Christmas in July Giveaway

July 25, 2020

Are you ready for Christmas in July??? We have two awesome events going on – dollar deals on TpT AND a HUGE giveaway!

Check these deals out, and tons more awesome resources for just $1.00.

Next up, it’s a HUGE Christmas in July giveaway!! If you are in need of a little pick-me-up from the craziness going on in the world, check out this amazing giveaway. Read the details below and use the Rafflecopter to enter!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  

Prize: $450 Gift Card of your choice, TpT, Amazon, Target, or PayPal.

Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)

Co-hosts:  An Apple for the TeacherJackie CrewsKatie RoltgenStar Kids by NaomiTeaching in the Heart of FloridaTeaching SuperkidsKovescence of the MindThe Craft of TeachingTracy Smith – Smith’s Safari AdventuresKim HeuerRight Down the Middle with AndreaThe Colorado ClassroomKamp KindergartenThe Best Days with Julie SantelloJulie’s Learning CornerAngelica’s ResourcesDigging Deep to Soar Beyond the TextTeaching Ideas For Those Who Love TeachingMM BilingualPatty RutenbarTeacher Gone DigitalTeaching Math and MoreMinute MommyRoots and WingsAmazing Materials for You by Amy DicksonMrs Davidson’s ResourcesMarianna Monheim- It Happened in 3rdTheBeezyTeacherLearned Lessons LLCThe Froggy FactoryIt’s a Teacher Thing180 Days of ReadingIn the Land of TeachingMickey’s Place2 Scoops of KindergartenThe Butterfly Room- Stacy RyanA Pea in a Primary PodProfe ‘ZulitaOceanview ResourcesThe Homeschool Style-Katie RingEver JoyfulAngie SLittleStreamsWhimsical WheelerlandCupcakes and ChalkboardsThe Literacy Library, and Off the Page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 8/1/20 and is open worldwide.

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers! 

Thanks for much for stopping by! Enjoy the deals and good luck on the giveaway!

Ideas for After Winter Break

December 30, 2019

Well, it’s been about 2 weeks of not knowing the day of the week and not putting on real pants unless absolutely necessary. But, winter break is almost over and we all have to start thinking about what we will do on the first day or two back to school. I know everyone will be tired (hello, ME) but here are some ideas for after winter break that will keep you and your students going while you get back into the swing of things.

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. These commissions help support the blog. All opinions are my own.

Check In

Two weeks is a long time, and it’s important that my students have the opportunity to check in with me after such a long break. A lot has probably happened since I saw them last, so I try to give them plenty of opportunities to share some things that happened over break.

One way to check in is to have students leave me a message on our chart paper. This is a regular routine that we do – I put a question on our easel and they use a sticky note to answer it.

Anchor chart collecting student responses to the question "What is one thing you can't wait to tell me today?"

NOTE: I take great care not to assume the break was great for everyone. Some kids were probably not looking forward to it and are glad to be back at school for varying reasons. I just like to give them all an opportunity to share whatever they would like about our time away.

Another way to do this is using Morning Meeting time to share something verbally. I usually ask them to pick one thing they want to tell everyone and we use our regular Morning Meeting protocol (whoever has the Koosh ball does the talking) to share. They are allowed to pass if they would like. This gives everyone a second opportunity to share and sometimes eliminates everyone trying to talk during class time! Sometimes.

Refresh Expectations

Inevitably, everyone has forgotten all of the expectations for each part of the day: starting the day, Morning Meeting, Daily 3 – you name it, those expectations need a refresher. Typically, on the first day back from break I spend a few minutes helping students remember what we are all doing here. This usually takes less than 5 minutes per routine, and pays off when I don’t have to stop 100 times to remind everyone what they’ve known since the second week of school.

Reflect and Look Forward

My students might get sick of reflecting on their work and what’s going on in our classroom. We reflect after math tests, writing assignments, and every. single. Friday. But, I keep asking them to do it, because it’s important and they learn about themselves every time! It’s also a great classroom tool because I can gather information on how they are perceiving their own progress and also how they are feeling about the year so far.

This is a set of mid-year surveys that I have my students do either right before or after winter break. It gives them the opportunity to reflect on how things are going in math, reading and writing, as well as check in on goals they set at the beginning of the year. I also peek at all their surveys and take some notes for my own information. You can grab these surveys for your classroom right here.

These surveys do take a few minutes to complete, but the information is worth it and my students are always (mostly) honest. It’s a great way to check in after a two week winter break!

Goal Setting

One thing that always gets my students started on the right foot for the second half of the year is some goal setting. First, we talk about what goals are and why we have them. (Hoping this is just a refresher from the rest of the year, but they forget a lot over these two weeks, you know?)

Student generated ideas for goal setting.

In 5th grade, we brainstormed this list which I recorded on the board. Then, they used these ideas to create some goals for the rest of the year. To keep track, they filled in their goals on the 3-2-1 page you see in the picture. (Grab it for free right here or check out my blog post on it here.)

Do Something Fun!

No one is ready for a full day of seat work or really, a full day of anything, right? So have some fun and do something silly or artsy or kinesthetic to keep you and your students happy! Last year we made these fun “Ways to Make 2019” posters during math time.

Math activity poster: "Ways to Make 2019"

I gave them about 15-20 minutes to think of as many ways to make the number 2019 as they could. It was fun and (relatively) easy and they loved decorating their work!

I also think reading aloud a fun picture book is a great first day back activity! Just in case anyone is grumpy (not me of course!), I think this year I will read Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang. The gist of this book is that monkey is definitely grumpy, but he tries to convince everyone he isn’t. They all give him advice. And in the end, he decides it’s ok to be grumpy for a bit anyway. I LOVE this book! The pictures are great and the lesson is applicable for everyone. Grab yourself a copy at the link below!

Grumpy Monkey cover

Well, that’s about it….our first day back in a nutshell! Here’s to an uneventful, fun, and productive day for everyone headed back to school. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Activities for Upper Elementary

October 20, 2019

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! I love sharing it with my family and my students. Over the years, I’ve found or created a few Thanksgiving activities for upper elementary students that keep the learning going but are still fun!

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. These commissions help support the blog. All opinions are my own.

THANKSGIVING PLATES ACTIVITY

When I taught third grade, this Thanksgiving plate activity was a huge hit! Students used the “Thanksgiving Price List” to choose their favorites. Each person was “given” $10.00 to spend on their own personal Thanksgiving meal. They figured out what they wanted to “eat” and used adding and subtracting to figure out how much they had left. Once they decided what they wanted on their plate and how much it would cost, they created their plate!

We hung these in the hall and they made a great bulletin board!

You can grab the Thanksgiving Price List {here}. It’s free and updated with cuter pictures!

THANKSGIVING READ ALOUDS

A favorite read aloud before Thanksgiving is this fantastic book by Laurie Halse Anderson. Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving, is a great read about Sarah Hale, the woman who helped make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Click {here} to grab yourself a copy!

The entertaining illustrations grab kids’ attention and this book paves the way for a fun writing prompt about saving Thanksgiving!

This is a cool book about the creator of the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons! The illustrations are awesome and the story is fascinating. Click {here} to grab this one!

THANKSGIVING PERSUASIVE WRITING

I use this book as a jumping off point for writing persuasive letters, which you can do with this activity that is free in my store. Students write a persuasive letter to convince their families that Thanksgiving should not be cancelled!This is a great way to tie in your writing standards with the Thanksgiving holiday.

THANKSGIVING MATH

If you teach older kids, like I do now, this Thanksgiving themed math resource might be just what you are looking for. I have used this resource to keep my students engaged and practicing grade level standards! This resource has everything from Thanksgiving themed word problems to color-by-codes, and they are all great practice for decimal operations. In fifth grade, we still plan our Thanksgiving meal, but they just use the price list and they don’t make the crafty plate. (BUT they totally could and use more challenging money amounts instead!)

My students love working on these pages with a partner! You can grab a copy of this resource right {here}.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

I hope these Thanksgiving activities for upper elementary students give you a fun way to celebrate with your class, and I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving break full of family, friends, and delicious food!

Sanity Savers – Halloween Activities for Upper Elementary

October 18, 2019

Look. I’m not trying to be a party pooper. I swear. But….Halloween at school stresses me out! All I want on Halloween is a quiet day. No party. No costumes. No craziness.

On the other hand, I don’t want to be *that* teacher. So I’ve found a few ways to save my sanity and still have fun with these Halloween activities for upper elementary students!

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. These commissions help support the blog. All opinions are my own.

Halloween Read Aloud
Even the big kids enjoy a fun read aloud! There are so many great ones out there – but here are a couple of my favorites. Click the links to grab them for your classroom!

Creepy Carrots: Jasper Rabbit loves to eat carrots…until they start following him!! My class loves this creepy story and the pictures are awesome.

I Need My Monster: This has a fun twist on the traditional “monster under the bed” story. Not just ANY monster will do!

Spooky YouTube
Find a spooky YouTube music channel and keep it on all day! It sets the Halloween mood and doesn’t interfere with the students working. I found one that was kid friendly, instrumental music. It was perfect for the background of the day! (I used the one below last year, but there are tons if you search YouTube.)

Halloween Math
Even though we don’t have a party, that doesn’t mean we can’t use our math skills to plan a pretend one! This Halloween Math resource is perfect for some Halloween fun while practicing decimal skills. There are word problems, party planning, and using information in a table. My class had a great time thinking of all the ways to spend some Halloween money! There are also some fun Color-By-Code pages so they can practice decimals and math facts AND color. You can grab this resource in my TpT store here.

Pumpkin Point of View Writing
This was a spur of the moment activity that turned into a class favorite! We were working on point of view in our writing and reading units, and then we turned that into a fun Halloween writing prompt. These stories turned out to be hilarious and the class had a great time writing and sharing.

Grab some free Halloween writing pages here!

Spooky Owl Craft
Every year, my amazing mama comes to school to do a fall/Halloween craft with my class. These spooky owls are always a hit and make a pretty awesome decoration too! The main ingredients are: a piece of black cardstock, a small yellow circle sticker, pretzels for the body, head, and branch, googly eyes, feathers, and a piece of string! I usually make an example owl, but then let kids have their own spin on it and they always turn out awesome. Click {here} to read more about how I use this activity in the classroom!

I’ve found all of these activities help keep my students engaged and interested on Halloween, without being such a crazy day! Here’s hoping you have a sane Halloween in the classroom as well!

Make A Mini-Thesaurus

October 20, 2018

As my classroom has transitioned to anchor charts created with students, I’ve found less need for all the fancy posters I’ve purchased over the years. Check out how we made a mini-thesaurus from an old poster!

We used this poster, and it’s been a huge hit!

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of these links. These commissions help support the blog. All opinions are my own.

Click the picture to grab a copy!

I cut the poster apart into individual sections. I laminated each piece and punched a hole in the top.

I used a metal ring and ran it through all the cards to make a quick and easy mini-thesaurus!

These have turned into the most used “thesaurus” in the room! Kids use the heck out of these little guys…they take them off the rings and share them around and often kids are looking around to find them. (NOTE: the metal ring/lamination did not hold up as well as I would have liked, but they managed to get it back together with plenty – and I mean PLENTY – of Scotch tape.)

Which posters do you have hanging around that could get a new life?? 

How Problem of the Week Saved My Sanity

July 24, 2018

I’d like to preface this blog post with a friendly reminder:

I am NOT a morning person.

I am a bleary-eyed, coffee-clutching, stumbling fool before about 9:00 am. Yet…

MY SCHOOL STARTS AT 7:30. Students begin arriving at 7:20. I needed a way to help the morning routine run smoothly so I didn’t accidentally say or do something inappropriate in my morning-cranky haze.

I’ve been using word problems as a way to engage 5th grade mathematicians for awhile, and first thing in the morning seemed like a good time to establish a routine that would accomplish a few things: get them working right away, foster independence when things got a little tough, improve their problem solving skills and give them an opportunity to share and get feedback.

Here’s How It Works
Image of students gluing problems into a notebook.Every Monday morning (usually, because #reallife) my whole class receives a new Problem of the Week on their desk. Their job is to glue it into their notebook when they arrive and start working independently. (Key word: independently. As in, “It’s Monday. It’s before 9:00. Please work by yourself while I do teacher-y things like take attendance and drink my coffee.”) But seriously, I want them to work alone so they can do their best thinking and not worry about what their partner is doing. I find this gives even the most reluctant students an opportunity to have something to share when they do find a partner. They work until the announcements come on, which at my school gives them about 10 minutes.

The next day when students arrive, they get out their problems and keep working. Most likely, they didn’t finish the day before, but even if they did, they can review and revise their work. Every problem I use has an extended thinking question, so they can also move on to work on that part. Again, we work until announcements.

The following days (usually Wednesday and Thursday) are a little different because, once a student is ready, they are free to find a partner to share ideas or help each other get unstuck. I’ve had very little interaction with them on these problems so far, because I’m trying to foster that independence and critical thinking. Working with partners helps them to see the problem from another point of view or to confirm that they were on the right track! We had lots of conversations about what to do when they got stuck, and so we made it into a digital anchor chart.

And put it into their notebooks:

These days are also the time when students revise their work based on their discussions with partners. This might mean adding a bit more detail, changing some part of their answer, or explaining their thinking more clearly. I always ask students to review in another color so it’s easy for them (and me!) to see how their thinking has changed.

On the last day, usually Friday, students get the opportunity to share their thinking with the whole class. I usually choose a few students who solved the problem in different ways or some who made mistakes along the way. I also like to choose students who explained their thinking particularly well or who showed unique thinking in their strategies. (I also love to showcase organized, clear, and concise work!)

The whole week looks something like this:

Why Use Problem of the Week?

It turns out simplifying the morning routine wasn’t the only great thing about having a Problem of the Week routine.

It also:

  • helped kids practice skills in just (about) 10 minutes per day.
  • encouraged a smooth transition into the school day.
  • was a great way to introduce a new concept in a problem solving context.
  • gave students opportunities to review their own work every day.
  • encouraged revision of ideas and work.
  • offered opportunities to collaborate and discuss with other students.
  • taught students how to help each other without giving answers.
  • gave students lots of opportunities to be successful and grow.
Wrapping It Up (I swear!)
Problem of the Week has literally been a morning routine game changer in my 5th grade classroom. They know what to do. They do it. I drink coffee and take attendance and do anything else that needs taking care of in the morning. (Because you know the office is calling and someone left their backpack in the cafeteria and it’s probably snowing so everyone is dealing with boots and hats and mittens.)
And beyond the obvious plus of me not being a crazy lunatic in the morning, the students really grew. Not only in their mathematical knowledge and abilities, but in their confidence, their willingness to take risks and their ability to discuss mathematics with a partner. It was a win for everyone!
You can totally create your own problems for this routine, or find some in your math resource. (Usually all the good word problems are at the end of the chapter…)
Or if you want some that are already done for you, you can check these out on TpT. These problems all focus on the Number and Operations in Base Ten standards for 5th grade. (More domains coming soon!!!) Click on the picture to check it out.
If you teach fourth grade, check out the resource with problems here:
If you teach a different grade, but still want to implement this in your classroom, I’ve put together just the directions, Google link, and “I’m Stuck” anchor charts in a separate resource! Just click {here}.If you think you want to give it a try, just do it! Your sanity, and your students, will benefit.

Summer Book Study 2018 – “Teaching Reading in Small Groups”

June 24, 2018

Are you looking to up your small group reading game this summer?

Check out this summer book study at Adventures in Literacy Land! I’m a guest blogger over there – giving you all the info on chapter 2 of this awesome book.

Grab your copy of the book right {here} so you can jump in on the conversation! (This is an affiliate link!)

 Click the graphic below to take you to the chapter 2 blog post…

Check back in at Adventures in Literacy Land every Sunday to see a synopsis and discussion of each chapter!

Using Mentor Text to Introduce Genre

April 6, 2018

Happy Friday, friends! I’m so glad that spring is finally here and the weather is slowly, but surely, improving in our corner of the world. Today I want to share with you a step by step process for introducing your writers to a new genre that is fun and engaging!

I am super excited to be linking up with some amazing teachers from The Reading Crew to bring you this idea and freebie! At the end of this post be sure to click through the links to find tons more great ideas and to enter the unbelievable giveaway.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of these links. These commissions help support the blog. All opinions are my own.

I’m not lying when I say that I use this strategy every time it’s time to introduce a new genre to my 5th grade writers. I’ve found it’s engaging and effective, which makes for a win in my book.

Step 1: Read and Record
First, I choose 2-3 texts that highlight the elements of the genre we are about to write. Depending on which genre, I either read the text aloud to the whole class or give them their own copies to read and mark up. (Usually, I read aloud narrative and poetry, while giving out copies of articles for informational and opinion.) While they are reading or listening, the students listen and look for techniques the author is using to achieve this writing style. They record their ideas on sticky notes, in their writer’s notebook or on this graphic organizer which you can grab for free in my TpT store.

If they are doing sticky notes (link to my favorite size) or notebooks, they make a bulleted list.

Step 2: Share and Create Anchor Chart #1
Once everyone has had the opportunity to read the text and write down their “noticings,” we gather on the carpet to share out ideas. Depending on the time we have, I will pull sticks in order for everyone to have a chance to share something they noticed. As each student shares, I record their idea on this anchor chart:

This gives us all a place to gather a ton of ideas, and helps us in the next step, which is to create a list of non-negotiable elements for that particular genre.

Step 3: Anchor Chart #2 (Built in Rubric)
After we have looked at 2-3 examples of the genre we are introducing, we start to use the previous anchor chart to look for similarities between each text. We use those similarities to build our “Elements of _______” anchor chart. This anchor chart serves two purposes: to synthesize our thinking from each mentor text and to create a built in rubric for our new genre. This anchor chart gives us everything we will need to create solid writing pieces – no mystery at all!

