Monday, June 27, 2016

Biotic and Abiotic Free Sorting Activity

I know sometimes when we search for freebies on Teachers Pay Teachers we are just looking for small, quick additions to our lessons. I don't want my freebies to ONLY be a 2 minute lesson for your students, I would like if you could really create something out of it with your students. So.... I decided to do that this past year with one of my favorite freebies!

The Abiotic and Biotic Ecosystems Sorting Activity has been a free item in my store for years; however, I never really speak about it much - this is because I only ever used it as a quick little sorting game. This year, I wanted to see if I could make it into something more, so I took on the challenge and I really like how it turned out!

To start, download the item for free by clicking HERE
(You can choose between printing it in color or in black and white)

First I introduce the terms ABIOTIC and BIOTIC to my students. We talk about it, and I do a little quick PowerPoint with them.

Then they each get a file folder. We open it to the inside and glue "abiotic" to one side and "biotic" to the other side. The students then cut out the different words and sort them where they think they should go - abiotic or biotic. We don't glue until we have all discussed our findings to make sure everyone in the class is fully understanding the terms.

Below is what their folder should look like at this point.

Who loves getting their class OUTSIDE for a little bit for a change? Here in Florida, it might be really hot, but we love love love getting to go outside - especially when we are LEARNING while doing it!

We next get into pairs (you can choose not to do this in partners if you'd rather them work alone or in larger groups, that is fine!) and go outside. We walk around and the kids write down abiotic or biotic things that they find in our ecosystem. Below is an example of some of the things you can find on our recess field at school. We come inside after about 15 minutes and discuss our findings. You might want to give the students a minimum amount of each that they need to find, this way they are sure not to go outside and get too distracted. We also like to add items that we did not think of when we hear what others come up with. This is a great way to keep all students active in the class discussion when we get inside.

Lastly, the final part of modeling their understanding is their cover drawing. I tell them what I would like their cover to say; however, they can do the writing however they choose. Some get a lot more creative than others.

I then tell them that a large part of their grade is their final picture on the cover. They must choose an ecosystem from a list I put on the board (I put a list up because at this point, we are just starting our ecosystem unit and they don't have as much prior knowledge yet). The example below represents a student who chose the "pond" ecosystem. They then must label at least 3 of each (abiotic and biotic, 6 total - at least) in their drawing. See the example below to see what the final product can look like! The student below just needs to add an arrow to her grass and she would have 3 biotic labeled, as well!!  #soclose

I hope this looks like something that would be useful for your class! These folders look super cute hung up in the classroom, and they are also useful down the road throughout your ecosystem unit. You could even limit their sorting to a T chart on one side of the folder on the inside, and save the rest of the folder for more activities done throughout the ecosystem unit! Oh the possibilities!!! ENJOY!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Word Problems Practice and Project

One of my favorite packs in my TpT store because the kids love it, it's easy for the teacher, and I can repeat it year after year without changing it much ... all kids need help with word problems!

I always hate how the textbooks teach word problems... 
They do a unit on "subtracting fractions" so when they kids take the unit test, they know they will SUBTRACT the FRACTIONS in the word problems.. UGH! This always drives me crazy because the students don't actually have to read for understanding on these assessments. 

I have noticed for a few years now that my students have always had trouble deciding what their first step is when they go into solving a word problem...that is why I created this pack! Here is a little peek into it!

The kids start by sorting the word problems into categories based on what they would do first to solve the word problem: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. This is a super fun activity for them because, for once, they are not required to SOLVE the problem! They are only required to decide what they would do IF they were going to solve it. This takes away so much of the unwanted pressure they feel when reading word problems. They find themselves successful with this activity, and then go into the rest of the week with more confidence.

Throughout the week, the skill level increases. 
They start with solving the one step word problems, and then the pack leads them into doing two step word problems. 

You can find out more about this inside of this pack at my previous blog post, here:

At the end of the pack, the students will create a two step word problem and use that problem to create a cute project for the classroom! 
(Show below)

Get this pack HERE on TpT :) 
Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Math Activity Item Updates!

I am so excited about these updates! 

Every once in a while you need a craftivity in math, right!? I know I always need a little break from pure content to do something that is content - related...with a bit of fun! 

If you already own these items, just go to TpT to redownload the new version! You don't have to purchase it again! :) Yay!

You can purchase the bundle of all of the math activities together, or you can purchase the activities separately, as needed :) The table of contents below goes through all of the items in the bundle (all are also available separately).

1. Factor Tree Craftivity

In the Factor Tree Craftivity, students will use given numbers they cut out to color and create their own factor tree, also giving the prime factorization. This could make a really fun center, which is something I really like about this project! I used this at a center in my class for a week. The students worked on it for about 10-15 minutes per day that week. I was able to collect it at the end of the week, giving me a quick and easy assessment of their prime factorization, and a really cute craft to bring home for their parents!

Colored sample of the tree the students will create:

2. Place Value Find Me!

This is one of my favorites! I use this every year, guaranteed! 

This activity is very similar to what you would normally see labeled as a "write the room" activity. I did not want to call it that, because you can also simply sit the cards at a center so that the kids can fill out their answers there, rather than walking around the room. 

To complete this activity, students simply follow the place value clues given on their card to create a number (putting all of the numbers in their correct place value locations will create the overall, larger number = the answer). Students put their answer on the line next to the animal that matches the animal on the clue card...and that's it!! Gotta make sure the kids know which place is which, right!?

A close up view of a few of the cards that come in this pack
(also given in black and white):

3. Metric Conversion Craftivity and Useful Tool!

Hm...I might have lied before when I said Place Value Find Me! was my favorite....this one might take the cake! 

You have probably all heard of or taught something the same as, or similar to, King Henry Died Unusually Drinking Chocolate Milk when you teach the metric system and its conversions. 

The kids love creating this cute little caterpillar in class, and then using it to help them with their conversions. Eventually, students are able to draw the caterpillar on their own and they don't require the actual craft anymore - but it's a great way to get them started and commit the idea to memory before having them do it on their own. 

Preview of the final product: 

4. Multiplication Memory Game

This one is just fun! :) It is just like it sounds - a multiplication memory game! Match the multiplication expression to its product and that's it! 

Have your students keep their matches on their record sheet to make sure they are being held accountable for what they are doing while they play the game. They even keep track of their partner's matches. 

Record sheet shown below:

5. Math-O!

This is a pack of 4 types of math BINGO! Multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction are all included! I love this game at the beginning of the year because I encourage the kids to practice their mental math with these simple expressions. 

If you are interested in four of the five of these activities, make sure you just purchase the bundle because it will save you money! :) Let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Self Assessing Bulletin Board

I have had a lot of e-mails and Instagram messages recently regarding my post showing my bulletin board. 

Most of you were inquiring about the emoji self assessment part of the board, so I will DEFINITELY discuss that. First, I am just going to give you links to all of the things you see, just in case that is all you want :) 

1) Math Alphabet - above the board

2) Subject and headers - rectangle label cards

3) Emoji Self Assessment PDF

The explanation of how it works:

This was not something I thought up completely on my own - we were asked to display this sort of data in rubric form on our boards by our district and their new Learning Goals and Scales initiative. At first, I was not a fan.... another thing to do, right!? However, I have seen it work in my classroom, so when you all asked me about it, I knew I had to share it! The best part is, I made it a FREEBIE! :) Yay!

So, let's take a look at the photo again. This time, just looking at the emoji posters on the left (1, 2, 3, and 4 cards) and then the emoji rubric grid on the main part of the board.

As you can see, the 1, 2, 3, 4 cards on the left are just the explanations of the rubric. Many of us already have these in our classrooms in different forms or wording. Our district has chosen not to use the level 0 at all, so we start at a 1 and end at a 4. 

Under the "subject" column, I simply have the printable cards of each subject I teach (I teach all but Science). 

Under the "Standards and Learning Goals" column, I have the goals/standards written out. My students know that on my scale, this would be our level 3 - our goal. If they feel that they have met our goal, then they are a level 3 and that is where they would move their little number card. 

Under the first emoji you will see all of their number cards. I cut 1 inch by 1 inch cardstock cards and the kids simply colored their card with their number on it. I stuck mini sticky magnets I got from Amazon on there, and DONE! Easy as pie! (I did NOT laminate the cardstock because it would make it less likely that it would stick to the adhesive on the magnets - paper sticks better). 

Before each lesson, we discuss yesterdays goal versus todays goal. For reading, the goal stays the same for days at a time sometimes; however, for math, it changes almost daily. We discuss how we will use these skills in real life and why they are important. We then begin the lesson. Throughout the lessons we do little "temperature checks" where I do some sort of quick assessment to see where my kids are in the lesson. This sometimes is simply visual (on their whiteboards), but it can also be a few multiple choice questions using a program like Plickers (if you don't know this program, you MUST go check it out!).

We move our numbers throughout the lesson sometimes, and sometimes we just wait until the end when we change to our next subject. The kids know they may never reach a 4 for a certain skill because I sometimes am not able to assign tasks that bring them to a level four. Sometimes they get level four tasks for homework. Making the idea that a level 3 is right where you want them is very important with this idea. Another important thing is that your classroom environment allows for students to feel comfortable placing themselves at the appropriate level (for example, not to be embarrassed to admit they are a level 1 or 2). This works great in my room, but sometimes it is a big shaky when we start using the scale at the beginning of the year before everyone is comfortable. 

