Monday, November 28, 2011

In November... FREEBIES!

This last week of November, I am going to start something new in writing – we are going to work on poetry! To lay a foundation for the kinds of language kids need to be using for poetry, we are going to read In November by Cynthia Rylant.

I have the text typed up and I’m going to give a copy of the text to each kid. I don’t want them to see the pictures yet. Then we’re going to sort some of the lines of imagery from the book onto this chart.

After that, we’re going to illustrate a class book. Each kid will get one page to illustrate using the details from the text and we’ll compile them into a book! This is what some of our pages look like so far.

LOL Love the scarf.
This bear cracks me up.

This text prompted a LOOOONG
conversation about the meaning of
the word 'beneath'.

Next, I want to start working on using the kinds of language we found in In November to help us create some of our own beautiful language. I’m going to divide the class into teams and give each team a picture of a December-like scene. They’re going to record the details they can observe with their five senses on this chart.

Then we’re going to practice using the details to write some beautiful lines, using language like Rylant does in In November.

This is all just prewriting to get the kids thinking about the kinds of language and details they’ll include in their poem.

Once we’ve practiced writing beautiful lines, we’re going to plan out our poems using this graphic organizer (based on the main ideas from In November, but simplified). 

Then, after we revise, and edit, we will publish on some pretty paper.

I want to do some kind of cute project-y thing with it. I need some ideas! :)

ALSO! I heart teaching elementary is having a great giveaway of the book Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching. Visit here to enter!

*Fonts from, clipart from Scrappindoodles.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Prefix Penguin & South Pole Suffixes

It. Is. Happening.

Today is a very exciting and special day.

No, I did not go see Twilight.

I am putting my first items for sale up on Teachers Pay Teachers! I've had several free items posted, but this will be the first time I try to actually sell something for money.

I can't tell you how excited I am. If only one individual buys one of my items, I will consider myself an enormous success.

I put a lot of love and care into preparing these two sets of activities. Being Christmas, I had to (had to) include an adorable theme with the clipart I found on Scrappindoodles. There's something about that penguin that just gets me! So my first set of activities is called "Prefix Penguin." Prefix Penguin activities (nine pages) include a matching game that would be suitable for a file folder game, or a center or station, plus several other printables for practicing prefixes. Purchase it here.

Look how cute he is!!

South Pole Suffixes is a similar set of activities for suffixes. 

Included is the file folder game/center/station plus several pages for students to use to practice identifying and adding/subtracting suffixes. You can purchase it at my TPT store here.

I also added my cute bee-themed STAR Revising posters. Based on the work of Kelly Gallagher, the posters prompt students to use the four basic revising strategies: Substitute, Take Out, Add In, and Rearrange. Buy them here.

Thanks so much for your support! Please comment with feedback! :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving is here! Thanksgiving is here! Is it bad that, in my mind, the word Thanksgiving rhymes with the word pie? Yesterday my mother and I baked fifteen pies. Fifteen. Today, I plan to eat most of them.
One more pie was still in the oven!
This morning, I woke up thinking about turkey. OK, you probably did too, but these are the two ways I was thinking about turkey today:

1. I had a dream that my mother told my boyfriend he had to eat a plateful of spaghetti before Thanksgiving dinner was served so he wouldn't eat so much turkey. Because on my brother's birthday, my boyfriend at all the guacamole & tostadas. (This second part actually happened.)

2. A memory of a Tense Turkey day in my classroom floated to the top of my brain. This is the memory.

Several years ago, my formal observation fell on the week before Thanksgiving. My kids and I were writing pieces about turkeys - "The Adventures of the Turkey," and my kids were definitely in turkey mode. I had a little girl, Sally (name changed), who had some special needs and didn't understand lots of social norms. She had spent all day acting as a turkey, gobbling and chomping her beak. She was in character.

My assistant principal came in (loudly) and proceeded to watch the lesson (with only minimal interfering). Having been formally evaluated, I am sure you know the range of emotions racing through my teacher brain - oh my God what is Jamie doing - that answer didn't even make sense - what do you mean you don't remember - sit down - sit down - sit down - no you can't have any water right now -you're making me look bad - look smarter - sound smarter - be smarter!

After an uneventful forty-five minutes (during which time, my AP was undoubtedly was able to uncover every aspect of my teaching) she rose and walked towards the back of the classroom. I began to breathe again and started to think maybe everything was going to be ok. Then...

As she passed Sally, Sally turned, and almost in slow motion, I saw her reach out and grab her leg firmly (grabbed the leg of my assistant principal - the leg which was clad in a pastel green polyester suit) and cheerfully shouted, "Turkey Leg! Chomp! Chomp!"

The class froze. I froze. My AP froze. Sally stared at her happily.

"More like a chicken leg with these skinny legs!" my AP shouted back. Everyone laughed uncomfortably until my AP left the room. Sally continued to chomp happily, unaware that she had just caused me to wet my pants. Lord. Children make me crazy.

That's the only observation I've ever had that went a little weird. Anyone else have any observation stories?

Also, Thanksgiving bonus! Here's a little number line game with an ornament theme to use in your classroom.

Grab it here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Spirit of Giving!

I know it is still the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I know this, and yet I prefer to pretend Thanksgiving has already happened. That is because I have spent the last several days working on my Christmas shopping and wrapping everything!

On Monday, I wrapped all the gifts I had already bought.

On Tuesday, I added ribbon curls and bows to all the gifts I had already wrapped! I have a few things left to get, and of course, it's the BIG things I have left. But I am very impressed and shocked that I have gotten so much done already! What am I going to do in December when everyone else is Christmas shopping? I can make more cute teacher stuff to share!

I have been inspired by all of the supercute stuff I see on everyone's blogs! So, to contribute to the spirit of giving, here are some parts of speech posters I made this morning! Included are nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions. Please comment if you take them!

 Get them from my TPT store here for free until Friday!

Happy Christmas - er - Thanksgiving! 

P.S. Yesterday, I won a set of autumn math activities and winter math activities from The Third Grade Gridiron! Thank you!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thankful Linky Party!

Wow! My first linky party! This one's hosted by What the Teacher Wants and Oh' Boy Fourth Grade! I've never done one before! Here goes - let's see if I do it right.


What am I thankful for in my classroom?

I am thankful for a lot of things in my classroom. This year, I have twenty little people who are dropped off every day to learn something. Their parents have entrusted me (ME?!) with these little people, and hope that I’ll care about them and worry about them and help them grow just like they do. I’m thankful I have administration that lets me teach the way I believe is best and doesn’t micromanage me or shove testing down my throat. I’m thankful I work with these wonderful colleagues!

Third grade fruit for Halloween. I'm the pineapple!
As far as an item I'm thankful for - it's most DEFINITELY my ELMO document camera & projector. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It makes my teaching life so much better :)

What person am I most thankful for?

This is a tricky question! It’s the singular form of person that makes it so hard! I am a person who loves people, (aren’t all teachers?!) so I have to modify it to the people I’m most thankful for. That would be these people (my family at my brother’s wedding)

And this guy (the one who was taking the pictures!) Fernie is my boyfriend of three years. He’s a photographer who also works for my school district!

What three blogs are you most thankful for?

I think I have to put Amy Lemons first, because she was my introduction into the world of teacher blogs! Everything is sooooo cute and it makes me want to make my materials even cuter!

I also love A Teeny Tiny Teacher.

A Teeny Tiny Teacher
The writing style makes me happy !

And Pitner’s Potpourri always has great ideas and resources for third grade.

What guilty pleasure am I most thankful for?

Guilty pleasure… I don’t feel guilty about much, really. I don’t have a Twilight fetish or listen to the Backstreet Boys… Whipped cream? Marshmallows? Sugar in general? Yes, I think that’s my guiltiest pleasure. Sugar.

Such as this tasty hot chocolate with whipped cream from
my present-wrapping escapades earlier today

What am I most thankful for?

I’m pretty darn blessed! I’m thankful for my family and faith and all the wonderful people I am blessed to share with. I’m thankful for traditions that make me feel cozy and the enormous bookshelf in my living room that’s full of awesome books. I’m thankful I’m a teacher, because I can’t imagine any other career that would fill my heart and mind up as much as teaching does.

Water, water everywhere

Everyone's posts have been so delightfully turkey-ish that I feel silly about my water cycle! But that's what I had to teach last week in science. The kids had a LOT of background knowledge from the investigations we did about changes in states of matter, and from second and first grade. 

So first, we did a graffiti gallery walk to activate background knowledge. I put four charts around the room with four different pictures, but no labels: a cloud with raindrops, arrows pointing towards a forming cloud, a water running down a hill into a lake, and a sun shining down on water with arrows pointing up. The kids moved in groups throughout the room, writing what they saw and knew about the pictures. They already knew a lot!

