July 12, 2020

4th Grade Writing Prompts and Ideas

4th Grade curriculum usually includes 4 types of writing.

This chart summarizes expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative writing. It can be used as a reference and get you started with your lessons.


Does your writing curriculum need supplements?

Kids love this Opinion Writing resource that may help with your persuasive writing goals:

 opinion-writing

Once students are interacting again, you can try a fun way to distribute the opinion writing prompts!
1. Place each prompt in a separate envelope. Do not seal.
2. Have students stand up.
3. Distribute one envelope to each student. Spread out the extra envelopes on a table.
4. Students look at their prompt but keep it a secret.
5. If the student wants to keep their prompt, they sit down with it.
6. If a student does not want the prompt, they may EITHER trade with a classmate or swap at the table.
7. Repeat step 6 one more time or for as long as your patience allows!
8. Students use an organizer and begin writing.


Need just a graphic organizer for your own topics? Check out this print and go best seller for only $1.00!

 personal-narrative

Have you ever thought about having pen pals? Pen pal letter exchange can help students practice their writing skills. Check out this older post where I talk about how I teamed up with a teacher in California for a pen pal experience.    


Once you team up with another teacher, you may want to use this friendly letter resource to get your kids started:

 friendly-letter-writing

Choice boards are all the rage and writing is no exception! Kids and teachers love these writing choice boards that can be used throughout the school year. One teacher states: "I used this during writers workshop. The kids really loved the variety of prompts and it was easy to implement every month."

 writing-prompts


What motivates your students to write? Feel free to respond in the comments below!

June 21, 2020

Step By Step Plan For Organizing A Pet Show

I can still remember how proud I felt when I saw that blue first place ribbon on my hampster's cage. The annual pet show at my elementary school was a time to show off our critters. Parents and guardians would arrive with our pets while we waited anxiously in our classrooms for our turn to go outside and look around. One year someone brought a horse!

A pet show can be planned for your school, grade level, or your own class. If you will be the project planner, here are some steps that you may want to consider:

1. Get approvals from your administration, board, and local officials.

It's better to ask about what you need to do in order to be safe and compliant.

2. Decide on a day and time. 

Plan a rain date.

3. Have a conversation with the school nurse and special education staff.

Ask what suggestions they have to make the experience accessible to all children.

4. Form a committee.

A committee will allow you to delegate the remaining responsibilities.

5. Email colleagues with a save the date and general information. 


6. Notify parents about the event.

Parents need to be informed about how students can participate. This notice should include requirements such as proof of rabies vaccine, parent accompaniment, leashes, cages, etc.
Have students prepare their own letter home inviting parents and guardians to bring pets.

7. Make a sign-up sheet or schedule for visiting the pet show.


8. Make a map of the pet show area.


9. Make and print out certificates. 

Certificates are included in the resource below!

10. Obtain tables, cones, shade tents, and other equipment.


11. Obtain extra water to have on hand for pets.


12. Set up a check-in station for when pets arrive.


13. Assign a staff member to take pictures.


14. Set up a voting system if students are voting for a favorite pet.


15. Enjoy the pet show!




16. Announce winners and distribute awards.


17. Thank all who made the event possible!

 pet-show

Need some of the details taken care of? Grab this Pet Show Planning Guide for only $2.00!
This resource is also useful for planning a Stuffed Animal Pet Show as an alternative to live pets. It includes a printable checklist of the steps above and award certificates for both a live pet show and a stuffed animal pet show. This is a great end of the year activity!

June 6, 2020

Make Math Practice a Habit

In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell refers often to the 10,000 hour rule. This rule implies that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything. Although there are critics, most would agree that if we look closely at experts in many fields, we find that there were stepping stones along the way in the form of significant units of time spent practicing.


For students, practicing math daily can help with the retention of foundation skills even as new skills are introduced. In particular, many students seem to need significant practice with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division algorithms. Practice can be assigned for morning work, warm-ups, take-home practice, distance learning packets, tutoring, or extra help.

Practice can take the form of copying problems off the board into a notebook, worksheets, or digital practice. Copying problems off the board will help with eye-hand coordination. Worksheets can save teachers time and offer an answer key. Finally, there are plenty of websites that offer quick practice in the form of games and interactive learning.

If you have students practice by copying a few problems off the board or by solving problems on worksheets each day, you could give students time to explain how several problems are solved. The process of explaining will further help students retain how to complete the algorithms. It is important that students who are struggling and more confident students be given the opportunity to explain how to solve the problems. Of course, the teacher would offer support to any struggling student to make sure they were confident enough to present a solution to the class.

These 3 printable resources each provide 20 days of practice. With these worksheets, students solve just 4 problems each day, and there is plenty of space to show work. These sets of worksheets can be alternated with writing problems on the board and digital practice for variety.
 Math Practice

Daily Math Practice Fall Theme
Daily Math Practice Winter Theme
Daily Math Practice Spring Theme


Do you provide daily math practice to your students? Feel free to share your own ideas in the space below!





May 7, 2020

A Moment In Time

A 4th Grader at the Nickelodeon Time Capsule Ceremony would be about 28 years old today and 62 years old when the time capsule is dug up. In 1992 kids voted on what to include in that Nickelodeon time capsule. Among the items that are buried are Home Alone and Back to the Future on VHS, a Nintendo Game Boy, rollerblades, a skateboard, a piece of the Berlin Wall, a baseball, Twinkies, and a jar of Gak. The time capsule will be removed from Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando on April 30, 2042.


Time capsules capture a moment in time with a collection of pop culture, current events, memorabilia, and ideas from a way of life. While some items remain timeless, others seem to be destined for extinction before the time capsule is even sealed. There is no doubt that future generations will want to learn what it was like living through this pandemic as those of us experiencing it document the events that will eventually be referred to as "back in the day."

Kids have a unique perspective and can create a time capsule to document their experiences, thoughts, and feelings. With a bit of background knowledge, kids can create a time capsule to mark this moment in time. Here are some basic steps to get the kids creating followed by a link to a unique and inexpensive printout for an easy COVID-19 Time Capsule.

1. Discuss what a time capsule is and show examples.

You could Google images of time capsules and show the kids the video of the Nickelodeon Time Capsule Ceremony on YouTube.

Nickelodeon Time Capsule Ceremony on YouTube

2. Talk about where you may have seen time capsules or participated in making one. 

If you were alive for the turn of the century, you most likely participated in one. Who remembers Y2K lol?! It seems like just yesterday that my daughter was adding a Pokeball to her silver cardboard time capsule in 1999.

3. Get a container. 

A plastic food storage container, Pringles can, or paper towel tube could work. The printable time capsule below calls for an empty toilet paper roll (no explanation necessary here!)

4. Brainstorm ideas for what should be placed in the time capsule. 

Items that are too big can be pictures. Nickelodeon used a picture of a bike.

5. Gather the items and pictures and place them in the time capsule.


6. Remember to label the time capsule with the date to be opened and store it in a safe place. 

If you choose to bury the time capsule, make sure your container is compatible and that you follow your local laws and guidelines for digging.

Want to save time and keep the kids engaged? Grab an empty toilet paper roll and this printable COVID-19 Time Capsule HERE!
 COVID-19-time-capsule

Assign these to your students or make them with your own kids! 

Have you made time capsules before? Feel free to leave a comment below to tell about your own ideas! 

April 14, 2020

7 Benefits of Choice Boards

Choice boards come in a variety of forms and there's no limit to creativity when designing and implementing them.


Here are a few benefits of choice boards:

1. Choice boards are a good option for distance learning.

They can be used to assign a variety of tasks over a given period of time.

2. Choice boards can give students a break from screen time. 

All or some of the activities on a choice board can be designed to be completed without a device.

3. Choice boards are a great tool for differentiation.

Students with special needs can be assigned a limited number of choices or specific activities if appropriate.

4. Student choice is motivating.

Students can be given the opportunity to choose the number of activities, the order, or both. They feel in charge!

5. Choice boards can be created for virtually any subject area or level.

I've created them for writing, reading, spelling, grammar, science, social studies, and math. I've seen them for health, physical education, art, music, speech, and foreign language. They can be created for use in Kindergarten through higher education. 

6. They can be created easily.

Make them as simple or as fancy as you like. Many simply start with a 3 X 3 grid. Some teachers create them with learning modalities (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) in mind. You can create them with point values. Some are made with the middle space as a free choice. Others are created so that students must choose 3 in a row like Tic Tac Toe. Some choice boards are made in the form of menus and include appetizers, main courses, sides, and desserts. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination! 

7. Choice boards are fun!

Something happens when you give a kid a clipboard...


Want to try out a few before creating your own? These are popular Writing Choice Boards!

 writing-prompts


Oldies but Goodies:

Have you discovered any other benefits of choice boards? If so, feel free to explain in the comments below! 

March 26, 2020

How To Manage Learning Stations In Social Studies

Social Studies curriculum often does not engage students in a way that maximizes learning. However, Social Studies can actually be a great subject for learning stations and students love stations!

The key to fitting stations into a busy schedule is to spread them out over the course of 5 days. Students can complete one station per day for 4 days. The fifth day can be set aside for students to finish any incomplete station and finalize any work to be turned in. If all stations are complete, students can work on a packet which is explained below.

I hope you find the following steps useful in planning your learning stations!

1. Brainstorm ideas about the unit.

Make a list of possible activities that you would like for your class. Resources could come from Pinterest, Google, your own files, and any useful materials from your curriculum. Activities that work well in stations include scavenger hunts, matching, sorting, craftivities, and games.

2. From your list, choose 4 different types of activities for the unit.

For example, you might select one sorting activity, one game, one crafty activity, and one teacher-directed activity where students would meet with you.

3. Make a packet of worksheets related to your unit. 

These worksheets can include vocabulary work, research, passages, etc. The packet will be kept in students' station folders to be used in the event they finish a station early. That way, students always have something to do! This packet is also used on the fifth day which is a catch-up day.

4. On paper, divide your students into 4 groups that can work well together. 

Write the students' names on different color index cards under Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4.

5. Gather pocket folders to use as station folders.


6. Plan a little extra time on the first day of stations.

List the stations on the board and use a magnet to place the index cards with students' names under each station. Explain your rules and expectations for students. Distribute folders and packets. Explain that they will go to one station per day, but will eventually go to every station. Explain that the packet is to be used in the event they finish a station early. Finally, have students record the stations on the tracking sheets if you are using the planning resource below.

7. Ready set go!

Let students try the first station. After the first station, give students time to reflect. Ask how the station went and if they have any questions, concerns, or suggestions. Clean up and collect the folders.

Chances are when students walk in the next day, at least one student will ask, "Are we doing stations today?'"

8. Continue rotating the stations for 3 more days. 

On the fifth day, allow students to finish any station they may have missed. Collect the folders and use them for assessment as you see fit.

Are you the type of teacher who just loves to organize with printables? This resource includes printables to help you plan your learning stations. It includes a teacher brainstorming page, a schedule to keep track of the stations, a chart to list student groups, and a station tracker for students.
learning-stations

Do you have any learning station ideas to share? Feel free to share in the comments below!









March 7, 2020

5 Easy Ways To Celebrate Pi Day In The Elementary Grades

Why celebrate Pi Day? Because it's fun, educational, and why should the big kids have all the fun?!

In case it's been a while since you came across the word, Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Pi is an irrational number, which means its decimal form never ends or becomes repetitive. March 14th is Pi Day because the date contains the first 3 digits of Pi: 3.14. Back in the day, Pi was just another math term to learn. Nowadays, classrooms all over the world celebrate Pi Day in many creative ways. Kids today have all the fun!

Students in 4th Grade can begin to understand Pi! Here are just a few ideas to try:

1. Read Circumference and the Dragon of Pi 

Circumference and the Dragon of Pi is written by Cindy Neuschwander, illustrated by Wayne Geehan. It is a good introduction and includes plenty of math terms. It may go over some heads a bit, but it's a fairy tale, and that is an overlooked genre. So give it a go.

2. Challenge students to memorize as many digits of Pi as they can. 

I once had a student who memorized over 30 digits! Make the competition sweet with a Tastykake pie for a prize!

3. Get out the calculators and rulers and find the circumference of some circles. 

Find some circular objects in the classroom, complete an example together, and let students try out the formula with a partner. Measure the diameter of a circle and multiply by (Pi) 3.14 to find the circumference. Make sure the kiddos know that the circumference is approximate when multiplying the diameter times 3.14!

4. Use this lesson to make Pi posters to take home.

Pi Day Lesson

5. Finish up by making individual Pies! 

I grab those mini pie crusts and individual puddings on sale. Students spoon the pudding into the crusts with a plastic spoon and enjoy some mini pies on Pi Day!


Will you celebrate Pi Day in your classroom? Feel free to tell about your own celebration in the comments below!