Saturday, August 31, 2013

All hands on deck! {back to school activity}

I don't know about you, but I am SO EXCITED that it's the weekend.  On top of that, it's a 3 day weekend!  Those first three days of school wiped me out!  It is so easy to forget how hard it is to be on your feet and be "on" all day.

So anyways, we worked really hard in Room 5 this week getting to know each other and I can already say that I love my new kiddos!! They have so much energy and are super sweet - I am excited to spend the next 180something days with these 10 and 11 year olds!

I shared with you a glimpse of my first week plans (which I always over-plan) and I mentioned that I (along with Stephanie from teachinginroom6) saw an incredible pin about a cute back to school activity.  

The kids may know each other because most children in my building have been together since pre-k.  However, this year we have a new student, so this activity worked perfect to establish relationships early in the year.

First, the students made a circle map. In the middle, I had them write "me" and in the outside circle I gave them 5-7 minutes to brainstorm all the things about them that makes them special (hobbies, interests, favorite subjects, pets, family, talents, etc).

Next, the kiddos got an 11x17" piece of white paper.  They traced their arm on the paper and decorated their arms with illustrations from their circle map.

I told them that in their arms, they were to leave no white space, so the whole arm was colorful.  To get them started and their brains working, I traced my arm and started to draw some of their ideas on my hand.  Immediately, I saw lightbulbs go off and they were anxious to get started on their own hand. 

What they came up with was so amazing! They are pretty creative kiddos.  Students who didn't finish in class had to finish their arms for homework.  This is the handout that went home with the students about the assignment:

credit goes to Stephanie again for this handout

Here is the final product:

Before I put up the bulletin board, I had the students sit on their desks in a circle and we went around the room, explaining what significance the drawings on their arms were.  It was so much fun and we learned a lot about each other through this activity.

This is something that I am definitely doing next year!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

First Day Happenings in Room 5 {and a mini giveaway}

Phew! I am exhausted after my first full day of school!  I forget how much I have to talk, and talk, and talk and by lunch, I think I was ready to go home!  I was tired!  I tried my best to keep it lighthearted and fun with lots of ice breakers to mix it up!  Here's a run down of my first day activities with my new batch of 5th graders:

8:50-9:00 Students come in, get settled, meet some of the parents, greet 19 nervous and giddy 10 year olds

9:00-9:20 lunch count, attendance, pledge to the flag, and a big "hello!" to my new kiddos.  I shared my Me Bag with my kids.  In my Me Bag, I shared a Red Sox Hat, a Patriots notepad, a picture of my husband and 2 nieces, a piece of Dove chocolate, a K-cup, a book, and a doggie treat.  It's a cute way for them to get to know me a little and realize I'm human too!  They will bring in their Me Bags later this week and have their turn!  To find out what Me Bags are all about, visit here.

9:20-9:30 PBIS re-teaching about the bathroom... booooring but necessary.

9:30-12:00 Get to know you activities.

I started with a back to school bingo activity that I made up.  It is a 4 x 5 table that they have to get people to sign if the box relates to them.  A couple boxes had "brown eyes" or "Duck Dynasty is their favorite show" or even "someone who knows what a doe is."  It was a quick break for me to let them interact with each other and see how they do on their own!  If you'd like a copy feel free to email me and I'll send it on over!  

Next, I do a project called Shades of Summer.  I have the kids brainstorm for 5-7 minutes on a circle map about all the things they did this summer.  Then, we share out and the main assignment is for them to write a "really good paragraph" about their summer.  This is great because I get to see a writing sample and they get to re-live their summer activities!  They get a pair of blank sunglasses to illustrate their summer based on their paragraph. Usually it's a 2 day project and it makes a great display.  


The last activity I did with the kids was stolen borrowed from Stephanie in Teaching in Room 6.  She talks about it here.  The students trace their arm on an 11x7 piece of paper and fill in their arm with "what makes me me".  Stephanie does a great job explaining it so head over to her amazing blog to check it out.  I will write more on this project tomorrow!

12:00-12:45 lunch/recess.  YAY!  I scarfed down my chobani peach and a granola bar and put my feet up for a minute.  My feet are NOT in shape for heels so there was some band-aid application to some strategic places on my feet too :)

12:45-2:15 Classroom rules/math intro

I started this year with making a chart with the students about what they want out of their classroom this year.  I explained that this included rules and expectations, and how they want their classroom to run all year.  We spent several minutes discussing and adding to the web, until it was all filled up.  Next, we grouped some ideas together (like, no bullying and be kind) and color coded the web.  Lastly, the kids had to work in partners to come up with the basic rules for the class.  Here's what they came up with for this year:
1. Turn the volume down (5th grade substitute for indoor voices)
2.  Be neat
3. Don't interrupt
4.  Be safe
5. Try your best.
6.  Treat others as you want to be treated.

