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Morning Tubs in the Elementary Classroom

This year, I decided to implement a few NEW things in my daily classroom routine. Morning tubs was at the top of this list and I'm glad I did it! My students are really loving it and so am I!

Morning tubs can be done in so many different ways, with a variety of rules and procedures. What I do in my split 1/2 classroom may not work for you. However, I hope you get a little inspired by some ideas in this post. The goal is to start slow and grow from there. Get a feel for what your students love and add new activities/tubs gradually.

My morning tub routine is fairly simple. We have a flexible seating arrangement in our room so the first thing students do when they walk through the door is hand in their agendas, note from parents, and money (lunch, field trips etc.). They open their agenda and set it on the table and place their notes and money in our messenger basket. Once they have completed their morning job, the can then choose a morning tub to work at.
The only rules for choosing a tub are the following:
- Students can only sit at a table that has an available seat.
- They can't choose the same tub two days in a row.

Students work as a team to collaborate, plan, create, build, and problem solve. I always ask them to try to build/create one structure TOGETHER. My goal is to encourage children to learn how to work with a team. I also encourage them to share materials with their peers. Sharing is a skill that needs to be practiced over and over again, no matter what grade the are in!

How long do they get to "play"?
Our homeroom time is ten minutes. I set out the tubs (one per table) and students start working on them as soon as they arrive. Students who arrive on time get 10 minutes and late students get less time, depending on how long it takes them to make their way into the classroom.

How many kids work at the same tub?
My tables are set up with 4 seats each so I never have more than 4 students at a tub at a time.

How do you solve disagreements?
Easy! We use "rock, paper, scissors" in my classroom to solve all disagreements. It works so well because they can solve problems on their own without any adult intervention. Giving students responsibility for their learning goes a long way!

How do they clean up?
When the ten minute timer is over, I ask my students to put all their materials back in the tub and we place the tubs on a shelf that is accessible to students.  Choosing shelves that are accessible to students allows them to take responsibility for the organization of our classroom. It's important that we work together to keep our learning space clean and organized!

My friend Nicole, from Today in Second Grade, gives a great idea for clean up time on her blog. It will help you avoid disappointment when children see others "breaking their creations".

What happens if students don't play fair?
I usually give one warning only during morning tubs. With only ten minutes to plan, create, and problem solve with their team, I expect their behaviour to be acceptable as they do not have enough time to get off track. If a student isn't following the rules, he/she is removed from the group.

What do you put in your morning tubs?
I have a variety of games that I rotate every week. Here is a list of what i have so far:
  • Linking tubes
  • Magnetic shapes 
  • Lego
  • Tinker toys
  • Math pattern blocks
  • Tangram shapes 
  • Snap cubes
  • Snap flakes 
  • Magnet sticks and balls 
  • Solo cups 
  • Dominoes 
  • Pick up sticks 
  • Uno cards
  • Cards (I usually let them know which game I want them to play that week)
  • White boards with sight words 
  • K’nex 
  • Geoboards 
I got most of the items above from the dollar store and Amazon.

Ready to give morning tubs a try? Start small. Ask parents for donations, apply for grants, ask your principal for help. Some of the items above can be found for cheap at the dollar store. Start with those and add more when you can. The goal is not to have to "coolest" items in your tubs, it is to teach your students to collaborate, communicate, and problem solve with their peers.

Want to save this blog post for later? 
Pin the image above to your Pinterest boards!

Want more ideas and inspiration? 
Go check out Nicole's blog post at Today in Second Grade. She writes all about why she calls morning tubs "play time" and shows what she puts in her tubs, too!

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All Students Can SHINE {K-2 Teacher Community}

Are you a k-2 teacher looking to get inspired for the new school year? Do you like to collaborate with other educators? Would you like to have a safe place to connectshare ideas, and discuss classroom happenings with other k-2 teachers?

I'm SO excited to connect with all of you wonderful teachers!

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Digital Flashcards

I'm always looking for new ways to integrate technology into my daily classroom routines. Brainstorming ways to revamp "blah" activities into new and improved ones has become something I love to do. This time, I decided to switch out my old paper flashcards for digital ones. Why print, laminate, and cut flashcards when you can simply flash them on any device??

What I love most about this resource is that it can be used on ANY device (iPads, tablets, computers, and interactive whiteboards) since it is a PDF file. PDF readers can be downloaded for FREE on so many devices so this format makes it EASY for everyone!

This resource is completely PAPERLESS and DIGITAL! I'm so excited about this because I love using technology in the classroom and this resource is SUPER EASY to use. Students simply choose the phonics sounds that they are working on and read the words on each slide. The best part of these flashcards is that they are SELF-CHECKING! Once the student reads the word, he/she can swipe (or click on a computer) to reveal the picture that goes with the word. This helps students check their reading independently!

In this set of flashcards, there are word lists for:
- CVC words
- Beginning digraphs
- Ending digraphs
- Long vowel teams
- Blends
- Silent e

Each word list has approximately 30 words (long a, i, and o have a few less). There are 345 words in all!!

Take a look at this short video to see how this resource works:

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6 Ways to Integrate Technology in Your Classroom Routines

More and more teachers are hopping on the "paperless classroom train" and it's no surprise that they are seeing amazing success. Their students are more motivated, they are seeing improvements in their students' focus and productivity, and they are LOVING that they get to spend less time photocopying! Integrating technology in your daily classroom routine is a great way to get your students engaged in their learning without creating more work for the teacher. It's a win-win!

OF COURSE, there will always be room for paper & pencil activities. I can't imagine my classroom without them. However, there are so many ways that we can reduce the amount of paper that we use every day. Lots of activities can be done with NO paper at all!

There several ways that you can start incorporating paperless activities in your daily classroom routine. Here are 6 ways that you can easily integrate technology in your classroom and reduce the amount of paper being used by you and your students.

Collage apps are an easy tool that your students will love! We use Pic Collage in my classroom to create collages. We create these for a number of reasons: checking student knowledge before a new lesson, practicing new concepts, and reviewing old ones. Students can add pictures, words/sentences, and backgrounds to show their understanding after ANY lesson.

In the picture below, students are working on a digraph sort. They had to search for images of "ch" and "sh" words and add text to their collage. In case you're wondering, it was crazy hat day!  ;)

This was a collage that we made during our plants unit. Students had to search for pictures and write facts about plants. It turned out to be a fun "show what you know" activity!

Seesaw is a great tool for students to share their work with peers and parents. They can upload pictures, record their voice, and draw on top of images. Their work is shared in a private classroom account (it sort of looks like a classroom Facebook or Instagram) and parents can see their child's creations. I love how Seesaw is completely customizable to meet your classroom needs. You can make posts private or public, depending on the activity and/or your classroom needs. Take a look at some pictures of Seesaw in action:

The EPIC app is free for teachers and perfect for Daily 5, reading centers, and leveled reading groups. Students get access to a HUGE library of free books. Epic has a bunch of awesome features like the "read to me", categories for easy searching, reading logs, and rewards for reading. They also provide a letter for parents, so you can ask them to join at home. We love using this app in centers and partner reading!

Interactive games are the way to go when reviewing new concepts. They can easily be shared with students three ways:
- Send an email and opening it on a classroom device
- Use AirDrop (if you use iPads in your classroom)
- Share with your class using Google Classroom, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox.

Once you have shared the file with your students, they can play the games on a computer, iPad, or tablet. These can also be used as whole group lessons on an interactive whiteboard!

Want to give these games a try? You can download a FREE game here!

You can find my PHONICS GAMES HERE!

Digital graphic organizers are perfect when you want to save paper and integrate technology in your daily lessons. They can be shared with students (just like the games above) and can be used for reading responses & brainstorming stories. The best way to use these is by sharing the files with your students and having the kids fill in the spaces in the Pic Collage and/or Seesaw apps.

You can try a FREE digital graphic organizer HERE or you can purchase the entire set HERE.

Why print, laminate, and cut flashcards when you can simply flash them on any device?? These flashcards are in PDF format, which means they can be opened on ANY device that has a PDF reader! Students choose the phonics sounds they are working on and read the cards. The best part of these flashcards is that they are SELF-CHECKING! Once the student reads the word, he/she can swipe (or click on a computer) to reveal the picture that goes with the word. This helps students check their reading independently!

Take a look at this short video to see how they work:

Get more info on these digital flashcards HERE.
Want to start integrating technology in your paperless classroom today? Try one of the tips above and come back for more once you have mastered it! PIN an image below in order to refer to this blog post later.


Happy teaching!

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