Next, we watched a Brainpop jr. about the water cycle.

Then, we made these foldables!

I heart foldables :)

In our ensuing conversations, I was enlightened about what my kids do outside when it rains.

"What's precipitation?" one of the kids asked.

"It's any form of water falling from the clouds to the earth, like rain, sleet, snow, or hail," I said.

"What's hail?" one of the other kids asked.

"It's like a ball of ice."

"Yeah," one of the kids said, "and it's a choking hazard." Dead. Serious. What the WHAT?!

I expected the other kids to laugh, but they mostly just nodded. I chuckled and asked, "A choking hazard?"

"Yup." Apparently, when it's raining (and even when it's almost bad enough to hail!) my students stand outside, staring up at the sky with their mouths wide open, in danger of choking on hail.

My job is awesome.

For this folded flapbook and so many more cool activities for teaching the water cycle and weather, check out my Water, Water Everywhere Unit on TPT!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Today was turkey-licious! We spent the morning working with our second grade buddies to make these Synonym Turkeys.

My neighbor down the hall did Turkeys in Disguise. 
There were all different kinds, but these were some of our favorite.
Lady Gaga

Ben Roethlisberger

The King!
But I think this one is my favorite.
The biggest turkey I know! Our principal! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Genre Study Freebie!

I am so excited!! I have just finished updating and cute-ifying my third grade genre study book! And as a result of how excited I am, I am going to post a sample here as a freebie! I use this book as a way to collect observations, noticings, and important characteristics of the various genre we study in the third grade in Texas. The more genre kids are exposed to, the more they will notice patterns and differences in and between genre, so I try to expose kids to several texts of each kind during shared reading and guided reading too. Based on the TEKS as I read them, these are the text genre third graders in Texas read:

Narrative or Personal Narrative (I use this one as a model for writing our own narratives)
* There are also a couple of media genre.

Right now, we're a little behind (that's where I live; a little behind) so we're barely moving past the folktales and myths. But we had a lot of great conversations and observations take place during this part of our genre study!

Below are a few sample pages that you can grab for free at TPT. Just click the image.
To download the entire document (about eighteen pages), please click here to visit my TPT Store! It's a great way to keep your kids organized and motivated, and provide a reference tool to review characteristics of various genre!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Turkey Day! (and tiny marshmallow dumbells)

I was going to call this post "Edible Turkey Day," until I thought about it and realized...Duh. Turkeys are already edible.

Every year, my school holds two holiday luncheons. One is for Christmas and the other is for Thanksgiving. For Thanksgiving this year, the kids in odd numbered grades (1,3,5) have to make decorations and they can invite their parents to come have lunch with them. For Christmas, we'll switch. Usually, I end up doing wall decorations - this is easy! They can make a wreath or color something. But this year, I ended up with table decorations. I wanted something 3-D that the kids could take home with them and put on their own table, so I decided to have the kids make the same turkey I used to make when I was in school. Apparently, only a couple of them had ever done it before! So I went off to Wal-Mart and bought apples, marshmallows, toothpicks, paper plates, and gumdrops.

First, the kids colored some leaves and cut them out. They glued them to cover the bottom of a plate. Then they took an apple and made it into a turkey. Super simple, but Kids. Love. Marshmallows. In the middle of the toothpick-marshmallow madness, from the other end of the room, I heard one of the kids grunting, as in 'lifting a heavy box' grunting, or 'struggling to change a tire' grunting. Glancing over, I saw Abraham (name changed) straining and groaning to lift...

his tiny toothpick-marshmallow dumbell. Lord. Maybe it's the long hours, but I started to giggle. And once I started I couldn't stop! I think I laughed about that little dumbell for about twenty minutes. Not normal.

So anyway, this is how the turkeys turned out.

 The kids were super excited and I think I answered the question, "Can we eat it?" about fifty times. I also averted two turkey mohawk disasters and caught one little guy licking, "But I'm not eating it!" a marshmallow. (I think my favorite part is the little feet we had to add on so they would balance upright. They look like they're wearing little turkey shoes! :)

Also, guess what?! The 5Ws cube I uploaded the other day wasn't quite square on each side! I tried it out myself today and was a little disappointed with the dimensions. I uploaded the new and improved file and everything should be better now. In case you'd like it, here it is.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reading: Character Study & Guided Reading Freebies

So, I've been a little (lot) nutty today and I spend a little (ton of) time updating some of my files and making them more interesting to look at. This one is a character study organizer that can be used when you're looking to identify character change caused by a turning point event. Take it if you want it! Please just comment to let me know. :)

My character study strategy minipack is available on TPT - full of tools for teaching students to analyze characters! Download the preview for two printable anchor charts and to see what's included in the product!

