Monday, April 30, 2012

FREEBIE - Magnet Sorting Experiment

Magnet Sorting Experiment

Here is an experiment we use to learn which items
are attracted to magnets and which items are not.

It is always interesting to see what items the students predict will be attracted to magnets.  I am always surprised at the misconceptions.  One item they often incorrectly predict as one that WILL be attracted to a magnet is the copper penny.  They seem to assume that ALL metals are attracted to magnets.  We even get out one of each coin and take the investigation that much farther. 

My kiddos have a blast exploring with magnets!

This is one of 5 experiments in my newest product just uploaded this week to TPT and TN.  If you like this FREE product, please be sure to rate it. 

You may also want to download the FREE preview of my new complete 31-page product called, Magnets:A Complete Unit”. 

Feel free to come and visit my blog or Facebook fan page for more freebies, teaching tips and more.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Manic Monday FREEBIE #1

Introducing Manic Monday FREEBIES!!!

For 2nd, 3rd & 4th grade teachers...
(and anyone else who students are studying this)
Here's a Manic Monday FREEBIE I know you'll love! 

It's a subtraction place value game called

Your kiddos will become subtraction math wizzards as they practice their subtraction and place value skills while playing "As Close As Possible". They will love this game and beg you to let them play again and again. I've included a set of playing cards, a game board and a set of preparation and play directions.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Thursday, April 26, 2012

End of Year Photo Presentation

I can't believe it, but we only have
ONE MONTH left of school!

This year has flown by. I have so many sweet memories with my students and if you are like me, you probably took a few pictures along the way. Even if you didn't, there is still time if you want to do this same activity for a year-end presentation.

I did this for the first time a couple of years ago, and showed it at the party to my parents on the last day of school. We all LOVED it!

Warning: You may strike emotions and have a few tears!

The best thing about this for you...IT'S SIMPLE!!!
  • I took several pictures of my students in various places around the school and at different events.
  • I uploaded them to my computer.
  • I put them into a power point presentation and added a bit of clip art and a few cute quotes or comments.
  • To my Ipod, I downloaded the song from Toy Story, "You've Got a Friend In Me".
  • I set my powerpoint to advance to the next slide automatically every 15 seconds and rotate back to the beginning when done.
  • I did the same for my Ipod.
  • And, "Wah-La!"

You'll have a great visual conversation piece for your
end-of-year party, and your parents will be
confident that their child had
the absolute best teacher at your school!
Here are a few shots for you to get the idea.

I blocked the faces since I was putting this on the internet,
but in the classroom presentation, of course that would have defeated the purpose.
Here is an extra idea!

1. Copy, paste, and re-size your pictures into one color page.
2. Go to an office supply store and make color copies if your school doesn't offer that.
3. Laminate and give to parents afterwards.

Many parents don't get to come and take their own pictures
throughout the school year and this will be a treasure.
They will be so grateful to have this school memory!

Of course send them home with
those students whose parents don't attend.

I know you will enjoy making this as much as I do!

This post is in response to
Charity's 5 Star Blogger Award. 
Click on the award below and
go check out some other great blogs.

5-Star Blogger

Sunday, April 22, 2012

FREEBIE- Easter Bunny Decimals Asssessment

Here is a decimal assessment we used

just a few weeks ago at Easter.

Students in 3rd grade still struggle with number sense. One important skill they often lack is what I call "number line sense", especially when it comes to decimals. This number line sense is still difficult in 4th and with some in 5th. Use this Easter Bunny Decimal Assessment to see which of your kiddos still need some small group or individual reteaching. J

If you like this product, you may want to check out the complete instructional unit it came from called, "Easter Bunny Decimals" at my stores on either TPT or TN. Feel free to come and visit my blog or Facebook fan page for more freebies, teaching tips and more.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

FREEBIE- Ancient Greece Compare and Contrast Double Bubble Thinking Map

Have you been introduced to these new thinking maps? 

We had a staff development class on them during pre-planning this year, and we've tried to incorporate them into our weekly plans.  This thinking map is a graphic organizer that compares and contrasts two concepts. Its called a double-bubble thinking map.

Well here is one I use in my Ancient Greece unit.  Here in Georgia, one of our standards is to teach students to compare and contrast the culture, government and architecture of Ancient Greece to that of the United States.  My students really enjoy the activities, visuals, and lessons in this unit. 
This is one of the activities included in this unit.  Compare and contrast the architecture and culture of Ancient Greece with that of the United States with this double bubble thinking map.  If you like this, you may want to take a look at the full instructional unit called, “Ancient Greece:  Its Influence on American Architecture and Government.”  Enjoy this freebie on me. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Other Test Prep

As I prepare my kiddos for that high steaks end of year test, my main focus is on readiness and review. However there are a few other preparations I like to take care of as well.
1.Two to three weeks prior to the test, I contact parents and invite them to write a letter of encouragement to their youngster. The week before, I have them send it in a sealed envelope with their child's name on the outside. The morning of the test, I hand out these letters for students to see those tender words of encouragement just before their big task. For any students who did not receive a letter, I solicit letters from a few supportive staff members that might have a relationship with the students like our great librarian or their resource teacher. I don't want anyone left out. They seem to really love this, and so do the parents.

2. One week before the test, I send home a snack request letter to a select group of parents. I ask for individually wrapped (non-messy) snacks to be donated so that we can enjoy a short treat break between tests. Of course, I use these snacks as a bribe and tell my kiddos that if they try their very best, there will be a treat waiting for them (either between sections or afterwards).

3. The Friday before the test, our school puts on a Testing Pep Rally. Keep in mind that we are an elementary school. The band of a local high school comes to play for us and get us pepped up to do our best. It all starts with a parade. The band plays (its LOUD) and walks down each hall, as students have gathered in the halls, against the walls outside their classrooms. As the band comes back down our hall, our classes follow and join in the parade to the final destination-the pep rally. Not only does the band play, but our dance and jump rope teams perform. Then, the most popular event of the day puts on a performance...a group of daring teachers run out as our school's Cheerleaders! We have posters and actually do a cheer. We call our state test, the CRCT, so our cheer is centered around those letters. C=confident, R=ready, C=conquer, T=test. "We're Confident and Ready to Conquer the Test". And of course the crowd goes wild with laughter at those of us daring enough to reminisce of our younger days, actually do cartwheels and such! It's a lot of fun!

4 .On the day of the test, when my students arrive, at their desk, they find a pack of Smarties candies with a short note from me telling them that they are smart andI believe they will do great on this test.

5. During the testing week, I reward my students who get in the bed by 8:30, who bring a verification note from their parents, with a skittle. It always amazes me, how much I can get an 8-year-old to do, for just one or two little skittles or M&Ms! Having a 7-year-old of my own (and two older ones), I get first-hand experience with how sleep, or the lack of sleep, effects attitudes, mood, effort, and in this case, performance. I need them to be in the best state of mind that morning.
6. On the last day of the test, in the afternoon at our break time, we have a "Testing Celebration" to celebrate that we are done (either popcorn, popsicle or pizza party). Parents are usually very happy to provide this.

A few other thoughts of preparation...

* Even though we are given brand new #2 pencils, I like to hand out those colorful pencil top erasers. Kids just love those and they are an inexpensive way to make testing cheerful, not to mention my main reason...these erasers work much better than erasers made onto the top of certain brands of pencils.

I want to take this time to share the brand of pencil that I have found to be the absolute, best pencil on the market for my students and for my own children...wait for it is...Ticonderoga brand. Their eraser never leaves smudges, and makes erasing a breeze. I've never found their lead inside the pencil to be broken and they sharpen well. I feel my kids are cheated by pencil companies when they must sharpen the pencil over and over just to get a good point. Ticonderoga pencils come in the traditional yellow color, as well as black (which my son loves), and more.

*We are fortunate, that our school offers free breakfast duringthis testing week also. We know how important a full stomach can be. No one can do their best when they are hungry.

Many of you probably do similar preparations for your end-of-year testing, but hopefully you’ve come away with at least one new idea that might help make your kiddos' testing experience a bit easier.

If you have a moment, leave a Test Prep Tip of your own...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Testing Review: Daily Math and Grammar

I use this product to review those grammar and math skills I've taught earlier in the year. This is my daily morning work portion of my Testing as a Genre Unit.  If you switch classes or students and don't have them for homeroom you could use it as a sponge activity, after student finish other work.

Later in the day, I go over all morning work.  I gather all of my students on the carpet near my chart as we use our ink pens to check out work.  I use that opportunitiy to reteach any that are missed.  Using a checklist system, I keep up with who misses which skills.  Once every few days, I pull a small group of students to provide more intense work with these skills. 

This product contains 2 weeks of daily review work, 10 days in all. It is set up to view on the smart board to reduce that paperwork, but of course copies can be made. Answer keys are included.  If you don't have anything like this in your Testing as a Genre Unit, you may want to add it. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

FREEBIE-Powerful Prefixes: Mini-Matching cards

I am so excited !   I've been invited to be a contributor to Classroom Freebies Too!  This is a blog whose members share ideas and freebies with other teachers.

This will be my first FREEBIE posted to that site, and I would like to share this freebie with you, Powerful Prefixes: Mini-matching cards. This is just a smaller version of a larger game in my "Testing Review Game of the Day".  Use these prefix cards, their meanings and example word cards as a matching game or in your small groups as you teach prefixes. I hope this product will be helpful.

Click on the picture and you will be able to download it from my TPT store.

The complete 20-page unit, including the larger matching game, a cool prefix spinners game, and more can be found at my store on TPT.  It's simply called Powerful Prefix Games, for only $5.00.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Product- Barnyard Friends Graphing: Lessons, Activities and Game

I just finished a brand new product, Barnyard Friends Graphing. 

I designed this product to teach students
how to read graphs and
how to make graphs in order to represent data. 

The focus is on bar graphs and pictographs. 

I’ve included instructional slides with guided practice,
center graphing activities, task cards and independent graphing activities. 

Best of all, there is an exciting graphing game for students to practice this skill to perfection. This can be played as a center game 
or with the whole class. 

I actually made the game first, before the completed unit, and tried it out on my students.  They loved the game so much that I added it to my CRCT review games of the week.  You can find Barnyard Friends Graphing at my store on TPT or at my shop on TN 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Testing Reveiw: Game of the Day -Tuesday

Trying to get as much review in as possible
with only one week left before the big TEST day!

Today, we took practice tests in reading and in math.
We checked our answers together and then I re-taught concepts as needed.

We all tried to do our very best work as we really looked forward to our
"Testing Review Game of the Day".

It went great! They had a great review!
On Tuesday,
 Our Testing Review Game of the Day will be...
from the full activity packet called, Powerful Prefixes.

This activity can by used for 1 student or up to a group of 6. The objective is to create new words by pairing various root words with each prefix provided, but of course, playing a game makes it much more fun!

These are prefix spinners.
Students use these spinners and the following root word cards to create words.
How to Play:
· (game format) Player 1 chooses one of the 3 spinners and spins the arrow. The player looks for a root word that can be paired with the prefix. If a new word can be made, that player records that information on the game sheet, and the turn goes to the next player. If the player cannot make a new word, he looses the turn.

The player with the most matches at the end wins.
Above see the recording sheet to be used at the end of the game.

Go have fun playing with them!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Testing Plan for Reading

Step 1 Before Reading: Identify the genre. Once my students know what the genre of the passage is (fiction or non-fiction), then they can make a plan to look for the elements characteristic of that genre.
Step 2 During Reading: If the text is a fictional piece, plan to look for elements generally found in fictional text: setting, characters, problem, attempts to solve, solution, dialogue, lesson learned, and other key events.
If it is nonfiction, plan to frame the paragraphs or sections of text. Then read to determine what that paragraph or section is mostly about and record it in the margin, right next to that portion.

Underline words that seem to be key words. Examples of these might be: names of important documents, names of events in history, accomplishments or achievements, etc.
Step 3 After Reading: This part takes place once the student has finished reading the passage, is are now looking at the questions. Teach students what key words are in questions, by showing examples of questions and determining key words together. Teach these examples.  Words like when are asking for a date.  Words like who are asking for a name.  Sequence words are key:  first, next, last, finally, etc.
Tell students that a "good" answer often comes before the "best" answer in a list of answer choices. Tell them that one major problem many third-graders (or your grade) have when testing is that they often stop when they read that "good" answer. Tell that these students usually would have chosen the correct answer, had they done one key thing...READ ALL ANSWER CHOICES. A good test taker reads all answer choices and continues reading all choices, even after finding what might be the correct answer. Then, since the reader has read all the answer choices to consider, the reader can make the most informed decision, and usually does much better on tests, than before he learned to read all answer choices.
Just as it was when I was a student in school, we still need to teach students how to identify one or two answer choices that are obviously not the correct answer choice. Tell them to draw a line over the letter of the choice to "eliminate" the selection as an answer choice. Elimination just keeps students from being overwhelmed with so many choices, and makes the chances greater that a correct answer will be chosen.
"Prove-Its"  - This is my favorite thing to teach during this unit, because when the students get used to doing this with automaticity, it can really make a huge difference. For some reason, third-graders seem to think this test is like a science or social studies test taken at the end of a unit, where they must read material, study, then take the assessment, without having the reading material in from of them. To students, his often means "guessing" if they don't quickly recall the information.
I really try to get this point over to them...this is not that kind of test. In many ways, this is a test of how well you can locate information, not how well you can guess. They realize the difference when you have them read a passage completely first, then answer the questions without looking back.
Now, have them put their pencils away and give them blue or black ink pens along with the reading passage. Have them go back and locate the answers to each question, underlining the answer and writing the number of the question in the margin next to the underlined answers. I tell them this is proving their answers. Check together. (We always use red pens when we check together. Parents know I use colored markers other than red when I grade, so they can quickly identify what has been checked together for feedback, but no grade.) Have students notice if they did better the second time, as they went back into the text to locate answers, to "prove-it".
This "proving" keeps down the temptation to "guess".
Third-graders always seem to think they made a 100% on all papers turned in, and are surprised when they receive anything different. This is a hard concept for them to accept. However, if you do this above activity enough, they'll get the idea. Whether they accept it or not, if they will get used to doing "Prove-Its" on everything, chances are they will do it on your state testing and get much better results, than just guessing.
I hope this article is helpful as you plan for your tests.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Testing Review Game of the Day

Next week we will continue our testing unit,
with only one week left before the big TEST day!

In my head, all I hear is, "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!"

I know I will be doing a lot more talking myself than usual, so to keep my little ones attention on as much of the review as possible, each day I've planned a "Testing Review Game of the Day".

On Monday,

 our Testing Review Game of the Day will be...

This is a game packed full of everything they need to know about the responsibilities at each level of government, and who is accountable for them.

These are the question cards that are set up so
they will easily copy with the answers on the back.

This game is included in my unit packet with the same name (links above).  My kids have been begging to play it since we finished our government unit. 

Well, they get their wish!  We’re playing it on Monday!
Come and get it, if you want to play too!
Red star boarder is complements of Tessa Maguire.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What Went Right Today? - Linky Party

This idea begin with Teresa at Confessions of a Teaching Junkie and Dana at 3rd Grade Gridiron.  Together they got this Positive Power going.

Here's the deal... Think about the things that went RIGHT for you and/or your kids in your classroom today, (or if you are on Spring Break or enjoying your weekend, think of this day).
No positive thought is too small!

Here's what to do:
1. Right click and copy the blank "What Went Right Today?" image below.
2. Open Power Point and insert (or paste) the image
3. Create text boxes and type in you positives.
4. Copy all (ctrl A)
5. Save as a jpeg or png (jpegs seem to work easier for me)
6. Upload the image to your blog.
It's that easy!
On May 1, Teresa will randomly draw from all the participants and the winner will receive a positively wonderful
$10 Starbucks Gift Card.
In order to be eligible you must...
1. Follow this blog (3rd Grade Grapevine)
4. Post your "What Went Right Today?" on your blog and link back to Confessions of a Teaching Junkie.

Here's mine...
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