Project Based Learning Activity: Build a Zoo

Many of you are desperately counting down the days to summer vacation right now, and I know all too well how much of a struggle it is to keep students engaged through the last few days of school! My favorite way to keep students working hard through to the end of the school year is with projects. You can hit several standards at once, group students together so they don't need you as much (all the praise hands for this one), and make it as big and creative as you want!

Some easy-for-teacher projects are math PBLs. My Build a Zoo PBL is PACKED full of Common Core math standards that can be used as review this time of year. It is differentiated, so you can still enrich for your higher achieving students, and the idea of designing a zoo is super engaging for students...even as summer break is on their minds!

I wanted to give you all a close look at the Build a Zoo project, so you can see what I'm talking about!

The entire project is printable, and only a handful of the pages include task cards that you may choose to cut. You can't get any easier when it comes to prepping for a project! When you introduce this to your students, start by letting them know that they are zookeepers for the week (or maybe longer, depending on how you choose to roll out the pieces of this!), and it is their job to keep the zoo running smoothly. This includes planning the schedule, feeding the animals, designing where the different exhibits will go, and so much more! There is no way your students won't get excited about that. ;) 

First, your students will need to choose the animals they want to have in their zoo. You can differentiate this by giving students a budget of $100 or $1000. They decide how many of each animal they would like, and they track their spending. Staying in budget provides a bit of a challenge...making it extra fun! 

Once your students have chosen the animals they would like in their zoo, it's time to design the zoo grounds! They must measure the animals of their choice using the animal task cards and draw the exhibits to scale. Your class will love being treated like architects with this task!
**If you are a Canadian or Australian teacher, measurement pages using the metric system are also included! 

Alright, your students have animals, and they have designed the actual zoo. Now, your students must use their knowledge of time to create the zookeeper's schedule. Depending on the animals they have chosen, the time spent feeding animals will vary. There are also special shows and events that the zoo hosts that they must work in! This section is also differentiated, so you can switch it up for students who have mastered elapsed time at different levels! 

The zoo is open and running, and it is the zookeeper's job (aka your students') to feed the animals and make sure that they get what they need! This section of the project reviews fractions! Students must determine which fraction of the animals prefer different types of food. Your students will be working so hard as they jump from skill-to-skill in this PBL activity!

Money is another important skill you may want your students to review this year. As customers are purchasing their souvenirs, the zookeeper must help them determine if they have enough money for the things they want! 
**As a bonus, this portion of the project comes with task cards using Canadian and Australian money clip art!

After all parts of the zoo are up and running, an important part of any zookeeper's job is to track how well their zoo business is going! Students can brush up on their data collection skills with this graphing task to finish up the project.

Whew! As much as that may seem, that's not even every piece of this project! But what's great about having so many options is you can pick and choose what will work for you class! If this is the first PBL your students have done, it may be best to introduce the tasks one or two at a time to keep your students from being overwhelmed. You also can staple all of the pieces together in a booklet and let the students work through at their own pace! The possibilities really are endless, which is what makes something like this perfect for the end of the school year. 

If you're interested in trying this project in your classroom, you can see it in my TPT store HERE
If you have used on of these PBLs before, don't forget to tag me in your post so I can see it! I love what teachers have to say about this project! Their students love it, and I know yours will, too. :) 

Want to remember this later? Pin it! 

How to Integrate Math into Valentines Day

If you're like me, you love throwing seasonal activities into your busy days! It makes everything a little more fun and engaging. I've always created Valentines mailboxes (or bags!) with my students in the classroom. I know the kids L-O-V-E having cute mailboxes to drop their valentines into. I also know it's so hard to find time for things like this because there's always curriculum to hit. I've got a few ways to mix the two for you, so you don't have to cringe and hide behind your desk if your principal walks in while you are making Valentines bags. ;)

Aren't these the cutest?! You can decide whether your students will be making unicorn or monster bags. All you need to do to prep them is print the pieces and go!

Students get to "shop" for the pieces to their unicorn or monster. Here's where the math comes in! AND, let me make it even better for you...these menus are differentiated! The menus look identical except for the prices. This is a perfect way to meet the levels of all of your students. One set uses simple two digit numbers, and the other uses three digit numbers (ex: $1.25). If neither of those options work for you, there is an EDITABLE menu included...perfect for customizing it just for your students.

You can differentiate it even more by providing different budgets for your students to follow. They will have a blast getting to shop for their unicorn or monster parts. It's not pictures, but there is an "order form" included to make shopping a breeze.

If you're looking to "amp up" the math even more - you could give students money manipulatives and they can count out the exact change they'll need as they purchase the parts. I like to have them all laid out on my small group table. Students can even take turns being the shop owner, they'll just eat it up!

Anyway, that's it!! It's simple and fun, but it's great practice for students as they decorate their Valentines bags. I promise they won't even notice all of the math they're doing!! You can find the unicorn and monster sets in my TPT store, or just click the pictures below!
How else do you incorporate Valentines Day with the standards you have to hit?

Pin for later!

Adopt a Texas Classroom - FAQ

Hi all! I have been completely floored by the response to my “Adopt a Classroom” project. Between the sign-ups, emails, messages, comments…I literally can’t do it all. I have a 6 month old at home with me right now, and even if he wasn’t, there’s no way I could keep up with it all on my own! I have been very fortunate to have some great friends offer to jump in and help with matching classrooms and replying to messages.

All that being said, I would love to respond to each email and comment, but it would be completely impossible at this point. This is a GOOD problem to have, because it means so many of you want to help. However, I also feel I should prioritize matching classrooms right now. I want your questions to be answered, so here are some of the most frequently asked questions. If you still don’t find the answer to your question, please reach out.

I want to help, what can I do?
Please, please, please use this link to sign up. I’m not able to go through the comments and emails and match you – going through this form is the only way.

How does this work exactly?
If you are applying to adopt a classroom, please use this form. You will be matched with a teacher and I’ll send you their contact info, a little about their situation, and a list of supplies they need most immediately. After you receive this email, my part is done! You will contact the teacher you matched with and see how you can best help them, and then put together a plan with your students (or group) to help meet their needs.

What am I committing to by signing up? Can you give a rough financial estimate of helping out a classroom?
The only thing you’re committing to is trying to help this classroom in some way. In no way does the teacher expect you to get everything they need. Many have expressed gratitude for absolutely anything to help. Currently, I am able to match 3-4 classrooms who want to help with 1 Texas classroom right now, which is great as they are hopefully able to receive more of what their students need!

I’m not a teacher, can I still sign up to adopt a classroom?
Short answer…yes! We’ve had girl scout troops, churches, running groups, and businesses all sign up. This is wonderful since it’s all about helping the kids who need it!! If you are an individual, considering gathering some friends and family to help so that you are able to maximize your impact on the classroom you adopt. Sign up using the form here, and when it asks for grade/school, just put your group name or “family.”

My grade level/school wants to adopt more than one classroom…or wants to adopt a whole school…
If your grade level wants to adopt more than one classroom, please have each of you apply (or if you want to adopt only 2 classrooms, then please just have 2 of you apply). Then you’ll be matched with classrooms and can work on that as a project together. If your school wants to collectively adopt a school, please put that on the form where it says grade/school…”School adopting school.”

Is this just for schools in Houston?
No, it is for any school in TX deeply affected by Hurricane Harvey. 

How does shipping work?
Shipping is your responsibility, so please keep that in mind when considering what you are collecting.

Is there a list of supplies somewhere?
No. Once you apply, I will work to match you with a classroom. I’ll send you what that teacher has requested as their most immediate needs.

What kinds of things are the teachers needing?
True to a teacher’s heart, most teachers are asking for things for their students, such as hygienic supplies, school uniforms, and backpacks. Basic school supplies are also in demand!

So I need to buy these items and ship them?
You can. Another option is to collect donations and purchase supplies directly from Amazon. They can ship directly to that teacher’s school for you, and you will save greatly on shipping (especially if you have Prime!). You could also send an electronic Amazon giftcard.

Are you confirming that the people applying are teachers in need?
Teachers who apply must use their school district email to apply. I strongly suggest you ship only to their schools as well. Some schools are greatly flooded and won’t be open for a while – just wait until they can accept shipments to send anything. This will ensure that your donations are going exactly where they should be – I completely trust teachers, but there may be others who try to use this as an opportunity to help themselves. Pay attention to the email of the classroom you are matched with, and use your own discretion.

I want to be matched with a school in a certain area, a Catholic school, a first grade classroom, etc. Can you do that?
We are doing our best to roughly match grade levels, or at least primary grades with primary, etc. I have had several requests for teachers to be matched with a certain area, and I would LOVE to make that happen, but to be honest, it is very time consuming. As I type this, we sit at 5,400 submissions. That is A LOT of people to match. Trying to make particular pairings, especially by location, takes a much longer time. We aren’t able to take requests like that right now, I’m sorry. Feel free to reach out to a particular school or area on your own if you have a connection with them! J Please be flexible, as there are a lot of teachers and students who need help!

Are schools able to receive the shipments?
Some schools will be opening on September 5th, and some have not heard yet when they will reopen. This is something you will need to coordinate with the teacher you are matched with!

What is the timeline for getting matched?
We are working through them in the order they are coming in. There are an amazing number of submissions, so it is taking some time. I ask that you please be patient…we are working on it as quickly as we can!! We are hoping within the week at the latest. You will receive an email letting you know you’ve been matched.

I would LOVE to see what you and your classrooms (groups) are doing to help!!! Please use the hashtag #AdoptaTXclassroom to tag your pictures, and feel free to tag me (@sunsandsecondgrade) as well. 

A huge and overwhelming THANK YOU goes out to all of you who are signing up to help. It is an amazing thing to watch people come together like this.

Most importantly, the teachers in TX are going to be doing the real work in the coming weeks and months, as they’ll have lots of broken students coming into their classroom. It takes a special person to be a teacher, but these wonderful men and women will be giving that a whole new meaning. Our hearts and prayers go out to you and your students, and I truly hope you are able to receive some of the help you need.

Project Based Learning: Plan a Snowman's Vacation

It's that time of year when students are getting antsy and a little *too* comfortable in your classroom. They tend to start slacking a bit here and there, and maybe complain about being bored. Well let's fix that, shall we?! These PBL Math Projects have been a HIT in my classroom, and I've heard wonderful things from other teachers as well!

These projects are jam-packed with Common Core math tasks to help your students review and apply these critical skills  It's not just any old worksheet, the tasks will really challenge and enrich your students as they apply them to real-world situations. Sound great for some of your high-flyers, but not sure if your on-level and struggling students will be able to keep up? Many pages are differentiated so that your students can still be challenged, but at a level appropriate to them!

Alright, here we go...

Engage your students right off the bat by telling them they're a travel agent who gets to plan a vacation for...a SNOWMAN!! They'll already be excited about the idea - maybe even let them chat a bit with their friends about what the vacation will be like. This really helps them buy into the project you're about to present to them.
To start, students will read a survey completed by the snowman to help them know what kind of vacation he's looking for. They'll also get some data on the popularity of different destinations, and use that data to create a bar graph. There are differentiated versions available - challenge your students by letting them create the title and labels. Then, students can look at the data and analyze it to help them make an informed decision about the destination they choose for their snowman.

They'll also set up a budget and plan out his airfare, hotel stays, meals and activities!
Then, students get to plan out their snowman's fun-filled days for him! There are two versions for your different learners. Both have a list of various activities students can choose to sign Sammy up for. They'll use these to create a schedule for him. However, one version has the times in 15 minute increments, and the other has the times in 5 minute increments, with an additional challenge thrown in - some activities are scheduled for certain times, so students must plan around those activities accordingly.
Time for some shopping! The snowman can't go on vacation without his tropical wear, so students will help him shop for his trip. Students are given a budget and guidelines to follow, and there are differentiated shopping menus for you to provide them. One menu deals with two digit numbers, and the more challenging menu deals with four digit numbers.
 Once their snowman has gone on vacation, he ends up helping out some new friends as they buy souvenirs. Students will travel to task cards and count the bills and coins, while recording the totals on their recording sheet. This isn't just any old counting coins activity though - students will be challenged with the problems presented to them on their recording sheet, and will have to use addition, subtraction, and reasoning skills to solve them!
Last but not least, once their snowman returns from vacation, he's ready for his travel agent to help him plan a road trip! Students will use an inch ruler to measure the distance between the cities he's chosen (in inches). Differentiated recording sheets allow students to record measurements in inches, convert the inches to miles, and even calculate the driving time between cities.

Your students will be BEGGING to work on their snowman's vacation during math time!! This can be used in a variety of ways. It's a great project to give to your students who need some enrichment or fast finishers. I've done it in small group with students to allow me to easily differentiate with my different learners. I've even done these projects whole group, where you can really transform your classroom and let students feel completely transported into their project.

Check it out HERE, and if you try it out with your students, I'd LOVE to know how it goes!! :)

What's in your TPT cart?!

AH! The big TPT Sale is almost here!!! :) If you haven't heard...
Woo-hoo!! Starting Monday, August 3rd, lots of sellers will put their stores on sale for 20% off, and then TPT gives us a code to get an ADDITIONAL 10% off!!! It's such a great time to stock up on Back to School goodies.
I love seeing what other teachers are buying during the sale...lots of products end up making their way into my cart that way. ;) So, here's a few things I'm planning on grabbing during the sale. Feel free to link up at the link above (big thanks to Speech Room News for hosting!) and share what you're excited about buying as well! Don't have a blog?! Tell me in the comments, I LOVE finding goodies to add to my cart...though my husband might not love it as much. ;)

 Here's two products I'm excited about using for the first week of school!! I love a good "Math About Me" project to mix things up, and the writing activities will be perfect for me to get to know my new kiddos!
All About Me Math Craft & Chart
All About Me Writing Activities
I'm required to have a Word Wall this year in my classroom and I want to make sure my students are doing meaningful activities to get familiar with the words on it. Can't wait to snag this pack from Amy Lemons!! She has the BEST stuff!
Sticking to the Sight Words!
I'm also excited to really teach my students how to work well in groups together! My first two years I never really taught them how to work together successfully, and I always wanted to pull my hair out when I had them work in groups. Big teacher mistake!! I got better at it last year, but I can't wait to use this pack to help my students become respectful group members!
Ready, Set, Groups!
 These next two I already purchased and set up in my new room, but I had to share in case you're looking for something similar. I LOVE the idea of Classroom "Crews" instead of individual classroom jobs. It will make my life SO much easier and promotes community as well. I'm also kind of obsessed with these adorable schedule cards. :)
Classroom Crews
Editable Daily Schedule Cards
Here's a few of my favorite products you can snag for a major discount during the sale! Perfect for BACK TO SCHOOL! :)
Student Data Folders
Editable Classroom Bunting
Setting Up Math Journals

 Ok, let's see what y'all are buying!!! There's always room in my cart for more great resources... ;)