Pumpkin STEM

It IS still pumpkin season, right?  You wouldn't know by all the Christmas décor already in stores.  As for me, I'm going to savor the beauty of fall until Thanksgiving!

These are photos of our Pumpkin STEM Challenge.  I have an investigation station set up in my room.  A place where students can investigate and manipulate and learn.  A couple of weeks ago, I gave my students a STEM challenge to build a gate that can hold five little pumpkins.  The "Five Little Pumpkins" was our poem for the week to go along with this.

The only supplies given were connecting cubes and popsicle sticks.  The challenge was to be able to get all five pumpkins onto your structure.

The first group was able to build a "gate" to hold 2 pumpkins.  They posted this on our Seesaw Class feed for other students to see what they did, comment, and think about what they would do to improve upon the design.  Could they build one to fit all 5 pumpkins?
The next group built this structure, posted it on Seesaw, and other students could comment and view.  These students didn't really build a structure, rather they just laid the materials on the table and stacked pumpkins on top of it...  well, only 4 pumpkins would fit.  Again, I asked the students how we could take what the first two groups did and improve.
The next group built their structure up and got those pumpkins raised; however the feedback they received after posting their work to Seesaw was that the structures were individual, not connected.  And, once again, not all 5 pumpkins were on it.
The last group built this structure and were able to get all 5 pumpkins onto the gate.  We all agreed this was the most successful design.

This was a great learning experience and lots of fun for the kids.  Critical thinking, constructive criticism, receiving feedback, were all skills we learned from this challenge.

It's not too late... it's still officially fall and pumpkin season!  Get your Pumpkin STEM Challenge on!

1st Day of.....

Hey guys!  Don't forget to pick up your 1st Day of School EDITABLE Chalkboard Sign.  Now you can take those adorable 1st day of school photos of your students holding this cute little sign.

Simply print and either put into a simple frame, or create your own!

Snag yours during the TPT Best Year Ever Sale for 28% off using the code "BESTYEAR".  Guys this means you can have it for like $1.44, if I've done my math right!


Did I mention it's EDITABLE?!  You can easily change it to reflect the year you're teaching. 
1st-12th Grade
whatever you want or need!

Oh, and there's 2 designs to choose from:
First Day of School Editable Chalkboard Sign Bus
School Bus Design

First Day of School Editable Chalkboard Sign Kids
Kids Design

Get yours quick... today is the last day of the TPT sale!

Back to School TPT Sale!!!

It's coming!  The Teachers Pay Teachers sitewide back to school sale is coming Monday, August 1st and Tuesday August 2nd.

NOW is the time to purchase all those TPT resources on your back to school list.  If you're like me, you're adding things to your cart in anticipation of the big sale!

Be sure to visit my store where everything will be up to 28% off using the PROMO CODEBestYear.

Shop here!  Thanks for checking out my resources for your back to school needs!

Sight Words Books

New in my series of coordinating Super Words resources... Super Words Books!!  In my class we refer to sight words as Super Words, because once you know them, you have reading power!  So, Super Words Books are really sight words books.

 This year, I'm not going to use a word wall.  I know!  I can almost hear you gasp at the very thought.  I've been blogging about some of the changes I am making to my classroom for the coming year, many of which are inspired by the direction my school district is going.  There is much discussion about what should and shouldn't be posted on the walls of our classrooms.

What I'm going to try this year is to use a small chart to display the 6 Super Words I am introducing each week, plus the 6 we learned last week.  Each week I will rotate them out and add new words.  Now, usually, I would staple these to our word wall, but this year we will use these Super Words Books to refer to when we need help spelling a sight word.

I'm actually excited about it for a few reasons. 
1.  No more stapling up words each week and taking all 220 down in May.  Yippee!
2.  I think it's difficult for my students to see the wall from every vantage point in the room.  I often see them straining their necks or eyes to see the words up on the wall.  Having a booklet right in front of them will help with this.
3. Looking up words in the book will help us learn ABC order.
4.  This one is my favorite... Now students will have access to all 220 Dolch sight words from day one.  They won't have to wait until it's been introduced and stapled on the wall to have access to it.

I have included two covers to choose from:  a full color version and a blackline version which can be printed onto colored paper or card stock.  Assembly directions are included in the packet for easy printing and stapling.

Now my students - and yours - can have the entire word wall (220 Dolch sight words) at their fingertips starting on the first day of school!

You can check out the product preview by clicking on the link below...  Thanks so much!
Sight Words Reference Book
Super Words Book

New Pennant Sets!!

If you're like me, you're dreaming of what your classroom décor and setup will be like for back to school.  Are you getting ready yet?  Pinning ideas?

If you are, you know that pennants are a fun way to top your bulletin boards and this year I've designed some new pennant sets I know you will love as much as I do!

Introducing my Blackline Pennant Sets!  Blackline sets are designed in black & white so that you can print them out onto any color paper or card stock you desire.

Now you can print onto multiple color papers to create a variety of colors, or match your classroom décor or theme!

Blackline Pennants are now available in Stripes and Polka Dots.  They include letters A-Z and a-z (upper & lower case), numbers 0-9, and 8 symbols (exclamation mark, question mark, period, apostrophe, ampersand, hyphen, hashtag, and @.

Have fun creating customized banners for your classroom!  I even use banners for my home décor during the holidays!

Click on the links below to check out the product previews.
Pennant Banners - Blackline Stripes

Pennant Banners - Blackline Polka Dots

To view all my other Pennant Sets, click here.

Have a Super Saturday!

New Birthday Sets!!

New Birthday Sets are now available in my TPT shop.  Earlier this week I posted about my Blue & Red set.  Now I also have a Brights Set.

And - I'm really excited about this - new Blackline sets!!!

Blackline sets are available in Stripes and Polka Dots.  What they enable you to do is print your birthday printables onto any color paper or card stock you desire.  Say what?!

Create your own custom color scheme for your birthday goodies, banners, bulletin boards, cards, certificates, etc.  Print in multiple colors, mix and match, the options are endless!

Thanks for checking out my Birthday Sets on TPT.  Be sure to click on the preview to see samples of what's included.
Birthday Set - Blue & Red

Birthday Set - Brights

Birthday Set - Blackline Stripes

Birthday Set - Blackline Polka Dot

Have a terrific day!!

Celebrating Birthdays

How do you celebrate birthdays in the classroom?  And, what do you do about summer birthdays?

I have handled summer birthdays a couple of different ways.  I used to celebrate July birthdays during the first week of school and June birthdays during the last week of school.  Now, I celebrate those summer birthdays when it's those students' 1/2 birthdays.  I like this better because it keeps them from feeling left out of the fun.

When my birthday boy/girl arrives in the morning, I have a goodie bag waiting for them.  I include a Krazy straw, bookmark, a card from me, and other small trinkets such as an eraser, silly band, pencil with topper, etc. 

I also give them a birthday certificate.  All of the printables you see here are now available in my TPT shop.

I purchase the Krazy straws at my local Dollar Tree.  They come in a package of 6.
You can either put them in the goodie bags ahead of time or, what I do is, display them in a jar.  I let the birthday boy/girl pick one out after we sing happy birthday to them.

I'm working on adding a selection of color schemes; however this first one I've uploaded is super fun because the blue and red color scheme lends itself to matching with all kinds of Cat in the Hat goodies you can find at the store or in catalogs.

Do you have a bulletin board dedicated to birthdays?  I've also included in this Birthday Set, printables you can use to create a fun display. 

Print the pennant banner and string with ribbon, yarn, string, etc. or simply staple it up as I have done here.

I included birthday balloon décor with the names of the months.  You can use the blank balloons included to write out student names and display under each month.

Alternatively, if you are short on space like I am, you can display this little "Our Birthdays" poster.  I print and laminate, then write all my students names on it with the day of their birthday beside their name.

To check out the set, visit my TPT shop here.  More color choices coming soon!
Birthday Set - Blue & Red

Thanks for stopping by!

Alphabet Makeover

Next up on the agenda for creating a more neutral classroom color scheme {read about that here} is switching up my alphabet chart.

This is the before picture.  I truly love this alphabet set by Cara Carroll.  I have had it up for a few years now and it's super cute.

But, in an effort to go more neutral and nature-inspired, I found these.

I think they look fantastic and I know my new first graders will love them!

Whiteboard Makeover

I'm on a mission to make my classroom more Reggio-inspired.  {More about that here.}

The other day, I went in to my classroom to drop off a few things.  One of them was this Duck Tape I found that looks like burlap.  Burlap!!
I couldn't resist ripping the old Duck Tape down immediately and replacing it on the spot.  "I'm just going to school to drop off a few things", I told my husband.  "I'll be right back", I said.  Yeah, right!  Sucked in again.

The reason this tape is up here to begin with has to do with my classroom projector / Apple TV.  You see, my white board actually has lines all the way across the entire board.  When we got our new Apple TV's installed a few years back, we wanted to be able to project it on the white board, rather than on a projector screen.  That way we could write on the board while projecting.  Problem was, those pesky lines were annoying.  Annoying!

