Monday, February 27, 2012

Just Another Random Monday

"Whoa. I wish it was Sunday. Whoa. That's my "Fun"day."

Okay, I'll stop dating myself ... Although, it is a great song.

Back on point. Wait, a minute. That was my point! Today is random.

1) I knew the second I saw this post by Erin that I HAD to make this diaper motorcycle. Luckily, I had a baby shower coming up! Looky, look, look!

I did it all by myself! Well, Erin's post linked me to the diaper motorcycle source, Sweetaprils. This was such a great tutorial. The pictures helped tremendously.
I was so pleased with myself that I wanted to keep it! 
Mr. Bear could go cruising around the abode. Maybe scaring the cats.

However, I did let Mr. Bear and his sweet ride go to his rightful owner. Baby Mama was very excited. Plus, it was the only diaper cake. I was so surprised! I was worried that someone else would bring one, too.

2) Speaking of Baby Mamas, have you seen Jessica Simpson lately? Holy moly, that girl looks like she's ready to pop! Or maybe the wild dress and huge glasses just aren't helping her?!?!


3) Dr. Seuss week is here! Yippee skippee! I love rereading my favorite books. I purchased Erica's Seusstastic Literacy Unit on TPT and it is awesome. 
{Check it out HERE. You still have time to get it!} 
We did Yertle the Turtle today. So fun!!!

My big sis, Jill, made some Truffula trees in her Kindergarten classroom. 
They look great. I NEED to do this!
Sorry about the poor quality. Cell phone camera :(

Here's the link to get a printable Lorax moosteachio.

4) The Leap day sales are looking pretty flippin' awesome! Make sure to head over to Farley's blog {Click HERE} and take a gander at the long list of TPT stores that are having sales. So far, there are 163 stores linked up. My sister's store is #130. Check it out!!

That's all for tonight. I've got to get back to the Bachelor Ben. It seems that the Swiss fresh air isn't doing his hair any favors! He is such a Magoo.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Length of the Links

Hey y'all! Another busy week is almost over. {Hooray, Hooray!}

And by the looks of the TPT sellers that I follow, Dr. Seuss day is almost upon us. There are so many Dr. Seuss products to choose from {and everything looks great!} I think there is enough material to keep Dr. Seuss going throughout the entire month of March!

For me? I'll be happy if my littles can focus long enough to make it through March 2. I'm not going to say that my 8 boys are wearing me pretty thin but they ARE! 

Anywho, I don't usually get to share much math-wise because I am bound to our pacing guide/math series, but I did sneak in a neat activity the other day. My wonderful neighbor {who's retiring this year, boo hoo} shared this activity with me and she can't remember where she got it from. So, if you know. Let me know, 'kay?  Thanks!

This is a measurement activity on length (and some critical thinking is involved, too.)

1) One sheet of construction paper - 12 by 18 inches, per pair of students
2) scissors
3) glue

The pairs are supposed to work together, devise a plan, and create the longest chain out of ONE piece of construction paper.

I showed them how to make a chain. Answered any lingering questions. Then, spread the pairs out around the room, and let them get to work.

When they were all done with their chains. We went outside to measure them. While we were outside, they helped me measure their chains and they were required to complete the activity sheet to record their findings.

Here's the activity sheet you can use if you'd like:

The Chain Gang Activity Sheet

The kids really liked to see each other's chains and they had a good discussion about the strategies they used. Also, we graphed the results of the lengths and the number of links. 

They learned that it didn't matter how many links they had, but how long they made them. Some kids thought that several small links would make their chain longer. They were a bit sad to find out they were wrong, but I did show them that their chains were stronger then the longest chains. Smiles again! {phew}

Two groups had really long chains but the girl group mistakenly had two of their links connected to nothing so their chain was slightly smaller than the boy group. Drat! I wanted those girls to show my haughty boys up. Oh well. They did learned their lesson.

Mya said, "Ms. Monroe! You always tell us to check our work and we forgot!"

I had to smile at that. :)

On a side note, I think I'm reading too many Junie B. books. 
I may be talking like her, now. Yikes!

If you decide to do this activity, please let me know how it turns out.
I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Happy Saturday!

What a week it has been. Although, I feel like I'm saying that each and every week. What's up with that?

This past Thursday night, our district had their big Teacher of the Year celebration. It was fun. Teachers don't get recognized enough, I tell ya! 

Anyway, I ran into a teacher friend of mine {Kindergarten} who had moved to a different school a while back. She's been teaching for almost thirty years. Very seasoned. Knows her stuff.  Now even she was talking about how difficult teaching has gotten to be, how much time she dedicates to school, and how her kinders have changed. She says, "I thought it was supposed to get easier with time!" I felt better when I heard her say that. It's not just me that is super exhausted and worn out!

