Sunday, November 13, 2011

Water cycle Wheel

Pretty cool "wheel" to help students remember the water cycle.  Not the MOST educational, but it matches most of the diagrams out there that you will find.  I plan to have my students label each step after they create the wheel.  Below is the link straight to the site where I found it (pic below takes you to my newly formed Pintrest page.

Source: via Rj on Pinterest

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hey all!  We have been working hard at Reading Hilltop and I am going to toot our horns!!!!  Several years ago, we had video announcements that involved the entire school.  This year, we brought them back!  Each of our grade levels shot some video of their classrooms or took some photos of events in their rooms.

I took some time to slap them together in IMovie and create our first 2011 video announcements HILLTOP- TAKE ONE!  So, I am sticking my chest out because I was so impressed by all of the teachers that took the time to get on board with the project and make it great!  Check it out using the link below.

Hope you enjoy it!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Sample PREZI

Just thought I would share a sample PREZI that I created to share with my fourth graders about photosynthesis. After creating a few, this one only took me about a 1/2 an hour. Check it out! GIve it a little time to load. You will see the white bar at the bottom load with gray.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Okay, here is a new resource that was brought to my attention by my awesome student teacher this fall!  It's called PREZI.  I like to describe it as PowerPoint on steroids.  Seriously, I can't wait to start using this internet-based resource.  As an educator, Prezi gives you an upgraded account for free (it's free anyway, but teachers get the low level "paid" account for free).

Check it out and see what you think.  Looks like it might take some time to get used to using, but it appears to be well worth the effort.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Simple "Parts of a Plant" PPT

I created a simple powerpoint presentation about the "parts of a plant".  Very basic and could lead into deeper discussions of each part.  Hope you can use it!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ipad Advice and Apps

Okay, today I am 10 years old again (what else is new, I'm always 10).  I just received the word that I have been approved to attend an Ipad 2 conference and I will return to school WITH AN IPAD 2 to use in my classroom.  Now, here is my plea......

1.  What apps are you finding to be beneficial on the Ipad?
2.  How are you using them in your classroom?
3.  What cool educational things can I do?

I can't wait to begin playing with the Ipad 2 and figuring out how to make it a part of my class!  Yes, I know, it might be tough with ONE, but hopefully this will be a springboard for more in our school.  Michelle over at Fabulous in First is my partner in this venture.  I know she is just as pumped as I am!  Last year we attended an Ipod conference, this year...we step it up a notch!

PLEASE send me your comments and advice!


Friday, September 2, 2011

Testing Testing Testing.....the First Test of the Year

To go along with my previous PB&J post, I thought it would be only appropriate to bring back some age old classic "First test of the year" files.  After some successful google searching, I was able to locate some classics.  YES, they are for fun and will bring a few laughs to the class, but the point is made!  Check these out...for the primary grades, you may want to get some ideas from these and create your own.  Have fun!

Check out the Google Docs link below:


Thursday, September 1, 2011

PB&J Anyone?

Had a great lesson today on direction following.  My fifth graders are working on designing their own simple experiments using the design process.  As we work on writing out our procedures and step by step instructions, I thought it was time for some fun "How To" direction writing.  So......

I had my students write step by step instructions on "How to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich". Obviously, with peanut allergies out there, you can use any type of sandwich (or an alternative such as Sunflower Seed Butter....yum).

Once I gave ample time for the students to write their step-by-step instructions, I pulled out my apron and revealed that I would be taking volunteers to read their instructions word for word while I created the wonderful sandwich that they described.  I started by calling on students that I noticed finishing their instructions in 2 minutes.  Needless to say, we ended up with some pretty funny looking sandwiches.  I did EXACTLY what their direction stated.  For example, if it said put the bread on the plate, I placed the entire bag of bread on the plate.  If they stated, "Put the peanut better on a piece of bread", I put the entire jar on the bread.  You get the idea.

Anyone, as I continued to call for volunteers, the number of hands became fewer and fewer.  I save my "thorough" students for last, but still to no avail.  The closest sandwich landed me with an inside out lunch because it was never stated that I should put the sandwich together with the peanut butter and jelly facing each other.

The lesson learned...when writing instructions to an experiment, you must be as detailed as possible in order for it to be repeated accurately.  We had a TON of fun, a thousand laughs and I guarantee that the experiment procedures will be a heck of a lot better by tomorrow's class.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Doppler Tim's Science Lab

One of our wonderful meteorologists here in Cincinnati has an awesome science lab online that is full of experiments and demonstrations for the classroom.  The best part is that you can either perform the experiment yourself or show the video to your students.  Check it out!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I suppose it's time......let's start with a little chlorophyll!

Alright, alright, I suppose it is time to get back at it.  After a summer of building decks and fences, I think I am ready to focus on another year in the classroom.  My son went to a wonderful summer camp run by the Cincinnati Parks Department and I wanted to share one of the activities with you.

Finding the chlorophyll in a leaf

My take on this activity was that the students were identifying why leaves are green and what causes the green color to be seen in the Spring-Early Fall.  Of course, the explanation of the activity came from my 5 year old son, so I am sure I only heard a portion of the lesson.  I plan to extend this activity to include a discussion about the true color of leaves and the process of photosynthesis.

1.  Have the students gather a GREEN LEAF from outside.  Freshly picked would work the best.

2.  Have the students glue the leaf on a small piece of card stock.

3.  Cover the leaf with a small piece of cloth the same size as the card stock (this can vary, but be sure it is thin cloth).  I am guessing that even a section of white t-shirt would work well.

4.  Glue the top two corners of the cloth to the card stock, covering the leaf.

5.  Using a small rock (the camp was at the park, so they used rocks) or other hard object, have the students strike the cloth firmly where they believe the leaf is located.  Remember, the leaf will be hidden beneath the cloth.

6.  If all goes well, the green pigment (chlorophyll) should begin to appear on the cloth.  For older students, you could have the students attempt to create the entire leaf "in chlorophyll" on the cloth.

Hope you enjoy!  For those of us on summer's crying...we are looking forward to this right?????


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summa Time!!!!!


First week of summer and I can't lie......I am enjoying the heck out of it.  I am sure everyone is NICE to not think about school for a while!  Some time off, then I plan on buckling down this summer.  I hope everyone is enjoying the summer and hopefully the pool!


Friday, May 27, 2011


Wow, it has been awhile!  With the end of the year approaching and the play Pinocchio over, I have a second to breathe and share our final sets with you.

This was the first play that I have had the honor to be associated with at our school.  I was amaze by the dedication of our our kids and the staff members that came together to work on this.  Blown away I tell you!  I enjoyed the entire process even more than I thought I would.  I was glad that I was able to lend my carpentry skills to the play because lord knows my acting skills are terrible!  We spent several nights at school until midnight making these sets out to be the best they could be.

I am a bit sad that I wasn't able to get pictures from the actual performance, but I was busy living the life of a stage crew member.  We ended up with 5-6 set changes and somehow.......despite my all went perfectly!  I am so proud of my fifth graders and our staff for the amazing production.  My the sets!

2 of the four 10' tall and 8' wide building facades.

The other two!

The overall set complete with town square (pseudo fountain in the middle)

From the top row!

My favorite prop......the hay wagon!  Had a blast building this one.  Complete with wooden wheels that I cut from a 2"X12" board.  And I made the wheels uneven and wobbly on least I tell myself I did! LOL.  A bit rough, but it worked perfectly.  The night of the show it was filled with hay!

One of my favorite props from the play.  Come on, it looks like an 11' birch tree right?  With the leaves, it stood about 14 feet tall!  All made from empty carpet roll tubes, a little paint and a hunting blind for leaves.  I had very little to do with this one.  Brilliant idea from our producers.  How obnoxious to say we had "producers" for a fifth grade play! HA HA!

All of these sets were very simple to build.  I seriously have given consideration to how these could be used in a classroom (on a smaller scale).  

I hope all of you have a wonderful summer!  It's winding down quickly.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Board game progress......

The science board games are progressing (see pervious post)!  Here are a few "in progress" pictures.  The fourth graders have been engaged and busting tail for three days!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Science Boards Games

As the year winds down and state testing is over, I returned to a past WINNER of a project for my fourth grade science classes.  Groups are creating a science board game based on topics that we covered in class this year.  Each group is bringing old board games from home to use in their new and exciting game.  Construction paper is being used to cover up old boards and some groups have decided to use an old pizza box as a game board (and box for the pieces).

I created a simple requirement sheet and grading rubric to lead groups through the week-long project.  I tried to keep it simple and basic.  I plan to snap some pictures over the next few days to share the progress!

Groups are required to create a game board AND complete instructions.  Once all games are completed, we will have a "GAME PLAY DAY" in order to allow them to play each other's games!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Play sets

Just sharing my excitement this week...our 5th graders have been working hard to get ready for this year's play...PINOCCHIO!  I have been given the task of using my carpentry skills to create our sets and many of the props.  Long hours in my garage, a long night or two at school, and they are coming right along!  I have loved every second of it.  Check out our progress below.  These are the basic frames of the town building facades.  Let me know if you would like some basic instructions and material lists.  They would be cool to build on a smaller scale in classrooms.  Ours measure 8 feet wide and 10 feet tall.  They are being covered with basic felt and will be painted to include windows and details.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter....HILLTOP FLASH MOB!!!!

Happy Easter everyone!  It's been awhile since I have has been busy!  Tomorrow begins OAA (Ohio Achievement Assessment) testing for our 3-5 graders.  I wanted to share something special that our staff did as a pep rally last Thursday.  Each year, some of our creative staff members create an amazing rally to pump up the kiddos!  We have had a "teachers" band, a rendition of American Idol, a Wizard of Oz skit, and this year...A FLASH MOB!  You can check it out below.  Share your comments and let me know what you think!  I work with the best people in the world....

Friday, April 15, 2011

Constructive Criticism....need your help.

I have been working on my new website, trying to find the time to improve it.  With state testing approaching, sets and props to build for the school play, a marathon to train for, and a wife and two wonderful children at home....I haven't had a lot of time!

I need your help........please visit and give me some feedback.  You can leave a comment here or on the site.  I want some honest opinions please.  How would you improve it?  What can be better?  I still have a lot to learn about the interface itself.

I GREATLY appreciate it!  Try and find something on my site that you can use in your classroom!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Teaching Blog Addict

Okay, after only a few short months.....I am becoming addicted to Teacher Blogs..........check it out!  

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Spring Break 2011...much needed and I welcome you with open arms.  Now, don't go by at a million miles an hour so I can enjoy you!!!!!  I'll be spending the week with my lovely 2 1/2 year old daughter trying to find fun and exciting things to do.  Sadly, my wife, who teaches 1st grade, and my son, had their breaks already.

Anyway, I know that state testing is rapidly approaching for a lot of folks.  I know review questions are always good for the kids and I LOVE turning it into a game for them.  WOW, learn and have fun...novel concept right?

I have included the Ohio Education released questions link for OAA testing, as well as the NAEP "questions tool" link.  Please click the caption BELOW the picture to be redirected.  Please pass these on to someone you that you know that can use them with their kiddos!

NAEP Questions Tool

ODE Released OAA Material 3-8


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

SMART Response

I am in tech heaven this week.  I have started using a new student response system in my room by SMART.  I upgraded from the Classroom Performance System that I had for 5 years and couldn't be happier with the switch.  SMART actually gave us a HUGE discount for trading in the old system toward a new one.  Check it's called the SMART Student Response PE.  They also have a primary and special needs "clicker" called the LE.  See the picture below the PE.  This works with the SMART Notebook software (which is included if you don't already have it).

Smart PE

Response LE
Check it out!!!!  The kids are engaged and loving it! can import tests that are already made (PDF) AND AND AND it will do item analysis for you (exported to Excel).  


Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Many of you probably know about this site, but I thought I would share just in case!  Ever need a powerpoint that is ready to use or one that can be edited to fit your needs?  FOUND IT!!!!

Check out Pete's PowerPoint Station (Click the pic)


Funny Funny...

Not sure why I found this to be so amusing this the picture to be taken to the website.  Haven't fully checked it out yet, but it might be good for a laugh or two for your you and your students.


Saturday, March 26, 2011


Okay, my wife went to a math conference not too long ago and the presenter turned them on to a math game called Kakooma.  Long story short, think of Sudoku...very similar, but more simplistic.  In each square there are a series of 9 numbers (just like Sudoku),  and the goal is to find two numbers in the square whose sum is equal to another number in the square (only one combination per square)...complicated to explain, but EASY to play.  I wanted to get this out there today because it is a FREE DOWNLOAD until March 28th for Ipods/Iphones/Ipads.  On the website, you can check out the paper versions as well.  Link to Itunes store below:

The Story of MY Constellation

A few weeks back, my students worked on a project entitled "The Story of MY Constellation".  I tweaked a lesson plan that my wife (1st grade teacher) planned to use in her class that went along with slavery and the Drinking Gourd.  We researched constellations and read myths and legends (condensed versions) that went along with them.  Following the research, each student created their own constellation and legend to go along with it.  It was a nice cross-curricular lesson and can be adapted to all ages.  I put the complete lesson plan (with student worksheet) on Teachers Pay Teachers (click the link in the right side bar to go to my products).  Here are some examples of how they turned out:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 two....ELECTROMAGNETS!!!!

Day two, we move on to magnetic energy.  Check out Science Bob for today's experiment or click the picture below.  It was a very simple experiment using only a D cell battery, an iron nail and about 4 feet of thin COATED copper wire.  The kids loved it and were able to experiment with different numbers of coils and how that affected the strength of the magnet.  This also led to yet another great discussion about thermal energy, as the parts get nice and toasty!

STILL looking for electricity activities and ideas.  If ya got em, share em!  PLEASE????!!!!????

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Electricity.......Day One!

Day one of electricity and it was truly an investigation day.  I gave them wires, a battery, battery holder, a light bulb and bulb holder.  They had to create a circuit.  This led to awesome discussions around the room.  Of course, a few knew exactly what to do while others didn't know where to begin.  It was amazing to see the cooperation between groups.  I have linked the diagram sheet that I used with the class (the rectangles and word art are not showing up on Google docs....sorry).  In the second section, I had them create a switch to turn the bulb on and off.....WOW what ideas they had.  This led us to a discussion about conductors and insulators, as well as how to by-pass the light bulb.  Kids are amazing....

Here are a few photos of the simple experiment.  We also moved on to discussions about thermal energy (as the parts began to heat up).  Tomorrow......electromagnets.  See for the electromagnet is the link:

Monday, March 21, 2011


Okay, it's my first year of teaching fifth grade science (9 years strictly with 4th grade, now doing both) and I am getting ready to introduce the concept of electricity.  Tomorrow, I am planning on tossing the wires, batteries and light bulbs onto the desks and saying.....MAKE IT WORK.  But I am really looking for some great ideas for getting the concept of electricity through to my kiddos.  Anyone have any resources or ideas for me?????   Help!!!!!!!  First day of Spring..........finally!

Friday, March 18, 2011


I couldn't resist showing a little pride this morning...........Morehead State graduate here!  For those of you who become a kid like me for March Madness, yesterday was AMAZING!  MSU defeats the UL Cardinals by 1 point in the biggest win in school history.  Now granted, I played baseball there, but I spent my fair share of time cheering on the EAGLES basketball team.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Eco Kids

I found an awesome resource today.  It covers many topics and is very well done.  I didn't get a chance to explore the "teacher's lounge" and I only scratched the surface of the kids' section. Check it out!!!!

What The Teacher Wants GIVEAWAY!!!

Head on over to  The lovely ladies are giving away a $100 gift card to The Container Store.  Check out the post and enter to win this AMAZING prize!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Tsunami & Earthquake

I placed some usable resources on my website under the Photo/video page.  I plan to use these resources to talk about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan during class today.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Space Information Scavenger Hunt

As a review for our space science test, I created a simple information scavenger hunt.  The students were put into groups of 3-4 and were allowed to use any resources that they could get their hands on to complete the review (this goes along with my Space Test on TPT).  They had a blast trying to locate the information in our science book, on the IPod Touches, the classroom computers and the library books that our wonderful librarian pulled for us.  There are a few tricky questions that require some higher level thinking, as well as some "right there" answers.  Enjoy...hope you can use it!

App of Interest (NASA)

As my fifth graders researched and studied space, we used the IPod Touches to gather information.  Time and time again, the most intriguing app seemed to be the NASA app (free).  They loved the variety of resources that the app offered and the high quality video and pictures.  It was amazing to hear them refer back to the NASA app as we continued our space investigations.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to, we have a winner of the giveaway!  Our winner is *Ash* with comment number 8!

Now, I don't claim to have the world's greatest resources, but hopefully you can find a use for them *Ash*.  Please email me using the link from my profile and I will send you your winnings!

All of the giveaway resources, along with others, can be found on my TPT site.  Click the TPT button in the right side bar to view!  I am having a 20% sale through the 15th on all my resources.

Have a GREAT weekend.  60+ and sunny here in Cincinnati after a week of rain....I'll take it and smile! It made for an AMAZING 9 mile run this morning!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Giveaway ends today!

Just a reminder that the giveaway ends today!  I am giving away my SPACE resources that I have posted on TPT.  They include:

1. The Story of MY Constellation (A lesson plan and activity dealing with the stars!)
2. A Trip to the Moon (A lesson plan and demonstration guide packed with internet resources as well)
3. Space KWL (A simple Excel file for recording student questions and knowledge)
4. My Daily Weather Log (A detailed excel spreadsheet for recording students and whole class data)
5. Cloud Type Flash Cards (An original creation that teaches about cloud types and associated weather)
6. Space Science Review Test (Created with released standardized testing items.  MC and ext. response)

In order to be the big winner, please do the following 4 things (Each of the four will act as a separate entry, so leave a comment for each item that you complete.):

1.  Follow me on my blog!
2.  Follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers (RJ Hayes)
3.  Blog about my giveaway and send me the link to view it.
4.  Visit my website (fill out the comment form at the bottom if you have suggestions or resources to share).

I will be randomly selecting a winner based on the comments made on the original giveaway post (see the side bar for history).

Have a great Friday everyone!!!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Weather Maker from Scholastic

I found a pretty cool interactive site in which students can control the humidity and temperature to create different weather events.  I had fun playing around with this site too!

Apps in the classroom (Is this an "appy" party???)

This year, a few of our teachers began piloting the use of IPod Touches in the classroom.  Now, I now we are probably a couple years behind most, but today I wanted to share a list of my favorite applications to use in the classroom.  Everything from weather forecasts, to reference applications, to constellations.  I am loving this new technology and what the kids seem to be getting out of it.  Let me know if you have any questions about the apps and how I use them!  Please comment with your favorite apps!!!  And no, I won't include ANGRY much as I want to!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Testing, testing, testing!!!!

Just posted all of my 4th and 5th grade unit assessments on my TPT site.  My link to TPT is on the right hand side of my blog.  Most of these tests have been a few years in the making.  After analyzing testing data and reviewing released standardized test questions (over and over and over), I think these bad boys do a pretty nice job of assessing my students and predicting how they may perform on the state test in April.

I know what a pain it is to create these assessments.........and as standards change, we get to make em all over again!  Take a look at my TPT store and see if any of them interest you!  There is a free sample to download for each assessment.

Ms. M over at, who has kind of become my blogging guardian angel, led me to where I found out how to embed documents (see March 1st post).

Website update

Good morning world!  I updated my website with a new activity and website of the day!  Check it out at  I am archiving all of the passed activities/websites as well under the "more" tab.  Remember, I am just starting out so the pickings are slim, but it will continue to grow!!!!

Featured today (click the caption, not the pic).......

Cloud in a Bottle (Steve Spangler)
Cloud types (WW2010 Univ. of Illinois)
Also check out one of Cincinnati's annual traditions...The FAMOUS Flying Pig Marathon!!!!  I am training for my second half marathon with my amazing wife!

Flying Pig