Light {Shadow Puppet Theater}

 

It's spring!

It’s spring!

It’s been a LOOOOOONG time since I’ve last posted. This time of the school year just gets INSANE! With testing, breaks, report cards, etc- it’s just been busy! But we’ve also been doing a lot of exciting things. For starters, how fun is the above photo! We saw a similar picture on Pinterest and decided to tackle the project as a first grade team! Each of us picked a color and we did a handprint garden. It was pretty simple, actually! And how cool did they all turn out? We love them hanging in the hallway and how they all look a little different.

Speaking of our first grade team, today was pajama day…. and can you tell we’re on the same page?

Twins!

Twins!

Two of us were pajama twins today! Great minds think alike 🙂 (this also reflects our shared loved of Target!)

But back to the topic of this post- LIGHT!

I’ve already made lots of posts about the NGSS standard of light waves. It’s a topic we cover each year and the kids really love it. It can seem overwhelming at first (you teach about light waves to first graders!?) but honestly- it’s a fun, engaging unit!

Light Pack

Light Pack

If you click on the picture, it will take you to my Light unit on TpT. It’s filled with everything you need to teach light to first graders.

Reflecting

Reflecting

One of the best things is watching kids discover how they can change the direction of light waves. Because of course, the first aspect we learn about is that light moves in straight lines. By using a mirror, we start to discover the meaning of “reflect” and how we can change lights direction.

Reflecting

Reflecting

Reflecting

Reflecting

It’s a fun process. Kids love a challenge, so have them point their flashlights a certain way and then have them use the mirror to get the light on something else. For example, have them all point their lights up towards the ceiling. Then, using the mirror and NOT moving the flashlight, have them reflect the light on the board. It’s really fun and the kids love challenging themselves in this way! Plus, it’s showing them how light moves and what reflect means.

Shadow Fables

Shadow Fables

This year, we also did something new at the end of our light unit. Because we’d learned about shadows and transparent objects, we put together all our knowledge to make a shadow puppet theater. To make it even more fun, we combined this idea with our last literacy unit- fables.

Shadow Fables

Shadow Fables

This idea came straight from the fabulous first grade teacher on our team, Ms. Rios! 🙂

Shadow Fables

Shadow Fables

We combined our classes and had pairs of students write their very own fable. Once they had a story, they used black construction paper and sticks to make shadow puppet characters. Finally, we constructed a “theater” using a box and white paper. When we shined a light from behind the box, the students presented their shadow fables!

Shadow Fables

Shadow Fables

Shadow Fables

Shadow Fables

I can’t even describe how amazing this was! Some of the morals they created included:

-Don’t disturb princes and princesses

-You shouldn’t eat children

-Real friends can’t be unfriended

….. just to name a few 🙂

 

Their stories were amazing, the morals were just perfect, and the shadow puppets added an awesome science connection and element to the whole thing. It was such a fun idea and the kids had a blast doing it! It was a great way to combine our two units, and end our light unit.

Thanks for checking into our adventure!

100 Days of School!

 

100th Day!!!

100th Day!!!

Yesterday we celebrated the 100th day of school! The kids came in so excited and we spent the day doing all things “100”!

100th Day Crowns

100th Day Crowns

First up was making 100th Day crowns! The kids colored in their crowns that said “______ is 100 days smarter!” and we attached them to paper bands.

100th Day Crowns

100th Day Crowns

100th Day Crowns

100th Day Crowns

100th Day Crowns

100th Day Crowns

After lunch (we only had a half day of school), the kids put on their capes! Earlier in the month, we sent home cut pieces of tablecloth and told the students to make a 100th day cape! (many students made their own capes which was awesome too!) We got the idea from Pinterest (of course!) and did it last year. It was a BIG hit so we knew we had to repeat it this year. The kids can decorate their capes however they’d like! Many kids put 100 things on their capes.

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

Capes!

100 fingers!

100 fingers!

Pink cape!

Pink cape!

I love how different they all are and how they reflect that student’s personality! I love seeing all their capes, and love how much fun the kids have in them 🙂

What did I wear? Not a cape. This year, one of my first grade co-workers came across the idea to make shirts with tally marks made of ribbon. The tally marks count to 100. So….

Shirt!

Shirt!

That’s what we made! How cute did they turn out? The kids loved it and right away were counting the tally marks. They were so excited to see the teacher’s celebrating too!

Up close

Up close

They were simple to make. We bought a bunch of ribbon from Wal-Mart and then just cut out pieces. Then, we hot glued them to t-shirts. They turned out so cute!

 

Next up, another fun 100th day activity! The kids cut out the numbers “1” “0” “0”…

Cutting

Cutting

Cutting

Cutting

Cutting

Cutting

…and then had to use those numbers to create a picture. They had to use their imagination and turn them into something else. Their ideas were awesome- as usual 🙂

A dog

A dog

A butterfly

A butterfly

A lion

A lion

A house

A house

An angry bird!

An angry bird!

A snowman

A snowman

A car

A car

These were just a few of the amazing ideas I saw! The kids really liked this activity and were giggling as they saw how everyone turned their numbers into something different.

Next up, a little moving! We love getting our wiggles out, so what a better way to do that than moving along while counting to 100! We did several songs where the kids had to do different exercises while counting, the Macarena while counting, and other sing-along songs!

Moving and Counting

Moving and Counting

Moving and Counting

Moving and Counting

Moving and Counting

Moving and Counting

Moving and Counting

Moving and Counting

We also read the story “It’s the 100th Day Stinky Face!” (we read a different Stinky Face story on Valentine’s day and the kids loved it)

In the story, he can’t think of what to bring for the 100th day of school. He ends up (spoiler alert!) bringing 100 questions.

After, I told the kids that we probably ask 100 questions in school everyday too! But we also probably can write 100 words as well. So I gave my little genius’ a question: Can you write 100 words? Yeah!

Book

Book

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

They were off! The kids were really focused. While they were writing, I could hear them say things like “Wow, I have half done!” “Oh man, I can’t wait to write 100 words!”. It was really cute 🙂

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

Writing 100 words

So, that about sums up our 100th day! It was filled with lots of fun things. The kids are definitely 100 days smarter, bigger, more creative, and turning into the most wonderful first graders! Here’s to the next 100 days!

Thanks for checking in on our adventure! Be sure to come back soon!

First Round of Summer Project

Now that summer school is over, the wedding has past, grad school class finished (for the summer), and we’re back from our honeymoon, it’s that time….. SUMMER PROJECT TIME FOR SCHOOL!

Teachers know what I mean- there comes a point where you find yourself surfing Pinterest just a little bit more, reading ideas on blogs just a little bit longer, and before you know it, you have the itch. It’s time to start thinking about next school year! Now in the words of one of my sisters- who is also a teacher and, being told that some of us are back in the school year mode already, responded by saying “Go take a nap“- I know a lot of you out there are saying the same thing! (Is that the longest sentence ever? Does it matter that I’m a teacher and made such a run-on sentence? It’s the summer, so I hope you let it pass)

Anyways, I can hear some of you screaming “Nooooooo! We still have weeks of summer left to go!”

But I’m crazy and always looking/reading/finding/thinking about my class for next year and was in the mood so here we go!

Mess

Mess

For starters, please tell me that when you all are doing projects at home, you also have a mess pile going on too.

Please? I can’t be alone in this!

And inevitably, one/both of the dogs decides to run right through it and it becomes even MORE of a mess!

But on this day, the pups were pretty much moving at this speed…

Sleeping

Sleeping

Which was just fine for me because it meant I could get things done without toys being brought to me, barking at squirrels happening, and whining because I wasn’t paying attention to them 🙂

The first project….

Write

Write

I saw on Pinterest a teacher who made these out of burlap (I think ?) and I thought it was so cute! Here is the project in process. Basically, I printed out the black letters on the computer, cut them out, and glued them to pieces of construction paper. I cut the bottom ragged, like a pencil, and glued on brown paper. I cut the brown in a triangle shape to get the point. To the top, I just glued on a slim piece of black construction paper and a slightly larger piece of pink. And voila! An adorable sign!

Signs

Signs

Here it is with the bottoms colored in to make it look more like a pencil. I plan to hang these from a string above our writing goals for the year. I think it’s a cute way to show what we are focusing on in writing!

Check off that project and on to the next….

Writing examples

Writing examples

I’ve seen this idea on Pinterest thousands of times, but I’ve never gotten around to doing it until now. Now in my fifth year teaching, I can’t wait to start off the year with these visuals for my kiddlets. I think it will be SO beneficial for my firsties to actually see what it means to get a one as opposed to a four on their writing!

1 and 2

1 and 2

Here is an unclose view of the 1 and 2 examples. And…

3 and 4

3 and 4

Here is the 3 and 4.

I literally copied these from the example I saw on Pinterest (Source) and then added the numbers to the sides.

Ratings

Ratings

For these, I got a pack of these cut-out shapes at the Dollar Tree, used a permanent marker to make the cute marks on the outside, and wrote the number in the middle.

Four

Four

I just love this idea because even though we model, model, MODEL in first grade, I love having examples posted all of the time so that they can see what it means to just be starting out, how to add more, and what it means to get a high score. Some of the kids really need that visual reminder of what good writing is and having it posted will really help.

So there it is- those are the two projects I started so far and I’m already working on a few others. Slowly I will get closer to getting it all done. In the meantime, here is what else I’ve been doing…

Farmers market

Farmers market

My sister invited me along to her town’s local farmers market. It was great, so much fun and full of people! The one booth we both had to stop at and buy from wasn’t the fresh produce, but instead the dog treats. How cute are those!? My puppies ate them up- all except the cone, which surprisingly was rejected from my dogs who eat garbage  😉

Beach

Beach

Later that day, we meet up with my other sister, mom, and this little man…

Pookie!

Pookie!

at the beach near our home. What a great day! The view was wonderful and the little man had so much fun collecting rocks and walking into the surf. We had a few exciting moments of the umbrella blowing away, but overall it was a very beautiful day 🙂

Rapids

Rapids

Hiking

Hiking

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Here are just a few pics from our honeymoon in Colorado. It was such an unbelievable experience. I’d never been out there and loved seeing the mountains, the scenery, and all of the outdoor things we got to do. Most of all, it was great spending a week together away from all the business of our lives 🙂

That’s it for now. Thank you for checking in! Be sure to check back to see other projects I’m tackling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer School Recap #1: Sight Word Practice- How to Make it Fun!

Good morning all! I hope you are off to a fantastic start to your day, even if it’s gray and cloudy like it is around these parts! 🙂

I’ve been snapping some pictures of what we’ve been doing these past few days at summer school and wanted to share some of the fun activities, projects, and games we’ve been doing.

Sight Word Activities 

I view summer school like this- We are here to learn and practice. We are here to get ready for the next school year. We are here to support the students skills to help them improve. AND- to remember that it is summer. And some teachers students have a harder time focusing in the summer. So what can you do?

Well, I try to make learning into games and projects that excite the kids and help them learn without really knowing they are learning.

For example, since my group is a mix of Kinders going into 1st, and a few 1st going into 2nd, we are really trying to work on sight word recognition. Some of my kids know a lot of sight words, while some of my kiddlets are still working on this skill. So, we’ve been doing some really fun things to help us!

Here is a student coloring in his sight word watch.

Sight word watch

Sight word watch

I purchased the pack of pre-primer words from TpT and the kids love wearing the “watches” that have a sight word on them. All day we ask each other “What time is it?” and they are so excited to tell you “the time” (which is really the word) 🙂

Here’s how I make it differentiated for the kids. I always use a variety of words with the watches. My students practicing basic sight words use pre-primer words, while my other students who need more of a challenge are being introduced to a harder set of sight words.

Sight word watches

Sight word watches

Sight word watches

Sight word watches

This also really works out, because even though the individual kids have a word at their level, they are still seeing and hearing a lot of other sight words from the other kids. When they ask another kid what time it is, they are hearing and seeing another word. It’s fun and the kids love it!

