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Get Ready for Back to School in the Summer

Summer is about more than just hanging out at the beach and drinking tasty cocktails. 

You’ll get more done when you take your drink to the computer with you! That’s how you can get better results with your summer – or at least be more prepared for the school year. 

But as we all know we don’t get to hang out at the beach all summer. The truth is, even though we are on summer vacation we are already thinking about the next school year. 

So here are 5 easy ideas that can simplify your path to getting ready for back to school during your summer break. 

# 1. Decide on your Classroom Theme

This is a really important part of your classroom and being an elementary teacher we are always wanting our classroom to have a theme. Even if you stick with your same classroom theme from last year, it’s always fun to add something new to your room. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. There are so many DIY ideas you can do.

My theme is Texans and I have made several fun additions to my classroom. They didn’t cost much and it was fun to do some crafts during the summer. You can read more about it here.

Texans classroom decor

# 2. Obtain Classroom Supplies

This is the time of the year to buy extra supplies that go on sale. It’s always a good idea to have extra pencils, paper, pens, folders, and dry erase markers. I know I had to go into my stash of pencils at the end of the year because my kids ate all of them this year! It’s cheaper to buy them for $.25 in the summer instead of $2 during the school year.

One of my favorite classroom supplies are chalk markers. I’m in a very old school and we still have blackboards. These are great to use on them and make it much cuter.

# 3. Plan your First Week Back

This is a great time to think about what books you want to read to your class the first week of school. The fun icebreakers you want to do with them. Pinterest has some great ideas you can do for classroom building activities and fun get to know you games.

One of my favorite books to read is First Day Jitters. It’s a must have for the first day of school!

# 4. Look at the Curriculum Guides

This is a great time to look at your curriculum guides. If your district outlines your timeline for you this is a great time to see what you are teaching and when. Go through and look at the standards and see what activities you can add to the timeline to be helpful for your students. You can even go make some Pinterest boards for each standard and starting pinning ideas that you would like to do during the school year.

You are more refreshed in the summer and will definitely appreciate having some ideas ready to go when you get to October. It’s no fun trying to look for great activities on character feelings on a Sunday night. I know I’ve been there!

# 5. Get a Sub Folder 

This is a really important one. Make sure you have a sub folder in place for the school year. You never know when you are going to be out for an emergency and can’t make it to school to prepare for a sub. Our school makes it mandatory before the school year even begins.

If you are interested in getting started with free sub plans you can find some here.

Is there anything I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll update the post with the best ideas (and a link crediting you).

 

 

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Fun Math Games for Kids

I know I’m always looking for ways to make math fun and educational at the same time. Every kid learns math a different way. Some learn math concepts with songs, real world scenarios, or with games! I am always looking for fun math games to use while my kids are in stations. It’s awesome when they are playing a game that is educational and fun at the same time.

math games for kids

Here’s a list of 10 math games, including board games, printable games, and DIY games. These math games make math fun to learn. Just click on the headings to learn more.

Multiplication Practice Paperfolding by Kids Activities Blog

By simply folding some paper into cootie catchers, you can actually create an informative math game for students focusing on anything from addition to fractions.

Math Wall Stickers (Reusable!)

Play with math on the walls! This set of reusable wall decals are a great way to turn math into an interactive experience. Play Simon Says with math on the wall! “Simon says show one half.” Love it!!

3D Lego Multiplication Graph via Frugal Fun for Boys

We love Lego, but did you know because of their shape they are great tools for multiplication? This graph will help kids visualize multiplication in three dimensions. This is such a smart idea!

lego-multiplication-1

Numbers & Counting Quiet Cubes Game

This game designed for ages 4-7 uses dice rolls to help teach ABCs, counting and basic addition. The best part is the foam dice are designed to be super duper quiet for a truly peaceful learning experience!

Math Explosion Volcano Game 

With this fascinating game, players are able to customize math facts with a math fact creator so that players of all ages can play for many years to come. Be the first player to explode the volcano by getting your math facts correct!

volcano math game

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Connect Four Bingo Game 

 Everyone loves Bingo, and when you can take a game that’s already fun and turn it into something educational everyone wins. Children will be paying close attention so they can be the first to exclaim BINGO!

Aliens on Vacation multiplication game by Deceptively Educational

This printable board game requires a little setup, but it provides children with a chance to put their math skills to the test to get their alien home from vacation.

Factors and Multiples Games 

Play Monster Mash! A game that helps students understand greatest common factors and lowest common multiples.

factors and multiples game

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Crazy Daisy Multiplication via Deceptively Educational

Looking for something a little more cute? The Crazy Daisy Multiplication printable math game will help kids visualize solutions as they color in a crazy daisy.

Whack It! Place Value Math Game 

 It’s no secret that kids love any game where they can get a little bit physical and give things a good whack, so why not teach math at the same time? This game helps with place values, but can be adjusted for other lessons.

