Tic-Tac-Toe Review Game Freebie!

This is a bit long...but at the end you will be rewarded with a prize!

I found these beauties in Target!  Love that dollar bin area.  It's a killer, though.
In case you can't see...they are Xs and Os to use as table scatters.

Thought to myself {insert thought bubble}, "What can I do with those in my classroom?"

Duh, Tic-Tac-Toe! 

Next thought, "How can I make it generic so that I can use it over and over and over..."

Here's what I came up with....

At Christmas time, I had saved several Pringles cans to decorate and fill with cookies to give to neighbors....
oh, those best laid plans again...the neighbors got cookie tins instead.

So, I had these just hanging out in my laundry room.

Time to decorate:

Ignore the pink velour sweats.  Look away, look away!!!

Cute, huh?

Once decorated, I made the game board. 
My original plan is to use them each month for my kiddos to play a review game with their vocabulary flashcards in social studies.  But, this can be done with virtually any review flashcards.

To play: Lay the deck of flashcards face down.  Player one draws a card.  If he can give the word for the definition, then he gets to place an "X" or an "O" on his board.  If he does not get the definition correct, he loses his turn.  The play continues until one player has three in a row...however, if all flashcards haven't been reviewed, the students will clear the board and play again.

The label for the Pringles can and the game board are available now for FREE at my TpT store.  And, I have two versions for the label: red and purple, or purple and green.  Grab it up and review, review, review!

*Sad plug, but would you also consider pinning it?  I'd really like to reach 100 followers before Valentine's Day.  It's a little bitty goal of mine.

I've Been Cyber Tagged!

Oh, and I love it :)  I've been seeing this going around and now it's my turn!  Yay!
One of my absolute faves, Elisabeth, over at Twins, Teaching and Tacos {love that name} tagged me.  Elisabeth is so great...remember when she let me know I was a dork that hadn't left my email address on a giveaway and that's the only way I would have known I had won.  She's that Ah-Sum.  {totally stole that from her, by the way}
So here are the rules:

1. You must post the rules.
2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
4. Tag 12 people and link them on your post.
5. Let them know you've tagged them!

Fun Facts
1.  I've been married for 16 years and have two beautiful children.
2.  My dog was a gift to me from my family.  I wanted I small dog...I got a Lab.  {But, I do love him}
3.  I have been teaching for 17 years.  I can keep up with the total because it's one more year than I've been married.
4.  I've taught it all...Here's the break down:
1 year in fourth
6 years in first
3 years in second
3 years in fourth
3 years in fifth
2 years in fourth

I get moved a bit...is that because I'm good? {Or maybe because I'm easily moveable}.  I'm going with door #2
5.  I've taught both of my children {but only social studies}.
6.  I'm a coupon diva.  I've kinda fallen off the wagon over the past few months {blogging has taken over my obsession}.  But, I've gotta get back on......
7.  I love to do crafty things.  I'm currently into making wreaths.  I even sell them to teachers at my school :)
8.  I'm addicted to my Nook.  I love to read.  Lately, it's been mostly blogs.  Which I can do on the Nook because I have WiFi.  Oh, lazy me...I don't even have to get up and get my laptop.
9. I grew up all over the east coast.  But, mainly in Charleston, SC.  I was a Navy brat.
10.  I live for GNOs.  My most recent Girls' Night Out was last Wednesday and I'm ready for another.
11.  Josh Groban is my absolute favorite singer.  
12.  I've met Josh twice {yes, we are on a first name basis}.  Teaching has come in awfully handy for me...I taught his head bodyguard's children.

