Top Teacher Tools from Five Below

Thursday, December 29, 2016
{Five Below} is a store that is similar to Dollar Tree. Instead of everything being $1.00, everything they carry is $5.00 and below! (Five Below-get it?!) There are not very many {locations}, but they do have a website! The nearest one to me is about an hour away, but it is well worth the trip! Here are my top teacher finds from Five Below. It is such a fun store! 
1. Memory Foam Mats
These mats are probably supposed to be used in some college dorm bathroom. They are soft, and so comfy...but are amazing to write on! These mats can be a fun change in the word work practice routine. They just swipe clean after the word is written. No other items are needed, just the mat and fingers! 
The same goes for these fun "mermaid" pillows! These smaller pillows would be great for PK and K rooms for letter and number practice too. 

2. HUGE Dice
These dice are HUGE! (I mean, check out my arm!) This dice specifically is like a Magic 8 ball. It has yeses and nos. It has a maybe and a try again later. I use this dice for those questions kids ask and it really doesn't matter either way! "Can I read in the hall?" Usually I don't care one bit! I do sometimes get annoyed being asked, and say no anyway... Now the kiddo asking can just roll the dice, and we can let the dice speak! This is a fun way to help make decisions! 
There are also number dice. Obviously these are great for math groups or math activities, but have you ever tried them for whole or small group reading?! Assign each number a category.
1. girls
2. boys
3. tie shoes (any kid with tie shoes on has to read)
4. Teacher (they love having a teacher category)
5. Blonde Hair (any kid with blonde hair has to read)
6. Short Sleeves (any kid with short sleeves on has to read)
You can make the categories whatever you want! They roll the dice, and those students who fit the category read the passage, paragraph, or sentence together! 
3. Emojis
Oh those silly faces! I love Emojis as much as my students! Five Below has a whole Emoji section!
Hello Treasure Box! But my favorite thing I found in this section was large Emoji stickers! These are perfect for papers or just handing out at random for classroom management!
I love that they have letters too! This can be used to make a fun word work game!

4. Camping Light
How many of you have seen {Lucky Little Learners' Camp Read-a-Lot}? Kids would love to get under a cabinet, desk, or inside a tent to read with these LED lights! LED also lasts (or is supposed to) a LONG time! 
There are also SO many decorative, fun pillows for kids to use around the classroom. Cuddle up with a pillow, a book, and a camping light! Minutes of entertainment! HA!

6. Ice Trays
For holiday's, I like to make crayons for my kiddos from ice tray molds! Peel the crayons and break them into smaller pieces. Put the pieces in the trays. I use aluminum foil on a cookie tray and then put the ice trays on those to catch spilling. Heat your oven to 350, and leave them in for about 20 minutes. Once they are all melty, carefully take them out and let them cool completely! When you bust them out, you have multicolored crayons in fun shapes! Cheap and super easy gifts are totally my favorite.  
7. Baskets
There is such a variety of basket sizes at Five Below. There are also separated organizers too! They have my favorite blue/green color, but you can always spray paint them too!



These are only $5.00 and really last! I have 5 that I use in my own room and they have been perfect all year so far! Some stores also have purple and pink colors! 

9.  If you are one to one or even just have a few iPads, these stylus pens are awesome! We use Google Classroom for so many things. Sometimes I have the kids type, but sometimes I want them to practice writing on the iPads too. They are also great for drawing pictures in apps. Oh did I mention they have the rubbery tip...that is so fun to pick off!? It's nice to find styluses that are cheap and not so painful to replace! 

10. Timers
This timer is one of those sand timers. It lasts two minutes and would be more fun than just the timer on your phone. It's also a great visual of how much time is left!
11. Gummi Candy
This gummy candy is LETTERS!!! Hello making words! 
12. Play-Doh
I use Play-Doh at the beginning of the year to entertain the kids while I deal with school supplies. I also like to make words with the Play-Doh. These are also great gifts for young students. 
13. Where's Waldo
I just LOVE Waldo! This would be a fun way for kids to get to know their new classroom. Find Waldo! Tell where he was and what could do there. This could also be a fun writing activity to use similar to an Elf or Leprechaun. 
14. Bean Boozled
WARNING: These are DISGUSTING. I would not use them in my room...but they sure are entertaining! {Two Teacher Friends} have a writing activity they use with these oh so gross jelly beans.  
I would suggest borrowing other trash cans and placing them in easy to reach locations all around the room before playing! 

