Earth's Changes and Prevention

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Hey y'all! I hope you had a fabulous spring break. The countdown to summer is on over here (only a few more Mondays!) and the weather is finally starting to warm up.

This month, we'll be learning all about the Earth's changes and ways to prevent them. This is a two week unit full of experiments and demonstrations. 


Before kids can really understand how volcanos and earthquakes do what they do, they have to understand the layers of the Earth. So that's where we start on Monday.


Tuesday through Thursday of the first week, students go through a series of science stations to learn all about the different fast and slow changes that take place on Earth.






On Friday, I demonstrate how earthquakes happen and we discuss the effects of these on people that live nearby. This is simply two of my husband's socks buried in dirt. When you put the socks in different directions, an "earthquake" occurs. The students loved this demonstration and seeing how the "buildings"reacted to the movement.


Week 2, is full of whole class STEAM challenges and demos. Students will attempt build an earthquake resistant building, a levee or damn to keep the beach from washing away, and reflect on why and how we can prevent Earth's changes.




I really love this unit because it asks kids why we would need to prevent some changes, when we shouldn't try to prevent other changes, and how we would determine the difference.


You can learn more about this unit by checking it out at my TpT store here. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful week! Stay tuned for more STEAM units (and pictures) coming soon.

Stay sweet,


Earth Day STEAM Centers

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Hey y'all! Are you as excited about April as I am?! We're in the last few weeks of school and the feelings are electrifying. Earth Day is just around the corner (which is also our 1st wedding anniversary!) and I couldn't help but put together a little STEAM unit on it. :) 

On Monday, we set up a pollution experiment to investigate on Friday and build schema by reading stories about Earth Day


Tuesday through Thursday, we learn all about the 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle) and conservation by visiting a series of 6 science stations.




On Friday, we examine our pollution experiment from Monday and write about how we can help the Earth with this fun little writing prompt.


This sweet and simple STEAM unit is sure to get your littles excited about Earth Day. For more information, you can check it out in my TpT store here.  I hope you have a wonderful week and stay tuned for more science units coming soon!

Stay sweet,

Time to Return: A Heartfelt Letter from One Teacher to the Rest of America

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Dear fellow Americans,
I've been thinking of this post for awhile now, but didn't quite have the words to say it. In talking to many people I know, in school, with family, and in church, all over the country, the general consensus is the same. No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, we can all agree that America isn't what it used to be.

While our technology has increased the quality of life a hundred-fold over the last few decades. It has started taking the life out of living.

Our world is changing. Schools are changing. I'm not just talking about the flexible seating trend or the unrealistic standards politicians have imposed on children. I'm talking about the children coming into schools.

Children used to have social skills, some empathy, and the ability to hold a pencil when they entered kindergarten. With all the swiping of tablets and smartphones, children's muscle strength is weaker than ever. With all the screen time, children don't have the imagination and creativity they used to, or the skills for coping with others. Especially when they don't get their way. Tolerance and compassion have become a thing of the past in the narcissistic world we are living in.

As educators, we are expected to teach the children these skills that parents used to teach prior to the first day of kindergarten. We are asking educators to be the parent as well as the teacher. While many of us embrace this to a point, there has to be some family values to back it up. Teachers cannot be all things to all children.

Parents have to instill values. Parents have to put down their devices and play with their children. Parents have to allow their children to play with other children, both inside the house and outside. Parents have to limit their child's screen time, regardless of the tantrum the child throws. Parents have to read to their children. And parents have to filter what they let their child watch and hear.

As a society, we giggle at the toddler twerking on Facebook. This is not cute, people. This is disturbing. We dress up our children like mini-adults when they absolutely are not. Our children are growing up in a world where it's okay to dress sexy in grade school, or to sing a rap song full of derogatory words and comments in 1st grade. This. Is. A. Problem.

It's time for a values revival.

