Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Guess My Character Halloween Freebie

We always have a book character dress up parade for Halloween. One of my favorite activities is "Guess My Character". Fold the paper in half like a card. The students write three clues about their character on the front. Next they write the name of their character and draw a picture on the inside. I collect all of the clues and read them aloud while everyone looks around and tries to guess who it is. It is always a fun, easy, educational activity to do on Halloween. Click on the picture to download the freebie.

There are two versions-one for book characters and one for Halloween costumes. Hopefully this will help you survive Halloween with your kids! Lucky for me, Halloween falls on the end of the quarter so we have a half day! And the day after Halloween is a Saturday this year! Double yippee!!! Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall Favorites Blog Hop-Home Challenge Projects

Happy Fall! I feel like I can say that because it FINALLY is starting to look and feel like fall here! I'm linking up with some blogging buddies to bring you some fall favorites so get ready for some fall freebies, giveaways, ideas and just general fall fun!

Mid fall is when things finally seem to start clicking in the classroom. The rules and routines have been taught and everything seems to start coming together...most days. I love this time of year because I feel like I can start to implement new ideas and projects. One of my favorite projects to start in October is my home challenge projects.

We all have those kids that despite differentiation, small groups, and challenge work they still want more! Those are the kids that are always craving more learning and more work. I feel like I do a great job with classroom differentiation and challenges, but some kids just want more, more, more! I could spend all day just coming up with extra ideas for them. So here is where my home challenge projects enter. They keep those high fliers happy, keep the parents happy, and keep me happy because they are so simple to implement! It is the happiness trifecta...students, parents, teachers!

In October I send home a parent letter explaining how these projects work. I also talk about it at back to school can just see the parents' eyes light up when you mention the "ch" word! Each month I post a themed project page on my class website. It has 5-7 choices for challenge projects. These projects are open ended and many promote higher level thinking skills.

If students are interested in a challenge project they complete it at home and return it to school. When they bring it to school I let them share it with the class and hang it on our challenge wall. I also write a note to the student about their project.

There are optional graphic organizers and experiment sheets for some projects. I usually post these as individual files on my class webpage for parents to access.

Students are free to complete as many projects as they wish. They also have the option of creating a new project idea that relates to the theme but is not listed. Some months I will post two project pages (November will have November projects and Colonial Life projects) for more student choice.

The nice thing about the project choices is how open ended they are. They allow for a lot of creativity and individuality. It is always neat to each student's take on the project idea.

The project choices vary and include ideas such as write, create, experiment, research, brainstorm and compare. This allows for students to choose projects that they are interested in and can excel at.

These home projects are open to all students. I love how the higher students are able to expand on project ideas and the lower students can find a project to experience success. And everyone is always excited to share! I've used these for 8 years in kindergarten and first grade classrooms and they have always been a hit (even when they were Times New Roman and Microsoft clipart). The projects are open ended enough that they would work for second grade also.

You can grab a mini version of my Home Challenge Fall products for free here to try them out.

The full Home Challenge Project Fall pack includes 3 themes-October, November, and Colonial Life. It also includes editable parent directions, student notes, challenge wall sign, and helpful tips.


I also have a Home Challenge Project bundle that will include all of my challenge projects. These will be added throughout the year. What challenge project themes are you interested in? Leave a comment below. I have some eager kiddos so I'll be looking for more themes to add this year!

And now for the fun giveaways and sales...Enter below to win $10 worth of my products (perfect for the Home Challenge Bundle!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And since it is a Fall Favorites blog hop, all of  my fall themed products and challenge projects are 20% off through Tuesday. Happy Fall Y'all! Head to the next stop to collect some more fall fun!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Five for Friday

I'm linking up with Five for Friday and it is actually Friday!!!


We've been working on visualizing. One of my favorite books to use is "Go Away Big Green Monster". This book is so engaging for getting students to listen carefully to the text and create a corresponding picture in their heads. I read the text first without showing the students the pictures and just had them listen and create pictures in their heads. Next I played the YouTube video of the book (audio only) over and over while they drew their pictures of the monster. (Disclaimer-at one point in the video the text says month instead of mouth. My kids were so excited they didn't really notice and I didn't point it out!)

Finally I read the book with pictures and let them watch the video. They had so much fun and I love their monsters! Such an easy, fun activity for visualizing (especially near Halloween!)

While we're on the subject of YouTube here is a Doubles Song that we have been loving this week. My kids beg me to play this one! I really like how it goes all the way up to 10+10 and has an annoying stuck-in-your-head-all-day tune ("uh uh, oh yeah!").

