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December 28, 2016

Memory Jars

I can't believe it's almost 2017.  A couple of days to go... I wanted to share a little project I created for my family.  We hosted Christmas and I made these memory jars for anyone that wanted one.  I cut out the numbers using my Silhouette and vinyl, and placed them on the outside of a mason jar ($1 at Michaels plus a teacher discount), then added a little ribbon on top.  We've done this in my little family for a couple of years - when big moments happen that I want to remember, I write them down on a small piece of paper, and then place inside.  On New Years eve we open the jar and reread the slips.  It's nice to remember those moments that are sometimes forgotten in the craziness of life.   

This time around my boys want to use their jars for coin collecting (since they have now learned that the Coinstar machines will turn their spare change into an Amazon gift card).  I'm also thinking of using a jar to have the kids place their New Year's resolutions in and then compare them at the end of the year.  Since I love the look of Mason jars, the more the merrier around here.

I hope you have a great day! 

December 17, 2016

Winter Party {TP challenge and Sugar Cube Missions}

What a party!  Yesterday was so much fun.  We had our Book Exchange in the morning, then finished up our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie with (crock pot) hot chocolate.  We had a couple of minutes before lunch, so I pulled out a quick time filler and the kids played the toilet paper snowman game.  Each group of 5 were given a roll of toilet paper, and only 10 minutes to create a snow person.  They got so into it, and took it very seriously.  Accessories were used, toilet paper was flying into designs, and the kids were showing some major teamwork.

After lunch we made our sugar cube missions.  I've done them in past years too - it's just my thing I love to do (instead of gingerbread houses).  We are right in the middle of studying about missions, and it just ties it all together.  I ask for sugar cube and white frosting donations, and from there the kids create their buildings.  They decorate them with our candy box candy, spice drops (for the bells), and lasagna noodles for the clay roofs.  At the very end the kids do an earthquake challenge, and walk their mission on an obstacle course.  If they can complete the walk without it falling down the mission would have withstood the natural disasters.  :P  The kids get a kick out of it.  

I love my home traditions, but also love the traditions that I have at school.  It means a lot to me to share these activities with the kids - to have fun with them after half of year of pushing them constantly.  I recently ran into one of my past students - that I had over 10 years ago - and she still remembered some of the fun moments.  It does make a difference. I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing break!  

December 15, 2016

Rocks and Minerals

I love teaching about Rocks and Minerals.  I have a side table set up with magnifying lens, rocks to sort, charts to help categorize, read alouds for silent reading time... It's such a hands on time.  I wanted to wrap it up in a fun way too.  

My teammate found a Dice Simulation activity from Teaching in the Fast Lane that was about the Rock Cycle, so I decided to buy it too.  I'm so glad I did!  I had tried her Explorer Dice Simulation, so I was already convinced of the process - 6 stations, and at each station the kids roll the dice to see where they would move next.  I printed off the stations, laminated the sheets, and then used bright sharpie to circle the process to get to the next rock.  

my whiteboard example - I love moving around the room to show the kids how to complete it

As the kids went from station to station they needed to record both the process and the rock they ended up at.  We went 20 rounds that first day as they recorded on the included sheet.  This was the Wednesday before winter break, so the kids were VERY ready to be up and moving, using up some of that extra energy.  :)   

found the beads on Amazon - since it's the first year doing this I chose a multi color bead box for $10

The next day we took out our recording sheets, and at each rock station I placed a certain color pony bead in a tub.  On my front table I placed all 6 of the process beads (again, one color per container).  Each student took a pipe cleaner, and walked through their recorded rock cycle, adding the rock bead, process bead, rock bead, process bead, etc.  We stopped as a class every 5 beads and took turns telling the rock story to partners and to ourselves.  I kept track of the amount of beads on the board.  The pipe cleaners held about 31 beads before we decided to call it a day.

Back at their desks, the kids had the opportunity to use the doc camera to share their rock story with the class.  Most of them could share it without using their paper by this point, they just needed to look at the beads to share rock, process, rock, process... It was an activity that I will definitely do again!  

