Monday, December 31, 2012

Phases of the Moon

I think its safe to say I am addicted to Pinterest, and SO many of my ideas and inspirations come from that wonderful site. I had seen the phases of the moon recreated with oreos before and loved it so I thought I would give it a try with the third graders. We were wrapping up our unit on Space/Solar System and had discussed the phases of the moon and done a few other activities with it. This was a great hands on activity to end the unit. I love lessons like this where the kids are all invested in the activity. There were no behavior problems and they were able to pull together as teams to complete the task. I also saw them using the various references in the room (posters, text) to verify their moon phases.

This took about 20-25 minutes to complete and started out with them cutting out the phases of the moon from a piece of paper. They then had to arrange them in order and show that the phases are a cycle. 

Then I passed out the oreos and demonstrated how to remove the frosting with a spoon. This came easier to some groups more than others. (They were not graded on how well they were able to remove the frosting, rather that they had the phases in the correct order and had removed the appropriate amount of frosting.)

I had some very happy third graders when they were finished as they were allowed to sample the phases :)


I am a bit behind for a Christmas post but better late then never I suppose! For the second annual door decorating contest at my school my partner teacher and I wanted to do something impressive. After unimpressively slapping up some brown paper for a gingerbread house one Friday afternoon we knew it would need to be a Saturday effort. Three hours later we had this!!
The white paper says "Oh Deer"lol. The deer on the left has Christmas lights on it and the deer on the right is wrapped in garland. In the middle is Santa's sled with a few presents. 

Our plan was to have the kids make snowflakes to put on the blue paper but the week we put this up we had 2 early release days and two snow days as well as the third and fourth grade musical. YIKES, we were all kinds of crazy busy.

Oh DEER!!!!!

I love that we were able to plug in the lights. It was three hours well spent :)

I hope everyone was able to enjoy their Christmas break.  I had a wonderful time catching up with my family and friends. (I also really enjoyed waking up with NO ALARM every morning.) Ah, sweet vacation!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I mustache you a question

During the months of October and November my partner teacher and I taught this unit on elections.

We (teachers and students) had a blast during this entire unit. There was so much authentic learning, researching, discussion, etc., it was fantastic. During the debate, my partner teacher and I wore some pretty awesome hats to dress the part of moderator. The kids got a kick out of it and it just felt fun. 
I had forgotten about these hats until I received this gem today. 

It looks like somebody got a new app on their iPad and put it to good use.  I simply cannot stop giggling. 

My partner teacher is seriously awesome!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Favorite TPT Freebies

Here is the short list of my favorite freebies from Teachers Pay Teachers. TPT is an amazing resource that I use often, if not daily. I love sharing ideas with other teachers, it just makes sense to pass on ideas to make us all better teachers.

This is a great activity for spelling practice. Just like in the game scrabble, each letter is worth a set amount of points.  After writing down the spelling words students add the points that the letters are worth. My students enjoyed adding up their points to see which word had the most and which had the least. It was a great addition to our spelling repertoire. 

These have been an AMAZING resource. My spelling practice consists of students writing their words in their "Words I Use when I Write" dictionary and then choosing one of these cards. There is truly something for everyone and I have never heard a complaint.  I have many students who use these task cards when they finish work early, it's been a wonderful addition to my classroom. 

This set of worksheets went immediately into my sub binder. It is such a versatile resource since there is a set for literature and non fiction. The day I downloaded this gem I ended up going home sick and was SO happy to leave this for the sub.

This could also be used as spelling practice, however, this set also includes recording sheets. There are also additional task cards not included in the set above. Both are wonderful and can be either combined or switched out to create variety.

This little number is great for reinforcing basic geometric concepts like sides, vertices, etc.  One of the suggestions is to use it as a center which is exactly what my plan is. Now that my students know these concepts this will be a great way for them to practice.

Cuteness! I am a newbie to graphic design and long to be able to create fantastic clip art like this. I can't believe these are free, what a find!

These are some of my favorite freebies, I would LOVE to hear what some of yours are! 

BTW, I love these Ecards! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday Funday!

Yesterday I took a total break from school stuff. Instead I spent the day Christmas-ing my house with my family.  I made the most delicious chocolate-peppermint cookies and did some awesome crafty crafts with my 3 (almost 4 yikes) year old.

I knew I wanted chocolate cookies with peppermint and knew I had hit the jackpot when I found white chocolate peppermint M&M's (who knew such a thing existed!?!)  With a few tweeks to an instant cake mix I had the YUMMIEST and EASIEST holiday treat, hooray!

It started with with Duncan Hines devil's food cake mix. I added 1/3 cup olive oil and two eggs and mixed until it was no longer lumpy (it was quite thick.) 

