Saturday, January 25, 2014

Life is Like a Box of. . .

I brought in a large heart shaped box of chocolates and asked my students to guess what was inside. Of course they guessed chocolates, but I wanted them to be more specific. So they threw out different flavor ideas. I told them we were each going to take a chocolate and eat it without knowing what was inside. (Be sure to check for allergies first!) Everyone was surprised by the caramel or strawberry or coconut that greeted them when they bit down. Using the quote from Forest Gump, I introduced the idea that just like a box of chocolates, life is unpredictable. They thought it was funny that I compared chocolate to life. Then I said, “Life is like a box of barbeque potato chips - sometimes spicy and always really good.”

I gave each student one side of an empty holiday card box or the box lid (I collected these from my school staff after the holidays) and asked them to think of what life was like for them. Each student decorated the inside of their box with handmade pictures of the items they chose. Then they wrote their answers on accompanying index cards.

We hung everything on a bulletin board titled: “Life is like a box of …” One student had just returned from his uncle’s funeral. He wrote, “Life is like a box of tears, happy and sad.” Another student wrote, “Life is like a box of cupcakes, sweet and special.” We ate the rest of the chocolates and then I glued brown pom-poms and a school picture of each of my students in the empty spaces within the box. This went in the middle of our board.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How Many Snowballs?

For a fantastically fluffy, winter-themed estimation project, I draw the outline of a large snowman on poster paper. I glue down cotton balls (snowballs) to cover it, counting as I go so I know how many I’m gluing. Then I hang the snowman in my classroom and ask my students to estimate “How many snowballs can a snowman hold?” The student who comes the closest to the actual number gets to take the snowman home!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Throw-out Thursday

Years ago I realized I was acquiring way too much stuff in my classroom. Storage was becoming an issue, not to mention I felt like I should be on an episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive! So I created “Throw-out Thursday.” Every Thursday, no matter what, I get rid of five things. They can be small or large - doesn’t matter. Just get rid of it! Some items need to be thrown away (like an old, wrinkly poster) while others can be donated to a new teacher or your prize box. Now I find myself looking forward to choosing five things as Thursday approaches. If this idea feels too overwhelming, then wait until spring when you may be more motivated to clean. I keep a laminated copy of this sign in my Thursday task/assignment basket so I won’t forget my goal. Before you know it, your classroom will be looking cleaner and more organized!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Giant Journal

Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell a way to get writing done! Inspire young writers with an oversized class journal. Bind a large supply of 12X18 story writing paper with staples, metal rings or plastic binding, between cardstock front and back covers. Title the book “Our Giant Journal”.
Add a jumbo pencil and extra-large eraser (both are usually available at craft stores or dollar stores).  Make a gigantic laminated invitation to place on the desk of the student chosen to visit the center each day.
Decide ahead of time what you would like your students to write about. The journal can be for free writing, creating stories about giants or any other class topics. I also leave a basket of books about giants nearby, for peaking interest.

Clipart from: