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Monday, December 23, 2013

Teaching With Socks! How to Help Children Learn by Using Everyday Objects. (Part 3)

Socks?  Teaching with socks? Yes!  Socks can be a valuable teaching tool.  Here are some ways you can use socks to teach your child(ren) at home or in your classroom.

Estimation-Fill a sock with several objects. Have your child look at the the sock and estimate how many items are in the sock without feeling it.  Spend time discussing what you observe about the sock.  Is it full?  Is it bumpy?  Does it lay flat?  Ask how these observations affect your child's estimate.  Dump out the objects from the sock and decide whether or not your child wants to change his/her estimate based on the new visual knowledge.   Check by counting the objects.

Grouping-When counting the objects group them into 2s, 5s, or 10s.  Discuss why?  Come up with some reasons together as to why this might be helpful.  You can repeat these activities with items in the other sock.

Skip Counting-Empty out the sock drawer and count the number of socks in the drawer by skip counting.  Discuss how a pair of socks is two socks and that pairs are even numbers.  Wouldn't it be odd to wear only one sock?

Even and Odd-Determine if a number is even or odd by thinking about friends with socks.  You can have the socks out to visualize the problem.  You have five socks.  Is that an even or odd number?  How do you know?  Model how to take the socks and group them into pairs or two.  You end up with two groups of two and one left over.  If you gave your friend one sock to wear wouldn't that be odd?  If you have a remainder of one it's odd.

Problem Solving-See the example above.  Here is another way you can teach your child problem solving.  You have 17 socks.  If you wore a pair of socks a day, how many days would it be before you ran out?  Model how to group the socks into pairs of two and look to see if you have any incomplete pairs.  Discuss how each pair can be worn on a day and how the single sock would be odd so move it off to the side.  Count the remaining eight pairs and have your child tell you that it is for eight days.  Eight pairs is sixteen socks.  The one sock left over can't be worn by itself that is hwy it is eight days and not nine.  What if there was one more sock?  Then you have enough socks for nine days.  How do you know?  Explain, explain, explain.

Categorizing-When you are folding laundry have your child group the socks by color and make pairs.  If there are several pairs in the same color group, have them compare sizes and designs.

Measurement-Measure items around the house in socks rather than feet.  Explain how this cannot be a standard unit of measure because not everyone wears the same size socks.  Measure items in baby socks, child socks, and grown up socks.  Discuss what you find out.

Addition/Subtraction-In each sock put the numbers 0 to 9 (or however high you want to practice).  Have your child reach in each sock and take out a mystery number.  Add the two numbers together to get an addition sentence.  Use the three numbers from the addition sentence to write a related subtraction sentence.  4+5=9, 9-4=5  Compare both number sentences and determine that 4, 5, and 9 are in the same fact family.  Write out two more (different) number sentences using the same three numbers from the fact family.

Language Arts
For all of these activities you can have your child write down the question and their prediction or you can record data.  They can even just write about the activity you did and rate it Green-I learned something new and I was very interested.  Yellow-I learned something new and was bored.  Red-I didn't learn anything.  The next day look over the color rating and have your child explain how he/she came up with the color.  If it is yellow, have your child give examples of what made him/her bored and then have them come up with a way to learn the material that would be interesting.  Children can have wonderful ideas.  Sometimes we need to stop and ask for their input.

Cause and Effect-What would happen if you wore your socks in the pool?  What would happen after you got out of the pool?  Why?

Read Socks for Supper by Jack Kent..  Click on the image if you want to order it from
Discuss if the book took place long ago or today?  Discuss what socks are made out of in the story.  Research how socks are made.

Compare and Contrast-Compare and contrast an old pair of socks and a new pair of socks.  Use as many adjectives as you can to describe each pair.  Go to or use a thesaurus to add even more describing words.

Write a Story-Write it from a sock's point of view.  (Author's Purpose-to be Funny)  What genre?  Fantasy-This could never really happen. Read your story aloud and record it being read using your phone/iPad.  Create drawings to go along with your story by using a your computer's paint program or take photographs using your camera or phone.  Practice using technology and publish your story by typing it on the computer.

Write a rhyme/song that can be recited when looking for socks or putting on socks.

Put alphabet pieces (magnetic letters, letters written on paper, scrabble pieces, anything) and reach in grab five and write in ABC order.  You can do the same with spelling words, vocabulary words, sight words, you name it.

Make a list of as many words you can that rhyme with sock.

Trace a sock and cut out a pattern to make a sock book.  In the book, draw settings where you wear socks and where you do not (not in the bath, at the beach...)

Senses-Put a mystery object in the sock and have your child use his or her senses (see, here, smell, touch-not taste) to predict what may be in the sock.

Come up with safe science experiments using socks.  A fun one is to see what a sock can hold.  Pour water in the sock.  Does it stay or does it go right through?  Pour sand into a sock, rocks, sugar, crayons, etc.

Which socks are the stretchiest?  Compare old socks.  

Again, the possibilities are endless!  Please share any ideas you may have on how to teach with socks. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Think out of the "Box." How to Help Children Learn by Using Everyday Objects (Part 2)
The cereal box is a powerful tool for teaching in so many ways.  Here are some ideas:

  • Explain the difference between a rectangle and a rectangular prisim
  • Circle all the shapes you can find on the box and write a list to record what you found.
  • On a different day repeat the previous activity but then transfer the information into a Venn Diagram (two circles that intersect/overlap).  Write the shapes that were on both boxes in the area where the circles overlap.  That shows what was the same on both boxes.  Write what was different in the other areas.  (I will have to upload a photograph on this in the future.)
  • Discuss how rectangular prisms can stack and slide but not roll.  Test it out.  
  • Compare the size of the rectangles on the sides of the box to the front of the box.
  • Trace the box to make a large rectangle and then draw a picture using shapes you found on the box.
  • There are endless adding and subtracting activities that you can do with the contents of the box but today we are focusing on the box itself.  Count the parts of the box (edges, faces, and vertices).  Basically count the sides and the corners.  Compare boxes.  Are the results the same?  Why or why not?
  • Write an addition/subtraction story based on the picture.
  • Count all the letters on the box and subtract the vowels.
  • Add certain letters (preferably the easy to read large letters) together to make math problems.  For example ___C+____E=_____             3C+10E=13
  • Measure the box using spoons, what's inside the box, or any other household object.  
  • Cut the box apart to make counters for math problems.
  • Cut on the lines of the box so that you have several different sized rectangles.  Move them around to form a new picture.
  • Cut the box open and color the inside to make a pattern.
  • Cut the box open, cut in strips and create a number line.
  • Use the inside of the box to make a game board.  Use the scraps for game pieces.
Reading/Language Arts
  • Go on a vowel and consonant hunt
  • Write down a list of words or letters on the box and then put them in ABC order.
  • Circle all the three letter words on the box or the __________ on the box.
  • Look at all the colors used to make the picture on the box.  Write a descriptive sentence using color word.
  • Write a story about the contents of the box.
  • Use the box as a book cover.  Staple pages inside.
  • Empty the box and put in word cards.  Shake it so that words fall out.  If you can name the word you get to keep it.  If not it goes back in the box.  
  • Use the box to store books inside.
  • Make a diorama using the box.
  • Paint the box.
  • Draw a picture and then cut it apart to make a puzzle.  Practice putting it back together.  Don't draw a picture just cut apart the one provided and put it back together.
  • Cut out a rectangle and turn the box into a picture frame or even a shadow box.
  • Gather several empty boxes and build a box house.
I will definitely have to add more to these lists.  There is just so much that can be done with a box!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

You "Can" Teach! How to Help Children Learn by Using Everyday Objects (Part 1)

"Can" you believe I am about to write a post about teaching across the curriculum using canned food?
This post is the first in a series of posts about how to turn cheap, everyday objects a into powerful teaching tools.  For over a decade I have been an elementary school teacher.  This series will primarily relate to families and teachers who teach toddlers all the way up to second graders.

My daughter is not even two years old but she and I play games with these objects and she doesn't even know she is learning.  It's FUN!  That is how I feel learning should be most of the time.  Sometimes you just have to buckle down and study but most of the time kids learn more through real world experiences that are connected to a strong emotion.

Speaking of powerful emotions...BAM! BAM! BAM!  I "accidentally" knock over a few cans as I am unpacking the last bag of groceries.  My daughter is startled and says "uh oh."  AHA-This is a teachable moment...I have her attention.  "Sweetie, I'm sorry I startled you with that loud sound.  If the kitchen floor was carpeted it would be a softer sound. Want to see?"  That is the beginning of teaching loud and soft which are contrasting sounds.  They are opposites.

At this point you can take off in many different directions.  You can continue to explore cause and effect (COMPREHENSION-READING) by exploring how we drop the can. (What happens when we hold it sideways, upright?) (SCIENCE-Hypothesis/Predicting) You can try it on each surface and this could lead to MATH if you pull out a ruler and measure how far it rolls/bounces/moves.  "Ooooo let's record this so we can share it with (fill in the blank) when they get home (WRITING).   I hope you see where I am going with this...

If I were to write out the scenario for each example this could be a book in itself.  Each activity is cross curricular.  I am not going to write this out as a dialogue between my daughter and I either because each concept can be adjusted to the age.  Now remember my daughter is not yet two but by being excited and thinking aloud I am modeling for her.  I am introducing these concepts to her.  I am NOT expecting mastery.  I might bring it up the next day to try to teach retelling by saying "Oh I better be careful when I put this can away.  Do you remember what happened yesterday?  The can tumbled (VOCABULARY) to the floor because gravity pulled it down (SCIENCE).  It made a loud sound.  What did it sound like? --- That's right.  Oh...and then we ... and... and ... Guess what?  I just noticed that as I put the can away I am stacking it.  If I lay it on its side, it will roll out and crash to the floor."