This has been the most effective and engaging way to introduce and explore a new genre in my classroom. These anchor charts stay up throughout the whole unit (and beyond) and not just because I hate to climb on a chair to get the staples out! Seriously though, my students refer to these lists throughout the year to remind them what their pieces need to include. They are the most referred-to references in my class!

Don’t forget to pick up the graphic organizers for free right {here}.

Keep hopping through all the posts to get some great ideas to keep your readers and writers blooming! Next stop: Sweet Integrations for some thoughts on digital book reviews! Happy reading!




Easy Ways to Find Partners!

December 27, 2017

I can’t believe that winter break is here already! This year is flying by, and I can definitely tell that it’s time for a break.

My students are moody. Chatty. Cranky. AND sick of each other. They have been seeing the same people day in and day out for the past several months and they need a break. (So does their teacher, by the way.)

Normally, I let 5th graders choose their partners. It’s fast and easy and I don’t have to worry about trying to avoid certain partnerships. Let’s be honest, I’m a lazy hands-off teacher when it comes to partners. But the couple of weeks right before winter break really made me rethink this laissez faire attitude of mine. In order for everyone to still be on speaking terms before the semester ended, I needed to intervene and help them work with some new people that they weren’t burned out on.

Here are a few ways I mixed it up – and will be mixing it up – for choosing partners this year!

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of these links. These commissions help support the blog. All opinions are my own.

1. Pulling Sticks
An oldie but a goodie, pulling popsicle sticks with two names on them is easy and quick! One upside to this method is the fact that you can make partners, group of 3 or 4 or any size quickly and easily. A downside is that it is pretty random and you might end up with some people who can’t work well together. True confessions – sometimes I peek and adjust as I pull!!!

Upside: quick and easy, can make groups larger than 2
Downside: less teacher control over partnerships

2. Clock Partners
For years (I’m not kidding) I have been saying I wanted to try clock partners. But I never did. I thought it would be too time consuming to set up and so I always put it off. Not this year though!! I saw a blog post about this from Jennifer at Cult of Pedagogy and I decided to stop balking and just do it. AND I’m really glad I did. This method gives me a little bit of control over some of the partnerships and gives the students lots of choices when they are filling in their partners. (They can still avoid people who aren’t the right fit for them and have many other choices for partners.)

The basic idea is this: print out a clock or a table filled with times. Mine was a table with times from 12:00-11:00. They find a different partner for each time and write the name down on their paper. I had my students leave two times blank and I filled them in with the names of two people I wanted them to work with. (I based these partners on reading and math ability.) Then, they keep their paper at their desk and when I don’t want the hassle of 5th grade drama interfering with partners, I just tell them to find their 6 o’clock partner and voila! I don’t lose my mind and everyone has a partner.

Upside: teacher does not lose her mind, all students have lots of choices, less random than pulling sticks
Downside: only works for partners, students catch on when you call the same time consistently, takes a bit of time to set up

3. Playing Cards
Using a plain old deck of playing cards is a great way to mix it up when creating groups. This works really well if you want to mix it up for seating, group projects, etc. Students draw a card and then find the people who have the other cards in that set. For example – all the students with a 4 become a group.

Upside: relatively quick, will mix up students randomly to work with new people, can create groups up to 4 people
Downside: less control over grouping, need to make sure you have the right number of cards and matches before passing out cards

4. Partner Cards
Partner cards are a variation on playing cards, and work just about the same. Each student gets a card and then finds the person with the match. The difference is that with partner cards, students are getting a quick bit of practice with a skill. For example, my students are just getting started with fractions, so we are using fraction partner cards! In this case, they find the person who has the fraction and visual representation that match. Those people then become partners! There are also some sets that create a group of 3, like the naming numbers set. They have to find the standard form, word form and expanded form cards to form their group.

I have also used these cards for students to find a partner during Morning Meeting. I leave a card on each desk, then when they come in each morning then use their card to find the person they will greet. (You can have a little more control of who will become partners if you do it this way – simply lay the right matches out on those students’ desks.)

Upside: can make partners or groups of 3, students are practicing skills at the same time, will get kids working with new and different people
Downside: no groups larger than 3, some prep to make sure you have the right number of cards to match, less teacher control over groups

This partner card resource has many different sets of  cards to practice a bunch of different skills. There is a math one and one for ELA skills, or you can grab it in the money saving bundle!

I’d love to hear how you make finding partners easy in your classroom! Leave me a comment below with your awesome idea!