Saturday, August 22, 2015

Social Studies Buddies - clock buddies w/ social studies

How do you partner students in your classroom? Social Studies Buddies is a great tool for partnering your kiddos quickly and by reinforcing content from social studies class! All I have to say is "Everyone get with your George Washington partner!" and students automatically have a partner.

How to use:
1. Each student gets a copy of the Social Studies Buddies page (I have them glue it in the first page of their Social Studies notebook). Students will write their own name on the bottom of this page where it says "This page belongs to "and that is the last time they will write their own name on this page.

2. Ask students to find a partner in the class and write it under the first line (under Pocahontas).

3. Then ask students to find a new parter to write their name under the second line (under John Smith). 

4. Keep going until everyone's page is filled! If you have a small class, you can either stop and not fill out a few of the people or you can put students in groups of 3.

5. Whenever you're doing a partner activity, pick a historical figure from this page and ask your students to partner up with them. Students will quickly be partnered up and you'll be referencing important historical figures all year!

In my class, we do this on the first day of school. It's a great activity to get students circulating and introducing themselves to students outside their typical friendship circles. My students need a lot of scaffolding, so we find one partner at a time and go sit down in between partner-finding. In my first year, we didn't do this and it got confusing very quickly. I always ask students to leave their Robert E. Lee and Arthur Ashe partner blank. I choose those partners so I know I'm picking a good partner for each student to work with in a heterogenous or homogenous manner. That way I can ask students to get with their Robert E. Lee or Arthur Ashe partner if I specifically need solid partnerships for a given activity. 

Alternatively, you could partner everyone up yourself!

If you grab this product, Social Studies Buddies, before Tuesday, you'll get 50% off! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Day!

Today marks my district's fifth snow day this school year. I don't know about you, but I start to feel pretty anxious if I'm not productive on days off. I thought I'd kick off today by waking up early and cooking an indulgent breakfast just for me! Obviously if you need to, I guess you can share with your family members since it makes 12 servings.

The recipe is from Alexandra's Kitchen and you can find it here!
I already had almost all of the ingredients already. And believe me, I'm not one of those cooks who has a fully-stocked pantry- this is just a really simple recipe. I just had to go out and grab 2 cups of blueberries before I could start baking away.

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
  • 7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar**
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour (set aside 1/4 cup of this to toss with the blueberries)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup buttermilk***

    * 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons

    ** This 1 tablespoon is for sprinkling on top

    *** To make homemade buttermilk, place 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Fill cup with milk until it reaches the 1-cup line. Let stand for five minutes. Use only 1/2 cup of the prepared mixture for the recipe.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.
  4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

The recipe says to bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees, but I baked it for 45 minutes and could have probably baked it for another 5 or 10 minutes to get that perfect golden brown, but I was too impatient to eat it!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Favorite Fourth Grade Read Aloud Book!

I ordered "The Day the Crayons Quit" from Scholastic Book Order after hearing so many teachers and parents rave about it. I was unsure about how it would go over with the upper elementary crowd but decided it would be a fun read aloud on our first day back to school after winter break.

Oh man, I have never had so many laughs at a read loud. My fourth graders LOVED it. They wanted to see it afterwards to read it over and over again!

It's a story about a little boy's box of crayons who write letters to him one day expressing their outrage toward him in some way or  another. Some crayons are upset that he uses them too much, some crayons are upset that he uses them too little. The author, Drew Daywalt, is incredibly humorous.

This book is a perfect model for letter-writing or personification! After we finished the read aloud, I asked my students to pick a school supply in their desks and write a letter to themselves from the perspective of that school supply. They had a blast with this activity because it really let their imaginations soar!

If you'd like to purchase the book for your classroom or your own children, I can't recommend that you do so enough! I even read it aloud to my coworkers because it was so funny! Find it on amazon here: