November 7, 2019

3 Veterans Day Ideas For Middle Grades

Veterans Day activities help your students to recognize and honor our Veterans past and present. If you are teaching about Veterans Day, as the daughter of a Navy Veteran, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart!




1. Connect With Local Veterans

One of my favorite Veterans Day lessons was when I invited a few members from our local VFW to our classroom.


I ran the idea past my principal, she aproved, and I called the VFW to see if any Veterans would like to visit. I was pleasantly surprised that Mr. Morris said that he would gather up a few guys to visit and details were planned! In preparation, my students wrote thank you letters to the Veterans for their service and prepared a question on an index card. Visiting day arrived and 4 Veterans showed up and took their seats at the front of the room in chairs much too small for them. The students read their letters out loud as these 4 humble men looked on with eyes that brightened with each letter read. After the readings, the students asked their prepared questions as the gentlemen took turns answering. We concluded our morning with students serving our guests cookies and juice and mingling a bit.  Connections that spanned generations were made that day, and we continued to interact with the VFW regularly.

2. Decorate The Halls

I find that the best selections of patriotic decorations at the dollar store are around Memorial Day and The Fourth of July. However, a bit of red, white, and blue crepe paper is an inexpensive way to add accents to a display of students' work. Flag and poppy craftivities are just right to replace those Halloween projects out in the hall!

For this project, students use graphic organizers to plan their writing and make a fun, patriotic flag craft.

Veterans Day Craft



3. Learn About The Branches Of The Military



I like to find video clips to explain the 5 branches of the military. Here is one that is kid-friendly:

Of course, preview the video to make sure that it is appropriate for your class.

Follow with small groups creating posters about each branch of the military (I always remind the kids that images of violence, even against "bad guys" aren't appropriate for school.)

Or...check understanding with this sorting activity:

 Branches of the Military



How will you celebrate Veterans Day? Feel free to drop a line in the comments below to add your own ideas! 






October 20, 2019

8 Tricks To Get Your Students To Pay Attention In October

Sometimes I think teaching in October is more challenging than December! Most kids love Halloween and the excitement that comes with it. I seem to forget this every year until the middle of October when the kids start acting a little crazy  daydreaming more than usual.



Why not fit in a few fun, but educational activities that just may trick the kids into learning?! The kids will look forward to the special October activities and you will too!

Halloween Classroom Ideas For Math


1. Musical Math

Print out any drill worksheet (such as multiplication facts) for each student. Place a worksheet on each student's desk face down. At your signal, students turn the paper over and begin answering the problems. After about 20 seconds, play some October/Halloween music. When students hear the music, they get up and move/dance about the classroom. When the music stops, students sit anywhere and begin working on anyone's worksheet until they hear the music again. Continue until most of the worksheets are finished. Give students time to check answers on their own paper and fix any errors they find.

My favorite songs to play in October for this activity are
One-Eyed Purple People Eater
Adams Family Theme
Monster Mash


2. Graphing With Autumn Mix Candy



 halloween-math


 halloween-math

Grab some autumn mix candy from the dollar store and help your students make a graph on blank graph paper or grab an inexpensive time-saving printable here: 

Halloween Graphing Activity

Halloween Classroom Ideas For English Language Arts


1. Read The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

Seriously. I look for any excuse to read a picture book! Students love the repetition, and I pause to let them make the sounds during the story. The kids can break up into small groups and act out their interpretation of the story. They are always so comical and this activity actually covers a few curriculum objectives!


2. Halloween Theme Following Directions Game


 halloween-game

Kids can always use reinforcement in following directions, and this game is tons of fun! Use the game during the month of October and keep track of how long it takes the class to finish all the tasks. Challenge the kids to beat their best score throughout the month!

You can get this fun Halloween Following Directions Game HERE!


3. Conjuntion Activity Cards

 conjunctions-activity
These simple Halloween themed conjunction activity cards can be used as a scoot, scavenger hunt, or learning station type activity.

Grab these Conjunction Activity Cards HERE!


4. Don't Pick Me! Persuasive Writing Activity


 halloween-writing-activity

A favorite every year! Students try to convince you NOT to choose them as your Halloween pumpkin. Set your guidelines (I remind the students that their pumpkin may not be violent, etc.) and let the convincing arguments begin! The graphic organizers from this resource get the students going and they love making the corresponding craft. Have a little competition and provide time for reading the final essays out loud. Award small prizes for 2 or 3 pumpkins you would most definitely leave in the pumpkin patch!

You can get Don't Pick Me Writing Craftivity HERE!

Halloween Classroom Idea For Science


1. Static Ghosts


Have students make a graveyard out of cardboard, construction paper, and dollar store trinkets. Next, students cut tissue paper in the shape of ghosts and add details. The ghosts then get attached to the back of the tombstones with tape so that they fall back behind the tombstones. Rub a plastic ruler on a wool scarf, blanket, or sweater for a minute. Bring the plastic ruler close to the ghosts and watch them rise up! Talk about static electricity or watch a video clip that explains the concept.

Here's a quick video explaining static electricity that I found on Youtube:

Static Electricity Video For Kids

Halloween Classroom Idea For Social Studies



1. Make Globe Pumpkins!


 pumpkin-globes

Students can each bring in their own pumpkin or you can sometimes get them discounted or even free from local farmers. I find the closer we get to Halloween, the better chance of getting a good deal! Another way to cut costs is to have the kids work in pairs so that you only need half as many pumpkins.

You could make this a multi-day project that works something like this:
Day 1 - Students observe and handle actual globes. Have them find the continents and oceans. Then have students sketch continent forms on paper that will fit well onto their pumpkins. Students cut out the forms and tape them to their pumpkins. Make sure students have their initials somewhere on the pumpkin!
Day 2 - Finalize the continents. Students make any size adjustments and trace around their continent forms onto their pumpkins. Students paint one side of pumpkin continents and allow them to dry overnight.
Day 3 - Students paint the remaining continents and allow them to dry overnight.
Day 4 - Students paint half the oceans and allow them to dry overnight.
Day 5 - Students paint the remaining oceans and allow them to dry overnight.
Day 6 - Students label the continents and oceans. They can make labels on paper and then tape them to the pumpkin. That way, there are no errors that would require you to get out the paint again! Display the pumpkins for all to see!

Need to save time?
Get printable continent outlines and labels here!

 pumpkin-globes



Halloween Movement Activity


1. Ghost Ghost Witch



Bring the kiddos outside for this Halloween themed version of Duck Duck Goose! Students form a circle and sit down. One student is IT and walks around the outside of the circle saying "ghost" as he/she gently taps students' heads or shoulders.  IT decides on who will chase him/her by saying "witch!" IT runs around the circle and tries to make it back to the witch's place before the witch tags him/her. Any student tagged sits in the middle for the next round and the witch becomes IT. Not likely to find curriculum objectives with this game unless you're a phys. ed. teacher, but it works well as a brain break!


Hope you found a new idea or 2 to pop into your plans this October! What are your favorite fall or Halloween activities? Feel free to drop an idea into the comments below!

September 30, 2019

4 More Fun And Easy Ways To Practice Multiplication Facts

When it comes to math facts, drill and repetition are necessary, but the challenge is making the task interesting and fun for students. The key is to mix up the practice and try some new activities. You'll know which ones the kids like best because they will ask to play them over and over again!


Before The Activity

Ask students to focus on remembering one fact at the conclusion of the activity that previously has been difficult to memorize.


1. Play Rock Paper Scissors Math

I can't take credit for this game! I've seen it in a few places online, but I will explain how I adapted the game for my classroom.

Students walk around the room with hand raised until they find a partner. Each student high fives another student with hand raised and the pair begins to play. Together they say "Rock, paper, scissors, math!" On "math" each student puts out any number of fingers two through nine. No ones or zeros allowed because there's always that one kid! Students then multiply the two numbers of fingers that they each put out. The first student to say the answer correctly gets "wins."

The teacher rings a bell to signal the end of each round. Students again raise hands, find a different partner, and repeat the process.

This activity is great when you have limited time for practice and/or the kids are antsy and need to move about!


2. Use Write and Pass Notebooks

Using cheap notebooks, write the facts to be practiced on the cover of each notebook such as x7. Attach a multiplication chart to the back of the notebook. Some school notebooks already have one of these printed in the back! You will need as many notebooks as students.

Decide on and explain the direction that the notebooks will be passed around the class. Students should be able to reach the student who they will pass to without getting up with the exception of the one student at the end who will need to get up to give a notebook to the student at the beginning.

Give each student a random notebook and have them turn to the first blank page. He/she will write out the facts indicated in that notebook until the teacher indicates to stop.

7 x 1 = 7
7 x 2 = 14
7 x 3 = 21
and so on

You can ring a bell when it looks like most students are finishing up to signal that it is time to check answers and pass the notebooks.

Allow students a minute to check their answers with the key in the back of the notebook.

Notebooks get passed to the next student as explained and students start on the next set of facts. Continue as time permits. Collect the notebooks and store to use again for a quick review.


3. Grab the Sidewalk Chalk

Nice enough to go outside? Break out the sidewalk chalk and bring the flashcards and learning outside!

Separate into small groups of about 5 or 6 with a teacher, aide, or student leader for each group. The teacher, aide or student leader holds up flashcards and the students answer on the sidewalk or blacktop with sidewalk chalk.

If using student leaders, switch up the student leaders after a bit so everyone has the opportunity to practice with the sidewalk chalk.

 Multiplication Facts Wheels

Multiplication Facts Wheels


4. Print and Go Math Wheels

Ready for some calmer practice? Try these printable math wheels. Use as morning work, daily practice, or small groups.

Follow Up

After the activity, students share which fact stuck by writing it on a sticky note and sticking it up on the board or in a place designated by the teacher.

Click here for 3 Additional Ways to Practice Math Facts


What are some creative ways have you practiced math facts? Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments below!

September 22, 2019

A Plan For Successful Tutoring

After school tutoring can be a great way to use your teaching skills and strategies to reach students on a different level while earning a little extra income along the way.

 tutoring-business


Legal Stuff


1. See Your Accountant

We do not offer tax or legal advice so be sure to consult your accountant and/or attorney to make sure that your tutoring business is set up correctly in your state or region before starting out.

Getting Ready


1. Securing a Place

Secure a place where you will conduct your tutoring. I have found the public libraries in my area to be good places to meet with students for tutoring because they offer a quiet area away from major distractions. As a bonus, being at the public library can open up possibilities to you and your student that you may not have known about! 

If tutoring at your school, make sure that you get permission from the administration or board. 

2. Getting the Word Out

Does your school secretary or guidance office keep a list of tutors? Will you leave business cards in prominent places? Will you use social media posts? 

Many clients seem to come by word of mouth and social media recommendations once you get established. 

3. Your First Student

As soon as you have your first student lined up, it's time to prepare. Preparation is the key to a successful tutoring session!

Talk with the student's parent or guardian to set up a time and place for tutoring. Exchange contact information. Talk about expectations, specifically where help is needed, and payment options.  Inform the parent about any materials that the student will need to bring such as homework and school materials. Ask about any allergies. If permitted at the tutoring location, consider having healthy snacks available for the student. Snacks are welcomed by students who are coming straight from school or practice. Finally, ask about the child's interests.

Contact the student's teacher to get some background information about strengths and where he/she needs the most support.

4.  Planning

Overplan! It's better to have too much to do than not enough! 

Plan time for your student to work on any assignment such as homework that the parent or teacher has requested your help with. 

Next, plan games and hands-on activities. These types of resources will keep your student engaged and having fun while learning.

Keep your lessons relatable to your student. For example, if your student is into art and you are working on descriptive writing, consider bringing in a print to discuss and write about. For a student into soccer and working on cause and effect, play a game clip, discuss, and have the student write about the cause and effect in the clip. For a student into the theater and working on ending punctuation, provide part of a script with missing punctuation marks. Have the student read the script and add in the ending punctuation.

Make a list of suggestions for ongoing practice. To maximize the interaction between you and your student, consider saving any online game or activity for last as a possible follow up suggestion and form of practice. 

5.  Materials

Consider having a designated bag just for tutoring resources. Keep a supply of pencils, erasers, scissors, glue sticks, and colored pencils in your bag. Keep an iPad, Chrome Book, or Laptop in the bag. Add specific materials to the bag for each tutoring session after your plans are done.  Keep a notebook or binder such as these in your tutoring bag.

 tutoring-binder

 tutoring-business-binder



The Tutoring Session


1. Greeting

Greet the student and spend a minute or two asking how the day or week went. Include both school and after school activities. If agreed upon and allowed, this would be the time to offer a healthy snack.

2. Five-minute warm-up

This activity should be a review of a previous lesson. Keep it short and simple.

3. Requested Help

Help the student with any assignments that the parent or teacher has requested your help with. Doing this first ensures that you won't run out of time.

4. Games and Activities 

This is the fun part! Break out all the games and activities that you found and prepared to support learning.

5. Closing

Use an exit ticket or another form of assessment to track student learning.

6. Follow up Suggestions

Use the last few minutes to discuss how to practice and apply skills. You may want to include the parent for this part.

7. Next Meeting

Set up the next tutoring session.

Use this freebie to summarize your session!

 free-tutoring-resource


8. Keeping Records

Add follow up appointments to your calendar or planner. 

Remember to record financial information as directed by your accountant.


How do you plan for a successful tutoring session? Feel free to share your own tips in the comments below! 


September 12, 2019

How To Manage Reward Coupons In The Classroom

There are many ways to use reward coupons in the classroom. Kids love to receive and use reward coupons, and they can easily be part of your classroom management.




3 Ways To Use Reward Coupons In The Classroom


1. Class Store or Treasure Box

Keep the reward coupons in your class store or treasure box and integrate them into your existing classroom management system. Students can have the opportunity to buy coupons with the points, chips, tickets, or classroom dollars that you already use. Try keeping 3 or 4 different coupons available and change them up from time to time to keep students interested.




2. Stand Alone Reward

Use reward coupons as a stand-alone reward for the attainment of a specific goal. For example, when students improve their individual multiplication facts mastery to a specified level, they get to choose a coupon.


3. Game Prizes

Use reward coupons as game prizes. Sure, sometimes we play class games and the only thing the kids win is bragging rights, but sometimes it's fun to play for prizes! Consider using reward coupons for prizes when you play games like review bingo.





Click here to get a set of 27 reward coupons to use in your classroom!

 Reward Coupons



Managing the Reward Coupons


I have found that the 2 best times to allow students to cash in on their reward coupon are:

1. During Morning Work Time

For example, you could allow students to have "drawing time" instead of completing a morning work assignment. Of course, this is at your discretion and you know your students best.



2. During Indoor Recess

Using reward coupons during recess is very popular with students when there is inclement weather and they will not be going outside. They seem to prefer to return to the classroom during indoor recess to complete a coupon activity such as "painting time."

For my own sanity, I only allow 3 or 4 students to use a coupon at one time. Also, students may only use one coupon per day.

Reward Coupons are fun prizes and can easily be part of your classroom management plan!

How have you used reward coupons in the classroom? Feel free to comment below to share your own suggestions!




April 30, 2019

Fidget Spinner Day!

Once testing is over and the school year is winding down, holding special events in your classroom can be fun for the kids as they apply skills they have been learning throughout the year. 



Fidget Spinner Day is a favorite! You can pick and choose the ideas that will work for your class. The link to the resource used to manage Fidget Spinner Day is at the bottom of this post.




I find it helpful to begin by having the students make the project cover so they have a place to keep all of their tasks as they complete them. The cover is made by folding the 2 edges of a regular file folder to the middle. The spinners on the cover are made with brightly colored card stock, black paper, aluminum foil, and 3 paper fasteners. The name tag is printed on brightly colored paper. The outlines to make the cover are included in the resource (link below!)

