Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Office Staff Appreciation Freebie

We wouldn't make it a minute at my school without our wonderful
office staff.  They are the first responders for all the little ins and outs and 
unexpected events that naturally happen when you work with children.  
They truly are the glue that holds it all together
and we can't thank them enough!

Here's a little way to treat your office staff to lunch, and say 
thanks for all you do!  I attached In-N-Out Burger gift cards to
this fun little tag but a gift card to any favorite lunch spot would do!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Leapin' Life Cycles!

Leapin' life cycles we had fun with these frogs! So far we've learned 
about the life cycles of butterflies, plants, and now frogs. My team 
and I decided we'd use life cycles as the theme for our 
end of year open house and we've been busy thinking of ways 
we can incorporate life cycles across our curriculum. 

We read lots of nonfiction books about frogs and my class wrote 
things they've learned about each stage of the life cycle on
 these lily pad sticky notes.  I drew the shape
then copied it on construction paper.  We used repositionable
glue sticks to turn them into sticky notes. I used clip art
from Scrappin'Doodles for the pictures.

I've been working with my students on how to take notes and determining what 
information is considered important and note worthy.
We watched some video clips on Discovery Education as well as 
on Brain Pop Jr. and students took notes that they would 
later use to write about the frog's life cycle.

One of the things we've talked a lot about is that taking notes means 
writing down important vocabulary, main ideas, and facts rather than 
complete sentences.  This was so tricky for them at first and I'm
so proud of how far they've come!

As a culminating project, we made this
 Frog Life Cycle On A String craft which will be part
of our open house display.

There are two versions of this in the download.  An easy-cut 5-stage cycle
for younger students and a crafty-cut 7 stage cycle. I did a combo of both 
and did a 5-stage crafty-cut since my students are able to cut out 
more elaborate shapes.  Students used their notes to write about each stage 
 in the little lily pad booklets. 

We assembled all the pieces in order on the string glued on some
wiggly eyes (my kids LOVE wiggly eyes!) then added black dots
 to the beads eggs with a Sharpie! Fun, fun, fun!!

Everything tucks into the large lily pad pocket for display and students simply 
pull the string out slowly to reveal each stage!

Here's a little look at the 7-stage version.

If you're looking ideas for your life cycles unit and need some frog fun
click any of the pictures to find this in my TPT shop!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Poetry and Painting and Butterflies, Oh My!

I know many of you are on Spring break this week and I hope you're 
enjoying some time resting and relaxing! 

Our spring life cycle study continues and over the next few weeks we'll
be raising butterflies, learning about the life cycle of frogs and writing poetry!

These little guys sure eat a lot and grow QUICKLY!
We used the little journal that came with our 
caterpillars to record their daily change and growth.

While learning about pollination and the part that insects play in 
the life cycle of plants I came across this fun activity on one of my all-time 
very favorite blogs Hope King's Second Grade Shenanigans.
Hope has so many great ideas and this one is perfect for illustrating how 
butterflies and other insects help to pollinate a plant and 
continue its life cycle.  

Each student had a juice box, Cheetos, and a die cut flower.  
The bright colors and smell attracts the butterfly to a flower and students chose 
the flower color that most appealed to them! 

 As my little butterflies landed on their flowers they used their proboscis
to drink a little of the nectar in their (juice box) flower.  Their tiny little 
butterfly feet (their hands) picked up pollen (by touching their Cheetos). 

Next, our butterflies flew around the room and touched all 
of the other flowers which transferred their pollen 
to each bloom they "landed" on.

Last year we made this Butterfly Life Cycle On A String writing craft for students to
write what they have learned about each stage of a butterfly's life cycle.
This year we'll be making the Frog Life Cycle version.

We used beads, chenille sticks and paper to show each stage then students
wrote about each life cycle stage on leaves.   We attached these in order onto 
a piece of yarn and tucked them into the leaf pocket where the butterfly
lays its eggs and the life cycle begins again.

We tied in our poetry unit by writing haiku and acrostic poems about butterflies.

I added a little challenge to this by telling students that while they were 
writing poetry and creating a mental picture about a butterfly 
they could not actually use the word 'butterfly'.
Students used their journals to work out their poems before writing their final drafts.

We used watercolors to illustrate our poems.

We also wrote acrostic poems and used this format to tell a story. 
I reminded students that each sentence did not need to begin 
with the given letter but rather to tell a story 
using the letters to guide them.  

We'll be wrapping up our frog life cycle learning this week 
so stay tuned for our frog fun!
 Have a great week, friends!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Student Spaces The Desk Fairy Will Love!

Welcome to another Bright Ideas Blog Hop!
I'm joining 150 different bloggers to bring you
tips, tricks and bright ideas you can use in your classroom!

Don't you love those mornings when you walk in to an
 organized classroom with tidy desks and a CLEAN floor?  
We all know that doesn't ALWAYS happen, but HELLO HAPPY when it does!

My students and I consider our classroom our little home away from home 
and I remind them often that one of their jobs is to keep their "room" clean.  Ha!
Here are some ways I've found to help keep my students and
their spaces clean, organized and running smoothly!

Teach your students how to be organized.
Show them how you expect their space to look.

What looks organized to a 7 year old may look like a hot mess to me! 
I teach my class that everything has a home and there is a home for everything. 
And...we need to keep our house tidy because you never know 
when company is going to come! Ha!

Teach your students at the beginning of the year where to keep things
in their desks. We stack our folders and journals on one side with our 
supply boxes on top. The books students are reading go on the other side. 

These go in the middle and one pencil goes in the "pencil tray." 

Find a place for the little stuff.

I make sure each student has a 5" x 7"  size pencil box. I shop the clearance 
aisles and even garage sales to collect these little gems so I always
have a secret stash in my cupboard for students who need one.
All of the "small stuff", crayons, glue sticks, scissors etc.
"live" in the supply box.

