Saturday, May 30, 2015

Teaching our last unit... economics!

Oh my goodness...we are on to our last unit of the year- economics! I remember when I first started teaching, I was perplexed that I had to teach econ to children. I remembered bits and pieces from high school, but the thought of teaching those graphs I studied for week to the students led me to confusion. Once I started reading the curriculum guide, I saw that it is VERY basic economics and actually a great thing for the kiddos to be learning.

I had a tough time finding quality resources that simplified economics, so I created my own interactive notebook and worksheets. I usually just use the interactive notebook though, my kids are big fans this year of these notebooks. They love cutting, flipping, and gluing these pieces into their notebooks for easy and learning and engagement.




To make the interactive notebook more preparation friendly, I give each student a giant packet with all the notebook pages for the unit, stapled together and one-sided. They keep it in their Unfinished Folder, and only pull out the page or two that I tell them that we will be working on. This makes it easier on their dear teacher to not have to pass out papers every time that we want to work on a page.



I also use these strange videos from the 90's called "Econ and Me." For whatever reason, these videos are magic to students. I have NEVER seen them look more intrigued and into one of our educational videos. There's some man wearing jorts talking about building a treehouse, and they are mystified by him. It's funny what kids find interesting and fun to watch :-)




I currently have a big two-day activity in mind for my economics unit. Not quite sure how it will work, but here is what I am thinking. If you are done with testing and looking for a fun day-long activity for your kids, this year I want to try out a "Day of Econ." The kids and I discuss services and business. We also will discuss money, wants, and needs. The students will create their own businesses! They get one day to plan, and then a day to set their business into action. During the planning phase, they think of a service that they want to offer other students. I am hoping for lots of creativity! It could be a restaurant, a nail salon, a movie theater, etc. The kids will bring in food for a restaurant, nail polish for a salon, bring in a iPad and movie for theater, etc. Other students will have a set amount of cash. Students will see that they have to make choices with their wants and needs, as well as  practice making change. Since I do not want any students being sad that no one chose to "visit" their business because they are out of money, I will also give kids chance to earn more money. For example, cleaning up the room or helping me out will gain more money. This could be a week-long behavioral incentive situation as well :-)

 I am looking forward to seeing what my students come up with! It's still just a vision and idea in my head, but I think with a little more planning it will bring economics to life and truly "click" with my students in a real-life setting.

What do you do for economics? Do you have any ideas or lessons that you enjoy implementing?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Preparing my classroom materials for next year!

For a lot of people, the end-of-the-year at school is a whirlwind of things to get done. I find that this is when I actually have the most downtime. Besides the usual data needs like grading writing prompts, administering DRA's, finishing math performance tasks, and completing all the standardized testing, our schedule is pretty empty when this is completed. Many of the things that I plan for the kids are projects or independently completed, and I find that I have some free time to take care of my own things for next year.

Something I am over the moon about are my new TABLES! I am still waiting for one to come in. I hate the Solo cup look that is currently going on, but I don't want to use my new bins and boxes until my new kiddos next year. It still looks okay though and is organized! My current students told me they will be my guinea pigs and help me see what does and doesn't work for next year... they are the best! I'll have some posts in the upcoming year about my tips and tricks for tables... I am still learning right now! I currently love it way more than desks, especially the open space that is going on. Hehe.... look at the posters over the air vent. Obviously not for decorating purpose, it was freezing in my classroom that day so I tried to block the cold air with posters. #teacherproblems



 You can see in the picture at the top of the post and this one that I am cutting out and creating labels and schedule cards for next year! I have had a jungle theme for the past few years, and I need a change next year. Same classroom, same grade.... I need to switch things up. Sadly my team is going to be very different next year, which I am not too happy about. I put the schedule cards up on TPT if you are interested in them, I cannot stop staring at them. THEY ARE SO CUTE! Look at the little girl in the math problem, so adorbs. I know my classroom decor will make me happier next year with all the the team changes taking place.

I will be using the labels on the top on big baskets I purchased at the Dollar Tree last week. After I cut everything, I will laminate, then recut, then apply magnets to my materials. Finally I stick them in a file folder until next year. There is nothing better than coming back from summer with my decorating materials set and ready to go. It means less time organizing my classroom and more time being at the pool before school starts! I know it seems repetitive to cut and THEN laminate and THEN cut again, but I like to have every little edge sealed. I really think it works better, which ultimately saves me time not having to redo the silly things :-)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

You Oughta Know About....

I am participating again in the You Oughta Know Blog Hop. This blog hop rocks because it is a plethora of great ideas for classroom tips, management ideas, organization, and apps. Def check out the links on the bottom to hop over to another classroom idea by some fabulous teachers :-)


For this month's "You Oughta Know Blog Hop," I wanted to share a music app that I use everyday in my classroom. I chose to share this topic because almost none of my colleagues or friends heard of this app, but I truly love it and prefer it over Pandora. It is very simple and makes it easy to play music in the morning or afternoon in your classroom (plus you can use it out of the classroom as well!)



At my school, every classroom is required to do Morning Meeting from 9:00-9:30. The kids come into the classroom from 8:45 to 9:00. Some kids get there right on the dot at 8:45, while some come in a few minutes after 9 because they qualify for breakfast in the cafeteria. With all these students arriving at different times, I want to make my classroom as peaceful as possible. When students enter in the morning, I flip Songza to "acoustic bedtime." I think it sets the mood for a relaxing morning where the kids can get settled in and ready for the day. In my head I always want to play pump-up music, but I have a group of overly excited kiddos this year. I love their energy and enthusiasm, but I think my room would be insane if I played anything other than soft, acoustic music!

During Quiet Time and Writer's Workshop, I flip on "Classical Study". I have a bluetooth speaker in my room, so I easily connect my iPad to it. On Fridays, I pick a playlist from "Family Time." Songza has a playlist for every mood and activity! It's also easy to theme for holidays. For example, I played some festive Celtic music for St. Patrick's Day. The interface makes it easy to pick an activity or mood, since let's be honest, we have WAY too much going on in the classroom to waste time picking perfect songs! Click the screen one or two times, and you're good to go!
Music is a welcome and easy addition during:

  • Arrival
  • dismissal
  • Reading workshop
  • Writing workshop
  • Quiet time/cool down time after recess


Now, you might be asking, "Why wouldn't I just use my iPod or Pandora?". Pandora works a little bit differently. On Pandora, you choose songs by an individual artist, so sometimes the "similar" artists aren't so similar. This isn't an issue in the real world... but it could be an issue if you are playing a song in the classroom and suddenly Lil' Wayne makes an  unexpected appearance. The computer algorithm for Pandora can sometimes be a little wacky. Since Songza is handpicked by a DJ, the songs actually have a similar feel for the mood that you pick.

As you can see in the picture below, it is very personalized for the day and time that you picking out music. Below, I took a screenshot of a Friday around noon.
 Songza feels much more personalized. You do not search by artist, you search by "mood" or "activity." Apparently they have a team of 60 DJ's who create the playlists, so it is now a computer-generated program where you may get some songs that don't quite fit a mix. It's like having a DJ on your iPad :-)

Give Songza a try.... it's free and will add some joy and rhythm into your classroom :-)

Check out these great ideas below from some of my fantastic teacher friends!

<!-- end InLinkz script --

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dollar Store shopping!


I am already getting excited about next year! Well... an excitement for the summer mostly. However, my favorite part of each new school year is the decorating process. To make life easier on myself in September, I like to have everything ready to go by the end of the prior school year. This means buying new bins, laminating, and cutting all done and ready to go. My September-self thanks me when it means all the die-cuts and pieces of a bulletin board are prepped and ready to go. I stopped by the Dollar Tree the other day to start stocking up. Spending $49 at the Dollar Store is always a strange feeling... but also AWESOME when I think that I just received 49 bins :-)
The Dollar Tree has the BEST colors, shapes, and sizes for bins this time of year. I think teachers aren't really looking for next year, so the store has a nice assortment in stock (at least at the one near me!). The selection is always rough in September after everything is picked over, and the fun colors are always sold out. 

I wanted a new color scheme for my bins and baskets this year, as well as organizational flow. My room has always been a jungle theme, but after three years in the same room with the same look, I need a fresh start. I made the switch to tables instead of desks last week, and I LOVE it, but figuring out the organization of it is a bit of a headache. Thankfully my kiddos this year are enthralled to be my guinea pigs and give me tips on what they like/allow me to see what doesn't work so well.

