Set the Stage

Set the Stage
Set the Stage

Thrifty Finds

Thrifty Finds
Thrifty Finds


Powered by Blogger.

Classroom Transformation - Winter Wonderland

Many teachers love the idea of transforming their classrooms, but dismiss the idea because they think it will take too much work, time, and/or money. I'm here to tell you that there is no need to become overwhelmed when thinking of creating an engaging environment for your students. Many classroom transformations can be set up in less than an hour, and materials can be gathered all in one location. (My favorite location to find most materials for my classroom transformations is Dollar Tree because it is pretty much a "thrifty" one stop shop.)

This week, I will be sharing with you how I created a Winter Wonderland classroom transformation in no time at all, and how you can use the same model to incorporate this transformation to meet your students' needs with very little effort.

We were just coming back from our winter break and I knew that we had to review many of the terms and concepts we had discussed during the first half of the year. (We all know that with break comes a lot of ... well, forgetfulness.) However, I didn't want to do a packet review .... boring. I decided that I could pretty much do a review session with the students, through an engaging classroom transformation.


  • white banner paper (to cover walls)
  • tablecloths (to cover tables)
  • task cards (to use as a review activity)
  • recording sheets
  • shaving cream (to write "in the snow")
  • paper towels (for clean up)

That's it!


Well, I usually use plastic tablecloths from Dollar Tree for my classroom transformations, but my school had some white banner paper available for use. (Free? Yes, please!) I used it to cover some of my walls. I simply stapled the paper to the top of my wood board borders, cut the bottom of the roll, and continued throughout two walls of my classroom.

Fortunately, I have an entire wall of windows with white shades, so I used those to create the ambience on that wall by simply pulling them down. My other wall has a Promethean board, so I projected a winter snow scene there. I then covered the desks with blue tablecloths. (My original intention was to do all white, but I had a shaving cream activity in mind and figured it would work well very with white tablecloths.)

I then told the students that we would be playing winter games, and the object of the games were to accumulate as many points as possible. For each question they answered correctly, they would receive a point.

That's it!


At my school, we have a two hour reading block, so I incorporated three engaging activities to fill up that time.


I created task cards for my students based on concepts and terms we had gone over during the first half of the year.  I then posted them around the room to create a scoot activity.

Students had about four minutes at each task card station to answer the questions. I anticipated that some task cards would be faster to answer than others, so I grouped two or three of those together to be answered in the allotted time. After their time was up, students moved on to the next card. (Tip: I have 22 students, so I set up 11 stations in one half of the room, and set up the same task card stations in the other half of the classroom. I divided my class in half, and had them work only in one half of the classroom.)  Because this day was about bringing back their knowledge on the subject matter, I allowed them to use their reading notebooks to assist them should they get stuck. This definitely proved to them the importance of keeping an organized journal. ;)

Make it your own by: finding tasking cards related to your subject matter and simply posting them up around the room.


Next, I introduced the "Snowball Fight" activity, of course modeling how to throw a snowball using the under-arm throwing technique. Students received crumbled up paper snowflakes with a prefix or suffix on it. They had to gather one snowflake at a time, take it to their desk, find the correlating number on their recording sheet, write the prefix or suffix on it, and then write its meaning. They then threw the snowball back into the middle of the room and grabbed another. They repeated this for seven minutes gathering as many suffixes and prefixes as possible. We then switched papers and reviewed the answers. Students counted how many questions their friend answered correctly and wrote the number on the top.

Make it your own by: writing your own questions or problems on sheets of paper to use as snowballs. Crumple them up and let the snowball fight begin.


For the last activity, I asked them to sit at a desk and then proceeded to squirt shaving cream all over the blue table cloth. I was advised to use "original" shaving cream and not scented nor aloe based shaving cream because it could make their eyes sting if they accidentally touched their eyes. I purchased one small shaving cream bottle from Dollar Tree for every group of about four students and had a bottle or two left over. (This activity does not require tablecloths and can be done directly on the desks. However, since I am departmentalized and had another class coming in right after, I needed something that was super quick to clean up without an evidence left behind.) In order to further review affixes and roots, I would call out a definition and the students would write the correct affix or root in the "snow." They absolutely loved it since most of them had never experienced this before, or hadn't done so since kindergarten.

