Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Math Workstation and a SALE!

I just finished up my newest creation- an "Under Construction" themed Place Value Workstation set! There are 5 center activities included to practice identifying place value to the hundreds place.

You can download your very own set from my My TpT store for only $5. But for the next 4 days, it (and ALL of my other math stuff) is 20% off! I was so excited to finally finish this big guy I just couldn't contain my excitement. My 2nd graders have been my guinea pigs (Or as one student called himself, the "Testing Hamster" (lololololol) but I plan on rolling out the final project (laminated an all!) tomorrow and Tuesday before our big test on Wednesday!

Here's a sneak peak of what you get:

I love the bright colors. I love the "FINALLY-A-BOY-THEME" excitement one of my kiddos had. I also love that I now actually have math centers that I don't have to explain 50-gazillion times before they can do them independently. AND there is a record sheet so I can quick-check for understanding. <3

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fall Fact Family Workstations

Hey all! I just uploaded my new Fact Family workstations onto my TpT store! You can grab it here: Fact Families for Fall.

Last week I started fact families with my kiddos and they didn't seem to catch on quite as quickly as in some years. I used this awesome mini-unit to introduce fact families (totally adorable little families!) and the kids practiced the workstations while I was out sick on Thursday. On Friday I realized we needed a little more practice, though, so this long weekend I set out to design some extra practice!

I will try to add pictures this week as we practice them in class!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Woah, Let's Glow! Our First Science Experiment of the Year

This year I decided that in lieu of birthday parties in my classroom (or perhaps in addition to, in some cases!), we will be doing a special science experiment on each child's birthday. I've done this in the past, and sometimes the kids have a request for what they would like to do, and sometimes I have something to surprise them with. I invite the birthday kiddo's parent to come in and help out, and if they'd like to supply the materials (or cupcakes!) then it helps me out a lot! 

We had our first 14-15 student birthday this week, so Friday afternoon we pulled out some glowsticks leftover from my beginning of the year treats (that are 5 for $1 at the Dollar Tree!) and begun learning how to be scientists! 

First we read through our problem and discussed how scientists complete experiments in order to solve problems. For this activity, our problem was, "Does putting a glowstick in cold water make it glow brighter than in hot water?" Each student recorded their hypothesis on their recording sheet (yes, we used clipboards to make it more fun!). Then we read through the materials and I set out the things we needed on our table.

After reading through our procedure so kiddos would know exactly what's going on, I explained data collection to them.

Then, we began! I let Birthday Boy choose a few classmates to help him pop-and-shake the glowsticks before putting them in the water. We decided that to keep the science experiment fair, we would put 3 glowsticks of different colors in each tray.

We had a tray of hot water, a tray of cold water, and a tray of no water. I explained that the "no water" tray was our control group, and it would show us how bright the glowsticks typically glow. Our job was to figure out if they would glow brighter in cold water.

After about 5 minutes of explaining how to collect and record their data (circle a number 1-5 to represent the amount of "glow" from the glowsticks), we checked on our experiment. They collected their data and we sat on the carpet to discuss the result. I explained that this was the most important part- figuring out if their hypothesis was correct! We talked about how it's okay to be wrong, because the most important part is learning something new.

Here's our Recording sheet. I plan on putting it on my TpT store soon!

After collecting the sheets and clipboards, I gifted Birthday Boy with a glow bracelet, and then let the Power of the Popsicle choose the winners of the other glowsticks. (Yes, the Power is as magical as it sounds! Each kiddo has their name on a stick and I drew names.) We also talked about why the hot water worked better, and how glowsticks basically work in general. It was a great afternoon activity!

Here is a horrible picture of the kiddos dancing to GoNoodle with their glowsticks ("But Mrs. Lynch, we HAVE to turn off the lights to appreciate the chemical reaction!")

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Harry Potter-Inspired Teacher Evaluation Portfolio

Three years ago my district began a new evaluation method and every teacher began keeping a portfolio documenting what makes us amazing. ;-) There is also a three-year cycle in which the principal looks through your portfolio to make sure we're following up on documenting ourselves being amazing. (Yeah, being amazing is actually pretty easy... it's the documentation part that nobody has time for!)

I was "up" for eval the first year, and so 2014-2015 I will be "up" again. Never to stick with normal, though, I decided to jazz up my portfolio to show my true self (Harry Potter and adorable font... my two favs!)

Here is what it looked like before:

Woah, hold the phone! Did I use PINK paper to dress up my otherwise boring-plain-as-all-font way back then!? Yeah... I clearly did not care nearly enough.

But that, my friends, is about to change.

My new cover is flippin' awesome and each divider-page is going to look ah-MA-zing when it's printed. I'm so excited!

Why did I need to spend hours of my life creating this? Ehh... hard to say. I love exploring with clipart and new fonts and making things in my life pretty. :-)

Thanks to jcsweetpea designs and Khrys-Bosland fonts for the clipart and font!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It's going to be a Bright Year!

I went to the Dollar Tree today to find a little something for my kiddos when I meet them on Business Day in a couple of weeks. Some years I make cupcakes, last year I gave out a set of pencils, this year I found glow stick bracelets!

I'm sure my new Second Graders will be delighted to receive a bracelet to remind them that our year will be BRIGHT! To help out, I made a little note to put with each bracelet on their desks.

Mine was personalized, but I created some to share with you, too! They are FREE and will print 4 per page to save paper and ink. You can get them from my TpT site.

Here's a snapshot of what the printed out version looks like: 

Fair Warning: Be super careful when putting the tips on the end for attachment. I accidentally popped one! Also, in the pack if you get a clear one, it's NOT BROKEN... it's blue ;-) I learned that the hard way, too!

All ready for my new kiddos!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Spelling Homework Ideas

One of my best sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers is the set of 6 Spelling Tic-Tac-Toe boards to help Spelling homework run a little more smoothly. My students used to have a notebook where they completed the same four activities every.single.week. and the kids complained, parents complained, I complained... it was all a lot of work! But the teacher in me knows that practice does make progress (maybe even perfect sometimes, in the world of spelling?) and kids NEED to learn those pesky words! What's a girl to do!? 

So the tic-tac-toe board came along and was a HUGE SUCCESS. My kids get the board on Friday and have until the next Friday (test day) to write their words 3 times each and complete 3 of the activities on the board. My kids have to do them in order (hence the tic-tac-toe) but for a kiddo that's really really struggling, any 3 might do! If I notice a pattern of a student not completing the ABC order then I might require that one sometimes. It's on all of the boards because it's so important to learn.

Today I want to show you some of the boards in action.

Here are the words written in taco seasoning before dinner one night! 

And another written with spaghetti noodles!

This parent wrote the words on popsicle sticks for an easy word sort for a kiddo!

Here one of my boys wrote his spelling words in shaving cream!

In a variation of this, a student wrote his words using shaving cream (His mom was like, "This took almost 2 cans! We aren't doing this again" and then when I explained how it's usually done she was SUPER embarrassed... in a really really funny kind of way!)

And here a student typed her words 3 times each and e-mailed them to me. She was so excited about getting to use her mom's e-mail!

If you haven't checked out my Tic-Tac-Toe Boards head over to TpT and be inspired!

Monday-Make-It: Storytown Writing Charts

Before I head back to school next week (Yes, Summer 2014 is officially over on Friday!) I wanted to share a quick file I created to help me teach writing this year.

Our district uses the Harcourt Storytown Reading Program, and I always struggle finding time for my kiddos to practice the writing skills I teach. So this year I'm setting aside a few minutes each week for them to focus on writing using the specific skill I've taught. To help out with this, I typed up all 24 anchor charts from the Teacher's guide (why, oh why do they not include these in the student books!?) to print and hang in my room as a glaring reminder to practice writing.