December 12, 2016

Snowman Ornaments

Every year I like to have my class make something to give their parents for Christmas.  This year I saw a cute idea over on IG to have the kids use glass ornaments and fill them up with marshmallows to create snowmen. I changed it up a bit and they filled it with 2 cotton balls, then used black sharpie for the eyes and a smudge of orange paint for the nose.  It was super simple, pretty cheap, and the kids were so proud.  I will definitely do this again!

December 6, 2016

Blue Dog Art

I have 4 art docents for my class this year.  It is amazing having so many parents that want to come in and teach the kids about different artists.  Each lesson is about a specific artist, the parents come in, share about the artist, different examples of art, the techniques used, and then the kids create art inspired by a certain painting.

  This last month our art project was inspired by the Blue Dog.  I had never heard of Blue Dog paintings before... so teaching this teacher too.  

After learning the history of George Rodrigue, the class did a directed draw of the little blue dog.  Oh, they were so engaged.  Face (circle shape, nose - beaker shape, eyes, ears, mouth), shoulders and front legs, then back leg and belly.  They drew in pencil, traced in sharpie, then painted with blue paint.  

Then they were able to add a background of their choice using crayons.  Some did different colors, some did a certain setting.  But they all popped using the different mediums.  So proud of my kids, so thankful for parent volunteers that make art a priority.    

November 18, 2016

Meatballs, Author's PIE, and Ivan

The week before any holiday is always extra busy... and this year wasn't any different.  Wrapping up a novel, adding in a little PIE, and celebrating with my school buddies for a Friends-giving made this week a success.  

I love this simple recipe for crockpot meatballs.  It's super easy - literally just throw the ingredients into a crockpot, and let it cook on low for 4 hours.  The students didn't even realize they were cooking over in the corner of the room.  It was my addition to our Friends-giving lunch potluck.  A bag of original meatballs, and equal parts of chili sauce and grape jelly.  That's it.  

I also love to do this PIE activity with my kids right before Thanksgiving.  In past years I used 2 paper plates - which meant cutting it and then stapling.  This year I simplified it and just used one plate - the top was turned into a pie (their choice of filling and coloring in a crust), then the kids used sharpie to divide it into 4 pieces and writing Authors, P, I, E.  Behind each piece the kids had to write a definition and an example of each type.  Super easy, but it was a great assessment tool.  

As for real pie, we had that too - the kids brought in donations of pumpkin pie for our Thanksgiving feast.  I split it up and served it with whipped cream as we watched a short Thanksgiving movie.  I LOVE Thanksgiving in the classroom!

We also finished up reading Ivan before break, so we created Ivan using 2 shades of gray paper, and then wrote opinion paragraphs on his belly.  An art project always seems to make finishing a beloved novel a little easier.  Directions for this craft are over on one of my old posts.  :)  

Hope you had a great day!

November 11, 2016

Thank You Veterans

This year for Veteran's Day my teammate told me about a neat remembrance project that she does in her classroom... and I wanted to add it to my classroom as well.  Basically you take a long piece of white construction paper, and attach the red/blue strips.  I labeled the strips in alphabetical order: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy and gave out star stickers to my class to stick in the category of someone in their lives (grandparents, uncles, dads, friend's dad) that they know who have served our country.  The kids that wanted to share out loud full class did so, but not everyone wanted to speak aloud - which is where the stars came in.  Some kids only had one star, but some had multiple ones.  In my own life I was able to stick stars onto Air Force (grandpa and uncle), Army (grandpa), and Marines (nephew).  We also watched the Flocabulary video of Veterans Day with our school membership.  That was pretty powerful.  How do you celebrate Veterans Day?  

November 8, 2016

The Great Cookie Election

I decided to keep the politics out of my classroom during the election, but I still wanted to show the process of the electoral college though, so I hosted the Great Cookie Election on Election day.  It was super simple, and I definitely want to remember this for the future.  

First up - I picked up two kinds of cookies from the store: 

Then I wrote out all 50 states on little slips of paper, and put them all on the back table in my classroom.  Each child chose a state they would represent and chose that ballot.  With the remaining ballots, I asked for volunteers and they were quickly picked up.  The students tasted both cookies and had to come to a decision for what cookie should win the vote.  

The kids wrote their choice on their ballot and turned them into the basket.  It was a secret ballot.  

I wanted the kids to understand how each state had a certain amount of points, we had a quick discussion about population (keeping it very simple), and I posted a google image map of the states and EC votes on my projector.  Then the kids got out their whiteboards or a piece of binder paper to do some math.  The goal was 270 points to win.  I also kept track on the board.  

I would reach into the basket, choose a state, the kids would consult the map and find the corresponding point value, and then I would tell them which cookie got the point.  They would add, and every so often I would ask for an update on my board.  Chips Ahoy won by a slight margin.  I really think the kids were able to then understand the election.  

October 31, 2016

Halloween Activities {Pumpkin Plants, Catapults, and Ghost Rockets}

Oh, Halloween... how I really don't like you...  Halloween on a Monday this year just about killed me.  It is already my least favorite holiday, but I try to still have fun in the classroom.  I've not into the whole scary thing, never have been, so in class I more focus on spiders, bats, owls, and pumpkins. 

early stages of sprouts

 We had a pumpkin that we were gifted from the school's Fall Festival, so this year I decided to cut the top off and dump in some dirt.  That's it - I didn't stir or anything, just stuck it outside on our portable's porch, and the kids took turns dumping their water bottles in it to water.  Within 10 days it sported a bunch of sprouts emerging from the top and a colorful array of mold on the outside.  We transferred it to a planter (since the bottom was rotting), and now it's a full on plant, and you can't tell it was once a pumpkin... but the kids know and tell all our visitors.  

In class for Halloween, I wanted to focus on STEM activities, and since I was having parent help I decided to go big.  I found an idea to make Ghost Rockets and quickly ordered the film canisters from Amazon (thank you Amazon Prime).  It was super easy - the kids added a little bit of corn starch to the canister, then filled it with a little bit of water, stirred it with a popsicle stick, added an Alkaseltzer tab, put the lid on, and then stepped back.  We did this station outside, and those canisters flew as high as our two story buildings.  There was good discussions about the pressure inside the canisters.  

An inside station was building catapults to launch different materials.  We watched a youtube video (there are plenty to choose from) to make a simple catapult.  At home for prep, my husband took our heavy kitchen scissors and cut notches in large popsicle sticks, then at school the kids took 8 small sticks and stacked them.  They took rubber bands to secure the large sticks with the small ones.  I added some measurement activities to the station, and taped some long tape measures to the ground so they could record their distances.  They tested out the pumpkin candies, giant fluff balls, candy corns, etc.  It was such a fun activity, and the kids were able to bring their own catapult home as a souvenir.  The kids were able to handle creating it themselves with some adult guidance, will definitely do this again.  

The last station was actually a game.  I couldn't find the eye ball ping pong balls, but that didn't stop the kids from having fun.  Each kid had their own spoon to place the handle in their mouth, and they needed to transfer as many of the ping pong balls as possible from bowl to bowl.  It became a competition.  When they were done, they had a chance to complete their spider web art projects.  It was a headache free day, and was fun too.  :)  

October 24, 2016

Mindware is Awesome!

Mindware is AWESOME!  They contacted me about trying out a set of KEVA blocks in my classroom, and I jumped at the chance.  I am always looking for ways to bring more STEM activities to my students, and these require NO PREP! 

I wanted to show off some of the creations my students have built. 

Some of the creations were built using their imaginations, others were built using the cards provided. Yep, the Brain Builders sets have engineering cards that give challenges!

I love these wooden blocks! They remind me of the Lincoln logs that I used growing up.  

I can't say enough wonderful things about this system!  I appreciate Mindware's generosity in providing these resources for my students in exchange for a blog post.  :)