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Educate, Engage, Enrich, and Enjoy your Math Block!

Teaching a new grade is always a new adventure...one that I welcomed with open arms this year!! After getting the opportunity to be in several different elementary classrooms in college, I felt like my "sweet spot" was teaching 2nd-4th grade. Fast forward to getting my first teaching job- in Tanzania, East Africa! I spent three years teaching Kinder and 1st Grade. I loved the experience, and using my creativity to come up with engaging, hands-on activities, etc. It was GREAT! But, after a couple of years, I wanted a change. This year, I had the opportunity to move to fourth grade...and I'm seriously in LOVE!! It has confirmed my love for the middle elementary grades, and it makes me so happy! I love that they still respect me as their teacher and love school, but we can have deeper conversations and learning moments. It's always challenging to try something new, but this year has been so rewarding!!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I've also been helping some of the new teachers at my school, and planning for and helping with art class for K-6, and planning for another ESL class. It's stretched me, and been really fun to share my knowledge with the other teachers, but it's also made me busier than ever before! Teaching a new grade on top of all that...it's been a bit CRAY!!!

But God is faithful, and I'm ever so thankful for His never-ending waterfall of GRACE.There's been a lot of learning and growing. And I finally feel, now at the end of the first semester, that I'm getting my groove back. This means that I'm no longer just trying to get by with the lessons from the curriculum, I'm trying to add in more meaningful activities that will help what my students are learning STICK...especially in math!! So I thought I'd share some of those things with you all today, if you need some fresh ideas and resources for your math block!!

The first thing I want to share has been a GAME CHANGER!! It is a YouTube Channel called Numberock. They have tons of amazing animated song videos with math content!! My students and I seriously LOVE THEM. Click HERE to discover the awesomeness, and check out the video below too!

I also use actions for EVERYTHING! We're currently wrapping up our geometry unity, and we've gotten up and moving for angles, shape transformations, lines, and more!! For an inside scoop on this, go follow me in Instagram!! I'll be posting videos of these actions soon, as we'll be reviewing for our upcoming test! The original idea came from Rebecca at Create Teach Share. Here's her pin that I found, if you're looking for INCREDIBLE hands-on geometry activities!

ANCHOR CHARTS are my best friend!! I know this is not a new idea for you, but I have a twist I've been working on! Not only do I try to find relevant and exciting anchor charts on Pinterest to recreate with my fourth graders, I've been working on creating versions for THEM to put in their math notebooks!! This is similar to interactive notebooks, but not quite as time-consuming. I create a similar printable to what I'll be making during the lesson, and they will follow along by filling in blanks or adding elements during the lesson.

I have a freebie in my TpT store that you can check out below, if you're interested! It is perfect for your lesson on Quadrilaterals!! They are called Note-able Anchor Charts!!! And, the Shape Transformations one above is coming SOON!

My last way I'm refreshing my math block is through early finisher activities. I usually allow my students who finish early to read, do a puzzle, work on unfinished work, etc. But I've started adding some math games and task cards to my classroom so my "high fliers" will continue reviewing and practicing the important concepts! This week I tried out the Shape Memory from this awesome Shape Classification resource from Fifth is my JAM on TpT!! The kids matched the shape names to their definitions/attributes. It was a great way for them to distinguish between the shapes and angles we had learned about!!

I also am using Teaching with a Mountain View's amazing Geometry Task Cards to review this week!! I can't wait to try out this task card trick I found on Instagram! 

I also LOVE SCOOT for Math practice and review! Sometimes we'll grab our clipboards and head out to the basketball court! (And, little friends will join us!)

I hope you got some fresh ideas for your math block!! I love sharing what I do with you, and would love to hear what works best for YOU in the comments!! Don't forget to enjoy the moments, even when your students don't understand, or you have twenty seconds to prep your lesson...you've got this!! If you'd like to pin this post for later, here's an image for you!

Love, Allie

2017 in Pictures

Wow! This has been a full year, and I can't believe we're already wrapping it up! I'm sorry I've neglected my blog- it's been quite the busy season of life, but I'm excited to share and recap the year through pictures! I hope you've had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to what is ahead! 