Then I added these babies, it was about a cup or more, they are pretty big.  I spooned them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (because goodness knows I won't feel like scrubbing the cookie sheet!) and threw them in the oven (350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes). 
Easy peasy and DELICIOUS!

I only scooped about a tablespoon sized dollop and they spread out a lot to make a decent sized cookie. This would be an incredibly treat to bring to my holiday party at school, I think the kids  (and other teachers) would gobble them right up.

Another holiday craftivity we worked on was decorating plates with Sharpie markers.  Holy cuteness! I had seen this on coffee cups before but thought we would try to give them as gifts from my daughter. I love that it has her awesome artwork and is fully functional. My next step is to bake them in the oven to make sure the sharpie won't wash off and as long as they are only hand washed my little artist's masterpiece will be permanent. 

I thought about getting enough plates for my students to do this for their families, however, I have already spent enough on the darlings, maybe next year?!  

These plates came from TJMaxx but I think the ones from the dollar store work just as well.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


When reviewing data, geometry always stands out as a area of weakness for my school. The math group I teach has the most support and interventions of the three math classes. I team teach with the Title 1 math teacher which means the students get to stay and get support in the room! It's fantastic! Geometry is usually saved for the spring however, I decided to introduce it earlier in the year with the hopes of having enough time so I could do it justice. 

After reviewing the chapter and then beginning to work with students I have a much better understanding of why geometry is such a struggle. There is so much vocabulary to remember and students are being asked to identify, classify and sort shapes, lines etc. 

To help my students remember the terms to identify lines and angles I tried two kinesthetic approaches after we had learned the vocabulary from the book. The first method gets them using their hands and is borrowed from my FABULOUS partner teacher.  I ask them to make a point with their body by making a fist, they make a line segment by stretching their arms out straight and with their hands in fists and so on. We did this quite a few days for review and I would use it as their ticket to leave as a quick formative assessment.  

The second thing we tried was using tooth picks and mini marshmallows.  I had them write down the terms they are responsible for and then we made them together.

Each student got one of these cups with two toothpicks and five marshmallows.

I asked them to write the word and make it using their marshmallows and toothpicks. The first one was pretty easy :)

Many students were confused with the line. They stuck the marshmallows on the end and forgot to leave room at the end (otherwise it's a line segment) 

By the third or fourth term they really had the hang of it, however, the marshmallows started to get sticky :/

In the end they needed to make eight vocabulary terms (lines and angles) and after their figures were checked by a teacher they were allowed to eat their (sticky, yucky) marshmallows.

I leave you with two laughs.
I guess this is what I get for buying Dollar Store 'pencils' (My smartypants Canadian friend told me that crayon is French for pencil, but I still get a chuckle out of this)


How is that not professional development!!??!!  CEUs are in order :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Comprehension Cards (Freebie!!!)

Another goal I have is to be able to share quality freebies. I have benefited greatly from freebies on Teachers Pay Teachers (I will share my favorites in a post VERY soon) as well as from blogs I found through Pinterest, and I wanted to share the love with you. I have a bunch of things to sell on my TPT store, but part of the whole experience of TPT and blogging is to share (free) ideas with other teachers. Available to you are 20 comprehension cards for reading literature and four blank cards as well as a table for recording student fluency and comprehension. I love using these and store mine in a greeting card box, as I spoke to last post. I print them on card stock and laminate them so they stand up to my most rough and tough students. However, I have seen people glue them to popsicle sticks and keep them in a cup (awesome!)

When I use these with the kids I fan them out and hold them like playing cards so I am the only one that can see them. I ask students to pick one (sometimes more) and everyone works on forming an answer at the same time so they are ready when it is their turn. Sometimes the kids write their answers down or jot down notes so they have it all together when asked to answer orally. 

Available at my TPT store!
Thanks for visiting :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

I will be organized!!

One of my MAJOR goals this year is to be more organized. I thought I was doing well with this goal when I first got my classroom. I purged A LOT of things then and again this past summer. However, I kept a bunch of miscellaneous, I might use this, items.  Whenever I have a few minutes I try to pick an area and do what I can to organize it. I had a bunch of comprehension cards hanging around and in a moment of sheer brilliance (they don't happen often, lol) I realized they would fit perfectly in greeting card boxes, YAY! (Now what to do with the greeting cards...)  

Anyway, this has worked very well and I can use them in reading groups or the kids can grab them to use during buddy reading. The cards pictured are included in my Roald Dahl unit but I will be making an additional set that is more generic and offering them in my TPT store as a FREEBIE :)

HOLY MOLY my photography skills are terrible! I can't even blame it on the camera, yikes!! Sorry about the blurry pictures!

