Monday, December 9, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Crazy Time!

Christmas is always so hectic. Sometimes, I feel like throwing my hands up and saying "Ok, do whatever you want." Wait. That sounds a lot like what I actually did on Friday! My team had a crazy day. First, the spelling bee took an hour longer than expected. Then, our math teacher's son got sick at daycare and she had to bolt outta here to go be a mommy. With no time to get a sub. EEEK! So, the three other teachers (myself included) decided to watch a movie for the rest of the day. The kids loved it (duh) - and yet I still didn't get anything done in the 2 1/2 hours I had left in the day. How does that happen!!!???

Well, anyway - I wanted to share a couple of things. I finally got motivated and revamped my Light Unit.

I use the Carolina Biological kit for some of my experiments - but some of those lessons in that unit plan are SO advanced, I don't even understand them. I still use a lot of the lessons that are already made, but I needed something extra, something more to make it my own. So I created a vocabulary activity pack to help reinforce key ideas and terms that students learn about throughout this unit. I made some Interactive Diagrams - activities that have students completing a diagram that's started on the sheets. This helps to show me that they truly understand the concepts. I have them do these after we have learned about (and practiced with through labs) a particular concept.

I am also reviewing concepts every single day, so that they don't forget them. We do lots of little quizzes and exit/entrance slips seem to really be helping, too. These concepts are crazy - so the more I drill them in to their heads, the better off I think we'll be. 

I have to admit that this is my least favorite thing to teach because the concepts are so difficult. But I really feel like this packet is helping.  Click here to check it out on TpT. 

I love Christmastime. It's times like these that I long for a self-contained room. I see so many cute activities and fun things going on and I just get sad. :(   I know I could probably cook up some Christmas/Winter-themed science experiments, but I am already pushing it trying to get this light unit wrapped up by next Thursday, so trying to add something else that has nothing to do with light just isn't feasible for my schedule. 

Well, it's a good thing I have a kid - because I can put these creative things to use at home! I designed my own Christmas card this year and am hoping to actually get them in the mail BEFORE Christmas....We'll see if that happens. I also found a cute, cute little footprint tree. We are going to go to the paint-it-yourself store and paint a little footprint tree plate for Santa's cookies. Speaking of Santa....I also helped Mr. Claus design some letter head this year. I'm super excited for Santa to come visit us and leave a little something for my sweey itty-bitty (who won't even know what's going really, is this more fore me?! Yep!!) She's been a super-duper good girl, so I know he is going to leave lots of goodies for Olivia...and Mr. Brown if he plays his cards right! 

I hope everyone is enjoying their month of Christmas!! I hope to have more goodies {and even a few freebies} before the end of the month. 

P.S. I'm linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics to show off my Monday Made It!! :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Five for Friday!


A couple of weeks ago, I started my Five for Friday post and I'll be darned if I didn't have time to go back and finish it. This week, I'm making sure to finish because I have some fun stuff to share!

1. Halloween was a blasty! Let me just say how awesome my neighborhood is. There are....let me see....EIGHT families with babies 2 and under on my little street. Plus a few more with kids that are a bit older. We all got together and had a block party. We had chili, one guy was grilling hot dogs, there were TONS of sweets and candies, and we just hung out and talked. We had so much fun! This was the first Halloween for my sweet Olivia and she loved looking around at all the people and puppies and other babies. Bless her heart -- she was so worn out by the time it was over that she was falling asleep in people's arms while she was being passed around from person to person. We also went to Boo at the Zoo a few weeks ago and she went as a peacock. Momma, of course, had matching eye makeup to coordinate. Love having a living doll baby. :)

This picture basically sums up the party. Love. 
{This is my best pal, Deanna. She was having her turn with Olivia when Olivia decided she had had enough.}

2. I am loving Goodreads. Are you on Goodreads? I have been making sure that I am reading every single night, even if it's for a short bit. I have SO MANY books in my "To Read" list...and I'll never get through unless, um, I actually READ. I want to read a Stephen King book, but I still (after almost a year) haven't finished Beach Music by Pat Conroy. So, I'm finishing that one and then once I'm finished with that one, I'll allow myself to start a Stephen King novel. Any suggestions as to which one I should start with? I'll add it to my Goodreads "To Read" list.....

3. We are still doing SciFri in my room every Friday. {Or at least attempting it on most Fridays...} On most days, we only have about 10 minutes of class left over for SciFri, but it's just enough for them to look at a cool science magazine or search our Twitter feed for something interesting. Some days, however, like today -- we have 25+ minutes for SciFri! I tend to feel like the kids kinda get off-track if they have more than 10 minutes, so I searched high and low for something cool to share with them that is science-related. I am thinking about reintroducing my Daily Discoveries on SciFri, but I'm also toying with the idea of introducing a "Creature Feature" and have some neat nonfiction articles for them to read about a new species that was discovered, or maybe even just about an interesting species that they may not even know about. Then I could tie in some CCSS work into the mix. I found a couple of neat websites that I thought I would share! I shared a few articles from these sites and the kids really enjoyed reading about real stuff that's actually going on in the world, like, right now. Check them out if you are a science buff {like I'm pretending to be}. I

Science News Magazine
Student Science

4. On a completely random note, Christmas is 53 days away. This post is exactly how my brain works. I jump from one thought to another. I actually had something else that I was going to share until this thought popped into my mind. So, have I done any shopping, you ask? The indefinite answer is NO. However, I have started to at least think about what I am going to get a few folks. Ok, two folks. And my list has 752,001 people on it. Not an exaggeration.  Good luck in your shopping endeavors this holiday season.

5. The big clipart bundle offer on Educents is ending in a few days! If you have no idea what I'm talking about - click here! It's a great deal on clipart featuring 19 artists and it's filled with graphics, fonts, borders, and digital papers. Don't miss out!! And please join Educents! You'll love it. I included my Carnival clipart pack in the bundled offer, but there are still over 1,000 fonts, graphics, borders, and digital papers in this offer.

Link up with Doodlebugs Teaching for this Five for Friday!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rocks, Butterflies, and Padlet, Oh My!

Just wrapped up our Ecosystems unit and boy, did we have FUN! I sneaked in (sneaked in???)  some rock fun (not sure why, but rocks are included in the Ecosystem portion of the ARMT test at the end of the, I had to slide it in there --I would think that this would be included in last year's big end of year assessment because they learn about Earth's layers in 4th grade, but whatev's) - and we made some of our own metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rocks from old crayons. For sedimentary, we shaved some "sediments" from our old crayons and put them in foil. Then we added some pressure by folding it up and stepping on it. For our metamorphic, we put the little ball of foil in some hot, hot, hot water for about 10 seconds to let it "morph". And finally, we let the foil sit in the hot water for about a minute to make some pretty neat igneous rocks as the crayon melted and then cooled down. Fun stuff!! Of course, they had to write about it in their science journals so that they could show me that they knew about each "rock" that they were creating. We did a quick lesson (review from last year) on the rock cycle as well and I had them draw a little diagram in their journals. Overall, it was a great way for them to review what they learned about rocks in 4th grade.

We also played a "Butterfly Blend" game - straight out of my Ecosystem pack to help them with animal adaptations. Each student got a butterfly and decorated it like something in my room. I left the room and let them "hide" the butterflies in plain sight. My job was to find them. Some of these were REALLY good and those little turkeys STUMPED me!!! Check out some of the butterflies that are in PLAIN sight:

These kids are really creative! For some reason, though, I feel like they got tripped up on the adaptations the most! They couldn't get physical and behavioral straight. I ended up telling them to remember what "behavior" means (the way you act, something you do) and to keep in mind that physical is something physically on the animal's body. We'll see tomorrow if it stuck....because tomorrow is the unit test!!

We started our light unit yesterday (which I don't really LOVE teaching...) - and I am so excited because I got a tip from a good teacher-pal from Fifth Grade Flock's Facebook page. It's called Padlet. is basically an online wall that you can build whatever you'd like on it! You can write words, add pictures, add wallpaper, and I'm pretty sure you can post videos. We make a question wall for light (since it's so very complicated!!) -- and we review the questions throughout the unit. I did a physical wall in my room last year and it was a little difficult to manage. It got messy, it was hard to read the questions and answers together -- basically it was a mess. So, I am so excited about this online question wall this year!! Look at all of our great questions already:

I LOVE it!! So much fun happening in my life of science. We had a great Halloween (though it's really, really hard to keep the kids focused) and we are looking forward to having a nice 3-day weekend coming up on the 11th. I hope we all remind our kids why we are getting the day off -- I know I'll be stressing how important it is to thank our veterans!! We also have a big Veteran's Day program here at school and our upper grades perform a little something for the parents and the vets that we invite to come to our school. I think it's great and I'm so glad we continue this tradition.

I hope everyone had a great and fun Halloween and I hope you get some fun Trick or Treating done tonight!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Giveaway, CRAZY Offer, & a Hop!

Have you heard about Educents? If you haven't, you're missing out, my friends. It's basically Groupon for teachers. Educents offers all types of educational materials, bundles, games, and fun teacher-type stuff that all of us teachers love to get our hands on. I am SO EXCITED to announce the latest offering from Educents!! It's a HUGE bundle of over 1,000 fonts, graphics, and digital papers. I seriously cannot believe that I am a part of such an AMAZING offer. If you use clip art at all, then you should definitely check this out. There are TONS of talented artists participating in this and the package includes QUALITY designs that you can use to snazz up those products and classroom materials. Educents has taken products from 19 different artists and bundled them into one big, giant offer for one little, teeny tiny price. Excellent!   

This BIG OLE' bundled offer includes fonts, clipart elements, and background papers from 19 different artists, including myself. I decided to offer my Carnival Pack in this Educents bundle offer. I loved, loved, loved creating it and I am very happy, happy, happy with the way that it turned out. My portion of the offer includes everything you see here, plus 30 cute little banners that match the theme.

There are a total of 1137 graphics, fonts, or papers included in this bundled offer. WHAT!? I know, it's nuts. And I am jumping for joy over here. I can't contain my excitement about this offer!!! Weeeeeeee!!!! Want the offer? Go here!
Wanna see the rest of the goodies that are in this fun little bundle of joy? HOP ALONG!! Click the button below to visit Nikki over at Melonheadz Illustrations to see what cuteness she's included for this bundle.

Wanna Pin It to Win It? Just 'cause I'm so daggone excited about this, I will be giving away any clipart item from my TpT store. Pin any image from this post and enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please check out this bundle on Educents. It'll be available for 12 days and 12 days only. So, don't miss out!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

It's About Time for a Link Up!!

So on Friday, I started my post for Five for Friday...and then never went back to finish it. There aren't enough hours in the day and it breaks my heart. I am having to choose between adding new stuff to my Etsy shop, adding more goodies to my TpT shop, blogging, exercising, family time, grading papers, creating fun and meaningful lesson plans, making homemade baby food for my sweet girl, and trying to keep my house clean. It's exhausting being a teacher, wife, and mother!! But I love it and wouldn't have it any other way.

I have been making lots of fun stuff. The first thing I want to share is my baby food. I LOVE making my daughter's baby food. I'm a baby food-makin' machine. I make her food on Sundays and it will typically last at least a week, and sometimes, if I make enough, it will last two weeks. I just freeze it it these cute little OXO containers that I found on Amazon (my 2nd BFF, first BFF being Target). has helped me exponentially with recipes and making/storing my baby food. It's awesome and highly recommended for all you mommas out there!! I just use my food processor and it's really so easy. I usually just bake whatever I am making for her along with my dinner, so there really isn't a whole lot of extra steps to make it. Zip, zap, done!

The next thing I've been busting my rear making is CLIP ART!! Now here's a question - is it clipart or clip art? Who knows. 

I LOVE making clip art [clipart]. I have so much fun finding inspiration through just looking around outside, or on clothing patterns, or in even on some of my daughter's toys. I find inspiration basically everywhere I go. I WISH so bad there was more time to fit in making all of the creations I have in my brain. I have a mile-long list of different clip art packs I would just LOVE to sit down and make. All I know is during Christmas break, I know EXACTLY what I'll be working on!!! I've managed to make a handful of stuff, all of which are on my TpT shop. Here's a peek:

I'm very much obsessed with this new hobby. I wish, wish, wish I had more time. I'd have a gazillion creatives to offer!! There are lots of these in the works, but it's a long process to get them completed and up for sale. I've got a Christmas one, a butterfly one, and about 10 different background packs that I'm working on. Who the heck knows when they'll all be done!!!???!!! 

One more thing about clip art...I got an amazing offer to be a part of an Educents clipart bundle that will be rolling out this weekend. There are over 1,000 clip art elements that are going to be offered in this bundle...and you DO NOT want to miss this offer. It's going to be VERY reasonable and if you are a clip art user (what teacher isn't???!!!) - make sure to be on the lookout for the clipart bundle that will be coming your way this weekend.

Speaking of Educents...have you heard about this? It's basically Groupon for teachers. They offer all sorts of  teacher-type products for a big ole' discount. They've even done bundles of resources from TpT products. I highly recommend becoming a member. They also have a blog and I actually starting following it this weekend. I found a really neat online book catalog resource on there. I made a mock online library to test it out (I will probably not teach science for the rest of my career, so I figured I'd better start cataloging my books now, right?) - and I really love it. So that's my next Made It. My online library. I don't have very many books in there right now, but I will later. Go to to create your own classroom library. It even has a feature to let students checkout the books in your library. All you have to do is add your students' names and then they login in to checkout/check in books that they borrow. I love it.

I really only have these three Made Its to offer, but I will also say that I am working on getting some Common Core resources up on my TpT site. {I know, right? It's about time!!} I am focusing right now on math looks like I'll be teaching math along with science next year! I am very excited about it, but I'm a little overwhelmed with this prospect. I want to really familiarize myself with Common Core, since we are making the ole' switch-a-roo. 

Thank you to Tara for hosting the Monday Made It linky again! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

eDay with Edmodo

My school district requires an eDay - a day where the students do not come to school, but class is still in session via the Internet. Ahh, the Internet. It's strange that these kids are growing up in an era where not knowing something is unheard of. Need to know when Captain Crunch was invented? GOOGLE IT! Need to know the answer to a math problem? GOOGLE IT! Need to know what kind of rash you have on your foot? GOOGLE IT! I mean, it's incredible - we really do have the world at our fingertips. These kids have no idea how easy they have it!! I mean, remember the days when we had to use a card catalog to find a book? They won't ever know that. Weird.

I really love this idea of having an eDay. But I tell ya, it was really difficult coming up with an activity that wasn't just busywork. Enter Edmodo. Edmodo is the Facebook of the teaching world and I LOVE it. I have only been on a handful of times and I cannot tell you how super helpful it has been.

We are right in the middle of our ecosystem study. I love it. We make ecocolumns, complete with crickets, fish, rolly pollies, and snails. The kids really enjoy it and they love learning about animals and different places all over the world. I have to admit that it's one of my favorites, too! {Properties of Matter definitely steals the show, though.} To accompany our ecosystem study, I wanted to do something related to ecosystems. I have two ideas - the first has to do with going outside and viewing a mini "ecosystem" by walking outside and marking off a 4' x 4' square. Students will be challenged to think about how this section of earth is actually an ecosystem. I have a sheet that students will use to make their observations. They will answer questions such as, "What living organisms can you see?" and "What living organisms might there be in this square that you cannot see?" and different questions that deal with the mini EcoSquare that they've created. It's a great way for students to see that ecosystems can be very small, not just humongous.

