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August 2, 2022

Whole Group Math Games

Quick whole group math games motivate students and reinforce skills that have been previously taught. Basic facts games can be easily added at the end of each lesson or possibly in the middle of the math block as a brain break. 


I Have Who Has type games are easy to fit in. These games begin by handing each student a game card. The student who has "I have the first card" begins the game by saying "I have the first card. Who has....(the fact on their card)" Play continues until the student with the last card says. "I have the last card." Try keeping a few sets of these cards on hand as a daily review! 


When students need a more active game, have a large beach ball prepared with lots of multiplication facts written on it with a Sharpie. Students toss the ball around and answer the fact closest to their right thumb before tossing again.


Another quick review game is Musical Math. This activity begins with a worksheet on each student's desk. Play some upbeat music as students walk or dance around the room. When you stop the music, students grab a seat and work on a worksheet. Problems can be completed in any order. Students write their initials next to each problem completed. Play the music again as a signal for students to stop working and walk or dance about again. Repeat as time permits or until students seem to be finishing up the worksheets. Musical Math can be used to review many different skills.




Need even more math games? Check out these:

5 Whole Group Games That Work With Kids At Their Seats

Math Game Time

Students are sure to love math time!

June 7, 2022

Teach Descriptive Writing All Year Long

Students may benefit from working on descriptive writing throughout the year. The descriptive writing ideas below start with building background knowledge and proceed to students writing on their own.


1. Share examples of descriptive writing.

In the beginning, you can introduce descriptive writing by pointing out descriptions on products such as cereal boxes and packages of toilet paper.

Next, move on to descriptive writing in books. You could use books you have on hand because many stories have descriptive writing.  If you are reading a chapter book as a read-aloud, you could casually point out descriptive writing here and there without disrupting the story. Make it a point to share examples of vivid descriptions.

2. Have students write a descriptive sentence. 

Once students have some background knowledge, they can try out some descriptive writing for themselves. One way to start out is by using photos from magazines or travel brochures. Give each student a photo and have them make a list of words to describe the picture. Encourage the use of the 5 senses. Students then use their descriptive words to write a sentence that describes the picture. Have students share their sentences.

3. Expand on simple sentences.

Give students a sentence with little or no descriptive words such as:
The cat walked across the yard.
Model expanding the sentence to something like:
The smoke gray cat stealthily walked across the backyard in search of a field mouse.
Give students a few sentences to expand on their own. Use this activity as morning work, a warm-up, exit ticket, or informal assessment.

4. Continue descriptive writing throughout the year.

Starting slowly with descriptive writing will keep students focused on the skill without getting overwhelmed. As you introduce figurative language, challenge students to include these elements in their writing. Keep a descriptive writing learning center in your rotation.

This resource works great in a learning station and is perfect for students who are ready to move on to develop their descriptive writing skills in paragraphs:




















Remind students that clear descriptive writing paints a picture in the reader's head and prepare to "see" some amazing paintings!

Need more ideas for descriptive writing? Try

April 18, 2022

Early Finishers - Warning! Not For Quiet Classrooms!

Early finisher tasks are often assigned to students who finish assignments before the rest of the class. Although these tasks can be worthwhile assignments, the early finishers themselves are an overlooked valuable asset. 

In many situations, the early finishers can act as coaches for students who are struggling to keep up. Coaches work particularly well when students are completing hands-on activities such as craftivities. 

One way to facilitate coaches could work like this:

1. The first wave of students finish an assignment.

Other students are at various stages of completion...anywhere from just finding their scissors to almost finished.

2. Have the early finishers clean up their own space.

While the early finishers clean up, notice the various stages of completion of the other students. Mentally consider which early finisher may be a good match up for slower workers.

3. Ask "Who would like a coach?" and "Who would like to be a coach?"

Just ask students who are still working if they would like a classmate as a coach to help them move along. Then ask who would like to help out and be a coach. Students who are still working and the early finishers love this opportunity! 

4. Pair up students.

You know who works well with whom. Match up coaches to students still working.

5. State your expectations.

As students settle in beside each other, tell them that talking is expected, but to make sure that indoor voices are used. Add your expectations for use of materials. 

6. Assign additional coaches.

Continue assigning those who finish with those who are still working.

7. Monitor.

Walk around and assist as necessary.  


Student coaches are a win win win situation! The early finishers get something to do that isn't just another assignment, the slower workers get a little push, and the teacher has no additional assignments to prepare or grade for the early finishers. You just may find that the students who tend to work slowly pick up the pace on their own so that they have the opportunity to be a coach!

March 8, 2022

Fun Ways to Teach Geography

 There are many fun ways to teach geography!






















1. Play Globe Toss

For this whole group game, students toss an inflatable globe around. When a student catches it, they identify the place that their right thumb lands on.

