Sunday, April 8, 2018

Animal Vocabulary and Rubber Band Books

Lions and tigers and bears....oh my!! Yes, my kids are WILD about animals.  We are studying animals and their amazing adaptations.  We've learned that ducks have oil glands to keep themselves dry, that rabbits run in zig zag motions to outmove their predators and so much more.

We are learning about how different animals are suited for different habitats.

Students are preparing to begin researching an animal.  They will become an expert on it and then teach us all they have discovered. 

But before I set them on their own to dig into books and nonfiction articles, I must teach them some content specific words.  This will help them as they read texts about animals.  Then I want to see them using these vocabulary words when they speak and write about their animal.
There are a TON of them!  We are creating an mini animal glossary booklet to help us keep them all straight. 

We view information on a set of slides and then students illustrate each word.  These are meaningful illustrations and through their drawings they must demonstrate their understanding of the term. 

We cut them all out and then we must put them in alphabetical order...just like a real dictionary or glossary.  

We glue them into the pages of this little rubberband book.  This is the perfect size!

Have you made this type of book before?  They are super simple. Once you show your kids, they will want to make them again and again.

I use the jumbo index cards that measure 5 inches by 8 inches. 

I fold the number of card I need for the book and cut a small slit at the top and bottom of the crease.

I used these cheap hair ties that I found at the dollar spot at Target to bind the pages.

And there you go, a great little booklet.

If you teach an animal unit and are interested in creating an animal dictionary or glossary, you can check here for the slides and cards.
Animal Unit Vocabulary Words and Slides

Animal Vocabulary Cards and Slides

Monday, April 2, 2018

Ancient Civilizations: Studying Ancient Greece

Hello Friends!  Unfortunately, it's a cloudy and cool first day of Spring Break in my neck of the woods. Fortunately, that gives me an opportunity to stay indoors and finally blog a post or two. 
I'm hoping to document some of what my third graders have been into this year before we say goodbye to the school year.  Has time been on fast forward for you? 
It seems like it goes by faster each year.  

Our state standards in the area of Social Studies have changed and now we are responsible for teaching five different Ancient Civilizations.  We have recently finished up the study of Ancient Greece. 

One of the first things I do in preparation for teaching anything in the content areas, is check out a wide variety of books on the subject.  My kids love picking books to read from our classroom library section.  For the study of Greece, I also added myths and Aesop's fables.  Aesop was a Greek slave who was believed to have told these short stories to teach his listeners lessons. 

We continue to add sections to our learning logs.  Students will go home with a journal that is stuffed with all the science and social studies learning we have done this year.  
It is the first year I have put all of it together in one journal but I really like having it all in one place!

Their journal notes serve as their study guides for our unit tests.  

I like to have my students read and write through the social studies curriculum. 
We continue to work on paragraphing using main ideas and details. We use a table organizer for this with the main idea as the table top and the details as the legs that hold up or support it.   I scaffold the instruction by giving students a bank of words that can and should be used.  They work on combining words to form sentences that will support their topic sentence.  

For this final activity, students decorated an orange pot with a scene from Ancient Greece. 
Then they described what they discovered about Ancient Greece by writing about it.  We hung these up as a way to remember all that we learned. 

Writing postcards for one of the ancient Civilizations was another way we concluded our Ancient Civilization unit.  Students needed to pretend they were a visitor in Ancient Greece and write about what they saw and did.

Finally, students partnered up and were given a bridge map to contrast a relating factor of two of the ancient civilizations that we have studied so far. 

Some of the relating factors were location and physical characteristics. 

Others were architecture and contributions. 

I've added a Greece file to my TPT store. It includes all the teaching slides and pages for learning logs. 
You can check it out here if interested: 
Ancient Greece Slide Show and Materials Bundle VA SOL Aligned

Sunday, March 4, 2018

St. Patrick's Day for Third Graders

It's March and boy did it come roaring in like a lion! 
In fact, many schools in Virginia were closed this past Friday due to high winds, falling trees and power lines.
Things have calmed down since then and I'm so excited to see some signs of spring!
This month we are working on writing book summaries as a way to share books with each other. 
My kids LOVE their BAM  (Books And Me) Time.  This is the time of day when they can pick and choose their own books.  