Organize on top as well as inside.
As every primary teacher knows, the younger the grade level,
the more "stuff" we AND our students have! Unfortunately,
we need and use EVERY BIT of it!   My desks are arranged in groups we
call teams. Each team has a table box. We keep important odds and ends
students use on a daily basis in these.

Use foam shapes as coasters.

At the beginning and end of our school year, our Arizona temperatures 
can climb well into the 100's. My students often bring frozen or ice filled 
water bottles. I like them to be able to drink water whenever they want to
without leaving their seats, but those frosty water bottles can make 
a BIG SOPPY MESS! Here's a simple solution
I came up with to keep our desks and papers dry....

I use craft foam shapes from Dollar Tree or Michael's on each student's desk.  
Students know that this is where their water bottle lives. Since my teams 
are color coded each table gets the coaster that matches their team color.  
This also serves as a visual for me when calling teams to line up.

Make neatness part of your daily routine.

Each day before dismissal have students do a quick check of their desk and floor 
to make sure everything is tidy and picked up. I make a big fuss over how nice
each team's space looks and what a fresh start they'll have the next morning!

I hope you can use some of these tips to make life run
more smoothly in your classroom!  If you've enjoyed these
bright ideas, I'd love for you to join me on Facebook,
Instagram, or my TPT Store for more great ideas and resources!

Hop on for even more bright ideas from 150 different
bloggers!  Simply browse through the link-up below
and choose a topic/grade level that
interests you!   You can also visit Bright Ideas on Pinterest

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Planting Arrays & A Freebie!

Happy Saturday! I hope you're enjoying warmer weather where you are!
 I thought I'd do a quick post and share a little 
impromptu lesson we did last week.

We're reviewing for state testing and since it's plantin' time
in our classroom and in the fields around my school, 
we planted some arrays of corn!

Some of my students are still struggling with the concept
of rows and columns so we
had a discussion about things that are planted in rows and 
things that are held up with columns.
Being close to so many farms where corn, alfalfa and cotton is grown 
made for some good examples and was a huge help in getting
my kids to connect the horizontal and vertical direction of a row and a column. 


Feel free to grab this image if you can use it to help your students!

I had students roll a die and use yellow cubes to build their cornfields.  
Students "planted" their arrays on grid paper and recorded the 
multiplication problem on their whiteboards.

I had students come up to the board and write the factors and product
 in the multiplication sentence frame.

I added this little game and a recording sheet to our math stations so 
students could practice independently. 

If you have kiddos that need help with this concept, or you just need a little
extra something for your math tubs this week click on the 
picture to download the student page or find it  {HERE}!

You can see a lot more of our plantin' fun...
and yep, another freebie by clicking the picture above!

Happy weekend, friends! I'm headed out with my husband 
for BBQ, coleslaw, and corn on the cob!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

It's Plantin' Time! Writing About Science & A Freebie

Graphic by Melonheadz   Background by The 3am Teacher 
Happy Spring!  I am so enjoying our warm spring temperatures!  
Spring weather means plantin' time so last week during Spring Break I spruced up 
my little reading nook, planted all of my pots and finally moved my 
(very messy) fuscia back outside.

 She really needed to get out of the house and look!
She's already blooming! 

It's almost plantin' time in my classroom too! 
We're gearing up to study life cycles and I wanted to share some
 of the fun plant activities that we do! This is one of my very favorite
units to teach and we incorporate a lot of 
writing and hands on fun! 

We germinate lima beans and start by soaking them to observe the inside of a seed. 

 These large beans are perfect for a close up view of the inner workings 
and labeling the parts of a seed.

Last year I placed one under a document camera and my class 
thought it was the coolest thing ever! 

We'll place our seeds between damp paper towels (with a little squirt 
of hand sanitizer to prevent mold) inside a sandwich bag.  
We check on them every couple of days and record any changes. 

We do several mini labs along the way including answering the question,
"How do leaves help a plant get light?"

We looked at different types of leaves and compare their shape, size 
and outer covering.  We predict which leaf types would help a plant 
get more sunlight. We also ask ourselves, "Can we tell how much light 
a plant needs by the type and shape of leaf it has?"

Next, we went outside and students worked in pairs to use their hands 
as leaves to test their predictions and record their observations.  
We demonstrated how different leaf shapes helped a plant 
to get more or less light.

We did this little cut and paste activity during our literacy centers to help us
understand the causes and effect involved in a plant's life cycle.

During our unit we make several mini books to include in our 
culminating project.

In order to manage our time, I spread this out across the curriculum 
and students do some of these activities during our literacy centers. 
Students research plant facts at the computer center or during our
computer lab time, and do some of the writing
during our writing block.

We used these charts to help us identify the parts of a plant and
to understand the process of photosynthesis.  
You can download a free copy of  these charts{HERE} 

We later wrote about photosynthesis and how a plant makes it's own food
 in  mini books that will go inside of our final flower booklets.

We used yarn to make the roots of our flowers before writing 
about the job of the roots.

Students researched interesting plant facts and included them 
on the back of the flower's petals.

We compiled all of our learning and writing in our flower booklets.
My kiddos worked so hard on these and I love how they turned out!

During our unit we learned how a plant makes it's own food and why a plant's
leaves are green.  For some Friday afternoon art fun we "painted" with 
chlorophyll by doing leaf rubbings.

This is our spring hallway display for our open house with our butterfly haiku and acrostic poetry.

I love to tie in art wherever I can and this year we'll be learning about
 Van Gogh's sunflower painting during our plant unit!

 You can find all of these activities and SO much more in my Life Cycle of Plants unit.

Happy planting friends!