First 2 Days!!

Happy Friday everyone (and happy back to school week for those who started like me)!!! Oh my goodness, I love my new class! The past 2 days with kids has been crazy and chaotic but just because of the housekeeping that had to be done. My class was amazing with listening, and following directions on what needed to be done. It’s only been my 3rd official first day but this was by far the most well behaved my classes have been with the crazy.

The first day was filled with a few get to know you activities and A LOT of organizing and housekeeping. Our school does this fun thing right away where the entire building meets in our gym before anyone goes to any classrooms. We get to see all of the kiddos, all staff introduces themselves, and then the principal gives everyone a welcome back message! I’ve really enjoyed the kick off.

When we came back to our room, before we got anything out and organized, we sat in our morning meeting circle and I did one of my favorite get to know you activities. I found this on Pinterest a few years ago and have used it ever since. I show the students a roll of toilet paper. (Cue the laughter!) I don’t tell them what they need it for but I do tell them they are going to take off 1, 2, or 3 squares from the roll and then will pass it on to the next student. Most class clowns will pick the 3 (one year I let them choose 1-5 and most of my crazy clowns picked 5) because they think it’s funny. I then tell them that the number of squares they have will represent the number of things they will share with the class about themselves. Super fun and a big hit!

Of course I had to read 1st Day Jitters by Jane Danneberg because what teacher doesn’t read that fun book the first day back? We then did a silly activity where they worked together to draw a silly face. It was a perfect team building activity to break the ice and a way for us to talk about how everyone is different.

The rest of the day was mainly full of getting things put where they were supposed to go and explanations given on all of the little things around my room, like jobs and lunch, and how I do them. Overall, it was an easy first day.

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Classic first day of school pic!

Today was still crazy but we got to do a lot more fun stuff. I always have a morning message on the board explaining morning jobs that need to be completed. I tested them this morning by just seeing if they could follow the directions without me prompting them. (Just so I can see who can and cannot follow those directions.) Most of my kids knew what to do! It was amazing!!

Our morning meeting game was a get to know you Bingo. We also used this as a way to talk about how it’s okay if you don’t win, it’s just fun to learn about your new classmates. Again, they did awesome.

I then read a fun new book by Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos Jr. called, When Pencil met Eraser. The main purpose of the book was to focus on friendship and team work. That lead into a discussion on what we look for in a friend. They each got a sheet that had them brainstorm what they want in a friend and what friendship looks like, sounds like, and feels like. We talked about it together and then they started our first writing activity of the year.

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I wanted them to write a letter/wanted ad to explain what they were looking for in a friend. I gave them strict directions on writing the letter/ad, where to put it when they were done, and to read to self when they were finished all in silence. I honestly said this one time and they did it! Without me having to ask more than once or redirecting anyone. Seriously, my jaw is dropping just thinking about it now. They displayed their ads on our awesome work wall so everyone in the class could read them.

We then took some time to talk about rules and consequences. I’m big on having them come up with their own rules and their own consequences for the classroom. That way they have ownership in how our room runs and ownership in the consequences for not following their own rules.

We spent some time brainstorming rules and consequences they have had in the past and decided on 6 main rules and 6 main consequences for our class. I created 2 posters and then had them sign both saying they agree to the consequences and rules they created. (If you saw on of my original posts, you’ll know that I also do this when we come back from Christmas break to kickstart the second part of the year.)

Finally, the last activity we did today was a fun time capsule activity. Each student got a packet full of different things they write about now and will see if they changed by the year. The packet had some fun things like, your hand size and foot size that they loved!! It was so fun watching them. I also had them take an empty map of the US and fill in as many states as they could (in 4th grade they learn all the states and capitals) so they can compare it to what they know the last day of school. They then wrote a letter to their last day of 4th grade self that they get to read when they get their time capsules back.

Overall, it was a fun couple of days. Don’t get me wrong I am EXHAUSTED but it was fun! I am so excited for the year. These are great kids and I know great things will happen! The first 2 days are done! Year 3, here we go!!
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Reading Cafe Open for Business

We are getting closer and closer to the end of the year and those school days left are decreasing fast (but not always fast enough.) At this point of the year, I am officially done with all of my required curriculum materials (expect for one more math test) so I am pulling out any and all activities I can.

One activity that I found and purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers was a Book Tasting Kit. I have seen this idea on Pinterest and through different teacher’s instagram accounts and I wanted to try it so bad. The one I bought was from Staying Cool in the Library‘s page. I think this kit is great because it has two separate kits inside of one so that it can be leveled to a specific grade level. There is an upper elementary version and a primary version. I used the primary version for my kiddos because I wanted it to be fun and easy with limited writing. I wanted the major focus to be on the books.

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What I did was I printed out the “menu” pages found in the kit and made each student in my class their own menu to use. Inside each menu I included 5 “review” pages that they used when they found a book.

I set up 5 different stations of genres in my room and placed many of those types of books at each table. The genres I pulled out to use for my kids were historical fiction books, realistic fiction books, mystery books, fantasy books, and biographies/autobiographies. At each table, they had to pick one book they thought looked interesting and filled out the form in their menu. They read a page or 2 from each book and decided if the pages were easy or hard to read. They then described the cover and any other pictures that might have been in the book. They finally rated their book out of 5 stars. Once they finished with their one book that was recorded in their menus, they had a few extra minutes to look through other books and discuss the ones they found with the others in their group.

