Saturday, April 26, 2014

Surviving Spring to Welcome Summer Blog Hop: Fiesta Balloons

This is it!  It's almost here!  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel...  Sometimes though, this is where the tunnel starts bottle necking.  Students might begin to adapt the mob mentality and a teacher will do whatever it takes to survive to the end of that tunnel we all know and love as school!  Several of my BBB's have come together to bring you some tips to get you through the rest of the school year and also give you a chance to win a gift certificate to TPT and a sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies!
**I am going to start off by apologizing that I do not have any photos of this because when my flash drive broke I lost the photos :o(  I did try to find photos elsewhere so you could get an idea but I will update this post later with my own photos once I get them!**
Everyone has probably seen some form of the balloon countdown on Pinterest and this is exactly what it is. Since we end school in May (and I grew up in Texas), I always like to put a fiesta twist to it though!  I begin by hanging up ten festively colored balloons from the ceiling.  Inside each balloon is confetti and a slip of paper that has an activity for the day.  The confetti is fun because when you pop the balloon it gives it that piƱata effect!
 For the last ten days of school we pop a balloon each day and do whatever the card tells us to.  You can really write whatever you want on these cards!  The last time I did this was pretty tame, this year I am stepping up my game!  Here are my ten for this year:
1. Bubble Gum Contest
I will buy all different packs of gum and we will do experiments to see which kind blows the biggest bubble, who's flavor lasts the longest, etc.
2. Extra Recess
This is just heaven to them no matter what!
3. Glow in the Dark Dance Party
Michael's sells glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets that come 15 in a tube for $1!  I buy a few of those and pass them out to all my kiddos.  They crack them and place them all over themselves while we choose a couple songs we would like to dance to.  Once we have our playlist, I turn off the lights, turn up the music and watch them go nuts.  Literally.  They go crazy, but in a funny kind of way.  I recommend going over the safety rules of your classroom before doing this, lol. 
4. Board Game Day
So many of my kiddos don't play board games or have ever played the classics like Monopoly or The Game of Life!  I bring in a bunch of board games and everyone gets a chance to play a few, if not all of them.  It's like a Family Game Night but for our classroom family :o)
5. Tie-Dye Day
We have our white science lab shirts left over from this year and with just a few boxes of dye and rubber bands, we've got ourselves an art project and 5th grade memorabilia!  If you don't want to dye it, you can always buy fabric markers and let them decorate it.
6. Popsicle Paradise
The weather is beautiful in Florida this time of year so why not enjoy it with some popsicles outside?
7. Movie and Popcorn
I usually have this balloon be on a Friday or one of the last days of school.  I bring in a selection of movies for the students to choose from, a box of theater candy for each of them and pop some popcorn.  They all snuggle into the floor and enjoy the movie just as if they were at the theater!
8. Ceiling of Fame
I wanted to do this last year but never got around to it!  This year I will buy a ceiling tile from Home Depot and let my kids decide how we want to decorate it.  My only stipulation is that it has to represent our class this year some way and they all have to sign it.  Heck, I might even go hog wild and buy a few to let them decorate them in groups!
9. Silly String Fight
Good old silly string...  I will take my little darlings out to the bus ramp, each of them packing their own can of silly string.  Object of the game: to be the one with the least amount of silly string on them!  What happens if you don't win???  You have to clean up!  Yep, I'm sneaky like that ;o)
10. Kickball Game
Last but not least, a friendly game of kickball amongst our class.  I love playing kickball with my students!  I've even done so in my heels :o)  This is my most competitive class ever, so it will definitely be interesting!
So there you have it!  My last ten days of school all wrapped up in a nice little Fiesta Balloon.  The kids understand that if they cannot behave for one activity they might miss out on the next one.  Very motivating to keep them focused and behaving correctly!  If you would like your own set of Fiesta Balloon cards, click on the picture below.  Included are the ten I listed above and two blank cards to create your own!
After entering my secret code in the Rafflecopter below, click to continue the hop to Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 21, 2014

What to do with those Extra Eggs???

