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Schoolwide Service Learning for the Whole Year!

Looking for fun, engaging ways to get your students involved in serving their community? Tired of the same old donation drives and fundraisers? I have created a yearlong service learning bundle with a different community service project for each month of the school year. 

That's right! ALL of the work has been done for you! There are so many options, that you can pick and choose the ones that work for you. You don't have to do a project EVERY month. Use some this year, use others next year to keep it fresh. And, the best part? I have changed my terms of use on this resource to allow school-wide use with a single license purchase! (So, hint...hint...get your school to purchase it, instead of digging into your own pocket!)

I was intentional about making sure that there is a good combination of projects that asked for donations of purchased items and those that do not. Here's an overview of all of the service learning projects:

January - A Souper Bowl

For January, it just seemed natural to do a canned food drive that tied in with The Super Bowl since it's always coming up soon. This is not just a regular canned food drive though, classes earn points with each can donated and the class (team) with the most points at the end will be crowned SOUPER BOWL CHAMPS. However, there is a special "Fumble Day" twist that can be used where cans donated can take a point away from any other team. Classes will need good strategy to be crowned champions!

February - Senior Valentines

For February, students will make cards to be delivered to seniors in local assisted living facilities. This community service project shows students that you don't always have to purchase items to make a difference. Sometimes, using your talent and giving your time makes an even greater impact. This project comes with a school-wide goal poster so the school can set a goal for the number of Valentines created. There's also a special "Crush It" day that can be used near the end of the project to give one more push for Valentine cards. Any student making 5 more cards to be delivered will earn 15 minutes of  FREE time with their classroom bestie.

March - Mutt Madness

For March, I played off of the basketball "March Madness" theme but with a pet drive. Students will be donating pet food, toys, and treats for local animal shelters. But, again, this is not a common collection drive. Classes will be competing in an elimination-style competition. Here's how it works: All classes compete in round one to bring in pet food. The 8 classes that bring in the most pounds of pet food in this round will move on to the Elite 8 (round two). In roud two, these 8 classes will compete to bring in the most toys. However, all eliminated classes may still bring in donations to help their favorite Elite 8 class win. The top 4 classes from this round will move on to The Final Four (round three). In round three, the top four classes will compete to bring in the most pounds of treats. Again, eliminated teams can help their favorite classes out by bringing in donations to help them. The winning class from this round will become the Mutt Madness Champions, with a certificate to prove it!

April - Litter Patrol

For April, students will focus on giving their time to help make sure their school is litter free - just in time for Earth Day! Litter Patrol comes with several different posters to hang around the school and also a competitive challenge if your students need a little more motivation. Classes can compete to see who can collect the most sacks of litter this month - the only exception is that the litter can't come from their own class! Recycling posters are included if schools want to get students involved in sorting the litter for recyclables as well.

May - Penny Wars

For May, I've included Penny Wars, a fundraising activity. This is one project that can be used any time of the year. It's perfect for raising money for a special school project or a worthy cause. Instead of just asking students to bring in money to donate, make it fun by declaring a PENNY WAR! If you've never done Penny Wars, it's a super fun way to engage students in bringing in those spare coins. Basically, each team has a collection container and there are ways to earn positive points (pennies and bills make positive points for their team) and to give negative points (silver coins take away from (sabotage) other teams). Strategy is extremely important in this friendly game of war, so it's important for students to know how all teams are doing on a daily basis. I've included a wall display for updating totals, as well as a link to a spreadsheet I've used to keep track of totals.

June - Cereal Box Domino Challenge

For June, I included a two-week Cereal Box Challenge. This project is another one that could be used any time of the year, but June seemed nice so that, if needed, cereal can be given to school families in need for summer breakfasts. In this challenge, students will bring in cereal to donate to local shelters or food banks. However, before donating the boxes, students will get to use the cereal boxes as large dominos as they build a domino track down the halls of the school (or in another large open space). The more boxes of cereal donated, the longer the domino train will be! Classes (or teams) will want to be the one with the most donations because they will be the ones who get to setup and start the domino train! A school count poster is included that can be posted in a central location and updated daily to keep student excitement up! There's also a one day "Hi-Ho-Cheerio Challenge" that can be used during week two that will make all cereal box donations for ONE DAY count double!

July - Art from the Heart

For July, I included another creative fundraising activity called "Art from the Heart." This can be used any time of the year. In this activity, students will make their own original artwork to be donated to be used in a silent auction. There are 10 different themed flyers with guidelines that can be used - perhaps each grade level will create art with a different theme to make sure there is a variety of art. Once art is collected, a Silent Auction night will be held where parents and community members will be able to come bid on student artwork (starting bids of $10).  This is a creative way to raise money for a special school project or a worthy cause. Students will see that their work is valued, the community will receive original student artwork to display, and funds will be raised for a great cause - everyone wins! There are also 4 unique ideas for using any leftover artwork to bless communities even more. All of the artwork will have a special purpose, whether taken home from the auction or not.

August - Secret Mission: Operation Kindess

For August, I thought Operation Kindness was a perfect mission. This could be used at the beginning of the school year to show the importance of random acts of kindness and help build classroom community. In this project, students receive a letter asking them if they're up for a challenge of completing a few tasks to become Special Agents of Kindness. The first task: complete a secret act of kindness as a class. There's a sign for brainstorming of class ideas for this mission. Once this class mission is completed successfully, students will be asked to complete one small secret act of kindness each day for one whole week. Students are only able to reveal these tasks to their teacher, who will send in the top secret data so that succesful students can receive their Special Agent of Kindness ID.

September - Free Little Library

For September, students will bring in any old books they have at home that they no longer read. These books will be collected for a school "free little library." Free Little Libraries have been popping up all over communities around the world. They are little boxes where people can leave books and take books - a spot to share the love of reading. Having a Free Little Library at your school will ensure all students have at-home reading. If a volunteer wants to take on the job of building a Free Little Library to go outside of your school for the community to use, that is wonderful, but not needed for this project. Cardboard boxes can be used - put one in a central location inside the school, or put one on each grade level hallway. Just turn a large cardboard box sideways (opening to the front) and fill with books! Make it even more special by letting students decorate it. This will give them a sense of ownership over the box, too. 

October - Socktober

For October, students will be collecting socks for local shelters before the cold winter months hit. Did you know socks are reported to be the least donated item, but greatly needed, for shelters? To make this a fun, engaging collection there will be a challenge for the final three weeks of this month long collection. Week 2 - SILLY SOCKS - the class in each grade that donates the most socks in week two will win a silly sock day! Week 3 - STRUT YOUR SOCKS - everyone who donates at least one pair of socks in week three will be invited to participate in a "strut your socks" fashion show parade down the hallway! Make sure students wear their favorite socks and play some fun music for this reward! Week 4 - Sock It To 'Em - the class that brings in the most socks this final week will have the chance to "sock it" to the principal by hitting them in the face with pie!!

November - Candy for a Cause

For November, Candy for a Cause is the perfect project. Many households have leftover Halloween candy that no one wants, or can find candy deeply discounted at stores. And, it's the month of THANKFULNESS. The school will be collecting candy this month. For a motivational piece, classes can color and hang large candy pieces around thier rooms for every 20 pieces of candy donated! Candy will be donated along with thank you notes (written by students) to first responders in their local community - think police officers, fire fighters, and medical emergency responders.  Thank you note templates are included. This is just a little thank you for those who do so much in our community. 

December - Teddy Bear Toss

For December, students will collect stuffed animals to donate to children in local hospitals for the holidays. To make this collection more fun and engaging, students will be invited to a Teddy Bear Toss before handing over their donations. Classes will head to a large open space (think gym, cafeteria, or hallway) one at a time and students will toss their donations toward targets (think hula hoops or taped-off targets). If their stuffed animals land in a target, students will win a prize (no-cost coupon rewards are included for Teddy Bear Toss Winners). After each class, stuffed animals will be removed from the targets, but left on the floor so that at the end of all tosses, a visual will remain of all stuffed animals donated so that students can see the impact they are making on their community.

I hope these monthly service learning projects bring some new ideas to your school and help your students engage with community service. By purchasing the entire bundle, you save 25% - and you'll have everything you need for the entire year!

Seasonal Big Poems for Grades 2-4

Are you a teacher looking for a way to incorporate weekly poems into your curriculum while also focusing on reading strategies? Look no further! Our monthly poem work series is designed to meet the needs of teachers who want to provide their students with engaging, seasonal poetry activities that focus on a variety of reading skills.

Each packet contains four original poems per month, along with eight activities for each poem. These activities include


reading with expression

making connections

grammar fun

writing response

handwriting practice

word work

and comprehension checks

Plus, the digital version includes a fluency tracker and a YouTube link to listen to the poem.

Our weekly routine explanation and sample pictures of all activities included in the packet make it easy for you to implement the poetry activities into your classroom. The full-page and half-page copies of the original poems provide flexibility for different learning styles and classroom needs.

Say goodbye to scrounging around for weekly poems that are geared more towards K/1st grade. Our packets are specifically designed to provide a reading strategies focus that is appropriate for students in grades 2-4.

