Getting the Most Out of Scholastic Book Orders

Saturday, September 16, 2017 / Leave a Comment
If you are not using Scholastic Book Club Orders in your are missing out on TONS of free books!!  I'm pretty sure 95% of my classroom library is all from Scholastic.

Quick Explanation if you've never used it:
Students/Parents shop paper flyers or place orders online.  Teacher gets bonus points for each dollar spent, plus Scholastic runs specials each month to earn even more!  Teachers use bonus points for free books and classroom materials.
Check out their website for more details and if you're new to Scholastic, you can use my information when you sign up to get 250 bonus points!

Enlist Parent Volunteers

Scholastic will send you multiple flyers to send home and separating them can be a pain!  So I now send home the flyers with instructions for a parent to put them together for me!

I create a little flyer to attach to the front of the student flyers with information so parents can remember the website and our class code.

Get Kids Excited

Definitely the first time you send home the flyers, you need to drum up a lot of excitement!  I have my students create a wishlist!  This is to hopefully encourage more purchases because September usually has the best bonus point specials!

Celebrate the Book Box Arrival

I usually open the book box after school to sort through the books so I can make sure students get the correct books they ordered.  I go ahead and label the free books with how I organize my class library.  Then I put them back in the box and set a time to "open" the box in front of the class!!

This is another way to get kids excited about reading!!  I have a special place in our library to put the new books!

And if there are any super popular books, I will sometimes even raffle them off!

I definitely suggest you make it a priority to do Scholastic book orders once a month!  Even if you don't have a lot of participation, you can purchase books at great prices yourself and you can save those bonus points!  It's totally worth it!!

Back to School STEM with Fred the Worm Extension Activities

Monday, September 4, 2017 / 2 comments
Hello darlings!  Amy here from That Teaching Spark and can I just say I am soooo excited that you found this page!  I am super pumped about these Back to School activities and I think they are going to rock your socks off!!

Most of you have heard of Save Fred, you know the cute little team building activity where kiddos have to put a gummy worm into a gummy ring with only using paperclips. If you are like, "Huhhhh????" don't worry I will explain further!!  Anyway, I want to shake the hand of the person who came up with this many moons ago!  There are now tons of different versions out there on the interwebs.  LOL!

Since my kiddos almost pass out from the excitement of this STEM Challenge, I decided to do what any good teacher would do- take advantage and milk that puppy for all it's worth!!  SOOOOO.... I created three more activities that require kiddos to help poor Fred the Worm!!

I call it The Misadventures of Fred! I tied in some Social Studies with this as well.  Students can follow Fred's Misadventures on a map of the US!  I included a backstory for Fred that explains that he wants to go see the world.  Students follow him as he makes his way across the United States on four misadventures.


Misadventure 1: Save Fred

Fred decided to try whitewater rafting on the Eagle River in Colorado and his raft tipped over!  His life vest slipped off and now Fred is stuck on top of the capsized raft!  He needs to gets his life vest because he can’t swim!  He’s a worm for goodness sake, not a fish!

Fred the Worm is on top of the cup and the life vest is under the cup.  Students can only use two paperclips to put the life vest onto Fred.  They cannot use their hands to touch anything but the paper clips!


Misadventure 2: Safe Landing for Fred

Fred caught another ride and headed southwest to Arizona.  He climbed to the top of a mountain to see the desert below. Now he is trapped on top of Superstition Mountain in Arizona and he needs to get down to the ground to his campsite. How on earth can he get down safety without going splat on the ground below? Watch out for cacti! 

Students must create a transportation device to bring Fred safety to the ground.  They can use any materials that you provide!


Misadventure 3: Bridge for Fred

Finally Fred started heading east to the Midwest.  Fred is now trying to cross the Mississippi River from Missouri to Illinois, but he can’t find a way across.  Build him a bridge as long as you possibly can so he can make it across the River!

Students get one sheet of paper and must build the longest chain link bridge that they can. 

Misadventure 4: Keep Fred Dry

Fred made it all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in Norfolk, Virginia! He wants to go in the ocean but he knows the salt water would hurt him.  He has to go all the way under the water in his makeshift submarine (a cup he found on the beach).  Humans shouldn’t litter!  

Students must submerge Fred in a cup without getting him wet!  This is tricky!

This is Challenging!

My students absolutely LOVE these STEM adventures!  Before we complete each challenge, we talk about teamwork and that everyone needs a chance to participate.  We also talk about frustration level.  These tasks are meant to be hard and frustrating!  They are challenging!  It isn't going to work with just ONE try! We have to use perseverance and rely on our teammates for help.  

These activities are perfect for the beginning of the year because it allows you to set the tone with growth mindset and teamwork.  You will be able to tell students' personalities VERY quickly with these challenges!

Misadventures Journal

If you want students to brainstorm and to evaluate their challenges, I have created a Misadventures of Fred Journal.  This also includes a materials list for you and helpful tips and tricks for helping your kiddos through each STEM challenge.  Remember, it is ok for your kiddos to fail!  They need to learn how to work through failure as well!  This year all but one of my groups was able to Save Fred.  It was an AWESOME learning experience in perseverance and learning though failure!  They weren't able to do it YET! 

Have a FANTASTIC year!  I'd love to see picture of your students completing these activities!  If you have an Instagram page or Facebook page, tag That Teaching Spark!

Place Value Videos and Songs

Sunday, August 20, 2017 / 1 comment

Place value songs and videos are a great way to engage your students!

I really loved to use videos and songs to introduce math concepts. They can be really engaging and just never know exactly what will stick with each student.  A lot of times it just may be that song that they keep hearing in their head all about place value (well, you can hope that it is)!

One site that I used a lot was Scholastic Study Jams.  This is a great site to find informative mini lesson videos, games and songs about different Science and Math topics. My students always loved working with Study Jams!

Scholastic Study Jams has a few Place Value topics available:
Place Value
Order Whole Numbers
Number Lines
Estimate Whole Numbers
Expanded Notation

If you're looking for songs to introduce or help students understand place value here are some songs that you and your students might like:
Mr. Peter's Classroom - great for older elementary lessons and songs

Place value centers that are perfect for 3rd grade!

If you're looking for some place value practice for your kiddos, these Place Value Math Centers might be great for you! They have a fun Trolls theme that you can use anytime in the year.  Also, make sure you grab my Place Value Center freebie too!

Place value songs and videos are a great way to engage your students!

How to Prep for Departmentalizing

Friday, August 11, 2017 / 1 comment
This year will bring about a BIG change for me! I've always been in a self-contained classroom-- until now! I took up a new position this year, and it just happens to be in a departmentalized 3rd grade! There will be 3 of us: Math, Reading, and Science/Social Studies.

I decided I better do some quality research-- and go right to other teachers who have been in my shoes! After asking for tips on the All About 3rd Grade Facebook group-- I've come up with a list of my favorite ideas!

1) Assign a color to each group-- and use those colors religiously. So, I will be teaching math, and I purchased a rolling cart, 3 dish buckets from Walmart, and 3 rolls of duct tape. I labeled each bucket with teacher names and used different colors: Navy, teal, and green (I was trying to stay in my classroom theme colors)
Also, when I label things for the students (like interactive notebooks), I can quickly put duct tape on the spine and recognize the class color! The students will keep their math notebooks in my room (less traveling = less headache)

2) What if the rotation is super long (90 min)? Keep this in mind:
"Make sure you take breaks to get the kids up and moving. We do random dancing. Sometimes we dance going to get our supplies for the following subject" (Katie Elliott)

3) Stay in touch with your teammates all day, every day. Before you begin-- be sure you've talked about the following:

  • How will we discipline? 
  • How will we contact parents?
  • What is everyone's routines for cleaning up or rotating?
  • How can we track behavior?
  • What are everyone's classroom rules? Should they be similar?
  • How will students keep track of their materials?
  • What materials should they bring EVERY day?
  • What materials will stay behind?
  • How will we track unfinished work or missing assignments?
  • Will we give homework?
4) Students aren't always the most responsible (say what?) until we teach them to be more mindful-- and many things can be lost in the shuffle between room. Geneva Pemberton recommends, "The less they carry to each class the better it is. Try to store things in the room where they will use them."

5) But how will I know what's happening in other classrooms? I know-- as teachers we hardly get breaks to just talk to each other see how the day is going. Oftentimes I won't see a fellow teacher until the end of the day! I LOVE this idea from Shelly Parker-Finch! 

"We pass a clip board around with the 3 classes where we write missing homework, bathroom breaks, behavior problems, etc. That way the next teacher/homeroom teacher has an idea of what is going on with each student. Also works as a record for parents to see how many times someone had a missing assignment or behavior."

I thought this was such a great idea-- I made a freebie on my TPT page for you to use! 
I recommend typing student names (instead of writing them every day) and then making several copies of the finished logs for the month (copy them in your class color-- of course!) so you can be ready to go every day! I plan to copy mine on blue and put on a clipboard-- then I'll make sure my "teacher helper" carries it from class to class for me!

6) This last one is very important (in fact, I think every teacher needs to remember this) and comes from Robbie Ann, "Remember they are 'our kids', not 'yours and mine' ".

If you have any advice I've missed-- please share in the comments below! I hope you have a great school year!

Welcoming Parents Into Your Room

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 / 1 comment
I don't know about all of you, but I know that building relationships with my students is my number one priority! I LOVE working with my students and making sure that they know how much I appreciate each of them!  Along with students, we get another set of people though, their parents!

Setting up to meet the parents is just as important as setting up to meet your students for the first time. Meeting the parents is a great way to build the relationship with parents.

Setting up a time to meet parents, before school starts, or after it has begun is very important.  These parents are entrusting their children into your hands and they want to know who you are.  I have always had a night where the parents have been invited to my classroom so they can meet me, learn a little bit more about our school year, and then check out our classroom as well.

Having a welcome sign on the board when students first come in is a great way to welcome parents to your room.

Right when parents walk in they will see this sign on the board! I LOVE that it matches our class decor and it makes sure that they are in the correct location.  My team teacher and I do welcome night together, so that way parents can get to know both of us at the same time. They enjoy it because then they are able to learn about how we are going to transition their children. While we have them there we make sure to go over our year plan, big projects we are going to work on, and the curriculum we teach.  We make sure that the parents understand what our expectations are, and how we are going to help their children transition to become more independent.

Having a photo booth with props is a great thing for parents to do during your meet the teacher.  Then you can print the pictures and give to students on the first day of school.

After you're done going over everything you want to tell parents, I love having them go out to our photo booth and take their pictures.  Then I sedt it to a one hour photo so I could pick them up on my way home and give the pictures to their children on the first day of school! I have special signs that parents could use and cards that parents could write to go with their picture as well.  This was a great way to show the parents that they are an important part of our community, and that we wanted to help build the relationships between all of us.

Having a photo booth is a fun way to show off how your students grow! You can take their picture on the first day of school, and then again near the end of the year! Parents will love seeing how their children grow.

After parents use the photo booth the next day I have the students use the photo booth! I save all of these pictures for the end of the year when I am able to give to parents so they can see how their children grew over the year!

You can find the sign that we leave out next to all of our other welcome papers here. I put this out with a box of mints so that the parents have a snack while we are talking. What are some things that you do when you meet parents?  Do you have a meet the parent night before school starts or after?

How to Set Up Classroom Routines & Procedures

Saturday, July 15, 2017 / Leave a Comment
One of the biggest things that can make or break a classroom are the routines and procedures.  I love a routine and students to do.  But many students don't know exactly what you expect from them unless you show them.

How to set up classroom routines and procedures in 3rd grade!

What exactly are routines & procedures?  Routines are the things your students will do over and over again.  Procedures are the steps your students need to take in order to accomplish a routine.

3rd Grade Websites I Can't Live Without

Thursday, July 6, 2017 / 1 comment
Hello darlings!  Amy here from That Teaching Spark!  If you are like me, you use some semblance of technology in your classroom.  You might be 1:1 with each student having a device or you may have access to a few devices for your entire class!