Now, of course, I guided them to tweak it a little, but they came up with these all on their own!  I was pretty impressed!  We also spent a couple minutes talking about consequences (no recess, etc) so they were in agreement of their consequences.

Next, to break up the afternoon, we played a quick game of 2 Truths and a Lie.  Essentially, they write down 3 facts about themselves, 1 of which is false.  We go around the room and have to guess which fact is false.  They LOVED it and I got to learn more about them.

To start math, we busted out the multiplication timed tests (insert groaning, complaining, whining).  This gave me a little reprieve to catch my breath (and chug some water) while they worked away.  We corrected this and dove right into Calendar Math.  Like I said before, if you don't know Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6, she is a fanatic about Calendar math and has tons of informative posts about it here.  So I started with August 28th and went through a couple basic routines with them.  I was impressed that they did really well and seemed to like the challenge!

2:15- 2:55 Special/catch my breath

2:55-3:25 Wrap up the day
I like to go around the room at the end of the day and tell what we are thankful for.  Of course, mine was, "I'm so thankful that I have such a nice group of new fifth graders!" It's nice to let them reflect on the day and many times they have really insightful things to say!

Even re-living my day makes me tired all over again! Haha!  Such is the life of a teacher.. my co-worker came in during our special, and jokingly sits down and says, "So, really?  We have to come in AGAIN tomorrow and do this all over again?!" hahah and she's on her 23rd year!  

So I'm off to plant myself on the couch with a nice glass of tea and catch up on my DVR.. and think about tomorrow!!

****The first 2 people to comment will get my Me Bag activity from my TpT store!  Here's to a new exciting school year my friends!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Classroom Pics

I've worked pretty hard this last week getting the classroom ready for the kiddos, who come WEDNESDAY {slightly panicking}.  And the classroom is never truly "done" so there's always something under construction.  I'll share with you what my room looks like and take you on a little tour!

My school was built in the 1950's, and has never been renovated, so bear with the color scheme...

Here are some "before" pictures:

And the afters:

Have you tried these wall pops?  They are super easy to put on and I'm excited to try them out this year as dry erase boards!  I bought them on Amazon here.  They have tons of colors to choose from!

This is my "star students" board where I'll display a great piece of work from each student.

I teach the moon first in science, so this is a store bought (gasp!) bulletin board.  Below are student mailboxes.  I keep all of the student's papers there and send them home once a week.  Next to the mailboxes is my newest addition to the classroom: one of those straw dispensers that I'm going to use for pencils! This should hopefully eliminate those picky kids who spend hours picking the "perfect" pencil.  I freshened it up with a bit of washi tape.

This is the library.  The bins are labeled by genres with non-fiction bins above.  Above the rocking chair are genre signs that you can get here for free!

Here's where I put the current reading strategy we're working on.  I love the sticky post-it chart paper because it's super easy to put up and down!  The frames are going to be filled with kid-spirational quotes soon...I'm waiting for the color printer to get connected!

This is my desk.  I opted to get rid of my old rickety teacher desk and replace it with a simple table and sterilite container.  It adds room in my classroom and is a better fit for me.

Here's my file cabinet which doubles as a lunch count center.  I put the student's names on magnets and they move their name to what their lunch choice is for the day.  Above is my "no name" board which is where I stick all those papers who have no names.   It's simple to make: a piece of molding or wood, painted, and clothes pins that are hot glued on! viola!

My room is certainly not perfect and I am always changing it up and adding pinterest creations to my room!  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Teaching SS and Science through song - I like the sound of that!

Have you ever heard of Mr. Parr's Youtube channel? If you teach science, you have GOT to check it out!!  He is a teacher who takes modern pop songs, changes the lyrics, and autotunes his voice.  It is AH mazing and my kids love it!  

Check out the newest Social Studies one he did all about Early American Settlements:

I teach science for both sections of fifth grade and I use his videos as a brain break, or as a review session. I save the ones I want to my youtube playlist and have the kids draw numbered sticks to see which one to play.  Here's one of my favorites about light and color:

and another about the scientific method:

and the moon phases:

You'll have to check out allll of his movies, from insects to rock cycles, constellations to the food chain.  And the best part-- they're free!  

I love them, and my kids often tell me that they've watched them after school and BEG me to play their favorites!

Just another way to spice up the curriculum!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pin it to win it winners and some of my TpT purchases

Happy Sunday night!

My pin it to win it winners are.....drumroll......

all of them!  

Since only three people commented/pinned, I didn't want to leave one person hanging.  So, ladies, check your email!

As for my TpT purchases, here's some of what I bought today.

I love Stephanie's products and I am excited to implement this in my classroom this year!