Don't miss out on this fantastic resource for your classroom as it grows! It is a growing bundle which means, you not only save 25%, but you receive all future additions FREE. This means the $72 bundle can be purchased today for only $9, but that price will increase as future months are added!

Bringing the Neighborhood Tradition of 'You've Been Booed' to Your School Staff Each Month

When it comes to boosting staff morale, there's nothing quite like a little surprise and some friendly competition. That's why I'm excited to introduce a new staff exchange tradition: "You've Been Surprised!"

For those unfamiliar with the tradition, "You've Been Booed" is a neighborhood game where one person leaves a small gift and a poem on a neighbor's doorstep, along with a sign that says "You've Been Booed." The recipient then hangs the sign in their window and pays the game forward by leaving gifts and signs for two more neighbors.

I've created a monthly staff exchange pack that includes everything you need to kick off this fun tradition at your school - no matter the month! Each month, the pack includes four pages: an instruction page with gift ideas for that specific month, a direction page to pass along with your gift, a poem to add a festive touch, and a sign for the recipient to hang on their window or door.

The themes for each month are designed to align with holidays and seasons, making it easy to incorporate into your school's calendar. January is "You've Been SNOWED," February is "You've Been HUGGED," March is "You've Been PINCHED," April is "You've Been EGGED," May is "You've Been SHINED," June is "You've Been SPLASHED," July is "You've Been SPARKLED," August is "You've Been SCHOOLED," September is "You've Been SCHOOLED" or "You've Been SPICED," October is "You've Been GHOSTED," November is "You've Been GOBBLED," and December is "You've Been JINGLED."

One of the best things about this tradition is that it's completely optional. If a staff member doesn't want to participate, they can simply post an "opt-out" sign (included) on their door or window. This allows staff to choose to participate when they're feeling extra festive and want to spread some cheer without feeling obligated.

I can't wait to see how this tradition brings your staff together and adds a little extra excitement to your school community. Happy "Surprising!"

Build a Reward Classroom Management

It's that time of year. Everyone is restless. Spring fever is setting in. Classroom management needs a little reinforcement. If your students are anything like mine, they love working toward a goal, they love earning stickers, and they love a surprise. I combined all of these loves into my newest classroom management tool.

Build a Reward lets students work for a goal you set - this could be a specific behavior goal or it could just be the goal of earning "compliments" when out and about. Then, they earn a digital "sticker" each time they reach that goal.

Students get so excited to drag a "sticker" into place to build an object on one of the 20 scenes included in both the Google Slides and PowerPoint version of this resource.

The 20 scenes include seasonal monthly scenes as well as some generic fun ones - plus, there are 10 more scenes coming! These scenes are editable, in that teachers can delete or duplicate the pieces to fit the specific needs of their classes.  Each scene comes with 10 stickers, but if you want more or fewer - that's your choice!

But, the best part?  Once the scene is completed, students get to visit the PRIZE MACHINE.  Who doesn't love to pick a prize from a machine!

Students pick a prize by clicking on it and moving it (or deleting it) to reveal a secret number. The number will match one in the list and THAT is the prize the class earns!  All reward text is editable so that you as the teacher can choose rewards that fit your needs.  If you can't think of 20, just use 10 and repeat them all once.

So, if you need to change up your classroom management to help combat spring fever, my Build a Reward classroom management might be just the twist you need!

10 Valentine Activities for the Classroom

Here are 10 activities for your elementary classroom that are sure to engage your students in Valentine fun while still covering the topics and skills they need.

1. Valentine Word Problem Workouts

Your students will have fun following along with this video as they solve multi-step word problems and then do exercises that correlate to the answers.  Fun holiday GIF characters lead them in their workouts!

2. Valentine Pixel Art Comprehension

Every teacher loves holiday read-alouds, right? After reading your favorite holiday books, let students complete these no-prep Valentine Pixel Art comprehension activities.  As students answer questions about the book correctly, the picture will begin to reveal itself and students will be amazed!

3. Valentine Digital Games

With a pack full of digital games along with a directed drawing and origami craft, you will be SET for any downtime in the month of February.  These activities are the perfect FUN fillers for those moments when you have 5 minutes to spare, or when it unexpectedly rains and you find yourself indoors for the day.  Do yourself a favor and have these on standby this month!

4. Valentine Breakout

This Valentine Breakout is the perfect activity to save for Valentine's Day (or week).  This breakout is unique in that it uses a Google Form so students do not need Google Accounts.  Just provide them the link and they solve problems and riddles to unlock 4 locks to BREAKOUT in time for the Valentine Dance.

