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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fractions, Decimals, Percents, and...BASKETBALL

Happy March Madness!

Each year my school hosts a 5th graders vs parents/teachers basketball game.  The game was yesterday, and even with the highest number of teacher volunteers EVER.  I am really sore today!  I am not much of an athlete, but I always give 110% anyway.  It was a GREAT night and a serious workout.  Glad that my blogging buddy Kelly joined us this year, her aggressive nature made me look gentle as I picked up, scooped, and carried kids during the game. 

Leading up to the game I thought it would be great to monopolize on the excitement in the air and incorporate some basketball into our Math unit on fractions, decimals, and percents.

First, we headed to the APR (or gym) and I paired each of my students.  One member of the pair served as the shooter and the other the recorder.  They were given two minutes to shoot, and hopefully make as many baskets as possible while the recorder collected the data.

As the gang shoots, our recorders use the Data Collection Sheet
to record the numbers of shots taken, and the number of shots made. 

After two minutes, my duos switched roles until everyone was complete. Once we headed back to the classroom they worked with the data.  We expressed the shots made and missed as fractions, then used calculators to convert them into decimals.  After our decimals were rounded to the nearest hundredth, we used so mental math to convert the decimal to a percent in order to have calculate our shooting accuracy.  I am happy to say that (as not much of an athlete) my shooting accuracy was 59%! 
Woo Hoo!

We surveyed our peers to find out the fraction of their shots made.  My guys then graphed their data along with the data they collected from their peers.  As with all my Math activities, their was a written reflection at the end that asked my kids to reflect upon how these skills may be applied to real life and what they thought of the activity.  

Collecting Data by surveying their classmates.
Converting their fractional representations of shots made/missed
into decimals and percents. 
This really was a fun activity for all of us, it got us out of the classroom, running around a bit, and all int he name of math.  One of my favorite reflections was written by a real cute, he wrote "I don't mind when we do boring stuff in math because I know Mr. F always has something fun on the way".  I TRY!

This activity is available for purchase at The Reading Buddies Teachers Pay Teachers store.  While your there, why not follow us so that our updates will be delivered directly to your inbox.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Basketball Math...Can it get any more ENGAGING?

Hello friends!

I am so excited about the activity I just uploaded to  It is a basketball math activity that incorporates fractions, decimals, percents, graphing, writing,  I am doing this, for the first time, with my kiddies tomorrow and will follow-up soon with some pictures and a post.  It is super engaging and very timely with March Madness in full swing.  

Check it out here: TPT Basketball Math

The Reading Buddies TPT Store

Harry Potter Classroom Theme

Hello Bloggers!  Feeling a little down, ok REALY down, this week and I thought I would try to pick myself up with a few of my favorite things: Blogging, Teaching, and Harry Potter.

Through this blog I have connected with quite a few Harry Potter teacher-fans.  You guys inspired me to share my classroom theme, which Kelly had a great deal of influence upon.  Ok, more than influence, she thought of the idea and forced me to do it about 3 days before school started.  Allow me to share the story.

First, one thing you must know about me is I start getting the school bug on August first.  I hound custodians for the date I am allowed back in my room and have moved my furniture back in my classroom by myself in order to start prepping (I have an illness).  One day, when I should have been organizing books or hanging bulletin boards I was sitting in Kelly's FANTASTIC Ocean themed classroom whining and drinking a vanilla bean coffee coolatta. I was in awe of her adorable theme and complained that in 5th grade you can't have a theme because 5th graders are all "big" and "cool".  To help, or to shut me up, or a combination of both Kelly mentioned that I need to incorporate a theme that I love because I will be in the room 5 days a week.  Through some quick brainstorming, she mentioned I could use the Harry Potter books as my theme.

Problem-It was 3 days before school started, I was already hanging up my baseball posters and using my lame (no offense) "we are all a team" theme.  I was tempted to stick with it, but the allure of Harry was just too much.  I scoured the Internet and found...NOTHING.  Seriously, not one Harry Potter birthday calendar, bulletin board paper, or border. (Seriously, I have been tempted to call JK Rowling and asked that chick to hook up with a company and get this stuff made).  So I went to work and created my first Harry Potter poster.
Printed out from the computer, edited, and mounted on construction paper.
Hermione waits for me to call on her. 
I know, nothing fantastic.  I still hang her up as my first Harry token, but it has grown from there.

On the first day of school everyone is "sorted" into a house by the sorting hat.
After introducing the new gang to my Harry Potter theme (they have know about it since they were in 1st grade with Kelly) I read the sorting hat poem from HPSS and sort the kids into their "house" or tables.  Above each table hangs a sign with the house name and a brief description of the type of student found in that house.  I made these myself and laminated them.

I copied the excerpt straight from the novel. 

 Our first activity of the year is to make owls and to write about whether we were sorted into the right house based on how we assess our character traits.

My students sit with their table for one month and work together to earn house points.  At the end of the month the house with the most house points wins the House Cup .  The students are resorted (without the ceremony) and the House Points competition starts all over again.
My closet door keeps track of the points. 

My students mailboxes are labeled the Owlery and a few feathered friends,
including Hedwig perch there. 
We are currently finishing HPSS, here is one of my bulletin boards

My tables are labeled Potter, students who cannot behave are put in Azkaban (figuratively of course), and Potter decor now litters my room.  Here are some more pictures.

I picked up a few chocolate frog boxes from a
recent trip to Harry Potter World to decorate the
corners of my bulletin board. 

I made this border myself: it is many, many, MANY 8 inch strips printed, cut, glued, and laminated.  It took forever-but I love it. 

My letter to Hogwarts- I was accepted!

Homemade Birthday Chart- There was a frog underneath Harry!

I use starred paper for my bulletin board, like the Great Hall ceiling.
My kids drew me these HP pencil sketches.  NOT BAD!
I solemnly swear that I am up to no good!

The Magic Wands from four of the characters.
Can you guess who?

From the very first day when we sort, until we start the first HP novel (usually December), all the way until the end of the year we are filled with the magic of Hogwarts.  As the only one who stays behind to do it again next year, Harry Potter is something I never get sick of.

Let the Magic Begin!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 18, 2012

Results from St. Patrick's Day bread celebration.

The kiddos loved tasting all the breads from around the world.  We reviewed the continents then located the country each bread came from and colored it in.  Then we tasted the bread and flew across the Atlantic to the next country.  The kids were on carb overload by the end of the lesson so I had them move around and ask each other their favorite breads.  Results were recorded and analyzed. On  the last page students had to write sentences about their results and believe it or not everyone of them used capitals and periods!!! Maybe I should serve carbs before every writing assignment! This activity can be done any time of the year to review map skills with socialization and math skills all in one!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Linky Party

I'm joining a Linky Party for all the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teacher-bloggers out there (sorry Kel).

Thanks to Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies for hosting.  So excited to meet so many upper grade friends. 

Click the link above to join the party.  Let's be honest, no one wants to be tardy to the party!
The Reading Buddies

Pi Day Revisited

Hi all I am typing this post from my deck as it is a beautiful March day in Jersey.  I wanted to keep everyone posted on how my Pi Day activities went. 

First we created our Pi Day review plates to remind us of the vocabulary, the formula for circumference, and the meaning of the terms.  This activity took about a 1/2 hour to complete, though the most creative (and slowest working) kids took a little longer.

Here a student is using the Vocabulary section of their
Math Binder to review the terms
A Pi (pie) plate in progress

Finished Pi plates
A closer view

A quick and easy display

In the afternoon we participated in Edible Pi Day Centers (available on TPT Here).  The activities were center-based and had the students measuring the diameter of various desserts and using that information to find the diameter and circumference.  Rule number one, do NOT spend so much time planning that you leave buying the actual pies until the night before. Cut to me in three different grocery stores at 11:00 the night before Pi Day-I've learned from that mistake. 

With Oreos, Peanut Butter Cups, Round Cakes and Pies in hand we started our centers.  Each center had center cards restating the directions for the students (included in the TPT packet). 
Here two of my darlings are reading the directions before starting
at the pie station (YEAH for reading directions!)

This is an image of one of the center cards
for the Apple Pie center. 
The activity guide in progress.