Don't get me wrong - THE DIALOGUE between you and your child/student is key!  It's full of questions and answers.  You guide the child to the answer or you model how to answer.  Please let me know if you want more examples on how to do this.  Can you tell I miss teaching while I'm on leave?

Lessons to teach with just a can or two of green beans (or any kind of canned food).

  • Cause/Effect - Dropping the can, pushing the can.
  • Compare/Contrast-The sounds of the can on different surfaces or even banging on the can with different objects (spoon, popsicle stick, tooth pick).
  • Movement-Sliding versus rolling and how by adding force changes it's speed and direction
  • Math-cylinder is made up of two flat circles and a curved face.  It has three faces (2 circles and the curved side).  It has two edges.  You can trace around the edges to make a circle.  Compare and contrast the 2D plane circle shape to the 3D solid cylinder. 
  • Go on a cylinder/circle hunt in the living room.  Draw/Record what you find.
  • Curved/Straight Lines
  • Heavy/Light -  The can is heavier when it is filled up with food and lighter when it is empty.  
  • Examine different size can sort the cans in the cupboard by size
  • Measurement-You can measure each can's length, the diameter of the circle, the circumference around the can.  You can measure how far the can rolls, slides or how tall a tower is that you build.
  • You can explore how to build the tallest tower.
  • Make a musical instrument by using different size cans as drums or by emptying the can and putting something inside and shaking it.
  • You can turn the empty cans into pencil holders and reuse them or come up with a list of ways an empty can can used. 
  • You can paint the cans and sort objects into them.
  • You can peel the label off and do a word or letter hunt by highlighting or circling what you find.  
  • It can be made into a game where you set the empty cans at a distance and throw a cotton ball or a crumpled piece of paper into the can.  Each can can have a different point value and then you can add up the points.
  • You can discuss the different food groups on the can and sort the cans into each group.  

Okay that's it for now...I will try to add more later.  Please share any ideas you may have for interesting ways to teach with canned food.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Ornament Idea - Upcycling Junk Jewelry

I am exploring ways to relax and one of my former hobbies was crafting.  Now that I am on leave, I have time to do this again.  For some reason I have become extremely interested in vintage costume jewelry and have purchased some pieces.  

This week I have combined both hobbies by creating these handmade ornaments.  I have a couple listed on eBay but there is no need to purchase one when you can make your own!

For these particular ornaments I purchased clear glass ones with a subtle design on the outside at Big Lots.  I then went through my broken jewelry looking for chains, loose beads, earrings without a match and Voila!  This is the result.


For student gifts you can always purchase clear plastic ornaments and junk jewelry at yard sales, thrift shops, eBay, or even ask for donations.  I used a hoop earring for the hook, just think of the possibilities...decorative ribbons, yarn, braided thread.  You could even add sequins and glitter for some holiday sparkle! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Elementary Reading Center- Boggletastic! - Using the Boggle in the Classroom

Okay, as you may know already, I am on a leave of absence from teaching first grade due to my fibromyalgia flaring up.  So naturally, I am thinking about school and ideas are swirling.  One night I looked over at the Boggle game sitting on my dresser and a gazillion center / learning station ideas popped in my head.

Here are a few:

Alphabetizing Ideas

Four Corners
Each person gets a letter from the corner and the team has to put them in ABC (alphabetical order).

Four Lines
Each person alphabetizes a line

Super Challenge
Alphabetize all the letters

Word Work

Lucky Letter
Whichever letter is in the top left corner is the lucky letter.
Kids can make a list of words that start with that letter, end with that letter, or have that letter.

Rhyme time
Find a words in the mixed up letters and then write a rhyming word to go with it.

Challenge Rhyme time
Same as above but then write the rhyming words in a sentence and illustrate it.

Boggle Dictionary
Have a binder with paper in it by the game.  When kids find words in Boggle, they add the words to the Boggle Dictionary and draw or write to explain what the word is.

Title Time
Find a word in the Boggle game and then create a book cover with the word in the title.

Language Arts

Find a Noun
Shake up the letters and look for a word that is a person, place or thing.  Record on the noun sheet. Shake and repeat.  Extension ideas- After you find five nouns, put them in ABC order.  After you find ten nouns write them on index cards and sort them into categories (person, place, thing)

Find a verb and act it out.  Record your verbs on a verb hunt sheet.  Draw a picture of your teacher doing the action!

I will try to add more to the list as ideas keep coming. Please share any ideas you may have.

Feeling Blue

It's after midnight and I'm up, again...

I'm missing my kiddos and co-workers.  I've been on leave for a couple of weeks due to my Fibromyalgia flaring up.  Stress does that.  I can't say that I'm relaxed but I am not breaking out in hives everyday.  BIG Improvement!

It breaks my heart every time I let my mind wander over to teaching.  I miss the children.  This year I had such a wonderful, dream class.  They were so sweet and eager to learn.  I am confident that the teacher that took my place is proficient and kind hearted but I still miss them.  It is amazing how attached you can get in nine weeks.

