Saturday, February 24, 2018

Winter Games: A Classroom Transformation

Amazon Affiliate links are provided in this blog post for your convenience.
Guys. I am SO excited to write this blog post for you guys. For the past two days at school, my fifth graders have taken part in the 2018 Winter Games. We did these games to go along with this year's Olympic Games, but it could totally be done anytime during the winter months by just calling them the Winter Games. Myself and my coworkers are already talking about doing this transformation again next year with the title of the "Winter Sports World Championship". It doesn't have to be Olympic themed to still be SO MUCH FUN. During this blog post, I'll break down what we did and how we decorated. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

The Decorations:
The decorations for this transformation were cheap and easy (YESSSS!). I spent less than $50 on all of my supplies. I bought 11 tablecloths, and five packages of streamers from the dollar store for a dollar a piece (Totaling less than $18). Since we did Olympic themed, I bought everything in Olympic ring colors, but if you are just doing Winter Games themed, you could buy any time of fun colors! I also bought a world flag banner from Amazon that was AWESOME quality and super fun! I am already trying to think of another way I can use this awesome banner! I also have some fun disco lights that I leave up all year and turn on for special events like these. They are also from Amazon and I LOVE them!

Setting the STAGE:
One of my FAVORITE things to do before a transformation is to set the stage. I always send home an entry ticket to get the students interested and excited for the next day. For this transformation I added a letter of acceptance into the games and I really love how they turned out! = ) This note was sent home the day before the event and students were told to bring the ticket back the next day.

The Math Events:
The Luge, Curling, Speed Skiing, and Hockey
Items needed:
-Skates and Cones (I got both from our PE teacher.)
-Task cards/Recording page
-Stopwatch (We used our i-Pads)
How to play:
I set up two cones on one side of my classroom and two more at the other side. Task cards were scattered on the floor on the opposite side of my room behind the cones. One student would get on the skate/luge, and roll across the room to the task cards. Student had to keep his/her bottom on the luge and feet off the ground. Once the student made it to the task cards, they grabbed one, and brought it back across the room to the group. Another student timed how long it took the student to do this. Once task card was back to the group, the entire group worked together to solve it. After the card was solved, I'd come over and check it, and then the process would continue. Students continued the process and recorded their time each round. Students added up their best 6 times for their total "Luge" score.
Items needed:
-Cones (I got these from our PE teacher.) 
-Task cards/Recording page
-Stopwatch (We used our i-Pads)
-Two pieces of cardstock
How to play:
This game was set up in the hallway outside of my classroom.  I set up two cones about 15 feet away from each other. I hung an envelope with task cards next to the cone furthest away from my classroom. One student would jump onto two pieces of cardstock and "ski" down to the task card envelope. They'd grab a task card and then head around the cone, back to the starting line. If the student lost a ski, they had to go back to where the ski was before continuing. Another student timed how long it took the student to go down to the task card envelop and back. Once task card was back to the group, the entire group worked together to solve it. After the card was solved, I'd come over and check it, and then the process would continue. Students continued the process and recorded their time each round. Students added up their best 6 times for their total "Speed Skiing" score.
 Items needed:
-Wax Paper (with a target drawn on it)
-Task cards/Recording page

How to play:
For this activity, students began by first working a task card. After the card was solved, I'd come over and check it. Once everyone had the correct work and answer, each student in the group would get one chance to "curl". Students would each grab a penny and slide it across the table and try to hit the target. After each student went, they totaled up how many points they earned for that round and recorded them on their recording page. You could also play this with two teams. The two teams would be trying to score points and knock each other's pennies/dimes off the game board.
 Items needed:
-Hockey Goal/Stick/Cones/Ball (I got everything from our PE teacher)
-Task cards/Recording Page
How to play:
For this activity, students began by first working a task card. After the card was solved, I'd come over and check it. Once everyone had the correct work and answer, each student in the group would get one chance to score a goal. Students would tally the points they made for that round, and then get back to work on the next task card. Students had to shoot from about 10 feet back from the goal.

Other Events/Activities:
* We started our transformation by breaking our kiddos into teams and they each made a team flag that they used for the entire two days. After teams were created and flags were made, we had our opening ceremonies and paraded around the school. Our assistant principal live streamed the parade on our school's Facebook page and interviewed our kiddos like they were actual Olympians. It was SO much fun.
*Virtual Breakout - The plan was to start out our Winter Games with this Olympic activity, but the internet was down, so we ended up doing this on the second day of our transformation.
*Reading/Stem Passages from Top Floor Teachers - This resources is incredible. This resources is packed full of passages about Winter Games events and each passage has a fun STEM project.


