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Monday, April 30, 2012

Pinterest Tips

While guest bloggers galore have taken over my site, I have had some time to do some pinning and homework. I love the first one! The second one is necessary.

Last week one of my fellow bloggy friends send me a link she knew I would love and she was right!

I use pinterest as my visual file cabinet. I have a collaboration board for 3-6 teachers with free resources on it. I use it to search for things I am looking for - kind of like a visual form of google.

I rarely change the comments if I am repinning. It just takes too much time! I did discover if I highlight a portion of text prior to hitting the pin it button in my tool bar that the highlighted portion will become my comment. Great tip that saves a ton of time!

But who would have know there were so many ways and uses! I am sure this is only the beginning of the options. How do you use pinterest?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Guest: Kids Cog Works

My biggest fear when it comes to teaching is math. Because I am obsessed with "getting it right" ... it will probably become my strength. That just seems to be how I roll. I obsess until I find something I like and then it all comes together.

So when I am out blog stalking... I am hunting for a few specific items. Math. Unique ideas. Learning made fun. Whole Brain Strategies. Adrianne is a master in these areas. Everything I visit her blog I learn something new and today she is here with me with an idea that is now on my MUST DO LIST right after Reagan's Leprechaun hunt (still loving the green glitter)! Take a look....

Every year, my family and I go to Boise State University to attend Engineering Day.  It is so much fun!  They always have interactive experiments for my kids to try out and interesting speakers to hear.  This year, I felt inspired as I walked through the campus.  I've been daydreaming for months about how much fun it would be to host an Engineering Day at school. 

Why should you host an Engineering Day at your school?  Engineering careers are on the rise.  We need a population of students that can problem solve and think out of the box.  Are we giving our students opportunities to experience mathematics and science in a hands-on manner?  If we host an Engineering Day at our schools, there's no telling which students you will inspire to learn more about the process of engineering.

Here's just a few ideas I had to making a fun and memorable Engineering Day in your classroom or school.  First, you've got to have interesting science experiements.  I've chosen four that I think will be a hit from Kindergarteners to Middle Schoolers.  Second, it's best if you get the parents involved!  Engineering Day would be a mega draw to fathers too.  You'll need extra hands to help the students rotate through each experiment. 

Next, you need to decide if you are going to do this just in class or your entire grade.  If you choose to do your entire grade, each class could take one experiement and teach/show how it's done.  In the classroom, you would run it like you would centers.

The Experiments

All of these are super easy to do with your class.  Chromoatography is the only experiment that requires special items.  To get instructions for all of these fantastic Engineering Day Events, download them from my TpT store.  Instructions include detailed descriptions of how you perform each experiment and also why it works.  It also includes a career that you would use this knowledge in.

Engineering Days would be an exciting and fun way to end the school year.  Think outside of the box this school year and give it a go, I don't think you'll regret it!

Adrianne Meldrum is the author of and  In the afternoons, you can find her tutoring middle school math students or struggling readers.  She is the wife of a civil engineer and mother to three handsome boys.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Teacher's Board

Welcome to another Pinterest inspired project. If you checkout my Classroom Decorating Board or my Classroom Wall Board you will find a lot of ideas. Here is one for the how office that I particularly like. Wouldn't something like this be amazing behind a teacher's desk? Yea... I thought so too!

However, it would never work like this. I found several different ideas for this same type of board and pinned them. Then I came up with an idea that would work! I took 16 14x14 boards to create my teacher's bulletin board. I used red and white Seuss fabric to cover the cork boards. And then used chalkboard paint on the magnetic white boards to create this:

Ohhhh! Awwww! Isn't it pretty? Here are some close ups:

I used my cricut to print out vinyl letters for the quotes on the chalk boards. These are motivational. I used people my students should recognize and found things I want them to do. The corkboard will be used for hanging up pictures of my students hard at work. On the chalkboards, I will write the child's name who is living up to the quote. I can also use it to pin sticky notes and other reminders. Or I can use a magnet to hold up a new quote in place of the old.

I have it set up as a square here but I can add or subtract squares, rearrange, etc.. to fit the area I am working in. My sons actually did the lettering for me. They did a great job. 

What we thought was a relatively simple project turned into a GIGANTIC PAIN! I am not sure I will ever do anything like this again. The black boards are still having issues but I am not working on them any more. Only the Yoda square came out perfect. Sigh... I am a perfectionist and this project is still bothering me. I also wanted it to "pop" more. It is also much larger than I envisioned.

Lessons learned:
1 - always sand and wash before painting! This removes unseen greasy residues and primes the boards for painting. Yep... you even have to do this to metal.
2 - you cannot mix brands of spray paint and primer. Different brands can and will interact in unfriendly ways with one another (as one of my boards demonstrates. Grrr!).
3 - spray paint can expire. If there is dust on the can, don't buy it! (similar results to #2)
4 - Kyron has AMAZING customer service. Always buy their brand first! (They sent me knew paint for free and primer after #2)
5 - Test out your idea before jumping in with both feet. It will save you a lot of time.
6 ~ Cutout words in scrapbook paper and place on board where you want them. Remove one by one and replace with vinyl to create final project.
7 ~ A little glitter takes the results from awful to liveable

I really like the 3-D aspects of the pinterest board and may add some more things later to it after it is hung to create this effect. I am also thinking of adding in actual white boards for writing my own messages and reminders. It wouldn't be too hard to add them in. Or to create a few extra corkboards covered in holiday specific fabric to make it seasonal. The ideas are endless. Stay tuned...

~ 8 14x14 cork boards
~ 8 14x14 magnetic white boards
~ 2 yards of fabric
~ Staple gun & Staples
~ Scissors
~ 3 cans Kyron Primer
~ 3 cans Kyron Chalkboard Paint
~ 1 hand sander
~ Sandpaper (600 grit)
~ Cricut
~ 2 packages of vinyl adhesive
~ 5 pages of scrapbook paper
~ Glitter Hairspray

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest: Mrs. McDonald's 4th Grade

Today, I am sharing with you another one of my technology-savvy friends. Technology is here to stay and as teacher's we need to find simple ways to adapt our pencil and paper curriculum to the future needs of our students. Amanda is great at this! She uses simple ideas and techniques that anyone can implement and use. If you want to start using technology but are scared about how.. check out her sight!

Boring, hard, and no fun!

This is how I use to view math when I was in elementary school. There was one teacher that changed my mind about math.

Later when I chose to be a teacher I knew that I wanted to be a teacher that made learning fun, like my own former teacher.  I find many teachers are scared of math. Probably because most people aren't what they would consider good at math or it is their least favorite subject. Today I want to share with you guys a few ways to help make math more fun and interesting for your students.


Okay I know,  manipulatives can be a pain! Having to pull them out and sort it before the lesson, training the students how to use them, and then clean up. It seems like it's so not worth the hassle when you look at the picture in front of you. However, if you were to look at the big picture, manipulatives are a key asset to any true comprehension in math.

It is always best to start with concrete concepts and then move into abstract. The students will then enter looking at the numbers and it will make much more sense to them. It also helps those students who are hands on learners to grasp math concepts.

Lastly, the students love to work with manipulatives. Anytime I pull them out those little eyes light up, and after the lesson I over hear students telling each other how cool the lesson was or how much fun they had! It will take time at the beginning to train your students to know exactly how to handle them, but once they know pulling the manipulatives out will be easier and fun for all!


For your visual learners you should integrate videos into your lesson as much as possible. Most weeks we watch 3-4 videos on whatever concept we are learning. Truly it doesn't take very long, most videos I have my students watch are video clips that are only 3-5 minutes long. Mostly I use them after I have taught the lesson to review in another way what I just taught them. There are many places you can find great educational videos. DiscoveryEd and BrainPop are great places, but they require a paid membership. For free videos I use you tube and teacher tube.

If youtube is blocked in our classroom watch this video:


Kids LOVE games! So why not include something they love to math to help make math more fun! There are the old and true games of around the world and multiplication bingo, but I like for small groups of students to play games without me having to lead them. Thats where math center type games come into play.

My particular favorite are matching games. I make most of my games, but have found several math games online for a price and for free. It's a matter of taking the time to look for what you want. I incorporate this mostly with my early finishers. I also find something that goes along with my lessons. For example if the chapter I am teaching is about division than the games the students play would be about decimals. It's an extension of the lesson and it makes learning more fun!  


