Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday the 13th brings SPOOKTACULAR Halloween deals!

Wanted to pop on here and share some amazing deals and finds I got for Halloween!

Yes, it's only September...but it is Friday the 13th, so what better day to share than today?!

I love going to Oriental Trading for party and supply needs; I always seem to be able to find some fun trinket or gift to give the students.  Plus, this year they had some killer skeletons available, so you know I had to get one!  I got a dragon, of course, because Game of Thrones was my go-to show.  And I like to think of myself as a Khaleesi.

I love Halloween, it's my 2nd favorite holiday (after my birthday, of course!)  There is just something fun and whimsical about being able to dress like someone/thing else for a day.  Not to mention that I love Reese's Pumpkins, they taste so much better than the regular PB cups.

I like to share my love of the holiday with my students, dressing up and having fun!  This year, I thought it would be fun to give each of them a goody bag filled with some ghoulish treats.  So I got these silly bags and filled them with a monster finger, a bouncy ball, bubbles, a skeleton pencil, a stretch skeleton, a candy corn sticker, and a Halloween ring.


Specific Items:

In the first picture, you can also see a pumpkin bucket and some plush skulls.  These I got to do a simple bucket toss game for prizes.  I also got a photo booth set and backdrop that I will link here (I didn't set them up because I didn't want the kiddos to see it yet!)
My team is still planning everything out, but I think we will do a fun craft with our students, show "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," and play some other games.  What do you do to celebrate Halloween (or fall) at school?

Use the code SQUAD19 to get FREE SHIPPING on 9/13 on ANY size order 
through Oriental Trading!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Why I offered to switch grade levels...

I have been meaning to write a post like this for awhile; to let people know some of my thoughts about WHY I wanted to make the change from Upper Elementary to Primary, more specifically Kindergarten.  I thought I would write about it last summer, before the school year started, but alas, life.  Now that I have gone through my first year in Kindergarten, it seems time to at least begin to put some of my thoughts down.

First off, I loved 5th grade.  I really enjoyed teaching it and many of the colleagues and teammates I had.  However, I was struggling personally with many things, and needed some sort of change to "shake things up."  I wasn't happy, and thought that switching grade levels might be one way to give myself a restart.  I needed to get myself out of the rut I was in before I burned out.  I was burning out teaching 5th grade.  {see post I wrote about heading into my 6th year of teaching 5th grade here}

The 5th grade team had to go down a section, as we had 5 classrooms and couldn't justify that with the number of incoming students for 2018-19, so I offered to make a switch.  I really didn't know what this meant, what grade level would have an opening, but I decided to tell our principal I was willing to be the sacrificial lamb.

After the first day, actually probably after my last day as a 5th grade teacher, I knew I had made the right choice.

I had been happier this school year than some in the past.  A few reasons are easy to pinpoint:

  • Primary students test A LOT less than Upper Elementary.  There are not the state-wide standardized tests that cause stress, on both the students and teacher.  In 5th grade we took these tests in Reading, Math and Science.  Although I knew my kids were and are more than a score and the snapshot a test provides, it was hard to not see the growth or progress you KNEW they were capable of or had accomplished throughout the year.  Additionally, I always took these tests to heart, as a reflection on me and my teaching.  If a student failed, then I had failed them.
  • As a 5th grade teacher I was getting students that had had 5 other teachers (K-4) before me.  I found that I was frustrated with some of the concepts or standards that were taught {or not taught} the years prior; because it was then making my teaching that much harder.  I felt I had to cover more or even "reverse" teaching that had been done.  I wanted the students I had to feel ready to leave at the end of the year and be successful in Middle School at 6th grade, so I put a lot of weight on my own shoulders trying to accomplish this feat.
  • Location.  The Kindergarten classrooms, at my building, are at the far end of the school.  Very removed from the other grade levels; almost in our own little world.  This was great for me, as I needed to separate myself from negativity in the building.  I didn't eat lunch in the teachers' lounge, I instead ate it with just my team down in our common area.  I gossiped far less and "worried" less about what others were doing because I wasn't walking past their classrooms or seeing things in the hallways.  I didn't care what I showcased in the hallway or in my classroom, because the ones who saw it were really just my kids and other kindergartners, not the entire school.  So, in turn, I wasn't comparing myself to other teachers because I was able to let it go better; my anxiety and depression were certainly lower this past school year than others.
After my first observation as a Kindergarten teacher my principal actually said "You were meant to be in primary, I don't know why we didn't move you sooner."  I know she could tell I was much happier and in a better place, professionally and personally, than I had been in my 6 years of teaching 5th grade.

