Sunday, September 14, 2014

Team Building

We all know how important team and class building are at the beginning of the year.   The important thing to remember is this type of community building needs to happen all year long, not just at the beginning of the year.   Below are two of my favorites and the kids love them too!

The first one we did was to save "John".  I have seen many variations of this on Pinterest and other blogs for saving worms of different names.  I have been doing this for years.  One of my teammates shared this activity with me and I have used it ever since.  I love the problem solving aspect of the activity along with the dependence on every teammate in order to accomplish the task.  Here is how you save "John".  

You will need a plastic cup, a gummy lifesaver, and a gummy worm for each team along with a paperclip for each student.  Set the plastic cup upside down on the table, then place the gummy worm and the gummy lifesaver on top of the cup.  Each student has their own paperclip.  

I begin by introducing the class to "John".  I say something like.  "Class, I would like you to meet my friend John.  He loves to go out on his boat but he has a huge problem.  John cannot swim and his boat has flipped over.  He managed to climb on top of his boat and he has his lifesaver but he needs to get back in his boat.  Your job is to help John get into his lifesaver and get back in his boat.  The trick is, you may not touch John with your hands, you may only touch him with your paperclips.  John must be alive when you get him back into his boat so you may not stab him with your paperclip.  You may only touch the boat and lifesaver with the paperclip as well, no hands!"

The class has so much fun saving John!  At first I hear a chorus of "this is impossible", "we can't do this", "he won't fit!" they buckle down and figure out how to get John in his lifesaver, turn the boat over and get John into the boat.  It takes all the team members to accomplish the task and they feel great about their work when they are done.  

One of my boys was particularly proud of his team.  He kept walking around the room saying things like "I can't believe we actually got that done!  That was great!"  I have come to learn this little guy can have a difficult time working with others, I am glad to be able to bring him back to this experience when he is struggling to work with his classmates.  He always replies with "you're right, if I could do that, I can do this too!" and his attitude completely changes.  I love the power of a positive experience!

The other team builder we did this week was a cup stacking activity.  Each team is given a plastic cup and a rubber band with one piece of string per student tied to it.  The kids are given the task of flipping the cup right side up without touching the cup.  Each student may only touch one string at a time and all team members must be participating in the flipping of the cup.  It is great to watch them work through how they are going to flip the cup over.  

Once they flip the cup I give them another cup and they have to stack the cups so they are standing on top of each other.    The final task is to build a pyramid with five cups.  

I have lots more team building activities to do this year, I will be sure to post about them as we go through the year.  

Thanks for stopping by, I can't wait to see what you all have been doing with your students to encourage a positive community!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Sewing, Gardening, and Preparing!

Once again I am linking up with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics for her fabulous Monday Made It.  I have so enjoyed being part of this linky this summer and have LOVED all the great ideas I have seen!  On to this week's made its.

Earlier this summer my garden was one of my Monday Made Its.  I am back with an update and some pictures to show how much it has grown!  I have harvested strawberries, yellow squash, snow peas, zucchini, and green beans.  The green beans were a bit of a surprise just last night.  I was in the garden weeding (darn pesky weeds!!!) and I moved a green bean plant to the side a bit and I was pleasantly surprised to see many beans ready to be picked.  I was able to pick two grocery sacks full of beans.  Now I just need my mom's help to can them.  It has been more than a few years since I canned beans so I had to call in the expert!  Still growing are corn, bell peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, giant pumpkin, jack-o-lantern pumpkin, and pie pumpkin.  Oh...and raspberries.  This is the first year for the raspberry plants so they only have a few on them.  I am excited to see how they taste!

This is how the garden started:

And this is what it looks like now:

I just love all the fresh produce I am able to get from my garden.  My husband's birthday was a couple of weeks ago and he requested a pumpkin cake.  I was able to use pumpkin from my garden last year, it was delicious!

For made it 2 and 3 I as quite busy on my sewing machine!  Made it 2 are curtains for my dining room.  I have not been able to find anything I love in my price range and so I decided to whip out the sewing machine and make some for myself.

I am really pleased with how they turned out!

Made it three was born from one of the many trips I have made to my classroom over the past week.  I have been hauling in all the things I either brought home for the summer, bought, or made this summer.  I have been using these fabulous bags I made for myself.  They are large, sturdy, and easy to carry.  I have been using them all school year for those awkward things that need to be carried back and forth.  I know we all have our teacher bag, but the teacher bag is not for ice cream sunday items or minute to win it game things.  For those things, we need a large bag.  

I found this super cute fabric at Joann Fabrics and thought of all of you!  This bag turned out better than my own bags and I am proud to offer it in my TPT store here.

Hope you all have a great week whether you are already back or in the last days of summer!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Made It

It has been a few weeks since I participated in Tara's Monday Made it, mostly because it seems like my "made its" have been huge FAILS!  I tried making a cute home made sign that I have been wanting for like forever...well needless to say, my sign making sills are greatly lacking!  Anyway, on to this week's made its.

I decided to give a go at making some decor for my classroom.  I am very pleased with the way it turned out!  I love the bright colors and I think my students will like them too.  I know my room needs to be student friendly, but I also spend most of my life in that room during the school year.  Since third grade is such a huge transition for the kids from primary to intermediate grades I try to have my room be fun but with a bit of sophistication and I think this decor pack achieves that.  Take a look at my TPT store here.  It will be on sale all day today!  

Sorry no pics for this one.  This project was such a mess I forgot to get the camera out!

My classroom library has been my nemesis!  I have struggled for the past 10 years with how to organize it and keep it organized through the year!  I have had it by author's last name for the last 6 years of third grade.  While it is not the best, it has worked  and it was way too overwhelming for me to try to redo the whole thing.  At the end of the school year it became quite apparent to me that my library needed a little TLC.  Some of the books were falling apart and needed repair and others just needed to go.  Soooo.....I boxed the whole library up and carted it home.  As I was repairing books I decided this was the perfect time to reorganize the whole thing.  I did not want too many subgroups as I feel that just becomes too complicated and let's just be honest, third graders are never going to keep it organized anyway!  I decided on fiction, non-fiction, picture books, and series books.  I don't know if this will work or not, but I hope my students are able to find books that fit their needs easily.  

How do you organize your classroom library?  How do you help students keep it organized throughout the year in a way that is easy and requires little time from you?  Any helpful tips or ideas?  

Summer is flying by waaaayyy too fast, I will be in my classroom before I know it.  I hope you all are enjoying your break...head on over to see some other great Made Its!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tried and True

Today I am linking up with The Teaching Tribune  for a fun linky full of tried and true ideas to use in your classroom.

This idea is not necessarily tried and true as I have only used it once but it worked so well I am going to use it a whole lot more!

I decided to double up on science and and literacy (yeah cross curricular!)  for this fun research unit.  We were studying weather related hazards in science and informational writing in literacy so we combined the two into a short research project.  The kiddos worked in small groups on weather hazards they were interested in studying.  I checked out several books from the school and local libraries about each hazard and then went on a web search.  Internet resources are a huge part of student's lives but I get REALLY nervous about 8-9 year olds being on the internet and finding something inappropriate!  In came QR codes!  I had never used them before this but they were AWESOME!  The kids loved them and were totally engaged the whole time!  They took great notes from the information they found and were able to turn out fabulous research papers about their hazard.

In order for the kids to use the QR codes I put them on some cute cards, cut them out and laminated them for future use.  I loved that I could control where the kids were going and supplement the research they were doing by finding sites that would fill in any information they could not find in their books.

I think I may have fallen in love with QR codes.  I will certainly be using them more this coming year!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Monday Made It

I am linking up with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics for her weekly Monday Made It series.  This has been a fun way to motivate me this summer to plug through my to do list.  As with all teachers, mine is quite lengthy.  I met with my teammates earlier this week for an all day summer planning session.  We are all working on things separately and so we decided to get together and lighten the load (plus it is WAY more fun to work with those ladies than by myself!)  Anyway, on to my "Made it" for the week.  I only have one this week but that is because one of them was a giant FAIL and I am still drying up my tears!  Okay, maybe no tears but it was a HUGE disappointment.  My strawberry plants finally produced enough fruit all at once for me to make strawberry mouth was watering just thinking about it!  I had MAJOR plans for this jam....on toast, pancakes, sandwiches...the list goes on and on.  Well...the jam turned into a rock and is now in the trash!  Can you see the sad!  So here is my one and only Made it this week....

This is a welcome banner for my classroom door at the beginning of the year. 

 I love the bright colors and I think it will be a fun way to welcome my students to our classroom.  I plan to add this poster by Ashley McKenzie and each student's name to the door.  

I just love the message of this poster, don't you.  

You can pick up the welcome banner at my TPT store for free!  

Now I am off to find other people's much more successful made it's!  

Have a great week!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Made It

I am excited to say that for the second week in a row I am able to link up with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It linky!  I have been super busy this week and have not been able to accomplish all the things I wanted to.  However, I was able to get some things done and have some fun in the process.

Now on to the Made Its:

I saw some really cute clothes pins that someone made into push pins on pinterest a while back.  I really wish I had pinned the link because now I cannot give credit to someone who had a great idea.  I have seen these in a couple of places so this is certainly not a new idea that I came up with.  I really wanted to make these to put in the hall at school to display student work.  We have these really yucky tack strips that we are able to staple in to.  The problem is that the staples do not stay very well and it takes forever (okay maybe not forever but it sure seems like it when you are in a hurry to mark something off your to-do list!) to staple the kids hard work in the hall for display.  I made these clothes pins so I can put them up in the hall and then quickly clip the kiddos work into them.  I am hoping this will help me display current work instead of putting something up and leaving it for WEEKS!

These were SUPER easy to make I was able to get them all done while watching catching up on some shows I have missed!  It really made for a relaxing afternoon.  Even more exciting was I found the washi tape on sale at Office Depot!  The whole project cost less than $8!  Woot!  Woot!


I am hoping these are real time savers here!  Maybe the kids can even hang their own work in the hall!

Made it 2 is more like "did it 2".  For Father's Day my family and I took my grandpa fishing.  This is something he has always loved and has not been able to do much recently so we got together and made it happen!  It was a super fun day, except no one caught a thing, not even a nibble!  The hubby and I decided to head to the mountains to one of our favorite fishing spots and BINGO!  I caught two beautiful rainbow trout about 18in. long, each.  I was super excited but I kind of have to keep it to myself because my hubby did not even get a bite and lost his line set up a couple of times!  Oops!  It was a great day and I was able to spend some quality time with my grandpa, that makes it a win in my book- fish or no fish!

My final Made It this week blog!  I worked hard on cleaning up and adding to my blog this week.  I was also able to work on the design just a bit.  This was all thanks to the wonderful tutorials I found from Megan at I teach, what's your superpower.  Thanks Megan!  

I was also able to add the "follow me on bloglovin'" link to my sidebar.  I just found Bloglovin and I am in love!  My blog stalking just became a whole lot easier! much to still learn!

Now head on over to Fourth Grade Frolics to see some other great ideas!

I hope you all had a great week and a very happy Father's Day!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Blog Changes

I have made many changes to my blog this evening and I would like to give credit where credit is due!  I am extremely new to all of this and so any help is always appreciated.  Megan at I Teach, What's your Superpower has created a wonderful tutorial for new bloggers that teaches the ins and outs of setting up a blog.  Seeing as I am completely new to this, I am not quite ready to have my blog professionally done and so I did it all myself.  Megan's site was soooooo very helpful.  I have looked at several (okay a few more than several) blogs and wondered how they were able to get all of the things on there.  With the help of Megan's directions I was able to add the bloglovin button and the "grab my button" spot on my sidebar.  I love that my blog is coming along and am excited to follow more of the fabulous directions Megan has left for us.  


Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Made It (Woop! Woop!)

I am super excited to be linking up with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics for her weekly Monday Made It!  I have TONS to do this summer and I am happy to report I have already accomplished many LARGE items on my list.

So here it goes...

My hubby and I have been redoing our back yard in small portions since we moved in to our house around three and a half years ago.  So that is my first Monday Made It this week.  We FINISHED our yard and now I can just sit and enjoy it.  I love sitting on my patio and enjoying the evening weather when it is not too hot to go outside.

My second Made It is my garden.  There is nothing better than growing your own produce.  I love going out and picking my own zucchini or corn on the cob for dinner.  The garden is obviously still in the baby stages but everything is sprouted and growing.  I cannot wait for our first harvest of the year. Yummy!

While I promised myself that I would work on my house before I worked on school things (it is AMAZING how neglected things can become during the school year!) I couldn't help but put together a "get to know you" activity for my students to start the year.  I posted about it earlier this weekend so if you want to read more about it you can do that here or you can pick it up at my tpt store here.  I think we are going to have a TON of fun with it!

Well, those are my Made Its for this week!  I am excited about what I have planned for my MMI this coming week.  It is something I have wanted to do for a while, and I think it will make my life a lot easier.  Fingers crossed it turns out like I plan!

Now I am off to see what other wonderful Made Its are out there!  You all are soooo creative (can you see I am green with envy?)


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Starting the Year...

Just like most teachers out there I use the summer to plan, plan, plan.  Always looking for fun and exciting ways to start the new school year, I decided my old tried and true activities were a bit....boring!  I have done the make a quilt square about yourself activity, make a tshirt to tell about yourself activity, draw your summer in the sunglasses activity...and many many others.  While I think these are pretty fun, my students do not!  That is not the foot I want to get off on.  So I decided to think of things kids are "in to".  I teach third graders and many of them are getting their first cell phones and the ones that do not yet have phones are anxiously awaiting the day their parents cave in :)  I decided it would be fun to have them draw a "sellfie" showing important things they would like their new teacher and new classmates to know about them.  Always the literacy teacher, the students will also write clues about themselves.  Starting pretty ambiguously at first and becoming more and more detailed.  I will collect the selfies and clues and read them to the class.  The student's classmates will guess who the selfie belongs to based on the clues the student gave.  I have done something similar to the clues idea before and the kids LOVE it!

We then have a parent "curriculum night" about two weeks into the school year where I meet with the parents and tell them everything their child will learn in third grade (hahaha), I am thinking these selfies and paragraphs would be a great bulletin board to get us started and I can then have something fun and academic for when the parents come.  If you would like this idea and would like to pick it up, visit my tpt store here.

What kind of fun things do you do with your class to start the year?