For the past 3 years, I've written these out by hand on our large chart paper and promised myself I would keep them neatly set aside for the next year and then something happens and I end up throwing them away. This year, I have an idea. A brilliant idea. I'm having them printed onto 18"x24" paper (Engineering Prints) from Staples and I'm going to laminate them and hang them neatly forever. And because KBfonts are SO much cuter than my own handwriting, it's going to make my room THAT.MUCH.MORE.ADORABLE. I can't wait!

To get your own set, go to my Tpt Store and download it. It's free. Just for you!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Addition and Subtraction Math Facts

Hey there! As I've been filling out my lesson plan book for next year (Mine looks something like THIS from Erin Condren) I decided to go ahead and start working on a few things my kiddos will certainly need extra help with this upcoming school year. 

(For the record, at this point I'm writing on sticky notes in case my schedule changes and I don't have math first again this year... but fingers crossed I will!) 

So anyway, the kids always have a few weeks of easy-peasy-firstie-squeezy stuff like even/odd numbers and skip counting toward the beginning of the year. One thing I've noticed though, is that when we add and subtract to 20, most kids don't really go above 10+10 {Yes, I know that's technically 20 but what about 11+9? and 12+8!?!} So I created a set of flashcards/centers/workstation activities/whatever-you-want-to-call-them to help my students review basic facts ALL the way to 20. 
You can find it here at my TpT store

It comes with 48 addition problems and 48 subtraction problems, as well the answer cards (for matching activities) in both math cubes [unifix cubes] and 10-frames. I created the cards so that both sets {addition and subtraction} have the same 48 answers so you can use whichever answer cards best suit your group. I'm printing multiple copies of them so a) all of my kids can do this at the same time and b) some groups will use manipulatives in lieu of {or in addition to} the answer cards. I've also created a pretty awesome powerpoint on the different ways to teach adding and subtracting (along with a pre-assessment for each and a test!) but I'm going to wait and post it after I teach it, in case my guinea pigs students need extra help or the wording doesn't quite work on all of it. When that happens, you all will be the first to know!

Have a great week <3

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Some of my favorite TpT products

Hey all! I've been hard at work during my first week of summer vacation painting shelves for my classroom and creating a super cool banner that I'll share when finished, but I thought I would check in and share a few awesome products I've discovered from Teachers Pay Teachers that other primary teachers might want a heads up about. Here are my top 5:

1. Junie B. Jones Aloha-ha-ha Literacy Activities by Leslie Ann

Scholastic Book Clubs had Junie B., First Grader Aloha-ha-ha on sale for only $1 so I bought a class set for the last week of school. I printed out Leslie's awesome activity pages and had them bound into a booklet for each student with a blank cover. As we read the book together the students would pause at the end of a couple chapters to fill out the corresponding pages. Considering it was the last week of school (think Field Day, Awards Day, packing up for the summer...) the kids did an AMAZING job staying focused. After they finished the book they completed the word search and then drew a new cover on the front of their (up until then) blank activity book.

If you haven't read much Junie B., I highly suggest you do! I swap reading with the kids (I'll read a page, then call on a student to read) and they fell in love with Hawaii and Junie B. this week. Several of them wanted to borrow another Junie B. book to read at home! She's a hoot!

2. Deanna Jump's Interactive Reading Journal
Even though Virginia is not Common Core aligned, this resource was invaluable to me throughout the year when I needed quick assessments of how well my kiddos were understanding reading concepts. The year had already begun when I found her products so I didn't have the kids start their own journals. Instead I had the kids glue the foldables onto construction paper so they could be hung in the hallway when complete. By the end of the year they were professionals with the cutting and folding techniques. It was also a gem to have when I was out with foot surgery and wasn't able to come back as soon as I had intended... The copies were already made so my sub could simply pull a themed book and the students could tell/show me what they'd learned. SO EASY!!

3. An awesome math center (that received LOTS of attention throughout the year) were the Balancing Act Task Cards from The Puzzle Den.
A parent volunteer cut these out for me (so sweet!) and my kids, at any and all opportunity they had, worked on balancing equations in their spare time. Number sentences were a difficult concept for many of my babes this year, but by seeing the numbers come alive they quickly began to understand how to balance equations and find missing addends. This product literally taught my math unit for me ;-).

4. My kids adored this Mystery Mini Unit by the fabulous Amy Lemons.
It can be used with any book, so I used it to introduce A-Z mysteries for my budding chapter-book lovers. Each student was given a copy of The Castle Crime by Ron Roy during our Dr. Seuss Day celebrations, so each student followed along. I created detective notebooks for each student (half-sheet sized, 6-ish pages) using her templates and the kids made a list of suspects, clues, and solid evidence as we read the book together. My kiddos thought this was SO much fun... they were begging to read another A-Z mystery afterward. Luckily I have the whole set!

5. Luckey Frog created an awesome Fluency Folder that I found near the end of the year.
I printed out the entire thing for myself, and then a few pages to put in each student's individual folder as we practiced and graphed and learned in-depth about good reading over the last 6 weeks of school. I timed each student on Monday reading a passage of my choice (I used a passage from Harcourt Storytown leveled-readers) for one minute, and then they took a copy home to practice reading to/with a parent each night. On Friday, they would read me the passage again and I would brag about how much they had improved (and yes, it's true!) It was also a great example for my one little, uh (what's the sweet word for 'slacker'?) munchkin who didn't feel homework was necessary. When he saw everyone else's graph jump by 30+ words each week and his grew by only 5, he quickly understood the need to practice reading to become a better reader. I think his mom saw it, too.

So there you have it. I bought and sold a LOT of stuff this year, but those are a few quick products that can quickly make a HUGE difference in the classroom without a lot of prep. My best seller continues to be my Fantastic Mr. Fox (by Roald Dahl) book study, with my Cookie Erosion Experiment a close second.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mummification Project

Back during the winter while learning about Ancient Egypt, we had a LOT of snow days. Great for naps, not so great for getting in everything that needs to be gotten in. Now that we're down to less than a week of school, I've been pulling out some of those fun things we had set aside and letting the kids review what we learned this year. 

One such project was creating mummies using strips of plaster and barbie dolls. We only had 3 dolls (that one of my lovelies was gracious enough to donate to the project) so I split the class into 3 groups. Each person was assigned a task.

First, they had to cut all of the hair off. (This was seriously the best part for one of my kiddos. As she was cutting I heard her giggle and whisper "I've ALWAYS wanted to do this!") 

The next step was to actually wrap the doll in the plaster strips. If you're curious, the plaster just kind of appeared on my desk one day a couple years ago with a note saying 'I thought you might could use this for something.' If I ever run out, or if you'd like to buy some, it basically looks like this. Mine came in a box, not a roll, and I had to trim the strips into smaller strips (about 1"x12") for the kids to work with. I gave them each a plastic bowl filled with water and strips and let them have at it.  (I didn't get any pictures of this due to me constantly checking to make sure they were doing it right!)

When completed, we left them in the window to dry.

You can see that some did better than others, but it was definitely a cool project all-around. If we had more time, I would love to use the clay leftover from our Pueblo necklaces (American Indians unit) to create sarcophaguses. That would be to die for!

Ice-Cream Float Experiment

At the end of the school year I love to do experiments with my kiddos since we're trapped in our classrooms for state-tests happening in the building and we're finished the main curriculum and ready for review. I created this Ice Cream Float Experiment to do that takes just a little prep but involves a lot of fun while we review Scientific Investigation. It also happened to be one of my students' birthday, so his mom volunteered to bring in the materials! #iheartnoprepexperiments 

Each student was given a small cup with a bit of vanilla ice cream scooped into each one, and we poured 3 beverages (coke, orange soda, and lemonade) to determine which creates the most foam. As it turns out, the coke and orange tied #blamecarbonation so next time I'll likely use coke, tea, and lemonade. 

After they finished filling out the chart (they had to record the data, of course!) they had a bonus question (does anyone else's kids LOVE the bonus box on worksheets?!?) where they solved a less-scientific question: which one tastes best! My students loved this activity and it was a perfect Friday afternoon something-to-do. 

You can download the experiment sheet for your own kiddos at my TpT site for free! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dr. Seuss Day "If I Ran the Zoo"

Thanks to the wild weather we've been having our school had to reschedule Dr. Seuss day twice! Third time's a charm, though, and last Monday we were finally able to dress up and celebrate. Our Reading Committee assigned a Dr. Seuss book to each grade level, and we rotated rooms throughout the morning so our kiddos could do activities that went with each book. Such fun!

We started out in the First Grade rooms with Yertle the Turtle. Each student made a turtle out of paper plates, then my class formed two teams to stack their turtles. The team with the highest stack won! Afterward, we tried to stack ALL the turtles into one big stack, but it didn't work so well due to the rule "You can only place it once, so be careful setting it down!" lol!

Next we went to the Cafeteria, where our librarian gave each student a freeze-pop and they watched The Sneetches on a projector. The school had bought each student a book and gave those out, too! 2nd Grade received The Castle Crime, an A-Z mystery chapter book. (We're reading in class, now, using Amy Lemon's Mystery Unit activity book. But I digress...

We then traveled to Third Grade, where we created our own bird eggs from Scrambled Eggs Super, and each kiddo pulled three index cards out for their new bird type. Then they drew a picture of what sort of bird might hatch from their egg.

In the Fourth Grade rooms the kids had to put on socks as mittens and try to pick up 3 plastic counters off the floor and put them in a bucket, relay-style. This was to go along with one of my favorite books, Fox in Socks. I especially loved this station because some of my kids who typically excel struggled a bit, whereas several of my lower-average kiddos were the shining stars. Not sure why, but I enjoyed watching the glow on their faces when they beat "the kid who is good at everything." Of course I didn't say any of this, it was just the thought in my head!

Anyway, then we went to the Fifth Grade rooms and used our hands to paint Thing One/Two (blue handprint for hair, red handprint for body) and then decorate circles for their face and name on the body. They enjoyed this a lot, and I played beanbag toss (into a trashcan decorated to look like a red and white striped hat) once the kids finished painting. This was for the book The Cat in the Hat, obviously!

We made our way outside and back in through the Kindergarten entrance, for One Fish, Two Fish, and the kids each received a small bag of colored goldfish crackers they had to graph and answer questions about. I loved how that was a math skill we were revisiting without them even realizing it. They also go to estimate how many goldfish crackers were in a jar- and one of my kids won 2nd place for the entire school!

The last stop we made was back in our 2nd Grade class, where we traced our hands and used the picture to create our own animals for If I Ran the Zoo.

Two weeks prior (before the first Dr. Seuss Day was snowed out) our kids decorated our hallway with their own animals. It was a blast!

Our kids always dress up for the special day, and this year our team had a request- we asked all of our kiddos to dress as animals (real or fictional) and my co-teachers and others on our hall went as the Zookeepers! I used a white button up shirt with a black cardigan for the top (It was supposed to be in the 20's on the original day, but on our new date it was SO hot in the mid-60's!!!) and I found the striped pants online. They were a little baggy, but I also had on my black shiny teaks for the shoes. My sister let me borrow a red cloth belt to make the tie, and I ordered a captain's hat online and painted it red, then stuck a sign that said "Zoo" on the front. I wish I had taken off my name badge for the picture, but, oh well! I think it turned out pretty cute. I'm not sure I will EVER find another time to wear those pants, but they were too perfect to not wear.