Now - knowing my luck, it will rain that day, so I've also uploaded an assignment that they can complete online. I found a great website that has lots of information about food chains and food webs and also has a food chain game that students can play that reinforces key concepts. I think it's fabulous.

I really, really like Edmodo. You can upload assignments, create quizzes, and have students complete these things right there on the page. It's very similar in format to Facebook, but it's for education. I highly recommend it if you are not on there because it's a great place for educators to collaborate. I've gotten lots of help on there, including the idea to use Class Dojo as a behavior management system - which is working like a charm, by the way.

If you decide to join the Edmodo world, look me up! I'd be honored to have more teacher connections on there!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Goal Cards for Students & Science Conferring

I started something new this year. I wanted to hold students more accountable for their own learning - so I created Goal Cards. Our Goal Cards are just a list of the "I Can" statements created from the COS Standards that I use while I am creating my lessons. When we start each new unit, I pass out these Goal Cards. We go over each goal to make sure that we understand exactly what we are learning. We talk about the importance of setting goals - (we even made an anchor chart at the beginning of the year) and we talk about how we can improve ourselves through goal-setting. There is also a space for students to create their own goals for science, as well as reflect upon their learning at the end of each unit.

Throughout the unit, I make sure that students know to go back to their goal cards to see how they're doing. Mid-way through our unit I *try* my best to meet with each student to check on them to see how they're coming along with their goals. (This is in addition to any other quick assessments that I am doing throughout the unit.) We go over their goal sheets while we confer and I take notes in a handy-dandy class notebook that I made specifically for mini conferences. I have 4 classes, so I needed a way to organize my notes in a way that is both easy for me to access AND easy for me to quickly see who I haven't met with. I print each class on pages that are side by side so that when I open the notebook, I can see who I've written notes for and who I still need to meet with without having to rummage through pages and pages of a binder. Each class is organized on a large grid and each student has a large space for me to write notes. I have about 9 students per page. It's working very well and I'm actually learning more about my students this year. I just printed it on regular paper and then used cardstock for a quick cover. I just bound it together using black plastic binding. It's going to come in really handy when it's time for 5th grade conferences - a 2-day span of back-to-back conferences with 75+ parents. Whew!

I meet with the students again once we've accomplished all of our class goals and we make sure together that we have everything checked off of our list. It's an easy way to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Peek of goal card:

I'm still struggling with conferences. Science conferences are very difficult to have. The students that I know are doing well - I have a hard time conferring with them. I just don't know what to say. And the ones that are struggling a little - I have to pry out of them what they are struggling with. I'm so inexperienced with conferences since I am a 2nd year teacher - but I think it's more that science is just really difficult to confer about. I can confer all day about writing and reading and math, but science - I'm struggling. Am I the only one? Do you have conferences for science? What are some good starter questions that I could use? Or anything that might help me! 

UPDATED - per request, click here to access all of my goal cards, along with my notes sheet for conferences. :)  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cell Analogies & a Freebie

Love teaching my cells unit. I think this year if we finish the unit on schedule, I will make an edible cell and have a "cell-a-bration" with the classes. Ha!! I love the idea of edible cells, but I feel like that activity gets students so caught up in the eating part that they forget what the point of the activity is.

We are fortunate enough in my school to have the funds to purchase living organisms to view under the microscopes. We look at blepharisma, volvox, and vinegar eels. The kids LOVE it and I must admit I find these little unicellular creatures pretty cool myself!!