2. Play I Packed My Suitcase

With this whole group memory game, students take turns naming places for each letter of the alphabet. The game gets progressively more difficult as students have to remember what the students before them have said.  Here's an example of a game: The first student says, "I packed my suitcase and I'm heading for (a place that starts with A) Alabama." The next student says, "I packed my suitcase and I'm heading for Alabama and (a place that starts with B) Bali." The third student says, "I packed my suitcase and I'm heading to Alabama, Bali, and (a place that starts with C) Costa Rica." Continue working through the alphabet until all students have had a turn. If you exhaust the alphabet, return to A. For tricky letters, allow students to peek at a map!

3. Have Students Learn About the Compass Rose


Students will love these fun geography ideas!

Click below for...















February 8, 2022

Super Fun No-Prep Brain Break Game

 "Warmer, colder, you're getting hot!"

 "Huckle Buckle Beanstalk!" 


Huckle Buckle Beanstalk is played like this:

Choose a small object to hide. 

Tell students that you will hide the object while they have their heads down. No peeking! 

With students' heads down, the teacher hides the object in plain sight without moving anything.

Say, "Heads up!" and explain that students will walk around the room looking for the object without touching anything. 

When a student spots the object, they return to their seat, and call out, "Huckle Buckle Beanstalk!" Students continue to look and follow the same procedure of returning to their seats and calling out, "Huckle Buckle Beanstalk."

If searching students struggle with finding the object, the seated students can call out: warmer, hotter, colder, you're freezing, you're burning up, etc to help.

The game ends when all students have spotted the object.

*Hint: Encourage students to keep walking for a bit after finding the object in order to trick their classmates into looking someplace else.

Add a little educational value to this game by hiding an object to introduce a unit. For example, if you are about to study magnets and electricity, you could hide a magnet. If you are going to study animals, you could hide a small plastic elephant. If you are about to read Charlotte's Web, you could hide a small spider. Have students determine what the next unit is, and this game can be part of an anticipatory set! 

Need more no-prep brain breaks? This quick, no-prep brain break resource is another student favorite and is great for those times when the students (or you!) have lost focus. 

Remember to join in on the fun!

January 5, 2022

National Fourth Graders Day

 Celebrate National Fourth Graders Day on January 10th because 4th Graders rock!


1. Let the kids decorate their desks! 

Students could pick a theme such as winter, stars, turtles, the color pink, sports, etc. They can bring in items to decorate from home. You could also provide some craft supplies and ask colleagues if they have any craft supplies they no longer need.

2. Dress alike.

Ask the kids to wear jeans and a black (or whatever color you want) shirt. Just for fun add cheap sunglasses or bead necklaces. If you have time and resources, you could buy 4th Grade Rocks T-shirts. Remember to take pictures!

3. Create a hallway display.


This rock star theme bulletin board would work well. The banner reads 4th Grade Rocks. Print the Meet the Star information sheets for students to complete. Hang them up in the hall under the banner. Take and print photos of each student to add to the display.

4. Conduct surveys and create graphs of Fourth Grade Favorites.

Have the 4th graders in your school complete a survey about favorites. Survey favorite ice cream flavor, sport, food, beverage, color, animal, TV show, movie, season, etc. Pairs of students could then graph results. Display the completed projects! 

5. Read or start to read a 4th Grade novel.

Try Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.

6. Make a rock garden.


Purchase some large rocks. You could ask for a donation of enough rocks for your class or ask for a teacher discount. Have students trace around their rock on paper and use the tracing to plan their design. Then break out the paints and let the creativity flow. Allow the paint to dry, and then have students place their rocks outside in the area you have designated. Complete this activity year after year with your students, and watch the rock garden grow!

7. Write a poem.

A cinquain-type poem about 4th Grade would be fun! Cinquain goes like this:

Line 1 - One noun

Line 2 - Two adjectives

Line 3 - Three ing words

Line 4 - Four feeling words (or a 4-word feeling phrase)

Line 5 - Another word for the noun

Here's an example:

Fourth-Grader

Funny, smart

Laughing, thinking, creating

Happy to be here

Student 


8. Interview a 4th grader.

Don't teach 4th grade? No problem! Have your students prepare questions and arrange to meet with a 4th Grade class. Pair students up and let the interviews begin! Afterward, students can share in a newsroom-type report. 


Have fun celebrating amazing 4th Graders! 

November 12, 2021

Teaching Drawing Conclusions

Students may benefit from a concrete to abstract approach when learning how to draw conclusions. 


You could start by playing a guessing game with real items.

Some ideas are:

  • Beach bag with towel and sunblock
  • Baseball or soccer bag with equipment 
  • Birthday present
  • Dog leash and tennis ball
  • Canvas and paints
  • Suitcase
  • Book and library card
  • Flashlight and sleeping bag

Display the items and have students guess where you are going.

Explain to the students that they used the items as clues + what they already knew to draw conclusions without you actually telling them where you were going.

Explain that when we read, we use clues in the story + what we already know to draw conclusions.

This drawing conclusions worksheet can be used with any text. It works well in guided reading groups to help students develop the skill.


You can reinforce the drawing conclusions skill with worksheets throughout the school year.