Throughout the course of the two days, students earned points for their teams. We tallied our points on a large scoreboard in our classroom. Students LOVED seeing real-time totals. Our class totals were then compared to the totals in other 5th grade classrooms at our school to determine who won the gold!

You can grab the task cards/entry tickets/directions I used over on my TPT store HERE.

This was by far one of my FAVORITE transformations I've done so far! You should totally give it a try in your own classroom! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out via commenting on this blog, or by sending me an email! Thanks! = )

Saturday, October 14, 2017

How I Built My Classroom Stage...

(Amazon Affilate links are provided in this post for your convenience.)

Ever since I visited the Ron Clark Academy and saw the AMAZING teachers there use a stage to help transform their classrooms, I knew I just HAD TO HAVE ONE! As soon as I got back from RCA last October, I started transforming my classroom. A stage wasn't something I could build overnight, so I finished the school year with a makeshift stage. I lowered a rectangular table to the floor and BAM... a stage. It was amazing and my kiddos LOVED it, but... I knew I wanted a bigger and better one so I counted down until summer break when I my dad could hopefully make my dreams a reality. 

Since posting my stage on my Instagram account, I have gotten lots and lots of messages asking me just how I my dad made it, so I wanted to take some time to lay out all of the details in one place because YOU need a stage too, and you/your dad/husband can TOTALLY make one! 

How to build your own stage:

Step ONE: 
Convince your Dad/Husband/Boyfriend/Friend to build it for you! HAHA! Ok... if you haven't caught on yet, it was MY DAD that built the stage, not me. I am blessed with a rockstar Dad who does woodworking in his spare time and he was kind enough to help me out. I painted and assisted in the heavy lifting, but the brains behind the operation was definitely my dad. 

Exhibit A: My Dad

Ok - Have you grabbed someone to build it for you or at least assist you?! Haha! Although I have utmost faith that you can complete this project yourself, it would still be easier for you if you have a partner to help you do the heavy lifting! As you start gluing/nailing things together, your stage will get really heavy. If you've found your builder/assistant... you are ready for step two.

Step TWO:
Go to Lowes and grab your items!
What you'll need:
-three 3/4 inch pieces of plywood
-wood glue
-large nails
-three sets of door hinges (we put three hinges on each door)

Alright gang... It's finally time to build! 
We built two different 4'x4' squares so that the stage would be easier to transport. The two squares together makes my large 8'x4' stage. The entire stage is 9 inches tall. 

First, grab two pieces of plywood and cut each of them in half. You now have your two tops and two bottoms. The remaining piece of plywood will become your sides and bracing inside the stage. 
Side/bracing lengths: 4' long/9"tall 

Once you have all of your pieces cut, glue your bottoms and sides together and reinforce them using nails! You will also need to glue/nail in your bracing inside. The bracing is SO important for safety and support, so don't leave those out!

If you want to get fancy, you can add trimming to the pieces that will go around the top and around them bottom. My dad also cut out hand holes in the sides of the stage to make for easier carrying. 

Step 4:
Paint everything! I chose to paint the outside of my stage yellow, the top black, and the inside white. 

Stage 5: 
Once you've gotten everything painted, you can then attach the top of your stage to the bottom using door hinges. We chose to put the hinges INSIDE the stage so that the metal pieces weren't showing on the outside. You can just put them on the outside if that is easiest for you. 

Step 6: 
Once everything is painted and attached, you are ready to haul your stage to school and

(Super fun lights under my board can be found on Amazon HERE.)

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to leave them in my comments and I'll ask my Dad if they are questions I don't know how to answer! I truly believe EVERY classroom should have a stage, so I hope you will get to building! You can do it! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

LEARN & PLAY: Inflatable Yard Games in the Classroom!

At the end of last school year, I completed my first ever "RCA Inspired" classroom transformation for our state testing math review. Check out our Glow Day Transformation HERE. After "Glow Day" went so well last Spring, I knew I wanted to do more classroom transformations in the future. My students were engaged and excited all day long... why wouldn't I want to do transformations more often?!

This summer when I was shopping the Target Dollar Spot and found inflatable yard games, I knew I had found my first classroom transformation for the next school year. I bought a set of inflatable dice, an inflatable ring toss, and even an inflatable bowling set. Although these inflatables are no longer available at Target, you can grab them for a super affordable price on Amazon and I've linked my favorite options below. This summer I created games and task cards to go with each station so I'd be ready to go with a fourth grade math review during the first week of school! I know I'm not the only one who grabbed up ALL things inflatable from the Target Dollar Spot, so thought I'd break down each station for you below so that you can do this easy transformation in your own classroom!  You can grab my pack on TPT here

Inflatable Transformation: The Basics
Our classroom transformation lasted half a day, and the only thing I did to prep was to move our tables out of the way. Students stayed at each station for 30-40 minutes and could have stayed even longer! The MOST IMPORTANT part of a classroom transformation is the instructions beforehand and the setting of high expectations. If directions are clear and expectations are high, your transformation will be a HUGE SUCCESS!

