Making Math More Fun!

A colleague of mine attending a math conference a few weeks back shared with us lots of new math games that I thought I would pass on to you all. I feel bad I haven't been posting much lately, but this school year has been really stressful.

One game she taught us was called "Gobble, Gobble." This can be adapted for other holidays as well. Collect several empty, half-sized Pringles cans. Wash out and dry. Cover the outside with brown construction paper.Glue a turkey's head (any kind of turkey clipart). Glue to the front of the can and add feathers to the back side of the can. (Either use fake feathers from the craft store or just cut out of construction paper.) Now your game canister is complete!

Cut out small strips of paper with math equations on them. If you are studying addition, make addition cards; if you are working with your multiplication facts, make multiplication cards! On at least 10 of your cards, write the words, "Gobble! Gobble!" Place all of your cards in each canister.

How to Play: Pass out a turkey canister to small groups of students. Set your timer for 3 minutes. Instruct students that they are to pass the canister around the circle one at a time. When the turkey gets to them, they are to pull out one equation card. Next, they are to read the equation out loud to the group and answer the equation. If the group agrees that it is the correct answer, that person gets to keep their card. If the answer is not correct, that student may still keep their card, but the group must help them answer it correctly. Each group wants to continue passing around the turkey as many times as they can, collecting cards, before the timer runs out. But watch out! As soon as someone pulls out a "Gobble! Gobble!" card, EVERYONE must give their cards to that person! Continue play until the timer goes off. The person with the most amount of cards in each group is the winner! Play several 3 minute rounds for added enjoyment and learning.

Another fun idea is called, "Math Menus." I love this idea because of it's real world application to addition and subtraction of money. Go to your local restaurant and ask the manager if they have any food menus that they will be discontinuing or want to get rid of. (If not at the time, leave your name and number so they can call you when the time does come!) Take these menus back to your classroom and have a lot of real-world fun with your math lessons! For example, pass out the menus to your students and give them a math word problem such as, "You have $20.00. You need to choose something to eat for dinner and a drink. If you still have some left, you can order dessert. What items will you choose, and what will your change be?" They can even make up their own word problems! This works also really well as a great time-filler when you need something quick, but still have them learning! You could also use menus when doing an English lesson on adjectives and adverbs. What would a menu be like without them? They sure wouldn't be as appetizing!

I feel it's very important to teach math with games and interactive real world activities. You want students to be excited about math and games are a great way to help ignite the fire of learning! If anyone knows any fun games for teaching math, please share!

I hope you all have had a great Thanksgiving break! I know I have!

What's goin' on...

I know have I started that last 4 or 5 posts with, "I'm sorry it's been so long...," but I have just not had time to even dig a wedgie with all the work I have been up to my nose hairs in. This class has really been tough on me mentally with all the extra planning I've had to do to help cultivate this new crop. They are sweet as can be, but I have had and STILL have my work cut out for me!

We just started a fun little writing piece on "How to Make a Coke Float," since the kids have to know how to write a set of directions and use narrative transitions. I've modeled the steps of the writing process as we have progressed through and they have really enjoyed writing their pieces. We are in the revising and editing stages and they are so jazzed up to actually use their set of directions to make the coke floats!

We have been learning all about heat and matter in science. The day we talk about the three states of matter and how they change, we learn the Matter song to the tune of Three Blind Mice:

What is Matter? What is Matter?
Solid, liquid, or gas?
Solid, liquid, or gas?
It takes up space, it weighs something too!
It's everwhere that includes me and you!
Did you ever think such a thing could be true?
That is matter. That is matter.

Then we simulate what happens to matter when it changes from solid to liquid to gas. When particles heat up, they get faster and and spread out. When they get colder, they slow down and eventually can freeze if the temperature is cold enough. I have the students be the particles and we play a game. I call out a state of matter, and they have to do what the particles would do in that state. If they do the wrong thing, they are out and have to sit down.

We end the lesson with "The Particle Dance," which they love!

Hey, hey it’s the particle dance
Hey, hey it’s the particle dance

(Snap fingers)

I am solid I quiver and shake
Quiver and shake, quiver and shake
(put arms straight down by side and wiggle, a bit)

Hey, hey it’s the particle dance
Hey, hey it’s the particle dance

I am liquid I pour and flow
Pour and flow, pour and flow
(use hands and arm to make a flowing motion)

Hey, hey it’s the particle dance
Hey, hey it’s the particle dance

I am gas I pop and fly
Pop and fly, pop and fly
(tap shoulder and “fly” hands into the air)

Hey, hey it’s the particle dance
Hey, hey it’s the particle dance

I will be posting some math multiplication activities soon! Stay tuned...

It's been a while and I don't normally rant...

So, I know I haven't been great about posting lately, but I have been soooo overwhelmed and busy with school that I just haven't found the time. After sitting down with administration last week and expressing my concern and frustration with my high number of struggling readers, I have realized that I am not alone in getting these kids where they need to be. We, as a school, are all responsible for each and every child in our building. It was a relief to the say the least to feel the pressure lift a little. I plan on meeting with them next week to continue brainstorming what we can do to help them.

Of course, I still feel a tremendous amount of responsibility for them, but a colleague and I have come up with a plan. We don't know how this plan will turn out, but we have got to give it a try. I have a class of 15 3rd graders with 5 reading on a Kindergarten level, 4 reading on a 1st or 2nd grade level, 4 reading on grade level, and 2 reading above grade level. My colleague has a high class with the exception of a few. She suggested that we switch my 4 highest with her 4 lowest to make it easier to do groups during Guided Reading. That way, my high kids are getting challenged like they need to be able to grow and my low kids are getting the help they need to grow as readers.

I couldn't even believe she would offer to do such a thing for me. It is going to be very different in my room starting tomorrow. I will teaching basic decoding strategies and skills with texts on their lexile level. I purchased a 1 year membership to to help level texts to their level. I will be benchmarking all of the students tomorrow and Tuesday to see what level they should start out on in their groups.

I am very excited, yet nervous as to how the rest of the year will pan out and if this plan will work at all. If you have any ideas or suggestions for teaching these babies how to read, I'm all ears!!

P.S. I am digging, like for reals! If you haven't been there, CHECK IT OUT! It levels texts all the way the 5th grade and it has wonderful fiction and non-fiction texts for printing. It also comes with worksheets and activities for each and every book!

Also, a first grade teacher at my school suggested I read, "First Grade Readers," by Stephanie Parsons and it offered tremendous help in providing strategies for decoding and tackling tricky words. If you teach lower grades or have a class with low level readers, I recommend this book.

Explorers and Native Americans

We just recently began a new unit on Native and Americans and Explorers. We have had to integrate the unit with Guided Reading since our Guided Reading block has been consumed by RIT groups (leveled focus groups) based on the grade level MAP scores.

According to SC state standards, students are required to know and compare the culture, governance, and location of the three major Native American tribes in SC - The Cherokee, Catawba, and Yemassee. We read information about each tribe and highlighted information regarding the culture, governance, and location of each tribe and transferred it into a flipbook.

On the back of the flipbook, we made a map of SC and labeled the location of the three tribes. We came up with a symbol to represent and help us remember each one. The Cherokee invented their own written language, so many students drew letters. The Catawba were well known for making pottery, so several kids chose to draw pots. You get the idea...

This week, we have been focusing on reasons why explorers came to the new world. I came up with an acronym to help the kids remember the five major reasons why explorers came:



If you would like copies of the flipcharts I used for this unit, please click HERE!

We are learning about the 5 major explorers to come through SC, what country they came from, why they came, and what they did while they were here. We have been getting into reading groups to read the information sheet on each explorer. We highlight information that we are looking for and then transfer it to our Explorer Graphic Organizer.

If you would like any of the resources I have discussed today, please email me!

How do you teach explorers and Native Americans?

Strategies for Reading Unknown Words

After seriously reflecting on the reading levels of most of my students, I decided to spend a week doing reading strategies for "tricky" words. I was inspired by Sarah Cooley's blog post about things good readers do, which you can view here.

I am going to link to my wiki so you can browse all of the resources and use what you like. I have included the Reading Strategies Unit plans that I created, a reading strategies document, the flipchart that goes along with the entire unit, prefix/suffix passage, and context clues sheet.

We worked on chunking, context clues, and prefixes and suffixes this week. If you any other ideas you teach students for figuring out words, please share! I'll take all of the suggestions I can get.

A little ditty...

about properties of minerals to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat written by yours truly:

Hardness, odor, color, taste,
Cleavage, luster, streak.
Identify a mineral
by its properties!

We just finished a unit on Earth's Materials (Rocks, Minerals, Fossils, and Soil) and we learned this little song to help us remember the properties for identifying minerals.

Other fun activities we did:

1) Made a fossil to learn the difference between casts, molds, and imprints. Give each child a piece of clay and sea shell. Have them put vaseline on the sea shell and press into the clay. Gently pull the shell out and discuss that they made an imprint. Then, have the class fill the imprint with glue. It will take a few days to dry. Once the glue is dry, have kids pull the hardened glue out and discuss that this is the cast and the space left in the "rock" or clay is called the mold.

2) Brought in rocks from our neighborhood and sorted them based on their properties. i.e. smooth, rough, dark, light, shiny, dull, etc...

3) Mined raisins from cookies to model how rocks and minerals are mined from Earth's crust.

4) Drew sketches of rocks and minerals we observed in our science notebooks.

5) Learned about the three types of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and made tableau's (frozen pictures) to represent each one. We also modeled each type of rock using play doh. Have them form their playdough into the shape of three flatish rocks and place them on top of each other. Explain that over time, the weight of the layers of sediment causes the sediment to turn into hard sedimentary rock. Then, have student apply pressure with their hands to smash the rock. Explain that when you apply heat and pressure to a rock, it turns into a metamorphic rock. Finally, to demonstrate how igenous rock is formed, I ask kids what happens to play doh when it's left out over night. They always say it dries out and hardens. Explain that this is how igneous rock is formed. It is lava that has cooled off and hardened into a rock.

6) We made hand motions to help us remember the three types of fossils (cast, mold, and preserved part)

7) We observed the different types of soils and how tested how well they retained water.

What ideas or activities do you use to teach about Earth's Materials?

Properties of Addition and Math Games

Man, this past week was just crazy busy. I have been wanting to sit down and blog for several days, but I haven't even had time to scratch my head!

Anyway, last week we talked about properties of addition. I found a great flipchart on promethean planet (it's at the bottom of the link page) to introduce the properties and then Friday, we used dice to model the commutative and associative properties.

I had them draw a T chart with one side labeled commutative property and the other associative property. We spent about 10 minutes rolling two dice and writing the numbers two ways. Example: you roll a 5 and a 4. Students would then write 5 + 4 = 4 + 5 or you can have them write 5 + 4 = 9 and 4 +5 = 0.

After practicing the commutative property, we rolled three dice and worked on the associative property. Example: you roll 4, 3, and 1. Students would write (4 + 3) + 1 = 4 + (3 + 1) or they could write (4 + 3) + 1 = 8 and 4 + (3 + 1 ) = 8.

We didn't do much with the Indentity Property the second day everyone understood the idea that when you add 0 to a number, it stays the same.

Here is a link to some addition and subtraction games to help your students work on different skills. The only gameboard I don't have in the file is the Spin a Number board. I will try to scan it next week and post it for you kinder teachers.

These are some great Computer games for helping your kids practice addition and subtraction.

Songs, Poems, and Place Value

I was visiting Sarah over at Confessions and she got me thinking about songs. I teach with tons of songs, chants, rhymes, and poems to help my kids learn about all kinds of things. I have shared several with you since I began this blog, but I wanted to share an idea that some of our teachers use. The kids keep a notebook or 3 pronged folder with any songs or poems we learn in it. We go through and we practice the songs so we truly learn and remember them! I will share more new songs that I have written soon!

So, I finally finished the place value game file that I have been working on for the last week! The link is the word file in the last sentence. I think some people were having trouble finding it. It has place value games for all ages in it and some of them are quite fun! I have used several of them and think they are wonderful tools for teaching place value.

Let me know what you think! I have an addition and subtraction games file coming soon, so stay tuned! Hope you all have a fabulous week!

This week has been crazy...

I have been totally swamped this week and haven't really had the chance to sit down and write a decent post and I should probably be in bed right now...but, here I am blogging.

So, this will be short and sweet. I know I have posted a ton of Social Studies and Science activities lately, but they tend to be my favorite and the most fun! I'll be posting some Math Place Value games in the near future so be on the lookout!

We have been learning all about our state over the past couple of weeks. The regions, the rivers, the landforms, cities, you name it. We've learned it.

