Monday, August 18, 2014

Place Value Stations and a TpT Second Chance Sale

How sad were you to see the annual TpT Back to School Sale come and go? That meant that school was starting and life was about to descend again. If you're like me summer came and went way too quickly. I was mired in a home remodel that took up way too much of  my time. I really wanted to spend some idle time creating some killer stuff for my TpT store.

Yeah, that didn't happen. It was too frenetic so I didn't get much anything done. But the workers are gone and the house has been officially released back into our hands. With that pressure being released my mind could get back into the groove of things and start creating again.

It felt so great coming up with ideas for my Place Value Stations pack. One of the areas I struggled with our new Math Workshop model last year was not having fun and engaging activities to help my students extend their knowledge. I wanted this kit to be something I would really use.

I created six Math games that deal with Place Value - reading, comparing, and rounding larger numbers. This is usually our first skill of the year and I wanted to crank it out to test run them in my own room. I have a broad spectrum of abilities in my room so I definitely needed to differentiate these stations. Each of the 6 games has three different versions, so essentially there are 18 games in all.

And I have them all done! Whoo HOO.

I am thankful that I have a test group to run these games through. They found that ONE mistake that I know y'all appreciate me fixing before sending your way. They had a lot of fun running around the room to play the Round Up Them Doggies. I posted ten posters around the room that have a rounded number at the top and a question at the bottom. Students are given an answer sheet and their small group was given a card to start with. They were to solve the problem on each card, record it on their sheet and then find the card in the room that has there answer on it. Then solve the next question and so forth until they had answered all ten cards.

The next station is called Around the Corral. Students play against one other person. They roll dice and each move that number of spaces around their game board. Both compare their numbers written in standard, word, or expanded. Whoever has the larger number gets to pick up a counter. The person with the  most counters at the end wins the game.

My group is having difficulty reading numbers that are larger than thousands place. They really do have the basics for reading numbers and I know they will easily pick up larger values. These games hopefully will give them added practice in a fun engaging way.

I'll be posting how they respond to the other four games, so be on the lookout.

For now the games are already up at TpT and you can get them here:

Place Value Stations

OooOoOOh, but hey, if you wait until Wednesday, August 20th, TpT is having a Second Chance Back to School Sale for ONE MORE DAY!!

You can grab this pack for 20% less, or not and I can finally afford those extra Oreos for my class and our Moon Unit.

Leave  me some comments below to let me know how you plan on using this pack.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Saving Fred - 4 out of 5 ain't bad

If you don't know who Fred (the amazing Back to School Ice Breaker) is, check out my earlier post here.

I really wanted to do this activity much earlier in the school, but there was so much to do Fred was a little forgotten.

Today we had our county mandated pretest in Language Arts to supply base data for the year. After an hour of testing, my little ones needed to get up and move around to release some pent up energy. This is where Fred came in and saved the day!

I had five groups all working to put Fred's lifejacket on before he drown. I tried to tie it into our Social Studies unit on the Inuit tribe by making Fred be the bait to lure seal and walrus in so the Inuit could survive a long winter. Fred, being Fred, thought he was just too good for a lifejacket and even went so far as standing UP in the boat. Of course it capsizes trapping Fred's lifejacket underneath. Silly Fred.

We are still working on using our Inside Voices, but for the most part they did a great job working together. There were no arguments, no tears, no one sitting off in the corner by themselves. Only one group lost Fred to the swift Arctic currents.

I tried something else this year in order to get more of them interacting with each other. I had each group split up and go sit at someone else's desk so that there was at least one  person from each group together in a brand new one. Then I had them share how their group managed to save Fred. The technique was amazingly similar and they were all participating.

Once again Fred revealed a lot more about my group than I would have learned without him.

Thanks Fred!

Monday, August 04, 2014

School starts TOMORROW!

A good thing that came out of the whole kitchen remodel dilemma was that I wasn't able to stress out like I normally do about a new year starting.

Kids arrive tomorrow! I think I'm in a good place with materials and lessons for the week. But if you are a teacher you KNOW there's no way to really be prepared for everything that happens on the first day.

I plan on reading First Day Jitters and do some activities with that. I found a great ice breaker activity Kristine Nannini called Body Graffiti where the kids break up into groups and pick one person to trace out on butcher paper. Then they write down things in different parts of the body.

  • Head = Things we are excited to learn about this year
  • Arms = Activities we do this year (writing, drawing)
  • Stomach = Things we like to eat at school
  • Eyes = Books we like to read
  • Ears = Music we like to listen to
  • Legs = Places to go in Fourth Grade (PE, field trips, Nature Trail)
You can find other great activities in Kristine's packet
The rest of the day is definitely going to spent trying to figure out how everyone is getting home, organizing supplies, and going over procedures.
So what are your plans for the First Day? Send me a comment below. I would love to hear how you are preparing for that new group of fresh faces. 