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Another game we’ve played is Sight Word Musical Chairs, which I found on no other place but Pinterest (of course!) 🙂

I saw the idea and immediately knew I could use this in my class to help letter practice and sight word practice. On the orange pieces of paper, I have letters written on one and sight words on another. My kiddos who needed the most help on letters used the letter paper and my kiddos doing more sight words used the other paper. Then, just like musical chairs, I put on some tunes. When the music was playing, the kids walked in a circle around the desks. When the music stopped, they had to stop and write the letter or word that was in front of them on the paper.

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

It’s a great way to differentiate because the kids are practicing the skill that’s most beneficial to them. It also helps them recognize the letter, sound, or sight word. As they were playing, I heard them saying the letter or word over and over as they wrote.

Plus, it was just plain fun! 🙂

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Sight word musical chairs

Those are just two of the fun things we’ve been practicing in class! Be sure to check back with us for more fun ideas and see what other activities we’re doing! Have a wonderful, wonderful day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QR Code Crazy!

Warning: I predict that the next few posts I write will all contain QR codes in some way. I’ve found QR Voice and I am  slightly addicted.

Hi, my name is Ms. Tasch and I’m addicted to QR voice.

Admitting it is the first step, right? 🙂

But first, here’s a slight look at other things I’m loving right now:

1. I mean… c’mon! How adorable is my nephew! I watched him a couple of weeks ago and  always enjoy spending time with that little munchkin.

Lucas

Lucas

2. Last weekend, the fiancé and I walked around a local downtown area by the lake. It was such a beautiful day (finally!) and we spent a few hours roaming in and out of stores. One of my favorites was a canning store that was also a bakery. As soon as we walked in and the smell hit us, I knew I loved this place. I also knew we wouldn’t be leaving empty handed! While we didn’t get one of those delicious looking Peep cookies below, we did leave with a mini pecan pie (called a Cutie Pie) and a toasted coconut bar- yum!

Peeps!

Peeps!

3. Before that adventure, we took time out to meet up with my sister-in-law and nieces for a walk around a local forest preserve. The adults kids and dogs all needed to get out of the house and run around! I love walks and it was the perfect day for one!

Walking!

Walking!

Finally….. QR codes!

What?

You knew it was coming- I’d already warned you! 🙂

Looking at Pinterest one day, I saw a pin about using QR codes for kids to practice math. Hmm, I thought…. I’ve only ever used QR codes to take you a certain website. I was intrigued and clicked on the link, which brought me to my new addiction: qrvoice.net or QR Voice if you are searching for it.

Now, maybe I’ve been living under a rock and missed all the coolness of this, but if you are like me, here’s a breakdown of how it works:

You go to the website and type in a word, phrase, or sentence and it will create a QR code for you. All you have to do is copy and paste that code into a worksheet. When the students scan that code, it will say the word, phrase, or sentence you wanted! Amazing right!?

Well I definitely thought so and quickly created a hidden shapes review for my first graders!

Worksheet

Worksheet

First, there is a QR code, or the clue for the shape. The students worked together in small groups to scan the code. They had to be good listeners and hear what shape it was.

In the next box, the answer box, they had to write the name of the shape they heard when they scanned the code.

Finally, they had to draw a picture of the shape in the last box.

Scanning

Scanning

Scanning

Scanning

Scanning

Scanning

I can’t say enough how much we all loved this!

It was exciting for the kids and exciting for me…. ok maybe a little too exciting for me- I never knew this was possible!

Finding the hidden shapes

Finding the hidden shapes

I’m already thinking of all the different ways to use QR voice. And as I said, be prepared to see them on here! 🙂

I’ve already created a rotating scoot game with composite shapes where students scan the code to hear the directions. And in sharing with a colleague, she wondered if it is possible to record students saying something and make a QR code for that. After searching- this is possible! By recording a student, emailing the file to yourself, uploading it to a Dropbox or website, you can create a QR code for that file. When scanned, you’ll hear the student talking!

Ah, I am in love with QR voice! The possibilities are endless.

Happy Tuesday 🙂

 

P.S. I almost forgot…. I uploaded these files to TpT for FREE! Check out the link: QR Codes {Hidden Shapes} or look at the right hand side for my TpT store!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day One!

We did it- we survived the first day of school! And not only that, we had a great time in the process!

Day one- done!

Day one- done!

The kiddos were so quiet as they first walked in the room this morning. I always forget how funny the first day of school is- we’re not on our routine yet, they aren’t sure where things are- it’s very overwhelming! But as the day started, they quickly found themselves smiling and enjoying each other!

One of the first things we did was Play-doh sculpting!

Pink play-doh!

Pink play-doh!

I think this is a really fun ice-breaker because who doesn’t love playing with Play-doh?!

Rolling it around!

Rolling it around!

At first, I gave them a little free time just to make different things. They were so excited to share the different objects they had made- pizzas, pancakes, and tacos were among the many. 😉

Then, I asked them to sculpt something they loved and could share with the class. I showed them a dog I had made out of play-doh and said, “I made a dog because I have 2 dogs at home. They are so silly and I love them very much. That’s why I made a dog out of my play-doh.” We brainstormed a few different things they could make and then, they were off!

 

My cat!

My cat!

(We made these sculptures on a paper plate so that when we shared them with each other, it would be easy to move and see)

After we finished, we took some time to show and talk with a neighbor.

What did you make?

What did you make?

 

The kids were SO excited when they found out they could keep these play-dohs for themselves! It’s a fun treat for them and a great way to get to know the kids in the class. (Teachers- you can grab this activity at my TpT store here!)

Pete says, "It's all good!"

Pete says, “It’s all good!”

One of my FAVORITE books is Pete the Cat, Rocking in my School Shoes. I love reading it to the first graders and hearing them giggle along with Pete and help read the repeating parts.

A few weeks before school, I found this AWESOME school tour-Pete the Cat School Tour– for free on Pinterest. I printed it out and knew I’d use it this year. Because of the new addition, and teachers being in all different places, it was a great way to explore the rooms of the building AND look for Pete the Cat. But, Pete is such a tricky cat and we couldn’t find him in any of the rooms we looked in. He wasn’t in the office, the gym, the library, or the art room.