I wish I could show you more about our fun-filled Valentine's Day and the following Dental Health unit we've been working on this week, but, alas, I can not. 

We aren't finished with it yet! Slow, little, wiggle worms I've got in my class. Thank goodness for a few girls and one super guy who are awesome and complete their assignments in a timely manner AND are willing to be peer mentors to the rest of the class! I don't think I could do it without them!

However, I did want to share about this software program we have at our school that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! I don't know if you've heard about it before. It is called Kidspiration.

 Basically, it's a super kid-friendly word processing program designed for kids in grades K-5. I'm fortunate enough to go to the computer lab every day.  My school has two computer labs. One is for the primary grades K-2 and the other is for the intermediate grades 3-5.  It rules! We have a ton of great software, so I'm never at a loss for what to do in there.

Here is one of my students 'plant parts' labeling document from November.

I use Kidspiration whole group on the SMARTboard to teach lessons, and I use it in the lab for their independent work. This program enables the kids to choose images from a large bank of pictures and write about them. Also, it has pre-made lessons in math, language arts, science and social studies, too. I mostly use it for word processing. 

At the beginning of the year, we started off easy with just finding images to place on our documents and them labeling that image. This would take forever! Most of them haven't had much experience with typing and had NO CLUE where the letters were on the keyboard.  In addition to the typing, students must be able to save their document (giving it a title), and retrieve their document the next time we come to the lab. Which can be very difficult for a first grader... at first.

By now, it's old hat. The only thing some of them still struggle with is to make sure they save their document inside their documents' folder and not on the desktop. 
{I have some teacher friends who still don't know how to do this, too!}

The program has an excellent math piece. We use pattern blocks to make pictures. We use the 10's and 1's rods to complete math problems. Some of the K teachers have used the pattern blocks to make large alphabet letters.

 Lately, I've been using this program during our 'America' unit of study. Each day we go to the computer lab, I'll begin with a mini-lesson on the topic and then they will go to their computer station and type facts about the topic using Kidspiration. I try to keep it pretty simple for them and provide them a facts sheet on the topic instead of having them research the information themselves. {We just don't have that much time!} They read over the sheet and select three or more facts for their document.
Here's the fact sheet I made for the Statue of Liberty.
We've also completed the Liberty Bell, Washington Monument, and American Flag.
The kids like to share their work with each other on the SMARTboard.

The kids find their image from the picture file bank. If the image isn't in the bank, the kids can draw it using the symbol maker function. Next, they select a word bubble for their text. After they complete typing their fact, they need to link the text bubble to the main idea image. When they are all done, I  will print their final product. Kids LOVE to print! I like to print the main idea image and the linking text word bubbles, but the program can turn it into a Word document as well. {The upper grades will do this.}

Here are a few finished products:

I like to print an extra copy of their work and make a book for the end of the year. They like to see how much progress they make a year's span.

In addition to all of this word processing magic, I have taught them how to copy and paste images and text, and change font styles, color and size, too. They love to change the size and color! You have to make sure they don't go overboard, though.

If you have the funds for this program, I'd look into getting it. If not for the lab, at least for your classroom work stations. It is well worth it and fun!

Y'all have a great Presidents' Day!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Sweets Have Been Snatched!

You wouldn't believe it!?!?

 We had this big beautiful bucket full of sweethearts snatched from our classroom!

Who would do such a thing?

My students were sure it was either our wonderful custodian Ms. B or one of the lunch ladies {as they put it.}

However, the snatcher was a kind and benevolent soul. He or she left some clues for us to get our sweets back.  

And after using some good 'ol brain power and leg work, we found our delectable treats and brought them back to their rightful home!

THIS is not my idea. It all came from the fabulous Babbling Abby's The Sweetheart Snatcher Unit available on TPT. I didn't get to do the Candy Corn Bandit last fall, so I was super excited for this one!

All week I had been losing pens or moving the kids' belongings around the room. Also, I'd take a few boxes from my sweetheart tub and throw them on the floor. When we would come into the room from lunch or specials, I'd make a big deal about whoever it was touching our things. It was a good production on my part. 

I wanted to make it so on the day of the snatching, one of my kids would notice the tub was missing and not me. Sure enough, on the big day, we come into the classroom from specials and I begin to read from my chapter book {without noticing the tub is missing.} My frequently mobile student blurts out, "Ms. Monroe, the CANDY is GONE!"

I start to blame it on one of the kids and they firmly deny it. They inferred that it must have been the custodian, Ms. B, because she had been in the room last to put up new lightbulbs.

In the tub's place, I had put the first clue and the students' Snatcher Predicting Books. We  read the clue, hastily made our predictions in our books, and the kids literally ran out of the classroom to find clue #2!

I had to reel them back into a line. Geez, that was very difficult!

