Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let the Games Begin!

Like many students in this world, my class has a serious love for playing games.  Yes, they may be educational, but they are games none the less.  

Math is the easiest classes to create a game for.  A lot of times I incorporate math games into centers and allow them to play games in small groups.  It is really difficult to find a game that the whole class can do and keep some kind of order.  Around the world and bingo are some of the easy ones to do as a class, but do get boring after a while.  One game that we play as a class just for fun is couch. This is a game my husband taught me at his school, and I have no idea whe he got it from.  The students all get different names of others in the class.  Then they ask, who has....and name someone else in the class.  Four people start on the "couch", 2 boys and 2 girls.  The goal is to get either all girls or all boys on the couch.  This is a great game for memory practice.  

Despite the fact that this game can get boring after a while, my classes love to play it.  I told them that we could play it more if we could make it educational.  The were thinng of many different ways to do this with math, a great idea came to me.  We were studying prime numbers, and coloring a 100 square, when I thought it would be a great way for the students to remember the prime numbers.  Rather than using the names of the students I listed the prime numbers up to the 60's.  They had to remember all of the prime numbers instead of the names of their classmates.  I loved playing it this way, and will be thinking of more fun ways to incorporate math and games.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Secret Obsession

Other than eating frosting out of the container and watching really terrible teen soap operas, I really love creating bulletin boards.  When I first started teaching my bulletin boards were not good at all.  My colleague, Olivia, even told me a few years later how much better I was getting at bulletin boards.  I don't want to brag or anything, but my boards are amazing.  I thought I would share some of these wonderful creations with you.  Some of these are my very own brainstorms, others are quotes that I loved, and some are borrowed from wonderful teachers.  Feel free to borrow any of these ideas as well.  Always remember, make it your own too.  Add something that makes your board special.  I always try to add something that the kids do, or something personal to the school.  

This is a bulletin board I used during The Revolutionary War.  On the saucer the students wrote the causes of the Revolutionary War and on the teacup they wrote the effects of the war.  Below are some examples of what the students did.  

For St. Patrick's Day our school had a door decorating contest sponsored by our Student Service Council.  Our class won, obviously.  We made a game similar to Candy Land, but it is Clover Land instead.  Each different section of the board was a different subject area.  We played this a few times, and it was a ton of fun.  

For open house, or another event that involves people coming in to school, I always have some kind of guess who activity.  One year I did "Guess The Smile".  I took pictures of just the students' smiles and the guests had to guess who.  The one above, I was talking about differences in others.  We talked about how some people use sign language to talk.  Above the students cut out the letters for their names and pasted them on the paper.  The visitors had to figure out who it is using the letters of sign language.  

Fall is one of my favorite times of year. I saw this quote online, and thought it was going to be perfect for my fall bulletin board. The students made leaves in the shape of hearts and used water colors on them.  Even though it did not take up a huge amount of the board, I really loved it.  

In my opinion Christmas should be all year long.  I do love fall though too.  I was in charge of games for our Christmas Bazaar, and thought doing a pin the heart on the Grinch game would be fun.  That led me to paint the Grinch, and I couldn't paint him without his adorable trusty side kick, Max.  

I dread Catholic Schools' Week every year mostly because the slogans are so hard to make a bulletin board for.  Now that my creative bulletin boards are my guilty pleasure, I have to have it amazing.  On each of the rays of the sun the students had to write how they will work really hard this year to "Rays" their standards. 

This is the bulletin board above my computer.  I have kept it up for 2 years, mostly because I really need to remember to pray with some of the students I have had.  They are great, but like many children, they can be tough sometimes.  

This bulletin board was done during our "Celebrate Reading" week.  This was also the week that I broke my leg.  Luckily, I got the board done before I broke my leg so I didn't have to climb up on a chair to put this up.  This is a Dr. Seuss quote.  

Another Catholic Schools' Week bulletin board.  This one was borrowed from another teacher.  I saw this online, and had to do it.  I changed it slightly and added "Faith, academics, and service" in the bottom of the rocket.  This was the theme for CSW that year.  

Over the years some of my favorite bulletin boards were Lent ones.  This one is pretty self explanatory.  On the masks, the students wrote how they will stay away from temptation.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Day of Firsts

First times of anything always cause anxiety for many people.  I am no stranger to anxiety myself.  It's not that I get nervous to start a first day with a new group of kids, it's just that I get anxious and excited.  Usually I feel super prepared and thrilled to have the first day, but since I had to work the night before, I felt a little stressed.  There were some things that I wish I had done, and had more time to do other things.  

One thing that I always do for my students is give them a few of the essentials.  The goodies are just a little something extra from me.  It is amazing a few students actually do say thank you for these things.  I don't think they realize that items at the dollar store can really add up.  I found the "Keep Calm" picture on Pinterest, and I thought it was perfect.  Usually I make some fancy embellishments using my Cricut, but. Was a little short on time this year.  After watching the students rip into their bags, I was relieved that I did not spend hours making the bags look fancier.  

Decorating my room is usually one of my favorite parts about getting ready for a new school year.  Since I spend more time in my classroom during the week, I wanted to make it a comfortable and inviting place not just for the students, but for me as well.  Here are some pictures of my room on the first day of school.  

This is a view of my classroom from my desk.  I was hoping to put up some curtains this year on the windows to brighten up the room, but I found out that they are a fire hazard.  The lanterns will have to do.  

This summer I was busy repainting my mailboxes.  I spray painted them blue on the inside and then all of the shelves and the outside are white.  I used binder clips to label each of the students' mailboxes.  I haven't done this before, but I like it so much better than just taping the names in.  

For my attendance board I use those clear stones and put their names on them.  I will post pictures of this process another day.  

Since I hate clutter so much, I covered all my shelves and open spaces with fabric.  I bout different colors and used them around the room.  It makes it look clean even if what is behind it is not that clean.  

This is my second year teaching 2 different classes, so I need to have a spot to write homework for each class.  The magnets with the class on them are from Vista Print.  

Despicable Me might be one of my favorite cartoon movies.  I am sad to say that I haven't seen the second one yet, but I know a tons of my students loved it.  I found this idea on Pinterest.  On the first day of school I will have the students color minions and then write what makes them not despicable.  We are going to relate this to religion and vocabulary.  

I could read all day if I was given the opportunity.  I always like to recommend books, and I think it is great when students recommend books to their classmates.  On this part of the board I will leave post its for students to stick to the board with book suggestions.  

I guess you can tell I love books.  I have had to get rid of many old ones to make way for some new ones.  I also have a ton of other hiding places for books.  

Even though we have a great science lab in our building for the classes to use, I love to have a ton of resources in the room for students.  Sometimes we are not able to get into the lab, so this is where I keep the science things that we need.  

Exit tickets are all the rage right now.  I started this last year, and love having it up.  At the end of the day, or the end of a lesson, I have students answer a question, ask a question, or reflect on something that they learned.  They then stick it to the door so they can see what other people have written.  

On the first day of school I take mugshots of the students holding up the day of their birth and put them up here.  I will post the finished product later.  

This is my cozy corner.  Some people at a time will seat here for silent reading or we will do whole class instruction here for guided reading or a religion lesson. 

After switching from self contained to rotation, I put a piece of dry erase paper on the wall outside my room.  Every morning I write what time we are rotating and the materials they need to bring to class.  This is so they do not have to interrupt a lesson with a class to find out what to bring.  

People generally ask my if I live in my classroom.  I think it is because I spend so much time there.  I want my room to feel comfortable.  After all, it is where I am for most of my day.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Send in the Clowns

After a while, things in the classroom can get a little mundane.  Luckily I have a colleague who does not like things that are she helps me stay young and have fun.  We have a veteran teacher who is like our mentor.  She is the favorite of many of our alums, and knows how to have a good laugh.  My crazy colleague, we will call her Bethany, and I like to make sure she has some good laughs on a regular basis.  Our principal tells us that this veteran teacher, let's call her Olivia, needs this fun once in a while.  Well...we make sure it is more than just once in a while.  

As August rolled around this year Bethany was in the process or sorting out some old things for a big move from PreK to 4th grade.  Her mother was also a teacher and saved all of her old stuff.  I kept telling Bethany to throw things away, but she is super sentimental and wanted to hold on to ALL of those items, including some old tracers that her mom used that were ripped and wrinkled.  While we were sorting through this box of fun, we came across some hand made cut out clowns.  These were priceless, since they were so creepy, and decided to use them for some fun shenanigans.  We immediately thought of Olivia.  

We left these gems around her classroom for her to find when she came in to clean her classroom.  We thought it would be extra funny to put captions with these creepy clowns.  

Quick story about this guy hiding behind the bookshelves.  Olivia really can't stand the song, This Little Light of Mine, so every chance we get, we make sure to include the song somewhere in our shenanigans.  Our music teacher is aware of her hatred for this song, and always apologizes during mass when we have to sing this song.  The kids in the younger grades really love this song, but for those of us that teach the older kids, we end up rolling our eyes and mouthing the words to the song rather than actually singing.  Olivia has promised us that she would leave this friend up for her students to see.  

I thought this one was extra creepy, since he is peeking out from behind the whiteboard.  

Thankfully my coworkers have a sense of humor and can appreciate these antics on a regular basis.  I can't even imagine working in a school where the teachers do not like to have fun.  I'm sure there will be plenty more of these great times this school year.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Another Summer Bites the Dust

It's that time again.  The time of year that teachers and parents dread.  You know it's coming because the back to school commercials come back on, Sam Adams Summer Ale is no longer offered, and the emails start coming from principals.  Most teachers spend the first part of summer relaxing thinking that they have all summer to get stuff done for next week, and then are in a panic the week before school starts.  That's where I am now.  The week before madness has begun for me.  Time to finish that summer bucket list, and open up the plan book for another year in 5th grade.  

Head of the Meadow Beach- Cape Cod

 It's this week that makes me look back at my summer.  This summer in particular has not been my favorite.  Just one more thing after another to pay for it seems.  There were a few great times this summer.  Luckily my husband and I were able to escape to my favorite place in the world.  

Every year my husband and I join my parents for a week on the Cape.  We rent the same house, and just take some time to relax.  It is the most amazing feeling ever.  

This year some family friends met us up there.  This is the view of the Pacific ocean from the Highland Light lookout.  


One of my hobbies, other than education, is photography.  I may not be an expert, but it is something that I love.  I always feel like I have such a deeper appreciation for things when I am taking pictures of them.  I found this guy on the beach and could not pass up an opportunity to add him to my photo collection.  

This was an extra special summer for me because I finally have a sister!  My brother in-law married the most amazing person, and I was lucky enough to be asked to share in their special day as a bridesmaid.  I am so happy that a family of mostly boys is adding some more girls.  

My husband celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary this year, just days after getting a new sister in-law.  One of the best parts about being a teacher are the gifts we get at the end of the year.  I love how some students put so much thought into getting the gifts, while some just get gift cards.  My husbands class usually gets him a gift card to a really nice restaurant in our area, that we normally wouldn't be able to afford.  

All in all, I guess this summer wasn't as bad as I originally thought.  Looking back on it now, there were some great memories and milestones that will forever be in my heart.  Even though school starts in about a week, I know that this summer will be a fond memory.