Monday, September 30, 2013

Dread Sundays No More!

My colleagues and I all agree that we dread Sundays because we have so many things we’ve put off, like a ton of papers to grade or lesson plans to write. Here’s a strategy to beat the Sunday blues. Get together with your favorite teacher friends on Thursdays and catch up on work together!  Stay at school or meet at someone’s house. Bring some tasty snacks and drinks. Share stickers and fun pens and chase off those negative Sunday feelings. Set a time limit so you will be efficient and productive.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Reward Coupons for Positive Behavior

Do you need some fresh ideas for rewarding positive behavior? Last year we began using these reward coupons and saw great improvements in student behavior.

Students enjoyed these coupons SO MUCH that when we voted on our Top 10 Favorite Memories last year "earning coupons" made the list!

We use them weekly and monthly. They are also great motivators for the mid-year slump and the end-of-the-year crazy days. We’ve even used them as incentives for improving handwriting skills. Print, laminate and cut them ahead of time so they are ready whenever you need them!

Visit our Teachers pay Teachers site to check out our fabulous printable coupons.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Free Snack Friday

We found an easy way to excite our students at the end of the week. (Like they aren’t already excited enough on Friday – right?!) It’s called “Free Snack Friday” and it’s as simple as it sounds. Purchase snacks, pass them out and please your students. They will look forward to it all week! Here are some possible snack ideas: peanut butter crackers, cheese crackers, pretzels, cereal bars, granola bars, apples, cheese sticks, nuts, fruit snacks or trail mix.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Short Vowel Apple Trees

September is full of fun things: the smell of new school supplies, less heat and humidity outside, and (possibly my favorite) bright, crisp apples. I love to incorporate apples into as many content areas as possible.

In science we study parts of a tree and seasonal changes as evident in apple trees.

In social studies we discuss the contributions of Johnny Appleseed and examine maps of apple orchards.

In math we explore fractions, graph our favorite color of apples and our favorite ways to eat apples and make patterns.

In language arts we read tons of fiction and nonfiction books about apples. We also love to make our short vowel apple trees. I’ve created 3 different sets of apples to use with various skill levels to help with differentiation. Give your students whichever set you feel is most appropriate. Students color their trees and apples, then cut them out and glue them onto the tree labeled with the correct vowel sound. After they have completed sorting, students glue their trees onto a large sheet of construction paper to create an orchard. When my students finish their orchards they get the chance to earn a special apple treat: a scratch and sniff sticker, a cup of cider, dried apple slices, a bookmark, etc. In order to receive the treat they simply have to read all of the words on their trees. Some practice with peers before reading to me. You could also print these sets onto cardstock and use them as an activity in either small group settings or whole class instruction.

Do you have any fun ways to incorporate apples into your lesson plans?


Friday, September 13, 2013

Can’t Miss October Books

As you are pulling out your books for October, consider adding these to your list. Some are hilarious, others are informative and several are just plain fun. Plus we’ve included some ideas for reading follow-up. Let us know if you have some good October books we should be sharing with our classes!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Name Police

Tired of trying to decipher the handwriting on those no-name papers? Hire a Name Police to preempt the problem. It is the most coveted of all the helper jobs (or at least a close second to Line Leader).

Here's how it works: You choose a Name Police each week. He/she will be allowed to sit at the Name Police desk all week. (He/she even completes daily work there.) If you have room, utilize an extra desk or small table. If you don’t have room, use any space you have like the end of a long table or the corner of your desk. I’ve even used a piano bench before! Add a fun tablecloth or placemat, a Name Police desk tag and the extra special, no one-else-gets-to-touch-it highlighter. (Yellow works best as it’s the lightest of all the highlighter colors and won’t stand out as much.) You can jazz up the highlighter with ribbon or something sparkly just for fun!

As students turn in papers, the Name Police highlights each name. This job is such a big responsibility and you will be amazed at how quickly it eliminates the no-name papers. If students dare to turn in a nameless paper, the Name Police instructs them to go back and write their name. No one argues with the Name Police. Watch out though, some Name Police like to take the liberty to give advice on work content and handwriting skills. A gentle reminder of “That’s the teacher’s job,” usually works well to deter this behavior.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Animal Word Problems

My first graders love solving these hands-on word problems. I purchase a few inexpensive sets of small plastic animals with a specific backdrop, such as a farm or zoo.
The students can decorate with additional hand-made fences, trees and other props. I distribute a sheet with questions (or put questions on the SMARTBoard) such as: “How many cows are on the farm?”, “How many pig legs are there all together?” or “How many animals are on the farm in all?” Then I invite students to explore the animal display to get their answers. Later in the year, I ask more advanced questions, such as “How many more cows are there than pigs?” This is an especially good activity for your visual learners and it makes for an exciting math center.

Ann Marie