Open House Photos, 2017!

Does your school have an “Open House” or some kind of big student showcase at the end of the school year? This is very common here in California where I live!  We worked very hard to make it look particularly AWESOME, and I think my kids did an excellent job!  I decided to go with a fairy tale theme again this year, just for fun.


And since this is my last year in second grade and I’m heading down to TK next year (HOORAY!) I would just LOVE to share these photos with you!  So here we go! 🙂



Knights and Princesses

To set the theme, we made these marvelous knights and princesses again this year, and I just LOVE the way they came out!  Of course, we read TONS of fairy tales (both with and without royalty!) and the kids really enjoyed them. The kids also enjoyed watching those good old “Fractured Fairy Tales” on YouTube that I remember from my youth and compared them to the versions in our books.  You can get the templates for these crafts here.




Writing Our Own Fairy Tales

We learned about the elements of fairy tales, compared them, and then even wrote our own!  We used Google Classroom to write our own fairy tales, and after brainstorming a little bit with the kids, they were just SO excited to do this!  I gave them a list of villains, fairy tale “good guys,” possible fairy tale types of conflicts that could happen in a story, and so on.  This REALLY helped get them started and made such a difference!  You can get that sheet there.




We made these cute little castles and posted them next to our fairy tale stories.  I blogged about these a few weeks ago, so click here to read more!



Bubble Wrap Painted Dragons

These little dragons came out soooooo cute!  We rounded off the corners of some gray paper, rubbed them with a peeled black crayon, and make castle “bricks” out of them to make the room look like it had castle bricks around the windows with dragons peeking out behind them!  You can find out how to make the dragons here.





How to Train Your Dragon Writing and Guided Drawing

We did a guided drawing lesson to learn how to draw a dragon, (click here to find it!) and then I had a brainstorm:  why not have them write out how to train a dragon?  They seemed to be really catching on to how to write on their iPads, and we have one-to-one devices this year!  So we brainstormed what the steps to training a dragon might be, and they got started on their assignments using Google Classroom once again.  They LOVE the auto-correct spelling feature!  All they have to do is simply begin typing the word, and the iPad usually guesses what they are trying to spell.  They just choose it from the pop up boxes and off they go!


I must say, it is SO MUCH EASIER for them to type and edit than it is to write with a pencil!  I’m actually really glad that I didn’t let them start typing their stories any earlier than May, because they really needed to learn to spell, and the iPad could have made it very easy for them to avoid learning that skill.


The great thing about writing with the iPad, though, is that it does free them up to get lots of creative thoughts down on paper!  The kids gave me much more interesting, creative stories and thoughts when using technology!



Castle Reflection Art

This was a really neat project that was inspired by our school’s Meet the Masters program when we were studying Renoir.  They showed us a technique in which the kids were to draw a tree and landscape using watercolor crayons, which I had never seen before!  Then they had to get the paper wet with a sponge, fold the paper in half, and then press.  When you unfold it, you wind up with an imprint of the tree!  Well, that is what we did with the castles.  So fun!




Biography Lapbooks

In February, our class studied biographies and each child made a lapbook and wrote a report about a famous person.  The lapbooks were on display as well, and they turned out really well!  You can get the lapbook masters here.  Last year, we did lapbooks for our Fairy Tale Book Reports (click here) also, but I decided this year to have them do just one lapbook and the biography lapbook won.  🙂





“Insta-Second Graders” Instagram Themed Bulletin Board with Photos

I’ve been using this Instagram themed bulletin board all year long, as well as last year, too!  I love it!  I took pictures of each child holding a chick and posted them on this wall.  You can get a free download of this bulletin board here.  I did change the words from “First Day” to Open House, though!  LOL!



AR Goal Bowl!

My students ALL met their AR goal for the third trimester!!!  And I am SO proud of all of their hard work!  If you are not familiar with this “Marble Run” bulletin board, the kids each had a “marble” that moved along the track towards their goal.  When they reached it, their marble landed in the goal bowl!  If you would like a free download of this marble run bulletin board, just click here.




“Stained Glass” Windows

These “stained glass windows” were a last minute project that I pulled together with the help of my good friend and volunteer, Rachel!  She put everything together for me, and I love the way it turned out!  You start with a rectangle of clear Contac Paper.  You lift off the paper backing, and set down the black framing strips of paper, and then put the paper backing down again.  After that, just cut some strips of thin black paper so the kids can put it down wherever they want, and cut up some tissue paper.  The kids lay the tissue squares down in between the black sections.  Then they give it back to the teacher, who presses another piece of Contac Paper down on it to hold the tissue down.  That’s it!




