Monday, August 31, 2015

Teaching Friendship with Peanut Butter & Cupcake

I recently discovered the cutest book ever.  Not only is it adorable, it is perfect for teaching students about friendship!  
In the story, Peanut Butter is new to town and doesn't have any friends.  
He attempts to make friends with hamburger, cupcake, egg, meatball, french fries, and soup before he finally meets his best friend...JELLY.  
This book is perfect for talking to kiddos about what characteristics make a good friend, as well as how to make friends, and how to welcome new students.  How amazing are these photographic illustrations?  The author managed to teach an important lesson, while being hilarious and totally creative! 
Create an anchor chart about the characteristics of a good friend.  
I created a FREEBIE to go along with my new favorite book.  :)
You'll find two printables where students can brainstorm how to be a good friend.  Additionally, there are three writing activities.  
1.  List 5 ways to make friends
2.  Write about a time when you were a good friend.  Illustrate.
3.  Write about a time when you were NOT a good friend.  How could you have been a better friend?  How did you feel?  How did your friend feel?  
Take a peek.  Click on any of the pictures to download these for FREE.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Five for Friday: August 28, 2015

I'm a hostess for the Mother's Association at my church.  We had our Fall Social on Wednesday night.  The theme was Moms are Superheroes!  I found this adorable superhero aprons on Etsy.  We raffled them off to 3 members who had paid their dues.  Aren't they precious?   I'm thinking they will make great Christmas gifts for my SIL and besties.  
Need some fresh ideas for helping your students master their math facts?  Check out my blog post on the Math Facts Challenge.  
I've gotta share my MOM FAIL moment with y'all.  We celebrated my husband's birthday this past week with a fun pool party!  My husband blows out the candle on his cake.  Without thinking, I hand the candle to my 2 year-old to lick the frosting off.  Which side of the candle do you think he put in his mouth?  OMG.  #momfail
Found Chalkboard Tape & Dry Erase Tape at JoAnn's Fabrics the other day!  This will make labeling EVERYTHING so much easier.  So fun! 
Controversial and popular topics as of lately is Clip Charts.  I used a similar system in my classroom every year.  I found this great blog post from Herding Kats in Kindergarten about why it's OKAY to use a clip chart, if you're heart is in the right place.  Please take a few minutes to read it as you evaluate your behavior management system.  
Hope y'all have a great weekend!  I'll be busy keeping up with my little superheroes!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fun Facts Website

Awhile back, I came across this awesome website that has silly, crazy, FUN facts!  
Here are a few examples...
This website is perfect for a "brain break" or when you have a couple random minutes in the day.
A couple ways to use the site...
1.  Find a fun fact and then let students GUESS what the answer is...
{You definitely don't need to type the facts up.  Just ask the students, and let them guess aloud!}
(The answer is 600 by the way.  Eek.)

2.  Find a fun fact.  Have students write their guess down on an index card.  Whoever gets it right gets a small prize.  {Use the teacher's pen, sit in the teacher's chair, 5 minutes of computer time, etc.}
{Answer: Elephant}

3.  Read some of the fun facts to your students, and just let them talk and discuss!  You know your kids LOVE to talk.  =)  
Here's a link to the Fun Facts site: http://funny2.com/facts.htm
**Important Note**
Don't project all of the facts for students to see all at once.  This will ruin the fun of it, and some of the "facts" are not suited for kiddos.  

Need more Brain Breaks?
I've got you covered!  
Click on any of the pictures above for 40 printable Brain Break Cards!  
Store them in a pencil box or on a metal ring for easy access.  :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Classroom Newsletters made EASY!

How often do you send out your classroom newsletter?  In the past, I always tried to send it out weekly.  I wanted parents to know what was going on in our classroom every week...but you know what, it was just TOO MUCH to keep up with.  I'd be running around like a maniac on Monday afternoon trying to type up a newsletter to send home in the kids' folders.  Sadly, the newsletter wasn't that great so I'm sure parents tossed it after a quick glance.  

For me, I'd rather send out a GREAT newsletter once a month or once a grading period.  That is so much more manageable, and I can give parents TONS of useful information in this brochure-style newsletter.  It's time to work smarter, not harder ;)  
I love the trifold brochure style because it stands out from all of the other paperwork that gets sent home.  {Inside page, back cover, front cover}
{The inside}
In my newsletter, I include our learning objectives, reminders, & ways parents can help out or donate.  I like to spotlight students for things like perfect attendance, excellent effort, and superstar students.  Also, give a shout out to the volunteer of the month!  The parents like that ;)  
I usually include the Specials Schedule to remind parents because that's so easy to forget.  When I have extra space, I give suggestions for ways to help at home & random fun facts.  The kids get so excited to read the silly facts when they see the newsletters going home.    
In the comments below, let me know what ya think of my new template.  Also, tell me how often you send home a classroom or grade level newsletter.  Don't forget to include your e-mail.  I'll choose a few winners and send you the template for FREE.  :)  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Helping students MASTER Math Facts...The Math Facts Challenge!

