A Back to School Tip, Freebie, and GIVEAWAY!

I am linking up with my 11 blogging buddies at Upper Elementary Snapshots to bring you some back to school tips, freebies, and a giveaway!  We have a whole week's worth of Back-to-School promotions planned, so be sure to check out our blog!

My tip is to get an early start on students' birthday certificates!  One of the first things I do when I receive my class list each year is to look up birthdays, and then immediately create birthday certificates. When I have finished all of them, I arrange them in chronological order and put them in my drawer.  (Also, whenever I am assigned a new student during the year, "making a birthday certificate" is always on my new-student checklist.)

Free Birthday Certificates

Then, at the beginning of, say, September, I take all of my September birthday certificates out of my drawer and set them on my desk where I can see them, and I refer to them as I am adding notes to my new September calendar display.

I love having the certificates ready to hand out- I am never scrambling to write out a birthday certificate after the student has reminded me that it's their birthday.  In fact, I usually set the certificate on the birthday student's desk or attach it to their locker so it's one of the first things they see in the morning when they arrive at school.  Also, students can receive their birthday certificates even when I have a substitute.  As for summer birthdays, I identify their half birthday when I go through my class list, and make a certificate for them, too.  Having a daughter with a summer birthday, I know first-hand how much they want to celebrate their birthday during the school year, too.

I found this annual routine to be helpful to me when I was a classroom teacher, but crucial for me to implement when I was an ESL teacher with 45 students on my caseload, if I had any hopes of not forgetting a student's birthday during the year!

I am sharing a few freebies today.  Click on the image to download my birthday certificates.
FREE birthday certificates

I've also got another fun activity to suggest for the first week of school!  Pair students up to read a partner play!  I think it would be a great way to get your new classroom of students interacting, especially those new students, or even students who may be feeling a bit unsure because they don't have a particularly close friend in their class this year.  If you haven't ever tried partner plays in your classroom, I invite you to give them a try by downloading the following scripts to use during the first week of school!  The Loose Tooth was written for 2nd and 3rd graders, while Sweet and Salty was written for 4th and 5th graders.

Head to the blogs shown below to find some more great back-to-school tips!

Don't forget to enter the giveaway, too!

Fractions in Simplest Form... An Interactive Anchor Chart

It's my day to blog at Upper Elementary Snapshots today, so I invite you to hop over there (after you check out my new fraction anchor chart below) and check out my topic, Anchor Chart Solutions, where I present several ideas on how to effectively use, organize, and display anchor charts in the classroom! Click on the image to check it out!

Before you go, though, I thought I'd share my "Fractions in Simplest Form" anchor chart with you. As you can see, this is an interactive anchor chart in which I create the basic shell prior to math class, but the five example problems are worked out in the presence of my students (and with their help).
This shows how much of the anchor chart I create prior to class.

I model one row at a time, first enlisting students to help me list the factors for the numerator and the denominator, and then circling the greatest common factor.
 Next, we divide both the numerator and denominators by the GCF and we have written our fraction in simplest form!

When we have finished working through the fractions on the anchor chart, it looks like this:
Display an anchor chart to help your students remember how to simplify fractions to their simplest form!    

If you are looking for fraction resources, check out my store where I have created teaching fraction resources for 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade.  The introduction to calculating simplest form can be found in my fourth grade materials.  


As always, thanks for stopping by!  Don't forget to click over to Upper Elementary Snapshots now!