Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Probability activities

Probability is generally super easy for the kids, so I try and incorporate as many fun activities into the unit as I can. 

I did a couple of activities today. First, I gave each child a Dixie cup filled with about a teaspoon of Fruity Pebbles. They found the fraction probability of each color, and then decided which vocabulary word would match. 

Here's activity that a teammate lent me that I adore. It's a life-size probability chart! She glued together pieces of computer paper and then laminated them. The kids loved this. We sat around the chart in a circle (constantly reminding the kids to not scoot forward so that the whole circle can see!). The kids wrote events down on an index card. These could range from simple ones (I will eat dinner today), to ones that clearly weren't going to happen (I will find a unicorn name Rosebud and eat potatoes with it). One by one, the kids would come up, read their index card to the crowd, then find the probability that their card would lie. Most of the boys wrote silly events that were clearly impossible. But sometimes there would be events that the kids would want to discuss and argue over. Carlos wrote "Potatoes will fly." He immediately stood on the Impossible section. Kids raised their hand to answer. Answers ranged from suggesting catapulting a potato, to one boy saying that potatoes are often served on airplanes (so darn creative). This was an excellent way to reinforce the probability vocabulary as well as a visual reminder of the fractions, decimals, and percents that coincide with each term. 


What do you do for probability?




Tuesday, May 6, 2014

VA SOL: Explorers

As the History SOL sneaks up on us, I am preparing my kiddos in any way that I can! Although in the big picture standardized tests do not truly show how much a child has learned, they are unfortunately a vital part of life. The kids will be taking these until the are adults, so we might as well get into the swing of them now so that they can feel secure and confident in their testing abilities.

One of the topics that I notice is particularly difficult for my third-graders is explorers. In Virginia, the kids need to know Christopher Newport, Christopher Columbus, Juan Ponce de Leon, and Jacques Cartier. All their names sound similar (Chris, Chris, Cartier, Columbus, BLAHHHHHHH), and all their sailing intentions were pretty darn similar. Minus Juan and his hope to find the fountain of youth. Nice try, Juan. #fountainofyouthfail


Oh, Jacques! Such a charmer.
Here's something I did in the past. In student teaching we made these cute explorer brochures. This picture of the brochure is my fave. Whenever I explain Jacques Cartier to the kids I try to talk in a French accent and tell them to picture him wearing a beret and french fries. Totally ridiculous, but whatevs, it works! They always remember from that point on! 



Explorers Brochure!

Impacts of Europeans on American Indian




















This year, the kids and I created a big mural for the hallway. I am stoked with how it turned out. Today on the kids' morning work I wrote questions like "Where did Christopher Columbus land?" and "Who wanted to discover the fountain of youth?" A couple of my kiddos raised their hand and proclaimed they did not remember. I smiled and said "GO OUTSIDE!!" They ran out there and found the answer! My teammates are going to bring their kid to my wall for a "field trip" to study all the different explorers. 


This mural took a little bit of effort in the morning for me to start, but probably about half an hour at most. I ran to the storage room and grabbed some butcher paper (please excuse the sloppy edges...). I taped white butcher paper to my SmartBoard, then found black-and-white versions of each explorer. Using a sharpie I drew the outline of each explorer's head. Christopher Columbus clearly should have been larger.... WHOOPS. Sorry, Chris. Then I traced a map to place in the center.

I let the kids color the pictures after their morning work. The coloring took about 20 minutes, but the kids were super excited. We don't color much in the classroom, so it was a fun and relaxing break. Each kid also got to write one of the vital pieces of information from the SOL on a sentence strip. During lunch I constructed this beauty, and the kids LOVED reading and looking at it when they returned. What do you think?!? It can easily be done with any person that the kids need to remember!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Teacher appreciation week!

My goodness, teacher appreciation week is one of those weeks that reminds me how lucky I am to have such wonderful students and parents.

Yesterday I received a plethora of beautiful flowers and vases from my kiddos. One of my parents decorated my door in beautiful pink paper, flowers, hearts, and streamers. Clearly my class knows how much I love pink! I loved seeing how excited the kids were to run up to me and hand me their sweet gifts. This year started out challenging, but it has become so rewarding to see where these kids are now!

Today the kids wrote adorable and kind notes. I was lucky enough to get one of my notes read on the morning news from one of my sweet girls. It is always funny reading what the kids write on the notes... sometimes I do not realize how much I may have bonded with one of my students until I read one of their surprisingly intricate and doting notes, it truly serves as a wakeup call.