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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Secret Message Bread, GIVEAWAY, and Reading Incentives!!

The weeks are just flying by!
I can hardly believe that next week is MAY!!
I am linking up (a day late) with Doodle Bugs Teaching and Amanda from Teaching Maddeness to share some randomness of my week.
1.  Math State Testing
I apologize for not taking any pictures of this momentous event [sarcasm], but we are not allowed to have any communications device including but not limited to (enter a description of about 12 items that we had to read to the students for three days of ELA testing last week and three days of Math state testing this week...I just may have shortened it a little bit by the 4th day!).  If you have not turned over these devices to a teacher or another school official, you must give them to me now.  Does anyone have these devices?  This is your last chance to turn them over to me...
Well, at least the ELA and math tests are over.  Science is at the end of May for the performance and first week of June for the written.   
2.  Toliver's Secret
We started this novel in ELA and the students always love it!  It is about a Patriot spy during the Revolutionary War who has to deliver a spy message but sprains his ankle.  His granddaughter, Ellen Toliver, then has to go on a journey in his place to deliver the message that is contained in a snuffbox baked inside a loaf of bread.  She has many obstacles along the way but finds out that she is really much more courageous than she could have ever thought!  "Toliver's secret" refers to the secret message or to the "secret" that Ellen is really a brave young girl!

We read about Spies and Traitors from this handout from the book, History Pockets: The American Revolution.
The students used the secret code above to write a coded message on a little piece of paper to another classmate.  I bought ready made, rising dough from the freezer section of the grocery store (the students love the smell of the dough and it leads to a good discussion about yeast and kneading).  They put their coded messages inside the dough and we baked them.  When they were baked, everyone got another classmates roll with a secret coded message inside!  To say they were excited is an understatement:)  I forgot to take pictures of them figuring out the messages and eating the nice warm rolls in all the excitement.  They had them right before lunch and you would have thought that the class had never had eaten rolls before.  Although, they were quite good fresh out of the oven! (We are fortunate to have a nutrition center with a full size kitchen just a few steps from my classroom.  I was able to bake them during class and have them fresh out of the oven by the end of class!).
The message was baked hidden inside the roll.
3.  Plant Life
We started our plant life unit this week and planted our Wisconsin Fast growing plants that go from seed to seed in just SIX weeks!  It was a good activity for the week of Earth Day too:)
 We always plant some "experimental" plants (one with no fertilizer, one with no wick, one that doesn't go under the lights, etc.).  The plants stay under florescent lights 24 hours a day and the light gets raised as the plants grow.  I should have taken a picture of the whole assembly and will try to add that to this post next week.
 This is the wicking system that keeps the plants moist.  The plants sits on a mat that absorbs water from the pan below and each plant has a small wicking stick (same materials as the mat) that comes out the bottom of the pot.  The wick extends through the center of the plant and provides constant moisture.
 This is the plant growth and development guide that comes with this unit.  
4.  Reading Incentives
We have a lot of reading incentives that our school participates in.  
Most of my homeroom just earned a free pass to a Six Flags park this summer for reading 7 hours independently over a couple months.
There is now a "Race to Read" reading incentive program where students read just 15 minutes each night for four weeks and earn SIX passes to a family night at the local races.  Each pass is worth about $15 and so many of our families love racing!  Here are some bookmarks and bracelets passed out a an assembly we had this week with a "real race car driver"!
I also promote the Book-It program all year in the classroom.  Students must read four chapter books a month and score a 70% or higher on the AR (Accelerated Reader) test for this incentive.
Our wonderful librarians just started an AR contest this Monday that lasts until May 23.  We are competing against 5th and 6th grade for the most overall AR points.  Before Christmas, the 4th grade beat both the 5th and 6th grade (it was a CLOSE match!), so this race should be exciting too:)
I am linking up these reading incentives with Joanne's wonderful linky for Sparking Student Motivation at Head Over Heels for Teaching.
5.  Giveaway SOON!
I can hardly believe that I have almost 500 Followers!!  I remember when I started this blog, I was SO happy when I had 10 followers.  The blogging community is simply amazing and I have made so many great friends through this little ol' blog!  What better way to thank you for all your support, ideas, and help than by hosting a giveaway?  I have not made a button yet or decided what I will be giving away, but some great gift cards will definitely be up for grabs:)
I also hope that some of my lovely blogging friends would like to help out make the giveaway awesome by donating some amazing products! 
Would you be willing to help out?
Fill out this form with the details and I will be in touch soon:)
Thank you so much for all your love and support!!! XXOO


  1. I LOVE your secret-messages in rolls idea! Hah! Genius :)

    I need to find a way to connect that to my curriculum - I am definitely trying it!

    Congrats on 500 followers - I would LOVE to help out!

    Joy in the Journey

  2. Congrats on 500! I've filled out the form. The line "these include but are not limited to" about the testing had me laughing. Most of my students don't even know what some of those devices are when I read them. So silly! I'm loving the secret messages in the rolls, too! What a fantastic week :)


    Fun in Room 4B

  3. Congrats on almost 500 follower! I working on my first 100! Oh well, maybe one day! :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  4. Wow, you had a great week! I love Toliver's Secret!!! I forgot about that one! (are you linking up to SS mentor texts? sounds like a great one to mention!!) ;O)
    We did that same spies and traitors sheet! ;O)

    I forgot to ask my students to turn off any electronic devices this week! I'm glad that none went off and got me into trouble! It's not in our directions... :O)

    Congratulations on nearing 500! Whoop whoop!! :O)
    Collaboration Cuties

  5. I love the secret code message in the bread - I am trying to figure out how I could use that in my class I love it so much. Congrats on the followers, no suprise that you have reached this milestone, your blog is awesome. I would be happy to help you celebrate and filled out your form. Have a great weekend.

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  6. Congrats on 500! I just filled out the form.

    Love the roll idea- how did you bake them? Toaster oven?

  7. I have not heard of this book, but sounds like one I need to include in my Revolution Unit next year!!! Thanks for sharing! And of course I've donated! :)
    ideas by jivey
    Follow me on Facebook!

  8. Toliver's Secret looks like a great read! I miss the upper level texts that I used with my fifth graders and have not kept current with what is out there. I will add this one to another I have found for summer reading! Thanks for sharing!

    Sarah @ Hoots N' Hollers

  9. Never heard of Toliver's Secret, but I am intrigued. The roll idea is so fun! We have a line for phones when we test, but it's not nearly as long. They just added it last year. Congrats on almost 500 followers! I'm thrilled to donate!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

  10. You can bake in your school? How cool is that? I think I'd have a reason to bake something delicious every week--for the students, of course! :) I just signed up to donate. Congrats on 500 bloggers! Man--how awesome!

    The 4th Grade Journey

  11. Secret message in a loaf of bread? Can I be a student in your classroom???? :)

    Toliver's Secret sounds great-I'll have to see if it's it in our library. My 5th graders would LOVE it since they know so much about the American Revolution now!! :)

    I Run Read Teach

  12. Secret messages! So cool! I filled out the form! Congrats!

  13. Those secret message rolls are so awesome! I MUST find a way to use that idea in my classroom.

    Have a great week!
    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings