Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Math Rich Environment

One of my projects I have been working on in my classroom is creating an environment that can be used as a resource in math. I hope these ideas inspire you. I have been noticing my students using these tools to help them during math.

One thing I added is multiplication facts around my door frame and window frame. I just used paint samples and had the students help me write "tricky" multiplication facts. This allows kids to be exposed to their multiplication facts and it is a reference point, especially if they don't know all of their multiplication facts.

 I also have a vocabulary corner for the vocabulary words for the chapter.
I got these cards from The Ladybug Teacher Files. They are great... and FREE!!!!

One of my FAVORITE things I have in my classroom is a multiples number line. I bought this at a Kim Sutton training. If you ever have the opportunity to go to a training, I highly recommend it. She gives a lot of great ideas and creative ways for kids to practice math. My school has all of her math game books in the library and they are wonderful!

Here is the link to Kim Sutton's website. http://www.creativemathematics.com/learn/

There are some freebies, you just have to click around the site to find them.

One last thing that I have in my classroom is math reference books. My students have been writing their own math reference book. They use a composition notebook and include a table of contents, page numbers, and helpful information on each page. I do not have pictures yet, but I will add them soon!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Story

WOW! I finally have a chance to breathe (and type)!

First, Dom left for the Officer Candidate Program in Quantico, Virginia on October 9th. We have been writing love letters back and forth since he is not allowed to have his phone. 38 more days until he graduates as an officer in the U. S. Marine Corps! December 14th cannot come soon enough!

Second, I finally chose a date for our big day! October 19, 2013! I just love wedding planning, but I wish I could devote more time to it without feeling guilty for ignoring school.

My engagements pictures came back. Holly Photography did an AMAZING job!!!!
Dom and I were taking pictures in a field before he left for OCS. We were just having fun during our photo shoot when I noticed he started getting... well... awkward! After an outfit change and some scenery change, we got talking about Holly's recent engagement. Well, Dom got down on one knee. I was thinking in my head, "What is he doing? OMG OMG OMG! That's what he is doing!" I didn't even give him a chance to ask me to marry him, I just started saying yes and hopping up and down!

Holly took amazing photos during the WHOLE thing and turned it into a great still-motion video. They both kept it a secret from me!Stinkers!

** Random fact: Did you know that 3% of the world has green eyes? Good thing Dom and I both have green eyes. The odds for our children to have these beautiful eyes are high!***

Friday, September 28, 2012

Salsa Day

Things have been so busy lately. I feel like have had zero time to blog. I have been so busy wedding planning, getting things ready to go for when Dominic leaves next week for Marine Corps training in Virginia, and I started my masters program! OOOFFFTA!

Well a tradition we have at my school is salsa day. We make salsa as a community building activity and to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanic Heritage Month if from September 15-October 15. Students get to participate in this activity when they are in fifth grade.T=Students bring in ingredients to make salsa. I split up the ingredients list from the recipe and divide up all the supplies. The students bring in everything from crock pots and measuring cups to tomatoes from the garden and green peppers. I have parent volunteers come in to help clean and cut away the bad ends of the vegetables, then the students do the rest. I have my students sit at their tables with a paper plate and plastic knife. They cannot leave their seats at all. If they are done cutting their vegetables to the size of their pinky nail, they raise their hand to get more vegetables. It takes about 30 minutes to cut all the vegetables.

After all the preparing is done, I stick all the ingredients in a crock pot for the whole day. The last half hour is when we get to enjoy salsa. It is a great treat on a Friday afternoon.

This is a very fun activity that I highly recommend to do with your class.You can use ANY salsa recipe with your class. ENJOY :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012


The title says it all, but I am so excited!!!!!!!!!!!

I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with the man I love!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

First day back at workshop

WOW! Today was my first day back at workshop week! Lots of meetings, meetings, MEETINGS!!!!! YIKES!!!

After all that listening, I had to have a relaxing craft night with my lady friends! I don't think I have EVER laughed so hard:)

I ended up making this lovely Open House gift for my students.

 The tags say, " Your future looks bright in fifth grade." I printed them out on neon card stock and tied them to a glow stick. I think this will go nicely with my cabin theme.

Well... thats all for now. This is one TIRED chick! zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Well I got my finalized class list yesterday... They added 2 kiddos since the last day of school to my room. Now I am at 29 kids. So all summer I have been gathering things for 28 kids (One extra copy in case of move ins) and NOW I have to make one copy of EVERYTHING.... ISHHHHHH

Enough of my rant...

One of my favorite, yet time consuming parts of the year, is putting the kids names and numbers on EVERYTHING! I know I have said this before, but I am going to say it again. I highly recommend numbering your students. I just take my list and start at the top with number 1 and go until I run out of students. This makes handing in homework easy because everything is in alphabetical order and I can easily see who is missing what.

To make the life of a teacher easier, I printed my class list on Avery labels and just printed multiple copies. Now I have labels for their tables, lockers, planners, popsicle sticks, take home files, math reference books, workbooks, and everything else that needs a label. I like to keep a few extra sheets of labels with their names on it for field trips. I used to hand write their names, but I realized that the time I wasted doing that could be used to look at data or continue planning.

Another great thing about using labels, you can just stick next years kids names on a few things and re-use them!!! YAY!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mid-Yead Resolutions

With a new school year approaching, I have decided to make a list of things that I would like to work towards this year. I know NORMAL people make resolutions at the beginning of a new year, but let's face it, what is normal anyway????

1.  Have 50 followers on my blog by December 30th, 2012
2. Post at least once a week
3. Eat more vegetables
4. Drink more water
5. Be thankful for the little things in life and not always focus on MAJOR issues

So in order for you to help me out, pass along my blog to anyone you think will enjoy my posts about 5th grade.


Monday, August 20, 2012


Click here for a chance to win an accordion file or a 10 dollar Starbucks gift card compliments of my friend Mrs. M at Ramblings of a Fifth Grade Teacher. This is one of my newest blogs that I am following... You will too since she has GREAT giveaways!!!!

If you don't follow her already, you should start... NOW!

A New Twist on Popsicle Sticks

The kids in my class know that sooner or later I will be calling their name to help me out with something in my classroom using my handy-dandy Popsicle stick container. I like using the sticks to call on students because A) it's random. B) I can catch students off guard. C) I make it suspenseful for the kids and the get excited when their stick is drawn. It takes a lot of building up to get the kids excited about the sticks, especially in 5th grade.

One problem that I had in the past was either forgetting who I called on, or setting down the stick of someone I already called on and then misplacing it!!! I am really not that forgetful, I just have a million and one things going on at once. I tried having two containers. Didn't work for me. I tried a smaller cup inside of a bigger cup to separate the sticks, I didn't like it. Then I had a light bulb moment.

I have the problem solved!

I painted one of the ends turquoise. I will put each students name on a stick and place it turquoise side DOWN in my little bucket. After I have called on that person, turquoise side goes UP.

Here are some photos of my painting session. It was kind of tricky, but I made it work...

I started with ugly sticks from Jo-Ann's.

Then, I lined up the sticks on a paper bag, then taped it down with masking tape.

I painted my sticks on BOTH sides (Front and Back).

It dried in about 20 minutes. All I have left to do it add names to each stick.

Quality Work Bulletin Board

Hey everyone! There are so many ways to display student work in the classroom. I have tried a few different ways, and I like this way the best!

Quality Work board

 It is super easy to change out the quality work and I can even have my students do it for me!!!! (YESSSS!) I like to change out the work on the board about every 2 weeks or so, or whenever we complete a really cool project in 5th grade!

I took regular clothes pins and spruced them up a bit. I just cut scrapbooking paper to fit the clothes pin and painted one coat of modge-podge. If you don't have modge-podge, just mix Elmer's Glue-All and water to make a paste and it works just the same (plus, it is WAY cheaper)

I like to use fabric to back my bulletin boards. They don't fade as fast. I got this at Jo-Ann Fabrics and used my teacher discount (15%) as well as a 40% off coupon. If you don't want to buy fabric, wrapping paper works just as well! It is a lot cheaper than the fadeless paper that you can buy at the teacher supply stores. As you can see from the picture, I just stapled it to the wall and made my own bulletin board. I added a cute boarder and a title... TADA!!! Perfect!

If you like the title, you can download it here for free.

I hope this inspires you to spruce up your own student work gallery.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Learning Objectives

Research has shown that if students know WHY they are learning something, they are more likely to be successful while learning that topic. At my school, we are required to post our learning targets/objectives/goals for every subject.

Last year I was not creative and just laminated different colors of paper and wrote on it with a dry erase marker. I threw it up on the board at the last minute. It was not in a convenient place for the kiddos to see and I would forget to chance the goals sometimes.

So I had an idea this summer. Since my room has it's cabin theme, I was going to start there. When you're at the cabin, most people eat on paper plates, plastic silverware, and have those cutesy red and white table cloths! (Maybe that's just me!)

Enter, The Learning Menu!!!
I have my Learning Menu displayed by the door.
Everything on the board is from the Dollar Tree. I found the red and white checkered tablecloth. Since my bulletin board was small, I only needed half of it! I found plastic silverware to make it look like we're on a picnic.The plates are plastic. When I write on them with a dry erase marker, it comes right off! I want to add some ants or other picnic critter before school starts. Any ideas?

I have seen some people use these plastic plates (Dollar Tree) as dry erase boards for students too. There are so many possibilities!

If you have never written learning targets/objectives/goals here is a great place to start.

1. Write in kid friendly language.
2. Use "I can" statements
3. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

example: I can write a compound sentence.
example: I can add fractions with like denominators.
example: I can write a 5 paragraph essay about The Civil War.

We are developing our reader's CRAFT

I am trying CAFE for the first time this year. I borrowed the CAFE book and DVD from school, read it and was a little leery to start. So I figured I should ask people who has actually tried it. I scoured the Internet for blog posts about CAFE. There were a TON!!! I read a blog, Ladybug's Teacher Files, and I was inspired to try a CRAFT board instead. (Click to view Ladybug's Teacher Files blog post)

Last year, I had the ELL (English Language Learners) cluster and I have the cluster again this year! I really liked the CRAFT board because it focuses on skills that those kiddos need, and the rest of my students could use the help as well.

Response to Text
Text Elements

I cannot take credit for this catchy acronym or coming up with the idea, but I am really excited to start it this year. If you click on the Ladybug Teacher Files blog you will find free printables for the letters and definitions of each skill.

As for the skill cards, I using the suggested skills from the back of the CAFE book. I know I will have to add some of my own sooner or later, but it's a start!

I will post more pictures after the year has begun!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mini Classroom Tour... So Far

Welcome to the Cabin!!!(Ignore my ugly science kits by the door!) I painted butcher paper to make my door look like a log cabin. I also decorated the hallway to have an outdoor theme.
It is a work in progress. I want to add fluffy clouds to the sky and a 3D canoe in the lake.

Something new I am trying is this paper organizer for students to turn their work in.
Each drawer has a label for which assignment it is for. This is right next to the door, so as soon as kids walk in the room, they can drop off homework for the day.

Right next to the homework drawers, I have a lunch count. Since I don't have a lot of counter space, I have my students use clothes pins with their numbers on it. They place their clothes pin on the ribbon of whatever they want to eat for lunch. I have a student tally it up during morning work time so I can send it to the office.

Another unique thing I have in my room is a 5th grade timeline. At the end of every month, my students and I sit down and write down everything we learned about in school. I hang it above the SMART board. This is great during conferences and at the end of the year to reflect on what we learned during the year.

I used shiny paper this year and it looks HORRIBLE in these pictures! Sorry! It looks way cuter in person!

During open house I have a Giving Tree displayed. Families can take a leaf or two if they wish to donate that particular item to my classroom. This really helps out on classroom expenses.
I found paint samples at Home Depot in the shape of a leaf. I then printed Avery Labels out with classroom supplies that I would like donated to my classroom and placed one label on each leaf. You can find the labels for FREE at my TpT store. Giving Tree-TpT

That's all for now...

My Classroom Library

My favorite part of my classroom is my library. It took me a long time to finally decide how I wanted to organize it, but now I just love it. (And I recently added my fake fire! I call my classroom "The Cabin" because I am out in a portable) I have my chapter books divided into bins. The bins are separated by author, genre, and award winning books. Each of the bins has a label.

I don't know if you can see it in this picture, but in the upper right hand corner of each book there is a sticker. That sticker corresponds with the matching sticker on the upper right hand corner of the book bin label. My students are LAZY and before I had the stickers they would just throw the books anywhere. After I added them, the books were always in the correct bin, or pretty darn close. If you like the book labels, you can find them at my TpT store.

TpT Book Plates
Ms. Smith's Favorite Books is probably my favorite book bin! I am constantly changing books in this bin because my students always want to read those books. This is an easy way for me to recommend books without much effort, especially if I am working with a different student.
This bench is in my library as well. My kids are always wanting to sit on it:) It's a popular place. I painted it on one of my summers off during college. I painted a scene from Where the Wild Things Are. It took me forever, but I sure do get a lot of compliments on it! And it gets even better...
The bench opens up!!!! I can store more books inside of it! I have too many books and not enough shelf space! It's great!

Each of my books has an Avery label on the back with my name. I always have extra labels printed out so if I get new books, I just stick them on the back. I know some of my books go missing every year, but if another teacher or a parent finds the book, they usually return it to me.

I have only been teaching 5th grade for 2 years, but I have gotten my classroom library books in a few different ways for not a whole lot of cash! Some great ways to add to your classroom library are:

-Scholastic Book Orders. You earn points from each order based on the dollar amount ordered and for every online parent order, you earn $3 to spend on books.

-Scholastic Warehouse Sale. We have a Scholastic Warehouse really close to my house (10 miles away). Every winter and spring they have a 50% off sale. I have signed up to volunteer at this sale. For every hour you volunteer, you earn a $10 voucher to spend that day. Last time I volunteered I got 30 new books for FREE!!!! It only cost me 4 hours of my time! Check out to see where the nearest Scholastic Warehouse is to you. Different states have the sales going on at different times. Warehouse Sale

-GoodWill is another great place to get books. Certain days they have 50% off of a particular color price tag. You'll have to check your local GoodWill for more information.

-Garage sales... but I haven't been as lucky at getting good, quality books in good condition.

Never pay full price for a book again! Seriously!!!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Me Bag

At the beginning of the year, I have my students create a Me Bag. This is just a paper lunch bag that the students get a chance to decorate.

I like to use white paper bags because they look nicer and the kids like decorating them. I have the Me Bag placed on each students desk at Open House. I stapled a cute poem describing what to do with the bag. You can find the poem by clicking the link below.


The students decorate the outside of their bag with things they enjoy doing that most people would know just by looking at them or talking to them for a little bit. The students bring in 3-5 items in the bag. These items are special things that not many people would know right away.

I have my students share these during the first week of school. They really enjoy getting up in front of the class and talking about themselves. It gives me a chance to get to know the kids as well as the students getting to know one another.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Morning Work Notebooks

I like to start the daily routine every morning with some morning work. I use a SMART Board and have page for every day of the school year. There are five questions for my students to answer every day. There are math skills, geography, analogies, grammar, and word problems the students need to solve every morning. When I did this last year, the students used a regular notebook. They ended up wasting a lot of paper since they used just a small piece of paper. Also, I don't know if your students do this as well, but last year my students would open to a random page ANYWHERE in their notebook and do their work. It was a pain to hold the students accountable for their work.

I solved that problem for this year!

Morning Work notebook
I cut a composition notebook in half, added colorful contact paper, and a clear shipping label to the front. I used a heavy duty paper cutter that we have in the work room at school. If your school doesn't have a heavy duty paper cutter, Office Max will cut them for you. They do charge a small fee. I have heard from other teachers that Home Depot will cut the notebooks as well.

On the shipping label, I have the notebook clearly labeled and a number. I assign each of my students a number at the beginning of the year. This helps me get papers in alphabetical order, creative ways to have the kids line up (even numbers, multiples of 2, prime numbers...) as well as check to see if everyone is in the class for emergency drills. I highly recommend numbering your students when you get a chance. It makes my life SO much easier.

Inside the morning work notebook
 I am also going to have my students number their pages every day! This is probably a no-brainer to some veteran teachers, but I learned my lesson a little too late! I am hoping this solves my headaches of holding my students accountable.

I wish I could show you my morning work examples, but I don't have SMART notebook on my personal computer (which I am using now.) I hope to update this soon!

My First Post!
After searching the web for fifth grade blogs, I have discovered there are not that many out there. My goal for the school year is to post once a week about successes in my classroom. These posts could be activities, ideas, organization ideas, and other things that haven't come into my mind yet! I hope you enjoy my blog and find my posts useful in your life.