Station 1: Inflatable Bowling
What you need for this station:
-Bowling Recording Sheet (one per group)
-Set of task cards
-Recording sheet (one per student)

How to play:
At this center, students worked with their team to answer a task card. My task cards were a review of 4th grade math standards. This allowed me to see what my students remembered from 4th grade and what we needed to review before beginning 5th grade standards (win-win)! After each group member had completed a math task card, discussed their answer, and everyone agreed on the correct answer, each group member got a chance to bowl once. Students recorded how many pins they knocked over on the bowling recording sheet and once all students had bowled, the group grabbed another task card.

Station 2: Read it. Write it. Round it.
What you need for this station:
-Recording page for each student

How to play:
This was a simple station, but the kids loved it! I had my students in groups of four, so each student was in charge of a dice. Students took turns rolling their dice and each number was recorded on the student recording sheet. Once four dice had been rolled, students wrote the number in word and expanded form and rounded the number. The front recording sheet used four dice, and the back of the recording sheet allowed students to roll six dice for a more challenging task.

Station 3: Inflatable Ring Toss
What you need for this station:
-Ring Toss Recording Sheet (one per group)
-Set of task cards
-Recording sheet (one per student)

How to play:
This center was similar to bowling...  students worked with their team to answer a task card. After each group member had completed a math task card independently, discussed their answer with their group, and everyone agreed on the correct answer, each group member got a chance to play the ring toss game once. Students recorded how many many points they had scored (each ring toss was labeled) over on the ring toss recording sheet and once all students had played ring toss once, the group grabbed another task card and the process continued.

Station 4: Five-in-a-Row Dice Game
What you need for this station:
-Four in a row game board
-Game markers (I used extra math manipulative I had lying around.)

How to play:
The object of this game is to get five in a row. You can multiply, add, or subtract in order to get your lucky number. The goal of this game is to get your kiddos problem-solving! First, you will need two teams. I had groups of four, so my students created two teams of two. Team one rolls both of their dice and decides whether or add, subtract, or multiply the two numbers they rolled. Whatever they decide on, they mark out that number on the game board. Team two does the same thing as team one. They roll, add/subtract/multiply, pick their number and place a marker on the game board. Teams continue rotating back and forth until one team gets five in a row. As more markers are on the game board, teams will have to problem-solve to determine the best number to cover up. I thought this would be my students' least favorite station, but the friendly competition made it a crowd favorite!

Alright, friends! There you have it! 
Four fun centers that will keep your kiddos engaged and excited for an entire afternoon! If you are looking for a simple transformation that your kiddos will love, this is a great one for you! You can grab EVERYTHING you'll need for your transformation by clicking the Amazon links below. You can also grab my inflatable yard game TPT resource that includes station directions, 5th grade level task cards, and a fully editable powerpoint for those of you not in 5th grade so you can easily make your own questions! If you have any questions, please let me know!

Have you done a classroom transformation yet this year?
If so, let me know what kind! I'd love to hear it! = )
Happy Transforming!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

An app you APP-solutely need to try!

Alright guys, in today's classrooms where iPads and apps are EVERYWHERE, I am always looking for fun new apps to use that aren't your typical classroom apps. Today I am here to tell you about and app I LOVE that you might not ever think about using in your classroom. I stumbled upon it last year when I was trying to figure out a way to crop my kiddo's pictures into a picture of a mountain so that they would look like they were climbing the mountain. I knew there just HAD to be something, so after some searching, I stumbled across the app Superimpose. The app costs $1.99, but it is AMAZING. I am going to attempt to show you how it works and give you some ideas how you can use it in your classroom below!

Why might you need this app in your classroom? 
Like I said above, I used it when my kiddos were doing a writing piece from the story "Oh The Places You'll Go".  We were reflecting on the "Kid, You'll move mountains" part, and I wanted to stick my kiddos onto a real mountain where it would look like they were climbing it. 
The results were AMAZING. 

So - when might you use this app in your classroom? Anytime you want to "place" your kiddos somewhere outside the four walls of your classroom. Are they reading/writing about China? Superimpose them walking through the streets of China. Are they researching about dolphins? Superimpose them riding on the back of a dolphin in the middle of the ocean. The options are ENDLESS.... so get creative! 

How do you use the app?
You are probably thinking... this app looks SUPER difficult to use. 
You are SUPER wrong! It is incredibly easy to use and your kiddos will be making their own pictures in no time! I showed my students how to use Superimpose and then they each edited and layered their pictures to make their own "climbing mountains" picture. 

Alright, ready for the easy step-by-step process to get your picture complete? Follow along below. 

Sounds easy enough, right?
I think you are ready to give it a try! Go download the app and play around with it! If you end up with an awesome finished product, tag me in it on Instagram! I'd love to see it! Have an AWESOME idea for how to use this app? Comment below and share it with us! I can't wait to use this app more frequently next school year! 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Let's Glow! A classroom transformation that your students will LOVE!

(Amazon Affilate links are provided in this post for your convenience.)

Let's GLOW! After visiting RCA last October, myself and my teacher bestie committed to planning and completing an RCA inspired classroom transformation before the end of the year. Our first transformation took place last Wednesday, and OH MY GOSH, I am obsessed and 100% committed to doing several next school year! Keep reading and I PROMISE to tell you all about it! = )

Over the course of the last month we have been prepping for state testing like CRAZY. We have been  reviewing and re-covering and practicing, practicing, practicing. Both myself and my teacher bestie both tested on Thursday, so we thought Wednesday would be a fun day for some last minute testing review through a classroom transformation so... GLOW DAY 2017 was born!

I'd like to start by saying that all of our ideas were adapted from the AMAZING Hope King over at Elementary Shenanigans. We decided to use her "glow games" theme because when doing something new, why recreate the wheel when someone else has already
done something amazing?

We started by gathering the supplies that we needed. The hardest thing to find was most definitely black lights. We didn't want to spend money on black lights, so I reached out to anyone and everyone in search of some we could borrow. A local fire station who has a haunted house in October had some we were able to borrow! Whew! I suggest trying to find some before buying your own! If you can't find any, you can grab these off of Amazon.  Since we were able to get our backlights for free, we spend a total of about $40-50 a piece on our classroom transformation. SO cheap... music to my ears. Hah!

Okay, now for the details! Eek!
In order to get the kids intrigued and excited, I sent them each home with a ticket the night before our glow day. Other than what the ticket told them, the knew nothing. They were asking all sorts of questions but I kept it all a mystery!
You can grab these tickets as an editable freebie HERE on my TPT store. They are also included in the Glow Day Pack on my TPT store as well.

The next day when they entered our classroom, they had to provide their ticket. When they walked through the classroom door,
this is what they found...

The picture honestly doesn't do it justice. I LOVED hearing my kiddos reactions as they entered our transformed classroom. On the way in the door they grabbed some super cool glow stick glasses I purchased on Amazon and our day of amazingness began.

Alright, now for the stations...
We had 5 different stations and students stayed at
each station for 30-40 minutes.
It took our students the entire day to work through all 5 stations. 

Station 1: Ring Toss
(Supplies needed: the jugs, glow sticks, task cards)
At this station there were three different colored task cards. Each color card was a different skill. Students picked a card and answered the question independently. Once everyone answered independently and then agreed on an answer, each student got to throw a ring at the appropriately colored jug. Once everyone tossed, they moved on to the next task card.

Station 2: Geometry that GLOWS!
(Supplies needed: iPad with PicCollage, glowsticks, task cards)
This station was super simple, but the kiddos loved it. Students worked to create different shapes/angles/etc. using glow sticks and they took pictures of them and posted them into PicCollage on a graphic organizer. There were a few task cards sprinkled in on the graphic organizer so that students would have plenty to do.

Station 3: Let's Bowl!

(Supplies needed: water bottles, glow sticks, hamster ball, dice)
The station was one of the more elaborate ones. Students practiced creating numbers/fractions/decimals, ordering them, writing them in multiple forms, and rounding them. Students rolled the dice to create the numbers. Once they completed one "round" in their student booklet (more on that later) each student got one bowl. They recorded the number of pens that knocked down on a bowling sheet.

Station 4: Jenga
We wrapped each Jenga block with backlight reactive tape. We had five colors of tape and each color went with the same color task card. A student pulled a task card, everyone answered the question/discussed, and then the student who pulled the card got to pull a Jenga block. 

Like I said earlier, all students rotated through all 4 stations. Student each had a recording book where they organized and recorded their work all day long. I had a light up wand that I passed to different groups as I caught them working well together and staying on task. This motivated the students to work as a team because they wanted to hold the magical wand!
It was an AMAZING day. I have never seen my students so engaged and motivated as they were on this day. I am not gonna lie, I was a bit scared about doing a classroom transformation. Would my kids be CRAZY? Would they stay on task? I was CRAZY to even question them. I cannot wait to do more of these transformations next year!

