Estimation Jar: A lesson in reasonableness

Reasonableness is an important skill to incorporate into your lessons.  One easy way to do this is through an estimation jar.  I have organized estimation jars different ways.

Method #1: Students-in-charge:
  • Star student is in charge of supplying materials to put in our estimation jar.
  • Math Wizard is in charge of supplying materials to put in our estimation jar.
Method #2: Teacher-in-charge:
  • Set up an estimation jar that is part of our bell work.  For a week, I put the same thing in the jar but a different amount each day.  I begin with things that are similar size and shapes like unifix cubes and wooden cubes.  After doing similar shapes for a couple of weeks, I put in something that is smaller, like the small base-10 unit cubes.  We discuss if the unifix cubes is bigger than the base-10 units, on Monday of last week our estimation jar was half full and this week our estimation jar is half full, what would be a reasonable estimate for how many base-10 units are in our jar?  Would there be more or less than last week?  Remember our cubes this week are smaller so will more fit in the same amount of space or less?  What is a reasonable estimate? 

You can easily add a seasonal twist to your estimation jar.  I got these Halloween colored plastic rocks at Hobby Lobby.

Some shapes are more challenging than others.  Do you have a really bright class this year that needs a challenge?  Add feathers to your estimation jar.  They are fun to use at Thanksgiving and they will give your students a challenge.

Are you looking for some new estimation jar lessons?  Click HERE to download my FREE Lesson in a Jar packet.

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.

Using Hand Signals to Avoid Classroom Interruptions

Hi there! It's Jamie from 2nd Grade Stuff! Today I am sharing a very simple tool that you can use in your classroom starting NOW!
2nd Grade Stuff
This tip isn't anything magical or brand spankin' new or revolutionary, but it is definitely one that I wish I would have known my first year teaching. It's one of those things that seems so simple, but perhaps you just haven't taken the time to think about implementing it yet. Well, there's no better time than now! If you aren't using hand signals in your classroom yet, you really should!

Picture this:

You are sitting with your struggling readers at your small group area and you suddenly see a hand go up at the Word Work center, then another hand goes up at the Writing center. You tell your little struggling reader to pause for just a minute and address the two raised hands. One student asks to go to the restroom. You say yes. Another student wants a drink of water. You say not right now. Struggling reader begins to read again. Two minutes later, two more students have their hands in the air, each with requests to sharpen their pencil or leave the room to go to the restroom or to get a drink of water. You ask your struggling reader to pause for another minute, address the two raised hands. The struggling reader has now forgotten where they are in the text. The other students in the small group have lost focus and one student is spinning on his bottom - ha! :)

Now picture this:

You are sitting with the same small group of struggling readers. You see a student raise two fingers in the air at the Word Work center. You know this means "May I use the restroom?" You silently nod to the student while the small group continues to read. Another student raises 3 fingers in the air and you know that this means "May I get a drink of water?" Perhaps this isn't the best time for that or the student has just gotten a drink or had a restroom break, so you silently shake your head no and the student continues working at their center. Your small group is still reading. You didn't have to say a word. You haven't lost anyone's focus and you have no students spinning on their bottom - SCORE! :)

I implement the following hand signals in my classroom and you should too! It's easy, simple, and nothing revolutionary, but such a time saver!

I hope you enjoy this simple and easy tip for avoiding classroom interruptions. For more tips, ideas, freebies, and fun, head on over to my home blog at 2nd Grade Stuff or visit 2nd Grade Stuff on Facebook. Have a great weekend everyone!

Classroom Management With Tickets

Hey everyone!

So last time I chatted here, I had accepted a long term, but now I'm a third grade teacher!!!! Woo hooo!

Complicated story, but I took an already existing class, moved them into a different room and started teaching all in a span of a week! I literally had one evening to get my room ready. Yeah.

I've always thought, "I will have a clip chart or card system." I've seen in done in almost every classroom. Then I read some interesting articles and blog posts this summer that had me thinking. Well before you know it, I have my own class and they are talkers and I knew I had to do something. Another teacher was using a ticket system and their previous teacher had one too.

I decided to stick with that ticket system and it's working really well!

How does it work?  Every morning, my helper of the day (they do all my jobs and it's fabulous only having to remember one person's job!) hands out a ticket to each student. They can get tickets for being on task, getting a compliment, or homework being turned in. They can also get them taken away for bad decisions (they came up with that rule for our class constitution!).

 I was also having a problem with everyone having to use the bathroom at a certain time to avoid work and the tickets came into play with this too.   If I'm teaching and they have to go, they give me a ticket.

They can go before school starts at 7:55, during our break in the morning, after specials at 11:10 or during lunch recess at 12:30, so it's not like they don't have chances to go without giving a ticket. I understand there are special circumstances with kids too, I'm aware of that, so no worries.

You'd be surprised how much they cut down on going to the bathroom when they saw that were rewards for the tickets too. Now, their previous teacher had prizes. I personally don't want to have to shell out money, so the only thing I'd buy would be cool pencils and erasers (worth 5 tickets each). For 10 tickets, they can read aloud to the class or  use special pens and paper for the day. 15 tickets gets them a chance to sit with their friends or charge of our music during writing/brain break time. 20 tickets and they get 10 minutes computer time (I currently have no working computers except my own teacher one) or sitting at my desk.

Over time, I will change out the prizes, but they are happy for now. Some don't realize they can save up (we have an economy lesson in the spring, I hope they learn!) and get a bigger prize. I have a few that do and one is close to 20 tickets because she wants to sit at my desk.

They keep their tickets in a little pouch in their desk. They are responsible for them and are quickly learning to write their names on them too. It's been a great thing, this ticket. They're becoming more responsible and are also using their time more wisely.


Pumpkin Plurals (with a freebie)

Hi everyone! It's Courtney from Swimming into Second. I'm dropping by today to share a little pumpkin freebie with you. This week is pumpkin week in my classroom because we are heading to the pumpkin patch on a field trip on Friday. I am super excited about going, maybe even more than my students!

We've been studying plural nouns this week and for the past few weeks. I'm not sure why most of the different types of nouns start with P (plural, proper, possessive). Can we say perplexing? 

We've been working on all kinds of plurals and I wanted to make it a little bit pumpkin themed so I made this pumpkin worksheet to check that students understand what we learned last week.
Click on the image to download the freebie.

This week, we are learning more about nouns that need -ies, -ves, and all those irregular plurals.

 I remembered that I had this free poster in my store that goes over -ies words.

If you are looking for more pumpkin themed goodies, click here to check out my blog post from yesterday.

Thanks for stopping by!

Making Student Goals with a Freebie

Hi everyone!  It's Angelia from Extra Special Teaching.  I wanted to show you guys how I keep my students invested and involved in their learning by setting weekly academic goals.

For reading, I have 3 weekly assessments that my students take each week.  I always do a cold read fluency on Mondays before students take home their weekly homework fluency and I do a phonics and high frequency assessment on Fridays.  

After I do our cold read on Monday, I fill out this form real quick.

I help my students set reasonable goals based off their past performance and the difficulty of what we're learning this week.  I try to keep the goals reasonable so they can feel some success.  

On Fridays, we fill out the form with their new score and circle whether or not they met their goal.  For each goal they meet, they receive a star for their Super Improver Wall books.

I made a more generic form that you could use with your students.  You can download this freebie by clicking on the picture below.

Happy goal setting!


Fern Smith's Color For Fun Printable Freebies

Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas Color For Fun Printable Freebies 
Color For Fun!
I've started a new series of resources that I would like to share with you. They are for your classroom and/or personal children, Color For Fun. Each resource has over 30 printable pages and are also available in a Four Pack Bundle. 

There are all sorts of things you can do with them other than just print one page.

Pre-K to First Grade
  • Use as morning work or place at a center to work on fine motor skills.
  • Staple one or more pages into your weekly homework packet for a little fun and joy!
  • Use as a quiet winding down activity at the end of a long school day!

Second Grade to Sixth Grade
  • Use as a reward for the weekly homework being turned in.
  • Use on Fun Friday if everyone finished their work, some teachers call it a Ketchup Day {catch up with work}.
  • Staple one page into your weekly homework packet for a little fun and joy!
  • Staple 5 to 10 pages together for a treasure box coloring book.
Possibilities are endless! :)

Each resource has a full page FREEBIE in the Preview at my TPT Store. Click under each picture for the link to try it for free today!

Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas Back to School Fun! Color For Fun Printable Coloring Pages
 Click here to download using the free PREVIEW button.
 Click here to download using the free PREVIEW button.
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas Fall Fun! Autumn Color For Fun Printable Coloring Pages
 Click here to download using the free PREVIEW button.
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas Halloween Fun! Color For Fun Printable Coloring Pages
 Click here to download using the free PREVIEW button.
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas Color For Fun Fall Four Pack of Printable Coloring Pages
 Click here to see the convenience bundle of all four resources.

I'm Fern from Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas, stop by my blog anytime for tips, tricks, resources and freebies for your classroom!
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas AT Owl-ways Be Inspired
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Marshmallow Shooters {Force & Motion} & a Freebie

We are having tons of fun with our new Force & Motion science unit. Today, I wanted to share a little about the Marshmallow Shooters I posted on Instagram. These were inexpensive and easy to make, but provided lots of fun learning opportunities!

