Thursday, January 31, 2013

Complete Sentences and TPT Super Sunday Sale

A lot of my students still have so much trouble (3rd grade) writing complete sentences and using punctuation.  Actually, when I taught 4th grade at this school, THEY even still had trouble.  So I try to hit this objective as often as possible while still teaching all the other objectives for Language Arts.  Something we did today really broke it down for them, and they had a great time doing it!  

First, students sorted different sentences beneath the correct punctuation marks:

They thought the sentences were really funny, because they were about "Chocolate Crunch Elementary School" and characters like "Sally Snickers" and "Mikey Mars."  Next, they had to sequence the sentences into a logical order.  This was great because it tied in a reading objective:

Finally, they used the paper I provided to write the sentences as a paragraph, using the correct punctuation.  This activity was perfect to break it down for them.  Hopefully they will transfer these skills to more of their own writing.

You can find this activity, along with other fun literacy activities, in my Bake Sale Literacy Unit:

And, this Sunday, everything in my store will be 28% off during TPT's Super Sunday Sale!  Just use the promo code "Super."  I am going to try to control my spending myself on that day :)  Have a great Friday tomorrow - we will be celebrating the 100th day, and my 3rd graders are really excited about it!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winning the Pencil War and an Antonym Freebie!

Happy Sunday morning!  It's a beautiful day here in TX, and I finally have some time to do a post this weekend before I enjoy myself (you know, grading the papers I left until now and figuring out exactly what to do for the 100th day on Friday...).

My kids have got synonyms down.  They can even say "synonyms" and not "cinnamon."  But when it comes to antonyms, a lot of their brains still aren't remembering that it means "opposites."  On quizzes, when a question asks for an antonym for a word, many will still choose the synonym instead.  So, to help them out with some repetitive practice, I have created Icy Hot Antonyms.

It is a card matching game.  Some of the words have a picture of ice cream, and some of the words have a picture of hot chocolate.  The ice cream and hot chocolate cards match up with each other (icy hot).  So the kids need to match the correct antonym pairs.  I'm hoping that the visual will help the kids form a lasting connection about what antonyms are.  The good news is, this product is a FREE product in my store.  Click the picture to go get it for yourself...and if you think it looks good, please leave a rating :)  I plan on sharing a lot more freebies on here, and the feedback would really motivate me!  

Now, for all of you who have ever been as frustrated with pencil sharpening as I have, I found a great solution to share.  Those "sharpened" and "needs sharpened" bucket labels just never quite worked for me.  Several of my kids were just so disrespectful toward the pencils and would leave them sitting around on the floor, broken, or just completely lose them every day.  Not to mention, somehow we would still run out of pencils every day and they would be wandering over there to sharpen pencils throughout the day.  I tried "closing" the pencil sharpener by a certain time, but realistically it wasn't enough time for everyone to get theirs sharpened.  I even tried providing personal pencil sharpeners for kids to use, but they quickly became lost or broken.  Enter this amazing freebie I found - Winning the Pencil War:

I have been trying this out for a few weeks just to make sure I liked if before I shared it with you all.  And I really have to say it's been great.  It's solved all my pencil problems!  I just need to do about 15-20 extra minutes of work on Friday afternoons to get the pencils ready.  Check out the freebie by clicking the link, and try it if you are tired of your pencil system.  

Now, off to work on those 100th day plans.  Do any of you have any suggestions for 3rd graders?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Trust Me, Jack's Beanstalk Stinks!

If you haven't seen this book yet, you've got to check it out:

There are three other books in the series, too.  They tell familiar fairytales from another character's point of view.  In this case, the giant is telling his side of the story.  I read my students the original fairytale first (I was surprised that most of my students had never heard the fairytale before).  Then, I read them this version.   They LOVED it and thought it was so funny!  After reading it, I gave them a quiz with questions just like the kind we will see on our state testing:

They appreciated that we at least got to read a fun story in order to practice some test-taking ;)  Next, we worked together to think of some ideas to compare and contrast the two versions of the story:

Then, students added more of their own ideas onto their own graphic organizers:

We then learned some sentence starters for taking the information from our graphic organizers to write in paragraph form.  We used this anchor chart to help:

Tomorrow, the kids will write their compare/contrast paragraphs in their writing notebooks, revise and edit, and then write their final copies on this paper:

To use these ideas in your own class, plus for many other activities that go with this book, check out my Trust Me, Jack's Beanstalk Stinks! unit.  It's a fun way to practice reading and writing skills at this point in the year that can seem to drag a bit!  

