Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bully Prevention Month

October is National Bully Prevention month. As an activity, we read the book Spookley, the Square Pumpkin and then did a circle discussion on the carpet. It was good to get things out in the open at the end of the 1st quarter of school. This way we all knew of things that were happening and what we each could do to help make school a great place for students to be. 

Visit for more activities and videos.

The students then were able to create their own pumpkins. The only limitation was that there had to be ridges, so that you could tell it was some sort of pumpkin. You can see that the kids went pretty crazy! Then each student made a letter for the heading of our hallway display. They didn't know what the title was going to be until everyone had finished their letter.

Mrs. Udy's Bully-Free Pumpkin Patch.

Salmon Dissections

4th grade is generally state history. In Alaska, we study the life cycle of salmon because it is very important to our state livelihood. We are able to invite the Alaska Fish and Game to come and lead a salmon dissection for our grade level. 

We rotate each class through one room, so we only stink up one. A lot of the kids start out kind of timid but eventually most of them at least touch the fish once. They review the external anatomy. Our students aren't allowed any sharp tools, everything is done with their hands. The Fish and Game specialist cuts open the fish and then the students get to determine if they have a male or female. They also learn the internal organs of the salmon. It is a great activity that the kids talk about for a long time! 

We also raise little salmon fry from eggs to be released at the end of the year. We've had bad luck the last couple of years, but its looking good for this year! I will post about that activity at the end of May!

Do you do any dissections in your classroom or grade level?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Patriotic Activity

 I did this activity with my Advanced Reading class my very first year of teaching. I was raised a fire fighter's daughter and feel very strongly for the people who devote their lives to the profession. September 11th was a huge day in history. Every has their own opinions about what happened afterwards, but I feel that the US really came together that day and immediately after. I wanted my students to know a little bit about it.

This was a couple of years ago, so I don't remember all the details, and I adjusted it for the next year. The first year, I talked about 9/11 and asked what the kids knew about it. I made sure to talk about all the different placed that were attacked and the different people who responded or even went on the offensive to help and protect. Most of the kids were born in 2001. I then had them think about the following questions:

Why is 9/11 important to remember?
Did 9/11 change the United States forever?
What did the heroes of 9/11 sacrifice for others?
What is an American?

After a little more discussion, I had them write an answer to one of the questions on their strip. (Each long stripe is 2 small strips put together.) Then we assembled it into an American flag. I love they way that each kid had a part in the creation of our flag. It took a group to complete it, just as we are a nation that pulled together in the time of need.

We hung in in our school hallway and a parent actually asked to pay for the shipping to send it to a NY fire station.

The next year, I did a smaller version of this. It didn't have the cooperative part of creating a big flag. Part of reason for the change was to put the emphasis more on the action of the responders instead of the actual event. This year, all the kids were born AFTER 9/11 even happened. 

Each student created their own 9x12 flag (normal construction paper size) and wrote their own definition of a hero on the white stripes. It was definitely a smaller activity, but I feel that we were able to have a good discussion about helping others and doing what is right. 

Even though my emphasis was based around 9/11 and all the different kinds of heroes from that event, this activity could easily be adapted for Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, or any other event that causes for people to reflect and think about others.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Products= Simplified Classroom

I decided that the best way to get going on this is to blog about different products I've used through out the year. I don't have pictures of everything but I will try to post a link to the source.

These cards have been a lot of fun for the kids. I had created my own partner cards by just taking different clipart and cutting the picture in half. I still use that set sometimes, but I really like this set because the kids have to think about what goes with their picture. If they have socks, they should be looking for someone that had shoes. It's a great way to get the kids moving and create partnerships without much fuss.

I hate pencils! I'm just going to put it out there. The sharpener is always broken or not working right. If it is working, it is really loud. The kids are always losing their pencil. Bleh. I was over it. I saw this and wondered if it would really work. I talked to my team teachers and we decided to try to implement this system. We made some tweaks to fit us but it has definitely made my life a little simpler. There are still those students who loose their pencil bags but overall, kids usually have at least 1 pencil to use each day. As for the rewards for, I made it a random thing. Some weeks the kids who had everything they needed in their bag (3 pencils, a big eraser, and a red correcting tool) didn't get anything. Other weeks they got some kind of treat.

This pencil sharpener has been an angel in my classroom! Doing the pencil management system made me have to deal with the pencil sharpener more often than I liked. Also, we use community supplies. That means that we use whatever supplies our students bring in at the beginning of the year. That means that we usually get more of the cheaper, yucky pencils than the nice Ticonderoga pencils. This Bulldog sharpener will sharpen anything!! All those yucky pencils, no problem. One of my team teachers tried it out, I then got one, followed by the other team teacher. Now our school secretary may be purchasing at least one for every classroom. I don't let my kids use it, but I may purchase another one so that they can sharpen their own at appropriate times. My team got ours at Fred Meyers for about $13 each.

My 4th graders still have a hard time with analog clocks and telling the time. These fun labels help with knowing the time and the word phrases associated with benchmark times. 

Class Community

At the beginning of the school year, I  really wanted to build a class community. My school creates heterogenous homeroom classes and then levels for reading and math. Sometimes the homeroom class doesn't really connect because some kids are never with others during the core subjects. I wanted a fun way to have the kids and work together before we started switching for classes. I found this activity at Science Gal's blog. It was great! Most groups figured it out with out too much trouble. 

Materials per group:
6 cups
1 rubber band 
4 pieces of strings 
(Science Gal suggests that you tie the strings to the rubber band prior to the activity, but if you want it to be more difficult, don't.)

Set Up:


Some of the kids at work:

This last group had the most trouble. There were two very strong personalities that clashed. I would not  let them change groups and everyone had to be working a string. It took awhile but they finally got it.

I feel like this was a very beneficial activity for the beginning of the school year. This activity was a simple set up. It allowed the kids to talk, work cooperatively, and practice classroom expectations. I am definitely planning on using it again.


Well the year is almost over but I'm going to try to play catch up and some of the things I have done through out this year.

Big news! I am moving to 5th grade next year! That means that I get to work with basically the same kiddos! That is going to have some pros and some cons. At least I will begin the year with some of idea of where they are and how they work. Hopefully, some of them will mature a little over the summer. :)