Saturday, May 30, 2015

Count Down to Father's Day: Book Recommendations and a FREEBIE

Hi All.
It's Amber from School is a Happy Place.  Although I'm on summer break, I know many of you will still be in school for a few more weeks and are thinking about what to do for Father's Day.  In preparation for Father's Day, I'd love to share some favorite dad themed read alouds.  A few of these books may already be in your library and others may be new titles that you will want to check out.

Here's a rundown of what these Dad books are about...


Because I'm Your Dad is by Ahmet Zappa.  The adorable illustrations in this book tell about the fun relationship between the dad and his little monster.

My Dad Thinks He's Funny by Katrina Germein is a creatively illustrated book that plays up the so-bad-they're-funny jokes that many dads love to share with their kids.

A Perfect Father's Day by Eve Bunting follows Susie as she makes her dad feel special on Father's Day.

How to Surprise a Dad is a delightful book by Jean Reagan (the author of How to Babysit a Grandpa).  This book is full of tips of how to surprise a dad.  In the end the kids are able to surprise dad with a birthday party.

Daddy Sat on a Duck (The Daddy Series) is by Scott Cohn.  This book is a great read aloud for students that enjoy potty humor.  Know any kids like that? ;)

Liz Rosenberg's Tyrannosaurus Dad tells the story of what it might be like to have a t rex as a dad and eventually as a hero.

Vader's Little Princess and Darth Vader and Son, by Jeffrey Brown, are humorous accounts of Darth Vader's parenting trials and tribulations.  

Maria Catherine's book Time Together:  Me and Dad is a beautifully illustration book about small moments that children and dads spend together.

Jan and Mike Berenstain's The Berenstain Bears:  We Love Our Dad! is one of many Berenstain Bears books that feature lovable Papa Bear.  In this book, the cubs pour all their energy into spoiling Papa.

Norman Bridwell's Clifford's Day with Dad, Clifford spends a day in the country play, digging, and fetching with his dad.  

Guess How Much I Love You is by Sam McBratney.  This sweet story is about a bunny dad and son expressing how much they truly love each other.

Saturday is Dadurday, by Robin Pulver, is about a young girl spending QT with her dad after baby twins arrive in her family.

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems is one of my very favorite books.  The relationship between Trixie and her daddy is so adorable and true-to-life.

Did you have any idea there were so many great books about dads?  I'd love to know if you have any favorite read alouds that shine the spotlight on dads and their relationships with their children.

If you would like to have your students make their own books for Father's Day, check out my Father's Day mini booklet, My Rad Dad.
Students complete sentences and add their own illustrations to these simple booklets.  They usually turn out super cute.
Click on the picture below for your own FREE copy.

Happy early Father's Day!
As always, thanks so much for stopping by.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Recycling 2.0

I never win classroom competitions.

Sadly~ ever.

I once tried to save box tops for a year+ and asked (nay begged, badgered, demanded) all of my family member, friends, and even not-so-friends to save them with me.

That was the year that we didn’t have a competition… first in the history of the school. What?!

No pizza party for my students.

No ice cream afternoon with sprinkles and a movie!

*sad face*

But that’s all about to change; we have a recycling trophy! Can you believe that my school hasn’t recycled… ever. “Hello 21st century, we are the slow pokes that throw away paper- in the garbage!” We may as well forego other recent inventions electricity and plumbing, too!


Back to me winning. I have a bit of a competitive streak. I actually won’t play cards at the in-law’s holiday parties. WON’T.

So when it comes to something I have a shot at—like a recycling trophy—I’m all in!

I have devised a plan. First watch the recycling bin like a beefy bouncer at the hottest nightclub in the biggest coolest city. That was okay for about .5 seconds until I realized I teach 6 year-olds. They can’t go for more than .6 seconds without me which is both charming and totally-um…. you know… not-so-charming.

So I devised a NEW PLAN! This is actually working!

One very hot, humid, almost 100 degree mid-August day, I very delicately crafted a designer-quality cover for my recycling bin. Okay, I made 2 cardboard flaps. The flaps are for the custodial staff; when you flip the can, the flaps stay attached and the stuff comes out. You know, like flaps do.

But when the flaps are closed, they make a small rectangular slit that only allows paper-like substances to go through! I was inspired by the public-friendly version at the airport. You know the kind- round for cans, rectangle for paper.

