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Summer Stuff #6 and Throwback Thursday - Reward amazing students with CHIP Trophies

I'm Linking up with The First Grade Parade for Throwback Thursday!  This is my very first blog post from March 7, 2012.  If you're looking for a new classroom incentive, CHIP trophies are the best!  Once I figure out the Michigan job situation I fully plan on spending a few hours with my heatgun (I now have a special tool so I don't have to burn my knuckles on the oven), some chip bags and a glue gun!  I recommend making these all in one sitting.  Just churn out 30 or so and you're set for the year.

If you're interested in more of my Summer Stuff Series, focused on easy items to make or think about implementing in your classroom next year, check out these posts:

I wish I could take total credit for this idea, but "The C.H.I.P Trophy" was introduced to me after my first year of teaching by Kris Thurgood and Kim Christopherson, two teachers and sisters who started    
The CHIP (stands for Caring, Helpful, Independent, Polite, Person) trophy is a shrunken chip bag glued  atop a red plastic cup with a label taped to the front.  Every year as I burn my knuckles smacking down shrinking chip bags in the oven, my husband wonders aloud, "Is that really worth it?"  The answer - ABSOLUTELY!  Nine years of using the CHIP trophy and I can attest to its power.
CHIP Trophy Halloween Costumes
After the success of the CHIP trophy, I decided to see if wearing a shrunken chip bag would also entice my students.  Yep!  Thus, the CHIP necklace was born.  This is simply a shrunken chip bag with a hole punched in it, tied with yarn. I love that third graders find these irresistible and will do almost anything to get one -- including always saying please and thank you.
When I was going to "teacher" school I remember thinking badly upon extrinsic rewards and promising  myself when I was a teacher, I would help my students to be motivated just for the sake of knowing they did the right thing.  Of course, this is always a goal, but after 10 years, I've learned that chip bags work much better than feelings of moral superiority.  CHIP trophies and necklaces are here to stay.
Ignore the mess of the week before school -- look up top to the CHIP trophies all in a row
At a parent conference a few years ago a grandmother related how excited her grandson was to bring home his CHIP trophy, saying he was so thrilled they decided to use it as the star on their Christmas tree.  Siblings of past students relate how their brothers/sisters/friends won the trophy when they were in third grade and how the dog ate/mutilated/stepped on it and made their brother/sister/friend cry.  I often hear from parents of trying to throw away their now 14 year old child's dusty CHIP trophy, but it had to be put in the "special things" box because their teenager refused to part with it.  Thus, I will continue to burn my hands every summer as I spend  a few days using my oven as a chip bag shrinking machine.

Try it!
1. Put a chip bag (must have a foil inside) in your oven at 250-300 degrees (you can try shrinking more than one but I suggest one to start)
2. Watch it.
3. Keep watching it.
Nothing will happen.
Then . . .
All of a sudden . . .
The corners will start to curl!
4. Get your spatula and smack the bag flat
5. Flip the bag
6.  Repeat steps 4&5 until the bag is as small as you'd like it.
7.  Let it cool, hot glue it to a plastic cup (I prefer the smooth textured ones - the tape sticks better), smack on a label (Mine say CHIP Trophy Mrs. Smith's Third Grade Class) and start rewarding caring, helpful, independent, polite people!

If anyone tries this let me know.  I swear by CHIP trophies and I hope someone else can use this great idea!


Third Grade Books for Back to School

These ideas for back to school books are perfect for 2nd and 3rd grade students.  Teachers can use during the first weeks as read alouds linked to writing, art, and teambuilding activities.
This week I've been thinking about all the Back to School books I need to buy since I've been using my amazing teammate's (turned literacy specialist's) massive vat of picture books for the past few years.  Here's a few I'd recommend for those first weeks of school.
After Mr. Plumbeans' house is splashed with bright orange paint, he decides to continue the color and creates a house that represents him and all his dreams.  This is a great book for talking about positive individual differences and is perfect to use as inspiration for a back to school dream house art project.
The black and white animal pictures in this book are to die for!  The kids love the silly and serious animal pictures.  I always show students the cover of the book and then put out copies of the pictures.  Then students are asked to talk to others around the room about what they think might be the caption under their picture.  It gets the kids talking and they love to see what the author actually wrote under their favorite picture (usually the cat in goggles).  This is also an excellent mentor text to use when talking about using pictures to jump start ideas for writing!
Love, love, love this book!  It's a great one to use to talk about memories and connections with others' personal experiences.  You can also use it to introduce an object guessing game - every student brings an object to class during the first weeks and tells classmates what memory or experience the object represents.  It's perfect to use as a mentor text for personal narrative writing and I love the pictures as well as the story.  Well done Mem Fox!  

If you're interested in more of my Summer Stuff Series, focused on easy items to make or think about implementing in your classroom next year, check out these posts:


Wow! That's about all I can say . . . Wow!

What an amazing last few days!  The kids, parents and teachers were so, so kind to me during my last hurrah at Aspen Creek.  Check out the cute little "Mrs. Smith and class" chalk drawings I found just outside my room on the last day of school.

On the last week of school a ton of my awesome moms (I consider them "my" moms, although I guess technically they're my students' moms) surprised me with an amazing lunch of my favorite QDoba burrito, chips, queso (you must have the queso!), and the yummiest desserts.
Then on the last day of school they gave me an amazing frame with quotes from my kids (that's a mom's handwriting, not a font around the outside) and an amazing bouquet of comments from the kids.  I'm no crier, but when one of the moms asked me to read the quote in the frame I lost it a bit.  Then when the kids broke into song (no kidding!) singing Happy Trails (or something like that, it was a bit surreal and I was a crying mess) I was spent.  Thank heavens for ice cream sundaes which distracted the children from my tears.

My teammates got me an amazing necklace from the local Humane Society's fundraiser and auction, so not only did I get a killer chunky necklace (my favorite!) but the money went to help out some doggies who need a home.  My coworkers know me far too well!
And then, the kicker!  My amazing colleagues (pretty sure there are around 90 staff at my school) donated money so I can buy my own sweet little iPad.  I have been using a school iPad and have become a bit too attached.  The thought of giving her up has been a very difficult one to come to terms with.  But now, I don't have to!  
Now, it's off to Michigan in July!  We just traveled out there to do a bit of house hunting (I think we found one!) and I really did love it.  The lakes and the trees are going to be wonderful!  Downtown Kalamazoo is so much fun and they even have a ribfest!  That just sounds amazing!  I'm hoping to find a perfect little school that I will love as much as I have Aspen Creek.  I'm sure it's out there somewhere. :)