Saturday, May 21, 2016

End of the Year Gifts

I am writing you with an empty box of Kleenexes next to me because I had to say good-bye to my 25 favorite people yesterday. Our last day of school was fun and full of laughs and tears.  This class was a special group for me, they are wonderful kids with bright futures ahead of them. I wanted to get them a little something for the end of the year, and keep it on the cheaper end.

This was a two part gift, I got each kid a dry erase board and marker. I went to Lowes and bought one sheet of shower board and had them cut it into 25 even boards. It was very inexpensive because all I needed was one board, and Lowes will cut it for free! I ordered the markers in bulk off of Amazon. I wanted to attach the markers to the board, so I bought really cute, sparkly washi tape form Target!

The second part of my gift was my favorite! My resource teacher gave me this idea. On Monday, I had everyone sit on the carpet in a circle and they needed a clip board and a piece of paper. They wrote their name at the top of the paper. The class' job was write something they either liked, enjoyed, admired, or loved about the person whose name was at the top of the paper. We then passed around the clipboards until everyone, including me, had a chance to write about every class member. I stopped the rotating right before it got back to the owner because I didn't want anyone to see what was written about them until I typed it up.

I made a quick template on my computer and typed up all the amazing things said about each and every one of my students. My heart was full after typing all of them up. The beauty of this part, it was completely FREE! :)

The final product was printed out on AstroBights and laminated for each student! If you would like this template, feel free to email me at!

On our last day, I put all of the parts and pieces together and had their gifts on their desks when they walked in. They were so excited to see what people wrote about them, they have never been that focused on something that early in the morning! 

Bonus! My students had the great idea of making the back of their new white boards like a mini yearbook, so we each went around and signed our names on the back of everyone's board, how genius is that idea? I love how creative my kids are!

I hope that this gives you a fun way to personalize end of the year gifts without breaking the bank!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Marshmallow Toothpick Bridges & FREEBIE!

End of the year craziness is in full force! Field trips here, convocations there, y'all know the drill. I wanted to come up with something that would keep my kids engaged for longer than most convocations with fifth graders do, if you know what I am sayin'. 

So, I made my own twist on the classic marshmallow toothpick bridge. Students were going to build a bridge to go across two kleenex boxes using only toothpicks and marshmallows. Set up was easy-peasy. All I bought was four bags of mini marshmallows and toothpicks, all from my favorite store, TARGET! :)

I broke my class up into 8 teams and they worked together to build a suspension bridge. They had to first discuss and decide on a design for their bridge. 

Once they drew up their plans, they were handed their marshmallows and toothpicks and begin engineering and building their bridges. Each group was different and unique. Hearing them talk while they built their bridges was the best part. They were able to go over and make sure their bridge was long enough to rest on each kleenex box. I did not allow them to test their bridges with the coins. 

Once we cleaned up the stickiness that the marshmallows became, which was a MESS, it was time to test out these very creative bridges. 

My literacy specialist popped in and actually got a picture of me in the middle of our bridge testing! (Weird seeing myself on my phone without it being a selfie!)

Of course, this couldn't be a successful activity without the content. Students definitely used their STEM brains, but I also used this activity to review some of the math skills we learned this year! After we recorded all of the data on the board, it was time for the students to analyze the data by finding the mean, median, mode of the number of pennies held by each bridge. 

This was such a fun activity for the end of the year! If you want to give it a try in your classroom, click HERE to get the student book I used for this activity in my TPT store!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Lego Racecars!

The end of the year is upon us, and what a crazy, fun time of the year it is! Being a fifth grade teacher can be really tough, knowing I won't be able to see my students the next school year. I am soaking up every minute with them! I was inspired (once again) by Hope King. I wanted to have my students engaged in a multi-day math activity that reviewed a lot of the skills we learned this year. Being form Indianapolis, the Indy 500 is right around the corner, so why not have our own mini Indy 500!

The set up was overall pretty simple. I based my track on the one Hope posted on her Instagram (thank you for the tips on how to make it!). I went to Lowes and got all the materials I needed to make the track, it cost all of about $25 for it. Super easy, it was foam insulation board and pipe wrap! Other than the board, I needed to get Legos, and decorations which all came from Party City!

Day #1 is where the fun began! I welcomed my students to the Nora International Speedway and explained how the next 3 days would work. I wanted a quick way to partner them up, so I created cards with the numbers 1-12 on them and when they drew their number they found their partners for the activity. Easy peasy! 

Once they were partnered off, they were handed a bag of Legos with no other instructions and needed to make a lego car they would use for time trials on Tuesday. Other than Legos, they could use balloons and pipe cleaners. They were given no instructions on how to make it, this is where the magic happened.  We had a lot of different cars being built with a lot of teamwork. The entire first day was building and rebuilding their cars.

Day #2, TIME TRIALS DAY! The pit crew was busy making their final tweaks to their cars before they raced them on the track for the first time. On this day, each of the 12 teams raced their cars 4 times and in between each trial, they were able to make changes to help their cars go faster. I called them up team by team to race once then go back and make changes, while the time trials were happening, everyone else was working on their cars. Once they were done with their time trials, they were to analyze their teams data by finding the mean, median, mode, and range. 

Day #3, it's RACE DAY! With the sounds of the Indy 500 race cars welcoming them into the classroom Speedway! 

Two different things happened on Race Day:

1. Each team had 3 runs, each timed, for data collecting.
2. Race time! We had 3 heats to get our final four, then the checkered flag waved!

For the data collecting piece, students recorded every team's time for the data analyzing they would be asked to do after the race.

When all of the times had been recorded, the timer was put away and the races began! I had predicted on the heats and what teams would be in each. The winner of each heat would compete in the finals! My room was loud and the cheers and chants made multiple people stop into my room to see what was going on! The winner won by a landslide.

I wish I could show the faces of my students! The one at the top pretty much says it all!
As soon as the checkered flag waved, students began analyzing the data by answering three questions I had prepared for the students. This part required them to use many skills we learned in fifth grade,

-mean, median, mode, range
-adding and subtracting decimals
-ordering decimals

This was a wonderful three days full of STEM thinking and creativity!