Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas Icosahedron Art Project

What in the world is an icosahedron you ask? It is a 20 sided 3D shape that makes for a PERFECT Christmas art project. 
A long time ago (9 years) I did this project with a group of students and then forgot all about it. Well this year I wanted to do an art project with my class that could be hung up. 

I searched Pinterest and didn't find any inspiration. How can that be you ask? I know, I know. No inspiration on Pinterest....unheard of. Anyways I pulled out an old box and saw my flattened example of a icosahedron and I knew instantly I wanted my kiddos to make their own.

Here is a look at the finished product!

Materials needed: 
     -materials to color with, scissors, glue stick, string, circle template (see below)

Click here to get a FREE copy of the template.

Step 1: Have students decorate 20 of the circles. Click on the link above for a copy of the template.
They may complain that they have to do 20 of them and that they won't have enough ideas. I alleviated this worry by having the class brainstorm a list of possible things to draw. Each time we worked on the icosahedrons the list was put up. 

I also told them that if they were really stuck they could do 2 of the same design therefore only having to come up with 10 ideas (not one students picked this option).

Tip: Do not cut out any circles until all 20 are colored. I also have my students lightly put their initials on the back of the circles when they cut them out so if they are dropped on the floor they can get back to the rightful owner. 

Step 2: After all 20 circles are decorated, have students cut them out and fold up the sides like the picture shows.

Tip: I let my students use stencils if they wanted to so that students who were self-conscious of their drawing abilities could have fun and be creative.
Step 3: Take 5 of the folder circles and glue (glue sticks work best) the sides together as the picture shows. Once students glue together the last 2 flaps it will pop up to create a half dome shape. This will become the top or the bottom of the final icosahedron.

Do this twice creating 2 separate 5-sided domes.

Students will now have used 10 of their circles.

Tip: Before gluing the top on make sure you attach string through the middle of one of the domes so you can hang it up.

 Step 4: With the remaining 10 circles, have students glue them together to create a long strip like the picture shows.

Step 5: Take the top dome and the long strip. Glue the top flaps of the long strip to the flaps on the dome working your way around the dome circle. To check as you go along, when you are gluing the flaps together you will be creating groups of 5 circles. This may sound confusing right now but it becomes very clear as you are gluing!

Once the top dome is glued to the long strip repeat step 5 with the bottom dome.

When the icosahedron is complete students can hang them up!

I know that Christmas has come and gone and you may not be able to make Christmas icosahedron right now but you can either save this for next year or adapt it to use right now. 

You can have a icosahedron with a different theme; Valentine's Day, Spring, Summer, a unit in Science, or use it for teaching 3-D shapes in Math.



Sunday, 11 November 2012

Brain Science and Remembrance Day

Once again I am finding myself with VERY little time to take care of my blog. I miss blogging a lot but I am swamped with my master's work and running my son around to soccer. Maybe someday I will have a laptop and then I can blog while I am being soccer mom 3 days a week! Wouldn't that be great???? Three blog posts a week. I would be happy if I could get one post every 2 weeks.

Anyways, I have a few spare moments so I thought I would let you know some of the things I used in my classroom this week.
My master's action research project is all about goal setting and students taking ownership for their learning. So far my class has completed the first 6 weeks of my data collecting with no goal setting and this week we had our transition week where I taught them about creating SMART goals. I found a unit on TpT which was almost perfect for what I needed. It has posters and practice activities for creating SMART goals. You can find it here but take note that the meaning she wrote for the R is reason when everything else has it as realistic or relevant. I have emailed to ask for her to include a realistic or relevant poster as well.  She quickly got back to me and said she was going to work on one!

In science we are learning about the human body and we started with the nervous system. My students are loving it! We completed an experiment to see if the brain can learn where students had to be timed completing a 25 piece puzzle. They did the puzzle 4 times and then looked at their time results. Every student but one, had bettered their time. With their partner they discussed what they thought this meant about their brain (that it can learn, that it can memorize things, that it works faster by remembering things if you do them over an over again). We then had a class talk about how this related to school (the more you practice things the better you will remember them). They had so much fun they wanted to be timed doing EVERY puzzle I had.
Continuing with the brain, we watched the video below and then students worked in groups of 3 to create a poster that showed what they learned about the brain. The title of the posters are, How Our Brains Learn. They are still working on the posters but I will be sure to post pictures when they are done because some of them are very creative.

 When we went to watch the YouTube video the computer was acting up and would not download the video quick enough. After being frustrated I called another teacher who showed me how to download the video to my computer and then put it in a Smartboard file so we didn't have to wait for it to download each time! This is now how I will be showing most of my YouTube clips to my students!

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada so we had our school assembly on Friday. It was a short assembly and there were no videos shown. I find that students are really impacted by the videos so I wanted to show them a couple. Here is one:

During snack time I read my students A Bear in War by Stephanie Innes. One student was so moved that she began to cry because she said she was thinking of her great-grandpa.

Before I go I want to share with you a picture I found on Pinterest. Sorry I cannot remember exactly where I found it but when I did I immediately grabbed it and printed it off. I have to remind myself every once in a while when I am feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being a teacher that someone is trusting me with their most precious gift and it is an honor. 

I hope this week coming up is going to be as great as the past week!


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Spooktacular Halloween

I am not sure if I have mentioned this before but I love, love, LOVE Halloween. I love everything about it (well except the amount of candy I eat) from the cute decorations and colours, to the excitement about costumes. OOOHHH and I found some Halloween things at the local dollar store to match my classroom colours (lime green, turquoise, pink, and black.
Since I love Halloween so much it seems that many of my seasonal products are geared towards it. Here are a few of my favourites (a treat is waiting for you at the end):

 Great for students in Grade 4-7 to practice their multiplication facts to 12 x 12!

Do you teach French as a second language? If so, this unit is a fun way to introduce students to Halloween vocabulary!

2 Halloween themed games for your students to practice contractions.  Cute candy corn and pumpkin graphics make this a hit with all students.

A complete Halloween Unit for students in Grades 1-4. Includes everything from word wall signs to Math activities to BINGO games! This 75 page unit is my best selling Halloween product.

Have your students practice their addition facts to 20 with this package. It includes flash cards, games, and 8 practice worksheets!

Get your classroom looking Halloweenie with these 4 different bulletin board borders. A colourful way to spruce up your Halloween displays.

Can you say Trick or Treat? No tricks here, just a treat! Click on the picture to get 2 FREE Halloween worksheets. The first one is a Halloween Scramble and the second one is a Halloween sentence writing activity.

I hope you enjoy Halloween as much as I do:)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Art Makes Me Happy

I am home from work today with no voice. I guess I was talking too much during parent-teacher interviews last night. Well since I have been so busy lately and haven't posted in a while, I thought this would be a great time to catch up.

I love finding new art ideas online so I thought I would share this one that I do with my class at the beginning of every year (it is great for teacher on call work as well).  

MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SHOW STUDENTS AN EXAMPLE OF A FINISHED PRODUCT. It is important that they do not have any idea what they will be making. The main point is to see how they adjust to a challenge. 

Here is how it works:
1.) Give students half a piece of 8 1/2x11 white card stock and 7 different coloured happy face stickers.

2.) Tell students to put the stickers anywhere on their paper.

3.) Once all the stickers are on the paper tell students that they have to create a scene without moving any of the stickers (I have an example for them). The stickers can be people, animals, or bugs. Really they can be anything with a face. I have had students turn them into suns or flowers.  It is interesting to see their faces when they realize where they put the stickers. Some of them are even upside down :) I tell them the whole page has to be part of the scene and that I want colours (no black and white). To add some humour I also tell them they cannot tell me that their picture is 7 people in a snow storm.

4.) When students are finished I give them some tape and let them hang their masterpieces anywhere on the door. 

Here are some pictures of what this years crew did. There are not very many because some students moved to another classroom and a couple are not finished.

This activity helps me assess students persistence with work, especially when they put stickers upside down. It is great for seeing who can adapt to unforeseen circumstances. 

Every year a couple of students cannot handle it and ask to start over because they don't want their stickers where they put them. I always let them start over but I put the stickers on the page for them (none upside down). 

From this year's crew I could quickly see that I needed to focus art lessons on adding details and colouring neatly in one direction. I don't think they were lacking in the creativity department so this is great.

In terms of coloring neatly, they are in grade 4/5 and in my opinion should have neater colouring skills. We just completed a new art project this week that focused specifically on colouring neatly in small areas. I will post this soon. 

Whenever we complete an art project I have students reflect on their work. Actually we are doing a lot of reflecting on all our work this year since I have a group of students who are deep thinkers and have risen to the challenge of wanting to reflect on their progress. Really they are a dream class but I digress. 

Anyways here is a link to the art reflection sheets I have my students complete. 


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Finally done!!!

Well my first week is over and my book bins finally came in. I didn't get my classroom library completely finished until Friday evening (you can see the time in some of the pictures) and then madly took pictures before I had to rush home to make dinner. Ugh (or any other disturbing noise you prefer to make)  making dinner on a Friday evening is not my most favourite task to do. Anyways enough about what I don't like to do on a Friday evening. 

Here are the pictures of my classroom !!! I am so excited to have it completed. After looking at the pictures my classroom looks bigger than it actually is. Well maybe that has to do with the fact that I only have 19 Grade 4/5s this year. Yup you read it right... 19! The perks of working at a school on the outskirts (only a 15 minutes drive ...ssshhhh don't tell the police)  of town. I guess this makes up for having to wake up early to start school earlier than the school in town. Okay, okay I am getting to the pictures.  Warning there are a LOT of pictures.
Here they are :)
Just a reminder of what my room looked like when I first walked into it in August.
And a view when you walk into the room now ! Ahhh much better and brighter:)
Another view. This time from the back right corner.
 View from the front left corner. I love my fluffy turquoise chair form Ashley Furniture Home Store ! And the kids love to read in it !!!

Ok now for come close ups ...

This is the bulletin board that is by my desk. It has our calendar and job chart on it. The blank spots will be filled with students pictures and news throughout the year.
Here is a close up of my jobs chart. I am so in love with it. I got it from the wonderful Bridget who writes the blog Little Lovely Leaders. They come in a rainbow of colours and you can get them here.  As you can see from the picture I don't have names on the clothes pins yet. That is one of my many weekend to-do tasks. I was going through some boxes of old stuff and I found that a long time ago I bought plastic clothes pins and they just happened to match my colour scheme this year. Perfect.

Here is a picture of my classroom library and the much anticipated book bins from Really Good Stuff. I ordered 3 different sets of the large rectangular book baskets. I didn't want the yellow ones that come with the mix and match set so I just ordered 12 of each of the 3 colours I wanted. To go along with them I ordered the basket label holders but printed off my own labels with a black and white polka dot theme to match my room. These labels will be posted soon !
I was super excited (wow I get excited a lot) when I found this pink shag carpet at Walmart and the green basket at Micheal's. The green basket had a chalkboard sign on the front which I printed "Recycling" on for our paper recycling. I am not sure about it though because it has only been 4 days of school and I have rewritten "recycling" 2 times because the students keep smearing it.
Another view of my library with my READ sign included. You can get your very own customizable READ sign here. The top big baskets are also from Really Good Stuff and hold my non-fiction and picture books. I will eventually separate my non-fiction books into more specific categories but for now this works. The pink basket on top of the filing cabinet hold student headphones all nicely kept in individual Ziploc bags.
The bulletin boards above my classroom library. The one on the left will eventually have my genre posters on them when the order comes in from Scholastic. For now they have on them Comprehension Strategies posters from Lyndsey who has the blog A Year Of Many Firsts. You can get the posters FREE here.
Here is my whiteboard which is between my library and my desk. It is all ready to go for Monday.
I write the days schedule on the board and have the students practice reading handwriting. Right now it is in printing because they haven't learned all the letters yet. At the top is my welcome sign (sorry for the glare). One of my students asked to have one for her bedroom. Cute. You can get yours here and they are customizable.
The owl sign is one that I made on VistaPrint and it is for work that has no names. I will have to make a new one to match my classroom colours. 
I am not sure if you can see what the sign above the books says but it says "Mrs. Browne's Picks" These are the books that I recommend. I change them every once in awhile to expose books to kids that they might not pick.
The times written on the board are for a math activity we did where they were trying to match their place value card with the card of someone else's in the classroom. The entire class had to find their partner and sit down. We did it 3 times and they had to try and beat their time. We will do it again next week and see if they can do even better. I am going to do a post about my first week activities and it will be there with more details.
The little black box is my word box. Read this post to find out how great it is!

