3 Free Game Boards!

Lately, several teachers have asked for ideas for different ways to use Task Cards. I am working on a project to address that question more fully, but in the meantime, I created these three game boards that you can use for reinforcing skills in almost any subject. Each game includes student instructions along with the game board. Just glue them into file folders, add task cards or flashcards, and markers and you are ready to go!

Fly to Finish is great for pairs or small groups. Students must first answer a question from a card before rolling the dice to take their turn.

Race to the Moon can be played with as many as eight students. Everyone answers each question at the same time on individual white boards, so there is no waiting for turns. Even better, there can be more than one winner!

Trading Places is similar to Chinese Checkers. You will need a lot of flashcards or task cards for this one since each player takes many turns. This would be good for reviewing basic math facts with flashcards or foreign language vocabulary words. 

I hope you can use these free game boards! If you have other creative ways that you use task cards, please comment and tell us about them.

April Fools Day Writing Activity

Free Spring Giveaway for Followers

This giveaway has been completed. Thanks to all 652 of you who participated and got this pack for free! If you missed the giveaway but would still like the Spring Creative and Critical Thinking Packet, you can purchase it for just $3.50 on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

Welcome to Minds in Bloom! If you are new, I hope you will take a look around.

I am doing this giveaway because I want to say thank you to my amazing followers and hopefully gather a few more. I created this twelve-page Spring Packet especially for this giveaway.

20 Spring Writing Prompts

Yippee, spring is finally here! Here are some writing prompts to keep those young minds engaged!
  1. What are some things you can do in the springtime that you cannot do during winter?

  2. Make a list of every sign of spring you can think of. Consider how spring looks, sounds, feels, and smells as you make your list.

  3. Actor Robin Williams said, "Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's Party!'" What do you think he meant? Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  4. Pretend that you can go anywhere in the world for spring break. Where would you go and what would you do there?

  5. Write a story called: The Year that Spring Forgot." 

  6. Think about last spring. How was your life different? How was it the same? Make a T-chart to show how your life has changed and stated the same over the last year. 

  7. Many people enjoy April Fools Day. Write about a time when you played a joke on someone, or when someone played a joke on you.

  8. Pretend that "Spring Fever" is a real illness. Make a list of symptoms that people with Spring Fever would have. Then create a treatment plan.

  9. Write a persuasive essay to convince school administrators to extend spring break for an extra week.

  10. Write about the perfect spring day. Include details about the weather, where you would go and what you would do. 

  11. Write a story about what would happen if the Easter Bunny overslept.

  12. Create a Top Ten list of favorite spring activities. Your favorite activity should be #1.

  13. Would you rather spend a spring day hiking in the woods or planting a garden? Why?

  14. What is the difference between spring and summer? List as many differences as you can.

  15. A baby bunny has appeared in a basket on your doorstep. You soon discover it has one special, magical ability. Write a story about this bunny. 

  16. Spring is thought to be a time of new beginnings. Write about a time when you started something new. 

  17. It can be hard to concentrate in school during springtime. What are some things your teacher could do that would help to keep the class focused and interested?

  18. "April showers bring May flowers." What do May flowers bring? Why do you think so?

  19. It's time for spring cleaning. What are three possessions that it is time to say good bye to? Write about each of these things and say why it is time to sell them or give them away.  

  20. Pretend that you are in charge of planning a spring picnic for your class. Plan a menu and write about what games and activities there will be. 
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    Ten Ideas for Teaching Fact and Opinion

    Fact and opinion can be tricky. Fortunately, there are many great ways to teach this concept. Here is a list of ten of them.

    1. Read or display a fact and opinion statements one at a time. Students hold up index cards with either "Fact" or "Opinion" to indicate which type of statement is being made. Could also use one card and write the words on each side.

    2. Label one side of the room "Fact," and the other side, "Opinion." Students are each given an index card with either a fact or opinion written on it. Students read their card and go to the correct corner. Students are then given time to share their cards and see if others agree or some may need to switch sides. Redistribute cards and play again. 

    3. A variation on the game above. Students write either a fact or opinion on a piece of scrap paper. Then  they crumple them into balls and have a "snowball fight." for about 30 seconds or as long as you can stand it. Kids each retrieve a snowball and then proceed as above to the appropriate part of the room. 

    4. Get an inexpensive supermarket ball (the ones in the cages) or beach ball. Write "Fact" and "Opinion" all over it with permanent marker. Students stand and throw the ball to each other. When a student catches the ball, he or she looks at which word is under (or closest to) his or her right thumb and makes that type of a statement. Then he or she throws the ball to someone else. Could make this an elimination game for incorrect answers.

