Friday, June 24

Midwest Tribe Meet-Up

I attended a meet-up today with other teachers from the Midwest. It was really great! 

We met at Bravo!, a delicious Italian restaurant. It was so lovely getting to meet with this group of ladies and talk about teaching and their TPT experiences. 

One teacher shared about how the first two years she was on TPT she didn't really work to make her store succeed. That's been me the last two and a half years. I haven't had the time, or rather, I haven't taken the time to really create a plan to help my store be successful. I want that. I love creating products out of things I've made for my own classroom. I just haven't made my store a priority. 

I liked the advice given to focus on one social media outlet to advertise. I currently advertise on zero platforms, so I think I'll give Pinterest a try. I wonder if most people create a separate account to do their advertising. I liked the advice to stagger your pins because if it's just a blast of product pins, people will ignore them. There was also advice to pin other people's products, too.

I also came to the conclusion that maybe I should create a brand name, something catchy. My store has just been called Mrs Jones since it began in 2013. In the beginning, I liked the anonymity, and I didn't think much of anything would come from the adventure I was talked into, but I think maybe I should change the store name. I wonder how that will affect everything I already have set up. 

My husband and I had a brainstorm session on our date night tonight. I'll keep thinking about it over the next few days, and hopefully I can nail something down before July 1. Really, sooner would be better! 

Finally, I really liked what was shared about product covers, because I know when I go shopping on TPT, the product cover {sometimes} makes or breaks whether or not I'm going to click to see the product description or the preview. I need to take time to go back through some of my original products, recreate them on PPT, and make a more attractive cover. Sometimes, I admit, I spend just as much time on the cover as the rest of the product. 

I really enjoyed this meet-up, seeing a familiar face from the meet-up I attended a couple years ago, and having some great conversations. I can't wait until the next one. 

Thursday, June 23

Space Day 12

This week has been interesting. I have a completely new group of kids each hour, so some activities have been the same as before, but I have also included some new activities. 

On Monday, for instance, we made sundials. We used a clock printable, decorated it, and glued it on a paper plate. Then, I poked a hole in the middle. The kids put a Popsicle stick in the hole, we laid it on the ground, and, by golly, it worked... for the first two groups. The shadow pointed to the correct time when the 12 was facing North. In the third group, though, the shadow was an hour off. I could not figure out why...


Tuesday, we made the string of planets I have already shared. Yesterday, we made the pneumonic device My very excited mother just served us nachos. and did the Earth painting where we squish and twist globs of blue and green paint. 

Today, we explored the Earth some more. We learned about the layers inside the crust with this really cool picture. We started by making a picture of the Earth. Then we glued our layers together for inside the Earth. Finally, we put our two pictures together on a black piece of paper, labeled the layers, and added some stars on the background. You probably can't tell, but there's a flap sticking up out of the picture. 

The kids did a great job with putting their project together and knowing each of the layers. 

I sure am thankful for a three day weekend! I secretly miss my groups from the first two weeks and wish I could have them back. Tomorrow will be a busy but great day, so hopefully I remember to come back and write about it. 


Saturday, June 18

Space Week 2 Pinterest Inspirations

Yesterday, I ended up attending a job interview instead of Summer Academy, but luckily, I had a kind colleague who was willing to take my three groups of kids.

Today, I wanted to share where my ideas came from this week. As usual, click on the pictures to go to the site.

Our pneumonic device was a free product from TeachersPayTeachers. This was such a great thing and really helped some of the kids because they would point to the underlined letter and name the planet. When I printed this, though, I printed them so that they were just half the page, a smaller version.

This project took us two days. We painted one day and cut and put the picture together on the second day. I loved how each kids' pictures looked different based on their paint dots and how they twisted the plate. It really is a neat project.

Space slime sure was a hit this week! This was so much easier to make than I thought it would be. Most of the ingredients I added, but the kids started it with the glue bottles and stirred away throughout. I would definitely do this again with my students.

We made our own constellations this week. First, I had the kids draw a picture. Then I gave them a row of star stickers to put somewhere on their pictures. I also gave them a special glittery star because we learned that each of the constellations usually has a brighter star nearby or as a part of the constellation which helps us identify it.

On Thursday, if I had been at school and not at an interview, we would have made astronaut pudding. Not to worry, we'll still make it later on, but I wanted to provide you with the link anyway.

Have a good weekend.

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Wednesday, June 15

Space Day 7

We learned about constellations today. Constellations are groups of stars that form a picture. We learned about some of the constellations in the sky and how because of the Earth's rotation we only see the constellations during specific seasons. I learned that the Big Dipper is called the Plough in England and the Wagon in Germany. We also learned that astronomers use the constellations to find stars in the sky. 

Our activity today was creating our own constellation. The kids did a great job and some of them were very creative! 

Tomorrow is astronaut day. It'll be a favorite, for sure. We'll be making a delicious treat, watching some videos of the astronauts in the space station and possibly making one more craft. Cheers to the last day of my work week tomorrow! 

Tuesday, June 14

Space Day 6

We finished our Earth pictures today. We cut out our Earth circles. We glued them onto black construction paper. We added some stars for some extra glitter and sparkle. I thought they turned out great. 

We also made space slime. Most of the kids loved the ooey, gooey slime. 

We started with emptying a glue bottle into a bowl. Then I poured in a layer of glitter. The kids stirred it well with a Popsicle stick. Then, I slowly added capfuls of liquid starch as the kids stirred. 

After 3 or 4 capfuls, the kids switched to using their hands to knead the slime. I added 1 or 2 more capfuls of starch until it wasn't sticky or stringy anymore. 

My first group loved watching it slowly stretch down to the table, and later down to the floor, it was so stretchy. It wasn't as messy as I thought it might be. Once there was enough starch in the bowl, it was an easy clean up. Any goo left in the bowls easily washed out. 


The glitter was supposed to be stars because our topic today was stars. 

I started my grad class reading for this term. One of the books is called The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. It's been an interesting read so far. I have read about the author's experience of living in a hospital for several weeks after burning herself on the stovetop while fixing herself some hot dogs, living in the desert, and shuffling around to too many "homes" to remember before the age of six. What an immensely loyal family, though! I'm anxious to read about their next adventure and eventually read how she broke the cycle of living in poverty. 

Monday, June 13

Space Day 5

We worked on learning the order of the planets today. When I was little, I learned My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas, but there is no pizza anymore. Poor Pluto. So, this pneumonic device from Teachers Pay Teachers was very helpful for the kids, though I will always use the pizza sentence.

Some of the kids were able to point to the words in the sentence and tell me the planets in order by the end of our time today. Aren't pneumonic devices awesome! I should definitely use them more. One of the older girls was sharing with me the ones shed learned in music this year, the same ones I learned, interestingly enough. Every Good Boy Does Fine and FACE.

We also began our Earth paintings today. We squirted paint drops on the back of our paper plates. We dripped 4 green drops and 6 blue drops because Earth is mostly water. The kids, even the little ones, all did pretty well with controlling the size of their drops. We squished it down onto a bigger paper plate, spun the little plate a bit, and lifted them up to reveal the Earth. 


As usual, I really love how everyone's painting is different depending on the size and location of their drips. I did have a few kids that twisted their plates too much, but that's just the way it goes. 

We'll finish them tomorrow, after they've had some time to dry, and I know they'll look great. I'll post some finished pictures. 

I really love the kids' enthusiasm for our space class. They are excited to see me and find out what we'll be doing. Cheers to a great start to week 2! 

Friday, June 10

Space Week 1 Pinterest Inspirations

I wanted to share the sites that inspired our craft projects this week. Please click on the pictures to go directly to the original websites.

Our mosaic pictures on Monday were inspired by this pin from Pinterest:

Because of our limited time and the fact that my kids range from Kindergarten to 3rd grade, I decided to cut our squares about 1". I loved the variation of results that the kids produced, especially since they got to choose how big the circle was and how much of each color (yellow, orange, blue, and purple) they used.

