Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My BTS Tip: Emergency Activities

Hi all!

I'm linking up with Hanging Around in Primary to share my best Back to School Tip!

I'm all about those Emergency Activities. 

You know, the activities for when a kid pukes right before the Whole Group lesson and you have to figure out what to do with the 25 other kids staring about you while you deal with this incident. The activities for when my goodness I don't feel well, but I don't want to make sub plans so how on Earth can I get through the next 15 minutes before Specials? Or, similarly, the activities for when WHOOPS my lesson went faster than I anticipated and now we have an awkward 15 minutes to spare before Specials. Or, the activities for when that one student finishes early and you need something meaningful for them while the rest of the class finishes up.

Yes, often times you can just have the kids pull out a book.

But Heaven forbid they're a little too wiggly for that today. Or needing a social outlet. Or just needing to move because they're so excited for that assembly/full moon/holiday/etc. 

This is where Emergency Activities come in.

And it's my BTS Tip because my kiddos learn how to do the three activities independently and accurately within that first week of school. 

#1 Playdoh Mats

Surprisingly popular with fifth graders! This was probably the top pick for early finishers. We talked about how we commit to one tube of Playdoh and if we don't follow this rule (as in, if we MIX Plahdoh colors), we lose our Playdoh privileges for the year. GASP!

This was quite motivating for them to do it right.

Playdoh mats are my hands-on, kinetic, and even therapeutic way for the kids to review vocabulary.

The pictures show the Playdoh Mats from my Greek and Latin Roots pack.

I switch out the mats to also include my Playdoh Mats for Testing Vocabulary.

AKA my shameless plug to keep the kiddos continuously exposed to terms like "convey" during their down time.

#2 Stamping

I came upon a very large collection of alphabet stamps. 

When I learned I was teaching 5th grade before my first year, I toyed with the idea of donating the stamps elsewhere.

But then I thought, why can't the big kids enjoy them, too?

Much like the Playdoh, the kids like the stamping because they have to look through my big bucket for just the right stamp and to them that's both kinetic and therapeutic. 

While my girls may have preferred the Playdoh, my boys definitely loved the stamps.

Something about all that searching and all that ink.

The first week we talk about how we refer to our vocabulary cards, our Word Wall, or our vocabulary list in our Enrichment Folder to choose words to spell.

In other words, we totally practice the expectation that STAMPS ARE NOT FOR SPELLING OUR CRUSH'S NAME.


Shown above: my vocabulary cards. We use them on our Word Wall, as well as kept on a binder ring with the rest of stamping supplies. We also use our vocabulary lists, depending on what unit of study we're on.

#3 Cursive

And lastly, a favorite by all (although there are definitely audible groans when the kids are still getting comfortable with this writing), are the cursive sheets.

Be forewarned, this emergency activity is especially amazing to calm a class. 

Like, after recess. 

Every day. 


I purchased a Cursive Pack on TPT eons ago, and had the whole pack laminated. The laminated pages stay in a drawer so that kiddos can grab them to practice with a dry erase marker.

So yes, we practice the expectation that first week of cleaning off any sheet that we used.

Thank you for sticking around for my Emergency Activities. 

The earlier they're taught, the earlier these gemstones can be used. :) 

I just love big kid word work!

Speaking of Word Work, enjoy my freebie! Another great Emergency Activity to have around. :)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Five for Friday: July 24

Welcome to my first Five for Friday!
Super excited to join.

Ummm, this is NOT a drill!

Mr. Sketch Markers are on sale on Amazon for less than FIVE bucks!! Click link to see for yourself! I totally stocked up - they're my favorite markers to grade with. 

I love this time of year where I feel like I'm constantly checking Amazon for random deals on favorite school supplies. 

Finally starting to really tackle that BTS to do list. 

First up, Tidy Tub labels that matched my decor! You can grab the freebie here

Now I'm just itching to get into my classroom to assemble the tubs!

My super cool sister is moving to NYC and I got the chance to go with her and my mom this past week to help apartment shop.

