Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mini Lesson: Creating text-based questions

Today I am sharing a mini lesson I do each year to help my students practice asking questions about a text.

One of my favorite yearly purchases at Target is these fun adhesive mustaches:


I buy them every year at Halloween and use them for a mini lesson on creating text-based questions. 

This year, I decided to fancy up my mini lesson and share it as a freebie!

Here's how our lesson typically goes:

We start by talking about question words. We use this quick anchor chart to identify them and discuss different examples of questions.


We add this mini poster into our reading notebooks as a reference, 


then work on a sort to practice putting questions together. I like to have my kids pair up for this activity, but it would also work as an independent sort.


Next up is our read aloud. I prefer to use a nonfiction text for this activity, but a fiction story would work too. 


We read the story together and talk about some of the key details. Then, it is time to start working on some questions!

I have my students work on the questions with a partner. Their job is to create a question for each of the six question words we talked about. 


Once the pairs have their questions ready, we are officially ready for the mustaches! Everyone puts on their mustache (which they think is hilarious!), the pairs make small groups, and take turns asking each other their questions.


Click the picture above to get your copy of this mini lesson!

I hope this has been helpful and that your students enjoy this fun mini lesson as much as mine do!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Morning Tubs

Today I am blogging about my favorite change to my classroom this year, morning tubs!
Before I get into how I am using morning tubs, let me quickly explain how the mornings go at our school.

The kids arrive anywhere between 7:45 and 8:20 and can get breakfast in the cafeteria or wait in holding areas (usually in the hallway outside the classroom). Teachers aren't required to bring the kids into the classroom until 8:20, which is when the morning news starts.

In the past, mornings has always felt rushed. The kids come in and are trying to get unpacked and ready for the day all while the news is playing. There was never any time for morning work as our math block starts immediately after the news.

This year, I decided to try something different. I wanted something that would get my students engaged first thing in the morning, so I decided on morning tubs.

 I got four of these plastic tubs from Wal-Mart.


 I got the 7.2 quart size, which allows for plenty of space for materials, without taking up too much space when we aren't using them.

 labeled them 1-4 with a flamingo that coordinates with a table color. We rotate bins each morning, so having the numbers and color code helps me to remember which bin goes where.

For example:


Green table always starts with bin #1 on Mondays.

On Tuesday, all bins rotate one place, so green table will have bin #2. This continues through Thursday.

On Friday mornings, we are shopping at our classroom store as we come in, so the kids who are done may be reading or taking a test on reading counts.

I wanted to make sure that my students didn't lose interest in morning tubs, so I switch out the materials weekly. 


A lot of the materials that I use are things that I already had around the classroom:






I have also been keeping my eye out for deals! I managed to snag a few things from the dollar spot at Target (lacing cards, alphabet and number puzzles, lego-type blocks) and the Dollar Tree (dominoes and lacing cards).


Here are a few other things we have been enjoying-


*the kids LOVE bunchems, but make sure to stress that they are to stay away from hair... I would say more, but I am still too put out after spending ages picking one out of a little girl's hair!

I also made up some step by step drawing cards from tutorials I found online. I laminated them and put them in the box with some drawing paper.

I have a wish list going (what teacher doesn't?!) of some different things I would like to add as the year goes on. I am pretty fascinated by these plus-plus pieces. Has anyone ever used them?

I am always a little nervous when trying out new routines in the classroom. I usually have this idea of how I want it to work, but it doesn't always pan out!

In this instance though, I am honestly so glad that I decided to go for it! My mornings always used to feel so hectic and rushed with no real transition from arriving at school to learning. Now, we have a quiet time to explore classroom materials and be creative!

My kids are collaborating on bigger projects-


this massive wall was built by two boys out of plastic bathroom cups! (I was expecting a big crash when they started to clean up, but they meticulously took it down, cup by cup! Such a quiet clean-up!)

They are socializing in a positive way- trading ideas, sharing materials, complimenting each other's designs, working together on their plans. 

Yes, I have given up some of my time alone in the mornings, but I couldn't be happier with the choice!



Do you use morning tubs in your classroom? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Monday Made it: Bulletin board update and my new teacher easel


It's official: only one week until teachers go back to work here! On the bright side, I was able to get into my classroom last week, so I already have a pretty good chunk of my classroom prep done.


I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for another Monday Made it!


I am not a big fan of working on bulletin boards. For some reason, I can never get the staples to go in straight! Anyway, I usually leave them up for a few years in a row to save myself some trouble.

I was planning on using my same boards from last year, but then I thought they could use a little something, enter: double borders!

I watched the video tutorial from KinderCraze, and it really inspired me to try working with more than one border! 

I used hot glue to stick the two borders together, then stapled the two to the board.


I took pictures of the board that I use to display our classroom rules and school-wide expectations. Here is the before:


and the after:


I love how the addition of the pink really brightens up the board!


I was dropping some stuff off at Goodwill the other day when I spotted something I was powerless to resist- a teacher easel!

I have always wanted one, but it was never in the budget until I saw it there for $40!

I forgot to take a before picture, but found this one:


I love everything about it except the primary colors! I stopped by Michael's to get some spray paint and came out with this pretty sea foam green.


I ended up painting the red bins and yellow pieces. It took two cans and felt like ages, but I am pleased with the result!


I decided that I can live with the blue frame until I see if the spray paint holds up on the rest of it. If it does, I will be painting the rest next summer!

That's it for this week, I am really hoping to have my classroom ready to reveal for next week!

In the meantime, check out all of the other great made-its at 4th Grade Frolics and don't forget the TPT best year ever sale!