Thursday, May 30, 2013

Big Al: The Perfect End of Year Activity!

Happy Thursday!

I wanted to pop in and share an activity I did with my class today that is PERFECT for the end of the year. My professor in college (the same amazing one who shared the class meeting ideas) did this with our class several years ago and I love it!

I started off by reading the picture book Big Al by Andrew Clements- yes, Andrew Clements! My kids LOVE Andrew Clements (he wrote the very popular book, Frindle) and we read his chapter books throughout the year. The kids loved to hear that he also wrote a picture book!

The story is about Big Al who is a big, clumsy, scary-looking puffer fish who incapable of making friends because everyone is so afraid of him.

But after he saves a large school of fish from being captured by fisherman's net, he becomes a hero and is loved by all. The story is just too cute. It's a great lesson about acceptance and the kids are always captivated by it.  And who could resist adorable Al?!

To start, I hid the book cover in a file folder and read the story without showing the kids any pictures at all. We stopped at crucial parts to talk to our partners, make predictions, and discuss the turning point. The  *fun* part of the lesson came at the end.

I gave each group one large piece of blue butcher paper, lots of various colors of construction paper, and glue. They were charged with the task of creating what they thought Big Al looked like using tear art. They worked together (with some pushing and prodding on my part ;) ) to create their version of Big Al.

Each group's creation was unique. They turned out great!! I have to share all of them! 

At the end, I did a big reveal of what Big Al actually looked like and the kids were excited to see that they were pretty close!! 

If you need a fun, engaging, give-the-kids-a-chance-to-talk-but-still-think activity for the last few days of school, this is it!!! Thanks, Mrs. Duhon, for the great idea!!! 

That's it for me tonight! Just a few more days for me to enjoy all of these amazing kiddos. I'm going to miss them so much!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five for Friday May 17th: Tour the States, Class Meetings, and Other Randomness

OMG is the week actually over?! It felt like it lasted ten years! I'm not sure how this teacher is going to make it through THREE MORE WEEKS of school. In times like these, I turn to my most trusted personal advisor:

As she would say, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" If that doesn't make you smile, I'm not sure what will!

I'm linking up with Doodlebug's Teaching again for this week's Five for Friday! Let's see if I can find five sharable things from this week.... (might be hard to do)!


We were up to our ears in crocodiles and alligators this week. We're taking a field trip on Monday to the Houston Crocodile Encounter and the kids are seriously about to die from excitement. So, to prepare, we had to learn as much as possible about these oh-so-adorable creatures. Did you know that an alligator can go up to two years without eating?! ME EITHER!

Tour the States

To give our little third graders a bit of geographical awareness, we have been studying our country and learning the states and capitols. Last week, Sabra from Teaching With a Touch of Twang shared this awesome video and I finally had time to show it today. I think it would be fair to say we watched at LEAST five times. It's addicting. It's stuck in my head. But I love it. The kids fell in love and seriously tried to learn the words, which melted my heart. They would stumble and mumble through the verses and then burst into glorious harmony on the chorus. It was beautiful! The remembering of the states and capitols will come soon, I'm sure of it!! ;)

You can get a copy of the lyrics HERE.

And for some reason my class wanted me to take a picture when we were watching it. So, in case you didn't believe we actually watched it (lol), here is our proof! By the way, this is the DARKEST my room ever gets.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

One afternoon, we took some time to remember all the fun we have had this year. I made up this little sheet to record our thoughts. It was interesting to see what they remembered. This sheet is nothing special, but it serves the purpose!

Click HERE to get your own copy!

New Class Meeting Options

In our class, we have class meetings. At this point in the year we are having them daily! Most of the year we have them once a week or so, depending on what's going on and if we have a need for it.

The first thing we do in every class meeting is go around and share how we feel. We use two things to do this: Weather Report and Tribbles. Both of these ideas were given to me by my professor in college. I'm not sure where she found the weather report idea- I have looked all over and haven't been able to find it. If you know who originally came up with this, let me know and I will give credit where credit is due! I have been using the same two pieces of paper for several years, and they were starting to look pretty shabby. So, I decided to recreate them and give them a much needed update!

