Find Your Partner {an Engagement Strategy}

Engagement strategies are big at my school.  We are encouraged to find different structures and activities that keep our students actively engaged across the content areas.  I have several go to engagement activities, but one of my favorites is Find your Partner!

What is it?
Find your partner combines movement and active thinking. Each student is given a card.  They are tasked with finding the student that has the card that goes with theirs. In short, it's a matching game. The cards always include content of some sort.  It's a versatile enough activity that you could use it with any subject or any topic. 

How it Works
Each student has a card.  Student A might have a card with a vocabulary word on it, and he/she tries to find the student (Student B), who has the definition printed on his/her card.

Or, Student A might have a card with a three-digit number printed on it, and he/she tries to find the student (Student B), who has the expanded form of that number printed on his/her card.

Kids love this engagement strategy because they are out of their seats and moving around.  It's a pretty fast paced game which means once all the cards are paired up, you could play it again and again.

I typically use this activity when reviewing vocabulary and various math skills.  But, again, you could use it to review just about anything.  We've been working on place value, so I keep these expanded form cards on my desk.  This way, we can sneak in a bit of extra review whenever we have a bit of time to spare.

Grab a set of these expanded form cards for yourself and play a round or two of Find Your Partner! Just click here to grab your freebie.  :)


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DIY Classroom Decor, Part 2

Yesterday I showed you how to make some cute classroom decor pieces using a single sheet of scrapbook paper.  Today, I will show you how to make larger accent pieces, without having your scrapbook paper on hand. 

Yesterday's example was able to fit on a single piece of 12 x 12 inch scrapbook paper.  Sometimes I want pieces that are a bit larger.  This is always the case for the pieces I feature on my hallway board.  They need to stand out and help showcase this large area.  I used to make pieces that were several feet tall, but again, I have simplified over the years.

No matter how big or small you make them, the concept is truly the same.  You just have to fiddle with your projector until you get the size you want.

Alrighty, here we go!

1. Enlarge your image so that you can trace larger pieces.  To make the image larger, simply use whatever function your overhead (or Elmo) might have to do so. 

2. Use a manila folder to make some "take home" tracers.  If you already have the colors you want/need, then you can trace the different parts of your image directly onto your various sheets of paper.

3. Cut out the tracers and use them to trace each part of the image onto your selected colors.  Trace over those pieces with marker, if you like.  Cut out each piece.

4. Assemble the pieces together, like a puzzle, and adhere with glue (I use the extra strength Elmer's Craft Bond glue sticks because they really hold up).  And, ta da....another super cute accent!
Isn't he adorable?  He will be featured on my hallway board along with a few other friends that I have yet to make.  I did manage to make one of his buddies, the skunk below.  This little guy will be sitting in a field of flowers (yet to be made).

Making your own decorative pieces can be so simple, and so much fun!  I absolutely love doing them year after year.  The hardest part, truly, is waiting until late August when I can finally hang them up and see it all come together.  Over the next few weeks I plan on making more forest creatures, tissue paper pom poms for my ceiling, tissue paper pom flowers for the corners of my boards and wall areas, and using my trusty Cricut to cut out some cute phrases.  I'm sure that when August rolls around I won't be able to resist sharing some pictures with you!

I hope you enjoyed this DIY tutorial!

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DIY Classroom Decor

It's that time of year where I start to think about my classroom theme for next year.  I change it up every year and I've never repeated a theme (yet, anyway).  I will admit, in the past few years I have simplified what I do to decorate and coordinate display items in my room (hey, mommyhood will do that to you), but I simply LOVE the fun of deciding upon, and bringing my theme to life.

I make all my own decorative pieces.  Actually, this is a school thing.  We all make our own boards and decor and it is preferred that you not use premade store bought stuff.  There are about a million and one ways to make your own decorations, and not one of them is better or superior to the next. When I make my own pieces I do so in one of two ways.  I'll cover the first way today.

