Friday, May 22, 2015

End of Year Student Gifts

 For this year, I kept it pretty easy and simple for student gifts. I love seeing the cute gift tags on Pinterest, but I really wanted something that was quick and easy to put together.

 First, I took all the gift ideas and made one piece of paper with all the different gifts and reasons behind them or cute sayings on it. I printed it black and white and copied it on colored paper. This saved so much time and the colored ink that the cute individual tags would have used. I just slid this piece of paper in the bag and was good to go!

Here is the breakdown of my gifts this year:
  • Three books from Scholastic Reading Clubs ( I used my points for these.) Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters because they read The Lightning Thief in fourth grade, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, and Escaping the Holocaust (which both tie in to our Social Studies curriculum.)
  • Small beach balls that I let them blow up and get signed by their classmates. I bought them here from
  • A pack of gum that I also bought from Amazon. (Click here).
  • And a small pack of Takis chips because my kids are crazy about those chips.

I definitely went a little overboard this year, but I had all those Scholastic Reading Book Club points. Plus, I had such a great group this year. I wanted to spoil them a little. :D

What do you do for student gifts at the end of the year? I am always looking for more ideas!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

5th Grade Graduation

Our Fifth Grade graduation ceremony was today, and it was the best one yet! We had some amazing parents decorate the cafeteria. They really made the day special for our students. I can't wait to share these pictures with you!

The picture above shows the balloons and the banner. The students sang Friends Forever on the bleachers during the ceremony. Here is a close up of the fabulous banner made by one of our staff members.She has the best handwriting hands down.

Upon entering the cafeteria, the parents had a table set up with framed class pictures of each class. They also had graduation favors for the students that doubled as super cute decor.

The student favors were adorable pencils with graduation hats.

The parents also made one of each of these hats for the 5th grade teachers. We are going to have the students sign the hat as a keepsake.

I found this post from Dimples and Tables that inspired us to create photo backdrops for the parents and students to take pictures in front of. They turned out great, and I think the families really loved having a spot to take pictures.
We also had programs that we passed out. I didn't get to take a picture of the actual programs because things were pretty hectic. Here is a screen shot of the cover and the back. We had the students names typed on another page. We copied both pages front to back and folded in the middle.

Thanks for letting me share our day with you! We had such a great time. After graduation, we walked to the Community Center for sack lunch and water games. It was definitely a memorable day for our students.

Do you have a graduation for your 5th graders? What activities do you do?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Behavior Incentive for End of Year

It seems that each year the end of the year brings tons stress on the teacher (end of year benchmarking, paperwork, etc). At the same time, the students are getting antsy and ready for summer. Today, I wanted to share a quick incentive that my team does each year to reward good behavior and give the kids something to look forward to.

Each year, we have a 5th Grade Tournament with all the 5th grade teachers. We play as classes against the other classes for 30 minute blocks of time. We play soccer and kickball because we have a large field with soccer goals and room for kickball. The classes rotate so that all the classes have the opportunity to play each other. For example, my class would play soccer against Mrs. A while Mrs. B and Mrs. C's classes play kickball. Then we would switch and my class would play soccer against Mrs. B, while Mrs. C's class  play kickball against Mrs. B's class and so forth. Having the constant switch up between the games and classes keeps it fun and fresh.

We do give the students an option of playing the game or cheering. This works perfectly as some prefer to cheer and some prefer to play.  The kids love it every year and look forward to playing against their friends in other classes. The best part about this incentive: it doesn't cost a dime!

How do the students earn this incentive? It varies from year to year. This year, I used this incentive for finishing a math project. Last year, I used it to keep my students behaving in specials and lunch. The best part is that you can tailor the incentive to what you need. If your kids are not completing class work or homework, that will be what they need to do to participate in the tournament. This works great for behavior incentives, too. The students can "earn" the right to play through tickets or points, or the students can work to maintain it (like three strikes, your out thinking).

What sort of incentives do you offer to keep the students behaving at the end of the year?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Teacher Appreciation is Here!

Teacher appreciation week is here! Teachers work so hard and deserve so much more appreciation and thanks than I can give. However, some friends and I have teamed up to show how much we appreciate teachers with a HUGE giveaway!

Through my giveaway, one lucky winner will receive a care package full of teacher goodies, teacher resources from my TpT store, AND a $25 TpT gift certificate! Each participating teacher is giving away their own care package and certificate so you will definitely want to enter them all!

Take a look at the care package! (Gift certificate not pictured but will be emailed and sent in the package!)

A $25 Gift Certificate to TpT will also be mailed (and emailed).

I loved this chevron bag that I snagged at Hobby Lobby for 50% off. I can totally see using this at guided reading or stocking it with supplies to use while conducting independent reading conferences at the students' seats. I stocked the pockets with some fun supplies!

  Here are two of the resources that the winner will receive hard copies of in the package.

The reading resource included is one of my newest and favorite resources: Paired Passages. This set includes 4 sets of paired passages with tons of activities and questions. The math resource is a teacher and kid favorite! Differentiated Fraction Tasks and Challenges includes leveled fraction tasks. You can read more about it here.


AND, I know so many of you may teach only Literacy or only Math, so I will also be sending you a flash drive with your favorite FIVE resources from my store! After choosing a winner, I will notify the winner via email, and you can reply with the five resources you want loaded on the flash drive.

Enter below! Note: This giveaway is only open to teachers living in the US or Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is perfectly timed with one of TpT's site wide sales! I will email the winner the TpT gift certificate so it can be used immediately to stock up on some great deals!

And don't forget to check out all of the other bloggers giving away amazing care packages as well!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Test Prep Dress Up {Engaging Test Prep}

I have a love/hate relationship with test prep. I hate it for all the obvious stressful reasons. But, this year I am working with another 5th grade teacher who has the BEST ideas for test prep. Here is my new favorite: Test Prep Dress Up!

  • Various Dress Up Items (I stocked up at the dollar store. I also find things on clearance.)
  • Any review questions

Here is a shot of some of my items in my dress up bin. I am slowly collecting more items when I find them cheap.

Here are my newest items that my students haven't even seen yet. I just snagged these at Hobby Lobby and Walmart this past weekend.

 Here is the bin that I have them stored in. I will need to get a larger one when I get more items. 

 Here is how to play:
  • Divide your kids into teams.
  • Display or read the review questions. Everyone answers the question, but it is only one team's "turn" or chance to get points or get in the dress up box.
  • After a few minutes have passed (you set the time), check the team's answer whose turn it is. If they are right, they get the points and get to choose an item from the dress up box (without looking). They then have about 30 seconds to a minute to choose someone in the class to wear the item for the rest of the game.
  • I do allow the kids to take a penalty (lose points) instead of wearing the item. But the kids love it so much that this is rarely an issue.
Here is a picture of my son modeling my new items. :D
They love this game so much! This definitely makes test prep fun. I would love to know how you make test prep fun in your classroom. Let me know in the comments!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Uncover the Compelling Reason for Every Lesson You Teach!

I recently had the opportunity read Angela Watson's new book Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day...No Matter What. This book could not have come at a better time in my life. With state testing and the immense pressure that comes with that, I had been feeling overwhelmed and letting this affect my joy of teaching. I chose "Chapter 10: Uncover the compelling reason for every lesson you teach" because it really spoke to some of my current stress.

The demands we place on students seem to get more and more difficult each year. This year my students (some who are reading on a 3rd grade level because English is their second language) have to read two grade level passages that are 1 1/2 to 2 pages in length each, then write a 5 paragraph essay analyzing the passages and pulling details from both to do so. Unfortunately, I have some students that can barely get through the reading of the first passage. One of my teammates and I are always discussing the fact this is not appropriate to a majority of our students. Instead of complaining about whether or not this is appropriate, I should be looking for the compelling reason that we have to teach this and share that reason with my students.

With all this weighing on me, I dove into the chapter with hopes that I would gain some insight. This quote from the book really summed up my previous thoughts on paired passage analysis as well as many other aspects of teaching. 

I was literally nodding my head when I read this. It was definitely me and how I viewed the majority of the standards that I was having to teach my students.

Angela offered some thoughtful insight and realistic tips to help overcome these feelings and find compelling reasons for even the most mundane standards we are required to teach.  Here are my favorite strategies that Angela recommends:

 Think about the NOW.

Instead of sharing ways and reasons particular lessons will be important in the far off future, think about the now that your students are currently living in. Why is this lesson important to their lives now? I have always believed that students remember skills and content that is interesting or that they feel is important. Make the skill important to them in their lives now, and that may give them the desire to master the skill.

Connect the Learning to the REAL WORLD!

I loved this tip. My students are always interested in current events. If I could find a way to connect some of the standards that seem so irrelevant to the real world, I know they would soar with the standards and the task. There are so many ways that students can help in the community, and integrating real world projects with mundane or seemingly irrelevant standards is definitely a win-win!

Incorporate Life Skills in the Lesson

This strategy is the one that resonated with me the most. So many times, I have complained that my students don't have perseverance, they don't have compassion, etc. However, what was I doing to counter this? Nothing, because the demands of the curriculum were overwhelming. Angela suggests making a list of the skills that your students are lacking. When you are teaching lessons that you cannot find a compelling reason to teach, pull out your list and tie in one of the skills to the lesson. Brilliant!

I can't say enough about this book. Angela's real world advice and tips are just what I need to stay motivated to finish the year. To check out the book and grab yourself a copy, click on the link below.

To read about the other chapters and discover 19 other ways to enjoy teaching, click here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Plan an Easter Egg Hunt Freebie! {Math is Real Life}

 It's the first Wednesday of April which means it's time for our monthly linky - Math IS Real Life!! If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!
If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs - feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!


A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by
Every year, my family and I love prepping for our family Easter Egg Hunt. We have a large yard with great spaces for hiding eggs, so we love having the hunts at our house. We usually hide mostly plastic eggs with candy in them. Sour Patches and Skittles are some of the favorites!

With Easter Egg Hunts, come Math! I always have to get the guest list nailed down and figure out exactly how many family members will be joining us this year. From there, we have to use all kinds of multiplication and division to determine the number of eggs to hide to have enough, how much candy is needed to adequately stuff the eggs, and how much all of this going to cost.

If you can use Easter themed resources in your classroom, I put together this easy FREE No Prep activity that incorporates my Math is Real Life topic. Have your kids practice real life math skills by planning an Easter Egg Hunt! This activity requires multiplication and division of whole numbers, interpreting remainders, multi-step problems, and multiplication of decimals.
Click here or on the images to download the free activity and try it out with your kids!

Don't forget to check out the other MIRL posts below! Check back over the next few days - more will be added!!

To Teach is to Inspire...