I'm not sure what the future will bring.  I try to think ahead and feel blue so right now I am living in the moment.  Learning how to cherish the subtle small things in life we take for granted in the daily grind.

My uncle is gravely ill and does not have long to live.  I am choosing to focus on the moments with him now.  I do not want to think of the future, nor dwell in the past.  This is so hard.

Between the limitations of my body and the limited time with my uncle, I am learning an important lesson in life.  I have always been a planner and I have always looked ahead but sometimes you have to look and enjoy the second.  Find joy, spread joy, spread love.

My teacher neighbor was/is an angel.  As a going away gift she gave me a special magnet with a beautiful saying, "When the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly."  Change is hard, tremendously hard.  This mantra repeats in my head and offers comfort.

Every year I read the Blue Day book to the kids.  It is a wonderful resource in teaching the children how to cheer themselves up.  As a teacher I always aimed to empower the children.  I want them to take charge of their learning and find strength in themselves.  If you haven't read this book.  I HIGHLY recommend it!

Suddenly, I don't feel so blue...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lowery's Loft

I'm sorry that I have not been posting as much as in the past!  I am trying to start up Lowery's Loft in addition to my GroovyEducator endeavors.

Lowery's Loft is a place where you can find items "Vintage to New and Affordable Too!"

Right now I am trying different categories of items like costume jewelry, purses/handbags, toys, games, collectibles, etc.  Later I plan to include some school items like treasure box lots, books, and teacher friendly items.

I have never been a jewelry person but it is turning into a passion.  I LOVE learning about the history of some of the vintage items.  I marvel at pins that are sixty years old and appear new!  I image where each item may have traveled and even its origin and the artist's "vision" or inspiration.

Quality costume jewelry is perfect for elementary school teachers.  It looks nice and its affordable.  If it breaks or is lost, it will not break the bank.  Working with young children and constantly moving/bending/stooping all day makes it fairly likely something will be either scratched or lost.

I created a new blog, Lowery's Loft, where I will post about various items I am selling and interesting things I learn along the way.

I hope that you continue to visit GroovyEducator and find time to stop by Lowery's Loft.

You can also like Lowery's Loft on Facebook.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Classroom Pictures (some Dots on Turquoise Decorations)

 Here is where I save some of my chart teacher toolbox and teaching supply KThis is how our desks were arranged for the first week of school Here are some pictures of how my room is decorated and organized.  I haven't been posting as much because I have been doing eBay in addition to all the beginning of the year activities.

I've organized my classroom library into numbered bins.  Bin 5 has books with the number5 on all of them.  Each bin has a theme (e.g.  Bin 17 has nonfiction animal books).  Also I have my AR board on the wall.  In the crates are centers/learning stations.  Under the rug the rug is a cord for the SmartBoard.  I have taped the rug down with some of the decorative duct tape that you can find at Walmart.  In the green bins there are stuffed animals to be used as reading buddies.  Although it's kind of hard to see, there is a green grasshopper board with our science word wall.

This is where our whole brain rules are posted and our schedule.  I use the numbered seating squares for when we are doing partner activities or independent reading.  In the green bin there are clipboards that the children use when we come to carpet time.  You can also see the bin where there are whiteboards for blending and dictation.

Here is a view of how the reading table was set up for orientation.  Behind the reading table there are leveled readers and student mailboxes.  The colored bins on top of the mailboxes are for housing our weekly activities. You can also see our calendar board and a small table used for learning stations.  I put our computers close to the reading table so I can assist if needed.  It also allows me to monitor student activity.

This is how the desks were arranged for the first week of school.  I've since moved them into four groups.

Here is another view from a different angle.  I've attached a writing tablet to our whiteboard using strong magnets with hooks.  Our circle time share sessions are on the carpet by the smartboard.  It's hard to see in this picture but there is more than enough room.

Beside the front door and near our carpet area is a cart.  I use this to rollout in the hall when I'm doing bulletin boards.  The sign language chart is for the children to practice when they go to the carpet area.
This counter  is where I plan to put baskets for student work during writers' workshop.

I've organized more leveled readers and supplies in the bins.  Under the counter reading, math and science supplies are hidden.

Here is just another view.  Under the white board is where the writing center will be.  I also have some of my reading and writing anchor charts posted.

Here is where I save some of my charts, word cards, teacher toolbox and teaching supplies.

Now I'm just going to post more pictures.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

 That's it for now.  I hope you liked a small tour of my classroom.

This is the first time I am posting using my iPhone app.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Designing Worksheets with Powerpoint

Ladybug's Teacher Files has created a very informative video on how to design printables using Powerpoint.

I highly recommend visiting her blog.  She is clearly an amazing teacher with fabulous tips!

Click here to see how My Cute Graphics explains how to add a background to your Powerpoint.

Thanks to all who are posting "how to" information.  It really helps!

