Fraction Foldable Freebie

Are you teaching fractions?  With our math curriculum, fractions are just lightly touched upon.  This puts a lot of burden on our third grade teachers.  Here's a little fraction foldable I created for a teacher friend.  She wanted her students to have a handy reference tool for fractions.  I thought I would share it here because you might be able to use it, too:

Click here to get the fraction foldable. 
Happy Teaching!

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Creative Ways to Say Thank You {Pinterest Style}

Not only is Teacher Appreciation Week quickly approaching, but so is the end of the school year.  That can mean only one thing.....time to thank those who have worked with your child all year long. This includes teachers, school staff, volunteers, and more!

  As a teacher, I have always appreciated a hand-written thank you note the most.  My daughter and I will both be writing notes to her teachers this year, but we also want to give a small gift of appreciation for all they have done this year.  I've been scouring Pinterest to find a creative way to say thank you and thought I would share some of my favorite ideas here.

 If you know the teacher's favorite color, why not brighten their day with a few fun surprises?  Just place all of the items in a matching basket or gift bag, and voila - colorful fun!

Here's what you can do with yellow:

Here's a way to incorporate teal:

I have seen these done with almost every color of the rainbow and most of these ideas come with printable tags to save you time!

We know that everyone has to eat and drink sometime, right?  Consider researching the teacher's favorite drink, sweet tooth indulgence, or food.  Just make sure you are aware of any pesky allergies!

Perhaps you aren't sure about food likes and dislikes.  Maybe you should consider a more useful and practical gift.  Anyone who works with kids is constantly washing their hands.  Here's a cute tag to attach to hand soap:
(source: Eighteen 25)

Teachers are spending oodles of money from their own pockets on school supplies.  You might consider providing some of those supplies as a gift:

If your teacher loves flowers and gardening, then a gift that grows is a great choice.  I love the personal touches on these two planters:
 (sources: Snippets of Creations and Real Housewives Clip Coupons)

Or you could give a gardening kit with some seeds to plant:
(sources: The Neighborhood Moms and Skip to My Lou/U-Create Crafts)

If you're feeling crafty, here's a handmade gift your child can help with:
(source: Caramel Potatoes)

Handmade gifts can also include a drawing or piece of artwork your child has made.  That might include a drawing, a painting, or a paper collage.  Just let your child be the guide!

Whole class gifts take more time and planning, but they are certainly worth it!  Photo gifts are definitely treasures that will be remembered long after the students have grown:
(sources: Tutus & Turtles and Angela Maiers)

Another way to capture the littles for years to come is with their tiny fingerprints:
(sources: Paging Fun Mums and Pink Please)

Another option that would be great is to combine thank you notes from all of the students to create one beautiful flower:

I hope one of these ideas will work for you.  Whatever you decide, remember this:

You can find these ideas and more on my Pinterest board:

What are some of your favorite ways to thank others?
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Sequence of Events Practice Using The Three Little Pigs

Once upon a time, there was a teacher who had a small group of students struggling with retelling a story with the events in sequential order.  After speaking with her fairy godmother (aka Literacy Coach), they worked on a plan to get these kids to the ball.

The teacher and her fairy godmother did their chores first.  They selected familiar texts (fairy tales) that were below level.  By doing this, they could completely focus on the task at hand: sequencing!  After days and days of endless chores (practice), the kids were ready for the ball (hands-on learning)!

The teacher took the role of the Big, Bad Wolf and blew on the story of The Three Little Pigs until all of the events of the story were out of order.  Each student received a copy of the mixed-up tale:
 Teacher Tip: I gave each student in my small group a copy on a different color of paper because I didn't want their paper strips to get mixed up and cause even more confusion!

Then each student cut apart the story events:

The students began to piece the story back together.  We looked for key words that told the sequence (first, second, etc.)  By having paper strips, the students could easily manipulate the story, read, and make changes, as needed until the story made sense.

Once the story made sense, the students began to glue the events in order on the recording sheet.

You can grab this sequencing practice here.

 In case you were wondering, the teacher lived happily ever after as she walked her students out to the buses for dismissal.
Happy Teaching!

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Snack Time {Pros and Cons}

In all my years of teaching, I don't think I have ever done things the same way twice.  This includes the decision about having a dedicated snack time or going without.  I can't speak for the masses, so today I'm here to share the pros and the cons of having snack time in my classroom.

Before you make your decision, there are a few things you need to check out:
What is your district or building policy about snacks or food in the classroom?
Do any of your students have allergies?

If you have researched these two things and still have the green light for snack time, here are some great reasons to include snack into your daily routine:

Snack time can be short and the kids need the quick break.

It's a great time to observe the social behaviors of your students.

