Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tried-It Tuesday: Magic Piece of Trash

Confession time: my classroom is often a mess.
Not disorganized, just messy.
Messy classrooms can sometimes be a good thing :)
The students' desks are often exploding (no matter how many times the "desk fairy" comes to visit), their shoes track in mud, grass, and wood chips after each recess, and a myriad of pencils, pens, markers, etc. like to fly out and congregate on the floor each night.
At the end of each day, I ask my students to clean up their floor space, but undoubtedly, once everyone has filtered out to where they need to go, the floor is still a danger zone.
Today I decided to try something to help with the clean-up process.
I'm linking this idea up with my bud, Holly, from "Fourth Grade Flipper"
We had done a major art project this afternoon.
You bet!
Creativity is Messy and We are Very Creative Kids Playroom Wall Decal, Craft room decor sign, Classroom art studio, Create Words on Etsy, $15.00
At the end of the day, I rang my bell and told the students to "clean up."
Five minutes later, the students were seated, ready to go...and the floor was still a mess.
So I picked out (im my head) a MAGIC PIECE OF TRASH!!!
I didn't tell the students WHICH piece it was, but I did challenge them: whoever picked it up would win the game! Well if there's one thing about this class, it's that they're competive! They jumped out of their seats and started picking up (and throwing away) construction paper, pencils, food wrappers, etc. I kept an eye on my chosen piece (today it was a goldfish cracker) and at the end of 3 minutes, I announced that no one had picked up my piece. So they zoomed around again, cleaning the carpet with uncharacteristic veracity :) Finally, one of my boys picked it up and threw it away, winning the competition! I announced that he was the winner - and he beamed :)
Note: even if a student picked it up in the first minute, I wouldn't announce it until the end, because then the kids will stop cleaning :)
I wish I had taken before and after pictures - but you can use your imagination!
It's simple.
It's fun.
It's motivating.
It works.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mathematical Monday: Springtime Subtraction Scoot!

This weekend confirmed it...
Free chalkboard prints...Spring is in the air!
and I am oh-so-ready! :)

This weekend the weather was gorgeous and my hubby and I took full advantage of it, heading outside to read, go for walks, and enjoy a mountain drive up to a Tulip Festival!

Speaking of spring, today I'm linking up with Jess from I {Heart} Recess for her M is for Mathematical Monday linky:
I have created a new product, with my friends who teach the younger kiddos in mind:
This spring-themed festive SCOOT game is a fun activity that gets your students up and moving while reviewing the important skill of simple subtraction (0-20). The cards are differentiated, including both horizontal and vertical problems, as well as four cards with subtraction word problems on them.

These could be done as a whole class game of SCOOT, a partner game, or individual work during math centers. Perfect for pre- and post-assessment or some much-needed practice with simple subtraction.

Here's what's included:
Click HERE to check it out my TPT store.
*If you teach the bigger kids, I have a double-digit subtraction version in the works :)

I would love to give away TWO FREE COPIES of this packet.
If you have students who need some reinforcement with their basic subtraction skills, leave your e-mail address and your favorite thing about spring! I will choose a winner tomorrow night at 8pm PST. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sparking Student Motvation: Testing Encouragement Cards

Whew! We survived...
Testing Week!
dun dun dun

Today I'm linking up with my bud, Joanne, from Head Over Heels for Teaching, to share an idea that both motivated and encouraged my students this week. The idea comes from my dear friend, Rose, who blogs over at Rosie's Rambles:
Rosie's Rambles
She created this cute and practical packet of Testing Encouragement Cards:
Testing Encouragement Cards
These cards are the perfect little note to encourage your students to keep working hard!
We tested for four days this week, so I put one card on each students' desk each morning:
The first day I gave them little Testing Survival Kits that I had put together:
 Tuesday they came in to find these notes:
Wednesday I waited until halfway through the morning to pass out these delicious cards:
And on the last day, Thursday, I gave them a final note to let them know how proud I was of their hard work all week:
*Instead of candy on this one, I put two of our classroom tickets on each desk.
*I printed the cards in B&W to save ink - but copied them on colorful paper to add pizzazz!

You can snag these encouragement cards for only $1 from Rosie's TPT store. 
Use one or use them all - for a buck, it's a bargain! :)

Also, she has given me permission to give away a set for FREE!
Here's how to play:
1. Go to Rosie's Rambles and follow her blog
2. Leave a comment on this blog post with your name, your e-mail, and your tips for surviving the endless hours of proctoring during a standardized test :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fuel Your Faith: Unity

It's that time again - time to share something that has
FUELED our FAITH this week!
My hard-working kiddos just finished their standardized tests-and were such troopers! 
We tested each morning - and then in the afternoon we did a special curriculum called Legacy, which is a discussion-based, activity-infused curriculum that teaches kids about biblical character, unity in friendships, gender roles, and developing godly relationships.

You can read more about it here:
The Legacy Institute

Today's verse comes from the lesson on unity:
We had a great discussion about the Trinity and tried to grapple with the difficult concept of a God who is 3-in-1. Here's an image I gave my students:
Then we created these shields to illustrate how we are one because we're created by God. 

Once we've received the gift of salvation, we are unified in Christ.

Now it's your turn!
(if you'd like to use this template, right click on the picture and copy it. Then paste it into PowerPoint and insert text boxes to add your own details. When you're done, select all, then right click and save as a picture. Then you'll be all set to insert it into your blog post!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: BIOMES

Happy Wednesday!
Today I am linking up with my bud, Jivey, from Ideas by Jivey, for her Workshop Wednesday linky:
Today's topic is about implementing science into reading. This is God-timing because this was a post I'd recently prepared and was looking for the best time to publish it :)

This is my first year teaching science to fifth graders and I LOVE it!
We just wrapped up a study of biomes that really captured the students' interest.
I decided that 30 minutes for science just wasn't enough in a day, so I snuck some into our reading time as well :)
We started out the unit with this great book:
Children learn about life in everything from the chilly arctic tundra biome to dry, grassy savannas. It was a great introduction to the unit - plus it gives excellent, biome-specific information that we used later to research.
Click HERE to check out the book.

Here's an amazing book I found:
Amazon description: "This educational picture book explores the unique sleep environments of animals, taking children on a fascinating journey to see the world’s diverse biomes: from fresh waters and marine waters to the dry desert, and from dense woodlands and forests to the open grassland and tundra."

The pictures in the book are breath-taking:
Click HERE to visit a site to order this must-have book!

I'm linking this book up with Collaboration Cuties for their Must Read Mentor Text linky:

As we wrapped up the unit, I wanted to give my students a real-life, hands-on way of showing me what they learned about the biomes. So, I broke them into groups, let them choose a biome, and sent them off to create!

Each of their posters needed to have:
The Name of the Biome
Description and pictures of the:
Locations around the world
Common animals
Common plants
Unique/Interesting Facts

They divided up the work and got busy researching!
Then they came together and started collaborating on the poster:
*Note: This project taught the students TONS about working in a group - we worked on 3 Cs: collaborating, compromising, and complementing.
 Here are some of the final products:
Didn't they do a fabulous job?!?
The kids learned a lot about their biome - and about the importance of working together and being a dependable teammate. I pray this experience sticks with them.

If you're interested in trying this project with your students, I have put together a clear, easy-to-use, print-and-go packet that includes everything you need to assign, guide, and grade your students:
You can snag this packet for only $2 in my TPT store.

If you're looking for another way to extend your study of biomes, I have also created a set of 32 Biome Brain Booster Task Cards:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tried-It Tuesday: Story Starters

Hello friends!
Greetings from Standardized Testing Week! :)
Today I'm linking up with my bud, Holly, from Fourth Grade Flipper, to share an idea that my students ATE UP! 

My students do not love writing.
I've shared HERE how I got them engaged with writing personal narratives, but I was on the lookout for something else that would stretch their imaginations and build both their stamina and confidence as writers. Thus..."Story Starters" was born!
"Story Starters" Imaginative Writing Prompts are 24 writing task cards that provide students with the beginning sentence of a story and let their imaginations do the rest!
I printed the cards (in B&W on festive green paper to save ink!) and then put them in an envelope. 
The students came up, drew a card and grabbed a brainstorming sheet.
 Then they took the details from their Brain-storming sheet and wrote out their story:
When we were all done, I called the students up to the front to share their stories - I think it is so important to give kids the opportunity to publish and share their writing. It gives them an audience, a sense of purpose when writing, and it also helps the students develop both public speaking skills and audience member respect. Sometimes I have them just read it to a small group, for time's sake.

My students LOVED this activity - most of them begged me to let them draw again and write another story.
And looking at this group of reluctant writers, that was a HUGE accomplishment in itself :)

You can snag this fun, engaging, hassle-free, print-and-go center or whole class activity for only $2!

I'd love to give away TWO free copies to my loyal blog readers. If you'd like a chance to win this packet, please leave a comment with your name, e-mail address, and one of your favorite journal/writing prompts to use with students.
I'll choose TWO winners tomorrow night at 8pm PST.