I also do my Cell Organelle Facebook project where the students work in groups to personify the organelles and make them a Facebook page. {Not a real one, a poster - but a real one would be very cool!!} In addition to these activities, this year, I am also including an activity that will hopefully help them remember the cell organelles and their functions. The Facebook project is always a favorite, but I'm afraid the functions of the organelles don't stick like I'd like them to. So, to help that, I am including this new activity. I'm putting this on my TpT store for FREE - so please check it out! I also have a Cells Alive! Packet that includes all of my cell unit activities. I'd love for you to check that out as well! {Click here.} Here's a peek at the freebie that I'm putting up on TpT. I hope it helps!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Paper Airplane Contest! Teaching Variables

It has been a fantastic two weeks. What a great way to start the year! We have already dove right into experimenting almost daily. Our class wiki is already filled with fun stuff {click here to check it out}. Parent Night was a success. And now for a three day weekend. Woo hoo!

I wanted to share a fun experiment that I found to teach students all about variables. Before sharing this - let me just say that I always start the year with my Marshmallow Challenge, followed by a few simple experiments to get the ball rolling. {I have a packet of the experiments that I do on my TpT site - click here to check that out - it's only $3.00!!} Then, to introduce variables - I let students participate in a very unfair rubber band shooting contest. I announce the contest, then pass out all different sizes of rubber bands. Then I let them shoot the rubber bands from wherever they are standing (all while wearing safety goggles, of course) and then I announce whom I think is the winner, based on what I simply observe. It's very unfair and students immediately give me feedback letting me know! Then we have a discussion about what we would need to do to make the contest fair. We come up with things such as:

  • We need to know what the purpose of the contest is, ie. how to we determine a winner? {distance}
  • Everyone needs to have the same type of rubber band
  • We need to use the same type of measurement to measure the distance traveled for each person
  • Everyone needs to shoot the rubber band the same way{we aren't measuring what technique shoots the rubber band the farthest, we are measuring who shoots the rubber band the farthest}
Viola! We've learned about variables! Then I go into a discussion about controlled, independent, and dependent variables. They love it and they get it after experiencing the unfair contest. We then discuss how this is all related to science. {I actually had one student say, "What does this have to do with science?!"}

After we know all about variables, we had a paper airplane contest. We wanted to see which airplane design {independent variable} flew the farthest distance {dependent variable}. Some of the controlled variables that we came up with included:

  • Using the same unit of measurement to measure the distance flown
  • Everyone must hold the plane the same way when throwing the airplane
  • We need to have a large space with no wind {because the wind might have an effect on how far the planes are thrown.}
I found this experiment on this website. It's fantastic! It even has the airplane folding instructions. It also has a worksheet that accompanies the experiment, though I recreated it to meet my needs. Click here to download my version of the worksheet for free. You may make changes as necessary to better fit your needs!

This experiment is perfect to start off the year because it incorporates following instructions, working together, and the importance of understanding math in science. {I had students measure the distance flown in inches and then we converted that to feet.} Plus, who wouldn't want to fly paper airplanes in class?! 

Having a blast so far in fifth grade science. I hope your school year got off to a great start as well!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Welcome Back! And a Room Peek.

It's officially here! Back to school is in full swing and I am PLUM worn out. Good Lord I totally do not know how I did this last year PREGNANT. Whew! It's going to be a great year and I'm so excited to share some of the new things that we'll be doing.

I wanted to share some pics of my room to get this school year's posts kicked off. I love my room this year. I bought a bunch of faux flowers from the dollar store and it makes a huge difference! I made my FOCUS wall and used my fun science chevron labels and banner to spruce up the place, too. I kept my Wizard Challenge {click here to read all about that} but I had to improvise with my Scientific Method bulletin board. I lost a bulletin board (boo) but gained a whiteboard (yay!) when I moved rooms this summer, so my scientific method stuff is now on a wall in a smaller space. But it works! I also put tons of pics of my little cutie everywhere. Here's one so you can see how cute she is:

She's basically the cutest baby ever.

Anyway - here are some pics of my science room:

I'm so happy with the way it looks and it feels good to have a nice little space that's organized and fun. After all it is my home away from home. I hope everyone had a fantastic first day back. I'm so excited about this school year!!!