As Americans, we used to pride ourselves on farm fresh food. Thanks to farmers markets, we are beginning to return to that but we still have a long way to go. As Americans, we used to pride ourselves on our religious freedom. Many still celebrate Christmas as a pagan holiday and get excited to "get stuff," but those of us focused on the shopping are missing the whole point.

As Americans, we used to pride ourselves on our education. The teacher strikes and walkouts, the disillusioned politicians, the increasing demands on teachers and students without any consideration of what those demands means in real life, and the multiple mass shootings are a far cry from a system we can be proud of. As Americans, we used to pride ourselves on our workforce. With more and more jobs overseas and an increasing number of people on welfare, our work ethic and our ability to find work is dismal.

As Americans, we used to pride ourselves on our support systems: our military, our firefighters, our healthcare workers, and, of course, our police. These were people we were proud of and trusted; the majority of them are still worthy of our trust and they all deserve our support. And as Americans, we used to celebrate our diversity. But with an influx of people arriving illegally, our systems are being put to the test and our country is becoming divided.

I'm not saying we should overhaul everything we've worked on for the last 242 years, but I am saying it's time for change. We can complain and protest all we want, but real change comes from action.

Where to start? Get up and play with your children. Take them to church, whatever type of church that may be. Read bedtime stories. Let them see you write with a pen or pencil. Give them one to practice with, too. Let your children play outside. Let them meet new kids. Let them see you support their teacher and doctor. Let them shake hands with a police officer. Limit their screen time. Talk to them. Give them boundaries--like not standing on the chair in a restaurant, or turning off the phones at dinner. Eat dinner together.

Say no sometimes. Say yes, too. Eat a popsicle on the front porch with them on a summer night. Let them run in the sprinklers. Give them more memories, values, and support. Give them less "things." Teach them to be courteous of others--hold doors, say "please" and "thank you," take turns. Model empathy, gratitude, and humbleness. Let them see you read for pleasure. Take them to a library.

Have tolerance for others. Support others in their endeavors. Have some modesty. Keep some things private. You probably don't have your own reality TV show. Posting all your business on social media doesn't make it so. Celebrate the diversity in your community. Keep close to people who show good character. Let go of the ones who don't. Screaming at others doesn't get you your way. Improving your argument helps. Eat a home-cooked meal. Invite others to join you.

Model respect. Model humility. Model acceptance. Model compassion. Model love. Model faith.

It's time for a return. A return to family (whatever that looks like for you), to values, to respect, to compassion. To faith, to support, to peace, to simplicity. A return to roots, to healing, to hometowns, to connections. It's time to help others mentally, spiritually, and socially. It's time to return to American values. It's time to have values and teach them to our children.

Yes, times have changed. Yes, there will always be advancements. Yes, our kids are living in a different world than we grew up in. But what kind of world are sending them into? And what kinds of kids are we sending into the world? We can't change everything, but we can change our circle of influence. How are you influencing your circle today?

10 Books for the Last Few Days of School

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Hey y'all. Easter is over, testing season is probably just beginning for everyone, and most of us ready for that summer break. While I would never start reading end of the year books to my class in April (we don't get out until the first week in June), I do start looking for new books and planning for the festivities.

The end of the year is always bitter-sweet (I may or may not have cried at the idea of leaving this sweet but silly class) and I try to make it special and as stress-free for my students as possible. So here's a few ideas for some great read alouds to end your school year on a sweet note. (Click the picture of the book to check it out on Amazon.)

1. Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl

Teacher confession: I love Junie B. She reminds me so much of my oldest daughter. Fun and spunky and trying to figure out life. I usually read this book mid-May, and even my 2nd and 3rd graders love it.

2. Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the Last Day of Kindergarten 

Obviously, this is geared towards finishing up kindergarten, but even my 1st graders loved this story.  It's a special way to remember all the things the class has done together and to get ready to say good-bye for summer.


