Morning Choice in my 5th Grade Classroom: OBSESSED!

Friday, January 3, 2020 1 comment
Alright guys - I've gotten lots of questions about morning choice since I started this year. I learned about the idea of morning choice from Adam Dovico at GYTO two summers ago, but I have to be honest, I was too scared to try it last year. I am a fan of structure, and the thought of kids coming in and making a mess kind of stressed me out a bit. My coworker Jessica isn't scared of anything, so she did it last year and it was a huge success in her room. Her success and positive words about morning choice gave me the PUSH I needed to try it in my own room during the 2019-2020 school year. Well, here we are - halfway through the year - and I'm here to give you an update.

The update? I'M OBSESSED. Morning choice has CHANGED our classroom mornings for the BETTER.
In order to learn about morning choice, you'll need to head over to Adam's blog. He has three great blog posts on morning choice, but I would start with this one. Since the idea of morning choice was Adam's, I'm not going to talk about what it is - I'm simply going to fill you in on how it's going in my classroom.
Alright - Let's go back to the summer and discuss my FEARS and HESITATIONS.   
I had two major concerns when it came to morning choice.
1) Would the lack of structure and morning mess impact our day?
2) Would I have to constantly buy new activities so kids don't get bored?

I was SO concerned about the lack of structure, but there really hasn't been a lack of structure at all. During the first week of school we went over expectations, and because students love morning choice so much, they follow those expectations every single day. 

What are our expectations for morning choice?
When students enter our classroom, they must unpack, write down any announcements in their assignment pad, put up their backpack, and make sure they are completely ready for our day. Only once they are completely ready for the day they may play morning choice. This means that the quicker they come in and get ready, the longer they have to play. Another expectation is that whatever morning choice activity the student picks, they must stay with that activity for the entire duration of morning choice. No jumping from activity to activity. This means students must choose wisely. At the beginning of the year, I created signs for each morning choice activity that stated how many students are allowed to be at that particular activity. Those really helped as we began morning choice so that I wasn't answering lots of questions. When morning choice is over, I set a timer for two minutes. Students understand that by the time the timer goes off, morning choice should be completely cleaned up and students should be at their seats with their reading out ready to go. If students aren't ready, morning choice will be shortened to allow for additional clean up time the next day. These expectations have worked SO WELL for us! I highly recommend grabbing a GIANT timer for your classroom. If you are just starting out with morning choice, I also suggest making directions for each station. You can grab the ones I made HERE. They are editable and you can make them for any activity.
How often are new activities needed for morning choice?
Another MAJOR worry for me is that I would be constantly having to switch out or buy new games and activities to keep my students engaged and interested. Well, I'm here to report that halfway through the year, my students are still in LOVE with the original morning choice activities I stuck out and I haven't felt the need to buy new stuff at all. My kiddos have brought in some of their own activities based on their own interests, but I haven't bought anything new! 
Favorite Morning Choice Activities:
Now that we've discussed by fears and hesitation, let's discuss what morning choice activities my students LOVE. Don't spend lots of money on morning choice items. I asked friends and family for games. Everyone has a game closet with tons of games that they never use! Ha! Don't be afraid to ask! I also went to garage sales and thrift stores to grab some activities! Lastly, there are some pretty cheap items at Target and Amazon that can get you started! Instead of just listing favorite games and activities, I am going to post Amazon pictures. I highly suggest you try your local stores for the best deals before ordering on Amazon! = ) 

If you are looking for board games, I have found that Walmart and Target have the best deals. Click HERE to check out Walmart's selection! If you are more found of shopping at Target, click here for board games and click here for some great card game options!

New Ideas I plan on Implementing this Spring: 
These ideas were given to me on Instagram and I am excited to try them out this spring!

Alright - any questions you still have for me? Any awesome morning choice games I'm missing out on? If so- leave me a comment and let me know! Happy Morning Choice-ing! = ) 

Holiday Hoopla: A December Classroom Transformation!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 No comments

The week before Christmas break = MASSIVE Chaos! Anyone else agree? Last year, in an attempt to AVOID the chaos, myself and my coworkers created a classroom transformation to keep the learning going and the engagement at a high! It was a SUCCESS and I cannot wait to do it again this year. Let's all keep the learning happening down to the final day! This year we plan on having three different theme days. Two are educational, and the last one is our Christmas party day. Read below for the scoop on EVERYTHING.

I created a HOLIDAY HOOPLA pack that can be found on TPT that has EVERYTHING you need for a successful two day transformation, but you could easily use my ideas below and use resources you already have!

Holiday Hoopla Transformation: The Decor
Decor for this transformation is EASY. I string lights EVERYWHERE and wrap our tables with wrapping paper. I also traced a Grinch and displayed him on my board. In order to make this transformation affordable, I asked parents for lights they didn't plan on using this year and for old wrapping paper. I simply labeled the lights so they could be returned after Christmas!

For supplies, I also asked parents to bring in items. All of the supplies needed were SUPER cheap, so they each grabbed an item or two. I purchased the rest on a super fun Walmart trip with my coworker Hannah! Hah!

Holiday Hoopla Transformation Day 1: Whooooville Day 
Our first theme day will be full of STEM challenges and a fun ELA activity. To start the day, students will come in and create their own WHO name. It is so fun! They will wear their names around their necks for the day. We will also tell our students to wear crazy hair like the people of Whoville. = ) 

STEAM ACTIVITIES: Students will also complete three STEM Challenges. The first challenge is to build a GRINCH SLED. Students will be given the scenario that the Grinch needed a sled that could hold ALL the presents from Whoville. The objective is to build the stage that would be able to hold the most presents. The second STEM Challenge we will do is from the amazing Brooke Brown. She has an incredibly fun STEM challenge called "SNOWBALL SHOOTERS" that is so easy and fun to do with PVC piping. In order to tie this into STEM day, students are given the scenario that the people of Whoville created shooters to defend themselves from the Grinch. The final challenge is the PRESENT PARACHUTE. Students create parachutes using any type of stem materials in your classroom! Once they are created we go outside to see if they can handle a BIG drop! The parachute is so that the Grinch can quickly get all of the gifts back to Whoville.

Items you'll want to grab for the stem challenges are: paper plates, straws, popsicle sticks, etc. I always ask parents to send in these items. They are inexpensive and I normally get good participation. 

ELA ACTIVITY: For ELA on this day we will make Mexican Hot Chocolate and Hot Chocolate. The people of Whoville need to warm up with hot chocolate around the fire after caroling. Some love hot chocolate, while others love Mexican hot chocolate. For this activity, while the hot chocolate is being made, students will read a passage about the hot chocolate and compare and contrast them. They will also compare and contrast using their senses once the hot chocolate is made. Mexican hot chocolate was so unique and last year my kiddos really enjoyed it! 

Holiday Hoopla Transformation Day 2: Reindeer Games 

Our second day will consist of lots of fun and reindeer games! For this day we will ask students to wear brown and they will come in and pick a reindeer name. They will also make antlers using brown paper and sentence strips. I was worried my 5th graders would be too old for this last year, but they LOVED it. They wore their hats all day long! = ) 

Activity #1: Scavenger Hunt - For this, students will go around the school and gather math problems and solve a riddle. Students LOVE these scavenger hunts and the engagement is always through the roof. 

Activity #2: Snowman Bowling - For this game, students read a task card and then students will get to bowl in between each round. I made this station pretty easily with a foam ball from the craft store and solo cups! Doesn't have to be fancy to be fun. (For this activity, I pair math word problems with the game.)

Activity #3: Snow in the Face - This game is a twist on Pie Face. The whipped topping? It's actually snow! For this activity students solve another task card and then one student gets to play a round of pie face. This was a major hit last year! (For this activity, I pair ELA snow-themed task cards.)

Activity #4: Antler Toss - For this activity, students will answer task cards and then play a round of antler toss. Antler toss is a super cheap game I grabbed on Amazon. The task cards I use for this game are reindeer themed context clues task cards.

SO EXCITED for a fun week before Christmas! Let me know what questions you have! I'm happy to help! Happy transforming! 

Shop Small: Unique Christmas Gifts Ideas You Will LOVE

Monday, November 11, 2019 No comments

//The Freckled Hen Farmhouse// - Yall - OBSSESSED with this website/store. You can find this brick and mortar store in Arkansas, owned by a husband and wife duo, but their stock online is FAB. I ordered mostly from their SUPER CUTE Christmas selection, but their unique gifts are perfect too!

//Starfish Project// - Know a jewelry lover? Look no farther! The Starfish Project has beautiful jewerly, and each purchase goes to providing life-changing programs to exploited women in Asia. If you reach out to their customer service department at, they offer 50% off for teachers for an entire year! WOW!

//The Jones Market// - The Jones Market is another unique jewelry option and it is owned by a momma who makes statement pieces that are also tuggable and teethable. Perfect for new moms!

//The Callaway Collection// Another super fun jewelry option! I am obssessed with the customizable wrist reminders and have a couple in my cart! I love giving personalized gifts! These are coming to you from Georgia and the unique pieces are to die for!

//Pen and Paint Lettering// Everyone needs a custom doormat, am I right? Perfect anyone! I also love that the creator is from right here in Alabama! She can literally make a doormat that says ANYTHING. I think I need one for Christmas that says - Probably watching the Hallmark Channel! HA!

