Saturday, July 29, 2017

Super Sleuth Challenge

Super Sleuth is an enrichment program that you can easily set up and use in your classroom. Here are the details about how it operates.
Are you looking for an easy way to offer enrichment to your students? Super Sleuth is one way to provide daily challenge for students. I have used (and perfected) this system in my classroom for years. My favorite thing about Super Sleuth is that after the initial setup, it practically runs itself! It is really easy to implement and requires minimal class time.

Super Sleuth has added a bit of mystery and excitement to my classroom. I originally used it as an option for my higher-level students who needed a little something beyond the regular curriculum. I quickly discovered that it worked well to spark interest and develop intellectual curiosity among students of all levels. Students are eager to read and research the new clues. Plus, as an added bonus, families get involved in talking about the challenge at home. That's a win-win in my opinion! Now, here's the details on how I set up and manage Super Sleuth in my classroom.

As part of the Super Sleuth Challenge, students receive a new clue each day about a mystery person, place or thing. They research the clues and then submit an answer by the end of the week. The answer is then displayed on the following Monday. In order for Super Sleuth to operate smoothly, you will need to set up an interactive display in your classroom.

I select a place in my classroom that is very visible when students first walk in the room and is also easy for students to reach. My bulletin board space is limited, so I usually use cabinet doors or the side of a filing cabinet. 

Super Sleuth is an enrichment program that you can easily set up and use in your classroom. Here are the details about how it operates.

Over the years, I have experimented with various ways to hang the clue cards. Thumb tacks and staples work fine on a bulletin board, but I really prefer hooks or clips that students can safely operate. I used these Command Spring Clipslast year and they were great! Please note that this is an Amazon affiliate link for a product that I use and love which means that I will receive compensation if you make a purchase using this link.

My goal has always been to run the Super Sleuth program with very little effort on my part. Here is how I delegate the daily operation to students.

Each week, at the beginning of a new challenge, I put a student in charge of the daily clues. This student earns the title "Sleuthinator" and has the special privilege of hanging a new clue for the class to read each day of that week. I place the clue cards inside a special container that fits right inside the Sleuthinator's desk. This system works well because, without fail, students always remind the Sleuthinator to hang the clue if he or she forgets.

Then, I set up a station for students to submit their Super Sleuth answers. At this station, I have placed a container that is filled with blank answer slips. I cut a slit in the top of a small oatmeal canister for the final answers.

I allow (and encourage) my students to ask for help at home, research on the computer, find a book in the library, etc. My only rule is that they may not share the answers with each other. A class meeting works well for setting up the expectations. Sometimes we revisit the ground rules if necessary.

Super Sleuth is an optional activity in my classroom, but most students choose to get caught up in the excitement. I have built in an incentive system that seals the deal for students who need some extra encouragement to get involved. After the answer is displayed on Monday, I go through the canister and announce winners from the previous week. Each student with a correct answer receives one "Sleuth Buck". They save up the Sleuth Bucks and later cash them in for classroom incentives that are worth different values.

Here's a sneak peek at how I organize my clue sets. These organizational portfolios from the dollar store are each divided into seven sections that group and store the cards perfectly. They are the longer, 10" x 6" portfolios. I have six of them to store my cards for the whole year.

If you would like to get started with Super Sleuth in your own classroom, I have packaged the whole kit and caboodle into one resource that contains 40 weeks of clue sets for an entire school year. Each clue set includes 5 clue cards, plus an answer card with a picture and a card with an informational paragraph about the mystery person, place, or thing. The topics represent a variety of people, places, and things from history and modern times that have been thoroughly researched and summarized. The full resource also includes all of the signs and labels you will need for your display, plus editable incentive coupons and name display. You will just need to print it out, set it up, and say, "Go!"

Super Sleuth is an enrichment program that you can easily set up and use in your classroom. Here are the details about how it operates.
Click image to view the Super Sleuth resource
You can even try a free Super Sleuth sample here! Enjoy!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Stretch Books

Welcome to Week # 5 of the Undercover Classroom Summer Fold-a-thon! I'm here to fill up your bag of teaching tricks with all things foldable and this week we are going to take a closer look at stretch books. If you missed the first four posts, no worries! You can easily get caught up by clicking on the links below. :-)

Click image to view mini book tutorial

Click image to view envelope book tutorial

Click image to view lapbook modifications tutorial

Click image to view paper bag book tutorial
And now for our feature presentation. . . s t r e t c h books!

Learn how to make a stretch book from three pieces of square paper. Stretch books are highly engaging for students and can be used for a variety of classroom activities. 
Stretch books are an all time student favorite in my classroom. They have a "wow" factor. That's for sure! Every time I make a stretch book for the very first time with a group of students, the oohs and aahs can be heard down the hallway. 

These books may seem a bit complicated at first, but once you understand the folds, they are actually quite simple to make. The book is able to stretch because of one simple origami fold. I highly recommend folding a few for yourself before you attempt this with your students. It is much easier to model and explain the folds when you have experience with them yourself. The learning curve will definitely be worth it in the end. 

Stretch books lend themselves nicely to a variety of activities. I have used them for publishing, story retelling, vocabulary words, note-taking, math facts, and research. Really, there are so many possibilities!

For this stretch book, I used three sheets of paper. You can always add more for a longer stretch book. Cut the paper into squares. Any size square will work. My squares are 8.5 inches x 8.5 inches.

Before you watch me fold, take a look at the basic fold lines. For each of the three pieces of paper, you will make a diagonal, horizontal, and vertical fold. The direction of the folds is critical, so keep reading. :-)

Take your first piece of paper and make a diagonal fold from point to point. 

Now here is the important part. Since you folded back to make that diagonal fold, the next two folds will both be in the opposite direction. The horizontal and vertical folds will be forward folds. Open up the paper again.

Then fold forward this time to make a "plus" sign. Make a (forward) horizontal fold.

Open it up again and then make a (forward) vertical fold.

When opened flat, the folds should look like this.

Turn the paper and gently pinch the sides as shown.

Pull the sides in and press down from the top.

It will collapse like this. Press it flat and reinforce the folds. Now, the rest is easy.

Just repeat those steps until you have three folded squares.

Now it is time to glue them into one piece. Play around with the pieces and you will see how they fit together. Match up the first two pieces like his.

Add some glue.

Carefully overlap the two pieces for an accurate match.

Press them together to seal.

Then flip your third square over and see how it fits together with the second piece.

Add some glue.

Match it up, and you are ready to go!

Here's the final book. Give it a stretch and then marvel at your creation. :-) 

Learn how to make a stretch book from three pieces of square paper. Stretch books are highly engaging for students and can be used for a variety of classroom activities.

Once you have it down pat, it's time to teach your students. I have made these books successfully with third graders. The first time through, it is best to work in small groups. If a parent volunteer is available, that helps too. :-) Most of my students are able to make them independently after the first time. They even make them for fun on their own. That's how much they love them.

Would you like a free stretch book template? This blank template has pre-printed fold lines and "page" numbers on each small square. Just click the image below. 

You may also want to take a peek at my other pre-made stretch books.  The Story Map Stretch Book can be used with any fiction story. Also, I love to use the Preamble Stretch Book on U.S. Constitution Day.

The Undercover Classroom Summer Fold-a-thon will wrap up with one final post next Friday, August 4th. Bring along some regular white envelopes (business or small) next time and be prepared to transform them into something awesome. See you then!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Paper Bag Books

Oh yeah! It's Week #4 of the Undercover Classroom Fold-a-thon! This summer, I have been dishing out the secrets behind all of my favorite foldable teaching tools for the classroom. So far, we have explored mini-books, envelope books, and modified lapbooks. Today, we will take a look at a book made from paper bags!

Learn how to make a paper bag book for your classroom with just two bags and a rubber band. Bag books are foldable teaching tools that will motivate your students.
So, you have probably figured out by now that I will make a book out of just about anything that folds. Whenever I see a bundle of inexpensive paper objects (bags, folders, envelopes, etc.), my mind instantly begins to imagine ways to fold something cool that will motivate students.

Paper lunch bags can usually be found at the dollar store. You can use any size bag you like for this project. Just make sure they are the type of bags that sit flat on the bottom. I wanted something with a little more space on each page, so I upgraded to a larger bag. I found a bundle of 500 (DURO #20) bags for under $15 at my local paper supply store. The measurements for these larger bags are 8.25"W x 5.25"D x 16"H, but don't feel limited to these dimensions. I have made some really cool bag books from smaller bags. Once, I even tried it with grocery store bags and that worked well for an extra large book. Now, let's go ahead and make a bag book!

You will need two paper bags and one rubber band to make a bag book. First, fold both of the paper bags in half like this.

Now this is the important part. In order to maximize the space {and make the book interesting for kids}, you will want to create some flaps. Open both bags flat again.

Lift up and then fold down the bottom flap on each bag. Here is what it looks like when folded properly.

Then do the same thing to the second bag.

It will look like this.

Now, place the two bags on top of each other. Notice that the flaps are facing toward the left on the bottom bag and toward the right on the top bag.

Learn how to make a paper bag book for your classroom with just two bags and a rubber band. Bag books are foldable teaching tools that will motivate your students.

Line up the bags and fold them in half again, on your pre-folded midline.

Next, you will secure the book with a rubber band. The large, thin, stretchy rubber bands work best. When making paper bag books with my students, I always test out the rubber bands ahead of time. If the rubber bands are too small or tight, the book will bunch up. Here is a view from the front cover.

You can write or cut and paste information inside the flaps.

The book will also have two handy-dandy storage pouches for folded papers, flash cards, and other small pieces. This picture shows one of the pouches and the centerfold.

Here's one more view of the inside. Now you are ready to teach! Be creative and add whatever floats your boat (or teaches your students). ;-)

Here's an example of a bag book that I use in my classroom. You can see how I paste paper on the flaps. For more information about the economics bag book, click here. You might also want to take a peek at my back to school bag book, Thanksgiving history bag book, and weather bag book.

Thanks again for stopping by! Be sure to visit again next Friday! The Undercover Classroom Fold-a-thon runs through August 4th. Bring along a few sheets of paper next week so we can make a book that stretches! See you then!