Sep 26, 2012

Book Bags for Free!

Okay, it's official...I adore Kohl's!  I somehow was added to their mailing list and for the first time in mailing flyer history, I'm actually glad!  Every couple of weeks, they send me one of these beautes in the mail:

It's a card for $10 off anything you buy; something that's $ free.  So maybe I'm just excited about buying $35 flats, on sale for $15, that I paid $5 with my biweekly card.  But as I was there tonight I noticed that their Kohl's Cares for Kids stuff is now half what it used to be.  Hard cover books, and a stuffed animal character from the book, is now only $2.50 each.  I buy these books and the matching stuffed animal, stick 'em in a large Ziploc bag, and send them home as book bags.  The kids love them!  This month is the Skippyjon Jones books with a stuffed "Bumblebeeto".  A few months ago were Eric Carle books.  And now I can use my $10 card to get two hard cover books and two stuffed animals...for free!  Thank you Kohls!

Sep 14, 2012

For A Spotless Classroom...

Do you ever look around after the kids leave for the day and your room still looks like a tornado hit it?  Struggle to get the kids to clean the classroom...well?  Back in the student teaching days I learned a heaven-sent game from my mentor teacher and ten years later I still use it as one of my go-to tricks.  I love that it's worked on Kindergartners, fifth graders, and every grade in between (literally).  It only takes two minutes and everything is spotless and organized by the end.  Here's how you play:

Secret Item Game
1. Have the kids gather at the rug or their desks to start.

2. As they watch quietly, walk around the room and mentally choose one or two items that are out of place or need to be cleaned up.  (The kids like to watch me for any clues about what items I'm looking at so I ham this up a bit when I get to areas of the room I really want cleaned)

3. Once you have secretly chosen 2 items, remind the kids of the only 2 rules: no talking/noise and no running.

4. When you say "go" the kids silently rush around the room trying to put away the item you may have chosen.  Anyone who talks or runs is disqualified and sent back to the rug.

5. When your secret item has been cleaned up or taken care of, call the kids back to the rug to announce the winner.  I have a special treat jar that I NEVER use except for special occasions - I let the winner pick a prize out of this jar.

- Don't use this game every day, or too often, or the charm will wear off
- Don't tell the kids the item has been found until the classroom is as clean as you want it
- Every so often choose a hard item, like a certain pencil needing to be sharpened or a certain book straightened on the shelf
- Call "no winner" if no one takes care of your item quickly or within your time frame...the kids will be more likely to get creative with their cleaning/organizing next time and start cleaning areas they normally overlook

And voila!  Your classroom is clean, shelves are organized again, and your janitor is a happier man!

Sep 10, 2012

Student Info Freebie

It's back to school time already...can you believe it??  There's nothing more valuable at the beginning of the year than some good background info on the kiddies.  This year, one of my goals is to get to know the parents better and work to meet their individual needs.  So I redid my student info sheet and asked the parents what they value in a classroom and teacher.  I have to say, their responses have been very enlightening!  It's given me a good feel for what they're looking for, and I even tweaked my Meet the Teacher Night shpeel to focus more on aspects this group of parents find important.  A happy, successful night was had by all!  Here's a copy for ya:

Sep 8, 2012

Part Whole Cards

Can I tell you how much I love Singapore strategies for math?  Their place value cards, which I wrote about here, are absolutely amazing and have solved so many regrouping, expanded form and number sense problems.  Another strategy I've fallen in love with are Part Whole cards, which look like this:
The top part is the whole, and the bottom sections are the two parts the number can be broken up into.  Each card has a missing section and the kids have to use mental math and addition or subtraction to figure out the missing number.
In 2nd grade, I used these to build fluency with math facts, and to help kids understand how to compose and decompose numbers.  They also came in handy while we were walking to the lunch room or waiting for an assembly to start (the kids would show me the missing number on their hands).  I even had struggling kids make their own out of index cards and take them home to practice.

In fact, I used them so much and they were so helpful, I decided to make some I could use now in 4th grade.  So I created ones that used multiplication and division to build those facts.  I'm excited to try them out next week with my kiddos!

Sep 5, 2012

We Give Books

Have you heard of  It is seriously one of my favorite resources!  They have books online that you can read for free-common books like Skippyjon Jones, Keats' Snowy Day, Llama Llama books and more.  And if you register (for free) you can save books to your personal library, so they're ready when you get to a corresponding unit.  The best part can register for a worthy cause listed, like donating books to needy kids in South America.  Everytime you read a book on, you help your cause move closer to their goal and, once the goal is reached, the company sends book to your cause!  We read books for a school in Africa, and even watched a video about the school and kids in need.  When we reached the goal, all the kids were cheering and so excited to help someone else!
I love it because I can pull up a book online and project it on my whiteboard.  I've used it for:

  • acting out stories
  • reading books aloud
  • taking notes on non-fiction 
  • modeling reading strategies
  • practicing reading with expression
  • circling punctuation or parts of speech (it's projected onto my whiteboard)  
  • acting out points of view
...and tons more!  Check it out!

Sep 1, 2012

20 Things To Do With Sheet Protectors

*Keep frequently-used graphic organizers inside each sheet protector
* Make it more durable with a couple of pieces of cardstock inside

1. Math facts practice
2. Time quick practice
3. Ways to Make 10 list (picture below)
4. Place Value chart
5. Hundreds chart patterns - copy a hundreds chart, kids can color to practice 10 more, 10 less, evens, odds, skip counting, etc.
6. Graphing practice-put a grid in a sheet protector for daily graphs

7. Prefix/Suffix practice - say affix meaning & root word, and kids write word (ie. "to heat before"-kids write "preheat")
8. Phonics Hunt-copy page out of trade book or basal reader & have kids circle specific phonics pattern
9. Tic-Tac-Word-kids play tic-tac-toe with spelling words
10. Boggle
11. Brainstorming & Prewriting
12. Reader's Theaters - keep a copy of each role neat & together in a sheet protector; clip all the roles in a 3-ring binder
13. Human Sentence-string yarn through the holes of sheet protectors so kids can wear around their necks; kids can each write a word on their sheet protector and line themselves up to make sentences
14. Human words-same as Human Sentence, but write letters instead to make sight words

Social Studies/Science
15. Labeling World Map - practice labeling the continents, oceans, countries or states
16. Labeling parts of the body, a plant, cells, etc.

17. Peer teaching
18. KWL chart
19. Response sheet
20. Lined paper