Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I do not have the best storage in my classroom, but I try my best to work with the space I have! Although really... does any teacher truly think they have the most amount of storage ever and they don't know what to do with it all??? The cabinets above my sink are kind of sucky. We can't put anything heavy in them.... a teacher put books in them three years ago and they literally collapsed right off the wall!!

 I decided on Monday that I needed some kind of a change, so that change was bound to happen in my cabinets. I have been making a lot of math center games for my store, and I think I wanted a nice place to hold and sort through them.

My cabinets have been driving me cray cray. I also have a ton of stuff for math, but always forget I have it during a specific unit. I recycled some extra book bins I had, created some labels, laminated them, and hot-glue-gunned those suckers on while my kids were in art class. Ta-da!!! I am so much happier with them! The boxes don't fit perfectly straight-on, but it's perfect to hold my center games, quiz-quiz-trade review games, and demonstrative manipulative pieces.



As you can tell... I ran out of book boxes and had to resort to some navy ones that I had. However, it worked out great. I have a ton of center games for multiplication/division as well as place value, so I wanted these units to have slightly bigger boxes anyway. Those unlabeled boxes above? I am going to make labels for Challenge 24, Marcy Cook tiles, and my decks of cards.

I will probably hate this set up by next month, I am quite fickle in my likes of the week. But for now, I'm loving it :-)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Five for Friday!




Happy Friday!!!! 

We just came back from a field trip this afternoon to the Natural History Museum. We had SUCH a great time, I love watching the kiddos get excited about science. Field trips are a fun break from the school day, definitely a breath of fresh air! Our bus driver was hilarious (although at one point he told the kids something about how his "wife thinks he's sexy"....? Other than that, he was quite charming and the students adored him). Our school district sent us a warning last night about a possible snow day! I am very happy that it didn't end up happening, rescheduling the field trip would have been very irritating and a hassle. 


We made these probability crafts the other day using "gumball machines." I just put the craft up on TPT. I love them! We make fraction pizzas and fraction ice cream sundaes, so probability gumball machines just had to be the next step! I love how the brightly colored gumballs turned out, these will look adorbs hanging up on our corkboard at school :-)



I went on a shopping spree last night at Nordstrom. My self-control clearly is not the best. My gym is reopening soon after a water break issue, and so I decided that I MUST be dressed to impressed when they reopen. I am so sad not getting to go to yoga, pump, pilates, and zumba weekly (my softening body may be even more sad). So at least I will be looking sporty and cute when they reopen and I am in pain from working out again.


Did you read about the California wine arsenic scare? As a Trader Joe's Charles Shaw connoisseur, this totally freaked me out last night... I have about five bottles in my fridge right now (I admit it). My boyfriend says the whole lawsuit is basically a scam, so I slightly feel better about my thirst for $3.39 white wine. 

I have so many chores to do this weekend! Mainly piles upon piles of clothing that need to be sorted, washed, and folded. My apartment feels so cluttery lately, looks like I need to put myself to work and deal with it. Spring cleaning, anyone??

Monday, March 16, 2015

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day!

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day! We had a lovely workday tomorrow, where I decided to be festive. In the past I haven't done much for St. Paddy's day with my kiddos. My students in the past have been...well... sometimes not into "little kiddish stuff." Talking about a leprechaun going cray cray in our classroom was probably not their cup of tea. This class, however? Oh my, they are ALL for it.
I am a Target $1 Spot junkie. I LOVE their seasonal gel clings!!!


Here is our morning message! I hope they get excited when they walk into the classroom. I had my teammate from across the hall write it in order to conceal Leo the Leprechaun's true identity :-)

To take it a step further, I cut out some cute little footprints and stuck them around my door and window. I will my my window open tomorrow to show Leo's "escape"! Woah, those footprints look even worse in photographs. I am not too artistic when it comes to cutting....or drawing...or painting....
What does your class do to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? I am off to CVS to pick up some gold coins that Leo shall be leaving as a fun treat!

Folklore!


In third quarter, one of our focus' in language arts is folklore. Specifically, differentiating between fairy tales, fables, tall tales, myths, and legends. This is such a FUN unit! I actually didn't know that all those fell under the "folklore" category until I taught third-grade. Did you learn this in school? Perhaps I just have the worst memory ever. However, learning about the differences between tall tales, myths, legends, fairy tales, and fables is a blast. No wonder the kids love it!

I created my own unit on this since I never could find many resources through my county or on the Internet. It is so stinking cute, I can't even handle it. I love all the little people and characters I used. My students always make comments on the clip art and how much they love it. Great minds think alike :-)

There are a few things that I love doing for this unit.
1. Reading a book of each genre and whole-group creating a chart of characteristics
2. Checking out a stack of folklore and making the categorization of each into a center activity
3. The kids write a folktale of their choice, using the characteristics of the genre that they choose.



Firstly, I put together a booklet for each of the kids. When I say "put together," I mean that I print off the pages and send them through the copy machine to get stapled and double-sided. If I had a big Staples "Easy" button, I could totally push it. EASY EASY EASY.


