Yes, even you, upper elementary teachers!

Earlier this month, my third graders took the ITBS. Before the testing week began, I had to completely cover or take down anything "academic" in my classroom that students could possibly glean answers from... even my alphabet.

I decided that since I was taking down the alphabet anyways, it'd be the perfect opportunity for my students to make their own alphabet. I'd seen this done in younger grades before, but never in upper grades, so I spun the idea to make it work in my classroom. I did this by tying it in with our content, involving writing, and using cursive letters.

I just posted an anchor chart with the alphabet written on it. I told students that as they were learning about and researching Georgia, they could add something to the chart if they found a noun that started with one of the letters. (We were studying Georgia habitats AND working on nouns!) I told them that when we filled the alphabet, we would do something exciting.

I explained the task and assigned letters. Students who found words got first dibs on them! Students researched their topics and wrote about it. I displayed their writing underneath the alphabet!

After the writing was completed,
students were given their letter, which I printed on cardstock for durability. They did SUCH a nice job decorating! I could not believe how much time and effort students put into both their writing and pictures. It just goes to show that if you empower and motivate students by giving them choice and a sense of ownership, they'll really do their best work!

I definitely catch myself staring at our beautiful alphabet at least once a day!

You can make your own alphabet, too, with this simple print-and-go kit, that you can find here

To assist you in meeting the needs of your classroom, I gave you the option of a print or cursive alphabet. I also have two different options for the writing page, depending on the age of your students.

If you do allow your class to make their own alphabet, be sure you tag me on Instagram @schoolandthecity... I can't wait to see how yours turns out!

I have been SO VERY BUSY lately (hello testing, conferences, and report cards) but I am SO VERY EXCTIED about this that I just can't hold it in anymore!

So, I don't have whiteboards. I have two very large, very black chalkboards. They're magnetic (whooo) but other than that, they annoy me to no end. I don't like writing with chalk. It's messy! Chalk markers are EXPENSIVE and dry out so quickly... I feel like I've tried them all. And when I DO suck it up and write on the chalkboard, it's hard for kids to read. 

Then came the day a few months ago that my friend Emily from Munchkins, Inc. shared an image on her Instagram  showing how she covered her chalkboards with dry erase contact paper. I thought about it for a while... Hers looks so good that I just had to try it myself!! 

Here's the before...

... and here's the after!

I did the first half with the help of a friend, but did the second half on my own. I used a credit card to help me apply without leaving any bubbles!

It is white and so freshhh.
It's erases well, even after days.
I'm only using black Expos on it, though. I'm not risking any of those pretty colors!

I've already found myself writing on the board WAY MORE THAN I USED TO. I'm now able to make quick notes or illustrations for students to refer back to, and I'm able to create opportunities for the students to interact via the whiteboard! Life is good.

What do you think?!

I think I'll buy another roll to cover my other board!

You can find the roll of dry erase (whiteboard) contact paper here.

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