Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Field Trip Writing Record Freebie

One last field trip before we journey into the lazy days of summer... 

We took our learning on the road for a day and became one with some other wild animals.  Hey, if you can't beat them, join them...right?

Our annual trek to the zoo is an absolute whirlwind of animalness!  This trip takes us on an hour long bus ride with one mission ~ Don't lose anyone!  Bring learning to life for our little friends. 
Fortunately, we had a little help keeping an eye on everyone.
We got to watch the penguin feeding above ground and the kids were excited. But, when we took them downstairs to see the frosty friends literally playing on the glass, they flipped out!  Sometimes the best things happen accidentally.  They asked if we hired them to perform for our class...We took all the credit, of course.    
 
Wasn't really sure if this guy was cool or just weird honestly, but had to share... Let's just say we're glad he lives at the Zoo, but  if we ever want to change up our classroom management approach he might come in handy.  Especially around this time of year... HA!
Our favorite part is seeing how many kids fall asleep on the bus ride home.  It's always the ones you would least expect and they just c.r.a.s.h.  Last year, we had a Dad fall asleep too.  That was a funny picture...
The only problem with our day is the time before the bus arrives and the time after they drop us off. Everyone is bouncing out of their cages to go, and once we've reviewed bus rules, passed out nametags, used the bathrooms, and assigned groups, there is not enough time to do much but we need them to do something before the ever so slow bus arrives.  When we return, everyone is absolutely exhausted, but we still have time in our day and no nap mats in sight...so, we work. A little.

To fill the bits of unstructured time we have before and after any of our field trips, we came up with this generic Field Trip Record.  It's a perfect time filler before the bus pulls up, and it was a good way to wrap up our day. It's quick and easy, and gives them a chance to predict and reflect in a quick and easy way. 
We also customized one specifically for our zoo trip, which you can download below.

  We let them draw or write (or both). 
This friend was really anticipating a fun day...
He wonders if he will get to slide down the big grass hill. Nope.  
He also thinks he will feed the giraffes. Nope.  
Gosh, we do hope he still had a great time too.

I guess we should have prefaced that we weren't actually going to a petting zoo or feeding animals...But, we can confirm that they do have a giraffe. He did see one. And thank goodness he will always remember the animals.  At.the.zoo. Hmmm... 

Now this one is just either completely honest, or has absolutely ZERO faith in their teacher!  
"I think I will get lost."  
Really?!?!  
Oh, be still our hearts...
You think we would lose you?!?
Or, maybe they just know their limits...
They're a wanderer...They get lost...It happens. Right?
Yes, let's go with that scenario... 
It makes us sound way better.  :)

At least he will always remember, "Staying together".  Phew!  
This was a great little time filler and didn't make us feel like zoo keepers whilst awaiting the bus or bell.   
Enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Adventuring Through Africa

We've been having a WiLd time learning about Habitats in our class for many months now.  But, one of our favorite stops is the Savanna Habitat. 
We tie in our Africa learning at the same time, which carries us through Open House.
Needless to say, this keeps us very, very busy at a time when we are just counting the days.  {Squeeeeel!!!}  But, we still have Open House this week and Report Cards due too.  Calgon, take us away...

One of our favorite Africa activities is the last one we do...not just because it is the last {well, okay maybe a little}, but because it is really such a fun, hands-on way to wrap up our journey through Africa.  Plus, it combines two of our favorite things...eating and shopping. :)

Welcome to Our African Marketplace & Food Tasting Party
This event has quickly become a tradition at our school.  We provide the recipes, but ask families to help us cook up some kid-friendly African recipes for an African food tasting party.  Complete with juice box to quench their little palettes between bites, and a "Food Review" form to fill out along the way, the kids are introduced to foods that they may not otherwise get to try.  Here's what was on our menu this year:


Okay, so it's a bit of a "Carb Fest"...we know.  But, we did say kid friendly and something just told us they may not really lick the bowls clean of some of the other options.  We also like to keep it easy for families because we are asking them to cook for 30.  Most of the recipes came from this book and are very easy to follow:
We had a few parent helpers set each plate with the food, then worked our way around the plate item by item as a whole class.  Stopping to briefly introduce each one, draw a picture and write the name of it on our Food Review forms, and taste.  After tasting a bite, we rate the food ~ not the cook.  
One friend so kindly shares that if they vomit, it wouldn't be very polite...One teacher reminds them that we also might want to use appropriate words while we're about ready to eat...Dig in!
If your class does a food tasting party and you're interested, 
you can grab copy for yourself 
This form would work with any food tasting activity, not just Africa.  
Bon Appetit!

After recess, we gather for our African Marketplace.  As part of their homework the week before, the kids were to bring in 15 items (handmade, gently used, or store bought), 10 pennies, and a beach towel to set up shop on.  We arrange them in aisles and let the fun begin.  
Each child is given a sign for their shop.  One side is "green" and says "Open", and the other side is red and says "Closed".  
Each card also has a number printed on it to determine each child's assigned number for the event. 
Depending upon how many kids we have, we call out a certain amount of numbers at a time to close their shop, grab their pennies and start shopping. It helps to spread the numbers out, so entire aisles are not closed at any one time.  They are able to browse the shops, purchasing items for a penny a piece.  Once time is up, the shoppers return to their stores to sell, while a new group shops. Notice the red megaphone in front...that's just seriously fun to play with so everyone can hear us in the busy marketplace.
While shoppers are shopping, we encourage the sellers to whoop and holler trying to get people to buy from them.  We tell them that in Africa you cannot just sit and wait for shoppers to come find you. You have to draw them to your store.  So the kids shout, "Bracelets! Get your bracelets!" "I've got gum!!"  "Drawings! Only a penny".  It is so eye opening to see America's future sales force in the making.  
We invite the families to come for the event and ask them to wait until the end to shop themselves.  They use their pennies or ours (we bring extras) to buy everyone out ~ So any shop that was a flop ends up selling out!  But, shhhhh....we don't think the kids realize this because there are always a few who go skipping back to class announcing how they "Cannot believe I sold out of everything!".  

Regardless of how their profits end, everyone feels great about their sale and it's an experience they talk about for years to come.  

For us, this event means one more check off our list towards Summer...now back to report cards...ugh...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's Your Trick? Terrific Tickets and Class Raffle

Ahhhh, let the Countdown begin!
Summer will be here soon and it will be a time of rest and relaxation for all of us tuckered-out-teachers. A time of not getting up and out the door in the morning and not having recess duty or bus duty or not attending staff meetings and not conferencing with parents and not worrying about homework, reports, projects, lunches, etc. etc. etc.

BUT, until then-what on earth do you do with these Summer Spastic Students???
We are pulling out all our tricks to try and cram in one more math fact. Gain one more fluency score. Write one more complete sentence.
Quite the challenge when at 5 minutes after the bell rings to begin your day they are swinging from the ceiling.

Enter the World of Bribery. Oh no, we are not above bribing! Sorry to all of you out there who follow the "Intrinsic Motivation Theory".  Ummm ya-by this time they are motivated to go swim in a pool and kick it at the beach, NOT sit and sustain themselves at their desks. So here is something we have pulled out from our bag of tricks in order to attempt to hang onto the shred of attention and focus that any of these lil peanuts have left.
It's a little thing we like to call "Room 1 Raffle"! We use raffle tickets to reward those friends that can keep their summer squirmies from taking over their bodies and actually finish an assignment. We start off each child with 5 tickets for the week. They write their names on the back and keep them tucked away in a safe place. They may also earn additional tickets for making good choices. On the flip side, they may also lose a ticket for starting their summer hiatus early-you get the picture.

At the end of the week, we hold our raffle. Before the raffle occurs, students put whatever tickets they have leftover into the bag below the item they would like to win.
So what on earth do you raffle? Items for the raffle do not need to break your summer vacation budget. You do not need to forgo your spectacular new bathing suit on trinkets and treasures for your class. We have been creative with some of our rewards that don't even cost a cent (it may cost you some of your sanity, but it's a small price to pay for smooth sailing to summer).  We are also big fans of the dollar stores and dollar spot at Target.

OK so getting ready:
1) Decide how many items you would like to raffle off and also how many winners you want to have. Some items may have more than one winner like 'Lunch Bunch' for example.
2) Find a spot to display your items and have a container by each. We just hang a paper bag under each item but you could choose a basket, bowl, etc. We also like to dangle the carrot in full view to get them excited about their potential prize.
3) Purchase a roll of tickets or copy our Terrific Tickets and you are all set.

Here are some Free items that we raffle off:
-Lunch Bunch (lunch with the teacher)
-Line Leader
-Back of the Line Leader (kids always want to be last for some reason!)
-Cheer Chair (decorate a pillow case for the kids to keep on the back of their chair for the week)
-Teacher Helper
-Special Spot (a designated spot in the room or rug where they work or sit at)
-Trip to the Principal (for a good reason this time-ask your principal if they are willing)
-Treasure Chest
-Otter Pop or Popsicle (they love this one and we just keep a plastic shoebox full)
Grab your free copy and save your sanity! 
We'd love some bloggy love if you choose to download... 
Thanks a bunch!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Panic!

Hiya Friends!  In all the hoopla of appreciation week, jackpots, and TpT shopping these past few days, one of us (We won't mention any names...) found ourselves in a serious panic late yesterday when she remembered she is not only a teacher sitting back ready to be appreciated {insert fake palm frond fans and faux grape feeding here}, but also a serious sucker Room Parent for her daughter's second grade class as well (We both have 2nd grade daughters, so still not mentioning any names...). 


OH YIKESSSSS!!  


It is times like these when this person vows the utmost appreciation for the ingenious inventors of Pinterest. We know. We know.  Who doesn't love Pinterest.  Right? 


With just a few clicks through our boards, and a few scrolls of the mouse...there it was, right where we left it. Ahhh... Heart palpitations settling, breathing back in place. 


Many pins ago, this adorable lil' thing joined our Pinterest board family...Isn't she so cute?!?  Fell in love from the moment we met!!

We tracked the original pin back to the sweet family blog, The Butlers, and found a super creative and talented Mom named Leigh Anne.  We emailed her to thank her SO much for saving my life sharing her creativity for this super easy project.  

This was it!  Teacher Appreciation can resume...GAME ON!


We shopped for the supplies using class donations, used a few we had on hand, then got to work.  Peeps, this whole thing took 15 minutes to whip up!!!  Seriously!!  It is all done around a paper towel roll and everything is added to using rubber bands. It was so,  so easy!  Here's ours...


Didn't have as much time to doll up the ribbon as cute as Leigh Anne, but our school colors are purple and gold and figured the gift cards might make up for it.  Found a plastic charger plate for the base on super sale and it worked great!   We used a metal pencil cup that we found in the dollar section and then hot glued cute scrapbook paper around it to coordinate with the colors.  And yes, we did have to buy lavender glue sticks and matching spiral notebooks...And, we tried really hard to match the gift card colors too, but we'd never admit it.  :)   

We won't go step by step because Leigh Anne's directions are amazingly easy to follow.  
You can find them here.    
As a Room Mom, thanks so much Leigh Anne...Your pin totally saved me!
As a teacher, Thank You Leigh Anne...We would feel so appreciated with this fun gift!  
And Bonus = NO calories cake!  Yay!

Though we used this for appreciating one of our own teachers this week, we are tucking this lil' gem away for back to school time.  Our school always has a back to school luncheon and we think a few teachers would jump at the chance to win something like this as a back to school treat.  Yes, this lil' pin may be making her appearance at teacher gatherings for many years to come.  And the way we look at it, if you're going to get school supplies as an appreciation gift, at least a cute presentation helps...and the gift cards...those help too. :)

We hope each and every teacher is feeling very appreciated this week.  But, it definitely got us thinking.  It really isn't so much about the shower of gifts we receive this week.  Feeling appreciated as a teacher happens in small ways, along the way, day by day. Sometimes, we don't even realize until many months or years later that we really were appreciated.   

But over the years, once the gift cards are spent, the chocolates are eaten, and the flowers have wilted, it really is the little acts of appreciation that stick around. The hugs, the hand drawn pictures, the little notes of kindness, and just the faces of little learners waiting to absorb anything you say {well, most days anyways}...Those are the acts of appreciation we keep with us forever, read often, and reflect upon to remind ourselves why we do what we do.  We hope you are feeling appreciated too!  










Christy & Tammy
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