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July 30, 2021

Back to School Shopping!

I went to Target last week and it was glorious.  I went wandering up and down the aisles ALONE. My kids were at home. :) The dollar spot hit me first with the laminated reading and writing graphic organizers.  Did I need them? Yes, yes I think I do... 

I was the only person in the school supply section. I had a mission - attain my Crayola markers and Expos.  I had a plan.  I attacked it. 

20 Crayola broadline markers for the kids and 2 thin sets for myself.  Out of the 20 sets, I put 10 out in August, and save the other 10 for January.  The thin markers, well I like using them for anchor charts. They don't bleed through my anchor chart paper.  

Then I picked up some Expo markers for myself and the ultra clean whiteboard that will be waiting for me at school. 

I also picked up a desk calendar for my info board.  I like to hang one up and then update with all the important dates to know.  I hang it up with 2 binder clips and pushpins.  There is a joy that comes with ripping off the old month and starting a fresh new one.  Plus, years ago I hated having to change out the monthly numbers on a pocket chart.

My Amazon order was also delivered.  Only 2 items.  :)  I was proud of myself.  Playdough and Birthday Pens.  

Play dough to give them for a beginning of the school year project, and it does help to relieve stress.

Birthday Pens because it's a cheap, functional gift that they seem to all appreciate every year.  I give them a little note that explains the different color meanings. I have this 8x on a powerpoint page, and then print it on neon paper. An easy little gift that seems to mean so much.  

Hope this helps,

July 28, 2021

Our One Day Vacation

It's been summer break for 8 weeks, but we didn't really go on vacation until this past weekend.  Saturday to be exact.  Older boys had school through the end of June, hubby had work responsibilities, and then there have been a ton of appointments that we've tackled in July so weekdays just didn't work.  

But Saturday we went to Monterey.  Along with a ton of other people on the freeway.  Traffic was horrid.  Everyone was trying to escape the heat. 

It was over 100 degrees back home for the billionth time this summer, but Monterey was a nice 62. Lovely. We all even wore sweatshirts.  Absolutely wonderful.  

Anyhow, the main focus was our trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium.  We are members there, since it's actually cheaper for our family of 5 to buy the membership since we can go more than once during the year for the same price.  

I love the Monterey Bay Aquarium website for my classroom as well.  Have you ever checked out their website? It fits into our Life Science unit PERFECTLY!

Their EDUCATORS webpage has a TON of resources for us to use.  A lot of it is free.  

There are always kids in class that want to learn more about the animals and habitats, so the ANIMAL page has a lot of info for research.

But the LIVE Cam page is the absolute best for not just observation, but also for a calming background to present during a stressful test, silent reading in the Kelp Forest, etc.  There are a lot more options as well.  

I love being near water, the relaxation that takes over puttering around a town on the coast.  Thankful for our one day vacation.  

Hope you had a great summer! Next week is back to school - or at least all the meetings, and then kids show up on August 9th.  

Have a great day!

July 26, 2021

Prepping Freezer Meals - Summer Project

In July I tend to start thinking ahead to Back to School season. When life gets crazy again and I’m back to being exhausted. Over the years I’ve done different things to help the future me by prepping some meals. The week before I have to head back there are certain things that I always tackle... this is one of them. 

I love a good crockpot meal, so for a few years I would make up the different sauces from the Six Sisters and freeze them. Then I could just toss some meat into the crockpot with a sauce packet on top and be done. They now have freezer recipes too.  :)  

I made up some dump meals for the crockpot too. Just freeze them in plastic gallon bags, dump them out, and cook.

Then I started making up freezer casserole type meals after seeing some Freezer Friday Lives by PPP. Laurie is super motivating. Using disposable pans, plastic wrap, and foil make it easy. It’s just a matter of planning in advance what day to eat, and then defrosting a couple of days before. 

Anyway, here are 3 family favorite recipes on the Passionate Penny Pincher website, there are tons more favorites in the meal plan:

I own the freezer meal plan, but there are tons of others out there for free as well.  Pasta casseroles always have multiple steps, which take time that I don't always have after a school day.  These seem to freeze really well.  

Just wanted to encourage you to help your future self during the summer. If you can plan and prep some easy meals for the first couple weeks of school, it can help with the stress levels.  

Some friends are making big batches of soup and freezing for easy lunches.  Others are making casseroles, freezing meat with marinades, and making some dump meals. I need to catch up and at least make something for the freezer.  My motivation has been pretty low lately.  I've been in denial that school is starting soon.  

I hope this helps,  

July 23, 2021

First Day Powerpoint

I mentioned that I have a powerpoint that I use for the first day of school, to keep me organized.  I wanted to share what I have on it today.  Maybe it can give you some ideas if you are interested.  

First screen is what is up when they are entering the room, since I'm greeting by the door.  Just some visual directions and a hint of our class signal.  We practice this a lot the first week of school.  

A quick glance at the day's schedule.  

Getting some paperwork out of the way.  In the past the backpacks either go under their own desk or under the back table, keeps things out of the aisles and falling off their chairs.  I think that this year everything will have to stay close to their own spot.

Since my own kids have gone there, the kids usually know me. So I start off with a little quiz, and then go over the answers afterward.  This lends itself well to play a 2 truths and a lie with the kids later.  

I have a slide of family pictures and also a slide of pictures with the other 5th grade teachers.  

Next up I give a mini classroom tour.  If everything is really back to normal, then the kids will have access to get paper and supplies out of drawers.  We'll see.  Then we head outside to walk around the campus, practicing walking in a line, and see the sights - especially for the new to the school kids.  

We usually have some morning activities to attend, and when there is a moment we have our first read aloud.

Then it's time to go over a bunch of Random Memes.  I googled what I needed and added them to a powerpoint so they were all added to the same first day share.  

things about doing their best...

things about the importance of listening...

the importance of staying home if you are not well...

the importance of using your time wisely...

the importance of following directions the first time...

the importance of paying attention...

and the importance of knowing that I don't do attitude or excuses... just tell the truth.

After we go through the memes, then we have a chat about our class rules.  To me, it all boils down to respect.  Respect yourself, others, and our school.  We brainstorm - sounds like/looks like for all 3 in groups, and then share aloud.  

We read Juice Box Bully, sign the pledge, and brainstorm what we want our classroom to be like.

We go over Class Dojo and then brainstorm examples for our Class Motto: Work Hard and Be Kind.

Before lunch, we go over what are Houses, and then if we are able to meet we usually meet in the afternoon of the first day. Houses are when we mix up the kids, about 1/4 from each class, and then during that time we usually do our Social Emotional curriculum. 

I really hope we are able to do this... but may have to push it out to later on in the year. We'll see...

Afternoon, we take our Important Book list from the morning and create an art project with our hand.

And that's how we usually end our time together.  Quick reminders at the end about supply donations, paperwork, and class codes.  Hope this helps!

July 21, 2021

My First Week Plan

A couple of years ago I shared this picture over here and wrote about my first week plans.  I have one post for Teamwork and Growth Mindset activities, and another post for first week Mentor Texts.  Check out those links if you want.  :)  

I wanted to share how this has morphed into my current plan for the first week. Most of it is still the same, but I have changed a bit too. This isn't everything, but these are my goals for the days that first week.  

First Day of School:

*First Day Powerpoint: On the first day my brain is usually scattered with a lot of things to go over, and sometimes I forget the simplest thing... like recess. A few years ago I made up a powerpoint with everything on it.  I'll share about it more in another post. Then I just click through the day. Sometimes I don't even share the slides with the kids, it's just my checklist so I cover what I need to cover.  

*Read Aloud (am): The Important Book and hand art project. They trace their hands and then decorate the paper with whatever colors, words, and pictures that describe them, then they cut them out.  These get hung around our window for the year, reminding them about how participation is important.  

*Independent Work: Letter to me - Kids share what they already know about 5th grade, what they want me to know about them, and what they are looking forward to.

*After lunch read aloud (pm): Juice Box Bully and taking the pledge - they sign their names around the pledge and it makes an instant poster for our class. I like keeping the visual up all year.

*Brainstorm rules for our classroom - what are most important? I have a bunch of memes in that first day powerpoint that I share before we brainstorm.

*Class Motto - Work Hard, Be Kind.  We have a class discussion and then we brainstorm on another poster that is then hung up. 

*Independent Work: Student Survey link - Last year I put a student survey into Survey Monkey - asked about their favorites - books, ice cream flavors, home life, hobbies, sports, etc.  

2nd Day:

*Morning Meeting - What are 4 wishes you would make? We also go over what our typical morning meeting will entail.  

*Read Aloud - Rock Paper Scissors and discussion about teamwork

*Independent Work: I am Poem and then volunteers share. I collect from everyone whether they share or not.  

*Engineering Process Crash Course Kids: We watch the video and go over the process - we make a poster for our science board, and they write it in their Science Notebook.

*STEM Engineering Activity: They need a piece of paper and scissors, then work with teammates to figure out how to recreate the picture.  I use this website to help with the lesson. 

*I Like My Neighbor Who Game: We get up and moving, learning about each other.  Chairs in a circle around edges of room, one chair missing.  Whoever without a chair says, "I like my neighbor who __ (example: is wearing tie shoes)" and only those kids would switch seats.  Then the new person would come up with another unifying factor - has a sibling, likes to read, is in 5th grade... and they keep playing.  They LOVE this game, and they love it when their teacher plays too.  This is what kept us sane last year during distance learning, we played it a lot the last 5 minutes of each day, turning on cameras to show unity.  

*Math 4th grade review: I have task cards that I stick around the room, and we practice the Scoot rules. Kids create a grid on their copy paper, and they scoot around to the different cards, answering math questions from last year.  They write their name on the paper, and we go over it afterward so they can check their work, then they turn in their papers so I can get a glance at what they remember.  It's not anything official, but it does help with learning procedures and expectations.  

*Independent Work: District ELA Pretest

3rd Day:

*Meeting - How can we show kindness to others?

*Toilet Paper Time! - Pass around rolls of TP and they take how much they think they will need.  This gets silly...  After everyone has their amount, they need to share a fact about themselves for each square of TP. You can do this whole class or in small groups - usually I do small groups due to time, then everyone shares one fact they learned about their table mates.  It leads to a nice discussion about group work - that discussions need to have everyone contributing, but that one person shouldn't hog the entire conversation.  

*Set up our ELA notebook - Reading vs. Writing: We label the tops of some pages in our notebook. In the Reading section we write the different strategies and skills on the top of a page, so we can fill them in when we are reviewing.  

*Reading: We start reading Frindle and go over Setting and Character.

*Mentor Sentence: The Golden Rule - we start our first Mentor Sentence (from Jessica Ivey) and fill in the notebook.  

*Summary Writing: We go over expectations for summaries and add them in our notebook.

*Math Book Look Through - What do you notice? Does it look like fourth grade? What's the same?

*Independent Work: District Math Pretest


*Game: Would you Rather. I have the set of cards from the game in my classroom, and I also picked up a couple of TPT powerpoint slides for even more options - one from Hollie Griffith and one from DiGiGoods. Past years' classes have loved this game.  It's fun to have them get up and the kids have to move from one side of the classroom to the other depending on their answer.  

4th Day:

*Morning Meeting - What is your favorite fall activity?

Reading Materials (Wonders) Look Through - What do you notice? What will we use? What are the expectations? What is the same as 4th grade?

*Math Notebook: Set up math notebook with affirmations on the first couple of pages, then create a multiplication table inside.

*First Math Lesson and continue Frindle

*Cactus Lesson: Growth Mindset - I have artificial cacti around my entire room as reminders of this lesson. We read about cacti and connect them to growth mindset.  Fancy Free in 4th has a great lesson I use, and then we brainstorm goals for the year.

*Paper Chain Growth Mindset Challenge: Kids work in teams to take a single paper and make the longest chain possible.  This works on discussion and it is a team competition, all in good fun.  

5th Day of 5th Grade:

*Partner Walks and Reflections: On Friday mornings the kids come in and I use Class Dojo to make partners.  Partners switch from week to week for the kids to mix up.  We have a lawn right outside our room that I instruct the kids to walk around as they talk over their reflections for this week.  
What is something you are proud of? 
What is something you learned? 
What is a goal for next week?
They can both have a chance to share in one lap.  It takes about 5 minutes.  Then they come in and we go over it together.  

*Essential Question Grid: On my whiteboard we have a chart of Essential Questions, I Can statements, and I Know I Can Because... Fridays are the day we go over the I Know I Cans. Table groups discuss, and then they share out. Sometimes I have the kids write on post its individually, sometimes as a group. But this is when we fill it in.  

*Back to School Escape Room: Another teamwork challenge with 4 different tasks to tackle.  This is new this year, but I'm super excited to see them do it.  

*Book Tasting!!! During recess, lunch, or PE (whenever there is time), I set up our Book Tasting. All the materials came from Joanne Miller.  We go over our favorite genres, and then I give them time to look through my books. Last year with distance we did it all through our anthology, this next year I don't know yet if they will be able to touch the same materials.  But somehow we will be doing it.

*40 Book Challenge and Class Library Grand Opening - We go over the challenge for the year, I introduce Book Talks, Book Beads, and the goals.  We create a class graph of favorite genres, and I let them choose 3 books to have at their desk at all times. Reading is our go to when there is any waiting involved.  

*SS Book Look Through - What do you notice? What are expectations for the SS Notebook?

*Independent Work: Letter to Self - What do they want to accomplish this year?  They write it down and get it back at the end of the year.  What promises can they make to themselves? 

*Fun Friday: Yep, first week everyone better be able to participate.  We go over options if they have everything done.  Lots of STEM stuff. Still waiting to hear what they will be allowed to do this year.  What they are allowed to do together, vs have to do alone?  What materials they are allowed to touch? We'll see...

Okay - this is a general outline of my first week. We usually also have an assembly with admin, have to go pick up our textbooks, and practice procedures a ton.  I hope that we are allowed to start House groups again too, where we mix up the entire grade level into groups we call Houses. We usually kick that off the first week too, those every other week meetings are when we go over our Social Emotional curriculum.  

Hope it helps someone!