I'm lucky enough to have a class set of chrome carts to share with my grade level of five teachers.  We rotate the chrome books around to each other.  I also have four devices that I use for math rotations every day!  I have to admit, I would be lost without them!

There are so many amazing websites and resources out there!  I asked all of you in the All About 3rd Grade Facebook Group, to share the websites you use on a daily basis.  I have reviews those websites and have included the ones most often recommended in this All About 3rd Grade Symbaloo. A Symbaloo is simply a bookmarking site.  You can copy and paste this link on your classroom website, Google Classroom, or other learning platform for your students. Then students can click the icon to take them to the recommended page.

Most websites that I included are free or at least allow for a free version with less bells and whistles.

Here are 3 of My Favs

1.  Epic 

Epic is perfect for sharing books on your projector. It has over hundreds of popular books!  They have some books read aloud but I really like it for the nonfiction and collections that it offers.  You can even create quizzes for your students. Watch this video for a little overview. 

2.  Prodigy Play Math Prep
My kiddos use Prodigy everyday in math rotations.  I can assign them any standard I want and it will create questions for them.  This is what students see. They create little avatar wizards and then battle through lands that they unlock.  They even earn pets that can have powers!  They unlock and earn power ups by answering question correctly.  You can assign the skills or have the game do it for you!

In this video, I explain how to assign test prep, but it is the same directions for other assignments. 

3. Go Formative

This is a new website for me!  I am super excited to try it next year!
  • create online assessments, classwork or homework 
  • connects seamlessly with Google Classroom
  • create a class & track student data
  • students can type, draw or upload images
  • get LIVE results & give instant feedback to your students
  • very easy to use
  • FREE & PAPERLESS for both teachers and students
Check out the video for a sneak peek on how it works!

Join us in the All About 3rd Grade Facebook Group to learn more amazing tips like this!

Simple Summer Science: Explore the Scientific Method with Lollipops!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Have fun this summer and explore the scientific method with a lollipop science experiment!

It's officially summer here (and I hope it is where you are too)! I'm trying to keep my own kids busy this summer, like many of you, so I decided some simple summer science experiments could be a super fun way to pass the time and sneak in learning {sorry kids- your mom's a teacher!}.  My own children are younger, so I used this experiment as a great way to introduce a basic scientific method and show them how you can conduct an experiment.

This would also be a really fun way to show review or introduce your students to the scientific method!  I know I usually started my year discussing this is science, since it's so important and some years, third grade was my kiddo's first time having to do an independent science project. I used Scholastic Study Jams a lot in science and math.  So, I often used this jam with my students before we did our experiment.

On to the experiment! All you need are clear cups, lollipops (I used Dum Dums), hot water, room temperature water and ice water. Our question was "What kind of water will the lollipop dissolve in the fastest?" We made our hypothesis based on things we already know. My son said he thought regular room temperature water, then he changed his mind and said hot water since M&M's melt in your hand because it's hot (he's thinking!).  Next, we conducted the experiment. We put half a cup of each water temperature in a cup and then put one blue lollipop in the cups. We started a timer and observed.

Have fun this summer and explore the scientific method with a lollipop science experiment!

We learned that the hot water dissolved the lollipop the fastest (in 10 minutes and 40 seconds)!
Of course, doing an experiment like this with my class, we would record each step of the scientific method as we went along. I have this fun Scientific Method Flip Book FREEBIE for you to use with your students (or your own kids). This can be used with any experiment of your choice!
Happy Summer!

Use this Scientific Method Flip Book FREEBIE to guide your students with ANY experiment!

Have fun this summer and explore the scientific method with a lollipop science experiment!

10 Money Saving Hacks for Teachers!

Saturday, June 10, 2017 / 3 comments

Hello fellow teachers! It's Anna from Hanging with Mrs. Hulsey! During the summer I like to plan ahead and get some things ready for next year! I thought I'd share with you some money saving ideas-- since we tend to spend our own money on our classrooms! So here we go!

