Camp Out Classroom Transformation

Monday, April 22, 2019 No comments

Each year on Take Your Child to Work Day, I try to have a classroom transformation for the students who come to school. Camp Cahill is all set for their arrival. I set up a tent with a campfire, a pond for fishing, some sleeping bags and activities related to camping for the entire day. My flexible seating also comes in handy for this special transformation.

Since I am a "Cub Scout mom" I have a lot of camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags, lanterns, skewers, etc. so it's easy for me to dig it all out for this transformation. You can purchase these items on but if you wait until winter, they tend to go on sale. You can also ask your friends and family to borrow these items. Here are some of the pricier items I've invested in for this transformation and reuse every year; the backdrop, the light up fire pit, the turf carpet, the inflatable pool and the magnetic fishing poles. All can be found on, but if you shop around you can find them discounted at other places.

I like to start off the day sitting around the campfire discussing the essentials we might need for camping. I jot down what tends to be, a lengthy list on chart paper and then the students can only choose eight items from our list to take with them. They need to write them on their recording sheet and give me a good reason why they chose that specific item.

Next, the children use a store circular to create a shopping list of food they will need for two days of camping. The children have a budget of $20.00 per day and they MUST have at least three meals per day and three snacks. It is always fun to see what they come up with since they do not typically do the grocery shopping.

For writing, I have the children complete a "how to" make S'mores craft. Before they begin, we talk about different ways to make these tasty snacks. The students decide which way they like best, fill out their graphic organizer and finalize their craftivity. I get these jumbo wooden skewers from Christmas Tree Shoppe. They are usually $1.99 for a dozen.

Since my class and I talk a lot about keeping the Earth clean, I like to do a fishing activity in the "pond." I have my students go fishing in the inflatable pool for animals and trash. First, they pull out a fish or trash with a magnetic fishing pole. On the back is a card telling a positive or a negative about what they took out of the pond. The class keeps tallies on their tally chart of how many negatives vs. positives they found as a group. After each child gets a turn to fish, they count their tallies and graph.

For STEM, I begin with a partner share about boats. The children discuss all they know about boats, what they are used for, how they work, what makes them special, etc. Then each child gets a 5" x 5" piece of foil to build a boat that can hold as many pennies as possible when placed onto a tray of water. The children fill out part of their recording sheet before they test their boat. After the boats are tested with the pennies, they fill out the rest, reflecting on what worked well and what they can improve for next time.

When I teach, I like to be sure there are some sort of brain breaks during the day. I love adding crafts as a relaxing brain break. For this camping transformation my colleague had a great idea to make firefly lanterns. I knew it would be PERFECT for this transformation. My Camp Out Classroom Transformation resource in my TPT store gives directions on all the materials and how to build these cute little glow lanterns. 

By the time I have my classroom camp out, my students have written a few personal narratives or fictional writing pieces, so I like to give them a chance to share. Since we rarely have time for each child to share to the whole class, I break my students up into small groups and let them share within their group. Then if I have time, I will rotate some children so the groups get a good shake up. To give the kids a bit of a camping ambiance, I turn off the lights and let them use flashlights to read to their friends as if we were telling stories by the campfire.

My final activity for the day is to set the mood by playing sounds of the nighttime forest and have the children relax while reading a book with a flashlight. It's such a simple activity, but they LOVE it! If you get the chance to have a camp out classroom transformation, please tag me in your posts or email me. I'd love to see how it turns out. If you'd like to grab my Camp Out Classroom Transformation resource it will give you step by step directions on what I do in my room. Thanks for stopping by! Happy Camping!

Earth Day STEM Activity

Monday, April 15, 2019 No comments
Earth Day is a great day to celebrate with my students. I try to promote taking care of the Earth on more than just Earth Day. I always enjoy teaching them about conserving energy, not being wasteful and reducing, recycling and reusing materials all year long. Each year, on Earth Day, my school gives out apples to everyone upon arrival and promotes walking or riding bikes to school with their families and friends. The teachers all meet down the street about 10 blocks from the school to meet up with our students so we can all walk together as one big group.

During reading on Earth Day, I always read the book, A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry. This is a book about how the descendants of the Nashua Indians were able to restore the beauty of the Nashua River due to the pollution by the European settlers.
A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History

I always tell my students this is an interactive read aloud because as events happen in the story, we will be making them happen here in the classroom. To prepare, I set up a bin, tub or tank of crystal clear water and put it in front of the classroom where all the children will be able to see it. Then I take small containers and fill them with materials similar to the ones that were dumped in the river by the settlers. For logs I use toothpicks, for fabric I use yarn, for dyes I use food coloring, etc. Sometimes I will make several containers of each material to be sure every student gets to "dump" something in the river. 

As we read through the book our river, like the Nashua, gets more filthy. 

By the end of the book, the descendants of the Native Americans and the European settlers clean the river together and that's exactly what we do. I split the student up into groups and provide them with materials to filter their share of our class Nashua River. Each group gets the same amount of materials. Coffee filters, cotton, paper towels, a funnel, two containers to hold their water and anything else I can scrounge up that day can help them. The class fills out their STEM recording sheets together and we begin. With trial and error they do their best to filter the contaminated water. 

If you would like to get  this activity just in time for Earth Day, click here to visit my TPT shop! If you decide to do this activity with your class, please tag me in any posts on Instagram or Facebook. I'd love to see how it goes. Thanks for stopping by today! 

About Me

Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog. My name is Kelly and Kaylynn's Place is my place. It's my place to share about my classroom, my teaching, my ideas and my growth as an educator. I would be lying if I said I didn't have a motivation and drive behind I everything I do. That would be my family. My two sons and my husband alway stand by me. They are my everything and they are the ones who said I should share my teaching experiences with you. So here I am!

I have been a New Jersey teacher for 17 years in the town I grew up in. Many people wonder why I decided to come back to my elementary school and for me, it was simple, because it felt like home! Thirty years ago I sat in the very classroom I teach in today and was asked, "Kelly, what do you want to be when you grow up?" That was easy, a teacher! This is where my love for school began. Ever since that very common question was asked to me, my mind was made up. The teachers I've had over the years made a lasting impression on me forever. School was my love and teaching was my future! 

Of course when I began it wasn't as glamorous as I imagined. It certainly wasn't as easy as MY teachers made it look, but I had the support of the people who once taught me... as my colleagues and mentors. 
I was fortunate enough to work side by side with the teacher who changed my life in elementary school, Mr. Ken Davidson. Gosh, I can remember being in his class like it was yesterday. Mr. D made me LOVE school. I didn't want to miss a day! (In fact, I had perfect attendance from grades K-6.) Mr. Davidson was always in a costume, singing a song, leading us in snow dances on the blacktop, building sailboats in the courtyard and doing anything to give us experiences in learning. We were always "doing" in his class. That was what I dreamed of, being a kid's reason to come to school, just like he was for me. 

That is why my passion in the classroom is student engagement, interactive lessons, hands on inquiry based instruction, classroom transformations, using any kind of STEM integration and just being silly. Engaging my students as much as I can throughout those six hours of school while maintaining a rigorous curriculum to ensure they are getting the very best instruction are my main goals. 

I'm hoping to share some new classroom ideas with you while I continue my journey through elementary school. Thank you for joining me. I hope you stay a while.