Monday, August 25, 2014

Place Value Stations Check Up

Hi y'all,
I told you I would be back once I had used all of the Math Place Value Stations in my room.

The kids seemed to take well to the idea of playing 'games' while learning math. I had introduced a few to them and then showed them the rest.

Each group go to pick one and play it until Math Workshop was over. A lot of them asked for the 'Go Fish' style game, Rustle Up Some Vittles. I did have to explain what Rustle and Vittles meant, but they got it. You should have seen how large their eyes got when I said that the Red Level card set had numbers in the Millions Place. You'd think they'd never seen a number that high before. I'm afraid to share what the National Debt is with them.

All of them are now in a separate bucket and many want to take stuff out when they've finished their work. Snake Bite is a huge hit for some reason.

They caught on quickly to the concepts and are enjoying them. That's what I wanted most when I set out to create this pack, so color me happy. I like that I can pull these games out further down the road, but on the higher levels once they master the concepts. Or not. We'll see.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Made it Monday - Donorschoose Project 2

I was so thrilled and honored that my Donorschoose project from last year got funded. The children loved using our new cameras and many would 'forget' to bring their regular one to class so they could have a chance to play with the really cool features.

Well, I'm at it again. This year though I want to go Tech Heavy in my classroom and get kids thinking on a much more interactive level. I went to a staff development over the summer that showcased how to incorporate tablets into your classroom. The speaker, Kristin Ziemke, spoke about having her first graders using it to conduct web cam reviews of material they were studying. It was mind-blowing. You can read my earlier post here.

When my principal announced that our school was going BYOD (Bring your Own Device) status, I was doing a jig. But when school started and not one of the 26 students brought a device, I was worried that all my ideas would fizzle out.

So back to Donorschoose I go. I put up a new project just in time because Bill Gates and his wife are doing a special offer where they will fund HALF of the project if we can get the other half funded. Wow! A free tablet for my classroom? Yes, please!

The project link went live early Sunday morning and I've already raised $250! That leaves me with only about $300 more to go. If you could find it in your heart to donate, even a little bit, to our classroom my students will have access to top notch applications and no one will have to fight for who gets to use the tablet next.

Here's a great letter that Donorschoose puts out to give you all the details:

Hi Friends,

I want to make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed, so I just created a request for my classroom at

iDonate for the Future

Give to my classroom by August 31, 2014 and your donation will be doubled thanks to Just enter the code INSPIRE on the payment page and you'll be matched dollar for dollar (up to $100).

If you chip in to help my students, you'll get awesome photos and our heartfelt thanks.

Thanks so much,

P.S. If you know anyone who may want to help my classroom, please pass this along!

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?