Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bright Idea for Managing Hallway Behavior!

I'm joining up for another Bright Ideas blog hop! There are 150 bloggers, all with awesome FREE ideas and tips!
My tip this week is a management tool. Everyone knows what a line of students in a hallway should look like: quiet, facing forward, hands to themselves. My class this year can't handle that. Well, about 1/2 of them can, but the other 1/2 find it incredibly difficult. I do everything I can to avoid having to be in the hallway for a prolonged period - I don't go to lunch until I know the other classes have cleared the cafeteria line, we're the last ones into assemblies, we're the first to leave assemblies etc.

However, this class also can't handle going to the bathroom on their own (as our custodians can attest to!) so we have to do whole class bathroom breaks. With 26 kiddos, this can take a long time. I have several students that have impulse control issues, and this is very apparent while waiting in line. I tried redirection, making my expectations clear, having consequences etc. Ultimately though, I found that our bathroom breaks were a big negative part of the day - which of course followed us back into the classroom as well.

So, how do I remove the negative from our bathroom breaks? By changing my expectations! I can't expect this year's kiddos to be able to do everything previous year's classes have done. Instead of trying to get them to stand still and be quiet, I had to give them something to do and focus on. Since our bathroom breaks are so long it helps that this is educational too.
We've been working on fluency and sight words a lot, so I came up with the idea of using Fry's Phrases on poster boards. I chose phrases from the first 300 and wrote them on the ghostline posters. I taped these to the walls in the foyer outside our bathroom. Each time we head out for a bathroom break we bring a pointer from the classroom with us.

Now instead of saying "Please keep your hands to yourself." or "Remember, our voices are off in the hallways.", I say things like "I'm looking for the antonym of short." or "Find a word that ends in a digraph." or "Can you find a silent e word?". The beauty of this is that I can make this as difficult or as easy as my kids can handle. I have some CVC words on the posters so my lowest kiddos have a chance at identifying those, but I can make it super challenging for my higher level kiddos by asking for them to identify words with blends or multiple syllables etc. We look for verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs as well as punctuation too.
 Now, the management part comes with the fact that they only get a turn with the pointer if they are standing in line quietly, directly behind the person in front of them. They also don't get to raise their hand until they've found the word I'm looking for, which means that everyone is scanning the posters trying to find the word. Since they're all working for a turn, I don't ever have to get on them about line procedures any more.They're no longer bored since they're focused on reading the posters, trying to find the words before a friend. This is fast paced too, so in a single bathroom break almost everyone gets a turn, which gives them the opportunity for movement so they don't have to stand still as long.
I used a multicolor pack of posters so I can give hints like "You might want to look at the green poster."  too, but also because the colors are naturally appealing to the kids. I started off with only 3 posters, but have progressed to having 7 taped up now. Sometimes I'll just ask someone to read a whole poster, or a whole line. The point is to keep changing it up so that it's something new to engage them each time.

I hope this idea helps some of you who are having problems with hallway procedures. Sometimes it's helpful to have that reminder that expectations need to be realistic and can change to reflect your class. I'm not saying to lower your expectations, but if a procedure isn't working you have to see if there are other ways to get the desired result - in this case a class that didn't disturb others while waiting for the bathroom!

Be sure to check out all the other Bright Ideas from this month:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Science Fair Winning Experiment!

 Woohoo! We won the Science Fair! Okay, so there were only 5 class entries in Primary, but still :) The kiddos and I are very proud of our ribbon and certificate:
 Our topic was "Does Sunscreen Really Protect Your Skin?" I got the idea from Steve Spangler's site. Here's what we did:

I purchased some Sune Sensitive paper from Hobby Lobby. It was $9.99 for a pack of 15 sheets but I cut them in half so we only used 3 sheets plus I used a 40% off coupon :)

We placed each sheet in a ziploc baggie and designated one our control sheet with no sunscreen. On each of the other 4 baggies we spread a nickel sized amount of SPF 15, 30, 50 and 70 sunscreen. (I had the SPF 50 and 70 at home since my kids are really fair skinned, but I purchased the Walmart brand SPF 15 and 30 for the experiment).

Once we had all 5 baggies ready I taped them to the lid of a box:
 Then we took the baggies outside and left them in the sun for 5 minutes:

When we got inside I rinsed the paper in cold water and then set it to dry. The results weren't as dramatic as I thought they would be - but you could still tell the difference. Next time I would use more sunscreen on each baggie!

The paper with no sunscreen is just a dark navy blue.

On the SPF 15 protected paper we could see some areas that were protected but the sunscreen was so thin that it didn't provide much coverage.

I forgot to get a picture of the SPF 30 paper, but the SPF 50 paper shows clear areas of protection - you can see where we tried to smooth the cream out!

