Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer Time!

Today was our last day of school!  One day longer than we thought, thanks to Old Man Winter.  If you've been following me, you know we moved into a brand new school this winter, which is awesome!  We greatly enjoyed the new building and all the new technology.  This last week, I have totally loved the cabinets and shelving!  Never have I gotten packed up and put away so quickly.  Each day I would put a little more away.  By today there wasn't much left to do.  Now I will also admit that after purging with each move, there was a little less to put away.  But you guys know all the stuff we teachers have no matter how much we go through stuff.

Now of course, as the school year ends, teachers' minds involuntarily start thinking of next year.  We just can't help it.  So I've decided on a monkey/jungle theme.  And I big thank you in advance to Krista Wallden of Creative Clips, Scrappin Doodles, and Melonheadz for all their cute monkey graphics.  I will be working on all sorts of monkey stuff for my room over the summer so be sure to check in frequently.

For now, I've started with behavior management sticker chart/punch cards.  At our new school we have tables.  No more desks so no more desk tags.  There isn't room on the tables for regular size desk tags, so I had to improvise this year.  I ended up using their sticker charts as their name tags.  So I have made new sticker charts for next year, with a nice space in the middle for the kids' names.  These charts would also work well as punch cards since the sticker spaces are all along the outside edges.

For a limited time, these cute little charts will be FREE on my Teacher's Pay Teachers store.  Here's to a great summer.


Friday, May 08, 2015


Have you visited the website Wordle,net?  Wordle creates word clouds with word you or your kids can enter.  One the the things I love about it is the ability to customize the colors, fonts, and layouts. You can save the Wordle as a PNG file or print it.  

I have used Wordle in the past to create word clouds to use with my class.  I would frequently use these word clouds as introductions to a lesson or as activators to get them thinking.  This year I began having the kids make their own!  And they are loving it!

Our first project was an activity that combined our units on the moon and poetry.  We read a number of poems on the moon including "The Moon" by Robert Lewis Stevenson, and "The Moon Was But a Chin of Gold" by Emily Dickinson.  The kids then worked on writing poems that compared the moon to another object.  Part of this assignment was to create a list of words to describe the moon.

We then went to the computers and  The kids entered their list of words into the "Wordle" create screen.  One of the features I like is being able to make one word larger by typing that word into the list multiple times.  This way we can make 'moon' bigger in the final word cloud.

(Wordle does need Java to run properly so be sure you have it installed before you begin and since it needs Java, it won't work on Google Chrome)

Now comes the fun part!  Creating the Wordle.  Once the kids have all their words in the box, they simply click "GO".  This will create the word cloud.  Then, from the drop down menus, they can change the layout (for some reason it tends to create a vertical word cloud first on a horizontal screen -- confusing for the kids).  They can also change the layout of the words by clicking the "Randomize" button.  In essence this creates a new word cloud with the same words.   The picture on the left is the word cloud that was made after clicking "go."  A few clicks of the randomize button created the one on the right.

Clicking randomize not only changes the position of the words, it also changes the background, the font and the color scheme.  Some kids love this process so much, they will do it forever.

Once they find a layout they like they can move on to changing the fonts and color scheme.  They can do this through the buttons above the word cloud.  They will want to stick with the "font"  and "color" buttons.  The font button is self-explanatory -- it lets them pick a font for their words.  The down side is the font menu doesn't show the true font, so the kids have to apply it each time to see the font, which can be time consuming for those kids who want to see every choice!

And finally, picking a color palette.  I showed my second graders how to create their own palette.  On the drop down menu, they simply go down to "Edit Custom Palette."  This will bring up tons of color choices from which they can pick four.

Now that the Wordle is complete it is time to save or print it, or as we did...both. You can print right from the screen or you can click "Save as PNG"  Be sure when they save, they keep the PNG at the end.  I discovered the hard way when they all renamed their projects and deleted the PNG ending.  It will save but not in that format.

And then it was May with Mother's Day fast approaching.  We decided to create a Wordle for our mom's.  Before getting to the computers, They created a list of words about their moms so they would be ready to type.  They were such hard workers getting those word clouds just perfect for their moms. After printing them, the kids then glued them into construction paper cards and decorated the cards. They loved them, and I'm sure the moms will too!


Saturday, February 07, 2015

Valentines Fun at Home

Somehow Valentines Day always sneaks up on me. Maybe because it is toward the beginning of February (I know, I know, it is smack dab in the middle but it feels like the beginning!) Or maybe because it is just after the end of the marking period and I am not thinking ahead yet. Anyway, like I said it always sneaks up on me and then I have to scramble to get my class party ready and things ready for my daughter too. This year, instead of doing store bought Valentines as she has always wanted to do in the past, we went crafty. I can't say where I first saw it, but I tracked down the directions on Pinterest (where else?), she thought it was cool, and off we went. I had almost everything I needed. Well, I had lots of crayons.
All I needed now was a heart shaped cookie sheet, which I was luckily able to find at Michaels.
Next step, peeling and breaking up all those crayons. Sorry, forgot to take a picture of that step. We used mostly reds, pinks, and purples with some blues and yellows thrown in too. I filled the bottom of each heart with broken crayons and then put the tray in the oven at 250 for about eight minutes until all the crayons had melted, but hadn't blended all together. I took them out and let them cool and then placed them in the refrigerator. Once they cooled, they had shrunk just enough to come right out. They look pretty cool!
Last step was to create the cards. We picked frames from Ashley Hughes and graphics from Creative Clips to make the cards. I was thinking "Color your heart out Valentine" but K decided she wanted to hand write each message so we left the middle blank and she filled them in.
One more reason I love these Valentines... they are food free. My daughter comes home every Halloween and Valentine's Day with bunches of candy, none of which she can eat because of severe peanut and tree nut allergies. These great little Valentines are a wonderful cute alternative that are sugar free, calorie free, and full of creative opportunities! And now on to figuring out a craft for my own class's party. I have my idea. Let's see if it works. Hugs, Heather