Many students are rushed during lunch time and don't finish their meal.

Food can fuel the brain.

It's hard to learn when your tummy is grumbling and you know a handful of your students didn't eat breakfast!

On the flip side, here are some of the reasons I have skipped snack time in the past: 

Individual Snacks
Kids forget or their family cannot afford to send in snack!

Kids start eating their lunch early and then get hungry late in the school day.

Kids bring candy (and it's usually the kids who don't need the extra sugar).

Whole Class Snacks
Families don't send in snack once a month so the same 5 families end up sending in snack more frequently, which isn't fair.

Kids are picky eaters and some snack goes to waste.

No matter how many times you explain how to check the labels for safety, you end up with snacks you cannot serve because of allergies to peanuts or dairy.

Little Critters
Kids are messy and crumbs that aren't cleaned up properly can invite ants into the room.  There is nothing worse than being on the custodian's naughty list!

What are your thoughts on snack in the classroom?
Happy Teaching!

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Geometry Foldable Freebie

My friend asked me to help create a little Geometry foldable for her class.  I did and thought some of you might be able to use it, too.

Print the first two pages on colored cardstock paper, back-to-back.  Then print the third page on regular white paper.  Each shape has two examples: the basic shape and a real-world example.  Students will glue the examples under each flap.  Then students will fill in the blanks to identify the number of faces, edges, and vertices.

Click here to grab your own copy.  I hope you'll be able to use it!
Happy Teaching!

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5 Quick & Easy Ways to Group Your Students

Have you ever asked your students to find a partner?  I have and the same problems arise year after year.  So now I have five quick and easy ways to group my students using supplies I already have in the classroom.

Popsicle sticks (aka tongue depressors) can be found in almost every classroom, which makes them a great tool for either picking partners or creating groups.  This is a completely random way to partner students, so use it carefully!

I tend to have a jar of sticks with my students names on them.  I use them to randomly call on students during a lesson or to share.  When I need to partner students, the jar of sticks is already close by and handy, so it's a no-brainer for me.

If you color your sticks, you have a couple of options.  You can use sharpies, highlighters, or markers to color the sticks in groups of 4 (4 red, 4 yellow, etc.).  You can pass out sticks or have students do a blind draw.  Students must find a partner (or group) with a matching color.  But, if you really want to throw your students for a loop, have them pick whatever color they want.  You know that friends will make a plan from across the room so they end up with the same color.  Then you throw your curve ball...tell them their group must be represented by 4 different colors.  

Clock partners (similar to Speed Dial Friends) is a management strategy that has been around for awhile and I have learned that not all teachers use clock partners in the same way.  Here's how I use it in my classroom as an option in which I still maintain a little control over who works with whom (and when).

First, you'll need a paper for each student to record their partners on.  Here's an example:

I'm not going to lie, this takes quite a bit of time to set-up, but it is a quick way to partner students up once it is finished.  If you want to keep control over who partners with whom, have your students line up, but keep all of your high rollers (aka most difficult students) together at one end of the line (either front or back).  Now fold your line in half so that your students are each facing a partner.  It might look something like this in a class of 24 students (high rollers are marked in red):
Have students record this partner's name in the 1:00 time slot.  Students 1 and 24 are partners, 2 and 23, etc.

To find the next partner, keep one half of your class in place (the half with your high rollers).  The other half will slide one spot to the right (person on the end will walk around to the other side).  It might look something like this:
Have students record this partner's name in the 2:00 time slot.  Students 1 and 13 are partners, 2 and 24, etc.  Continue until all slots are filled.  

Not all classes come in neatly packaged numbers (as you know).  If you have fewer than 24 students, you might not want to use all 12 time slots.  You also might choose to make a time slot a free choice.

If you have an odd number, the odd man out can write down your name.  When a new student arrives, substitute the new student's name in your place.

The next time you need students to partner up, just call out a time and students check their times, find their partners, and get started right away!

Most classrooms also have a deck of cards lying around, which makes this a great tool for creating partnerships or groups at random. A standard deck of cards has four numbers in four suits.  When I use the deck of cards, I start by laying out the cards I will need.  For a class of 24 students, I would pull out all of the aces, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s.  Then I would shuffle and deal out the cards.  If our activity needed pairs, students must match the number and color.  If I needed groups of 4, students must match numbers OR find a group where all four suits are represented, regardless of number.  

This is another fun pair-up idea that takes more prep work, but can be tied into your academic content fairly easily.  The first thing you need is puzzle pieces.  I think the clipart variety work well because I can print them and add my own text.  Here are some free puzzle piece clipart sets from Krista Wallden @ Creative Clips that are perfect for this project:
So how do you tie this into academics?  If you're working on synonyms, write matching pairs on the puzzle pieces.  If you're working on multiplication facts, write the problem on one piece and the product on the other.  