Easter has passed, you've stuffed yourself with one too many chocolate bunnies and you have these plastic eggs laying all over your house and not a clue what to do with them.  You don't want to throw them away because you just bought them and they are perfectly good eggs, but do you really want them to take up storage space until next year (when let's be honest, I'll forget that I have them and buy new ones anyway).  What's a teacher to do!?
Here is what I did with mine and a list of other fabulous ideas to help you decide!
1. Test Prep Egg Hunt
The "Big Test" is coming up and I was thinking a fun way to review would be to have an egg hunt.  I found these super fun eggs at our local craft store!  I really liked the ones with faces and I put the harder questions inside those.  That way my kids would remember that these were those "thinker" questions (they were also worth more points).

I printed off different test prep questions and folded them into small squares that fit inside each egg. 

Helpful hint!  If you do this I recommend also putting the question number on the outside of the egg as well as inside on the question.  To do this without permanently changing your eggs, write the number with a sharpie on a piece of tape and place it on the egg.  When the hunt is over you can peel the tape off and use the eggs again for something else!
Because of the weather and playground equipment repairs we had our egg hunt in the media center.  You can easily do this in your classroom but it was nice to have a big open space where the students could work and not be on top of each other.
I gave each student an egg to hide.  They had to hide it in plain sight so everyone had a chance to find them all though.  Here are a couple of our superior hiding spots!
Even Arthur wanted in on the hunt!

My favorite!!!  Hanging with Harry ;o)

How good is this one!?  That egg blends right in with the ducks!
They worked in their Academic Games groups to move about the room and find the eggs and write down their answers on their answer sheet.  They had to answer the questions right there and place the egg back where they found it.  Really the only reason I did this was so that clean up was easier, haha, since everyone had to go back and pick up their egg they hid at the end.
This was a smashing success!  I'm pretty sure I could use these eggs at any time for an activity like this and my kids won't mind ;o)
2. Easter Egg Math
The Happy Teacher has a great freebie that allows you to use those extra eggs to practice math fluency facts!  Included is a recording sheet for students!  Addition is a little too easy for my kiddos but this is easily changeable to fit your classroom.  Click on the photo to grab your own copy!
3. 20 Plastic Egg Activities
Jenae from I Can Teach My Child has a list of 20 different activities to do at home or the classroom with those extra eggs.  My favorite is the synonyms and antonyms!
What do you do with your eggs???

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weather Interactive Notebook Foldables Galore!

Have I mentioned how much I am LOVING interactive notebooks this year!?  Especially our science notebook!  Last year was all about my Social Studies notebook and this year is all about science and I have to say that it has gone better than I anticipated.  Sometimes I use foldables and interactive notebooks from other sellers and sometimes we just create greatness in our notebooks ourselves.  Today I am sharing one of my favorites!  My BBB Jivey, from Ideas by Jivey, has an amazing Weather Interactive Notebook and Foldables pack that is perfect for our weather unit!
One of the things I love most about her pack is that my students could easily follow the directions on each foldable and put it in their notebook without any hand holding or step by step directions from me.
Then they can go back to their textbooks, or whatever other resources we are using, and fill in their foldable with all the important information we went over or will be going over.
There are five types of foldables: types of precipitation, types of clouds, water cycle, weather instruments, and weather fronts.  There is also an answer key included which was nice!  Even though I used my own resources, it was good to see what basics they should have written down.  I especially love this weather instruments foldable because it has the pictures of the tools already there for you!  my kids always want to draw the pictures from our labs so they don't forget what they look like and these would have been too difficult, so it was perfect!
The flaps give you just enough room to write down definitions or add pictures but they are not too big that they won't fit on your page.  Because the foldable are blank inside, it really gives you leeway to make the concept as simple or advanced as you want your kids to go.  Which was perfect for my ELL students and my kids who finished early or needed enrichment!
Some friends and I have teamed up with Educents for an amazing bundle of instant downloads for you and luckily you can find Jivey's Weather Interactive Notebook Foldables in there!

For a limited time it is $10.99 from Educents which is about 65% off!  It also includes these other great products so there is sure to things you love!

If you teach weather, or really any of these other topics, this bundle is a must for you!  As a fifth grade teacher in Florida, our students take the FCAT Science test this year and these resources have been so helpful!  Especially for our fair game knowledge from third and fourth grade!  I hope you enjoy and grab it while you can!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chalkboard Fabric!!!

