Fall break and pumpkins – What could be better?

It may be Wednesday but it feels like Friday to me. We are starting our fall break, which is also known as MEA break here in Minnesota (Minnesota Educator’s Association break) so I have the next 2 days off!

Kids only had 2 days this week and we, as teachers, had 2 and a half days. Because they only had 2 days, I didn’t really want to do a whole lot so I tried to make them as much fun (and low key) as possible.

On Monday we pretty much spent the day talking about letter writing and started our 1st pen pal letters of the year! If you followed me last year, you know that my class had a set of pen pals from a school up north in Minnesota (about 3 hours away from our school.) One of my friends from when I was really little teaches up there and we’ve recently reconnected when we both got into teaching. We thought it would be super fun if we had our kids connect through letter writing. Last year my kids were 3rd graders writing to her 4th graders and now this year, my 4th graders are writing to her 3rd graders. (We pretty much flopped grades!)

My kiddos LOVED it! I found a free, off of TPT, an introductory pen pal kit for them to use. Last year I learned that writing these letters were not the easiest thing for them to do. I got this kit from Primary Queen‘s store to be super helpful! It was super fun!

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Yesterday I was hoping for an even more relaxed day. The other 4th grade teachers shared the awesome idea with me about how they were going to be showing Because of Winn Dixie so I decided to copy their idea. While they were watching the movie, which pretty much took of most of the time they spent with me, they worked on a fun pumpkin/Halloween project to spice up the back of our room! I let them create their own creative pumpkin to hang on their display number. I gave them each a piece of black, orange, green, and white paper and told them to make a pumpkin. That was the only direction I gave. They then went off on their own and did awesome! There pumpkins were so cute!

My Top favorites were these two cuties!

But these two were my ABSOLUTE favorites!! “The Green Lantern Pumpkin” and “Colonel Sanders the Pumpkin.”

This was such a fun project and their ideas were amazing.

The reason I wanted relaxed days was because I had to prep for conferences. We had our first round of conferences for the year which are always goal setting conferences. They were after school both Monday and Tuesday and then also this morning. Because of that, I was exhausted by the end of Monday night. Luckily my families are supportive so they were pretty easy. I can’t lie though, I’m glad they’re over.

 

This is also super random but I wanted to share something that I’ve decided to try. When I was 11 I got braces, you know like most preteens. The funny thing about my mouth, however was that they were on until I was 16. It was rough. Even after 5+ years of braces, my mouth is already starting to go back to the way they were before my years of teenage torture.

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Because of that, I decided I was going to try one of the Invisalign knock off companies. I looked into Smile Direct Club and decided to get molded for nighttime wearing aligners and a set of retainers when I’m done with the journey. The molding kits were easy to use and the whole process took me about 20 minutes. I will now be sending the whole kit back and my aligners should be back to me in 2 weeks. My fingers are crossed that my teeth FINALLY straighten up and stay that way!

 

 

For more day to day action and more detailed lessons and project examples, go follow my teachers instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!

First Full Week With Some ELA Fun!

The first full week is complete and I am SHOT!! Don’t get me wrong, it was a great week but man I am exhausted with this new sleep/work routine.

I love my class! I knew that last week was great but that was only 2 days. I got to have a full week of “normality” with them and was able to see their real personalities. I have a few chatty kiddos but after my overly emotional class last year with multiple chatty kids, this feels like nothing! They are also super sweet and thoughtful! I had one of my amazing kids bring me a little pick me up this morning. (His mom is a teacher so that was a major part of it but still, it made my whole day!)

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This week we started our first official reading unit/lesson. The main focus of this week was to talk about story structure/elements. Because these are 4th graders, most of them are pretty familiar with characters, setting, and plot. (Last year, even at the end of the year, some of my kids didn’t know what a setting was???) I didn’t want this week to be too dull and boring for them. I obviously love projects and doing something other than boring worksheets whenever I can so I had to look into my giant reading resources binder.

**Side note: My first year at my old school, we didn’t have the best reading curriculum (in my opinion of course.) The main idea of the curriculum was that there was one main target taught for 3 full weeks in a roll. Meaning that if the unit was on main idea, we taught main idea for 3 weeks. The down side to that, the curriculum gave us NOTHING to use for those 3 weeks. I spent many hours searching TPT and Pinterest that first year finding hundreds of activities, projects, and graphic organizers for each unit. It was a lot of work that year but I have so many great resources to use now!**

One thing that I found in the binder was a graphic organizer that I actually got from my mom (who has been teaching for 23 years.) She copied it from one of her reading resource books she bought from some teacher store (life before TPT and Pinterest.) The organizer was in the shape of a quilt square. I’m not exactly sure what it was originally made for but my mom used it to share books and certain chapters students would read. I used it as a way to share story elements from different books they have read to practice our week’s topic strategy.

They took the organizer and put the title, author, and rating (that they gave out of 5 stars) in the middle. I then had them share the setting, characters, and plot from the book. Finally, they wrote about their favorite part. Once they were finished they got to color and decorate there squares. I did this last year and took all of their quilt squares to make a giant quilt on the wall. I have yet to post their squares this year but most of them finished and did an AMAZING job. (Again, incredible kids!)

This week was a little crazy trying to get back into the groove of things but these kids made it so fun and easy. I am so excited to get back and see them on Monday!! I just have all of my fingers crossed that they stay this sweet and awesome!

Happy Friday friends!!

 

Because the summer is over and we are officially back, I am now back to posting as much as I can on my school’s instagram page! Go follow me at @lifeoftherookieteacher to see all of my day to day stories and pictures of my awesome class and our adventures!!

Lorax Day

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Oh my goodness you guys, yesterday was such a fun day and one of my favorites so far this year!!! We got to read one of my favorite books, do one of my favorite projects, and watch one of my favorite movies. The best part was we could spend the day celebrating and talking about Earth Day, which my class was super mature about.

We started the day by reading The Lorax. Oh my goodness, I love that story so much! I told my class that while I read, their job was to find different comparisons Dr. Seuss was trying to make with the characters and situations in the story to the real world. Once I was done reading, we had a 25 minute conversation all about what happens in the story and how they are seeing it portrayed today on Earth. They talked about different ways to help our planet, which was incredible because these are 3rd graders and they had such a deep conversation going on with so many great ideas. It was refreshing to hear them talk about and question why people still don’t take care of our planet. They couldn’t see how others don’t want to protect mother Earth and how they aren’t noticing the consequences of our actions so far.

This lead into our project. I found a mix of this idea on Pinterest and on Teachers Pay Teachers. There was a free writing prompt on a truffula tuft on TPT that said, “If I had the last truffula tree I would….” I found this FREE item on Valerie Garrison‘s shop.

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The first step was they had to answer the prompt. I made copies of these on multiple colored pieces of paper so they would be multicolored like actual truffula trees.

Once they had finished their writing, they used it to make the project. I found the project idea on Pinterest (and I think on TPT but that item was like $6.99 so I made my own free version.)

 

 

 

They made their own Lorax to hold the tuft. They each got an orange piece of construction paper to outline their own Lorax head and Lorax hands so each one looked the same but different at the same time. I made copies of the classic Lorax mustache that they colored to finish off the look.

 

 

We worked on the project while enjoying the 2012 version of The Lorax. Seriously, I love that movie (and having Taylor Swift in it is definitely and added plus!) It was such a relaxing and fun day. We had some extra time at the end of the day so, to continue the theme, we went on YouTube to the Art for Kids Hub channel (which is AMAZING and my kids love and is a PERFECT time filler on a Friday afternoon) and did a step by step drawing on The Lorax.

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It was such a fun day. My favorite part was how serious my kiddos were when we talked about Earth Day and why we celebrate it. They have so many ideas and it makes me have faith that our future will be better and our Earth has a chance to be saved.

For more day to day live action in our classroom, go follow me on instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!

(PS…Sorry about the dark pictures, I used movie time wisely so the light was pretty minimal!)

Valentine’s Day Craziness

Hello fellow readers, and if you’re still awake after Valentine’s Day week, teachers! This was a super fun week (but yes, very exhausting.) On Valentine’s Day we went all out all day long while still incorporating our daily curriculum. I had the best day but I am tired!!

We started the day off with a Valentine’s Day surprise. I put a donut on each student’s desk for them to see and eat when they walked in. We also were celebrating our great behavior in the past few weeks by having a pajama day! They walked in and were so excited it made my day!!

To calm the craziness and chaos, they started the morning laying in a cozy spot with a book and their donut. It calmed them down from the excitement of what was to come that day and they thought it was so cool because they were wearing cozy clothes, had their blankets, and were eating donuts on the ground while reading.

For reading we did a fun creative writing project. My mom is a teacher and I got the best activity from her (I actually did the activity with her and her class 3 years ago while I was volunteering one day so the example below is mine! Haha sorry for the lame writing.) They each got a box of conversation hearts and a piece of pink paper. They had to come up with their own creative story using the conversation hearts as they wrote. They found it so silly because they had to use hearts that said “I love you” and “kiss me.” They had so much fun and I loved watching them and reading what they wrote.

During math I had my observation (of course on Valentine’s Day) with my principal so I needed to find a quality lesson but also something fun because it was V-Day and they weren’t going to focus on anything serious lesson. We are currently learning fractions (and struggling) so I went on the trusty Teachers Pay Teachers and found another conversational heart activity that related to fractions. They had a blast with this as well! I found the activity on Miss B and Grade 3‘s store. I actually did this exact same activity last year with my 4th graders but my 3rd graders did just as well with it.

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They each got another box of hearts and then had to sort out 10 hearts into their colors. They had to then create fractions of a color out of the 10 total pieces they had. They did well! (Better than my 4th graders actually!) Luckily for me as well, they were on their BEST behavior! When the principal walked in my students were talking and one of my boys, WHO ALWAYS IS TALKING, goes “shhhhhhhhhhhh guys, Mr. G**** is here.” Man, kids are so weird and unpredictable during observations. Overall, it went super well.

After lunch we braved our “party.” (Which consisted of opening boxes and listening to music for 20 minutes.) With not having school for almost 2 weeks total, we never had time to make any boxes, so they had to create their own at home. Holy cow, I want to do this next year again because they were SO CREATIVE!!! I attached my favorites below but I was impressed. When I was in school, we NEVER had boxes as cute as the ones they made.

To end the day, I turned on the Berenstain Bear’s Valentine’s Day episode (free on Youtube) and enjoyed the silence of my student’s as they intently watched this cute 25 minute video.

It was a crazy day, and a fun day, but I’m glad it’s over and that it’s officially the weekend because I’m tired! My mom said something to me yesterday that really stuck. She told me that she believes Valentine’s Day is probably most students’ favorite day of the year. That really hit me because after seeing their excitement and happiness opening their Valentine’s and doing all of our activities throughout the day, I think she might be right. Watching them and all of their reactions had to have been my favorite part of the whole thing!

I hope you had a good Valentine’s Day!  I hope that if you’re a teacher, you had fun and aren’t too exhausted from the craziness. In my personal life, Valentine’s Day is just another day, but seeing Valentine’s Day through their eyes made me see how great the holiday can be when you’re surrounded by those who love and care about you.

To see more of my day to day experiences and the live activities we do in class, go follow me on instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!

First Full Week Back

Well I’m not going to lie, this week has been long and crazy. Coming back from break was great! I missed my kiddos so much but man, a full week of school after 3+ weeks, is hard! I feel like the first full week of school in September!

Monday morning started the week off great when one of my kiddos brought me a Christmas present that came in the mail last weekend. She had told me about it but then was sad because she said it wasn’t coming. (She’s a cutie who likes to fabricate her stories so I wasn’t even sure she was serious about this gift in the first place.) Oh my goodness it was AMAZING.

Side note: To get how amazing, you have to know that I have a cat who I love and I’m OBSESSED with Harry potter!

Her family had gotten me a shirt that was all of the Harry Potter characters AS CATS!!! It was honestly the best shirt I’ve ever seen in my life!

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It made my whole week and it was only Monday morning!

For the most part, the week went pretty smoothly. My kiddos were back to normal! Most of them were with me all of the time and my usual special kiddos were back to their normal selves (which was actually shockingly refreshing!)

We FINALLY had a normal week!!!! I’ve missed normal weeks!! We had a normal reading week and started our new math chapter. Everything was finally back to normal. For me, that makes the week go by faster and easier.

Today we did one of my favorite winter projects to end the week! I love snowmen (my last post is a perfect example of that) so I wanted to add snowmen to our “rocking work” wall. Last year (my first year) I just simply searched on Pinterest for an easy and cute snowman project and I found this one (which is pretty common but cute!)

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They had an idea on what to do and then I let them take their own creative path. They turned out so cute!! They definitely were creative but overall, they were super cute! I have a wall in the back of my classroom to hang their artwork. I’ve found this to be a super easy way to display work without wasting my time taping/stapling up work every few weeks.

My life has been so crazy that I haven’t been able to post anything in a week! A lot more happened this week that I should have talked about but we all know how teaching life takes over 12 hours of your day before you’re ready for bed again! My goal is to do better and share more about what we do day to day in our room. More than likely, that won’t happen for awhile but I will do my best!

Happy first full week back!!

Winter Project PLUS ELA Standards

Coming back to school this week, we only had 3 days. In those 3 days I really didn’t want to start any new reading unit so I decided to review different reading strategies we’ve discussed throughout the year.

I also wanted to do a fun winter art project to spice up our classroom (it looks pretty dull without our Christmas decorations.) I tried to think of a way to combine some reading strategy to an art project. Lucky for me, my mom is a teacher (and taught 3rd grade for years) so she gives me tons of ideas and activities that she used to do all the time. I found one that mixed making a snowman with putting events of a story together. We are reviewing sequencing events next week so it was the PERFECT little gem of a project to find!

Every student got this sheet to start. They had to fill it out with their steps on how to build a snowman, or “snowpal.”

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Once they showed me they were able to sequence how they build a snowman, they cut out their little circles and used them to make a snowman on blue construction paper.

Seriously, this was the cutest and easiest project I’ve ever done! I didn’t realize how amazing it would turn out until they were done! I let them have free reign when it came to creating their snowman. Most took the literal route and made the cutest “snowdogs” and “snowcats” out there!

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This made for the quickest, cutest, and easiest Friday morning after Christmas break and now my cupboards have the best winter decorations to spice up the room!