I love students to work together in math! Having students teach their neighbor and work together on a problem is so rewarding for me and for the students. I usually incorporate this in every lesson. The students always have a worksheet that is front and back. The front side we do together and the backside is independent work. I mix up how they work together often though. One day they will complete the front of the sheet as a group, the next day they complete the front alone then share with their neighbor what they got.

My rule is that if they get different answers they have to explain how they got their answer. Having them explain the process to the other student usually helps that student see where they messed up if they got it wrong. I then go over all the question with the class together. Another way I incorporate groups is by using student white boards. Each group of three students has one white board and marker. One student is the writer and the other students have to help solve the problem. The students take turns being the writer. I truly hope this has given you some ideas of how to make math more interesting for your students. Now for the freebie. Here is a division math game that you can use for your early finishers!

Click here to get it! I hope you enjoy!

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guest: Buzzin' with Ms. B

What do you do on those days that have just been too long and you need to sit back and relax? For me, I go blog stalking and head off to some of my favorite sites for some much needed comic relief!

Chrissy is hilarious! I can relate to her daily adventures in third grade, the things her kids say and do crack me up! I love how her personality comes shining through in every post. So grab a glass of wine (Chrissy's favorite) or a Chocolate Monkey (mine) and curly up in your favorite spot and read... I promise! It will make you feel better.

This is Chrissy from Buzzing with Ms. B and I'm a guest blogger today! woooo fancy

I hope you're not too tired of hearing about test review. I'm going to try to make it entertaining for you. Just know that, with my kids, there is no such thing as a boring day. They are very quotable. I would kill for a boring day.

Right about now, if you're like me, you're either just about to take The Test or you've just finished The Test. Reviewing for The Test is a bear. 
A bear?! my kids would shout. What bear?! 

That's how literal they are, which is why reviewing for The Test is a challenge. The day before The Test (Monday), I tried to plan several activities I thought would be easy and fun. I should have known better.

One activity I purchased from TPT was designed for K-2 so I thought it would be a breeze and more fun than rigorous. It was a Drawing Conclusions Jeopardy Game, and it looked cute and simple! 
It should have been. Keep in mind, my kids got tangled in a kite on Kite Day, (You can click there for more details on that adventure) so needless to say, even a simple jeopardy game is full of surprises. 

One card included clues such as "An animal that swings through trees with its tail, lives in the jungle."
Our answer: Squirrel!

Well, yeah! Of course squirrels live in the jungle and swing through the trees with their tails. 

Another: "A type of food that grows on a tree, blends in with carrots and pumpkins, and is tasty squeezed into juice for breakfast."

It must be...Watermelon!

Hmmm.... that's a fancy watermelon.

My favorite: "A kind of job: I make you sit in a special chair, use special tools like brushes and picks, and you see me when your teeth hurt."

Wow. We should bring in the tooth fairy for career day, cause that sounds like an awesome job. 

Needless to say, we laughed and laughed and laughed and got very little review done during that time. But we did review a lot with the freebie I'm sharing with you today. 

We spent a lot of time this year working with a variety of texts in different genre. Students developed their skills over time, identifying different characteristics of the different genre as well as the author's purposes for writing each one. To review in a fun and simple way, I put together a sorting activity (I love sorting activities. They're simple, fun, and give you opportunities to talk about characteristics and differentiate between ideas). 

The first page of the freebie is a three-columned chart with spaces for Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. Students have to sort through the cards on the second page for the author's purpose of each one, and the characteristics. 

Grab the freebie at TPT

Also, in case you missed it, grab this sorting activity for problem solving keywords; part of my Problem Solving Activity Pack. Another great way to review.

Grab this sort at TPT!

And check me out at home:  Buzzing with Ms. B

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Guest: Eberopolis - 6 Tips for iPads in the Classroom

One of the things I love about designing blogs with Erika is that I am sometimes the first to discover new blogs! Okay, okay...  I was number 2 behind a bunch of anonymous people. Anywho... When I was working with Alison on her blog design, I kept sneaking over to her site (shhh! don't tell Erika) to read all that she had posted.