So, now that I’ve told you all about our AMAZING day, have I convinced you to give it a try? If you are a 5th grade teacher, you can grab 90+ pages worth of resources and task cards that go with all four of these stations over on my TPTpage. Everything you need to complete the educational side of these centers is in this pack!
Grab the Pack HERE.

Have you done a transformation?
What was your theme? I'd love to hear all about it!

Grab all of the supplies you need off of Amazon Prime below!
(I split the glasses and glowsticks with a teammate in order to cut down on the cost.)

(Amazon Affilate links are provided in this post for your convenience.)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Need an Absolutely Perfect New Classwide Behavior Incentive?

(Amazon Affilate links are provided in this post for your convenience.)

Compliment Clips...
Brownie Points...
Bravo Board...
Behavior Bingo...
Jar Filling...

We've ALL tried numerous types of whole class behavior incentive. I, myself, have tried compliment clips and brownie points (in two different years). My kiddos worked to earn 20 of each and once they earned 20, they earned a behavior party, brownies, game time, etc. 

I personally think that it is SUPER important and effective to do a positive behavior incentive that is whole class because it encourages unity and teamwork! I feel like in previous years my students have really responded to it. This past summer I decided I wanted to put a fun spin on whole class behavior reinforcement. I was tired of the predictable "earn 20 of this or that" and get a prize. When I was walking through Target this summer and saw these guys, I KNEW I had found my new whole class behavior management tool.

(Affiliate link provided for your convenience!)

I immediately knew I had found a fun, mysterious form of whole class behavior management! I decided to go with the Giant Kerplunk and named my new behavior incentive "Compliment Kerplunk". 

How we play:
Giant Kerplunk is set up in my classroom. Every time I catch my students doing something AMAZING as an entire class, I pick a student to draw a stick. The class also gets to pull a stick if they get a compliment from an administrator or another teacher. The goal is to get ALL of the balls to drop. I was worried that it wouldn't take very long, but it took pulling almost ALL of the sticks. Perfect. I love this SO much because the kids have NO clue when they will earn their reward and each time a ball or balls drop their excitement level increases. It's so much fun to see them get so excited when several balls drop or so sad when they pull a stick and nothing falls. The anticipation (and positive behavior) continuously builds until all of the balls are gone. I love the way this has added a fun element of surprise and anticipation to our class wide behavior incentive. 
(You should also know that this Kerplunk was VERY easy to put together and is sturdy.)

We also used this fun Giant Kerplunk for a class wide "get to know you" game at the beginning of the year and I hope to use it at the end of the year before state testing with a review game. I love buying things that have multiple purposes! 

Ok - you've heard about how I reinforce whole class GREAT behavior...what do you do in your classroom? 

(Amazon Affilate links are provided in this post for your convenience.)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Years Writing Activities that your students will LOVE!

New Years... a time for new goals, new plans, new you! I always love starting the New Year (whether it be a calendar year or a school year) with fun writing where my students can reflect about the previous year and plan for the new year. I think reflecting and planning is something you should do whether you are 9 or 99! Keep reading to see the fun ways we bring in the new year in my 5th grade classroom! All of my paid products are on SALE for the next 24 hours. Snatch them up and use them when you return to school next week!

In this fun writing and craft activity, students will create their own spaceship and complete a writing piece. They have two different options for their writing. They can write about how they think the new year will be a BLAST or they can reflect on why the previous year was a BLAST. Students love space so this craft is always a hit. Templates are super easy to use and you can choose long or short writing paper. 
What's included:

OK... I am SUPER pumped about this one. My kiddos are obsessed with social media so I know they will be PUMPED about this writing activity... and we love when they get pumped... am I right?! Using Snapchat filters, I will take pictures of my kiddos and they will complete a writing piece about why they are excited about the coming year or why they loved the previous year. Each snapchat filter has a unique journal page that relates directly to the filter. Don't have snap chat? Don't worry! There are several other free apps that allow you to add filters to your pictures! These apps include: Snow and MSQRD.
Whats included: 
I included three different versions of each sheet so that this can work in any age classroom. The first option includes a place for students to draw a picture (far left). The other two options just include lines, but one is more suitable for younger kids and one is more suitable for older kids. = )

HAPPY NEW YEAR and best wishes in 2017! One of my resolutions is to get better at blogging! Fingers crossed I can stick with it! Do you have a great resolution?! I'd love to hear it! = )