Do you see any games that your kids would love? Let me know which one you are going to try in the comments below.

Talk to you soon!

 

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Beginning Reader- My Daugther

It has been quite a while since I have worked with a beginning reader. For the past several years I have worked with transitional and fluent readers in my 3rd grade classroom. Now I have a beginning reader in my home. My daughter has started Kindergarten this year and I have really enjoyed watching her begin to read. My little girl is definitely the light of my world!beginning readerWhat to use with beginning readers

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this amazing book ABC See, Hear, Do: Learn to Read 55 Words by Stefanie Hohl

This book has such great visuals and my daughter loved the cartoon characters. Her favorite part of the book was doing the movements with the sounds of the letters.

See my beginning reader in action

Here is a video of my daughter reading a part of the book. This was her second time reviewing the sounds and movements with the letters, but this was her first time reading the words.

As you can tell she really caught on quickly with the movements. Just looking at the picture helped her remember the moves. As she was reading the words, if she forgot the movement there was a picture under the letter to help her remember. Stefanie really thought of everything when she was writing this book. My daughter really enjoyed and couldn’t wait to do the next group of sounds the next evening.

As a beginner reader it is sometimes difficult for kids to remember the sounds each letter makes. This book is a great way to add movement and visuals to each letter sound. The only thing I would change is getting her this book earlier!

If you have Kindle Unlimited, this book is free. Check out the link below.

If you want to learn more about the book check out Stefanie’s blog. She has a great video that shows even younger children than my daughter using the book.

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Fun Test Prep- 5 Easy Ideas

Fun test prep that is rigorous can sometimes be difficult to find. Is this the way your students look at you when you start your test prep?

OH NO! This is not what you want to deal with for the next several weeks of reviewing for the state test. I want to share with you FIVE FUN  test prep ideas that have worked well with my students. Hopefully you won’t see this look again.

1.  Scavenger Hunt with Task Cards

Task cards are one of the easiest ways to review for a test. Buy some task cards that are rigorous enough for your state test. In Texas we take the STAAR test. I have bought these awesome task cards from Watson Works ! They are perfect for reviewing all the TEKS we have learned this year. Click on the picture below to check them out.

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With your task cards you can hide them around the classroom or school and have the students go look for each card. My students love doing this! They take a clipboard and work with a buddy going around working out each task card together.

2.  Egg Hunt

You can also use those same task cards and fold them up and put in a plastic egg. If they are too large you can shrink them on the copier. Another idea is to take a reading passage and cut out the questions. You can take the questions and put them in an egg. The students can read the passage and then answer the questions they find in the egg. I like doing this activity outside because it gets the kids outside and moving. I let them work together with a buddy to make it more fun. This was a math test prep scavenger hunt. This was definitely one of my FAVORITE days! We got to go outside, everybody was working, and there wasn’t any fighting. They thought I was a rock star! LOL

3.  Buddy Passages

Another fun test prep idea is done during my small group time. The other students are doing a buddy passages with a partner. They are given markers, an enlarged passage, and enlarged questions already cut out. The kids read each question and show their strategies on the question with one color of marker and then go to the passage and underline with the same color where they found that answer in the passage. They then put the question next to where they found the answer in the passage.

Even with inferencing questions (which we call brain questions) there is usually somewhere in the text that gave them a clue to that answer. With the questions that they can not go back to the text to find the answer, such as author’s purpose, they put the question above the passage. Even though they are still doing a passage, they have fun because they are working with a buddy, they get to use markers, and the paper is huge!

4.  Jenga Review

Using the game Jenga is another way to make the boring test questions fun. I have used this with math review. First I number the Jenga pieces and have a math assessment with that many questions. Next the students are put in teams and 2 students come up at a time to pick a number. Whatever number they pick, I then give them that test question. If they get it right, their team gets a point. If they tower falls, then the game is over and the team with the most points win. There are many ways to use Jenga for test review. Check out Pinterest for more ideas.

 

5.  Jeopardy Review Game

The last fun test prep we do is a Jeopardy style review game. I split the kids into teams of two again and they play against each other answering questions. I have one for reading, math, and writing. They enjoy playing the game and sometimes get very competitive.

If you are interested in these games just click on the pictures below.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope some of these ideas help in making your test prep a little more fun for your kids and bearable for you!

 

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Camp Write Along

It’s that time of the year! Writing test time. Ugh! In Texas the 4th graders have to take the Writing STAAR test. So now it is time to start reviewing for the test. One of the traditions at our school is Camp Write Along. The kids that have been at our school for a while always look forward to it. It really is helpful and you can definitely see a huge growth in the student’s writing.

camp write alongThis is what my room looked like after it was transformed into a campground. There was a tent, cave, campfire, dining area, and teacher table. The kids would rotate through the different areas of the classroom in groups of 4-5 kids.

Camp Write Along lasted 4 days. The kids spend 2 days writing an expository and 2 days working on revising and editing. I’m going to walk you through each day to explain what our camp looked like.

Camp Write Along Day 1- Expository Writing

On the first day of camp all the students meet in the cafeteria to listen to the Camp Coach. He describes the rules of the camp and lets the campers know what they can and cannot due while camping. NO shoes, NO jackets, NO food, and NO restrooms allowed at camp! We sing songs and the students have mail call. Each day they get letters from other students in the school and family members telling them good luck at camp. The Camp Coach then tells the students their prompt for the day- Write about how you are going to survive camp.

After we get back to the classroom  campground the students leave their shoes outside the door and get to writing. I have them divided up into groups and have them rotate through the different areas of camp. If not, they all would want to stay in the tent. They stay at the site for 20 minutes and then rotate to the next site. Each group also comes to the back table to work with me on their writing.

camp write along

Camp Write Along Day 2 & 3- Editing and Revising

Each day we meet in the cafeteria for roll call. We sing songs and listen to the Camp Counselors explain to us the importance of surviving camp. The kids get their mail and then we go back to our campground. On these days they have STAAR test prep pages to practice editing and revising. I continue to meet with them in groups to discuss their answers. We turn off the lights and they work with flashlights. We have trail mix each day. It’s a very laid back atmosphere and the kids LOVE it. The Camp Coach comes around regularly to make sure everyone is following the rules. They have to hide their snacks when he comes in.

writing at camp

Camp Write Along Day 4- Expository Writing

The last day of camp is always the best for the kids. During the morning meeting they learn about how to survive a BEAR ATTACK. They are given the rules and told what they should do if they see a bear while camping. Well of course, wouldn’t you know a bear shows up! He reeks havoc on the place. Furniture gets thrown, confetti eggs get tossed on kids, and shoes get thrown all over the cafeteria. He even throws a bucket of water on one of the kids. It’s definitely and adventure. The kids then learn they will have to write about how to survive if you run into a bear while camping.

camp write along bear

Camp Write Along is always the kid’s favorite memory from 4th grade. I know I was really stressed about the kid’s writing abilities. After the week of camp, the kids really seemed to grow. It was like everything I had taught them finally clicked. It was a lot of work but, I definitely enjoyed it. It was a fun way to prepare the 4th graders for the STAAR writing test.

Also, can I just say I REALLY miss my kids from last year! They were the most amazing class. I taught them for 2 years and we were definitely a family.

camp

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Test Prep Giveaway

test prep giveaway

It’s that time of the year! TESTING SEASON. I don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can get preparing my kids for the STAAR test.

I have teamed up with some great TEXAS teachers to bring you a giveaway for WRITING, SCIENCE, MATH and READING!  We’re also giving away a TPT GIFT CARD!

To get started, just find the subject area below that you are interested in and enter the giveaway. Don’t forget to enter for the TPT GIFT CARD at the bottom. Enter as many subject areas as you would like. The winner will be announced Wednesday, March 1st.

Reading Tools:

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Writing Tools:

writing giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Math Tools:

math giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Science Tools:

science giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giftcard:

test prep giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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DIY Classroom Decor

I’m always looking for some easy DIY classroom decor. Quill has come up with easy ways to “Jazz Up” your classroom. Below you will learn how to make almost anything in your class a chalkboard with chalkboard paint. Maybe you want some easy ideas for storing classroom supplies, scroll down to see what you can do. There are also some directions on how to create crate benches below. Finally make sure to read all the way to the bottom to see how to make some cool tissue paper flowers to spruce up your classroom.

Jazz Up Your Classroom Décor on the Cheap

I hope you found some fun DIY crafts that you can make in your classroom.

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Plan a Christmas Vacation- Math Project

It’s Christmas time and you still need to teach the math standards but your students aren’t focused on learning. All they can think about are the presents they want for the holidays.  What can you do to keep your students engaged with math? Let them plan their Christmas Vacation!

christmas-vacation-kids

This is a fun math activity to do with a group of students. I had groups of 3 to 4 kids work together to plan a Christmas vacation for a friend and themselves. They had a budget of $2500 and had to pick a flight, rent a car, book a hotel, plan activities and meals for their vacation. They had to work together to decide what choices they would have to make to enjoy their vacation. Maybe they would get a nice car but stay in a cheaper hotel. They had to decide if they were going to eat an expensive dinner or choose fast food. They fill out a budget sheet to calculate their choices.

plan-a-christmas-vacation

My students had so much fun doing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and working with money. It is a great lesson on teaching students how to value money and what is important to them. It is also great to see all the students working together.

I would love for you try out this activity for free. Click on the picture below and let your kids plan a Christmas trip to Orlando.

orlando-christmas-cover

If you would like the other 4 cities you can use for planning a Christmas vacation you can buy the product by clicking on the picture below to go to my TPT store.  A teacher that bought this product said, “A great way to keep my students engaged and practicing current skills just days before Winter Break.” Another teacher wrote, “My Students LOVED this!!”

christmas-vacation

Download the freebie and let me know what your students thought in the comments below. Merry Christmas!

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5 Creative Ways to Use Task Cards in the Classroom

Task Cards are a great way to review concepts in your classroom. There are so many ways you can use task cards other than putting them in a work stations.  I want to share with you 5 creative ways you can use task cards in your room that your students are going to love.

#1. Use them as a scavenger hunt

This is one of my favorite way to use task cards. You can put them up in the halls or in your classroom and have students walk around looking for each number. I let them use a clipboard to write their answers. They always love using a clipboard. I usually have them work with buddies also. They are learning and having fun at the same time. To see how I’ve used them in the past check out this post.

5 creative ways to use task cards in the classroom. Are you looking for creative ideas on how to use task cards in your class? I have listed 5 ways teachers can use task cards in the classroom with your students that is fun for everyone.

#2. Use them in  a game of Scoot

Scoot is a fun game where you move around the room from task card to task card. Kids typically move from desk to desk going in order. There is a time limit that the student gets for each card then the teacher says “Scoot” and all the kids move to the next card. You just need to make sure you have enough task cards for each child in your class to “scoot” to a new card.

#3. Use them as a class review game 

I’m always trying to come up with fun ways to review for assessments. I show a task card on my board and the students answer it. If they get the right answer they get to do the game. It may be throwing a ball into a basket or throwing a velcro ball onto a board with numbers. Using Jenga is one of my students’ favorite games. If the kids get the answer right they got to pull a Jenga piece. There are numbers on the piece and those numbers represent how many points their team will get.

5 creative ways to use task cards in the classroom. Are you looking for creative ideas on how to use task cards in your class? I have listed 5 ways teachers can use task cards in the classroom with your students that is fun for everyone.

#4. Use them with a board game

Another way to use task cards is to use them with a game board. This can be played with 2-4 kids. If the students answer the question correctly they get to roll the dice and move their game piece that many moves. You can just use any generic game board that pieces can move around a board. My students really enjoyed using task cards this way.

#5. Use them with an egg hunt

 This is always the favorite way to use task cards with my students. Fold up the task card and put it in an egg. Put the eggs outside and let the kids have fun hunting. This does not only have to be done at Easter time. It can be done during all times of the year.

5 creative ways to use task cards in the classroom. Are you looking for creative ideas on how to use task cards in your class? I have listed 5 ways teachers can use task cards in the classroom with your students that is fun for everyone.

If your students are bored using task cards, try using them in a different way. Let me know in the comments below which one you like the best.

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Back to School Tips

It’s back to school time! There’s  so much going on that sometimes I don’t even know where to start. It feels like I’m being pulled in all directions. Well I need to remind myself that I’m not Superwoman and I need to stop and take a deep breath. I will do what I can and let the rest go. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that some things can be let go. So here are some back to school tips when you come back to a room that looks like this…

empty classroom

Tip #1. Breath: I know that sounds easy but it is really stressful when you walk into a completely empty room. You know you only have a short amount of time to get it ready for your kids. So just breath and look at the positive. The floors are really shiny!

Tip #2. Take one section at a time: Decide what you want to do first and stick to it until you finish. Maybe you want to go ahead and do all your bulletin boards while everything is out of the way. That’s what I do. Maybe you want to set up your desk first so you can have your computer ready to go. I work on this second. Whatever you do, taking one section at a time will help you keep your sanity and keep your classroom uncluttered.

Tip #3. Organize as you go: You definitely don’t want to just throw things in your desk because you will be upset with yourself all year long. Take the time to put everything where you can find it. Make sure you leave some extra room in a drawer for new things you will get throughout the year. Definitely use containers to keep paperclips and little things contained in one spot.

organized desk

Tip #4. Make an emergency kit: I finally did this last year and it was a lifesaver. I put all the necessities I thought I would need in case of an emergency. You never know when you are going to have to stay at work late or need to freshen up during the day. Jessica from Time Out with Mom, has an awesome blog post on creating a teacher emergency kit. Make sure to check it out by clicking on the picture.

Teacher-Emergency-Kit-01

Tip #5: Make a sub tub: You definitely need an emergency sub tub. You never know when you are going to be out and won’t be able to get up to the school to get your plans ready. You can just have another teacher get your sub tub out and you are ready to go. If you would like my free sub plans to get you started click here.

I also have some sub plans that you can use with a favorite read aloud. Click on the picture below if you would like to check them out.

sub plans

 

 

 

 

Let me know in the comments below which tip you are going to try out.

Thanks,

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