Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mother's Day Cookbook Project

I don't know about you, but May is a crazy time in my classroom.  Personally, my class has four field trips and a handful of all day events that take us out of our classroom.  So, sadly sometimes Mother's Day gifts are really rushed and well not that great.  

My first year in third grade, I decided to have my kids make a cookbook and we've done it ever since.  The kiddos and moms in my class love them! What I love about this project, is that it is meaningful BUT doesn't take a ton of class time to complete

To make our cookbooks, I send home a recipe card and letter home with each of my kiddos asking their mom to write out the recipe for their child's favorite dish.  I try to be very mindful during this process and have two letters that I send home.  I use different clip art to keep them straight.  One goes home to the kiddos that are having mom fill out their card and one for those who are having stepmom, grandma, aunt, dad, etc. 

Then, once all the cards are turned in, we spend a class period or two filling out a page that goes on the back. 
Now, I could be super picky about this page, but I'm not.  I have my kiddos write their responses in pencil first, I do a quick check, and then have them write their copy to be included in the cookbook in pen.  I always LOVE reading what the kids write.  Previously, I had my kids write how to make their mom's recipe too, and well I got way more compliments about this version, and the kids like this page so much better!

After the kiddos have finished their page, I run it with their mom's recipe on my copier 1-2 sided with their mom's recipe on top.  Once I have double sided copies of the mom and kid's recipe card, I attach the cover and make enough for my class.  I have included an editable cover page for you in the file. I let my kiddos color theirs. 

The moms and kids in my class love this project.  Not only do they get to read some sweet nothings written by their kiddos, they get a yummy collection of new recipes! :)  One year, a student in my class and his mom made EVERY recipe in the cookbook.  It was so fun to get his emails that summer with his little reviews. :)  I also have my mom submit a recipe and my kids get a kick out of it!  

If you are interested in creating our Mother's Day Cookbooks, click {here} or on any of the pictures is this post to check it out on TpT!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Paper Saving Memory Books

Friends, the end is near.  We are on letter F of our ABC Countdown tomorrow.  Letter F....where has all the time gone?  Since the end of the year is quickly approaching, I decided to freshen up my end of the year memory books.

I always love doing memory books with my class, but the one I usually used required way too much paper.  There is a lot less paper to go around these days at my little school.  I might even have to take in a ream or two of paper from home to get through the year!So, I decided to go green this year and make little memory books, so I could get two pages for each book on a page.  I love using little books in my classroom for math and vocabulary, so I know my kiddos will love these. I teach at a Title One school, so a lot of my kiddos aren't able to purchase yearbooks, and I love being able to send home a little keepsake of memories with them.   Of course, they are the most excited about the autograph pages. :) Especially if I let them use markers. 

Since I have taught second, third, and fourth grades, I have memory books for all three!

If you're interested, all three of these memory books are available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  
During My Days in Second Grade

During my Days in Third Grade
Teachers Pay Teachers

During my Days in Fourth Grade
Teachers Pay Teachers 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Testing Treat Freebies and a Flash Sale

On Tuesday, my little sweeties start our state testing. On Tuesday, they will take the reading test and on Thursday, they will take the math test.   

Typically, I always put something out of my kiddos desk the morning of testing.  I try to make this not sugary candy related.  Our student council gives each kiddo that is testing some candy with a little motivational note but I pass those out the day before we take the tests, I tell them that they are smart candies and they have to eat the them the night before the test. :) 

Usually, the first day of testing they get a brand new pencil

Then on Wednesday, I put a few peppermints on their desks. My English teacher in high school always gave us peppermints before big tests to help calm our nerves.  So I do the same with my sweet friends. :)

I have uploaded both of these little notes to Google Drive for you.  Just click {here} to download the file.  If you download, I'd love it if you leave a comment, follow my blog, OR like my Facebook page. :) 

I copied our fourth grade ABC countdown on Friday night before I left school to pass out tomorrow.  Our countdown starts on Tuesday and our last twenty-six days will be busy! Our last few weeks are filled with field trips, a visit to the school my babes will be attending next year, award ceremonies, a poetry tea, a DARE community service project, book clubs, our fourth grade party, AND field day.  

I'm thinking about starting our memory books tomorrow just to fit them in! :) I know many of you are in the same boat, so my end of the year items pictured below are 15% off until tomorrow at midnight.  Click {here} to check out all my end of the year goodies on TpT! :)

We are doing lots of cooperative learning/team review tomorrow in ELA to review and have some fun before the test, so I guess I better go get that finished! Have a great night! :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five for Friday Time and an Annoucement!

Woohoo! So excited it's Friday and to link up with Kaci! :)


1) Next week, I'll be participating in interviews.  I've been waiting to tell y'all some big news, now that it's official, I can!  Next year, my little school will be adding an extra class to my grade level, so I will no longer be self contained.  While parts of me are sad, I do love getting to know my kids really well and the community that develops throughout the year in a self contained classroom. However, I'm really excited to focus on one area and teach it well. 
So, what will I be teaching? 

I will really, really, really miss teaching math BUT teaching reading is my passion and I just couldn't deny that. :)  Since I LOVE creating math materials, I still plan on sharing and creating some math goodies for y'all...just not as often. :)

2) We are still loving our fluency tubs but I've implemented a change in the fast few weeks.   Mainly, switching our fourth tub to task cards on skills I feel we need extra work on, which has been great so close to our state assessments. I own a lot of task cards, so this change has been quite easy for me. :)  This week, we worked on Rachel's Context Clue Task Cards.  The kids have responded really well to this change and have really benefit from the extra practice.  I check them right away and am able to clarify any misconceptions immediately!
 3) Blank Walls
We take our state tests in reading and math next week, so I spent some time after school "OAAing" my room.  My focus wall looks so lonely with the one rogue fourth quarter book report that was turned in early this week.  
4) Our school mascot is stars, so I took that theme and ran with it this week as we did our final surge of test prep.  My kiddos loved it. :)  I don't think anybody enjoys test prep, but it doesn't have to be ugly! We made these stars today as fun final way to remind ourselves of good testing strategies and I customized a Walk of Fame Star for our themed online and hung it up outside our room.  They really loved this extra touch!

5) Crafty Test Prep 

We need a little bit of extra reinforcement on some important terms that will appear on the vocabulary section of our state test, so I tried to do some crafts to make the topics stick.  The anchor charts aren't pretty BUT my kiddos really did enjoy these activities and I think served their purpose quite well!
The cinammon rolls were inspired by the sweet Cara at The First Grade Parade.  For the antonyms activity, I just used some flip flop clip art I had and had them list pairs of antonyms on the flip flops.  We also did my friend Jen's Rainbow of Similes, I just forgot to take a picture of them!

I'm off to enjoy House Hunters!  :)  HAPPY FRIDAY! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

April Spelling Contract

Hey friends! Sorry this is a little late for some of you but we just had our first day of school in April today. :)  I'm exhausted but I did want to share April's spelling contract with you.  

 Two contracts available because I know that not everyone uses Spelling City. :) Just click on the pics or {here} to download a copy.   If you download, I'd love it if you followed my blog or my blog's Facebook page!

I also have an entire bundle of spelling contracts for the entire year available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  The March contract is different in the bundled pack, in case you were wondering. :) My kiddos LOVE getting new spelling activities each month.  You can check out the year round bundle {here} or by clicking on the image below!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Graphic Organizers Set Two {Try it Before You Buy It}

So, I finally put the finishing touches on the second set of my Spring Graphic Organizers.  As Phil Robertson would say, "Good night a living...", this set took a long time.  I apologize for the delay sweet friends. Just like all of you, I've been swept up with my day to day teaching responsibilities, plus being a wife and dog mom.  Sometimes juggling it all means you  have to step back from one area to get everything else on track for a little while.  So I'm sorry this set is a little late, but hopefully you can still find this set useful! :)

Anyways, this set of organizers is insect, plants/flowers, Earth Day, and rainy weather themed.  Perfect for the last few months of school.  I use my seasonal organizers with pretty much with any book, not just with seasonal books. My big kids love them!

Click on the picture above or {here} to check them on TpT! 
Many of my sweet followers have commented that they use these organizers in their listening and partner reading centers, which I think is a fabulous idea! :)

I'm trying something new and letting y'all try out my graphic organizers before you buy the full set.  I have uploaded the following graphic organizers to my Google Drive to share with you!

Click on any of the pictures of {here} to download them!
The complete set has over 60 pages and has organizers for fiction and non fiction.  For each graphic organizer in the pack has three versions.  One that is flower or insect theme, one that is rainy day themed, and one that is Earth Day themed.  If you can't tell, I love a good theme. :)

If you download the freebie in this post, I'd love if you followed my blog or liked my blog's Facebook page. 

I'm off to hang out with the hubs and pups! Have a great night! :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Motivating Students With Behavior Calendars and Coupons

Every three months, my students get a behavior calendar that looks like this. 

Obviously, I took out personal information like the name of my school, etc, but you get the drift.  For many reasons, I really like this method of behavior communication.  My students keep this calendar in the front pocket of their take home folder.  I love the quick check in it provides for parents, and I love the number coding system.  I jot a little note when I sign, which you'll see in a minute, and put any longer extended notes on the back in the Teacher Notes section.  

Twice a three month cycle, about every six weeks we reward students with three or fewer signatures during that six week time with an extra recess.  For most students, that was highly motivating.  However, many of my students that got more than three signatures, quickly lose their desire to behave/make good choices because their extra recess was gone.  

After some researching, I decided to start using my friend Laura's Classroom Coupons with my behavior calendar.  Click on the picture below to check them out on TpT! You can check out her posts about coupons here.

Starting in February, if my students didn't get their calendar signed they got a star sticker for that day. I just use these simple ones from Avery that I pick up the grocery store. :)  Click on the picture to check them on Amazon. 
Each morning, table captains pass out stickers to the students who didn't get their calendar signed the the day before.  This process takes just a few minutes.  My table captains pick them up, pass them out, and return the stickers during morning work.  Each student is responsible for putting their stickers on their calendar. So now my students' calendars look a little something like this. 

Every week, usually on Mondays, I allow my students to go shopping for coupons.  Each coupon is worth ten stars.  To keep track of redeemed coupons, I highlight, or block with a pen, the ten stars they used on their shopping trip.  Since everyone earns ten stars at a different pace, this takes just a few minutes.

Laura's pack has A LOT of coupons.  So I just picked out the ones that I felt would motivate my students the most.  They LOVE the Night Off Homework Coupon, The Flip Flop Coupon (which allows them to sit next to a friend), The Lunch Date Coupon (which allows them to eat lunch with any friend in our grade level at a special table), The Drink Up Coupon (where THEY bring a special drink to have during snack), and Sit at the Teacher's Desk. We have more in our little coupon store, but the ones I just listed are the most motivating.  Every week, many of them remark that it's hard to pick a coupon because their are so many good ones. :)  What I love most about these coupons is that other than printing them off, they don't cost me anything!

Using these coupons has really made a difference in my classroom environment. My students are motivated to make good choices daily and having their calendar signed really means something now! If their calendar gets signed, not only is that strike against the extra recess but it is also means a delay in their coupon shopping trip!  I what I love even more is that ALL my students are rewarded for good choices, even if they didn't earn the extra recess. It has also encouraged more responsibility because THEY are responsible for putting on their stickers and I haven't had a kiddo lose a calendar yet, which was an issue in the past!

I feel that it's important to note that I purchased these coupons from TpT myself and this isn't a product review. :) I just really love this product and wanted to share with y'all a change in my behavior management plan that has made such a different with my class! :)

What about you? How do you motivate your students to make good choices? 
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