We took different colors of yarn and glued them on construction paper to show where our four major river systems are located. Here are a few:

To introduce the students to the 6 regions of South Carolina, I made posters for each one with pictures, phrases, and facts about each one. Students rotated around the room to each poster writing an I wonder, an I know, or a connection to each one. Here are a couple of the posters and some of the responses. (I apologize if you can't read what some of them wrote. Neither can I!)

And my final gem for the evening are the lovely tableau's my kids made after learning about the Blue Ridge Region of SC. We viewed a powerpoint with pictures and information about the region and I asked them to work with their group to come up with frozen picture of something they might do in the Blue Ridge Region. (Sidenote for all you non-South Carolinians who have no idea what the Blue Ridge Region is: This is a mountainous region. I'm not sure if mountainous is even a word, but you can hike to waterfalls, see wildlife, go canoeing, hunting, or sight seeing, and just enjoy nature here.) Here are the tableau's the kids came up with. I was soooo impressed at what they did and how quickly they were able to come up with what they did. But, then again, that's the great thing about tableau's is that they are a quick and easy way to assess what they learned. I also like to ask the rest of the class what they think the tableau is showing. They are all usually dead on!

In case you were wondering, the two kids on the floor are the fish in the river about to be caught by the fisherman! Sooo cute!!

These friends are canoeing together. I love the little sightseer with his binoculars and how the girls are paddling while the boys are just along for the ride!!! Adorable.

I will try to post more this weekend, but we have a new roommate moving in and it will be quite busy around here! Hope you all are enjoying your week! I am soooo ready for the weekend! Holla!

Context Clue Activities

As I promised Joan earlier this week? or last week? I am sharing some ELA strategies. Context clues are important in determining the meaning of words you don't know in a text and a very useful strategy for students to use when they are reading independently. Here are some activities you can use:

1. "What's the word?" - The teacher reads a story with omitted words. These omitted words are placed on index cards and given to the students. While the teacher is reading the story, the students focus on the comprehension of the story. When the teacher stops at a blank, the students supply the words that make sense. The students read their words to complete the sentence.

2. "I Have, You Have" Synonym game - The teacher will write the synonyms on cards. For example, the cards will start with something like, “I need to find some synonyms. Who has a synonym for big?” The next card will read, “I have large. Who has a synonym for small?” Next card, “I have tiny” and the game continues. (Same activity can be used for pronouns.)

3. "Be a Detective" - Give students a few sentences with underlined vocabulary words you want them to figure out. Make sure the sentences have clues in the sentence that hint at the meaning of the word. Have the students read the sentence with a partner or their group. Tell them they need to be detectives to find and highlight the clues/words/phrases in the sentences that help them figure out the meaning of each underlined word. I often use this activity when introducing a new set of vocabulary words. You may even want to let them use little magnifying glasses just to make it fun!
I am going to try to share some activities for each reading skill at least once a week. What activities do you use to teach context clues?

Back to School Fun

We've been doing lots of fun stuff since school has started back and I'd like to share a few of those fun things with you! First, Math can be a pain for some kids. I like to spice it up and play lots of games and do lots of hands on stuff. I think I mentioned a few weeks ago about the marshmellow place value idea, but are some pictures of that activity.

Another fun Math activity is the game Finish First. Partners share a game board where each side has 12 spaces (1-12). Each partner should have game pieces to cover up their numbers and one set of dice for the game. Partners take turns rolling the dice. They can either add, subtract, multiply, or divide to get an answer to cover up. The first time we did this, we just used addition and subtraction. The object is to cover up every number on your game board. If you rolled a  5 and a 4, you could add for a sum of 9, or you could subtract for a different of 1. They can only cover up one number though. The strategy here is to realize which numbers are harder to cover up (1's, 2's, 11, 12) since there aren't as many ways to make those numbers with the dice. The kids love this game! Here are some fun photos from the game!

We've also been doing lots of fun science experiments! One of my favorites is Boat Afloat. I allow each student to make a boat out of tin foil. I tell them that the object is for their boat to hold the most number of pennies without sinking. They had so much fun building and testing their boats! And of course, we recorded all of our data in our Science Notebooks! Here are some of our boats!

I believe the rectangle boat held the most pennies.

