March Round Up

Can you believe that it's time for another monthly round up?  March is only a few days away!

If you're looking for some fun activities and ideas to use in your classroom, then keep on reading, and be sure to grab the freebies along the way.

Need a bulletin board idea for this month?  Then, you'll love this one.  Peeps poems! 

I do this every year with my students.  I let each student sample a Peep (it doesn't matter if you use the bunnies or the chicks) and then they write an adjective poem about them.  Even when the kids don't like the candy, they still love the activity.

The craft is super simple, and can be used in a number of ways.  Let your students color or paint the Peeps.  Or, have them cover it  with tissue paper for a textured look.  Or, simply copy it on colored paper and have them cut it out.  You can keep it as simple as you want, or add a bit of flair using the suggestions above.

For complete details on how I carry out this lesson with my second graders, click here.

To grab this freebie from my TPT store, click here.

I don't usually do a whole lot with St. Patrick's Day.  Truth be told, I'm not a fan of leprechauns, but I do love rainbows and green stuff.

Speaking of green stuff, why not host a Green Tasting Party?

A Green Tasting Party is a fun classroom experience where you serve a variety of green foods.  It is a unique experience, and you can connect it to the standards. Wondering how?  Turn it into a writing activity!

For more detailed ideas (and suggestions) for hosting a Green Tasting Party, plus a writing freebie to tie your Green Tasting Party to the standards, click here.

Here's another fun (and easy) activity for St. Patrick's Day.

It's perfect for a Fun Friday activity!

  • Give each student a piece of white card stock cut to 8.5 x 8.5 inches.
  • Task students with painting rainbow stripes on the card stock (I used watercolors).
  • Let dry.
  • Cut out a shamrock pattern (you can copy it on green paper ahead of time, or let students paint it too).
  • Glue the shamrock to the rainbow background.
Easy peasy!  And, you just scored yourself some festive decor for your classroom.  Click here to grab the directions and shamrock pattern all in one free download.

Don't forget, NEA's Read Across America Week takes place this month.

I love Reading Week.  We always have so much fun.  Our school has a committee that organizes various school wide events, but we also have lots of fun in the classroom.  

One of my favorite things to do in the classroom is to have themed DEAR times each day. I send this note home the Friday before the big week so that the students can prepare in advance.

The kids look forward to the different themes each day.  You can grab this handout here.

For more more great Reading Week ideas, be sure to visit my Reading Week board on Pinterest.



Thanks for stopping by today everyone!  I hope you were able to use an idea or two.  :)

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Keeping Students Engaged, Part 4

Welcome back to Part 4 of Keeping Students Engaged.  Thank you so very, very much for reading along the past several weeks!  If you're just stumbling upon this series for the first time and would like to read from the beginning, you can do so by clicking here or by clicking the "Engagement Activities" label on the right hand sidebar.

This week I'll be talking about the structured engagement activity known as I Have, Who Has.  When I say "structured engagement activity" I am referring to an activity that can be used and reused throughout the year with different skills and content.  While the content changes, the activity itself does not.  

I Have, Who Has is a great structure to have in your bag of tricks.  The kids think it's fun, and it forces them to focus and stay on task. So, let's get started!

What is it?
I Have, Who Has is an easy to play game.  It is a whole group activity that keeps kids on their toes.  It is perfect for practicing concepts like grammar, math, phonics, sight words, vocabulary, and so on.  It's versatility is what makes it another great structure to have on hand.

In this game, students take turns reading questions printed on a special set of cards.  When a student recognizes that they have the card with the answer to a question, they read their entire card aloud.  In doing so, they answer the question, as well as ask the next question.  This continues until all of the cards have been read and all of the questions answered.

How to Play
  1. Give each student a card.  If you have more cards than students, then some students will end up with two cards.
  2. The person with the start card reads his/her card.  If you don't have a card specifically identified as a "start" card, then pick a student to read his/her card.  It doesn't matter in this case because the game will come round full circle in the end.
  3. The student with the answer then reads his/her card aloud.
  4. Play repeats until all of the cards have been read and circles back around to the first student. 
When using this structure, you do need a set of cards that are specific to this game. While the structure lends itself to many different skills, the materials you use will need to be specifically designed to be able to play this game.  That is, using a set of task cards, or flash cards, won't really work.  But, don't fret, you can find lots of these sets on TPT, and you can also make your own.

You can grab this plural noun I Have, Who Has for FREE!  Click here to grab your set.  :)

Tip #1: Laminate your I Have, Who Has cards for durability and reuse.  After all, lamination is forever.  Hehe.

Tip #2: Use the same set of I Have, Who Has cards more than once during the year.  It's likely that your students will end up with different cards each time you play, and since it's a fast paced game and takes only minutes to play (5-10 minutes), it's a great way to review important skills.  I keep a few sets of cards, including this one, and the one above, on my desk so that we can play whenever we have time to spare.

Tip #3: When a student is ready to read his/her card, let him/her stand up when reading aloud.  You could even let them use silly voices, if you're feeling brave that day.

Tip #4: Let students read their cards while speaking into the classroom microphone (if you have one, of course).  We have voice enhancement systems, AKA microphones, so when we play this game, I have the students raise their hand when they are ready to read their card and I bring the microphone to them so they can do so.

Tip #5: What makes this activity engaging is the fact that students have to be attentive listeners and be cognizant of the information contained on their card.  If they aren't paying attention, it disrupts the flow of the game. And, nobody wants to be that person.

However, once a student reads their card, it is possible that they will begin tune out. But, you can help to eliminate that by adding an accountability component.  Each time a student asks a question, have ALL of your students write the answer on their personal whiteboards, or on a piece of scratch paper.  This will slow the game down a bit, but it holds ALL the students accountable throughout the ENTIRE game.

Final Note
I've had so much fun talking shop with you over the past four weeks.  Truly.  Engagement structures have been, and continue to be, a vital part of my teaching repertoire.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that I really don't know what I'd do without them.  I truly hope that you were able to learn a new strategy, or at least walk away with a new tip or two.

Want to make sure that you remember these tips and tricks?  Then pin away!

::PIN IT::

Missed the first three posts? Well, don't you worry, simply click on the links to the posts you missed.  Easy peasy.

Part 1: I Spy

Part 2: Scoot

Part 3: Quiz-Quiz-Trade

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Keeping Students Engaged, Part 3

Welcome to part three of my four part blog series on Keeping Students Engaged.  If you missed the first two parts, don't worry, I have included links to those topics at the end of this post.

In this series, I have been sharing structured engagement activities. These are activities that can be used and reused throughout the year with different skills and content. The content may change, but the activity and how it works does not.  These structures allow students to be successful because they are familiar with them, and they don't get bored with them because the content is always different.

Let's take a look at this week's structure!

Quiz-Quiz-Trade is one of my favorite engagement structures from the folks over at Kagan.  It's versatile, easy to implement, and a student favorite.

What is it?
Quiz-Quiz-Trade is an activity that gets kids moving as they actively participate in their learning.  Not only are they moving, but they are interacting with each other.  Students take turns reading questions, and answering said questions within an allotted time frame.

It is a versatile activity that can be used with any skill or subject area.  That's the beauty of engagement structures, you can reuse the activity, but change out the content thereby keeping things fresh for the kids.

How to Play
My students have always been able to grasp this structure quickly. It's an easy one to pick up on.  Here's how I use it in my classroom.
  1. Give each student a card with a question printed on it.  
  2. Set a time limit.
  3. Students walk around the room and read their questions to each other. Student A reads his/her question to Student B.  Student B answers the question. Then, Student B reads his/her question to Student A.  Student A answers the question.
  4. After the two students have read their cards to each other, they trade cards and then find someone new to read to.
  5. Play repeats until time is up.
  6. At the end of the activity, go over the questions as a whole group.

Tip #1: Your time limit will depend upon how much time you have to spare for this activity.  I find that I usually keep our Quiz-Quiz-Trade sessions limited to no more than 5 or 6 minutes because we also need time to go over the questions as a whole group.

Tip #2: I highly recommend that you set a voice level for this activity.  You will have a room full of kids all talking at once.  That has the potential for getting quite loud.  I tell my students to use a "two inch voice," meaning they speak only loud enough for their partner to hear them.  

Tip #3: It's OK if your students don't get a chance to read a question to every single one of their classmates.  With all of the trading going on, it's likely they will end up answering most of the questions, and they may even answer a few of them more than once. Be sure to tell your students this before you begin playing. 

When using this structure, you will need some question cards, like these.

Or these.  These question cards are perfect for practicing the skill of speaking in complete sentences.

You can grab these free question cards here.

Task cards and flash cards, like these, work great too. 

These flash cards are from the Smart Cookie Math Series by Lucky to be in First

Tip #3: If you need questions that are specific to what you're reading or learning, make your own question cards.  I often use this structure during our whole group reading time when reviewing for reading tests.  Each question card also has the answer printed on it, but this isn't necessary.

Tip #4: Work SMARTER, not harder, and team up with another teacher to create materials like this.  Several years ago, my team worked together to create questions like this for all of the stories in our basal (so that we have the option of using them as needed/desired).

Tip #5: Let the students write their own questions.  Be sure to remind them to write very neatly, and be sure to check their spelling so that their classmates will have an easier time reading the questions.

Final Note
I'm so glad you stopped by today!  Want to save these tips and tricks for future reference?  Then, be sure to pin this post!

::PIN IT::

If you missed the first two posts in the series, be sure to check them out by clicking the links below.
Part 1: I Spy
Part 2: Scoot
Part 4: I Have, Who Has


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