Weather Report is pretty simple. They choose the weather condition that best depicts how they are feeling that day and explain why they are feeling that way. 

Another option we use is called Tribbles. To be honest, I have never seen Star Trek *gasp* but from what I've seen online, they are small furry fictional creatures.... my professor called them Tribbles when she introduced this to us in college and I have used it ever since! And surprisingly, none of the students have ever asked me why they are called Tribbles! Again, I'm not sure where the original idea came from, but I was able to find the little guys HERE. You will have to color them with crayon, so you can make them any color you like!

To pick up your own copies of these, click HERE 

Need I say more?!

If you are still with me after this mammoth of a post, thank you!! Be sure to grab all of your freebies and then head over and link up yourself!! 

P.S.- I totally copied the way those amazing girls over at Collaboration Cuties, Amanda and Stacia, do their Five for Friday posts with the numbers! I hope they don't mind!! ;) I finally have a use for those cute numbers!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Help! I Need Ideas!

Is it seriously only Tuesday?!? This week is going to be a long one!!

Before I get off on a tangent about how D.O.N.E my kids are, I have a dilemma and I am hoping someone out there has some advice for me!

This year our school is not making yearbooks. We never make money on them and it's a lot of work for very little gain. I put in HOURS of work on the yearbooks last year and we sold less than 50. Boo! However, my kiddos were really disappointed when somehow the topic of yearbooks was brought up in conversation (don't ask me why or how) when we were *supposed* to be discussing why crocodiles lay eggs. ;)

Anyway, I'm thinking that maybe there is a way I can make them myself and give them to the kids as a special surprise the last week of school. SO-  I need some help! Do you have any tips, suggestions, ideas that would help me with this task??? I need something that's not too incredibly expensive... I would like for the "yearbooks" to be in color, but at this point, I'll settle for whatever! It may just have to be black and white with construction paper covers... whatever I can do!

If you have ANY suggestions, please let me know!!!!! Thanks a million!!!

Hang in there... just a few more weeks!!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Math Mentor Text, and French Fry Prefixes!

Happy Mother's Day!!! I hope all of you are either giving or getting lots of love today!

I'm excited to be linking up with Amanda & Stacia @ Collaboration Cuties again this week for their Must Read Mentor Text linky! This week is math!

The book I chose to share is called The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins.

This book is PERFECT for introducing division. Kids are at their grandma's house ready share her delicious, fresh-baked cookies between themselves, but the doorbell keeps ringing and more kids keep coming, and they have to continually work to share the cookies between them equally.

I use these cookies (that I just print, laminate, and add a magnet on the back) on my white board as we read the book together. As a new kid comes, we move the cookies around to make the correct number of groups. Get your copy of the cookies HERE.

Students see how one set of objects (cookies) can be split evenly between different numbers of people. Of course, cookies are engaging on their own, but it's always great to follow up the lesson with REAL cookies that students have to divide between them.

I'm also excited to announce that I have FINALLY made a new product! I haven't made anything in a few months!

I was shopping at Target yesterday and saw these adorable French fry containers.

I knew I had to have them, and last night I figured out what to do with them. Practice prefixes!!

It's a fun and delicious way to practice adding prefixes to words! If you are interested, you can check it out in my STORE. However, I will be giving this away to the first three people who are interested in having this and leave a comment! Be sure to leave your e-mail address in your comment!

Have a great Sunday! Head on over and link up with your favorite math text!
 I'm off to spend time with my amazing mommy!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dazzle on a Dime, Forced Analogies, and a FREEBIE!

A few weeks ago I went to Region IV to get my GT update hours and I was not disappointed! The training I experienced was engaging and I came away with TONS  of practical ideas to implement in my classroom.

The presenters were Deanna Allison and Paula McClendon of Dazzle on a Dime.

These wonderful ladies guided us through several of their techniques that they have creatively named the "iDazzle Apps." Each "app" is a different technique or method that can be applied to any subject area and will add a little "dazzle" to your instruction. The connection to the iPhone will definitely excite the kiddos!

