menu   Home Literacy Ideas Math Ideas Art Family Fun Shop  

Quick Tips for Back To School - One Little Word Themes

Are you looking for some quick tips for back to school?  I've got just about 2 weeks to go before we start, so this is definitely where my head is right now.  And I'm starting with getting my room set up.  And that all starts with a theme.

Apart from trying to have cohesive colors in my room, I wouldn't say I have a decorating "theme" for my classroom.  I do love having a nicely set up classroom, and I do love the cute classroom themes I see all over pinterest and facebook, but a full out theme is not something I thought I could pull off - decorating-wise or time-wise.  But ... does a classroom theme need to be a decorating style?  Does it need to be time consuming and costly?  In one little word, NO.

My quick tip is one that worked very well for my class last year.  Classroom themes can be easy.  Classroom themes can be one simple but powerful word.  I wanted our theme to be more than a decorating style.  I wanted it to mean something.  So instead, I took my "theme" from the one little word I thought was most important for us to have a successful year, and such an important life skill for the future - my classroom theme was (and will be again this year) "collaborate".

"One Little Word" classroom themes can be taken from anywhere.  They can be from a novel you are starting with (if reading Wonder at the beginning of the year, "Choose Kind" would be a fabulous classroom theme), they can be a character trait you want your students to display, or a verb meant to motivate like Think, Encourage, Lead, Persevere, etc., or a growth mindset word or phrase you want to keep reminding your students of.  It just has to be something you remind your students of daily, and keep reflecting on throughout the year.

For me, collaborate is what I wanted my students to start right from day one.  It was something I knew was necessary for all of us to have a successful year.  So, we got started right away.  I had each student trace their hand and arm, and decorate the inside with the names, and other words and pictures that were important to them.  Then, we posted our hands reaching up to our goal - and used my big bulletin board letters to spell out COLLABORATE.  This was placed over our main board, so it was in front of us every day, all year long.  A great reminder throughout the year as I knew I'd be having them working together and learning from each other every single day.

As soon as that was done, we talked about what the word means, and how we collaborate in the classroom - not just student to student, but student to teacher as well.  After a great brainstorm session, we tried it out with our first Stick-It-Together Collaborate Activity - one for back to school.  It was a great way to start to get to know one each other, start thinking about what our year was going to be like, start working on our goals, and most of all, start to COLLABORATE.

I can't wait to share pics from my classroom set-up this year - full of reminders to collaborate, space to collaborate in, and resources to collaborate with.  The two-week countdown is on!

Check out some more ideas below from some of my fabulous blogging friends, and get ready to grab some inspiration to make this the Best.Year.Ever!

5 Activities to Teach Mean, Mode, Median

5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!
Today's 5 Activities to Teach ... is all about Mean, Mode and Median.  Get your students exploring these concepts in an interactive and hands-on way with some of these ideas.

1.  Interactive Math Journals - My favorite journal entry for mean, mode, median and range uses cue cards and a brass fastener.  We write definitions for each of the terms on the cards, then fasten them all together and stick them to the right side of the page.  On the left side of the page, we use a set of data and actually work through solving for mean, mode, median and range.  Getting this done early in the unit gives the students something to reference for the rest of the year when they encounter these concepts.  You can read a little more about this journal entry HERE, or find the full lesson in my Interactive Math Journal 2.

5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!

5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!2.  OREO Day!!! - Ummmm ... math and oreos ... life is good.  This is one of my favorite days in the classroom - hands down.  And it's not even the cookies - it's the stacking competition that I love (OK ... maybe it's the cookies, too).  Students get paired up (each pair needs a package of cookies - I sent a note home asking parents to send in cookies and received more than enough).  Each student then takes a turn stacking.  Rules are - using one hand only, and you cannot move a cookie once it has been placed on the stack.  That's it.  Keep stacking until your tower falls.  The partner not stacking counts the cookies in the stack.  I drew a big chart on the whiteboard to record the # of cookies.  Each person got 2 attempts, so we had a large set of data when complete.  Then, together we found the mean, mode, median and range with the data.  Notes on this activity are included in my Interactive Math Journal, but you can also read more about it in my blog posts HERE and HERE.
5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!