1. Invest in an HP instant ink printer!
Now-- I know what you're thinking-- I already have a printer. But, if it's not HP instant ink compatible-- you are wasting your money! Basically, with this program you pay a monthly fee to print a certain amount of COLORED pages! The plans include:
     *50 pages for $2.99
     *100 pages for $4.99
     *300 pages for $9.99
They even let your unused pages rollover to the next month! You can change your plan anytime. The best part? They read your ink info and mail you new cartridges-- and you NEVER run out of ink! 
Finding an HP instant ink printer is easy-- just search Amazon for one. Or go to a store and purchase one there (make sure it says HP instant ink on it!) After you purchase your printer go HERE to sign up. You can also search online for promo codes for free months of ink. Here is one for 1 month of ink. Sometimes the printers even come with a code! Choose your plan, set up your payment, and print away! Definitely saved me hundreds in ink alone! 

2. If you purchase on TPT-- leave feedback for credit! 
It sounds silly-- but you'd be surprised how many people DON'T leave feedback on items they purchase. Essentially for every item you purchase and leave feedback on-- you get FREE credits that you can apply toward future purchases. Simple log in-- click on your TPT name, find "my purchases", change the sort by button to "needs feedback", and you are ready to go!
Still not sure how to do this? Here is another easy tutorial (with pics) to help you out!

3. Join local yard sale sites on Facebook
Last year I wanted to start flexible seating-- but I didn't have a lot of money or places for the kids to sit. I joined several yard sale sites on Facebook and scanned for furniture or cheaper items. Sometimes people will lower their prices or donate if they find out you are a teacher! I got this dining room table for only $20! I was stoked!

4. Buy things in bulk!
I know sometimes this isn't always an option-- but for some items it is! I love Amazon because it will show price changes in items-- so I usually put my favorites on a wishlist and keep an eye out! My favorite things to buy from there? These giant boxes of glue sticks and packs of Astrobright paper!
You can't beat those prices!

5. Copy on bright paper instead of using colored ink!
Using HP instant ink is great for printing out classroom decor and such-- but when you make copies for your students its a lot easier and cheaper to copy things onto Astrobright paper! I usually copy things like interactive notebook pages or classroom reward coupons onto bright paper! It makes it look amazing!

6. Shop at the dollar store!
We can't always afford the items at Lakeshore-- though we wish we could! Lately places like Target (dollar spot) and Dollar Tree have some amazing storage items in fabulous colors! Last year Target had a great deal on book boxes!

Dollar Tree also has great stuff-- one of my favorite purchases have been these water bottles (which I gave as student gifts last year) and these face scrubbers (which I use for dry erase boards):

7. Reuse or re-purpose items!
I know teachers tend to be pack rats (I am also guilty of this!). But some items can genuinely be reused! I love following other teachers on Instagram and Facebook and seeing great ideas! For example, Amber from TGIF had these great tips to use picture frames and plastic bags over again!

8. Know and use your teacher discounts!
Did you know many stores give teacher discounts? I wasn't aware of how many until I read through this giant list! Now I use my discount every time I shop in Michaels and Barnes & Noble! Be sure to read the list-- it's giant!

9. Use fabric or tablecloths on bulletin boards!
I love this hack because if you aren't changing rooms or themes, you can leave the fabric background up all year and it will not fade! That will save you a lot of time and money in the long run! Here are 2 examples from my room-- one was striped fabric and the other was burlap! I may go all burlap this year since it goes with everything!
I've also seen teachers purchase cheap tablecloths (hello Dollar Tree!) and use those as backgrounds!

10. Utilize Donor's Choose (or ask for donations)!
Summertime is the perfect time to think about Donor's Choose! You can set up a fund for whatever you need in the classroom! I've done 2 different projects-- one for flexible seating and one for books. Both projects were funded. I know other teachers use it for supplies, professional development opportunities, goods off Teachers pay Teachers, etc.

It's free. Use it. People want to donate and help!

Also, don't be afraid to ask for donations. Need pizza boxes for a project? Ask a local pizza chain-- they may be willing to donate! Need coffee cups? Ask a Starbucks-- I've heard of them donating! If you don't ask, you'll never know!

What is your favorite way to save money? Leave a comment if you get a chance!
I know it's hard-- especially because we only want the best for our students-- but don't forget to save a little for yourself! I hope this list helped you out!
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