Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Energy Can be Moved from Place to Place: Creating a Whole Class Circuit!

 Have you ever seen one of these little Energy Balls? They can be picked up online at any science retailer, but I had never played with one until my sweet science partner purchased me one this week for me as a gift.

My fourth graders have been learning about the transfer of energy for the past few months and we have been trying very hard to focus on making observations and using our observations as evidence to prove a claim on a scientific phenomenon. Pretty cool for 4th grade, right!?

Today we had a few extra minutes and I gave the class the challenge of working together, using this energy ball, and proving the scientific principle: energy can be moved from place to place.

They quickly figured out how to work the ball (both metal pieces need to be covered), but a few students started to form a circle and tested to see if their arms could act like wires in a circle. They were SO EXCITED to see that it worked.

Before long, the whole class formed a circle and one boy practiced being a "switch" letting go and grabbing the hand next to him.

I loved that I gave my class a challenge and not only were they able to use their knowledge from the unit and communication skills to figure it out, but they also extended the idea and went above and beyond.

Check out my recent Instagram post for a GIF of this energy ball in action! 

This quick energy transfer investigation really solidified the idea of an open and closed circuit and definitely blew the minds of my fourth graders. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

{Freebies} Simple Ways to Motivate Students in the Classroom!

We've hit that time of year where the start of school has passed and the end isn't in the direct future. Honeymoon period is now over and we are starting to see the true colors of many of our little gems. Don't get me wrong, we still love each and every one of time, but some of our friends need a little extra motivating. I thought I'd share a few SIMPLE ways to make your students want to be ready to learn in your classroom, but I'd also love to hear about your tricks in the comments below!

Class Coupons! Seriously, there couldn't be an easier behavior incentive.  Have you seen our awesome teacher friendly Classroom Reward Coupons? The packet comes with over 60 options and each coupon is printed on a page 6 times! One print of the bundle and you should be set for the year! The best part about using these coupons is that the rewards are mostly free and require no prep! 



 I simply print, laminate, pass out, and collect to redistribute when the student cashes their ticket in. 

Students go nuts over these little tickets, especially "Lunch with the Teacher" and "Show and Tell" because lets face it, who ever has time set aside for a class show and tell.

Other tickets that have been known to popup in my classroom are Leprechaun Tickets and Desk Fairy Tickets. (Get them BOTH for free by clicking on the links or pictures!) My students love visits from leprechauns in March. Sometimes our secret leprechaun even brings treats, just like our mystery desk fairy! The Dollar Tree is a great place to pick up little trinkets. One of my favorites are the round glass stones. The kids love these because they think they are leprechaun treasures. I also love getting a dozen pencils here for $1.00. Really anything at the Dollar Tree is gold to students. 



These are only a few motivating ticket ideas, but I am sure you have others. Check back for more ways to motivate students through recess, not extra recess, but organized teacher/student games at recess. I mean what student doesn't want to dominate their teacher at a game of four square?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sharing My Love for My Oriental Trading Goodies!

Early in the school year,  I was lucky enough to test out some products from Oriental Trading Company. Honestly, I never really thought to look through their website for back to school supplies before, and never even knew it was something they carried. When browsing the selection I was blown away by the products I wanted needed in my classroom. As a ten-year teacher, I didn't think I needed too much, but to my surprise, my cart filled up quickly. I am always up for trying something new and in all honesty, if I can do something fun and positive to motivate my fourth graders, I am all for it!

A few of my favorite items I chose were jumbo lollipops, mini stamp pens, owl magnets, and planet stress balls. 

I love the planet stress balls as much as my students do! Believe it or not it is mid-October and they are holding up great. I allow my students to borrow a planet if they feel the need to use one, but they must return it before leaving my classroom. Sometimes, students just need to have something in their hands to fidget with while they listen or read and I found these planets perfect for this occasion. Not only are they the perfect size for a child's hand, but are adorable. I can see these being used to create a model of the solar system or even being hung with string from the ceiling for a decoration. Next year, I will order these again, but get a class set.  

The stampers are super fun for correcting papers. At first I was going to use them for Valentine gifts, but I decided to whip them out for motivation on quizzes. The students are allowed to stamp their paper if they score a 3 (standardized grading over here) and they LOVE these stamps. They look like the little conversation hearts that are eaten as candy and even have fun sayings. The stamps come in green, orange, purple, blue, and yellow and are self inking. We have used them A LOT and they are not even running low. I love the ease of these stamps, but do wish they were a little larger!

 Have you seen these magnet owls? They are AMAZING for graphing opinions on a white board. Sometimes for morning work I ask the students a survey question and they have to decide, choose, and vote. Most of the time the first students create the graph and work as a team to make it make sense to the rest of the class (like in our current vote pictured below). Sometimes, I have the students use dry erase markers to write their names on the owl, but other times, I like them to vote autonomously so I can get honest answers. I've had LOADS of compliments on these adorable owls and many teachers have also ordered them for similar ideas. My fourth graders love them and I love that they are working on their graphing skills and interpreting data while having fun! 

My favorite item ordered were the JUMBO lollipops. Look at the smile on this sweet face and that alone could sell the product. I made rainbow birthday tags for each of my students and taped them onto the lollipops. The students receive this lollipop on their birthday or in June (if they have a summer bday). I did get enough for everyone and believe it or not they were all in perfect shape when they arrived. Not ONE crack! I originally wanted to make a giant lollipop bouquet for a decoration, but our school is mouse infested and I didn't think that was a good idea. I have them in a box, in a plastic sealed container, in a closet and they seem to be safe!  I will definitely be purchasing these again next year. I love giving away a special birthday treat and the students really look forward to it! 

So these are some of my great items from Oriental Trading Educator's Catalog and like I said, everything arrived fast and in perfect condition. I will definitely be ordering from them again in the future! I am already scouting out the Thanksgiving and Christmas crafts and gifts for my students!