Five For Friday

I don't know about you guys but this has felt like a long week.  I must have thought it was Thursday at least half a dozen times on Wednesday.  So, I'm thrilled that Friday is finally here, and I'm linking up for my first Five For Friday!

This was Homecoming week for us, and the best thing about that is wearing jeans every day!  We will look for any excuse to pull out the blue jeans.  Tuesday was crazy sock day and here I am with a few of my teaching buddies.  Okay, maybe the socks aren't that crazy, but it's being able to wear jeans that matters most!

I started something new this year called Marshmallow Treats for Marshmallow Feet.  I teach in a tri-level building, so wherever you go, you take stairs.  Unfortunately for the classrooms nearest to those stairs, they are very noisy, especially with 30 sets of ten year old feet stampeding down them like a herd of elephants.  One of my colleagues started telling her kids to walk on the stairs with "marshmallow feet", so I took that idea and ran with it!  Whenever we go up or down the stairs, I take a handful of little blue slips of paper with me.  I watch for students who are walking with "marshmallow feet", and when I find one, I hand him/her a slip of paper.  They put their name on it, and put it in the bucket.  

I attached a little baggie to the back to keep the little slips of paper in.  On Fridays, I draw out two names to get a marshmallow treat!  You should see (you can't hear!) my kids walk on the stairs now.  They tiptoe!

This picture doesn't really show anything, it just made me laugh to take it!  My kids are used to me taking random pictures by now, but I bet some of them were thinking, "What the heck is she taking a picture of this for?".

Another motivational bucket I use with my students is the Reading Area Bucket.  

The idea behind this one is to get my students to choose to read whenever they finish other work.  When I see students choosing to read, I give them a little purple slip of paper, which they drop in the bucket during a transition time later.

On Friday, I draw out six names from the bucket.  Those lucky students get to sit in the reading area that day during reading workshop AND for all of the next week whenever they are finished with their work.  I just love to see my reading area filled with readers!

We started our Reading With Power unit this week using the book Edward's Eyes.  I created a packet for it this summer, so this was my first time using it with my students. They are definitely intrigued by all the questions the story is raising in their minds.  Let's hope I can get through the book without crying.  :(

If you'd like to check out the packet for yourself, you can find it at my TPT store.  (There's even a link to free lesson plans!)

We played Swat the Vocab in Social Studies to review for the vocabulary quiz.  I put each word on a card (with a picture of a fly) and put them all over the board.  I divide the class into three groups, have one person from each group come up to the front, and give them a flyswatter.  Then I read a definition aloud.  The first person to SWAT! the right word earns a point for his/her team.  The kids love to play it!

Be sure to link up with Doodle Bugs for Five For Friday!


Grammar Rock in Writer's Workshop!

I'm linking up with Jivey's Workshop Wednesday to talk about launching my writer's workshop this year with some good old-fashioned Grammar Rock!  

I used to love to sing along on Saturday mornings to all those great tunes, some of which I still remember by heart.  So, as I was thinking about spending the first couple weeks this year reviewing the parts of speech, I thought why not throw in some Grammar Rock!  I knew I didn't have a lot of time to devote to this, and I wanted to make it as fun as I could to spark their enthusiasm.  

After listening to Grammar Rock songs over and over and over (my son was wondering what the heck I was doing as I sang along to Interjections!) last weekend I came up with a plan.  My idea was to spend one class period (or less) on each of the parts of speech featured by Schoolhouse Rock:  nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, interjections, prepositions, and pronouns.  

I would introduce the lesson with the song and provide students with a note-taking sheet to fill in while we watched the video on YouTube.  We generally had to listen to the song a couple times to get the notes, and then we went over them as a class to make sure everyone had the right answers.  Then, of course, we had to watch it one more time just for fun and to sing along!  So, I passed out the lyrics and we did our best!  After that, we would create a class anchor chart as a reference tool for students.  These are some of our finished charts.

After we did the anchor charts, students would do some kind of activity to practice using the part of speech.  To go along with "Unpack Your Adjectives", students drew a picture of somewhere they went over the summer and then filled their suitcase with adjectives to describe that place.

In another activity, students cut out different verbs and then fit them into a graphic organizer.

After completing the activity, students were given a worksheet to complete independently to show what they had learned.  

Each time I started workshop out with the Grammar Rock song I would have several students go, "Yessss!", so I knew they were enjoying it.  My hope is that as we talk about our writing and practice our word work throughout the year, this grammar unit will pay off.  If you would like to try this Grammar Rock unit, you can find it at my TPT store!

Monday Made It-Reading Area Revealed Part Two

Today I am linking up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It.  Actually, I can't believe I made it through the first week of school, and my to-do list is just as long as ever!

Last Monday I unveiled the first half of my reading area makeover.  It really is my favorite part of the room to work on!  So I left off last time explaining how I talk to my students about my love for reading.  I show them the book racks they will be using to keep books that they want to read in the future (Tried it Tuesday-Reading Area Revealed!) and tell them that they will get some time to begin looking for books to put on their rack today. 

I remind them that they need to choose books that are just right for them.  I tell them that one way to check if a book is just right is to read a page of the book and raise a finger each time you come to a word you don't know.  If you get to five words you don't know before you reach the end of the page, it's probably too difficult of a book for you.

All of my books have library cards in them that the students need to fill out, and I show them the back part of the reading area where they will keep the library cards.  This is the before picture of this part of my room.  

This is the larger bulletin board after I finished it.

I used a pocket chart for each of my kids to put their library cards, and as a little first day of school surprise, I put bookmarks in them that I made over the summer after seeing them on Pinterest.  This was the picture from Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas.

I thought they were a great idea and easy enough to do quickly.  I got a variety of colors, wrote READ! on them, and put one in each pocket.  So, when my students filled out their library cards and went to put them in their pocket, they got to take out their bookmark.  I told my kids I made them and someone said, "Really?" like they thought it was amazing!

On the right side of the bulletin board I put my Theme Mini-Poster Set which you can find at my TPT store.

This is the second bulletin board back in the corner.  Sorry, the picture turned out a little fuzzy.  :(

As you can see, I am a big Snoopy fan!  I found these great classroom supplies online a couple years ago.  The small ones are little game boards.  Each time a student finishes reading a book, we talk about it, and I put a small sticker on their game board.  It's an easy way to keep track of how many books everyone has read.  The goal chart to the left is where we track our quarterly reading goal.  When the students reach the goal, we have a reading celebration!

I have so much more to talk about, but my teenage son is chomping at the bit to get on the computer!  Check out all the Monday Made It ideas at 4th Grade Frolics!

Tried it Tuesday-Reading Area Revealed!

Well, today was the first day of school, and I feel like I hardly had time to take a breath! We'll see how my first day of school theory pans out this year.  My kids came in very quietly first thing this morning.  That usually bodes well for a calm fingers are crossed!

I don't really enjoy all the talking I have to do on the first couple days of school, but there were some moments today that I really enjoyed.  The first one was trying out the Back to School Egg Hunt that I created this summer.  The kids choose an egg out of a basket and open it to reveal a picture.  Then they find all the other students that have the same picture as them.  That creates their group.  The students in each group then take turns going and hunting for eggs around the room.  When they find one, they bring it back to the group and open it up to reveal a question or discussion topic like...what is one thing that everyone in your group did this summer?  This got the kids up and around the room and talking to their classmates.  One of my students said, "This is really fun!"

The Back to School Egg Hunt is available at my TPT store.

The other part of my day I really enjoyed was introducing my love of reading to my students.  But wait!  I have to show you the before pictures of my library so you can really appreciate the transformation.  Here is before...

And here is after...

A little better, right?

So, I talked to my kids about how I grew up in a library and how reading can take you to all kinds of places.  I told them that this summer I went to a place where aliens had come to take over earth and to a Nazi concentration camp in Germany.  Of course I was talking about books I had enjoyed over the summer.  But when you really get into a book, it does feel like you are actually going to those places! 

I pointed out the sign in our reading area that my father-in-law helped me to make.  The sign shows places that books can take you, these places being from eight of my favorite books ever!  I got the idea from a picture on Pinterest from Fresh Picked Whimsy.

Fantasy pickets

I thought...I have to have one of those for my reading area!  Thankfully my father-in-law is gifted at turning my visions into reality!  He made the sign, and I painted it.  Isn't it awesome?!

My eight locations are:  Hogwarts, Narnia, Panem, the Misty Mountains, Treegap, Camp Green Lake, Mississippi, and Avonlea.  Can you figure out what books they are from? Instead of the number of miles to the place, I put the number of pages of the book.  Love it!

The sign sits on top of one of my student book racks.  Each student has a spot on one of the racks.  They are expected to have two to three books in their spot at all times that they want to read in the future.  That way if they finish a book during reading workshop, they simply go get a book from the rack.  No professional book shoppers in my room!

It's past my bedtime on night one of school, so I will have to save the rest for Reading Area Revealed Part Two!

Check out all the other Tried it Tuesday ideas at Fourth Grade Flipper!

Manic Monday-Late Work Board

If you are anything like me, I am always looking for a better way to keep track of my students' late work.  Over the years I have tried a variety of tricks from writing it on the board to using small pocket charts.  This year I am trying something new and much cuter! These are the materials I started with:  some ribbon, an old chalkboard slate, a glue gun, a display stand (found these for half off at Hobby Lobby), and my front and back signs.

The first thing I did was glue the ribbon around the front and back of my chalkboard. Then I glued the front and back signs in the middle of each side and set it on my display stand. And that's it!  How easy was that?!

So, this is my plan for using it.  In the morning, my students bring me their planners and homework.  If they do not have an assignment completed, I write it on the next page in their planner (so parents will see it when they sign it that night) and I write it on a 2 x 2 sticky note with their name and student number.  I then place the sticky note on the Late Work board.  

During the day, I turn the board around facing the class, so they will be reminded to complete their assignment when they have time.  When a student completes a late assignment, they bring it up to my desk, remove the sticky note from the board, place it on their late paper, and set it on my desk.  

If you would like to make your own Late Work board download my Classroom Signs for free!  

Check out all the other Manic Monday freebies at Classroom Freebies!  

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday