Thursday, December 19, 2013

Clean Desk Reindeer

At Thanksgiving I posted about the Clean Desk Turkey....well, apparently the Clean Desk Reindeer was a LITTLE bit busier than the Turkey because he didn't leave notes this time, just treats at the end of the week!  This is definitely not the best picture ever, but you can mostly see 8 brown reindeer noses (Whoopers) and 1 red reindeer nose (Jelly Belly cheery thingy).  You could fill the bags with anything....M&Ms, Hershey kisses, stickers or mini erasers (if you aren't allowed to do food) get the idea!

FREEBIE ALERT: To download the bag toppers, click HERE
If you want step-by-step directions how to make the bags,
see my Thanksgiving post by clicking HERE!

What will my next treat bags be you ask? 
Why I do believe we'll be having a Clean Desk Snowman visit our classroom!  And of course, we'll have some other snowman treats, too!  Stay tuned!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Bulletin Boards

This first picture continues to amaze me!  I was going to be out for the afternoon so I decided to leave a little art project for the end of the day.  I left paper with ornaments drawn on them, yarn, fancy scissors, decorative paper, sequins, etc.  I had put up the black paper and red border, and told them they could hang their ornaments themselves.  When I came in the next day I was astonished how great the board looked!  They did such a nice job and were so creative with their designs!

Idea from:

This is our bulletin board out in the hallway.

Craftivity found at:

It's a two part board.  The top part has Christmas trees that they wrote analogies on.  They came up with analogies and then write them on the ornaments.  For example read:words::count:numbers.

The bottom part of the board has Christmas presents.  Students cut out verbs and sorted them as past or present verbs.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Time

It's Thanksgiving far my favorite holiday of the year!  There's no gift exchanging, no stress....just quality time spent with those you love, being thankful for everything you have...and did I mention there might be some yummy food, too?! 

This year in my classroom I had some fun with the "Clean Desk Turkey".  For the most part my students keep their desks neat and tidy, but there's always a little room for improvement.  For about a week before Thanksgiving, every time my students went some place the Clean Desk Turkey stopped by and found a desk or two to leave a little note on.  It looked like this:

To get a sheet of the Clean Desk Turkeys....
just click on the picture above!

I told them that the Clean Desk Turkey wanted me to be sure to tell them to leave the note on their desks.  They wanted to know why....I acted all mysterious and said I didn't know why.  Before I knew it desks were looking nice and neat.  Things were put away when they were done using was great!  By the end of the week most everyone in the class had little notes on their desks.  We had school the Monday and Tuesday before break, and by the end of Tuesday everyone ended up having tidy desks and a note on their desk.  We have PE last thing in the day, so while they were gone, the Clean Desk Turkey visited and left them little treats.  They looked like this:

I use these treat bags frequently for different things...for my own children's teachers, for my own children's classmates, my students, my co-workers, my husband's employees...just about anyone!  I love them because you can vary the size of the bag, just by stapling them lower or higher!  Here's how to make them:

The first trick is to get bags that can close.  I actually get mine in the jewelry department at our local craft shop.  My favorite size are 3" X 4", but any size will work.  I think I pay about $3.50 for 100 bags.


Then I simply staple my bag topper on the opposite end of the zipper closure.  By doing this I can get them all ready to go ahead of time and then just fill them a day or two before I want to hand them out.

In the next two pictures you can see how by changing where I staple them I can make the filling area bigger or smaller....(in case it's hard to tell - the first one is smaller, the second one is almost twice as big...same exact size bag!).

Here are some of the other treat bags I did this year for Thanksgiving.  I also have them for Halloween and Christmas...and plan on making ones for other Holidays as they come up, too!

To purchase these treat bag toppers, please
visit my
TeachersPayTeachers store!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Turkeys on the Run!

It's Thanksgiving time - every turkey's worst nightmare!  But our turkeys are super smart and disguised themselves so they won't be found this Thanksgiving! 
But just in case that doesn't work....
Our turkeys are using their newly gained persuasive techniques to persuade people not to eat turkey for Thanksgiving this year!


