January 14, 2016

Fraction Action: Skittles Math!

Happy Monday everyone! Today I'd like to share a little about my math unit on fractions!

It’s all about fractions and how to identify them based on the number of equal parts they are divided into (i.e. halves, fourths, sixths, eighths, etc.). Students begin to identify fractions within a set and what better way to do that than using candy?! Some teachers use M&Ms but I personally like Skittles because they don't melt and get as sticky but both work just as well.

Fractions can be a very tricky concept to teach these little guys, but getting them engaged is half the battle!

Introduction:
First, I like to make things visual and I do this by randomly picking 5 students and have them stand in the front of the class. Students must observe the 5 students I picked and must determine what is in common with them. For example, I may have chosen 3 girls and 2 boys to represent the fraction 3/5 being girls and 2/5 being boys or maybe 4 wearing sneakers and only 1 wearing boots to show 4/5 and 1/5. The kids always tend to like that activity and it poses a bit of a challenge for them.

Guided Practice:
After that initial activity I introduce how we can identify fractions within a given set. This requires students to be familiar with how to write fractions and what the numerator and denominator are within a fraction. For this I like to use Scholastic's free StudyJams videos to help give the students an idea about how to write fractions. BrainPopJr is another great site for kids but that requires a subscription.

Guided/Independent Practice:
Then on to the fun! After you've built up some background knowledge students can engage with their learning through this hands on activity. I called mine Fraction Action: Skittles Math! Make sure you've discussed with your class that students aren't to eat the Skittles since many students' hands have been all over them and we use them for learning, not eating. Last year at the end of the activity I did hand out mini bags of Skittles for them to take home, which helped their impulse to eat them during class.

After you've built up some background knowledge students can engage with their learning through this hands on activity. I called mine Fraction Action: Skittles Math!   After you've built up some background knowledge students can engage with their learning through this hands on activity. I called mine Fraction Action: Skittles Math!

After you've built up some background knowledge students can engage with their learning through this hands on activity. I called mine Fraction Action: Skittles Math!

I have created this little student handout for them to use to track their fractions during the activity. The goal is for them to see how fractions are present within a set and ours being their bag of skittles. I only use 10 skittles total since I just scoop the candies from a massive bag versus always buying the mini pre-packaged bags. It also helps me differentiate for different groups of students.

I love the graphing because who doesn’t like a little graphing practice mixed in?

After you've built up some background knowledge students can engage with their learning through this hands on activity. I called mine Fraction Action: Skittles Math!

Digging Into Ancient China!

One of the major units we would cover beginning in January is our Ancient China unit. This was a pretty lengthy unit in that I find teaching cultures to be a lot of fun but it can be a lot of material to cover in just a few weeks. In my history with teaching Ancient China I’ve found that my kids LOVED it - from learning about their history and traditions to how we celebrate Chinese American culture here in the U.S. It’s just a lot of fun!

Happy New Year everyone!

One of the major units we would cover beginning in January is our Ancient China unit. This was a pretty lengthy unit in that I find teaching cultures to be a lot of fun but it can be a lot of material to cover in just a few weeks. In my history with teaching Ancient China I’ve found that my kids LOVED it - from learning about their history and traditions to how we celebrate Chinese American culture here in the U.S. It’s just a lot of fun!

A packet that I’ve created has been the proven way to keep all of our learning in one place. It also begins early note-taking skills, which I think are extremely important! I’m surprised at how well they learn to take notes and locate information for themselves. And who says we can’t mix some language arts skills into our social studies units?? :)

My student workbook consists of the major topics we cover during the unit:
  1. Geography (Where In the World? and The Land)
  2. Climate
  3. Written Language (Calligraphy)
  4. Inventions
  5. Contributions (The Great Wall)
Plus some fun topics that adds to the engagement of learning about the Ancient Chinese culture:
  1. Silk
  2. Chinese New Year
  3. The Zodiac
  4. Clothing and Hair
The best part about this updated workbook is that it now includes a teacher copy with all the answers! My first edition didn’t include that and it was my top feedback so I listened! I hope you enjoy!

One of the major units we would cover beginning in January is our Ancient China unit. This was a pretty lengthy unit in that I find teaching cultures to be a lot of fun but it can be a lot of material to cover in just a few weeks. In my history with teaching Ancient China I’ve found that my kids LOVED it - from learning about their history and traditions to how we celebrate Chinese American culture here in the U.S. It’s just a lot of fun!

One thing I added to this revamped version of my packet is an optional student brochure project. I found my first year teaching 2nd grade I had some pretty high students in that they loved being challenged and grasped the content pretty quickly. So, I created a project that can either be done with the whole class or as extra credit for those thirsty for more.

One of the major units we would cover beginning in January is our Ancient China unit. This was a pretty lengthy unit in that I find teaching cultures to be a lot of fun but it can be a lot of material to cover in just a few weeks. In my history with teaching Ancient China I’ve found that my kids LOVED it - from learning about their history and traditions to how we celebrate Chinese American culture here in the U.S. It’s just a lot of fun!

I’ve included a parent letter explaining the purpose of the project, an info page for students explaining what’s expected, and a rubric. I’ve also added blank templates of these forms so you can edit them to fit your classroom’s needs!

This download also includes fun videos and other resources you can use throughout the unit in addition to the workbook.

I’ve loved this unit since I first began teaching it and I hope you find this resource helpful in tackling the content!

December 8, 2015

Our Christmas Card Unveiled!

In keeping with sharing our family traditions for the holidays, our annual Christmas card is a fun way to share the love with our family and friends especially since we live afar from everyone these days. For years I’ve used the services of Minted for various projects and each holiday season I am always excited to browse through their new designs and I love they enlist the creativity of featured artists from all around the U.S.

Last year we opted for a Year In Review card versus the traditional Christmas card since we had just moved and were traveling for a wedding. It left us with little time to prepare, but luckily Minted was there to the rescue! Here’s our card from last year...


This year we’re settled and I finally had time to pull this together! These last 12 months have been exciting, but transitional, and I am eager to share in our excitement of Greyson’s arrival in March. What better way to do that than through a simple photograph? We had the lovely help from a friend take some photos of us in our courtyard and I am so thankful to have these moments captured as we move through our pregnancy (and it’s always a bit tricky taking family photos with a squirly pup!). On the back we opted to share our sonogram photo from our 18 week appointment, which will be a great keepsake for our parents (our next sonogram is in 2 weeks!). So without further ado, here’s this years Christmas card!
  
A favorite holiday tradition each year is creating and sharing our family’s holiday card! See what we’re sending this year using the help from Minted!

A favorite holiday tradition each year is creating and sharing our family’s holiday card! See what we’re sending this year using the help from Minted!
THIS POST CONTAINS CLICKABLE AFFILIATE LINKS. ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE 100% MY OWN.

Other great aspects to ordering with Minted is their free address printing! I love how they match your chosen design and it really takes the muscle work out of addressing all of those envelopes. I also chose the wrap around return labels. I look forward to getting a personalized address stamp, but until we settle down for good I’ll just stick to my stickers.

November 15, 2015

Holiday Teacher Gift Guide 2015

The holidays are quickly approaching, as they do every year, and although you’re probably thinking, I have time!, it’s always a good idea to start thinking about what you would like to gift the teacher of your little one(s). Speaking from the teacher perspective, we love the holidays for more than one reason: we get to see parents at the class holiday party, we look forward to those Starbucks gift cards, and really feel appreciated by the families we serve when we are thought of to any degree.

So, here are my holiday picks for gifting those teachers in your life that make a difference every day with your child. The best part is: this list is made by a teacher for teachers and parents like you.

A gift guide for the teacher in your life! Don’t spend your time or money on something your teacher won’t use or need. Here is a comprehensive holiday guide to gifting teachers the things they’d really enjoy. Created by a teacher for teachers!

Minted Class Photo Frame via Minted
I’m not sure if you know, but Minted has a cute selection of art pieces and even ones you can customize just for teachers! I thought this apple print was adorable and it would be easy for any room-parent to snap some photos of the class and present it to the teacher at the class holiday party. Teachers love having keepsakes from each class and what better than something they can hang in their rooms for years to come!

Monogrammed Anything via Etsy
If you’re wanting to reach a little bit more outside the typical gift for a teacher, go with anything monogrammed or personalized. I have yet to find a teacher that doesn’t love jewelry, a personalized coffee mug, pencil holder, etc. I loved receiving a ‘K’ initial necklace my first year teaching and it was something I wanted to wear over and over. Plus, it makes the child feel special when they see you wearing and enjoying their gift (even if mom picked it out).

Custom Wine Label via Evermine Occasions
This particular wine label went viral just a few months ago and it’s for a good reason! What a funny, yet practical, gift for any teacher! Because honestly, we’re probably the biggest winos out there so don’t feel weird about gifting us a bottle of wine- it will be used! I had parents of students in the past do this and I loved it because it’s truly amongst the things we really want right before winter break. Add a fun custom label to it to make it extra special.

Starbucks Anything
Want to know something teachers love more than wine? Coffee (or tea). Whether they make their own at home or pick it up from their favorite roaster (i.e. Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, etc.) getting them anything from a gift card to a new travel mug will be sure to brighten their day. Those tend to be things we want, but never buy for ourselves.

Gift Cards
This is by far the most typical, yet most coveted, gift you could give a teacher. It is nothing new for parents to know that teachers always spend money out of their own pocket to provide materials for the class or for that fun activity she/he has planned. It’s also no secret that we aren’t necessarily bringing home top dollars either to help fund our classrooms. So, with that in mind gifting a teacher a gift card will be very appreciated. Here are the top retailers most teachers shop at regularly:

  • Coffee (Starbucks, Dunkin’, etc)
  • Target or Walmart
  • Teachers Pay Teachers
  • Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  • Michael’s or Hobby Lobby (whichever is nearest to you)
  • Visa Gift Card
  • Stitch Fix (this is an exception. Most teachers love this service but check with the person before assuming they’ll use it)
Other gift card ideas include fun things like a nail salon or massage so we can treat ourselves, movie tickets, restaurants or popular chains like Subway or Chipotle, and even office supply stores like Staples are great ideas.

Scarf or Other Accessory via Mom Advice
I love scarves and all of my students knew that so it was a lot of fun to receive a gift I wasn’t expecting. Our little kiddos are a lot more observant than we give them credit for. So, if you have a favorite accessory please believe they’ve noticed.

Ruler Photo Ornament via Simply Kierste
One of my favorite gifts ever from my kids were those who thought to buy me ornaments I could hang on my Christmas tree at home. Most of them were store-bought, which were very cute and I still hang to this day! However, if you have the time or find something on Etsy that’s handmade, just slip your child’s photo in and voila!

Gift Registry
This one is really special and the most overlooked. Is your teacher engaged? Have a baby on the way? Do some digging to see if you can find their gift registries and pool the class on getting an item or purchase one from your family to theirs. I found it to be so thoughtful (and a huge surprise) that my class bought me the Kitchen Aide from my wedding registry at the end of the year. Absolutely touched my heart.

Letters From Students
A free gift that could possibly take the cake and be more valuable than any Starbucks gift card is anything made from our students. Whether it be a letter or a handmade item, it all means so much to us and we love receiving little notes about how much our kids appreciate us as teachers. It’s little sentiments like that, that get us through those tough work days.

So there you have it. Gift teachers this year something they would really appreciate and get a lot of use out of. I hope this guide helps you decide on a gift for the teacher in your life!

Anything missing from my list? What would you add to your Teacher Gift Guide?

November 11, 2015

Diving Into Matter!

An easy and comprehensive unit plan to get your students engaged and learning with matter! This packet includes five major lessons in note-taking format for your little scientists!

One of my favorite units to teach in science is our matter unit! Having fun with solids, liquids, and gasses, discovering those three states, and getting our hands dirty with exploration is just the best! I wanted to re-share my Matter Matters Unit with you all today and hope you can find it useful in your classrooms.

This packet contains all the important objectives in a fun fill-in-the-blank format, which is perfect for those beginner note taking skills. I incorporated videos from Scholatic’s Study Jams (which are fabulous resource videos if you haven’t already heard of them!) as well as Brain Pop Jr. I also use this packet as a companion to a PowerPoint slideshow I made, which helps me keep my lessons on track.

I made some edits to my original packet, but for the most part all of the content is still the same. If you have already downloaded this unit, be sure to re-download the newest version. For those of you who need it you can pick it up at my TpT store here.

Lesson 1: The Three States of Matter
Lesson 2: Mass & Volume: Measuring Matter
Lesson 3: Changing States
Lesson 4: Physical & Chemical Changes
Lesson 5: Experiment: Sugar Cube
Three States of Matter Poems

Another just for fun activity that has always been a hit, and one done at the very end of the unit (if there’s time), was creating Oobleck with my class. This was always a hit and something the kids really enjoyed year after year. All you need is water, cornstarch, and food coloring! We read the book Bartholomew and the Oobleck prior to the activity and discussed how students will observe that when we mix solid and liquid ingredients it creates something completely different!