Monday, May 1, 2017

Line plot fun!

Line plots.... a graph that we use every day in life! Oh, wait. We never use them. When is the last time that you opened up a newspaper and saw information in a line plot? Perhaps I am just missing it, but I never have! However in third-grade in my state, our kiddos need to know the ins and outs of line plots. Below is my favorite graphing lesson - the kids love it too!

First, the kids and I make a list of things that a line plot must have!

  • Line (of course!)
  • Labels
  • Key
  • Title

Next, I explain to the kids that each of them will receive a box of raisins. We will be seeing if all the raisins have the exact same amount in each box, and if not, then what is the highs and lows of the raisin count. The kids go back to their seat and count their raisins. My kids tend to get veryyyyyyy excited about fun, tactile lessons. I make sure to remind them that there is no touching of the raisins or boxes until I tell them to! This helps cut down on distracted students playing with their boxes. 

When told to start, each student opens up their box of raisins and counts the raisins inside. On the board, I drew a long line. Together the kids and I brainstormed a good title for the graph, as well as create the key. I ask the students who thinks that they have the LEAST amount of raisins. I call on a student, then ask if anyone has lower than the amount (for example, "does anyone have less than 10 raisins?"). Then I do the same thing but asking for the highest amount of raisins. Together, the kids and I figure out what the interval on the line plot will be.

I explain how to make a tape donut, and walk around and give each student one piece of tape. They place their tape donut onto their box. I start calling kids up to place their raisin box over the amount of raisins in their box. It's so much fun watching the kids start creating the graph and seeing the average amounts!

This activity would also work well with mini bags of Skittles, M&Ms, pretzels.... the possibilities are endless! Let me know if you've done this activity or a similar and what you thought of it :-)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Revisiting classroom rules & routines

It's the beginning of April. Flowers are blooming, cherry blossoms are delighting the masses, rain showers are a welcome change, and bunny rabbits are multiplying at a rapid pace. Of course, not everything is so lovely in April. I don't know about your classroom, but in my own, my kids start getting antsy and rambunctious. My sweet third-graders start showing their fourth-grade colors in April. My girls begin getting clique-y, and my boys begin getting way too handsy with one another. April is the time when I revisit all the classroom rules and routines to help get a handle on some of these behaviors!

We sit down on the rug and revisit all our expectations and rules throughout the week. This might sound like it will take up a lot of valuable time in a day, but honestly it allows us to learn more the rest of the year. Behavior ceases as kids remember the rules and expectations from the beginning of the year. We even create new anchor charts!

The two areas that my kids have the hardest time with around April is stopping when they hear the chime, and how to properly conduct themselves during Quiet Time. Read on to learn more!

This may seem silly, but I think that revisiting STOP! is enormously helpful to students. It seems like a simple thing, but many times after being told to stop, kids continue to be playing with a pencil, talking to a friend, etc. After creating the anchor chart, we practice what stop looks and sounds like. We read/write/talk to friends, I ring the chime, and we see how fast that it will take students to stop. We do a few rounds, and they adore seeing how fast that they can stop!

My school does Responsive Classroom, so each day we have Quiet Time for ten minutes. This is a time for my kids to refocus after a busy morning and afternoon of math, writing, recess, lunch, and specials. It gets us ready to finish off the day on a positive note. For ten minutes, students can read, write, or draw. The teacher gets to choose to do whatever he/she wishes as well! It's a time to free our brains and refocus. However, by April, Quiet Time starts getting borderline obnoxious. Many of my boys choose to walk all over the room writing notes to their buddies. We revisit the Quiet Time rules and expectations to remind students that it is a time for all of us to regain our self-control and focus upon ourselves. 

Which routines do you return to in your classroom? 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Teaching Ancient China

You know what I love most about third-grade? Learning about Ancient Civilizations! There are a multitude of fun crafts and activities for each one that kids love. Does anyone's heart not go pitter-patter when kids are stoked to learn every day?!?

You can check out my post from last year about my favorite Ancient China activities!

Every year I slightly change how I teach. There are just so many fun activities to do - I like to mix it up and keep it fresh. Otherwise my life begins to resemble Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day leads to boredom. Boredom leads to feelings of unhappiness and confusion. An unhappy and confused me results in showing up at school in a velour sweatsuit, a pair of Uggs, two days of greasy hair, and a plastic bag full of $14 worth of Taco Bell. Wait... that sounds like my ultimate dream.

Hey, see these plates? Believe it or not, you can't put them on your wedding registry. They are paper! Who knew?!?!

Okay, so I did this last year. BUT I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Who knew that black and blue tempura paint and a white paper plate that has been sitting in my armoire for a year could result in such magic? The kids will also realize the superhero teacher that you truly are when paints appear.

Now, paints can obviously end in total and utter disaster. I have a lot of rules for the paint. NO ONE can move from their table. They must be sitting, or I will take their artistic creation. I have a few boys this year who constantly wanderrrrrrrrr away to another table to poke or prod a different boy in the class. Nope, not happening when paints are involved!

I also put up pictures of Chinese calligraphy on the projector so they can paint Chinese characters. Add in some Chinese music, and you are in for a relaxing afternoon! So perfect for a fun Friday.

In our state, we teach about the methods of Ancient Chinese farming, including terracing. Terracing is cutting into the hillside so that the water doesn't slide right down the slope. Terracing can be a tough concept for a third-grader to understand who knows nothing about hills or farming practices. To demonstrate what terracing is, I use clay models!

I give each table a tray, a cup of water, and a ball of clay. First, students are directed to make the clay a perfectly smooth ball. Then, they dump half the water over it. They observe what happens to the water (spoiler alert: it rolls right off).

Next, I instruct kids to create a staircase like texture on their clay (I demonstrate). Afterwards, we pour the rest of the water on. The kids observe, then we discuss why the water holds so much better. Why is this better for crops? Why do they think the Ancient Chinese chose to do this? Finally, we look at real-life photos and a video clip to connect their new understanding with real life.


Who doesn't love a foldable? I offer a product on TPT for an Ancient China interactive notebook. For some hands-on fun and learning, these are my favorite. I don't like foldables with intricate cutting, so all of mine are a quick cut. My kids love their interactive notebooks and touching all the fun folds and flaps.


Confession time. I am addicted to Google Classroom. My students adore it, which really just feeds my addiction. Due to this insatiable need to use Google Classroom, I created Ancient China for Google Classroom! It has lots of drag-&-drop feature to engage students, as well as fun colors and pictures. My school is not 1:1, so we complete these usually in table groups or in partners. Not only do the kids work on their understanding of Ancient China, but they work on their collaboration, communication, and technology skills - all those much needed 21st century skills!

No student will be confused about Confucius!

Do you study Ancient China in your classroom? What activities, crafts, or resources do you enjoy incorporating?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What I Am Teaching This Week: Week of March 19th


  • Geometry: We are in the midst of our geometry unit! This week we are focusing on symmetry, congruency, and similar. I do stations in my classroom (a teacher time station, math center station, lesson work which is an independent worksheet, and a computer station). I do the interactive notebook foldables in teacher time for new strategies that we are learning, and I like the Google Classroom portion for the computer. 

I do rotations for reading. One station this week will be word study related, one will be independent reading, and one will be a reading passage/comprehension. The fourth station will be working on adverbs with me at my small table.

  • Literature Circle: We start new books for book club this week! My kiddos are assigned one of four books depending on reading level. This cycle we are doing A Single Shard, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Shiloh, and A Wrinkle In Time. They complete their roles during independent reading time if they'd like in class, quiet time, or at home. They do their roles via Google Classroom with my Literature Circle for Google Drive & Google Classroom

  • Word study: We do our word study on Google Drive! I use words from Words Their Way and have three differentiated groups. Each group has the list of words, and complete each daily activity with a computer during a literacy center. The kids get a choice of what activites to do. All the activities align with a reading skill that they need to know in third-grade. They have a choice of ABC order, dictionary search, story writer, thesaurus search, word origins, and word value.
Adverbs on Google Drive

  • Writing prompt: We are finishing up our folklore stories! We revised and edited last week, so they will now be starting their finals. I am a big proponent of making keepsakes, so the kids strive to do their best handwriting and make a beautiful cover. The final copy is stapled and made into a beautiful storybook!

  • Ancient Greece: This week in Ancient Greece, we are covering direct democracy, philosophers, architecture, and the Parthenon! 
    • Direct democracy lesson:  First we watch some video clips on BrainPop and Learn360 about democracy. We talk about how direct democracy is different from representative democracy. Finally, we do a direct democracy simulation! Table groups create a new classroom rule, then everyone votes on the new rule. 
    • Philosopher lesson: We first watch the BrainPop on Athens. Then we talk about what a philosopher is, and the three main philosophers that are remembered from Ancient Greece (Plato, Socrates, and and Aristotle). Next, the kids become philosophers! They come up with their own philosophical sayings and then present them to the class. 
    • Architecture lesson: We use a worksheet from my Ancient Greece worksheets to look at the various types of columns. 
    • Parthenon lesson: We are watching a video clip on Learn360, then discussing the Elgin Marbles. Should they have been removed from Greece? We go over the term "perspective," and brainstorm two main perspectives on this controversy. Then, the kids write their opinions on the Elgin Marbles. 
  • VIDEO: BrainPop on Athens
  • VIDEO: BrainPop on direct democracy

Yay, fun week ahead! Let me know if you have any fun ideas or good video resources for various lessons that you may be teaching too :-)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Review: Keva Brain Builders

Did you know that Oriental Trading is affiliated with a site that has mind & brain-building toys?! Yes, the Oriental Trading that is often used to buy party favors, pencils, and holiday crafts. I was ecstatic when Mindware contacted me asking if I'd like a sample of some of their fabulous products. The first one that I tried out in my classroom are these Brain Builders by Keva. And I must say, I was impressed and my kids are having the time of their life during math centers.