The techniques they included in their presentation are practical, easy to use, and effective. They are applicable for all kids, but can easily be differentiated for gifted learners. They provide the perfect outlet for creativity and create opportunities for students to display their learning in different ways.

They have several downloadable products in their e-store that apply the apps to specific content areas. I have my eye on several products that were designed specifically for third grade curriculum in Texas. Yay!

Not only have they created these wonderful techniques and products, but they have put together a fabulous website that provides all kinds of other resources for each subject area for FREE! It's obvious they have put lots of time into gathering the best ideas and they have put them all in one place- which is perfect for us busy teachers!

 This is only part of their science page. It's full of great links! No, I am not getting paid to advertise for them, I just genuinely loved their presentation and feel compelled to share!

It's worth your time to check out everything these ladies have to offer. If you're in Texas, check your regional service center sessions because they may be coming to your area soon! You won't want to miss what they have to share!

Until then, check out their website for some fabulous ideas!

Recently, I tried using one of their strategies in my classroom and the kids LOVED it! It's called Forced Analogies. Forced analogies take two things and compare them using the format: _____ is like _____ because they both ______. The strategy is so versatile and it really makes kids (and teachers!) think.

Because I love this strategy so much, I created a file that contains 30 analogies. Here's a sample of what's included:

Included in this file are 10 analogies comparing various things, 10 math related analogies using geometric shapes, measuring tools, and numbers, and 10 grammar related analogies using adjectives, adverbs, verbs, etc. 

The students can think of the most basic ways the two things can be similar (they both start with 's'), or they can come up with creative answers. The goal is to come up with as many answers as possible. It's great for all types of learners and really gives your gifted kiddos a chance to tap into their creativity. It's also a great thing to pull out when you need to fill an extra five minutes! 

Grab your copy HERE!

If you have any issues downloading it, e-mail me and I can send it to you via e-mail. 

I'm looking forward to creating other things using the strategies these wonderful ladies presented about! 


Friday, May 10, 2013

Five for Friday May 10th

This has been one crazy, long, emotional week for me! I'm so tired I couldn't even come up with a creative name for this blog post!  I think I might just call and schedule myself a massage RIGHT NOW! The tease of a massage I got from my awesome partner during conference today wasn't quite enough to work out all the kinks!

Anyway, it's Friday, which means it's time to link up with Doodlebugs!

1) Snowballs!

This week I pulled out one of my favorite tricks- the snowball fight! We used this to practice contractions and of course the kids were in love. Throw a snowball, pick it up, write the contraction. Simple.  Of course, they had to make sentences with all of those wonderful contractions! They weren't getting off the hook that easily!

2) Class store with student-made products!

I let my little ones use a little creativity this week and create some products to add to our usual selection at our class store. They designed a product, created a short "commercial," and sold their products to the rest of the students. They were so cute and creative!

3) Happy Teacher Appreciation Week- to myself!!!

I decided to treat myself and bought books on Amazon- some that have been on my wish list for awhile now and some that I saw last week on a mentor text link up. It's pathetic how excited I get over brand new books! My favorite one is called If I Built a Car. I can't wait to read this to the kids in a few weeks and have them design their own car! Thanks to AMC from Looking From Third to Fourth for sharing!

4) Writing Offices

I finally made writing offices!  I have wanted to make them all year, but never got around to it. They are a little bland right now, but I really just wanted to try them out and see how I would like them. I love the way the room feels when they are up, and the kids like them, too! These little babies will definitely be something I use starting at the beginning of the year next year!

I used this adorable COPS sheet from The Eager Teachers in the offices. Click on the link to get your own copy!

5) Chipotle!

My teammate and I enjoyed the buy one get one free offer from Chipotle this week for Teacher Appreciation Day. Delicious!

Alrighty- time to make a date with my recliner and RELAX! Can't wait to spend time with my amazing mom this weekend. Head over and link up with Doodlebugs!

Happy Weekend and Happy Mother's Day!!!