Guess where we did find him?

Pete!

Pete!

He was in our room! (Their faces were so cute when we found Pete in our classroom! They told me I had to watch him all during lunch and recess so he didn’t run away again!) I took that job very seriously! 🙂

We finished out the morning by coloring in our own “school shoes”.

Shoes!

Shoes!

Rocking in his school shoes

Rocking in his school shoes

Are those good shoes? Goodness, yes!

Are those good shoes? Goodness, yes!

After lunch and recess, we calmed down with yoga (parents- we do yoga/stretching every day after recess as a way to relax and get back into “school mode”) and finished coloring our shoes.

Then we had one more Pete project to work on!

Pete!

Pete!

We made some Pete’s ourselves! It started with this pattern- Pete Pattern– which I downloaded from Pinterest and copied onto yellow and blue paper. First, the students cut out all the pieces…

Cutting!

Cutting!

Very focused

Very focused

and then they did some gluing…

Making Pete!

Making Pete!

and some drawing…

Making the face!

Making the face!

 

and voila! We had ourselves a room full of Pete’s!

 

All done!

All done!

The students drew on the eyes, nose, mouth, and whiskers themselves. Each one was a little different and unique in their own special way. Too cute!

I hung them up outside the room…

Pete is rocking in our hallway!

Pete is rocking in our hallway!

So that’s how we spent our first day of school! (Of course, we also spent a lot of time on expectations, school rules, and routines. But this was the fun stuff we did!)

Parents- make sure to sign up with your email address (along the top right hand side of the site) to get email updates of new posts. Be sure to check out the blog weekly to see all the fun things we are doing in class! It’s a great way to start a conversation with your child and have them share what they did in school!

Thanks for making the first day so fun! I can’t wait to see you all again tomorrow! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it begins….

The new school year is here! Although it doesn’t quite seem real  yet, students will be in their seats bright and early Monday morning. I’m not sure where the summer went, but I’m looking forward to a new bunch of first graders and starting off the year. 🙂

BUT- first things first!

TpT Sale!!!!

TpT Sale!!!!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a HUGE sale starting tomorrow and going through Monday. I’ve already set up my store for 20% off! And if you enter the promo code- BTS13- you’ll get an additional % off!

Please check it out and use this as an opportunity to try new things, get new products, and buy the things off your wish list!

Here is a link to my store: MY TpT STORE! or you can look along the right hand side of this blog to see my products listed!

End of summer activities

I’ve been trying to fit in everything possible these last few days of summer:

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

My mom and I visited a new, local farmers market. It wasn’t huge, but we found a lot of great things!

Yumm-o

Yumm-o

We both left with some great bread, bottled Asian sauces, and fresh corn. Yum 🙂

Family!

Family!

We also all just got together for our 2nd annual Family Game/Pinterest Food Night!

Last year my sister had everyone over for a game night and as added fun, told us all to bring an appetizer that we’d pinned on Pinterest, but hadn’t made before. We all had such a good (and filling) time that we decided to do it again this year! Not only is it fun to get together with the family, but it’s fun to make something you’ve pinned, but haven’t gotten around to making. The food was great- and included taco pizza, bruschetta, Ruben dip, caramel apples, macaroni cups, and peanut butter/jelly/Nutella/and marshmallow mini sandwiches) Thanks Pinterest 🙂

School News

We had meet and greet on Thursday. I love meet and greet for 2 reasons. One being the fact that I get to meet my new students and their families. It’s a great chance for them to see the room, meet me, and feel more comfortable when Monday rolls around. And two, I love seeing my old students who come say hi! (I cannot believe my first  class of kiddos are now fourth graders! Agh!)

I snapped some pics of my room- it’s finally done!- before the families got there.

Word Wall

Word Wall

I’m using this white board for my word wall and have my sound cards above it. (Do you notice something missing? Notice a letter missing? Over the summer, we all moved to different rooms. My whole room got moved and everything found it’s way here- except my D card! Really? How did I lose it!? I know I’ll find it shoved in something a few months down the road!)

Desks

Desks

On each desk I had the white letter- from the office- and a folder that contained a student information sheet and a blog consent form (I have parents sign off if they will allow their students picture on this blog). I’ll send home much more “getting to know you” things in the next week, but I wanted these things first.

 

Library

Library

All the kids who came to visit loved exploring the library! It’s going to a be a favorite place in the room.  🙂

Windows

Windows

I know it’s dark/hard to see, but I love the way the paper balls add a pop of color to the room. (I actually got these from my sister-which were from her baby shower- and knew I could use them in the class!)

Our wall!

Our wall!

And lastly, here is my miscellaneous wall! The bottom part is where we have our gathering rug and calendar items. I love our calendar time in the morning, and it teaches the students many important skills. Each day we cover the days of the week, months of the year, the weather, how many days we’ve been in school, our location, and more!

Above that I have our Daily 5 posters. I thought those were so cute and hit all the important parts of each choice. On the other side, I decided I wanted some posters with visual cues for the students on the parts of speech and punctuation. I’m hoping these will help  🙂

That’s it for now! I’m actually going to run into school to do a few last minute things. I’ll be sure to post about our first day- I’m just as excited as the kids!

 

 

Homemade Classroom Bench (and new classroom pics!)

 

Molly says hello!

Molly says hello!

Goooooooooood morning!

First things first, Target is a dangerous place for me to go. I head in for hangers and I leave with collar bling! Although, I’m not really complaining because I love it and buy all sorts of ridiculous things for our dogs. This definitely fits in that category, but I think it’s too cute! It’s on a rubber band, like a hair tie, and you can slide it onto the collar. Oh Target, you have the best things! 🙂

Anyways, I’m continuing on getting ready for the new school year (meet and greet is Thursday-agh!) and trying to do as much as I can at home to prepare.

Crate Bench

One of the things I always see on Pinterest are the cute seats people make out of the plastic crates.

Last year, Stephen helped me make them and they were really cute- and I loved that I could store things inside of them. I used them instead of chairs at my guided reading table.