    5. Use individual white boards and play Fact and Opinion Scoot. Have students number their boards according to where they are sitting so that students can go from board to board in order. Next have each student write either a fact or opinion on his or her board. Students number a piece of notebook paper to use as an answer sheet and scoot from desk to desk writing either "F" for fact or "O" for opinion. Check answers by having student who wrote each statement say what kind of a statement it is. 

    6. Write a statement on the board and ask student to vote on whether it is a fact or opinion, then have students explain their reasoning. 

    7. Have students write ten facts and ten opinions about whatever you happen to be reading, or studying (for example: dinosaurs, electricity, the presidents, etc.) 

    8. Write facts and opinions on color coded index card (different color for each type of statement) distribute and have students walk around the room sharing what is on each other's cards. Then have students split into groups by the color of their cards and explain why they are in these two groups. 

    9. Here is a website with links to free Fact and Opinion Games and PowerPoints.

    10. For individual practice or playing Scoot, you can use these Multiple Choice Fact and Opinion Task Cards. 

    If task cards aren't your thing, you can get the same Fact and Opinion Statements in this PowerPoint.

    What do you do to teach fact and opinion? Please share with a comment.

    FREE Hunger Games Would You Rather Questions


    be a tribute in a Hunger Games in which all of the other tributes are your friends


    be a 12 year old tribute in a Hunger Games in which all of the other tributes are 17 years old. 

    Is your class going crazy waiting for the Hunger Games movie to come out? Get more fun Would Your Rather Questions like the one above for free right here. Great for discussions, class polls, or writing prompts.

    If you want more Hunger Games fun, check out Panam to Panam, a game based on the popular game Apples to Apples.

    FREE Measurement Task Cards!

    I started off making a set of free task cards for upper elementary, but then I decided that the younger set should have some too, so now there is something for almost everyone! Not only that, both of these sets are correlated with Common Core Standards.

    For Grades 2-3
    To complete these cards, your students will be measuring things around your classroom. Before they measure, they must first make an estimate. Your students will not only enjoy measuring, but also seeing the difference between their estimates and the actual measurements.

    For Grades 4-6
    These cards feature a math story problems involving length, volume, weight, and temperature. The cards are a kind of measurement grab-bag and will require basic operations, conversions, and logic to solve. A Student answer sheet and an answer key are included so that students can check their work.

    More Measurement Freebies!
    You can find more great measurement activities on the Measurement Mania Freebie Collection Below. These are terrific products from some of my favorite TpT sellers. And best of all, they are all free!

    20 Fun St. Patrick's Day Writing Prompts

    1. Pretend that you have found a four-leaf clover that will bring you extraordinary good luck for exactly one day. Write about your lucky day. 

    2. St. Patrick's Day is not generally a gift-giving holiday like Mother's Day or Christmas. Write a persuasive  essay to convince people to give gifts on St. Patrick's Day. 

    3. Pretend that you can only eat green food on St. Patrick's Day. Create a menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

    4. Draw a large four-leaf clover. In the center write: I am lucky because... Then write a different way that you are lucky on each of the four leaves. 

    5. You have caught a leprechaun and he has given you a pot of gold in exchange for his freedom. What do you do with it?

    6. Make a T-Chart. One side, list the advantages of being as small as a leprechaun. On the other side list the disadvantages of being as small as a leprechaun. 

    7. Make a list of as many things that are green as you can.

    8. What does it mean to get a "lucky break?" Write about a time when you got one. 

    9. What do leprechauns do all day? Make a daily schedule for a leprechaun. 

    10. Describe a magical land "over the rainbow." Use as much detail as you can. 

    11. James Garfield (the 20th US president) said, "A pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck." What do you think he meant? Do you agree? Why or why not?

    12. A mischievous leprechaun paid a visit to your classroom during the night and caused all kinds of trouble. What did he do?

    13. Write a story about catching a leprechaun

    14. How would life be different if everyone had light green skin and dark green hair? 

    15. Make a list of everything you know about Ireland. 

    16. Pretend you are a leprechaun who is unhappy with your wardrobe. You are tired of the old-fashioned hat, suit, and shoes. You want a new, updated look for today's modern leprechaun. Write a letter to the leprechaun fashion designer explaining why you think an update is a good idea and what the new leprechaun outfit should look like. 

    17. Plan a St. Patrick's Day party for your class. What will you do? What will you eat?

    18. Pretend you are the script writer for your favorite TV show. You have been assigned to write the St. Patrick's Day episode. Write a summary of the episode you create. 