As you saw on my last post about the Academic Games, I have recently come upon the amazingness that is CHALKBOARD FABRIC!!!  I found it at Joann's Fabric in their Utility Fabric section.  it was only $4.99 a yard!  Just a heads up, it is a single side of fabric.  It's not folded over like normal fabric.  Still worth it in my opinion though!

When you buy the fabric you get a lovely direction sheet (thank goodness!).

In fact,  it is quite easy to use!  All you have to do is rub chalk all over the surface of the fabric, make sure to cover every inch.  I used the long side of the chalk and it took less than five minutes.  I used the large, fat chalk from Crayola.

Wipe it down with the cloth and you are ready to go!  You'll notice on the board below that the bottom looks a bit more crumply than the top.  That's because I hadn't bought enough fabric the first go around.  The first purchase the woman rolled it for me and on the second one (the bottom half) she folded it for me.  If you're OCD like me, DON'T GET IT FOLDED!

From here you can write anything you want and it wipes off very easily when you are ready for something new!  I can't wait until next year!  I have so many ideas for it but the one I am the most excited about is a display for student's work.  I was thinking about putting it in the hallway but since it does wipe off so easily I'm concerned about little hands wiping off all my messages.  So it might just go in the classroom!  Either way, I will be using it!  A LOT!  Here is a finished product for our Academic Games score board.

What are some different ways you would use chalkboard fabric in the classroom???

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Let the Academic Games Begin!

Our state testing is coming up next week and for the past couple weeks my students have been competing in the academic games!  Every year as we get closer to FCAT, the practice tests and drilling become so agonizing to the students that you can see their motivation dwindling and the slow downward slide begin, when what I really need is for them to be pumped for the next three weeks of testing!  So this year I had an idea...  A brilliant one, if I do say so myself ;o)  The Academic Games.

I introduced the academic games about a month ago to my class.  I told them that they would be competing in four categories: reading, math, science, and language arts.  The Magic Hat randomly picked our five groups and I explained the importance of working together.  You see, my class this year is very competitive as a whole and are not into the whole working as partners thing.  They would prefer to do it themselves, and this OCD-perfectionist gets that.  But some of my friends need help and just get it better when it comes from their peers (let's be honest, they need to know how to work with others to make it in this world, especially when they don't want to).  I explained that occasionally we would take scores from group work, partner work, and individual work.  So if one of your teammates if having trouble with author's purpose while you are in your group, you need to help them understand so when they are being scored as individuals they won't end up getting a low score for your team.  You haven't seen team work until you've seen my class after that light-bulb moment!

We created this bulletin board from chalkboard fabric to update our scores.  Yes... you read that right.  CHALK. BOARD. FABRIC.  My new best friend!  I will be posting all about it this week, so be on the lookout!  Here is a closer look at the board so you can see the writing.

We use a variety of materials for the academic games!  One that my kids love is the interactive game shows from Lakeshore Learning.  We have one for science, vocabulary, math, reading comprehension, and nonfiction.

We also use past FCAT passages, homework, ReadWorks passages, task cards and more.  On Monday they will have an "Egg-tastic Test-Prep" hunt for a last minute review of all the concepts!  I will do just about anything to get them motivated and keep them that way for this test that lasts three weeks this year?!

As in any type of competition there are awards to be won based on where you finished in your event.  I cut out these circles from sparkly scrapbook paper I found at Michael's and attached the awards list that they could choose from.  Nothing was over the top or something I would drop a lot of money on and the kids were okay with that.  They loved the list of prizes and are already gearing up for what they want to choose!  It's also nice because each person can pick what they want, it doesn't have to be a whole team agreement.

To say this was a motivational success is putting it lightly.  Not only are my kids still motivated after a month to take the FCAT, their scores lately are phenomenal!  I will without a doubt be doing this every year from here on out and HIGHLY recommend it or something like it for your class if you have state testing coming up.  That is why I am linking this up with one of my BBB's Joanne from Head Over Heels For Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturday!

How do you motivate your students for the big test???

Happy weekend y'all!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Integrating Science into Reading

Today I'm linking up with one of my BBB's Jivey from Ideas by Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday!  Today is all about incorporating science into your reading block!

I'm cheating just a smidge here...  One of my favorite all time pieces of science literature to use in reading is not actually a trade book but is our SuperScience magazine from Scholastic.  I got a subscription this past year through DonorsChoose and it is one of the best things I ever got for my classroom.  I will definitely be buying it again for next year (and no, no one paid me to say that)!  It is a fabulous source of real-world science that pulls students in with their intriguing pictures, text features, and informational text and gives the teacher STEM & Common Core Connections, video links, games, graphic organizers and quizzes to help supplement the text.  Each month we get a new copy that comes with anywhere from 8-10 articles about different concepts. A MUST HAVE for every intermediate classroom!

The Reading Nook has a list of numerous science related children's books grouped by concepts.  When you choose which concept you would like, a collection of books that work for that category pop up!  The different categories are Oceans, Rainforest, Ecology, Simple Machines, Rocks, Human Body, Weather, Space, Food Chain, Animal & Life Cycle, and Plant & Life Cycle.  This is a definitely a resource you'll want to remember.  Here is just some of page one for space!

The Science Method Website is another website full of wonderful books to help you incorporate science into your reading block.  Downside: the titles are grouped in any way, but most of the titles are giveaways as to what subject it covers.  Upside: when you click on the title, you get a PDF of all the amazingness the book has to offer (readability level, observation, classification, science concepts, vocabulary, summary, comments, other books that are like that one and SO much more).  Click on the photo below to take you to this list of trade books.
I hope these resources help you incorporate more science literature into your reading block!  Head on over to Jivey's blog and check out what everyone else is reading!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tried It Tuesday: Human Body Lapbook

 Oh my gosh!  It has been soooo long but I finally feel like I'm back to my old blogging self again!  Do you ever get in those "funks" where you feel like you're not so sure about your choices in life?  For a better portion of this year I kept asking myself, "Is this really what teaching is all about now?"  I didn't like the route we were taking in our county.  Luckily I have great admin who are very supportive of their teachers but it's still hard sometimes when the powers that be want you to do something else.  Thankfully we have scaled back a little and are letting teachers do what they do best.  TEACH.   I'm happy to blog all about our new adventures now ;o)
I'm linking up with my girl Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried It Tuesday!  Again it has been a long time since I've done this (SORRY HOLLY!) but I have found something worth blogging for that I tried and wanted to let you in on it.
My friend Nick over at Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason helped me out in a pinch when our unit on the Human Body came up.  Now let me tell you, teaching the human body to class of ten years olds that is dominated by the male gender is a scary undertaking, lol.  It wasn't really as bad as I thought it would be and my kiddos were GREAT!  So mature and full of thoughtful questions.  If you know me you know I can't ONLY use the textbook... It would make me twitch.  Nick sent over his Human Body Lapbook and my kids loved it!  It was a new twist on their interactive notebooks and they have already requested another one.

I'm going to start off by saying that there is way more in the pack than what I used!  Based on my state standards, I did not have to cover everything that Nick included but it was nice to have as extras or bonus in case my standards ever change again.  We started off by creating a KLEW chart and gluing it to the back of the file folder.  The students filled in what they already knew about the human body and as we went along in our unit, they filled this out more and more.
We used a variety of resources to find our information!  Our textbook was a big resource but we supplemented it with our leveled readers, Science Weekly, BrainPop and StudyJam videos, our interactive lessons and of course... Steve.
There is plenty of space inside each flap for your students to write all the information they collect.  Which was nice because I didn't get a thousand, "How much do we have to write?"  When they saw they still had a lot of room left to write, they researched more!
The lapbook contains flaps for the eleven human body systems, cells, and homeostasis.  It also has a table included that tells the students everything inside that organ system along with everything you need on how to assemble the lapbook!
For a limited time you can find the Human Body Lapbook along with eight other intermediate science activities included in this Science Bundle from Educents for only $10.99!

Check out these other amazing products included in the bundle!  

I promise you won't regret this purchase!  I have everything in this bundle and LOVE/USE it all!
Hop on over to Holly's blog to see what everyone else tried today!  Happy Tuesday y'all!