SCOOT Solutions for When You Have More Students than Cards

If you use task cards to play the game SCOOT with your class, one problem you might have is having more students than cards. Here are some easy ways to solve this problem while also giving your students' brains a little break. If you don't know how to play SCOOT, it is a game that both teachers and students love. Scroll down for instructions.

Add Mini-Break Cards. 
I created this set of free Mini-Break Cards that will work great with any task card set for almost any grade level. Just intersperse the number of Mini-Break cards you need with the task card set you are using and have students do the activities on individual white boards or scratch paper.

Play Boggle
Use this free Boggle template to create a boggle game. Copy it for the number of extra stations that you need for your SCOOT game. When students get to a Boggle station, they use the back of their answer sheet to record the words that they find. Since the same Boggle board is at each station, students can continue their list of words. If you think this will give them too long looking at one Boggle board, you could use several or even a different one for each station.

Do Word Searches
Copy enough different word searches to cover the extra stations you need. When a student gets to a Word Search station, he or she works on that word search for the allotted time, making sure to cross off the words that he or she finds. By the end of the game, everyone will have contributed to solving each word search.

Do Puzzles
There are all kinds of fun little manipulative puzzles that you could put out at extra stations. Consider Tangrams, a Soma cube, or pattern blocks. You only need one or two puzzles per station since the time is short.

Work in Pairs
Instead of having one child at each station, have students move in pairs. Then you will only need half as many cards. You could allow students to work together to answer the question on the card or have them work independently and just move together. If you want students to have a different partner each time split your students into two groups. Put a student from each group at each station. Have students in group 1 move to the left with each rotation and have students in group 2 move to the right. It sounds complicated, but if you practice the rotation a few times before you play, your students will know what to do.

Work on a Class Art Project
Maybe you are making one of those projects where students use a finger to make little cups from squares of tissue paper and glue them onto a picture. Maybe you are making a banner with bubble letters that need to be colored in. You could label your extra stations, "Art Project" and when students come to those stations they go to the back table and work on the project for that rotation, a few at a time.  You could even group the Art Project stations so that students have a decent period of time to work before they rejoin the SCOOT game.

Instructions for SCOOT:
Give each student a pre-made answer sheet or have them number a piece of notebook paper for the number of cards in the set you are using. Distribute the task cards so that each student has one card on his or her desk. Students begin by answering the question on the card that is on their own desk. After an appropriate amount of time (perhaps 2-3 minutes, depending on the age of your students and the cards you are using) the teacher says, "SCOOT,"  and all of the students move to the next desk where a new card awaits them. Continue until every student has completed every card (or until you run out of time). 

Special thanks to Randy who inspired these ideas as well as the SCOOT Mini-Break Cards.

This post is on the Link Up Party at The Cornerstone's  Best February Teacher Freebies where you can find more terrific freebies!

Free Chore Noun and Verb Printable!

Yesterday, I posted this fun little freebie about chores. The goal of the activity was to practice using verbs and nouns but someone on my facebook page worried that the activity might be too hard for her students because many of them do not have to do chores. This led to an interesting discussion about how few chores many kids are doing these days.

One teacher suggested that the activity could be used as a teachable moment, so taking off on that idea, here are some ways to extend the freebie and possibly get kids to take on a little more responsibility.

After completing the worksheet:
  • Ask students to put a star next to every chore they have done and put two stars after chores that they do regularly.
  • Create a class bar graph of the results (how many students do each job)
  • Ask students to number the chores from easiest to hardest.
  • Brainstorm a list of chores that are just right for the students in your grade.
  • Brainstorm a list of reasons why it is good for kids to help around the house. 
  • Ask each student to choose new one chore that he or she will complete this week. This could be a homework assignment that students would complete by writing a paragraph about how doing the new chore went. You might also want to require a parent signature. 
  • Have younger students write "I can..." statements. For example: I can make my bed. I can set the table. You could have them write them on stars or another fun shape and post them on a bulletin board. 
Do you have an idea to add? Please comment. And don't forget to download your Free Chore Confusion Printable!

Free Pensee Poem Activity

Soft and fluffy
Meows until I pet her
There on my favorite pillow
Purring with contentment.

A Pensee Poem is a five-line, non rhyming patterned poem that is both fun and easy to create! Like many other poem patterns, it is a great opportunity to practice syllables. 

Here is the pattern for writing a Pensee:

Line 1: Subject (2 syllables)                       
Line 2: Description (4 syllables)                 
Line 3: Action (7 syllables)                          
Line 4: Setting (8 syllables)                      
Line 5: Final thought (6 syllables)     

One way to use this pattern (or any poetry pattern ) is to give the students a broad subject such as "animals," "grandparents," or "Valentine's Day" and then have each student write several Pensee poems on that subject. Students can choose their favorite ones to illustrate for display. Poetry patterns can also make a terrific enrichment activity. Great for subs too!

The free two-page pensee activity below is part of a larger packet of 21 different poem patterns. It will work beautifully as a stand alone activity, or you can get the whole poetry writing unit here

Rachel Lynette

NO SOPA, please!

On January 24 the senate will begin voting on two bills PIPA (The Protect IP Act) and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) that could result in Teachers Pay Teachers as well as other internet open market/content sites (including Pinterest) to be shut down forever. Piracy needs to be stopped but these bills are not the way to do it.  Join Google, Facebook, Wikipedia and many others by asking congress not to pass these bills.

Ways to Use Task Cards in the Classroom

Task cards are a great option for reinforcing skills and offering enrichment because unlike worksheets, they can be used again and again. You can make your own to target specific areas and of course there are many for sale, including mine (pictured above). Print on card stock, ideally in color, but grayscale will work too. If you laminate them, they will last for years. You can set them up at a center in your classroom or put them in a baggie for students to take to their desks. Another option is to punch a hole in once corner and put them all on a ring. Then you can store them by hanging them on hooks.

For Reinforcement
Task cards are great for students who need a little extra practice in a given area. Students often prefer them to a worksheet because there is only one task per card, which helps the student not feel overwhelmed. Students can complete as many or as few cards as are needed to master the skill. One option is to have students working on task cards while you are working with a group. Consider sending sets of cards home as homework for an evening with specific students who need a little extra.

For Enrichment 
Task cards are great for fast finishers as long as the cards are challenging. Ideally, the tasks on the cards should either explore a subject more deeply or extend it into related areas. More of the same is not a good use of a bright student's time.

In Groups
There are several ways to use task cards in small groups. Using individual white boards, everyone can work on the same card and then compare answers before moving on to the next card. Another option is to give each student a different card, allow a specific amount of time to complete the task and then have each student pass his or her card to another student for a new round. You may also be able to make some types of cards into a game. For example, students can ask each other the questions and take turns answering.

Use short answer task cards with the whole class by having students answer on white boards and then holding up their boards for you to check. Another option is to use them in the game Scoot. If you don't know how to play, here are instructions (as well as a freebie!)

Tracking Progress
The way  students record their answers will depend on the kind of cards you are using. For cards that require a short answer, an answer sheet may fit the bill perfectly. Students can record their answers and then turn in the answer sheet for your to check, or check their own answers with a provided answer key.

Some task cards require longer, open-ended answers. You may want students to answer on notebook paper or in a task card journal specifically for task card responses. It may take several days for a student to complete one set, or you could have students pick a specific number of cards to do. It can be helpful to provide a recording sheet for students to keep track of which cards they have completed.

If you want to go completely paperless, students can work at a computer and record their answers electronically. Another paperless option for short answer cards is to have students write their answers on individual white boards and then use an answer key to self-check.

Personal laminator
I have gone a little Task Card crazy and have made over a hundred sets for reading strategies, grammar, math, and more. You can get a set of free Friendship Cards here. Or you can see all of my cards in the task card section of my TpT store here.

Do you have anything to add? How have task cards been working for you?

FREE Social Skills Friendship Cards!

Knowing how to make friends comes naturally to some children. However, others really struggle. These 24 friendship cards can help those struggling students to learn social skills that will help them to make and keep friends. Use them as discussion prompts in small groups or as writing prompts. Another idea is to combine the two by first having students answer the question on the card in writing and then discussing responses.

These cards are offered free because I feel that social skills are so very important in the lives of children (and adults!) Please share them with your friends and colleagues. Even one friend can make a world of difference in the life of a child. 

Make Your Own Subject Specific "HedBanz" Game

This year while Holiday shopping I kept running across the game HedBanz. It seemed to be pretty popular and in fact my boyfriend's eight-year old got one for Christmas. What I thought was interesting is that this is basically just a version of a game we used to play at birthday parties when I was a kid. An adult would put the name of a famous or fictional person on your back and you would mingle with others, asking "yes" or "no" questions to figure out who you were. That is pretty much the gist of HedBanz as well, except that the game comes with pre-made cards and plastic headbands to put them in.

Why not make a version of the game to use in your classroom? How hard could it be? Write the words from something you are studying on cards (animal sight words, state names, types of land forms...whatever), stick them on your student's backs and let them go to town. If you want to get really fancy, you could even make construction paper headbands and slide the card between the band and the student's forehead, or maybe use a large-sized paperclip to put the card on the band. However you do it, Hedbanz (despite it's incorrect spelling) can inspire some great learning!

20 Back from Winter Break Writing Prompts

Two whole weeks without school...what have those kids been doing all that time? What are they looking forward to in the new year? One great way to find out is to have your students write about it! I got a little help from some of my friends on facebook to compile this list of 20 interesting prompts to start your writing year off right!

  1. Write about the best gift you gave to someone else. What made it so special?
  2. How would you fill your vacation time if you did not have any screens (no computers, video games, or TV)? -contributed by Emily Watts McGrady
  3. Describe in detail a person you spent a lot of time with over break.
  4. Write about something you did with your family over break.
  5. Write about a place that you went over the break. 
  6. Write about a positive or negative emotion you felt that had nothing to do with gifts. -contributed by Liz Leon
  7. How did your bring joy or happiness to someone else this season?  -contributed by Addie Education
  8. Make a pie chart that represents your entire Winter break. Create sections for the different things you did over the break. Be sure to make the sections proportional to the amount of time you spent doing each activity. Label your pie chart.
  9. Write about something that happened last year that you think you will remember for the rest of your life.
  10. How would you like to change your life this year?  -contributed by Michelle Callie Higgins
  11. Write about a way you can help to make your community a better place to live this year.  -contributed by Lisa Travis
  12. Write about the best New Years Eve party that you can imagine.
  13. Make a different New Years wish for ten different people in your life.
  14. Write about something you are looking forward to doing this year.
  15. Write about something that you are worried or nervous about this year.
  16. Write about something you hope will get invented this year. 
  17. Finish this sentence in ten different ways: This year I hope...
  18. Start your writing with: This will be the best year ever because...
  19. Make a list of at least ten ways that your life is different now than it was a year ago.
  20. Make a list of at least ten ways that you think your life will be different a year from now.
You can get 252 more terrific prompts in fun Tic-Tac-Toe grids right here!

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