Beat the Teacher: A Whole Class Incentive

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We have officially reached the time of the year where this is the constant soundtrack in my head:

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Maybe it was because spring break was so early this year, but it just feels like the summer bug is hitting us hard right now! As we’re getting ready to become first graders, I knew it was time to give us a little extra motivation.

There are variations of this incentive all over the internet, but this one works well for us! My class this year thrives on friendly competition and we have a good relationship – this is important with this incentive!

When my students came in this morning, our white board looked like this:

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With this incentive, it is important that you only choose one goal to work on. We have been on the struggle bus when it comes to sitting on the carpet peacefully, so that was our goal.

Every time I  saw students showing whole body listening, raising their hand to speak, and listening when others were talking instead of shouting over them, they got a magnet in their ten frame.

Every time students rolled on the carpet, yelled out, or talked during a lesson (sometimes i’d give a warning first), I would get a magnet in my ten frame.

I got these large magnetic ten frames from Lakeshore Learning.

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Their goal was to have more magnets in their ten frame than me by the time we were done at the carpet. If they happened to fill their ten frame, I game them an “X” on the chart and the board was cleared.

If I had more magnets or we tied, they just didn’t get an X. Nothing more than that!

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Now, for this particular goal, it is a lot of work. It was a new competition every time we came to the carpet. I would clear the ten frames after every carpet session to keep the competition fresh.

I would also have to clear the ten frames mid-lesson if the class filled their ten frame. Good thing teachers are pros at multi-tasking!

I also want to mention that this is not meant to be a long term incentive. I’m sure you could use it long term, but I think it would be most effective when it’s new and exciting.

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If students had more magnets than me or they filled the ten frame completely, they would get an “X” on this chart. When the chart is full, they get to choose one of these prizes:

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We’ll vote on which one we want as a class. If you download the freebie, an editable PowerPoint version is included so you can choose your own prizes.

By the end of the day we had 4 X’s, so it shouldn’t take us too long to get there!

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The little guy on the board was to remind us of how we are supposed to look at the carpet. I could just point to him as a reminder. I’m actually shocked at how much my students needed that visual!

I’ve included him just in case your class has the same goal, but you could use this incentive to target any desired behavior!

If you want to try this incentive in your classroom, you can grab it free here:

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How Do Butterflies Eat? A Science Experiment

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We kicked off butterfly week today with one of my favorite experiments – discovering why butterflies only eat liquids!

Honestly, it can be hard for kindergartners to understand how a butterfly’s mouth works. If we’re going to be using the word “proboscis,” however, I want to make sure it’s not going over their heads every time I say it!

The materials are pretty simple:

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-2 cups per student

-1 straw per student (I used colored straws so students at the same table didn’t mix them up)

-Cereal too large to fit up a straw

-Juice (I used fruit punch to represent nectar)

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Every student got a cup with some fruit loops, a cup with some juice, and a straw.

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I had students stand with the straw in their mouth and their hands behind their back. They couldn’t touch anything and they had to listen for each direction.

First, students tried to suck up the cereal with the straws. Obviously, this won’t work! We got a lot of laughs as some students managed to get cereal out of the cups, but couldn’t eat it.

Then students tried to suck up the juice. Of course, this time it worked!

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We talked about how butterflies also have straws for mouths (the proboscis) and discussed which one we thought would be easier for them to eat (the liquid, of course)!

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Together, we reflected and wrote about our experiment and what we learned. And then we ate fruit loops! 😉

Would your students love to learn all about butterflies? Find this experiment and much, much more in this fun Butterfly nonfiction unit:

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All About Spring!

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I LOVE spring! The days get longer, the weather gets warmer, and we get to learn about some of my favorite subjects!

I always like to talk about the season of spring the week we get back from spring break. I’m always surprised at how many of my students have no idea what a season is, but I also secretly love it because they get SO excited to learn about what makes each season unique!

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I highly, highly recommend all the seasons books in the Exploring series:

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The pages aren’t very wordy and the pictures are big and vibrant. My students always pull out so much information form these!

We put it all into a bubble chart:

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From there, I tasked my students with choosing 3 things to write about spring. They could be things we added to our chart or things they already knew.

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They then added a cover and made tissue paper flowers to complete this cute writing craft!

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You can find these in my All About Spring unit:

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From there we moved on to insects. We read about different types of insects using these pages, again from my All About Spring unit:

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Of course, insects are one of those topics that certain students will already know A LOT about. 😉 So I let them add their information to our discussion too.

Then students each chose 1 of the 5 insects to write about. We ended by making this cute directed drawing craft inspired by Doodlebugs Teaching:

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And, of course, we couldn’t talk about spring without talking about the changing weather! We actually are required to cover weather the entire second quarter in STEM, so we were already weather experts, but we spent some time talking about storms – a big deal this time of year in the midwest!

We started with what they already knew about storms:

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And then we added our new learning after reading a few nonfiction books:

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If you think your students would also love learning about spring, insects, plants, weather, and more, be sure to check out All About Spring and then let me know some of your favorite topics to teach in the spring!

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How To Make Worksheets For Your Classroom (Or TeacherPayTeachers)

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I’ve had numerous people ask me recently to teach them how to make worksheets for their classroom and products for TeachersPayTeachers. Being a visual learner myself, I decided to lay it out step-by-step in the hopes of making it as simple as possible!

Yes, there is a LOT of information included, but I tried to make it as simple as possible. There will be variations if you have a different version of PowerPoint, but it shouldn’t be too hard to modify the steps. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask them below!

Step 1: Open PowerPoint and click “layout.” Select the blank layout.

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When I started creating, I used Microsoft Word. I can’t even tell you how overjoyed I was the day I learned to use PowerPoint instead! It is SO much easier to move things around where you want them!

Step 2: Select “Slide Size” (usually in the Design tab) and set a custom size to your page size.

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You can definitely set it to 8.5 x 11 or 11 x 8.5. My school’s printer doesn’t like to print all the way to the edge of the page, so I always set my size to 10.75 x 8.25 or 8.25 x 10.75.

Step 3: Add borders.

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You can find all sorts of cute borders on TpT and insert them following the clip art step below. I personally like to make my own borders by inserting a shape.

I use the rectangle to make my outline. In the Format tab (this only appears if you click on the shape), I choose the white center and black border and then click on “Shape Outline” and “Weight” to make it thicker.

I didn’t even think to add this as a picture, but you can easily make your border centered on the page too! Just go to that Format tab and click where it says “Align.” Click “Align Center” and “Align Middle” and it will be perfect!

Step 4: Insert text boxes wherever you need them.

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You can do this with the Insert tab, but if you look at the Home tab, there is a box with all the shapes and a text box. It will also keep frequently used shaped here.

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You can find all sorts of fonts on TpT! Remember: some of these are free for personal use in your classroom, but if you want to sell your work, you’ll have to buy font licenses from each seller (if the font was free).

Some of my favorite font sellers are: A Perfect Blend, Kimberly Geswein Fonts, Cara Carroll, and  Babbling Abby.

If you want to sell on TpT, you will also want to make your copyright (your name or the name of your store) very small and place it in a corner. I generally set mine to pt 8. This will make sure your work is always credited to you!

Step 5: Insert clip art.

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Again, there are a lot of options for free clip art on TpT. You want to download them and save them to your computer. Then you can open your folder, right click the image and “copy,” then paste onto your page.

Many clip artists will include both JPG and PNG images. I personally like to use PNG images. These will have a clear background instead of a white box behind them.

If you do decide to sell your work, make sure you create a credits page showing which clip artists you used! There are many great examples online, or even in TpT products you own.

 

Step 6: Insert any shapes and lines. You will use the same steps as making a border, but I will show you how to format it so it is the perfect size and in the right place.

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Format the color of your shape:

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There is nothing that bugs me more than when a shape is not perfect! This is a little trick I learned to make sure it is the right size:

Go to the Format tab. On the right, look at the sizes for the height and width. If you need a shape to be a certain size, you can change these. To make a circle perfectly round, make sure both the height and width are the same.

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Ok, you got your shapes together, but they’re not in the right spot. You don’t have to move every piece individually!

Click your mouse and hold it down as you go over and around the shape, just as if you were making a text box or square around it.

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Let go and all of those pieces will be selected together and will move together. You can click one piece with your mouse and move the whole thing. You can also use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move it, which is helpful if it’s something so small your mouse can’t click it properly.

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You can duplicate the shapes by having them selected and clicking “Ctrl+D.”

If you want them perfect lined up, just move it around. These handy red guidelines appear that will show you when it is aligned to another shape!

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And now you’re done! At least with the PowerPoint section. However, there are a few more steps!

Step 7: Save as a PDF.

This will ensure that your fonts and layout will look the same, even if you are on a computer that does not have the fonts downloaded or has a different version of PowerPoint.

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At the top, click the File tab then click “Save As.” It’s not a bad idea to save your PowerPoint as a PowerPoint too just in case you need to go back and edit (I generally do this right at the beginning and save throughout in case my computer suddenly shuts down!)

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Name your document and click “Save as Type.” Select “PDF.”

If you are just wanting to make worksheets for your own personal use, then you’re done! You can print and go.

 If you want to sell your work, then after you have added a cover,  you have a few more steps to make sure your work is secure. I will show you how to secure your PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro. This is a paid program; if you aren’t wanting to spend the money right away, I believe they do offer a free trial.

Step 8: Open your PDF and select “Protect.”

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If you don’t see this option to the right, you can go up to the top and click the Tools tab.

Step 8: Password protect your document.

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You will click “Restrict Editing” and put in your password. Make sure it is something you can remember easily but can’t be guessed easily.

Step 9: Change the security settings.

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Click “More Options” then click “Security Properties” from the drop down menu.

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When this box pops up, click “Change Settings.”

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Click “Changes Allowed” and choose “None” from the drop down menu. Then click “OK.” Make sure that you don’t change the printing option!

Step 10: Save your secure PDF. You’re ready to sell it!

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Click “Save” and when the box pops up, select the same folder you saved it in before. It will say another document has the same name and ask if you want to save it still. Click yes.

You are officially done! I hope this tutorial was helpful to you – whether you want to make worksheets for you classroom or TpT. Again, if you have any more questions or want another tutorial, just let me know!

If you do decide to start selling your work on TeachersPayTeachers and you found this tutorial helpful, please consider signing up through my referral link (this provides me with a small commission, but does not take any sales money from you):

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Signup/referral:nburszty

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