Month: August 2017

Elements of a Successful School Bulletin Board

Our school’s academic theme this year is science. This means we will be having a few more extra events and activities relating to the sciences. In the spring, we will have a science fair and STEM night.  It’s exciting, but means a little bit more work for me this year!

In one of my previous posts I shared some of the bulletin boards up in my classroom. I was still working on a science themed board for our middle school hallway. I thought I would share that today.

A fellow teacher found this one on Pinterest for me and I’m so thankful! (I could only find the picture and not any website to go with it!) I immediately loved the idea of making a periodic table, but rather than it having the true elements, including the important characteristics for a school. What a great way to introduce the school to our new middle school students and to remind returning families what makes a school truly successful.

How to create one yourself:

It didn’t take much to put it together. I made each element box on the computer and printed them out. The symbol went in the top left and the “atomic number” in

 the top right. The “name” or characteristic when on the bottom. That was it! I was surprised at how quickly I thought of the different “elements”. I used some from the picture I saw, but included many of my own as well. Since we are also studying the Fruits of the Spirit this year, I made sure those were incorporated into the board.

Examples:
  • Pt: Patience
  • K: Kindness
  • A : academics
  • Ri : Rigor
  • F : Failthfulness

You can choose whatever characteristics describe your school and the ways it is successful.

I then decided to back them in different colors, just like elements on the periodic table are sometimes displayed. I used 32 element characteristics    , but you could do more or less. Just make sure you arrange them to look like a periodic table for the board to make sense! And I have to give a shout out to my husband – he helped me staple everything in a straight line. That is the hardest part!

I have had so many compliments on this board. I may just leave it up for a few months!

 

Saving Sam – A Great First Day Activity

 School started over a week ago for me! I’m just feeling like I’m back into the swing of things. It always takes a little while to get back into the habit of packing my lunch, organizing my lessons and getting my teacher voice back. Those first few days are hard on the vocal cords!

Because those first days of school require SO many instructions and procedures, it can be hard to really get into learning. However, the learning is what we want for our students! Maybe you all make the rules of how to line up for PE super exciting, and going through the weekly schedule extra suspenseful for your students. I, however, tire of those things quickly. But what can you do to shake things up a little?

My students must Save Sam! Saving Sam is a great first (or second or third) day activity for students from upper elementary through high school. I found this activity online (through Pinterest of course) a few years ago and LOVE using it to break up those “instruction” days.

Saving Sam

I’m not sure where I originally saw this activity, but there are many different places on the web that you can find it now. Here is the adapted version that I use in my classroom:

Materials

  • Gummy worm
  • Clear, plastic cup
  • Gummy LifeSaver
  • 2 Paper clips

Instructions

Student are paired up. Once they receive their materials, they must set up Sam as shown below:

The cup is upside down with the gummy Lifesaver underneath. “Sam” is on top of the cup. The students use the paper clips to help Sam!

 

The goal of this activity is for students to get the “life preserver” out from under the “boat” and onto Sam. Now, when I say onto Sam, I don’t mean just resting on top. Every time I do this, students immediately think they just have to get the lifesaver out from under the cup. Nope. Get it ON the worm. Students might think it isn’t possible, but it is! It just takes a little extra work! Any time someone touches any part with their hands, that group must begin again. If Sam or the life preserver hit the floor or desk, they also must start over.

End Results

Success!

After about 10 minutes, some students are successful, and some are not. Some groups tried the same thing over and over, while others continually changed their approach That’s ok! I actually don’t care if they truly “Save Sam” or not. The point of this activity is to learn to work together in order to solve a problem. In my classroom, I often challenge students to come up with a solution to an activity on their own. Often times, their original idea may not work and they must adapt and try something else. Also, there is no one right way to complete the task! Students can be successful using a variety of methods and learn to think differently about the scenario.

Saving Sam fits perfectly into my mini lesson of how we will be doing science in my classroom for the year! It can be used as a first day (or week) activity in order to bring up those points I mentioned. You can also use it anytime throughout the year to work on problem solving skills in a fun way. 

 

Solar Eclipse of 2017 – It’s a big deal!

So if you haven’t already heard (which hopefully you have) there will be a huge event happening on Monday, August 21. A solar eclipse of this extent does not happen very often. And when it does occur, it is rare that we can actually see it from the US!

This solar eclipse will be a total solar eclipse for many areas of the United States. This means, that for a 70 mile wide path from Oregon down through South Carolina, people will be able to experience the total solar eclipse. North and south of that path will experience a partial solar eclipse. Depending how close or far away you are from that path, you will experience more or less of the eclipse! You can check out a map here to see the exact path.