Math Fluency Board

We also have our math fluency bulletin board.  This shows the kids’ progress in learning their addition and subtraction facts to 20, because they get a sticker that says ,”+5″ when they learn the addition facts for the “plus fives,” etc.  Most of them have the facts mastered.  In fact, nearly half of them are learning the multiplication tables!  We have been using Reflex Math (which I LOVE!) to accomplish this, and also Prodigy. (My kids are OBSESSED with prodigy!  Many of them would do this ALL DAY if I let them!)  They are both excellent tools!  We have also taken advantage of the website  They offer FREE math worksheets in a whole variety of forms.  AND… (you’ll never believe this…) if there is a certain type of math worksheet you need, but they don’t offer, all you have to do is email them and they will make it and post it for FREE!!!!!  (Who does this????)  They have made several different varieties of worksheets that I needed in order to meet specific needs that my class had this year, and I am most impressed with their services.  I highly recommend this website!  I used them for both math homework, tests, and extra practice in class.



I hope you have enjoyed my little classroom tour!  Have a great summer! 😀

– Heidi



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Heidi Butkus

About Heidi Butkus

Heidi Butkus has been teaching in California public schools since 1985. She has somehow managed to stay in Kindergarten all of those years, with the exception of five years in first grade, and also taught a parent participation preschool for a short while! Combining a strong knowledge of brain research with practical experience, Heidi has created a wealth of fun and engaging teaching techniques that work well with diverse populations. She has presented at conferences nationwide, and is the owner and founder of Heidi has also created fourteen original CD's and DVD's for teaching beginning reading and math skills, three musical plays designed especially for young performers, and has written some picture books and many other teaching resources. Heidi's multimedia workshops are filled with fun and motivational educational activities that have been classroom tested and revised for effectiveness with all types of learners.
  1. Hi Heidi,
    My school district just adopted Benchmark, I was excited when the presenter told our kindergarten staff that it comes with a license for your materials . My question is what does this mean, do we get your amazing DVDs with your songs , do we get access to all your materials. Super excited if it does include all your materials, because the TK s, kindergarten teachers and First grade teachers were not enthusiastic about Benchmark. Please let us know. Thank you

    • Hi!
      We have licensed many, but not all of our songs to Benchmark for their Benchmark Advance program! We are waiting for the official “okay” from them to do a blog post about it, as is required by our contract. However, they have announced it already and it is well known that we are working together.
      The Benchmark Advance program will include 136 songs (all of them the animated versions,) including 28 alphabet songs, about half of the phonics songs, and the remaining songs are the sight words songs!
      So there are quite a few songs in our collection that they left out for reasons of their own.
      We are super excited to be a part of their program!!!
      I will be using the Benchmark Ready to Advance TK Program myself next year! I have been trained to use it, but of course have not yet started it. It looks pretty good to me- nice and simple, easy to use, not too overwhelming.
      I hope that your staff will grow to like it more with use!

  2. Love it! I really think teaching around a theme is such an effective way to make an impact in a student’s education. They tend to remember the lessons so much more.

    • Thanks! I totally agree! I can hardly imagine teaching any other way, although I wonder if that makes me appear old fashioned? It seems that the newer teachers don’t seem to do this.

  3. Hi Hedi,
    My name is Sheryl Kennedy-Hall and I’m an Intervention Specialist for Cincinnati Public Schools and I teach preschool disability. I am really interested in your Singable Songs For Letters and Sounds DVD. I saw a brief segment on Pinterest. I am working on lesson plans for next year ( August 2017) and would love to work it into my morning routine. Where can I buy it?

  4. I teach preschool disability and really think the Letters and Sounds DVD will be awesome for my kids. I’m excited to try it out!

    • Hi, Sheryl!
      I’m glad you are excited! We have had a lot of great feedback from teachers in regular ed and special ed settings alike! You can get it on our website,, right here. Please note that the animated version is called Letters and Sounds Animated DVD. The non-animated version with a more plain background is called Singable Songs for Letters and Sounds. If you have any questions, you’ll get faster answers by calling our HeidiSongs office at (909)331-2090 from 9:00-3:00 Pacific time, or email [email protected]. Thank you so much!

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