Easter and Springtime Fun (and a Freebie!)

Hey, y'all! I don't know about you but I am totally ready for some spring weather! Easter is one of my favorite holidays. Maybe because it's low stress and a perfect excuse to get a new dress…

Anyways, we're gearing up for some amazing Easter/Spring STEAM centers over here and the kids are buzzing with excitement. 

We start off the week with a classic dissolving Peeps experiment. It's very similar to this Peeps experiment we've been doing for years, but in a one page format.

Tuesday through Thursday, the kids go to six science stations exploring all kinds of things Easter and spring related.

In one center they explore their the sense of taste by eating a jelly bean and trying to guess the flavor with their eyes closed. In another, they explore their sense of hearing by shaking plastic eggs and trying to figure out what's inside them.

They also make a pom-pom popper and try to get their pom-pom into the basket, weigh different plastic eggs filled with things you already have handy, make a Peep parachute, and build an egg tower. Your students will be learning and growing dendrites without even knowing it!

For more information on this unit, you can check out the whole thing here

And while you're at it, grab this FREE sight word egg hunt as well. My first graders LOVE this game and can even play it independently. 

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more STEAM centers coming soon!

Stay sweet,

St. Patrick's Day Fun and a Freebie

Hey y'all! Are you ready for a little mischievous fun? These St. Patrick's Day STEAM centers are sure to get your littles excited about science. (A little write the room freebie is at the bottom so keep reading!)

We start the week off with a Skittles experiment. (Because leprechauns love rainbows of course. ;) ) Just place the candies around the edge of the plate and add some hot water. I used about a half a cup. The colors dissolve almost instantly and make a rainbow towards the center of the plate. The whole thing takes about 30 seconds. 

When they start to dissolve, the candies break open and the kids love to look inside them and explore the "popped" Skittles. 

But, of course, the difference between science and just messing around is writing it down. So we make predictions on our paper before adding the water, then write what actually happened and draw about it afterwards.

Tuesday through Thursday, the kids go to different science stations exploring things related to St. Patrick's Day. 

It's said that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland by beating his drum and scaring the snakes away. So the first station is drum making. Don't worry, the paper bowls won't be too loud!

The kids also explore mirrors and reflection by making a four leaf clover using only one leaf and two mirrors. 

Because leprechauns love gold, the kids build a bridge out of pennies. It's amazing how something so simple creates so much excitement!

The kids also get to graph some Lucky Charms, explore rainbows by making one with a flashlight, a CD, and water, and learn about the colors of the rainbow with a simple rainbow craft.

On Friday, the whole class makes leprechaun cars to race to the pot of gold. The challenge requires minimal prep work and the kids get so excited about racing their cars. (More pictures to come soon!) 

These STEAM centers are sure to be a hit in your classroom too. For more information on them, you can check out the whole unit here

And be sure to grab this free St. Patrick's Day write the room center here

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for Easter STEAM centers coming soon! 

Stay sweet,

What's Up with The Wild Card?

Hey, y'all. I'm sure by now you've seen all the social media posts about the book The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator's Creative Breakthrough by Hope and Wade King. If you're anything like me, you've asked yourself what all the hype was about and is it really worth it? 

Well…I couldn't resist so I had to find out for myself. And I'm here to answer that question for you. 

Disclaimer: This is NOT an affiliate post. I am in no way related to The Wild Card or it's publishing team other than being a fellow educator with a dream to inspire my students. The opinions in this post are my own and I do not receive compensation for writing this article. 

First of all, Hope and Wade King are a married couple that teach at the same school, The Ron Clark Academy. They have a massive social media presence and The Ron Clark Academy is well known for it's outside-of-the-box-get-the-kids-up-and-moving teaching styles. (Mr. Clark has his own line of books about teaching as well and they are absolutely phenomenal.) Teachers at this school know a thing or two about creativity. (If you aren't familiar with The Ron Clark Academy you should totally check them out after you finish reading this.) If anyone should write a book about being a creative educator, it's these people.

Second, the term "the wild card" refers to you, the teacher. Children are dealt a hand in life that they have no control over. They didn't get to choose their parents, their siblings, their home environment, or even what school they attend (usually). But you can be their wild card. Their game changer. Their cheerleader that gets them excited for learning. You are the wild card.

Most of us have a prescribed set of standards we have to teach. Many of us even have scripted curriculum that suck all the joy and spontaneity out of teaching. But that doesn't mean that we have to live and die by those rules. This book talks about how to breathe life into the curriculum and engage your students like never before.

I have heard teachers say things like, "This reading/math/science program takes all the joy out of reading/math/science." Or, "The kids are BORED with this program." Or, and my favorite, "Even a monkey could teach it like this!" And I get it. Not all programs are amazing. But I am here to tell you that the script does not equal the end. You don't teach programs, standards, or scripts. You teach children. 

In The Wild Card, Hope and Wade illustrate several ways in which you can take the script or the standards and make them yours. Let me explain.

Ok, so admin says, "READ THE SCRIPT!" Do they tell you how fast or slow you have to go? Probably not. So read that baby fast, cover all the bases, and MOVE ON! Supplementing curriculum is differentiation and we all know how much admin likes that buzzword.

Or maybe you have the opposite issue. Maybe your admin says, "Here's the standards, go for it," with little or no guidance along the way. While this can be exciting for some, it can be terrifying for others.

The fix for both? Get creative. 

Now what exactly does that mean? In Hope's world, it's room transformations that tie the curriculum goals into a central theme. In Wade's world, it's content rich songs among other things. For some teachers, it's STEM or STEAM lessons. For others, it's art, movement, technology, relationships, debates, games, cheers—the list really is endless.

How do you find your creative breakthrough that takes your class's engagement to the next level and increases their learning (and in turn, their test scores—because reality, right?) like never before? Practice, practice, practice. And yes, READ THIS BOOK.

Hope and Wade do an amazing job of explaining what it means to be the wild card and how to overcome any limitations others (or you) may have placed on you as far as creativity goes. They show you how to overcome those obstacles and roadblocks and how to reconnect with your why (in case you've forgotten). They discuss the three easiest ways to increase engagement. And guess what! They're all FREE!

So if you're looking for inspiration to get your students wanting to come to school, then this is the book for you. Don't worry, you don't have to be a stand-on-the-table-turn-your-room-upsidedown or sing-all-day-long kind of teacher to make your mark. Being a copy of someone else will just exhaust you and you'll always feel a step behind others.

The whole point is to become the best you you can be. Your students need your talents and your inspiration and your expertise. So find you as a teacher. Not the you that the curriculum publishing company or the state board says you should be. YOU. The real you. The one that your family and your students love. Y-O-U—YOU.

Not sure how to bring that part of you out to inspire your students? Hope and Wade know. And they'll happily share that information. All you have to do is start reading.

Stay sweet,

Learning about Landforms and Water

Hey y'all! We've been back from winter break for a week now and it is so refreshing to be back into the swing of things. We've reviewed behavior expectations and absolutely LOVED Winter STEAM Centers. And now it's time to get down to business. 

This upcoming week, we'll be starting our Earth science unit. We'll start by learning about how to read maps, then get into the nitty-gritty about different landforms and bodies of water. After that, we'll get into soil, rocks, and erosion. 

My class loves science centers for so many reasons. One, they are able to do them independently, which makes them feel "big" and allows me to ask deeper questions.

We start the week with a whole group activity. For this unit, we'll be discussing each feature and sorting them into land or water forms. The whole class lesson is perfect for addressing any misconceptions and getting the kids excited to know more. 

Tuesday through Thursday, the kids go to six different science stations, exploring each in their small groups. (Side note: I absolutely love this class and how their science groups have become mini-families within our class family!)

This unit includes self-checking vocabulary puzzles, a book about landforms, a book about water bodies, and two stations where the kids build each land/water form with clay.

On Friday, students compare and contrast two different landforms and/or water bodies using a Venn diagram. This could be done in small groups, whole class, or independently—depending on what your class needs.

This unit ties in perfectly with the other Earth science units in this series. They are designed to be used in succession but could be used with your district's curriculum as well.

Thank you for stopping by! I hope this post gave you some ideas about how to make landforms more interesting for your students. More science stations will be coming soon, so stay tuned! Have a wonderful week!

Stay Sweet,

Map Skills Made Easy

Hey, y'all. Are your students needing map skills but you don't know where to begin? Make it easy on yourself and fun for your students with these map skills centers. 

Start Monday off as a whole group learning the basics and finding "Me on the Map."

Tuesday through Thursday, students go to six different stations putting their map reading skills into practice.

Students learn how to read a key and a scale and learn all about cardinal directions and symbols.

They can play Map Bump, do a write the room activity, match map vocabulary words and symbols, label their own maps, and more!

On Friday, students make a map of their classroom or other area of your choosing. You could even send this project home for students to map their bedrooms. It's your choice. Learning map skills don't have to be tedious or monotonous. Make it fun with stations!

For more information about science/social studies centers, check out this blog post for the details.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more stations coming soon!

Stay sweet,