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Need a Critical Thinking Time Filler on the Fly? {Giveaway Time}

(Keep scrolling for the giveaway.) I recently went to a conference, and I learned a new game from the author of  This game doesn’t take much planning and really deepens kids’ thinking.  I can’t wait to use this!  The game is Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe!
Make a board like a regular tic-tac-toe board with little tic-tac-toe boards inside each square.  The first player makes a mark in any spot.
Then the place that was marked sends you to the square you need to mark in.  Like above, the middle square in the small grid was marked so that will send you to the middle square in the larger board.  You may mark anywhere in the center of the large grid like below.
Now this sends the x player to the middle right square of the large grid to mark anywhere in the smaller grid.
The x player just sent the o player to the middle.  This wasn’t the best move for the x player because they just helped the o player gain ground.
The o player now sends the x player to the bottom right square which is a safe move since no squares are marked there.
Another safe move was made by x who sent the o player to another empty grid in the middle left of the board.
Now, o sent x back to the middle of the board which was a risky move.  This helps x set up the board to win or block.  Two moves are shown below.
The middle x sends the o player to the top right large square.  This sends x to the top right corner.
The x player sends o to the bottom right square in a safe move.
To the luck of the x player, o made a play in the middle of the small grid on the bottom right.  Now guess where x gets to go?!
Now x wins the middle square and no one else can play in the middle square.
The goal of the game is to gain three large squares next to each other in any direction just like regular tic-tac-toe.
If the player does get sent to any large square that has already been won, he  can choose wherever he wants to go.  Have fun playing!
Prize: $75 Teachers pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 3/13/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

How Did the Children Respond to the Inauguration?

Yesterday when I had a class, and they were watching the inauguration, one child said, ” Amen” after the first prayer. After the second prayer a few more said, “Amen,” and this continued after the third prayer. I had nothing to do with this and found it somewhat amazing :).  These were fourth graders.

With another class of fifth graders after the inauguration itself.  I had the students working while all the talking etc. was going on in the background.  This class is VERY spirited to say the least, so I really just wanted them to work. However, the national anthem started playing, and one kid asked if they should stand up. At first, I told him no and that they should continue working. After a few moments, I saw him with his hand over his heart seated, and I realized I was wrong. I told them all to stand, and all did with utmost respect.

And, yes I teach in a public school.

This is all not to say that I didn’t have students who disagreed with the current president and who didn’t support him.  Some of the fifth graders had been very vocal about the fact that they didn’t like the incoming president.  Nevertheless, the students’ solidarity was refreshing.

Best Teacher Story All Year & (Giveaway Time)

So my school district decided to have the kids come to school the Monday before Christmas.  This was the ONLY day the kids came.  Because of this I decided to do some fun science and Christmas stations.  In one of the stations the kids were able to decorate Christmas cards for veterans.  When it was time to clean up this one child who definitely made his share of mess with glitter and paper shreds decided to fool around for a while instead of cleaning.  Finally, when he started cleaning while picking up pieces of paper with his hands, he said, “You need a vacuum cleaner!”  I said, “That’s what I have you for :).” The next thing I know this fourth grader is literally picking up pieces of paper off the carpet with his mouth.

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Co-hosts: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher),  
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 1/13/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Try These Fun Christmas Stations!

I wanted my students to enjoy their last class with me before the Christmas break, so I planned several stations for them to work on.  The students really enjoyed the engagement of every station.

Station 1:  Students picked out a pine cone and were instructed to find seeds inside the pinecone.  I showed them a picture of what pine cone seeds looked like.  I gave them magnifying glasses so they could look closely and deeply into the pine cones.  I instructed them to draw a picture of their pine cone and to draw a picture of the seed.  In preparation for the next station, I instructed them to find two more pine cones that were really “pretty” and “tree shaped”.  I really wanted them to find two that were opened up really well so they could see the difference in station 2.


Station 2:  I had students place two nice flared out pinecones in water.  Students made predictions before they placed one pinecone in cold water and one pinecone in warm water.  I have no sink in my room, so I had a gallon jug set up for the cold water and a crock pot set up with warm water for them to dip from with a measuring cup.  Make sure to have paper towels on hand for any water that is spilled.  Now, students can watch the pinecones for a while, but it will take about 30-45 minutes before students will see any changes.  I make students look and notice what happened.  I don’t tell them.  Now the last group that does this station probably won’t notice what happens.  They won’t have enough time in an hour long class period to notice the pinecones change.

(So what does happen?  Pinecones close up when wet.  Why does this happen?  Pinecones don’t want to release their seeds when weather is wet because they want to allow their seeds to fly as far away as possible during drier weather so that they won’t compete with the parent tree.)

After students have noticed the pinecones closing up, make sure you leave time at the end of the stations to ask the students why they think the pine cones are closing up in the water.

In case you are wondering, yes the pinecones will open back up when dried out.


Station 3:  What happens when you place a peppermint under water?  After students have watched, then what happens when you place M & M’s under water?  This experiment wasn’t that impressive in my opinion, but the kids loved it!  The experiment works best in a white bowl.  The plates were way too messy when kids tried to throw out the water.  Water, of course, spilled everywhere.

Students predicted first what happened with the peppermint.  Most guessed it would turn white, but few guessed it would streak the way it did.  You must keep the dish still and not shake the desk to get the full effect of this.  


After students watch the peppermint for about five minutes, have them predict what would happen when they place out M & M’s around the bowl.  I bought the small ones so there would be more color.  If students place them around the edge of the bowl, it makes a dramatic rainbow like this.  Again keep the bowl as still as possible.


Station 4:  Light up a Christmas light with alligator wires and batteries.  This station by far had the biggest WOW factor for the kids.  I didn’t give kids many instructions with this station.  I wanted them to do experimentation to figure this out.  I made the kids predict which type of batteries would work to light up the battery.  They lit up a small LED bulb.  (this wasn’t actually a Christmas light bulb).  To get these bulbs  I bought a $1 LED flashlight at War-Mart and banged the flashlight with a hammer until I broke it enough to get the lightbulbs out.  It’s cheaper to buy bulbs that way :0.  To light up the bulb students need at least three batteries placed end to end with at least two alligator clip wires–one each touched to the positive and negative ends of the battery.  I used D batteries because I had a bunch in a science kit, but this will work with smaller batteries.  I hovered around this station because I knew students might struggle here.  I made it a point to talk about how scientists struggle until they figure things out.  We talk about how Edison didn’t give up the first time his improvements of the light bulb didn’t work and they shouldn’t either.  Now in reality, it would have been a lot cooler if I actually did have Christmas light bulbs, but I already had LED bulbs on hand so we used them.

I got alligator clips like these here.

ChristmasScience Here is an editable document I used when students visited science stations.  This is nothing fancy, but you are welcome to use it for your classroom and make it your own.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


My Pi Day Shirt!

So I am wearing my Pi Day shirt at school!  I really hadn’t thought of needing a Pi Day shirt and this sweet teacher made me one!  Along with the shirt she gave me a sweet note.  She knew testing weeks are stressful, so she thought of me.  I am wearing it tomorrow to celebrate!  Here is the sweet note she wrote me…


and the shirt (in my favorite color too!)…


Tomorrow, I am having this informational video for kids broadcast so at least the kids have some idea about Pi Day even at the elementary age…

Need a Smile During Testing?

Since I have been helping our school test coordinator all week, I felt a little humor was needed for the week with the heavy stress of it all. We have several new mothers at school so I borrowed a diaper and ta-da!!! I hung this on her wall.  When she saw this, of course she laughed–my ultimate goal!!! 🙂


Oooooh! Look at all the school supplies!

So I went into Office Depot the other day to pick up something I had printed…and then…I noticed the school supplies!  I just can’t help myself!  I walked deeper and deeper into the school supplies until finally I found the tape.  Colored tape, patterned tape, duck tape, masking tape, etc.  Do I need tape?  NO!  But I muuuuuust have some!  Pink tape, polka dotted tape, chevron tape, mustache tape, striped tape–they are all calling my name!




Then I showed some restraint and thought…what would I do with all of this pretty tape?  I had absolutely no idea!  So I left it there :(, but I’ve still been keeping my eyes opened for ideas.  Then I happened across this blog post from Peace, Love, and First Grade.  She shows lots of ways to use pretty tape in your room.  Also, I found My Own Twist on Things did adorable makeovers to her bookshelves and file cabinets with tape and contact paper!  I’m so inspired!

Teacher “Happy” Freebie before Teasting

The weeks that precede testing tend to be the most stressful at school for teachers.  Because I see the frantic looks everywhere, I thought I would put a little cheer in everyone’s mailbox.  I put one little “happy” in each teacher’s mailbox during the middle of the weeks before testing.  One of the teachers called them “little happies” so now that is what they are!





In case you want to cheer some teachers nearby…I am providing the documents I used.  They are editable so you can change the wording a bit if you want!  Just click on the link below the pictures to download the file.


What NOT to Do with Dry Erase Markers!

Ya’ll are going to love this one!!  Just when the custodian was fussing about the painters tape on the floor and my door being open…I did a doozy….

Since I have been working with lots of intervention groups, I am trying to teach them concepts in a short amount of time while I have them out of the classroom.  Yesterday I thought I would work on some measurement estimation.  I gave the students 3 choices to estimate the length of a car.  12 inches, 12 feet, and 12 yards.  Since these students don’t have a lot of experience with measurement, I had many students say 12 inches or 12 yards so….

I saw the need to draw on the floor with a dry erase marker of course!  I drew a 12 inch line with a ruler, a 12 foot line with 12 rulers, and a 12 yard line with yard sticks so students could see the difference.  They were easily able to see that the 12 foot line was the best estimate.

Then it came time to rub the line off the floor and whadaya know…but…you guessed it…the dry erase marker wouldn’t budge off the floor!  AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!  Oh, no!  Well, after soliciting some help
someone suggested dry erase board cleaner…and it worked! YAY!

floor dry erase-1

Now if I had it to do over, I would still write on the floor because it didn’t take too much elbow grease to rub off–and the floor is like a new giant white board with endless possibilities!


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