Blogality - Home Makeover 5

You'll be happy to know I have just cooked an entire meal from my very own kitchen. It was wonderful. There are just some tiny little detail jobs left in this month long
remodel. But it is done. The kitchen has been restocked and is functional again.

I just can't find anything any more. AAAAH!

Monday saw a return to the workforce, leaving the workmen to have their way with our kitchen. Since it was preplanning without students I was able to pop home at lunch time to check on progress.

Things plugged along all week. I was so excited to see the cabinet doors arrive. I love the Shaker style on them and just having them made out of real wood makes me happy. Those prefab builder cabinets had to GO!

It was slow going watching the cabinet doors and shelving go up. Have you heard of 'soft-closing' doors? Oh, it's awesome. The doors close by themselves. But the cabinet guy forgot to do that for some of them. He had to come back...several times. There were scratches on one panel, the shelves were cut too small and showed huge gaps, and pull outs weren't put in proper places. It was a trial.

You should have seen me doing a Happy Dance when the first door handle appeared. Just the idea that after four weeks of this remodel the finish line was approaching was so wonderful.

Other features like a bookshelf for my cookbooks and a wine rack with glass tray made me even happier. Friday and Saturday saw the entire crew rushing around our house to finish up. Friday was the Drop Dead Date for them to be finished or they would lose money. We wrote it into the contract that they would lose money for every day not complete on major milestones. They stayed until 9 P.M. on Friday night and came back at 8 on Saturday. Then they stayed until 6 that night.

All of Sunday was spent restocking the kitchen and unpacking the mountains of boxes in the back bedrooms. Five and half hours of trying to figure out where to put things. It was exhausting. I don't think we gained more cabinet space, rather it was just reconfigured. We had plenty of space before so I'm not all that upset.

Thanks so much for taking this journey with me. It was comforting knowing that someone was listening to all my whines. I would recommend a remodel for anyone but with warnings.

Just be prepared!
Here are some Before and After shots. Shoot me a comment and let me know what you think. Good job?

Friday, August 01, 2014

Five for Friday - August 1, 2014

I'm taking a little break from the Home Makeover to bring you some really (I  mean REALLY) great news.

 It's that time of year again when TpT brings one of their whoppers of a sale out.

It's the annual BACK TO SCHOOL SALE!!

CODE to use on the sale = BTS14

Start filling up your wish list. Set your clocks for August 4th and 5th. Many many many wonderful sellers on TpT are putting their stuff on sale to get ready for Back to School Mania. I am putting my ENTIRE store on a 20% sale for those two days.

PLUS - TpT will offer you an additional code to use so that you get even more of a savings.

By utilizing the TpT promo code with your already discounted store, Buyers (including you!) will save up to 28% off resources sitewide.

I knew you'd like that news so I put it first on my Five for Friday list.

The last Friday of the summer has arrived. Eventhough I've been doing preplanning stuff in my classroom all week, I still consider this summer. Kinda sad but I'm excited about my new class. There are so many of them but they all seemed really nice at Meet Your Teacher Day. The parents were pleasant and complimentary. I expect great things this year!

Dice and Donuts
That's how much I love my teammates at school. Over the summer I found some fun decahedron place value dice from the hundredths decimal place all the way up to the hundred thousands place. I knew my colleagues would be so jealous when they saw me sporting my new toy, that I got on Facebook and asked if any of them wanted a set. Turns out EVERY single one of them said yes. Oh, plus like five other people who also saw my post. I shipped a set to Minnesota!

My team got together for the first time on Monday to do some planning. I brought donuts to ease the transition back into the work mode.


We had a THREE HOUR meeting today to hear Tara Brown, the motivational speaker, pump us up for another school year with a brand new crew. I got a lot from her speech, but mostly am taking away how to empower my students just a little bit more. By Seeing them, Hearing them, and showing them what they say matters I can change the world!


I need to get my hair cut and maybe start thinking about what to wear on the first day of school. Teachers will be there on Monday without students doing final prep stuff. But the little kiddos arrive bright and early on Tuesday morning. I need to look good, right?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blog-ality Homemakeover 4

Tons to share this week. Can not believe how much has changed since last Monday. After talking to other Remodel Survivors, there's always these periods of crazy activity and then total slow downs.

Well, last week was full speed ahead. It started Monday morning with the floors finally going in. The boxes were opened and acclimated to our house since last Thursday. There was a bit of a scuffle when the installers didn't want to do a moisture check on the cement slab or lay a moisture barrier before laying the wood. REALLY??? We insisted and watched them pour this glue with a moisture component included called Mapie 995. Then the boards started flying. I was absolutely surprised how quickly they were able to get things going.

Within a half hour they had almost completed half the first room. Way cool! We left them to it while we went over to pick up our induction cooktop and pop up vent. We were gone for about three hours. Came home and couldn't open the front door. They had gotten the floors done so quickly that they went ahead and started on demo-ing the living/ dining room floors out. Something they weren't supposed to start until Wednesday. We had to scramble to pull our entire surround system apart and get the TV out of the way.

Now it's time for the cabinets to roll in. Tuesday morning started with not one pickup truck but two crammed full with our cabinets.

It was thrilling to watch them bring everything in and arrange it in the space. The kitchen is starting to look normal again, albeit different than what was there before.

Wednesday was granite template day. We drove out to the Rock Yard and had them place the framing pieces they put together Tuesday night up against the granite we chose. It is called Geriba Gold and works in a lot of the colors we have in the kitchen. It is so beautiful and has tons of movement. Playing with the framing was like putting a huge puzzle together. It was kinda fun!

By Friday it was ready to go in. I felt like dancing. I don't know how only two people were able to finagle all of those weighty rocks into the house, but they did it.

Definitely not without drama of course. As they are putting the pieces out, there's a problem with the cabinets. One side was 1/8th of an inch lower than the other side. It was a couple of tense minutes watching them while they tried to figure it all out. At the end they loosened the cabinet and slid it in. Then they couldn't slide the huge single sink piece into place. Can you imagine me cringing as they start shoving and gouging the dry wall until it goes in? Yeah, it was awful, but it's there.

Now it's time to fret over the island piece. The hole they cut just barely fit the cooktop and the pop up vent. They had to cut out these little side divets to make it fit. Only to discover that the pop up doesn't fit down into the cabinet correctly. There's this huge panel on the back that juts out like a little mountain. They have to carve out pieces of the cabinet backing to make it fit and then resupport it along the back. That's okay, though. The pop up is defective anyway and has to go back. It's bent and won't rise to its proper height. Never a dull moment.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blog-ality Home Makeover 3

It's been a slow week. And I mean S  L  O  W. The workers came Monday morning to clean and patch up drywall and then they left at about 11 (leaving all the doors wide open mind you). And then nothing for the rest of the week.

They were supposed to start installing the brand new hardwood floors on Monday as well, but a certain kerfluffle involving warped boards sent our original order back to the warehouse. And sent us scrambling to locate a back up plan. NO one had what we were looking for. Lumber Liquidators has absolutely no stock on anything we tried. There latest TV commercials about the BIG SALE with tons of inventory? Lies. Bold outright lies. Well, if you want laminate flooring you are set for life. You want something real? Fah-ged-about-it!

We finally located a company in Tampa that had an engineered version of what we needed. We asked them to send us a sample so we could see what the top layer of flooring would look like. There was a brief moment when we almost ordered 65 boxes of a type that had a top layer so small I could break pieces off with my fingernail. We waited and waited for this sample to arrive. Even had a tracking number. When we saw that it was delivered to the wrong place...let's not go there.

Once we saw the sample and felt the layer was thick enough to not wear down pretty easily, we asked when they could ship it. This was last Thursday. They said it wouldn't go out until Monday. Which meant delivery on Friday of the following week. Umm, no. That would push our remodel completion date too far back. There was talk of flying me down to Tampa to rent a UHaul and drive this stuff back home BAH MAH self! The company suddenly decides it doesn't release product to the public, they only ship. So we wait, again.

It finally arrived on Thursday around noon.

And it's gorgeous! So  much variation in color between the boards that it will have a nice movement throughout the house. YAY! Oh wait, now it has to sit for five days and 'acclimatize' to our house.

The only other thing that happened to move this process further was the mantle for the fireplace showing up around 2 on Friday afternoon. We saw this neat design on line and the cabinet guy offered to make it for us. That was nice.

In the mean time. We paint. And paint. And paint. 2 hours each weekday. 4.5 on Saturday and a whopping 7 hours yesterday. Have I mentioned I don't like to paint?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Blog-Ality Home Makeover 2

Whew! First week of the renovation process is complete. That first day was a big change with everything being demoed. After that it sort of slowed down with little projects each day being started or finished.

Then began the agonizingly slow process of getting the tile grout up from the cement. They tried chipping it, they tried sanding it, then they decided to grind it down. Each taking a day at least. It's all off now. But everything is covered in a fine layer of dust despite the plastic seal they are using.

The next project was what will be forever known as the "Firewall." We have 17 foot cathedral ceilings with oversized windows on either side of the fireplace. Decided that would be a cool accent wall and bought some stacked stone:

They needed scaffolding to reach the top most peak. Little did I know how much I would come to hate that scaffolding. But the wall turned out amazing. It absolutely defines the space {HGTV speak for WOW Factor}.

We asked them to leave the {dreaded} scaffolding to save us the cost of renting our own so that we could paint the sloping ceiling and the support beam ourselves. Boy, oh boy. That not a day of fun.

Five hours with a 12 foot extender pole and a roller. I was completely covered in 'parmesan' paint. Then another four hours to paint the beam to mimic an exposed beam.

What a week!