The SPF 70 protected paper has many more light spots and overall was lighter in color than the other papers. Again, if we had applied more sunscreen I think the effects would have been easier to see.

I was told that the judges really loved our writing. I have to admit that the writing was a simple free write. The kids and I talked about sunscreen, I explained what SPF meant and we talked about why and where we might use sunscreen. Then I gave them a piece of paper and 20 minutes. We did not edit these pieces at all, and I did not provide any help with spelling or sentence structure, except for my kiddos on IEPs. To be honest, we had so much else going on that I simply couldn't take any more time for this project. It was one of those "get it done, just to cross it off the list" kind of moments lol. So I was pretty pleased that they turned out decent! Here are a few samples:
This little guy loves to have me check yes or no. Every time I read his writing I'm reminded of that old George Strait song lol.

 This little sweetie is very persuasive. "Do you want to get red? No, you don't want to get red." Nuff said!
 I love how she refers to Oklahoma as a hot place!

Moral of the story? Don't leave your sunscreen unattended at a waterpark!

I think in total it took about an hour of class time and an hour of prep to buy the supplies and put our board together. I spent less than $20 on it too, so that's a win in my book lol.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Butterfly Eggs & Foxy Math!

Good morning! Is time flying for you too?! It's almost the end of the year here (less than 35 days!) and I am frantically trying to fit it all in! First up, look how cute my little man is, now that I can't eat ANYTHING:
 His eczema was exacerbated by food allergies. So far we know that he's allergic to dairy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, soy and codfish. We're still waiting on more test results so we can add to the list lol. I cut all of those foods out of my diet and he is looking and feeling much better! We're crossing our fingers that he outgrows the allergies.

In classroom news, usually I'd be doing all Spring stuff, but it wasn't really Spring weather, so we did Fox. My students LOVE the Fox. When we've been really good, we get to dance to this video:

Anything to do with the Fox gets my kiddos super motivated - which is important for this time of year lol! I created "The Fox Says Math!" pack with a ton of printables and work station activities:
We've only done about 1/2 of the printables, and my students love them. This is not really a group of kids that likes to color, but they've been going to town trying to out-color each other with these papers!
Two of our favorite activities were the Fox Fact Family Forest and Measure the Foxes!

We also did Read & Write the Room with Missing Addends, Time to the Hour & 1/2 Hour, Clothespin Cards with Number Bonds and Missing Addends, and Foxy Ten Frames for those of us still working with number sense.

Next week we're finishing up our Plant Life Cycle pack so that we can start on our Butterfly Life Cycle pack! Look what came in the mail:
 Those are teeny tiny Brassica Butterfly eggs from Carolina Biological!
 We have our butterfly net set up with lots of Brassica plants - radish, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower!
The pamphlet said that the eggs would hatch 48-72 hours after placing the eggs on a plant, so I'm hoping we have some excitement when we come into school on Monday! I am so excited to get to see the whole development of the caterpillars!

I also got super exciting news this week: I'm teaching Pre-K next year! Well, maybe. After I said Yes! to the pre-k position a Kindergarten position opened up (one of our K teachers got a job in Japan!) I've thought about going back to my admin and asking for Kindergarten instead, but either way I'm moving down next year! I love my firsties, but my heart is with the little ones!

I'm also in the TPT newsletter this week for hitting a milestone! In celebration, ALL of my Math products are 20% off from April 6th-9th!

Have a fabulous week and be sure to check back for our WINNING Science Fair Experiment later in the week!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Plant Life Cycle Unit

We started our Plant Life Cycle study this week! I started now for two reasons - next week is Spring Break so when we get back to school on March 24th we should have some sprouting action within a few days. This cuts down on the wait time so that the kids aren't checking day after day with no results for so long! The other reason is that I want to start our Butterfly Life Cycle after Spring Break as well, and to do that we need plants! You see, this year I am ordering Brassica Butterfly eggs so that we can see the complete life cycle from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly - in the past with the Painted Lady caterpillars I ordered we always skipped the egg phase. Since we won't be getting that nasty "food" stuff that comes with the caterpillars (and really, the kids are always confused that caterpillars eat leaves but come with brown sludge lol) we need to have some Brassica family plants ready to feed our caterpillars when they hatch!

I start our Life Cycle study by putting together a folder for each student. I make sure to buy enough of each color folder at the beginning of the year when they're on sale so that I have one for each student. The green folders are always Plant Life Cycle, my blue ones will be for Butterfly Life Cycle, and yellow will be for Chicken Life Cycle. This means that when I tell the students to get out their Plant Life Cycle stuff they just have to grab their green folder and they're ready!
In the left side pocket go all of the printable sheets - life cycle calendar, labeling pages, kwl sheets, sequencing sheets, writing prompts and color by code sheet. The right hand side has the easy reader and the Observation Journal.
I always start my seeds in a Jiffy Greenhouse - the kids love seeing the little peat pellets absorb the water and expand! Then everyone gets a turn to poke a hole and plant some seeds. This year we planted radish, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage to hopefully feed our Brassica Butterflies!

I'm lucky enough to have huge windows, so we set our greenhouse in the window and wait for sprouts.
Every day we get our folders out and complete part of our unit.
 The kids love the Plant Life Cycle reader - we take our time coloring it and read it each day:

 The labeling and sequencing sheets are favorites too:
But, my favorite part is the Observation Journal. There are 10 pages of prompts for students to draw pictures, answer questions, and describe the life cycle.

One of the best things is that whenever someone comes to visit us, the students can quickly grab their folder, bring the visitor to our greenhouse area and show off all they know about the life cycle!

If you'd like a chance to win your own copy of this unit, check my Facebook page for a fun giveaway today! Also, don't forget to go enter my Joy Crowley Big Book giveaway!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mrs Wishy-Washy Contest and GIVEAWAY!

Woohoo for Spring Break! What better way to celebrate than with a giveaway and a contest?!

First, you can enter Hameray's Joy Crowley Classroom Giveaway 2014 and win an awesome collection of Joy Crowley's books, big books, puppets and more! Joy Crowley is the author of the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books and one of my favorite authors! Check out Hameray's Pinterest boards for some wonderful ideas to go along with the books! Click the picture below to go to the official contest entry site:|4b3d30ce-c326-4a4c-8d4d-d094cecd6223

I've reviewed the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books before and really enjoy them, so I'm happy to be able to giveaway a free Joy Crowley Big Book too (the book you win will be chosen at random)! Just enter via the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Leprechaun Visit! (Freebie!)

We have kicked off our last week before Spring Break with a bang! We are rocking our math benchmark (sigh for benchmarks in 1st grade!) but more importantly, twin leprechaun brothers aren visiting our room all week!

Yesterday we read The Naughty Leprechaun Story which came with a sweet note from Liam that since we have Spring Break next week he and his brother would come visit us at school this week. The kids were quick to brainstorm a list of "school treasure" that the leprechauns might leave, and pranks that might be pulled if we're naughty.
Luckily everyone was on their best behavior and Liam left us a little treasure in the form of stickers, St. Patrick's Day pencils and a new book!
Tomorrow we will be using some of the writing prompts in my FREE How to Plan a Leprechaun Visit and Friday we'll go on our scavenger hunt! The rest of the week we'll be using my St. Patrick's Day Lucky Leprechaun Math unit and playing many of my St. Patrick's Day I have Who has? literacy games! 

I'm not sure if this is my favorite week of the school year because of the magic of leprechauns or because Spring Break is just a few days away!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bright Ideas Blog Hop ~ Inexpensive Manipulatives - and How to Store Them!

I am so excited to be joining the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!
 My idea this week came about because my school has a distinct lack of math manipulatives. We have the standard unifix cubes and a small bucket of transportation manipulatives, and I think we even have 1/2 a set of bears but not enough to engage a classroom of little learners! I get $0 for my classroom each year and I've got 5 mouths of my own to feed, so I had to come up with inexpensive manipulatives.
If you've ever been to The Dollar Store or Target's Dollar Spot (if you haven't you probably need to hand in your teacher card!) you've seen those little baggies of novelty erasers:
Usually they're only $1 for 50-100 pieces. Many of them come with a few types per bag, but if not you can always buy three bags and mix them together. You can also get novelty erasers at Oriental Trading Company.

These are perfect for math manipulatives! In kindergarten you can use them for sorting, patterning and counting. In 1st grade I use them as addition and subtraction manipulatives or have the kids grab a handful to graph. Since they come in all kinds of different designs, the students are always enthusiastic to use them. I have special themed ones that only come out around a holiday, but others that are available year round for the students to enjoy.
The easiest way to store them is in pencil boxes. This keeps each set contained and separate from the other sets. I purchased the pencil boxces after school started when they were only ten cents each! My students can easily grab a box and take it back to their table to work with.
When I was purchasing the pencil boxes, I also grabbed the cardboard display case off the shelf. Walmart was happy to let me have it for free and it keeps the boxes stacked neatly so they don't take up much space. Plus I can move them from place to place in the room without a hassle.

There you have it - math manipulatives that will keep your students' interest - and you don't have to worry when a piece or two "goes missing" because they are inexpensive to replace!

Now head over to Mrs. Bremer's Class for a Bright Idea about student mail!

Check out the linky for even more Bright Ideas!
Kindergarten - 2nd grade:
3rd grade & up:
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