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You Can Use an American Flag to Teach Math! {Giveaway}

I am reposting this in honor of Independence Day tomorrow.  This is one of my favorite door decorations that really made the students think about the American flag.  They were trying to figure out the amount of stars and stripes due to the questions that I had printed on the door.  These printables are a free download available when you click here to view the original post.
Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 7/10/17 and is open worldwide.
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Are You Planning a Castle Themed Room? Look at This!

This past summer, I had an amazing experience teaching in a summer gifted camp.  The kids were amazing, but even more so the people I worked with.  Everyone had enthusiasm about teaching.  With that enthusiasm came much creativity.  There were dragons and castles everywhere.  The front desk was decorated as a castle.  All of the classroom doors were decorated as little drawbridge doors.  I wish I could take credit for this marvelous idea, but the coordinators of the camp made us the materials and had the ideas.  We just put the materials together.  This is my door…


Now let me tell you about the gray rocks.  These were an afterthought and another teacher friend made them and made enough for me.  I used them, but after I started putting them on, I really didn’t like the look of them.  See the other doors without the gray rocks.  They look better don’t they?


Now the following door is the same door, but just with a different angle.


Now, I know what you are thinking.  Those black paper chains are attached to the floor, and they won’t make it very long with kid traffic.  You are correct!  We did have an issue with those, however they mostly stayed in tact after three weeks of kid traffic–which was the length of the camp.  One of my neighbor teachers attached the chains to the wall to keep them off of the floor.  After the first day, the kids get the general idea of the castle theme and I think it is fine to attach them to a wall.

I hope this sparked an idea for your new door decoration idea for this coming school year!

Do You Need a Great Parent Involvement Bulletin Board?

One of the last things my principal asked me to do before I left school for summer is to make a bulletin board to advertise our need for “Watchdog Dads”.  Well, that is exactly what I did, but with a creative flair!  We had some clocks lying around, so I decided to use the clock to make a watch on the wall with a little riddle.



As you can see the clock makes up the watch.WatchdogBulletinBoard-1


Then, I used push pens to attach the clock.  The clock is just hanging on them.


My principal wanted me to use the T-shirts on the board…so here you have one with the shadow of a head stuck inside.WatchdogBulletinBoard-3

I hope this gets lots of fatherly attention for back to school!  If you want to learn more about Watchdog Dads, you can go here!

A New Bulletin Board Idea

Are you in need of a fall bulletin board idea?  Look no further!  Have your students help you create an advent calendar of sorts.  With this bulletin board, I had 30 children write something they were thankful for and tell why they were thankful for it.  Each day I flip over another square so that we can see another day of thankfulness.  I bought 6 inch square card stock from the scrap book section and the little clothes pins at Hobby Lobby. I already had some twine and the fake fall leaves to embellish the board.  You could repeat this idea with Christmas or any month really.  The items that are displayed may be different but the same concept could be applied.


Are You Taller Than a Third Grader?


With the combination of special programs and snow days, our time to teach all of the standards before our 3rd graders’ PARCC test is running out.  With this in mind, I made a graph to help third grade out using the data from the whole 3rd grade with a fraction line plot.  This type of  graph and fractions are not as familiar to third graders because they haven’t been exposed to line plots in earlier grade levels.  I put the graph in a central location where other grade levels could see it.  That way other students could experience measurement and interpreting graphs as well.


I started out with an area by the water fountains for repeated exposure to student traffic.


Next I put up a strip of this amazing ruler like tape that I got at Office Depot when they had all of their special masking tape at back-to-school time.  The tape counts every 12 inches.  So in the picture below, I marked off every twelve inches with little triangles that mentioned that each 12 inches was 1 foot.  Next, I marked off the fractions of an inch with stickers.  I marked off the halves, thirds, and fourths so that students could easily see the relationship between the graph and the tape measure.Tape

Then I had students come a few at a time and measure themselves to the closest fraction of a foot.  Students recorded their X’s on sticky notes.  The only reason I had them record their X’s on sticky notes is because this ensured having them all the same size.  Line plots can make data look skewed if students don’t draw their X’s the same size.  Plus on the PARCC assessment when students drag X’s on the line plot graph questions, students drag the X’s into little boxes which makes test question boxes resemble sticky notes.  Students got to initial their X.  Also, if students in the least bit chuckled about anyone else’s height because they were short, I immediately told them they wouldn’t even get to put an X on the graph.  After I graphed most of the students from two classes, I only had two students who didn’t get to put their X on the graph because of this reason.

Here is the whole picture of everything with a more than willing model :)…Slide5


Encourage Good Character with This Easy Incentive

Last school year we brainstormed things we could do to encourage kindness.  We wanted to recognize good character instead of bad character.  After brainstorming about this, our counselor created the Kindness Tree.  The Kindness Tree was one of my favorite things about school!


Whenever any staff member saw a student doing something kind, then that person could place the student’s name on a colored heart and put it into the Kindness Jar.  The Kindness Jar was stored in the library for staff members to drop the heart into.  Then on Friday the counselor would announce the students’ names who were in the Kindness Jar, and they could come to the office to get a prize.  Each heart went on the Kindness Tree the following week.

As you can see, the tree has all different colors of hearts.  That is because each month the counselor would hand out a different color of hearts.  For example, we received orange hearts in the fall, red hearts at Christmas time, and pink hearts in the spring.  The kids LOVED the tree and wanted to know if they could put hearts on the tree, as well, if they caught someone being kind.  Because students wanted to participate in the Kindness Tree , I thought it would be a great idea if each classroom could have a tree and students could manage putting hearts on it when they saw someone being kind.

Sooooo Cute Spring Bulletin Boards!

Each year a pair of teachers are assigned a month to do the cafeteria bulletin boards.  We were given April.  With all the pressure of upcoming testing and the additional stressor of losing time to snow days, I didn’t have much creativity roaming in my brain.   This board started out as me just wanting to make a simple spring flower to cover up lots of space fast and then…  the board looked empty so I decided I must add a little lady bug.  I made the flower petals from bulletin board paper folded over and over before I cut similar to when making a paper fan.  This helped me not have to cut out a LOT of different petals separately.  Then the flower and lady bug idea kept growing and growing and growing…

flower bulletin board

We have an upcoming science fair so we decided to tie in a science theme along with the spring theme.  We made a larger lady bug with an investigating magnifying glass over the top for the second bulletin board.  A hula hoop wrapped in black paper strips was used to make the magnifying glass.  Then laminating film was stretched over the magnifying glass to look similar to glass.  Rolled up black bulletin board paper was used to create the handle for the magnifying glass.

floor dry erase-2

We have gotten so many compliments on these boards about how they brighten up the room.  These are on either side of the stage in our cafeteria.  I hope these help spark an idea for your spring bulletin boards too!

How Can You Motivate Your Class to Learn Math Facts?

This year, I have had the most competitive success when I have given attention to students progress on Reflex (an online math fact video game-like program for learning math facts–Read more about Reflex here).  Each Friday, I pass out the reward certificates and recognize students who get a certificate at our morning meeting.  Students who get a certificate also win a little prize with each certificate.  What has helped the classes become most competitive is the bar graph I have hung in the hallway.  Each class name is at the bottom of a bar.  I update this graph nearly daily.  Every time students go down the main hallway, they look to see if their class has grown on the graph.  I have placed the graph below…

ReflexBarGraph copy

As you can see the taller bars are the 3rd-5th graders which have gotten VERY competitive.  On our last contest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place were only 1 point away from each other!  I took a picture of the classes who won on the last contest to place beside the graph.  I personally reward the 1st place classes with a party.  This time I was so proud of the special ed class who won 1st place!

In addition to the above graph, one of our teachers has developed a class thermometer for her individual class competition out in the hallway.  She moves each student’s name on a clothespin closer up the thermometer to 100% fluency each week.

I am not paid a dime to say this, but I must say Reflex math is the most effective tool I have ever used to teach math facts!

I must be honest.  I hope the wall isn’t red underneath the paper at the end of the year.  I think that every time I color on the paper to fill in the bars…the paper is kind of thin.

Another Cute Door {or Bulletin Board} Decoration!

Here it is… FINALLY!  My new door decoration for this year.  I named my room the “Math Cave” since my room is so small and huddled behind a bunch of bookshelves.  I feel sort of like my room IS a cave!  All of the eyeballs you see are like imaginary creatures in the cave.  The comments in speech bubbles around the door suggest that the creatures are afraid of the dark.  To bring in some mathematical thinking, the purple poster in the center prompts the children to count the creatures’ eyeballs in groups of two to find out how many creatures are in the dark math cave.  You can download the bulletin board speech bubbles and sign for free right here if you want to recreate the door idea.    I made most of the eyeballs out of leftover cutouts from the cricut cutter when various letters were cut out.  It really bothers me that the words “Math Cave” are off center, but I glued them down and couldn’t very well rip them off without destroying the background.  Oh, well, there are more important things to worry about at this time of the school year!  The leafy green border is like vines growing around the cave.

Below are posted two pictures of my door.  The second one is closer up so you can see the words more easily.


Get Straight Letters On Your Bulletin Board Every Time!

Have you ever been frustrated after carefully stapling your letters to the bulletin board only to find that your letters were crooked as you stepped back from the board.  Here is the solution I use.  Tack each letter to the board with a pushpin and step back from the board.  If you notice that a letter is crooked or off center, you can easily move the letter by pulling out the pushpin.  You don’t have to remove staples!



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