Counting Up To 100-Day With Zero The Hero
A counting up to 100-Day idea, that is a “must have” for me, is Zero The Hero. because he is a fun vehicle for incorporating math skills.
I designed an entire packet around Zero, including a friend named Zippy, who would allow teachers to toss in a little geography.
There just never seems to be enough time in the day for everything, and geography is one of those “things” that my students needed a bit more of.
Zippy is a quick, fun and easy solution, as he travels to places around the world that begin with the letters O and Z.
Celebrate every 10th day by making a page in your Zero the Hero book. What a great keepsake to take home on 100 Day!
Students put 10 reinforcement holes on their number.
This is a nice fine-motor and counting skill + each child will then have 100 “zero-stickers” in their booklet on the 100th Day of school when they complete their last page!
Students will also enjoy zipping around the world to interesting O and Z places with Zippy.
The passport is sure to be a huge hit, complete with travel and award stickers.
Included are: clue sheets, notes, and an
“I Wonder Where Zippy Is?” Guessing-Poster.
Students will have fun learning about the various places as they work with parents to find and bring in an interesting fact in their "home-school" connection assignment.
Follow up their adventures, by locating places on your classroom map.
Make a Zero the Hero count by 5’s slider and a Zippy count by 10’s slider to review skip counting and identify numbers.
Various activities reinforce a variety of report card standards and are sequential and repetitious, so that students know what to do.
Because of this, kids are empowered and are able to do these as independent center activities, which are great for Daily Five or other “no hassle” centers.
For example, on the 30th day of school, students bingo dot their skill sheet and then graph their cup of 30 Froot Loops. Afterwards, they can make a necklace out of the brightly colored cereal or eat it.
Students keep everything in a folder and have a wonderful keepsake to take home on the 100th day of school.
Click on the link to see sample pages from this 170-page unit and then download it.
What a fun way to count up to 100-Day while reinforcing a variety of report card standards! Zero the Hero packet
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- Keep your list short and simple.
- Think of the things you really want your students to be familiar with and write them down.
- Revamp your list.
- Type it up.
- Make it bulleted with hollow bullets so that students can either add a sticker or color in the dots as they "find things".
- My Y5's aren't familiar with the term scavenger hunt, but they know what a treasure hunt is, so I label this as a treasure hunt.
- Once they find all of the things on their check list, they can claim their treasure, which is a goodie bag from me. If the plastic supply boxes go on sale really cheap, I'll buy those and fill them.
- I fill treat bags or boxes in an assembly-line fashion, putting one of everything, one at a time, in each bag. It goes really fast that way.
- I always make at least 3 extra bags, for parents sometimes take them for a younger sibling even tho' I post a note that these are only for my students. I also have new students show up as well.
- Make up an invitation to your open house and include information that their child will go on a treasure hunt to find things, like their locker, their teacher, their name on the bulletin board, their desk, cubbie, their open house-take-home packet etc.
- You can have a basket of stickers and a basket of Treasure Hunt Check Lists on a table at your open house, or you can send them in the mail so they can look at them ahead of time and get excited with the perusal.
- I've done both. Parents have been very good about remembering to bring both check list and stickers with them and there was not a crowd waiting to pick things up, or wasting time reading things when they got here.
- I did have extra's there for the parents who did forget, or for the ones whose mail was returned.
- Positive feedback was so tremendous for this, and the students have enjoyed it so much, that I have continued to do a treasure hunt every year.
- In fact, most of the other elementary teachers in my school have also adopted my treasure hunt idea and done some type of scavenger hunt for their open houses as well.
- To give you an idea of what I have on my list, click on the link to view/print my letter, invitation and treasure hunt check list.
- You can use these things as a guideline to tweak and dream up your own. It's just nice to have a "skeleton" of "something" to jumpstart you in the right direction.
- Just a "heads-up": One of the most important things I added to my checklist was that little note after "check out our room"....but don't haul out and play with any of the tubs of toys..."