3. Last Day Blues

This is the sequel to the book, First Day Jitters. It's a charming way to say good-bye to your class on the last day. If you remember to read it. Last year, I completely forgot. #teacherfail


4. Mrs. Dole is Out of Control

This chapter book is a hilarious story of A.J.'s graduation fiasco. 2nd and 3rd graders will find this hysterical! Not just one thing happens to ruin graduation, but a whole series of unfortunate events occurs. Even I had a hard time containing my laughter as I read it aloud. It's a great, light-hearted read for the last week or so of school.


5. I Wish You More

Want a sweet send-off for your students? Kids of all ages will love this book. Just read it once before you read it to the class so you can get your sappy crying out of the way. If you're anything like me, this book will pull at your heartstrings.


6. Oh the Places You'll Go

A classic Dr. Seuss tale of moving on. You've probably read this one or even have a few copies of it yourself. If not, it's a great book about closing one door and opening another, full of both highs and lows.


7. I Knew You Could

Remember the Little Engine that Could? "I think I can, I think I can..." Well he did it. And we knew he could. This cute story is all about finishing the journey and the sense of accomplishment that goes with it.


8. The Berenstain Bears Graduation Day

This one is great for preparing your kindergarteners for graduation ahead of time. It lets them know what to expect and that everything is going to be alright.

9. Yay, You: Moving On, and Moving Up

Cute, sweet, and funny. It's very similar to Oh, the Places You'll Go! so if you're wanting something fresh, try this one.


10. Curious You: On Your Way!

Curious You is a cute and sweet sendoff for any age of student. You'll send them on to the next grade and they'll know they always have you cheering them on. 


I know there are many other great end of the year books, but these are a few of my favorites. I hope you found some great new titles you'll love, too. May your last few weeks be smooth and productive!

Stay sweet,

Making Science Stations Work for You

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Hey y'all! Have you taken the plunge and tried science stations yet? If you have, excellent! If you haven't, or you want to but aren't sure how to manage it, here's a few ideas on how it could work for you, but first, let's cover the basics.

What:

Science stations are a set of 6 stations the kids go to throughout the week. We typically have a whole group lesson on Monday, do 2 rotations a day on Tuesday through Thursday, and have a culminating activity on Friday. The whole time during rotations, I am walking around monitoring students, providing feedback, and making sure they are understanding the big ideas in each station. 

Why:

Why should you try science stations? In my classroom, science stations are the most organized and engaging part of our whole day. The kids are excited, they know the routine without any prompts from me, they are independent in their learning, and I rarely have a student off task. This is the time of day when I hear, "This is the best day ever!" most frequently. The kids are LEARNING and they see it as play. It's a win-win.

To get our stations organized, I label each box with a lab number. Students are assigned a group and typically rotate through each center together, but not always as I'll show you below. These are shoebox sized plastic bins I picked up from Target, but you can find them anywhere.

Who:

Keep your groups flexible. I assign my students groups based on how they interact with each other. I may pair a couple of struggling readers together if I know they can persevere and sound things out together. I may pair a high kid and a low kid together if I know they can work well together. You know your kiddos. Set them up in groups that get along well together but won't get each other off task.

Don't be afraid to mix things up either. If I see they're getting a little too comfortable together, I'll reassign groups. If they're off the charts awesome, I'll let them pick their partners for the week. You be the judge on what your students can handle.


How:

The "how" is flexible. More often than not, we do centers the way they are described above. But not all weeks are that organized. Sometimes we have an early release that cuts into our science time. Sometimes, we have special event that messes with our schedule. Whatever the reason, there are other ways to make it work.

Option 1: You have a four day week, so you can do the Monday experiment on the first day of the week, then do 3 stations a day on the next two days, and the big experiment on the last day of the week.

Option 2: Do the Monday experiment on your first full science time of the week. Set up the centers on a day where you have a full hour and half or more and rotate through all 6. Then, do the Friday experiment on the next full science day. This requires some stamina from your littles. I wouldn't do this setup at the very beginning of the year.

Option 3: Do the Monday experiment on a full science day. Setup all the centers on a day when you have a solid hour and half, but let them choose which ones to go to, how long to stay, and where to go next. Do the Friday experiment at the end of the week.

**I use this option with seasonal, task-oriented units like Valentine's or St. Patrick's Day. I do not use this setup with content heavy units because I want to make sure they get to every. single. station.


Option 4: If you're pressed for time or your district has a specific curriculum you HAVE to use during science time, integrate the centers into reading or math block. The book lab can easily become a literacy center during reading and measurement labs can easily fit into your math block.

I visited a school where all of the curriculum is integrated into the same blocks of time. Students had 3-4 hours a day in total to visit all of their reading, math, and various other centers, and could go to whichever center they wanted during those time blocks. (The teacher taught reading and math in small groups during that time.) If you have a schedule like this, you could setup one or two stations a day for students to explore.

Option 5: Do one activity a day whole group. This isn't the same as stations, obviously, but if you have a class that just can't handle it then this might be your best bet for setting expectations.

I personally don't like doing it this way. Even my toughest classes were the best behaved during science stations, so I am a HUGE advocate for rotations. However, you have to do what's best for your students and their learning styles.

Putting it all Together:

I hope I answered a few questions for you. I've heard many teachers say they love reading and math centers but are hesitant to try science stations because they've never taught it that way. If you're at that point right now, rest assured that it can be done and your students will love you for it. Teaching science this way has been SO MUCH FUN for both my students and me. I no longer have wiggly ones interrupting the whole group lesson because they can't sit still after lunch. The fast pace of the centers keeps them engaged and focused.

To grab a copy of the center organization signs, click here (it's free!). And stay tuned for more science units coming soon. 

Stay sweet,

ABC Countdown to Summer

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Hey y'all! It's finally starting to warm up and the countdown to the end of the year is beginning. In kindergarten, we love to wrap up the school year with an ABC Countdown to Summer.

Each day for the last 26 days of school, we review each letter and sound with a fun activity, treat, or dress-up day. I send home a note to families letting them know what we're up to and attach the calendar of events for the next month. You can get a copy of the letter here and the editable calendar here. (Fonts used are KG Miss Kindergarten and KG Part of Me.)


Items listed in blue are things the students bring with them to school, items in red are things the kids wear, and items in black are things I take care of, like ice pops or a dance party.  They're all pretty simple and you can always ask parents for donations if needed. 

I hope you have a wonderful last few days with your students and make wonderful and exciting memories. Stay tuned for more great resources to end your school year strong.

Stay sweet,

2 Digit and 3 Digit Addition Practice

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Hey y'all! It's that time of year again. We're in the home stretch and it's time to make sure our littles are solid in their understanding of...well, everything we ever taught them! If your class is anything like mine, you have some that are still working on addition without regrouping, some working on addition with regrouping, and some ready for the next level. Isn't teaching fun?!

But seriously, I hate drill and kill exercises, but sometimes all they really need is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! So here's a little scoot game to get them going.


There are four different levels: 2 digit addition without regrouping, 2 digit addition with regrouping, 3 digit addition without regrouping, and 3 digit addition with regrouping. Answer keys are included for each level.


I love scoot games because they can be played so many ways.
♥ You can have it super orderly by setting the cards up around the room and having everyone move at the same time.
♥ You could put them on the wall and use it at a write the room.
♥ You could put them in a sensory bin for any of your kiddos that still need that extra stimulation (or just because it's fun!).
♥ You could make it into a Quiz, Quiz, Trade game.


What's Quiz, Quiz, Trade? Well it's a game where the kids quiz each other. Each student gets a card and finds a partner. Each partner quizzes the other one with the equation on their card. After both partners have had a chance to answer, they trade cards and find another partner. The game can repeat as many times as you want. You could do 3 or 4 rounds for a warm up each day if you wanted to, or play one long epic game, depending on the attention spans of your students. For students to check their work, write the answer to each equation on the back.


This game is super simple, but so much fun. And with differentiated levels, it's sure to meet your second and third graders' needs. You can check out at my Teachers Pay Teachers store here. Thank you for stopping by and stay tuned for more sweet deals coming soon!

Stay sweet,

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