Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: May 2013

Sports Theme First Day of School Activities

I had a circus themed classroom this year. It was fun and bright.
But I have to be honest with you...I think it was too primary for my 3rd graders. They didn't dislike it. But they never really got into it.
In January I had a big Superbowl theme in my room.

The kids LOVED it!!!

Then in March and April I did a big baseball theme!
Again the kids LOVED it!

So I got to thinking (which my husband says always leads to more work!)...Why not have a sports themed classroom next year?!!! YES! I can make each quarter a different sports focus. First quarter will be soccer. Second quarter will be football. Third quarter will be baseball and the last quarter will be basketball. YES!!! I think the sports thme is the perfect for creating a classroom based on team work!

So for the past month, I have been researching and creating new decor for my classroom next year. (Even though I was supposed to be focusing on the end of THIS year!) I will show you everything that I came up with soon! I promise! I want to wait until I can put it on the walls and take pictures.

But I do have something that I CAN share. I may be one of the only crazy teachers out there that is busy making activities for the first day of school when I have just 2 1/2 days left of school! But that is what I have been doing! And I am SOOOO excited about this unit!!!!

These activities are perfect for ANY classroom! It doesn't matter what your theme is because on those first days we are all trying to establish a classroom team!

Included in the lesson are 10 different beginning of the school year activties!

1. Find a Teammate Who...- An activity that gets kids up and talking to their new classmates.

2. Shooting for our goals- An activity that has kids writing goals for the school year. This one makes an excellent bulletin board!

3. Batting Line-Up- This is a simple ABC order handout that helps keep kids busy when the teacher needs to put away supplies or help a student who is anxious about the first day.

4.Interview a Teammate- An activity that has students interviewing each other and introducing their partners to the whole class.

5. Tour the stadium- This is an activity that gets students out of their seat and exploring their new classroom.

6. My Summer Score- An activity that has students doing some addition to determine how cool of a summer they had!

7. Make your own sports card- An activity that has students making their own baseball card.

8. Team Pennant- An activity that has each student making a pennant. All the class pennants can be strung together to make a fun display.

9. Game Day Mad-Lib- An activity that has students working with a partner and allows you to see how much of their language skills they remember!

10. Team Bingo- A fun whole group bingo game where the class is getting to know interesting facts about the other students in their class.

These activities get students out of their desk, allow them to be creative, give you a glimpse of what they remember from the previous year and encourage teamwork and colaboration. Plus they are lots of fun!
Check it out in my TpT store! While you are there, you might want to check out all of my other baseball themed activities!


Summer Prep Centers

This idea was orginally inspired by a pin on Pinterest. I ran with the idea and it turned out perfectly!!!

I am a firm believer that learning and practice should not stop just because schools stops. I buy workbooks and make educational games for my own four children. Plus, they are still expected to read for at least thirty minutes per day. Wouldn't it be great if all parents felt this way?! But, we know that isn't going to happen. So I want to make reading, writing and math facts fun enough that perhaps my students would CHOOSE to do them over the summer! I explained to my kids just how much information you loose by not practicing over the summer. This shocked them. I'll admit that I was hoping for that reaction. =)

So I split my class into three groups and rotated these centers to each group. Each student was given a gallon Ziploc to keep their finished work in.

1. Reading Center:
First, they made adorable popcicle bookmarks. I found this idea on Pinterest. Go to this website for the free printable.

Next, they colored in the cool reading passport from this pack. The pack has reading challenges for the kids to complete over the summer. Some challenges are reading into a microphone, reading my the pool, reading to a pet, reading in a fort, etc. After the child completes the challenge they get to glue a badge in their passport. The kids were very excited! I even told them that if they bring a completed passport to me at the start of next year, I would have a surprise for them! (I am thinking some gummy book worms and a bookmark!)

2. Writing Center:
I gave each of the students a spiral notebook (because that is what I had on hand). Then they got a pack of these summer journal prompts. They cut the prompts out and glued one on each page of their notebook so that they have lots of things to write about this summer! They enjoyed reading the prompts and talking about which ones they wanted to do first!

3. Math Facts Center
I gave each of my students a baggie with 50 small notecards. (I took 3x5 cards and cut them in half.) I also gave each student a worksheet that had 50 division facts with their answers. I put the sheet in a page protector. I instructed the kids to write the problem on one side of the card and the answer on the other side so that they would have their own set of flashcards. They used a dry erase marker to cross off the problems as they made the card.

