Saturday, November 21, 2015

Thanksgiving Decimal Practice!

Hey fifth grade friends! Can you believe that Thanksgiving is on Thursday? I am feeling very thankful for some time to recharge, my friends and family, and (of course!) all of our blogging buddies! Thanks to all our fantastic followers and awesome contributors for making Fifth Grade Freebies a great place. :-)

Today I wanted to pop over and share a quick and easy freebie with you - and if you still have a couple of days before your restful break gets to start, then it will be perfect for your plans this week!

My fifth graders just finished up a loooooong unit on decimal operations and they needed something different. And what better way to practice decimal operations than by using MONEY and FOOD as topics? All fifth grade teachers know what I'm talking about!

Thus, Thanksgiving Decimal Operations Practice was born!

In this freebie, you will find several Thanksgiving-themed word problems involving money and all 4 operations!

If you are already enjoying your Thanksgiving break, I hope it is restful and relaxing! If you are not quite there yet, I hope you have a great couple days leading up to your break and a restful break after that!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Motivating Kids to Clean!

Here's a great little tip that will motivate your students to clean like they have never cleaned before!  It's called Mystery Trash!  At the end of the day, I walk around the room and find three things that need to be picked up and thrown away, or put away, or simply straightened.  You need to be very sneaky so the students can't tell what you are noticing!  Then I tell my students to go and find the Mystery Trash!

I try to watch and see who has taken care of each item.  Once they are all done (or we are out of time), I tell the students to return to their seats.  Then I announce the winners who each get a piece of gum or candy.

I especially love the first time I do Mystery Trash with my students!  I pick a couple things like a small piece of paper on the floor or a pencil that was dropped, but then I always pick something like a book that was crooked on the book rack or a tissue box that wasn't perfectly in the corner.  They never get that last item on the first day, but after I announce the winners I say, "And the last Mystery Trash item that no one got was...this book!  Look at how it's crooked on the book rack!  We can't have that!"

The kids' eyes get wide and they say, "What?!"  They can't believe I'm that picky!  But you should see them clean and straighten the next day!  It's a beautiful sight!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

3 FREE Math games your class will love!

Hey y'all! This is Kristen from Chalk & Apples. I hope everyone is settling into a fantastic school year. Today, I wanted to share a few quick and easy (and of course FREE) math games that my students are loving this year. They're all free and require little to no prep. Check them out!


This is my go-to game for the end of the day when we are lined up, waiting to be called for dismissal. My class loves it! Beth from Adventures of a Schoolmarm blogged about it in detail at Classroom Tested Resources a little while back, so you can read all the details in her post.

Basically, I think of a number, tell my class how many digits it is, and they start guessing. After each guess, I tell how many digits are correct and how many are in the correct place value. We also discuss whether guesses are logical or not based on the previous information. This is a great time to build some common sense skills! (For example if a student guesses 325 and I say that 1 digit is correct AND in the correct place value, 476 is not a logical next guess because the student has changed all of the digits when we knew one was correct.) Grab all the details & instructions free in Beth's TPT store!


This is another student favorite! I use it mostly during centers, although it made a great whole-group time filler when our power suddenly went out - for TWO hours! It's played much like Scattergories, where the most unique answers win. Students learned quickly that the easiest answers would likely get used by many of their classmates, and that they needed to think outside the box if they wanted to win. This freebie is for different ways to make a number, but the same game rules can be applied to lots of math concepts, like equivalent fractions, multiples, etc. Get the recording sheets and game instructions in my TPT store!

Odd One Out

This game was shared by Cassie from Funky in Fourth last year on Teaching Trio, and my class loves it! She has all the details in her post, plus a free game sheet. Students place 15 chips onto the game board. Then they take turns removing chips from only one row. The goal is to NOT be the last person to remove chips from the board. I love the way it gets kids thinking about their strategies and adjusting mid-game. Grab the freebie here!

What games do you play with your students? I'm always on the lookout for new games for our math workshop time! 

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

FREE classroom jobs chart!

Posting a classroom job chart is the perfect way to delegate responsibilities to your students. We just can't do it all!!  Plus, students love to help around the classroom.  Take some time at the beginning of the year to teach your students how to successfully complete some important classroom jobs and you will be thankful.  Nothing is better than the middle of the year when your students get so good at the classroom jobs that they are essentially running the classroom.  I just want to show up and teach I tell them!  The rest should be up to them!!!

Download this classroom jobs chart for FREE.  Just print, laminate, post, teach, sit back, and enjoy!!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

First Day Welcome Letter Warm Up

Need a warm up for the first day of school?  Here's a quick little fill-in-the-blank letter you can have on your students' desks so they have something to do right when they walk in.

You can find this freebie at my TPT Store!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fact Fluency Freebie

If you've been teaching 5th grade for a long time, you know how frustrating it can be to teach math when your students aren't fluent in their facts.   How can you teach kids to add fractions with different denominators if they don't know their basic multiples?  Suddenly, finding a common denominator is a very time consuming process.

Recently, I attended a math training where the presenter said that students shouldn't be memorizing facts.  I've heard that at a lot of trainings lately. Frankly, it scares me.  There is a misconception that the Common Core discourages memorization.  That isn't the case.  If people start to believe this misconception, math is going to be so much harder for upper grade teachers to teach.

I recently updated a FREE Common Core Math Fluency Posters set.  These posters can be useful in having discussion with kids, parents and other teachers about grade level expectations.  These fact fluencies can be the basis of intervention.  If you start your year determining which students haven't met goals for previous years, you can catch them up before they fall even further behind.

Here are a couple of the FREE posters included in the packet:
FREE Common Core Fact Fluency Posters

Stop by my blog by clicking on the picture below to read about why Memorize is NOT a Bad Word and for some links to resources that you may find helpful.

Memorize is NOT a Bad Word


Surfing to Success

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Back-to-Schhol E-Book: 40 FREE Ideas and Resources

Back-to-School season is upon us!
To help you get started or add to your planned classroom resources, 40 different TpT sellers have created a “A Back to School eBook for Grades 5 and 6 from TpT Authors.” Each page is packed with tips to help you as you adjust to back to school in your classrooms. 

Click here for your FREE download:

Fifth Grade Freebies shout-outs
Several of the collaborators from "Fifth Grade Freebies" contributed to this e-book
Brian from Wise Guys compiled all of these awesome pages!
They also shared a free guided reading strategies packet.

Jessica from Joy in the Journey has a missing homework management freebie that will help keep your students accountable for their missing work.
Missy from "Wild About Fifth" has a Reading Challenge freebie that will get your students excited about reading and exploring different genres!
Wild About Fifth Grade

If you download the freebies, please leave feedback!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Head Back to School with some Freebies!

Hey y’all! It’s Kristen from Chalk & Apples, here with my very first post on Fifth Grade Freebies. I’m so excited to be joining this group of 5th grade teachers to share some great free resources with you!

Today, I wanted to share a couple of freebies that get me through the Back to School season.

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You’d think on my 8th year of teaching, with 7 in 5th grade, it would be easy to get ready for the beginning of another school year. You’d think I would have the routine down, and would just be able to hop right into Back to School mode the week before school starts. But I can’t. Every year, when it’s time to get back to it, I’m so far in summer mode that I need some reminders of what it is that I’m supposed to be doing in preparation for a new year.

That’s why I created this set of free Back to School Checklists! It took way longer than I’d like to admit to figure out what I actually needed to include in my checklists, but now that they’re done, I can just reprint them every year, and be sure I’m doing everything I need to get ready. You can click the image to download it free from my TPT store!

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On the first day of school, or at open house the day before school starts, there are always lots of forms to be filled out. Personally, I want parents to take these forms home and do a thorough job of completing them… but there is some information I really need on that VERY FIRST day. I really just want to have one good contact number in case of emergency, to know if there are any major allergies or medical concerns, and I want to know how each child is getting home that day.

I created this free First Day Form, which I print 2 to a page on bright colored paper. This is the one and only thing I ask parents to complete at “Meet the Teacher” night or on the morning of the first day of school. I find that this is quick and easy for parents to fill out, and it gives me just enough info to get through until they return the entire back to school packet. Click the image to grab it as a freebie in my TPT store!

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

FREE Back-to-School Graphic Organizer: A Good Classmate

The first week of school is crucial for setting the tone in your classroom. I always spend considerable time setting my expectations for not only the quality of their schoolwork and the effort I need to see, but also their behavior. 

I am looking for role models and they know it!
For kids (especially the youngsters) sometimes the word role model can be a little ambiguous. Each year I take the time to discuss what a role model is. 

I'm not looking for 2-dimensional stock characters; I want living, breathing, good-decision-making classmates. But that doesn't always happen naturally. Sometimes students need to be taught.

This FREE graphic organizer is meant to spur discussion of what makes a good classmate. Take time to brainstorm as a class (or have your students work together in groups) to fill out the graphic organizer. It can be displayed in the classroom and/or referred to periodically throughout the year.

I saw this idea on Pinterest and knew that I wanted
to try it with my students:
As a class we brainstormed what it looked like to be a good classmate. We filled out this anchor chart and the students filled in one at their seats as a reminder to keep in their binders. We also had a great discussion about how these qualities don't only apply to being a good student - they make us good friends, good sons/daughters, good siblings, etc.

I have created this *FREE* template if you would like to use one of them with your students/children:

For those using this at home, I've included some additional templates for you to use:
If you download this product, please leave feedback!

Also, if you use this product with your class, please take some pictures and e-mail me at - I'd love to feature you on my blog! :) 

What are your best activities for setting the tone in your classroom? Share them in the comments below - we'd love to hear them! :)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Favorite Fifth Grade Classroom Read Alouds

Fifth Grade Freebies friends,  are you looking for the best 5th grade read aloud books?

If you're like me you probably enjoy switching up your read alouds once in awhile and trying something new.  But finding that something new can be a lot of work. When I'm looking for my next read aloud I ask my coworkers for ideas, scour my favorite celebriteacher blogs, stalk the Nerdy Book Club blog, and take recommendations from my fellow literacy fanatics on Instagram.  All of these steps take time and I'm spending this time over and over again throughout the year. Why is finding the perfect read aloud always so hard?

Cue lightbulb -

and then it hit me.........

I realized that instead of repeating this process continuously, I needed to put all of these AMAZING recommendations into a list that I could refer to whenever needed.  AND even better, that I could share with all my fifth grade teacher friends like you!!!

So, here it is friends!!  The BEST fifth grade read alouds - chosen by those who know best.  You!!!


All of these recommendations were gathered through your responses on my Wild About Fifth Grade and our Fifth Grade Freebies facebook pages.  I threw in some of my own personal favorites as well.


Happy back to school season!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

10 Little (and FREE!) Things That Make a BIG Difference

“Will the kids like me?  Will the teachers like me?  Will my principal like me?”  We all remember having these thoughts as we lay wide awake in bed on the eve of the first day of school as kids.  We probably never realized that our teachers were having the same anxiety-filled, sleepless night!  Going on to my eighth year of teaching, I still have these same fears… However, I have come up with some easy tips and tricks over the years that have helped me build relationships with even the most challenging students… and parents!  

Kids LOVE to show off.  (At least my students always do!)  Even in fifth grade, kids are craving to “show ‘n’ tell”.  

I don’t make a structured schedule; but when my kids come and tell me something exciting that happened over the weekend, I ask if they would like to share with the class.  

After doing this a couple times, my kids start to seek me out.  Sometimes they bring in photographs or videos they want to show; sometimes they want to show a dance or sing a song; sometimes they just want to tell a story of something they experienced.  

Regardless, I get to learn so much about my students this way, and I can relate to them on a personal level.  By intertwining their personal lives and school lives, I notice my students and I have a stronger bond.  

Easy. Quick.  Free.  FUN!

My first principal—Barb Elson—gets the credit for this one!  When doing a PD on Love & Logic she stressed the importance of having daily positive interactions with each and every student.  

Personally, I have a difficult time giving the same amount of love to all my students.  I don’t do it consciously, but there are so many students who I know don’t get the loving from me that they need… especially with my students who are typically superstars.  I expect them to always be on their A-game, so when they aren’t, I get on their case.  I’m more conscious of trying to give positive feedback to my students who do struggle behaviorally, academically, or emotionally.

My former principal gave us such a great tool for this!  She made a laminated class list for each of us, so that we can check off every time we have a positive interaction with a student.  This helped me to become aware of whom I am spending all my positive interactions on, and who needs more lovin’!  

She also told us that the ideal ratio of positive to negative interactions we have with students each day should be 4:1.  So for every negative interaction, we should have four positive ones.  I don’t recall where she got that “magic ratio” from, but I found some research and information on it at Orange County Department of Education (2011) in case you are interested!  

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Our kids are involved with so many extracurricular activities—sports, music, dance, gymnastics, etc.  It’s impossible to make it to everything, but you will notice there are a handful of students who REALLY are persistent about asking you to come see them in action.  There are also some activities that give you the most “bang for your buck” where you have a whole group of students at the same dance studio or basketball team.  Even staying at the school a little later to see the orchestra or band concerts honestly MAKE THEIR NIGHT.  Coming to any of these events instantly puts you at CELEBRITY STATUS!  The kids (and parents) are SO excited to see you… and even more excited to brag about it the next day at school.  The bond that I have with my students after seeing them at their extracurricular activities instantly skyrockets!  

Just like the students think of us as celebs when we see them outside of school, they get just as starstruck seeing us in the cafeteria or on the playground during lunch/recess time.  Just like all teachers, my lunch consists of answering urgent parent emails, taking attendance I should have taken hours ago, helping students find their jackets, figuring out what I’m doing in the afternoon, and IF I AM LUCKY—take a bite of my lunch!  However, I try to make at least a couple days where I go with the kids to lunch or out to recess.

Aside from just building relationships with the students this way, I get to see how they interact with one another in social situations.  I get to see who are the leaders and who are friends with whom.  I get to see what the kids like to do for fun.  No matter how well I feel I know my students, I am always shocked by some of the things I find when I am with them in their natural habitat!  

Another alternative is having the kids stay in with me at recess and/or lunch on occasion.  We had a tradition last year called Friday Funday.  On these days, the kids would stay in and we would pump up the jams and have a full on dance party in the room.  IT WAS A BLAST… not to mention the best workouts I got all year!  ☺

I know social media makes some people nervous—and I also know different districts have different rules.  However, I LOVE using social media and apps to keep in touch with my students.  Here are some apps I use and how I use them:

  • BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS - INSTAGRAM - #6b.pngINSTAGRAM:  This past year with my fifth graders, I noticed Instagram was probably the most popular form of social media.  I use Instagram with my kids in a few ways.  My favorite way is by having them hashtag our team name.  When we go on field trips, I always remind them to hashtag any pics they post on Instagram to #brankebunch.  Then, I can see all the pics the kids are taking as we go.  It’s also cute to see students start to post class inside jokes or memes on Instagram.  As they do this, we bond more and more!
    ***NOTE:  If your students are private, only their followers will be able to see their pics on Instagram.
  • ooVoo:  This is a group video chat app.  I love this app because I can work with students from home when they need it.  This year, on one of our “snow days”, my students were so bummed about not having our book club that they had me ooVoo the group and do the reading group ON A SNOW DAY from home.  IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THAT!  Also, I can help my kids with their homework—especially with math when they need to be able to see my examples.  
  • BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS - TEXT - #6a.pngKik:  This is a group chat app.  My students have group chats with dozens of the students on our team in it… and they love to include me!  I typically keep them on “Do Not Disturb” or else my phone will NEVER stop blowing up.  However, if I want to get out some quick information OR if I just want to let them all know I’m missing them, I shoot out a quick Kik.  I can also catch when students are being hurtful, and it leads to a good social skills lesson.  But I’m also in on most of the inside jokes.  It makes me seem PRETTY COOL—not to mention, helps to build our relationship on another level!
  • Text:  I don’t give my cell phone number out to my students… but I do give it out to their parents.  There will be times when parents are texting me about homework, and I will just have them put their kid on the phone.  Here is an example of how I use text to help students with their homework.  (I was having this conversation during a dinner party… probably NOT the best table manners… but doesn’t this text make it all worth it?!?!)

My teaching partner and I have worked hard to pretty much brand our team name – Branke Bunch.  Branke Bunch has become more of a mindset or attitude than a team name to us.  I can’t tell you how many times a day one of us says, “ONLY IN THE BRANKE BUNCH…” when we see students being silly or not afraid to be themselves or other things that set our team apart from others.  

Boy wearing a purple tutu!?  Only in the Branke Bunch!  Got a shipment of hundreds of new books?!  Only in the Branke Bunch!  Teachers doing cartwheels?!  Only in the Branke Bunch!  

Some ways we have done this is by putting our team name on EVERYTHING.  We buy team shirts with our logo and all the kids names on the back each year.  (Want to make a great custom shirt?!  Go to … they are the BEST!) We incorporate our school colors – PURPLE – with everything!!!  We also have certain traditions that are unique to our team… kind of like summer camp.  We have our own “Branke Bunch Beat”; musical transition songs; brain breaks; etc. that my students relate to the Branke Bunch and make it our own special little world.  The more we do this, the more my students feel PROUD to be part of our team… and the closer we all get!

I only do this a couple times of year… but kids LOVE it, and PARENTS love it even more!  Before a big unit test, I will have “weekend office hours”.  I will let the students/parents know which weekend I will be at the public library, and they will sign up for 20 minute time slots.  I will spend the whole day working with students one-on-one to review for the upcoming unit test.  This only takes up a couple weekends of my year, but this is one thing that parents/students will remember me for years down the road.  They absolutely LOVE it.  PLUS, I love getting to give students my 100% undivided attention without having to worry about everyone else in the room.  It’s amazing how excited the students get as well to work with me over the weekend!  (When in reality, I started doing this because I could never fit all I needed to fit into the given school days… ☺)

THIS IS KEY!  I try to make as much of these as possible.  ESPECIALLY at the beginning of the year.  

Let’s be honest… nobody LIKES making those dreaded parent phone calls about all the “poor choices little Jimmy John made in class today”.  At least I don’t!  Making those phone calls makes ME feel like a bad teacher; makes the parents feel like bad parents; and makes the kid feel like a bad kid.  There are obviously times when those calls are necessary.  However, making those phone calls after a handful of positive phone calls makes it a WHOLE LOT EASIER!  

One mistake I always make is using “I’m going to call home” as a threat.  Let’s be honest… the students who we say this to are typically NOT the students who this threat will actually work for.  Then, I have a choice… 

A) I DON’T CALL HOME… failing to follow through, losing credibility, and continuing to make empty threats… OR
B) I DO CALL HOME… and have to deal with the dreaded negative conversation, taking up my time I like to save for luxuries like going to the bathroom!

TIP:  I started being proactive.  I would pull the student aside in the morning, give them a hug, ask how their evening went the night before.  Then I say…

I can tell today is going to be a GREAT day!  I have to call your parents later, and I look forward to telling them how today went.  Think about some things you can do today that you will want me to share with them.  I can’t wait to tell them all about it!!!

After that, throughout the day, I have noticed that my students make an extra effort to have a good day in class.  Sometimes they slip… but then at least I know my conversation with them can have enough positives to outweigh any negatives that may have occurred.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

This is another biggie to get parents on my side!  By sending out regular (daily or 3x/week) emails, I win over my parents every year.  Not all of the parents read everything I send out… but they know it’s there if they need it.  And I have a handful of parents who absolutely couldn’t live without my regular emails.  

What do I include in these emails?

Homework, updates, upcoming dates/events, celebrations, testing information, fundraising, etc.  

I also often times just copy and paste important parts of my school/district listservs into my class emails.  

How do I have the time?!  Well, I don’t make my emails formal… I even warn the parents at the beginning of the year that in order to send out frequent emails, I need to be excused for typos or errors!  ☺

1.  TALK!!!

And my #1 TIP FOR BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS… just TALK!  Talk to the students.  Talk to their parents.  Talk about school.  Talk about home.  Talk about goals.  Talk about fears.  Talk about hobbies.  Talk about friendships.  Talk about life.  JUST TALK!  

~Elyse Jahnke~