Classroom Freebies

FREE Fraction Activity

Looking for a great picture book to help your students understand multiplication with fractions? 

Fraction concepts are often the most challenging for students to grasp and teachers to teach. On top of that, fraction operations can be even more challenging to teach because students are unable to connect the actions of fraction operations with that of whole numbers. Students need a lot of experiences to develop these skills and build a solid understanding of the concepts.

One way to help students "see" the action of the operations is by using picture books. My favorite way to teach fraction multiplication is to start with Multiplying Menace. It's a great springboard to introducing fraction multiplication. Not only will this book help your students "see" the operation, but it will allow students to compare the effects of multiplying whole numbers with the effects of multiplying by fractions.

To accompany the book, I created an activity to help students analyze the situations in the book. Click here or on the image to the right to grab a free copy the activity sheet. 

Want to know more? 
Head on over to The Routty Math Teacher website and check out my latest blog post, "Teaching Fractions with Math Picture Books" to read more about Multiplying Menace and learn about Multiplying Menace Divides. Read it here!


Pool Noodle Party Fun!

Have you ever used pool noodles in your classroom?  Most of the time we think about them only for swimming or summer activities, but they are a really easy and fun material to use for creating a classroom luau learning party for your students!

Where can I buy pool noodles?

You can buy pool noodles seasonally in pretty much every big box store and the dollar store.  In the off-season if you are a northern, you will find pool noodles in bulk from Amazon - and they are pretty cheap the larger the unit you buy, so think about giving in halvsies with another teacher in your building for the most cost effective method of purchasing noodles. For the foam classroom crafts I made below, I used about 3 full noodles - and I had several left over!  They will go a long way depending on your needs and the crafts you choose to make.

How to cut pool noodles?

It was wayyyyyy easier than I thought it would be to cut the pool noodles for my activities.  I used a basic serrated knife and they cut up very quickly and easily with very little noodle dust.  You can cut them into smaller chunks, larger chunks then lengthwise, and even cut the entire noodle lengthwise if you have an activity like a marble run.

7 Classroom Luau Learning Ideas

Here are a few of the ideas I created for my classroom learning luau - feel free to adjust the learning activities to match the ability of your students!  Each of these different ideas can be set up as a center area in your classroom to allow the students to rotate from one to another.

Name Leis:  Begin the party by having each student find the letters of their name and string them together through the hole with a piece of rope or twine.  Now you're ready to get learning!

Flower Writing:  What's more fun than writing with tropical flowers?  To make these, use a small piece of the pool noodle and cut V-shapes in 4 places.  Then, use a pen or pencil to add a hole into the noodle, flip the writing utensil around and insert into the foam.  Super cute and fun!

Palm Tree Number Sentences:  This one can be as simple or as advanced as you like.  To set this one up, write various numbers, equal signs, and operation symbols on different pieces of cut up pool noodle.  Students come to this station and must make number sentence "trees" from the supplies.  Top them off with plastic straws taped together as your leaves. Challenge your students to see who can make the largest number sentence tree and have them cross-check one another for accuracy.

Mystery Bucket Writing:  For this center, use a plastic sand pail and add an item to the bottom that students may not be able to figure out what it is right away.  Add lots of cut up pieces of pool noodle on top so that the child is not able to see the item. Then, use the Free Mystery Bucket Writing Handout below to describe what the item is, guess what it is and what it might be used for, and then finally - draw or write a sentence explaining what the actual item is after pulling it out of the bucket. This activity is perfect for making predictions based on context clues of a hidden item.

Unscramble the Sentences Kabobs:  Write out a sentence on your cut up pool noodles:  one word per each noodle.  You can even choose to write all nouns on a specific color, verb son another, articles on another, and so on. Students will then have to figure out what the correct sentence is by changing up the order of the words until it makes sense.  To make "luau kebabs" use wooden dowels from the hardware store to slide the word pieces on and off.

Spelling Limbo:  For a fun group game, use one whole pool noodle as a limbo stick.  students line up and you give them a spelling word.  If he or she correctly spells it out loud, that child gets to go under the limbo stick and back to the end of the line.  If not, they sit down. The game continues until you only have one student left standing.  Make it even more fun by turning on some party music as students are walking under the limbo stick.

Synonym Matching Flip Game:  Cut up your pool noodle into sections, then cut them in half lengthwise.  Choose whether the matching words will be on the same color, different sets of colors, or just different colors altogether. Make matching pieces that are synonyms, antonyms, author/book, or vocabulary words/definitions for any subject.  Students begin with all the pieces upside down and get to take turns flipping 2 over at a time.  If they are a match, they get to keep those 2 pieces and go again. The winner is the student with the most pieces when all have been claimed.  You could also make this an independent activity that the game is finished when the student has correctly matched all the pairs on their own.

How fun are those?  Makes me feel warmer just thinking about Polynesian party mode.  :)  Don't forget to grab your Free Mystery Bucket Writing Handout below too!

  Pool noodles seem like pretty much a summer activity, but it turns out there are lots of ways to use pool noodles for DIY crafts! Here are a few ideas...
Pool noodles seem like pretty much a summer activity, but it turns out there are lots of ways to use pool noodles for DIY crafts! Here are a few ideas...

Do you have additional activities for a classroom learning luau party?  Add a comment at the blog post HERE - we love collaboration!


This post originally appeared at Organized Classroom.

How Are Your Classroom Systems Set up?

What are some of your most used classroom systems? I share 10 you need to be using right now in your room which will pay you back in time! Come on over!

The bigger question is "Why do I need to set up classroom systems at all?"

Classroom systems are nothing more than a followed routine.  A "classroom work manual" that helps you to be more effective in the classroom and save time.  What you do with that time is completely up to you.

You might shave a few minutes here and there which add up to hours.  You can use those extra hours to complete all your grading at school to free up time spent with your family at home.  Perhaps you prefer to use your extra time to chat with colleagues and create connections that make your workplace somewhere you look forward to coming to each day.

Or you could use your extra time for something crazy - like more teaching.  Something I know you love, otherwise you wouldn't be in a classroom.  :)  Those rewards are worth it!

When do you need a classroom system?

Basically anytime you do a task more than once.  Having a set system that is predetermined and repeats itself like clockwork will save you precious seconds and minutes.

Not to mention, students crave consistency.  Behaviors usually improve dramatically when classroom systems, such as clickers, are in place.  When students know exactly how something will happen and what their individual role is in that routine, there is less chance for distraction or acting out.

Think about your own personal morning routine from the time you wake up until the time you walk into your classroom.  I bet it is a habit to do those same steps every morning.  When you are brushing your teeth, do you do it differently each morning?  Probably not.  You have found the most efficient way to brush your teeth, you do it, and you keep moving.

Classroom routines should be no different.  You want to have routines that become a habit not only for you, but for your students.  The sign of a really great classroom system?  If you left the room, it would keep humming along without you there at all.

Of course, that takes time.  You have to start with the awareness of all the classroom systems you have (or need) to put in place.  Then, you need to break the system into smaller steps so you know where efficiency can be improved.  And finally, you work on implementing the routine - working out the bugs as you go along.
What are some of your most used classroom systems? I share 10 you need to be using right now in your room which will pay you back in time! Come on over! #classroomsystems #classroommanagement #routines

What works for one teacher or group of students, may not work for the next.  There is no one-size-fits-all model.  Which is great in my opinion.  Who wants a classroom full of robots?  The routines will change from teacher to teacher depending on variables such as class size, the size of the classroom environment, student needs, personal preference, and more.   But - once you get your routine mastered, your classroom becomes an inviting, safe place for students.  And that creates an environment of learning and teaching where true connections happen.

Thinking About Solutions

Now that you know what classroom systems are - and why they are important, let's take a look at 10 elementary classroom systems you need to be using right now and some questions you should be asking yourself when analyzing your current routine:
  • Pencil Sharpening:  How often do my students need a pencil sharpened?  Are they allowed to sharpen while I am teaching?  What sharpener do they use?  What if the student has no pencil?
  • Lining Up:  How can I have my students line up without mass chaos?  Do I call them by tables or by something else such as shirt color?  If I call by tables, is it by quietest, first ready, or just in order from the door?  How do we model how to stand in line once there while waiting for the others to be called in line too?  If we are heading to or from the library, what do we do with the books?
  • Getting the Teacher's Attention:  Do the students raise their hand during class activities?  Perhaps they silently get out of their seat and stand next to me to get my attention?  Do they use a number signal (1 finger means question, 2 fingers means bathroom, etc)?  Should they use a 4 color sheet of folded paper  which alerts me to what they need?  Are there certain times of the day when they are not allowed to interrupt me?  Do I use PBIS strategies to get them to participate more?
  • Packing Up for the Day:  How do I have smaller groups get their materials for dismissal so it is not madness?  Should they pack up their backpack at their desk or at the lockers/cubbies?  How do I make sure any extra papers to go home are distributed?  What do the children do once they are packed up and ready?
  • Filing:  Where do my papers that need filed "live" until they are ready to be filed?  Do I file things immediately or once a week?  Do some papers get filed right away and some later?  Where can I store my files that is secure, yet still accessible?  Do I have a digital filing cabinet or a traditional paper filing cabinet?  Where can I store papers if I don't have a traditional filing cabinet?  How often do I score the assessment grading?
  • Writing Your Lesson Plans:  What materials will I need to plan next week?  Do I have a copy of last year's plans to use as a starting point?  What manipulatives, games, or extra resources do I have available for next week's topics?  Are my TEs online or only as a hard copy?  What can I have pre-filled that never changes from week-to-week?
  • Preparing Absent Work:  How do I make sure my absent student gets all the materials he or she missed?  Where will I keep the stack until his or her return?  Should I write the child's name on the papers?  How do I count it for grading purposes or even know that the student was out that day?
  • Taking Attendance:  Roll call?  Silently look to see who is (or isn't) in a desk at the beginning of class?  Have students move a magnet with their name on it to a different part of the board to see they are "checked in"?
  • Bathroom Breaks:  Do we go as a class?  What if a student needs to go at a different time?  How can they quietly alert me without interrupting class time?  Does the child need a special hall pass to leave the classroom?
  • Passing Out Handouts:  Are the papers passed by the teacher or students?  Does one person from the row or group go get the materials and pass out?  Is there a group role which is assigned to do this?