But, after a year of use, the fluff inside of them weren’t cutting it and since kids had spilled ketchup on some of the seats during “eat lunch with the teacher” since I got new chairs for my guided table this year, I knew I wasn’t going to use them anymore. But, I knew I loved the idea of them.

This year, I started unpacking the thousands of boxes in my room last week and arranging things in the room. The new rooms are connected to the neighboring room with a fold-able wall. We aren’t suppose to put big, heavy furniture in front of that wall, but I knew I needed something (that could be easy to move)

To Pinterest I went! And, everywhere I saw people making benches out of the plastic crates. This, I thought, was perfect because I could still use it for storage, it would be light-weight, and gave the kids a place to sit.

I went out to buy the things I’d need:

The cast of characters

The cast of characters

I bought 4 black plastic crates (from Target), 4 cloth bins to go inside the plastic crates (from Target), 2 yards of fabric (from Hobby Lobby), and a foam roll (from Hobby Lobby)

(Side note: Hobby Lobby sells those foam rolls in different thicknesses. The 1 inch thickness was $15.00.  The 2 inch thickness was $36.00- but I was NOT going to spend that on foam. Solution- I bought the 1 inch foam, cut it in half, and put it on top of each other! Now, I had 2 inch foam for half the price!)

To begin, I lined up the crates and zip tied that together.

Securing the crates

Securing the crates

At first, I zip tied them at the top, but it made the crates buckle in towards each other (in other words, they weren’t staying in a line), so I figured out to do the connecting together in the middle. I probably did about 3 zip ties per crate.

Then, I laid the foam roll on the top of the crates to see how long it needed to be. I cut off the excess with scissors. Next, I folded the foam in half, noticed I could make it into 2 layers, and cut it into two pieces- as mentioned above. This way, the foam would be thicker.

I put the fabric (upside down) on the ground and put the foam in the middle of it. (Sorry there are no pictures of this, I was really into the process) 🙂

I tried hot-gluing the 2 foam pieces together, but that didn’t work at all, so I just left them as it. Then, I just wrapped the foam like I would a present, using the fabric. I used the hot glue to secure it at all points.

Voila!

Voila!

When you flip the pad over, it’ll look wonderful! The last step is to put in the cloth crates and you’ve got yourself a bench!

Inside the crates

Inside the crates

I like these bins for the games or toys I have for the kids during free time or indoor recess. There isn’t really any other place I can put these that they’d have easy access to, but these bins are perfect.

I’m planning on putting the bench near where I have my classroom library so it’ll be a great place for them to read and relax.

Classroom Sneak-peak

Like I said, I’ve been busy getting my classroom together for the school year. There is still tons to do, but I have already done a few areas.

Objectives

Objectives

Here is my new objectives board. I found those labels on Pinterest for free, printed them, laminated them, and attached magnets. Each day, I’ll write in our objective for that subject. I separated the subjects with magnetic border I found- which, I’m obsessed with. It’s so easy to use and looks crisp!

MAPS

MAPS

 

Here is my new classroom MAPS (MAPS are part of the Diana Day Vision Management program, the discipline system we use at our school. They help students understand the expectations. M stands for materials, A for attitude, P for placement, and S for speaking voice) You change out the words or pictures to help students see what they should be using, where they should be sitting, and what their voice should be.

Library!

Library!

Here is my new library area. I’ve got some comfy places for the kiddos to read and hope they’ll enjoy it 🙂

Daily 5

Daily 5

Here’s how I’m storing my Daily 5 Word Work boxes this year. I always keep them in those plastic bins- they are easy to see, grab, and use- and I like having them all together like this. I think I’ll introduce them one at a time, and maybe say the kids can only use the ones on the top row at first, but as time goes on and they learn all the games, they will be able to choose any box they’d like.

That’s it for now!

Enjoy your Sunday. I think Stephen and I are off to take the puppies for a walk! 🙂

 

Number Sticks and Rewards

I want this!

I want this!

Happy Thursday! I’d like to start today by saying that last weekend, during my marathon trip to Wal-mart (as talked about here), I came across this bike. I LOVE it! I don’t have a bike right now and last time we wanted to go for a ride I had to borrow my sister-in-laws. During that ride, I told Stephen I wanted a bike with a basket (to which he replied, “Like an old lady?”) 😉

Despite his opinion, I absolutely love everything about this bike and just had to share it!

Number sticks

I’ve been working on some things for my classroom, one of them being new number sticks. (I have sticks with numbers written on them to use as a way of calling students randomly.) In the past, I’ve always just used plain old Popsicle sticks and written on them with a black marker. They served their purpose, but just weren’t so cute. This year, I got on Pinterest and looked up number sticks. When you do, you’ll find lots of different examples and ways to make them. One I liked best was from the blog “A Cupcake for the Teacher”, and the page can be found here. I printed off the numbers, got them laminated, and hot glued them to a stick.

Number sticks

Number sticks

(P.S. The cute cup was made by one of my sister’s for my other sister’s baby shower a few months ago. When the party was over, I snagged them and knew I could find a use for them in my classroom!)

These are a cute and simple way to randomly call on students, make partners or groups, and keep track of who is answering.

Classroom Rewards

Another thing I revamped this summer was how I did classroom rewards. I’ve tried a bunch of different ways to reward students for good behavior/doing something good/being respectful, etc. This started with…

number 1. A “This Class Rocks!” jar where students could put a rock in the jar when they did something well. When the class filled the jar, we got a prize like a movie day or an extra recess. (But, I didn’t love the class reward system because I felt like it wasn’t motivating to all students)

so I moved on to number 2. A “Caught You Being Good” net. I put a net up in my room and when I caught students being good, had them fill out a piece of paper and put it in the net. On Fridays, I would pull out 5 names to pick prizes. (But, I didn’t love this because even though many students got slips, only 5 would get prizes per week. I also didn’t like having to buy so many prizes!)

so I moved on to number 3I made a bulletin board with cups hanging from it and because it was easy, I used straws to reward the students. When they did something well, I gave them a straw. They put the straws in their own cup. When they gained a certain amount, they could trade in their straws for a certain prize- which were classroom rewards. For example, 7 straws could be turned in for the “Stinky Feet” prize, where they can take their shoes off all day. 20 straws could be turned in for “Lunch with the teacher”. 15 straws could be turned in for them to bring a stuffed animal to school. (I LOVED the idea of these types of prizes because they don’t cost anything and the kids LOVE them! However, because of how I had it set up, it took up too much physical space in my classroom)

FINALLY THIS YEAR….

