Do you know about neurons? ClassDojo's Growth Mindset Videos

Do your students know about neurons?

Neurons Take-Home Bracelets - Class Dojo Growth Mindset

If you have been following along with Class Dojo’s amazing growth mindset series, you know how much the students are getting into it! My students have LOVED learning about developing a growth mindset and are learning so much! In Episode 4, we learned all about neurons and how we can promote connections between our neurons by trying new challenges! To encourage my students to share their new learning with their families, they decorated these fun bracelets to wear home! Want some for your students? Click the cover picture above!

Do you know about neurons? ClassDojo's Growth Mindset Videos

Symmetry with Pattern Blocks

Symmetry Fun

Symmetry with Pattern Blocks

We had lots of fun learning about symmetry this week! Besides the lesson in our math book, we did all sorts of great activities to practice creating symmetry. We have our standardized tests next week, so we enjoyed doing some fun activities to unwind and relax before our long week.

Symmetry with Pattern Blocks

First, we did a symmetry gallery walk activity. Each group got rulers and either pattern blocks or base ten blocks. They had to create half of a design on one side of the ruler. Then they had to collect the pieces someone would need to make the other half be symmetrical. This step is VERY important. Students that didn’t pay attention to that step created problems for the students that later tried to do the second half. After the students were done, they had a chance to walk around and choose another design to finish. Once they finished the design, they got to mix up the pieces and create a new design for someone else to finish. They loved creating designs and walking around to see everyone else’s designs!

Symmetry with Base Ten Blocks

Our next activity was probably my favorite! I took pictures of each student in front of the whiteboard. Then I went into PowerPoint and cropped each picture so it was cut in half – right down the middle of the nose. I printed them out (I used color, but you could also do it black and white) and surprised each student with their “half of a face”. I used an example to show them how they could use a ruler to measure to best match the other side of their face. Some however chose to just “eyeball” it. Then they mounted their picture on construction paper to post in the hallway! Some turned out amazing, others struggled, but they will make great memories for their family!

Symmetrical Photos Classroom Activity

Lastly, I wanted to do something for Valentine’s Day that incorporated symmetry into a Valentine’s gift they could give to family members. I found this great post on Pinterest – Create Art with Me: Valentine’s Day Projects. I decided to use the bookmark idea to create Valentine’s Day bookmarks using symmetry.

Symmetry Bookmarks

Go to the blog post for all of the directions. I let my students create any design they wanted. Some obviously turned out better than others, as with any craft, but overall it was definitely a success.  Instead of using packing tape, I just laminated them. If you don’t have a personal laminator for your classroom, I highly recommend it! So what symmetry activities are you doing in your classroom?

Symmetry Bookmarks

Class Dojo Big Ideas - Chapter 3 - The Power of Yet

The Power of Yet

My students finished episode 3 today of Class Dojo’s Big Ideas series. We are learning all about developing a growth mindset using these great videos. Today’s episode focused on the “Power of Yet”. We had great discussions about not saying “I can’t do this”, but instead saying “I can’t do this YET!”. Then we watched a fun music video from Sesame Street (only a few students groaned, but they enjoyed it once it started) about the power of yet. My students had such great discussions about the power of yet, that I wanted them to remember to share everything they learned with their family. I created some “Power of Yet” take-home bracelets and was curious how the third graders would take it. Would they complain and think the bracelets were for “little kids”? Surprisingly, they LOVED them! One student even said, do we get to keep these? We quickly colored them and used a stapler or tape to attach them. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of them in action! Sorry! We are expecting a snow storm in Iowa tomorrow and the kids were so wound up by the end of the day – I was lucky to get them out the door on time! You can still download the bracelets to use with your students! There are a few different options and all are meant to be decorated by the children – so there aren’t any extra decorations to them. Click on the cover below to download them for yourself!

