Liebster Award!

As a newbie to the blogging world, I love when an older, more a experienced blogger comments on a post or encourages me in some way. And today was one of those days! I was thrilled (and honored) that Michelle from Miss King's Enchanted Kingdom, Mrs. Young from Young Daze in 5th Grade, Bren from The Teacher Diaries, and Amanda from Rock Stars at Work nominated me for the Liebster Award. 

This award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs. 

11 Random Facts about me:
1. I am a second-year teacher who absolutely LOVES working with my zany 5th graders
2. I am 23...and look about 15 :)
3. I have been married for 1 year and a half - and am still completely smitten
4. I have had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was 3
5. I love to scrapbook - and my supplies take over the living room
6. My absolute favorite thing in my house is my KitchenAid Mixer
7. I spend my Saturday mornings scouring garage sales to build up my classroom library
8. I love Back-t0-School time - it's better than my birthday!
9. I could eat peanut butter every day and never grow tired of it
10. My husband and I don't have cable, so we love watching entire TV shows on Netflix
11. I am Canadian and am applying for dual citizenship

11 Questions from Miss King:
1. If you could live anywhere, where would you live?I would live in 

2. What is the one thing in your classroom you can't live without?
Paperclips! :)

3.  What is your favorite food?

Chicken fajitas

4. What is your favorite holiday and why?Christmas! I love the reason, the decorations, the baking, and the music! Ahh I just can't get enough of it during the month of December :)

5. What was your first car?
A gold Honda Civic - his name was Gilbert :)

6. What do you like to do in your free time?
Read, scrapbook, hang out with my hubby, go for walks, watch chick flicks, etc.

7. When did you start blogging?

This past summer - almost 6 months ago!

8. Have you always taught the grade you teach now?

Yes - this is my second year teaching 5th grade

9. Do you prefer books on electronics (ipads/nooks/kindles) or reading a real book?

Ahh toughie - I definitely prefer handling a real book, but I do have a kindle and like how easy it is to grab and read on the go.

10.  Have you ever taught in another state or country than where you teach now?

No - I did practicums in VA and my student teaching in NY

11.  Who do you  most admire?

My mom - she is a devoted Christian, always supportive, funny, and my best friend

The blogs I'm nominating:
1. 5th Grade Chalk Talk
2. Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans
3. Colorful Teaching
4. Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late
5. Fabulous 5th Grade Fun
6. Fifth is Fabulous
7. Flamingos and Butterflies
8. Fun in Fifth
9. Mrs. Bartel's School Family
10. Teaching with a Touch of Twang 
11. Wild About Fifth Grade

Here are my questions for my nominees:
1. What grade do you teach and how long have you taught this particular grade?
2. Do you prefer warm weather or cold weather?
3. What is your favorite subject to teach? why?
4. How do you incorporate technology in the classroom?
5. What's your favorite activity for a rainy afternoon?
6. What's the best book you've read recently?
7. What's your most successful classroom management strategy?
8. What time do you wake up on a typical weekday morning?
9. What, if anything, do you give your students for Christmas?
10. Do you decorate your classroom for the holidays?
11. What's your favorite vacation spot?

Don’t forget to leave me a link to your blog when you’ve answered!  I can’t wait to read more about you and I hope you enjoyed learning a little something about me.


Thanksgiving Festivities!

Hello blogging world! Happy Thanksgiving! I wanted to share some of the Thanksgiving festivities we've been doing in the classroom with you. 

1. My Thankful Alphabet
Naturally, we started talking about what we're thankful for this week. We threw around some ideas and the listed them on the white board. The board was quickly filling up and I used it as an object lesson to see how many things we have to be thankful for. I challenged them to continue their list - to find 26 things, to be exact, one for each letter of the alphabet. 

2. Growing Interesting Facts:
We watched a Scholastic video about the Wampanoag Indians. The students took notes during video and then recorded three of the most important facts on a cut out corn-on-the-cob pattern. I then put them all on a bulletin board entitled "Growing Interesting Facts"

 3. Thanksgiving writing
I found this cute Thanksgiving wordle-type sheet from Pintrest and decided to use it as a writing activity in the classroom. The students were each given a sheet and tasked with writing a Thanksgiving story using as many of the words as possible. They crossed out the words as they used them.

Fun Thanksgiving Poster to display. Give one to your kids and have them write Thanksgiving stories using the words on the poster. FREE

4. Things I Am Thankful For...Turkey
This craft has two pages: the first was a circular wheel on which the students wrote 8 things that they were thankful for. The second was a turkey shape that the students colored and cut out. They layered the pages and then connected them with a push pin, so that they can spin the back sheet and have different items/people they're thankful for show in the slot.

5. Wait! Don't eat me!
As a part of our writing unit, the students need to write a persuasive letter. Well instead of writing on just anything, I had them write from the perspective of a turkey! They had to write to an American family with 3 quality reasons why they should NOT eat them for Thanksgiving dinner! The letters were hilarious - the students did a wonderful job (although I'm not persuaded enough to abstain on Thanksgiving!)

6. My Thanksgiving gift for the students:
As a way of saying "I'm thankful for you" to my students, I gave them Thanksgiving bookmarks from Addie Education. I printed the bookmarks on colorful paper and then wrote an acrostic poem for each student's name. 

It's been a lovely Thanksgiving week - I love incorporating seasonal activities into the curriculum, so I can do crafty things with my students while still engaging them and enriching their learning.

Here's a sneak peak at one of my big Christmas projects:
A book report in the shape of a present - stay tuned for more details...

Happy Fall!

My husband and I had a lovely couples game night last night. Our house was cleaned, prepped, and decorated for fall by 6pm sharp. 

We chatted, munched, and played "Couples Challenge," a game I made up that's similar to the Newlywed game. Each person drew questions out of a bowl and then they and their spouse had to answer it. If the answers matched, they earned a point. The team with the most points won. We had a great time, laughing and sharing stories. It was a wonderful game to connect with our spouses and bond with the other couples who were there.

If you want a copy of the "Couples Challenge" questions, please leave a comment with your e-mail and I'll send them to you FREE!

I wanted to share a Pintrest success story - Candy Acorns :) You can link to the original pin here.

All you need are: Hershey kisses, mini Nutter Butters, and butterscotch chips:

 Voila! Aren't they cute?!?

 They were treat bags as a thank-you for the couples who came.

Happy fall everyone! Praying for a lovely, family-filled Thanksgiving!

"Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving in the following of that impulse. -Henry Van Dyke

Veteran's Day Activities

Whew! We had a busy week - my students certainly have Thanksgiving fever. But despite their rowdiness and energy, we got a lot done. We spent the beginning of this week discussing Veteran's Day. 

We started out by watching this PowerPoint bade from Swamp Frog. It discusses what a veteran is, as well as the five branches of the government.

We then read a booklet about Veteran's Day from EnchantedLearning and answered some comprehension questions. 

Then we read and discussed this poem:

Veterans Day

Then the students tried their hand at writing poetry about Veteran's Day from Teach123

We then wrote thank-you letters to a veteran, Ryan, who fought in Afghanistan. The  students shared their heartfelt thanks and encouraged Ryan to trust that God would take care of him, in all situations. We used this exercise to review the proper letter format and to discuss tactful ways to talk about difficult situations.

And lastly, we made these cute little soldiers:

We did this whole-class activity to practice following directions, sequencing, and developing listening skills. 

After our soldiers were built, we used sponge paint to make their camo uniforms. Then we added little American flags and glued them onto Popsicle sticks that the soldiers could hold.

 The end of the week was spent on Thanksgiving-y things :) I'll post about that unit in the next couple of days. Stay tuned :)

Teaching Tips Linky Party

I'm linking up with "Miss Kindergarten" for a Teaching Tip linky party!