//Scarlett of Eden Lanyards// I love my Scarlett of Eden Lanyard, so I feel certain your teacher friends will love one too! If you've got to wear your badge and key around your neck everyday, you might as well look cute while doing it!

//Shop Andi// Scrunchies are all the rage right now! Grab some for your friends for Christmas. They would also make perfect stocking stuffers. My nieces (and sister) love a good scrunchie and they love the scrunchies I have given them from Shop Andi! Great quality and super affordable!

Who did I miss? If you have a favorite small business you love to support, let us know
in the comments! I am a HUGE fan of shopping small and I'm always looking for new, awesome small business owners to support! 

Rock and Roll Themed Classroom Transformation

Friday, September 6, 2019 1 comment
Please note that this blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links.
I love a good classroom transformation, yall know that! When GYTO announced their first ever Rock Your School Day last year, I just KNEW I had to do a Rock & Roll themed transformation. Rock Your School is a day focused on creating an out of the box experience for the students in your class! You can do any theme, lesson, or activity you like, but I went with a Rock and Roll Transformation. For details about Rock Your School Day - click HERE. Ok- on to the ROCKIN' TRANSFORMATION!

First off - I always love to SET THE STAGE but giving my students some sort of ticket the day before the transformation. This gives them a clue that the next day will be something different and special and gets them SUPER excited about coming to school the next day! You can grab the ticket I made for free HERE.

Let's talk DECOR....
This transformation was very simple for decor, which I LOVE. It didn't take terribly long to set up and supplies were easy to find and grab.  For my tables, I purchased black and red tablecloths from Amazon, along with piano runners. I then sprinkled guitar picks down the tables. For my walls - I bought extra black tablecloths to hang on my back wall. I also hung a banner I found on Amazon on my back wall. I created a "stage" area at the front of my room with gold streamers and boxes I turned into speakers. I grabbed some of my moms old records and using fishing line I hung them from the ceiling. I also gave my students a special "back stage" pass that they wore all day. The pass can be downloaded for free from my TPT store HERE, and the lanyards I bought can be found HERE. I let my students take their pass home, but kept the lanyards and I have used them for many different transformations since then! They were worth the money for sure!

During the school day, I had the lights turned off, but so that you can see things better in pictures, I turned the lights on. When the lights where off, I had two disco balls going to really set the mood! I keep these up in my room ALL year and I used them for many different reasons! They are a great addition to any classroom!

Let's talk Content...
For content, we did a mix of reading, math, and STEM challenges, all of which were rock and roll themed. I will do my best to break down each activity so that you can get an idea as to what we did, but remember to do what works for your classroom! When I have students in my classroom, I don't take many pictures, so I don't have as many photos of these activities. Sorry! To start the day, students created an album cover for their group for the day. This gave me a few minutes to get attendance taken, etc. before we got into the content. 

Math: For Math, we did an around the school scavenger hunt. If you have been reading my blog posts for a while, you know I LOVE these. With clear expectations and directions, they are a FUN way to allow for math practice. I choose to make these math questions more difficult since there are only eight. For these around the school scavenger hunts I prefer to make the questions multi-step and I like them to include more problem solving. For this scavenger hunt, students receive a joke, and then they work through eight math problems, along with clues, to complete the riddle. It is always a blast! I have posted a 5th grade version for sale HERE, but you can also use the editable slides to create your own math problems if 5th grade ones won't work for your students.

Reading - For reading, one of my awesome coworkers created a digital
breakout using songs. Unfortunately I don't have this available to share with you guys, but hopefully it will give you an idea of something you could create yourself! Digital breakouts are easy to create using passages and a Google form! We chose to use song lyrics instead of passages on Rock Your School day and it was a huge success! 

Context Clues  - Another reading activity we do is practicing determining the
meaning of unknown words using context clues. My plan is to pair this activity with a fun rock and roll themed game! Any ideas? Ha! I'll report back when I decide what I plan on playing with them! Currently - I am thinking about doing a guitar pick "toss" game! Students will toss a guitar pick into a "crowd" aka a solo cup or something similar. Each solo cup will be worth different points. The purpose of this game is to mimmick what famous musicians do at the end of a concert! They often toss their guitar pick into the crowd for a lucky fan!

STEM Challenge - Build a STRONG STAGE!I can't even lie to you guys. This was my favorite activity we did last year. Students work together to build the STRONGEST stage. I was SHOCKED at how strong some of my students built their stages last year using only a few simply materials! You can purchase this activity HERE.