5. February Flip the Decks

Flip the Decks are the digital versions of Roam the Rooms - no matter which version you use, your students will love the ELA and Math practice with a Valentine twist! 

6. Valentine Digital Photo Booth

How do you make writing more engaging for students?  Add a digital photo booth with it, of course! Students will write an emotion poem about something they love and snap a selfie to use in their illustration where they will drag and drop Valentine props onto their photo.  A student tutorial is included with this resources, so no worries if your students are inexperienced with Google Slides!

7. Valentine Story Response Crafts

One of the best things about holidays at school are walking through the halls and looking at the displays!  Your Valentine display will be set with these story response crafts!  We've picked 5 of the best holiday read-alouds and created a short story response along with a student craft to go along with the books.  These are perfect for parent volunteers and substitutes, too!

8. February Glyphs

Glyphs are one of our favorite things to do with students.  They're fun and engaging, require students to analyze data, help students get to know each other better, and leave you with a student created display. Win-win-win! These no-prep coloring glyphs are perfect for morning arrival time and center time, but also perfect to leave for a volunteer or sub!

9. Feed the Monsters - Math Fact Fun

These Google Slides drag and drop math fact activities are perfect for center time or independent practice.  They are available in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division versions for differentiation in the classroom.

10. Digital Valentine Cards

Whether your students are in-person or virtual, they can all participate in the Valentine card exchange with these digital Valentine cards.  Students can design and personalize their own card with drag and drop images.  Take a peek at the student tutorial that is included to see if this would be appropriate for your students.

If you have suggestions for other Valentine activities you would like to see included in this list, drop a comment to let us know.

Classroom Breakouts Made Easy!

Holiday Breakouts Bundle

As a tech specialist, I love to visit classrooms and introduce students to digital breakouts.  However, nothing is more frustrating than finding one to share with students, only to realize they can't access it.  Many districts (without the knowledge of teachers) block students from accessing Google Sites that are not built within their district's own Google Domain.  Now, some of these districts will "unblock" them temporarily if they confirm there is nothing offensive on them.  But, other districts (mine included) will not be so willing to do this.  While the reason is good (it keeps students safe when districts don't know who is controlling the content of those sites), it is oh so frustrating when the content is not only safe, but educational.

While some districts don't block Google Sites, they do block other elements of many breakout games, such as YouTube videos or files hosted privately.

After many frustrations with this, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own breakouts.  But, I wanted to make sure they were not only accessible to my students, but any students.  

Why Google Forms?

Reason #1 - Access for Everyone

By using Google Forms (instead of Google Sites), it ensures that all students have access to the breakout.  A Google Form (in view mode) doesn't even require a Google login or account; therefore, it can be completed by anyone, on any type of device.

Reason #2 - No Prep & Easy to Navigate

By using Google Forms, any puzzles and/or problems can be embedded right into the form.  This means students don't need to manager multiple tabs or pages - absolutely everything they need is there in one spot!  This also makes it NO PREP for the teacher! #WinWin

Reason #3 - Self-Checking Locks

By using Google Forms, the lock codes become self-checking.  Using the self-validation mode when setting up the GoogleForm, I have made it so that students cannot move on to the next lock without getting the current lock open.  If students enter an incorrect answer, they will be prompted to "try again."

Reason #4 - A Learning Record

By using Google Forms, students' names and answers will be submitted to the teacher digitally where she will have a record of all learning that can be pulled up on a single spreadsheet. This can be used to track participation and trend in skills.

What does a typical Google Form Breakout look like?

Let's take a look at my Christmas breakout as an example:

When students begin, they will have a brief introduction, setting them up for the task.

Then, there will be 4 locks to unlock - a Letter Lock, a Number Lock, a direction lock, and a Word Lock. Let's see an example from each.

Letter Lock Sample

Students must discover what present is in each of 5 boxes.  Then put the first letter of each present in ABC order to find this lock code.

Number Lock Sample

Students must find the missing number from each of 5 light patterns.

Direction Lock Sample

Students must find which direction a candy cane was passed through a grid of reindeer based on 6 clues.

Word Lock Sample

Students must find the ONE word missing on the compound tree puzzle that could be used to make a compound word with both the word before it and the word after it.

This is just one sample, but most of my breakout games are similar to this in format.  I recommend having students work on the breakouts in groups of 2-3 students.  This gives students help and support while allowing them to use each other's strengths.  If it is your class's first time doing a breakout, I would even recommend doing it together as a whole class to let students understand the format.  Once they've experienced one, they'll have the hang of it!

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