Clever Classroom Tips Link

Curriculum to the Core shared an amazing link in the TpT forum.  I had to share it here:  25 Clever Classroom Tips for Elementary School Teachers.

I especially loved the tutorial on how to print on post it notes as well as the Remind101 app to text reminders to students/parents!  I tried out the Remind101 app and it's wonderful!  

Thank you Curriculum to the Core!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013 and Professional Developement

Last night I couldn't get enough of  I am always interested in learning about best practices.  Several people in my district are excited about whole brain teaching so I watched some videos on youtube and I was transfixed.  I plan on watching more whole brain teaching videos on I love all the movement and that the kids are engaged.

I also watched random first grade videos and teaching calendar with the smart board.  There is just so much to view.  The best part is that these teachers are inspiring and provide new techniques to try.  Youtube is like because it draws you in for hours and hours!

Here are a few of my favorite videos:

On a side note, I sell on eBay and promote other sellers.  If interested check out my eBay Store: Lowery's Loft.  My username on eBay is GroovyEducator (just like this blog).

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Teaching with Fibromyalgia

I have mixed feelings about writing this post.  Part of me wants to hide behind "everything is fine."

Teaching is not an easy job but it is an extremely rewarding job.  I love teaching but last year was a rough year.  I've had some health issues.  The best thing that happened to me was becoming a mommy. It was rough returning to work leaving my beautiful baby to teach other sweet babies.  It has changed my perspective dramatically.  I knew i would be more tired this year.  With the new baby, there was less sleep and more activity.  I was especially drained because I had shooting pains in my abdomen.  My doctor said it was an umbilical hernia from the pregnancy and to wait a few months.  The pain will lessen.

It did not and it was so excruciating, I had to go to the ER after school one day.  Tests were taken and I needed to have surgery.  With this surgery, I could not lift my daughter for a whole month.  I missed about a week of school in September I believe...

This should have fixed the problem BUT I still had pain.  My doctors said I should lose some weight and that the pain should improve.  It was in my back, abdomen, and hip.  One day I was fine, the next I couldn't walk.  If I did any activity at all, I would suffer the next few days.  I was running on empty at school and at home.  Everyone thought I was tired because of the new baby but it was more than that.  Anyone who has had chronic pain understands how draining it is.

I went on a diet and lost 37 pounds and I still had hip problems, back problems, abdominal pain, and my knees and ankles hurt.  I went back to the doctor.  More tests...nothing.  More tests, more waiting...nothing.  

In the meantime, I gave the children my all.  I pushed forward because this had to be temporary.  

In May my rheumatologist diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia.  After a year of chronic pain, I was excited to be diagnosed.  It explained why I was having more difficulty concentrating (Fibro Fog).  It wasn't the sleep deprivation.  I knew it wasn't because I've had many periods in my life when I was sleep deprived and I could still concentrate.  I've worked two jobs or taught and went to school for the majority of my career.  It's only been the past few years that I have just taught.  Having the diagnosis meant that I would live.  It's not life threatening.  More importantly, I wasn't crazy.  There really is a problem.  It wasn't all in my head.

June- Reality hits...

Fibromyalgia doesn't go away.  

The pain doesn't go away.  

I have to learn to live with it.  

In my case activity aggravates it.  Then end of school caused me to be in major pain where I could barely move.  

It's debilitating. 

My doctor put me on a medicine when I was diagnosed and I was hopeful.  I felt better the first week.  Then the pain retuned.  I talked to my doctor and he said I had to wait six weeks for the medicine to work.  It's been almost six weeks and I have still been in pain.  That's why I haven't posted as much as I would like.  My doctor prescribed a second medicine and it's only been two days but I am hopeful.  

If it doesn't work I pray for the strength to give my all to the children and my daughter.   I have to be more conscious about the physical aspects of my job and ask for help from time to time (very hard for me to do).  I have to keep pushing forward.  

If you know any teachers with this, I would love hear their story.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Using Apps in the Classroom

I went to a workshop last week where I learned more about using apps in the classroom.  The presenters have a website  It has useful resources.

I really liked the app Haiku Deck for creating presentations.  It would be great for back to school night.  You can take pictures of the classroom and the kids, write cute captions and display it for the families.  This app is also great for the kids to use to create a presentation or report.  I was thinking that it would be perfect for science experiments.

They also went over using QR codes in the classroom.  There are many ways that they can be used but I like the idea of using it as a "what to do when you finish your work" activity.  I would like to make 4-5 QR code sheets, one for each reading group.  I wand to make QR codes for apps that would benefit the kids in each group.  It would allow me to differentiate to meet the children's needs.  I could even do this for math.  I'm sure the kids will enjoy scanning the codes.  I only have one Ipad so I have to think of an appropriate management system before implementing...

I went to to make this QR code for this Groovy Educator website.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Free Summer Vacation Making Words Activity

This is a fun activity where the kids try to make as many words as they can using the letters from Summer Vacation. You can choose to display this sheet on the board with the document camera and the kids record their answers on notebook paper or you can copy this sheet for each child. 