Our Tuesday revolution tools came from this pin:

You can get the free printable at her TPT store. The kids were so amazed at how you could make the moon orbit the Earth while the Earth orbits the sun.

On Wednesday, our really cool moon and star mobile came from this pin:

I love how simple it looks. I had the twig and strings ready to go in advance, along with circles drawn on the contact paper. All the kids had to do was cut out the pieces and put it together. It still ended up taking most of our time together each hour.

Our Thursday solar system project was inspired by 2 different sources:


I liked the simplicity of the hat, but we did that last year, and I wanted to find a different way of doing things this year, even if the content is the same because I knew I'd probably have some of the same kids sign up for my class again. My alternative way of creating a solar system map was to use the same idea as last year, but to hang it on a black piece of yarn this year. I did not purchase the TPT product on the right, but it looks great. It was just my inspiration.

Here is my space YouTube playlist. Everyday we've watched one or more videos too. 

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Thursday, June 9

Space Day 4

We studied the eight planets today. The kids colored a page of the planets while I read a book about them. We cut them out, lined them up, and put together our project. We attached the planets to the string with a label, so each planet's name is on the back. 

In the book I read, it mentioned that a Mercury year lasts 88 days. The kids were over the moon (he he) to find out how old they would be if they lived on Mercury. To do this, I multiplied their age by 365 to find how many days old they are (approximately). Then, I divided that number by 88. Earth age x 365 / 88 = Mercury age. They couldn't believe that I would be 137 on Mercury! (Please note, this isn't exactly accurate because it doesn't take into account the fact that 1 day on Mercury lasts 2 months on Earth, but it got the point across that time is different on other planets because their distance from the sun and how fast they rotate.)


The kids loved their string of planets. I was actually surprised by how much they liked it. Many of them wanted to see their string flutter or fly as they walked around the room. 

We don't have school tomorrow, so we'll continue our planet study on Monday. It's a repeat activity from last year, but I know the kids will enjoy it because it involves paint. 

I'm trying to decide whether I should plan two more weeks of different activities or recycle all the same activities for our second round. If it'll be like last year, I'll end up having pretty much the same kids as these first two weeks. 

Wednesday, June 8

Space Day 3

Today we focused our study on the moon. Well, we didn't end up studying as much today because of how long our craft took. I had also hoped to do the flour pan experiment where you show why the moon and other planets have craters. We didn't get to, so maybe I'll save that demonstration for our astronaut day next week. 

Our mobiles looked great, though, when the kids were done. I think the toughest parts of this, for them, were peeling the back paper from the contact paper moon and being patient with letting the glue dry on the little stars. 


For the most part they all loved the moon and stars mobile. They especially loved the shiny sequins. The sequins were supposed to be craters on the moon. I think this is my favorite space craft so far. 

Tomorrow we will study the planets and make a solar system map, sort of. It's going to be great. 

Tuesday, June 7

Space Day 2

I have been away for awhile, busy making some changes in my teaching career, so I haven't felt like writing... here or in my personal journal, but I want to change that because I love writing. 

Since I'm teaching at my district's version of summer school, I wanted to write a little each day about it, and maybe on my days off I can share a little more about these changes and other things that have been going on this school year. 

Yesterday, for our first day learning about space, we learned about the sun, how it's a star, and how it gives us heat and light. 

We created these great mosaic art pieces of the sun. It was fun seeing the different versions created by the K-3 kiddos. Here's one created by a 1st grader. 

Today we talked about rotating and revolving. We stood in a circle around a "sun" and spun around showing day and night. Then we revolved around the sun to show a year. The best part was putting them both together: rotating while we revolved around the sun. 

Our craft today was this tool to show our parents about how the sun stays put, the Earth revolves around the sun, and the moon revolves or orbits the Earth. 

Can't wait for tomorrow's space craft! I think the kids will like it. They tend to like most shiny or sparkly things.