I put each of these centers into a separte basket and then just rotated the baskets to my different groups. I should also warn you that you need to leave plenty of time! It took about 25 minutes for each rotation!

I loved this activity for several reasons. Obviously, I loved getting the kids excited to do a lot of reading, writing and math facts over the summer! Also, after I gave instructions, they were able to work independently! This gave me lots of time to do paperwork and other end-of-year tasks. Yay! And finally, I loved that it gave them time to socialize. They are so used to having to focus on work or remain quiet. During this activity, they could get their projects done and still talk to friends. I even put some fun music on. It was actually a very good community feeling in my room!

I have just 2 1/2 days of school left! I am so close to surviving my first year of teaching!

My kiddos have o-FISH-ally learned about the ocean!

My kids have spent the last 8 weeks learning about the ocean! I thought I would share some of the fun things that we have done during our ocean unit because they might make fun end of school year activities. I won't be sharing any specific curriculum that my school developed- but I will share things I came up with of that I purchased on TpT.

First, I introduce my ocean unit by telling the kids that I came across this help wanted ad for a Marine Biologist.

 I act just as serious as can be. It makes the kids laugh! Next, I have them all apply for the job using this application.
I love doing this for a couple reasons. First, it gives me a good idea of what they already know about ocean animals and what they want to know more about. And second, it is a chance for me to show them a real world example of why persuasive writing is so important. One day they will all have to persuade someone to hire them! Would you like to do this with your class? I put my printables on TpT for FREE. So feel free to download them!

Finally, I tell them that in order to be marine biologists and study the ocean, we are going to have to dive down deep! So the kids get to make themselves as scuba divers!!!
I saw this all over Pinterest. But I didn't find a pattern. So I had to make my own. Basically, the body is one piece of black construction paper. The arms and legs are another piece that has been cut in fourths. Then I drew the other pieces on copy paper and copied them onto colored construction paper. The kids cut, glued. made a face and added hair. They made for a fun display in our classroom!
One of the biggest projects that we did during this unit was an ocean animal research paper. It was an excellent way for the students to practice the expository writing that we learned in Writer's Workshop. Plus, the kids had a blast since they enjoy learning about animals AND they get giddy about post-it notes!
First, I chose 6 different ocean animals that I thought would make interesting reports. I chose based a lot on which books I had available! I put the animal names on the board with the numbers 1-4 under each one. Then I used sticks to call kids randomly. They picked which animal they wanted to research. This gave all but 1 student some  choice. And the 1 student understood that it was just the luck of the draw and she didn't care. Next, the groups met for a couple of days to take notes. I encouraged and assisted them in using the glossary, index and table of contents. They wrote their notes on post-it notes and stuck the note over the corresponding box on the research hand-out. After research was complete, they worked independently on the report writing using the pages in the unit for each topic they had to write about. They finished the report by making a table of contents, illustrating and doing a self-reflection (included in the unit). And finally, they got to trade with a different group and read their report. This helped them to learn about another animal! They did a partner evaluation (also included in the unit). In the end, they had wonderful reports and had learned lots about ocean animals, expository writing and the parts of a book! I highly recommend this project and this unit! Check it out here.
After all that hard work, I wanted my kiddos to enjoy a fun (and messy) art project!
I made stencils for each of the 6 animals that the groups had done reports on. They traced the stencil on black construction paper and then cut out the inside- leaving all the edges in tact. Next they were given a piece of foil. They were allowed to choose 2-3 colors and asked to paint stripes across the foil. Before the paint dried, they took a q-tip and removed some paint to make a pattern of their choice. When it was dry the foil was glued under their construction paper and google eyes were added. They look so pretty on the wall outside my classroom with their report right under it!
After we finished this major project- it was time for SHARK WEEK!!! We started by reading a book by my very favorite author, Gail Gibbons. It's called Sharks. After we read the book and discussed it together, we made a big list of facts that we learned about shark teeth! The kids used this list to write an informative paragraph about shark teeth. I used this unit for this project (as well as a few others). It's a fun unit! The kids wrote their paragraph on the shark shaped writing paper and then made the cute shark as the cover. The mouth is made using a small paper plate. The rest was made using the templates from the unit. Didn't they turn out cute?!

See that bag? We just had to make our own shark teeth! I made some salt dough and gave each kid a small piece. They shaped it into a tooth. I let them sit out on my counter for a week on a cookie try and they hardened! I was happy to have to bake them because baking them stinks up the house and sometimes the teeth stick. This worked out perfectly!
I just HAD to hang the sharks and the teeth on a wall! My classroom is starting to feel more like an ocean than a circus! The title of this display is "Oh Sharky, What Sharp, Teeth You Have!" Those teeth letters were included in the ocean writing unit!

I just had to end our discuss about shark teeth by reading the book Never Take a Shark to the Dentist! It's cute and gives everyone a giggle!
Next we moved on to WHALE WEEK! This week happened to fall during standardized testing so I kept it pretty light and fun. I read the Gail Gibbons book, Whales. This time I had them do a narrative writing. They wrote a story about the day they took their pet whale to school. They were pretty silly! Again I used this ocean writing unit. The kids wrote their stories on the whale shaped paper and made the cute whale from construction paper for the cover. Aren't they adorable?! I had to resist the urge to hang them because I was out of wall space! I wish I had a picture, but it slipped my mind. We made it just like the directions call for though so check out her kit.
 The next week we learned about crabs and oysters. It was a fun one! I started by reading a couple books about Crabs. One was an informational book that I got at the library. Not sure the title. I also read The Magic School bus Gets Crabby. Once the kids had a pretty good base knowledge of crabs, we talked about the fact that crab is a multiple meaning word and it is sometimes used to talk about someone who is cranky. I read this adorable book called What Are You So Grumpy About? This book is a must-have if you ask me!!! It's funny and my students reference it often! After that we used the template in the ocean writing unit to write about what makes us crabby. We had just finished testing so a few kids said that tests made them crabby! We glued the writing onto the paper crabs that we made from the same unit. Now the writing is called "I am usually a perfect pearl, but sometimes I get crabby." So we talked about oysters and how pearls are made. They cut out an oyster from a folded small paper plate. I had them water color the inside and we glued a pearl in it. Then it was glued on to the crab. It was adorable! But I guess you have to take my word for it. Sorry!
 The next animal we learned about was the jellyfish! I read to the kids about jellyfish and they wrote an informational paragraph. Then we made a super simple jellyfish with white tissue paper and white yarn. They turned out pretty cute!

But my very favorite art project that we did was the Sea Horse!!! I made a stencil for the kids. They cut a sea horse out of white construction paper. I used a tin pan and filled it with shaving cream. I added some dots of primary color paint and then swirled it around. The kids dipped the sea horse in the paint. We set them to dry for about 10 minutes and then scraped the shaving cream off. The next day we added some red yarn and some google eyes. They looked marble! It was a hit with all the parents for sure! (Sorry for the bad pictures. Should have brought my camera!!!)

Our ocean unit was a ton of fun! I think these projects would be fun for an end of school year unit!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day! My gift to you...

My kiddos are hard at work today making Teacher Appreciation cards to give to their teachers this week!

I wanted to show my appreciation to all my teacher friends in blog land...so I am having a sale on almost every one of my lessons in my TpT store on Monday and Tuesday!!! Check it out!

I recommend the End of Year Grilling Up Math Fun set! It is a fun way to keep the kids learning during those tough last weeks of school!

Another recommendation is my End of Year Awards! Students get to vote for which awards each of their classmates will receive. Fun!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

Testing is Over! Now let the fun begin!

Actually my kids had a blast with our baseball themed test review. But this teacher could not be happier to be done with state standardized tests!

I have shared all kinds of baseball thmed review games. (Just click on "Baseball Theme" on the side bar to see the posts.) I wanted to follow up and show you the last couple of things my kids did before test day.

We talked a lot about test taking stratgies. I had them all pick one that they thought should be their own personal goal for test day. They wrote it on a clip art baseball. Then we glued the balls onto baseball mits and decorated our door with their test taking promises. I even made one!

Then right before test day I made a fun pennant with test taking tips. I made an accrostic poem using the word "Swing." The kids loved reading it on their way in the room each morning!
In fact my kiddos loved this baseball theme and the fun Superbowl activities from January so much....that I decided to ditch the circus theme and have a sports theme room next year!!! I have already been hard at work creating and planning and I am so darn excited! I will be sharing more soon!