I love learning about new and innovative tips to make our daily tasks easier - and would like to share a couple with you!

1. Keeping track of work that has been turned in:
When students turn in their homework or a classroom assignment, they must write their name and their classroom number on the top. Once the students have turned in their homework, I sort them in alphabetical order and then can easily see who did and did not turn in their H.W. I put a sticky note on the top of the stack with the student names who did not turn in the paper and they get put on my "ketchup" board. I have a picture of a ketchup bottle on my board. Students who have missing work that needs to be made-up goes on my ketchup board because their need to "catch up" :)

Students Who Need To "Ketchup!"

I put a paper clip on the side of the stack. Then, on a prep period or at home, I grade their work, enter the grades into the computer, and move the paperclip to the top of the stack. If the paper clip is still on the side of the papers, then I know that it needs to be entered in the computer.

Here's a picture of a stack of papers that have been graded and entered in the computer:

2. Every marking period (or quarter) I have my students set goals for themselves. Goals can be academic, social, spiritual, etc. Then, at the end of each quarter, we reflect on our progress using this chart:
It can be used at the end of each month, each quarter, each semester, and/or each year.
Click here to download the Goals reflection document for FREE!

Here's a picture of our Warriors Goals we made as a class in September:

Enjoy! Head on over to Miss Kindergarten's blog to link up with your fabulous teaching tips!

Friday Flashback!

Happy Saturday everybody! 
Today I'm linking up with Amanda from Teaching Maddeness for her Friday Flashback!

Teaching Maddeness

This has certainly been a zany week. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy (resulting in a massive power outage, a transformer fire, and trees down at our school) we had a surprise week off. While I was sad to be cold in the dark and missing precious teaching time, I will admit that the time off was much needed and there was frequent bouts of happy dancing :)

But Monday morning we were back and hit the ground running. So, without further adieu, here's a recap of this week's events:

1. Chomp into a Good Book
In Reading, we practiced summarizing a story using Story Elements. We've been working on honing our re-telling skills in class and this was a wonderful project to put their skills to the test. The students were divided into groups and given a basket of books to choose from. I used picture books for this assignment, because it was a short one-day lesson. The groups chose a book, read it together, and then worked to fill out a "Chomp Into a Good Book" graphic organizer. We did this activity in the library:

2. Cast Your Vote
We (like most classes around America this week!) spent a great deal of time on the election. Hurricane Sandy put a kink in my plans, so we squished a week and a half of lessons and activities into 3 days (my students were troopers)

This was a WONDERFUL activity to teach the electoral college and the voting counting process. The original idea is from One Hoosier Teacher's blog. 

We watched a video from the History channel on the electoral college, had a discussion about how the system worked, and then I gave the students each 3 states to represent (each one listed the number of electoral votes)  and they had to choose which one they preferred: Coke or Pepsi. 
Then we went to this website. It has setting where you can choose a map to be entirely neutral. Then, by clicking on the states you can choose whether you want it to be red or blue. I tell the students that in a typical election, red would represent Republican and blue Democrat, but for our election, we made red Coke and blue Pepsi.

After we discussed the qualifications for president and learned about the daily ins and outs of being president, we did a culminating writing project where the students imagined what it would be like to be Commander and Chief of the United States.
The students had to adress the following questions:
1. How did you campaign for president?
2. Who is your Vice President?
3. Where do you live? (White House, Washington D.C.)
4. What does your typical day in the White House look like?
5. What 3 laws/policies do you hope to get passed during your term?
6. What are 3 things you LOVE about being president?
7. What are 3 things you dislike about being president?

 *This would also be a great idea for President's Day in February.

3. Pillar of Cloud by Day, Fire by Night

It was my turn to speak in chapel this week and the theme was Thanksgiving. In lieu of going the traditional route, I chose a story from Numbers in the Old Testament (I'll admit it - I'm an OT dork!). Numbers 9:15-23 tells a story of the Israelites wandering in the desert. God's presence was in the camp, dwelling with the people. A tangible manifestation of His glory was the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, providing protection and direction day by day. But, of course, it wasn't long before the Israelites complained. They wanted a "road map" or a big-picture view of God's plan rather than trusting Him each step of the way, like a trusty GPS.

4. Class Compliments Party
And last, but certainly not least!
One of my behavior management systems is "Class Compliments" in which the students work together as a class to earn "stars" from me, from specials' teachers, or from other adults (other teachers commenting on my students walking silently in the hallway, showing role-model-worthy behavior, etc.). The kids LOVE earning stars...and they hate losing them. If the entire class is not demonstrating exemplary behavior, then a star falls from the board.

Once they earn 10 stars, they've earned a party! Each time they have 3 different options and vote on the way they wish to celebrate their success. 

We've had 2 parties so far:
1. An "In-Tents Reading Party" where the students bring books, blankets, and flashlights, and build tents to read in for the morning. A big hit - anything to get kids excited about reading :)

2. Movie & Popcorn Party: We watched Facing the Giants, a great movie about faith, family, and football. The students LOVED it!

 Here's a sample of the note I send home to the parents once we've earned 10 stars:

Whew - thanks for making it all the way to the end - that was a novel-of-a-post! Stay tuned for more fun and exciting learning activities as we journey through 5th grade...

Welcome to Noun Town! And a Thankful LINKY party!

Our English curriculum jumps back and forth between grammar and writing units, and this month we've been knee-deep in grammar - specifically nouns. I love teaching grammar (nerdy, I know!) and want kids to get excited about mastering the (albeit many!) rules and patterns in grammar and figurative language.

We've been doing a ton of Noun activities, but I wanted to share a sampling:

1. I started off the unit by showing the Schoolhouse Rock video, "A Noun is a Person, Place, or Thing." You can watch it here. 

2. Noun Scavenger Hunt
We searched through the classroom, the school, and books for examples of the four types of nouns - people, places, things, and ideas. We recorded our findings on a chart we added to throughout the week.

Click here to download the Scavenger Hunt Chart for free

3. Noun Town
After our discussion of common vs. proper nouns, we worked together to create a "Noun Town!" Each student had to bring in a picture of a noun that could fit in our fictitious town. On the back they had to write:

1. The type of noun it was 
  • person: a banker, George Washington, a teacher, a girl jogging, etc.
  • place: a restaurant, ShopRite, a clothing store, etc.
  • thing: a bench, a dog, a Cadillac, etc.
   2. Is it singular or plural?
   3. Is it common (a store) or proper (Macy’s)

Click here for the assignment details document (FREE!)

Once all of the pictures came in, we sorted them based on whether they were people, places, or things. I then constructed a bulletin board, divided into three sections of "Noun Town:" 1. People Avenue, 2. Place Street, and 3. Thing Drive.

The students love seeing their work on display and it's a tangible reminder of the difference between the three types of nouns.

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And, in other news... I'm linking up with Stories by Storie for her "Top Ten Things I'm Thankful For" party as well as A Year of Many Firsts "Stuffed with Thankful Thoughts" linky party.

Here's my top 10 list:

I'm so thankful to be married to my best friend, Jonathan! We've been married for a year and a half and are still completely smitten! 

 I'm so thankful for my family - my dad is hilarious and full of real-world advice, my mom is my absolute dearest friend, and my brother is a testimony of someone who lives wholeheartedly for the Lord, no matter how unique or artsy he is :)

I'm thankful for the 5th grades God has entrusted to me this year. They're a class full of characters, that's for sure, but they are the reason I get out of bed in the morning. I LOVE my job and don't take the responsibility lightly.

I'm so thankful for our new church home, Christ the King. We've been amazed by the love and hospitality showed by so many of the people there. We're thankful to have a church body of like-minded believers we can bond with and invest in.

I'm thankful for FALL and the beautiful leaves. They make me happy to be alive each day.

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