Monday, November 26, 2012


TPT  (Teachers Pay Teachers) is having a huge CyberMonday sale (and bonus Tuesday.) Just enter the code CMT12 to receive your discount. Discounts of up to 28% are available so its the perfect time to stock up :)  After my chicklets go to bed I am going to be filling my cart, happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


We are wrapping up a unit on the human body and I wanted to end with a super fun, hands on activity that my partner teacher told me about.  To learn the parts of an animal cell I had the kids first make one out of paper and later in the day they made a three dimensional cell using jello, baggies, celery and black olives. The kids responded very well to all cell activities, I will definitely be doing this again!
  We started by first discussing each of the parts- what they look like and what their job is. 
I used both pictures (above) and words (below) in our discussion and had the kids read along with me. This lent itself great to a discussion on labeling (its hard to see by my cell -the yellow blob- is numbered and the cell parts are also numbered accordingly.)  At this point I had the kids do a vocabulary matching paper. It matched vocabulary to devfinition. They were allowed to use the poster and any other resource they needed and I told them they would be doing the same paper later in the day as an assessment.

It didn't take long before the kids were ready to dive into their own cell creation.  We started off by drawing the cytoplasm on white-ish paper and cutting it out. 

 They then glued their cytoplasm on the cell wall and traced around that paper to make sure the membrane was visible and larger than the cytoplasm.

One they had their membrane drawn on the paper, they cut it out and glued the cytoplasm and membrane together.

The next step was to add the mitochondria, 

and then finally the nucleus. 

 After lunch, I showed them the jello, baggies, celery and black olives and had them guess what each one represented. They then came up to the table and grabbed a membrane (baggie), filled it with cytoplasm (jello), tossed in 4 or 5 mitochondria (celery) and one nucleus (black olive.)

They were so pleased with their creations. I took pictures of them holding their cells for their portfolios and their smiles were so sweet. We definitely ended the day on a wonderful note. It was a good reminder to me to do more hands on, kinesthetic learning.

Now came the final assessment time! They had been discussing the cell parts all day and what their responsibilities are so it came as no surprise that they all did very well on their final vocabulary match up.
It was a wonderful end to a wonderful (brief) week. 
Happy Thanksgiving!!! 


Monday, November 19, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things

Tis that time of year to start preparing Christmas lists and I always end up asking for things for my classroom. While thinking of things I would like to add to my classroom I thought I would share all of my favorites.
I ADORE these markers! They make the poster creation process a delight! I only have the set of 12 and am seriously hoping for an upgrade this Christmas.  Not that I make a habit of smelling markers, but they are deliciously aromatic. LOVE!

This is a fun comprehension game that comes with the CUTEST little brief case. This game promotes inferencing and using hints/clues to answer questions. Win!

I am not a big fan of worksheets and using these cubes has enhanced my reading groups greatly. I keep a binder of important information/forms with me for reading groups and keep track of comprehension as the students answer questions. The red cubes are for use prior to reading, blue are used during and green are used after reading. The kids like the change in pace these cubes provide and rolling them is just way too much fun.

I use these pens/markers all the time and I even have my students addicted to them. They are an amazing cross between a pen and marker. I love using them for correcting or adding color in small spaces where my Mr. Sketch markers would be too big. I had only ever seen them sold in smaller packs so seeing them as 12 was way too exciting for me to pass.

As I consider what to add to my list this year I would love to hear what your favorite classroom items are. What is it you just can't live without?? 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Frames and more frames

I have a third set of frames available on my TPT store :) These were a lot of fun to make! I didn't realize how easy it is to create clip art like this. I love how these frames add personality to worksheets and newsletters. I am done with frames for now and moving on to a winter writing unit I am SUPER excited about!!
Here's wishing you a peaceful teaching week!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another give away :)

I have these cute frames for sale in my TPT store but will offer them free here for the first five people to comment. Be sure to leave your email address so I know where to send them! I love using these frames to snazz up student worksheets.

Happy Weekend!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My first attempt at clip art

Good morning bloggy friends. While recovering from a sinus infection, I have banished myself to the couch and wanted to try out my new sketch book app. While trying to create clip art I have tried out various methods: drawing, scanning, editing, drawing in an app, etc and finally found a great program (i.e. its easy for novices like me to understand).  I have basic knowledge of photo editing and after playing around for a bit I think I've got it. This cute little guy is free to you, I had to share him right away. (I am not patient enough to wait until I have made the whole monster family.) Comments are welcome! Its hard for me to judge if he/she is cute or if I am just blinded by my mama love for this guy, and perhaps delirious from my nasal issues, lol. My plan is to create the rest of this monster family after playing around a bit more with the program and taking any suggestions you would be kind enough to provide. Thanks as always :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

30 Days of Thanks

My fourth graders have been having a blast with writing in November. In addition to the regular writing lesson, they have also been writing thank-you notes everyday. Each day I introduce a new way of writing a thank you. We started with the standard friendly letter, a card, and list, and then I asked them to draw a picture to give to someone they are thankful for. They were asked to use words and pictures in their thank you.  We have also written acrostic poems, stories and today we tried our hand at song writing.