- I highly recommend you add that, especially if you plan on being in the hallway part of the time, like I was; greeting parents, talking, answering questions etc.
- My first year, I came back into the classroom to find it an utter disaster! Toys were everywhere and it took me 'til almost 11 at night to get everything cleaned up.
- I was in tears and exhausted driving home. That simple sentence has done the trick EVERY year since. My room was always ship shape from just that one gentle reminder.
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I hope you can stop by tomorrow for more back to school ideas.
"Use what talent you possess: The world would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." -Henry Van Dyke
Bright Behavior Lightbulb
Sometimes I need a shut off button so that my brain can turn off so I can go to sleep at night, but because it didn’t, I now have a really cute “Bright Ideas Behavior Motivator” just in time for back-to-school.
Here’s how it works:
Run off a copy of the Behavior Bulb.
- Using different color markers or crayons, have all of your students sign it.
- By signing the “Bright Behavior Bulb” They promise to always:
1. Put forth their finest effort.
2. Try their best. And…
3. Have a positive attitude!
You hang it on the wall and have a quick reminder as well as a nice decoration.
- To go with this, make a copy of the Photo Poster Bulb.
- Run off a copy of the poster on white AND yellow construction paper.
- Cut out just the bulb part from the yellow paper, and glue it to the white poster.
- Fill your name in on the blank space.
- When your student’s school photos come back, glue them on the bulb.
- Hang this next to the contract for an instant motivational wall-bulletin board.
- Click on the link to view/print a copy of the two bright bulb activities.
- These will be free through the 31st of July.
Included in the packet are individual badges you can make for your students with just their name or with a photo.
Add a bit of sparkling pizzazz by sprinkling on some gold glitter.
- I also have an individual behavior modification sheet for those challenging students.
- You and the student decide what behavior(s) they are going to work on.
- List them on the form and sign it.
- Include what the reward for completing their behavior bulb will be.
- There are 20 connect-the-dots on two different counting sheets.
- Each time the student accomplishes a goal; they get to connect a set of numbers, until they have connected all of the dots, which completes their Bright Behavior Bulb, so they can achieve their reward.
- I’ve also included a page of stickers, 6 happy grams, slap bracelets, and a certificate of praise for brilliant work.
Be sure to pop in tomorrow for some awesome Zero The Hero back-to-school tips!
Punt With A Scavenger Hunt
One of the sayings I heard from the boys on the football team was, "When all else fails, punt!" You can do that quite successfully with a scavenger hunt for your Open House or the first day of school.
Sometimes teachers need a few quiet moments to get their sanity back and have their students doing something to keep them occupied, while they tackle that "paper mountain" of administrative duties on the first day of school.
Why not go on an alphabetical scavenger hunt? "Go exploring and you will see, things in our classroom from A to Z!"
These ideas come from my 28-page ABC Scavenger Hunt booklet. I'm posting the check list as a freebie through the 31st of July.
- Run off copies of my Alphabetical Scavenger Hunt. Click on the link to view/print it.
- Tell the students that they are going to be ABCDe-tectives!
- Handout a clipboard and yellow highlighter along with the ABC check list to each student.
- I've got adorable badges and magnifying glasses in the booklet to make this even more fun and "detective-like".
- Review the list with them so that they know what they are looking for.
- Even if they don't know how to read, they should be able to understand and find the picture next to the letter.
- When they find an object on the list, they color in the small circle.
- When everyone is done, review the letters of the alphabet again.
- Ask students if they can think of anything else that they see in the room that starts with that letter, like p is for pencil, but there's also lots of pens, paper and pupils in the classroom too!
- Make the sound of each letter as you say the object that they found and call on a child to point to it.
- I have used this list to make 38- Read-Around-The-Room cards too.
- They can be put up for the scavenger hunt so they can locate the word as well as the object, or you can put them up later, or to save you time, have students put them up as they point to the object.
I always include a cover template for the word cards so that you can run off a set for students to cut, sequence and make into Itty Bitty booklets.
Children enjoy these "just-the-right-size" books.
26-upper and lowercase alphabet cards are also included as well as 38-picture cards.
These can be made into several different kinds of Itty Bitty Booklets or used in a Memory Match or "Find the Pairs" Game.
All the word cards are traceable for handwriting practice. My Y5's enjoy using a highlighter every chance they get.
- Sing the alphabet song and allow a child to hold a light-up laser to point to the letters on your ABC border.
- Graph the activity for a math extension.
- When everyone is done, I pass out a certificate of praise for them to write their name on and take home. These are included in the ABC Scavenger Hunt packet that's only .99 cents.
Click on the links to check things out.
My ABC School-Words Dictionary booklet, goes perfectly with the scavenger hunt, as the pictures and words match!
It's a wonderful activity for students to transition to, after they complete their ABC scavenger hunt. The dictionary is something that they can work on at their own pace through out the month of September and makes a nice keepsake.
Students trace and then write the words for a nice fine motor skill and handwriting extension. Both upper and lowercase letters are shown for the perfect letter review as well! Click on the link above to check it out.
Be sure to pop back Friday when I'll tell you about my Open House Scavenger Hunt!
A Back-To-School-Lunch Surprise:
This is for all the moms, who are like me, who have to make that first–day-of-school lunch special. I enjoyed tucking in little "I Love You!" or "Have a nice day!" notes or some sort of treat in my children's lunch bags when they were little. Here’s an adorable PBJ sandwich that was cut out from an apple cookie cutter! Too cute! The template for the sweet bag can be found at Family Fun! Click on the link.
Kelli’s Cherry Smash
My daughter brought this to our family potluck and it was a “smash” hit.
Kelli doesn’t claim to be a cook, so when something turns out it’s a big deal!
- 1 ½ cups boiling water
- 1 ¼ cups DIET 7 Up
- 1 can cherry pie filling
- 2 small boxes of SUGAR –FREE cherry Jell-O
- Cool Whip
- Maraschino cherries
- Follow the normal directions on the Jell-O box with the above ingredients.
- Add the 7-Up to the dissolved Jell-O
- Then add the pie filling.
- Blend and pour into a greased 8x8 glass dish.
- Chill in fridge ‘til set.
- Cut into squares
- Yummy dessert for summer.
- Can add a dollop of cool whip and a maraschino cherry to the top if you want a bit of pizzazz.
First-Day Friendship Fruit Salad
Make this for the first day or during the first week of school when you are teaching your students about rules, manners, sharing etc.
- Fresh fruit: My personal favorites:
- Honey Dew Melon
- Grapes (red &/or green)
- How much is determined by the size of your class and how much you want to give them.
- I cut everything up into small bite-size squares and make sure everyone has at least one of everything.
- Children love fruit and this is a very healthy and refreshing snack for them.
- If this is not in your budget, have parents sign up at open house to bring an ingredient and explain what you'll be doing. They'll love the idea.
- Click on the link to view/print some notes. Friendship Fruit Salad
- Large bowl
- Large spoon
- Paper plates
- Plastic spoons
- And the star of the show: A very rotten apple. I simply buy one 2 months before school starts and let it sit out. If yours is not getting rotten enough, leave it in a Baggie in the sun.
Here’s a little scenario of how you can bring home good behavior by making this Friendship Fruit Salad:
- Explain to the children that the fruit symbolizes all of the students.
- The bowl symbolizes the classroom.
- Add some fresh chunks of fruit.
- These are the well-behaved children.
- They follow the rules.
- Does anyone remember our rules?
- Call on children ‘til you have reviewed all of them.
- Toss in another kind of fruit.
- These are the children who share.
- Who knows how to share? Raise your hand if you are kind and are good at sharing.
- That’s wonderful.
- Toss in another kind of fruit.
- These are the children who say nice things and cooperate.
- Who does that?
- Toss in another kind of fruit.
- These are the children who have a positive attitude and try their best.
- Who’s going to do that?
- Sprinkle on the blueberries.
- This is the happiness we feel when everyone is nice, and obeys the rules so we can have fun, and play and learn.
- Now pick up the rotten apple.
- This is the student who does not obey the rules.
- This is the student who does not share.
- He doesn’t have any manners.
- She causes trouble and hurts others.
- Should we add it to our delicious salad?
- Give students an opportunity to explain.
- One rotten apple really can spoil the whole bunch.
- Should we throw this rotten apple away for good and promise not ever to be a rotten apple?
- Throw the apple away.
- Have children raise their left hand and put their right hand over their heart.
- “I promise not to have rotten apple behavior, because this class is filled with friendship and fun. Now it’s time for friendship fruit salad! Yum Yum!”
It's All In A Name...
Part of the excitement of the first day of school for teachers, as well as the children, is meeting all of the new students! I try to make learning everyone’s name fun. So I do several activities that involve names. There are several report card standards that the Y5’s have that revolve around their name: being able to recognize it as well as write it, so they’re not only learning each other’s names, they are practicing standards. Woo-hoo for a first day win-win!
- To help my little ones recognize & write their name, I have name cards on the tables for them to copy.
- I also have a “table top” skill sheet each day involving “finding” their name on something.
- I just designed this new balloon heart.
- Simply fill in your students’ names to make one.
- Click on the link to view/print a copy. Heart-Balloon Name Pattern page
Have students sit in a circle.
Decide on a fun “movement pattern” like clap twice, pat knees twice.
For older students you can add snap fingers twice too.
Say the following after the movement:
_______________(child's name) ______________ (child's name)
How do you do?
Who's that sitting next to you?
Child says name of person sitting beside them.
Count to 3 slowly and if they don’t know then that child says their name.
- Apples are a big theme for us in September, so I just designed “You’re a smartie!” WELCOME apples.
- Run off my master on red construction paper.
- Make a template for the leaves and stems.
- Run the worms off on green construction paper.
- Cut everything out.
- Glue a Popsicle stick to the back of the worm.
- Write your students’ names with a black marker.
- Using an Exacto-knife, cut a slit in the top of the apple.
- Tape a pack of Smartie candies around the stick worm.
- Insert the worm in the slit in such a way so that the candy slides over the top of the apple, while the stick goes behind.
- Sprinkle them on the floor around the room and have them find them.
- To make it harder for older students, make puzzles out of the apples.
- After you finish making them, cut them in zig zag diagonals so that part of their name is missing. They will have a top-left, and a bottom-right apple piece.
- As with any candy treat that I give my students, I preface it with: “This is for you to take home.”
- To ease the disappointment a bit, I’ll have one Smartie candy as a reward for everyone when they find their apple.
- Click on the link to view/print the patterns. Smartie Name Apple
- I make word finds all through the year of our word wall words and special vocab words each month.
- This increases all sorts of skills and helps reinforce recognition of whatever words we are working on.
- Making a word find of your students' names is especially fun for them, and is something that can keep them occupied while you do that endless list of administrative chores that has to get done on the first day.
This is also a fun and easy “busy activity” while you’re doing those crazy little “have-to-get-done’s”, or assessing to see where children are at.
- Children write the letters of their name in the boxes and color the vowels their favorite color and the rest their second favorite color.
- A pattern emerges.
- When they are done they pick a partner.
- (You can use one of my many fun partner ideas from 2 previous articles)
- Students compare their interesting art.
- Collect and put up on the wall for a quick and pretty first-day hallway display!
- Click on the link to view/print the name pattern page.
I hope you got some name ideas to use for back-to-school.
Do you have a name tip that you’d like to share?
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly...) So everyone can keep smiling!
Our principal required that each teacher have a handbook for their classroom. I included mine in my Open House packet. Click on the link to view/print all of my handy handbooks.
When I first started teaching elementary, I was coming in as a high school teacher. It was difficult for me to “dream up" all of the handbooks and handouts that were required for the beginning of school.
That’s why I post them all on my website. I was grateful to Stephanie, a Y5 teacher, who lent me her handbook so I had a skeleton to start with!
Hopefully mine will jumpstart your brain and you can tweak them anyway you want; at least you're not reinventing the wheel and hopefully this will be a real time saver for you, especially if you are a beginning teacher.
I find all too often tho’ that parents are inundated with “paper mountain” from the school and have little time to read “everything”, so I made up this cute little ABC checklist to cover my main points and send it home with my students the first day of school. I feel that “short and sweet” is more apt to be read.
You can tweak mine to fit your needs. To help you do that, I’ve included one that has some of the information blank for you to type, cut and paste.
You can send this home the first day, tuck in your Welcome to school summer letter/packet, or your Open House packet.
Click on the link to view/print My ABC’s Of School Info Sheet
I hope this helps you get YOUR personal “paper mountain” of back-to-school “stuff” into a mole hill!
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"The really great man is the man who makes every man feel great." -G.K. Chesterton
Do Yourself and Your Students A Favor and Give Them A Notebook!
This is tip #17 & my 100th blog article! We will be celebrating our 1st-year anniversary at the end of next month!
You can click on the writing notebook ideas separately or click on the entire packet at the end. Enjoy!
My young Fives will see a writing notebook all too soon as they progress through the elementary grades, but to get one at this age is really a big deal.
Since most of the chain supply stores and even Target, have them as huge loss leaders in August for their back-to-school sales, I can pick them up for as little as .10 cents, so for the small investment of $2.00, I can light up the faces of 20 children in a few seconds!
For a few dollars you can use a notebook for a variety of writing skills for your students.
Mine is at the introductory level of simply practicing how to write their name.
Get parents on board and work as a team and you will definitely see improvement.
I buy an assortment of colors and give them a choice. It doesn’t matter that they don’t stay on the lines. What I want them to do is just practice holding a pencil, crayon or whatever they can take delight in holding, and practice writing their name once each night. I want it to be fun, not a hassle.
You can see the “My Writing Notebook” sticker in the photo. I print these off on large Avery labels on my printer to add a bit of pizzazz.
Each time they bring their notebook in to be checked they get to pick out several stickers to decorate the front of their notebook as an incentive to bring them back.
Since writing their name on everything we do in class can be labor intensive, I need parental help in getting these little ones over the hump ASAP and the notebook has been key in accomplishing that.
Their hands “poop out” or “run out of gas” as one of my students so adorably put it!
The notebook is a great At-Home connection and is easy, quick and fun, especially if parents buy some glitter or gel pens or some goofy or wiggly fun pen to make writing time more exciting.
I include due dates in my newsletters as well as post them on my monthly calendar.
Students get an award certificate for a great-completed notebook and a trip to the treasure box.
To practice verbally expressing themselves, I have them share their favorite page of their notebook with their classmates.
Parents often ask me: “How can I help my child learn how to write?” So I typed up a list of fun things they can do to help strengthen their muscles. I tuck this list in the notebook. Click on the link to view/print hand-muscle building tip list. I also include a diagram of how to hold a pencil correctly.
The other thing I tuck in the notebook is a tracing guide of the alphabet. Click on the link to view/print the alphabet-writing guide.
I include a letter explaining the notebook to parents and asking for their help. If you’d like to see mine, to use it as a guide to tweak and develop your own, click on the link.
Since I started using the notebooks I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in my students’ penmanship, muscle coordination, and self-esteem.
What used to take me ‘til the middle of November with some of my little ones is now accomplished by the beginning or middle of October. Some really diligent students (and parents) who had no preschool, are set by the end of September.
If you have older students, decide what you want the notebooks to be used for, and make it a daily or weekly writing assignment that is simple, short and fun, so they will WANT to write. I give my college students ideas for them to journal about in their notebooks each week.
The notebooks can be kept in their desks to work on during free time, or kept at home like a “secret diary”.
I hope this idea is one that you can use and gets you excited to plan for your new class.
