Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

I would like to wish everyone a most 
Happy Thanksgiving and family happiness 
today and the rest of the year.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Salt and Flour Landform Maps

           The 4th graders at St. Michael Catholic School work on salt and flour land form maps.  This is usually a project  that the students work on at home with their parents.  This year my friend decided to have her 4th graders work on these maps entirely in school.  Three classes of students working on these in one classroom was quiet an undertaking. 
      These kids did a great job designing their land form map, making the  label flags, painting the cardboard, placing the salt flour mixture on the cardboard, and then adding all the land forms. Here are some examples.


       Again, Great Job 4th graders!   You can accomplish amazing things!

Please lease a comment if you have a minute.  I'd love to read your ideas.  Enjoy these days before Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Early Exploration Flip Chart

                      This is the time of year my 5th graders learn about early exploration of Europeans.     We started our unit by drawing a 1400's sailing ship.  You can read about this in my last blog post.

       We discussed the reasons for exploration, read a few pages in out text book, and took notes.  A flip chart is a more visual way for my students to get a better grip on the information presented.  I did find this type of project on Pinterest, so I can not take credit for thinking it up myself. Some other amazing teacher had the idea first!
Motivation, Obstacles, and Achievements

      This is the information I guided my students to add under each flap.  I say "guided" because  I draw each illustration, one at a time,  in the correct location so the kiddos have an idea what to draw.  If I left it up to their imagination, Lord only knows what they would have inside their flip chart.

    I always tell my students, "A picture is worth a thousand words" when you are studying.  I know some people might think that coloring is for the primary grades and busy work.  I say, "NO!"  When my students take their time to complete their work in color, they are spending additional time on the material, thus more time studying.  Color stimulates the brain.  I say, "Let them color", not on coloring pages to fill up excess time, but work with purpose.

Here are some examples of student work. 

This student wrote the definitions on the front cover of the flaps.

Love the giant sea monster!

Another purple sea monster!


Please check out all the great freebies at FREEBIE FRIDAY with this link.

I hope this post was beneficial in some way for use in someone's class.   

 Please leave a comment if have have a spare moment in your busy day. Enjoy the fall weather!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Plymouth Colony Flip Chart

             I love to make flip charts with my 5th graders.
The Great thing is they love it too!

     So, when we are working on the Pilgrims and Plymouth, my kiddos work on a Plymouth Colony flip chart.

        This is a shot of the outside flaps of the flip chart.  I always have my students glue their flip charts on to loose leaf paper.  The the flip chart can be stored in their subject duo-tang.  It won't get lost and can be used whenever necessary. 
        The chart is glued under the narrow section on the left side.  Next the kiddos cut along the black lines to make the flaps.

          On the loose leaf lines, the children write bullet points to list any important information. 

            After my 5th graders have written their information, they discuss with their neighbors any additional information that should be added to make the flip chart more complete.  Discussing and sharing information is a huge part of learning in my classes.  The kiddos learn so much from each other during this part of class.  By reading another child's work and telling them what you think solidifies knowledge of the material.
       Another step is to have the kids go home and teach their parents what they have learned.  The parents are pleasantly surprised how much knowledge their child has.  Hopefully, the parents learn some history, too.
       Lastly, we used these flip charts to review before a test or quiz.  They make a great base for "Do you know...?" "Yes, I do know..." review sessions.
I blogged about this technique on October 11, 2015.  Check it out if you get the chance.

I hope another 5th grade class can use this idea in their unit of study on Plymouth Colony.

Please leave a short comment if you get a chance.

Enjoy the beautiful month of November.

This post is linked to Teaching blog addict.  Go check out all the great ideas this week! 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

End of Unit Collaboration

         To wrap up a unit of study on Native American Indian tribes, I decided to have the students collaborate on their knowledge.  I used six large pieces of colored paper for this activity.  Each colored sheet had a different cultural region written in the middle. Luckily I found  large sheets of pink, light blue, yellow, orange, white, and pale yellow in the school store room.  This would be perfect.  One color for the Arctic Region, Pacific Northwest, Desert Southwest, Great Plains, Eastern Woodlands, and the last one for Native Americans in general. 
        The sheets were then divided into eight sections.
      Location, Tribes, Food, Shelter, Clothing, Climate, Items Made, and Natural Resources.

       Each class was divided randomly into six groups.   The were instructed that they would only have five minutes to write or draw some information on the paper.  Everyone was to be involved at the same time. No one could say, "I'm good at drawing, so I'll do that part. "  Each child would place their choice of information on the poster.  After five minutes, I rang my chime and the group moved on to the next poster to do the same work.
     As you can see they got busy.

Students were able to used their notes.

          I was very pleased with the amount of work that my 5th graders accomplished in 30 minutes.  

These are the topics that we discussed for each region. A picture is worth a thousand words!

             A job well done!
 What type of unit wrap up do you use in your class?

Please leave a comment if you have en extra minute. I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Do you know....? Yes, I do know......!

            Studying information for a unit of study in order to prepare for a test can be overwhelming for many children.  They don't know where to start.  Some students don't know what they know or don't know.  So, I tried to come up with a fun interactive way for my kiddos to study with each other.
            I have my 5th grade students write on index cards the following sentence.
"Do you know that ____________________?"  
 For example, "Do you know that Christopher Columbus was born in Italy but explored for the King and Queen of Spain?

      I have the kiddos write 3 to 6 statements, one on each card. They need to look through their notes and text book to find the correct  important information for the unit of study. 
      Then the fun begins!  The students form two circles or lines. I'll say, "Decide if you want to be peanut butter or jelly?" or hot dogs or hamburgers, or 
ice cream or apple pie. You get the picture.  The kids are very excited to make a choice and pick one.  Then I'll say, " Jelly goes first."   Now the children know who will read their statement first.  
      "Jelly" students read their statement "Do you know that ......?"   Then the "peanut butter" kids respond, "Yes, I do know that ....." and have to repeat the first statement exactly.   This keys in on their listening skills as well as recalling and repeating the information given.  Sometimes students write incorrect information on their cards.  The misinformation will be caught by other students and corrected on the spot.
       Now it is the "peanut butter" students turn to read their statement card to their partner with the "jelly" students responding.
       After a few minutes, I ring a bell or make some other sound to get my students' attention.  The "peanut butter" students will need to move on to the next person in line.  The process starts again.  This way the students are hearing new information from different classmates.
      It is a kind of "Speed Dating" situation but we are reviewing information.

I do hope you can use this study technique in your classroom.  Let me know if it works for you.

Please leave a comment.  I'll get back to you if necessary.

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather and the change in color.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Flat Francis

         Pope Francis came to the United States in September.  He visited Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. 

        Two families went to Philadelphia to see the Pope.  They kindly brought back one of these red bracelets for all the students and teachers at St. Michael Catholic School.   
     Students watched the Pope speaking live in Washington, D.C.  Our students remembered the day that he made his first appearance in the Vatican.  So seeing him speaking in the United States was a very important event for our St. Michael Catholic School students.
         I downloaded the Flat Francis file, enlarged it slightly, and added some color.   Flat Francis traveled around our school. 

 The kids had their picture taken with Flat Francis on the playground, in class reading, and using an ipad.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

Personal Offices

     When my students are taking a test, I have them use personal offices.  If you know me, I did not purchase these.  Several years ago, I found 30 of the perfect size boxes in the cardboard recycle bin at school.  So, I decided to use this great find for my personal offices.  The outside has a label showing frozen fish.  The inside was perfect for all sorts of useful test taking information.

                       This is the inside of one of my personal offices.

Here is a Personal Mini Thesaurus which can make an essay on a test better.


               Irregular verb ca be tricky, so here is a useful list for my kiddos.

       In order to write a well organized paragraph, transition words are very helpful.

         A few helpful hints to write the "Perfect Paragraph" improve student work.

           I found these test taking strategies at a TPT store.  I shrunk them to fit on one sheet.

     These personal offices are not too tall, so the kids can see me giving instructions.  I keep on adding to the information sheets, that are glued on to the personal offices, each year. 
    I have the children keep the offices up until everyone has finished taking and checking the answers on their tests. This way the children that finish last do not feel rushed or stressed because they are not "Done".  You know those kids that finish is a flash.  They have to stay in their seat, check their work, and then read a book.

Do  you use some kind of personal office for your students? 

 Check out Freebie Friday on Teaching Blog Addict...

Also check  out Five for Friday at Doodle Bugs Teaching...

Please leave a comment if you have an extra minute. I'd like to hear from you.

It is IOWA test week, so these offices are getting a workout. 
Have a great week!


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Cursive Handwriting Practice

       Teaching in a Catholic school, we still believe in teaching cursive handwriting.  This is not a lost art.  We still need to read the written word.  There are a multitude of historical documents that need to be presented to the youth of today and in the future.  How will our descendants be able to read any personal notes or letters from people in their past?  How will children of the future be able to appreciate our country's historical documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights if they can not read cursive handwriting?  What a shame for this to happen!
   So, as a 5th grade teacher, I give my students meaningful cursive handwriting practice.  Twice a week, I write, in my BEST cursive handwriting, a paragraph pertaining to a lesson that was given that week.  I have been incorporating my Religion lessons. The students copy the information on the bottom portion of the page.  
    We use a S+ , S, and N scale to access handwriting.
Here are some examples of student work this year.


      As you can see, my students are at various stages of cursive handwriting proficiency.  As we know, cursive handwriting takes great eye - hand coordination and concentration.   Handwriting is always a work in progress.  It takes practice.
     I do think cursive handwriting is well worth the effort.  It should not be a dying art.

Do you teaching Cursive handwriting in your class?

Please leave a comment if you get the chance.  I enjoy hearing from you.
Enjoy the cooler October weather.

        Hop on over to to see all the other freebies in this week's collection, Oct. 2, 2015.  Here is the link: