Monday, December 15, 2014

Gingerbread Madness

We have begun to build our traps! My kids are so excited and have been fully immersed into capturing the cookie! We collected any and all recycling materials that the students brought in to build with. I did pre-warn the students that we were going to create a stock pile of materials for all of the students to use and that they may not get their particular "recyclables" back !

Here is a look at our stock pile!

I was so impressed with my kids when we started to create- there was no fighting! They were helping each other out - and just having fun!  As a teacher, it was a great moment!

We are on step 4 of The Engineering Design Process!

Gingerbread Man STEM Activity   Check out the entire project here!

Happy Holidays


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Trap that Treat!

It is that time of year again.... Time when my classroom gets taken over by the Gingerbread Man and we have to design a contraption to trap him! I love this unit... the students are so engaged, and during this time of year that says an awful lot!!

Each student colors and decorates a gingerbread man that they have to design a working trap to catch him. I let them work in pairs or small groups. We discuss the Engineering Design Process and walk the kids through it. Then let them loose and see what they can come up with!

                         *Ask    *Brainstorm     *Plan     *Build/create     *Improve

This year we are doing a few things differently...

I put together a fun resource packet for the students to use while doing this project and we added a How To writing piece with a craftivity to display on our bulletin board. 

I am very excited about our How To writing piece that we added this year! I can't wait to see the finished product and how adorable they are going to look hanging up on the bulletin board!

I will keep you up to date on our progress, until then... Happy trapping!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Got Dice??

Do you love playing math games with dice as much as I do? It is such an easy way to differentiate your math instruction. However, I was always digging down into my big canister of dice to get the right dice for the right game or to match the dice with the students. I knew I needed a better solution.... Tada!!!!

This used to organize plastic letters for Word Work during The Daily 5. However, my students have their own magnet boards with letters, so I decided to donate the plastic letters to my friends in first grade and organize my dice in the container instead. I have a variety of dice and this lets not only myself but my students see exactly which ones they need and where to put them back. I also have some bingo chips and pennies in there for cover games or Bingo.
Our class also likes to make up games so at the top we have wooden blank dice that with a Sharpie and some imagination we can create the dice we need.

Have a Terrific Tuesday.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Small Moments

I have begun to implement Lucy Calkins Units of Study in my third grade class and was fortunate enough to go to a one day seminar with Lucy. If you have never been to her web site I highly recommend it as it has a wealth of information and resources. The Reading and Writing Project You can also check out Lucy's Units of Study site for a grade by grade description and more resources! My favorite lesson so far has been on small moments. To take a snippet of an event and stretch it out, to make time stand still and things move in slow motion.

I chose The Snow Globe Family as my mentor text and we created a list of activities and vocabulary that might be useful to the students to incorporate in their stories.
The students were instructed to pick an activity that they would want to do if they lived in a snow globe and to concentrate on just that activity. They were not to be reporters or list makers...
First the snow came down. Then I went out in the snow. I went sledding down the hill. After that I got cold so I went inside. That is how I would spend my day if I lived in  a snow globe. This type of writing was not acceptable and it was difficult for some of the students to break that habit. However, after some coaching and peer sharing their writing took an amazing turn for the better!
Here are some of their small moment writing...
I ran downstairs to wake my baby brother and my older sister when... Shake! Shake! Shake! I managed to think, "Blizzard" before all of us were blown out of the house. My baby brother awoke with a jolt. My sister was still snoring in midair! My brother, Jake, grabbed some snow and, winking at me, hurled it at my sister. It hit her splat in the face. She got mad! (I don't know why, she did worse to us) Then she chucked a snowball at both of us. They missed. My brother and I chucked more snowballs at her. The force of them crushed her into the house wall. At the same time, the snow globe tilted one way and stopped. Our sister hurled snowballs at us. We ducked and made a giant snowball (well, not giant to the big people) but big. We rolled it down at her. Fear, anger, hate, indignation and horror mingled. For a moment she looked faceless, then the snowball ran her completely over. I was filled with happiness at getting my sister back and I am pretty sure Jake felt the same way. He jumped around, positively whooping! My sister roared and chucked two snowballs at once at us. We flung more snowballs back, throwing blasts of snow at her face. The air became filled with snowballs. The door opened and my mom came out and everything froze..... "Time for lunch, everybody!" said our confused mom. We followed her inside. It certainly had been a crazy day.
I also created a small mini unit to go along with the story, that includes literacy activities, writing ideas, and graphic organizers. Check it out here.
The Snow Globe Family

Enough about winter.... Think Spring!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Got Grit??

I was lucky enough recently to participate in a book study at my school. We met every Wednesday morning before school and discussed How Children Succeed by Paul Tough . Some of our discussion were quite lively and passionate, but my favorite chapter and discussion was on GRIT!

What is grit? Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth gave a recent TED Talk on the subject:

I have begun to introduce this subject of Grit to my students and their families. We have been watching some of the Olympic footage and looking for examples of grit. The best example so far is US Men's Figure Skater, Jeremy Abbott! Before watching the video we talked about how hard it is to get to the Olympics, the sacrifices the athletes and their families make, and the amount of daily practice they put in to be the best. Then we watched Jeremy skate his short program....

Then we talked about how he finished the program.... No it wasn't the skate he was looking for and some people may even say he failed but if you ask my class he won that night. I asked the question to them... Was he successful? Why or why not?   Here were some of their responses...
     *He didn't give up               *He finished what he started       *This was his dream
     *He overcame the fall and didn't fall again  
     *That must have been so hard for him to keep focused but he did

We then used The Grit Scale from Dr. Duckworth as our guide and continued our conversation. Sometimes it is about more than just a medal.... sometimes it is about GRIT !!

Only 1 student thought he failed..... I am working on him.. :-)

Have yourself a gritty day !!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gallon Man !!

I feel like I should be singing a superhero theme song.... 
Gallon Man..... 
Gallon Man.....
 He makes liquid measurement easier to understand.....
 Gallon Man..... !!!

My class has been studying liquid measurement and let's face it, it can get a little confusing. How many cups are in a pint? How many pints in a gallon? How many pints are in a quart?
 Enter Gallon Man! 

This cute hands on activity helps students answer those questions. I gave the students a set of handouts for them to color. They could color it any color they wanted but all the quarts had to be the same the color, pints the same color, and cups the same color. In years past we would make Gallon Man, hang him up and call it a day. However, this year I made extra copies on card stock and as part of my guided math groups they must remake Gallon Man. At first I got the typical complaints,  but now they look forward to it and have begun to time themselves to see who can recreate him the fastest! There are so many versions all over the internet but Laura Candler has an easy to follow pattern free of charge!

I also use interactive notebooks in my classroom, I just love them! We create the Big G to add to our book. The Big G is another great visual for students to refer back to and for them to visualize if they need to. 

Have a fabulous day!


Monday, February 10, 2014

The Snow Globe Family

     Winter got you down? Kids getting antsy? I know my students are! So while scanning my favorite website... Pinterest... I came across all kinds of cute and fun snow globe activities. I decided to use The Snow Globe Family by Jane O'Connor and S. D.  Schindler as my mentor text and came up with a couple of activities that align with the Common Core to beat the winter blues.

Check it out at The Snow Globe Family

This is just one of the many activities that are included in the mini unit

Here are some of the fabulous ideas that I found on Pinterest....

I love this idea from Babbling Abby ! What a great and cute way to brainstorm ideas. She also had her students create their own snow globe.

This is from Fabulous in Fourth 

Have the students pose for a picture in their snow gear and take their picture. They can create a snow globe using a clear plastic plate as the "dome" of the globe! Display their writing and their globe together! Love it!

If you search for snow globe writing activity on Pinterest you will have so many to chose from!
Have fun and think Spring!


Thursday, January 2, 2014


     My class struggles with informational text. Many of them need additional practice with identifying nonfiction text features and would rather do anything else than that.  I put together a fun worksheet that I plan on using during my next guided reading lessons. The students will be given a type of informational text; for example the latest National Geographic, and together we will identify and graph 8 different nonfiction text features. After we have completed one together, the students can go back and try it on their own. At our next meeting, we can go over and compare our graphs. As the students become more proficient, hopefully their confidence will increase and carry over. For an extension, we can take the information in our graphs and create pie graphs, line graphs, or line plots. Might as well kill 2 birds with 1 stone!

     Here is a look at the sheet !

Please head over to TPT to grab a copy for free!! 

Have a great day!