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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wong's New Book - Great Professional Read!

If you are anything like me, you love Harry K. Wong's book The First Days of School. Each summer I pour through this book again. Sometimes I read it from start to finish; other times I just touch on the area/s I felt I needed the most help with in the previous book. If you don't know this book, you really should check it out! 

{Is it bad that I actually own three copies of this book? I thought I misplaced one, so I had to get another. The third copy was a professional development book given to me by one school district. I lend them out to colleagues regularly, but I always want them back!}

Harry and Rosemary Wong have done it again! They have a new book entitled THE Classroom Management Book. Within two days of receiving this book in the mail, I knew I HAD to read it! {Sadly there are some professional books I receive that end up sitting on my shelf for far too long.}

This book is a great read from cover-to-cover OR as one where you go to the table of contents and flip to exactly what you are looking for. Topics included are Classroom Management Defined, Before the First Day of School, For the First Day of School, Procedures for Students, Procedures for the Classroom, Procedures for Instruction, Procedures for the Special Needs Classroom, Procedures for Teachers, and Plans for the First Days of School.

There are some really great ideas in this book, but there are also some that are simply teacher tested and approved. You need to check it out!

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What do I need to read next? I love adding to my "to read" list and occasionally finding one that I have to read right away!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Halloween Ideas I've Collected Through the Years

Not being in the classroom this year has definitely been different. Knowing there is a "bigger" holiday coming up that many teachers and students across the country will be celebrating has me feeling a bit out-of-sorts. While I love my new position, I miss these fun activities in the classroom! {Although I'm not sure I'm going to miss the headache that often comes at the end of some of these days! ;) }

Anyway, I was going through some old pictures and found some misc Halloween ideas I've done in the past - some academic, some just for fun. Please read on because I'm sure there's something you can use with your students K-6 or even your kiddos at home!

Create jack-o-lanterns! But don't let your students off too easy! Before they actually start carving, make them earn that fun activity. :)
  • Any age group can make a quick estimation of how many seeds will be in each pumpkin when they are all done.
  • Older students can then find the mean, median, mode, and range of these seeds after all pumpkins have been emptied out. 
  • Your youngest learners may benefit from counting all of the seeds - whether from one pumpkin or from many!
  • Paint or dye your pumpkin seeds and turn them into an art project!
  • Let your older students practice their cooking skills. You may even be able to try a few different recipes and vote which one is the favorite!
  • Use the seeds as bingo covers. What teacher doesn't have some random Bingo games around? {Really, you don't?! No problem, here's a link to all the FREE ones on TpT! :) }
  • Use the seeds to graph various data. Perhaps graph what each person's Halloween costume will be or their favorite Halloween animal or simply graph a basic, every day topic!
  • Plant a pumpkin seed so your students can watch a new pumpkin start its life!

Now that you've done one (or maybe many!) of these ideas, go have fun carving that pumpkin! (Check out this cookie cutter idea if carving sounds like a bit too much work!)

Another favorite activity of mine (particularly when I taught ELL students - although many students can use the fluency practice!) was Readers' Theater. Here's a few links to ones you may find worthwhile:

And not entirely Halloween related, but nonfiction fun! Frog or Toad?

How about a game of Halloween Concentration? Click on the version that seems most appropriate for your child or students.

Here's my Halloween FREEBIE that is in my TpT store! Click here or on the picture to get your copy. (With over 25,000 downloads - I'm pretty proud of this product!)

If that's not enough, click here to see all of my blog posts that have something to do with Halloween. (There are a LOT of great freebies from other bloggers!)

AND - make sure to check out my Halloween Pinterest board here. There are over 100 posts and I regularly add new items, especially now that the season is upon us. :)

If you have some great Halloween ideas or freebies to share, please include them in the comments below!

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Friday, October 3, 2014

"BOO" Your Colleagues This Halloween!

This October I decided to share a little holiday cheer around our school. I started this fun little "boo"ing activity! We only started it on October 1st, and I would guess that it has already reached at least 15 people in our building. I'm guessing that means people are enjoying it enough to pass it on to others pretty quickly! =)

Now let's be honest here. I did not make any of this fun; I simply put it all together and got this fun activity going in my school.

You can get the "I've Been Boo'd!!" printable for FREE here.

The little Pumpkin Poop printable can be downloaded for FREE here.

Thanks to Samantha Lawrence and Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies for the amazing printables that saved me so much time!

How do you spread a little fun around your workplace?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Random Websites for K-3

It's been awhile since I've posted a list of some of the awesome websites out there. I know there are a TON of them, but no one has the time to find all the good ones. Hopefully this list will help you find at least one new one!

From basic letter sounds to 3 and 4 syllable words, is a great, interactive website where students learn phonics! Plus it's totally free!

If you've been following teacher blogs for awhile, you have probably already heard of GoNoodle. It's a completely free website where your students get five minute brain breaks. Greg over at Kindergarten Smorgasboard brags GoNoodle up all.the.time! Seriously! :)

Finally, there's Intervention Central. This website has great, free resources to help teachers with students who need academic AND behavior interventions. Simply click on the heading you would like to explore, and then notice how each area is divided into further areas. Once you find a topic of interest, click on it to see a detailed lesson plan. The website talks a lot of RtI interventions, but you don't need to do a formal RtI program to find these plans useful!

Want to see some of the awesome websites I've shared in the past? 
Click here!

Have you heard the big news in my personal life? If not, go check it out here!

Thanks for looking!
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Classbuilding Activity: Think Fast!

Hello everyone.  My website for teachers,, is all about providing engaging games and activities for elementary school teachers.  On it you will find morning meeting activities and ways to excite your students in their learning.  The following is a great activity to get your day started in morning meeting called, “Think Fast.”  This is a game that gets kids warmed up for the day and that they clamor to play again and again.  One of the strengths of the game is how it gives all the students a chance to be recognized in a positive way by the class.  It is also helpful at the beginning of the year for children to learn each other’s names.
What the students will learn
·         To be attentive
·         To learn self-control
·         To build a positive classroom culture

When and with who to play this game

·         Can be used with Grade 1 – Adult!
·         This game takes 5-10 minutes to play
·         It is a perfect morning meeting activity but could be used at other times that students need a movement break

How to play


·         The object of the game is to be the champion by being the only player not to get “out”


·         Start the game by having the children stand in the circle, the teacher is the referee who stands in the middle of the circle
·         The teacher will need a small ball that bounces well (A tennis ball, racquetball or mini basketball all will work well)

Playing the Game

·         The teacher bounces the ball and calls out a student’s name, “JOHN!”
·         The named student needs to run into the center of the circle and catch the ball before it hits the ground a second time.
·         If they manage to catch the ball the class gives them a round of applause
·         If they drop the ball or do not get to the ball in time the class should encourage the student, such as saying, “Good try John!” or “You were close”
·         That student is then out and sits down.
·         Warmup: Give everyone a try to get used to the game and go around in a circle so that they will know that it is their turn next
·         First round: Bounce the ball high in the middle of the circle so that it is easier for students to catch the ball and continue to go around in a circle
·         A student who is successful in the first round crosses their arms to signal that they have passed that round
·         When all students pass round one have them uncross their arms for round two!
·         Second round:  Start to call on students in random order to make the students have to be more attentive as well as bounce the ball I little bit lower to give them less time to run in and catch it
·         Third and following rounds: Bounce the ball in different parts of the circle as well as faster or slower, you may call on students multiple times in a row to catch them off guard
·         Continue the game until there is only one player remaining, that student is treated to a big round of applause from the entire class

Teaching Notes about this game:

This is a great game to teach about empathy: Be sure to model how the class is supposed to react when a student catches the ball or does not catch the ball. Immediately pause the game and discuss any reactions or comments a student gives that is inappropriate.
Being respectful to classmates when you are out: Discuss the importance of being respectful to the other classmates once you are out.  Emphasize how they should pay attention to the game, not talk and continue to encourage their classmates. 

Other Ways to Play:

Other ways to “Think Fast”:  After students are familiar with the game, in the later rounds I will start to give other signals other than just their first name.  I may use the student’s last name instead.  I may start saying things like, “The person who is wearing a green T-Shirt” or “Has sandals on” or “Has a brother in 2nd grade” to get them to really get their brains working.
Basketball “Think Fast”: I keep a mini basketball hoop in my classroom for various games.  After students are familiar with the game I include the basketball element into the game.  After the students catch the ball, wherever they catch it they must turn and shoot the ball in the basket.  If they miss they are also out.  In the first rounds I bounce the ball very close to the net and in later rounds I start bouncing the ball further and further away.

Want a printable version of this activity? Click here!

Check out more great activities and lessons at

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fruity Battery! {A Quick, Easy Science Fair Project}

A Quick and Easy Science Fair Project Idea – Fruity Battery
Most of our favorite things like toys, cars, phones, watches and speakers need batteries to survive! The devices stop working and are termed dead when their batteries exhaust. So, why don’t you learn to make a battery at home with a few simple supplies and understand its functionality with this cool science fair project idea?

Photo Courtesy: Richard Heaven
Functionality of a battery

An orange
18 gauge copper wire
Steel paper clip
A piece of zinc
Adult’s assistance

Use a clipper to take off about 2 1/2 inches of plastic insulation that’s found on the copper wire. Now, clip the loose piece off the main roll.
Use all your strength to straighten the steel paper clip. Ask an adult for assistance to help you straighten it. Measure it at 2 1/2 inches and cut off the remaining.
Rub off any rough spots in the wire or the paperclip with sandpaper. Make sure it’s smoothened perfectly.
Now, roll the orange in your hand to loosen up the juice inside. You can also roll it on a flat surface to break the cell walls as you will need the juice to form the foundation of this science fair project.
Stick the copper wire about 1 inch into the orange. Moisten your tongue with saliva and lightly touch the wire. Do you notice any distinct taste?
Now, carefully stick the paper clip and zinc strip into the orange about 1/4 inch next to the wire making sure no metal touches another. Again, touch the wire ends with your tongue. What do you notice this time?

There must have been a distinct difference in taste when you touched your tongue to the copper wire and then all the metals and alloys. While just the copper wire was plain, the metals and alloy were metallic to taste.
Why did you feel the metallic taste?
The orange battery was generating electricity which means the electrons from the wire were travelling to your tongue. The electrons moved across the surface of the tongue and hence you got the metallic taste. Electrons are smaller breakdowns of an atom and are electrically charged.
The kind of battery that you made is called a voltaic battery. It is made of two different metals which act as electrodes, passages from where any current is transferred. Since electrolytes(sour acid from the orange and the saliva) transfer electricity when dissolved in water, you felt the tingling taste because your mouth was moist, as was the orange. Batteries stop working when there aren’t enough electrolytes to react with metals or not enough metals to react with the electrolytes.
Experimenting with the science fair project idea
·         Connect multiple orange batteries to generate more electrical current. Use a copper wire to connect the two as a bridge.
Photo Courtesy: Micah Sittig

·         Use variables and repeat the science fair project idea with a variety of acidic fruits and vegetables and measure which one generates most current.

Author Bio:
Catherine Ross is a full-time stay-at-home-mum who believes learning should be enjoyable for young minds. An erstwhile elementary school teacher, Catherine loves coming up with creative ways through which kids can grasp the seemingly difficult concepts of learning easily. She believes that a ‘fun factor’ can go a long way in enhancing kids’ understanding and blogs at

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Six Magic Square Products Updated & a Brand New FREEBIE

The other day I seriously received some of the BEST feedback on TpT that a seller could ask for. The comments were heartfelt, honest, and extremely constructive! Due to this, I took the time to update six of my Magic Square Puzzles - doubling and tripling some of them in size! If you have purchased any of these items from me in the past - go to your "My Purchases" tab and re-download them.

Tens (10-120) Words and Numbers Magic Square Puzzles

2D Shapes Magic Square Puzzles

Geometric Shapes Magic Square Puzzles

Rhyming Words Magic Square Puzzles

Money Magic Square Puzzles

Beginning Sounds Magic Square Puzzles

Also - when one of the products went from six pages to 18, I decided that I could easily make a three page freebie out of it! Click on the picture below to get your freebie directly from Teachers Pay Teachers!
Beginning Sounds Magic Square Puzzles FREEBIE

Now for the best part! You know I don't like bragging up new or revised products without thanking a few of you who stuck around until the end of the post! The first six people to comment with their e-mail address will receive all six revised products mentioned in this blog post!

What are you waiting for?! Comment away! :)

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