Easy and simple may be my middle name and that is exactly what I like to do in my classroom. Engaging warmups have always been one of my favorite ways to get kids excited about the lesson before we start. I love using warmup games that can easily be used for a variety of subjects, without having to reteach a new game every time! Remember, the easy and simple middle name thing? 🙂
Distance Learning has been ROUGH. At first, I was eager for a new challenge but the newness of the challenge shortly wore off and now I just want to hug my kiddos and be in school. I have tried to make this virtual learning experience as easy as possible for others so below I have listed a few different freebies that may be helpful for you all during this time! Be sure to follow me on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/missvin3 to check for all the additional free ideas and resources that will be included!
HALLOWEEN. One of the most exhausting, fun, exciting, and did I mention exhausting days of the year? I mean is there anything better than seeing your kiddos excited about their costumes and candy and all things fall?
Halloween always seems to be a crazy day every year until I started implementing Halloween Centers. For some reason, the day went by so fast, the kids were engaged, and every 15-20 minutes they were up and moving (and maybe walking like a mummy or flying like a bat) to the next rotations. We played Halloween music, laughed, and truly had an amazing time.
This past year was the first year I truly “transformed” my room for this day. I love decorating the library area and covering it with spider webs or hanging witches from the ceiling to make the day feel “a little more exciting.” Everything I used to transform was either decorations I’ve gathered over the years, old decor that my mom gave me, or a few things I purchased from Dollar Tree, Target, or Amazon.
Okay, now to get to the good stuff, THE CENTERS! I had all the centers laid out around the classroom. That way, each area had a specific center and kids were not running around like crazy, losing pieces of the center, etc. Before the centers began, I divided kids up into groups of 2-3 kids and that was their partner/group for the day. I assigned each pair/group a center to start and then together as a class we walked to every center, went over the activity together and answered any and all questions students had.
The centers we used are:
Eyeball Rounding: Students pick an eyeball and round that number to the nearest ten or hundred according to what their recording sheet says!
Build an array: At this center, students will pick a task card and build an array using the Target Dollar Spot Halloween Mini Erasers. I found this task cards for free on Teachers Pay Teachers years ago.
Grammar Sort: Students will pick a sign and decide what part of speech category it belongs in. (noun, proper noun, verb, adjective) I was surprised to see how many students had difficulty with this and was definitely a good informative assessment for me to use in my planning for the following week!
Monster Math: This game students will play as a whole group and one person begins and picks a card. Student will solve the card and show everyone in the group the card. Everyone will solve it and if the student who choose the card correctly solved it, that student gets to keep the card. Whoever has the most cards at the end of the game is the winner. There are some fun cards like lose a turn, extra turn, game over, etc.
Fluency Reading: I found these fun witch/scary looking finger pointers in the Target Dollar Spot and gathered as many Halloween/Fall picture books that I had. Students whisper read with partners and loved falling along with the “fingers.”
Halloween Inferencing Game: This is one of the favorites!! Students will be in pairs and one student will pick a task card and read it and the other student will try and make an inference that matches the task card that their partner described.
Addition/Multiplication Game: Students will work in partners and spin a paperclip twice to get two numbers. Students will either add or multiply (depending on their Vampire sheet) find the answer and create a number sentence. Partners will check each other’s work. This can also be an independent center or you can have students add up all of their answers at the end and whoever has the highest score is the winner.
Overall, it was a wonderful and exciting day BUT I was looking forward to getting home to my couch and eating as many Reese’s Pumpkins as I possibly could! Happy Halloween!
State Tests can be stressful for everyone in involved, from the kids, to the teachers, to administration. Enter: One of my favorite days of the year, Test Prep Boot Camp.
My main purpose of this day is to allow students to have fun and review different skills that will be on the state test that is the following day. Let’s be honest, no amount of “cramming” will really do the kids any good so why not make a fun day of review out of it?!
During our boot camp, we have 6 different stations, a station on multiplication and division, fractions, area and perimeter, graphing, time, and addition and subtraction. Students spend about 20 minutes (could be longer or shorter) at each station. When it is time for them to change stations, I blow my whistle and give them some type of “command.” (IE: March to your next station, 10 Jumping Jacks, repeating a chant after me, etc.) My students find this hysterical and I am sure to encourage them with silly chanting and commands throughout the day.
