Monday, February 28, 2011

Reader's Choice

How many are you are Beth Newingham fans?
Come on, I know you're out there...
If you haven't visited her class website or
read her posts at Scholastic, you are missing out!

I came across her class website my first year of teaching
and was amazed at this super teacher.
Super teacher is no exaggeration- you'll see, you'll see. :)

One of her ideas that I have used
is her Reader's Choice board.

It asks students a very simple question-
Would you recommend this book to others?

I don't have this board up all year, but usually choose about
4 books or so to have students read and decide
whether or not they would recommend the book.

I usually choose books that either have a theme or topic
that I want to discuss as a class or have something to do
with something else we are studying.

A couple of easy (and perhaps obvious) hints-
1) Mine is on a magnetic white board which makes it easy for
students to move their name around.
2) The name cards you see here are made just out of construction paper
and magnets, but an easier way to make them is just to order the
magnets from VistaPrint and write student names on them.
3) I just color copied my book covers and laminated them.
4) Go here to look at Beth Newingham's board and download the
Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down sign.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Get Organized!

Growing Kinders is hosting a link party on Organization.

I would love to be more organized.
My room is never a complete disaster, but I always seem to have papers all
over my desk by the end of the day. I've always wondered how some teachers
do it- their desks are always spotless and can find anything in a blink!

Some of the greatest things I have found to keep my classroom organized are
the right containers. I have a lot of containers for all sorts of things,
but these are what I have found most useful to use all the time in my room.

I had these white cube shelves left over from when I was in college.
I knew I could use them somehow, but they just never seemed right.
Until, I tipped them over and put them on my counter top.
They make wonderful little cubbies.

The little cloth baskets are from the Dollar Store.
They hold a lot and have perfect handles on them to pull them out.
I also use these in my cupboards to store different novels we read.
These baskets have flashcards for students to use, paint supplies,
materials for center games and puzzles.
They are accessible to the students, but look nice and neat!

This little center is perfect for keeping my classroom organized!
There are drawers on the left side that hold protractors, counters,
dice, compasses and math game cards.
There are slots that hold papers that students often need such
as Multiplication Baseball, Mitten Multiplication and AR paper tests.
It's so nice not to have to keep track of where those papers are.
On the right side, all of our paper for Writing Workshop is stored.
It holds a binder that has all of the decorate paper they use is displayed,
then the folders below match the numbers in the binder.
Each shelf is a different color for the folders which makes finding
and putting papers away easy!
The rest of this storage unit holds highlighters, scissors, glue,
extra puzzle papers and many other random things.

I can't wait to read other ideas for organization!

You can also read another post I did on organization on my personal blog here:
Teacher Talk: Organization.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Science Night!

Ah, I just got home from Science Night at school.
It was a great night for parents to come and experience science.
We had scientist come in to demonstrate.
There were experiments in the classrooms.
And students had to visit the crime scene in the gym
to figure out who the lizard snatcher was!

My team did an experiment on Conductors & Insulators.
Honestly, I was so busy explaining acid and base in the crime scene
that I didn't make it down to see how the experiment was going.
But, I heard it went well. And it looked fun. :)

Here is the hand-out for the experiment if you
want to try it out in your classroom.
You will need to build a circuit with a light bulb
and battery to test the objects.

The best part of Science Night was the excitement of the
Crime Scene. Right before school got out, we announced that
one of the teacher's pet lizard was found missing.
So, we were changing our plans for Science Night to
search for who took the pet lizard.
Students totally believed the whole story!
I picked up my kids from art and they were buzzing with excitement.

Here is the crime scene set up in the gym.

We discovered that it was our janitor that took the lizard!
I'm excited to hear their reactions tomorrow.

I'm linking up to Teacher Talk Thursdays with Abby
from Snyder Stories.
Come share what is happening in your classroom!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Sorry for the lack of posts...we've been without power for a few days at our house.
Which was NOT fun, but it left plenty of time to finish my Boggle boards. :)

I have seen a few posts lately on using Boggle in the classroom.
Primary Perspective found the cutest mini-boggle games and
The First Grade Parade has some great lower-el Boggle boards for the SMARTboard.

Which got me thinking...
I used Boggle in my room a few years ago.
We played it as a whole class and as a center.
It was why did I stop?
Seriously, have you used a regular Boggle game lately?
It is LOUD! And the kids loved it. :)
Unfortunately, it was hard to hear anything else going on in the room.
So, I stopped.

But really, it was a great game to work on word recognition.
And if I had a SMARTboard that would be a great way to play it quietly, but I don't.
So, I made up some pre-made Boggle boards, a record sheet and an answer sheet.
(Click on any picture to download the sheet or click here to download from TeachersPayTeachers)

Here is the Boggle board.
They just need to fill out the board on their sheet which makes it
easier for them to find words (and I can see if their words really existed).
Here are the Boggle Boards. There are 8.
I went to to generate some of the boards.
If you do this, make sure to check your boards for letters
that you may not wish to have together. I had to rearrange a few of mine.
I printed them, cut them and put them on some colorful
construction paper. On the back, I labeled what
number board each is.

And here are the answer keys...
It's nice to just take them out and impress your 4th graders
how many words you can find- you'll amaze them!

I found a Boggle Solver on-line.
You do have to weed through their list,
but that's a lot easier than finding all the words yourself!
We played it together as a class last Friday.
It was a great challenge for my high kids and
together we were able to show the other kids how
to play. I'm excited to add this game into
a center again this year. A quiet center.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Board

Need an easy board?
That works with any and every theme?
Well, here you go...

I usually end up with some version of this board
at the beginning of the school year.
When there isn't any student work to hang up,
but you still want your room to look nice.

I'm sure most of you have done some board
similar to this. It isn't anything too original.
But I love looking at other people's boards
and hopefully it will spark an idea for you.

We'll start with this year's version.
I had/have a Western theme.
I bought some thick rope to use around the words.
I love making boards 3D.

This might be my favorite theme that I've done.
But who doesn't love little fish?

Last year, I had a safari theme. So fun!
It also was the year that I got my Cricut so I was
all about using nice huge letters. :)

Sadly, I lost some pictures of my classroom
from my travel theme year.
And I can't remember if I did a board like this or not.
However, let's pretend that I had one
and labeled it "Books Take You Places"

See works for every theme. :)
Any ideas to add?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

We celebrated Valentine's Day on Friday since we have a PD day on Monday.
I'm not sure who scheduled that, but anyhow that's how it is.

I love Valentine's Day!
It is such a fun holiday to celebrate at school!

I was hoping to have time to make my kids some cute Valentines, but
instead I was at Target at 9:30 at night on Thursday finding something to give them.

I went with Play-Doh Valentines.

Can we just talk about how Valentines come in packages of 20?
Why not 15, 25 or 30?
As far as I know not many classes are less than 20
(although I been lucky to have had a few)
nor are there classes that have 40 students in them.

Moving on...

After passing out Valentines, we started our Valentine Workshop.

Basically, I give my kids a packet of Valentine activities to work on and when they finish each one they are able to choose a treat such as a notepad, pencil, or candy hearts.

They always get so into it!

Here is the front cover of the packet with the poems for each activity.

Some of the activities that I have in the packet are from
Laura Candler's file cabinet.

Also, can I just show you two of the adorable Valentines that my students gave me?

"I Dig You" filled with pencils, note cards and notepads.

And how perfect for a teacher!
Chocolates and a Chalkboard!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

First Year Rewind- Best & Worst BB Ideas

We all know that the first year of teaching is a year full of trial and error...
so here is the best and worse board ideas of the first few months of my first year.

First, we'll start with the worse...

Let's just start with the fact that somehow I ended up working at as a receptionist for a few days a week the summer before I started teaching. I ended up working there until right before school started. Which meant lots of late nights at school- not all bad- there was no one else there to distract me and my mom came and helped me out a ton!

Anyways, it was the night before our school's open house
and my room had to be all ready.
I still had nothing for the back of the door and instead of
leaving it like a normal person,
I was determined to think of something to put there.
So, "The Scoop of the Day" was created.

This was the WORSE idea ever.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.
But really think about it.
Did you have time to come up with a scoop every
morning your first year of teaching?
(If you did, more power to you.)
I mean, maybe if it was "The Scoop of the Week"
or "...of the Month"
but really,

Yeah, crazy.
That's what it made me...CrAzY!

On to the BEST idea...

Not that it was the best idea ever.
It was just the best idea in the first 3 months of teaching.
And I still like this idea. :)

May I introduce...Touchdown Time!

I had a class full of football lovers and fast finishers.
So, touchdown time was created full of puzzles and extra learning activities.
They could help themselves to it and I just had to change it 1-2 times a week.

In fact it was such a hit that I used a similar baseball board later that year.
This time I filled the baseball folders with puzzles and put their
names on baseballs around the board and every time
they made it to home plate they added a star to their baseball.

So, that's the scoop for today. :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mitten Multiplication

My kids love playing games this year. Not word searches, suduko or crossword puzzles.
But hands-on competition.

I came across a fabulous math game on Swamp Frog First Graders blog.

Side note: Why are there so many wonderful first grade blogs out there?
And upper elementary blogs are far and few between?
All those first grade blogs tempt me to move down.
Okay, side note done.

She has posted a download for "Fill the Mitten with Addition"
Follow the link to find it!

Addition is great for fourth graders to practice, but...
I really needed multiplication practice for my kids.

So, I printed out the game and changed some of the numbers
so that my kids could play it with multiplication.

And it is awesome for fourth graders!

There is strategy to try to fill in the whole mitten.
There is competition.
There is multiplication practice.
It can last for a long time or you can end it in the middle and
just count how many pieces were filled in.

Do you know any other awesome math games?

(Thanks Heidi for creating the game!)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Meet the Teacher- Link-Up Party

I'm trying to figure out if I want to move all my "teacher" posts over here or what I'm for now I'll just copy this post from my other blog over here.

The First Grade Parade is hosting a "Meet the Teacher Party." I love reading teacher blogs- it is so fun to see what everyone is doing in their classrooms.

First, here is a bit about me.

I've been married for 2.5 years.
We have an almost 2 year old dog named Winston.

This is my fifth year of teaching. All the years in fourth grade. I can't believe that I have now been teaching longer than I went to college for. I don't know why that seems crazy to me, but it does!

I have 2 sisters- one older, one younger. Love them!
Here we are at my little sister's wedding this past New Year's Eve.

Now for the Q & A

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?
A: If I became talented enough...a photographer.

Q: What are your hobbies?
A: Crafts, reading, tennis, teaching (yes, I do think that counts as a hobby!)

Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I was one of those kids that always wanted to a teacher. It made choosing classes in college super easy.

Q: What are your guilty pleasures?
A: Diet Coke, Vanilla Lattes, trips to Target, watching the Bachelor

Q: What is your biggest fear?!
A: That someone will choke when they are eating with me...I jump when one of my students starts to cough when they are eating their lunch!

Q: When you’re on vacation, where do you like to go?
A: Anywhere WARM...where you can lay in the sun!

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: Put God first in your life.

Q: What do you value most in others?
A: Hmmm, today I'll pick kindness and humility.

Q: If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass down to your kids, what would it be?
A: Patience. Not that I'm always patient, but a bit of it has come in handy more times than I can count.

Q: If you could have lunch with anyone in the world….living or dead…who would it be?
A: My family. I love having lunch (or dinner) with them.

Now tell us one random thing about yourself:
I love roller coasters, purple skittles, and stars.