Rewards!

Rewards!

I knew I wanted to keep the same “prizes” for my kids because it worked great (which, by the way, I downloaded for FREE on TpT HERE!)

But I didn’t want something that I had to post on a wall, because I don’t have the space this year (also, because all the straws were on a wall, we did have some problems with kids taking other kids straws). I wanted it to be something they could have in their desk.

So, I did what any good teacher does and stole borrowed an idea another teacher in my building does- pencil pouches! The same pouches I used for my F.R.O.G. books were perfect!

I am going to give one to each student to keep in their desk- not only will this teach responsibility, but also will allow them to see at any time how many they have and not need to congregate around a bulletin board- and instead of straws, I’ll use those plastic coins! I will pass out a coin to students who are on task, who are helping others, or displaying signs of good citizenship, and they will keep them in their pouch. When they want a prize, they will turn in that many coins to earn it!

I’m hoping this is going to be a good rewards system this school year! I’m excited to try it out and see how it goes!

Does anyone have any other ways they’ve tried/or use to reward positive behaviors? What has or hasn’t worked about them?

 

Total Participation- Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Hello, hello and welcome to a beautiful Tuesday morning! I have plans later today to meet my mom and sisters to pick up part of my wedding dress (the belt!) and go out for lunch. The weather is great here today and I’m very excited 🙂

What I’ve been up to…

Yesterday, my oldest sister and I (and baby Lucas) went to O’hare to pick up my other sister and her husband. They’ve been in Asia for the past couple weeks and it was great seeing them and hearing about their trip. Here’s the pic I snapped of them in the car ride back to Chipotle home.

 

Welcome home!

Welcome home!


We went back to their house and spent a lot of time playing with this little man…


Nap time!

Nap time!



Isn’t he getting so big!? (And such a cutie! 🙂 )

What I’ve been up to (school wise)…

I’m really trying to enjoy these last few weeks of summer because August 15th is going to creep up on me before I know it. I went into school last week to see my new classroom (we got a very large new addition put on during last school year and I’m LUCKY enough to have a brand new classroom in that wing!) It was more than I could have ever imagined and right after leaving the school, I went straight to the teaching store to get some things laminated that I’d been working on.

QR Codes

I’ve become obsessed about QR codes (QR codes are those black pixel box thingys- I’m very technical- that you can scan with your phone or iPad that bring you directly to the site. QR stands for quick response. You can download a free app called “QRreader” to scan these things.)

My sister-in-law had gone to a conference a while back and told me about how they had given the teachers several ideas on how to use them in the classroom. Of course I took this information and stole it used it in some different ways.

QR code

QR code

Here’s an example of a QR code I made. I always start the school year off by talking to the kids about what they want to be when they grow up, and from there we talk about how they will get to this through working hard, staying in school, and going to college. I made this QR code over a picture of the college I went to to display with our projects they will make. When scanned, it will take you right to UWW’s website.

Making QR codes could not be easier. I don’t know what I expected, but I thought it would be hard… well, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t! After some quick searching, I found 2 easy, fun websites.

QR maker

QR maker is a very easy, straightforward website. It walks you through the steps, 1 being selecting the type of media it is, 2 being entering the URL, and 3 being downloading the code it makes. It’s that easy!

QR maker with picture

This QR maker is slightly (and I mean only slightly) harder to do, but it’s the one I used above with the picture in the background. With this one you need to create an account or login with Facebook. Then the process is the same (choose media type and enter URL) until the next page. It will give you tons of different pictures you can use as a background or you can upload your own. All I did was go to the UWW website, save one of their pictures to my computer, and then upload it on this website. After you’ve got the picture you want, you can drag, re-size, and move the QR code anywhere you want on the background picture. Click “generate”, then “next”, and you’re done! This site gives you the option to pay for a better quality one, but I’ve used the free one several times and it always look just fine to me!

I’m thinking I’m going to QR code this blog for my parents on newsletters and also send home other QR codes on websites I want them to visit at home. Many of my students don’t have computers at home, but all their parents or family members have phones that can scan! I’m thinking of making codes for YouTube videos on letters or sounds I want them to practice or other games they can use at home!

Total Participation- Thumbs Up and Down

At our school, we always read a book over the summer or during the school year on something we want to focus on as a staff. Last year it was all about different total participation techniques– ways or activities you can use in the classroom to get all students engaged and involved. It was great to see new ideas and I tried many of them in my classroom each week. One of the best ideas, in my opinion, was giving the students answer or response cards to hold up. In my class, we do a lot of one student coming up to the board to point to the answer or letter. The rest of the kids really wanted a turn too, but rarely paid attention to anything except who was being called on (sound familiar? just me? Bueller?)

I started passing out index cards and having the kids write responses on them to hold up for the right answer. For example, if I had written the vowels on the board, the kids would get index cards and write a vowel on each one. Then I still had a student go up and identify the sound or letter, but the rest of the students also had to hold up the correct response. What I saw was a dramatic increase in participation and engagement. This year, I knew I wanted more ideas like this.

A while back I’d pinned something on Pinterest that showed a Popsicle stick with a thumbs up on one side and a thumbs down on the other. I thought these could be great to laminate and keep in their cups on their desks to use for quick total participation responses. When I clicked on the picture however, it was only a picture and no link to the actual cards. So, I made some myself!

You can download them here for free:

THUMBS- FREEBIE!!

Thumbs up, thumbs down

Thumbs up, thumbs down

I based them off of the picture I had seen. I made tons of them, went to the store to get them laminated (to which the woman working said “Somebody’s been on Pinterest!” Busted 🙂 ), and came home to get started putting them together.