We managed to find all of the clues without hurting each other or any innocent bystanders. Phew!

Abby has it designed that the final clue is in the gym. Well, I'm in Florida, and my kids have NO IDEA what a gym is. So, I changed that part from the gym to our P.E. coach's office. When the kids discovered the tub in her office, they ran outside to yell at her.

There was no point at stopping them. They were bound and determined to tell her they had foiled her plan. Luckily, she is a GREAT sport and played it up big time. She even snatched just one box from the tub and started running down the track. The kids ran after her and caught her {almost taking her down!}

When we returned to the classroom, the kids pleaded to do the sweetheart activities I had originally planned before someone else takes them again! Hahahahaha!

I caved, what else could I do?

They even wanted to give Coach a box of sweethearts since she wanted them so badly. Cute!

It was so much fun! I HIGHLY recommend it. :)


Also, I want to send out a huge THANK YOU to everyone who gave me tips about the SMARTboard. I am very new to using it and I really appreciated all of the help I received. Who knew a tennis ball would work so well?

That green pen facing the opposite direction of his brothers is driving me bonkers as I type this!

I went out and picked up a few things to help with my SMARTboard challenged kiddos.

I like using the gloves the best. Also, please note that tennis ball is not a true-sized tennis ball. I had bought a set of tiny squeaky balls for my cats as a Christmas gift and stole one of them. I don't think they'll mind. It is a good size for my little hands {and the kid's little hands.}

This one more/one less, ten more/ ten less part of our math unit is killing me!
They either have it or are NEVER going to get it!!
Little Bit is using a glove and flying through this number sequence. 
Without the glove, it took f-o-r-e-v-e-r


Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February Currently

Happy February, Y'all!
Farley has her Currently Linky Party up and running and I am an eager beaver to get mine posted. However, my crappy internet is messing with me, grrr!

Here's my Currently:
 Please visit Farley's blog and join the party!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

6 More weeks of Winter!

Well, Phil saw his shadow. Six of more weeks of winter are in store for us. I hope you're not too upset. Here in sunny Florida, we've been wearing shorts for a huge portion of January.
 The concept of winter is really foreign to these littles.

I had never been a huge fan of Groundhog Day in the past, but this year has changed my mind. I purchased Cara's groundhog unit on TPT and it is full of great activities and ideas for your class. I sent home most of their work before I could grab some pictures. Boo!

Also, I grabbed this AWESOME little book (see below) by Sheree at Peterson's Pad. It was a "just right" book for my first graders with enough factual information, but not too much to overwhelm them. Perfect!
In addition to this nifty little reader, I read my class the below pictured story books. I tried to get some other popular groundhog books, but they were checked out of our library. Oh, well! They are both really cute books and the kids got a kick out of them. They really liked the Groundhog's Special Secret.  They were on the egde of their seats trying to infer what the secret was!

We started the week with Gretchen Groundhog listing our schema on her furry belly. As we gleaned more information later in the week, we added "Our New Learning" and moved our "Misconceptions" to their correct spots. Some of my kids had never even heard of the term rodent or hibernation before?!?!

I made Gretchen after I saw Gus Groundhog on Beg Borrow Steal's blog.
Then, we made our shadow predictions, some cute little groundhog faces, and added them to a big 'ole pictograph on my back door. I picked a few kids to add, the sun and cloud, the numbers and labels and our graph was complete. I thought it turned out really cute!

This idea, of course, I saw on Pinterest!

Did I mention that I have a SMARTBoard now? Well, I DO! It was installed a couple of weeks ago and it is A-MAZE-ING! I'm still learning how to use the software, but it has been loads of fun so far. I made flash cards and they are stack-able (in an order.) Ooooo - aaaaaa! You should be impressed. That grouping, locking, and ordering thing is confusing for this girl!

I don't know why this is, but I have some kids that JUST CAN'T MOVE images with their fingers on this board. Their fingers will make this terrible skidding sound across the board. It's dreadful. I have to finally take over and move the image for them. Weird?!

Lastly, we ended our week {we don't have school tomorrow since we had conferences all this week} with this fun craftvity I got from the extremely talented Kerri at Teacher Bits and Bobs. The kids wrote their favorite groundhog facts. These groundhogs are too funny. I keep laughing at them.

Okay, so, do you see the groundhog above this sentence on the right side. Let me tell you, I HATE am not a fan of this glue bottle. I don't know why I haven't thrown it away sooner. No matter which kid uses this bottle, their craft ends up looking not-so-good really bad.
I finally threw it away today. Enough is enough! Normally, I love this companies products. They need to drop this one and call it a day FOREVER!

I really should change the title of my blog to Other Teacher's Ideas. Or rather, I'm the Consumer Reports blog of other teacher's products. 

Whatever the title, I am so grateful to you talented teachers out there because you make me a better teacher!