3.  Hey Diddle Diddle - A few years ago I came across a great little rhyme for remembering how to solve mean, mode, median and range.  It is based on the rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle, The Cat and the Fiddle.  Every time we do a mean, mode and median activity in class, we recite it.  I made a little printable with the rhyme, with a space for you to enter any set of data and room to solve for MMM.  You can grab a copy of it HERE.

4.  Use REAL Data - And use it often.  Don't just teach it and leave it.  Keep the learning going with real data throughout the year.  I like to do "Triple M" assignments (Mean, Mode, Median) whenever we get back testing data - whether it is a small quiz, or larger assignment where percents are given.  It's valuable practice for solving mean, mode and median, and gives students an idea of where their own mark is compared to the average mark in the class.  To do this quickly with grades 4-5, I use the Hey Diddle Diddle printable above, and write the scores in the data box in random order before I photocopy the page.  I also have a few larger assignments that I used with my students in grades 5-7, where students must plot the results on a line plot graph and reflect on the numbers in written prompts.  You can take a peek at those assignments (which also contains editable Word files) HERE.

5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!5.  Stations, Stations, Stations - Again, since coming up with more math stations for next year is my main purpose for these posts, I've got some more station ideas for you.  Pull out the dice or cards and the whiteboards, and give your students a task like "Choose 5 cards and find the mean, mode and median.  Let a partner check your work.  Then switch."  Or "Roll 10 dice to make a set of data.  Find the mean, mode and median.  Then, re-roll two of the dice and see how that changes your data."  Have students complete a number of rounds at each station before moving on.  Add a little more fun to the stations by using a set of "fancy" dice, or giant cards.  I just got a set of huge 5 x 7 cards from Amazon that I can't wait to use (affiliate link at the bottom of the post).
5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!

5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!I also made a set of Mean, Mode and Median Task Cards to use at a station.  This resource includes a full page Minds-On Task which I use to introduce the station, a set of 12 task cards (ranging in difficulty from solving from a set of numbers, to taking the data from a graph, to finding the missing value in a set when given the mode or median), plus a journal prompt you can use for a written or oral response.  It can also be used as an exit slip.  While my students are rotating through their stations, I like to work with small groups at a task card station - and then collect the recording pages for a formative assessment. You can take a peek at this resource HERE or by clicking on the picture below.  

And lastly, if you have computers as a station, this LINK  from Technology Rocks has a few fun online games to practice MMM.  

That's about it for today.  Please leave a comment below if you have a favorite station idea to teach mean, mode and median.  And be sure to check out my other posts for 5 Activities to Teach ... 

Theme Day - Book Buffet

A Book Buffet Theme Day to celebrate the LOVE of reading!
If you're looking for a fun theme day dedicated to the LOVE of reading in your classroom, a book buffet day may be the perfect fit.  This was another one of our end of the year theme days this year, but a day dedicated to the love of reading ... happy sigh ... well, it would be perfect at any time during the year.

To get things started, I asked the students to pick their favorite book from independent reading this year.  It could be any genre, and read at any time over the school year.  I was surprised by some of their choices, but when I saw all the books altogether, it just made me happy.

And here they are - my grade 4/5 students' favorite independent reads from the year:
A Book Buffet Theme Day to celebrate the LOVE of reading!
A Book Buffet Theme Day to celebrate the LOVE of reading!Once we had our faves collected, I told the students they would be writing a Book Love Note - a little sticky note explaining why they love the book they picked.  We started our notes "To the next person that reads this book ..." and then they filled in the rest.  They stuck the notes in the fronts of the books, and then we took a moment to let each student read their note to the class.  I LOVE the idea that my class next year will find all these little love note treasures when they're searching through my classroom library next year.  
A Book Buffet Theme Day to celebrate the LOVE of reading!
A Book Buffet Theme Day to celebrate the LOVE of reading!  Spread the love with these book love notes.In fact ... I LOVED their little notes so much, I just made a little "Book Love Note Nook" to keep on top of my bookshelves next year so I can keep the love going.  I even found some fun little heart-shaped sticky notes to use for it.  We won't limit our love notes to one day next year; students can write a book love note whenever they feel they need to "share the love".  I made this little "Book Love Notes" graphic and uploaded it took google drive in case you'd like to grab a copy for your own class.  You can download it HERE.

