Sunday, May 26, 2013

Summer Survival Kits

A couple days ago, I posted about items I wanted to purchase this weekend for my students' end of year gifts/ Summer Survival Kits.  After trips to two different Dollar Trees today, I have the kits all planned out!  They have a camping theme, and here's what's included:

A folder with my Summer Survival Kit on TPT, which includes "Tackle Your Multiplication Facts" flashcards, a "Catch Some Good Books" reading log, and an "I am Writing S'More This Summer" journal.  Dollar Tree had packs of three colorful folders in bright pink, green, and purple.  Perfect!

I found these LED booklights, batteries included!  On the back, I taped this poem, which you can find for free HERE.  I'm hoping this will really encourage some summer reading.  I'm also including a brand new free book for everyone in their kit that I purchased for $1 from Scholastic.

I was going to include a snack bag with the tag "You're O-Fish-ally in 4th grade," but I happened to find cheese whales at Dollar Tree, not goldfish.  So, I improvised and made these cute tags instead.  I think the message is "cheesy" enough for these cheese crackers :)

Last, Dollar Tree had these super bright and sparkly beach pails.  I put everything inside, minus the free books (they are in my classroom), and added a label to the front of the pail.  Here is what the finished product looks like:

I am planning on placing one on each desk the morning of the last day of school so they are there when the students walk in.  All the different colors will look so pretty spread across the room!  What are you making for your students' end of year gifts?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Five For Friday - Shopping Edition!

I am happy to be linking up with Doodle Bug's Five For Friday again after being too tired to post on Fridays for about the past 2 months!

But thanks to my 2 hour nap earlier today after an exhausting field day, I have a burst of energy now.  I was just working on some end of year/ beginning of next year ideas and thought I'd put a little shopping twist on my Five for Friday post.  Here are 5 things I am planning on buying this lovely, long Memorial Day weekend!

1. Sheet protectors so that I can make a coupon binder for the new reward system I'll be using next year. I bought these class coupons from Laura at Peach, Love, and First Grade.

I want to display the large version of the coupons in a binder and have them as a reward option for kids who earn tickets.

2. Fun prizes from Oriental Trading - also as part of my new reward system. Kids will be able to earn tickets based on what color they are on at the end of the day.  They can used their tickets for prizes, and the more tickets they save up, the better the prizes are that they can win.  I've got my eye on these:
These little rubber duckies are too cute!

There are mini inflatable beach balls - I love miniature things like these and I know my students will too!

3. Items to include in my "Summer Survival Kits" that I'm working on for my students this weekend.  So far, the kits will have everything included in this pack:

I'm also going to put some goldfish in baggies with these adorable tags (except they will say "4th grade.":
Then to continue with the camping theme, I found this creative idea to buy mini flashlights and attach to this note:
If you want to use any of these, I included links to the stores if you click on the pictures.  I'm also going to put 2-3 books in everyone's kit.  I'm really excited about the cohesive camping theme the kits will have; I think the kids will be motivated to read, write, and practice their math this summer!

4. Some new, bright book tubs for the books in my class library.  Maybe something like these:

I've had my book tubs for 5 years now, and they are mismatched and getting dirty.  I'm ready for a change!  Going to try the dollar store and Target to see what I can find.

5. A formal dress to wear to our school's Red Carpet Awards Ceremony on Wednesday!  I haven't gone shopping for a formal dress since prom, so this should be interesting.  I love this dress:

Yes, this event is going to be fancy schmancy!  A lot of the boys are planning on wearing tuxes, and the girls will be looking like princesses I'm sure.  I can't wait to see how cute everyone is!  

So there was my shopping version of Five for Friday, and I am looking forward to getting started tomorrow and Sunday!  I had better go rest up so I have energy to hunt these things down tomorrow.  Happy Memorial Day weekend to everyone!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Growing Frogs Science Mentor Text

I am linking up again with Collaboration Cuties and their Mentor Text Linky, this time with a Science focus.

My class just finished up our Science unit of life cycles, which offers SO many opportunities for fun activities.  I used three read alouds during this unit, but the one I want to share with you is Growing Frogs by Vivian French.  

This story is about a little girl who collects frog spawn with her mother and takes it home to observe the frog life cycle.  I like that this book is a mixture of nonfiction and realistic fiction, because as we read the little girl's story, there are a lot of informative pictures and information about the frog life cycle.  I also like that this book encourages students to be responsible when it comes to collecting frog spawn, and tells us not to collect too much, and to be sure to return the frogs to their natural habitat when they are grown up.  

After we read this story, my students created models of the frog life cycle with clay and paper plates.  Some of them got really creative, and they definitely had a lot of fun with this.  I am confident they really learned and will remember the frog life cycle the rest of their lives now!

If you have a fun Science mentor text, click the button at the top of this post to head over and link up!  I would love to see your ideas.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Teaching Character with Animals

So sometimes to reward myself, I love to go browse around a book store.  I have a Barnes and Noble literally next door to my apartment complex, and I recently had the bright idea to check out their Education section, which I had never done before (usually too busy browsing the fiction section or children's lit)!

I was really excited to find this book during my perusal of the Education section:

I am always on the lookout for new ways to teach my kids to be good people.  My students LOVE anything to do with animals, and as I browsed through this book, it seemed like the perfect way to sneak some character ed into our days.  Now is the perfect time, since we only have about 3 weeks of school left, and there is room to experiment with new ideas.  

This book lets you find lessons based on the traits you want to teach.  So I chose to focus our first lesson on "perseverance."  Let's just say most of my students don't really have an "I'm going to keep trying until I get it!" attitude this year.  Even after reading about Wilma Rudolph, an amazing woman who had polio as a child and was told she would NEVER WALK AGAIN, but went on to become a multiple-Olympic gold medalist, inspired my students for about 2 seconds before they were back to turning in lazy work!  

So, the first lesson we did was based on coconut crabs.  My students were hooked immediately when I showed them the picture of a coconut crab provided on the CD-ROM.  Then, we read about coconut crabs and how they will sometimes climb up a palm tree over and over again, carrying a coconut, and drop it to the ground to try to shatter the shell.  If that doesn't work, they will use their claws to work at getting the shell open until they finally succeed.  We used this model to discuss perseverance and the kids made perseverance posters with their own slogans.  

I was really impressed with the slogans these students came up with.  Overall, I was very happy with the students' engagement throughout this lesson, and I am planning on fitting in as many more lessons from this book as I can.  I would really like to work these lessons in sporadically throughout the year next year, because I believe that building good character comes from having these discussions over and over and over and OVER again until it becomes a part of your students.  

I will let you know how any future lessons from this book go.  I highly recommend it if you think you have time to fit in 20-30 minutes of character ed at least once a week.