Sunday, January 15, 2017

Math is Fun & Games

Well, we survived our first week back to school (after 3 weeks off!) and it rained. EVERY. DAY. Now to some of you, that may be normal, but for us in southern California, we've been in a serious drought for 5 years. That means MOST of my kids don't remember it raining consistently . . . they were more than a little excited about this rain! So how to review and keep them focused? Mixed Operations Jenga!!
Browsing through the Target Dollar Spot, I found "Stacking Blocks" for $5! There are so many cute classroom Jenga games on Pinterest, but I wanted to figure out a way to reuse this set in multiple subjects. I painted  the ends of each block six different colors. 
You can also just use a marker to color the ends; I happened to have a lot of acrylic paint at home.

The object of the game is to build the tallest tower without it tumbling over. Students push or pull out a block; this is tricky. Kids become good at testing which blocks are looser than others.
Depending on the color block the student picks, they pick that same colored task card. Each color is a different operation: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and mixed operations. Purple is "free choice".

Saturday, January 7, 2017

(Star)bursting for Rocks!

There’s nothing like candy to motivate learning. . . our fourth grade earth science unit focuses on patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers (4-ESS1-1) and the effects of weathering on the rate of erosion (4-ESS2-1). We’ve conducted many hands-on experiments (read about them {HERE} and {HERE}), but this Starburst rock cycle is definitely the most visual (and yummy) & one of our favorites!
Give each student 4-5 Starburst candies and a sandwich-size ziploc bag. Model cutting them into smaller bits, forming sediment. Stop often for students to draw diagrams and take notes in their science notebooks
With the heat from your hand, squeeze the sediments into a ball, forming a sedimentary rock. The Starburst are colorful and the layers are visually evident.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Giving Away $75 to Spend for Your Classroom

Yesssss! $75 to spend in teacher resources? I know money is tight after the holidays, so this is the perfect time to win a $75 gift card to TpT!   I'm so excited to join with a fabulous group of TpT authors and bloggers to offer this opportunity! Details and Rafflecopter below.


Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), The Chocolate Teacher, Ms. K, Teaching in the Heart of Florida, It's a Teacher Thing, Jackie Crews, Momma with a Teaching Mission, Planet Happy Smiles, Katie Roltgen, A Plus Kids, Heart 2 Heart Teaching, Tried and True Teaching Tools, Growing Grade by Grade, Peas In A Pod, Pam's Place, Teach with Hope, Teacher Gameroom, Amanda Kristofferson, Elementary at HEART,Teaching Biilfizzcend, Jewel Pastor, Kamp Kindergarten, Rebekah Sayler (A Better Way to Homeschool), Claudia's Classroom, and Reading and Writing Redhead.

Host: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Giveaway ends 1/13/17 and is open worldwide. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Idioms? Go figure!

Idioms and figurative language are always so much fun to teach, although they can be confusing to our English learners (or any of our students who don't read very much). 
As an introduction to figurative language this year,  we started with a class play from Bad Wolf Press, Alice's Adventures with Idioms.  "Alice follows her cat and dog down the rabbit hole and arrives in...the land of idioms! And a crazy place it is. All the familiar Wonderland characters -- the White Rabbits, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Mad Hatter and March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the King and Queen of Hearts -- are there to share their kooky wisdom as they help Alice and her pets navigate the mysterious world of the English language."
My kids LOVED performing this musical, with catchy songs and hilarious lines. We used the script to close read, highlight and annotate all the figurative language.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Beginnings

Happy New Year!! I love the beginning of a new year; it's always a fresh start. (You know, making those resolutions to eat healthier, work out more, blah, blah, blah. . .) But I also look forward to January because for many students, things seem to "click" over winter break and they come back to school, eager to learn.
Always a teacher, I got very excited when I noticed extra Happy New Year tiaras, hats, and glasses left over at the end of our New Year's Eve party. These would be perfect props to start off 2017 with FUN goal setting! I'm sure my hubby would not be thrilled with me sharing this pic, but you need to see the options: tiara or top hat, along with the 2017 glasses, of course! (And I'm sure you're wondering about my unique party attire. . . we were at an Olympics-themed NYE party. . .)
When we come back to school on January 9th, I'm going to take a picture of my kids wearing Happy New Year accessories, then we will connect this to our health unit and goal setting! You can grab your copy by clicking {HERE} or on the picture below.  (It is in a Google slides format)
It's so important for our students to understand that goal setting is not only about school, but it is applicable to our "real life", too! How do you teach goal setting to your students? 

Here's to a great 2017!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Heads Up for Vocab!

Memorizing vocabulary lists. . . blech! As my students read, they write words on sticky notes: words they are unsure of, feel are important, or words they just like! After sharing their words with the class, we decide which ones we feel are crucial to understanding the story/book. Next, I take those words and turn them into visual vocabulary cards: with the word and a picture to represent the definition. We also use these for category sorts (parts of speech or characters, setting, theme), which we keep in a pocket chart.
But the most fun way to use these cards are by attaching them onto headbands and playing Heads Up. (In my younger days, pre-family, I actually laminated sentence strips then sewed them onto elastic. . . . yes, sewed them on a sewing machine!!) We taped the visual vocab cards onto these headbands, although you could just as easily staple a sentence-strip onto kids’ heads! After reviewing the words & meanings as a class, each student put on a vocab headband (without peeking), then walked around asking other students questions about their word that could only be answered “yes” or “no”. (And they could not ask, “Is my word _____?”)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Don't Lose Your Marbles!

STEM and STEAM are all the rage right now, but I don’t want to just do activities “for fun”. I want my students to understand the engineering design process. The James Dyson Foundation wants to inspire young engineers and make engineering relevant to students. They are a wonderful non-profit organization, designing engineering challenges for teachers and students.
They’ve created task cards and short videos, interviewing real engineers (with wonderful British accents!) demonstrating and explaining the physics behind various elements to each challenge. Using everyday materials, students work in teams to design and build a prototype.
After watching the introductory video, our first task was to design a marble run. Using cardboard and tape, students needed to build a path for a marble to travel down and around a box in exactly 60 seconds.