Saturday, October 4, 2014


I'm a firm believer that school, especially elementary school, should be a fun and welcoming learning environment.  Since moving over to my new school, this mindset has grown because it's supported building-wide.

I checked with my students and since all celebrate Halloween, I put up a banner on the board.  I gave them new class jobs and the assignment sheet is orange.  The librarian is buying each classroom a pumpkin for us to decorate as a class with a book character.  Since we're reading The Lightning Thief as our class read aloud (and loving it), I'm hoping to steer them toward a Camp Half-Blood pumpkin. 

Our lounge was decorated with the most adorable Halloween signs and there was a feast of treats Friday morning.  I keep forgetting that the first Friday of every month is a brunch, so it's a pleasant surprise to find an assortment of homemade goodies awaiting me in the morning.  Our grade level is responsible for March's surprise, so we've got some time to think of a theme.  Although I'm seeing lots of shamrocks and green things on our table!

We are about half way through our math unit on decimals (NBT 3, 4) where we are focusing on rounding, reading, and ordering decimal place values to the thousandths.  I decided to take a day to do math games while I pulled small groups for reteaching.  I set the timer for 15 minutes for each game, went over the materials and expectations for each center, and allowed the table teams to pick.  For our first time, they did an awesome job treating my centers with respect and cleaning up after themselves.  I was very pleased with their respectful attitudes and how excited they were to talk about math.

For privacy concerns, I won't share the pictures because my students' faces are in them.  However, they had an amazing time playing.  I walked around and listened to their math conversations and they did such a great job coaching one another.  Many groups, without prompting, were explaining their thinking to each other.  Sometimes they can explain concepts in a way that makes sense to each other and as long as my kiddos understand the math, I don't care who they learned it from.  Plus, when they can explain their thinking, it shows me that they've truly mastered the content.

Some of the activities I made, but some I found on TpT.  The next two freebies were awesome and these hard working educators deserve a virtual high five! Thanks for making great activities to help students learn.

Here were some of the centers we played:

Spooky Sort, made by Jennifer Findley.

They sorted by the underlined place value, then put the cards in order from greatest to least.  If they had time left over (we used a timer), they played war with the cards.

Decimals to the Thousandths, made by Allison Harig.

They had some awesome discussions about math.  I love that one table had two students really struggling with comparing, so they chose to do this activity twice during the rotation time to make sure their classmates understood the concept.  

What's even more exciting is I found more cute standards-based games for the next math topic!  My fifth graders, while they might not admit it, are loving these festive fun learning activities.  Who says kinder should have all the fun?

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