Thursday, October 16, 2014

Have you ever saved Fred before?

Oh my goodness.... look out the window! Are pigs flying?! Because I thought for sure I wouldn't be blogging until pigs were flying. I have just been so busy this year. BUT I finally am caught up kinda sorta... enough that I can sit down to blog for a few minutes. And I wanted to start back at the beginning of the school year. If you remember, I got a new job very last minute and am teaching 4th grade now. Let's first acknowledge the fact that I LOVE my job again. FINALLY. I have waited a LONG time to be happy where I work and I am so glad to have ended up where I am. And as an added perk I only have 12 students, all of which are super sweet.

Now, back to the beginning of the year. The other 4th grade teacher and I decided to team teach... she teaches all the math and I teach the science and social studies (alternating units). So we started the year off with some fun STEM activities. And the first one was saving Fred. I saw a few people post about this and/or pin the idea. I knew I had to do it. And I am so glad I did. Not only did the students LOVE it but it gave me an idea of how they work together in groups. I found that some of them are very weak "group workers"... they had to learn HOW to work in groups. I am proud to say we are finally getting there.

If you have no idea what this Fred activity is, the picture collage below has a description of it. I recreated a lab sheet for my students that I will share down below if you would like to use it.

My students really enjoyed it... just look at their faces when they FINALLY got Fred in the life preserver...

A couple things we found:
~At first, every group killed Fred. I obviously wasn't going to have them just sitting there doing nothing.... so we invented Fred's cousin, Fredina... just so they would keep trying.
~At first the students thought Fred's head just had to be "in" the preserver... so they got him placed on the ring and thought they were done. I quickly grabbed an extra gummy worm and life saver and showed them what the end result should look like (I obviously did it with my hands).
~I made my students analyze their materials and try to come up with a plan before jumping in to solve the problem. All but one group's plan failed at first.
~Have fun and let them be loud! Just close the door and enjoy!

Here is a copy of the lab sheet I used. This is not my original creation, it is just formatted better for my students and in better fonts for me. If it is something you want to use, feel free to download and enjoy. Even though it is not the beginning of the year this is still something you can do!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Semi Wordless Wednesday- very overdue post

And by overdue, I mean it is a classroom reveal...

Whew, looking back at these pictures reminds me I REALLY need to straighten up my room some. My desk does not look that good anymore and that back shelf has gained a lot more "stuff".

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A little bit of a big change...

Did you notice that I have a new design... and a new blog name?! Ever since I made my blog I was a little unsure of the title because I knew I wouldn't be in third grade forever. Since I got a new job I decided to change it up and make it less grade specific and a lot more "me". And since we all know I love Disney, I went with pixie dust. And the FABULOUS Megan from A Bird in a Hand Designs got me all set up and ready to go. Let me just say, this girl is AMAZING. Seriously, I don't even know if I filled out the forms right, added too  much detail, too little detail, but she took exactly what I had imagined in my head and came up with this beautiful design.

I promise you I have a whole list of blog posts planned. It is just a matter of having the time to sit down and write them and add pictures. I just wanted to make sure all of my awesome readers know that "Third Grade Tidbits" is now "Teaching With a Touch of Pixie Dust". Same person... new super cute (if I do say so myself) blog design and name!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

It's September!!

September means my extra long summer vacation is over. (I got an extra hmm 6 weeks because I moved from the south where they end in May to the north where they don't start until Sept.) And I know I am crazy late to the party here, but I want to join in the fun with Farley anyways! it is!
So most of this is pretty self explanatory...

Big Brother! I love this show. What's even better is that my husband loves it too. And the reason why that makes it even better is because 9 years ago when we started dating, his mom and I were talking about the show and he was saying how stupid it was and he would never watch. Now.... now he loves it and reads up on things that happen.

Loving- my new school! Seriously the amount of stress I had been feeling the past couple years made me really feel awful. I was not a happy person in general. Being back home and now getting a job in my new school has been amazing! Seriously the stress levels are way down (of course there is still typical daily stress but NOTHING near as major as the past couple years) and I work with some amazing people.

Thinking- oh my goodness friends. My little girl is growing up. She is starting pre-k3 next week and tonight we converted her toddler bed into a full bed. FULL bed folks. I can't believe it. She was so excited to have her big big bed (the toddler bed was her big bed) and her new sheets and comforter. She even brought her baby doll and monkey to bed with her.

Wanting- I want to lose some pounds. Well more than some...

And in order for that to happen I NEED to get back into a routine and get back to the gym!