Whew! There are just too many good things at Five Below!
-Aimee


Workout While You Work!

Monday, December 12, 2016
I love to fit in my clothes. I won't say I love to workout, but I am a teacher! I cannot afford to buy new clothes all the time, even though I argue the opposite to my husband every chance I get. Between the 26 birthday parties at school and the yummy treats in the lounge, it's hard to make good choices! So I just try to work it off later. In the summer, I am outside CONSTANTLY. I'm moving, sitting, swimming, laying out, whatever I'm doing: I'm doing it outside. 

Now that it is cold, I can't just go outside and move around like I need to. To keep active in the winter,   I got this Surf Shelf from Amazon so I can take my work with me on the treadmill! (Disclaimer: I am not part of the Surf Shelf Company nor do I benefit from blogging about it. I'm sure there are similar products that do the same thing, this is just the one I have!) My laptop sits right on the shelf and a velcro strap helps keep it in place. It looks like it would be too tall, but I am 5'4" and it's perfect! 
I can type, create, and work all while getting my steps in! It keeps my mind from thinking about all the walking/running I'm doing and helps me to not get bored. My husband, who works from home, loves using it for typing his reports too. 
I paid around $35.00 for the Surf Shelf on Amazon, and it is worth every penny! Now I don't have to put my computer down when I need to go workout! The company say they fit on almost all treadmills, and the shelf could also be used for grading, like a table! It is one of my favorite things in the winter to keep me active in this cold weather! 
-Aimee

HUE Animation Studio

Tuesday, November 15, 2016
We got a chance to try out the {Animation Studio from HUE}! I was so excited to get this out in the room. We have so much technology as it is, students are so quick to pick up on anything new I throw in! 
The {HUE Animation Studio} comes with so many ideas for you to try in class and integrate in your classroom! There are also so many "props" included. I was really impressed at the backgrounds, which are in a PDF, for you and the kids to use. The first one we decided to try was the beach background! I just pulled it up on my computer and minimized the video recorder. 
I picked three students to try it out first. I gave them the task of finding an item around the room to help tell a beach story. They decided to use my Cutie! One made eyes and then tried to make a swimsuit with Sharpies...That was interesting to eat at lunch! They placed the orange on a hand to make it a little higher than the icons at the bottom of the computer. 
One was in charge of moving the Cutie, one student was in charge of making sure the camera was positioned right, and the other was in charge of taking the pictures. They decided to make the Cutie walk across the beach and jump into the pool. 
(Keep in mind this was our first try with the Animation Studio. My goal was to see how well my students would be able to use the equipment and create an actual video.)
Shot by shot, that Cutie scurried across the beach!You can see in the very bottom left corner is the screen to take the pictures. The screens are split. The left screen shows the picture you just took. The right screen shows a shadow of the last position you were in so you can make it step by step like the cutie was walking across the beach! It was fun to watch the kids trying to get it so close so the Cutie actually looked like it was walking.
 
We added a little Google Classroom action and the students were making notes about what the Cutie was doing on a Google Doc. Overall this was a great addition to our classroom! Students will be putting together mini animations in no time! 

Pros:
Installation- This was SIMPLE to install! I have installed it on a PC and on a Mac. Both are easy peasy! You can have the {HUE Animation Studio} up and running in no time! 
Engagement- Obviously my students were so excited and interested in creating a short video. 
Integration- Making animations can be integrated in reading (beginning, middle, end, describing plot, etc...) math (telling time, teaching skills to other students to affirm knowledge...) science, or just using their own imagination to create something!  
Accessories- HUE provides you with a book that gives you detailed instructions on things you can create! One of my favorites was the No Handed Eating! There are also a TON of PDF's that provide backgrounds and cut outs. There are also sound effects! They seriously give you all the tools you need to make a successful animation. 
Book of ideas
Cons:
Time- It is time consuming to create a full video. You take a picture, then move your object a little. Take a picture, then move your object a little more. This repeats until you have a few seconds of video. For students to do this in class, I would have to have one group do a project a week instead of letting everyone rotate to use it in one day.
You can get a {HUE Animation Studio} on Amazon, and even better.... they are Prime!

Flipping Second Grade Math

Saturday, October 22, 2016
This year, my teaching partner{Primary Scribbles} and I have started to flip our math program. We were getting a new curriculum, and are now 1:1 with iPads, so what better time to try something else new! 
In a typical classroom, students are taught a new skill and given a small amount of time to practice their new skill. Many times, students don't get that small group teacher time because after the lesson, who has time to meet with five small groups? So they end up with what is supposed to be a few minutes of homework, but according to parents takes 5-7 hours[insert eye roll here]. This is where we decided to challenge ourselves by trying a Flipped Classroom. 

A flipped classroom is one where students do the "homework" at school and the mini lesson at home. Each evening, students have a short video to watch over the new skill we will be practicing the next day. 
Yes, this is at school, we have to practice first! 
My friend Amanda over at the {The Primary Gal} has an awesome video explaining how to make the math videos. They are really so simple! I just use PowerPoint to create the slides, save the PowerPoint as a JPEG, then upload them into my Google Drive.
From there, I use the {Educreations} app to record and annotate on my video!  Educreations makes it so easy to grab the pictures/slides from Google Drive. The last slide is always a practice slide. I have been printing out the last slide and sending it home for my kids to do. I never type directions for the practice slide, I always say them on the recording. This helps me figure out who is really listening and who is not. The funny part about that is the ones who don't do it also don't realize I show them the right answer after I tell them to pause the video! Here is an example of one of my videos.



-Aimee

Wrinkled Heart Activity

Tuesday, August 2, 2016
By far, one of my favorite activities to do at the beginning of the year is the wrinkled heart activity. I start by giving students a print out of a big heart. If I am super prepared, I will cut them out of construction paper, but that was not the case this year! I tell students to draw things they love inside their heart. 
They cut the heart out when they finish. We all get in a circle and share things we love. I extra love this activity because it is an awesome get to know you activity, as well as a kindness lesson. After everyone tells what they love, we wad our hearts up! This usually gets a lot of sad looks or complaints. 
With some pushing, they all wad up their heart. You may have to remind them not to rip their heart because we don't want it to be a broken heart! Then I challenge them to unfold their heart and try to get the wrinkles out. 
     Unable to get the wrinkles out, we talk about how it hurts when someone says something mean to us or makes fun of something we love or enjoy. I tell them it puts a wrinkle in your heart, just like paper.      
     When you have a wrinkle in your heart, they are hard to get out, basically impossible. Throughout the year, I have students telling each other they put a wrinkle in their heart or telling me about someone putting a wrinkle in their heart. I love using this to remind them to be kind to each other and use kind words. It's a wonderful activity to get students to grow together as a class, as well as learn a little about your new kiddos! 
-Aimee

Free Bookmarks for Students

Monday, June 27, 2016

Free Bookmarks for Students
I love starting the year with a fresh bookmark for my kiddos! I have them design their own, then I laminate them! These last the whole rest of the week...
Then they want to attack my post-its!(Scary!) 
Last year I started using all those scraps from my cutting for bookmarks!
There are so many scraps from cutting, especially at the beginning of the year. These thin strips are amazing for bookmarks! 
Some are laminated, some are from colored paper, some are just plain and can be decorated! No buying extra bookmarks, no more worrying about wasting money, and NO more stealing my Post-Its! 
-Aimee

Google Forms: Teacher Teacher, I need you!

