Fuel Your Faith: Do You Have a God-Lens?

Happy Friday, friends!
I am in the final countdown at school - only 10 days left with my kiddos!

Here's something that FUELED my FAITH this week:
Sometimes, our attitude, our thought life, our joy level (or lack-thereof), etc. are due to our PERSPECTIVE. Do you look at life - the ups and downs - with a worldly perspective that focuses on temporary pleasures and carries out an "end justifies the means" philosophy? Or do you focus on your Creator, the One who loves you immeasurably, and has a purpose-filled plan for your life?
I believe in Jesus Christ like I believe in the sun; not because I can see it, but because I can see everything else. -c.s. lewis
Now it's your turn!
Grab this template or type your own blog post:

Tried-It Tuesday: Teacher Report Cards

Today I'm linking up with my bud, Holly, 
from Fourth Grade Flipper for her
I'm actually cheating today (sorry Holly!) because this isn't something that I've tried...yet!
I'm planning on doing this on the last day of school - but wanted to share it early in case any of you want to try it too! :)

You've spent the year assessing your students - now it's time to hand over the red pen to your students and let them grade you! 
A fun and valuable tool for a reflective teacher, this can both encourage you and challenge you to continually improve your craft.

The packet includes a cover page and an inside page: print the two pages together (double-sided) to create a report card booklet.

This will take some vulnerability - because you know your students will be honest :) But I think it's a worthwhile thing to do.

Click here if you'd like to download it for FREE!

Memorial Day Activity Packet

Happy Memorial Day, friends!
I am so thankful for the brave men and women who sacrifice their lives to keep us safe.

I love this song by Avalon - it's called "For Freedom"

I want my students to know that Memorial Day is not about having barbecues with family and friends. To enhance a study of Memorial Day, I've created this fun and engaging packet:
The activities are easy to understand and 0 work for the teacher - just hand out and watch their comprehension soar :)
Here's a preview of what's included:
Here's my plan for Tuesday:
We're going to use the KWL chart as an introduction and then fill in the "L" chart after reading the comprehension passage. 
The Parts of Speech sort and the Vocabulary page will be morning work.
We're going to be completing the letters and sending them to my cousin, who is currently serving in the Army. Writing to a real-life soldier will provide motivation and context for even my most-reluctant writers.

Click HERE to snag the packet for only $2 :)

WW2 Mentor Text: Number the Stars

Today's theme for Collaboration 
Cuties' Mentor Text linky is Social Studies
In history, we've been delving deep into World War 2 - by far my students' favorite subject to study. There a lot of excellent books on the topic - here's one...
Number the Star by Lois Lowry (Read a looong time ago, but still it was good!)
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is an incredible story set in Nazi-occupied Denmark during World War 2. The story's main character, Annemarie, demonstrates great courage in the face of adversity and a changing world.
If you haven't read this book, you must add it to your must-read-this-summer list!

To enrich your study of this novel, I have created a 75-page packet. Everything you need are at you fingertips - simply print, hand out, and watch their comprehension soar!
 This MEGA packet is the perfect supplement to a study of the book, whether you're doing it as a whole-class, a small group (i.e. reading groups or literature circles), or as an individual project. It includes activities for before, during, and after reading that can serve as comprehension assessment, writing prompts, and/or valuable practice determining different story elements.

In addition to all of these awesome story element pages to accompany the book, I have also included three non-fiction passages with reading comprehension questions for each:
Complete answer keys are included
Click HERE to check out the Number the Stars Novel Study for only $6

 And...exciting news! 
By popular demand, I have bundled 6 of my best-selling novel study packets:
Click HERE to download a preview
These packets sold separately would cost over $30 - but you can buy the bundle for only $20! 

Perfect for a year-long's worth of read-alouds, literature circles, or individual reports.

And I'd love to give away a FREE copy of the entire Mega Bundle!
Let's play 
Here's what you do: 
Repin this pin:
 Then click the "See it now" button and copy the URL of your pin. Paste the URL in a comment on this post - and don't forget to leave your e-mail address! I'll pick a winner tomorrow night at 8pm PST! 
Tell your friends! :)

Sparking Student Motivation: GAK!

Happy Saturday, friends!
I'm up way too early on this lovely (supposed-to-be lazy) start of a glorious 3-day weekend! :)

My plans for the weekend are:
*hunting for treasures, garage sale style :)
*watching a chick flick
*finishing the novel I'm reading
*date night to see the new Spiderman (!)
*mall-walking while drinking Jamba Juice
*knock something off my TPT to-do list
*Memorial Day BBQ with friends

But before I set off on my weekend of adventure, I'd like to link up with my pal, Joanne, from Head Over Heels for Teaching, for her Spark Student Motivation Saturdays linky:
I have a group of five smarties who need a little extra challenge - something more to stretch their brains. I was having a hard time differentiating everything in class, so I decided to go for a more direct approach - Enrichment Club! 

Each Friday (during lunch and recess) I meet with these students and we delve deeper into topics covered in class through research projects, science experiments, math activities, book reports, etc. The kiddos have really thrived in this environment and have risen to the challenge of a more difficult workload.

They're been working really diligently the last couple of weeks on some advanced math and a research report, so I wanted to reward them with something fun.

