Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mayflower Voyage

Last week my class set sail on the Mayflower! We had a blast. While they were at specials, I assembled our "Mayflower." It was nothing fancy, but I still think it was memorable!

I bought plastic tablecloths for $1 at Walmart, some candle night lights from the Dollar Tree, and used tape to tape up the sides of the "ship." Once again, nothing fancy, but with the lights out, it was pretty convincing.

I did a search on You Tube for creaking ship sounds and found some great ones! With the lights out, candles on, and the ship sounds in the background, it was very realistic I think. I had the class cram into the small space so they could feel how they would have been very close on such a small ship with 102 passengers! I read them some of the conditions and scenarios that occurred on the Mayflower. We stayed "onboard" for about 15 minutes to talk about conditions and such. I have made them hardtack when I have done this in the past, but forgot this year!

When we disembarked from the ship, we conducted a detective mystery case that I got from a teaching book. The case was a clue left on the Mayflower, which was a note about the Mayflower Compact and how not everyone wanted to sign it. We then discussed the Mayflower Compact and did a Reader's Theater together. The kids loved it and I think it was a memorable lesson!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Jamestown Lesson: Fear Factor

I am wrapping up my teaching of Jamestown this week. It is always one of my students' favorite topics! There is just so many interesting parts to it! We are almost finished reading "Blood on the River." If you haven't read this book, you should! It is awesome! My class gets so into it and it is very close to actuality (based on primary sources.) 

I am always looking for ways to hook my students into history! I will do anything to get them to buy into my lesson.

Yesterday we did a fun lesson that I call Fear Factor: Jamestown Style! Have you seen the show "Fear Factor"? The idea is that contestants have to face their fears to win big money! I think Jamestown would be like that in that the colonists were all facing very real fears, but instead of a monetary reward, they were trying to save their own lives! 

I start the lesson with looking at some primary sources and having students analyze them together with their table groups. Students present their findings and earn points for their groups.

Then, I have a food portion of the game! I go to the store and buy the most disgusting foods that I can find... like baby food, canned meat, sardines, picked pigs feet, etc. (YUCK)
The students eat it up! (literally) The student to eat the food the fastest and show me that there isn't any left in their mouth, gets a point for their team.

I didn't get any pictures of the food part because I was so involved in watching them compete for their teams by taking down the gross food! Needless to say, there are plenty of kids willing to eat some gross stuff for the sake of points for their team. 

I always make sure that the students don't have any food allergies before I buy anything and it is always optional to compete in the food portion.

Finally, we tally up all the team points and then I give some kind of reward for the winning team (like candy or Dojo Points.) 

I think next time I will pick up some mints for everyone to enjoy afterwards to get the nasty taste out of their mouth from whatever they had to eat in the challenge.

This is a lesson that students keep talking about for days afterwards! If you want to see more and get the whole lesson, here is a link.

What do you do to hook your students in?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Jamestown Ship Building Project

Yesterday was out annual ship building project! As a fifth grade, we recreate the 2 ships that came from England to start Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America. It is truly one of my favorite projects all year. My students look forward to it for weeks. I have been asking for streamers and masking tape donation for weeks too. Here are some pictures of the fun we had!

Once "built" we sit in the grass inside to do a reader's theater and journal from the perspective of an actual passenger aboard one of the ships.

For more information on this lesson, see this blog post about it a couple years ago.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Assignment Check In Slips

One of my very favorite classroom class work management tools is my assignment check in slips. I got this from my teacher that I interned under! She was the best! It is how I keep my sanity in the paper clutter that is a classroom. It helps me keep track of assignments that students have completed, when they turned it in, as well as who is still missing the assignment. That is how I track missing work. I keep them handy for everything!

When a student turns in an assignment in my room, they choose the folder for that subject area, pull out an assignment check list, slip it on the front of the folder, label it with the proper subject, assignment, and date, check their name, then put their paper in the folder in number order. Putting it in number order is SO important so that I can quickly check to be sure everyone who checked their name off actually turned it in, grade and enter them into the grade book (already in alphabetical order).

This takes a week or so for my 5th graders to master, but it is SO worth it! It makes tracking missing work a cinch! I just circle the students that didn't turn the assignment in, then ask them for it every day until I receive it and can mark their name off. Sometimes I use the slips for writing down grades as well if I don't get a chance to put them in the grade book right away. I also use the slips for walking around the room for participation grades. I hope you find this helpful! An editable version is available here!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Meet Your Teacher Night

We had Meet Your Teacher Night on Tuesday! I had almost all of my parents and students come! That is a busy night full of new faces and lots of school supplies! To make things flow as easily as possible, I set up stations around the room for parents to stop at.