To top it off (literally), I added pictures of things that are allowed and not allowed.

So far, not a single used tissue, not one string cheese wrapper, not even a snack baggie has gone into our recycle bin!!!

Recycling award~ HERE I COME!

However, the competition is both rigged (each class gets the darn award for a week), and canceled (because apparently we know how to recycle well enough now).

Oh well… happy very early Earth Day!
At least the environment wins!

Happy Recycling!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Volunteer Gift Ideas and FREEBIE Thank You Tags!

 With the school year winding down for many of us, it's time to start thinking of ways to THANK your classroom volunteers for helping to make it such a great year. Maybe you are looking for some fresh gift-giving ideas. If so, I'm pretty sure this post is one you will enjoy!

Hi there friends! 
It's Jeannine from Creative Lesson Cafe.

I'm here today to share ideas for some fun, thoughtful and EASY gifts your volunteers will really appreciate (and a little FREEBIE too). 

If there is one thing I am good at... it's shopping! :) 
I've been on the hunt for my own special gifts that won't cost a bundle, but something my volunteers will really LOVE. Mostly, I just think about what I would like and hope they will too!!!

I visited Target, Hallmark, Walmart and Bath and Body Works for ideas. Take a peek at the rest of these finds, then read on to see how they might just be the PERFECT gifts!

After searching around on Pinterest and other places, I found some really cute themes for volunteer appreciation. 

Here they are... with a few gift ideas for each one:

  • Burt's Bees Products
  • Bee Household Items
  • Bigby Gift Card
  • Anything with Honey
  • Flowers

  • Garden Gloves
  • Hand Lotion
  • Hand Soap
  • Gift Certificate for a Manicure
  • Nail Polish
  • Candy
  • Baked Goods
  • Gift Card: Dairy Queen or Orange Leaf
  • Sweet Fragrance Items
  • Cookie Bouquet
  • Sweet Tea

  • Stationery Set
  • Personalized Notepad
  • Blank Cards
  • Pencil/Pen Set
  • Recipe Cards and Box
  • Planner
  • Plant/ Hanging Basket
  • Vase
  • Garden Tools/ Planting Kit
  • Flower Sugar Cookie
  • Floral Themed Household Items
  • Bouquet
  • Flower Jewelry
  • Floral Patterned Scarf
  • Lemonade/Drink Mixes
  • Tumbler
  • Fruity Lip Balm
  • Citrus Candle 
  • Facial Mask
  • Cooling Eye Mask
  • Cutting Board/ Bar Items
  • Sangria Mix
  • Mug
  • Starbucks Card
  • Specialty Coffee Beans
  • Cold Coffee Drinks
  • Candle
  • Body Lotion
  • Room Spray
  • Body Spray
  • Shower Gel
  • Diffusers
  • Wallflowers
  • Pitcher
  • Beverage Mixes
  • Outdoor Tableware
  • Picnic Items
  • Mason Jar Beverage Dispenser

No matter what your budget is... I bet your parent helpers would be thrilled to get any of these gifts! Some of these suggestions might even be great for your teaching partners as an end-of-the-year present.

No gift would be complete without a cute little TAG, so I made these Volunteer Thank You Gift Tags to share with all of you! They include each of the themes listed above.

Sometimes, we have MANY volunteers to thank like at a volunteer tea or luncheon. These black and white tags may be just what you need for an occasion like that! They can be copied on Astrobright paper or cardstock.

You can get cutesy and tie them on with a ribbon or just tape them on your gift or gift bag.

THANKS to all of YOU for joining me for this post at Primary Powers today.

Click {here} to download the freebie tags.
 Hope you like them!

For more ideas, including some REALLY inexpensive  ones, check out my Pinterest Board.

Feel free to Pin away here too and SAVE these ideas for when you need them!

Have a great finish to the school year everyone!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Walk the Plank!

Hey everyone!  It's Aimee from Primarily Speaking.
I'm popping in today to share one of my favorite partner math games with you! It's an oldie, but goodie. You know, one of those ideas that's passed on from teacher to teacher over the years (which is how I learned about it).  It's called Walk the Plank.  Cool name, right?  Not only does it have a great name, but it is easy to set up and the kids love, love, love it!  It is a great way to help students reinforce and practice their addition facts.  And, it gives them more practice with following rules and working with others.  Win, win!

