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Jumpstart January Blog Hop and $50 Target Gift Card Giveaway!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thanks for "hopping" around with us!  We wish you the best on your learning-packed return to the classroom.  Be sure to enter this AMAZING giveaway and earn yourself some post-Christmas shopping fun!  

Here are all of those amazing $1 deals!  Snag them up below!

Happy January!  From us gals at Lesson Deli!

Classroom Posters

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Check out this site for great classroom posters.

Here is just a small sample. There are many more on this site.

'Tis the Season for Writing!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I admit it.....I enjoy writing with my students! I see it as a chance to have a closer glimpse into their unique personalities. I love to see how they respond to specific prompts...and I love how they listen and critique their peers with their writing as well. Recently, I've tweaked my prompts to reflect the types of writing being asked of students with the revised standards. Incorporating persuasive, expository, and narrative writing with engaging topics makes my writing station flourish! I've recently finished a set of 12 prompts that reflect key holidays and events in December, January, & February. In addition, I developed a simple rubric to assess students' writing and reflect on needed areas of growth. Here is a sample:

I really feel that my students have grown in their writing this year....and it helps me to keep them practicing all the types of writing that they may be asked to do. I hope this gives you ideas on how to stay inspired and tackle writing all year long!

Revolutionary Thinking Maps: Causes of the American Revolution

Thursday, December 25, 2014

I started a series this summer on using Thinking Maps to teach about the American Revolution.  I use thinking maps all the time to help students visually represent content.  You can read the first post HERE on using a brace map to analyze the Declaration of Independence

For today, let's talk about the multi-flow map.  A multi-flow map can be used when something has multiple causes and/or effects.  We use them a LOT in history and science.  For example, last week in science we used a multi-flow map to show the multiple causes on why the wetlands are disappearing.  Here's an example of a multi-flow map showing the causes leading up to the American Revolution.
Next time you are teaching and need a graphic organizer to show multiple causes and/or effects, give the multi-flow map a try!

--The Pensive Sloth

PS--Did you know this makes for a GREAT opinion writing assignment?  Click HERE to learn more!

Classroom Party GAME Fun! Unwrap a Party Ball!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What fun did you have with your students this week?  I am a Pinterest fanatic!  I find that any type of inspiration, event, recipe, paint color, birthday idea, house design, bathroom remodel, etc...can be found on this wonderland of a site.  It didn't fail me this week as I was looking for a really fun game to share at my son, Brennan's, holiday classroom party.

I had pinned this a while back, but was waiting to implement it in my classroom or in one of my own kiddo's.  This past weekend, I purchased all of the goodies and put it together.  Because I was shopping with an almost two-year old and five-year old, I was just throwing the materials in my basket.  You can likely save lots of money if you plan ahead and grab the goodies when they are on sale.  Just a tip, Walgreens does not have the cheapest candy or office supplies!

Here is what I used:
4-bags of treats (I chose Laffy Taffy, Smarties, Nerds and candy canes because they are nut-free)
1-bag of bouncy balls
1-bag of holiday erasers
1-box of Saran Wrap
2-rolls of mailing tape (it is sturdy)
-invisible tape to hold treats in place
1-Ring Pop for the center

I started with the Ring Pop and then just kept layering on the Saran Wrap and goodies.  My son claimed that I made it too hard with so much tape, but those kiddos had a blast tearing and pulling.  I stopped when it was about the size of a soccer ball. It took me about 30-minutes from start to finish!

How To Play:
  1. Put the kids in a circle on the floor.
  2. I used 3-dice as I wanted it to be pretty fast-paced so I kept their attention for the 10-minute game time.
  3. I gave the ball to the person with the closest birthday to Christmas.
  4. Then the person to their right had the dice.
  5. The person with the ball got to tear at it until the dice roller rolled a double.  As soon as a double was rolled, it was passed to the roller.  
  6. The dice kept moving and the ball kept passing.
  7. I had them roll in a little plastic container so the dice stayed contained.
  8. With three dice the chance of rolling doubles was higher, so the game moved quickly keeping everyone's interest.
  9. Students got to keep the candy they pulled out and eat at a later time.
Let the fun begin!

Fun was definitely had by all and I would totally do this again!  High-interest and fast-paced.  Perfect for keeping enthusiastic kiddos' attention.

I would love to hear about fun party games in your classroom!  Keep me posted!

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The Business of Teaching Literature

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My co-teacher and I have a business theme that is the backbone to our 4th grade curriculum. One piece of our academic plan is literature with a business focus. There are many book recommendations (see list below) that portray a main character who gets things going. The character might run a business, be the leader of a project, or become responsible for something significant.

This type of storyline promotes creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit. Many of these books teach students about the basics of business (profit, loss, partnership, etc.). While there is almost always a supportive adult in the story, I like the fact that these books depict children as problem-solvers without a parent or adult handing them the easy solution. 