I have been soooo impressed with their writing! They have been eating this up. When we wrote the acrostic poem they were running around the classroom tearing through dictionaries, checking their thesaurus, referring to posters in the room, and constantly checking in to make sure their words made sense. It was so exciting because sometimes writing can be a bit, well,  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  There was so much vocabulary usage, it was a very wonderful writing time. Writing the song was also a great experience. As they worked today I could hear tunes from all over the classroom as they tried out their new songs. This definitely wasn't for everyone and I got some funny looks when I asked them to write a song, but they tried it and some were impressed at how easy it was. 

Now that I have introduced each type of writing, and they have tried them all out, they are free to pick the ones they would like to use for the remainder of November. The kids have been delighted to receive  thank-you notes from their peers, and a few moms and dads got some very nice notes as well. Writing my thank-you notes has felt great, I love sneaking into rooms and leaving them for the recipient to find. 

Now, what to write about for December?!?!?

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I am new to the blogging world and am having a blast sharing my stories and ideas and I have also enjoyed reading other people's blogs. Tonight I created my first clip art. I have been looking for borders with white backgrounds and have had some trouble finding what I am looking for so I chatted up the computer technology teacher at my school and asked him how hard it was to turn drawings into clip art.  Turns out, its not that hard (if you have a scanner that doesn't have a meltdown half way through scanning, lol). I am so excited I can't contain myself and thats why these frames or borders (whatever they are called) are free to the first five people to comment on this here blog. Just leave your email address and I will get them to you :)  Happy Friday!

This is available at my TPT store and I can customize orders if there is anything specific you want :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Every so often a lesson goes, well, perfectly. It doesn't happen everyday or even every week but it happened yesterday! I have been working with my fourth graders on multiplying two digit by one digit numbers for about a week. They first learned the distributive property and multiplied using expanded form, the area model and partial products. (Fourth grade brains have to work so hard!)

After a few days of this strategy they really had it and were ready to try something new. Onward we went to multiplying with regrouping (you know, the way we all learned when you multiply by the ones then the tens) and holy moly, they LOVED it and more importantly GOT it!!! YIPPEE! We have been multiplying up a storm. Today there was a bit of review and then busy, busy pencils!

I love that they have more than one strategy to rely on! If I had gone straight to regrouping I don't think they would have been so openminded to learning the area model and as a result would have missed out on using the distributive property.  Tomorrow we move on to multiplying three and four digit numbers by one digit. I am holding out hope that this goes as well :)

In the meantime, I am working on organizing my guided reading group "area" which is quite the embarrassment.  I have so many great tools but the way they are stored isn't working. Stay tuned for pictures of before (yikes) and after.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Daily schedule

When I got the good news that I would be hired for my current teaching position I was overwhelmed by all of the stuff in classroom. There was so much to go through and I had NO idea what I would need or use. In the spring I organized as best as I could to get the classroom ready for summer cleaning and when I came back in the fall I did what I could but needed to spend more time getting things ready for students. This year I have tried to spend more time organizing and that includes my daily schedule. I started off last year by writing the schedule on the board. That didn't last long because I can't stand to have the mess left behind after erasing and felt it necessary to clean the board every time I needed to change the schedule. I ended up making schedule cards that were boring black and white, laminated them, stuck magnetic buttons (love) on them, put them up on the board and called it good. It certainly took care of my erase mark problem, lol. However, some of my darlings like to help change the daily schedule and we have somehow lost Monday (who likes Mondays anyway, he he) so I needed to revamp the schedule, and calendar.

Here is what I came up with and I can't wait to put these up in my classroom. You can download them from my TPT store. I need to make the dreaded trip to Walmart to pick up some more magnetic buttons since I used the last of them on the name tags last week.  I also left some blank ones because something funky always comes up and I want to avoid having to write on the board where I keep the schedule.

Now to find a safe place for them... Last year I kept them in a container and the kids and I were always hunting for them but this year I have them all stuck on the board under where I keep the calendar/schedule.  I will get a picture of the old ones (ick) and the new ones :) this week. Hurray to the new and colorful cards!!