Let me know if you have any other questions! I hope you find this useful!! ;) 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Poetry with Emotion

First thing first - I have not blogged in for....ev...errrrr!!! 
I have gone completely off the map this year! I feel like this year has not only FLOWN by me, but has been more difficult than ever! Why is this? I don't know why I feel like I have spent this year recreating the wheel for no reason...making things a lot harder for myself than I need to. Anyone else having this problem?

We recently had our "big" state writing test. We had been writing non-stop for weeks to prepare for this, so the kids (and the teachers!) were exhausted! As you all know, we can't stop teaching because there is just so much content to teach in one year, but we wanted to give our kids a little brain break to show our appreciation to them for all of their hard work!

We decided to figure out a way to turn a popular movie that all of our kids knew into a lesson idea! 

The movie: "Inside Out"

The standard:
Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

The end result: 

The game plan:
Discuss the movie, the 5 moods/emotions in the movie, and different examples given in the movie when that specific emotion is shown.
(Those of you who have not seen Inside Out, there are 5 emotions presented in the movie: fear, disgust, anger, sadness, and joy. Each emotion is represented by its own character. These characters are 'inside' of a little girl's brain throughout the movie. They show how the emotions all work together inside of our brain and affect the way that we feel or act)

After discussing the above, have the students choose one of the emotions/characters they want to focus on. We are going to write poetry that gives our reader that specific emotion you chose.

Display this poem as an example of a poem that makes us feel sad:
As you can see, the poem does not say "sad", but it is still able to make you feel "sadness". How does the poem do this? Discuss this with the students.

Give each student a paper plate and display the characters from the movie on the board so they can see how they look. The students create a mask using the paper plate and coloring supplies. 

I told my students that during the time they were making their mask, they are able to think about words that would be useful in their poem. Certain words can give us feeling without directly stating the feeling/emotion. My students had out a sheet of paper on their desk to jot down words that came to mind while they were coloring their masks.

When their masks are complete, they write their poem. I gave them an 8 line minimum, but no other rules for rhyming, etc. I was giving them more creative freedom simply because this was supposed to be a mental brain break activity after testing. You may choose to give them more guidelines if you are using this as a more strictly standard based assignment. 

I was really excited about our end result! The bulletin board came out super cute! I forgot to snap a photo of it, but I will try to remember and add it to this post soon! 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Happy Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! 

So...I grew up not loving this holiday...I don't have a reason, I just never really cared about dressing up! I still don't get into dressing up, but I LOVE to see the kids dressed up! I also love all of the Halloween themed activities we do in school! It is so much fun to have a reason to celebrate something in school - even if it is not always just "fun and games" can incorporate the theme into any activities!

I was lucky enough to receive some amazing new Halloween items from Oriental Trading

The first item we have used this October is the Monster Bean Bag Toss Game! 

Found here:  Oriental Trading

I did this during the time when I would normally pull a small group. The other students in my class were working in their centers, and I had 6 students with me for the game. 

They lined up for practice throws! Haha!

I used this in a way similar to a Jeopardy game. Each color monster represented a different topic question: 

Blue: Math
Purple: Social Studies
Yellow: Science
Red: Reading
Orange: Grammar
Green: Technology

The students would throw their bean bag to try to knock down the color cup they wanted to answer a question about. In the picture below the student knocked down blue and purple, this means he/she can choose between answering a math question or a social studies question. 

They had so much fun that I don't think they realized they were answering questions! I gave out Halloween Pencils from Oriental Trading to the students who won in the small groups.


At our school we had a Rubics Cube club last year. Because of this, many of my fifth-graders are pros at solving a Rubics Cube! The Halloween Rubics Cubes were a HIT!

Found here:   Oriental Trading

I know leave these Rubics Cubes in my reading corner. It is great for when they kids complete their work early and need a little "brain break". They can go sit in the reading corner and play with the Rubics Cube for a bit. Sometimes they silently race, and it is just too cute! I am thinking about keeping them out all year long even though they are Halloween themed!

Everything I have in my classroom AND MORE can be found at the link below: 

Happy Halloween!

This review is based strictly on my opinion. Others may have a different opinion or
experience with the product listed above. I was provided the sample free of charge by the 
company or PR agency and I provided my honest opinion. No other type of compensation 
was received for this review.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Merry "July" Christmas!

Merry Christmas in July!!


So, today and tomorrow, both of my stores are on sale!
Click the image below to head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Some of my favorite items from the shop (of course, they are all on sale!) Yay!



Some other fun stuff is on sale, tooooo!!!
Back to school shopping should not just be for items for your classroom, but also items for YOU! 

For my personal site,, you'll need to use a the coupon code below!

Coupon code: YayJuly25!

Bracelet stacks are my favorite accessory right now!

Enjoy the sale everyone! :) :) :) Yay!