Chapter Books
  • The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton
  • Everyone Wears His Name: A Biography of Levi Strauss by Sondra Henry
  • Model T: How Henry Ford Built a Legend by David Weitzman
  • Chocolate by Hershey: A Story About Milton S. Hershey by Betty Burford
  • Kidpreneurs, Young Entrepeneurs with Big Ideas by Adam Toren and Matthew Toren
  • Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids by Gail Karlitz and Debbie Honig
Classroom Ideas
  • Have students write a personal business plan for a company they could start at school. After reading The Lemonade War, my students wrote a business plan for a lemonade stand that we ran during student recess. We used the best ideas from all of the students business plans to create a master plan for the class that we took to our principal. 
  • Do the math. In books like Lunch Money by Clements and The Bread Winner by Whitmore, students can use details in the book to calculate business costs and profits. It is fun to project how much money the characters could potentially earn in a year, two years, or five years.
  • Create a business using advance orders. Film and edit a commercial to share with the school if that technology is available to you. As orders arrive, students use spreadsheets to track and sort orders by class. You can create graphs that show which grades buy the most of a product. This year, my group is selling Mason Jar Cookie Mixes. Not only did we have to record the orders, the students had a ton of recipe math to complete. Our original recipes for the mix made 2 jars. We had to calculate ingredient amounts for 267 jars of cookies mix! I even had the students track down the stores with the best prices (FYI-- Walmart for jars, white chocolate chips, and M&Ms, Costco for the other ingredients in our area).
Books with business provide such rich learning opportunities for students. It makes it so easy to incorporate many layers of skills. What are your best novel studies that give you more bang for your buck?

Happy Reading!

Upper Elementary Holiday Fun--Sequin Ornament Parent Gifts

Monday, December 8, 2014

Growing up, I remember making sequin ornaments with my grandmother.  We would sit at the table for hours and chat while pinning sequins to a foam ball.  A few years ago, I started this tradition in my 5th grade classroom.  The kids had a blast, worked hard, and were proud of their accomplishment when they were done.  They looked forward to giving their gifts to their parents.

We  start our ornaments the last week of school during morning work.  Then, the morning of the last day of school, I put on an audiobook and let the kids spend the morning finishing up.  It takes about 2-4 hours for most students to finish one ornament.  A few finish much faster!  But what I really enjoy is listening to an audiobook during this time.  It’s quite magical.  Students focus intently on creating their pattern and pinning each sequin in place while making meaning in their minds as the story plays.  If you are looking for something quiet, peaceful, and engaging for that last week of school, give sequin ornaments a try!  

There are several tutorials online on how to make sequin ornaments, and lots of options to add ribbon and beads and crystals.   We keep it simple in my classroom.  Sequins and pins.  That's it.  I won't go into detail about how to make the ornaments.  We'll stick with the basics, but with so many tiny sequins and pins...yikes!  You've got to have a system for managing it all.  Here's what has worked for me...


*Cups and Plates
*Colorful sequins (medium and large)
*Sequin pins (regular sewing pins are too long, and sequin pins are much cheaper)
*Small Styrofoam balls (Hobby Lobby carries 12 packs--I usually get the 2 1/2 inch SMOOTH Styrofoam balls)
*Ribbon (for hanging ornaments on a tree)

Tips for Making the Ornaments and Managing the Project
  • Have students sketch what they want their ornament to look like before beginning.  There are lots of color options based on what you buy and bring into the classroom.  I typically tell them to stick with 2-3 colors.  You can go with blues and whites for a winter theme, buy some local college colors, school colors, etc.  
  • Making the ornament is actually very simple. Students place a sequin on the ball where they want it to go, then poke a pin through the hole in the sequin to hold it in place.  My rule is that there can be no foam ball showing through.  Also, there is no right or wrong way to place a sequin.  You can have the concave side face the ball or face away from the ball, or do a little of both. 
  • Teach students to use the the eraser of the pencil to push pins in.  Their fingers get tired and sore after awhile.  This project will help students develop perseverance!  I love how proud they are when they finally finish. 
  • Keep a magnet handy.  Someone will spill pins and sequins all over the floor.  Every year there are a few spills.  Have students use a magnet to collect the pins before going after the sequins.  
  • Students should wear shoes.  If you are one of those teachers who lets kids take off their shoes, avoid doing so until this project is over and the floors have been vacuumed. 
  • This project is geared towards 5th grade and up and costs about $2 per student.     
  • Give students only a pinch of pins and sequins at a time and have them come back to you for more.  Counting pins and sequins is impossible, so I keep the supplies near me and refill cups as needed.  
  • When students finish, they use a magnet to collect pins and bring them back to me.  Then, I have them sort their sequins and place them back with the correct colors. 
***Also, to help manage the project I use 2 clear plastic cups per child, some masking tape, and a paper plate. I've re-used the cups and plates for years since all they do is hold supplies while students work for a few days.  I write names on the cups with permanent markers and scribble them out for next year's kids. 

When working with pins, safety comes first and each student has his/her own cup to hold the pins and sequins.  Sequin pins aren't especially sharp, but we are still very cautious.  We discuss being careful and reporting injuries before we begin, and students are not allowed to share supplies.  I also model carefully reaching into the cup to pick up pins instead of shoving your hand in and getting poked.  I've never had a problem!  

1--Top view of cup showing pins and sequins. 
2--Each child has two cups.  The supply cup and the ornament cup. 
3--Because this is an ongoing project, when not in use, cups can be stacked so that the sequins and pins are contained in case a cup is knocked over.  I use masking or painters tape to hold the cups together because it stays sticky as the students open and close it each day.
4--Here's a cup turned upside down. A few sequins came out, but the rest stays in. 
5--Students like to dump a few pins and sequins onto a paper plate for easy access while working. 

That's all for now.  Happy holidays and  happy crafting!

--The Pensive Sloth

Supermarket Saturday Linky: December Holidays!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hi again!  It's Kim from For a Love of Teaching, and I'm so excited to share with you our December Holiday Supermarket Saturday Linky!  The Lesson Deli has gathered all their resources together and linked up some amazing products for you to use in your classroom during the month of December. Sometimes it's hard to find upper elementary products for December holidays, but this group of TpT authors has just what your looking for! Check out our linky below to find some great resources today!