BTS Night Parent Handout

It’s back to school season. For most of us with school aged children that means some sort of meet-the-teacher night with lots of handouts. Since I am a teacher too, I know the handouts have valuable information in them– when to wear PE clothes, lunch procedures, HW procedures, acceptable pencils… We all receive these pamphlets with key information that get dumped into that junk drawer in the kitchen. For the past few years, I created a flip book and attached a magnet to the back, so parents could hang the booklet on their refrigerator in plain sight. I still like that idea, but I was getting tired of making them, and my pages never lined up correctly (which bugged my OCD nature to no end).

This year I folded mini pocket folders with card stock and inserted individual cascading pages by modifying my old flip book file. You can see the headings of each page of information and pull out that insert to get the information you need. I think these folders will still get dumped into the kitchen junk drawer, but I like the construction of them, the final size, and the way you can view the information headings.

To Make the Folders:

  • Use 8 1/2″ x 11″ card stock. Cut cardstock to 7 1/2″ x 11″ size. I found Astrobrights cardstock paper that was double colored, so each side has a coordinating color. It makes the final pocket folder more interesting.

  • I have a paper scorer to make guidelines where I need to fold. You could use a ruler to measure and fold by hand. Set the paper in landscape direction. You will fold along the long edge of the paper at 5 1/2″ (bottom of the paper folds up 2″). You will fold the paper in half at 5 1/2″ down the center.

  • After pre-folding, open the paper flat and cut a skinny triangle along the 2-inch flap. The tip of the triangle will be 2-inches into the paper at the 5 1/2″ fold. This will allow the bottom flap to fold up neatly without bending or buckling in the center.

To Make the Printed Inserts:

  • I created THIS TEMPLATE in MSPowerPoint. There are 10 slides (plus one slide with teacher notes) with editable textboxes in different sizes.
  • Fill the textboxes with the essential information for your classroom.
  • Each slide page is 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″. I printed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, so lots of cutting is involved. Print the pages and cut to the correct sizes with a paper cutter. All pages will be 5 3/8″ wide. The heights vary by 1/2″. The tallest page is 5 1/2″. The shortest pages is 3 1/2″. You could add one more pair of pages for a total of 12 pages (6 on each side), and the shortest page would be 3″.

  • I cut the width of the pages first. Then, I cut near the header next. For me, if I lined up the paper at 7″ on the paper cutter, it would cut at the perfect place above the header for all pages. After that cut, I would flip the page and cut my varying heights beginning with my largest page (5 1/2″is the tallest; 5″ is the next height; 4 1/2″ is the next… down to 3 1/2″).

  • Cutting the pages down to size is time consuming, but I think the final result is well worth it!
  • As a final step, print or write a title on the front of each folder. I printed a label on 2″ x 4″ Avery shipping labels and then cut the labels to 2″ x 2″ because I liked the square shape on the folder covers (and I happened to have that label size in my massive paper supply).

Advertisements

Tiny Books

Kids love to self-publish and there are so many fun ways to make booklets with materials you already have in your classroom or at home. One easy booklet I like to make with students uses one piece of copy paper and scissors. I call it a Tiny Book. After it is finished, the book will have six interior pages.

There are many ways students can fill the Tiny Books. I have students use these little books to practice procedural writing and make “How To” instructional manuals. When we read Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, the students create a step-by-step guide for one of the poaching methods.

While practicing Helping Verbs and Verb Tenses, the students re-write and illustrate nursery rhymes in past, present, and future tense using a Tiny Book.

When we study colonial life, students research a specific role in the settlement and describe the colonist’s life in a tiny book. They write about clothing, food, housing, and jobs for a specific person and add illustrations with captions. It does not take too much time to complete and reinforces non-fiction text features.

For back to school, you could have students create a Tiny Book that shares facts about the student as a way to introduce each other to the group. Students could create a Tiny Book promoting any favorite summer reading they completed. I love the books because they do not involve a lot of prep and can be used for many different lessons… and they are mini, and I am a sucker for anything mini.

Materials:

  • basic white copy paper, 8 1/2″ x 11″, (one per student)
  • scissors

Directions:

  • Step 1: Gather your paper and scissors.
  • Step 2: Fold one piece of paper in half the hamburger way. Repeat two more times. Unfold the paper and make sure you have 8 rectangles on the paper.
  • Step 3: Fold the paper the hamburger way again, one time. Your paper will be 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ with 4 rectangles showing. From the folded edge of the paper, cut down the middle along the fold line to the center of the paper.

  • Step 4: Open the paper flat. Fold it one time the hot dog way. Hold each side with one hand and push towards the center until your fingers meet. The center of the paper will push out creating 4 flaps.

  • Step 5: Press down, so pages line up into the booklet shape. The finished booklet is 6 pages.

If Montezuma had an Instagram Account

instagram-historical-figures-4

If Montezuma had an Instagram account, what would he say when Cortez arrived in 1519? My fourth graders have some ideas. We are finishing our study of the conquests of the Inca and Aztec empires and have been reading about Cortez, Pizarro and the events that took place in the 1500s when the Spanish arrived in Mexico and Peru. Students took the information they had about Cortez’s encounter with the Aztecs and Pizarro’s contact with the Incas and created Instagram posts from the point of view of the leader, the conquistador, and a common citizen or soldier. The students wrote comments that shared knowledge of the time period as well as demonstrated point of view and perspective.

instagram-historical-figures-5

In order to create the Instagram posts, I shared a template with the students in PowerPoint. It had a permanent background with text boxes layered on top. The students clicked in the text boxes to create the usernames and three comments. The first comment was from the Inca or Aztec leader. The second comment was from the conqueror, and the last comment was from a person who would have been at the scene. The students were also allowed to create related hashtags.

instagram-point-of-view-activity

After students typed their comments, they printed the Instagram post. I set up the template, so the Instagram post filled the left side of the paper only.

instagram-template

Using a paper cutter, I cut the paper into a strip about 4 1/4 inches wide. I also trimmed about 1/2 inch off the top. I cut colorful construction paper into strips that were 4 3/4 x 11 inches. With scissors, the students rounded the corners of the construction paper. They also had the option of rounding the corners of the printed Instagram post. They glued the Instagram post to the construction paper centering the white strip closer to the top of the paper. With a Sharpie, the students drew a circle for a home button at the bottom of the construction paper to complete the effect of an iPhone.

instagram-historical-figures-close

Students colored a profile picture and drew a scene that matched the comments. The details in the drawing were based on information from the readings and unit of study.

img_2983

The finished Instagram posts have been so much fun to read and have made the material much more personal for the students. The activity idea is great because it can be adapted for almost any historical figure or time period you may be studying. CLICK HERE to make a copy of the electronic template via Google Docs. If you would like a PDF version of the template and have students handwrite their Instagram posts, CLICK HERE.

Shape Poems

ice-cream-sundae-concrete-poem

Poetry is in the air in my 4th grade classroom! We are reading and writing poems every day for the next few weeks. I always like to start my poetry unit with something that has a low intimidation factor (and does not require rhyming in any way), so we usually begin the poetry unit with shape poems (or concrete poems). In past years, the students used a writing “frame” I provided to write what I called adjective poems. They added adjectives to the poem frame and then transferred the poem to the shape. I explain the process for the adjective poems in THIS BLOG POST.

This year, students chose a simple object and brainstormed words they associated with their object. Students picked all kinds of items– basketballs, dogs, donuts, soda bottles, ice cream sundaes… They made a word bank using a graphic organizer like THIS ONE. Once they had a big list of words, we began a search for an image to match their word.

basketball-concrete-poem

We searched for black and white clipart in Google images. The kids pasted the clipart image into a Word document and enlarged the blackline image to fill an 8 1/2″ x 11″ page. We printed the image and lightly traced the main lines with pencil on a blank piece of copy paper. Using black pens, the students used words from their word list to fill in the shape over the traced pencil lines. Students left the paper with the clipart image under the paper with the concrete poem while writing to serve as a guideline. In the example below, the student is starting to create the French fry shape by writing words like “salty”, “crispy”, or “crunch” multiple times in each fry. The student poets would match the area they were filling with a word that made sense for that area of the image.

concrete-poem-patternThe kids also added a few details to complete the effect such as pink pen instead of black for the dog’s nose.dog-concrete-poem-pink-noseCheck out more ideas for student poetry in my TeachersPayTeachers store. CLICK HERE to purchase classroom resources for teaching poetry.key-concrete-poem

Native American Magazines

native-american-magazines

I love culminating projects that wrap lots of skills together in a tidy finished product. Before the holidays, my students finished our Native American unit with a research project focused on one aspect of a Native American group from a specific region. They presented the information in a magazine style feature article. The project checked off a lot of boxes for me. Research skills (check). Technology skills (check). Expository writing (check). Non-fiction text features (check). Really cool looking writing piece printed on fancy paper (check).

wampum-magazine

The students started the project by reviewing their textbook, readings, and graphic organizer notes for the different regions and tribes we studied as a group and chose a favorite area on which to focus. I had multiple topics ranging from the Inuit and igloo building to the Navajo and turquoise jewelry to the Iroquois and the game of lacrosse. Once students selected a topic, they generated three sub-topics that guided their research. I had the students use THIS ORGANIZER to help focus their reading and note taking.

Once students gathered information and were ready to begin writing the magazine style article. We looked at many professional writing samples in various magazines targeted at children in upper elementary grades (Kids Discover, American Girl, Muse, National Geographic for Kids, Boys’ Life…). Specifically, we looked at the titles of the feature articles, the first sentences in each article, and the layout of the page.

sample hook sentences from magazines

We spent one class period using THIS ACTIVITY PAGE and writing first sentences from several articles. The students met in groups to compare first sentences and determine what the sentences might have in common. The idea was for students to replicate a good “hook” sentence in their own article. Some key ideas emerged. Many opening sentences contained an unusual fact or an idea that grabbed our attention. All of the sentences used interesting vocabulary. We also noticed that the length of the sentence varied– we found short and long sentences that were effective.

lacrosse-magazine

To create the article, students used MSPublisher documents. Each person started by setting up a text box and changing the formatting to two columns. Each article was three paragraphs long matching the three sub-topic boxes in the notes organizer page. After typing the article, the students inserted a fancy header and developed a catchy title and sub-title, added images with captions, and chose a colorful background. Finally, I purchased shiny paper that felt the same as magazine paper, so the printed masterpiece really looked like a true magazine article. We were all impressed with the quality of the final product and are ready to write for a real publisher.

To see another activity idea for non-fiction text features CLICK HERE. To see my Native American teacher resources, CLICK HERE to visit my TpT store.