A Book Buffet Theme Day to celebrate the LOVE of reading!After writing and talking about how much we love books, well ... we had to READ!  I told students they could bring in blankets and pillows for the day, if they wished, and I let them make up comfy little nests to read in ... which soon turned into comfy little forts.  Some brought in flashlights, too.  So, all curled up, we started to read.  We read for 1/2 an hour ... and did this 3 times throughout the day (once during each of our 100 minute blocks of our day).  It was awesome!
A Book Buffet Theme Day to celebrate the LOVE of reading!Next up in our big book buffet, was a fun book raffle.  I had a big box of books discarded from the library, and students brought in some of their old books to trade, too.  We put all the books in the middle of the room, and then I started to draw names.  When their name was drawn, they could pick a book.  After each round, I gave them 15 seconds to make a trade with something left in the middle.  We were able to go through about 3-4 rounds of books, and everyone went home with some "new to them" books.
To finish up our book loving buffet, we did a drama circle I've been working on ... with a theme none other than READING, of course.  I LOVE watching my students perform drama circles - it always brings us closer together.  You can take a peek at my newest drama circle by clicking HERE or on the picture to the right.  What an awesome day of celebrating our love of reading.  And I know my students enjoyed it just as much as I did!

5 Activities for Teaching Fractions

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!
5 Activities for Teaching Fractions

I've got another fun 5 Activities to Teach ... post for you today.  This one is all about fractions!  I LOVE teaching fractions - there are so many engaging ways to get your students involved in their learning in a hands-on way!

1.  Fraction Pizzas - We started off our Fraction Unit this year with a super fun Fraction Pizza themed day.  Oh my goodness - this is definitely something I will continue to do - we ALL had a blast!  We started out by making Paper Plate Fraction Pizzas.  This is something I've done before in our Interactive Math Journals (there is a full entry in my Math Journal resource, or you can read more about it and other fraction journal ideas in my blog post HERE.)  This time we completed the pizzas outside of our journals so we could display them for all to see (we glued our fraction pizzas to a paper with a napkin and some cutlery for a fun display).  Under their napkins, students had to write about the equivalent fractions they used in their pizzas.

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!
But we didn't stop there - we actually MADE our fraction pizzas.  I had all the ingredients out, and divided the class into 3 teams.  We made chef hats out of construction paper and tissue paper for the full effect.  We did a full-out FoodTV competition - with each team working in relay style to complete the pizzas - each student had two minutes to work on their task before they tagged the next person on their team to take over - continuing until their pizzas were completed.  They had to sauce the pizza (we used premade pizza crusts), cut the meat and veggies (with plastic knives), shred the cheese - all according to the recipe cards we had (which was the same recipe we used to make our paper plate pizzas).  When all the teams were done, we baked the pizzas and had a fun lunch together.

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!But ... we didn't even stop there.  We saved the best for last - we made CANDY pizzas for dessert!  I had a variety of candy out on display and gave the three groups 10 minutes to meet and plan their recipes for their candy pizzas.  We used the premade crusts again (but they weren't the most delicious for the candy pizza, so I think I will do cookie dough next time) and white icing for the "sauce" and let the students take over.  This fun fraction pizza day was seriously the best kick off to our fraction unit - and it was one of my students' top memories from the year.

If you want to give this a try with your class, I've uploaded the pizza recipe and candy pizza cards to google drive - you can download a copy for yourself HERE.  (I also plan on writing a more indepth blog post all about our Pizza theme day SOON).

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!
2.  Fraction of the Day Question - Fractions are just too important a concept to keep confined to one unit during the year.  I have a little spot on my whiteboard where I write a "real-life" fraction question each day for students to answer.  They solve on a sticky note and place it under the question (they usually do this first thing in the morning).  Sometimes they draw the fraction, sometimes they find equivalent fractions, sometimes they convert to decimals or percents ... just keep changing it up.  The denominator changes based on the number of students actually present that day - so that keeps it fresh, too.  I don't mark the individual responses - it's just a practice question each day.  Taking it up takes less than 5 minutes, and keeps fractions in their heads all year long.

If you don't have room on a whiteboard, this would be perfect on a little display chalkboard, or even those awesome little lightboxes I'm seeing all over instagram this summer.

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!3.  Fraction Clothespins - My favorite activity for comparing and ordering fractions is using clothespins on a clothesline.  I use little sticky labels for writing fractions on one side of the clothespin, and the decimal (or percent) on the other side.  Just hang a piece of string up in the classroom, and have students pick a clothespin or two to place on the line.  Equivalent fractions are clipped to each other.  I usually do this in two "rounds".  I give them time to put the clothespin up first.  Then, when everyone is done, I give them time to look at the clothesline and make any corrections that are needed (they can change their own pin, or any pin on the line).  If they are changing a pin, they have to justify why.  Quick and easy ... and so hands-on effective.  You can read more about this activity in a blog post I have HERE.

4.  Fraction Circle - We love using math circles in my class.  It gets us up and moving, and has the students collaborating with their friends to complete the task on the card.  We usually do the math circle the way it's intended, in a circle format, giving out cards to each of the students, but I put two fun twists on our Fraction Circle this year.  I used cards as exit slips or transition cards after different activities - calling out one or two cards for students to complete at various times during the day.  We also used the cards for a super fun board game activity.  I projected a game board onto my whiteboard (there are some fun ones online HERE) and pulled out the giant dice.  I split the class into two teams.  I read the first team a fraction card and gave them 1 minute to complete the task.  If they were correct, they got to roll the dice and move ahead on the game board (we used the whiteboard markers to track our place on the whiteboard).  Then the second team got to go.  Repeat until you're finished.  This was SO MUCH FUN!  And you can use almost any set of task cards or math circle for this.  I plan on printing a life-size gameboard through Vistaprint this summer so we can have more fun with games like this.

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!5.  Stations, Stations, Stations - I found that using lots of math stations and centers was another hit during our fraction unit.  The students LOVED the fun, hands-on activities they were doing, and I LOVED that they were kept busy, engaged, and learning while I had time to work with small groups for some extra reinforcement.  In the task card stations, I had pattern blocks and plastic building blocks set out for students to work through the tasks - with the students handing in their recording sheets when complete for a quick formative assessment.  I also made a station with dice - after the first day I added in a more difficult set of dice (with larger numbers than the standard dice) - I called them the "challenge dice" and I couldn't believe what a hit they were.  I'm not sure if it was because I let them use the "special dice" or because I called it a challenge, but whatever it was, I'll take the results.  I posted all our Fraction Math Center task cards we used in this unit into a bundle you can find on TpT HERE.

Dominos and whiteboards were another fun math station activity.  Dominos are perfect because they are already in fraction format.  These were also the perfect activity for me to work with individual students or small groups.  The students were having fun and the "work with teacher group" didn't seem like work at all.

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!Simply pick some random dominos from the tin and arrange in order from least to greatest for comparing fractions and finding common denominators.

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!Or, work with a partner (or the teacher) and play Fraction Domino War.  Each person places a domino on their side of the whiteboard, and the student with the greatest fraction wins both dominos.  The student with the most dominos at the end wins.
5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!Pull a random domino from the tin and make equivalent fractions.

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!Or, place the domino so that the higher number is on top (the numerator) and make mixed numbers from the improper fractions.
 Lastly, during our math stations, I added in another accountability factor this year.  When we had a large block of station time, with students visiting a number of stations, they had to complete a sticky note exit slip after they finished at each station (each station had a stack of different colored sticky notes at it).  They had to write something specific they learned about fractions at that particular station.  It did take a little modelling at first to teach how to write something specific to "prove" their learning ... but soon we went from "Today I learned about improper fractions" to "Today I learned how to change an improper fraction to a mixed number at the domino station.  You divide the numerator by the denominator to find the whole number, and then you have the fraction left over.  5/2 = 2 1/2."  At the end of all the stations, students collected all their sticky notes on the board, stapled them together, and handed it in for a math reflection.

5 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Fractions that your Students will LOVE!

Whew.  That's 5 ... and that's a lot.  I told you we had a ton of fun with hands-on fractions this year.  Please leave a comment below with some of your best hands-on fraction activities you like to do in the classroom.  We can all benefit from the sharing of ideas.  Be sure to check out all my "5 Activities for Teaching ..." posts HERE.

5 Activities for Teaching Angles

5 Activities to Teach Angles
5 Activities for Teaching Angles

I love teaching angles - it's short and sweet, and the students always have a lot of success with it - which makes it all the better.  :)

1.  Interactive Math Journal Entry - this is one of my all-time favorite math journal entries.  I use this as a full-class introduction to angles - not as a station.  That way, I can gauge what knowledge they come to me with, and we can talk about what we will learn while studying angles.  This entry is included in my Interactive Math Journal Resource.  If you download the free preview, you can grab this lesson in its entirety.  You can also read about this activity in a blog post I have HERE.  
5 Activities to Teach Angles

5 Activities to Teach Angles2.  Whiteboards and Washi Tape - This is such a fun activity - perfect for practice at math centers!  We just used some fun washi tape (masking tape is good, too) to "draw" lines on our whiteboards.  We used 5 pieces of tape - and I told them the tape had to be straight and go across the board from one side to the other.  From there, students measured the angles made by the tape.  You could just leave it at this, but I turned this activity into a game by pairing up the students.  Each student had a different color of whiteboard marker.  The first student measured an angle (any angle of their choice) and wrote down the measurement using their color.  Then, the second student checked the answer.  If it was correct, they left it alone.  If it was incorrect, they erased the first answer and wrote the correct answer using their color (the second student).  The second student then got a chance to pick and measure an angle of their choice - recording the answer in their color.  At the end of the activity, the student with the most answers in their color (most correct answers) wins!  

    5 Activities to Teach Angles

    5 Activities to Teach Angles3.  TIME for Angles - This is a quick activity I do at various points throughout the day while we are studying angles.  (I also throw in a few days here and there just to review the concept).  At any given time, I ask the students what time it is on our analog clock (that is good practice just in itself).  I record the time and ask the students what kind of angle it is - acute, right, obtuse, straight.  I  also ask them to estimate the size of the angle.  When doing this, the students realized that each 5 minute interval was 30 degrees - so helpful for estimating.I just keep a running record on the board by the clock and try to get in at least 5 questions throughout the day.

    5 Activities to Teach Angles
    4.  What's in a Name? -  This one is another great station activity - and will also make a great math bulletin board display when students are complete.  I like to use grid (graph) paper for this activity, but it's not necessary.  Have the students write their names in block letters (all straight lines) on the paper.  Then, using a protractor, have the students measure all the angles they can find in their names.  This is also a great way to start to introduce adjacent angles (and complementary and supplementary angles).

    5 Activities to Teach Angles
    5.  Angle Task Cards - This is another great station activity.  These Angle Task Cards contain a Minds-On Task which I like to use to introduce the concept to the whole class, with each student completing the challenge task on a whiteboard or paper.  The twelve task cards can then be completed independently as part of a station, with each student completing the recording sheet to hand in for a formative assessment.  The best part about the recording sheet is that it is perfectly matched up to the answer sheet, so you only need to place the recording sheet over the answer sheet in a light area (like a window) so you can see the answers through the page and easily mark without having to measure each angle.  These task cards also make great exit slips after a lesson.  You can take a peek at them on TpT by clicking HERE.

    5 Activities to Teach Angles

    What are some of your best teaching ideas or activities for angles?  I'd love for you to leave a comment below to share with us.

    For more 5 Activities to Teach .... posts, click HERE.
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...