I am happy I made the switch and took a leap into the unknown; it turned out to be one of the best things I have done for my teaching career.  If you are feeling stuck or in a rut, I encourage you to change grade levels or disciplines, give it a go!  It's very scary and nerve-wracking, but also the most rewarding thing I have done.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

An apology...

Wow, just wow.

I need to apologize; I have been neglecting my blog to focus more on me and my new grade level.  I really LOVE to write, but just haven't found the time to really sit down and do it.

Actually, I neglected the blog for longer than started last school year, because 2017-18 was rough.  I wasn't happy in my position, the needs in my classroom were exhausting, and I wasn't feeling very supported.

I have since switched grade levels, moving from 5th grade to Kindergarten, and have been really embracing the #selfcare movement, making ME a priority.  Personally, the last two years have also been exhausting and I have had to cut ties with people who brought me down and caused me anxiety.

With all that being said, I am ready to focus and make this year (2019!) the best one yet, and share my life, teaching and otherwise, through this blog.

I plan on sharing about my grade level switch, the differences between primary and upper grades, my mental health journey, etc.  What would you like to read about?  What drives you to teaching blogs?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sneaking in {extra} Science...

I don't know about you, but teaching Science is my nemesis.  While I love to teach it, I just don't have the time it takes to do it all.  In 5th grade in Minnesota, students take a "high stakes" test on science....and this year the test is being given the end of March, the week before spring break.  This test encompasses all the standards they should've been taught and have built upon from Kinder-4th, not to mention the new material they are to learn from the 5th grade standards.

There is a heavy weight on 5th grade teachers' shoulders to fit it all in; to review science from previous grades that may not have been mastered or a standard that may have been overlooked by a teacher, as well as make sure students are up to speed with 5th grade learning.  It's a lot to digest.

As we head into the final 3.5 weeks before we take "The Test," I have thought a lot about how I am going to sneak in that review,  bring topics to the forefront of my students' frontal lobes, and in general, just make them curious about the world.

Here are a few ways I am going to amp up science, while also making sure we continue our progress through the gajillion other 5th grade standards:

1) Science Reading
I have a plethora or articles and resources involving science topics.  We will work on these to not only learn/review the science concepts, but also to look at text structures, vocabulary, tone, etc.  Many of these I got from TpT from some of my favorite teacher-authors!  Its a win-win when I can do cross-curricular activities with the students; killing two birds with one stone.

2) Bill Nye

Not gonna lie, I love Bill Nye.  A lot of good videos can be found on YouTube to discuss concepts that I can't necessarily create a lab for in my classroom, or will at least provide them with some exposure to concepts I don't understand (like Black Holes...I just don't get them!)

3) Quiz Wiz

We have been doing this all school year, actually.  Daily, my students have a question to look up as homework (it takes approx. 2 minutes each night for them to complete!)  My students love finding out new terms and information...often they will find the answer and continue researching about the topic or will come with new questions to ask me!  I have a TON of questions, but have created Weather, Animals, Human Body, and far!

{Find all my Quiz Wiz Sets on TpT}

4) Study Island
My school has purchased this to use for all 5th graders.  I plan to assign a task each day to complete, something they can get done during the school day, hopefully.  I don't find this platform to be super user friendly, and some of the games students get bored of quickly, but if I can make earning badges/trophies a competition, I think they will buy into it and get something out of the review!  My school is Beta testing some reading and math programs for the Edmentum company, which I really like.  I hope that the company can get Study Island on track with those (called ExactPath) soon.

5) Mystery Science
This "show" and activities have been a game changer for me this year!  My students are curious about the world and this platform helps to solidify that it's okay to be curious and answers their questions in a straight forward, kid-friendly manner.  We have done a few of the activities they provide, like creating an "Xray" of the human hand, and my students always have a blast!

How do you sneak in {extra} science, or amp up any other curriculum exposure for that matter, into your day, when there is just not enough time?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Capitalizing on the Super Bowl in My Classroom

The Super Bowl is coming to MN and I couldn’t be any more excited! I am a huge fan of all things celebrity, and I love my home state, so this is the perfect mash-up in my world!  And although I am bummed about the Vikings not being a part of the Super Bowl, I thought I would capitalize on this and throw a Super Bowl themed “party” in my classroom!  The entire week leading up to the big game, I am going to transform my room with a football theme. #SetTheStageToEngage

For ELA, Math, and Social Studies/Science we will be doing all things related to the big game!  Below is my general plan; I have linked to some awesome resources from great teacher-authors on TpT!  These are both Free and Paid Resources.  (note: I am not getting anything in return for mentioning these resources, I just love to share what I am using in my own classroom!)

