Next Gen 5th Grade Life Science Phenomena: Plant Growth in Unlikely Places

Below is a PQP chart and phenomena video I created to target a 5th grade Next Gen Science standard in Life Science. I’m excited about the Next Gen standards, as the framework simply makes sense. Learning in Next Gen is driven by asking questions and defining problems. Units of study begin with phenomena that engage learners and pique their curiosity. Each phenomenon leads to a driving question that encourages research, investigation, experimentation and problem solving to reach a conclusion.

Feel free to use the resources below with your 5th grade kiddo(s).

Life Science – Grade 5 – 5-LS-1

PQP Chart:Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 12.52.28 PM

Phenomena Video:

This video can be used in class or given for homework. Continue reading

4th and 5th Grade Fraction Review Games

This is a collection of fraction review games and practice activities used in my classroom. The following games target equivalent fractions, simplifying fractions, and adding and subtracting like and unlike fractions.

Topic: Equivalent Fractions   /   Game: Triplets  

Equivalent Fraction Game TripletsIn this game, students must group sets of equivalent fractions together. As the levels advance, the equivalent fractions get more difficult. After reviewing this concept in class, I provide students with a set amount of time to practice finding equivalent fractions by playing this game. Students are able to work at their own pace and receive immediate feedback. I also like that a visual is provided in each fraction set.

Topic: Converting Mixed Numbers to Improper Fractions  /  Practice Problems

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.00.37 PMBefore going to the Math-Man game below, I use this online tool on Math Playground. This tool allows students to practice converting mixed numbers to improper fractions while also reinforcing simplest form. Students work their way through a number of problems and receive immediate feedback after clicking the “check” button.

Topic: Converting Improper Fractions to Mixed Numbers  /  Practice Problems
Converting Improper Fractions Online PracticeSame as above, except students practice converting improper fractions to mixed numbers. A review with an example and a “how-to” is provided before starting. Like the practice activity above, this activity reinforces simplest form as well. Students receive 2 points for answers given in simplest form and 1 point for correct answers that are not reduced.

Topic: Converting Mixed Numbers to Improper Fractions   /   Game: Math-Man

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 3.32.51 PMYour students will love this game. Math-Man is played like Pac-Man, except the ghosts contain improper fractions on them, and students must find and eat the ghost that matches the mixed number given. Two versions of the game are available. The practice version allows students to play the game without moving ghosts. The other version is exactly the same, but the ghosts move around (this requires that students are able to solve problems quicker). If you are just introducing the concept, I definitely recommend using the practice version so students have time to solve it and can benefit from the math practice.

Topic: Comparing Fractions  /  Practice Problems
Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 6.32.12 PMThis is another online tool on Math Playground. This one allows students to practice comparing fractions. Students work their way through a number of problems and receive immediate feedback after clicking the “check” button. A “how-to” review with step by step directions is included for review prior to the start. If students click “restart” after completing all problems, they will be given a new set to practice.

Topic: Ordering Fractions   /  Game: Balloon Pop

balloon pop fraction gameThis is a fun and short game that reinforces comparing fractions. In this game, each balloon contains a fraction and students must pop the balloons in order from smallest to largest. If students select a balloon out of order, a buzzer will sound and they will be able to try again. The only bummer about this game is that there isn’t an option to remove the images, so I have to encourage my students to look at the fraction and not default to looking at the images to order them. I ask my students to write the order of each set of fractions down on paper.

Topic: Ordering Fractions   /  Game: Fractions Testing Room

Ordering Fractions LabThis is one of BBC’s Bitesize activities. Students are given a set of five fractions that must be put in order from least to greatest on the shelf. There is an optional testing room that students can visit to fill visual fraction test tubes to help them compare two fractions. When students click “done”, they receive immediate feedback. If the answer is correct, they will advance to the next level to try ordering a more difficult fraction set. If fractions are out of order, they will be told so and will have the opportunity to give it another try. There is an embed code for this practice activity so you can put it right on your blog or website.

Topic: Adding Unlike Fractions  /  Practice

Adding Unlike Fractions Online PracticeIn this activity, students practice adding unlike fractions. This program is similar to the other Math Playground practice acitivities litsted above. Students complete a set of ten problems and receive feedback as they check them along the way. An example and a “how to” with step by step directions is included for review before the start of the game. Students can click “restart” at the end to try a second set of addition practice problems. I love these programs because they allow students to work at their own pace, and the immediate feedback is a huge bonus. The online feedback is sufficient for most students. As a result, I’m able to give attention to students who need further instruction.

Topic: Greatest Common Factor and Least Common Multiple / Game: Fruit Splat

Greatest Common Factor Math GameEven though my students learn about GCF in our first unit, I like to spiral it back in here. I have my students practice identifying greatest common factors, as extra practice enables students to simplify fractions in fewer steps. Click here to play the same game with least common multiples. We review LCM here as well, as it’s a helpful review before adding unlike fractions.

Topic: Adding Like and Unlike Fractions  /  Game: Fruit Splat

Adding Fractions GameIn this game, students answer fraction addition problems by clicking on the fruit that contains the answer. There are six different versions of this game. Students can practice adding two like fractions, adding three like fractions, or adding unlike fractions. Each version also has an option to require answers in simplest form. For the more competitive student wanting a challenge, this game can be played in timed mode.

Topic: Adding Like and Unlike Fractions  /  Game: Math-Man

Adding Like and Unlike Fractions MathManThis game is the same as the other Improper Fraction Math-Man posted above. Now, students can practicing adding unlike fractions by playing the same game. This is a student favorite, so it’s great that it’s available to practice adding fractions, too! In 4th grade you may like to use the version that requires students to add like fractions only.

Do you have any go-to games that target these concepts? Share them in the comments below.

Teach your Students about SMART Goals

Setting goals in class promotes student independence and ownership, improves self-awareness, and boosts motivation. This post is for any teacher who wants to provide students with opportunites to develop a lasting lifelong skill–the ability to set SMART goals and evaluate success. Setting and evaluating goals is a monthly routine in my class, and I firmly believe that this acitivity significantly impacts personal growth and academic success. In addition to the short-term benefits, when done consistently, students are able to practice a real-world skill that will stick with them and can have lasting benefits throughout their lives.

I introduce my students to SMART goals in the beginning of the school year. During the month of September, we create a “Goal Setting” book. I break it up throughout the month, so students have time to digest each new vocabulary word. Below is a sample of the book we create in class.

SMART Goals Book

This activity is perfect for homeschool mamas or classroom teachers. If executed properly, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled with the growth you see once you begin setting and evaluating SMART goals!

Why Your Child Shouldn’t Have an Instagram Account

Why Your Child

It BLOWS MY MIND that I know 10-year-olds who have Instagram accounts. And their parents are aware of it. In my mind, this has to be the result of ignorance. Their parents have to be in the dark regarding social media and not understand how it works. I rationalize that this HAS to be the case. If parents knew what was accessible then how could they knowingly allow their children access?

So, I’ll get to my point, my zinger. My husband and I recently booked a trip to Panama. Wanting to see pictures of Panama, I entered the hashtag “Panama” in Instagram. Instead of beautiful pictures of the landscape and wildlife I hoped to see, I get a page-full of explicit photos. Seriously, several full-on vag pictures. Now, to some I’m sure I sound like an old fart. Only, I’m not an “old fart”; I’m 30. I am, however, a teacher. So I immediately think of my students who have Instagram accounts, and I imagine them innocently searching pictures of a country only to have several vagina pictures revealed to them. This isn’t uncommon. When people want page views, especially pictures of explicit photos, they tag them with common words or cities so they’ll show up with any search of those hashtags. THIS is why your 10-year-old shouldn’t own an Instagram account.

In the “Tips for Parents” section on Instagram, there is a link to download “A Parent’s Guide to Instagram”. Within this document, there are answers to commonly asked question. #2 is in regards to the Instagram age restriction.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 8.49.24 PM

In a nutshell, children must receive (or state that they’ve received) parental permission to have an Instragram account if they are under the age of 13. While you may believe this is to protect children from inappropriate content, it’s actually due to the Children’s Online Protection Act which prevents companies from collecting information from children. Instagram, of course, frames their service as harmless, as they benefit from ad views. But regardless, if a parent gives permission for a 10-year-old to use Instagram, they are saying it’s okay for him to access such content and it’s okay for personal information to be collected. When parents give permission for children to use social media accounts under the age of 13, or if a child lies about his/her birthdate, the Children’s Online Protection Act cannot protect them.

Click HERE for directions on how to delete your child’s Instagram account.

If you feel your child MUST have a social media account, here are 6 kid friendly versions:


Disney Club Penguin

Giant Hello




Or you could just encourage your kiddo to play outside more. Get dirty. Make a mudpie. 🙂