Mess

Mess

Can you please tell me someone else’s house turns into a disaster zone during crafting projects too?

Trying to craft!

Trying to craft!

Not only did I have things everywhere (I was making several things in one sitting) but my lovely dogs did not seem to understand that they couldn’t walk all over these!) 😉

Anyways, here’s what I used…

Materials

Materials

…the laminated cards, Popsicle sticks, and hot glue.

I took a stick, put glue on both sides near the top, on one side glued the thumbs up…

Yay!

Yay!

and on the other, glued the thumbs down.

Nay!

Nay!

I figured I can use them for things like voting, asking if something is the right answer, yes or no questions, and opinions. I’m going to put them in the kids cups (I Velcro cups to their desk where they put pencils, erasers, and scissors for quick access) so we can use them quickly and so I remember to use them! Because they are laminated, they should last a pretty long time.

We’re leaving for vacation on Saturday (so excited!) so expect to see some “classroom under construction” pictures the first week of August. I’m pretty amped to get in there and start setting up.

What things are you already making for your classroom?

I’ve made some sticks with numbers on them to pull for random answers and my QR codes. So far that’s about it, but I have some other ideas I want to get started with too!

Telling Time Game Day

This week we’ve spent time telling time. 🙂

We used mini clocks, digital clocks, big clocks, and more to tell time to the hour, half hour, and in 5 minute increments. (A first grade Common Core skill is for students to be able to tell time to the hour and half hour. A second grade Common Core skill is to tell time to 5 minute marks.)

On Tuesday, we had a telling time game day. I thought of games I knew and searched Pinterest (of course) to make a list of different games to review telling time. We spent the day cycling through the various game, some of which were played as a whole class, some with partners, and some in small groups. Each game used different materials, but were all very easy to set up and explain. Most importantly, each helped them practice a time telling skill!

I-Pad Clock Game

The first game we started with was a telling time I-pad game- if you search “telling time” into an iPhone or iPad the first app that should come up is the one we used. It’s called “Interactive Telling Time” (I downloaded the lite free version) and the kids love being able to set the time to the correct time it asks for.

Setting the time

Setting the time

I Have, Who Has

“I Have, Who Has” is one of my favorite games for any subject area. It causes students to be good listeners and active participates. Also, it can be used in any subject or any topic. It’s basically a chain game, all students have different cards,  one student starts off with a question, and a different student with the right card answers. For example, since our game was about telling time, all the students had different cards with times on them. The first student said, “I have the first card. Who has 1:00?” The student with that card says, “I have 1:00. Who has 3:30?” So on and so on. All the kids had more than one card so they had to pay close attention to what others were saying so they didn’t miss their turn.

I have, who has

I have, who has

We sat in a circle to play. After we played through once, I timed them to see how fast they could get through the whole game. Then, we timed it again to see if we could go any faster! This classes winning time was 2 minute and 20 seconds (which, by the way, was the fastest of any of the classes that played that day! #winning! 😉 ) It’s a great game to practice telling time, thinking, and listening. (P.S. SO many of these games can be downloaded for FREE through Pinterest or TeachersPayTeachers. I got mine from Pinterest for free and it worked great!)

Roll A Time

After that, we moved around a little and formed groups of 3. This worked out perfect for the amount of students we had, but this game could also be played in partners too. In each group, one student was the “dice roller”, one student was the “time maker”, and one student was the “checker”. The student who was the dice roller had a dice (obviously!), the student who was the time maker had a clock, and the checker only needed their eyeballs. 😉

They each have a different job

They each have a different job

(To be honest, I didn’t think about assigning specific jobs until the kids started to run up to grab walk to get the materials. It was quickly apparent that giving them each a job to start, and then rotating the jobs through the game, was the best way to start) To play the game, the dice roller rolls the dice. In the above picture you can see he rolled a 6. Then, the clock maker has to make that o’clock time using the clock, so 6:00. After they make the time, they clock maker has to show the “checker”. If they are correct, they all rotate their materials and get a new job.

Rolling, telling time, and checking!

Rolling, telling time, and checking!

I took a video of some students in action:

IMG_1621

Scoot- Telling Time

I don’t know where I’ve been (under a rock apparently), but I missed the “scoot” bandwagon somewhere! As I was searching different clock games, I kept coming across people talking about a “scoot” game and different ways to use it in class. Curiosity got the best of me and I immediately began Googling this elusive “scoot” game. What I found was that scoot is any kind of game you play where students do something (an activity, answer sheet, question) at a desk or table, and then scoot to the next seat or table to answer/play/complete the next thing.

So I jumped right on the bandwagon, used what I had, and put together a scootin’ game of my own! At each table, I alternated between putting a clock and a laminated worksheet. The worksheet can be downloaded here Clock Worksheets (FREE!)  and all I did was put them inside of clear plastic writing sleeves. That way, they could be written on with dry erase marker. The worksheets have space for students to write a digital time and an analog time. Along with this worksheet, I put a dry erase marker and an eraser.

To play, the students start at a seat. I called out a time, “5 o’clock!” and the kids get busy making that time. If they are sitting at a seat with a clock, they make the hands say the correct time and hold it up in the sky. If they are sitting by a worksheet, they have to use the marker to make 5 o’clock on the digital clock and the analog clock, then hold it up in the sky.

Playing the scoot game
You can see the kids with the clocks holding them up and the kids at the writing seats making the times.

Ready!

Ready!

After everyone has the time up, I say “Ready……” and that’s their signal to put down their materials, erase their boards, and get ready…. to scoot!

Telling time!

Telling time!

When I call out “Scoot!” they quickly move to the next seat at the table. The game keeps rotating this way, the kids make a time, hold it up, get ready, and scoot to the next place.

(Cute story, one of my other classes was playing this and thought I was saying “shoo”, so as they moved to the next seat, they moved their hands at each other saying “Hurry! Shoo! Shoo! Shoo!” It was very cute!)

Being a Clock

We wrapped up the game day by playing “Being a clock”. I used my big yellow clock to show a time and the students had to use their arms to make the time. It was a fun, silly way to end our games and review different times.