It was SUCH a fun trip and it makes my sister seem even cooler now that I know what the city she's moving to is actually like. Makes me appreciate Texas!

Don't get me wrong, the food was incredible.

Um, new obsession with chopped salads.

And, visiting some SATC stops were definitely a highlight.

Finallyyyyy posted a reading passage I wrote awhile back to get my lovies reviewing some important terminology, and had us working on putting our question in our responses. Check it out here! I'd love to know what you think about the posters... or the strange story itself.

(What is it about fifth graders that make them only remember stuff when it's hilarious, strange, or scary?)

Lord knows I have a ton of finish products on my computer... they're just so far from being "TPT-ready." Am I right?

Aaaaaaand I got my new car this week.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Currently July 2015

Hi all!

Welcome to my first Currently!! I'm liking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade to join in on all the fun.

Listening to Brian Eno. If you haven't listened to him, you MUST! I discovered him when I used to go to this cosmetology school during college to get discounted facials and they would play his album in their spa area. Nice and tranquil and soothing. Mmmmm. His music takes me back to my happy place! 

My latest book I've read is All the Light We Cannot See. It's AMAZING! I will admit, I almost gave up on it since I found the beginning slow, but I'm so glad I stuck with it. It's set in occupied France during WWII and it's about a blind French girl, a German boy, and how their paths collide to ensure survival. Eeeeeeeek! Click below to read more about it.

Thinking about swim team tonight. I'm finally joining a swim team and I'm slightly freaking out. I'm hoping it works out so I can continue to do it to stay sane during the school year.

Ummmm is anyone else having school dreams? This girl is. EVERY NIGHT. Please, please, please stop!

I'm seriously needing to get longer shorts. In August, we do home visits in our new school shirts and the past two years I've been dumb enough to wear white pants. It is miserable in the Texas heat. This year, I'm not only getting my act together and buying shorts, but I'm keeping an eye on JCrew Factory's website for the moment their bermuda shorts go on sale. Holla!

And, I'll admit I'm amazing at scrolling through media, finding recipes, and being willing to try them out. I admittedly spend much more time on cooking blogs and cookbooks than I do teaching blogs. I think my Recipes bookmark has over a thousand recipes. That said, menu planning each week is not only a great stress relief for me, but also a lot of fun. #nerd

Thanks so much for reading!

If you have a chance, check out my latest flash freebie: Behavior Buttons! I love using these in the classroom to celebrate positive behavior and the big kids love showing them off. It'll go back to regular price this weekend. Please download and leave feedback!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge Week 3: Make Your Masterpiece


For this week's challenge, I picked something that I've wanted done for quite some time. Going into my third year of teaching (eeeek!), I wanted to get even better at building that solid foundation that first week of school with my students. I wanted something that could help me both get to know my students and start teaching expectations. 

I'm a huge believer in integrating even the tiniest bit of physical activity into learning, so it's no shock that I ADORE task cards. It only seemed natural to think of a way to morph my first-week-of-school goals with task cards.


I'm so happy with the outcome.

I now have 24 task cards that ask my students various questions about themselves. Who lives at home with you? In which subject do you hope to feel more confident in? What is something non-school you really enjoy? What makes a good teacher?

And so on.

Their responses not only help me get a jump start on getting to know them (it takes a little longer since I have two classes, usually over 50 kids total) BUT it also gives me some insight to what needs I need to meet that year.

Doing this in task card form, as opposed to the same worksheet their parents receive (does anyone else enjoy seeing both the parents' AND the student's answers?), gives me an opportunity to get a jump start of teaching expectations. What do we do when task cards are around the room? What do we do for Scoot? How do we get clipboards? How do we set up a recording sheet? What do we do if we finish early? Where do we turn in our work? 

You get the picture. 

My teacher heart goes pitter patter thinking of the possibilities. 

And, as an added bonus, I get my first informal assessment of their writing. 

Win, win, WIN! 

Click the picture or HERE to visit these cards

Even better, this is FREE for the first 24 hours! Please, please, please download and leave feedback. Pretty please. :)

Happy Sunday, y'all! Feeling motivation to finish other projects. Woo!