The kids had a great time constructing their boats and testing them! I had a lot of fun watching them! I'll post more later!
Now that school is in full swing, I am finding it hard to make time for blogging about the things I am doing in my classroom and the things I am learning along the way. I love my students to pieces, but good gracious they are sooo low this year. I have to take everything down a notch when I am teaching so that they are ALL with me. I feel bad for the couple of high ones I do have. They are probably bored out of their minds!

Anyway, onto the goodies for today. This week we have been talking about SC symbols. The state tree, bird, gemstone, etc...As a culminating activity to the two day lesson, students cut out pictures of the symbols and glued them into an outline of our state. I thought they turned out really cute and you can do this with any state! Here are a few examples:

I thought they turned out pretty cute!

I hope everyone is having a great school year so far! I'll try to keep posting on a regular basis, but I can't promise multiple posts per week. I'm a busy girl these days and I my students require ALOT of attention.

What's My Rule?

I learned this vocabulary strategy a couple of years ago and my kids love being the detectives and figuring out the rule!

Present kids with 5-6 clusters of three words from whatever story or novel you are reading. See if students can figure out the rule that ties them together. Let them guess a few times before revealing the rule.


bonnet, corset, hankie (things you wear)

emigrants, marmalade, silhouette (3 syllables)

hurricane, tornado, flood (disasters)

Your clusters of words probably won't be this different, I just wanted to give you an idea of what you could do.

Some other ideas for rules are plural nouns, places, jobs, etc...

What vocabulary strategies or activities do you use in your classroom that kids find entertaining?

Teaching Relative Location

Being at a Title I school is tough. Most of the kids have little knowledge about where they live, many don't get the support they need at home, and most of them have never even been outside their own little towns. It breaks my heart. I took a few students to the movies last year as a reward, and two out of the three said they had never been to a theater. I almost cried. I showered them with popcorn and soda until their little hearts were content.

Last week, we began reviewing where we live. We reviewed the continents and oceans (which many of them couldn't recall from second grade--I've got my work cut out for me...), we talked about what continent we live on, what country we live in, and which state, county, and city we live in.

Since third grade focuses on South Carolina history, I really want them to have an understanding of our state, what it looks like, WHERE it is in relation to our country, our continent, and the world. We looked at the shape of South Carolina and brainstormed a list of things it looks like. They said a triangle, pizza, a pie, an eagle head, an ice cream cone, etc...You get the idea.

Then, I had them get in groups of three or four and make a tableaux of South Carolina. Here is what they did.

They did such a good job! After this activity, I had them take a sticky note and draw a picture of SC without looking at a map. Inside the picture, they had to write two things they learned about our state. We still have a lot of work to do understanding our relative location, but I am ready for the challenge! I have a bunch of eager children and I'm going to give them everything I can!

Blog Awards!

I've been procrastinating posting about my blog awards, mainly because I didn't want to have to think of stuff to post about me and who else I think should get an award! Selfish, I know. Anywho, the Caffeinated Teacher has given me the Amazingness award and Confessions of an Untenured Teacher has bestowed on me the Versatile Blogger award.

I need to:

A) Thank the people who gave me the award.
B) Share 7 things about myself.
C) Pass the award to 15 others. (I'm gonna narrow this because I'm giving out double the awards!)

A. Thank the people!

First of all, thank you both so much for thinking of me! My goal when I started this thing, was to just be a resource for teachers who are looking for ideas and strategies to use in their classrooms. These awards make me feel that I have accomplished this goal or at least am well on my way!

B. Share 7 things. ( asked for it...7 things you never wanted to know about me!)

1) I have a freakish fascination with the show Monsters Inside Me on Animal Planet and have also become hopelessly addicted to Big Brother Season 12. I know, shame on me, right?

2) I eat grape jelly on my bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. People say it's weird, but I just think they don't know what they're talking about!

3) I am petrified of death by a killer asteroid and Bloody Mary.

4) I want to go on a tornado chase, which is ironic since my chances of dying in this situation are exponentially greater than death by a killer asteroid and even greater still that that of Bloody Mary.

5) I once asked a bum for money. Needless to say, he was none too thrilled. Yeah, I know I'm horrible. I can't explain why.

6) I recently convinced myself that there was a person hiding in my bathroom closet after my make up bag slowly fell over into the sink. (At the time, I didn't know it was my make up falling over). I'm not kidding though, I laid frozen in the bed for like an hour...

7) I have an obsession for Tudor history. I love me some "Tudors" on Showtime. I read all the books I can. I just find Henry and his wives fascinating!