If you laminate the pieces first, you can write on them with a vis-a-vis marker and change them as frequently as you want!  If you have old puzzles lying around, take 2-4 pieces out of each puzzle that interlock.  Flip them over and write the academic content on the backside and you'll be all set!

Using puzzle pieces will create partners or groups at random.  If you want to maintain a little more control over this process, print the puzzle pieces on different colors.  Then choose to pass out the pieces and make sure your high rollers receive different colors.

Somehow I always have a Scrabble game (or a making words game) on hand for one of my word work stations.  It's pretty easy to find pairs of letters you need in a matter of seconds.  

If you want to up your game a bit, create 6, 4-letter words using the tiles.  Then throw all of them into a bag or cup.  Have students draw one tile each.  Present the 6 words to your class and have them make groups by spelling out the words.

If you don't have Scrabble tiles, but still want to try this, there are many Scrabble-like fonts you can download for free.  Just type them into your program of choice, print, and cut them out.  

I hope you'll be able to use one of these ways in your classroom.  
Happy Teaching!

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Addition with Regrouping - Let's Go Shopping!

When it comes to teaching addition with regrouping do you run and hide?  Or do you tackle the skill head-on with enthusiasm?  I'm somewhere in the middle.  I know just how hard it is for second graders to accomplish, but I also try to remember how proud they feel when it finally clicks for them.  As always, students are grasping this skill at their own pace which leaves the question - what do I have the other students doing while I'm reteaching, reteaching, and oh yeah - reteaching?

I tend to fall back on my one of my favorite activities, shopping!  The good news is this set won't put you into debt and can be used in a variety of ways!

When it was first created, the purpose of this pack was to provide students with a lot of real-world practice when finding the sum of 4-addends (CCSS 2.NBT.B.6).  I figured shopping was the perfect way to address this standard so a variety of stores had to be included!  Each shop includes a full-page color poster, eight task cards, and two options for recording sheets (with or without grid lines).

If you're worried that there are too many pieces to manage, you can relax.  Each task card has some distinctive features that will help students keep them organized all year long.

And here's a look at the matching recording sheets.  These contain many of the same features to make things easier for students (and teachers).  There are also two options, depending on the needs of your students:

Your students can all be working on the same skill with varying levels of difficulty and independence.  Here's a quick rundown of how this might look in my classroom during math workshop.

In my small group, I have my enrichment kids.  These kids can already complete these task cards with ease and are ready to take it to the next level.  We still use the posters, but the problems might look a little different:

Students might be working with 4-addends, but they must interpret the answer:

These kids are also ready for 2-step word problems:

The rest of the students are working through their math rotations.  Going shopping is just one of the math centers that day.  Because there are a variety of price ranges within each store, you can choose which store to assign to your different groups.  Students just need to grab the materials and they can complete the task cards at their seat or in a spot around the room:

Students can turn in the recording sheets when finished and move onto another math game.  Answer keys are included in this pack, so you can check their work and return papers for student corrections, as needed.

I've asked a few teachers to share how they have organized the materials for student use and/or long-term storage.  Here are some of their ideas:

Option 1 - Sheet Protectors
You might use this option if you don't have the time to laminate.  The store posters fit perfectly inside the sheet protectors.  Here's a view from the front:
 When you flip the sheet protector to the back side, you'll find the recording sheet(s) and task cards fit inside, too.
If you are using this math pack for centers, you can keep the station small by controlling how many recording sheets you include.  When students finish, they simply put the task cards back inside and return the sheet protector to its designated location.

Option 2 - Bulletin Board
Start by hole punching the task cards.  You can use ribbon, yarn, or even binder rings to keep each set of task cards together.  Then attach the task card sets to your bulletin board with a thumbtack.  If you have a whiteboard or chalkboard, just use a magnet instead of the thumbtack.
You can place a crate with hanging files directly below the bulletin board.  Within each hanging file you can keep the store posters and recording sheets for easy student access.

Option 3 - Storage Drawers & Ziploc Baggies
Place all of the needed materials inside of a Ziploc baggie.  Then file away in a storage drawer.  This would also be good for long-term storage.

 Option 4 - Tubs & Ziploc Baggies
Again, place all of the needed materials inside a Ziploc baggie and put into a tub that students can access when needed.  This would also be great for long-term storage.

You can click on the image below to learn more about this shopping pack. If you already own it, go back into your purchases to download the latest updates.  There's a new Ice Cream Shop you'll want to check out.  I also added clickable links to the Table of Contents to make it easier to find the store you need!  If you have any questions about this pack, don't hesitate to ask.

Happy Shopping!
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