Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall Freebies

Laura Candler at Corkboard Connections had the great idea of starting an October Learning link up!  Since this is such a fun time of year, I definitely wanted to join the fun.  You can click here for all of the links!

My free item is my October Creative Writing book.  There are 16 writing prompts that all have an October theme.  There are prompts about fall, fire prevention, and Christopher Columbus, and each prompt requires students to think outside the box.   I now have free books for October-May in my TpT Store.  I do plan to add a September version in the future.  You can click on the picture for your free copy!

I also have something for my math friends!  It is a very brief, yet fun, pumpkin measuring activity.  In this activity, students measure the weight, height, and circumference of two pumpkins and find the difference in measurements for each category.  Just click on the picture for your copy!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


When I moved from fourth grade to third grade and found out I had to teach Georgia habitats, I was at a complete loss.  I didn't grow up in Georgia and knew very little about the plants and animals that lived there, and I had no idea how to make the unit relevant and exciting to my students.  I thought about that unit all summer and finally had the idea of creating a Habitat Menu for my students.  I wanted to give my students options in the activities they completed for the habitat unit, so I designed the menu of activities that gave my students a variety of choices in the type of learning activities they could complete.  I began each science lesson with a brief mini lesson on the habit and then allowed my students to work at their own pace on their menu activities during their work time.

I designed my menus to look like real restaurant menus.  I folded a large sheet of construction paper in half and glued the cover on the outside of the construction paper.

Then I glued the actual contents of the menu (appetizer, main course, and dessert) to the inside of the construction paper.

There are a total of nine different activities my students can choose from with three different appetizer activities, three main course activities, and three dessert activities.  I give students one week to complete one activity from each category.

Students keep all of their habitat menu activities inside a habitats book that we made together.  There is a cover page and then five additional pages in the books.  I created the inside pages to have a pocket so that my students can keep all of their work organized. 

Here is the cover page of a student's book.

This the first page of a habitat book.  I used a large piece of construction paper for each page and folded the bottom third or forth up and stapled the sides together, to create a sturdy pocket.

All throughout the week, students work at their own pace research the habitats through books and online resources.

They then use that information to complete at least three activities of their choice.  This is an example of a collage that one of my students created.

I've used this idea for several years now and enjoy it more and more each year!  I've created a habitats menu for TpT that can be used for ANY habitat, not just Georgia.  If you'd like to take a look, you can click here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

October Writing Prompts

I first want to apologize that I did not complete my writing prompts for September.  I absolutely ran out of time.  One day I'll learn how crazy things are during the first weeks back to school and plan ahead, way ahead!  I did get the October questions ready a little early, so maybe you'll forgive me!  I have several really creative students this year, so I can't wait to see what they are able to come up with!
You can just click on the picture to download your booklet for FREE!

I also wanted to let you know that I've added a new version of vocabulary cards to my 3rd Grade Common Core Math Vocabulary.  I originally had four cards to a page, but my eyes must be getting old, because I started having a difficult time seeing them from the front of my classroom

This is the original version.
I used the same words and illustrations (with just a few changes) and made everything larger for the newer version.  
Both sizes are now included in the file, so if you already have them be sure to download it again for the newest version.  Hopefully it will be a long time until I need one card per page!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Halloween Excitement & Geography Freebie

There is just something about this time of year when I start getting excited about Halloween, Thanksgiving, and even Christmas!  I love, love, love all of the fun and craziness that the holidays bring.  Like most of you, my school is in a Common Core Standards craze, so I wanted to create something fun for Halloween that was specifically aligned to the Common Core Standards.  I decided to incorporate the Operations and Algebraic Thinking standards to create a collection of Halloween math lessons that can be used as center activities.

I've created one center activity for each of the nine operations and algebraic thinking standards, so there is a total of nine activities. 

The cover page for each activity includes the Common Core Standard and can be glued to a file folder.
There are also student directions that can be attached to the inside of the file folders.

You'll also find all of the task cards and materials, as well as a recording sheet for each activity.

I have to say that I'm REALLY excited to start using these centers in my classroom!  We still have to get started on our multiplication and division unit, but we'll be ready when October is here!  You can check it out for yourself here.

Geography Freebie

Last week on a whim, I decided to survey my students on a few basic geography ideas.  I gave them a pretest, and I was shocked at the results.  ~Grab your copy here!

I was blown away to discover that half of my students could not name the country they live in, so needless to say we backtracked a little and studied some of the basics.  We ended the week with a little activity to reinforce where we live.  I cut out six different size and color squares of construction paper and had students glue the squares on top of each other.  Then, they labeled each square starting with the city where they live and moving on to the county, and then state where they lived.  They loved this activity!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Getting Started

Since this is only our second week of school, I feel like I am just now really diving into our curriculum.  I've been really excited to get started with academics, but I know teaching procedures is essential, so I'll continue to teach them for the next couple of weeks.  I'm trying to be as explicit as I can to prevent chaos later in the year.  These are a few of the anchor charts we've made to use a visual reminders.  I'll leave them on our walls until I run out of room, and then I'll only display a select few.

I feel that place value is the foundation of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, so we've started the year with my Splash into Place Value unit.  Since my students will be tested on our state standards (even though we're teaching Common Core Standards) I'm teaching place value through the ten-thousands place rather than the thousands place. As you can see in the picture above, we've been practicing representing numbers through multiple representations.

In language arts, I'm starting the year with my Common Core Noun Unit.
To be perfectly honest, I've always dreaded teaching parts of speech, because it was so boring to me.  I know that if I was bored teaching it, my students had to be extremely bored learning it!  I have started integrating grammar instruction into our writing workshop, but I still see a need for additional activities and practice.  After some mega brainstorming this summer, I've written three different parts of speech units that are all based around the Common Core Standards:  Nouns, Verbs, and Adjectives/Adverbs.  When I first started unpacking the standards, I didn't realize just how much there was to nouns.  Students don't have to just identify nouns, they have to understand singular and plural nouns, as well as common and proper nouns.  There are also possessive nouns, which almost always confuse my students, and this will be the first year teaching abstract nouns.

I'm pleased with the finished product, and I think this will be a huge help for me as I plan my parts of speech units.  I'm really excited to have a collection of new activities to try out that will make learning parts of speech a lot more exciting for my students.  I feel that any lesson that is fun and relevant to students has a much better chance of finding its way into students' long term memories!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Whirlwind of a Week

There is nothing quite as exhausting as the first week of school.  It's funny how every year I forgot all that is involved the first days of the school year.   The good great news is that I think I'm going to have a wonderful group of students this year.  I have a lot of students with really fun personalities, which makes the year so enjoyable.  I've spent more time than usual this week on ice breaker and team building activities.  Today we celebrated the 3rd day in 3rd grade and had so much fun!  This was all of my students first experience with task cards, so I had teach teach HOW I wanted the task cards completed.  I think this will be great preparation for math work stations, which we'll start in a couple of weeks.

I also did one of my favorite team building activities today.  I gave each group a blank puzzle that was secretly missing one piece. 

 The groups worked together to complete their puzzles, but of course no one's puzzle could be completed.  Everyone was looking on the floor for the lost piece and asking other groups if they had the missing piece.  As soon as each group completed as much of their puzzle as they could, I called the class back together to discuss what the problem was.
I used this to illustrate that each member of the group is an important piece of the puzzle.  Each group member is needed to be present, participate, and a good team player for their group to be complete.  I then distributed the missing puzzle pieces and allowed students to decorate their puzzles as a team.  My students really enjoyed this activity, and I think that they understood the point of the lesson.

When we did this little activity from my Back to School Blast, I quickly learned that I need to teach students the difference between a city, state, and country.  I had so many students think that going to a different state was the same as going to a different country, so we're going to work on that next week.  My students also now think I'm awesome, because I can say the ABCs backward.  They thought that was the coolest thing ever!

It's been a fun week, and I'm definitely excited to really dive into our curriculum next week.  I hope to finish my major preassessments tomorrow and hit the ground running on Monday.