Map Skills - My goal this year is to tie in map skills to this transformation because it is what we are working on in social studies! My plan is to blow up a GIANT map of the United States and create a tour schedule that my students will manipulate in order to practice their map skills.

Overall - this was such a fun and simple first transformation and I can't wait to do it again this year. I'll report back with changes I make and things I add after September 19th! Let me know if you have any questions!

First Week of School: Activities and Ideas

Sunday, August 11, 2019 No comments
This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 
 The first week of school is always a FUN time because it involves all things
team building, organization, and relationships. I like to mix in rules and procedures with
LOTS OF FUN. I want kids to be excited about the year, but I also want them to understand the expectations and rules that we have in our classroom. I also want my students to begin to build relationships with each other. I am excited to share with you some of my FAVORITE first week ideas I did for the first week of school this year! Let's get started!
Idea number 1: Morning Choice!
This is my first year to do morning choice in my classroom. The original idea comes from Adam Dovico. You can check out his blog post HERE. The goal of morning choice is to get kids excited about coming into school each day. We started morning choice DAY 1 in my classroom and I loved that it took away those "first day scaries" and kids immediately came in and started building relationships. In order to ensure this went smoothly on day one, I typed up direction cards that I stuck at each station. Station cards explained the task at hand and how many students could be at each station. You can grab these direction cards in my TPT store HERE. They are fully editable so you can make them meet the needs in your clasroom. 

In my classroom, students come in, unpack, and record their announcements and homework for the day. They may begin to play with the morning choice centers only once they are completely ready for their day. Morning choice lasts only 20 minutes - so this means students quickly come in and get ready so they can have as much time as possible at their station. 

 Idea Number 2: "Get to Know You" Jenga
In my classroom we play LOTS of games during academic instruction to keep kids engaged. I figured we might as well start day one out with a game as well. This game is SO easy, but I loved that it allowed me to begin introducing rules and procedures for games. Each group got a Jenga set and a batch of task cards. Although my Jenga sets are color coded, we didn't use the color coded aspect for this activity. I introduced our game rules: no turns/no outs, and explained that one student is to draw a task card and read it aloud to his/her group. After the question has been read, all students in the group must answer the question. After everyone has answered, the person who pulled the question card gets to also pull a Jenga block. This was so much fun and it really helped the kids get to know each other. You can grab my "Get to Know You" task cards in my TPT store HERE.
 Idea Number 3: The BEST Team Building Challenge EVER. 
I stole this idea from Dustin Ecker, a phenomenal teacher that shares awesome ideas on his Instagram. The gist of the activity is: Students work together to build a replica of a tower that has already been built in the hallway. Each student has an important role. One student is a "looker", one student is a "toucher", and the other two are "talkers". One can talk to the teacher, the other can talk to other groups. The catch? The supplies for each group were all mixed together. One group got all the paper. Some groups got no cups. What a MESS. Using their important roles, groups worked together to work through the mess in order to build the mystery tower. Fore the full directions from Dustin, you can view his Instagram post HERE. It is safe to say - this is my FAVORITE team building activity I've ever done with a class.
Idea Number 3: Book Tasting 
Starting last year, my team decided to kick off each year with a book tasting. Basically, this is a mini-transformation where students experience a restaurant where they get to "sample" different books from our classroom library. This is such a fun way to get our students exposed to new books and get them excited about our 40 book challenge for the year. The original idea is from Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching and you can grab her product HERE. It seriously has everything you need, minus the books. It is a fabulous resource.  

Idea Number 4: Self Portraits 
Each year, I have my students create self portraits and we keep them hanging in our classroom all year. They are my FAVORITE! We do a directed draw and then students color them to fit their own personalities. For our directed draw, we use a "Modigliani Self Portrait" style. Modigliani distorted his portraits, using longer necks and faces. I just love how they always turn out. I use 18 inch x 24 inch paper for this project. You can grab some for a very affordable price HERE on Amazon. After students draw their self portraits, they outline with black marker and then simply color their portrait the way they like! Once they are done, I back them with black butcher paper my school already has for FREE (woohoo) and hang them on our wall using Mavalus tape. It's legit the best tape and holds SO well. For a link on how to do this directed draw with your students, click here

Idea Number 5: Hanging Craft 
I love using this craft as an easy "time filler" for the first few days of school. I typically spread out each writing prompt over four or five days. Students complete the writing and then we take time to share about ourselves each day. I make sure to get these hung in time for parent night - a night we have at the beginning of the year where parents come back into our classrooms and we go over all things 5th grade. You can grab this craft in my TPT store here.  

As you can see, our first week was full of FUN, Team Building, and procedures! I hope this post gave you some great ideas for your first week! Do you have an awesome first week idea? I'd love to hear all about it. Leave a blog comment below! Happy School Year!