Here's what you'll need:

Cups - I've seen others use paper cups, but I chose to use the cheap-o plastic cups. These were easy to cut and a little more sturdy. For added stability, I double stacked the cups for each shooter since there were 80 in my package.

My plan was just to squeeze the cups and cut the bottoms off. Yes, this would have left a little more of a jagged edge, but I have lots of cute duct tape and washi tape to take care of that.

However, Mr. Madden would not hear of it! So, he lovingly used a box cutter to cut the circle bottom out of all 48 cups we were using. #lovethatman

Balloons - Nothing special here. I picked up everything for this project at Target and the balloons in the party section were perfect. Just cut the top tip of the balloon off as seen in the photo below.

Marshmallows - Lots of mini marshmallows. Actually, you won't need too many - one bag was perfect since the marshmallows can be used over and over again.

**You could also use mini pom-poms if you have those at school already. Since they are less dense, they will not "shoot" as far, but that could be a good thing for this lesson. ;)

Here's what you'll do:

Tie a knot in the end of the balloon.Stretch the cut end of the balloon over the top of the cup...the lip of the cup will help hold the balloon in place.

Drop a marshmallow into the cup so that it falls into the little "hole" where the knot is. Pull the knot back, aim, and shoot! That's it!

Beware...these little shooters work better than I expected! My little scientists worked with a partner to use different strengths of force to shoot the marshmallows. Then, they used tape measures to measure the distance of their attempts. They didn't even know they were learning! ;)

When I do this lesson next year, I plan to do it outside so that I can draw "targets" on the sidewalk/pavement. This way students would be encouraged to use different strengths of force to reach the targets (with some being closer and some being farther away).

I would highly recommend this activity if you teach forces and motion. It was definitely a HIT!

Of course, we recorded all of our results in our science notebooks. Here's the cover that I promised some of my IG followers. I use a composition notebook with a tab to divide it - half for math and half for science - but I've included an all-science version, too. I hope you can use it!


Halloween Freebie

Hey peeps!! I found these cute wallpapers and thought I'd put them to good use.  My son was BEGGING for a copy of them!  So, here you go! 

For this activity, the student must read the quote and figure out which picture it matches...a great way to help kids see how quotation marks work.

Also, if you are in need of more sight word phrases (I like to do a different set each week), there are more in my Halloween Pack! Be aware that they do not utilize these same wallpapers though...I don't want any hate mail!  The wallpapers cannot be sold.

Here are a few examples of what they look like.  Just click on the pics below to go download!

Enjoy!!!  P.S.  A mistake was found and corrected!  There is a new link, so be sure to re-download it!


Small Group Must Haves

Hey there everybody! It's Megan from I Teach. What's Your Super Power?  I'm teaching small groups this year, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite small group reading resources (besides lots and lots of books) for my 1st-4th grade groups.
I'm in love with these fluency sets from Stephanie at Falling into First.  We read them and we read them and we read them.  And then one day, they practice by themselves a few times.  Then they read it to me, and I give them a sticker, and the universe is a wonderful place because they got a sticker.  I love first graders.
I also love these sets from Miss DeCarbo.  I'm using this with my first graders now.  I'll use this second resource with them later in the year.

For my second graders, I love this Fry phrases from Shauna's Shop.  You can see some of them in the 1st grade picture laying on the tray.  We practice them as a warm up, but if someone finishes quickly or I'm listening to a student read, they're a perfect grab and practice.  We don't waste a minute around here.
I also love these Text Detectives from Luckey Frog's LilyPad.  She's got a bunch in her store, and I'll be using these all year.

Does your state use paired passages on your reading tests?  Ours does, and they throw the kids off big time.  I bought this book (and the 4th grade one, too) to use with my groups.  I like that the passages are shorter, so we can spend more time thinking about our thinking when answering the questions.

My fourth graders loooove Jen Jones.  They just don't know it.  I bought her Hello 411 sets.  These short articles are great.  We can read and do some comprehension work in one session.  These articles make a perfect fluency reread when we meet again the next time.
You can use the comprehension resources in her Reading to Learn set with any text.  I love these sets from Lakeshore, too, and I can't wait to use her resources with them.

Behind my table are the supplies I use with all my groups.  The whisper phones are a MUST.  I don't care what grade you're teaching, these are awesome.  I was lucky enough to grab these from Lakeshore when they were on sale for $1.99.  I have a stack of dry erase boards and a bucket of dry erase markers and erasers ready to go.  There's also a basket with little tubs of crayons.  I've also got highlighters, glue sticks, scissors, and stetro grips ready to grab as needed.
What are your favorite resources to use with small groups?  I've got a lot of ground to cover this year with my 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders.  I'll take any tips I can get!
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