Easy Foldable Animal Puppets ~ Our Gators!

We made easy, foldable Gator puppets now that the FCAT is over! Our school is the Gators {it just kills the 'Nole in me!} and they ♥loved, ♥loved, ♥loved doing this activity. I usually do it at the beginning of the year and make a different animal each month, it is great for listening skills!

First take a piece of 12 x 18 construction paper, as you can see in the picture, I let them pick green, or girl pink or boy blue...some one picked purple, so we rolled with that idea too! Then fold it into thirds lengthwise {hot dog bun style} then flip it over so the solid side is on the outside. Next fold it in half. Then only take one side and fold that backwards so it will be 1/4th of the length. Pancake flip it completely over and fold the remaining side backward into the 1/4th shape. The students can now put their hands into the top and bottom fold and with no glue, staples or tape, it will hold their hands and become a quick and easy puppet.

Step By Step Directions

Place the 3D eyes on top by cutting a "house shape" with a rounded roof, fold the bottom a little bit and glue it down, easy-cheesy 3D eyes! Then you are good to go with any decorations, teeth with scrapbooking scissors, tongues, hair bows, bow ties, anything they want! I love how they all turn out differently! :)

Later, pink makes a great pig, yellow makes a great duck bill, peach and brown great humans, you will love it & it takes 20 minutes at the most so it makes a great Daily Five activity!

My Class Letters to the Future 3rd Grade Students

Awhile ago my boys and girls wrote letters to the rising, future third graders. I plan to put these into a book and have them on the new student's desks in August. I also did it to share with my buddies, the amazing 4th grade teachers at my school, to give them an idea of what wonderful writers my co-teacher and I are sending them!
We started first with a Thinking Map {which is new to our school & I love!} it was a tree map and they had to pick three things they loved about 3rd grade and three things that were "challenging" to them, but that they overcame as the year progressed. This would help them write two full paragraphs with at least 5 sentences each in the body of the letter. The next day they wrote the letters with very little help. It was also easy to differentiate the lesson for my ESE students because I typed out a template and then they just filled in the blanks of what they loved, etc. I would have had them type them one day in one of our labs, but with co-teaching I'm just not there that many days and did not want to take time away from my co-teacher's really cool end-of-the-year yearbook. So I typed them, but next year the class will do it themselves. I sent home parent permission to publish student work to our classroom blog and posted only the letters with permission. Click here to see most of them...
It was interesting to see what they loved and what they found challenging, here was one of my favorites.

Dear Third Grader
You are going to love 3rd grade. What I loved about 3rd grade is reading, coloring and science. You will like Science because on Fridays you get to do cool stuff. You will like Reading because you get to picture anything in your head. You will like coloring because you get to color cool pictures.
Some things you might find challenging are the FCAT, Math and Spelling. I thought that the FCAT would be difficult at first and I was worried. But a few weeks later I took the FCAT and it really wasn’t that hard. Also, Math is really hard because you have to count, add, subtract and all the other hard stuff. Spelling is so hard, that I can’t even spell very well and I just want to tell you that nobody’s perfect.
I hope you like your new teacher.

But this one was also a favorite because her twist was to make everything she loved, also everything that was challenging! For a 3rd grader, that takes some higher level thinking skills! :)

Dear Third Grader,
You are going to love 3rd grade. What I loved about 3rd grade is FCAT, Reading and Writing. You will like the FCAT because at the beginning you are worried, but by the end of the test, you will think it is as easy as a 1st grade Reading test. You will love Reading because we do the Daily Five and take AR tests on the computer. You will like writing because Mrs. Merrilees and Mrs. Smith are good writers. So when you write with them, you are going to be amazed after you are doing writing.
Some things you might find challenging are the FCAT, Reading and Writing also! I found the FCAT to be difficult because I never took it. I found Reading to be difficult because it was easy, then it was lovely. I found Writing was going to be difficult because I thought it was going to be boring but it was FUN!
I hope you have a wonderful year too!


Easy to Make ~ "Flip Your Card" Behavior Chart

I have always done a "Flip Your Card" behavior program. I feel that it really works, it gives ownership to the student for the inappropriate behavior and the classroom behavior plan is not just the teacher yelling all the time, which NEVER works! Green is the best, at our school it is a "Gator Day" since we are the Gators! Then blue, yellow and red. I allow my students to "earn it back" when they have to flip their card, if they show improvement they may move back to green. This helps with individual behavior plans too. Some kids can work for an hour and then move back to green, other students may need more immediate rewards & consequences. If you have a child with impulse control, once he calms down you might want to move him back to green because he showed an improvement in self-control immediately...next time the melt down wouldn't last too long, hopefully to the point that there will be no more melt downs...you get the idea! :)
Everyday the behavior goes home to mom and dad, in my room green means $5 for the treasure box, which I'll make another post about, blue is $4, etc. It goes home daily for the parents to sign. Some teachers just send home a green magic marker dot on a calendar ~ as long as you let your parents know your plan at the start of they year, they will know what to look for in the daily folder or agenda. What I like about this system is if the parents are supporting you at home, usually the kids will work extra hard to earn back to green each day. If you have no parental support, it still helps with the student seeing immediate consequences & rewards....by September, I rarely have students flipping cards and my classroom is running so nicely!
I think I found this great idea to make a new type of "Flip Your Card" chart at Sunny Days in Second Grade's blog. My daughter and I ran right over to Home Depot to get the paint sample cards, this brand not only had nice colors, but had a little hole already punched in the corner and plastic rings available. The idea is to match up the different colors in your house, but it works PERFECT for a flip your card chart. They are hard, colorful and durable. I DID ASK the paint people if I could have 20 of each color for school and they were even kind enough to suggest I take 22 of the rings! But you could also get the Walt Disney paint samples that look like Mickey Mouse ears, use a hole punch and buy some cheap plastic rings if you store doesn't have them. I hope you can use this idea, enjoy!


The Daily Five & CAFE Downloads!

I want to start posting on the Daily Five, CAFE & how much I love it and also use it for math...but everytime I start to post the ADHD kicks in and I start reading other people's blogs....you have to head over to Second Grade is Splendid ~ Ms. Durning has shared some wonderful things about the Daily Five as well as some of her own downloadable documents...if you want to learn more about it...head on over there and tell her Fern sent you! :)

TPT's Web Site's Home Page

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Fern-Smiths-Classroom-IdeasIt really, really, really made my night last night when I opened up an email from one of my little blog friends in South Florida...she saw me on the MEET section ON THE HOME PAGE!!! and sent the picture! You have to visit her site, I've been doing this over 22 years and I learn something new from her site weekly!!

Go follow her because right now she is part of a BIG CONTEST and she is also giving away an item to everyone before May 20th {$5 and under disclaimer!} Follow her ~ you will be so glad that you did! :)

Is End of the School Year Behavior Getting You Down?

Here's my trick for great behavior during the Spring when it seems like every kid in every grade has Senioritis! I don't give candy as a reward ALL YEAR! I give a "salary" that they can spend in the treasure box and I will post about that in a later post. Then, when things get really, really, really crazy at the end of the year, I start walking around with one M&M or one Skittle....you would think I had given them GOLD! It's all in the presentation, I will walk around during Daily Five/Centers and say, "Look how this group is living up to their expectations." Plunk, one teeny, tiny M&M...cheap for me, but THEY LOVE IT! So far my Spring is going well! :) Then closer to the end it might be 2 M&Ms or even if they stop saying Thank You, the first person who says Thank You might "Hit the Jackpot" and get 10!! Yes 10 Skittles!! 10 whole, cheap as dirt Skittles ~ their behavior will be amazing! :) What's wonderful now is that by using coupons, I have been able to get a lot of M&Ms and Skittles for next to nothing during the after Easter sales! :)
This did not work for my 2 1/2 years in Texas because we couldn't give food, so I just used glitter stickers....just find something your students like and then save it for the end of the year only!
At the end of the school day, your children should go home exhausted because they've worked so hard, you should not be exhausted! I hope this helps!

Completely FREE Last Minute Mother's Day Gift!

Completely FREE Last Minute Mother's Day Gift!
Mother's Day Bookmark!
Well, it's that time of year ~ Let's plant cute little plants that will grow and thrive for an adorable Mother's Day Gift! 

Our plants not only died, they died a quick, painful death! I know some of you have been there right? :) So in a pinch we made Mother's Day Bookmark which is not only total and completely free, but the KIDS loved it!!! My pictures are crummy because I was taking them on the playground, but if you need a quickie idea, here is a Mother's Day Bookmark! 

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