Class Dojo's Big Ideas - Episode 3 - The Power of Yet Free Take Home Bracelets



Growth Mindset Coloring Sheets

Inspiring a Growth Mindset

Did you know that research has actually shown that when students learn they can develop intelligence with effort and they aren’t just born with their intelligence, they do better in school? Thanks to ClassDojo and Stanford, teachers can easily start introducing this idea to their students. ClassDojo is releasing a set of 5 short videos that introduce the idea that our brains act like muscles – we need to “work them” to grow them. My students love them and are disappointed that we can’t watch more than one at a time! (They are releasing one a week until all 5 are released in mid-February.) Click on the ClassDojo monsters to check them out!

ClassDojo Mindset Episodes

We start every morning with a class meeting to settle into our day and build a sense of community. For the last two weeks, we have started our Mondays with one of ClassDojo’s videos. They include great discussion questions that we talk about together. The students think about their answer, share with a partner, and then have the opportunity to share with the class. To wrap it up, they take home a sheet from ClassDojo with take-home questions to share with their parents.

Student Responses - Class Dojo

I wanted them to remember all of the great things we are learning about having a growth mindset, so I came up with some fun posters to color. We have been coloring one every few days to remind ourselves to have a growth mindset. I tried to leave them pretty open so there was room for them to add their own creative touches. I then encourage them to keep them in their binder, put them up in their house, or post in the hallway for other students to see.

Growth Mindset Coloring Sheets

Are your students learning about having a growth mindset? I’m sharing my posters with you!

Click Here to Get Your Growth Mindset Posters to Color

Want to learn more about promoting a growth mindset? Check out:

What Class Dojo Monsters Can Teach Kids About Growth Mindset

Stanford’s PERTS Adds Private Partner To Spread Growth Mindset

Brag Tags

Celebrating Academic Success!

I am always looking for new ways to celebrate academic success! I love to celebrate their gains and successes – especially when it comes to testing. I read about brag tags through various blog posts and on Pinterest and decided to give it a try! I created a variety of fun academic-themed brag tags. Now, when my students do awesome on a test or improve on something – I can give them a simple, small, tangible reward to remember their accomplishment. I then took it one step further and wanted to give them something to encourage their hard work on our standardized tests. I created test-specific ones to wish them good luck on their tests and to recognize them for trying their best!

Academic Brag Tags to recognize Academic Successes!

I know some teachers hang their brag tags up on a class bulletin board to display their brag tags. My students wanted to keep them themselves, so they have a keychain or necklace to keep them on. Some take them home, some leave them at school. My purpose is solely to reward them for their effort or accomplishments, so I don’t mind if they take them home. Do you want to try out brag tags in your classroom? Start with this fun freebie:

Brag Tags Freebie from Primary Panda

Then check out my friend Mrs. Beattie’s posts on her blog about how she uses Brag Tags!

Spark Student Motivation: Brag Tags and a Game Show

My Brag Tags are Here!

Go Noodle and Brag Tags – Two of My Favorite Things Together


Photo Booth Fun

Need an activity for indoor recess? Here in the Midwest, winters get cold! Our recess rules state that if the “feels like” temperature is under 0 degrees, we stay inside for recess. The kids love indoor recess, but when you have had indoor recess for a whole week… you need new ideas to fill up the time! Enter the photo booth! I have some clearance dress up items – headbands, sunglasses, pom poms, tiaras, etc. The students get together with their friends and take funny pictures! You can take them yourself or have the students take turns taking pictures with a digital camera or a tablet. What fun things do you do for indoor recess?

Quote-worthy Bookshelf

School bookshelf redo project

A few years ago, I was sick of looking around my very brown room. All of the furniture was some shade of brown and two of the walls have brown chalkboards that take up most of the walls. I asked my principal for permission to paint some of my old furniture. It was furniture that was no longer of “value” to the district, so would never be resold or probably even re-used outside of my classroom if things ever got moved around. I painted a storage cabinet blue, my old mailboxes, and then started in on this tall bookshelf. The bookshelf was an old brown laminate that had definitely seen better days. I primed the bookshelf (two coats) and then painted it dark blue. Then I applied a wall quote sticker (I bought mine at Ebay) and painted over it with a lighter blue (two coats). After about an hour or two, I removed the stickers. The next day, I put two coats of clear Polycrylic over the top to protect it.  It was definitely time consuming to wait for the layers to dry (a day or so between each coat) but definitely worth it! A few years later it is still holding up great! Now the actual shelves that hold the books have seen better days, but the outside looks great!

Such a great quote on this bookshelf

Card Tower STEM Challenge

Card Tower STEM Challenge & a Freebie

This past Friday we held a Card Tower STEM challenge for the whole third grade. We handed out cooperative grouping cards in order to assign each student to a group of 3. Then each group got a deck of 52 cards (we removed all jokers and extra cards so each deck was equal). We explained the rules: everyone must participate, treat everyone and their ideas with respect, and stay in one spot. We told them they would have 15 minutes to build a tower together and there would be awards for the tallest, widest, and most creative towers. Then they set off to work.

They all had different strategies and it was fun to see their problem solving skills in action! The ones going for most creative had some great ideas! We had one group create a tower that resembled a person, another was a multi-room house, and our winner was a sunburst design.

Card Tower STEM Challenge

At the end, we measured the tallest and widest towers with a yard stick. Then the three third grade teachers walked around and voted on the most creative tower. Then we gathered the students together for the “award ceremony”. We announced the awards for the tallest, widest, and most creative card towers. Then we allowed the students to carefully walk around to look at the other students’ towers. They had a great time and the whole activity took around 30 minutes with very minimal prep! Want to hold your own card tower contest? Click on the certificates below to download an editable card tower certificate!

Editable Card Tower Certificate

Hoar Frost on Branch

Hoar Frost

Yes, you read that correctly! Hoar frost! Hoar frost is that pretty frost that looks like needles or spikes and shows up on trees, fences, garden decorations, and more! I learned about hoar frost as a kid from my best friend’s dad and I still remember learning about it today! I created this fun nonfiction pack to not only learn about hoar frost, but have some fun extension activities for the long month of January! What all is included?

Hoar Frost Nonfiction Pack from Primary Panda

My third graders have loved all of the extension activities this week and are excited to do the research for their hardy plants brochures next week! This pack makes for great sub plans as well!  Check it out on my TPT store!

Tessellation Extension from Hoar Frost Nonfiction Pack by Primary Panda

Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Baseball Multiplication and Ugly Christmas Sweaters!

As we all know, keeping the students engaged during the days before a break is always a challenge. For the second year in a row, our third grade held a grade-wide baseball multiplication tournament complete with a bracket! Our building has three sections of third grade. The three teachers sat down and created 22 groups of 3. We numbered them and used that to create a bracket. We found a 22 team bracket on

Bracket for Baseball Multiplication Tournament

On the day of the tournament we super politely asked the custodian if we could borrow the lunchroom for an hour in the morning (between breakfast and lunch). Then we collected our dice, counters, and game mats. Our game mats are from Everyday Math. Not sure how to play Baseball Multiplication, click here! Then we explained the rules for the tournament to the students: everyone has to participate, take turns, be good sports, and follow our regular expectations. We explained that each team should switch after 3 outs or 3 runs. We shortened it to be able to get through 5 rounds of play. Then we set the students off to play! What were the other students doing when they had a “bye” or were out of the tournament?  We set up some tables with decks of cards for math games, crayons, pencils, clipboards, and plenty of fun math printables. The students loved the new math printables we saved up for this day. Their favorites were these fun “Ugly Christmas Sweater Color-By-Product” sheets!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Color-By-Product

They loved coloring the fun designs in fun color combinations while they practiced their multiplication facts! Then at the end of the tournament, we gathered all of the students together. After we had everyone help clean up, we announced the winners! The winning team received some large foam dice from Dollar Tree to play Baseball Multiplication with at home! The second and third place teams received a fun toy from Dollar Tree as well. The kids loved the tournament and we spent a solid hour practicing our multiplication facts the day before break! It’s a win-win!

Baseball Multiplication Tournament