To start, I actually reached out to parents in my classroom to supply football themed snacks and drinks (orange gatorade) as well as fun decorations!  The response I've gotten have been pretty overwhelming, so my students are going to walk into a fun, decked-out room on the 29th!

Monday, Jan 29

I am actually going to start by breaking my class into a few teams.  I have 24 in my class, so I am thinking 6 teams of 4 would work well.  In the Close Reading Packet below for Reading and Language, Shelly Rees included a page that has students naming their own team and designing a jersey and such.  I am going to use that page from her packet and have students create a team TOGETHER, including a jersey, helmet, mascot, and team cheer/song!

Although there are no “standards” I can check off with this, the group collaboration, teamwork, communication, etc. is invaluable.  As a 5th grade teacher I need to remember I am helping to mold PEOPLE who will someday contribute to society and run our country; I need to make sure they have the skills they need!

In these teams, students are then going to work through various activities to earn points to help their team win the Super Bowl!

Reading and Language

Brief history on how American Football came to be and has changed throughout the years.  With close reading tasks to complete along the way, the students will be practicing good reading strategies while learning about the sport.


We complete one of these Solve and Colors monthly and my students love trying to figure out what the mystery picture is while practicing their multiplication and order of operations

Social Studies/Science

Using the reading passage above, I created a "breakout" challenge for the teams to complete using Google Forms.  The students have to find the right answer in the reading and submit it to the form.  Their are 4 questions (label 1st Quarter, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Quarter, 4th Quarter.)  When the teams enter the 4th correct answer, It says TOUCHDOWN with this graphic:

It will be the students' first opportunity to earn points throughout the week!

Tuesday, Jan 30

Reading and Language

Johnny Unitas vs Peyton Manning StoryWorks article
I used this article when I taught 6th grade; since it is from StoryWorks I don't have permission to post it, but you could read any article(s) that compares a football star from the past to one today.

I am going to have students use the information to fill out this Graphic Organizer; similar to a Venn Diagram.  Hopefully, we can then turn this information into a mini writing piece using some other organizers and sentence starters I have! 


Students get to flip paper footballs and try to make field goals.  They then compare the fraction of goals made with each other. {FREEBIE}

Social Studies/Science

Students are challenged to build a field goal that will stand using random items. {FREEBIE}
**Lisa has a whole Football STEM themed pack in her store if you're looking for more!

Wednesday, Jan 31

Reading and Language

Students will be doing some quick writing on their iPads using these writing prompts and then choosing one of the topics to expand upon and turn into a final piece!


Using the scores given, students find the Mean, Median, Mode, and Range of the data. {FREEBIE}

Social Studies/Science

Bouncing Ball Experiment by Laura Candler.  Students go through the scientific method process using various sports equipment, including a football.

Thursday, Feb 1

Reading and Language

Students will use the football phrases (like TOUCHDOWN) to make as many other words as possible, scoring points.  While this activity could be done alone, I may have my students do it in teams and then play it Scattergories style where they only score points for words other groups didn't think of!


Both of these {FREEBIES} look great!  My students are going to love using their knowledge of order of operations to try and score a "touchdown" by finding the target number.  They will also practice their multiplication facts trying to fill out the score cards for various teams with this fun math challenge.

Social Studies/Science

{Nothing planned, we have Band this day so many of my students leave the class.}

Friday, Feb 2

Reading and Language

My first degree is in Advertising so this lesson is very exciting; learning about the power of persuasion and ad tactics!  I hope we can introduce this and talk about it, giving students the task to come back after the Super Bowl with their favorite commercial to analyze! {FREEBIE}


My math class will graph teams' appearances and wins in the Super Bowl and then analyze the data for trends, the MMMR (Mean/Median/Mode/Range,) and Fractions/Decimals/Percents.

Social Studies/Science

We will be looking more into the history of football as well as how footballs are made using this video:  How it's Made: Wilson Leather Football (YouTube Link).  I am still looking for other sites and activities I want to do for this.

There it is, my football themed week!  Do you have any other activities I should sneak in or do the week following the big game?  If so, drop them in the comments below, as I am always looking for fun things to do to engage my class.