Of course, each system can have many, many more questions involved when you are trying to figure out your classroom "manual."  It does take time to really think about how your perfect routine works, but when you have it in writing and can replicate it again and again with the students, you suddenly feel so much more in control of your day (and career choice as well).

Want a list of 10 more must-have classroom systems?   Grab it here at Organized Classroom.

What are some of your most used classroom systems? I share 10 you need to be using right now in your room which will pay you back in time! Come on over!

What are some of your most used classroom systems?  I would love to hear in a comment below! 


This post originally appeared at Organized Classroom.

Tips and Tricks for Boosting Teacher Morale!

Hopefully some of you who have schools with some low morale right now, can use one or two ideas to break up the dark cloud a bit and let the sun shine in.

When I noticed that a Facebook fan posted this on the fan page: “My principal has asked our building to work on morale among teachers…..looking for some fun/creative ideas some of you have done at your buildings!” and that there was a whole thread of ideas, I knew it warranted a free eBook, which is exactly where the following came from.

Want your copy of the free Teacher Morale Ideas eBook?

Want your copy of the free Teacher Morale Ideas eBook?

Head over to Organized Classroom and grab yours for free!

~ Charity

Want your copy of the free Teacher Morale Ideas eBook?

Bringing Spring Inside!

I whipped up some cute bulletin board letters you can print and enjoy for the spring months! You could also use them for word work.

Have fun coming up with ideas for your bulletin board, or just use the letters for word wall headings.  Even have students use them to build words in a center.

Want your own FREE bulletin board letters?

Want your own FREE bulletin board letters?

Head over to Organized Classroom to grab yours for free!

~ Charity

Want your own FREE bulletin board letters?

Friendship Activity Freebie!

This friendship freebie activity is great for talking about similarities and differences! Perfect for math (grouping) and even character building!

Want your own Friendship Glyph activity?

Want your own Friendship Glyph activity?

Head over to Organized Classroom to grab yours for free!

~ Charity

Want your own Friendship Glyph activity?

Simple Saint Patrick's Day Lesson

St. Patrick's Day is a wonderful excuse for many to party. For school-age children it's a great excuse to pinch anyone who forgets to wear green. For others, it is the celebration of a man. 

Many don't know why St. Patrick's Day is even a holiday. St. Patrick was an actual man who achieved sainthood because of his work in Ireland. Through a series of unfortunate events, Patrick, originally from England, was captured by Irish pirates and was held as a slave, taking care of animals, for 6 years. He escaped and went back home to England where he studied to become a bishop. He returned to Ireland to share the Gospel with those who held him capture years before. 

He spent the rest of his life as a Bishop serving the people of Ireland. 

It is often said that St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover as a way to explain the Holy Trinity to his congregation and that is why we associate the clover, or shamrock, and the color green with St. Patrick's Day. 

In our classrooms, since we are a part of a Christian missionary community, we love studying and learning all about St. Patrick and use this as an important opportunity to discuss God as the Holy Trinity; God the Father, God the Son {Jesus}, and God the Holy Spirit. 

Today's freebie is a coloring sheet of a three-leaf clover. This shamrock can be used in a variety of activities as well. We used it as a way to practice our fine-motor skills {tearing} and gluing skills. To receive your free download, click the image below. You will also be able to see how we used it in our school. 

Simple St Patrick's Day Lesson with Craft. This is a great way to share who St Patrick was and why he was so important plus an easy craft idea to help reinforce the lesson. Find out what we did on

What is your favorite way to honor and celebrate St. Patrick? Let me know in the comments below. 

Until next time, I'll see you over at