So, our trusty custodians came to the rescue, ordered a large white board, and taped it to the center of the existing board with white Duck Tape.  Which was fine.  It was fine until I used it for a few years and it got all disgusting from dry erase markers.  And started to peel.

Anywho, since I'm trying to "go neutral" with my color scheme for next year, I found this burlap Duck Tape to replace it with.

I love the way it turned out.  Yep, it doesn't take much to make me happy. 

And now, I'm wanting to find other places in my classroom to use this awesome burlap tape on.  Any ideas??  Hmmm??

Classroom Rules & Brag Tags

When I first started teaching, I didn't really know which classroom rules I needed to have.  So, I shopped on TPT and just purchased a cute set of rules and used those.  However, all the sets of rules I found had about a dozen rules and, while all the rules were important, it was impossible for my students to learn them all and for me to remember them, too.

So, after a couple of years, I developed my own set of classroom rules. I came up with 6 essential rules which are simple, (mostly) 2-word phrases.  These 6 rules encompass just about any expectation, rule, or infraction you could possibly think of.

My 6 classroom rules are:
1.  Work Hard
2.  Listen Well
3.  Show Respect
4.  Work & Play Safely
5.  Practice Kindness
6.  Act Responsible

Go ahead, think of something a student might need correction on and see which rule covers that. 

Running in the classroom?  Work & Play Safely
Didn't return homework?  Act Responsible
Not sharing?  Practice Kindness
Talking?  Listen Well, Show Respect, Work Hard - all of those might apply

Seriously, I've used these 6 rules for three years now and I don't need any others - literally everything falls under those categories.

Having 6 simple rules makes it so easy for my students to learn them.  In fact, every day I hear my students quoting the rules to each other. 

This happens a lot:  two students having a dispute over who goes first or who got in line first, etc.  A third student will say to them, "Who's going to practice kindness?"  I don't even need to get involved.  Magic!

I keep these rules in 2 places... I have them stapled to a wall so everyone can see them. 

I also have them on binder rings near my teaching area.  We might flip to a rule we are going to concentrate on that day. 

At the beginning of the year, I teach students the 6 rules and we brainstorm what each of them means and what we can do to follow them.  We focus on one rule each day.  Then, after discussing, brainstorming, etc. my students will write one way they will work to follow the rule.  I made student booklets that we use for this.  They simply complete the prompt "I will...." and draw a picture to go with it.  When the booklet is complete it goes home for parents to see.  Everyone is now fully aware of our rules and expectations.

I've uploaded my Classroom Rules to TPT for you so that you can use them in your own classroom.  The Student Booklets are also included.  (Be sure to click on "PREVIEW" to see what they look like.)  You can find that resource here.

Classroom Rules & Brag Tags

Now, let me switch gears a bit and talk about Brag Tags.  By now I'm sure you've heard of brag tags - if you haven't, get with the program!  Just kidding.  Sort of.

I began using brag tags this past January.  We came back from winter break and I thought I would try them for the 2nd semester.  People, my students L-O-V-E-D them!  I give them out on Friday afternoon and make a huge deal over them.  I'm not going to go into too much detail about them because they are literally all over the place and you can find them on blogs and TPT by doing a simple search.

What I do want to tell you is that my students love them and started asking me if they could earn them for following our Classroom Rules.  For instance, they asked if they could earn a "Practicing Kindness" brag tag.  Well, I didn't have those.  I only had brag tags I'd purchased from other TPT sellers.  So, you know what comes next.... of course I made some!

So now I have 6 coordinating Brag Tags to go with each of the 6 Classroom Rules.  Ta-dah!

Go grab them now!
Classroom Rules & Brag Tags
Classroom Rules & Brag Tags on TPT

>>>TEACHER TIP #1<<<
Many teachers keep their students' brag tags on a ball and chain necklace.  This is what I've done in the past and they do love them.  What's difficult for my 1st graders is getting the necklace open and closed... it's just tough hand coordination for them, so I ended up having to help most of them.

Next year, I thought I might try binder rings.  They won't be able to wear them; however, we can still hang them up and display them.

>>>TEACHER TIP #2<<<
Many teachers store their brag tags in nifty plastic boxes.  I chose to store mine in a binder using these plastic baseball card protectors.  I can easily flip through the binder to find what I'm looking for.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today to check out my classroom rules and brag tags.  Hopefully you picked up a tip or two you can use in your own classroom!

Have an awesome day!