I read every post. I learned so much! Alison is amazing so I just HAD to invite her over so I can read more! I do have to warn you all.... she has a technology-based classroom. Paid for buy her school district. You will be jealous and want to move to Georgia to work with Alison.

Okay... you have been warned!
Read if you dare!
Just don't drool on the computer screen!!

Hi there! My name is Alison and write over at Eberopolis: Teaching Reading and Writing with Technology. I'm thrilled that Misty has invited me to share with you today, and I hope you'll consider visiting me over at Eberopolis.

I teach fourth grade in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, and I am incredibly fortunate because I was chosen by my district to pilot 1:1 iPads in my classroom this year. Can you believe it? I have an iPad for every student! It's been an amazing experience, but it's been quite a learning experience, too. I share some of the things I've learned about it over at Eberopolis, but today, I want to share with you some tips for introducing any type of new technology in the classroom -- whether it's available as one-per-student or one-per-classroom.

1. Create some clear ground rules.
At the beginning of the year, I sat down with some of the tech people from my district and brainstormed what some of the problems might be and what rules needed to be considered. With that blueprint in mind, I then met with my students and had them collaborate to develop some of their own rules and ideas for how the iPads should be used. They had some great ideas, and whenever I felt like they weren't addressing an issue that needed to be covered, I just steered the conversation with some hypothetical situations. Eventually they were able to develop all of the rules I felt we needed before I even let them touch their individual iPads. (You can read about our rules here.)

2. Consider logical consequences.
Typically students are very interested in using technology, so in my experience, they haven't abused the privilege much. When they have, it's usually that they're playing on websites or apps that aren't related to their assignment. As a class, we agreed that a logical consequence of not using the iPad appropriately would be that the student lost their iPad privilege for the activity or a portion of it. They could either follow along on another student's iPad, or they could do an alternate assignment. Similarly, when a student accidentally knocks an iPad off the table and cracks the screen (which I have witnessed happen twice this year despite our very best efforts to be careful with them), I have the student take the iPad down to the media center, explain what he/she did, and ask how they can make amends. In both of these situations, I try to connect the consequence to the technology, and it helps to make students more cautious and aware.

3. Have a backup plan.
I can't begin to tell you how many times I've had glitches for one reason or another. Maybe the wifi goes down or an update freezes the device or a website isn't compatible with the device. If that's the case, you'll want to have another way to teach the content.

4. Give time to explore and play.
Technology can be so much fun to use in the classroom, and it can definitely engage your students. Before you ask students to use the tool for an assignment, however, I think it's important to give them an opportunity to explore and play. In my experience, students are so excited just to be using the device the first time around that they really can't focus on the learning anyway. And giving them that freedom to explore and play will get some of that excitement out of their system, making them easier to manage later on because they won't be as tempted to get off task.

5. Develop common vocabulary.
Take some time to identify buttons, features, and actions, and develop a common vocabulary with your students to describe them. This is another time-saver because it will make it easier for you to communicate directions if everyone is using the same terms.

6. Remember it's just a tool.
As great as many technology tools are for reinforcing and extending skills, they're no replacement for having a teacher interact with students. Even if it gives feedback, it won't be as meaningful or helpful as what you can do working with a child. Technology resources are just another means of delivering content, and you'll need to figure out the best ways to use them. Without some careful thought and planning, they can become a more modern version of a boring worksheet, and that's obviously not the outcome you want. Take some time to explore and play with the tool yourself so you can see how it will best fit in your content instruction.

I hope that you have fun incorporating technology in your classroom, and I'd love to hear about your experiences over at Eberopolis. Before I go, though, I want to share with you a classroom freebie that I created in case you get to use iPads with your students.

This file has some general information about how to use iPads as well as a full page of tips and tricks that will work on an iPad 2 or newer. The bulk of the file, however, is materials you can use with your students to create a common vocabulary for all of the buttons, toolbars, and gestures. You can either go with the terms I've suggested in the file (based on what we've done in my class), or you can develop your own. There are color and blackline versions of the activities, and ones that are pre-labeled or that the students can label themselves.

In my class, students had to earn an "iPad operator's license" before I gave them their own iPad at the beginning of the year. You could use the unlabeled version as an assessment that students need to pass before they get their license.