Stop 1- signing in and picking up necessary paperwork that has to be signed by all parents for the school. I also made flip charts this year to give out to all families in my class.

Stop 2- choosing a seat... the students love this part because they like to pick where they will sit on the first day! (I rearrange my seating arrangements every two weeks or as needed!)

Stop 3- Parents were able to sign up for Remind 101, which we are going to use this year! I had about half go ahead and sign up, so I hope that the rest will join in too soon!

Stop 4- This was supply drop off. This was obviously before all of the children and supplies arrived. By the end of the night my table was overflowing! (Good problem to have)

Last stop- Picking up "homework" (they were to bring in two things that represent their summer and themselves.... but more on that later) and there was a questionnaire for parents, as well as a PTO sign up sheet.

Hope you like my stations! If you want to snag them for yourself here is a link.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Classroom Tour

Meet your teacher night was Tuesday night. I can't believe how fast the first two days went! If you have already started school, I hope you are having as great of a year so far as I am. It looks like I am going to have a great class! Yay! Here are some pictures of my classroom setup this year!

View from the door. I made the leap from desks to tables this year! My school actually bought me brand new tables! That is unheard of around here!

Calendar and turn-in table.

Back wall with student computer and part of the classroom library.

My small group area and I turned my desk against the wall since I rarely ever sit there anyway. It was just taking up space. The kidney table makes a lot more sense!

More of my classroom library and word wall that I put up on my cabinets.

Classroom library. I have a Donor's Choose project up now to get a pretty new rug for this corner! Hopefully it gets funded soon!

A second reading area that I set up this year! Already loving the garage sale coffee table. Students are like a magnet to it! They love  to sit on the floor all around it to work.

Where I hang anchor charts and posters as we study them.

Another picture of my corner....

Pano of the whole room...

Hope you enjoyed my little tour!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why I Became a Teacher

While on the Oklahoma Education Sunday night Twitter feed, I was challenged to blog about why I became a teacher. If you don't already read the Sunday night tweets, you're missing out! #oklaed Sunday nights at 8:00 central.

I became a teacher because it is what I have always wanted to do. Seriously. My mom says I wanted to be a teacher before I even attended school. How I knew what school was all about, I'm not sure. What is funny, is I didn't always enjoy school much. I don't think it was actually going to school, but I didn't enjoy being a student. I always wanted to be at the front of the room teaching the class, not attending.

As a little girl, I would practice being a teacher every day. I saved up my allowance to go to the teacher store. I would buy workbooks, grading pens, grade books, pointer, etc. I had a chalkboard and whiteboard hanging in my room to teach from. I would line up my dolls and make them do worksheets. I recruited my neighbors to be my students. I am even guilty of giving a never-ending spelling test that my mom stopped me mid-test because I was on number one hundred something. (I was a little bossy as well.) Every time my friends came over we had to play school. I was a bit obsessed.

When I got to go to school, I loved my teachers. I idolized each and every one of them. I had great teachers growing up, which only fueled my passion to become a teacher. They would save their extra copies so I could take them home. I loved that! I try to keep that in mind as I teach today. Kids need to see that teaching is fun and many of them do want to become teachers some day. I am afraid that the low pay and increased pressures put on teachers is squelching the younger generation from dreaming that same teacher dream that I did. I want to continue to encourage young people to get into teaching. I truly love it, despite those negative parts!

In college, I started by majoring in business, because of those obvious drawbacks in teaching. I looked at my class list and nearly cried. How boring the next four years of my life would be. My boyfriend at the time, husband now, said, "Are you sure you don't want to be a teacher?" I knew immediately I needed to change my major! I went the next week and changed it all over... looking at that class list made me giddy with excitement. I got to take classes that taught me to be a teacher? Heck yes!

The rest is history... I continue to love teaching. I love it so much it consumes my life often. I am always thinking, jotting down ideas, Pinteresting, reading blogs, etc. to try to keep things exciting and fresh in my classroom.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Hello bloggie world... Has it really been SO long since I posted?? I feel terrible, but life happened. In the last year and a half I have gotten pregnant, had a baby, and returned to teaching. All of those things combined, have resulted in zero blogging! However, I am jumping back on the blogging bandwagon and can't wait to start again! I have set some goals to get back at blogging and add to my TPT store as well.

A little bit of an update...

Got pregnant and prepared this beautiful nursery to welcome home our precious baby boy to.... It is "Oklahoma" themed.

On August 13, 2014 we welcomed little Wiley into the world...

And he is now a big boy looking more like this.... (Why oh why does it go so fast?) He will be a year old this week.

Now I will get back to school and classroom materials.... I start back to school next week! I have been working in my classroom for the last month (whole new challenge with a little one.) I will share photos next week after I have everything where and how I want it!