Friday, June 10, 2016
Since summer has started, I have a new obsession I MUST tell you about!

Google Forms

 I had never used these before. I have filled out several, but never made my own! Right!? I know, I've been living under a rock...
Well, Pinterest (and the fact that we are going 1:1 next year) finally convinced me to try it out. The first one I made came from my friend Amber at {Peppy Zesty Teacherista}. Then I was hooked! I wanted to make more and more! One I am extra proud of is...
This little guy is going to save me and my students so much hassle. Kids know they are not supposed to talk to me when my princess light is on..but they really want to. Sometimes when there is something you really need to say, you HAVE to say it before you can focus on anything else. I've been there, I like to talk. Now when a kiddo needs to tell something (that isn't bleeding, breathing, or barfing), they can scan the {QR code}(the one in my classroom has a QR code right under the little guy's arm!) and it will take them to a Google Form! 

Here they will have to tell their name, and what they want to tell me. I also think I'm going to add an option where they can tell me if we need to talk about or if it was just so I knew about it. 
These forms are SO easy to change and update. I'm so excited about these!!
I made a super quick video showing you the basics of setting something like this up! 
video
How would you use Google Forms in your classroom?
Next time, I 'll HAVE to tell you what I've got going on Google Forms for progress monitoring!
-Aimee

Kwik Stix

Friday, May 13, 2016
"These are SO cool!"
"WOW! It's already dry Mrs. Rigsby!"
"I can't find the lid."
These are actual quotes from a couple of my students who were lucky enough to paint with our new Kwik Stix! {Kwik Stix} are a new way to paint from The Pencil Grip,Inc!
These paint sticks are virtually mess free!! They require no brushes or water. {Kwik Stix} are the size of a glue stick, which means so are the lids. (See quote 3 above!) These pictures have not been filtered, the colors really are extremely bright. There is no redipping the brush because you get a perfect stroke every time! 
You can color in small areas, like the flower leaves, and you can cover large areas, like the roof! 
My favorite part about these is that they dry almost instantly!!!!! No more lining pages up along the floor to dry and having someone step in it and track the paint all the way to the sink. It's wild how fast it dries!
I love how vibrant the colors are in her picture! The girls loved using {Kwik Stix}! It takes the hassle, the groans, and the mess out of painting in class! And clean up, just put the lid on!
So let me lay this out for you:
Pros of Kwik Stix:
-Quick drying
-No brushes, water, or smocks
-Great for little hands
-Bright, vibrant colors
-FAST clean up
Cons of Kwik Stix:
-Small like a glue stick...and we all know how long those last (because they get lost!), not to mention their lids.
To learn more, check out the video!

Now you have a chance to win your own sets of Kwik Stix! Once you and your kiddos try them, you will be crazy about them for sure! They really are so fun!

Behavior Management: Lego Style

Friday, April 8, 2016
This month has been SOMETHING else! For one of my kiddos, my current behavior management system was failing. It was failing me and the whole class. The time had come to rethink my behavior plan of this student.

Kids love LEGOs!
So I rolled with it!
I used Velcro Dots to attach the stand to the wall!
I wrote down all the subjects that we do through the day. (My original plan was every 30 minutes, but thanks to {The Primary Gal's} suggestion, I don't have to worry about time!) For each subject she has a good attitude(or handles her attitude correctly), gets her work finished (or at least shows real effort), a LEGO is earned. 
She made a book and a bed for the LEGO man!
There are 10 legos to earn. If one is not earned, she has to earn the next TWO pieces. Then she gets the lost piece back.
Awards and Consequences
Each block is a minute of free time on the iPad. If less than seven (out of ten) blocks are earned, then the student gets extra homework.
The student provided the LEGOs and even though this was our first week using them, I think this plan is going to get us through May! Next week, we are going to start building new things with the blocks. I will still use the labeled ones for myself to keep track, but she will be earning blocks that are more fun and that she can actually create models with. Her mom gets credit for creating the stand for her desk.
Command Strips! Genius right!?

Love,
   Aimee
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