Birthday Gifts for Students

Here is my Birthday Corner in my classroom. These balloons are made on colorful cardstock. I give students a giant Pixie Stix with a cute Balloon Happy Birthday card attached for their birthdays, along with a sucker and a birthday bookmark and hat.

I get the Pixie Stix from Sams Club every year online. They come in a package of 50 so you can either use them up in 2 years or else split a package with another teacher.

I just staple the balloon to the paper part of the Pixy Stix at the top.

Get your Giant Pixy Stix from HERE at Sams Club.

I have birthday balloons and also birthday cupcakes blown up giant for the top of the Pixie Stix. They look so bright and colorful in the corner of my classroom.  The kids also get to wear a birthday crown (I have a selection of 3 styles for them to choose from).

Lastly, they get to choose a sucker and a Happy Birthday bookmark from the little Happy Birthday box.  They are very spoiled on their birthdays.  I got these cute suckers from a candy factory near my home. They have 2nds I buy in a giant bag once a year for $5.00.
12 Jumbo Swirl Candy Lollipops   
Here is a copy of the Balloon I used. I copied it once. Then cut out the balloon. Then I cut out and added the Happy Birthday to the inside (cutting off the string). I copied a bunch on many different colors of cardstock colored paper. Then I cut them out and stapled them to the Pixy Stix top.  I add a little bit of curly ribbon in rainbow colors to them. It is really colorful and pretty. Link is HERE at Twisty Noodle.
Balloon Coloring Page

Inside the box are the suckers and the Happy Birthday bookmarks. Check them out below. I decorated the area with these cute cardboard Happy Birthday Decorations too.

 I found the green, metal vase at Hobby Lobby a few years ago. I put some Happy Birthday stickers on it. I think you can find these also at Michaels Art Mart. It’s a cute teacher gift and it adds a lot to this corner of my classroom! What are YOUR Birthday Gifts for your students?? Leave a comment below!

Writing About Summer Vacations

Every year I have the kids do a writing project telling the class about what fun things they did on their summer vacation. I know, very original right?

Summer Vacation Writing and Watermelon Art Project

I bring in a watermelon and we cut it up and eat it (after estimating the seeds in one piece and the seeds in the whole watermelon).

I do cut up several shades of green for the “rind” to look real and 2 shades of red for the watermelon art. 

After we eat the watermelon, we then collect and count the seeds in our piece. Then we compare our number with our estimation. Then we save and dry out those seeds on a napkin for a watermelon art project using red and green tissue paper and watered down glue. I just cut the tissue paper into 1 inch squares. The kids draw their own watermelon piece with pencil on white paper. Then we start gluing on the green (for the rind) and the red (for the inside). The last step is gluing a few seeds (8 to 10) on each watermelon art project.

I did raspberry banana but I’m gonna try Watermelon next! 

I just throw in a bunch of fruit, yogurt and OJ and some ice. Blend it up! 

I’ve been making smoothies on my Summer Vacation! 

A fun WATERMELON MATH printable I found at HERE at Everyday Teaching. It has estimating, weighing and measuring the size of watermelons and is a free printable. The kids love hearing what everybody else estimated for seeds. Somebody always estimates 1000 seeds.  😀 I guess it could happen?

At Primarily Speaking they made watermelon life cycles for science!

You could also do some “watermelon” scented Kool-aid Playdough and add the extra watermelon seeds to it for fun. The recipe is really easy and takes 4 minutes to make with 5 ingredients. Check it out. You could add triangles of watermelon playdough with different amounts of seeds on top as a center game.And Hubbards Cupboard  had a cute printable for making rhyming words on melon cutouts. That would be a fun center activity too!

There are only 5 ingredients in Kool-Aid Playdough besides the water……Check out the Recipe HERE!

Another fun watermelon math can be done with these Free Watermelon Number Cards  from  I used them to have kids make the addends of 10 matching concentration game. Each child partnered up with a buddy and they layed their cards down face up. Then each took a turn finding a 9 and 1, or an 8 and 2, or a 7 and 3 etc. This is a great way for them to memorize the 10s math facts.

Here’s a few things that add to my mini unit on Watermelon and Summer Vacations….

A CUTE song we sing along with all our watermelon activities is Down By the Bay with YOLY! A funny MAD LIB FOR SUMMER VACATIONS is HERE at Classroom Jr. com. My students LOVE mad libs and they can easily learn nouns from verbs and adjectives doing them. They love to hear each other’s crazy creations.

Using Mad Libs for Writing and Schema or Background Knowledge

How  I Spent My Summer Vacation by: Mark Teague (check it out below) is one book I read to the kids to get them excited about writing about their own summer vacations! To get us in the writing mood we do a CLASS mad lib for a warm up on a doc camera or overhead.. It helps them with ideas too. Then we brainstorm.  I list VACATIONS, PARTIES, SWIMMING, HIKES, BBQ, FRIENDS, GAMES, SPORTS on the board. Then the kids help add to it.  I also spell some of the fun places around town everybody goes to like Boondocks, Chuck E. Cheese and Disneyland, camping, etc.  Garden Patch Math is a Fun math card game with a Watermelon theme. After brainstorming on a watermelon shaped piece of pink butcher paper with green “rind” around it,  (See sample below….. )Then we write a sloppy copy. I edit it for them, and then they write a final copy to publish and share. It is written on watermelon shaped paper. They always turn out really looking great on a bulletin board. Here is ours. The top says “What I did on My Summer Vacation” across the top.

Our finished “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” bulletin board…..Summer Vacation Writing and Watermelon Art

You can see the brainstorm we did underneath the watermelon art and writing. It was all the fun places we went during the summer. It was also great for kids to use it as a mini word wall and come up to copy the spelling of places they went as they were writing. I highly recommend using mini word banks during writing. Hope you all had a fun summer vacation! Now it’s BACK TO SCHOOL!

3D Shapes for Kids

 Here are some fun games I use for center activities during my geometry week. These are great activities to do the first of the year while you are getting routines organized.

A great website to show kids the “NETS” you can fold up with paper to make all sorts of 3D shapes is HERE at Math It is a fun site.

You can bring in cans and boxes from home to show the 3D shapes to kids. Label them and leave them on a table. They learn just from seeing something visual every day. Encourage them to add to the 3D “Museum”. I do this a lot when we are studying things I want them to memorize. Check out this page from  It has all the 3D shapes in cut apart cards.
I have a set of these overhead projector “nets” and also rubber stamp 3D shapes. The kids love playing and talking about them as a learning center. They have to trace the overhead ones, cut them out and make them on paper. The stamps they have to write the name of the 3D shape after stamping.

 And I know my students love making nets after they have put a few together from a pattern. It’s fun to get them to make a cube a different way besides just using nets and cut and taped paper. Try using foods and candies or pretzels and gumdrops or toothpicks and marshmallows.

Candy comes in all kinds of 3D shapes and would be a great way to extend your geometry unit and especially to teach the vocabulary words. It can get expensive though. I’d start with tootsie rolls for cylinders and caramels for the cubes and maybe some Lemonheads for the spheres. That won’t break your bank!!

This 3D cube shape is made from gumdrops and stick pretzels. You could also make it with toothpicks and marshmallows.I founds lots of ideas like these on Pinterest. Buy in bulk (12 bags) for gumdrops and share with your whole team. Sams Club has a great price at only $7.98. The stick pretzels each teacher could buy on her own from the no name brand chips brand at the market.

A fun poem to teach 3D shapes can be found The Kindergarden Smorgasboard. Here is a picture of it. It would be a great song to sing to the tune of Jimmy Crack Corn!! Practice it over and over and you have a great SHARED READING PRACTICE!!

This is a hilarious video from Teacher He teaches a cute poem about each shape. Download the poems FREE with colorful graphics of each shape to go with it at the bottom of this post. Check it out here at Teacher The kids LOVE this guy’s wacky videos and so do I.

A fun game that is a shape sorter card game is Free here at Mrs riccas kindergarten.

I found these activities for teaching 3D or SOLID SHAPES on Pinterest. Check them out! They all look fun and pretty easy to do together or as a center activity kids can do on their own. This website has posters and definitions of all the 3D shapes at Teaching Ideas.

Another great matching activity  for  3D solid shapes can be downloaded and printed from
Learning With a Happy Heart’s blog.  I love this as a fast finisher because it is easy but a little time consuming. 

A fun online game called SHAPES SHOOT is a great ipad center game kids could play the week you are doing 3D shapes. Check it out  at And you can always do geoboards to remind kids about the 2D shapes and review all the vocabulary.

The last thing I do to teach 3D shapes is a writing activity. We write on the board; I once was a ______ but now I’m a ________ at a______________.  The kids have to put in flat or plane shapes in the first spot, the 3D shape name in the 2nd spot and a place where you might find that shape in real life. Then they illustrate the page. So it might say; I once was a circle but now I’m a cylinder shape on a can of green beans on the dinner table. The little mini books have about 7 pages and turn out pretty cute.

Pattern Blocks Activities and Geometry for Kids

A really fun book I use to kick off teaching geometry and 2D and 3D shapes to kids is called “The Greedy Triange” by none other than Marilyn Burns. I’ve seen her at teacher conferences before. I could listen to her speak for hours. She is truly a master math teacher. Since lots of teachers do patterns at the beginning of the year, I thought I’d share some of my Geometry lessons

I use this book to teach that globes are spheres and anything ball shaped is also a sphere.

Beginnings of a simple anchor chart for geometry units. 

Then I would use chart paper to do an anchor paper on what defines the names of the shapes.  Have the kids help you count sides and if you are in 2nd grade, vertices. Make a chart similar to the one above with sides (edges) and points (vertices) counted too.  A fun bunch of activity math pages you could do together is HERE at EZschool. It’s a fantastic website!

2D shapes poster - and I would add "quadrilateral" to the square and rectangle words.
This is a great anchor chart I saw on Pinterest from CSISDMath.  They have lots of others. 

Then we talk about the difference between 2D Plane Shapes and 3D or Solid Shapes. Kids seem to understand that 2D or  plane shapes are flat and 3D or solid shapes are puffed out or thick and have width.

This would be a fun game to make up using popsicle sticks and velcro on the edges. Kids could go from triangles all the way up to octagons using this game strategy. It would make a great center game too. And the vocabulary development would also be great! I have a set of colorful popsicle sticks and now I know what to do with them!! Thanks to for the great idea.

 I love this octagon puzzle made from triangles! And here are some pattern blocks in different themes that are MAGNETIC!  I just bought a set for one of my granddaughters whose birthday is this month. She is turning 5. Even though my students are older, they still love magnetic pattern blocks too.

My first grade students LOVE magnetic pattern blocks especially at the beginning of the year. I bought a bunch of black burner covers and the kids make shapes on these individual square burner covers. Then it makes a great center to use all week.

I have about a 1/2 class set of each set of geometry blocks; pattern blocks, pentominoes and tangrams. I pass out a bin or baggies of each to several tables.  Each block type has several kinds of activities to choose from so each table won’t get bored. The the kids can move to a different table when they are tired of one type of shape/activity, or if you need more structure just ring a bell and all 5 kids move to a new table in a kind of round robin.

 A fun printable  pentominoes activity you can use is here at from Murray
An online game is another fun idea to use on the classroom computers during this time and can be found here at Some cute vocabulary cards for Geometrical shapes are a FREE Download HERE at Teachers Pay Teachers from Mrs. Patton at Mrs. Patton’s Patch.


We do the pattern block snowflakes on a snowy inside day. 

Pattern Block Snowflake Art is a really fun activity to do in the wintertime if you have time in January or February. I just punch out lots and lots of WHITE pattern block shapes on the Ellison die cuts at our school in white construction paper. Then I give everybody a white hexagon and a 10 inch blue piece of construction paper. They have to make a 6 sided snowflake.

HERE is a cute geometry poem from Little Country Kinder.

There are always lots of interesting designs. You can talk about symmetry and give examples of what it would look like. You can label the shapes on the back having kids glue each type of shape they used and define it by how many edges and vertices or sides and “points” depending on what grade you are in. It is a good math vocabulary lesson.

This website had a cute picture of what they look like when they are done. Check out Kidscount 1234

I might try her idea this year and do Pattern Block turkeys! What fun is that! The key is always start with the hexagon shape in the middle.

Another freebie is from Mrs. Patton’s Patch and it is 2D Geometry Vocabulary Cards at Teachers Pay Teachers but it’s FREE! Download it now!

This website had a cute picture to give you an idea of how many different colorful designs the kids can come up with. Check it out at Focus on Math.

This is a really cute art idea. I’ve done this on black paper cut into a perfect square and pattern block stickers. The kids start with a hexagon shape in the middle (yellow pattern block hexagon). The only rule is to make the shape symmetrical. It is hard for kids to do perfectly. They may get a few “arms” of the hexagon done the same but will make a change on one of the arms and it is no longer symmetrical.

Octagon Puzzle (sm)

Then we look at each other’s designs and number them 1 through 25 or however many students you have. They have to write IS IT SYMMETRICAL? at the top of their papers. I will number all the projects. Then they write yes or no on each one. I give them about 10 minutes. Then we go over each one and they have to argue and debate if it is or not. They learn how to look for symmetry.

Here is another idea for art using pattern blocks; THE MITTEN story, and then make patterned mittens! Idea is from Mrsleeskinderkids blog. It is a totally cute blog with lots of great ideas. You can always tell teachers who have been teaching a long time and who still love it. She is one of them.

Since we are usually doing this in winter time I have kids do a writing project on either of two themes; one is Snowglobe stories, using the THE SNOWGLOBE FAMILY by: O’Connor (check it out below) or the other is Making a Geometry Book. The pages in it go like this…..”I once was a _________ but now I’m a _________. Fill in with circle to sphere, or triange to pyramid, or square to cube. Then they draw a picture of something in real life and write one sentence to describe how it is used or where they would find it. Example: I once was a square but now I’m a cube of ice in a cold glass of Coke. Then they draw a glass with cubed ice inside. It’s a lot of fun. Each child does 5 to 7 pages and it takes a week of writing time. But it’s great integration of math and writing.

Here is a link to what we did with this book check it out! 

We made snowglobes and snowglobe stories…they were super cute!
When the snowglobes (teach them a sphere is a globe) art is done spray it with glitter so it looks like snow. It comes in 3 colors.

Here is a Cute Shape Youtube you could show your kids. It is a fast and cute way to introduce the shape vocabulary for younger kids. I like that it had all the hexagon and octagon and parallelogram and rhombus some of those that other programs skip. Have fun with Geometry and Pattern Blocks!

Making Playdough from Kool-Aid

It rained a ton last night and today it was muggy and hot outside so I wanted to think up something fun to do with my granddaughters while I was babysitting today.

Making Playdough out of Kool-Aid is so easy, I’ll never buy it again!

I had bought a pile of Kool-Aide packets to make playdough for my classroom kids last summer but I never got around to it. And that stuff was still up in the cupboard. So we pulled them all down, chose our colors (flavors!) and mixed up a batch in about 2 minutes! Seriously, I’m not Kidding! It was FAST!

There are only 5 ingredients in Kool-Aid Playdough besides the water……

My Granddaughters picked out their favorite Kool-Aid flavors for the Playdough.
It took me about 2 minutes to mix up the Kool-Aid Playdough! Super EASY PEASY!

It is soooooo super quick and easy. It calls for the playdough in the mix before adding the hot water, but I wanted to divide the one batch into 4 colors. So I experimented with it to see if we could add the Kool-Aide after it was all mixed up.

Kool-Aid makes great Playdough….it smells so good!
Here were the colors we chose today for our Kool-Aid Playdough.
Do you think they’re getting excited to start mixing them up? Oh yes they were!
This is the before picture….nobody has rainbow fingers yet. 😀

It worked fine except for one thing; all our fingers were rainbow colors! It dyes you fingers pretty good, but after a few washes you can’t even tell. I should’ve taken a pictures of our rainbow fingers!   What fun we had! And the playdough smells yummy too!

Meg chose Orange and Cherry-Red for her Kool-aid Playdough!
Marisa chose purple-grape and blue-raspberry Kool-Aid for her Playdough.

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 pkg kool-aid (unsweetened)                           
2 tablespoons cream of tarter
Mix together then add in:
2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons oil

Mix and knead for 4 minutes or until cool. 
We mixed it all in the Mixmaster for 4 minutes
then separated it into 4 bowls. Then we dumped
the Kool-Aid into each bowl so we’d get 4 colors! 
Such a great rainy day activity.

Make some soon!


Tangrams are a fun and great way to start any unit on Geometry or add to your geometry unit. They have lots of the basic plane 2D shapes that kids need to know the names of. They are also simple and easy to cut out from a square pattern of paper. Every year I start the first day of school with a tangram on each desk.  It gives kids something to do while we are organizing. If you give each child a different color there are lots of designs they can make such as some of these. 

Tangram Activities for the first week of school

Another activity for tangrams is just trying to make a square out of them after you cut them out and mix them up. I would use Ellison Die Cuts and do sets of different colors of tangrams. Then pass out black paper. Kids can do their own ANIMAL designs and glue them down. They look really striking glued to black paper but you could do it in on any color really,  for a great looking bulletin board. A pattern for a printable, cut out, tangram is at Creative

This bulletin board is from teaching The kids swapped pieces with each other
so that their shape art project was more colorful.

Here are two fun books that introduce tangrams in fun ways. You could use the Three Pigs, One Wolf, and Seven Magic Shapes if you are in a younger grade. It is a funny book kids love.  Grandfather Tang’s Story is another great book to read to introduce tangrams, especially if you are upper grades. There are lots of online activities to go with it too. 

These are both very cute stories to introduce Tangrams to kids. This would be a fun enrichment day for math or a theme day if you have an extra bunch of time at the end of another unit. I love when that happens although it is rare, isn’t it?  Or else use it as one of the things you do the day before a big holiday break when kids are antsy anyway. 
Here are some 3D tangram designs  in an airport in Korea. Cool designs! 

Having a rubric designed by the class, organize and write a simple fairy tale using a pig or a duck or a wolf as the main character. (LIKE THE STORY! Yeah, I am razer sharp!)  Have a narrator, and a lesson learned in the end as you go through setting, problem and solution. Develop the character and have a sidekick that helps him over his problem.

You could use cereal boxes and make little puppet theaters if you really want to go all out. Check out my blogpost on when we did this. It was probably the kids’ favorite activity of the year besides Halloween and Valentines Parties. 😀 Check it out HERE.

Kids can really do fun things if you give them a few ideas how to start. I usually do a brainstorm on the board of all kinds of possible problems a pig or wolf could get into. Then I’d write a list of fun settings. Then write out 4 ways to start the fairy tale besides “Once upon a time….” Kids need a way to jump start, and then they are on their way. Go through the writing process of brainstorm, sloppy copy, edit, final copy, illustration, share.

tangram bird bb

Tangrams: You could read a bird book like “Ugly Duckling” or “Grandfather Tang’s Journey” and have kids do bird shapes with tangrams. Some of these look like birds…. snicker….and some don’t. 😀   Check them out at Focus on Math. They have lots of great art ideas

On the back of art pages I usually find a poem to go with the concept we are learning. Most of my kids know the flat plane shapes as they are a gifted group. But if you are teaching beginning first grade  you could choose from one of these or several on a page. Sing the songs and then glue on the poems.   Check it out HERE from Reading Lady. It is a good “shared reading” activity to integrate reading and math. yes siree!

HERE at is a printable pattern to make your tangrams.

My students LOVE magnetic tangrams. I have 2 filing cabinets pushed against each other back to back so it makes a great big magnetic center. Here is a picture of it with kids using it for an activity using parts of a plant. But tangrams and pattern blocks are some of their favorite magnet activities.


 A fun activity another teacher did is write diamante poems after her students made tangrams animals. Check it out HERE at A DIAMANTE poem has 7 lines in a pattern. The first and last lines of the poem being one synonymous, but different word.  Check out a weebly with lots of examples on Mrs. Warner’s website.  It also has a few videos on many types of poetry. 

Here is one I did to show my class how it is done. Check the post out
HERE. Mrs. Warner’s weebly website has lots of poetry examples, check it out HERE.

A set of tangrams includes: 2 large triangles, a medium triangle, 2 small triangles, a square and a parallelogram. You can give each student 2 sets in their choice of color to make some groovy design or just the 7 shapes. It looks like some kids made a rocket. 😀  A printable tangram download is HERE at Activity Village.

A bunch of free printables for geometrical shapes can be found HERE at Helping With Math. Another good worksheet with questions and activities is at
justfordaisy: Making A Geoboard Busy Bag with Activity Card Printable

Another fun activity is geoboards. They are great for manipulative play with the plane shapes. Kids love to do them and the math conversations are pretty great. Just watch out for rubber bands flying across the room!

Another activity I do a lot are Exemplars (projects for math). This one is on Grandfather Tang’s Story. It might be appropriate for your classroom too. Kids love projects like this where they have to figure out and solve problems. Here it is a Birdville K12 for Exemplars.

This might be a good thing to do first day of school. I know my kids love exploring tangrams