This is my desk area (no kidding you say!) Not much to explain here. You can see my teacher tool box and daily folder organizers on the back shelf. See the post about them here and here.
A close up of my hand in drawers. 
Last year students handed everything into one bin and then I had to spend valuable time sorting through it all before I could even start to mark. I dreaded it every time. When I saw this drawer organizer I knew immediately what I wanted to do with it. I bought some fancy Martha Stewart labels and wrote on them in decorative printing. There is one draw for each subject students will hand work in for. So far it has worked wonders. All I say to the collector is to hand in collected work to the correct drawer and voila organization is done. Why didn't I think of this YEARS ago? 

I found the flowers at Micheal's a few weeks ago and bought them because they matched my room colours. At the time I didn't know what I was going to do with them.  While I was getting my room together the top shelf of the organizer sat empty an the flowers lay on a desk. As soon as I cut them shorter and put them in the case I knew they would fill the empty spot on my shelf. A couple of my girls stop to smell the flowers (mmm plastic flower smell) every time they hand something in.

I really wanted to recognize student accomplishments this year so I created my Stellar Work board. 
They will get to clip up any work they are proud of, no matter what the mark is. Some of them wondered if it had to be perfect work and I said of course not. It can be ANYTHING you are proud of. When I created this I only had 16 students on my class list but now I am up to 19 so I have to rearrange it. On a side note I would like to thank my son for helping my colour all of the clothes pins black. I am a little crazy I know but the normal clothes pin colour was driving my crazy and that was all I could focus on so we watched Big Brother and coloured away. They look much better than this and all it cost me was an ice cream sandwich (cheap labor)  for my son :)

My computer area. Last year the computers were along the wall and every time a student went on them I had some students who were completely distracted and could not focus on their work. So this year I turned them so that no one else can see what they are doing. I hope this works.
Just behind my computers is the back sink counter and my Boggle Board. See this post about my Boggle Board. 
The black basket hold our outdoor sports equipment and the pink basket is for empty juice containers. Can you spot my turquoise vacuum? I actually ran for it in Canadian Tire when I spotted it down the isle. I think I embarrassed my son and husband. Hey, who doesn't need a matching vacuum for their classroom? ! The clear tub has all our Action School equipment and I am not sure where it's final home will be but it fits here for now.

Every year I have to go over how to set up a page and usually I do it all on the Smartboard but my Smartboard has been broken all week. Yup you heard me right.... ALL week. AHHHHHH It was tough to go without it and I used so much chart paper. It brought me back to the days long ago (5 years tops) when I didn't have a Smartboard to use in the classroom. Anyways I wander... I had to make up my very specific rules for setting up a page. 
The biggest question I get is why the Date and then Name. Well students know how much room their name takes up and can judge where to start it. The date length always changes and often kids will run out of room and start writing up or down the page. This way they will have all the room they need for the date no matter how long it is. Brilliant, I know :P

A view of all of my bins for student duo-tangs. I made the labels to match my colour scheme and you can get them here
They do not keep them in their desk (too much clutter) and all the duo-tangs for one subject are all the same colour. For instance my Social Studies duo-tangs are ALL purple. This makes it easy for me to see that students have the right book out and it makes it easy for them to find the duo-tang if they misplace it or put it in the wrong bin. My class supply list is very specific and I keep a box of extra duo-tangs handy so them when we are labeling them and a student doesn't have the proper colour they bring me one of their odd colour (or ones with the cute animal pictures on them that parents insist on buying their child even though it is NOT on the list)  duo-tangs and I give them one that is the proper colour.

This is a picture of one of the activities we did this week (post to come) and my puzzle table. Last year students would start a puzzle on the floor and then have to clean it up before it was finished. Not this year! I found a small table in the school and snagged it for my room. As you can see they have already started one.
Here is a picture of my behaviour chart (see post here) and some of the chart paper I had to use. Remember my Smartboard was broken :( Did you notice what time it was when I took this picture on a Friday night. How late do you end up staying at school?
Wow this post has taken me longer than I expected and my family is waiting to pack up and go camping for the night so I am off. I hope you found something useful in this post and don't forget to check back soon (hint: I will be writing it tomorrow night when we get back) to see what we did the first week in my classroom.

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