Butterfly Release

I cannot say I have ever had a year where I have had more critters and animal things in my room than this year. We have been talking about butterflies and working through their life cycle and stages. The kids have been watching so closely to see any changes and check on their butterflies like concerned mother hens.




Today was the day we set them free. Well, most of them.

We took them outside and they got a chance to get a close-up with the magnifying glasses. This was a great way to see the detail on the wings and the body parts.

It was quite muggy today which was perfect because the butterflies were flapping all over their house before we even got across the school parking lot. The majority of the butterflies left but we still have a few reluctant to leave our classroom.

We will try again tomorrow. I don't think the kiddos minded because they were quite sad depressed when I said it was time to set them free. We will see if their enthusiasm persists the second round!!

Thrift Shopping

I always think of the line from Friends when Monica talks about how excited she gets on Saturdays when her People Magazine comes. I usually feel the exact same way when a new teacher catalog comes in the mail. It is so crisp, clean, colorful and just begging to have pages that are dog-eared and scribbled over with WANT THIS or NEED THAT or THIS WOULD BE PERFECT. Unfortunately, my budget could never allow me to buy EVERYTHING I think I need.

But I discovered a solution. Thrift shopping.

This group is working on a Melissa & Doug Space puzzle I purchased from Good Will for $0.99. The shelves also show items I have bought from thrift stores.


I don't know what kind of thrift stores are near your home/school but I have found some of the BEST ones for school manipulatives and supplies is Good Will. These are just a few of the items I have bought over the years for less than $2.00 for my classroom:
  • books (chapter books, picture books, encyclopedias, and so many more!! Almost all of the books for my classroom student library have come from the thrift store.)
  • bins/containers
  • puzzles (I'm talking Melissa and Doug and Leap Frog puzzles)
  • flashcards
  • Games (I have bought everything from Battleship, Operation, Monopoly, Clue, Guess Who to math, science, and literacy games for centers. Many times the pieces are already separated into baggies ready for you to use!! YAY!!)
This group is playing Operation. The sound does NOT work but the light does so it is a WIN WIN for me!! Quiet but fun!

I have found that in order to find something you have to walk into the store with the mindset that you are NOT looking for something in particular. Recently, I have been finding pre-school and kindergarten games and resources for my boys at home. In the last 2 weeks I have gotten about a dozen puzzles and games and spent less than $15. Who can pass up an I SPY puzzle for $0.99?? I mean I cannot walk into the Dollar Store and get that type of quality.

My kiddos did an entire unit on Dinosaurs and we finished money so this was a great way to have them practice their money skills while playing Dinosaur Monopoly at the same time. It is time consuming but they loved it!

So before you fire up the credit card and start ordering things for next year, try hitting up your local thrift stores. The best times are when people are clearing things out for garage sales. (Spring/Fall)
This was a great way to practice building words off of each other. They even got creative with book titles!!

This group is working on a Leap Frog puzzle of the United States.
Here are some shots of my kiddos using some of our games as a reward for the end of the school year. They are thrilled that the games they have stared at all year are finally allowed to be pulled off the shelves!! I would love to hear what you find at bargain prices for your classroom!!
I rescued this Guess Who game from a garage sale. It doesn't hurt to say you are a teacher!!


Chocolate Tank



Here is our 3rd place winner reading about the Chocolate Dirt Bike.
One of our little inventors presenting to the Chocolate Tank Panel.

Have you ever had a really great idea and you wonder if it will play out as perfectly in real life as it did in your head? In my last post, I shared my student's team writing project after our novel study of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When I found the pop-up version on the book I knew I had to come up with something fun to do at the end of the book. Somewhere in the mix, my mom had told me about this show Shark Tank. (I don't know about you but after teaching 23 eight-year-olds then coming home to my own kiddos, I don't actually see new t.v. shows very often!!)

I got the idea that I could take the idea behind Shark Tank (trying to persuade someone to get on board with something you created) and combine that with my novel study...and then the idea for Chocolate Tank was born.

What is Chocolate Tank you ask? Simple.

After we finished our factories, I told the class they were going to be designing their own candy. It had to be an original, never-before-seen creation. Their job was to convince Willy Wonka and a few Oompa-Loompas that their candy should be the next candy coming out of Wonka's Factory.

So, the brainstorming began. Their first task was to draw their prototype. I gave them a sample. I created "Candy Umbrellas" which were made from Twizzlers and candy canes. We had several writing conferences during the stages of their writing with many different versions of a persuasive essay graphic organizer. After about a week of writing and redrafting and a week or so of rehearsals and completing their posters...they were ready.

My principal and our reading and math coach were all on our "panel" and after hitting the Dollar Spot at Target, I grabbed some silly glasses, re-used my plastic top hat, and a sparkly wand. The kids were being judged on several different areas by the panel:
  • creativity
  • eye appeal
  • originality
  • eye contact
  • speaks clearly
  • speaks loudly
  • enthusiasm
The panel asked the Inventors questions before completing their scores.

Each Inventor got a chance to show off their drawings and essay to the audience and panel.

The Oompa-Loompas were waiting for someone to make them laugh. Willy Wonka just wanted to hear how much money these new ideas were going to make.

Thankfully, I had a few extra hands to help add up all the scores behind the scenes while I made sure my kiddos were ready to present. I have to say the morning of the event our rehearsal did not go as smoothly as I had hoped BUT they killed it! I was blown away by their inflections and enthusiasm! They could not have done a better job and made me SO PROUD! Our panel was phenomenal getting our audience (parents) to be actively involved. There were so many times when the entire room was in fits of giggles, cheering, and at one point singing and dancing. Ironically, the song was NOT The Candy Man or any of the Willy Wonka songs.

This was a great way to not only end the unit but the year. We had over a dozen parents arrive in support of our little inventors. It was a very close tie but we ended up with 3 winners: Bad Medicine (a candy that helps gross tasting medicine go down a little easier), Triple Lemon Pac Man (lemonade drops that when added to water create a lemonade that reduces ones thirst), and Candy Dirt Bike (a completely edible dirt bike that even creates hot chocolate when you lick the engine!).

I am so grateful to everyone who came and supported the kids...seeing their faces light up at the sight of their parents made all the word WORTH EVERY MINUTE.

Here's what the set up looked like BEFORE everyone arrived!!

The parents were part of our audience and sat in designated seats.                                                     
Pre-Chocolate Tank photo shoot.
Inventors had VIP seating for the event.

Their team writing factories were proudly on display along one wall.
Our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory anchor charts were hung as extra decoration.

Our panel's table with all their rubrics ready to go!



Wonka's Chocolate Factory Writing Extravaganza

At the end of last summer I came across this amazing 3-D pop up book at my local Ollies. I knew this would be a fantastic unit to use with my class. At $2.99 HOW could I pass that up?! What a DEAL! I started researching on Teachers Pay Teachers.