A quick and easy handwriting activity for you to do the first day of school is simply a Welcome To School "Trace & Write" Click on the link to view/print several different kinds.
If you want the entire writing notebook packet click on the link to view/print it.
Staples started their back-to-school penny sales this week. Click on the link to check out the deals! Every week they offer new things so start watching for the notebooks to go on sale! Staples allow teachers to buy 25 of their penny items here in MI. I imagine that would be a National thing.
A Treat For The First Day Of School
I like to have practical little goodies for my students the first day of school. One of the things that I make for them is Willie the Alphabet Worm.
- Willie has upper and lowercase letters on his back.
- Run my master off on green construction paper and laminate the sheets.
- There are 6 on a page.
- Cut them out and add colored paperclips.
- By moving the paperclip up and down, students can practice spelling their names. (One of my report card standards is being able to recognize your name.)
- You can also review and teach letters in a fun way!
- Moving a large paperclip helps strengthen finger muscles and enhances fine motor skills and coordination too!
- You can make two, one to keep at school and one to send home if you want to.
- I’ve included a letter of explanation to send home to parents so that they will work with their child and practice the alphabet with them!
- I have a saying: “Together Everyone Achieves MoreI” It’s an acronym for TEAM!
- I let parents know that I’m depending on them to be part of my educational team that will help their star player shine their brightest!
- Click on the link to zoom to Willie and view/or print a template and letter.
I hope Willie helps your students as much as he’s helped mine wiggle their way to knowing their ABC’s!
Be sure to check back tomorrow when I'll have another fun back-to-school tip!
Do you have a fun tip you’d like to share? I’d enjoy hearing from you!
- The rainbow colors also help me reinforce all of the basic colors with them, which is one of my report card standards.
- Surprisingly some of my students are still confused about a few.
- This daily review, really helps my ESL students.
- I take this opportunity to teach a little Spanish to my students as well, as I have them say the colors of the chain links in Spanish as well as English.
- Because I link them in a specific order, I also have them identify the rainbow pattern that emerges.
- By the time it's March and we are studying rainbows, they are proficient at picking out and repeating that colorful pattern!
- I tell my Y5's that when we go one link farther to our 101 day, Cruella DeVille will come visit us for our 101 Dalmatian Themed Day!
- They are very excited about that.
- I hang a piece of fishline so that it is low enough for me to reach so that I can start hanging my plastic links on the first day of school.
- With this chain I take the opportunity to say: 1 link + 1 link ='s how many links?
- You can do all sorts of math equations with your students.
- I also say: Is our chain getting longer or shorter? Is it greater or less than yesterday? Is it greater or less than or = to our paper chain etc. What color link has the most colors?
- There are lots of math vocabulary words and concepts you can review whenever you want to, with this simple concept and it only takes a minute!
- I bought my links at the teacher store in town, but you can also order them from your favorite teacher catalog. If you're like me, you probably have a zillion on your desk at any given moment.
- One of my favorite companies is Discount School Supply. They have a set of 500 for $16.99
- The links are one of my students' favorite manipulatives during Tummy Tubby Time.
- Another "add-a-link" chain I do, is a paper chain for January when we revisit hibernation.
- We discuss how polar bears, unlike brown & black bears, don't hibernate.
- This paper chain has an ABAB pattern with black and white links.
- The topper is a scanned picture from the cover of one of my favorite hibernation books followed by a teddy bear.
- The template can be found in my January Arts & Activities Book, but can be viewed/printed for free through the 20th.
- Click on the teddy bear link above to view/print it.
- A.A. Milne's birthday is in January so I have a Winnie the Pooh theme day.
- The children make brown lunch bag bears.
- On one side of the bag the bear is sleeping, on the other he is awake.
- They stuff them with tissue and toss them into the cave. (A huge brown paper leaf bag. )
- I staple the bag shut and take it home 'til the first day of spring (March 20th) when I bring it back and the children take their bears home.
- In the meantime we add black and white paper chains each day 'til the bears wake up.
Be sure to pop back tomorrow.