I'm going to add these pages right into my student gradebook for easy reference.

I'm always looking for new ideas, and these seemed great!

Happy shopping!  Of course, I'm always looking for cute clip art...I'm still on the hunt.  If you've bought something fabulous please share! I'm sure I'll poke around tomorrow again, because my wish list is STILL not empty...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Did someone say sale? TpT 2+1 Blog Hop aaannnnd Pin it to win it!

I love I am so excited for the TpT major sale! My wish-list is getting super long, so this is the time to get some of those things I've had my eye on for so long!!  I'm linking up with
Fifth in the Middle
to share my 2 top wish-listed items and the item I want on my wish-list. 

Graphic by Megan at I teach. What's your Super Power?

 SS Explorers Flip Book.
Part of our SS curriculum for the beginning of the year is explorers, so this is a flip book for the kids.  They essentially choose their favorite explorer and use this flip book as a final project.  It's a great addition to the curriculum!  You can get it here for $2.00.

 Reading and Responding Logs for independent reading. 

I blogged about these earlier and they were a part of a giveaway I had.  I love these! They are so easy to implement in the classroom and they are such a good refresher for those reading comprehension skills.  You can get these here for $5.00.

And now for MY wish list...I am sooo excited to clean out my wish-list.  Something that I know I am definitely buying is

by the lovely Jen Runde at Runde's Room.  I used her interactive math journals last year and I can't say enough about how good they were. She has such a clever mind!

Of course, there's clip art, and writing units, and CCSS items on my wish list that I am eagerly anticipating snatching up too.

So here's the deal for my Pin it to Win it:

Pin something you'd like from my TpT store and leave a comment below with the link to your pin.  I will draw 2 winners on Sunday at 9:00 and those people get the product they pinned plus one of their choosing from my store! Whatta deal! Just something to get you started for the back to school craze!

See you for

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Taming the Wild

I am linking up again with 

to share some ideas for "taming the wild".  What a great title by the way, because sometimes I feel like I'm in the jungle!

So here are a couple management tools that I use with my fifth grade kiddos:

{one} Numbering system:  
I assign each of my students a number from day 1.  It is in alphabetical order and they use these numbers for everything.  I have them set up their papers with name, date, number in the top right hand corner (that way, I can flip through a stack of papers to see who has theirs and who doesn't).

I also have the kids line up in number order to travel the halls.  I started doing this last year because I had a wild class and they were so noisy!  This helped because they didn't rush to be first in line or lag behind to always be last.  They knew where their place was and it was an instant fix.  Sometimes they could line up in  reverse number order, or start with number 3, etc just to switch it up.

I have popsicle sticks that are numbered also, so I can pick random students for special things, answering questions, etc.  They come in handy!

If we go on a field trip, on the bus I have the kids count off in number order for a quick check to make sure everyone's accounted for.

These are just a few ways I use the numbers, but I'm sure there are many more that I am not thinking of at the moment!

{two} homework check-in
I wrote about this earlier in this post.  I use pocket charts from Really Good Stuff to keep my homework organized.  It has saved me SO MUCH TIME because I can glance at the chart and see who's pocket is empty.  It is also helpful because there is always someone who forgets to put their name on their paper*.  If I collect the homework (or have a student collect it, which I normally do) I collect it in order and can tell who's paper is a "no namer" based on where they fall in the pile.  Genius! 

If students forget their homework, they usually stay in for part of their recess to make it up.  They also write their name in the "Homework Black Book" which is available for free in my TpT store.  Every student gets their own page, and if they forget their homework, they fill it out accordingly.  This serves as a great reference for parent conferences.

*Also, for the mystery papers who I still can't figure out who's they are, or if they are handed in during class, I have a "No Name Board" by my door.  Essentially it's a piece of molding with clothes pins hot glued on. I stick papers there and kids can claim them.

{three}Magic Piece of Trash
You ever look at your room and go, "jeesh...looks like a bomb went off in here?"  Ok, well, I do.  And some groups of kiddos are messier than others.  So when the room is really messy a great way to get it cleaned up quickly (push in chairs, pick up pencils, put away materials, etc) is to say, "I see a magic piece of trash."  Keep your eye on a piece of trash and whoever picks it up is the winner.  Now, the key here, is to not let them know who the winner is until you're happy with how the room looks.  Sometimes I like to keep it going a little longer just to make the room cleaner (sneaky?  maybe...).  The winner gets a small prize from my prize box (filled with stuff from the dollar store) but it could also be a prize of your choosing.  

{four} getting student's attention
I use a variety of  methods to get my students ready to transition from one activity to the  next.