MAKE SURE to check back next week when I post what we did today- the students made their own games to practice telling time…. it was GREAT!

Have a wonderful, fun, awesome Fourth of July! We’ll see you back next Monday!

Fraction Self- Portraits

Happy Monday! I hope your week is off to a great start and you feel productive and ready to face the week! 🙂

My weekend felt very long and was filled with family, food, and great weather! We finally got some sunny days without being too hot to be outside. So on Sunday, we decided to go to a local forest preserve to enjoy the sunshine, take a walk, and grab some lunch.

Me and the fiance

Me and the fiance

We ordered our food and as we sat waiting for it, around the corner came 2 familiar faces- my sister, her husband, and my new little nephew! It was such a fun surprise and a huge coincidence to run into them there! It was great spending a couple hours with them, sitting on the deck on the lake, eating lunch, and enjoying the breeze.

Sister and bro-in-law

Sister and bro-in-law

Then this happened…

Cherry Sno-Cone

Cherry Sno-Cone

I mean really, how can you not want to get a Sno-Cone when it’s a beautiful summer day out!? My sister and I each got one; I dripped it all over myself  I ate it very neatly and enjoyed every frozen bite. 😉

Summer School

Last week I promised to talk about how my Math Mania upper class finished the week on fractions. They had already practiced splitting shapes into different fractions and all did a great job understanding equal pieces. I started thinking about a fun project I could create for them that would use everything they had learned about fractions and help them understand the different pieces that make up a “whole” fraction. After searching on Pinterest for a while, I found ideas for fraction people. I adjusted it slightly to be fraction “portraits”, created the writing worksheet, and we were ready to go!

My example

My example

As you can see, I cut up a bunch of different colored construction paper. I just took a bunch of multicolored paper and (using a paper cutter) cut (about) 1 inch strips. Then I went back with the strips and cut 1 inch pieces. Some pieces are bigger or smaller, but overall, most were close.

Then, I started making “me”. I used different colors and made a face, hair, and upper body. I used a marker to make the eyes, nose, and mouth. (I do realize how much it also looks like a Lego person…. that’s just an added bonus!)

The kids did the same thing.  Of course there were questions about if they could make any kind of person (blue hair, purple skin, etc), but I told them to try to make them look like themselves- since it was a self- portrait. But, you really could have them make anything, a monster, an alien, other people, whatever works. After explaining the project to them, I told them to make sure to use different colors because we’d be using this to do “fraction practice”. A student raised her hand and asked, “But how?”. “You’ll see!” was my reply! With that, they were off!

 

Making a fraction self portrait

Making a fraction self portrait

Looking good!

Looking good!

Starting to come together

Starting to come together

 

The hair is so cute, right?

The hair is so cute, right?

After they had gotten the pieces into place, they got a glue stick and glued them down (Teacher tip: Have the students put on the pieces WITHOUT gluing first. That way, they can move them up or down if they need more space. It will make it much easier in the long run!)

Starting to glue

Starting to glue

Putting the pieces together

Putting the pieces together

After their portraits were done, I passed out the fraction project worksheets. The kids had to figure out how many pieces made up their “whole”. For example, my portrait was 47 pieces, so my “whole” was 47/47. Then, they had to break down the fraction amount of each color they used. In my portrait, I used 3 pink pieces. So the fraction of pink was 3/47. I used 19 red pieces. That fraction was 19/47.

Figuring out the fractions!

Figuring out the fractions!

It was their job to figure out the fraction of each color they used. (This could easily be extended to teach about percentages too!)

Finished!

Finished!

All done!

All done!

To finish, the students glued the writing paper onto a piece of construction paper, and then we stapled the 2 papers together.

IMG_1595

How cute are all of those? 🙂

This was a really fun project that helped the students better understand the idea of a “whole” fraction and how different fractions add up to the whole. It could be adapted and changed to fit different age levels or abilities. Try it in your classroom and see how it goes!

I Need Letter

need

 

Way back in March (seems like forever ago doesn’t it!?), one of my students pencil sharpeners broke. Instantly he was up at the front of the room waiting patiently tugging on my sleeve to show me. 😉

I told him to remind me later and I would write a letter home for him telling his parents he needed a new one. Well, the day passed and as they were walking out the door, he shouts, “Ms. Tasch! You said you’d write a note about my sharpener!” Ah! The school day had slipped by so fast and I had completely forgotten! I ran to my desk, tripped over a chair, grabbed a post-it, and scribbled a barely legible note about his broken sharpener, hoping he’d be able to decipher it for his folks.

But, the whole incident got me thinking… I wish I had something easy to grab that let parents know (in a polite way) that their child needed a new supply. Parents send in so much in the beginning of the year and I have a hard time asking for more. So, either I don’t ask and go buy something myself, or the child ends up sharing with others. This had to change! So, I immediately sat down (or more accurately, I sat down the next day while my students were at gym) and typed up a quick letter, which can be found here:

Supply Letter (FREE!)

I tried to keep it simply and to the point, with the cute rhyme: “”I’ve been working hard in school, each and everyday. But I’ve run out of these supplies, would you please send some my way?” Then I added pictures of various supplies and a space to write in a supply that isn’t pictured. I print one off, made some copies, and put them by the students mailboxes. Then, when a student tells me they lost/broke/ran out of something, you just circle what they need and send it home! It works great in my first grade room and by the end of the year, kids were able to fill out the forms themselves.

I posted the letter on Pinterest and TpT and didn’t think much about it. But in just a few weeks, it had been re-pinned on Pinterest a few thousand times. Pretty cool! As the months passed, the repinning continued, and now it’s at over 15,000 repins. I’m so glad other people love it and can use it in their classrooms as well!

Question: Do you keep other forms ready to be passed out daily/weekly/monthly? What forms are they and what do you use them for?

I also keep forms by my mailboxes that tell parents about who is the student of the week. On Fridays, I just grab a form, fill out the students name, and pop it in their mailbox. All the directions are on the form and tell the parents what they need to do for “student of the week”, so it’s handy to have them pre-ready!