I got the idea and instructions from:
Steve Spangler Science


  • Elmers Glue (8 oz bottle of Elmers Glue-All)
  • Borax (a powdered soap found in the grocery store)
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Plastic cup (8 oz size works well)
  • Spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • Food coloring
  • Water
  • Paper towel
  • Zipper-lock bag
  • Water

Here's the process:
1. Gather materials
2. Empty the entire bottle of glue into a mixing bowl. Fill the empty bottle with warm water and shake (okay, put the lid on first and then shake). Pour the glue-water mixture into the mixing bowl and use the spoon to mix well. 
*NOTE: I wanted the kiddos to each have a hand in making their own GAK, so we each poured about half a bottle of glue into a plastic cup. It made them more involved in every step of the process.
3. Add a drop or two (or seven) of food coloring
4. Measure 1/2 cup of warm water into the plastic cup and add a teaspoon of Borax powder to the water. Stir the solution – don’t worry if all of the powder dissolves. This Borax solution is the secret linking agent that causes the Elmer’s Glue molecules to turn into slime.
5. While stirring the glue in the mixing bowl, slowly add the water-Borax solution. Immediately you’ll feel the long strands of molecules starting to connect. Once the glue and Borax have stuck together, it's time to abandon the spoon and use your hands to do the serious mixing. 
Then use your hands to mush it together. The more you play with it, the more it starts to mold together and feel like GAK!
These two cuties can't decide if GAK is cool or just plain gross :)
Voila! The finished products, stored and ready to play with at home!
What I also really liked about the Steve Spangler Science website was that it gave some details about what was happening in the experiment - plus some background information on silly putty! As the students were stirring, we talking about the different chemicals and the reactions of the bonding agents. 

Now hop on over to Joanne's page to read about an engaging (albeit gross!) way to get your kids reading - and retaining what they read :)

Mentor Text: Citizen Scientists

Continuing in our alphabet countdown last week, the kiddos celebrated "C" with Career Day! They all brought in a prop that represented a job they might want to have when they are older. It was sweet - and interesting! - to see the variety of future careers. My favorite was the boy who brought in a basketball and a calculator - he is going to be a professional b-ball player, and then when his shelf-life is over, he'll do something responsible like be an accountant. :)

To go along with career day, we read this awesome book:
Amazon Description: Anyone can get involved in gathering data for ongoing, actual scientific studies such as the Audubon Bird Count and FrogWatch USA. Just get out into a field, urban park, or your own backyard. You can put your nose to a monarch pupa or listen for raucous frog calls. You can tally woodpeckers or sweep the grass for ladybugs. This book, full of engaging photos and useful tips, will show you how.
Citizen Science is a real organization - Citizen scientists are volunteers who participate in science research by collecting and/or analyzing data for a specific science project. The concept of citizen science is quite old; The Audubon Society has been using the concept for more than 100 years by getting average citizens involved in their annual bird counts. Today, numerous projects exist where citizen scientists are needed and this may be an excellent way to get online students involved in actual science projects.

If you ask little kids about science - this think of test tubes and experiments. Unfortunately, if you ask "big kids" about science, they usually think of reading textbooks and trying to decipher diagrams. I have worked to make science fun and interactive this year - and some of my kiddos have really developed a passion for science and for studying the world around us.

To go along with Career Day, I used this book to talk about different careers in the scientific field.
This chart shows what Kent University forensic science graduates are doing with their degrees:
In my research, I found this awesome website:
NIEHS Kids' Pages is a government website designed to teach children about the connections between their health and the environment; to encourage children to pursue careers in health, science, and the environment; and to assist children in learning to read and master mathematics and science.
There are articles, games, puzzles, quizzes - and even lesson plans for teachers and parents. If you have students (or personal children) interested in science, check this out! :)

Next week we are going to be "Citizen Scientists" as we study the great outdoors on a Nature Walk. Then we're going to lay on the grass on beach towels and do a "Sense-ational Spring" activity, that is observing signs of spring with our five senses. I just know it's going to be a blast!
Click HERE to download your FREE copy of this activity :)

Hop on over to Collaboration Cuties for more science mentor text ideas! 

Thank-You Notes From Teachers to Students {FREEBIE}

This past week was Teacher Appreciation Week at my school and my students showered me with love, sweet cards, and thoughtful, generous gifts. Today I'll share a little bit about the week (which motivated this little teacher!) and a fun and easy way I thanked the students and parents. (Freebie at the end!)
(I'm linking up with my bud, Joanne)

The PTA did an awesome job - each day was themed:
Monday: Favorite Drink
Caramel Frappuccino - My favorite Starbucks drink when it's hot out.
I got a delicious Caramel Frappucino delivered - and enough Starbucks giftcards to buy me a drink every day for the rest of the school year! :)
Tuesday: Flower/Plant:
 Wednesday: Favorite Snack
Can you guess what my favorite candy is? :)
Thursday: Notes and Cards:
 Friday: Gift Card Day
Whew! What a fun-filled week!
I'm linking this up with Doodle Bugs for her "Five for Friday" linky

As a teacher, we receive many gifts throughout the year as students and parents seek to show their appreciation for our hard work. I always want to thank them for the generosity, but sometimes writing out thank-you notes throughout the year can seem a daunting task. But not anymore...
I printed the thank-you notes in B&W on colored paper and then cut them apart. When a student gave me a gift, I jotted down a quick note to myself and then during my lunch break each day, I addressed the thank-you notes and sent them home that day. It kept the task from getting overwhelming and I was able to thank them specifically for what they brought without writing out a long note each time.
This cute, user-friendly, print-and-go packet is a real time saver for teachers! This 40 page packet includes notes to say "Thank-You" on any number of occasions - when a student gives you a gift, when a parent drops off a coffee, when a family donates a book, etc. Each template is included in both color and black & white. Packet also includes teacher directions and suggestions.
Click HERE to check this 40-page packet out in my TPT store!

Plus as a FREE BONUS to my blog readers, here's a sampler packet with three card templates (in both color and B&W)
for you to download:
Click HERE for your FREE download!
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