Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Drugs are Wicked

It is Red Ribbon Week at our school this week. We are having a door decorating contest on Thursday. Here is my door. My favorite Broadway show is Wicked! I chose to incorporate it into my door decorating. I used butcher paper and oil pastels to draw the poster. I traced from a picture online on my Promethean board.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Primary Sources Center

I have been working through an online course lately that focuses on the use of Primary Sources in the classroom. After looking at a variety of primary sources for this class myself, I was inspired to open that up to my students as well. I know how valuable a primary source can be to children. They loved to look at, feel, and study "old" things. They want to know where it came from, who it belonged to, what it was used for, and how I got it. My class this year has been especially curious about the primary sources we have studied so far. They have even asked for copies of them to take home so they can look it it more closely. Some of the items I have used so far are a list of colonists aboard the Susan Constant, a map of Virginia drawn by John Smith, and directions given to the first colonists in Jamestown. In order to fit this into my already CRAZY packed-full schedule. 

The result.... a center for studying the objects. I keep my centers or stations in lime green tubs that were purchased form the Dollar Tree. Inside, I have the primary source (this week is a quill pen, wax, and seal.)

Some other primary source choices are picture cards:

Documents from history (I purchased mine at places like Mount Vernon, Williamsburg, Deer Field.)

Books from history (purchased from the same places).

Money from the past (also purchased from Williamsburg.)

Here is my printable center I created with the analysis sheet and "I Can" list for the center.
 I have the complete center available in printable form on Teachers pay Teachers. 

Some other primary source ideas are:
Newspapers from a past date

I also have a primary versus secondary sources cheat sheet freebie for you and your students!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

OU Wreath

Here is a little craft for you today! I have been seeing wreaths all over Pinterest lately! I decided to try and make one of my own. After one two trips to Hobby Lobby, I was ready to craft it up!

I decided to make an OU wreath since that is my alma mater and during football season, that is all my household talks about. I started with a basic wreath form. I bought the one made of straw-like stuff because the foam ones weren't big enough at my local HL, but whichever you prefer would work. I also bought two rolls of wired ribbon in my favorite burlap and chevron print. (I bought one and it wasn't enough, hence the two trips to the store.) I also used a hot glue gun, straight pins, twine, acrylic paint, and wooden letters.

1. Start on the back side of your wreath. I tried hot-gluing down the ribbon and even stuck a few straight pins into the starting place to make sure it wouldn't come undone. Then run some hot glue around the next few inches and wrap the ribbon around it tightly.

2. Continue adding hot glue and wrapping tightly as you go around the wreath. If you run out of ribbon, glue the end down and add a couple of straight pins to keep it down tight along the end. Start the next roll of ribbon the same way as above.

3.  Continue gluing and wrapping until you get to the very end. Make sure you keep it held really tight and try to wrap it with even amounts of ribbon showing at each wrap.

4. To finish, glue the end down on the back and pin it in place as well. You can then paint some wooded letters and hot glue those wherever you would like. I tied some twine around the top to make a loop of string to hang it from.

The possibilities are endless on this project. I think it cost me about $20 and an hour to make. Not too shabby. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Jamestown Ship Build

Hello Blog World! Today I am sharing one of my favorite projects of the year. I got the idea from a friend who does it at her school. I loved it so much that I recreated it, and added a few aspects too. This is something that students look forward to for weeks and talk about for years to come!

We build the 3 ships that came to America to start the settlement of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America. We build them out of dowel rods, streamers, and masking tape. Once built, students get into the ships and do some journaling and a reader's theater that I wrote based on the book "Blood on the River" (a must-read for any Jamestown unit!)

So here's how we do it...

1. I don't have a picture, but the day before, I go out and step off the measurements for the ships and spray paint on the grass roughly an outline for the ships. The measurements are included in my lesson pack.

2. Assign students the name of an actual passenger on board one of the ships headed to America. This can be found online or in my lesson pack.

3. Break students into groups of 3-4 students and give them dowel rods, yard stick, and a hammer.

4. Let students lightly hammer the dowel rods into the ground about a yard apart.

5. Students then run paper streamers between the dowel rods, attaching the streamers with masking tape. This is especially important if it is windy!

6. Continue adding streamers until it is as full as you would like, or you run out.

7. Build all 3 ships and let students get "inside" the ships to do some activities. 

8. We do a journal prompt, asking students to put themselves in the place of the person on their name tag. They are asked to create a few journal entries telling about their journey to the New World.

9. We also do a reader's theater, assigning parts and reading it aloud. There is one based on the book "Blood on the River" in my lesson pack or you could find one online.

We let the kids dress "colonial" and so the teachers do too! This was my team last year: Mrs. Cejda, myself, and Mrs. Grace.

The kids created signs to label our ships too.

We build them in the morning, spend most of the morning out in them, eat lunch in them, then leave them up for other grade levels to come visit and see.

I make "Hardtack" or ship biscuits for the kids to eat onboard too. You can find the recipe here. 

