Thursday, April 30, 2015

And They're Off...a Day Full of KY Derby Fun!

What a fun day! I've celebrated nine Kentucky Derby events, but I must say that this week, especially today, was the most fun I've had with my students yet!

This is a postcard I bought locally. It is framed and stays on my wall all year long. We are proud of our city! You can see Churchill Downs in the bottom left corner!

Our principal, Mrs. Hoffmann on the left, and our PE teacher, Mr. Carden on the right - they are rocking the Derby hats and suits!

Mr. Carden again, in his suit - check out the white shoes and all! He is ready for Derby!

There was so much going on all week. Just take a look at the fun we had and pin some ideas for next year. Or, if you have school tomorrow, you could easily spend a few minutes and do something horse-related with your students to celebrate! 

First up, my intermediate technology students used the website, Instant Poetry Forms. You can see this simple, but amazing website here. I've blogged about this site before, but it's worth mentioning again! It is a very basic poetry writing website with templates/forms for writing all kinds of different types of poems. Just write (type) and print! You can also fill in the blanks, then copy and paste into a Word document so students can format their fonts, add pictures, and basically jazz up their poems. The site is connected to other sites you might have heard of...Read, Write, Think and

Here's just a few of their poems and pictures! We used the horse pop-art pictures from Art with Jenny K's Wild West Coloring Sheets. She has amazing art activities that you can use for a variety of content areas and seasons/holidays! Check out her store here.



My planning period is the first class of the day, when all of our students are in math class. So, I went up to my two favorite colleagues' classrooms (shout out to Mrs. Payne and Mrs. Matthews!!!!) and shared in some Derby fun with them.
First, they played my Derby Race probability game. It's a FREE file you can get here. They had a blast! You can also play this file at any time of year. It works for studying probability and subtraction.

Then, Mrs. Payne had made up a Hovercraft Disc Derby. She attached balloons to plastic thread spindles, and she blew up the balloons. All of the students chose a disc that they thought would win. The students took turns holding a balloon until she said, "Go!" They then let the balloons go...and they were SUPPOSED to hover above the ground and "race" to the finish line. Well, it didn't go exactly as planned. Some of them just stood still. Some flew upwards a little, and other just fizzled out. It was great that the experiment didn't work perfectly. There was great discussion as to why it didn't work, and they hypothesized how they could get them to work in the future...don't use discs to attach the balloons-find something smaller and lighter, try different balloons that aren't so flimsy, etc.  




Before I left, I checked out some jockey silks (shirts) that her class had completed the day before. She cut out colorful shapes and created these simple worksheets for them to practice shapes and patterns. They are also working on measuring, so they talked about the size of the silks and estimated how many shapes could fit on the silk.

During literacy, we made hats from Babbling Abby's Derby Days unit. We're doing our end of the year activities (more about that tomorrow, along with some freebies!). It was just a fun addition to all of our work and fun stuff we did today! I have to say, their hats turned out great!

Love the bright blue feather on this fedora!

Look how colorful this hat is!

Have a great Oaks and Derby, if you plan on going. If you're betting, good luck! If you're just watching, enjoy the beauty and tradition of the day. At the very least, have some fun!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

End of the Year Activities, Part 1

I just wanted to share some of the fun end of the year activities we've been doing lately. It's one of my favorite times of the year, not just because it's close to summer (and a little freedom!), but it's a more relaxed time of year. We are closing out all of our vocabulary lessons, summing up what we have learned, and finishing up writing projects. I also do a fun poetry unit at the end of the year. It's (again) more relaxed, less pressure.

Last year, I started doing The Pinspired Teacher's End of Year Countdown Activity Cards. I put the cards in balloons and hang them from the ceiling. I think I first saw this idea on Hope King's blog, and I loved it. When I saw the Pinspired Teacher's cards, it was a no-brainer.

We just started it Monday. We've had our Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament.

We kept it simple - best of 5 rounds. We did it at the end of class - it only took about 10 minutes!

Today, we read on top of our desks. I'm reading aloud Pay It Forward, and I only had one copy, so it was listening comprehension on their part. I ordered a class set of the books from Scholastic Reading Club and they came in yesterday, so I surprised them with their own books today in addition to changing up the reading format! They loved it!

I'll be back later to update you on all of our fun activities! I'm making up some little awards and printable to go with some of the activities we're doing (when it makes sense). I'll share them soon! Happy Hump Day!

