One of my most popular resources in my store is especially popular right now during distance learning:   Digital lesson plan templates.  I often get asked lots of the same questions about these templates and how I use them.  So, today, I'm going to give you the answers to my most frequently asked questions about using these digital lesson plan templates!

What are Digital Lesson Plan Templates?

Digital lesson plan templates are the templates I used in the classroom to plan out my week and what I currently use for homeschooling my 2nd grader.  They are hosted on Google Drive so I could access them easily at home or anywhere with internet!  Because they are hosted on Google, it's also super easy to add in links to articles, games, digital resources, or whatever right there in my plans.  That way, when I'm teaching, and we are ready to do our digital phonics lessons, I can just click from my lesson plans and go straight there.

Can the fields inside of the boxes be edited?

Yes!  Every single part of this template is editable, including the contents inside of the boxes.  I have put those there because that is the format that I use, and if that works for you great!  But if it doesn't, feel free to edit as you need to!

Can I Share The Lesson Plans With My Teammates?

Yes... BUT!  In order to follow the DMCA laws and copyright laws, you must purchase an additional license for each teacher that will be using the document.  You do NOT have to purchase a license for your admin who you turn your plans in to for viewing/record keeping.

You can purchase additional licenses for 10% off the original price here!

If you are an administrator and looking to buy a license for all of the teachers in your school, you can email me at for heavily discounted pricing options!

I Need Bigger Boxes.  Can I Make the Boxes Bigger?

Yes!  Just like in Word, the boxes will grow as big as you need them to.  That means, you may end up with more than one page of plans.  I like to keep my plans to one page just because that works best for me... that's why the boxes are sized the way they are.  BUT, if you need more details in those boxes or information on your plans so you remember what you are teaching, you can type a novel in the box with no problems!

How Do I Make a New Template Each Week?

With Google docs, you can make a copy of the template and use it for each week.  At the end of the year, I have 36 files of lesson plan templates on my drive!  And then the next year, I can start with the same templates for each week and just change what I want to from the previous year.  Yay!

To make a new template, you simply choose File > Make A Copy.  You will name the new copy of plans and then make sure it will save into the correct folder and then click ok.  That's it!  Now your own template is saved and ready to edit for the next week!

Since This is a Google File, Will This Work With Word?

Yes... Mostly!  You can download the Google file to Word by choosing File > Download > Microsoft Word.

WARNING: It will not save all of the fonts... it will most likely change the fonts to Times New Roman.  But the formatting will stay basically the same.   

Also, by downloading to Word, you will lose the benefit of being able to view your plans from home, but it is definitely an option if you need it!

I Prefer the Days at the Top and the Subject Areas on the Side.  Is that Possible?

Yes!  Just simply type over the headers and rename them however you choose!

Can I Add More Columns and Rows?

Yes!  Just click where you would like to add another column or row.  Then right click and choose Insert Row above/below or Insert column above/below.  

You can also delete a column or row if you need to!

I Need to See More of this In Action First!

I have a youtube video that walks through the plans for you to see up close and personal here.

And several years ago, I did a facebook live on these plans as well!

Where Can I Find These Lesson Plan Templates?

You can get a license for these templates for a single classroom teacher use only HERE!  And if you are interested in more digital Google templates to keep you organized, you can check out the bundle here.

Lesson Plan Templates EDITABLE compatible with Google Drive      Planning And Assessment Tools Compatible With Google Drive BUNDLE

Goodbye, balanced literacy!  Hello science of reading!

A huge part of the science of reading research supports explicitly teaching comprehension through read alouds in the early elementary years.  That includes direct vocabulary instruction.  

higher vocabulary = higher reading comprehension

That's my why.  Now, let's talk about the routines I've used in K-2 for explicitly teaching tier 2 vocabulary words with trade books.

What Are Tier 2 Vocabulary Words?

Tier 2 words are the colorful words authors use to craft and enhance their stories.  They are words like beckon, cheerfully, soar, etc...

They are NOT sight words or high frequency words.  Those are tier 1 words.  These are less frequent and sometimes called WOW words in my classroom because their better choices than your basic words.

They are also NOT academic vocabulary words.  Those are tier 3 words.

Which Words Should I Teach?

Research through the science of reading teaches us that vocabulary words should be taught in context, not in isolation.  And anytime you can give multiple definitions for words, you will always get a higher return on your teaching investment.  

I always use trade books to teach vocabulary words.  Sometimes I only use that book for the vocabulary words.  Other times, I use the book on Mondays for vocabulary and we reread the book the next day to work on different comprehension skills.

Do you have time for a sad story?  If not... no worries.  Just skip on to the next section! :)

When I first started teaching 15 years ago, I went to a balanced literacy training to get "certified" to teach balanced literacy.  We did a day on vocab instruction and they actually gave us a huge list of trade books and tier 2 words to teach with each book.  I loved the idea.  Prepped everything to teach year after year by laminating covers and words on sentence strips (Hey, there, 2006!) and was good to go. 

And then as balanced literacy goes, there was very little time for whole group reading comprehension instruction outside of shared reading.  So, with what little read aloud time I had... vocabulary got the boot.  :(  Fast forward several years when I moved schools and I got rid of those sentence strip words I barely used and also tossed THE LIST OF BOOKS AND TIER 2 WORDS!  I'd never need that again, right?

I'm sure you know what happens next.  The last few years, I've been going through our state training with the science of reading and now have time to explicitly teach vocabulary.  And, of course, when I went hunting for that awesome list, it was no where.  BOOOOO!  I'd give anything to have that list back as a good starting point for teaching my 2nd grade vocabulary this year, but oh well.  We'll be starting from scratch.

I'll be using the trade books I select for each week and pulling out words to explicitly teach--without a premade list! :)

Before Reading Routines

Before reading the trade book, we go over our vocabulary words.  15 years ago, this looked like me holding up the sentence strip and introducing the word, definition, and a student action for kids to act out the word.

The past few years, it's looked a little different.  I use a slide show.  

I introduce the word, read the definition, explain it by using it in a sentence, and teach the kids a motion to go with the words.  I love using Total Physical Response wherever I can, and this is the perfect way to use it and have kids show you the motion as you read the story.

After we introduce the word, the next slide has kids choose between 2 or 3 photos and tell which photo best describes the word.  We move the object to the photo to show which photo displays the word meaning.

We go through each of the words this way.  Then, we go through the interactive activities together.  These can include matching words to photos, matching vocab to synonym words, or choosing vocabulary words to label a specific photo.  (We usually do these whole group, but this would work well in Google Classroom for distance learning also!)

During Reading Routines

Now we are ready to READ!  I read aloud each vocabulary word and the kids quickly show me each motion as a quick review.  Then I say, "Let's read the story and listen for our WOW Words.  When you hear one, let me know by quietly showing me the motion for that word!"

As we read and come to the word, students give me the motion.  We stop at that sentence, reread how the author used the word and discuss the meaning and any nuances of the meaning from within the context of the text compared to the definitions we learned in the slideshow.

After Reading Routines

Once we finish the story, we don't discuss much of the story... I usually save that for another day so the focus stays on the tier 2 vocabulary words.  

Kids will respond to the vocabulary words used in the story.  Sometimes, they just respond by choosing 2-3 of the words to write their own sentence for and illustrate.  Other times, they match synonyms, label photos and write and illustrate just one vocabulary sentence.

Traditionally, they do this using a paper copy, but it's also super simple to do in Google Slides as well!

Where Can I Find the Materials?

I've just started a new line of Tier 2 vocabulary activities to coordinate with trade books.  You can find the first one here.  And make sure you follow me on TpT to be the first to know when I release the growing bundle at a steep discount!

We started our landforms unit this week in 2nd grade homeschool (thanks, Corona!).  Guess my landform was super easy to prep for and my 2nd grade LOVED it and begged to play longer.  Here how to play!

What You'll Need

I wasn't kidding when I said this game is VERY low prep.  All you HAVE to have is play-doh.  We also used our landform vocab cards, definitions and photo cards to play as well. (NOTE: these cards are small because I printed them two to a page to save ink and the scale was perfect for the homeschool or small group setting.  

Here's the official list we used...

How To Play

The first thing we did was review our landform names and definitions.  I laid out the landform photo cards and gave Cooper the definition cards.  He read the definitions to me and then laid them on top of the correct photo card.

This would be super easy to do whole group before you play the game as your mini lesson.  The photo cards are all on one page in the landforms unit, so it would be easy to go digital with this review by displaying the one page of photos on your interactive board or in Zoom and reading aloud a definition and asking kids to name the landform using the photos to help.

After we reviewed, we were ready to play.  I laid out the definition cards.  Cooper chose a landform to create.  I set the timer for 2 minutes.  During that 2 minutes, he was expected to decide the landform, and finish building it.  The timer was simply to keep us on track.  You could use this in the classroom by setting a whole group timer, or if you feel like your kids can self-regulate, they could play on their own without a class timer.  My sweetheart can take extra long doing things so we have been wearing our timer out! :)

Once he finished building (before the time was up...yay!), it was my turn to guess what landform he made.  During the guesses, we had to tell what landform it was and use the definition to justify our answer.  Cooper made a volcano first.

And that's it!  We took turns making and guessing the landforms.  It's really that simply.  And engaging!  Because, who doesn't love to play with play-doh??  

This activity and the landform cards can be found with this complete, Next Gen aligned landforms unit.

Landforms Next Generation Science Unit

As I mentioned last week, we are temporarily homeschooling my 2nd grader. #thanksCoVid  So, this year, I'll be blogging about our 2nd grade homeschooling adventures.

Today we finished our first official week!  We've been reading Frog and Toad together during our literacy time.  So today, we did a STEM challenge in honor of Frog and Toad and the #cancelled Olympic Games!

My 7 year old son has been obsessed with folding paper airplanes!  He has this book he got for Christmas and LOVES it!  So, I decided to find a foldable frog we could make as a craft because he also loves to do any kind of crafts.  

When I was looking for an origami book that had a frog in it, I found this one from our local library. (We LOVE that they do curbside pickup right now!)  When I saw it was a *jumping* frog, I knew we had to do a STEM challenge!

That's where the Frog and Toad Origami Games STEM Challenge was born!  SIDE NOTE:  Have you watched any of the marble run games on YouTube?  We have loved those during the CoVid Quarantine and no live sports!  And it was another inspiration for this challenge. :)

We followed the super easy step-by-step directions in the origami book.  And then we added googly eyes!

Then, we were ready to let the games begin!!

Event 1: Frog Races

First, Cooper took sidewalk chalk and drew a *short* track for the frogs to race.  FAIR WARNING: These frogs jump, but not high and not far!  So a short track is best! :)

Then, we took turns racing and timing Frog and Toad.  Frog went first!

We recorded our times on the recording sheet and each took 2 tries to race.

Event 2: Frog Hurdles

For the next event, we used bendy straws to make 3 hurdles.  Because our frogs didn't jump as high, we made an easy, medium and hard hurdle!

Frog and Toad each got two tries to jump each hurdle.  Toad only jumped the easies hurdle once, but Frog jumped the easy AND the hardest hurdle. (Frog had help from the wind!)

But neither Frog, nor Toad, made it over the medium hurdle!

Event 3: Long Jump

Last, we set up our long jump event.  Because our frogs jump on a smaller scale, we made a smaller scale long jump area.

Frog jumped 5 lines, but Toad only got 1 line for his farthest jump! :)

You can find all of our literacy lesson plans and STEM challenge plans and pages here!

Welcome to 2020.  The year of the pandemic.

And the year we decided to temporarily homeschool our 7 year old.  Homeschool was the right decision right now for us because it came down to the LRE--the least restrictive environment.  It's a term we use in public school for our special needs children.  And it was the idea that we kept coming back to as parents.  Which environment--in person, all virtual, or homeschool--will give Cooper the least restrictive environment.  And the answer every time was homeschool.

Since my 7 year old boy LOVES legos, our homeschool classroom theme became obvious!  And I think it turned out adorably.  Take a look at our lego classroom space!
{This post contains affiliate links which go to support my chocolate and Dr. Pepper addiction! :)}

Our upstairs playroom has the perfectly sized window jut-out area.  It has great natural light and is just the perfect size for a homeschool classroom.  

2nd Grade Lego Sign

The first thing we did is make our "2nd" grade sign for the window sill.  I grabbed these paper mache letters online since I wasn't going in stores, spray painted them black and hot glued random, extra legos to it.  The 2 is a 12" letter and the N & D are 8" letters.

The rest of the window holds our books we are reading that week.  Clearly, this week, we will be enjoying some Frog and Toad!

Lego Head Painted Jars

I ordered rainbow drawers to keep our supplies organized, but I also wanted a few supply jars out.  These lego jars were perfect!

I found a few extra small mason jars.  These are the 8 ounce sized jars.  First, I decided to use craft paint.

You can see that clearly didn't work well.  The paint peeled, and the more coats I tried to add, the worse it got...

So I bought some spray paint and problem solved.  It was so easy and soooo much faster.  I wish I would've done this earlier!

Then, my handy husband cut a 4" cube for me from a left over post scrap he had in his shop.  I did use craft paints to paint this blue and it worked great!!  It took 2-3 coats to get the coloring right.  I wanted it to look like one of the lego heads had a blue shirt lego block and I think it works well!

Aren't the adorable?  I had fun painting the faces and letting my 7 year old paint too! :)

Lego Drawer Pull

In the middle of a work-from-home, school-from-home pandemic, desks are a hot commodity!!

After 2 desk ordering fails, I finally found this desk and this chair at Walmart for under $50.  It's simple and basic, but that's what we needed for this kid space anyway!  (Rainbow drawers are from Amazon.)

I decided to add a drawer pull to it to tie it in to our theme.  

Cooper built a lego droid drawer pull (can you tell his other love is Star Wars??).  We used hot glue to attach it to the drawer, but that didn't last long.  Right now, it's stuck with Gorilla Super Glue.  Fingers crossed this lasts longer!

Lego Bulletin Board

If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you know I LOVE a good anchor chart.  So having a place to post our learning this year was crucial!  I ordered this cork bulletin board and covered it in black fabric.  Then, I hot glued mega blocks around the border.  I bought this set of mega blocks and I had less than 10 left over so it worked perfectly with this size board.

I drew and cut out the light bulb, and made and printed the text for our big idea.  This is our big idea for the first nine weeks.  I've planned out 4 big ideas for the year!  If you have any of my integrated units, you know I'm a believer in a big idea to connect across all subject areas.  Homeschooling will be no different!

I love how this board turned out!  Soon it will be full of anchor charts and learning.  Follow me on facebook or instagram to see the progress! 

If you love this bulletin board, you can find templates, for 3 lego themed inspirational quotes in this bulletin board set.

I really love our little space and hope it makes for a successful year of 2nd grade!

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