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You Might Be a Teacher If… {Giveaway Time}

I hope you enjoy these few teacher antics.  Make sure to enter the giveaway!  You have until April 13th to enter to win.
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 4/13/17 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

Use This Free Resource if You are Teaching Fractions

Have you seen this great new website tool for teaching and assessing mathematics for elementary students?  On iknowit There are multiple lessons included about various math topics all from the makers of Super Teacher Worksheets!  One of my favorite lessons is the one about 3rd grade fractions.  What I like about the fraction lesson/assessment is that it focuses on equal parts.  This gives children the chance to really think about what equal parts look like.  Sometimes the idea that fractions are equal parts can become a misconception to students.


There are also different types of general fraction questions such as what fraction is shaded or what fraction was taken etc.

There are questions using the written words halves and quarters instead of only the numbers.  These are words that students struggle with seeing and using.

I also like that the program gives students automatic feedback to let them know if they were correct or incorrect.  If students are incorrect, the program gives students an explanation to tell them why they were incorrect. The little robot is animated and jumps around each time students get a question correct.  He has a different animation for each question.

You can even take a quick grade with this program because the program shows students their total score when they complete an assessment.  Teachers can easily use the score for their grade book.

The best part is that it is free!  FREE! Yes, absolutely FREE!  (At the time of the writing, the website is free, but eventually this website will charge for membership.)

Try it out and enjoy!

Dress Up Your Number Line

Folks, are you feeling the need to dress up your number line, well, look no further!  Originally, I made these word cards and expanded form cards in black with white lettering to match the classroom wall number line with base ten blocks.  But by popular request, you can now get them with a white background and black lettering.  What does this mean to you?  The beauty of using these cards is that you can #1 SAVE INK and #2 USE WHATEVER BACKGROUND COLOR YOU WANT.  You are only limited by your colored paper!  I hope you can find a use for these on your classroom wall number line.  Here are the new versions on these products pictured below.




Multiplication Stairs for the Kinesthetic Learner

I found these stairs in a school in which I had a professional development meeting.  You have probably seen a similar idea on Pinterest of a staircase with brightly colored multiplication cards that exactly fit the stairs.  I have checked into the prices to have custom cards made like those on Pinterest and the prices were well over $500.  Ouch!  The great thing about these stairs (pictured below) is that they look like they were made on a much cheaper budget.

You would need someone who has access to a Silhouette die cutter and a selection of the sticky vinyl to print the numbers on.   In addition, you would need a ruler to mark off the placement of each number and lots of time!  When I saw this, I thought the idea was fabulous, but I didn’t think that the colors were dark enough to stand out on the  concrete.

If your school has used the spaces on their stairs for math facts, leave a link and/or share your experience.

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!

I Didn’t Think the Kids Could Make This Work, But…

I have been teaching my kids about circuits lately.  They have been using the little 1.5 volt incandescent bulbs, wires with alligator clips, and D cell batteries.  D cell batteries are also 1.5 volts.  I had brought in every lightbulb in my house that had burned out so the kids could see all of the filaments floating around in the bottom of the bulb.  I also brought in one working 40 watt incandescent bulb.  I thought it would be fun for them to see if they could get the bulb to light.  Because the bulb says 120 volts on the bottom, I didn’t think the students could get it to work.  We had a limited number of batteries to even try to light the bulb.

I put the large light bulb in a station for free experimentation.  I thought the kids had forgotten about trying to get the large bulb to light, so I put the bulb in my lamp.  When they asked about trying to get the bulb to light again, I took it out of the lamp and told them they could try up to seven batteries.  They tried the seven batteries and the bulb didn’t light.  When they were puzzled, I asked them whey they thought it didn’t light.  Showing the girls the print on the bottom of the bulb and inquiring about the voltage of the battery, they realized they needed more batteries.  I explained to them that we probably didn’t have enough batteries.  Their reply was, “PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, can we try more batteries?!”  Since they were so persistent, I let them.  I expected there to be no change in the bulb.

About five minutes later, I hear the girls squeal with delight!  You guessed it!  They lit up the bulb!  They had about 21 D batteries taped together end to end with masking tape down the length of them.  By this time in class, about five or six students had joined in and were holding a section of the batteries to make sure they were completely touching end to end.  One child was holding the wire from the positive to the negative end of the batteries.  When they got the bulb to light a little, they wanted to add more batteries to make it brighter.

What’s even better?  With a tiny bit of prompting, the kids were doing real world decimal addition/multiplication.  They were counting the amount of volts they had on each battery and figuring out how much voltage they were using to power the light bulb.  I am glad I gave into their pleading and never told them I didn’t think it would work :)!  They will probably remember this MORE than anything I had planned to officially teach them!

Valentines Idea for Teachers!

Since I have a rather large affinity for Valentines Day, I wanted to do something special for the teachers I work with.  A teacher friend and I decided to make some homemade goodies, but probably not the kind you are thinking of…

We made every teacher a peppermint lip balm with a cute Valentine label.

These are easy to make, but it is quite a messy project.  To begin you need beeswax (I like pellets), coconut oil, shea butter, and Young Living peppermint essential oil.

1.Place equal parts shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax pellets in a glass jar.  I start with a tablespoon of each.

I like to use an old glass jar to melt the ingredients so that I don’t have to worry about cleaning wax off of my dishes.

2. I boil water in a  small pot, reduce the heat to low, and then place the glass jar in the water like a double boiler.

3. After all of the ingredients have been completely melted, I take the jar off of the heat and wait about a minute.

4.  Then I put peppermint oil in the mixture.  I use 15-20 drops of oil.  Mix the ingredients.  I just slosh the mixture around a bit in the jar to mix the oil.

5. Now, you must act fast.  Have your lip balm containers already standing upright with the lids off before your mixture is melted so that way you can just pour the mixture straight into the containers from the jar.

Now a list of where I purchased my ingredients:

beeswax pellets–

Shea butter–

Coconut oil–Kroger (Wal-Mart sells this too)

Peppermint essential oil–Young Living (I use Young Living because it is safe for internal use.) (My Young Living sponsor and enroller number are 2600343.)

By the way if you need to do any cleanup, realize that you will do better by using a dry towel to wipe off excess wax.  Water and the wax repel one another and do not help the cleaning process.  I go through many paper towels in the clean up process.

We also made everyone cute little homemade peppermint mints in a small tin (sorry no pictures).  I got the tins from Amazon.  These were easier to make than I expected.  I just bought a bag of xylitol from Whole Foods.  All you do is melt it down (no water at all).  You just put it in a small pot and stir on low temperature as it melts.  Then you take it off of the heat and let it cool down just a bit for a few minutes before it turns back to a solid.  Stir in the peppermint essential oil.  I used 15-20 drops for a cup of xylitol.  Then you place parchment paper on a baking sheet and pour the mixture onto the paper.  Let it dry overnight.  Then when it has hardened and is dry,  just break it with your fingers into small pieces.  I followed the recipe here.

Cheap and Fun Electric Science!

The hardware store is a place brimming with possibilities for fun and cheap science experiments.  Did you know you can buy light switches for $0.69, and a foot of copper electrical wire for less than that?!  Not only that, but you can buy a couple of large D cell batteries for $1 at the Dollar Tree.  I will admit I already had some batteries and light bulbs in a science kit at school.  Lowes sells the wire for a few cents a foot.  If you tell them you are a school teacher, and look a bit pitiful, then they will cut it into foot segments for you :).  I actually bought the light switches because one of my students wondered how they worked.  I bought one to break apart with a hammer, so the kids could see the inner workings of the switch.  The others I bought for students to connect to the battery and the light bulb with the wires.  The kids were really excited to experiment with this.  We had already been building circuits, so I didn’t exactly tell students how to connect the light switch to make the bulb turn on and off.  I let them figure this out with the information they had already learned.

Here’s a little secret.  If you want really cheap light bulbs, you can get LED bulbs if you buy a small flashlight for a dollar at Wal-mart.  Then break the flashlight with a hammer to get the bulbs out.  You will get around seven bulbs if you do this.  However, the bulbs I used for this were in a science kit, and I didn’t have to buy them.  They were little incandescent bulbs.

The next thing you can do for really cheap fun  is this.  Get a regular light bulb that you would put in a lamp, place one out for kids to experiment with if they have already learned how to build circuits.  Challenge the kids to make the lightbulb light up.  I tell them they can use up to five batteries.  The kids won’t be able to light up the bulb.  I know this, but they don’t.  Several lessons previous to this, I had kids really examine the writing on the batteries, and some students noticed the 1.5 v.  I had also had them pass around some old blown out light bulbs to study the broken filaments and the writing on the bulbs.  If they make the connection, they will realize that the bulbs need 120 volts.  The batteries only provide 1.5 volts each.  It would take A LOT of batteries to power the light bulb.  More than they could stretch out on a table (but that’s my little secret, wink wink).  The fun in this activity is asking…well, why didn’t that work?

(Sidenote:  I only have a few of these items mentioned above for students to experiment with when they finish their work.  I don’t buy a whole class set.)

I hope you now have some great reasons to do  some cheap and easy science experiments!

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 2/13/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

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Are You Discouraged? Keep Climbing

Do you have a seemingly unreachable child in your class?  Here is the story of my climb to reach one of mine.  A 5th grade girl, who seemed to hide behind her long, beautiful, brown hair and glasses, had no drive to learn and was passively, aggressively defiant at times.  Angela’s defiance never was loud, but it was just enough for her to let me know she didn’t want to do EXACTLY what I said.  Her behavior was also just enough not to get into major trouble.

I had already tried to talk to Angela on several occasions, and had even taken time to sit with her at lunch.  None of these things really seemed to make any difference in her behavior during my class. Now, it is time for my brutal honesty.  My next inclination towards this child was to say “whatever” and go on with teaching–deal with it till the end of the year.  I asked myself if putting in the effort to spend time with Angela was really making any difference?

Upon doing some investigation, I found that Angela’s  mother had died the previous year.  I can only imagine the pain that a child must face when losing one of their parents at such a young age.  How could I not give her another chance and try to reach her?  When I asked her again to speak with me during her lunch, she agreed.  I have met with Angela twice now, and she seems to be having a better attitude in class.

Spend time with those students who have problems that you are tempted to dismiss.  They could just be hurting. 🙂

Magnetic Dirt?

Who knew?  There are magnetic materials in dirt.

I have been doing a unit with my third grade students about magnets.  We have been learning about the properties of magnets such as attraction, repulsion, and polarity.  In one of the extension activities, students are required to place magnetic filings over a magnet to see how the magnet has north and south poles. Immediately I thought of the little games with the bald man and magnetic pen in which you drag the filings over the man’s head to give him hair.  I thought, “Oh!  I could buy several of those and cut the plastic to get iron filings!”


Then, when looking for one of these “Wooly Willy” games on the internet, I happened across a You Tube video about finding iron in dirt.  I didn’t really think it would work, but…….

here is what a couple of kids found after school when I made sure this would work.  Now, we didn’t do it exactly like the video.  I gave the kids a stack of strong disc magnets which I purchased form Hobby Lobby for about $7.  They put the magnets inside a plastic bag.  When they rubbed the bag in the dirt, the magnets attracted no iron.  What did work was for the kids to put the dirt in a container which they collected from under some trees.  They brought the dirt inside and sprinkled it a spoonful at a time on the plastic bag with magnets inside. Then when they shook the bag off onto some construction paper, the magnetic particles stayed.  They emptied those pieces into a petri dish, which you see above.  Sidenotes:  In our case when the dirt was damp from some rain, this method worked best.  At first they collected dirt from underneath some gravel in a garden.  I thought it wouldn’t work because that dirt didn’t appear to have any magnetic properties.  It wasn’t until they collected the dirt underneath the trees that they found the iron particles.

Now instead of buying iron filings, I am going to let the students find their own before we do our polarity experiment.  I think they will very much enjoy the trip outdoors!  Even though it is January, it has been 70 degrees this week.

Here’s a great tutorial about magnetic polarity!



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