Now, as an added part here, since I wanted to see who was remembering the affixes and roots, I created a quick seating chart, and then quickly (tally) marked who got the meanings of the affixes and roots correct. At the end, I quickly counted up the points for each student.

Make it your own by: using shaving cream for students to use when answering any questions or problems that can be answered with short responses such as multiple choice questions, math facts, affixes, etc.


The following day, I gave each student another student's paper, and we went over the responses to the task cards. Students were only marking answers that were correct. They then wrote the number of correct answers on the top of the paper.

We summed up the points for all three activities to see who the top students were. These students received a treat for their achievement.


If you wish to implement this classroom transformation using the same resources I used, you can download it for FREE by clicking HERE.

If you would like to develop your own task cards using my templates, just click HERE to download this FREE resource. Yes, FREE! =)

I hope this little gift will help motivate you to try a new classroom transformation. If you do, please let me know by commenting below, sending me an email, or finding me on Instagram. I would LOVE to see your version of a Winter Wonderland.


7 Effective Behavior Management Strategies for Upper Elementary Classrooms

Helping students learn is our primary concern as educators, but that can definitely prove to be challenging in a chaotic classroom environment. Therefore, we must do our best to provide a safe and calm environment for our students. So, how can we most effectively accomplish this?

First, let me start off by saying that it is near impossible to have a perfect day, everyday, every year, without facing zero behavioral issues. Let's face it, life just isn't perfect. However, there are definitely a few things that can be done to guarantee less behavioral issues in upper elementary classrooms, leading to a better learning environment. 

A Writers' Workshop to Motivate Students During Text-Based Writing

How can we continue to inspire students to give 100% while practicing their text-based writing skills so late in the school year? Why, candy extrinsic motivation of course. 

Let's be honest. Getting eight, nine, and ten year olds to write a well developed, multiple paragraph essay, after reading and synthesizing multiple nonfiction texts, is no easy task. It takes lots and lots of practice, plus lots and lots of motivation. By the time the end of the year rolls around, and preparation (for high stakes testing) has been going on for months, motivation to write can begin to decline. This is what happens in my classroom pretty much EVERY...SINGLE...YEAR...IF I don't think outside the box.  This year, I decided to change it up a bit, and boy, oh boy, did we see a change. What did we do differently? We incorporated colored candy extrinsic rewards into our Writer's Workshop.

What is Mindfulness? How can it Benefit Students in My Classroom?

Have you ever wondered:

  • what was I coming into this room to get?
  • what streets did I take to get here?
  • what did he just say?

These are scenarios that most of us can relate to. They are all examples of situations where our mind was, well for a lack of a better word, somewhere else. It was not in the present moment. Our mind was full, but not "MINDFUL."

What is Mindfulness?

Being present in the moment.

Thrifty Alert: Popular Book Titles for Only a Dollar? Yes, Please!

Did you know that you can grab some popular book titles at Scholastic Reading Club for just $1 a book? Yep! ONE DOLLAR!

If you aren't signed up yet, its absolutely FREE to do so, and pretty much any teacher can sign up. The best part is, that presently if you order $10 worth of books, shipping is FREE! 

Classroom Transformation - Italian Restaurant (Punctuano's Ristorante Italiano) for Commas and Periods

Classroom transformations have been so successful in my classroom, that I have recently done two in just about a month and a half. They are a great way to engage students. 

The idea for this classroom transformation was inspired by Kim Bearden from the Ron Clark Academy. 

My students had just learned six different uses for commas (appositives, words in a series, conjunctions, introductory words, nouns of direct address, and quotation marks) using the resource found HERE. I then wanted to assess their knowledge using an engaging authentic assessment. Once I saw Kim's idea, I knew I had to created something with this theme for my own students. 

Classroom Transformation - Roots and Affixes Surgery Room

Keeping students engaged and motivated, especially at the end of the year, can be quite a challenge. For this reason, I have been evaluating the best ways to keep students excited to come to class and "work" (well, to them this seems more like playing). You may be wondering if this works with older students, and the answer is DEFINITELY YES! I am a 5th grade teacher, and the students absolutely LOVE these transformations!

I used the Surgery Room Transformation to evaluate students understanding of Roots and Affixes through this rigorous and enriching activity that forced them to use higher order thinking skills in order to complete the tasks assigned.