  • Clapping.  I clap a pattern, they copy it and clap it back.
  • Say, in a quiet voice, "If you can hear my voice, clap one time." and wait for some students to listen.  Continue with "If you can hear my voice, clap twice" (and three times, four times, etc) until the kids are all listening and clapping.
  • Pass out tickets to those kiddos who are doing what you want and say, "I like the way ________ is listening quietly and is ready to learn." Usually, the other kids will see the positive behavior being rewarded and fall in line.
Those are a few of my "tried and true" methods, but there are also times when I say, "If you don't (fill in the blank) I am going to jump out the window." That's not recommended, but can be used in extreme situations. 
disclaimer: I have never jumped out the window, nor do I intend to, but I'd like to imagine the look on their faces if I stuck a leg out.  Also, I'm on ground level, so stop worrying.

{five} PBIS
Our school is a Positive Behavior Intervention School.  We pass out tickets to those students who are doing the right thing.  We also teach the students to follow three basic rules: Be safe, be respectful, and be responsible.  On the first Friday of each month, we have a whole school pep rally and our mascot comes parading around and the kids go wild!  Each teacher nominates three students in their classroom who exemplify being safe, being responsible, and being respectful and they get called to the front of the gymnasium for acknowledgment.  They receive a certificate and pencil, and get their picture taken with our mascot.  The picture hangs in front of the office and they get a month of recognition for their positive behavior.

There is a significant amount of teaching what we expect in regards to their behavior, but by fifth grade, they should be well aware of how to behave in the bathrooms, hallways, playground, cafeteria, etc.  There is a lot to PBIS and this is just a snapshot, but it works for me and my school!

Classroom management is challenging, and I think that it is about 90% of my day.  It starts from day 1, and continues to the last day of school.  I've tried things, they've failed, and it's alright because each group of students is so different from the last!  Be sure to link up with Blog Hoppin' with your tips-- I love reading everyone else's and learning new things for the upcoming school year.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

And the winners are...

I'm so excited that 41 people participated in my first Rafflecopter. I was hoping to at least get 3, so I could actually give something away, so I was pleasantly surprised!  

So without further ado, here are the winners:

Congratulations to Veronica, Christina, and Kelly!  I hope they enjoy using the Reading Response Logs in their classrooms.

As for 
today I am going to be more of a blog stalker than participator.  Honestly, I haven't been in my classroom to start setting it up {shock, horror, I know}.  I'd rather show some pictures when it's at least semi finished.  So, I will not be sharing my Classroom Digs today, but I WILL share next week when I can get in there and get some work done.  
 I'm off to get inspired by other rooms!
Happy blog hoppin'!

P.S.  What do you think of the new blog design? I am LOVING IT! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Meet and Greet! Get ready for Teacher Week '13!

I am linking up with 
for Teacher Week '13! I am so excited! If you haven't checked it out, it is a HUGE link up party for every day this week about all sorts of good things!!!  Up for today is 
I'm going to try to think of things that I didn't include in the past posts.. so here it goes!! 

{one} I am a procrastinator. I wait till the very last minute to get things done.  Terrible!! It's the very opposite of what I tell my students NOT TO BE! Ugh.. and I never change (see... me writing this at 5:39 pm on Monday...)

{two} I just bought a house this year! We are busy gardening and getting dirty outside while trying to make it pretty inside!  It is never ending and the "list" keeps growing.

{three} I hate silence.  I always have something on in the background, usually music, and I just feel weird when it's really quiet.  Although, there are those days where I do enjoy a silent car ride home.  

{four} I love birds! I have a hummingbird feeder up and a couple bird feeders and I love to watch them and see what different varieties come around.  

{five} My favorite movies are Dirty Dancing, Pretty Woman, and The Wizard of Oz.  Every time they come on TV I HAVE to watch...

{six} My brother in law is getting married this September and my husband is the Best Man.  The wedding is at the Cape (Cape Cod, MA) and I am excited to get away and spend the weekend by the shore!

{seven} I can wear my hair curly or straight.  It's naturally wavy, so I get the option to choose depending on my mood. Normally, it's straight.  I can get a couple days out of it and I don't have to dry it in the morning.

{eight} I am an only child.  But I grew up with 3 boy cousins around allllll the time, so I played more with G.I. Joes than Barbies.  In fact, I never owned a Barbie.  

{nine} I love to scrapbook! If I had it my way, I would have a room in my house devoted to scrapbooking and lock myself in there for hours.  In reality, I rarely get the time.  A girl can dream, right?

{ten} I am allergic to carrots, celery, and apples.  Bummer, I know.  Carrots and celery I can live without, but I LOVE apples.  I still eat them and deal with an itchy scratchy throat because it's worth it.

So those are my ten.  Short and sweet!! Can't wait to read everyone else's links and get to know everyone better!

See you tomorrow for

P.S.  My Rafflecopter raffle ends tonight at midnight! Enter if you wish!