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April 26, 2016

Utilizing Pop-Up Books to Engage Your Student Authors

I just want to thank Rachel Lynette, from Minds in Bloom, for allowing me to share my ideas on her blog! I am so honored to be a guest blogger! Make sure to check it out! I love talking about how to engage our students in meaningful writing! I would love for you to comment and share. Thank you so much! 

April 24, 2016

3 End of the School Year Tips

Do you remember the beginning of the school year? We all felt motivated, energized, organized, and ready to go! By this time of the school year we are feeling tired, papers are everywhere, and we are ready for Summer break. Field trips, grades, field day, awards, and the list goes on and on. Relax and sit back and hopefully these ideas will lessen the stress you are feeling right now. 

Here are three tips to help you get through the end of the year with activities your students are sure to love! 

This is my FAVORITE part of the end of the school year. I am a picture taking fool all year long! I put all of the pictures together into a movie with music. It is usually three or four songs long. In the beginning of the year I take pictures of all my students. I do this at the end as well before I make the movie. I start the movie with all of their little faces. Any field trip we took, activities in our classroom, their families at conference, and any fun memories throughout the year, go into this movie! I end it with their current pictures. I show this on the last day before they leave. It usually has me crying my eyes out and my students are crying as well...but they are happy tears! We have spent all year together and this is one last awesome memory.

We all want to make our students feel special. It has been our goal the entire year. Why stop now? Giving our students something to remember us by and show them how much they mean to us is important. I love giving my students bookmarks with their picture. Put their bookmark in a favorite book you enjoyed reading as a class and give to them as a gift. 

Memory books are a great way to end a school year! Bring in any extra stickers, paper, and pictures you may have laying around. You can make it as simple or complex as you would like. If you are feeling motivated and want to purchase a large classroom scrapbook to keep, they always turn out wonderful. You may just want to print each student a scrapbook to fill out to take a memory with them. Let your students work together in groups as they work on their memory books. Play music in the background and let them enjoy! This just adds another memory they will not forget. 

Here is a list of some other fun ideas:

  • Give a gift! Make someone that supported you throughout the year feel special. Give them a bag of popcorn with these cute tags. Did you have a paraprofessional work extra hard for you this year? Did you have a student helper? Parent Support? The list goes on and on of people that may have helped you this year.
  Freebie: Popcorn Gift Tags

  • Have a theme. Having a theme will get your students excited and help you get through the rest of the year. I love having a camping theme. We set up our tables like tents, have a make shift camp fire, camp fire chairs, guest readers, camp fire stories, s'mores, and camp fire crackling in the background. This is so much fun!

  • Keep learning hands-on and engaging. There have been so many times you have not been able to do an activity you really wanted to do. Now is the time. Have fun learning!
  • Awards are always a must. We all love showing our students how much we appreciated them and their hard work. Set up a red (paper) carpet, place stars down on the floor, print out awards, and enjoy seeing their smiles! 
  • Enjoy. I know this part is hard. Summer is almost here. Take all of these moments in and just have fun. You have worked so hard all year long and deserve it! 

I hope all of these tips are helpful! Have a wonderful end of the school year and have a fantastic summer vacation! Continue down for the blog hop directions!

Blog Hop: 4/24/16 UNTIL 4/26/16 ONLY! Here is your secret letter for the blog hop: R  If you are starting here, here is what you need to do: Hop around to all of the blogs in the hop, get tons of awesome end of the year ideas to have the best end-of-the-year EVER, collect the secret letters at each blog, and then put all the letter's together for the secret phrase to enter the giveaway! Next, you will be heading over to Cait's Cool School to get some more awesome tips and get your next letter! Click here to go to her post! You can enter the giveaway for $50 TpT or Target gift card below once you have hopped through all the blogs! 

Good luck and I hope you have an amazing end of the school year!

Click here to enter

April 17, 2016

3 Test Prep Strategies

Testing time is here and we all know it can be a stressful time. We all want our students to be successful and feel confident going into the test. I always try to find fun and motivating ways to encourage my students. Keeping a good attitude and staying positive is a great start. I have always struggled with test anxiety and do whatever I can to help my students feel confident and ease the anxiety as much as possible. 

I wanted to share a few testing strategies/tips that I use in my classroom. 

Setting your students up for success is so important. You have been working so hard all year long and now it is time for your students to show what they know. Talking about key words and about the test is very beneficial. I always feel like by doing practice test and talking about what to expect, students have less anxiety. I have my students complete a test tip poster that is very helpful. We talk about ways we can prepare for before, during, and after the test. 

Creating a positive atmosphere in your classroom sets the mood for the test. You are a part of the atmosphere as well, so staying positive will rub off on your students. Make them feel good about themselves. Encouragement, encouragement, and more encouragement! I put little notes on their test throughout the year, and this time is no different. They love coming in to a note on their desk telling them how proud of them I am. I also place posters up around the room weeks before the test to give them praise and test taking tips. They love reading these and talking to me about them. 

Be prepared for testing day. My students often times come into my classroom on testing day without eating breakfast. I made sure to have muffins and fruit for them to eat before we started the test. I make sure my tables had dividers already set up. My schedule is already set and I know which students need to go somewhere else for testing. I always have music going on in the background when my students come into the classroom. I also have some type of testing encouragement (make sure to grab this freebie) on their tables. They look forward to this so I make sure it is extra special on testing days! You are setting the tone for testing day so keep it calm and positive. 

This is such a stressful time of the year. Stay encouraged and positive and know you have given all you can and now let your students fly! They are going to do great! Believe in them and yourself. You have done such a great job preparing them to this point! I hope these tips were helpful! I will pray for all of our students! Good luck! 

April 13, 2016

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

I always love celebrating Earth Day in my classroom! It is so nice to see all of my students working together for the good of our Earth and school. My principal always has a "clean-up the playground" schedule for the week. All of the classrooms participate and this is one of the highlights of the week! 

1. Pop-Up Books

We do so many fun and interactive activities during this week! One of my favorites is our pop-up Earth Day books. We start by reading books about Earth Day! 

We brainstorm lots of great ideas about how we can save our Earth. The kids always come up with some amazing ideas that I never thought of before. Make sure to write them all down so your students can see. I use a brainstorming sheet so they can write along with me. It takes us the entire week to go through the writing. Publishing obviously is their favorite part! 

2. Earth Day Promise

This makes for such a great discussion and bulletin board! Have students trace their hands and write a way they promise to help the earth. You will be amazed at their ideas! 

3. Earth Day Trivia

Who doesn't like to play trivia games?!? The kids get so excited when they play any type of game. This is right up their alley. 

I put my students into two groups. They all have white boards so they all have a voice. They have to agree on one answer and show me. This is a win/win for everyone...they are learning and having fun! 

4. Earth Day Poster

This is always a fun way to show what the students have learned. We keep this close all week and work on it as we learn more about Earth Day! 

5. Earth Day Sort

Last, but certainly not least, is our Earth Day Sort. Any way I can get my students engaged in their learning is a plus! I bring in trash and recycling from home and they gather some from the lunch room. We work together to decide what is trash or recycling. At the end they can have more practice in a center by using this sorting activity.

We have so much fun for Earth Day! (When do we NOT have fun.) 
There are so many more activities throughout the week. I would love for you to check them out!

Have fun! 

April 3, 2016

Writing with a Purpose

It took me a long time to find effective strategies to help my students write. Let me tell you...it was a LONG journey. My first couple years of teaching I struggled to keep students engaged and interested in their writing. Everything that I was trying was an epic fail. I finally started to realize that my students needed to write with a purpose. They needed to write about what was important and interesting to them. Yes, I understand that writing prompts are important; however, giving students some room for creativity is just what they need! 

I started having students create pop-up books and it was a big hit! The teacher next door to me also would borrow my pop-up books to use with her students. They LOVED them! It gave them freedom to create a fun filled story with a purpose, yet have the guidelines set in place to give them a foundation to their writing. Here is what that I created for Spring. I always start with a book about Spring. City Green was always one of my favorites. 

After reading a book on Spring, I always brainstorm with my students. This part is so important. I never let my students just go back to their desk and tell them to write. You have to give your students the tools to be successful. Brainstorm with them senses of Spring. This is always so much fun! Here is a freebie to get you started! 

My students would get so excited at this point. I would display a pop-up book put together and they would come up with so many amazing ideas for their writing. I would take this project all the way through the writing process. It would take us sometimes an entire week to get to the publishing stage. In the beginning, when you first introduce pop-up books, you will probably take 2 weeks. Once they get to the publish stage you will want to demonstrate how to put it together. Have some extra copies on hand in case one of your students gets "cut happy", it always happens! It also works best to have your students color first before they glue their published copy onto construction paper. At this point your students have taken their time to write a great story about Spring and edited/peer edited their writing. They turn out so great! I would display them on a bulletin board and they would be so proud of their writing. Writing with a purpose makes a difference! 
Here is where you can find all of the materials to make your very own pop-up books! Happy Writing!