30 December 2016

Take the Polar Plunge Challenge!

Are you ready to take the plunge? THE POLAR PLUNGE!  

Well, we're not taking a full on body dip into icy water, but an icy hand dunk does just fine to incite squirms of anxiety and squeals of excitement from your students.  We talk about what the Polar Plunge Challenge is, I play this video clip to really gauge their interest, and then explain our activity!

A quick scroll through Pinterest last year, and I knew I had to give the Blubber Glove experiment a try to supplement my science curriculum! I renamed it, "The Polar Plunge Challenge" because what kid doesn't love a challenge?  Basically, it's an engaging lab experiment where students use the scientific method to answer the question, "How do polar bears survive in arctic waters?"  This leads to a hands-on discovery of the arctic animal adaptation of blubber (a thick layer of fat that keeps animals warm in icy waters).  Students are able to compare and contrast the difference in hand plunges into the icy water (one is gloveless, while the other is protected in a blubber glove).

To do this, I prepped the Blubber Gloves (using these directions) beforehand because I wanted to make sure the ice would stay as icy as possible and didn't want to deal with a greasy mess.  Once you've supplied each lab group with a bucket of ice, a blubber glove, and a stopwatch (I don't have enough of the old-school ones, so we just time them using our tablets - far away from the water), let the POLAR PLUNGE CHALLENGE begin!  You can get this fun resource at my store!

29 December 2016

Upper Elementary: Read Picture Books to Determine Theme

Want a fun & hands-on way for your students to access theme?  Well, if you're like me, then you have a plethora of quality picture books available in your class library.  (If not, go raid your school library ASAP!)  Why not put that engaging text to good use and in the hands of your students in a meaningful way rather than only utilize it as early finisher silent reading time?  No desire to stand in line at the copy machine?  For me, this activity is a great way to cut down on running copies since the students can easily create their graphic organizer on lined paper!
Teaching the literary skill of Determining Theme through picture books is not a new idea, but putting the picture books in the hands of my students is something new I'm trying out this year.  I don't know why I haven't thought of it before.  (Typically, I just read aloud a cherished text, we discussed the theme, and I called it a day and moved on ...)

For this activity, you can choose to have students work in pairs or independently.  My students are social butterflies so they thrive in partner reading!  As we get more practice with the skill, then they will move to more independent work.

Before setting them free with the picture book (predetermined by me), we review the graphic organizer they will be using.  Students will write the title of the book they read.

I teach at a Thinking Maps school, so we use a one-sided multiflow map.  If you want to save on time, consider purchasing my "Determining Theme" pack filled with what you need to teach theme successfully to your students.  A printable graphic organizer is provided, along with a planning sheet for this picture book activity so you can select which students read each text.
Followers of my blog have free access to a similar planning sheet in Google Drive.

To differentiate for my advanced learners who will finish before time is up, I challenge them to consider another theme the text shows.  As always, they will need to justify why, so they just write a couple of sentences explaining how they inferred the second theme.

 Determining Theme

19 August 2016

Class Olympic Games

This week we've been doing lots related to the Summer Olympic Games!

Students worked in research groups to gather factual and Olympic-related information for their respective countries. Our class is made up of Team Australia, Team Brazil, Team China, Team Great Britain, Team Jamaica, and Team USA. Students synergized to put together Google SLIDE presentations on their country and after teaching the class about what they learned, they demonstrated and hosted an indoor event. The events are our way of celebrating after working hard/getting the job done!

 To kick-off our Class Olympic Games, the class participated in my indoor event first: Finger Flingers! (I found these irresistible toys in the Dollar Spot section of Target.)  Whoever could launch the squishy flinger the farthest, determined the rankings. A member of Team USA clenched the first gold medal by sending his Chicken Flinger the farthest distance in our class! (silver: Jamaica & bronze: Australia) 
Also, Team Great Britain planned out an Obstacle Course event in which Team Brazil earned a gold medal, followed by Team Jamaica with a silver, and Team USA with a bronze.
In keeping with the spirit of the actual Olympics, after each event we hold a Medal Ceremony and play the National Anthem of the country who won gold. Today we were able to pay tribute to both USA and Brazil for their gold wins!
On Tuesday, students had a chance to do "ice skating" in the classroom.
Our class was excited to take part in these events (except not so happy after Tug-of-War) and we look forward to the rest of the week as well as our Closing Ceremonies on Friday where we will honor all students' "Olympic efforts" and participation! 
Check out what other great teachers and their students have been up to this week with Doodle Bugs Teaching linky party:

15 August 2016

Back To School: "Most Wanted" Bulletin

 This is my 3rd year in a row making sure I let my students know that they are the "Most Wanted" kiddos around out of the entire school.  Of course, that's just because I'm biased they're mine for the upcoming year!  Even better, it makes a pretty darn stinking cute Back to School "Most Wanted" Bulletin!
I happened to succumb to the peer pressure of my teaching colleagues and supplied props for my students to take a photo with at "Meet the Teacher" Night!  My teammate who did an "ocean theme" had arm floaties, goggles, a snorkel, a lei, and a beach ball for her students to pose with!  I tend to just stick with a black & white color scheme, so I went with a "Western Outlaw / Bandido" idea since 4th graders study state history and I teach in Arizona!  Luckily, while I was at Goodwill on one of their 50% off Sale Saturdays, I found what I needed (a cowboy hat & a red bandana) for less than $5.  Pretty good deal since it's already given me three class sets of precious photos!
Typically I can't waid to read aloud the book, Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner, which is a favorite 1st day of school tradition of mine because it connects to me in many ways.    I love humor - this always guarantees laughs!  I love singing - there are many festive tunes which require group particiption!  I adore chihuahuas - yes, I own 3, and not to mention Skippy is obsessed with being one!  Finally, I enjoy getting to show off my Spanish-speaking skills and connecting with my students from similar backgrounds!
 After reading, we go through the steps of the writing process for our very first written assignment of the school year!  We discuss what "Most Wanted" qualities means.  Then, we brainstorm a list of Skippy's "Most Wanted" qualities and add them to a bubble map / web.  Next, after I've emphasized we'd like to focus on positive attributes for this assignment, and I've created an example of at least 6 attributes, we're ready to move onto the students listing impressive qualities about themselves!
The two student work samples above are from my very first class I completed this project with.  That year, I found some "aged" looking stationery on clearance at Hobby Lobby, so I just printed the WANTED heading on address label stickers which we put at the top of each page.  Then, I had students publish their final copies on a 4x6 ruled index card.  Each year after that, I haven't had the same luck with finding the right paper, so I decided to make my own printable WANTED posters.  Click below to add the COMPLETE resource to your Back-to-School plans!

Well it's past my bedtime on a Sunday night, so in a muy, muy soft voice, I will whisper: Buenas noches, mis amigas!

14 August 2016

Rio Olympic Torch Craft

To kick-off the new school year and the Summer Olympic Games, I had my students create Rio-inspired Olympic torches using the materials I had on hand in my classroom.  Due to my role as the school's Creative Crafters committee lead, I had leftover purple & silver tissue paper squares from a previous project.  Purple & silver are our school colors but I also feel they coordinated well with this year's torch colors.  I mean, isn't purple a big color used at Brazil's Carnaval / mardi gras masks?

To create this DIY Rio Olympics Torch:

  1. Gather white 8.5 x 11 paper, coloring supplies (markers, crayons or colored pencils), tape, tissue paper squares (for the flame), and a hot glue gun.
  2. With the paper oriented as a portrait, begin to color the torch like this:
  3.  Roll the paper into a cylinder with the mouth slightly wider than the end.
  4. Use tape to hold the shape.
  5. Hot glue tissue paper squares inside the mouth of the torch to represent the Sacred Flame.
Watch the lighting of this year's Olympic Cauldron in Rio here:

13 August 2016

Team USA Olympic Biography Posters

Since the first day of school, August 1st, we've been studying the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.  We started off by learning about the Ancient Olympics with an entertatining TED video, moved into Olympic symbolism and the Modern Games and then ended our first week of school by creating our Rio-inspired Olympic torches to celebrate the Opening Ceremonies later that evening.

This past week, we separated into six work teams of 4 students each to complete country-specific Olympic-related research on Google Slides.  Now, the students are preparing their oral presentations and unique events to demonstrate and hold our own indoor Olympic Games.

During the week of group presentations, we'll move toward our individual study of a certain sport and profile a respective Team USA Olympic Athlete competing in that event.  Naturally, I had to update my Olympian Bio writing posters.  I can't wait to use it this year!
 I am using Simone Biles as my example because she is probably the most well-known among my class.  I have more girls than boys, Michael Phelps would surely be a close second!  I won't allow any of my students to research her as this will be the example I show when explaining the assignment.
 My school is a Leader in Me school, so I'm also teaching my students the Habits - which there are now 8, so I'm having them infer a connection to the 8 Habits while they conduct research, watch video interviews and/or live Olympics footage.

I've also created a list of medal hopefuls at this year's Summer Olympics for Team USA which correspond with specific pages on biography.com and teamusa.org that give athlete profiles.  There are 24 athletes, so each of my students has their very own Olympic Medalist to research.  As far as medal standings go, I really love the aesthetics of the Google Olympics interface.  Very sleek!
Being one of the first products I had ever created for my TpT store back before the London 2012 Olympics, I finally updated this resource and it's better than before!  Check it out below!

21 July 2016

Framable Quotes Fri-YAY freebie!!

 Framable Quotes!!
It feels like floral and watercolor are the latest craze when it comes to graphic imaging.  At least, it really appeals to my demographic (crafter/teacher/lover of all things cute).  Michael's has an entire planner section filled with beautifully covered agendas that share this style.  

As my classroom decorating is now underway, I have decided to add a few touches of FRAMABLE quotes goodness to dress up the room. 
Now more than ever, I think it's important to stress the power of kindness over animosity.  If you watch Ellen, you'll recognize the framable quote as her signature closing as the episode wraps up.  Spread kindness and uplift moods and attitudes with these Framable Quotes!
TIP:  Now thru Saturday 7/23, Michael's has their basic black 8x10 frames currently on sale at 4 for $5.  These inspirational beauties will look great in those classy bargain frames!  
...and without further adieu...
Since it's officially Fri-YAY, I've left my fabulous followers with a fitting freebie.  Click the picture below and right-click to use 'Save Image As..." to download the 8x10 image to your computer for personal use printing!

17 July 2016

oFISHally the EASIEST Student Welcome Gifts (under $10 for all 30 students!)

With more emphasis having to be on redesigning the look of my classroom while trying to appease the Fire Marshal's stringent rules, I have less time for other things ... in this case, what am I going to handout to my new students on Meet the Teacher night?  I <3 LOVE <3 printable labels and found a box of 30 packs of Goldfish on sale at Sam's Club and figured I'd go the lazy route this year.
Tip: The flap at the top of the bag seems to be the perfect height for an address label to be attached.  Literally, this whole process must have been 5 minutes and no salty fingers this year. BONUS!!  If you're interested in the printable labels template, download it by clicking the image below.
Fonts I Used: Felt, Elephants in Cherry Trees
Make sure these are installed on your computer if you want the labels to look the same as pictured.
As an alternative to the lazy route, a few years ago I posted about my Goldfish filled Ziploc snack-sized bags to give away as lil' goodies when welcoming students at Meet the Teacher Night.  (This was before I even knew these individually packaged snacks existed in bulk.)
If you're interested in learning more about how I created these, then click here.

06 July 2016

Burlap & Glitter, What Could Be Better?

This year I will be revamping the look of my classroom and since I'm such a fan of shabby chic and coastal decor at home, I thought it might as well be time to transform my room too!  Apparently the fire marshal has enforced some new rules & the good ol' days are over, so I'm forcefully happily changing.

Gone are the days of ceiling to floor fabric to cover the drab gray walls.  In fact, fabric is FORBIDDEN!  I'm not lying when I say all the teachers at my school have invested hundreds of dollars into fabric to beautify their rooms.  What a tragic heap of fabric our floors will be covered in when we're set to go back to remove it all before the new school year begins!

Needless to say, I am on a mission to beautify my classroom walls, under these terms:
*only 50% of the wall can be covered with teaching material and posters
*nothing can be hung higher than 18 inches from the ceiling
*no paper can be used to cover walls unless its specifically "flame-retardant"
*praying it can be done!

My Fire Marshal Misery can be Your Victory since I've been playing with a Burlap & Glitter INSPIRATIONAL quote poster set.  I've included 8 inspirational quotes each set on silver, turquoise, pink and violet glitter frames.  

You can see that many of my motivational messages come from Kid President.  I love him and I know my incoming fourth graders will too, especially if last year's group is any indication.

[download information below]
Click the image below to be taken to my store where this resource is featured.  Once there, click the green preview button and you will have your Kid President Quote freebie.

As I leave you, I am striving to remember "You can't be sad when you're holding a cupcake!" because Kid President makes an awful lot of sense.  Just have to make sure to bring some cupcakes along with to my classroom as the Operation Satisfy Fire Marshal Project begins.

Take care and have a cupcake! :)

17 April 2016

Inspiring Leaders with Leadergram! (Leader in Me Bulletin Board)

Update 8-13-2016: I just made my Leadergram Bulletin Board resource available for download here.  It will be sure to add plenty of leadership swag to your class!
In addition to the Leadergram board set, you'll also be able to decorate with banners like me! 

* Original Post * 
 This is my 4th year teaching at a Leader in Me school.  Yet, this was the first year I've really embraced and explicitly taught Habit 8: Find Your Voice, and Inspire Others to Find Theirs.

While working on growing students' inner voices, I had an epiphany to connect our study of "Leaders of Change" with student artwork and/or photos displayed in an Instagram-style.   POOF!  Leadergram was born!!

 To prep, all I did was gather tagboard (the only cardstock I had on hand in the classroom) and then I cut them into squares.  Since my tagboard was only 9 inches wide, I had to cut 4.5x4.5 squares.
 Next, I posed the question to students:  What do you think "Leaders of Change" look like?  I emphasized there is no one "right" or "wrong" response because our earlier discussions have solidified the idea that anyone can be a leader.
 Some students drew ordinary kids helping out.  The student above connected to the text we're currently reading, The Hope Chest.  This story focuses on the issue of women not having an equal right to vote in America until 1920, so my artistically-talented student drew a Suffragist in action.
 Others took a traditional approach and represented an American hero as a "Leader of Change!"  Two weeks later, the students and I were ready to update our Leadergram board with a new post.  This time they had to illustrate a motivational quote that would inspire them to become a "Leader of Change."
 First, we watched a couple of Kid President videos calling the world into action.  Kid President is hilarious and my class just loves him! Then, we brainstormed a list of quotes that sparked a desire to make a positive change.  I shared how Mahatma Gandhi's quote, "Be the change you wish to see in this world," really resonated with me because it puts the purpose of life in perspective for me.
For our second post, I experimented with lined notebook paper because I find drawings made by children look really endearing on lined paper for whatever reason.  And I figured, lines couldn't hurt if they would need to write inspirational quotes, anyway!.