Also, here's my guided reading chart - I got the idea from my friend Judy who has kids color in their reading levels as they reach in another level, and I just typed it up. It's a nice motivator and a way for kids to be accountable for their effort and growth during guided reading. (Based on DRA reading levels)

Guided Reading Freebie Pack
This tracker is part of the freebie! Check it out on TPT!

Reading Stations

I have never done stations before, because I taught fourth grade and I used the reader's workshop independent time to build stamina and strategy in their independent reading. But this year, with third graders(!) I have had to change things up! I have initiated eight stations. Please look at them, take what you want, and give me suggestions! Soon, I'll add pictures of the stations so you can see what they look like in the classroom!

You are welcome to any files linked here, but please oh please comment and tell me what you like and what you've downloaded! I would LOVE to know they have helped someone in their classroom!

I have two classroom computers. On the computers, kids listen to a fiction story from Storyline Online. Then, they fill out a graphic organizer (such as the one below) about the fiction story. These are all organizers we have used before. Sometimes I will use different maps or organizers to reinforce a concept we have learned during our shared reading, such as the Character Study Map from a previous post.

Fiction Story Map

Fiction Story Map - directions

Word Study
In the word study station, kids engage in different kinds of word work. So far, they have worked on identifying VC, CVC, CVCC, anc CCVC patterns in words they find in their independent reading book. I recently added a file folder game about R-controlled syllables, and next, I am going to add word ladders from Timothy Rasinski. We have practiced them as a whole class and students are excited to be able to manipulate words on their own in the stations.

Daily Word Ladders by Tim Rasinski

Sentence Building (Writing)
As a class, we have practiced using different parts of speech to create a basic sentence structure. We made a couple of foldables to practice these sentence structures (pictures to follow soon!). In the sentence building station, students practice creating a sentence using different parts of speech. There is a basket of bags. Each bag has a different part of speech in it (Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Articles, Adverbs, and Prepositions). Most of the cards I purchased from the Dollar Tree on little sentence strips. Students combine the cards (and fill in endings with a marker) to create a sentence. When they're done, they add the sentences in their Language Study Notebooks. Then they can make a foldable we have practiced.

Students have weekly spelling words that follow several different patterns, as well as a few sight words they need to learn. For example, last week, patterns included -an, -am, -ance, and -ant. At the spelling station, students sort the words into patterns and then build the words with magnetic letters on the metal side of my teacher desk. If time permits, they then quiz each other on the words on dry erase boards.

Fiction Response
In the fiction response station, students read a fiction book together. I try to make sure the genre of the fiction book is the same as the one we are reading in our shared reading so students can connect to the structure and elements. After they are done reading, they discuss with a buddy about the questions on these cards.

Fiction Response Cards
Nonfiction Response
At the nonfiction station, kids preview, predict, and read an article together. Then they record information they learned on this organizer. I have been working on encouraging kids to use nonfiction features (captions, maps, diagrams, etc.) to learn information, so I included the "I learned this from..." line so they can indicate what feature they learned the fact from.

For the past couple weeks, we have been practicing identifying the 5Ws in nonfiction. To reinforce this in the station, I am adding this 5Ws cube (Idea from Amy Lemons: Step into Second Grade! I just modified the sides of the cube to include the cues we have talked about to remind us of the meaning of each 'W') Kids can roll the cube and answer the questions. To build the cube, leave tabs on the sides to glue together.

5Ws Cube

Poem (Fluency)
As a class, we have a poem that we read for fluency. (In the past, it's been a weekly poem, but it's stretching out to a couple of weeks this year.)We identify language conventions used in the poem and mark them in our language study notebooks. We practice these skills daily (including grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spelling patterns, etc.). At the poem station, I have a poster-sized laminated copy of the poem. Students read the poem with their partner with fluency. Then, using vis-a-vis, students mark nouns, verbs, words following syllable patterns we have learned, and interesting punctuation marks. Then students mark the same noticings on the copy of the poem in their language study notebooks.

School Library
Self-explanatory! Kids grab their library card and go to the library! They are reminded to use their three-finger rule to choose "just right" books.