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TpT Back to School Gift Card Giveaway Bloghop

It's Back to School time!  I know many of you went back this week (or even weeks ago!), but I'm one of those "Start with kids after Labor Day" teachers (I'll pay my dues mid-June while you are all out sipping yummy summer drinks), so I've been on the enjoying-summer-until-the-very-last-minute train.

Now it's time to get serious though.  I go back next Friday, so the TpT ONE DAY BONUS SALE is perfectly timed for me.  I didn't even know which grade I'd be teaching at the beginning of August, so I couldn't really take advantage of the last sale days.  Thankfully we have one more day!!!

If you're just finding my blog for the first time through this awesome BLOG HOP, thanks for stopping by!  Please follow me on Bloglovin' so you can be notified of my new posts.  I've been working on updating tons of freebies and items in my store this summer.  Here's a few items I've updated or finished this summer. (Freebies too!)
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Third-Grade-Homework-September-20-NO-PREP-Printables-Editable-Homework-Menu-834099
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Word-Work-Center-Activities-for-Grades-2-3-220-Pages-of-Print-and-Go-Resources-178758

 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Challenges-Brainteasers-Perfect-Fast-Finishers-Homework-Extensions-1287275
There's only 24 hours to enter this $10 TpT Giftcard Giveaway.  It starts at 12am Eastern time on Sunday and runs until 12am Eastern time on Monday.  I'll notify the winner as soon as possible on Monday morning so you can spend the moolah from the gift card at the TpT sale.  Exciting!

All you need to do to enter is follow my TpT Store, my Blog, my IG or mix and match. 
When you finish entering here,  
go to the next stop on the hop by clicking the button below.
Good luck and Happy Back to School Super Teachers!
 
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Stones in the River - A Perfect Back to School Writing Activity

Stones in the River writing activity - perfect for the first week of school in the elementary classroom!  This post explains how to create "Rivers" with your students where they can keep their ideas for writing throughout the year!

If you have students who say, "I don't have anything to write about" then this writing activity could definitely work for you.  It lends itself to pretty much any grade level.  I was actually introduced to it as part of a writing workshop for adults.

Stones in the river is a perfect writing activity for the beginning of the year because it's all about brainstorming ideas, even though the kids don't know that yet. It's also a use all year resource that students should come back to over and over again, when they are stuck for writing ideas, or to add to as they think of more.  

If you ever hear "I don't have anything to write about.", your automatic response can be:
"Go to your river."
and then 
"Have you gone to your river?"
and then 
"Why don't you add some stones to your river?"  

Stones in the River is just a great writing activity for any time during the year when you start to hear the "no ideas for writing" sentiments above.  All you need is paper!!!  Easy peasy! 

During the first week of school I like to do this activity step-by-step with the kids.  It's easy, it's engaging, and it's related to academics! (win, win, win!)

I like to start by showing the kids rivers I've created in the past and letting them know that if they are dying to put color on their river (because you know more than one will already have their brand new scented markers out and ready), they can when we finish making as many stones as possible.
Stones in the River writing activity - perfect for the first week of school in the elementary classroom!  This post explains how to create "Rivers" with your students where they can keep their ideas for writing throughout the year!

Stones in the River Step by Step:
1. Get a long piece of art paper
2. Draw your river with 2 lines (straight, curvy, jagged, whatever) as far apart on the paper as possible.
3. Think of any people that you know who are important to you.  Every one of these people will be a stone in your river.  For every person you can think of write their name and then draw a circle or oval around it. These are now the first stones in your river.

Stones in the River writing activity - perfect for the first week of school in the elementary classroom!  This post explains how to create "Rivers" with your students where they can keep their ideas for writing throughout the year!
4. Think of any places where you've spent a lot of time, places you have visited or want to visit.  Every place you can think of will be a stone in your river.  These don't have to be theme parks or vacation destinations; they can be your bedroom or the playground.  You definitely spend a lot of time there! Write the place and put any kind of circle around it you want.  These are now stones in your river.
Stones in the River writing activity - perfect for the first week of school in the elementary classroom!  This post explains how to create "Rivers" with your students where they can keep their ideas for writing throughout the year!
5. Think of any things or events that are important to you.  Things can be animals, foods, or even colors.  Events can be holidays, special occasions, or memories.  These are now stones in your river too!  Look how crazy full your river is getting!
Stones in the River writing activity - perfect for the first week of school in the elementary classroom!  This post explains how to create "Rivers" with your students where they can keep their ideas for writing throughout the year!
6. Write your name on your river!  That way when we find it on the floor, we can bring it right back to you. We wouldn't want you to lose something so special.  :)

Students can color their rivers or continue adding to them.  Always remind them to keep extra space in their river because they will definitely want to add people, places, things, and events as your year together continues.  They fold these up, put them in their writer's notebook, and use them whenever they're stuck for ideas.

Follow-up mini lessons you can use with rivers include:
How you can use your river to spark an idea for writing
Genre switch - using a river idea to write pieces in multiple genres (a poem AND a narrative about your cat)
Adding on to your river when you think of new ideas

What do you think?  Could this writing activity work in your classroom?  Let me know in the comments!
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One of My Favorites! The C.H.I.P. Trophy

Step by step instructions for making C.H.I.P. (Caring helpful independent polite) Awards.  Great for elementary school students - From I Want to be a Super Teacher
I wish I could take 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 ilovethatteachingidea.com.

The CHIP (stands for Caring, Helpful, Independent, Polite, Person) trophy is a shrunken chip bag glued atop a red Solo 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!  For nine years I used the CHIP trophy and I can attest to its power.
Step by step instructions for making C.H.I.P. (Caring helpful independent polite) Awards.  Great for elementary school students - From I Want to be a Super Teacher
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.
Step by step instructions for making C.H.I.P. (Caring helpful independent polite) Awards.  Great for elementary school students!
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.
Step by step instructions for making C.H.I.P. (Caring helpful independent polite) Awards.  Great for elementary school students - From I Want to be a Super Teacher
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 SOLO cup, 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!
 





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