Today, I’m going to share with you a fun & exciting way to have students master their math facts!  This is about automaticity/memorization.  Students should already have a wide range of strategies for figuring out their facts.   This is about speed and efficiency.  :)  
Here’s what you need…
Index cards 
Sharpie/Markers
Hole punch
Yarn
Each of your students will make a Math Facts Necklace for the challenge.  You can decide on the number of index cards you want your students to have.  For example, if you are working on the “8’s time table,” each student would have 11 index cards.  
First, have students write a math fact on each index card.  (Pencil before marker!)
Then, hole punch each card. 
Shuffle the cards, and string them on a piece of yarn. 
Add the “Ask Me My Math Facts!” card to the front of each students’ necklace.
Download it for FREE here.
Here's how the challenge works...
Students wear their necklaces all day.  I will randomly ask students a math fact from their necklace.  If they get the answer correct, they get to tear the card off the necklace because it has been mastered.  When all their cards have been removed, they get a small prize.  {Trip to the treasure box, piece of candy, switch seats with a classmate for the day, etc.}

Here’s the beauty of this challenge… When students have extra time, they are constantly flipping through their math facts necklace and practicing their facts!  I’ll see them finish their lunch and then look over their facts.  They are excited to practice because they know they could be asked to answer at any time. 

I usually send out an e-mail blast to the faculty and let them know when my students will be taking the Math Facts Challenge.  Then when they are in the hallway or stopping by the front office on an errand, another adult can ask them a math fact.  If they get it correct, they get to tear off the card!  Everyone gets involved… cafeteria staff, librarian, secretary, principal, diagnostician, EVERYBODY!  One time, the bus driver was asking my kids their math facts when they got on the bus.  They were so delighted!! 

If they are asked a math fact and can’t answer it immediately, I just tell the child to KEEP PRACTICING!  By the end of the week, everybody has finished their math facts challenge and earned a little reward. 

Suggestions…
If you need added accountability, you can have the adult initial the back of the card that is torn off.  (My kids didn’t cheat though.  They were afraid of getting caught I think.  Haha.)
Make 100% sure students leave these on their desk at the end of the day! 
Have students take their necklaces off at specific times of the day (PE & recess).
Set your ground rules on Day 1.  If kids are swinging their necklace around or pulling on a classmate’s necklace, they lose the privilege to participate.  It gets easier each time you do the challenge, and students won’t mess around if you are firm.

Do this randomly throughout the year! (Don’t do it every week or it will lose it’s allure.) 

Let me know how it works in your classroom!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Homework Folders / Take Home Folders

Homework Folders/Take Home Folders (whatever your school calls them) can be a real beat down if you are not organized.  Here is what works for me!
1.  Buy a class set of folders (plus a few extras) that are all the SAME color during the Back to School sales.  If they are super cheap, I'll buy 3 or 4 sets incase I need to replace them after Christmas break/Spring break.
2.  Spend a few cents extra and get the VINYL folders because they will last longer.  
3.  Stick these {FREE} labels in your students' take home / homework folders so there is no confusion on which papers should be returned to school and which papers should be kept at home! 
The left side of the folder is "Return to School"...Things like HOMEWORK pages, field trip forms, forms from the front office, papers that need to be signed, etc.
The right side of the folder is "Keep at Home" {Take it RIGHT home. Haha} This includes graded work, brochures, newsletters, etc.

This system worked with my Kindergarten students! Easy breezy! 

**Print these FREE labels on Avery5162 Labels**
Actual size is 1 1/3" by 4"
I always choose GREEN folders because green means GO...as in GO HOME!  :)  

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Five for Friday on Saturday

We are on family vacation so I lost track of my days this week, so I'm linking up for Five for Friday on Saturday.  =)
I've been so excited about our trip to St. Louis to visit family, but I've been DREADING the flight.  Traveling with kids is exhausting.  Here we are...Baby Jack asleep in my arms.  :)  
We survived, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be.  
{Not pictured- crazy 2 year old, haha}
Have you read this book?  My sister-in-law just gave it to us, and it's so funny.  I love how the author uses real photos with his illustrations.  It's the perfect Back to School book when discussing friendship.  
Look what I found at Target?  I was picking up supplies for my husband's birthday in the party aisle, and I found these awesome chalkboard banners.  They would be so cute on bulletin boards.  They are about 5 feet long, so might need two or three for a long bulletin board.
They had super cute striped and polka-dot banners that were even longer.  They had a zillion cute colors, but I went with teal and green.  Target for the WIN!  :)  
 I'm working on some new spelling activities, and naturally food is involved.  I guarantee every child will get a perfect score on their spelling test when Twizzlers, pretzel sticks, & raisins are used to build their words. 
Find more spelling activities here!  
Need some help getting ready for Meet the Teacher night?  
This trifold brochure is perfect because you can give parents tons of information all on one sheet of paper!  Easy breezy!
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