Friday, December 29, 2017

Back From Break Activity: Happy New Years Freebies

Can you believe Christmas has come and gone already? 
I hope everyone had a great one!
I awoke to this scene this morning...
Very unexpected and very pretty...but just about 5 days too early!
I will be back at school next week so the prepping and planning has begun. 

I love starting the first day back with something that will make my kids smile...and think a little too.  One of my very favorite children's poets is Kenn Nesbitt. 
Nesbitt’s poetry for children is “irrepressible, unpredictable, and raucously popular,” in the words of former Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis. 
Kenn Nesbitt has created a site especially for kids called Poetry4Kids.  I have it on my students' class website and they love visiting it.  You can check it out here: 

I will be using one of his fun poems on our first day back after break. We will glue the poem, 
Hooray!  Hooray! It's New Year's Day inside our poetry journals.  My students can work on their fluency by reading it three ways and then can illustrate and label their visualizations. We'll add some pizzazzy words from this poem to our word wall .  Words like: galore, distant, wondrous, anew all help to expand my kids' reading, writing and speaking vocabularies. 
I created a quick poetry follow up to go along with this poem.  Students will dig back into the text to locate proper nouns, compound words, etc. 

After reading all of the ridiculous resolutions listed in this poem, we'll have a more serious discussion about more realistic goals that my kids can make for themselves. By third grade, students are better able to understand that they are in control of their future.  We've been talking about mindset all year long and add a new mindset message each month.
You can find these in my TPT store.

Monthly Mindset Messages

Goal setting is an important part of  our third grade day. 
I'll give my students time to think and write about some attainable goals for the year ahead. 
I'll have them fill it out on this balloon shaped paper.  Add a string to the bottom and it makes a great display. 

I'll keep the New Year's theme going during math center time.  Students continue to need practice in reading and writing six digit numbers in standard, expanded and word forms. 
I'll have them work with a partner on this activity.  That way they can help "coach" each other. 
We'll end math time with a problem solving partners session.  Here students will answer a two step word problem, work on elapsed time and rounding.  These are all skills that have already been taught but that kids need extra review and practice with. 

I've updated my New Year's File on Teacher Pay Teacher.  You can access all these activity pages there. I've made it a FREE item so just click the link below if you are interested. 
Be sure to follow my blog / store.  I'm working on new files that will be upload soon!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Virginia SOLs and Ancient China: Learning About the Past

Third graders in Virginia now will learn about the ancient civilizations. Much of our social studies time will focus on a look at how these people lived and the contributions they made.  We started with Ancient China and my students are loving the learning connected to this unit. Of course we are starting with books....lots and lots of books! I checked out a ton of both fiction and nonfiction.
Here is our nonfiction browsing wall: 

And our classroom library: 
We began our unit by recording our prior knowledge and then questions we had about this ancient civilization. 

Students are reading and researching during their "Read to Self" or "Read with a Partner" reading rounds during my small group time. 
We are dividing our learning log into sections for each of the Ancient Civilizations that we will cover. 
Students cut and glue note sheets that correspond with a teaching slide show I use.

Our learning gets documented along with maps we make and vocabulary word cards that students can use to study with.

We will work on some craft making this week and I'll be back to post how that fits into my day.
In the meantime, those interested in checking out the materials I use to teach this unit can head here:
Ancient China Slide Show and Materials Bundle VA SOL Aligned
Ancient China Bundle

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Third Grade Christmas: Integrated Book Activities

Hello All! Are you stuffed with stuffing, turkey, potatoes and pie? It was leftovers for the third day in a row around here! It was a great Thanksgiving and I certainly have SO much to be thankful not having to cook for the last few days. Another thing is this super cute holiday shirt that I was gifted with. I simply love its message... keeping it simple is my mantra.  Wouldn't it be heavenly to have a calm and peaceful December? I am determined to keep my peace this holiday by focusing on what the season is about and not overcomplicating things. 

There are so many simple pleasures to look forward to. I'm excited about the month ahead and being able to share fun activities with my third graders. 
I absolutely love finding and sharing the simple gift of a wonderful holiday book with my students. 
We count down the final days before our holiday break by unwrapping a book a day. 

Here is one of my very favorite ones:

We are getting ready to work on summarizing story elements. This one will be perfect. 
Can you figure out the problem after reading page one? 

This one is such a HOOT!  It will delight your students and is a great springboard for so many other activities. Bonny Becker is a master at word choice and includes a great number of juicy words that can help to grow and develop your students' vocabularies in a big way. 
It provides great opportunities for your children to practice using their good reader skills and strategies such as predicting and inferring. 

I've created a reading response booklet to go along with this one. 

To keep the fun going, I found a cute crocodile craft to make with my students. 
We will read the directions first and try answering some of those tricky SOL sequencing questions first. 

My kids will get practice developing their fluency and expression with this poem as they ponder the problem of how to brush an crocodile's teeth.

Here are some other crocodile problems to ponder during our math block. 

I've bundled all these activities and more in a file and added it to my TPT store. 
You can find it here: 
The Christmas Crocodile: A Day of Integrated Holiday Activities

Do you need the book? 
It is on sale for only $7.99!
Click the link below!

Product Details

The Christmas Crocodile (Nancy Pearl's Book Crush Rediscoveries)

Love the shirt? That's on sale too! I've added that link below as well.

What are some of your favorite holiday books to share with your children?
Please share by email:
or comment below!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Integrating Learning Through Paragraph Writing

Time has been on my mind. Partly because it is flying by and partly because it's what I've been teaching about in my classroom.  I LOVE when I can integrate the subjects that I teach. It maximizes my time and just makes sense. One way I've done that is to have my students write through the curriculum. That means we write about whatever we are learning about in the other subject areas.
We recently worked on telling time and determining elapsed time in math and sequencing in reading. So I decided to put all that together and have my students write on the topic of their favorite time in school.

We started by identifying times and sequencing events of our school day. Students drew hands on each clock to show the time.  They wrote a sentence telling what they do and drew a matching picture for each time. At this point we solved elapsed time problems using the clocks and times represented on the pages. This makes the problems they solve very relevant to their own lives. They find out how long it is between different points in their day.

Next we used a four square organizer to record our topic and to help us brainstorm and organize the writing we were getting ready to do. We talked about the ways authors "hook" students into their stories. 
We decided to use the "Sound Lead" for this writing. Students started by thinking of a sound they would hear while doing the activity they chose as their topic. They were so good at figuring out these sounds. Then they had to write two different reasons why they enjoyed that place/activity. They came up with two details for every reason and marked them with bullets. Then we added a conclusion.

I always write along with my students and model each part of the process.  I modeled how to take ideas from the four square and use them to draft a paragraph. They watched me as I wrote out mine. I am sure to talk out loud as I write. They listen as I struggle at times to figure out lines, how I constantly reread as I draft and how I sometimes change words while I'm drafting. They see that it is ok to scratch out words and to just sound out spelling while drafting. 

Then it was their turn to draft theirs. We make sure to share a little along the way. It helps the reluctant writer so much to hear what good writing sounds like. 
After revising and editing they were ready to share their paragraphs

This writing activity is a great way to review paragraph writing along with telling time. 
I've added this file to my Teacher Pay Teacher Store if you are interested. 
You can check it out here: 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A New Must Read Children's Book

Has it really been two months since I've posted? The demands and obligations of our school life certainly have the power to take over our lives...if we let it. I've been diligent about not allowing school to overrun my life this year. However today I felt compelled to write about a favorite topic.  I ran across a simply marvelous new children's book and just had to share it with anyone who would listen.  It is called, What Should Danny Do?  by Ganit and Adir Levy.  It is an incredibly empowering book to read to our young children and third graders are at the perfect age to get and grow from this book's message. 

What makes this book unique and so engaging is its interactive component. Danny is the main character and he goes about his day and runs into typical kid type challenges along the way. The reader can decide how Danny should react in different situations and then turns to a certain page to read to find out how the action they chose leads to different consequences. How great is that?? You can watch and listen to a partial reading of this book here: 

Danny encounters real life scenarios that our children can connect and relate with. It hits home the important message that kids have power over the outcomes in their lives. They can completely choose the type of day they will have by the minute to minute choices they make. You must add this one to your third grade library. It will become a fast favorite!