C) Pass it on!

The Versatile Blogger Award goes to:

Babbling Abby
Classroom Confessions
Following the Footsteps
Is Our Children Learning?
Sneaker Teacher

The Amazingness Blogger Award goes to:

First Grader....At Last!
Notes From the School Psychologist
Regurgitated Alpha Bits
Science Notebooking
Teacher Stuff: Tales From a First Grade Teacher

I realize that some of these people may have already received these awards, but these are some of my top teacher friend blogs!

Science Notebooks

We have been setting up our science notebooks this week. I saw someone's blog that had the students cut out science pictures and glue them to the cover of their notebooks to make a collage and so I stole the idea! So glad I did! They turned out awesome! I had a ton of leftover student National Geographics and Scholastics and they went at it!

Here are a few--

Then, for the first activity in the science notebook, I asked all of the kids to draw a picture of what they thought a scientist looked like. (One girl asked me if her scientist could be a girl? Well, of course! Sooo cute.) After they drew their picture, they were then asked to write down any words or phrases that described what a scientist does. We shared as a class and came up with things like experiments, read, study, discover, create, ask questions, mix things, potions (haha), observes, etc...

I then asked them some of the following questions:

1. Do you observe things around you?
2. Do you ask questions?
3. Do you ever create things?
4. Do you study?

They sould start to realize that they ALL do these things, therefore everyone is a scientist! I Here are some of their drawings:

This one is supposed to show the scientist making an accidental explosion! HAHA I love these kids!

Do you use a Science Notebook? If so, what activities do you put in them?

 Here are a couple of great blogs about science notebooks.

My Science Lessons Blog (Great blog for lessons)
Science Notebooking (I totally love this one!) 

I survived!

First and foremost, I survived the first day back to school with the kiddies! **3 cheers for Ginger** Only 14 showed up on my doorstep out of the 16 I was supposed to have and that, unfortunately, only means one thing...I will be inheriting all the new kids. Ugh. But, my class was lovely, and sweet and I heart them already!

The worst part of my day was the afternoon dismissal, which was a huge honking nightmare and took almost an hour to get ALL the little car riders into their cars and gone!! I guess that's what happens when you test out a new method on the first day! Generally speaking though, the first week always takes longer than usual so I am hoping our new plan of action improves throughout the course of the week.

Second, I recently recieved two blog awards which I will hopefully get around to spreading by this weekend, because I just don't have the time to sit down and do it this week being the first week of school and all!

My feet hurt, my brain is disheveled from all the "what's to come" thoughts swimming around in my head, and I am utterly exhausted from today (but in a good way). I will try to post a few times this week, but we will see how much energy I have!

**Note to self and others -- Do not wear even the slightest high heels on the first day back to school. Bad idea. Very bad.

That's all the wisdom I can muster today.

Back To School Teacher Swap!

Jen, over at Following the Footsteps is hosting a Back To School Teacher Swap to share your favorite books for kicking off the school year!

I have a top 3 that I read each year. I will also be sharing pictures of my finished classroom since I didn't have any good ones on for the Classroom Tour!

My first back to school book is Crysanthemum. I love this book for the first day because it teaches about accepting the differences in others. Many of my students have names that I can't even pronounce so it's great because other students can learn that it's okay to have a unique name. There are tons of activities you can do with this book such as graphing your class names, doing making words with your name, sorting names, etc...

The second book I like to read is First Day Jitters. I enjoy having students discussing what jitters are and then writing down their own first day jitters. We always share them after!

I realize that the other two books are commonplace in elementary classrooms so this should be a bit of a change. My absolute favorite back to school book to read is Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Suess. There are soooooo many amazing things that you can do with this book and I'm going to share a few things that I am going to do this year since our classroom theme is Oh, the Places We'll Go in Third Grade!

* Have students write down their academic or behavioral goals for the year.
* Ask students to paint a picture of a place they want to go and write a few sentences about where they want to go, why they want to go there, and what they'll do there! (I will be doing this and hanging them outside my classroom!)
* Play Balloon Geography - Start by reviewing geography facts (continents, oceans, landforms, states, cities, etc.) Blow up a balloon and have the class stand in a circle. The object of the game is to keep the balloon from touching the floor, but every time a player hits the balloon they must name a geography fact. If they can't say one fast enough, they are out! I would focus on one topic at a time. Play one round of continents and oceans, then landforms, etc... This is a great way to review at the beginning of the year!
* Have students analyze different parts of the poem and discuss what they mean. For example, "You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a Lurch."
* Give students a copy of the words to the book and highlight the words that speak to them and how it relates to their own lives.
* Make a book jacket for the book based on the students own uniqueness and goals.

These are just a few fun things you can do with this book! Here is my outside bulletin board that I will hang their watercolor paintings.

And here are the pictures of my classroom I promised! This is the view of my classroom when you first walk in.

This is from the other side of the front of the room looking at the back.

This is from the back left corner looking to the front.

And this is from the back right corner looking to the front.

Here is my essential questions board at the front.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed my activities and classroom photos! We have our first day with kids tomorrow so I will keep you posted as to how the week goes!

Teacher Week: Online Resources

I am a little sad that today is the last day of Babbling Abby's Teacher Week! I have so enjoyed reading everyones ideas and viewing all the lovely little classrooms! On top of that, I've gained about 7 new followers! I want to take this opportunity to welcome you and I hope you keep stopping by and sharing your ideas and thoughts!

Today, we are sharing online resources and I have been so excited about sharing new ones that I have recently discovered! I posted my Top 10 Websites when I first began this blog, so I wanted to try to share some new ones that I have found useful.  

1. Delicious - This is a social bookmarking website that is great for accessing your favorite websites from any computer location. You never know when you will need one of your "favorited" websites, so this is just a good way to make sure you always have access to them. If you are familiar with PortaPortal, then this is very similar.

2. Curriki - This website provides amazing free lesson plans and resources for educators at all grade levels. I just recently discovered this one and thought it would be just like a lot of those not so great teacher lesson plan sites, but this one has it all!

3. Prezi - The coolest new way to create a presentation. I call it the next generation of presentations! You can see an example of one my prezis here. Soooo cool!

4. Critical Past - I also just recently discovered this website and I love it! If you teach Social Studies, this site will be your new best friend. There are about a gazillion video clips and images available in this database for use in your classrooms! The best part? It's freeeee! Unless you choose to download any of the material, in which case you must pay.

5. Creat-a-Graph - I love this website because you can quickly and EASILY make several types of graphs with just a few clicks of your mouse!

6. Knowitall - This is mainly a resource for teachers in South Carolina, but you may find some of the activities useful. If you teach 3rd grade in SC, you will love this website. It has so many grade standards based activities to teach your students!

7. Internation Children's Digital Library - This website is full of books available online from all around the world.

8. Prepdog - We use MAP testing to assess our students learning throughout the school year. This website contains practice test questions, education tools, and video tutorials for parents, students, and teachers! I always use this website to practice and prepare my students for the state standardized test.

9. Free Teacher Resources - Jam packed full of great stuff for teachers from lesson plans to professional development to worksheets! I'm lovin' it!

These are just a few more of my go to online resources!

Step into my classroom

It's day 4 of Teacher Week over at Babbling Abby's! You know what that means...Classroom Tour! I meant to take a bunch more pictures of my room today before I left, but I had some other things on my mind and so I forgot...

Here are the pictures that I do have! This one is a picture from last year of my promethean board. It's at the front of the room.

This is part of my reading area along with part of my desk area behind it.

This is the other part of my reading area...

One of my desk groups...and some other stuff in the background. (I promise better ones to come later.)
This is my back bulletin board featuring our lovely state, State Carolina! Oh, and the computers obviously.

I will post better pictures later this week. I was really meaning to take a picture of my welcome bulletin board on the outside of my classroom because it is soooo dang cute. I'll keep the secret for now...but you just wait til tomorrow!

Beginning of Year Activities and Icebreakers

I apologize for post number 2 of the day, but I want to share these since many of you are starting school soon or may have already and can still make use of some of these ideas.

I love the beginning of the school year! There is no pressure for testing, you can do more fun activities that you couldn't otherwise, and your classroom is typically behavior problem free for at least a month!

Here are some of the activities I have done or will be trying this year:

* Gallery Walk Consensograms - This is a great activity to get to know your students learning styles/likes/dislikes. Give your students a sheet of sticky dots and post questions with multiple answers all around the classroom. Sample questions:
  • What is your favorite subject? Math, Science, Reading, etc.
  • Which way do you most like to complete your work? Alone, In a Group, With a Partner)
  • My favorite reward is... Candy, Free Time, HW pass, Verbal Praise, etc.
* Musical Icebreaker - Embed music clips into a powerpoint or just play a selection of songs. I use about 5. Let them listen to the song for a minute or two and then write down a memory that the song makes them think of. I always give a few examples. Call on students to share. Tip: Try to pick songs that you know most of the children have heard of.

* Snowball Fight - Have students write down 2 facts and 2 opinions of themselves in random order on a sheet of notebook paper. Once they have all completed this, have them ball up their sheet of paper and have snowball fight for 2 minutes. When you call freeze, the students must pick up 1 snowball near them, open it, and read the statements. They must label the statements as either facts or opinions. Then, go around the room and have students try to guess whose paper they have! (I have never tried this one, so use with caution and have lots of rules! I will be trying this one this year!)

* Skittles Activity - Let students take as many Skittles as they want from a bag. For each Skittle they take, they must divulge one fact about themselves.

* Read, "Crysanthemum," and discuss what's in a name! There are more great ideas for this book at Jen's blog, Following the Footsteps.

* Teacher Scavenger Hunt - Every year, I gather a bunch of things that are important or that represent me and scatter them around the room. I have the kids walk around the room and try to find the important things about me! Once someone finds one, we stop, gather around, and discuss the item that is important to me. After this activity, the students are asked to create an about me bag in which they must fill with at least 3 important things.

What fun things do you do at the beginning of the year to "break the ice?"

Creative Ideas

Babbling Abby's Teacher Week topic today is Creative Ideas. (How about that use of alliteration!?) I am going to share some ideas of things I do in my classroom that make life a bit easier for me and hopefully will for you too! Some of these ideas are actually activities that you can use when teaching content areas.

1) Gem Jar - This is a classroom management idea I use to reward whole class behavior. I have a cut out of a jar taped to my whiteboard. There are also a bunch of magnetic gems. When the class WOW's me, I add a gem to the class jar. When other classes compliment our behavior in the hallway, the cafeteria, or Related Arts, I add a gem. When the class fills the whole jar, I let them vote on their class reward. We've done Pajama Day, Popcorn Party, Brownies, Ice Cream Sundaes, Movie, etc...

2) Flow Charts - I love flow charts! They are great for all subject areas and for classroom procedure. I made a flow chart this year for my morning procedure which is pictured below! I also have a print out of the flow chart for their PRIDE Planners. You can use flow charts for a ton of different math skills (adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, etc...) The possibilities are just endless.

3) Finger Language - I am sure many of you use your own version of this, but I like to keep it simple. I just have three hand signals. 1 finger for a question, 2 for the restroom, and 3 for using the trash can. I love not having children ask me if they can go do something. This way, I can just acknowledge their request in silence so as not to disturb the rest of the friends while their working. =)

4) Classroom Map - In third grade, we teach South Carolina history and geography. This year, I decided to make a blank giant map of South Carolina posted to one of the front bulletin boards. At the start of the year, we will mark our location and a few other major cities. As the year goes on, we will add important locations, events, regions, and people. For example, we teach about the 3 major Native American tribes in SC, so we will mark their locations as we discuss each. There are also 6 regions of South Carolina which will be added to the class map when we come to it. The map itself was made on laminated poster board. This way, I can write on the map with Vis-a-V or white board markers so I can wipe it clean at the end of the year and use it again!

5) 8 Step Model Drawing - This is the method used in Singapore where problem solving is a whiz due to the use of this method. I implemented it last year and have noticed a significant difference in my students abilities to understand and SOLVE word problems correctly. The thing I love most about this, is there are steps and children can feel successful when completing the steps. For more information on Singapore Math, visit this link. I purchased this book to help guide me last year when I was just starting out. I really recommend it!  

6) Wheel of Choice - This is an idea I got from a previous teacher to help children learn to solve their own problems instead of always "tattle-telling!" This is a great idea for students to build a better classroom community and teach kids more responsibility for their actions. This isn't my actual wheel (mine has more choices), but this is a good example. My students are told to try two strategies to solve their problems before they come to me to deal with the situation. This rule obviously doesn't apply to situations that are more serious. The trick is to teach them the difference between serious offenses and minor ones that can be solved on their own.