Here is a sample of some of the tasks that you can assign.  The kids glue the task cards that they complete inside the folder. Loose papers for other activities can be tucked inside the folder.



You may want to build excitement and anticipation by having the students complete a few activities prior to Fidget Spinner Day. Others can be assigned as follow up. 

Kids love to break out the fidget spinners and try out the station activities in this resource. I always have a few extra spinners on hand for the kids that forget or do not own one. I have also found that some students love to share their extra fidget spinners with classmates. 

Here is the link to the printables:

 Fidget Spinner Activities

                                                            Fidget Spinner Activities

Fidget spinners were extremely popular in 2017. The kids love hearing about fads from when their teacher was growing up! I always tell about the pet rock craze and how my mom would not spend money on a rock! This story prompted my co-teacher to give me one as a gift. So now I have my very own pet rock after all these years! Now if only I had saved my mood ring...



As new fads come along, sometimes we can use the craze to teach and apply skills! 

March 31, 2019

Spring Fever? Take Learning Outside!



As you enthusiastically teach your carefully planned lesson on multiplying fractions, you scan the room and notice squirmy kids gazing out the window. Some are obviously ignoring your lesson and some are politely trying to hide the fact that they are more interested in what’s going on outdoors than what’s happening on the Smartboard.  The kids have a case of spring fever and well, so do you! Take the signal from the kids and take the learning outside!

Here are 5 outside activities with suggestions that fit into different areas of the curriculum. Use the suggestions or adapt to fit your own curriculum needs. The activities are low prep and use materials commonly found in your classroom or school. (Our Phys. Ed. teacher is quite used to me borrowing balls, hoops, jump ropes, and the such!)  Remember to let the office know that you will be outside in case they need to reach you!


Let’s play!



Playground Ball Games

Materials Needed:
Playground Balls or Soccer Balls (half the number of students in your class)
For spelling practice, a Spelling List

For this game, students review curriculum content by throwing, bouncing, or kicking a ball back and forth with a partner. This game works well with counting by multiples to reinforce multiplication facts. For example, the first student says, "2" and passes the ball to his/her partner. The other student says "4" and passes the ball back and so on. Students can start with 2’s and work their way up to the 12’s. This game can also be used to practice spelling words. Have students bring out a spelling list on a clipboard. One student starts by calling out a word. Students can bounce the ball back and forth while saying each letter in the word.



Measuring Practice

Materials Needed:
Tape Measures or Meter Sticks
Recording Sheet and Pencil

Students work individually or with a partner to measure various items in a defined area. Decide on items to measure as a class. You can also allow some choices. Give students boundaries for your playground area as you see fit. Distribute tape measures or meter sticks and head outside! Students measure items and record their answers and units. This FREE recording sheet is ready for you to download, print, and distribute. 

Click HERE




Sidewalk Chalk Ideas

Materials Needed:
Sidewalk Chalk
Curriculum Content

I’ve used sidewalk chalk in 3 different ways. The first is for writing out multiplication facts. The next way is to practice spelling words. The third way is to study for an upcoming quiz or test. To study, students would partner up with study guides in hand. Students would take turns asking each other questions from the study guide. The other partner would write the answer with sidewalk chalk. The pair would then reverse roles. 



Hand Clap Poems

Materials Needed:
Notebook and Pencil

Move over Miss Mary Mac! Before going outside, have students share any hand clap poems that they may already know. Challenge them to partner up and create their own handclap rhyme. Students write down their poem and routine in their notebooks. Allow students to share their hand clap rhymes with the rest of the class. Alternately, you could have the kiddos create jump rope rhymes! 



Nature Scavenger Hunt

Materials Needed:
Recording Sheet and Pencil

Give students time to get out and observe spring! A simple FREE checklist for a quick scavenger hunt can be found HERE



If desired, use the checklist as a starter for a writing assignment or for creating math word problems. 


Spring is such a fun time for learning!