To get your copy of the freebie, visit my TpT store or click on the images from the file above.

Thanks again to Misty for letting me share with you today, and I hope you'll come and visit me in Eberopolis

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Guest: Ramblings of a 5th Grade Teacher

WOW! Did you see that I am 299 followers??! I may have to do another giveaway soon. Thank you all so much for reading my blog and leaving me comments. I know that it is because of each of you that I will be a stronger teacher. I just can't express my gratitude enough to you!

Today, I want to introduce you to Ms. M. She is new to the teaching blog village and relatively unknown. I am telling ya people you are missing out! She has some of the most unique ideas I have seen. Have you seen the biography bottle buddy on Pinterest... yep, it is THAT Ms. M who is joining us today. She has great ideas, a sarcastic wit, and no clean laundry. Ahhh... sounds like home.

Uhh...hello?...Is this microphone on?....

Living in my own little blog world, I have been able to share my rambling thoughts and ideas without too much worry of who would be reading my blog. (Ok, who am I kidding? Those who blog know the truth!)  Then along come Misty's great offer of doing a guest post and all rambling educator style thoughts shrank to the background and the big worry that I'd create the post that no one was interested in reading popped up front.  

I laid awake last night pondering, wording, revising, and finally coming up with..... nothing profound.  It was then that I decided to take my own advice to my students and be myself. Hmm...novel thought Mrs. M.  Be yourself.

Being myself, I can share that...

I started my blog, The Ramblings of a Fifth Grade Teacher  as more of an experiment to stay in touch with my school parents, but it has evolved and become a true passion for sharing ideas and ramblings about the career I love.  I seriously need a bumper sticker. I heart my blog. 

I am a 5th grade teacher from Wyoming, who enjoys my own sharp and sarcastic wit (even if no one else appreciates it). In fact I remind the class how lucky they are to be in my class, and I know they agree because they give me the universal sign of agreement...the eye roll and deep sigh. Yup, they enjoy my style!

Speaking of style, I have no fashion style.  I am the goofy dressed teacher, but that is ok because I can focus on teaching instead of worrying about my pinched toes or trying to sit in a group with a skirt. 

I do a mean version of the sprinkler dance move when I need to get my students up and moving.

Most day in my classroom you'll finding me combining my degree in Special Ed and my former work experience with our Parks and Rec to create differentiated instrution that fits kinetic, tactile, and auditory learners.

Today I want to share with you a freebie that I have created out of a desire to have my students spread their reading wings and get out of the mainstream genre rut.   In my classroom everything has a purpose, and if we can have fun doing it, even better. (Has anyone noticed that when you add a game word to any activity, it is much more exciting?)

 available at my teacherspayteachers store
For my freebie today, I have included a Genre Bingo template and a Reading Log.  The reading log is not the typical fill in the title and amount of time read, but includes practice of author's purpose, using evidence to support thinking, etc. 

I created and saved the format so that you can adapt as needed.  (Our students need a background with editorials, propoganda, and how to's for our district/state assessments, but I realize that may not be a focus your students need. Oh yes...they can even use their new schema on those genres for real life too! Shocking! : D

Thank you for letting me share a little snippet of my classroom, and I hope you enjoyed my ramblings.  Here is to the weeks before summer being productice, positive, and always about the students!  Have a great week.


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Monday, April 23, 2012

Empire of Night

Vampirates Series Book 5
Empire of Night
by Justin Somper

 Reading Level: 5.0 ~ Genre: Fantasy
Chapters 45 ~ Pages 490

This book starts off with Connor receiving a note from his father Sidorio (I know! I still can't get over that one!) regarding three gifts that he is presenting to him. Connor is to be the heir to his empire after all Sidorio is King of the Vampirates, or so he claims. 

Flashback: Sidorio is standing on the beach holding the head of his decapitated wife but she starts to speak! Sidorio takes her head back to her body while still reeling from the information that his children are alive! Lady Lockwook and Sidorio head off for their honeymoon to discuss world domination. 

They decide to invite the twins, Connor and Grace, to stay with them. To give them a chance to know their father and stepmother. Both eventually accept but they go as spies. Connor is given the job to get intel and send it back to the Pirate Federation. Meanwhile, Cheng Li, Jacoby, and Jasmine work on perfecting the weapons to use to destroy the rebel Vampirates. 