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Cause and Effect Pack and My First Giveaway!

Yay!! I'm so happy I finally finished my Cause and Effect Pack that I have been working on for three weeks.  Click the picture below to head to my TPT store if you need a resource to help teach this skill in your class.

Here is a peek at some of the things included in this pack:

Teaching cause and effect with pictures

Teaching cause and effect with fairytales, including a really fun booklet to go along with "The Three Little Pigs."

Cause and effect concentration game and recording sheet

Cause and effect graphic organizers to go along with any book

There is also a quiz at the end so you can assess your students' understanding of this skill.  To celebrate the completion of this pack, I would like to try having my first (simple) giveaway.  To thank the amazing 35 people who are following me, I will give away my Martin Luther King pack to the first person to comment on this post.  You can still get plenty of use out of this unit during Black History Month.  You can see some of the things I've done with my class using this pack {HERE} and {HERE}.   You can check it out in my store {HERE}.  Make sure to leave your email address in your comment!  Everyone have a great first day back at school tomorrow :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Five for Friday Linky!

Whew, made it through another week!  I know this 3 day weekend will fly by, but I am savoring every minute of it for now.  I am going to try the Five for Friday linky I've been reading everyone else do for the past couple of weeks.  You just write about 5 things that have happened this week or today.

1. I absolutely LOVE the "If I Lived in a Snow Globe" writing project my kids finished this week.  I got it from Hope King's Ultimate Winter Writing and Craft Bundle, which you can find {HERE}.  We started by learning about strong adjectives, onomatopoeia, similes, and metaphors.  The kids brainstormed ideas for each of these to describe what it would be like to live inside a snow globe.  Then, they wrote their rough drafts, revised and edited, and made an adorable craft.  I took their pictures with them posing how they would want to look inside a snow globe.  They cut their pictures out and glued them inside a globe, then pasted in a snowman and decorated it.  I loved some of their creativity, like the kid who posed giving bunny ears, so it looks like he is giving the snowman bunny ears!

2. We made "birthday cakes" for Martin Luther King.  First, we read Martin's Big Words and discussed what things were most important to MLK.  Then, I showed them the birthday cakes they would be making.  They had to fill in the blank, "For your birthday, I will ...."  Some of them had very thoughtful answers, like, "I will use my words and not my fists."  You can find this activity in my MLK unit {HERE} if you are still planning on doing any MLK activities next week.

3. We continued our volcano study by beginning to read Voyage to the Volcano and doing a fact and opinion coloring sheet to go with a paragraph about Mount St. Helens.  The kids absolutely love the book so far, and they definitely love anything to do with volcanoes!  I am using a unit from Ginger Snaps, which you can find {HERE}.

4. I got back into a workout routine this week, after getting out of the habit while moving and getting settled into our new apartment.  To ease myself back into things, I'm starting slow, with videos like this:

But soon, I plan on adding in more videos like this again:

5. I got a new printer because my previous desk jet was eating through ink like no tomorrow!  I wanted something that I can print things I buy and create on TPT in case I don't feel like going through the hassle of printing them at work.  (I have to go upstairs, load the document on my super slow work computer, wait for it to print, go downstairs and get it, then back upstairs).  I was told by the guy at Best Buy that the office jet I got will not go through ink nearly as fast, so we will see!

Well, that was a fun first Five For Friday for me!  Now to relax and get back to my current book choice - First Wives Club!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Main Idea, Volcanoes, and MLK

Happy Tuesday!  I love Tuesday nights because tomorrow is Wednesday, and at my school the students dismiss at 1 on Wednesdays :)  The rest of the week, they are there until 4, so I really enjoy that early dismissal day.

Today in my small reading groups, we worked on finding the main idea in nonfiction.  I used a graphic organizer from The Big Book of Reproducible Graphic Organizers:

My kids in my lowest reading group did such a great job figuring out the main idea of our book and filling in the supporting details.

For MLK day preparation, I read aloud My Dream of Martin Luther King.  

The kids paid such close attention!  They really enjoy learning about and discussing racism and equality.  I then told them that as a child, Martin told his mother that someday he was going to turn the world upside down.  I wanted the kids to realize that MLK had made this decision as a child, just like they are now.  I gave them my "I Can Turn the World Upside Down" worksheet from my MLK activity pack on TPT.  They had to think of something they want to see changed in the world and write and draw about it. 

I can turn the world upside down by teaching people not to be rude to others who are different.

This one has a lot of goals - help homeless people, stop polluting the Earth, and stop the oil spills that kill animals.  Wow!

I thought this was cute.  He wants to help homeless people find jobs.  The one person is saying to the other, "Oh look!  A job!"  Everything is still so simple in children's minds. :)

I want to stop people from bullying.  Her little person is saying, "Let's make a change."  Love it!

Finally, I and the kids were super excited to begin our volcano unit.  It covers Science, Social Studies, and Reading objectives!  I am using this unit that goes along with the Magic School Bus Book, Voyage to the Volcano.  
 It will take about two weeks to get through the book and all of the activities.  So far, we started with some prereading activities.  One of them was for the kids to make a prediction about what they think will happen in the book.  They had to write and draw about it, and they really enjoyed doing this!

I will keep sharing some of the MLK and volcano activities that we do this week.  Do you have any units that you get really excited to teach?? :)


Sunday, January 13, 2013

MLK Activities This Week

I'm looking forward to teaching my kids all about MLK and his message this week.  I will be using my MLK pack, found {HERE} for 3rd-5th graders.  The pack has activities that can either go along with the picture books I suggest, or they can be activities that supplement whatever materials you already have to teach about MLK.  Here is a look at some of the activities we will be doing this week:

Writing our own speeches either about equality, or about some other issue students want to see changed...this is a perfect accompaniment for the book March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World.

Making a birthday cake for MLK...this can go along with Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King.

Contemplating what big idea we think of when we think of MLK...this can be an activity for Martin's Big Words.

We will also be doing a couple other activities from the pack - I plan on doing one every afternoon.  Again, you do not have to have the recommended picture books in order to do the activities.  There are also signs provided for ready-to-go bulletin board displays for January and February (Black History Month).  I am looking forward to the message of peace we will be discussing all week - hopefully my students will act more peaceful toward each other as well!  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

More Gingerbread and Landforms

We continued learning about landforms today with a couple of really fun activities from Jeannie Hunter's fun landform packet, which you can find {HERE}.  First, we made landform cootie catchers (fortune tellers).  It was fun for me to refresh my memory on how to make these because I haven't made them since I was a kid.  It all came back to me quickly!  The kids just had to cut out the pre-made cootie catchers, like this:

Then, I modeled for them how to fold it.  They didn't have any trouble with it, so it didn't take much time.  Inside the cootie catchers, the definitions of various landforms were written.  The kids worked in partners quizzing each other.  I let them use their landform mini books to check their answers.  Here is what the cootie catchers looked like:

After this activity, we had one more!  We played landform concentration, for which they worked in groups of four and took turns trying to match the landform names with the correct pictures.  Here is what that looked like:

No match...

Not yet....

Got a match!!

They had SO much fun with these activities, and I know they are going to do an amazing job on our landforms quiz tomorrow.  I also continued to use some gingerbread activities in my reading and writing small groups today.  I got these activities from Linda Kamp's gingerbread unit, found {HERE}.
For my reading small groups, I used this great spinner activity to check students' comprehension.  After we read part of the story together, they took turns spinning.  Whatever topic they landed on, I looked at the question card for that topic and asked them a question.  I required them to answer in complete sentences.  It went really well with all three groups I met with today!

Finally, I observed my students while they were writing today and wrote down the names of every student who was not using punctuation correctly.  I pulled these students and did this gingerbread cookie punctuation sort, for which they needed to read a sentence and put it on the cookie tray with the correct punctuation mark.  Then, they had to write their own sentences on the recording sheet.  This activity made them all hungry because it was right before lunch! I'm hoping that I will see these students editing their writing for punctuation tomorrow when they're working on their final copies!  

We had such a fun-filled, yet learning-packed day today!  I love how the day flies by when there are quality products to use like these :)