Saturday, June 25, 2011

Under Construction

So, I have this idea that I want to try out next year.  It's still "under construction," if you will, but I think it should turn out cute!  Here's the general idea:

Get 3 or 4 of the paper pockets (like the kind inside library books) found at the local teacher supply store, like this and laminate them.
Glue or staple them to a long laminated strip of paper, hanging down, to resemble a "tool belt."

 Then, glue laminated clip art like THESE to tongue depressor sticks.  These will be the various "tools" (strategies) I equip my students with and we'll add one tool to our belts every couple of days after a mini-lesson!  Of course, these strategies are nothing new...I'm just trying to present them in a new way!  I'm excited to try it!  I think I'm going to create a whole construction "unit" where I make some lessons/games about constructing/deconstructing numbers (expanded notation, place value, etc.) and of course constructing new words with phonetic patterns/onset and rimes.

Anyway, just wanted to share the idea even though it is under construction itself.  Anyone have any good "construction" themed activities or ideas to improve upon my strategy tool belt?  I'd love to hear it!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Merry Christmas...A Little Somethin' Somethin' to Save for Next Year!

I know it's nowhere close to Christmas, but I have been working on some small projects to have on hand for next year.  I figured why not share one now!?  After all, we do have a little more time on our hands to make these things in the summer!  

I created a December-themed calendar concepts game that uses the actual calendar as the game board!  You have to answer various questions to proceed, and the first one to "ring in the new year" wins!  Simple, but should be fun!  Below is the link to the game on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Enjoy!

Board Game Link

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Help Wanted!

I need help from you teachers!  I have lots of students in my summer school class who struggle with directionality issues (b/d, p/q, writing and reading letters backwards, etc.)  Any brilliant ideas or interventions out there?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Whodunnit Day

I teach first grade now (insert "hallelujah chorus" here), but last year I taught 4th grade and I had SO much fun doing a "Whodunnit Day" as a culminating event for our mystery unit!  I'm going to keep this post simple, but it was too fun not to share!  Maybe it will inspire someone else in cyberspace (insert "Somewhere Out There" here) : )

In a nutshell, I started out by creating a mystery/detective themed classroom to make the day feel special.  We had been working on writing our own mysteries and we had just finished publishing them.  We had been studying mysteries in reading, and I even created special "top secret" stamped manilla folders for their guided reading mystery books for the unit.  They loved it!  It had special papers, which I found HERE, to record all of their thinking along the way!
I contacted the local police department, and a detective was willing to come and tell us all about his job.  He even took some students' fingerprints and showed us various tools he used.  Very cool!

Then, I told them that I was going to reward them with brownies for working so hard on their mystery unit.  But when I went to open the Tupperware, they were missing!  (Of course, this is all planned) I tell them to get their notebooks and pencils and get ready to help me solve the case of the missing brownies.  I had come up with THIS basic "script" as an outline ahead of time, and I coordinated it with the various teachers, lunch ladies, and our principal all beforehand.  They were such good sports!  The students had a blast, and were able to identify the appropriate clues, red herrings, alibis, etc. which really showed me they learned something!  Woo hoo!  It turned out WONDERFULLY and was my favorite part of the day!

Later, parents showed up!  We divided them into groups and gave them CLUES (click there to see the clues I made) which took them on a scavenger hunt all around the school (coordinated this beforehand).  I had groups of my students stationed QUIETLY at each location so those teachers would not have to be bothered.  The final clue led each parent to the cafeteria where we put on a small program. Pairs of students shared their illustrations of mystery vocabulary words on stage as the parents "oohed" and "awwwed" over how adorable they all were.  Then they spread out around the cafeteria and read their mysteries in small groups to the parents that were in attendance (one parent would have their own child and another child's stories to listen to, so everyone had an audience!)

Last, I gave each "detective" a little reward (I found these super cute certificates made for a spy themed birthday party at a local cheapo dollar store!) and a "CLUE" game themed activity which happened to be in the Wendy's kid's meals at that time (I told them it was for my class and they gave me 50% off so I could buy enough for the whole class!)

Oh! I almost forgot!  To invite the parents to the "Whodunnit Day," I created these super cool invitations.  I used a free stamp font I found on line to make a "Top Secret" stamp.  Then I also found a font that typed the letters BACKWARDS!  I figured out how to type the words themselves backwards, too.  In order to "crack the code" of the invitation,  they had to look at it in the mirror.  I can't find the old file.  Must be in a black hole somewhere in cyberspace.  But at least I've shared the idea!  They were so easy to make once I figured out that I needed to type the words backwards!

Anyway, it was SUCH a great day.  Below are some pictures to help you visualize, although I didn't include the cutest ones because of privacy issues!  I hope this gives someone inspiration to create a fun day for their kiddos next year!  You won't regret it!

Footsteps leading to the classroom on Whodunnit Day set the tone.  The kiddos in my class were SO stinkin' excited (and not gonna lie, the kiddos in the other classes were a wee bit jealous!)  Amazing what some paper cut in the shape of a shoe can do!

 The kiddos dressed up as detectives...sunglasses, trench coats/hats, magnifying glasses, etc.  Since this is not my current class, I did not get permission to post their pictures on line so I will just show you me!  I gave every child a dollar store notebook and badge at the beginning of the day.  I told them it might come in handy later!
A 4th grader's dad was a police officer, so he brought me some "caution tape" to line my door!  Too cool!
We had so much fun showing off our attire!
A local detective came and showed us how he captures fingerprints and gave us some sticker badges!  I love when the community jumps on board!

Here are some parents reading clues for their scavenger hunt around the school.  I had a group of students stationed at each location.  All parents ended up in the cafeteria where we put on a small program showing off everything we learned about mysteries!

Each pair of students used a poster to illustrate one of our mystery vocabulary words.  They stood on stage and read their definitions aloud to the parents.

 Lastly, each student got to take a turn reading the mysteries that they wrote to the parents that were in attendance.  I spread them out in the cafeteria in small groups and everyone got to read to an adult.  Fun was had by all!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Here Goes Nothin'!

I've posted a few things on TPT!  So far, I have a b/d confusion activity, my pancake unit, and my "Peace, Love, and Fractions" game!  Check it out! 

Click HERE!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Something I'm 'Flipping Out' About

 I did it! I posted my first unit to the "Teachers Pay Teachers" website for purchase.  It's a pancake unit and it has 40 pages of literacy and math centers, games, teaching ideas, worksheets, etc.  AND it's tied to the new common core standards!  Go check it out!  I'm nervous!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Go Fish!

Here is a multiplication "go fish" game.  I plan on making an addition version for the younger grades so that those of us lower elementary teachers can enjoy it, too!  I'll post that sometime this weekend!  But for now, enjoy, upper elementary peeps!

Click THIS to get the full game!  Print, laminate, and cut!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Blame Game: Who's At Fault?

Don't have much to say right now, but I found this article from the Scholastic Facebook page and found it to be interesting, to say the least.  Who should take the blame for a student's failure?  Obviously, a lot of it is dependent on age, communication, etc.  What are your thoughts?

Click HERE to go to the article.