Tomorrow is Friday for us. Since we live in Louisville, Kentucky, we get out of school for Oaks Day! Does anyone else have Friday off?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kentucky Derby Fun, Ideas, & Freebies!

It's that time of year again - post-spring break THE KENTUCKY DERBY! Now, my whole life, I never thought about celebrating the KY Derby because I grew up in Mississippi. We didn't have horse races there, so it was never a big deal. I mean, I'd heard of it, but it was more of a historic, cultural event that you studied about and just kind of knew about, but when you live in Louisville, Kentucky (the home of Churchill Downs and the Derby), you ARE part of the celebration whether you like it or not. I must say, we LOVE it. It's the best time of year to live here....but I'm dragging on and on.

I have some Kentucky Derby freebies for you in case you want to celebrate it with your class, but before I share those, I wanted to share some of our past Derby pictures and experiences...Here goes a walk down Memory Lane! :)

Now, when you think of the KY Derby, you probably picture images like...


but when you are a poor teacher, you can only afford tickets to the infield. You experience the KY Derby a little differently. Here's a look at my experiences!

2007 - my first Derby!

2008 - the best Derby
All of my friends got to come from out of town. Even our friends in town went with us. It was like a big family (but friends) reunion!
my best friend, Amanda and her (now) husband, Brian

my best friend, Amanda and me (we've been friends since 5th grade!)

It gets REALLY hot at Derby. In the mornings, it's usually cool and almost ALWAYS raining, but in the afternoons, we are sweating and shedding jackets, raincoats, etc!

This is my friend, Katherine and me

The gang being silly

More silliness and fun ensues

Seriously, that was the last time I really went to Derby. My husband and his buddies from Alabama go every year. I chill at home with my son and usually some of my girlfriends come over and we have a special Derby lunch. It's much more exciting to be there and watch it, but as soon as that race is over, I'm always so glad that I'm at home watching it on my TV in amazing hi-def!

ANYWAY, if you stuck around this long, you deserve some KY Derby ideas & freebies!

Some things we do at school...

1. Our kindergartners decorate shoe box "floats" - any kind of theme imaginable. They make these at home with parents' help. Then at school, they make Derby hats. Usually, the teacher buys some Dollar Tree visors or caps and they use all kinds of crafts to decorate them - flowers, leaves, stickers, craft foam shapes, miniature pinwheels, roses (the signature flower of the KY Derby), etc. Also, a TON of hot glue! You can go crazy at the Dollar Tree with decorations - be as creative as you want! On the Thursday before Derby, they parade around the school wearing their hats and showing off their floats! It is so cute!

2. I even found a few pictures of a bulletin board I did for KY Derby 135 (I think this was 2008). The kids colored and decorated a hat (coloring sheet I googled). Then I took their pictures and put the hats on them. We laughed at how some of the hats looked so big on them. I love the sombrero with the feather on the top and the chef's hat!  On the left bottom side of the board, I printed out some sample Derby tickets and put trivia questions on them. This was a point in my career that I was REALLY big into interactive bulletin boards. I like doing them now, but I was obsessed with them then.

(This was also my first homeroom class I had at the school where I teach now. I miss those kids!)

3. I have a fun website on my student wiki page that I have my students play the week of Derby. It's "What's my Derby horse name?" So cute, so fun - the kids love it because they put in their first initial and the day of the their birth (day #), and it gives out unique, fun Derby horse names. I think it's done by our local newspaper (The Courier Journal). The website now has an ad on it, but you can scroll below the ad and you'll see it. It's a small box on the page. You can get to that fun activity here.

4. And last, but certainly not least, here are 2 fun, new freebies I just put on TPT. The first one is a math game that my college math teacher showed us how to play. It was my "Teaching Elementary Math" class and the teacher was amazing. She gave us so many cool resources, and it's funny because I didn't even know that I would be living in Louisville, Kentucky when she showed us this game, but when I started teaching here, it just made sense!
It's called "Derby Race". I don't even think the worksheet she gave us back then had a title, but I gave it one anyway and basically vamped up the worksheet all pretty for you all! The gist: you are using probability and chance to see which horse will win out of 6 horses. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

Click on any of the pictures to check out this FREEBIE! Or you can click here!

I have also added a "Kentucky Derby Fact & Opinion" cut and paste activity!

Click on pictures to check out this FREEBIE. Or you can click here!

Have a great weekend and here's to an awesome Derby celebration! PLUS, thank you SOOOO much to all of my new followers! I really appreciate every single one of you! :)