Lovin' Contractions and a Freebie for You!

Today we made these super adorable contraction banners.

After briefly reviewing contractions at the start of our lesson, the students chose a contraction from the contraction scoot recording sheet from yesterday.  They used that contraction to make their super cute sign.

As you can see, on the first two hearts the students wrote the two words that are used to make a contraction.  They are separated by a plus sign. After the second heart is an equal sign.  Then, on a third heart, they wrote the contraction that those words form.

The hearts are taped to ribbon (5/8 inch wide by approximately 1 1/2 feet per student).  You could also glue them to the ribbon, but I can't stand white glue, so tape is my preferred method. No matter how you attach them, the end result is super cute!

I just **love** projects that reinforce concepts but also add a bit of festivity to the classroom.  The students enjoyed selecting their own contraction to work with and they always get excited when we make fun holiday projects. 

If you like this project, you can get the templates for free by clicking {HERE}, or by clicking either image (your download will not have my logo plastered across it; I promise).

I hope you can use this freebie!


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iPhones and Alliteration

I have had iPhones on the brain for a while. And because I've had them on the brain, I decided to have a little fun with them in the classroom.

So, why do I have iPhones on the brain?  (Bear with me, this is leading up to the alliteration portion of this post). Let me show you:

Clearly, it is time for a new phone.  Sadly, the extremely pathetic state of my poor phone is nothing new, it's been this way since last May-a whole year prior to upgrade eligibility.  I have been waiting and waiting to replace it. Thankfully it still works!

So, in my ongoing obsession over my phone, I came up with the idea of using an iPhone to teach alliteration. 

Now, I realize that the phone does not necessarily lend itself to alliteration, but there is certainly some fun to be had with the whole concept of texting!  So, that's what we did!  We created some alliterative text messages!  Here is one example. 

I like to use the book Superhero ABC to introduce the concept of alliteration.  The kids are always instantly hooked and laugh at almost every single page. The illustrations are very superhero-y and the phrases the author uses to describe each hero not only demonstrate the use of alliteration, but are quite funny and silly.

As I read the book, I stopped periodically to point out that I noticed that each page featured a phrase with several words that began with the same sound (or same letter).  When I was finished reading the book, I explained that the author used alliteration to write each phrase and then explained that concept.  Then, we worked together to write some alliterative sentences together on the board (oops, forgot to take a picture of that).

Next, I told the students that they would be writing their own alliterative sentence, iPhone style.  I showed them this iPhone template and explained that they would write their sentence as a text message.  We used think/pair/share to brainstorm ideas before actually getting started. This is the rough draft text screen that they used.

They wrote their sentence on the lines.   At the end of the activity, they read their sentences to a few classmates.  I collected their rough draft texts and checked them for spelling (I always edit their spelling for them when we hang work up on the board, of course, that doesn't always mean that they spell correctly on the final draft-hehe).  Finally, the students rewrote their text message on this template. 

Then, they colored their message blue, just like on a real iPhone, and glued their "screen" to a "body."

Before displaying all the iPhones on our bulletin board, I let each student read his/her sentence to the class.  Fun was had by all!  Some of their sentences turned out super silly. And, most of them wrote about a favorite book or TV character.

You can grab all of the templates for this activity by clicking here.

I hope you can use this idea in your classroom!

P.S. In case you were wondering, I was able to get myself a new phone.  Thank goodness for early upgrades!  All is well with the universe now.  




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Common Core and Nonfiction

Well, today I attempted something new.  I decided to tackle CCSS 2.RIT.9.  In English, that means that I decided to have my students compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.  I also threw a little main idea in there (2.RIT.2). 

I don't know about you, but that compare and contrast standard has always intimidated me a bit.  I mean, not the compare and contrast part, we do that all the time.  It's the rest of the description that has kind of sent me for a bit of a loop.  I mean, how do I get 7 year olds to not only identify the important points in two different (nonfiction) texts but then use that information to compare the texts?  Let's be honest, this can be tricky.  

So, with the help of my teaching buddy, "A," we came up with an idea that seems to have worked well.

This week we are reading The Secret Life of Trees (FYI, I think that is the weirdest title) in our basal.  After reading it today, we went back and focused on one of the pages that told about roots.  Then, we read about roots from an A-Z reader called About Trees.

The page in the basal isn't the one we read; the page we read is actually under the paper and A-Z Reader (guess I didn't stage this photo very well).

By focusing on just one page of specific information from each text, the students were still comparing information on the same topic, but the topic was narrowed down for them.  I think that part of my hesitation with this standard was that nonfiction text is often times so broad and general.

We created an activity page for the students to record the important points presented by each text.  There was also a place to note the main idea of each text.  We didn't have them complete a traditional Venn Diagram.  Instead, they answered some follow up questions to demonstrate their ability to compare the texts.

There were more questions on the back; I just didn't take a picture of them.

We had decided ahead of time to guide our students through identifying the important points in each text (which we recorded in the boxes at the top of the page).  Once we listed the important points for the first story, we discussed, as a whole group, the main idea of the text. We then recorded that information on our page (beneath the boxes).  We did the same thing for the second text.  Then, I had the students work independently to answer some questions (which were fairly easy this time around) about the texts.

I will admit, I was worried that this lesson would be difficult for the kids.  However, I was really pleased with how well they participated in our whole group discussion.  I plan to do this a few more times before I have them attempt it independently (for an official grade).

What kind of surprise successes have you had with Common Core?

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Some Fun School Games

I don't know about you, but I love to incorporate games into our daily learning.  One of my favorites is Scoot.  I love, love, love this game!  Scoot is a great way to keep your students engaged.  You can grab bunches of Scoot related tips and tricks here.

To play, you simply place various task cards at each desk and the students scoot from desk to desk, on your cue, to respond to each of the cards.  It's perfect for review/practice.

When I play Scoot in my room, I always establish a path of rotation.  This ensures that all of the students will go to each and every desk.  We recently reviewed our two-digit addition skills with the game shown below.

The kids love being out of their seat and moving around.  They are always on task and most of the time, unaware of the fact that they are doing work.  Can't beat that!

Usually, we go over our answers as a whole group once we are done scooting from card to card.  but some games, like the one shown below are perfect for letting the kids check each others work.  I would suggest you walk around and monitor students as they do this.  My students code each others work.  If it is correct they mark the problem with a dot or a smiley face.  If it is incorrect, they circle the problem. 

Get your free copy of this game of Scoot here.  Enjoy!

Grammar can be one of those things that can be fun or not so fun to teach.  My vote is to always make it more fun! And, my favorite way to do that is by playing games!  Do We Agree? is a game from the wonderfully talented Lori over at Teaching with Love and Laughter.  This game is a fun way for students to practice their subject verb agreement.  They are completely engaged the whole time!  When one student is answering a question, the other is checking their answer, this makes them focus on the game and pay close attention.

After reviewing subject verb agreement on the board, I paired the students up and gave them all their materials.  Since I made 10 game boards, I really didn't want to cut out that many question cards for that many game sets.  So, I had the kids do it for me!  They can always use scissor practice.

We read and discussed the game rules and I kept them displayed on the board so they could refer to them as they played.

Once their cards were cut out and we reviewed the rules, each pair of students got a game board, an Answer Key (to check each others answers), a die, and two counters. 

The students  answered a series of questions similar to these.  As I walked around and monitored them I found that they were doing pretty well with this skill.

This was way more engaging than a boring old worksheet!

Have you played any fun games in your classroom lately?

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What's the Problem? {January}

Raise your hand if you like to give your students lots of practice with word problems.  My hand is raised!  If you're looking for a little change from the norm, then read on to learn about my monthly "What's the Problem?" mini books.

These little books are a great way to practice writing addition and subtraction word problems.  The students are tasked with creating a story (word)  problem for a given answer.  They have to use a different kind of thinking to do this, and they have to use the correct vocabulary terms as they write their problems (i.e. "how many more?"  "how many in all?" and so on).

My students are taught to write three sentences.  The first two sentences pose the problem, and the third asks the question. I also tell my students that they need to use the problem label throughout their story.

 For example:

Timmy made 20 snowballs.  He threw 5 of them at his brother.  How many snowballs does Timmy have left?

What's the Problem? is a great way to get students thinking about math from another angle and encourages them to use math vocabulary appropriately.  When your students are ready, they could write two step story problems. You could also have students draw a model for their word problem in the space at the bottom of each page. 

You can grab this freebie by clicking {here}. 

Enjoy your freebie!!

Also, you can find my other "What's the Problem?" mini books here. 


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