I gave each round/station about 8 minutes at each table/genre. Overall, it took us a little over 40 minutes total to get through all tables. Most of my kiddos had a really good time and really took their time looking into different types of books and genres they aren’t used to. When my students entered 3rd grade, hardly any of my students wanted to read chapter books. As the year went on, they started to get into the Dogman series, The Bad Guys series, and of course, the Junie B. Jones. books. As great as it was that they were starting to read chapter books, they didn’t really extend their reading any farther. Most of them stuck with these books throughout the year. My goal with the book tasting was to show them that there are plenty of other amazing books out there. I wanted them to walk away with a list of new books to read over the summer or next year when they walk into 4th grade.

Of course, I had that handful who couldn’t handle it. I decided to put my struggling kiddos in the same group for this activity so they wouldn’t disrupt anyone else and take away from their learning. It was great for the other 4 groups at the other 4 stations but that one group was very difficult. I had my sister come volunteer in my classroom just to keep those kiddos on task. (That still didn’t work too well.)

Overall, my kids had fun and found a ton of new books they are eager to read. It was a lot of prep work getting everything printed and put together but it was worth it. I recommend trying this out (but maybe not at the end of the year because the energy level is WAY higher than normal!)

Side Note: If you want to add some more flare, have some instrumental French music playing in the background. It sets the mood pretty well and who doesn’t want to pretend they’re in a French cafe?

 

We only have 8 school days to go!!!!! We are so close people!!!!

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For more day to day activities and lessons, go follow my class instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!! With the end of the year, I have many fun projects coming up. I will also be sharing some fun summer activities and you don’t want to miss that!

BINGO, Kickball, and Officially Published

Happy Friday friends!!! More like FINALLY FRIDAY!! Holy cow this last month of school is a marathon and we’re ALL feeling it.

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Today we had an early release for students so we could have a professional development afternoon. Because of that, we all tried to make today a fun day. We started the day with school wide BINGO. We’ve had a school wide goal since the beginning of the school year to read 25,000 books by the end of the year. We reached that back in February so we bumped the goal to 50,000. We have benchmark prizes throughout and BINGO was the prize for reaching 44,000. [[Super fun right!? Well it was at first….

Every Friday we have some “Friday free choice” time right away in the morning for about 20ish minutes to start the day. Because BINGO started right at the start of the day, we didn’t get time to do our free choice time. My kids were upset about this and didn’t understand why they couldn’t have both. Really?

When we started to play BINGO my class was the first 3rd grade class to get a BINGO so we won a class prize from the principals. Sometime in the next few weeks they’ll be taking my class outside to play some kickball. When my students found out this was the prize, half of my class threw a fit because they don’t like kickball. Who doesn’t want to get out of class on a nice spring day to play kickball!? Honestly it blew my mind. I was livid with how they were reacting. Oh my goodness, seriously.

After BINGO we finished a math test and then we watched Because of Winn-Dixie because we finished the book. A few of my highly emotional students (who work with our school social workers multiple times a day) were crying because they didn’t feel like watching a movie today. Ummmmmmmm what!? What 8 year old doesn’t want to watch a movie in school!? Oh my goodness I almost lost it.

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Majority of my class was super awesome during BINGO and during the movie but it’s those handful of 3-4 that ruin my mood because there has to be a problem with everything. I can’t win with them.

A super positive side about today though was that we finally got our published books in the mail. A few weeks ago my class created our own book. A friend of mine told me about this awesome company called Student Treasures. What the company does is it sends a teacher a book making kit for their class. In the kit there is a full list of instructions and order forms to send home. You come up with an idea on what you want to write about and go from there. One teacher I know made a class cookbook and another made their own “I survived” story. The site also has a ton of ideas and examples of different class books that have been made. Once the whole process is completed on the teachers end, the whole kit gets sent back and the company does all of the publishing! A few weeks later the books arrive and they are amazing!

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My class recently read the Wayside School series by Louis Sacher. We decided to base our book off of that series by making our own wacky and crazy stories. Each student wrote a chapter about themselves. They got to come up with a silly story about what they might do in our class and illustrate a picture to go with it. Today the books came!

The title of our book was Upside Down Stories From Becker Intermediate School. They turned out so cute and the kiddos were so excited. The book comes with a dedication page and a “meet the authors” page. My kids were adorable on their dedication. We talked together as a class and came up with two different dedications. The first was they wanted to dedicate our book to another 3rd grade teacher, the one who originally gave me the idea because she did it with her class. The second dedication was “to all of the sick.” They wanted to bring some cheer to anyone who isn’t feeling that great. They want anyone out there to have a good laugh because that makes everyone feel better. I was so proud when they decided on their two dedications. I had nothing to do with what they wanted.

 

At the beginning of our book I wrote a little introduction with the chapters for each student but the rest is all them! I am including examples from the different chapters in our book because I find them super cute and innocent.

 

It was a super fun process to build our class relationship. We decided on commonalities for our fake class like a common class discipline system and the name of the school principal. A lot of them decided to include other classmates in their stories (I told them as long as it was appropriate and they got permission from the other student, they could include whatever they wanted.) Overall, it was such a fun process. I HIGHLY recommend looking into Student Treasures next school year. It’s probably a little too late at this point of the year because it takes some time for the books to get back to you, but I think it is something every class should participate in.

Oh man, the end of the year cannot come soon enough. I love my class but MY GOODNESS they are losing their minds! Here’s to all of you teachers out there who understand the May feels.

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For more day to day activities and projects, go follow my class instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!