I love visiting churches around the city where I live (Moshi). We went to a village church soon after the new year and got to love on lots of kiddos, and God did amazing miracles! I love being part of His miraculous handiwork!

I introduced labeling to my Kinders also, and they got to label the teacher!! We giggled and had fun, but also got to work on some beginning literacy skills! You can read more about it in THIS blog post!


February started off so great!! I got to celebrate this little one and welcome her into the world! I can't believe she is almost one now...it's amazing how fast time flies!
I introduced my label and color resources to my students in February, and they learned how to stretch out the sounds they hear and write them down! Click to see all of these resources and get them for your classroom! 


 I witnessed Battle of the Bands: Tanzania Church Choir edition!! It was so much fun seeing all these choirs come and sing/dance in one church! There must have been at least 12-15 choirs there!

  I took my students on a field trip to the greenhouses in February, too!! They got to see the stages of the life cycle, pick Carnation seedlings, and more! I love these hands-on opportunities!  


We learned about Ancient Egypt in March!! We became Pharoahs with our headdresses and collars. We read along the "Nile River" and also mummified each other in toilet paper!! It was so much fun!

The students learned the game of baseball in P.E.! We taught them the rules and how to play, as most of them hadn't played before! It was a lot of fun, and they loved it.

Of course we had to take some silly selfies too! I love these kiddos and seeing their personalities shine! :)


I learned how to make one of my FAVORITE Tanzanian foods - Chapati! It's a lot of work, but it makes delicious flatbread, that's kind of like a combination between a tortilla and naan. SO GOOD!

Kili was showing off on my early morning bus ride to Nairobi, Kenya, where I met up with my friend, Sarah, for a couple of days! She lives there as a missionary as well, and I went to visit her over my Easter break!
We went on a hike in a forest. It was so fun to spend time together - we were really good friends in high school, and reconnected before I left for Tanzania the first year! I love that God has brought us together, both working as missionaries in East Africa!

While in Nairobi, Sarah took me to the Elephant Orphanage, and a beautiful bead shop where the ladies handmake the beads out of clay! It is quite the amazing process.

I spent Easter with my missionary family back in Moshi. We had church together, a potluck lunch, and did some fun Easter activities with the kids! It was so much fun to celebrate Christ's amazing sacrifice with them.



In the larger city a couple hours away, there's this beautiful shop called the Shanga Shop. They employ people with handicaps to create beautiful things - hand-blown glass, woven scarves, and all kinds of things for the home. It's always so fun to visit and see what they create!

We also had a Field Day at the school- complete with games, races, and of course FREEZE DANCE! We love having fun!


 School ended in June, and I packed up for the summer! These lovely friends sent me off at the airport, as I made my way back home for the summer!

I had the opportunity to make a quick stop in Amsterdam, and traveled into the city center for a few hours! It was my first time, and a beautiful morning. I meandered through the streets, stopped at a corner cafe for coffee and a croissant, and made my way back to the airport through the train station!

I am always so overjoyed to be reunited with my family! My mom welcomed me home with a sign and balloons, and we spent time as a family celebrating my dad's birthday with Shakespeare on the Green. NOT pictured: the unfortunate hailstorm that came later that night during our stop for ice cream!


 I spent time with my grandparents! We went to a fun local bakery and took a trip down memory lane with my grandparents on my dad's side.

Then, I went to a beautiful glass chapel with my grandma on my mom's side! It's right off the main interstate outside of Omaha, and it's absolutely stunning!
I got to spend some time with my besties, and celebrate my friend Emily by throwing her a bridal shower! 

We went on our annual family lake trip too!! It's always awesome to take some time away to relax, refresh, and spend time together! Boat rides, reading on the dock, and enjoying meals as a family are some of my favorite things to do at the lake!


It was so special to support Emily on her special day, and be a bridesmaid in her wedding!! She scheduled the wedding day so I could be there - and I was so glad to be a part of it. The whole day was BEAUTIFUL! I'm so thankful for her friendship! :)

I was able to celebrate my birthday with my family before taking off for Tanzania again! It is always special to spend time with them, no matter what we're doing! 

I jumped right back into the swing of things when I arrived back to my second home of Moshi, Tanzania! We spent the first week back at school getting to know the new staff and bonding through team building activities, worship, and more!

I also found out that I would be teaching fourth grade, and got to set up my classroom and prepare for my students. School started the last week of August!


We spent a lot of time reading the first month of school! I especially love the time after lunch I've carved out to read aloud to them each day. My fourth graders LOVE it when we read outside too!! Even more so when the power is off because it is HOT in our classroom (especially with sweaty kids!).

We LOVE visiting the Maasai Market in Arusha, a larger city a couple hours away from Moshi. There are endless Tanzanian treasures there, and I love bartering to get the best bang for my buck! We find so many beautiful things there. 

I have the opportunity to help teach art class at our school this year, and I LOVE it!! It is totally up my alley, and I love encouraging the students to let their creativity come out! We made masks with construction paper one week, and every mask was unique and fun!
 We LOVE playing games too! We visited some friends one weekend and played Heads Up. So much fun and lots of laughter!


My class LOVES science experiments...we had fun seeing how yeast reacts with sugar!
My friends and I took a fun day trip up to a place called Simba Farm - a couple hours away from Moshi. We stopped for a breathtaking view of Mount Kilimanjaro. I seriously can never get enough of this beauty!

The farm grows organic produce, and houses many animals too. We went on a walk around the farm before eating a delicious farm-to-table meal together!

Here's our group! It is an amazingly beautiful and serene place that I will definitely be returning to! You can even stay there overnight! I love finding these hidden gems while traveling.

Unfortunately my dear friend and our school director, Kara, left Moshi in October. It was scheduled, and we have great new directors, but I was so sad to see her go! She is an amazing friend, fantastic director, and wonderful woman of God. I hope to see her this summer! :)

We started working out after school with the women (teachers, cooks, etc.) at our school on Tuesdays, and it has been a lot of fun! We've been teaching them the correct way to do squats, push ups, and more. We usually download a YouTube video to project on the wall. Friends who sweat together stay together! :)

 Each month we have a dress-up day at the end of the month at school. October was Book Character Day! I dressed up as Fern from Charlotte's Web, and my co-teacher, Esther, was Mary Poppins!! So much fun!


 One of the BEST parts of my year was becoming an AUNTIE!! We welcomed my sweet nephew, Theodore Wallace, into the world on November 3rd! He is absolutely PERFECT. I was so sad to miss his birth, but ecstatic to be able to see him during Christmas break!

I was honored to be the Hope School employee of the month in November, voted by the other staff members. I love these people and am so glad I get to work alongside them each day!! They make life so much fun and my heart so full!
 The Jacaranda trees bloom in November, and drop their beautiful purple blooms all over. It looks like purple snow!! It makes landscapes in town even more stunning.


As the dry season starts, Kili is seen more often! I took a lovely Sunday morning walk and captured this beauty. God's creation never ceases to amaze me!
 We presented our Hope School Christmas play this month! I organized it, once again, but each teacher was responsible for their class's part! My students were the shepherds!! It was so much fun, and we loved seeing the uniqueness of each class, but coming together to share the Christmas story with our students' families and friends was so special too!

Animal Day is always a highlight! Our students are so creative!

The absolute BEST part of the month, and maybe the year, was coming home to the US for Christmas! Not only did I get a break from "eternal summer" as I like to call it, and enjoy Christmas with family and friends, I got to meet, spend time with, and snuggle my sweet nephew!! He is such a sweet boy, and he is our little Teddy bear!! Time with him makes it even harder to go back to Tanzania, even though I know that's where I'm supposed to be. I'm so thankful for the time I got to spend with him and my family this Christmas. It was refreshing, relaxing, and made my heart so happy! 

I hope you had a WONDERFUL 2017 and are looking forward to all that 2018 holds! I wish you a Happy New Year!!