Some helpful hints I have found after doing this a couple times:
-You need about 150 dowel rods (we got them donated from Home Depot)
-About 80 rolls of streamers is needed
-Spray painting the outline helps in controlling the chaos
-Invite other classes and grade levels to visit (our whole 5th grade does it together)

**This lesson pack does NOT have directions for building the ships with dowel rods and streamers. That is for my blog only. It suggests using chalk on concrete.**

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Picker-Uppers

Teaching can be such a draining profession, right? Whew! Between planning, teaching, paper work, discipline, meetings, grading, and everything else that we do, it can overwhelm you quickly... Leading to low morale and exhaustion. My school counselor and I decided that our staff morale was not what it could be and we wanted to do something about it! Insert.... the The Picker-Uppers!

We deemed ourselves the Picker-Uppers because we want to pick everyone up when they are feeling down. We took up a small collection from our staff to fund our little project ($5-$10 each). Then we started looking on Pinterest and everywhere for ideas to pick people up. Here are some of the things we have done in the month since school started...

At back-to-school professional days, we did a "photo booth" by providing fun props and a hand-held camera for our staff to pose for pictures with their friends and teammates. Our art teacher then took the photos and put them on an "Incredibles" poster for us to hang in the teacher's lounge.

We made "prayer posters" by each table group at back to school meetings. They were just silly prayers for our upcoming year. Here are a few funny ones. Sorry for the blurry photos. My iPhone camera doesn't work right.

We made a "Grateful" poster that now hangs in our lounge for teachers to write reasons they are grateful to work at our school.

The second week of school we gave out bubble wrap with directions that told them to pop a row every 4-6 hours or as necessary. This was a big hit... some were asking for a the whole roll of bubble wrap!

We gave out little bags of glitter with tags that said, "Hello, I'm the happiness fairy. I've sprinkled happy dust on you. Now smile darn it, this stuff's expensive!"

We bought coffee creamer to keep in the fridge for staff to put in their coffee in the mornings.

We are having a tailgate-themed potluck today at lunch time and we got the principals to approve jeans for today! That boosts morale leaps and bounds!!

I think it has been really effective! Do you do anything similar at your school? I will continue to share some of the ideas that we use!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I always find today to be a tough day to be a teacher. How do you explain to 10 year old's that there are awful people out there that want to hurt us? They just don't understand why anyone would want to hurt another country. I even had a boy tell me that "that is really emptying someone's bucket." How true that statement is. We just talked about being bucket fillers yesterday, so that really hit home to a lot of my class.

In trying to explain this awful tragedy to my class, I searched for the best ways of showing and explaining the day without being too depressing or graphic. I wanted it to be a serious lesson, but still give them hope and pride for their country. They were genuinely interested in the topic as well. I used the handout created by "What the Teacher Wants." You can find it here. It is a great, simple worksheet that students can fill out to reflect their thoughts and feelings about what we talked about.

I also used Brain Pop's video. The 9/11 video was the featured free video today. Here is a link.

In my searching, I also found myself at the 9/11 Memorial website. They have a lot of lessons and ideas for the classroom. Here is a link. They have so many great resources for children and adults alike!

What ideas did you implement in your classroom today?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Genre Foldable

Hello everyone! I have been looking for a quick way to review genres. We have talked about them and described them, but I needed something quick that we could refer back to in our reading journals. I couldn't find exactly what I was wanting, so I just made one! It is a simple foldable for their reading journals that has 12 genres on it. Please check it out in my Teachers Pay Teachers store! 

Here is how it looks in journals. (So sorry for the bad pictures, my cell phone camera has decided to malfunction this week!)

Start by cutting around the foldable.

 Then glue only the sides that say "genre" on them.

Cut along the dotted line up the middle, then between the genres.

It should have enough space on the back and underneath to write a description and a couple of example books.

Hope you like it! Please click here to get it!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Classroom Tour 2013

Well, here are some pictures of my classroom this year. We just had open house on Thursday and I start school Monday. Ready or not, here they come! I have 24 sweet 5th graders on my list so far... you never know how many will really show up or how many extras you might get. We shall see. Hope you enjoy the tour!

View from the front door...

My "ticket out the door" poster. Students will write something they learned on a Post-It note and stick it on the poster.

My Boggle board for word work.

View of my cabinets and cubbies. I will put my word wall on the cabinets and the cubbies hold their math and reading stations.

One side of the classroom library. All books are in baskets by genre and then stickered with reading levels. More about my library can be found here.

View of the front of the room.

Another look at the word wall and classroom library.

This is my data-tracking board. I will show student progress on this board through our formative assessments we give. It will not have their name on it, but rather, just show how many students in our class passed each skill tested. There is one for math and one for reading.

This is my small group table. I recovered the chair to make it match the room a little better!

My desk... palm tree is just a carpet tube, lunch sacks over it, and an umbrella in the top.

My podium and chair I also recovered so it matched.

Small reading and writing area. Table and chairs are from Target a few years ago.

Writing center with writing supplies and our VOICES posters.

These are my "turn-in" folders where all work is turned in. They turn in their work in alphabetical order inside the subject-area folder.

Table for staplers, paper, highlighters (to highlight their names before turning in their papers).

Behind my desk... kind of messy in this picture, but you understand that, right?

Open house homework... students are asked to bring in a picture of their family to show the class and parents are asked to fill out a survey about their child and family to return to me.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!