Wednesday I was at a VDOE SOL English Institute Conference. I felt like a read adult...a whole hour for lunch without having to run around and make copies and phone calls! Besides the relaxed lunch, there were some great ideas and inspiration, especially on using literacy across the content areas. I feel so strongly about this since there never seems to be enough time in the day! I can't wait to get a jump on some of the ideas and activities.

The hubby and I have escaped for a long weekend in Charlottesville. Today we picked apples which has been a yearly tradition since we've been married. I was super excited that Pink Ladies were available for picking already. Mmmmmmmm. Can't wait for the homemade apple pies in our future! Tomorrow's agenda is hiking in Shenandoah National Park.

Tomorrow I'm joining a group of blogging buddies to bring you some fall favorites. Check back on my blog Saturday-Tuesday for some fall tips, freebies, giveaways and fun! I'll be blogging about my home challenge projects and you can snag a fall home challenge project freebie as well as a chance to win $10 of products from my TpT store. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Five for Friday

I'm linking up late for Five for Friday. Even with the best of intentions it just didn't get done yesterday!

I started the week off with a weekend trip to Hatteras. If you've never been to the Outer Banks, NC in fall I highly recommend it. We had beautiful beach weather without the summer crowds. Everyone knows a teacher's brain never really shuts off, so while I was there I figured out how to organize my math workshop. I had not planned on doing school work on the beach, so all I had to write on was a magazine. Yes, this is how my crazy brain thinks!

The random beach brainstorming seemed to work because I FINALLY started math workshop this week! YAY! I've been wanting to do this for a long time, but never quite pulled it together. I'm still working out kinks, but my kids and I loved it! We've been doing Reader's Workshop all year, so the transition to math was an easy one! I still have a lot to figure out, but I am excited for this new classroom adventure.

We've been learning about animal characteristics this week. Ever since I used my cat's face in the Storybots app Math Racer, my class has been obsessed with my cat. I decided to make her the subject of a graphic organizer on animal characteristics. Her picture projected on the board took the engagement level of this lesson through the roof! The next day they completed the same graphic organizer on their pet or another animal. I totally forgot to snap pics of their work, but I was so pleased with how they turned out! You can snag this graphic organizer here (minus the SOL in case you don't teach in Virginia) for free. 

We made these adorable pattern snakes. Ok, technically we made them a few weeks ago, but I finally took them down from the hall and took a picture. They are made from a large spiral diecut and small pattern block diecuts. The snakes were super easy and my kids loved making them!

Did you all hear my screams on Wednesday night? I literally shrieked with excitement when I found out I won a Happy Jackson teacher kit from The Starr Spangled Planner. Jillian was celebrating 1000 facebook fans with a  giveaway and I won! This stuff is so cute and it matches my humor. I can't wait for it to come because I know it will add some smiles and laughter to all of those dreaded meetings! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Flat Stanley Kindness Project

This week I sent home our Flat Stanley Kindness Project. I am SOOOO EXCITED to start getting our kind Stanleys back. While we are waiting for their return, here's a little peek at the project from last year.

I'm always looking for ways to tie kindness into our class activities. After doing a typical Flat Stanley project one too many years, I decided to spice it up and integrate kindness. I wanted the project to be about doing things for others, not what my students would get in return. And so Flat Stanley's Spreading Smiles Across the States project was born.

We started off by talking about acts of kindness-what they look like and why they are important. There are many great books, but I love "The Kindness Quilt" and "Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler"

We brainstormed what kindness looks like and made our own kindness quilt.

Each student designed a Flat Me. I stuck labels to the back to explain the project. 

Each Flat Me was sent home with a packet to include a parent letter, ideas for acts of kindness, a class journal page, and a page of kindness hearts. The students first had to do an act of kindness at home or in their community. They wrote about these and shared them with the class. We added the journal pages to our class kindness book.

After completing an act of kindness locally, the Flat Mes were mailed in typical Flat Stanley fashion with the intent of the recipient completing an act of kindness. Each time a Flat Me would return we would put it on our kindness bulletin board.

We would tally the acts of kindness, color in our kindometer graph, and place a heart sticker on the map of the location.

The class would always get so excited when a Flat Me returned or sent back an act of kindness. It was nice to take the typical Flat Stanley adventures one step further and know that we were making the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time!

I'll be back in a few weeks with our latest Spreading Smiles adventures for this year. In the meantime, if you would like to start your own kindness project you can find it here. This unit includes everything you need to start your own Flat Me Kindness revolution. There are editable letters, labels, templates, printables, and class activities to promote kindness.