First, I choose a theme I like and find some pictures (clip art, scrapbooking stickers, etc).  I am using a forest animal theme next year, so I found some great clip art from KPM Doodles.  I print the images I like on a transparency and then use an overhead projector to trace the image onto scrapbook paper.  Please note that at one point a friend and I consulted with a well respected library back east on the the copyright issues behind this and we were told it falls under personal use.  In years past I created very large pieces and made my own textured paper out of butcher paper and tissue paper. The look is amazing, but I can never get a perfect enough trace line (which drives me crazy), so I went in search of a different medium.  Enter scrapbooking is perfect, for me.  No weird bumps when I trace, no tearing, and it's much faster. 

Today I will show you how to make a cute display piece using 1 piece of scrapbook paper (a bit more if you include the accents).  Due to the size of scrapbooking paper my pieces can be more limited in size, but I'm OK with that, and there is a way to make bigger pieces (see tomorrow's post).

Let's begin!

1.  Display the image via an overhead projector onto a piece of scrapbook paper.  Use a pencil to trace the image.  For this deer, I traced the outline of the body onto the color you see here.  I then traded out the "iced cocoa" paper for white and traced the spots of fur.  Finally, I used another shade of tan to trace the face, hooves, and inner ear.  Essentially, you are creating a puzzle.  You do have to think about what needs to be traced and what colors you need to use to do so.

2. When you are finished tracing with pencil, trace over those lines with marker.  (You don't have to trace with marker, I just like how it looks).

3. Cut out all the pieces.  

4. Next, glue each piece in place.
5. Cut out the whole image and.....ta da!  A cute little accent piece to display in your room!

This little guy will be paired up with another deer.  I plan to position them so they are facing one another and holding a cute garland in their mouths.  They will help showcase my citizenship wall.

Please note that I did attempt to trace this and other pieces using an Elmo but I found it to be inferior to the "outdated" technology of the overhead. The overhead allows you to make the image larger or smaller; the Elmo only makes it bigger.  And, the overhead does not distort the images.  Case in point, I went to trace an oval shaped tree, but the Elmo kept projecting it as a circle.  Useless!  I tracked down an overhead and was able to get exactly what I needed (Thanks L!).

You can make as many or as few pieces as you like and use them to create cute vignettes, place them in the corner of bulletin boards, use them to fill empty spaces, etc.  The possibilities are endless!

Tomorrow I will show you how to use scrapbook paper to make larger pieces.

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Hands-On Addition & Subtraction w/Regrouping

This past week in math we finished up our unit on money.  With only three days before Spring Break I really didn't want to start anything new with my kiddos.  So, I whipped up a few resources for them to review their two-digit addition and subtraction, with and without regrouping (geesh, that's a mouthful).

I wanted them to review these important skills but thought it would also be good if I could incorporate some other review skills.  So, I came up with three different activities:
  • a two-digit addition sum sort (sums are sorted into the categories even and odd)
  • a two-digit subtraction sort (differences are sorted into the categories regrouping and no regrouping)
  • a two-digit addition and subtraction sort (answers were sorted into the categories of greater than and less than 50).
Each sort was put together as a booklet.  I simply folded 12 x 18 inch construction paper half.  The students glued a cover page to their booklet and then cut out the sort headers and glued them to the "pages" on the inside.  After they solved all of the math problems they cut them out and glued onto the pages of their booklet.  I used a different color of construction paper for each book.  Here are a few pics (please excuse the blur):

Let's be honest, when focusing on the written method things can become a bit boring, especially when you're 7!  But, the kids LOVED this project.  I wasn't quite sure how they would take to three days of it, but they honestly didn't care...they love to cut and glue and make a mess all over the floor.  They are doing math, but they think they are doing a "project."  Well, I guess in a way it is a project. 

Not only did they love these activities, but they did awesome!  Yes, I checked every single one.  There were minor errors here and there, to be expected, but overall they were very successful.  Yay! 

This product is available in my TPT store.  Simply click here to purchase!

Happy sorting!

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