Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Easy & Fun Mother's Day Art Projects

Problem: Some years Mother's Day just sneaks up on you and you need a great project fast and with supplies on hand. Other years you want to have the students make a gift that will be kept and remembered.
Project 1- No prep, easy doodled handprint with watercolor background for the front of a card. Inside the card is a Report Card on Mom. On the back of the card is babysitter information if mom wants to hang the card on the refrigerator.
Project 2: Same doodle handprint taken to the next level! Shrinky Dink it and make into a keychain for mom! Recreate the famous Picasso flower bouquet with the key chain attached. Inside the card has the Report Card for Mom and the back has babysitter information.
On a year you have time to order the supplies, allow 3-5 days, and the funds (about .30 a child) do the fun keychain! I order enough supplies for at least two years.Other years you have all the templates ready for the handprint card!
My students loved the project! I brought in the toaster over and we had a blast! The key chains turned out great!

Available at Teachers Pay Teachers:

Friday, April 25, 2014

New Store Name Celebration Freebie: Screen Free Week Brag Tags & Contract

4th Grade 4ever is now Thank a Teacher! We changed our store name to reflect our love of teaching and teachers! Celebrate with us this weekend with our latest Freebie: Screen Free Week Brag tags. Follow us if you liked this freebie!

Problem: We all know too much screen time for kids is bad. But screens have invaded every inch of children's lives--from the classroom to the home to the car to the checkout line at the grocery store. Time spent glued to a screen is time NOT interacting with others or the real world around them.  (Of course, we don't have this problem ourselves...)

Solution: Next week is National Screen-Free Week. Thousands of schools are participating in the effort to turn off the electronics...for one whole week. It may feel like a year...but by Friday maybe we will all be weaned a bit from our screens.

We needed accountability and rewards for the kids to make this event succeessful. So we created "Screen-Free" Brag Tags to celebrate each day our students go without their devices and an activity log to track what kids do with their "found" hours.

Results: Results aren't in yet, but we hope our students gain three objectives:

                1) Recognize how much time is sucked away by meaningless screen time.

                2) Recognize that most screen time is meaningless!

                3) Find that the real world is more fun, more interactive, and more meaningful than any virtual world out there...no matter how good the graphics.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Organizing Task Cards

Problem: I love task cards from Teachers Pay Teachers but I am always looking for them, sorting them, or reprinting lost ones.

Soution: Coupon Holders! I got these cute coupon holders from the $1 section at Target. They even have labels. I labeled the outside by subject and each envelope holds about four sets comfortably.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Freebie: Technology Contracts for School and Home

Freebie- Technology Contracts for School and Home
Problem: Kids are fearless with technology. That alone should strike fear in the hearts of teachers and parents alike! As much as we try to monitor their usage, often they are doing things we have never heard of...both good and bad. Often our children are navigating a "smart" new world without concrete guidelines, oversight (they hide stuff!) or a healthy skepticism.
In the classroom, kids may treat equipment carelessly, engage in too-casual communication for academics and even "surf" in dangerous waters.

At home the pitfalls are more extreme. From illegal downloading, to falling for scams, inviting viruses and sharing private information publically, the list grows with technology advances.
Solution: We developed two simple contracts for kids -one for home and one for school. Each point is meant to stimulate discussion. The typical response of "I didn’t know!" will no longer cut it.

For teachers we have also created a "Digital Citizenship I Have...Who Has? Game. This fast paced review covers:
Password Safety
Cyber Bullying
Safety Tips
And More!

You can find this game at our Teachers Pay Teachers Store:

Result: Classroom tech time is much smoother! You are fulfilling a federal guideline for all districts that receive e-rates for internet, which is pretty much everyone, that teachers teach digital citizenship and at home you could prevent some serious problems by having this conversation.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Freebie-Testing Brag Tags

I love to use brag tags in my classroom to motivate and celebrate my students! I'm offering my Testing Brag Tags as a freebie for the month of April.

If you like my work please follow me at:


Freebie Testing Brag Tags

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to Take 4th Graders on an Overnight Field Trip

Have you ever considered doing something your students will never forget?
Something that they will write you letters about years later?
Then take your students somewhere they have never been!

I have taken 4th grade groups for over 16 years to Sacramento, CA. from San Diego. We fly up, visit the Capitol, Sutter's Fort, RR Museum, Old School House and have free time. We have a great dinner and stay at a nice hotel. Day 2 we head out to the mountains for experiencing real gold mines and panning for gold in the same place that history was made in California. We fly home that night.

I have to do this trip during Spring Break due to my district regulations. These are a few of my tips:

1. Use a travel company to make the travel arrangements. I work with Travel Teens and wouldn't do the trip without them.
2. Don't take on fundraising, let the parents do that if that is what they choose.
3. The trip is expensive so not everyone will go. I plan a school trip for everyone so they don't feel left out.
4. Charge a bit extra to either fund a student or supplement your classroom materials. I don't get paid to go on Spring Break so the class room supply money really helps buy ink, books, and lots of other supplies not provided by my school.
5. Just do it! Each year gets better and better.