliminate frustration and encourage empowered learning!) The students DO have the choice to complete the “choice assignments;” however, we of course encourage them to complete each one and have tried hard to make the choices fun, different, and meaningful with the opportunity for challenge/extension. On occasion, there will be a few long-term book report/project assignments sent home throughout the year.

These weekly homework assignments are given out on Monday and are to be returned the following Monday. Students should be responsible to bring homework to school themselves instead of being reminded or having a parent pack it into their backpacks. “Teaching time” is also considered a weekly revolving assignment in Ms. O’Meara’s class. Please refer to the schedule that Ms. O’Meara sent home to make sure that you have your child’s teaching time day calendared each week! Mrs. Pena’s “Show and Tell” is a homework assignment that takes place every Monday. Please check Mrs. Pena’s blog to see when your child’s turn to present is.


You are more than welcome to come by the room and lend a helping hand. The best times to volunteer your services are during reading time in the morning, field trips, and during special projects/events. We will post sign-up sheets outside the room with days and special events where your assistance will be needed. Your help will be greatly appreciated!

In addition to helping out in our classroom, if you have any talent or special service that you would like to share with the students, please feel free to talk to us about it! We would be honored to have you share your talents with us!

Birthday Celebrations

On a student’s birthday (or half-birthday, for those summer babies!), he or she may bring a treat for the class. However, an idea that we have enjoyed doing in the past is that the birthday boy or girl can pick a special person to come in to read a book to the class that day. Either choice is wonderful; we just ask for you to let us know what your child would like to do and we can arrange a time/day that works for everyone’s schedule.

How to Reach Ms. O’Meara and Mrs. Pena

Communication between ourselves and the parents is very important to us. Please feel free to contact us about any questions or concerns that you may have. If needed, we can arrange a time to meet together. If calling the school, Ms. O’Meara’s voicemail number is 253. Also, you may contact her by email at Mrs. Pena’s school voicemail number is 246 is and her email is


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