What is a solar eclipse?

An eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and moon all align in a specific way. During a solar eclipse, the moon “blocks” the sun from the Earth. In other words, the moon is creating a shadow on a small part of the earth’s surface.

Image Credit: NASA 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Event Page. Image not to scale.

 

Because of the size differences, the moon only casts a shadow on a small part of earth’s surface. For this shadow to be directly in your path is pretty incredible and a once in a lifetime experience!

Image credit: Wikipedia.org

So what should you do?

1. Get Glasses

You will need to have special certified glasses that filter out the sun’s harmful rays. Looking at the sun directly is very dangerous and can cause eye damage. This is NOT a good thing. The glasses help protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. However, I think the glasses are selling out fast, at least in my town! I had to go to two several stores to find enough for my class. They sell glasses at Walmart, Lowe’s, Toys ‘R Us and possibly a few other places.

2. Check when the eclipse will happen near you

For us, the entire eclipse will take place between 12:56 pm and 3:46 pm. The closest to totality we will see happens at 2:22 pm. My plan is to take my science classes outside from 1:45-2:45.

3. Watch the weather

My big fear right now is that it will be storming or super cloudy on eclipse day. This would be sad, but fortunately, NASA will be offering live streaming of the event somewhere sunny! You can catch the live streaming here

4. Enjoy the show!

If you are lucky enough to be in the path of totality, soak it in! What an amazing sight. And if you’re not (like me) it will still be quite a show. It’s awesome to me how everything can line up just so. To me, it demonstrates our Creator’s creativity and power.

 

Monday, August 21 – Catch the Eclipse!

DIY Hair Accessory Holder

Typically in the summer time I have lots of DIY projects going on. This summer, I somehow just didn’t have the time! However, I did crank out one little project in just a few days (i.e. two evenings after the kids were in bed!)

My daughter is not even a year old and already she has an abundance of hair accessories. Previously, I would dig through her drawer trying to find the little bows or the band that matched her outfit. The little pieces would get twisted, tangled, or just lost in the chaos of socks, thermometers and all the other “extras” in that drawer.

After seeing a few ideas online here and there, I stumbled upon an old, ugly frame at Goodwill one day. There was no glass, it was pretty lightweight, and it was 79 cents. Perfect!

I bought some screw hooks at the hardware store for just over $1. Some paint and ribbon and a cute letter “B” (my daughter’s first initial), and I was ready to go! I think in total, it cost less than $7, and I have extra paint and ribbon for another project.

Materials Needed:

  • Frame
  • Hooks with screws
  • Paint
  • Ribbon
  • Decorations (Optional!)

Step 1 – Adding Hooks

My husband graciously drilled a few evenly spaced holes along the bottom of the frame and easily screwed in the hooks. He is awesome at making things even. I would have messed it up, which is why he got the job. The hooks will allow me to hang baby girl’s headbands easily without getting tangled up with each other!

The ugly frame after the hooks were put in

Step 2

Next, I painted the frame with a few coats of white paint. This took the longest because I had to wait for a layer to mostly dry before putting on another. It took several coats of white paint to cover the tacky brown and gold colors of before. Then, I took a mint green color and painted the inner trim, just to give it some extra pop!

Look what a fresh coat of paint can do!

Step 3

Placing ribbons on the back.

Attaching the ribbon came next. Most other projects that I had seen used thicker ribbon – 1/2 “ to 1” wide. However, a set of mint and white ribbon caught my eye at the craft store and I knew it would be perfect! Because some of it was pretty thin and I wanted it to hold all types of barrettes, clips and bows, I decided to double up on the strands. Using hot glue, I attached both the top and the bottom of the ribbon to the back of the frame. Now, this was quite the process for me because I had a hard time getting the ribbon on straight. I had to redo a few strands. (You could also use a ruler to help you… this did not occur to me until I was halfway done. Then I was too lazy to get up and find one in our house!). But in the end, I think it turned out well and will be strong enough to hold quite a few accessories!

Almost done!

I finished the project by adding a mint colored letter “B”. Although I intended to add more ribbon or other girly things, I liked the simplicity of it with just the letter. Really, you could decorate with whatever you wanted!

The project turned out like I had hoped and I would even do it again! It is so easy to customize the

 colors, ribbons and design, that you could really do anything. Attaching flowers? Awesome! Adding words? Excellent! Glitter paint? Good luck.

Now that I have more space, a certain baby girl might be getting a few more hair bows in the near future…