To make them accountable for reading through their books, I will have them respond to their reading in different ways. 
We will be working on book reports this month in which they are required to summarize a fictional book using the 5 story elements. 

Teaching with Props: Summarize with a 5 Finger Glove

After lots of shared writing practice, most students are independently writing summaries and are using them to tell others about the books they read. 

We will create these little leprechauns to go along with our book sharing display.

I've bundled this book report frame with some other St. Pat's Day goodies. 

My students will add this leprechaun poem to their poetry anthologies. They will have fun using the clues in the poem to make their mind movies and draw their leprechaun. Then they will get practice using different reference books as they complete the follow up.

I've add a language arts "pit stop" that I give my students to check up on their writing and editing skills. The first part is an editing activity in which they have to correct mistakes involving punctuation, capitalization and spelling. They rewrite the sentences after "cleaning them up". Then they will write a few sentences to a prompt so I can gauge their sentence writing skills. Finally there are three questions related to word knowledge and grammar.

Check out the link below to grab this free St. Patrick's Day file!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How to Master Multiplication and Have Fun Along the Way

My third graders are most excited to learn "Big Kid" how to write in cursive and how to multiply.  Actually, they start excited and then begin to realize that both can be challenging if you are not willing to put in the time to practice.  I have heard it said that "practice is the mother of skill". I would have to agree.  So we are practicing up a storm as we work on mastering multiplication. 
I'm always on the hunt to find resources to make what could be tedious practice more fun and engaging. I hit the jackpot with the book, Mastering the Basic Math Facts in Multiplication and Division. 
It is by far my favorite go to book for strategies and activities to help my students "move beyond the memorization of the multiplication facts".  I love, love love this resource! It includes all that you need to make moving through the facts engaging and meaningful.  There are literature connections for each set of multiples, real life application activities and games to reinforce the learning.  

 Our math standards focus on using models to represent the facts.  Using the set, array and number line models help to reinforce the idea that multiplication is repeated addition. 

Along with the models, we analyze the patterns as we work through each set of multiples. 

Working and playing with their flashcards helps them to build their speed and automaticity. 

We're tracking our progress with the facts by adding a bubblegum sticker for each set of multiples we master. 

I am so proud of the way they are focused on this goal. It's amazing what they will do for bubblegum and a sticker!

They will often pull from the "On My Own" tray during wise choice time without me even suggesting. 

Partners and games help to keep the practice playful and lively. 

I've added the flashcards and modeling pages to my TPT store. 
You can check it out here if interested: 

Do you have a favorite resource for teaching and reinforcing the multiplication facts? 
I would love to hear!
Comment below or email at

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Valentine's Day

Here's a quick post on Valentine's Day. I'm off to Target to find a few goodies for Valentine's! I'm not doing too much for students. My thought is they will get enough sweets as it is and with V Day being on Tuesday, I'll be the one living with the aftermath all week long. Instead I'm giving them a Homework Pass Scroll down and grab a copy of it if you wish. Kids and their parents love this gift!

Here is the Valentine holder my third graders make. It is pretty simple and big enough to handle the cards they get. Third graders still get into making and decorating for this holiday. I know mine will be thrilled if I give them time to make these.

Here is the Valentine's Day poem I'll be doing with my kids. They will cut and glue the poem into their Poetry Anthology. I love Jack Prelutsky. He has awesome poetry books for every holiday.

This set has been added as a FREE product in my TPT store!
Click the link to check out the file!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Groundhog Day: Math/Language Arts: Free File!

Groundhog's Day is Friday.  We have  NO time to devote to celebrations such as this one, unless I can figure out a way to integrate it into what we are already learning about. 

Since I read aloud daily, I will be sharing this one on February 2: 
Image result for phyllis groundhog

I created a foldable reading response booklet with questions related to the book. 
Students will get practice in summarizing and identifying character traits. 

During my reading rounds, students can read and respond to a fun poem. 

We'll add some groundhog problem solving into our math station work as well. 
All these materials are included in this free file. 
Head to my TPT store to grab it. 

Groundhog's Day: Poetry, Reading Response Booklet, Math and More!