Each day I devote to learning a new type of folklore and reading the kids a story. We fill out these sheets as well so that the kids understand the characteristics, setting, characters, and setting. For example, I read a Paul Bunyan picture book for the tall tales day. We discussed the book, then went over key characteristics. Here is my chart that I created. Don't I have the best handwriting ever? (HA. My students even write better than me :-( ). If I ever have 5-10 minutes left over at the end of the day, I log onto YouTube and type in "tall tale" or "folktale." There are TONS of read alouds online that are super quick and perfect for letting the day end peacefully while educating my fantastic kiddos.

You'll see on my chart that I put down traditional... not exactly a real category. But I use it to introduce the other ones! It encompasses some of each.
Here's what I read for each category:
Fairy tale: Rapunzel by Paul Zelinsky (a beautiful Caldecott winner)
Legend: King Arthur (I can't remember which one.... but it is a short picture book in our library)
Fable: Fables by Arnold Lobel (Caldecott)
Myths: Book of myths (usually read Pandora's box, Arachne)
Tall tale: Paul Bunyon


I love these posters, so cute. They are also helpful when the kids need to quickly glance to figure out where their book is categorized into!


After we learn about all the types of folklore, I make this a center activity for a week. I get a stack of books from the school library. Students read a book, then categorize it into the proper folklore category on their chart. What I love is that they are reading a variety of fiction and are working on systematically comparing and contrasting literary details.


Finally, the kids get to pick out a type of folktale to write a story on. I LOVE this assignment! The kids are so creative and get really into it. It's so funny to hear their dilemmas about which to write.... a myth or legend?? Tall tale? And then halfway through I often hear "OH wait I am writing a tall tale, not a myth!". I love seeing their minds at work :-)

If you're interested in the package, take a peek here!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Edible soil



As I previously said, I am not a fan of teaching soil! My classroom is always covered in mud and dirt from the experiments (ick!). In the past we created soil tubes to demonstrate the layers of soil. However, it was always really hard to get the dirt in tubes, and the soil layers would sink quickly. Third-graders are not too impressed when their topsoil ends up being bedrock within 15 minutes. 

This year, I wanted to demonstrate the layers of soil in a different way. I chose to make edible soil! They LOVED this. A few weeks before I needed materials, I sent out a Google Doc to parents to sign up for different parts of the "experiment." For a class of 27 kids, I needed one box of Cheerios, one box of Cocoa Krispies, two bags marshmallows, three bags of gummi worms, cups, and mini M&M's. First put in Cheerios, then marshmallows, then Cocoa Krispies, sprinkle in some M&M's to be humus mixed in with the topsoil, and finally place a scary gummi worm on top :-)

Cheerios: Bedrock
Marshmallows: Subsoil
Cocoa Krispies: Topsoil
Mini M&M's: Humus
Gummi worms: creepy, crawly worms

I called kids up in groups of three to create their treat and label it. Once everyone had been served, they could eat it as a yummy snack. Try it, your kids will love it and it's a nice, memorable experiment for them :-)



Let's talk about SOIL! And interactive notebooks....



I am so excited to share my newest creation with you, my Soil Interactive Notebooks! In third-grade, one of our science units is soil. Ugh. Literally my least favorite subject to teach ever. My room is always covered in dirt and mud for our experiments. Soil, in my very humble opinion, is not just that interesting compared to all our other fun units like life cycles and earth's cycles.





















Anyway, I am a newfound lover of interactive notebooks. They are fun and remind me of scrapbooks. I recently learned how to create my own, and now I am an interactive notebook addict. My name is Kelly, and I am way too into interactive notebooks.

You may have already guessed from what I wrote above, but I hate dirt. I hate clutter. I hate stuff everywhere. Needless to say, I normally am not a fan of cutting and pasting in my classroom. Interactive notebooks I tried in the past unfortunately had too much cutting. For example, cutting an accordion of hearts. Accordion hearts are CUTE, but when it comes to my 8-year-olds, cutting accordion hearts is ultimately a waste of time. For my interactive notebooks, I chose sizes and shapes that are simple to cut yet still engaging to look at and flip open.




My students LOVE these interactive notebooks. I was surprised to find that they enjoy the cutting, the gluing, the coloring, and having them as a reference point. I am a big proponent of "no wasted time," so I don't give my kiddos much time to color during science. I find that most of my kids want their notebooks colored, so they will take them home at night or use our 15 minutes of Quiet Time to make them look perfect. It is like a self-directed art project!


These notebooks are just fun, and an awesome visual for information. Look at the Components of Soil star. All the information needed to know is there, but it is in a fun and appealing look for the kids. The points of the star are movable, it folds up. The soil erosion causes box folds up as well, and it is an easy way to look at and understand information. Basically these books are one big visual organizer in one spot!





Do you use interactive notebooks in your classroom? Do you have any tips on how they are best integrated in your room?

If you're interested in looking at my soil interactive notebooks, feel free to take a peek at them here!