There are variations on how you can assign it. It can be a partner activity, a timed activity, or fill the entire sheet in activity. I prefer to do a timed activity where the kids see how many words they can come up with in five minutes. After that, they can partner up and fill in the rest of the words. 

You can download this activity for free at my TpT store.

End of the Year Party

The last day of school is fast approaching.  Our class party is the day before the last day.  This year we are going to do a parent picnic where the kids can have lunch with their families.  We will picnic on blankets.  After that we will have relay races and then go back to the room to cool down and have a sweet treat.  Depending on the day we will either go back outside or watch a video.  Bring on the fun!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Class Yearbook (Memory Book)

Every year I do a yearbook with my class. I usually start it a couple of weeks before school is out. You can choose to use all the pages or pick the ones you like best to include in the yearbook. In the past, my yearbook was only five pages. 

I also add photographs by inserting blank copy pages where I want the photos to go. The kids glue them in. In addition I add work that I saved from the beginning, middle, and end of the year. This is entirely optional. 

This yearbook can be whatever you want it to be. I’ve even considered having the kids trace their hand and making a picture out of it…just for the memory.

You can copy the pages on colorful paper with black ink or on white paper with colorful ink. Do what works for you. 

I made each page a little different so that the children stay interested.  This year I had the class memory/yearbooks bound at the UPS store.  They made them look like spiral notebooks.  I laminated the front and back covers beforehand.  The manager gave me a special price of $1.25 a book.  They are so cute!

On TpT I am selling my class yearbook/memory book.  The pages included are:
Front Cover
All About Me
My School
My Teacher
Best Friends
Favorite Game
Favorite Memory
Favorite Sport
Favorite Subject
In the Lunchroom
Our Field Trip
Something I Learned
Something Funny That Happened
I Lost __Teeth
People Around School
Dear 25 Year Old Me
Acrostic Poem About School
Poem About School
My Class

I hope you enjoy this activity as much as I do.

Thank You Cards (End of the Year)

On the last days of school, I like to have the kids create thank you cards for the special area teachers, office staff, and cafeteria workers.  Sometimes I turn them into thank you books where the kids each write their own letter and draw a picture.  I staple all the pages and add a cute cover.  Other times we make "big" cards.  This entry is about the "big" cards.

This week we made a "big" card (like a big book) for the music teacher.  We started out by brainstorming what shape to make the card design by listing our ideas on the board.  Next we made a plan by deciding which idea was feasible to implement.  On the list there was:  heart, instruments, and music note.

We had a lively discussion about which instrument to choose but then someone suggested we cut out a huge music note and everyone draws an instrument.  I guided the class into making colorful instruments on small papers that they cut out and glued to the music note.

On the inside we did a shared writing activity where we came up with the special message and then each child signed the card.

I love this time of lesson because it has a real world connection.  It also is a great way to teach the children how to show appreciation of others.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Give Away: Just Because... $25.00 Best Buy Gift Card

Begins 5/12/13 at midnight and runs through 5/24/13 at midnight.a Rafflecopter giveaway

Math LInky (K-5)

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Mad Minute

Some of you may have heard of the mad minute before... 
I LOVE it!  The kids LOVE it!  It's a hit in my room.

About ten years ago I was introduced to it when I was a second grade teacher.  Like most wonderful ideas, I learned it from a veteran teacher.  She had created a set of mad minutes and showed me how to organize them.  I am forever grateful!

Flash forward ten years and I made my own typed set (different problems).  I kept the storage/organization the same but tweaked the procedure.  Basically it's a small bin with file folders cut in half to file the minutes behind it.  They are labeled +1s, -1s, +2s, -2s, etc.  (I will have to upload a picture soon.)

What is a mad minute?  Well, it is a crazy minute where the kids try to solve twenty addition or subtraction problems.

From the Scholastic bonus catalog, I ordered two sets of Dry Erase pockets (6"x9") to save paper.  It also helps with record keeping because I leave the level that the child is working on in the pocket.  Only the kids that compete the mad minute turn it in for me to check.  If they pass, they earn a star and I change out their sheet so that they are on their new level.

The math sheet goes in the front of the pocket and a sheet with the child's name goes on the back.  That way I can pass them out face down.  I stick their star stickers on the side with their name when they pass a level.  The children love counting their stars.

This activity helps the children learn their math facts.  It is a fun way to motivate children to study and learn their facts.  It is a competition against themselves.

You can purchase a mad minute set in my Teachers Pay Teachers store or you can make your own.  I highly recommend this activity.  You can always try using sheet protectors and vis-a-vis markers instead of the dry erase pockets.  I will say though that the dry erase pockets really helped me keep track of each individuals performance.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Song Power

My baby is going to be one and I have been singing her lullabies every night.  One is her name song where I spell her name to the tune to It's a Small World.  (It sticks in my head!)

I have also sung the following song so that she learns the name of her family and where she lives in case of an emergency.

In ________________, _____________________ there is a girl
          (city)                          (state)

and her name is ___________________________.