3 trips I would love to take... this one was tough because I want to go a lot of places. I would love to go to Hawaii (my dad's been trying to convince me for years to go). I want to go to a LOT of places in Europe but especially Italy. And finally, I never thought I would want to visit Alaska but I have seen so many amazing pictures. Except I would prefer to take a cruise there.

If you want to join in the fun and are late to the party like me, click below!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things

Imagine it: May rolls around and I know I am moving. And not teaching (so I thought). With limited space to store all my prized possessions (6 years worth of classroom "stuff") I had to make some cuts. I gave a ton of stuff to my friends thinking I wouldn't be needing it for a few years. Well here I am, needing just those things...and more.

Not many people understand that amount of time and money teachers spend in their classrooms making things go smoothly for their students (unless of course you are a teacher or know one). Office Depot gets it. They launched a program called Teachers Change Lives to highlight classroom successes of educators. As teachers, we know that we don't just have what we need when we need it. And a lot of times it is up to us to get it or we don't have it at all.

Now being that I left a ton of stuff (or lost it in the move... I am convinced there is still a bin of "stuff" missing) I was ecstatic when Office Depot contacted me to see if I would be interested in sharing how I use these materials in my classroom. Now, I don't know one teacher who doesn't love some school supplies. And the ones I received are high up there on my list of favorites!

The first thing I took out was the Sharpie markers. I had a lot of labeling to do once I got my class list and I LOVE the vibrant colors and how easily they write. 
I also labeled some paper bags for extra supplies. Each student will put all their extra pencils, erasers, crayons, etc in a lunch bag. This way when they need something, they can walk over to the shelf and get it out of the bag. Hopefully 4th graders can handle this!

The next thing I HAD to try was the Sharpie Clear View Highlighters. How many times have you been highlighting and this happens...
You highlighted too far. It happens to me ALL. THE. TIME. Seriously. And almost always when I am trying to highlight which standards or parts of a standard I have covered. And then I have to get out a pencil and circle the part I haven't covered yet so that I can remember that I have no done it yet. These highlighters are not only fun... but they solved that problem for me!

You can see THROUGH the tip of the marker to see where to stop highlighting. Genius idea!

The last thing I want to show you is the inkjoy pens

Now, I am sure most of you know about these pens. And if not, I highly suggest them. They are very affordable, write nice, and are such pretty colors. I am a sucker for a good pen and this one is on my list of favorites for sure. I don't ever grade papers in the same color. What I mean by that is, I don't ALWAYS use pink, or purple, or red. I don't want to associate one color with "bad" marks (in college we were told kids associate red as bad because teachers always marked up papers with red... even if the markings weren't always bad.) So I use different colors. And I love these pens for grading. But I also love to use them in my gradebook. I write the grades that are a C or better in purple and anything below a C in red. This helps me to see at a quick glance who is having a hard time. 

So what does one do with ALL of these supplies? Well, put them in a teacher toolbox of course! I just made a new one for my new classroom (so I could keep my old one at home) and was so excited to fill it with brand new supplies! 

I didn't feature a couple things but want to make sure you know how amazing they are too. Expo dry erase markers I am sure every teacher with a white board knows about. I LOVE using colors on my board and am always buying these markers. I love being able to draw attention to certain things I am writing and will often grab a color to circle or underline on the board... I have been known to draw a thing or two on the board for my lesson too... even with my awful art skills. I also use the Paper Mate Flairs for grading papers but I left those at school and forgot to take pictures. 

Thank you so much Office Depot for supplying me with these AMAZING products.  Make sure you check out the special offers on the deals I received in the mail. You can click the image below to be taken to the offer. 

*I received these items from Office Depot to help facilitate this review. For more information about these products, please visit Office Depot.* 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grades 3-5 resources a plenty!

So have you noticed I have been MIA since by BIG announcement? (If you missed it, I got a 4th grade teaching job.) Yea, I have been scrambling trying to gather as much as I can as quickly as I can. With us moving, I can't find most of my teaching materials. I know I left some stuff with my friends to have but there is stuff that I KNOW I brought with me that I just can't find. So that is why you haven't heard from me in a bit. But don't worry. I have some REALLY fun activities planned for the first week of school that I will be sharing about once I recover. (We start next week so hopefully NEXT weekend I will be able to share all kinds of week 1 fun!)

In the midst of all this chaos, I have also teamed up with Educents with some instant downloads for you! Loaded with great activities like to get your year off to a great start! 

I have my personal word walls AND my turkey treats writing and craftivity included in this bundle. My kiddos LOVED doing this one, and while I know it is a little early to be thinking about turkeys... it will be here before we know it. And I am already thinking about how I can incorporate this activity into my social studies lessons this year (I am teaching science and social studies to both 4th grades while the other teacher teaches math to both, and we will do our own reading/language arts.) Here are some pictures from when we did this activity before.

First we went through and made the turkey treat. (I actually started it with a mystery box activity so students could try to guess what we were doing with some clues along the way. If you want to read more about it you can find it here.)

Then students kept it on their desk while we worked on writing. I differentiated this by allowing my tier 3 kids to just write the steps in a numbered list form (with complete sentences). Everyone else had to write paragraphs.
 And then we finished our writing, mounted it, and made the craft. It turned out SO cute! And of course they got to enjoy their treat when they finished.

But that's not all... the bundle covers to following topics that you will need to teach this year:

Multiplication and division
Explorers & Scientists
Grammar including:  Common Nouns, Verb Tenses, 
Graphic Organizer
Informational Text
Full Grade Level Math Assessments for 3rd, 4th, & 5th
Full Grade Level Personal Word Walls for 3rd, 4th, & 5th
Math Problem of the Week
A couple activities for Fall 

For a limited time it is $24.99 from Educents which is about 78% off!  33 products for  literacy, math, and science - resources that will stretch you long into your year.  And over 705 pages of materials ready for you to use - there is sure to be tons you will love!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Made It- and a BIG announcement

So all summer I wasn't doing Monday Made It. And I was sad, because linking up with Tara is so much fun! But I had nothing to make. I wasn't going back into the classroom and I was doing so much organizing in our new house that I sure wasn't making anything for my house. But that all changed on Friday....

Because I GOT A JOB!!!! I will be teaching 4th grade this year! And since I got rid of a lot of stuff before we moved (remember, I didn't think I would be teaching for a while so I got rid of it) I had to get to remaking. I also had one home project I was planning on doing (before I even interviewed for this job) so I will share that too.

My first project was to make new dry erase boards. Mine were 6 years old and I was limited on space so I gave them to my students. (Cue excitement from every single one of them!) I needed new ones so I went to Lowes (I needed something else there but Home Depot carries the same material) and got some of their white panel board (also called Thrifty White Panel Board or Shower Board). I think it was around $12 for a sheet. I had them cut it into rectangles (I was going to do 12x12 squares but I wanted a little extra room this year) and got 24 boards out of the $12.

I also bought some duct tape to put around the edges for around $3 a roll. After cutting the tape by hand for a couple boards I decided to use my cutter instead (warning- the blade WILL get gunky from the tape, but nothing a little elbow grease won't take care of). 
And I ended up with some pretty nice boards for under $20. (Please excuse the few boards with different tape, I ran out of the pink and didn't want to go back out, so I just used what I had at home.)

The second thing I needed to make was a new teacher toolbox. I didn't leave mine in Memphis but I got so used to having it on my desk in my office that I had to make a new one for my class. Plus, I wanted one that would match my colors anyways. So I got the 22 compartment storage container from Lowes (my home depot didn't have them so check before you go) and some black spray paint (for plastic). I made my new labels (which you can find under my freebies tab here- the first thing I am loading on my freebies tab!) and got to working. I decided to arrange the labels on my computer before deciding on colors so I knew I liked the way it would look in the drawers. Once I got that done, I printed and cut them out. I used double sided tape to tape the labels to the inside of the drawers (rookie mistake on my first set a couple years ago- I have the labels on the outside and they are a mess now). I just stuck a strip down each side of the label and stuck it to the drawer. You can't even see the tape!

My final craft was a home craft. I have wanted a white desk for my office but I couldn't justify buying a new one when the one we had is in perfect condition (despite being really old- it was my parents'). So I finally got the courage to paint it white. Here is what I needed for this project...
Paint Samples (I used Valspar white) and paint brushes
and some Polycrilic

I started with the primer. After that dried I painted the desk white. Once paint was dry I added the polycrilic finish. No sanding needed. Super easy (minus the fact that I kept stepping in paint splatters and had paint all over me).

Here is the before and after...
(disclaimer- the desk before is a picture from our old house when we first moved in)

With the new job, and being a different grade, I have decided to change my blog name. Be on the lookout for a new look and name with the same great content later this year (once I make a final decision on the design anyways.) Now, if you will excuse me, I have a LOT to do to get ready for a new grade in a new school!!!
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