    19. Do you believe in Leprechauns? Why or why not?

    20. Draw a large rainbow. Write a poem about rainbows in your rainbow with one line on each band of color. Your poem may rhyme or not rhyme (this could make a nice art project if you have the students do their rainbows in light watercolor and then write the poem with a black Sharpie).
    If you would like more writing prompts, you can find a whole bunch of them here

    Two Fun Ways to Use Task Cards

    There are so many ways to use Task Cards...I have heard from teachers who use them in partners, with the whole class and of course at centers. Here are pictures from two teachers who have graciously shared how they use task cards with their students.

    Randy Seldomridge teaches in Granite Falls, NC. Here is what Randy says about the way he uses Task Cards to play Scoot with sixth graders: 
    "These are some shots of my kids doing "scoot" type stuff using your figurative language task cards with the freebie mini-breaks thrown in after every sixth task card.  As you can see, we moved out of the room into the hallway to do this.  With 28 students, it gets a bit too much to have all of that movement in the room.  They are spread out in the hall and actually work and are quite quiet."

    Amy Lanham is a reading interventionist in Marvell Arkansas. She has a challenging job working with a wide range of grade levels from elementary to high school! I love how she uses these prize globes to hold the cards. What a fun way for students to draw a random card! Imagine a center with a bowl full of them. If you can't get a large number of these globes, you could also use plastic eggs, which are at stores everywhere for Easter right now.

    Thanks so much to Randy and Amy for the pictures. If you are using my task cards with your students, I would be thrilled to see what you are doing with them. If I can use your pictures in a blog post, I will be happy to compensate you with free products from my TpT Store. Of course, as in the photo above, I will block out student faces. Email photos to reallyrachel@gmail.com. 

    If you are looking for Task Cards, you can find them here

    If you use a lot of task cards, you might consider purchasing your own laminator

    Tips for Partner Work

    Ideally, partner work consists of two students enthusiastically working together on an activity, sharing ideas, and treating each other with respect. Not only are these two students accomplishing the task before them, they are also learning more about how to work cooperatively with others. However, partner work is not always ideal. Partners do not always get along and sometimes one partner does the lion's share of the work. Here are some tips for making partner work a positive experience in your classroom.

    Teach Respect
    Students should be very clear that they are to treat their partner, no matter who it is, with respect. That means no negative comments about who they are partnered with and it means that they need to be polite to their partner. Make the consequences for rudeness to a partner fairly severe so that students don't test it. At the same time, reward partners that work well together, especially if you know it is a challenging match, for one of both of them.  It might be a good idea to role play several situations and then discuss. For example, you could have two students who you know are friends role play a situation in which one partner does not want to work with the other one and makes that clear.

    Rarely Let Students Choose Their Partners
    Letting students choose their own partners means that the same kids will always work together. It also means that there will always be issues with several students all wanting to work with the same child, and that child having to choose between them. In addition, in many classrooms, it results in there being a few kids that no one wants to work with who will be put reluctantly together. Not only is that humiliating for those kids, it also often results in a poor grouping as both children are likely to have poor social skills.

    Instead, switch pairings often. Resist the urge to always pair students with the student sitting next to them. Students should be ready to work with any other student in the classroom at any time. Some teachers create partners pairings for a week at a time and then switch them every Monday, which is a nice strategy as then students have time to settle into the partnership and really learn to work together effectively. It is also good for children who thrive on routine and are thrown by randomness. Others, pair randomly. One of the quickest ways to pair randomly is to draw Popsicle sticks (with student names on them) two at a time.

    Of course there are times when you will want to assign partners either by ability or because of behavioral issues. When you assign, plan your pairings ahead of time and have a list ready. Be clear that the list is nonnegotiable.

    Give Clear Instructions 
    Make sure that everyone understands the task they are to complete. It can be helpful to divide the task into jobs or roles so that each student in the pairing knows exactly what his or her job is. If that is not appropriate for the task at hand, be sure students know what it means to share the work. This can be another fun situation to role play.

    Monitor Closely
    Circulate as your students work. Keep an eye out for pairs that are struggling and try to head of problems before they occur. You may also be able to help to mediate when two partners cannot agree. Be sure to comment on partners that are working well together.

    Help Struggling Students
    Partner work can be challenging for some students. Perhaps they have other issues such as ADHD or Asperger's that make working with others difficult or perhaps they are struggling academically or have emotional issues. Whatever the case, ask yourself if there is any way you can help. Does your school offer any social skills counseling? Can you set up some kind of a token reward system to train a specific behavior? Would having the pair work in the hall or in another quieter environment help? If the child really seems to be overtaxed, would it be the end of the world if he or she sat this one out and worked on something individually?

    Do you have more thoughts on partner work? Please share with a comment!

    Teaching Resources

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