Earth Day Celebrations

Happy Sunday everybody! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend full of outdoor fun and celebrating our beautiful planet! We had an amazing Friday at school together celebrating Earth Day--but more on that after my...

Tech Tip of the Week! 

I have a lot of early finishers in my classroom this year (they are quick to produce quality work!). So, I was looking for something interesting and exciting they could produce during writing time. I found My Story Book online where students can make their own stories for f.r.e.e. My early finishers have been typing their stories in and they just love it. As a tech nerd, I love the fact that they get to practice their typing and computer skills. They have done such an amazing job using the program that it is now an activity the entire class gets to try. A lot of my kids beg me to let them use the program during free choice, but our free choice does not include screen time. So they have been choosing to do it during free choice time at our computer special. They LOVE it! I love to see them collaborate and enhance each others stories.

Earth Day

We had such a blast celebrating Earth Day on Friday! Really, we celebrated all week long by making an extra effort to recycle every chance we got :) You can make each day Earth Day if you try! At the beginning of the week we made these adorable Earth Day promise crafts to display on our lockers.  If there is one things kids absolutely LOVE, it's painting with their hands. I love watching their faces as they put their hands in the paint for the first time...they are so giggly and cute!! I got this idea from the amazing, Cara Carroll :) Check out her blog for tons of quality resources.


The next activity we did was from Katie Mense at Little Warriors. Ok, no matter what grade level you teach, you NEED to do this with your students! It was so much fun and so meaningful to my kids. They themselves get to practice the art of reducing, reusing and recycling. The students take a cup of cheerios, which represents old recycled car tires in a landfill. They take up SO much space! So we reduce the cheerios by crushing them. Then, we reuse the broken down cheerios by adding water and Plaster of Paris to create a road! Ta-da!!! So messy but so fun. Unfortunately, I did not get too many pictures because I was having so much fun watching them with my eyes instead of through my screen!

And last, but not least, some of our amazing staff members provided each class with the opportunity to plant a class tree. Across our school grounds, you can now find 25 new, baby trees! How amazing will it be for our kids to come back and see how much they tree they planted has grown! We had awesome discussions about what the tree needs to survive and how we can spread the word to keep our tree protected. For most of my students, and myself, it was the first time planting a tree, ever!


I'd love to go on and on about how much fun we had's GOT time!!!! Are there any other Game of Throne fans out there? I have been waiting for this night for a year! Here's to hoping Jon Snow is still around...!!

Have a wonderful week everybody! Looking forward to sharing again, soon.

Happy Teaching!

Nature Appreciation and STEM Success

Helllloooo from beautiful Michigan! We finally got the nice weather we have been waiting for deserving (it snowed last week). I have had an amazing past few days. I just got back from an amazing weekend in Chicago. Family from all over, some of whom I have not seen in over three years, reunited in the windy city for my cousins beautiful wedding. If there is one thing I absolutely love and cannot get enough of, it is seeing my family happy together. So after this weekend, I figured coming back to school on Monday would be tough--but it was a great day! 81 degrees and fun with my kids and then a trip to Lake Michigan my co-worker/roomie. It could snow tomorrow so here in Michigan we take advantage of these gorgeous days. And who says you can't go to the beach on a Monday? I might make this a thing. 

Anyway---I have a tech tip of the week coming to you later this week. The good news is I have two amazing things happening in my room to share with you!

1.) Nature Appreciation...isn't that neat?! Ok if you don't get that reference you have to watch this video (before you watch just know it will be 2 minutes and 46 seconds you will never get back...can't said I didn't warn you!). 

Some incredible teachers at our school wrote a grant to develop an outdoor nature program for our kids. It is SO awesome. Shout out to Debbie and Julie who set everything up and spend an hour each day with a class outside. They are giving our little guys an opportunity most kids do not get these days. A lot of students attending our school do not have yards or woods to play in. So, they cleared an area behind the school that kids get to explore and observe nature in. They also get to (this one is my favorite parts) build forts...with sticks...! One more reference that is hilarious and totally applicable for this situation. This video is way better than the one I posted about nature...

We have had two classes so far with these amazing educators and the kids just love their time with them outside. I get to sit back and watch students journal on a tree stump about their surroundings, watch students listening for birds and bugs, watch boys and girls working together to build a teeter-totter or a bench made completely out of things they found in the woods, and watch students bonding, laughing and having fun together. Check out some awesome pictures below, and a tweet from Julie that melted my heart.

As Debbie put it, you can take the teeter totter out of the parks, but you can't the teeter totter out of the kids! 
The boys made this bench all on their own!
Proud bench makers.

2.) STEM Success I am implementing STEM time in my room this year and the kids and myself are loving it so far. With Brooke Brown's STEM challenges, we are able to do different 3 different STEM challenges each month! It's very little prep and a little spending on the teachers part (but so worth it!). I can repurpose materials and find items needed around my room most of the time. When I think about where my students began with our STEM challenges compared to where they are now, I feel so proud. The first STEM challenge was SO tough...the kids just sat there at first. How do I do it? Can you help me Miss Stasiak? I don't know how to. Notice how there are a lot of "I" and "me" going on in those questions and statements. 

I kept telling them they were working in a group for a reason and I was not going to help them or show them how to do anything. Failure is learning. Be patient. Be persistent. None of that is happening in my room during STEM challenges now. Can I show you guys my idea? That's a good plan. We didn't think of that! We did it! Miss Stasiak look at what we did!! 

Besides the fact that I know my kids LOVE the STEM challenges AND that they're using their science/technology/engineering/math brains, my favorite thing about these challenges is that they are learning valuable, critical life skills. Communicating and working with others, trial and error, persistence, patience, problem solving...the list goes on and on! Not convinced yet? They're also using their imagination to get creative to solve their problems. Check out our most recent STEM challenge: Egg Drop!

Step 1: Planning. Before we start constructing, we take some time to list what materials we need and to draw a blueprint of whatever structure we plan to build that day. They have to agree to a plan as a team.


Step 2: Gather materials and construct. Anything and everything happens during this time. I set a time limit based on how difficult the task is. They can use the entire time to work, or finish quickly and wait for the other teams to finish! It is totally up to them :) 


Step 3: Feel every emotion waiting to test the final product. We circle around the group testing their structure to ask questions about their idea, watch the test and cheer no matter what the outcome! 

Step 4: Celebrate and reflect! We congratulate every group on their hard work and then go back to our STEM packets to reflect on how we thought the test went. Did it go as planned? What would we do differently? Then they rock-paper-scissors to see who gets to take the creation home :) 

Those smiles :)

I hope everyone has a wonderful week full of sunshine and warm weather :) I have some fun Earth Day activities that I can't wait to post at the end of the week. Stay tuned!

Happy teaching!

It's April WHAT?!

Are we really half way through April already?! Ay yi yi!!!  I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing spring break! I was able to go to Vegas for a few days with some of my college girlfriends and then spend the rest of the time with family. It was...perfect :) I spent ten days away from my classroom and did zero work...we need these breaks and so do our kids. I believe I am a better teacher when I fully commit to a break from school--I come back feeling so refreshed and ready to have some fun with my class. It's all about the relationships and those relationships cannot thrive with a clouded mind. Take a few extra hours to prep before the break and enjoy yourself :)

Tech Tip of the Week

To add to my list of favorite apps and activities for word work--I introduce to you, Popplet! Popplet is  a graphic organizer accessible via the web and the app store (free and paid versions). My students are pros using this app on the iPad. I set aside roughly 20 minutes at the beginning of the year to walk them through how to use it and my expectations. We use the free version (the free version does not allow you to save anything) so I have trained them to add their name to the Popplet and then screen shot it when they are done (accountability and check for understanding!). 

This app can be used in SO many ways--but I want to share how I use it during my literacy block and RTI time because it's an easy, practically paperless way to get kids moving while they learn! 

I lay out (or hang on the walls/their lockers) words/sentences/pictures depending on the activity. The students move around, read the words/sentences/pictures, and then sort them on the screen. They can type, write or take a picture of what they are sorting (so cool!). We sort real vs. nonsense words, word families, spelling patterns, questions vs. statements, adjectives vs. nouns vs. verbs. The possibilities are endless! You could find a use for this app in any subject area (I projected it on the screen the other day as we sorted needs and wants during social studies!). Check out the f.u.n. below!

Popplet in ACTION!


Weeks like these make me thankful for the seating options available to my students. I do not believe in asking a first grader to sit still all day long. Yes, I do have moments in my day where students are required to sit relatively still, but any other time in our day I allow them to choose how they work. We are back at school this week after a 10 day spring break, and my kids are...well...7 year olds! They are wiggly, fidgety and full of energy--as they should be :) In addition to some extra play time this week, students also have the option to work in the way that helps them be successful.

A few months ago, my Donors Choose request was fully funded (to my surprise!!). My students and I received 7 Hokki Stools and 2 exercise balls for alternative seating. It was SO exciting for my students and I. The new stools and medicine balls allow my students to wiggle while they learn and keep their brains on. All of my kids sit on the stools differently but they all have a similar focused look on their faces :) I am looking into buying a Hokki Stool for myself soon!

Students also have the option to stand at a heightened table! I tell my kids I do not care how they sit or stand, as long as they are trying their best and getting their best work done. My students generally prefer the stools over other seating arrangements, so we rotate through them in alphabetical order (this means kids are sitting on them every third day). 


And of COURSE cannot forget the life saving Go Noodle brain breaks :) Our new favorite is Oh, a milkshake by the Koo Koo Kangaroo gang. So hilarious!

Here are two freebies before I go!

1.) Spring Break Homework (my kids loved this...I don't send home homework in general--but I couldn't resist this!).

2.) Instagram Writing Prompt (this was so looks so awesome on our lockers!)

Have a wonderful weekend everybody! I am headed to the wonderful city of Chicago this weekend for my cousins wedding. It will be so nice to see family from all over!

Happy Teaching!