For this partner game you will need some paint sticks. I sent my hubby to Lowe's one day and they gave him about 10 (for free...even though he didn't buy any paint).  Nice!  Number each stick as shown.

I recommend using the longer paint sticks.  My first set was made with the shorter ones and while they did the job, the numbers were really squished together.

You will also need some number cubes to match the numbers on your plank.  Mine are numbered 5 through 10.  I used blank wooden cubes and simply numbered them with a Sharpie. Easy peasy!  To play, the students will need two number cubes.

As you can see, the two players will also need some linking cubes. Each player places an individual cube next to each of the numbers on the plank.  They will need 11 linking cubes each. Note: you could use any small object as a game piece.

To play, Player 1 rolls the number cubes and adds their two numbers together.  So, let's say that Player 1 (yellow cubes) rolls a 6 and a 7.  They would add these numbers together and get a sum of 13.  Player 1 would then take the cube next to the number 13 on Player 2's side (purple cubes).  That's what the kids love. They get to take the other player's game pieces!

Play continues in this fashion until one player collects all of the other player's cubes.  It starts getting tricky near the end because the students only have a few numbers left on the plank and they can't control what they roll.  But, guess what, each time they roll they are practicing their math facts. They are learning without even realizing it.  It's the best!!

The numbers shown above work for my second graders, but maybe you'd like to differentiate.  Go for it!  You can label your plank and cubes with whatever numbers you want!  You could also use dice and number your plank from 2 to 12.

Have fun!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Coin Cones!

It's all about the money, money, money!
That's what we've been singing all week in first grade!
It has been all about the money!
Hammering home coin identification is a tough one.
With money it seems like kids either get it or they don't.
Fingers crossed more get it, than don't!
I wonder if because we use debit cards so much more now 
and kids have less exposure to money at home. 
Just my two cents- no pun intended.
Driving to school this morning, 
which is my favorite thinking spot, 
I was thinking about ice cream!
I was also thinking about how my kiddos
needed a Fun Friday craft activity
as well as some additional money practice.
Then this deliciousness was born!
The set up is easy peasy.
Copy scoop template onto a variety of colored paper.
You need 4 scoops per student.
Copy cone template onto brown.
Copy table of coins onto regular printer paper.
Then away the kids go!
Here are the directions I gave.
1. Color all the coins the correct color 
on the sprinkles sheet. 
Sidebar- we call them jimmies here in Massachusetts.
2. Color the rest of the boxes multicolor to resemble sprinkles.
3. Cut out 4 colorful scoops.
4. Cut out 1 cone.
5. Glue scoops on cone.
5. Cut out sprinkles sheet.
6. Glue matching sprinkles onto each scoop.
On the first scoop they had to put the word "penny", 
the pictures of the penny coins, 
the word "one cent" and the symbol for "1 cent".
Then repeat for the nickel, dime and quarter 
down the scoops on the cone. 
I then had them check with me 
before they glued any sprinkles down 
to see that they had everything where it was supposed to be.
 I love when an assessment can be fun and 
makes a cute decoration too!
Such a job perk!

Grab your templates to do this project with your class {here}!
Be sure to visit me at A Burst of First
for more tips, tricks and ideas!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Buddy Classes: Watermelon Memory Books for End of the Year

Are you crazy yet? Tell me, what's on your list? End of year testing, awards ceremonies, documentation to turn in, classrooms to tear down and pack up, files to organize and weed out, cumulative folders to update, not to mention all of the adorable end-of-year projects you've planned.

Yup, we've all been there. Here's another project to add to your list!

One of my fondest memories from being a classroom teacher was working with our buddies. I was an upper grades teacher at the time, and each year I set up a buddy class with one of my good friends who taught first grade! We paired up our kids and met about once a month for my kids to teach the first graders how to do something or to complete a thematic activity.

At the end of the year, we wanted our kids to take some time to think about their great memories. I put together this little watermelon memory book for our kids to work on!

Each child made their own. The responses to the prompts were adorable.

They wrote about memories with their buddies,

what they wanted to remember about third grade,

 and what their favorite subject was.

Apparently, our marshmallow snowmen at Christmas were a big hit.

They wrote about what they really wanted to remember about third grade, which for many, was their buddy. Awww, how sweet.

What do you do to have students reflect on their year?

You can grab the watermelon memory book here at TPT!