Wednesday, May 25, 2016

10 Must-Do Ideas for End of School Year Ceremony

Before the Ceremony

1.  Wiggle Worms:  All children get a little wiggly when it comes to sitting for a lengthy period of time.  Promise a handful of gummy worms after the ceremony and tell them to wiggly the worms into their mouths!

2.  Independent Activity:  Students need an independent, quiet activity while you are gathering last minute materials or you are all waiting to be called to the auditorium.   Here are some great ways to motivate students and keep them engaged while you run around making sure everything is ready!

a.  Memory or Reflection Activities 

Ideas the can easily be written on the board:

    *  Favorite memory of the year.
    *  Write to next year's class and tell them what to expect.
        (This works well to place on the bare bulletin board at the beginning of the year!)
    *  Create a list of favorite things:
        (subject, sport, friends, special area, outside school activity, food, color, music, etc.)
    *  What do you want to be when you grow up?
    *  What do you think you will do when you graduate high school?
(I like to do this one and keep them!  When my fourth graders graduate from high school,  I send them a graduation card with this in it!  Kids AND parents LOVE it!  I include my email and address in the card and their responses are priceless!

b.  Free Brainteasing Task Cards

    *  Idioms
    *  Analogies
    *  Guess the number
    *  Brainteaser questions
    *  Hidden meaning
    *  How many words can you make out of summer?

During the Ceremony

3.  Photo Slideshow:   Dig through all the pictures you took throughout the year.  Place them on a photo slideshow.  Play it either before and after the ceremony with music.  Or have it running during the ceremony.

A selection of music to play:

    *  The Time of My Life:  David Cook
    *  Hero:  Mariah Carey
    *  Good Riddance (Time of Your Life):  Green Day
    *  Beautiful Day:  U2
    *  Happy:  Pharrel Williams
    *  Just the Way You Are:  Bruno Mars
    *  What a Wonderful World:  Louis Armstrong
    *  It's My Life:  Jon Bon Jovi
    *  Fly Like an Eagle:  Steve Miller Band

4.  Awards:   Academic, perfect attendance, and end of grade awards are staples to be given at the ceremony, but each child should get a personal award to reflect their year in your class.  Make it fun by holding your own ceremony in your classroom to give out a personal award to each student!

These are unique awards where each student is given a famous person award.  There is a description of why the student got that person's award AND a quote from the famous person.  Super Cute!  There is a color version, black and white, and a version where you can place your student's picture in to make it even more personal.

5.  Poem to Students:  After a whole year with your precious babies, let them (and their parents) know how much they mean to you.   It is time to get sentimental!

Copy this and fill in the blanks!

What About Me?

I'm proud of all the strides you've made,
And now you are ready to move onto _______ grade.

You are probably saying, "The end is finally near!"
And I see how much you've grown this year.

I thank your parents for being there the whole year through,
My job was easier because they supported you.

You've become writers, scientists, mathematicians, and more,
Your eagle wings are ready for you to soar!

It is now time to send you off on your way,
But do you ever wonder what happens to me at the end of the day?

After the hugs and graduation handshake,
I sit down exhausted and look forward to a summer break.

I reflect on how much you touched my heart in many ways,
I only hope that you remember me and your _____ grade days.

I will always cherish you and keep you close to my heart,
And give you never ending well wishes while we are apart.

I hope that some day you will come back to visit me,
We will share your news and remember how it used to be.

After the Ceremony

6.  Ice cream Bar:
There are cute ideas on Pinterest like diploma cookies and graduation cap cupcakes, My favorite is an ice cream buffet! Get big tubs of ice-cream, some waffle bowls, and tons of ingredients to top off the cool delicious dessert!

Use signup genius to list ingredients and ask parents for help!

Ideas for ingredients:   

    *  strawberries
    *  rasberries
    *  chocolate and strawberry syrup
    *  caramel
    *  bananas
    *  oreo crumbles
    *  Reese pieces
    *  marshmallows
    *  cereals like Rice Krispies or Cheerios
    *  graham cracker crumbles
    *  gummy bears
    *  Sour Patch Kids
    *  whipped cream
    *  sprinkles

7.  Dance Party:  
Since the kids have to sit still during the ceremony, promise them a dance party afterwards!  Put on some fun music and let them dance!   Even if you do it for 10 minutes, they will thank you!

Idea:  Occasionally turn off the music and they need to freeze.  Turn it back on and they start again.  Fun!

8.  Autographs:  Give the students time to get each other's autographs!

    *  Have students bring in a T-shirt
    *  Include it as part of a memory book
    *  Give them a beach ball

9.  Gifts for Students:
    *  Letter to students-  Write a nice little note to your students.
        Idea:  Include your address.  Tell them that you will write to them over the summer and ask them to reply!

    *  Flash drive of music played throughout the year.

    *  A framed class picture.

Creative Ideas:
    *  Frisbee- This year flew by!
    *  Popsicle- Have a cool summer!
    *  Bubbles- You blew me away this year!
    *  Ball-  This year has been a ball!
    *  Kool-Aid-  Have a Kool summer!
    *  Candy-  You made this year sweet!
    *  Cookie-  You are one smart cookie!
    *  Chalk-  Chalk it up to a great year!

10.  Letter to Parents:  Send a sweet note to parents thanking them for sharing their children and trusting you with them.  Include some ideas for summer reading!

I hope you found some ideas to help your ceremony be a success!

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

5 Reasons to Love Task Cards {FREEBIE!}

Are you a huge fan of task cards, too? I believe it was about 4 years ago when I was introduced to them. I was coteaching in a 3rd grade classroom, and when I stepped into that classroom one day, I observed kids scattered throughout the room, each quietly working with a laminated card of some sort. I was so impressed at how engaged each student was with his or her card. I quickly learned that students were reading the card, performing the task (making inferences was the focus skill for this set, so students were reading a short passage and then answering an inference question), and then recording their answer on another full sheet of paper. When they were finished with the card, they moved on to another card that they hadn't yet completed. From that day forward, I was hooked!

5 reasons why I love using task cards in the upper elementary classroom. This blog post contains a set of FREE nonfiction text feature task cards!

I love task cards for so many reasons, but this brief list touches on my top 5 reasons for using them regularly with students.

1.  They are more engaging than worksheets. Glancing at a worksheet full of passages or problems can be intimidating. With task cards, there is usually just one item to answer on each card, which is much less overwhelming to some of our students! Furthermore, task cards are often more colorful than worksheets.

2.  They are versatile. I usually use the entire set at once, but I have been known to also use isolated task cards for exit tickets and bellringers, to grab one and read it to my students as they are standing in line, or even as Test Prep Jeopardy questions!

3.  They get students up and moving. When using the entire set, I like to spread the cards across the classroom, and have students move from card to card until they have completed all of the task cards. We all know how beneficial it can be to allow students to leave their seats and start moving!

4.  They make valuable formative assessments. Occasionally, I assign only the even-numbered cards. When students are done, I glance through the recording sheets and jot down which students really seemed to struggle with determining the correct answer independently. This information tells me who I need to work with in small groups, and I use the odd-numbered cards with that small group of students.

5.  They allow for differentiation. There are so many options for differentiation. You can have students work with a partner, students can work at their own pace, or you can shorten the assignment for some students.

One of the first times I used a set of task cards with a group of 5th graders, we corrected them together. When we finished discussing the answers, one of the boys announced in a matter-of-fact voice, "it looks like the B's won." My first reaction was this thought: Must you be so competitive? Not a second later, though, I realized, Hey! I think he's on to something! I should try to create an answer sheet that is set up to see which letter "wins"!

And that is how I came up with the idea of creating "gamelike" recording sheets for the majority of my multiple choice task cards. As you can see, students complete the task cards like normal, but at the very end, they tally their A answers, B answers, C answers and D answers to determine which letter "won"! Download this free version if you wish to try out a set of these with your own students. (Just click HERE or on the image.)

Nonfiction Text Teature task cards... FREE!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DIY Math Manipulatives

Math manipulatives are expensive, especially if you are on a budget!  I took a trip to the local dollar store and for under $30, I was able to create an entire class set of nine different manipulatives!  Here is what I used:  Self-adhesive foam sheets, 1 package of foam cubes, and...... that's it!  Yep, that's it!

While you can use the non self-adhesive foam sheets, I personally like to use the self-adhesive.  This way if I choose to use a template, I can easily attach the template to the foam sheets and then easily cut my manipulatives.  

DIY Dice

I love these for a number of reasons.  First, they came in a package of 30 for one dollar.  Second, who wouldn't love a classroom set of dice that can't be heard????  These cubes can serve multiple purposes.  Create the traditional die, a die with numbers, fractions, or operation symbols.  You name it, you can make it!

DIY Colored Tiles

Colored tiles can be made with these foam sheets by simply cutting squares.  I happened to have a circle punch, so I cut my tiles using this fancy tool.  

DIY Place Value Disk

Like the colored tiles, these place value disks were cut using my circle punch.  Then, using a permanent marker I color coded the disks according to place value.

DIY Number Tiles

This is where the adhesive sheets and the template comes in handy, but isn't necessary.  I'm a little bit of a perfectionist, so I wanted my numbers to be nice and neat.  I printed the template, adhered it to the back of the foam sheet, and then cut out the numbers.  

DIY Pattern Blocks

To create the pattern blocks, a template was used.  Once again not necessary, but it ensured that the polygons were regular polygons.  

DIY Tangram Pieces

These tangram pieces were created using a template. 

DIY Fraction Bars

These fraction bars were also created using a template.  Using a template for the bars was extremely important, because they needed to depict wholes, halves, thirds, fourths, fifths, etc., accurately in order for them to teach fractions correctly.  


You can grab the templates mentioned above HERE.  

These are just a handful of manipulatives that can be created using these foam sheets and cubes.  I'm sure there are many other uses for these that the creative teacher in you can put to use!