Have you used this one in your class? I would love to hear!
comment or email me at

Sunday, August 20, 2017

What I Do on Day Two: Back to School Plans

I have finally gotten into my classroom and am working on setting up! At the same time, I am getting materials ready for the first week of school. After posting about Day One, I have gotten questions about what I do one day two so I'm back to share some of those activities.
 You will see that Day 2 is all about organization and routines. The activities I choose for day two are still very directed and I am doing a lot of monitoring and will continue to recognize and record examples of students being respectful, responsible and productive. I will begin releasing control and allowing them to work in stations later in week one. I do this very gradually, giving myself time to explicitly demonstrate and reinforce good behaviors in whole group situations first. 
I think it is still key to allow lots of movement and variation on day two.  I try to keep my kids moving from  seat activities to ones on the floor and from whole group to partner or individual activities. 
Here is what I have planned: 

When they first come in, they will pick up the cover of their writing folder. We are the Wildcats so we will call this our "Roaring Good Writing Folder".  They will draw and color a self portrait. 
We will be using this page later in the morning when we get our writing folders and start working in them. This morning activity is one that everyone can do without help from me. Third graders love drawing so it should occupy them as I am taking care of all the paper work that will come in on day two.  If students finish this early, I will have a word find with everyone's name hidden in the puzzle. They will circle the names as they find them.
If you are interested in looking at the writing folder materials. You can click this link: 

We will break after morning work for a quick Morning Meeting.  I do a brief morning and afternoon meeting. It is a way to set the tone and then debrief each day.  We will do a quick greeting, review PBIS vocabulary and read the morning message. 
Then it will be back to our seats for a minilesson using one of my favorite back to school poems: 
"What's in My Desk?" by Bruce Lansky.

Before I introduce the poem, we will talk about how good readers use strategies to help them read and understand stories and books. I will tell them that we will be learning lots of skills and strategies to help us become even better readers and that we will keep track of what we learn on the CAFE board and in our reader's journals.  Students will set up their journals by placing a sticker on the front and gluing two dividers inside. Half of their journal will be for their reading notes and the other half is reserved for reading responses. 

Here is what our CAFE board looks like at about midyear. In the beginning, there is nothing posted except for the letters C-A-F-E.  As new strategies are introduced, a card gets placed under one of the letters. 
I have these cards available for a free download here: 

Now we will learn our first good reader strategy which is to PREDICT. I will have the cafe card in my reading apron along with a prop that goes with it. The prop is a plastic crystal ball that went with a fortune teller's Halloween costume. We will discuss how predicting is telling what we think will happen. Good readers look for clues to help them make smart predictions. 
We will glue our first notesheet into our reading journals. These are sheets that students simply slice and stick (cut and glue). They get glued side by side in their reading journal. 

We will fill out the note sheet and then do the practice side together. 
. I will give each of my students a dry erase paddle and marker and we will go over the rules in using them. Then it's time to introduce the poem on the smartboard. 
I will start by just showing the title and allow students to make predictions just on those words. 
Then I will display a couple of lines at a time. Some of the words will be covered up. Students will use context clues to help them figure out what the missing word might be. They will write their word on their paddle and hold it up.  We will practice inserting the words they write on their paddles to see if they make sense in the poem. I will teach them how to CROSS CHECK words. We ask: Does it look right, sound right and make sense?  I will uncover the word and then go to the next couple of lines. Students love playing "Guess the Missing Word".
This poem is actually found in my graphing set. Later in the week, we will reread this poem for fluency practice and then graph what is found in our own desks. 

Students will get the poem to glue into their poetry journals tomorrow when we practice rereading it. 
Now it's time to clean and organize our desks so they don't end up looking like the one in the poem. 
We go over desk responsibilities and I show them a desk map. They follow the map to organize their desks. We talk about how keeping a neat desk will help them be a responsible and productive student. 

Next I will give each student a writing folder. It has been set up for them with some ready to go pages  in the front that we will fill out as we go through the year and some lined paper to write or glue notes on. We will talk about how writing is just like talking without speaking. I KNOW my kids always have lots to say and's where they get to do it. 
To help give my writers topics to share about in their writing, we will all fill out this About the Author page which will become a list of writing suggestions. When my writer's say, I don't know what to write about, I can direct them to this page. They can write about a favorite place or person, sad or happy time.  No excuses! Having them complete this page will also give me valuable information about my kids. What is important to them needs to become important to me. 
I have to be able to relate to my students if I am to reach them. 

We will share some of our ideas and then we get to reading on in our book, Stuart Goes to School. 
Before reading Chapter 2, I will reread the last paragraph in chapter one and show them some items from our story souvenir suitcase that relate to something that will happen next. Students will make predictions. 

After reading we will place some "pizzazzy words" from this book onto our word wall. 
Words like "anxious" "glum" and "cheerful" describe how Stuart was feeling in this story.
These are the types of words I like to put on our chart. They are synonyms for simple words we use everyday and will go a long way in expanding students' writing and speaking vocabularies. 

After the read aloud it will be time for a lunch and recess break. 
Afternoon is spent on social studies and math. 
We will work on our unit about citizenship. Next week we will move to learning about government, but we start with a look at our school community and what it means to be a good classroom citizen. 
We will talk about what it would be like if there were no rules at school. 
This poem has lots of examples of why we need rules in schools. 
I'll reinforce the word "consequence" that was introduced in day one and we will model this word using a gesture. 
Then I'll have my students work on pulling out causes and effects from this poem and writing them on a flow chart. 

Next it's math time. 
Our first math unit is on graphing and data collection. This works perfectly for the beginning of the year.  We will conduct lots of surveys and create all kinds of  "favorite" graphs. This will help us get to know each other at the same time students will get tons of practice in making and analyzing picture and bar graphs. 
But first we need to set up a math journal. Students will split it in half like the reading journal. They will create a notes section and problem solving section. 
We always begin our math time with a problem of the day.  Students will get paired with their problem solving partner and will work on a problem about Stuart from the book we read earlier. 
Since this is our first try at Problem Solving Partners, we will discuss how to be responsible, respectful and productive during this period of time and create a chart for it. 
I will cut these problems out and students will glue just the first one into their math journals and into the math problem solving section. We will do another one from this sheet tomorrow. Students will meet with their partner and work on solving it together. 
Afterwards I will allow for math talk time and students will share their strategies for solving.
We will soon learn that there is more than one way to figure it out!
Our main math lesson is focused on creating and analyzing picture graphs. 
We will glue this note sheet into our math journals and fill out the information. 
Students have worked on picture graphs as second graders so this should be review for them. 

I'll hand out the picture frames that they illustrated yesterday and we'll create a class picture graph on how we felt on our first day of third grade. Here I will review those pizzazzy words from earlier today and use them on this graph. We will create this graph as a class and then analyze it and write sentences to tell what we can conclude from the data. 
Far Out Facts: Addition Strategies and Cards

I will reserve part a short amount of my time to fact fluency. Having automatic recall of the basic facts will help free up my students' minds so they can focus on the hard work of problem solving.
I will quickly review the double facts and we will play a game focused on just those facts.
I keep all my games in these drawers according to the math strand.
I have these drawer signs available as a FREE resource. Just click the link below.

Math Tub Signs

We will end our day with our first BAM time. This stands for Books and Me.
Today I will go over how to pick a good fit book. 
We will sit by our classroom library where I have this display posted: 
I will have a snack to offer them today: apples. I'll show them their reading treat and I will tell them that when I went to the store there were lots of apples to pick from. Some were green, others yellow and red. The signs in the store described them. If I wanted to bake with them then Granny Smith would be a good option. But if I wanted a sweet one to eat, Red Delicious would be a better choice.  We will relate this to the picking of books. We'll talk about the different types or genres of books in our library. Then we will go through the keys to choosing a good fit book.  I will show them how our library is organized and we will discuss book expectations. 

I will give students this bookmark to color while I call table teams over to the library to find a good fit book. 
Click the link for a free download of these bookmarks.

Finally, we will end with our Time to Go Home Huddle. 
So that's what I do on Day 2. 
How about you?