Her mommy's name is ______________________.

Her daddy's name is _______________________.

Their last name is __________________________.

They love her.

They love her

(Sung to the tune of Hickory Dictory Dock)

* mommy and daddy can be replaced by grandma and grandpa or auntie or whoever the care giver is...

Every night I sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and tonight she hummed it!  I was shocked!  I love that song because it is the same tune as the Alphabet Song (which we also since daily).  I turned the Alphabet Song into the sound song too.

I believe these catchy tunes help children remember.  It certainly helps me!

In addition to my baby girl, I try to teach my first graders how to use songs to help them remember key concepts.  They even get to write their own songs about important topics (usually science).

While we were learning two digit addition and subtraction in math we sang:

When you are adding
tens and ones, tens and ones, tens and ones
When you are adding tens and ones,
Add the ones first, first, first.
Add the ones first, first, first
And then,

When you are subtracting
tens and ones, tens and ones, tens and ones
When you are subtracting tens and ones,
Subtract the ones first, first, first.
Subtract the ones first, first, first
And then,

The kids helped create movements to go with the song.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Giggle Moments Linky Party

Whenever you think your day is rough, imagine that poor newbie substitute who steps into an inner city kindergarten classroom ...

I always try to leave detailed plans for my substitutes.  Several years ago the substitute left a detailed note for ME.  It was a shocking note to say the least.  The gist was that he was considering being a teacher but thanks to this experience, he realizes that it wouldn't be a good idea.

Days later, I was still finding crayons in places crayons should not go... 

You could even link up any products that have silly written all over them...

Five for Friday (Good Friday 3/29)

I'm linking up with DoodleBugsTeaching for another Five for Friday!

1.  Spring Break is almost over!  I've enjoyed time with my family, working on my blog, and not feeling "rushed."

Please check out my end of the year class yearbook at my TpT store.  It really is a wonderful activity and the end of the year just sneaks up.  It is a big hit every year with the kids.  I am so excited to use this updated version.

2.  Three years ago, I was in California on Good Friday.  It was the last time I've been "home."  Even though I left CA at 21 and since lived in two other states, I still think of myself as a California Girl.  I was born in the valley after all, like totally. :)  On that same trip, I visited Arizona (my favorite place).  This is the view I miss more that I can put into words.  I love the mountains.  Even though the sun has not come all the way up in this picture, I know that the sky will soon be the most brilliant pinks, oranges, and purples.  It's the anticipation of the beauty to come.
3.  Yesterday I spent the day at my daughters daycare/school.  It was so fun.  She is not even a year old and had an egg hunt and a party.  I got to see the teacher do "line time" with six one year olds and almost one year olds.  They started with a song called, "Today is Thursday."  She read a short Bible story.  They sang the alphabet song and she signed it (just like I did when I taught Kindergarten). She read a book on the colors and a book with counting.  The kids were well behaved and were participating.  It was wonderful to see!  After that it was unstructured play for awhile.  She met with them again later for line time and read more stories and sang songs.  The kids knew the routines and I feel even better about sending her there when I go to work.  I still wish she could be with me all day.  I don't think that will ever change but at least I know that she is learning and is cared for.

It was interesting to experience the egg hunt and party from a parent perspective.  I was so nervous going to volunteer.
4.  Tomorrow I will tackle the huge bag of school work that I brought home to work on.  Where does the time go?

5.  Next week I will have to hit the ground running at school.  Only 8-9 more weeks left and testing is just around the corner.  This year has gone too fast.  I need more time with these babies.  Since I can't slow time down, I will will have to plan well and use every second.  Time management is oh so important!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Free 2015 April Calendar

FREEBIE!  (for the time being...) 

Updated April 2015

I've included two April calendars. They can be used in many ways. I like to track weather, record homework, or color in the square to show behavior. (Blue-Outstanding, Green-Good, Yellow-Needs Improvement, Red-Unacceptable)

You can even use the calendar to keep track of AR points, set goals (in reading or other subjects), and record minutes read. The possibilities are endless!

On a side note, I sell on eBay and promote other sellers.  If interested check out my eBay Store: Lowery's Loft.  My username on eBay is GroovyEducator (just like this blog).

Star Reader Reading Log

This is my newest product.  Even if you choose not to purchase this one, I've listed some ideas on how reading logs in general can be used in the classroom.

For $2.00 I've enclosed a few variations of the same reading log so that you can choose the version that works best in your classroom. 

!. You can use this form in class to hold your children accountable for reading during independent reading or center time. At the end of readers' workshop or independent reading, collect the reading logs and briefly question the children about the book/books listed. I usually draw the names of 2-3 students. (I have them written on popsicle sticks in a cup.) You can ask a quick question like who was the main character in the book? How do you know? Or what was your favorite part and why?

2. The reading log can be used to track Accelerated Reader (AR) points. (If your school participates in this program)

3. It can be used to document time read with parents at home or with a volunteer in the classroom. This works well if you participate in the Book It program.

4. You can even have the children practice rate the books they read. This can guide your discussion during reader's workshop.

I hope you find these reading logs helpful in your classroom.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

20% OFF SALE (Ends 3/26)

I am throwing a sale to celebrate Spring Break.  

Almost EVERYTHING is 20% off now through March 26th!

This is a great time to get the Class Yearbook (memory book)!  April is right around the corner and then May!  I like to plan ahead.  Purchasing this item now gives you time to look through the worksheets, decide on which ones you will use, make the copies,  and laminate the cover (optional). 

My Mad Minute is also on sale! (This rarely happens...)

The only product not on sale is my brand new item. - Star Reader Reading Log

Feel Free to grab my sale button! :)

Five For Friday!

I just love linking up with DoodleBugsTeaching for this Linky party!

What a week, what a week... (If you read only one of these five things, please read #5.)

1.  I have been sick since Saturday!  Yes that's right... A WHOLE week!  I still do not feel a hundred percent. :(  I had to miss THREE days of school this week due to the fever. :(  This is a nasty virus (sore throat, fever, cough, headache, stomache ache, etc).  BUT it afforded me the time to start not one but TWO LINKY PARTIES!

2.  We had our Egg Hunt at school and the kids were so sweet.  They had a BLAST! I just love my class.  They all brought in stuffed eggs earlier this week.  I counted them all up and checked them last night.  Some parents came to help me hide the eggs while the little darlings were at P.E.  Each kid had to find fifteen eggs and then sit on the bench until everyone was done.  They were not allowed to open the eggs until we got back to the classroom.  They handled that well!

When we returned it was a free for all!  I had drawings for some prizes as well.  Everyone won something.  I let the kids pick one egg to take with them to lunch.

We did projects and watched an introductory video on the solar system.

I felt guilty because I was still sick and the egg hunt wore me out.  Our day was not jam packed and was rather relaxed.  We will have to do a lot of catch up when we come back!

3.  Yes, I said it, when we come back!  I am on SPRING BREAK!

I know I should be more excited than I am.  I need this time to catch up.  My house is a disaster and needs major straightening and more baby proofing.  We are going to have my daughter's first birthday here next month.  She started WALKING!  (I guess this is number four but I'm clumping it with three.)

Aside from the house, I need to catch up on grading, writing report card comments, filling out checklists, and whatever else I lugged home in my bag. :)

4.  Smile moment:  The kids know how I love cows.  One was so sweet and brought me in a moo cow because I have been sick.  It poops candy!  I need to take a picture and put it on here.  Too funny!

5.  Just a reminder to always send your students off with them knowing how much you care because life changes in an instant.  Thursday, I called one of my sweeties up to have a quiet talk because he was making a series of poor choices.  We discussed how to turn his day around.  Usually at the end of the day I touch base again about "our talk" to remind the sweetheart that tomorrow is a new day and to learn from what happened today.  With that said, I did not touch base with this child and went home thinking about doing it in the morning.

The next morning, he's super quiet and his mom comes up to conference.  I'm expecting to discuss the talk I had with him the day before but instead she is apologetic about his homework and then goes on to tell me something that really hit home...

His sister was playing in her room the night before and somehow had her old (clunker T.V.) fall on her.  She is only four years old.  The paramedics were in my student's living room trying to save his sister's life.  His dad was not home and he was brave by being strong for his mom and his sister.  He had to witness the trauma.  His family spent most of the night at the ER.  Luckily his sister is fine.  She is sore, but she is fine.  The T.V. almost crushed her lung.

He still came to school ready to work the next day.  I told him how proud of him I was.  He made smart choices in a crisis.  He was an angel for his mama.  We shared what happened with the class.  I made sure to catch him being good.  At the end of the day he came up and gave me a big hug.  He said he did not want to go on Spring Break without doing that. (My eyes are welling up right now...)

His actions, his story, reminded me to send each child off at the end of the day with no regrets.  He reminded me that life changes in an instant.  We, teachers, do not know everything that is happening at home.  We need not assume and should treat poor choices with respect.  What I mean is that we should know our students the best we can by taking time to find out the why.  Ask what is going on?  Ask is everything okay?  I cannot tell you how many times over the years that a student broke down crying when I called him/her up to my desk and said, "I'm concerned.  You are making some poor choices today.  Is everything okay?"  I just wait and LISTEN.  We can't fix everything but we can show we CARE.  An extra minute of our time can make a world of difference in the life of a child.  Make sure to catch each child being good at least once a day! (Sorry for the ramblings...I just keep thinking what if it was my daughter?)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Linky a la TpT! (Newest Products)

Okay...perhaps it is because I am still sick with this flu/cold/sinus/thing-a-ma-bob OR perhaps it's because I am enjoying My First Linky Party so much that I am starting another one!  IT'S LINKY MADNESS! :)

Please link up your TpT Store or newest product so that you can advertise and share.

You can also link up with Educasong for an April Linky Party!