If you are interested in checking out this resource, I have linked it here for you!
Now let’s get into the details:
Room Decor: I “decorated” my room for about $40.00. I bought some camouflage tablecloths , a camouflage net, some faceprint, and some camouflage colored streamers. This may seem a little steep BUT I knew I will be able to use this all again for years to come! (Minus the faceprint, I’ll buy a new one each year.)
Station 1: Fractions
Students will complete a fraction game where they solve problems about identifying fractions, fractions on a number line, comparing fractions, equivalent fractions, unit fractions, and more. The first student to reach the finish line is the winner!
Station 2: Multiplication and Division
This might be the favorite station of them all. Students have flashcards with a multiplication or division problem on it and a “command” on the bottom. The command is some type of exercise. (5 squats, 3 sit ups, etc.) Student solve the problem and then complete the command! If the student gets the command correct, they keep the card and the student with the most cards at the end is the winner!
Station 3: Place Value
Students will complete roll and writes and need to round to the nearest ten or hundred. They will have a partner check their work before they are able to move on to the next worksheet on rounding!
Station 4: Area and Perimeter
Students will be given a task to create a map of the base using specific measurements of different buildings. Students typically choose to create these on large paper so they can decorate them once they have completed their questions but they can be down on smaller paper as well!
Station 5: Addition and Subtraction
This station students have to add and subtract numbers and find the matching puzzle piece to their equation. The students work in pairs and can check each other’s work with the inverse operation or you can have students work independently.
Station 6: Graphing
Students are given a data sheet and have to create a bar or pictograph according to the information. Students loved making the pictographs!
Station 7: Time
This station is new this year and I can’t wait to have students complete it! Students will use a schedule to answer questions about the daily life of a solider! Students can also complete a day in the life book about a solider using the schedule as well!
Overall, this is one of the best days of the year and my kiddos have so much fun, are so engaged, and usually forget that they are reviewing for a big test, which is exactly what I want them to do! 🙂
Do you use any kind of test prep activities in your room? I would love to hear about them below! 🙂
Math Workshop has truly become one of my favorite times of day. When I first started math workshop, I had NO idea what I was doing but read a ton of research on the importance in making this shift in math instruction and haven’t looked back. With the Common Core Standards, we as teachers cannot simply rely on teaching students just a formula to answer math problems anymore. As we know, students learn concepts at different paces and having math workshop in your classroom allows you to meet the needs of each and every learner.
What is Math Workshop?
Math Workshop is a method in which teachers assess students and group them according to their proficiency level. Groups will change depending on the topic/skill. I give a quick pretest before major topics are taught to be able to adequately group students.
•Each student receives small group instruction, followed by independent work time.
•Allows for students to be rotated/moved to different groups by lesson or unit.
•Students are engaged at all times in mathematics practice and concepts are reinforced daily in stations.
•Students are motivated by the rotation, and manage themselves with little need for teacher interruption.
What does Math Workshop look like?
Math Workshop consists of a problem of the day, a mini lesson, four rotations, (Math Facts, At Your Seat, Teacher’s Choice, and Hands On) and a wrap up/exit ticket.
Before the Mini-Lesson
We often start off Math Workshop with a problem of the day. The problem of the day is projected on the whiteboard and students complete the problem in their math journal or on a personal whiteboard. These problems are open ended questions and are created from the Common Core Standards.
A: At Your Seat
At this center, one of the most important things I learned was to review the skill/standard from the PREVIOUS day’s lesson(s). Since a group of students go to this rotation first, it is important that this rotation is used as a review. Students would not know how to complete the assignment since they have not yet been taught by you! (I learned this the hard way!) Some things students do in this rotation are worksheets, journaling, completing task cards, and independent centers.
- You don’t need to change often.
- Students know routines and can get started quickly and independently.
- Are much less time consuming for you and allows you more time spent planning quality small group lessons.
- Don’t require a ton (or any!) paperwork.
When planning the lesson:
- Determine big ideas (based on student needs and standards!)
- Decide what students need to learn and do to be successful.
- Use assessment information. (informative and formative)
- Choose specific teaching points for each group
- Prepare differentiated lessons; gather materials.