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Google Play Music Stations for the Elementary Classroom

We listen to music a lot in my classroom. My students seem to work better with tunes in the background. Sometimes I use it as a reward as well. My district has Spotify blocked but we are Google Apps for Education Members so we have access to Google Play Music. 

Google Play Music has some good stations that are kid appropriate but you have to be careful! There's one hip hop station that says it is censored but it's really not. Luckily I was listening to it at home and noticed. That could have turned out really badly at school! I definitely recommend listening to a station for a while before you play it at school for your students.

Here is a list of Google Play Stations that I listen to in my classroom.

Google Play Stations For the Classroom:

PG Pop Hits (This one is the favourite Google Play station in my class)

Kids Radio (This is another favorite)

Google Play Music Instrumental Stations

These stations are good for when you don't want to have lyrics. You can just go to Google Play Music and search for instrumental stations and you will find a wide selection.

Don't forget to check out my other technology related posts here.

The BEST Pencil Sharpener EVER for Your Classroom

I have been on a quest for the best pencils for years now because my pencils kept breaking and cracking in the pencil sharpener. I didn't think the sharpener was the problem because I tried several different ones. I went through 3 electric sharpeners that died from overuse and on top of that I hated the loud sound while everyone was trying to work.

Then I found THIS pencil sharpener!

It took me a minute to figure out how to work it because you have to pull the little silver piece out on the front but once I figured that out I couldn't stop sharpening pencils.

Does anyone else get as excited about a sharp pencil as me? This sharpener honestly makes the sharpest pencils I have ever seen and on top  of that they come in the most fun colors!

Once you stick the pencil in you need to turn the crank.  If you're sharpening a dull pencil then it only takes about 4-5 cranks but a brand new unsharpened pencil takes about 12 times to get your pencil sharpened all the way.

Look how sharp it is! It's a thing of beauty!

The shavings are easy to clean out too. You just push the little plastic holder out and dump it out. 

The pencil sharpener is from Classroom Friendly Supplies. It's a company run by a teacher so they know how important a good sharpener is in the classroom.

I highly recommend this sharpener.

You can check out my video of how it work.

Clothesline Math Teaching Strategy for ANY Grade and ANY Math Concept

Have you heard of the clothesline strategy for teaching math concepts? I read about it last year and have been using it in my classroom ever since. The beauty of this math strategy is that you can use it with ANY grade and for just about any math concept. It's perfect for use in a number talk.

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In the picture above I have a double clothesline set up so that students can move the picture of the fraction to match the fraction. They also have to put them in order from least to greatest. I used this as a number talk one day before my lesson.

The first time I read about this the ideas immediately started swimming around. There are so many uses for this. 2D shapes? You could order them by their properties. Teaching your students how to count? Get them to reorder the numbers. If you have a younger grade you use smaller numbers, older grades? Use bigger numbers or decimals.

One of the best things about this strategy is that students use higher order thinking skills.

You don't have to use 2 clotheslines like I did in the image above. You can just use one if that is what works for the concept you're teaching. When I was teaching my students about ordering decimals we just used one clothes line.

The clotheslines provides a great visual and interactive tool for students to manipulate numbers, shapes, etc.

How to Set Up Your Math Clothesline:

It's really quite simple. You need some string or yarn and then you can string it across your board. I clip mine onto the chart paper hooks if I don't need students moving the pieces but when I want the students to use it then I attach the strings to magnets. These are the ones I use:  CLICK HERE

I use cardstock pieces folded in half  to write the numbers or draw shapes on.

TIP: You can maximize the card stock by using the inside as well. I have other numbers or shapes drawn on the inside so if I want to do another activity I just fold the cardstock the other way. You can also use the back of the cardstock.

What other ways can you think of to use this strategy? Post them in the comments below!

If you want to checkout more about math clotheslines you can visit the Estimation180 website where I first learned about this strategy. It's one of my favorite sites for math talks.

Science Activities For Teaching about the Properties of Light

When I teach science I like to have some stations set up for students to rotate through. I find this gives me the chance to meet with small groups to go over concepts and I also find my students easier to manage when they are working in small groups.

I usually make one of my stations a technology station where students do some self-directed learning of the basic concepts. I often use Edpuzzle to make a video quiz. You can learn more about the awesome Edpuzzle website from my post here.

Another stations will be adding their wonderings to a digital wonderwall (or a paper one if that's your buzz).

Here are some of my other favorite ideas for teaching about the properties of light.

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Properties of Light Activities:

1. This is a simple experiment for teaching about light refraction. It's called flip an arrow and you can read more about here. It works great for a science center or station.

2. I also like to put this game, Laser Maze, out as a center and I leave it around for students to play at other times when they have finished their work early:

3. This one is such a fun activity and incorporates art as well!

4. Teaching about how light creates shadows is important and this is an easy low prep activity:

5. What would a light unit be without teaching students how to power a lightbulb!

6. These light circuits are a fun one for the holidays but of course you can use it at any time!

7. To show that light is made up of the colors of the rainbow:

8. Why is the sky blue? A light refraction experiment:

9. An anchor chart:

10. Another anchor chart for transparent, translucent and opaque:

11. One of the first things I do with my students is brainstorm the sources of light:

12. Then we categorize them into artificial vs. natural:

13. Color Mixing with light:

14. Glow stick light science!

15. Secret message science!

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