Grace is spying for the Nocturnals formerly known as the Vampirates but since the Pirate Federation is determined to destroy all Vampirates they wanted to distinguish themselves. Lorcan and Grace are finally in love! But only to be separated to prepare for the war ahead. 

Grace finds herself on board her stepmother's ship and being courted by Johnny! Say it isn't so but it is... she kissed him! She dreamed of kissing him. Doesn't she realize he is the bad guy? Oh yes, she does... she feels guilty too! And she should! She is also being feed blood... she just doesn't know it yet. So is Connor. 

Speaking of Connor... he feel in love with Jasmine! Who is suppose to be dating Jacoby but during a trip to get weapons that all changed. Bo Yin is a stowaway... wait until her dad finds out what she did!

My Opinion
Another great book and only one more left in the series! Whatever will I do once all the books are done?


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Guest: 5th Grade Rocks, 5th Grade Rules

So far, we have heard from some amazing teachers this month! I have learned so much and racked up so many freebies.Today, one of my guests is featured on Bagels and Blogs! Stop by to see who it was.

Plus yesterday I went to the Intermediate Expo which was FAB~U~LOUS! (said in the Grinch voice). I learned so many great things.... but that is a post for another day.

Today, my friend Mimi is here. She is amazing! She has so many great fun ideas. I never knew fifth grade could be so much fun but with Mimi around - it is. I am still drooling over her Peep Show. I did that as motivator awhile back when I was a project manager... amazing fun we had but never thought of it in in a classroom. Oh this is sooooo going on my annual list of fun!

Okay, enough of me talking, its time to here from Mimi!

3 M Olympics, Water/Beach Day, and a Little Bonus 

Hey Y'all!  It's Mimi from 5thGradeRocks, 5thGradeRules

I am so honored and excited to be a guest blogger today here at Think, Wonder, & Teach.  Thanks so much for this awesome opportunity, Misty!  Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a first timer!  :)

I'm currently a fifth grade teacher in the good ol' Commonwealth of Virginia.  I've been teaching for a couple of years (13) and the fire is still burnin'.  :)  My kids refer to me as, "strict, but fun."  See, what they don't realize is that I was a kid too....who tried to get away with everything that they do....and talked as much as they do...and loved boys as much as they do....and wrote as many notes as they do.....and put gum under my tongue in hopes that my teacher wouldn't see, just as much as they do.  To me, this is an advantage.  To them, I'm pretty sure they see it as a disadvantage.  Muhaha! 

Anyway, I make funny faces, tell jokes, make noises, jump up and down....whatever it takes to get their attention!!!  Pretty much, if they are bored, so am I! So, how does Mimi keep from getting bored, you might ask?  (Just play along)

THE 3 M Olympics

I've recently had the most wonderful student teacher take over my class.  With her time coming to an end, I'm having to take back some responsibilities.  Having fifth graders, I knew my debut back into the class had to be a good one.  With the 2012 Summer Olympics coming up, what better way to make them happy than to take them outside and get that blood pumping...all the while, doing math! 

 Mean, median, mode, and range aren't really hard for kids to understand, they are just hard to differentiate. 

I teach my children that your MEAN (average) old teacher makes you add up ALL of the data and divide it by however many numbers were added. 

We refer to the MEDIAN as the middle of our data, just like the middle of the road (I always show a picture of a median or two for my visual learners).

The MOde is the number that shows up the MOst. 

My favorite of them all, the range.  I tell them to think of a park RANGEr.  If there is a bear in the park, the RANGEr would look HIGH and LOW for that bear so that it wouldn't hurt anyone.  Then once he found it, he would call Animal Control and TAKE AWAY the bear.  Poor bear. 

But, I digress...We had five stations:  laps, situps, stair stepper, ball toss, and jump rope.  I divided the class into five teams.  Within each of those teams, the students had to pair up with a partner.  Here is the rotation that I followed:

Each rotation was ten minutes total.   I let the laps station and ball station have all the team members go for ten straight minutes.  I split the other stations into to five minute sessions, switching partners. 

They completed each station and recorded the data for themselves and their partner.  After they had rotated through every station, we came inside and got the rest of the team's data.  I passed out calculators and they found the mean, median, mode, and range of each of the their team's stations. 

It was a huge success! Click here to download The 3M Olympics activity sheet.


With Spring Break out of the way, the end of the year is just around the corner. After all the testing is done it's time to celebrate!  Every year, the last week of school, the fifth graders get to earn WATER/BEACH DAY!

This takes place the last hour and a half of the day.  The kids get to wear their bathing suits to school (under their uniform of course...and no, the uniform doesn't ever come off), flip flops, and sunglasses. We send home a permission slip the same way we would if it was a field trip. 

Oh, and the reason this is at the end of the day is so that we can stick them straight on the bus, soaking wet.  LOL  :)  Make sure you clear this with your principal!  

Beach Day consist of five stations:

1.  Dribble, Dribble, DRENCH- You need a large cup and a bucket of water.  Students sit in a big circle on the grass.  Fill a large cup with water.  Follow the rules of the traditional game Duck, Duck, Goose, BUT instead of tapping the student on the head when you say duck, you dribble a little water on their back. Instead of tapping the student on the head and saying goose, you empty out the remaining contents of the cup on their back and run for your life (not literally, they have to walk fast since they have on flip flops)!  lol  It is soooo much fun! 

2.  Beach Ball Hockey-You need hockey sticks, beach balls, and cones. (you of course can improvise with meter sticks, a chair, and a ball of any sort if need be)  Divide the class into relay teams.  Each team has to go from the starting point, hitting the beach ball with the hockey stick down and around the cone and then back to the starting point.  Easy?  No.  Funny?  YES!

3.  Over Under- You need one big sponge and two buckets filled with water per team.  Divide the class into two straight lines.  Have the student in the front dunk their sponge.  Explain that the first child will pass the sponge backwards over their head, the second child will take the sponge and pass it backwards through their legs, the third child will take the sponge and pass the it backwards over their head and so on.  The person at the end of the line dunks the sponge in their bucket and everyone turns around and faces the other way and repeats.  Whichever team gets the sponge all the way back first is the winner!  Hysterical.  (I'm laughing just thinking about last year!)

4.  Water Volleyball-You need two large sheets and some water balloons.  Divide into two teams of four and stand on opposite sides of the net. Each team holds one sheet (a person at each corner). Place a water balloon in the center of one team's sheet. The idea is to toss the balloon over the net, into the other team's sheet. This can be played with large beach towels and only two teams of two as well!  If you don't have a volleyball net, no worries, just do it without the's still quite hard.

5. Beach Time Relay Race-You need 2 beach chairs and 2 beach bags filled with a towel, sunglasses, and a magazine.  Each team gets to go to the beach in a relay.  They carry the beach chair and bag down to the designated spot.  They put up the beach chair, lay down the towel, put on the sunglasses, and open up the magazine as if they are reading it.  Then pack everything back up and carry it back to the team.  Whichever team gets through everyone first wins!  :)  

Pinterest Inspired BONUS!
I am in love with Pinterest (I mean, who isn't???)!  I find so many cute and fun ideas there and I wanted to share one that I found that just warms my little heart. I made a couple of adjustments and have different fonts, but all you have to do is download, print, cut, glue, and tape it up! Click here. Score!
This is the picture I found on Pinterest.  Sadly it doesn't have a link to give credit where credit is due. 
Well, that's all folks!    If you aren't already a follower, come on over to 5thGradeRocks, 5thGradeRules and check out some other great games, ideas, and freebies.  I'm not always this long-winded, I promise.  LOL  

Play on.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Mystery Box

I tend to run all my ideas, rules, and procedures past my 3rd and 7th grade boys as they are close to my targeted audience and having been in school know what their teachers have done in the past. They also tell me what they do and do not like, no sparing of Mama's feelings are involved in these conversations.

When creating a management plan, my oldest child, aka the teacher's nightmare or the principal's best friend (at least he should be with the amount of time he spends there!),  had to sit through countless hours of "what about this..." To which he says "I would...." and I would become frustrated. Finally, we came up with a compromise and he had an idea that I found simply brilliant.


Introducing... the mystery box! Isn't it cute? I made the box myself with some black spray paint and my Cricut. In the picture is also one of my shoe boxes with the pretty red lid (I warned ya about the matching!) filled with red raffle-tickets and my kitchen counters.

Most of the rewards I came up with my son decided would be boring after awhile as you always get the same thing. He wanted something new and exciting. If it was a mystery prize, he would have to try for it as it might be something really good. He suggested I do things like no homework passes, a candy bar or soda, treasure box toy, extra time on the computer, extra points pass, lunch with the teacher, and then he said to throw in a few big prizes to keep the kids guessing... a free book from scholastic, a Lego set, or a football. Depending upon the amount of entries, I would draw 1-2 students that week to win the grand prize.

I use a clip chart for classroom management; there is an opportunity every day to win 1-2 raffle tickets depending upon the students behavior. At the beginning of the school year, I would bring in a bunch of different prizes to show the students some of the things they could win but not everything. I would check Dollar Tree often for items to include. I know I have seen lots of puzzles, crayola sets, and some other "bigger items" that could be used for my big prizes. At the most, it will cost me $1-$2 a week.

After seeing the box, my son also suggested hiding things inside it and allowing the students to guess what it was. This might be a fun way to introduce new units. What would you use the mystery box for?

~ Cardboard box ($3 at Hobby Lobby)
~ Black Spray Paint
~ White Vinyl Paper for Cricut
~ Clear Lacquer
~ Plastic Shoe Box (Dollar Tree)
~ Raffle Tickets (Dollar Tree)
~ Prizes

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Guest: 3rd Grade Thoughts

Our next featured teacher is Stephanie from 3rd Grade thoughts. Stephanie incorporates a lot of whole brain teaching techniques and strategies into her lesson plans. This is an area that I have been wanting to learn more about and plan to fit in a few books on this topic soon!

Hi there! I am Stephanie from 3rd Grade Thoughts and I am so incredibly excited to be featured over here on Think, Wonder, & Teach!

I’m not sure about you, but it feels like the end of the year is going to be here before we know it! The end of each school year is bittersweet for me—although I love my summer break, I am always sad to say goodbye to my group of students who have been my little buddies for nine months straight and have grown up before my eyes in so many ways.

Today, I would like to share a wonderful activity that I have done with both fifth graders and my third graders for the past seven years. This was introduced to me by my mentor teacher and has stuck because it was so personal, thoughtful, and best of all, easy! It is the “Smile File”!

This works particularly well with older grades and only requires this freebie cover and some copy paper cut into fourths, like this:
I always like to use different colors of copy paper, just to make it fun and happy!

Each student makes an envelope from the cover by folding it back and stapling, gluing, or taping the sides. Have them (or you) write their name on the line. The only other supplies are a pencil or pen and the tiny pieces of copy paper. Each child will need as many pieces as there are students in class.

Set aside a nice chunk of time for your kids to work on this, or split it up over the last week of school. I usually do the last day of school and we are able to get it done in the morning with some relaxing music in the background.

You can split up the directions into as many parts as you need (my 3rd graders need it spelled out a lot more explicitly than my 5th graders did), but the gist of the activity is that everyone will write a sentence or two (a compliment, a memory, why it was nice having them in class) to each person in the class and sign their name. They will then slip the paper into the student’s Smile File and repeat the process around the room.

Before we begin, I make a chart about some nice notes we could write and leave that posted for those students who may have trouble thinking of specifics for each student. I will also write my Smile Files in advance and put them in the envelopes lickety-split so I can hang out near my kiddos who need a bit more support with writing.

After all of the notes have been written and stuffed into the envelopes, we head outside for recess, come back inside, find a comfy spot in the room and begin to read these notes in our own envelopes. It is always so wonderful to see the loads of smiles that fill our room and hear the occasional giggle or two.

It’s also special, as a teacher, to collect your own Smile File and keep these little mementos from your year. It does not take up any space or clutter and can be a little souvenir of your yearlong journey together.

Feel free to adjust this activity however you’d like and I would love to hear all about how you used it and other end-of-year traditions you have! Stop by my TpT store to grab this freebie and thanks so much for having me here on Think, Wonder, & Teach!

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