Here are my current ideas for what I want to do with these specific baskets. 

1. Supply caddies- These will go near the sink in my room for each table (Table #1-6). They will contain scissors in the small section, gluesticks in the medium size section, and three clear, plastic Solo cups in the big section for crayons, colored pencils, and markers.

2. Green dish pan- This is my new Inbox. I currently have a pale blue Inbox and Outbox.... I recently realized how pointless it is to have two of them. I am consolidating to a new color and more space :-)

3. Big white baskets- This is where the students' interactive notebooks for social studies and their writer's notebook will go. 

4. Big blue baskets- This is where the students' interactive notebooks for math and science will go.

5. Green and blue smaller baskets- Just updating some of the broken book boxes I currently have. These boxes go QUICK in the summer, so I grabbed as many as I could get my little paws on.

And finally... my labels I am still creating! SO EXCITED FOR THESE!!!!! I uploaded the schedule cards to TPT if you want to check them out, and I also finished the labels and jobs cards. Yay!


Monday, May 18, 2015

Glitter in Third freebie!


I wanted to share a fun freebie that may help your classroom out with test prep! It is a multiplication fact game called Evil Dragon vs. Pegasus. Yes, it sounds ridiculous. But I have learned that the more ridiculous something is... the more that third-graders LOVE it!

The dragon cracks me up. How silly is that dragon? He looks like he ate too many pies and is super full, plus he suffers from t-rex arm syndrome. 

What I love about this game is that the kids BEG to play it. I have kids bring it to outdoor recess, it is a big hit. All it takes is a printer! I print in color and laminate since the kiddos enjoy it so much and we can use it year after year, but not necessary. Cut up the cards and place them into a manila envelope or a Ziploc bag. The kids can play independently, or up to five players. It's super easy. A student draws a card. The cards have multiplication facts on them. They say the answer to the problem. If they get it correct, they keep the card. If they get it wrong, they must put their card back in the bin. To keep kids on their toes, there are cards with an evil dragon or pegasus on them. The evil dragon is the card NO ONE wants! It means the kiddos have to put all their hard-earned cards back in the container. The winner is whoever gets the most cards at the end! Simple but fun!

Interested in this freebie? Check it out here! I promise that your kids will love it!



Ten other wonderful TPT sellers/bloggers have generously agreed to blog hop with me and offer up a freebie and in some cases a giveaway as well! Score some free goodies for your classroom this year, or get ready for next year :-)



Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sailing into Summer Blog Hop

Summer is just around the corner....I am so excited I cannot stand it! Something I have done the past two years for my rising fourthies is creating a memorable end-of-year gift for each of them. 
There is no right or wrong way to create these! I originally got the idea from a Pin from a blog that I cannot unfortunately remember. I LOVED the idea and knew I wanted to make them for my own kiddos. All it takes is time, patience, and a trip to the Dollar Store. 

Step 1: Create a handout that has each students' name on it with a blank space next to it. Give one to each student. Tell students to write down a kind adjective to describe each student in their class. Remind them to be creative and put a lot of thought into each description. Then collect the handouts and take them home to start your creations. My kids get so curious on why we did this activity since I keep the gift a surprise!

Step 2: Open up Wordle or a similar program. For each student, write their names about five times in the program (to ensure that their name will be big like in the example above). Also write their grade level several times, as you can see above that third-grade is also written fairly large. Then start writing in all those adjectives and descriptions! The descriptions that more kids wrote down will be the most prominent on the word art. 

Step 3: Print off each one. They look awesome in color, but black and white will look great as well! Cut off excess paper and place into a cheap frame.

Step 4: Give to students! Mine adore these every year and love seeing what their classmates say about them. They feel so special and are full of glee seeing all the kind things that their classmates said about them. These are such great keepsakes and the parents enjoy them as well.

Happy end of the year! Check out some of the blogs below for more end of the year tips and tricks!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week SALE!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! I hope your kiddos are appreciating and spoiling you this week :-)

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I am having a sale for my store on Teachers Pay Teachers. EVERYTHING is on sale for 20%.... even big bundles that are already discounted. Save an additional 10% off with coupon code THANKYOU.

Thank you for everything you do. You are making a difference as an educator. It takes a big heart to help shape little minds.