I used the following two products from TeachersPayTeachers for the Turkey craftivity:

Just Say NO to Turkey
Don't Eat the Turkey

Monday, November 18, 2013

Persuasive Writing

Let me first start out by saying (and I'm sure I've said it plenty of times before) I LOVE LOVE LOVE using pictures books and mini lessons to teach reading!  It never ceases to amaze me how many of my students enjoy reading picture books  (or having picture books read to them) , yet so few of them do it!  I guess that's lucky for me because they are so well behaved any time I read to them. I truly have no behavior issues whenever I read a picture book!  So there's bonus #1!! 
I love teaching persuasion!  I really do!  You should teach persuasion, too!  It's fun!  It's exciting!  Everyone is doing it....oh wait, I think I got a little off track there! kick off the unit I usually start by reading of Hey, Little Ant.  After I read the book, and before we discuss it, we complete a little questionnaire about the book...then we discuss it as a whole group.
FREEBIE ALERT: Click on the handout to download a copy of it!
I probably stole borrowed the questions from something I saw online, but darned if I can figure out from where (if they're your questions just let me know and I'll be happy to give you credit!).  I added the ant font and the little frame because hey, it's cute and who says fifth graders don't like cute?!  I also like to play a video on youtube of a couple performing the book for a bunch of kids.  You can watch the video by clicking HERE.
From there I go on to introduce some of the ways authors use persuasion (testimonial, bandwagon, emotional appeal, repetition, slogans, etc.). We create an anchor chart and then identify the different methods used in Hey, Little Ant
The next day we read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.  Before we read the story we review our anchor chart and I ask students to be considering the different types of persuasion used in the story.  I really enjoy reading this book to my students!  After we read the story, and again before we discuss it, I ask my students to decide...

They not only need to decide if they believe the wolf or pigs, but  they have to come up with a couple of reasons WHY!  Once they've done that they complete this cute adorable little house.  I don't have a close up (sorry!) but they cut out a picture of the wolf or the pigs and glue it on the left side of the paper.  Then they write up their reasons (in complete sentences of course!) on the right side.  After they get the writing part done they color the house to represent straw, sticks, or bricks....apparently in one version the wolf has a lot of money and is able to buy purple bricks (or pays someone to paint the purple - I'm undecided! - see top row, middle house!)  Then they cut the houses out and I hang them on the wall, those who believe the wolf's story on the left and those who believed the pigs' story on the right.  I'm thinking I might have been a little TOO convincing when I read the story because as you can see way more students picked the wolf over the pigs.  Funny enough, the three students who were absent that day all picked the pigs after they read the story themselves in a small group.  OOPS!  What can I say, I'm a sucker softie for wolves who treat their grannies so sweetly!  Once this is done, we again discuss the different ways the author used persuasion and the parts of the book (and background knowledge in some cases) that convinced us one way or the other.
After we read this, I put out picture books for students to read in their free time if they so desired.  Here are just a few of versions of the Three Little Pigs that I put out for them.  I was simply amazed at how many versions there are! 
Throughout the unit we also read Can I Keep Him? by Steven Kellogg, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems, Dear Mrs. LaRue Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague, and CLICK, CLACK, MOO Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin.

After each picture book (one per day) we discuss the types of persuasion used and then do some type of follow up activity.

After reading Can I Keep Him? students pick an animal (not one that's in the book) and come up with 5 reasons they should be able to keep the animal, 3 reasons a parent might say NO!, and then 1 response for each parent reason.  They then break into pairs and role play the reasons and responses.
After Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus students write a sequel to the original book.  This year we had Don't Let the Pigeon....Fly the Helicopter, Conduct the Train, Drive the Buggati (expensive sports car for those of you who have no idea like me!)  We then took the 10 sequels and made a class book with them.  They came out fabulously!  I mean best ever!  I provided them with a step-by-step direction (I found it HERE of how to draw the pigeon and off they went!
After Dear Mrs. LaRue students pick one specific letter written from Mrs. Larue to Ike (the dog) and responded (in proper friendly letter form of course!) to her letter as the character of Ike.

After Click, Clack, Moo we completed a cause and effect chart as a whole class.  Then students broke into small groups and selected another book written by Doreen Cronin.  They then compared and contrasted their books by completed a Venn diagram.  Finally each group shared out to the whole class.

From year to year I switch up which books I use, add some in, take some out, etc. but these are the ones we did this year.  As the unit progresses each day I also add new books to our classroom that we won't actually use in class.  I have a special area for books that relate to what we're doing in class at any given time and students know exactly where this area is.  Once in this area they'll find signs like the one below so they know which area of study each book goes with.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Homework Tickets and Reward Coupons

This year I've had a lot of students coming to school each day without their homework completed.  Now mind you, I don't actually give homework to my students.  The only thing they get for homework is any work that was assigned in class that they weren't able to complete during the school day. I can't explain why so many of them aren't getting their work completed in class, never mind as homework. I've never really had this problem with so many students in one year before.  I'm doing things the same, so clearly it's the students changing and not me.  Do you know what that means?  That it's time for ME to change, too!  Just because I've done something in my class for years, and it's worked for years, doesn't mean it's going to work for every class that comes through my doors.  Every class comes with its unique challenges, and apparently this year it's homework completion (and attendance -but don't even get me started on that one!)  So I did some brainstorming with my sweet hubby and have decided to reward those students who come to class with their homework done.  Each day when students come to class, if they have everything down that they should, they get a homework ticket.  They write their name on the back of the ticket, and drop it in our Homework Bucket.  You only get a ticket if you are completely current.  If you were absent and have makeup work, no ticket.  If you have corrections you haven't completed, no homework.  Basically nothing can be outstanding. Here's what the homework ticket looks like (you can click on the image to download the entire page of tickets).

At the end of each week I draw one ticket (sometimes more depending on what I think will work best for that week).  Whichever student gets their name drawn, gets to pick one of our classroom rewards.  I have lots and lots of reward coupons they can pick from.  Here's a small sample...if you'd like to see all of the coupons, I have them up on TeachersPayTeachers.  There are 35 individual rewards and 10 class rewards, plus some blank coupons, too.
Besides homework coupons, the other way to earn a reward coupon is to have your name drawn off our BINGO board.  Our BINGO board has 100 spots.  Once the board is filled we draw to see which student will earn a reward coupon of their choice. Students can get their name on the board for just about anything...showing kindness for another student, finding a vocabulary word in their independent reading books (and being able to define it or use it properly in a sentence), finding a spelling word in their independent reading books (and being able to spell it properly), dressing up for a spirit/color day, and lots more.  I look for reasons to let students sign their name on the board.  We pretty much fill a board every other week or so.  In addition to getting individual names on the board, they can also get 5's (because they're in the fifth grade) on the board.  The earn a 5 by being complimented by another adult in the building, getting 4 checks in PE (a classroom management system our PE teacher uses), working quietly when they are in small groups, etc.  Again, I look for reasons to let them put a 5 up on the board.  If a 5 is selected, then the entire class gets a reward.  Here are what some of the BINGO charts I've used look like...


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Photo-a-Day Challenge September 28th

Ok...Day 28 of the Photo-a-Day Challenge.  I figured I did the first couple of days, so I'll do the last few days!  LOL!  I don't know where the month of September got to!!  Today's word is Fall here are some pictures of Fall Foliage in my home state of Vermont...I sure do miss the beautiful landscapes from back home!



Monday, September 23, 2013

New Products on TeachersPayTeachers

Ok, so here's what I've decided...being a full time mother and teacher leaves very little time for blogging during the school year!  I have the biggest class I've had in the last few years.  I only have 23 kiddos, but last year I had 13 so this is a BIG difference.  Last year's class also had 5/13 students in the Gifted and Talented program, so academically it was a very strong class!  I've also been working really hard to get more products up on TeachersPayTeachers.  There's just something about knowing I've helped another teacher reach their students that really warms my heart!

Here are some of the projects I've completed since school has started...

Properties of Addition and Multiplication Foldable Graphic Organizer

Social Studies Explorers of the New World Foldable Graphic Organizer

States of Matter Foldable Graphic Organizer

Odds and Evens Addition Game

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Photo-a-Day Challenge September 18th

Ok...Day 18 of the Photo-a-Day Challenge.  Today's phrase is Bulletin Board....

Here's the bulletin board that's out in the hallway.  On the first day of school it had soccer balls with all of our subjects and things we would be learning about in each subject.  It also had red letters above all the soccer balls that said, "FIFTH GRADE GOALS", but apparently I never took a picture of the board once I put the title up.  The soccer goal hanging from the ceiling is made out of PVC pipes and a black fishing net.  The soccer ball is an inflatable pool ball.  The kids love to "tap" the ball into the goal.  I really don't mind, but I know it drives some of the other teachers crazy!  I mean if I'm being honest, I hit that ball every time I walk by it and I have pretty good self-control!

During the first week of school students completed pennants about themselves.  I have no idea where these came from, so I can't credit the awesome creator - but they rock! The kids had a great time filling them out.  The one on the left has students drawing a self portrait, their favorite foods and colors, and their hobbies.  The one on the right has them writing about their favorite book over the summer.  
After a few weeks at school, I took down the soccer balls and we put up the pennants.  The first two rows are the "Getting to Know Your Classmates" pennants and the bottom two rows are the pennants with the favorite books.  The picture does not do this board justice!  The kids did a great job on their self portraits - well really the entire project!  I love them!  I always "catch" them out in the hallway reading the board when they are going to or coming back from the restroom/water fountain.

You can't see it in the picture above, but this poster hangs to the right of the bulletin board, matted on blue paper and acts as a key so you know what is being drawn in each shape.  The hexagon is for hobbies, the oval for a self portrait, the heart is for favorite color(s), and the parallelogram is for favorite food(s).
The other bulletin board in my classroom is our AR (Accelerated Reading) bulletin board.  This is always my favorite board to do each year!  Last year's is still my all-time favorite board with our ocean theme, but this one looks pretty darn great, too, if you ask me!  Which you didn't, but we'll just pretend that you did!
Again, pictures just don't do the board justice, but it's a fun board!  The background is boring green paper.  The border is green ribbed - which is special because my late mother passed it down from her classroom when she retired from teaching.  The white lines are actually satin ribbon, which add a little texture to the board.  The "TIME TO A GOOD BOOK" letters are 4" black letters.  The TACKLE letters are 4" white letters glued on footballs.  Those are attached to a clothesline with clothespins for a 3D effect.  I did have some cool sports clothespins that I was going to use, but it was too busy and didn't look great.  The end zones have the school name in 4" blue letters (one of the school's colors) and the school's mascot cut out of black.  I didn't show those here for my students' safety.  Then you have all of my precious students' footballs.  These were given to them at Meet the Teacher night and they brought them back the first day of school.  We laminated them and I move them when students increase their AR points.  Each line is worth 10 points and when they get to the other end zone (100 points), they get a bigger football and their original football stays in the end zone.  Here's a funny story - I had intended to put numbers on the lines, but didn't realize I'd never done that until I was writing this blog post!  Guess what I'll be doing soon?!  The kids' footballs are already zooming across the field...I've even got one on the 80 yard line just a month into school!  Now that's impressive!  To the right of the board are genre posters.  Above the board are adjectives that describe books.  Below the board you can see about half of my picture books.  The shelf goes all the way down the wall.  There are also two shelves of chapter books below that.  All my books are labeled, as are the bins...but that's a post for a whole new day!  Right now we are working on finishing up our football buddies who will be holding a sign that says, "My Reading Goals" instead of "Who Will Win?". 

I got the Football Buddy Craftivity from A Cupcake for the Teacher.  You can check it out at their TeachersPayTeachers store.  It was designed to be used during the Super Bowl, but with just a itsy bitsy tweaking of the form, I made it totally work for me!! 
Thanks for looking/reading!  Have a happy day!