These Brain Builders by Keva are my new favorite quick math center. I use them now for math centers since we started our geometry unit. These Brain Builders are available from Mindware for $14.99.The purpose of the Brain Builders it to turn 2D models into 3D models.

I try to include lots of hands-on and interactive materials in math centers, so these definitely fit the bill. These use all parts of a child’s brain! They show a picture of what the structure should look like from the front, side, and top. There is a solution on the back showing what the finished structure should look like. The cards go from a beginning to expert level. It’s funny – so many of my high flyers grab an expert card first, and then move back down to intermediate. These are tough! However, the kids LOVE the challenge. Since I teach in a gifted, self-contained classroom, many of my kids break down from a challenge, they just aren’t used to it. Although we constantly discuss a growth mindset, many kids still can’t quite handle the stress of difficult math centers. The opposite is true with the Keva BrainBuilders. They love the challenge, and actually collaborate and cooperate incredibly well!

 These things are tough, but the kids are so excited when they finish one of the puzzles! We take photos on SeeSaw, or I take a picture with my phone to upload to our class Twitter page.

Although I use them in math for all the kids, they would work well as an early finisher station, or during a chunk of time put aside for STEM. Focus on those engineering and building skills while having fun!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Spirit Day Fun In the Classroom

As head of the school council, I get full control over the school spirit days. At first this greatly intimidated me. In the past at my school, spirit days happened once a month. I was afraid that I would pick a "bad" spirit day or one that was disliked, and with only nine spirit days a year I would be crushed if they turned out badly! I quickly realized that spirit days do NOT have to be stressful. Plus, increasing the amount per year only results in more fun and surprisingly less pressure!

I truly think Spirit Days truly make school more fun! I organize them at our school every Friday now. I truly believe that it increases student AND teacher morale. My teammates and I have an absolute blast planning a group outfit for every Friday! Kids obviously love dressing up, but I think that adults forget how much fun that it is. It creates a dynamic and light-hearted community.

With the amount of data, deadlines, meetings, IEPs, parent emails, and school stress, spirit days help lighten the mood. So many of my coworkers pass me in the halls and say things like "It's a stressful week but I can't wait until Friday - I have my neon ready!" I love this interaction that happens through something as simple as a spirit day.

Okay - we are teachers. Some people might be thinking.... doesn't buying costumes add up? It can, but it's so easy now with Amazon to create your own or find something cheap! For example, last Friday was Super Hero Day. My teammates and I found this amazing set on Amazon that includes four capes, four bracelets, and four masks for only $20! That is only $5 each - so for the price of my favorite iced hazelnut latte at Starbucks I can participate in some spirit day fun for years to come.

You want to make sure that you have mass participation on spirit days. Nothing is worse than coming in to school dressed up and being the only person doing it! Here's ways that I advertise:

  • My student council representatives make posters every week and tape them around the school
  • I send out email reminders to teachers to write down the Spirit Day on their school planner so that the kids write it down in their agendas.
  • A weekly PTA email is sent out with the spirit day.
  • I remind parents on the school Facebook page
  • Every day on our morning news announcement, a reminder is made.

I try hard to make sure that spirit days do not exclude anyone or cause unneeded stress. I remember always being nervous as a child about spirit days like "twin day" or "multiple day" because I was afraid that no one would want to dress as me, or that my friends would choose to do it with other people instead of me.

I like to do mostly "low-key" spirit days such as the ones listed below, but once a month do the "going all out" spirit days with costumes!


  • Crazy Sock Day
  • Decades Day
  • Denim Day
  • Fandom Day
  • Hat Day
  • Jersey Day
  • Mustache Day
  • Neon Day
  • Rainbow Day
  • Wacky Hair Day
  • Ugly Sweater Day

  • Dr. Seuss Day (for Read Across America Day)
  • Harry Potter/Disney Day
  • Influential American Day
  • Superhero Day

Do you have spirit days at your school? What do you enjoy about them? Do you see an increase in student or teacher morale?

Monday, January 16, 2017

$10 Gift Card Giveaway!

Have you used resources from Teachers Pay Teachers? This fantastic online marketplace has been a lifesaver for me in the classroom. It allows teachers to buy other teacher-created products that have been proved and tested in the classroom. It has been so much more effective for me than using textbooks or worksheets slapped with a "Common Core" label that rarely even align with the standards.

I am having a giveaway for a $10 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers! Read below how to enter. This is a great opportunity to test out a few resources that you may have been eyeing, especially if you tend to only download the fabulous freebies on the website!

Want to win the $10 gift card? To enter, there are a few choices! You can follow Glitter in Third on Instagram, "like" Glitter in Third on Facebook, follow Glitter in Third on Teachers Pay Teachers, and/or just shout out what you're eyeing on TPT and might buy if you win the gift card. You can enter up to four times!

Feel free to email me at if you have questions concerning how to enter :-)

Winner will be announced and emailed on Monday,  January 23rd!

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