Here are some pictures of us working...
and eating our way through the centers.
Oreo diameter-YUM!

Have you ever measured the diameter of a Peanut Butter Cup?
I usually just eat them

Overall this was a GREAT way to celebrate Pi Day and to have some activities that were super engaging, educational, and of course YUMMY!

How did you celebrate Pi Day? I'd love to hear from you!

-Damien of The Reading Buddies

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'd like to thank the Academy....

We have just been awarded the THE VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD by Stacy Johnson from 

Thanks so much for the recognition.  In order to accept this award I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself, but since this is a 2 person blog I guess that means 3 facts each and 1 shared.

Here we go...

1. Both Kelly and I have been in our current positions for 6 years.
2. One of us has two children and one of us has two dogs. 
3. We are both addicted to Dance Moms (a definite guilty pleasure)
4. We both absolutely LOVE everything Harry Potter (I went to Harry Potter World this past Christmas)
5. I am currently reading The Hunger Games and have convinced Kelly that she must read it.
6. Our favorite outing is cheese and chocolate fondue at our local Melting Pot.
7. Our classrooms are across the hall and our houses are around the corner (both by coincidence).

As award recipients there are alot of responsibilities.  We are going to pass this award on to a few of our favorite blogs:

Mrs. Orman's Classroom

Erica Bohrer's First Grade

My Life as a Fifth Grade Teacher

Thanks so much for the recognition.  As new bloggers this totally made our day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

March 13, 2012

Can't wait to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by eating breads
 from around the world. Our school district is strict about eating foods of minimal nutrition so that leaves out graphing good old Lucky Charms!  So I decided to combine map skills with math and of course eating.  The kiddos get to eat breads from around the world while locating them on a map of the world.  Looking forward to the Irish Soda bread. 

Check out the unit on my tpt.

St. Patrick's Day bread tasting

Here is another picture from my Goldilocks activity.  I love graphing and eating!  The kiddos never forget these activites!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Goldilocks Math & LA Unit

For the past week and a half we have been examining everything Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I began the unit by reading the story to my class and attending a PFA sponsored puppet show.  After we were well versed in the story we made Goldilocks and Baby Bear (shown below) inspired by a picture I saw on the Glyph Girls blog at  I used scrapbook paper for Goldi's bows and Baby Bear's bib.  The girls loved curling Goldi's...well...locks and the boys had a blast making Baby Bear.

Our bulletin board displaying Goldi and her favorite bear
This activity pretty much hooked my kids into all things Goldilocks.  From there we retold the story, ate and graphed our porridge preferences (or lack there of).  I brought in three different flavors of Teddy Grams and gave each child a pre-filled (and differentiated) cup that they graphed using their mats.  They then conveyed that information in a bar graph.

We also spent some time talking about Goldilock's character traits.  I gave my students 6 words (3 of which applied to Ms. Locks) and asked them to identify which words fit Goldilocks and what information they can provide from the story to support their responses. 

How cute is Goldi?

One of the days each students brought in their stuffed bear to assist them in all their Goldilocks activities.  This was so adorable that it was the talk of the school.  

All these activities and more can be found at our TPT Store by clicking on the following link.  The Reading Buddies on TPT


Edible Pi Day Centers

Joining in to my first linky party by linking up with Making it as a Middle School Teacher for a Pi Day Linky Party. So excited to be joining the party!


My kiddos and I love to eat our work.  Seriously, we are often finding ways to work food into our daily lessons.  A growing 5th grader (and a 5th grade teacher) has got to eat.  I just created and posted some Pi Day activities at our TPT Store that combine Math, food, and centers all in one fun bundle.  

Our first step was a review of circumference, radius, and diameter.  We did so by taking paper plates and making them into paper pies.  After they were decorated we labeled and measured the radius, diameter, and circumference. 

After coloring the plate brown and adding pie slits the math portion began
In the afternoon we will go into our centers and measure the circumference of our edible items.  My math always has a writing piece incorporated, so they will also write about their learning. After the 4 math centers, it is time for apple pie a la mode!


For my math Edible Pi Day Centers check out our TPT Store at this link: Edible Pi Day Centers

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tweets from Hogwarts

This wonderful activity was something I found on Tracee Orman's Teacher's Pay Teachers page.  It is a great activity guide that allows the students to Tweet as people from history or as the characters from their novels.  We used this activity in the middle of our core novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  The students were assigned a character and worked independently on creating a tweet from that character based on the events of the chapter.  We used Tracee's planning page for this and it worked brilliantly.  Then, as a group the students decided on two Tweets to send out to the Twitter-verse.

Here are just two of our Tweets:
Here are the two tweets that the Harry group decided on sending. 

Here are two Tweets from Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore
My principal, a HUGE Twitter fan, came in during this activity and was immediately in love with it.  The kids can't wait to Tweet again.  I am going to have them Tweet once as a character and then let another character Tweet back a response.

Make sure to check out Tracee's Teacher's Pay Teachers store at:


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dr. Seuss Book Bar Graph

Hello bloggers!
Below I shared a googledocs document that is great to use on Dr. Seuss Day or during a Dr. Seuss unit of study.  The students survey each other on their favorite Dr. Seuss Book and graphed the results. After the graph is created there are some questions that require the kids to analyze the data they have just collected. Lastly, they convert the bar graph into the tally graph.

Math and Reading hand-in-hand, it doesn't get any better than that!


Dr. Seuss Books Bar Graph

Teachers Pay Teachers

I found this FABULOUS site earlier this year.  If you haven't checked it out, you HAVE to.  There are some fantastic teachers out there and they are sharing their work with us.

Damien and I just spent our Saturday afternoon creating and uploading our first activity to Our first "freebie" is the very first Reading Buddy activity we do.  It is a simple questionnaire that we use to guide the conversation as my first graders meet Damien's fifth graders for the first time.

Check us out at:

The Reading Buddies on Teachers Pay Teachers


Read Across America Day/Dr. Seuss Day

At our school Read Across America Day starts with door decorating the week or two weeks before depending on how big your idea is.  Our ideas, are usually big.  

This year Kelly's first graders read Big Al by Andrew Clements.  They examined the author's message and each kiddo made their own school of fish. 
How cute does this door look?

My fifth graders and I always read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by the phenomenal J.K. Rowling.  This year we created platform 9 3/4 complete with the Hogwart's Express.  I took pictures of the kids and they used their face to create the first year students that are boarding the train.  This is a little more than a door decoration as I am known for going down the hall with my Red Across America Day decor. 

The Hogwarts Express pulling out of the station. 
Hurry! The train is leaving without us.
On Read Across America Day our first and fifth grade class AKA The Reading Buddies spend the entire day together in my room participating in Dr. Seuss activities.  After a round of Sneetches Bingo we send the kids on a Green Eggs and READ egg hunt.  Each egg is filled with a Dr. Seuss title.  The kids go with their buddy to Kelly's room to find the egg and the corresponding book and then head back to my room to lay on their blanks and READ!

Next, we play Dr. Seuss Bingo.  This is a power point template that I found and created using the works of Dr. Seuss.  We read Horton Hatches an Egg, The Cat and the Hat, The Cat and the Hat Comes Back, and Yertle the Turtle throughout the week before Read Across America Day.  Kelly and I share the books between our classrooms taking a few minutes to make sure we read and discuss each book with our prospective classes.  The final category is all about the man himself, DR. SEUSS.  
Our Jeopardy board projected on the SMARTboard, though a screen works just fine.  
Kelly quickly created this display as a visual reminder for her class.
We had some extra time this year so Kelly (Ms. Always Prepared) had this coloring game where the kids rolled dice and colored in the corresponding number of The Cat in the Hat hats.  So simple, but the kids loved it!

One of our parents (on that Kelly had in first grade who has now worked her way up to me in 5th) made these wonderful cookies!

The day ends with a movie on the ceiling, that's right, on the ceiling! The kids lay back, relax, and enjoy The Sneetches and Green Eggs and Ham.  At this point Kelly and I are so exhausted that this is the best way to end the day. 
Another GREAT day for the Reading Buddies!
-Dam and Kel