Here are my questions to answer from Elisabeth:

1. Where is one place you would like to travel? 
New Zealand is my dream, but I'm also hoping for Paris, France.  My daughter has kept in touch with our French exchange student from last year and she has been invited to visit them during the summer.  It will probably be the summer of 2013 and I'm hoping to tag along for a few days :)
2. What is your favorite thing about teaching? 
I love the smile on a child's face when he/she "gets it".  Nothing is better than that!
3. What is one thing about teaching you would change?  
All of the unnecessary paperwork and unnecessary testing.  I swear we test these babies to death.
4. Do you have any hobbies? 
Hello- Crafts, reading, blogging...
5. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?  
Mostly I just enjoy hanging out with family and friends.  My family enjoys camping.  It's a nice way to get away from the hustle and bustle and just relax.
6. What book have you recently read? 
I'm almost finished with Cutting for Stone.  It's a 600 pager...
7. Do you have a hobby?  
Yep, crafts, reading and blogging...
8. What kind of technology do you have in your classroom?
I have a Smart Board.  I use my Nook on it, too.  Everyone if you get a chance, please check out my plea for advice here
9.  If you weren't a teacher, what career would you have?  
Sadly, I have no idea.  I've wanted to be a teacher since age 6.  It would have to be something that allows me to be creative and around people. 
10. What is your favorite topic/subject to teach? 
I love teaching reading but I'm better at teaching social studies. 
11. What is your favorite type of candy?  
ANY...fancy chocolates are like a secret gem in my house.  We hide them from each other.
12. What type of music do you enjoy listening to?  
Well, besides Josh Groban, I'm actually very eclectic.  I enjoy Dave Matthews, Cold Play, Bruno Mars, John Mayer, Sarah McLachlan.  {But I love pop music, too...I'm almost 40 and can't get enough of the "bubble gum pop" of the times. SAD.}

Here are the people I tagged
1. Amber at Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher Now, Amber has already been tagged by Elisabeth, but I had to tag her.  She's always there to comment and help me out. 
2. Mandy at Cooperative Learning 365
3.  Cara at Teaching...My Calling
4.  Lindsay at My Life as a Fifth Grade Teacher
5. Tanya at A Class Act
6.  Miss T at Journey of a Substitute Teacher
7.  Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6
8. Danielle at LaSota's Little Learners
9. Kim at Finding Joy in 6th Grade
10. Haley at Following Optimism
11.  Erica at Shepherd's Shining Stars
12.  Erin at Creating and Teaching

My Questions for Those Tagged
1.  How much time do you waste spend online blogging and blog hopping per week?
2.  Pepsi or Coke?
3.  Are you addicted to Pinterest?  If so, what is your favorite board?
4. Do you have a Smart Phone?  Do you use it to take pictures of your class/classroom?
5. What is your favorite movie?
6. What are your hobbies?
7. If you were given $1000 to spend RIGHT NOW, what would you spend it on?
8.  What SHOULD you be doing right now, but can't pull yourself away from the computer to do?
9.  Are you teaching your dream grade level?
10.  What subject is your least favorite to teach?
11.  Do you have a TpT store? 
12.  How long have you been blogging?

I can't wait to read what you all have to say.  I like these kinds of posts because it introduces me to new bloggers.  I've really enjoyed becoming a part of this community.  

Happy blogging!

Kindles or Nooks in the Classroom Linky Party

Do you use a Kindle or a Nook in your classroom?

I have a Nook that I use at home ALL THE TIME. 

I love it because I can sit in my bed and read a book {sometimes}.  But mostly, I use is to catch up on my Google Reader feed.  I can star the posts that I need to come back to once I get off my lazy butt and go upstairs to the computer.

Hence, the reference to having 66 starred items in my Google Reader Feed yesterday

But, this is not about me and my obsession about my Nook.

I need help!
(not mental help either...although that might be necessary, too)

I use the Nook in my classroom, too.  I have downloaded our most current read aloud, The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman.

When I read it aloud, I show it on the Smart Board.  I can then highlight vocabulary, sentence structure, figurative language, author's purpose, etc.  It's great!

My question is this...do any of you have a class set of Nooks or Kindles?  If so, how do you use them?  Do you have to purchase the books individually for each Nook?  Do you have one Barnes and Noble (or Amazon) account or 25 different accounts for each device?

I'm looking at trying to get a class set, but don't know if it would be worth the effort to get a class set.  Any suggestions?  Would I be better off trying to get a class set of iPods?

So, this is a linky within a linky.  I'm linking up with the tech whiz Cara over at Teaching...My Calling.  She's so great.  Link up here to add what you do in your classroom over on her blog.

Really: I seriously need advice.
Please consider helping me and link up....

Teaching With M&Ms....mmmmmmmm

I began my unit on the American Revolution this week.  I get so excited when we get to this part because the kiddos get excited, too.  For some reason, they are more interested in this unit than Native Americans, Explorers and the Colonies. 

I start the unit with a simulation.  The kids love these.  I've used simulations several times in social studies this year.  What I love most is that the kids remember them later in the year.

For example, when learning about the land bridge theory, I had my students act out crossing the land bridge hunting wholly mammoths.  Awesome!  I've also used simulation while teaching about the Triangle Trade Route and the students were all bunched up side by side, lying on the hard floor, unable to move while hearing a story (a primary source, too) of a slave's journey to the new world.

For this simulation, we used M&Ms...yes, I'm still eating them because I bought too many {sigh}.

This idea is not mine, I found it in a Teacher Created Press book from eh-hem 1993 {double sigh...I'm that old}.  I liked the idea, but I have jazzed it up for me.

When entering the classroom after PE, each student drew a card from a stack.  On the card, the students were either assigned to be a colonist, a member of Parliament, a tax collector or King George III. 

All of the colonists are given a tray of 20 M&Ms...and they are all like, "Woo hoo...candy".  And I'm all like, "Woo hoo, hold on a minute.  Those are going to be what you use to pay your taxes.  Remember when we were talking about the French and Indian War and how Britain was telling the colonists that they needed to pay for it?  Well, guess what...you are going to pretend to be those colonists paying taxes. But our taxes will be on things we do, wear or eat here at school."

And they are all like, "What?  I've got to give these M&Ms away?" 

And I'm like, "Yep, you sure do."

Then the tax collectors are all like, "Woo hoo, so I get to collect the M&Ms, right."  So, I have the tax collectors put in plastic gloves because although they are collecting the taxes they are not going to keep them.

Well, the tax collectors are excited non-the-less.

The king is put on his (or her) thrown and members of Parliament sit down next to the king. 

Then the fun begins.  I read a tax card aloud to the class.   It might say something like:

Pay 3 M&Ms if you ate a school lunch today.

Or, pay 2 M&Ms for wearing blue jeans today.

Or, pay 1 M&M if you own a pet.

This goes on for a good little while.

Some students are losing quite a few M&Ms.  Others, not as many.


So, the discussion leads to deciding whether or not they would then want to fight for independence.  Would they oppose the British government and laws, would they care as much as the neighbor who lost almost all of his M&Ms, etc.  How would this lead to war?

As all of the "taxes" are collected, I start to divvy them out to the tax collectors (for their fee), the members of Parliament (for being noble and all) and finally about half of them go to the king.   Man, do those colonists get mad when one student ends up with a bucket of M&Ms. 

In the past, I have let the students stew on this for most of the day.  (To get the debate even more heated, of course.) This year, however, I've got several special kiddos that would not have been able to handle that, so I let everyone off the hook right away.  And, being the nice teacher that I am, I gave back all 20 M&Ms to the colonists and the tax collectors, king and members of Parliament all got 20 as well.

I always start with this activity because I want to get my students thinking about the causes of the American Revolution. 

As I said before, I jazzed this activity up....you may get this at my TpT store.  It's on sale, too, for only $1.50 instead of $2 right now :) 

If you like it, let me know.  If there is something you think I need to change, let me know that, too.  I'm always up for feedback of any kind. 

Explorer Trading Cards

Wanted to catch your attention with the final product first.  Cute, huh?

Each year, we struggle with the "Informational Text" and "Research" Standards.  It's hard to teach little fourth graders about research.  It takes baby steps.

I have my students research explorers each year because this cross-curricular activity covers many standards all at once!

After I have already covered many explorers in social studies {Magellan, Polo, Balboa, Columbus, etc.} my students are ready to research.  I've helped build some background information so they know why we are researching these old dead guys.

First, I collaborate with my media specialist and she teaches several wonderful lesson on note taking, citing sources and finding resources.

Her lesson begins with how to take precise, accurate and thorough notes.  She covers a shelf of stuffed animals {about 43 or so of them...I wish I had a photo}.  She uncovers the animals and tells the students {without much guidance before-hand} to jot down what they observe.  Then, she covers them back up and asks for the students to tell her what they wrote down. It was interesting to see what they wrote:

Some listed animals by type.
Some counted all the birds and wrote a number, then did the same for other types of animals.
Some listed animals by color.
Some just started to write EVERYTHING they saw...only to run out of time after naming only about 10.

This led to a great discussion about "what should I write down" when researching.

Our next lesson was about how to and why do we cite sources.  The kids all had to cite a book source using correct MLA format.  That was E*X*H*A*U*S*T*I*N*G.  We ran around with chickens with our heads cut off trying to make sure that every comma, period, colon, etc. was in place on every card.  Why did we do this?
{Because we are CRAZY}

My thoughts are that students need to be taught at a young age this skill...it will follow them for-eva!

Finally, the students choose an explorer from the list that I generate based on the books in our library.  They cite this source and then begin taking notes about their explorer.  I provide the students with a guideline of information that they need to look for in the books (explorers research chart).

Next we move on to using Discus.  Do all states have access to this online encyclopedia?  There is an elementary level page that my students access.  They type in the name of their explorer and pull up a very organized summary of that explorer.

Here's a screenshot of what they see:

They click on Britannica Elementary to access the elementary level.

The best part of this source is that the citation is at the bottom of the page and all the students have to do is copy it letter-by-letter-colon-by-colon-forward slash-by-forward-slash...yadda, yadda, yadda.

Some students can find everything on the explorer research chart.  Others, not everything.  For example, exact birth dates and death dates are unknown for several explorers.  Sometimes the information in the book source is contrary to the information online.  This leads to a wonderful discussion of accuracy of the information, what is more current, etc. 

Here are some pictures of a student's citation cards and explorer research chart:

All three...
Book Source Citation
Online Encyclopedia Citation
Explorer Research Chart

Once all of the research is complete {this takes a few weeks because we don't go to our lessons in the library every day...we have an open library schedule and we have to schedule with the media specialist times for the lessons} they take their explorer research charts and use them to create Explorer Trading Cards!

These are the front sides of a few examples

I'll be adding this activity to TpT as soon as it cooperates.  I've been screaming at my computer waiting ever-so-patiently for it to upload and then it times out with a 504 error.  Does this ever happen to anyone?  I'll add it tomorrow...off to bed.

I'm glad that project is OvEr...on to the next project :)

Valentine's Day Gifts...thanks, Pinterest!

Saw this on Pinterest. {A freebie at the end of this post if interested.}

Source: The Handmade Home
Figured, EASY.
Got my molds in the dollar section of Target.  Gotta love Target.  These molds were sold in a set of two for $2.50.  Well, OK.

My son helped...he had a ball.  He was able to pound things and not get in trouble. Imagine.

Please ignore the fact that he needs a haircut. Badly.

Pound away and then add to molds.

Put in an oven preheated to 230 degrees and "bake" for 15 minutes.  

Once cooled, pop those babies out.
I strongly suggest you don't try to bake real food in these later....hehe.
Here's what they look like.  Not quite what I saw on Pinterest, but whatever. {Sigh}

At least it wasn't as far off as this:

How hilarious is this?

Here's the finished product:

I created that "card" and you can pick it up here at my TpT store for FREE along with a few other freebies in the same pack.  

Enjoy...maybe yours will turn out better.

Puppy Love-A Visit from the SPCA

Each month beginning in October, my class has been lucky enough to have volunteers from the SPCA come and visit/teach my class.

They started back in October teaching us pet safety.  In November, we learned about caring for a pet.
In December we learned about dogs as service dogs and about other ways to care for a pet.

But this month...we were lucky enough to have a visit from one of the volunteer's pets.  His name is Ben/Bennie/Gentle Ben {just like my dog}.  He was beautiful/sweet/playful/obedient...I could go on forever.
This is Cheryl Stephens with loveable Bennie :)
Ain't he sweet????

I'm not putting the kiddos faces on here but you can image how excited they were!
We had a blast meeting Ben.  He is a trained dog who goes in to nursing homes, too.  Amazing day!

MLK, Valentine's Link Up, Giveaways..Oh Boy!

Today was a great day off.  I slept in a bit, went on a two mile walk with Ben, the precious doggie and worked hard at organizing my husband's business.  This day was full!  I need about three more like today.

Tomorrow, I'm planning on using this idea from Fabulous Fourth Grade.  She shared how she would use the packet from Cooperative Learning 365 after watching the BrainPop on Martin Luther King.  I thought to myself....done :)  I would have done this on Thursday, but I was home with my sick boy

Click here to go to her TpT store to download for free!

I'm also going to show the "I Have a Dream" speech.  After this, the students will create a craftivity of MLK and incorporate how using their OLW they can achieve their dreams. 

I can't wait to see what they create.  I'll post later.

Onto topic #2, Valentine's Link Up:
I've joined the "Be My Valentine" exchange and I'm so excited!  If you haven't joined Caitlyn and Sarah yet, you need to...it should be a lot of fun in a few weeks :)

Onto Topic #3, Giveaway:
Lindsay over at My Life as a Fifth Grade Teacher is having a great giveaway {maybe I shouldn't tell you....}
It's really pretty great....

Finally, and I didn't mention this before, so if you are
here...then this is for you...

I've finally added something that I made to TpT...it will sell for $1 next week, but I'm giving it away this week for FREE.  I think it will help me organize my STUFF that I'm so frantically organizing thanks to the Clutter Free Classroom project. 

 This is just one of the 6 different labels that I created.  Head on over to my TpT store to check it out.

Close Enough- Give Away *Update*

More Chances to Win Posted Below:

Hi everyone~
Happy Hump Day...
I'm home again.  This time for my son.  He came to my room (actually he found me in the library) to say he had gotten sick.  Boo!  Stomach flu...curse you!

Anyway, after pampering him, I came upstairs to work on my very first GIVEAWAY :)

I'm close enough to 50, right?
Here goes...for this giveaway you have an option of choosing one of two prizes.  You can either choose a wreath like the ones below (choose your Valentine's colors).  Or, you may receive a $20 gift card to Amazon.  Who can't use that?  So, if the wreaths are too gaudy tacky for your taste (they kinda are for mine...I just make them)...then choose the gift card :)

Here's all you need to do: 
1. Follow my blog OR tell me that you are already a follower {include link in your comment}

2. Blog about this  GIVEAWAY {include link in your comment}
3. Follow my TpT Store (it's all free stuff) {leave comment} 
4. Pin something from my blog onto Pinterest {leave comment telling me what you pinned} 
5. Add my button to your blog {include link with your comment} *2 chances...so leave 2 comments 
(I got this idea from Made in the Shade in 2nd Grade.  They have a giveaway, too...go check it out!)

Each time you comment, that's one more chance.  I learned how to number the comments thanks to Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files, so make sure you leave a comment for each task. (Sounds teacher-y)

Also~Make sure that you leave me your email in your comment so that I can reach you.  I almost missed out on this great win because I didn't.

The GIVEAWAY will be open until midnight Friday, January 13th EST. I will announce the winner on Saturday morning.

Good luck, bloggy friends :)

Social Studies Notebooking-Freebie

Do you use "Notebooking"?

Several years ago, I was “nominated” ~ ‘cause no one else wanted to do it ~ to be a part of the Teaching American History Grant that had been received by my district.  I reluctantly agreed to be the representative for our school.

Man am I glad that I did.  I have been attending in-services for the last three years.  The in-services are intended to teach us the content so that we can, with confidence, teach the content.  I’ve learned so much history in the last three years that I feel like I could run a history museum…ok, not really.  Still.

During each set of in-services (three days in the fall, one day in February and a week in the summer) there are three professionals who come to teach us.  One of the three instructors is a master teacher who teaches us how to apply what we have learned to lessons for our classroom.

Two years ago, I learned about notebooking.  I know a lot of you are familiar with notebooking, so I will just give a quick summary to those of you who don’t know about it.

The idea behind notebooking is that the student has notes/study guides/ etc. on one side of the notebook and the other side has the response to the learning.  The right side is for the notes and the left side is for the “creative response”. 

What I love about using this method is that the students have OWNERSHIP in his/her learning.  In the year and a half that I have been teaching with this method, NOT ONE student has lost his/her notebook (I probably just jinxed myself). 

At the beginning of the year we spent the first few days creating our notebook.  Each student decorated his/her notebook’s cover.  I live close to the South Carolina/Georgia border so I went to both welcome centers and gathered up brochures that directly related to my standards. 

Notice the Native Americans on this student’s notebook (Standard).

I covered each notebook with clear contact paper so that it would hold up all year long.  (It does).

Then, we set up our "Table of Contents" page.  Just like any other book, this is set up for the student to again, have OWNERSHIP in his/her notebook.  On the left side you see the notebook requirements that I have established so that I can grade their notebook at the end of each chapter (gotta get those grades...geesh).  You can download it from my TpT store here.

At the beginning of each chapter, I have the students create a title page.  The students will later go back to this title page to illustrate what they have learned.

For each lesson, I have the students complete the study guide with me.  I usually use the CLOZE method, but not always.

The next day, the students complete what I call their “Left Side Activity”.  This is where it gets fun!

If you haven’t heard of foldables, this is where it comes in.  Check out A Teacher's Treasure to read more about foldables.  This post explains it all :) 
Here are some examples:

I highly recommend the book by Dinah Zike, Notebook Foldables.  
It helps guide you to the right foldable for the right lesson. 
I don't always use foldables.  Sometimes, I have a map (high on the standard's list).

The teachers at my school do a great job collaborating and finding "left side activities".   I have to give credit to a super teacher in my school, Mrs. Eberhard, for many of the left side activities that I use. 

This year, I added a new component:
This is where they store their vocabulary flashcards!  No more lost cards…yay!

Everything in one place.  Can’t. Beat. That!

Do you use notebooking?  What resources do you use to find activities for the “creative response”?

One more tiny note: 45!  Yay!  Maybe by the weekend, I will be able to have my giveaway.  Just in time for Valentine's Day...

This (or one similar since I've sold THIS one) could be yours.  Ain't it gaudy and great?

See tomorrow's post for the details and a chance to win.

Currently January

First off...sorry about the two blogs in one day.  But, since I'm home sick, what the heck.  Right?

Farley (who is absolutely amazing~I want to be her when I grow up...wait, I'm older than  her. Poo) over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade is hosting January's Currently Linky Party.  So fun.  
She's also having a giveaway for a cool prize- the best pencil sharpener eva!
I totally want to win this one!

OK, here's my currently:

Now off to get dressed and make something of myself and my day off.  I'm feeling much better after my long nap this morning.  I'm fighting a sinus infection.  Yuck!

Make sure you go and link up with this party and try to win a prize, too.  (Maybe I shouldn't encourage that...oh well.)

Clutter Free Classroom Project~Linky Party

OK, I'm doing it.  I'm joining Clutter-Free Classroom to get organized in my classroom.

I must admit that I feel a teeny bit guilty about posting this in the middle of the day.  I'm home sick (just woke up, it's noon) and I should really be getting ready for lunch with my kiddos.  Instead, I'm blogging.  Sad.

Per my style~I'm a week late to the party... but here goes:

As part of the Week 1 Challenge, I had to take pictures of my classroom.   Scary, I know.  But, I did it anyway.  What encouraged me to post them was through linking to other bloggers' pictures and seeing that I'm not alone.  Thank the Lord!
First off: Remember this post about the cute magnetic chalk boards I made...here they sit.  Boo!

I've always got great intentions...

So there you have it.  It's kinda bad, right?  But, I can do this! I know I can. 

Head on over to Clutter-Free Classroom to see more "before" pictures and to join the Linky Party.

Clutter-Free Classroom