Wednesday, October 31, 2012

iListen to Reading…..and a Spooktacular Sale!

Daily 5 has been in full swing for a while now in third grade and I am still lovin’ it as much as I did last year.  Last year one of my biggest challenges was Listen to Reading.  Let me tell you why….
See this…..
This was my old listening center.  No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you.  Yes, this is a cassette player.  Now, I know some of you are probably thinking that I shouldn’t be complaining because I am sure there are schools out there with nothing for listening center.  I agree.  I shouldn’t. But come on people…’s a cassette player.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to find books on tape these days?  Not to mention, that when 6 kiddos are all gathered around the cassette player with big ol’ headphones on, it is a recipe for disaster.  So….anyways.  Last year, I finally got tired of the cassette player and when I switched from centers to Daily 5 (best move ever), I decided enough was enough. 
I wrote up my project idea…”iListen to Reading.”  And submitted it to  One of the greatest things to happen for teachers since coffee! (okay….it’s a toss up between that and Pinterest!) It took a few months, but by January my little project was fully funded and they were shipping me 6 ipod shuffles for my classroom!
So… is what Listen to Reading now looks like in my room….
listen to reading 1
listen to reading 2
Ahhhh….students peacefully listening to reading.  Being comfortable, instead of crammed around a table, elbowing each other and messing with the tape recorder.  It is truly a beautiful thing.  They absolutely love that they get to listen to an ipod at school and they think they are so special because Mrs. Wood got them through a special project just for them!
I have my kiddos bring in earbuds as part of their school supplies and they keep them in a baggie labeled with their name.  Each ipod is labeled with a vinyl number and is kept in a numbered bag with the corresponding book.  I only put one book on them at a time, the rest stay in my itunes library.  It really is easy to manage and I have so many more story/book options now!
Alright….off to FINALLY carve pumpkins with my own kiddos.  In honor of the holiday everything in my little TpT store is on sale through Halloween….no tricks, just treats for you!
Spooktacular Sale
Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Whew….What a Week!….Oh yeah, and a Freebie!

This week was C.R.A.Z.Y. at school!  We had the Fun Run for our big school wide fundraiser, the high school’s homecoming parade, and door decorating for Red Ribbon Week.  Oh yeah, and we still had to try and teach some things!  I was chatting with my student teacher earlier this week about all the craziness that is upon us the next few weeks.  I feel kind of bad for her because there is so much going on during these few weeks that she has full responsibility.  However, I guess it is a good way for her to experience what life is really like this time of year in an elementary school.
Between all of the madness we did manage to do some work on inferencing.  Hands down, my favorite way to introduce inferencing is using Abby’s “Mystery Box.”  You can check out Abby’s blog about the Mystery Box Activity here.
My kiddos love this activity.
Then, a brilliant co-worker of mine showed up at lunch with a great third grade twist on the activity!  She used some pieces from Abby’s activity to have her students make a foldable and write clues about their favorite food.  So….of course I had to try it with my class.002
How cute are the magnifying glasses this kiddo drew!
The clues were glued under each flap on the foldable.  On the back, students wrote their favorite food and covered it with the question marks taped on so that you can flip it up and reveal the answer.
Have you guessed what it is yet?
I love how she spelled tortellini!  Too cute.
If you don’t already have Abby’s Mystery Box activity, I highly recommend it.  It is a huge hit every year and something I pull out from time to time for a fun review of a super important reading skill.
Also new this week, we assigned our character pumpkin activity.  Students will be making the pumpkin part of the project at home and working on the character description in class.  If you didn’t download the project earlier, here it is again.  Just click the pic to download it for FREE!
Character Pumpkins
And to round out my crazy busy week, I finally finished up my “Monster” pack of multiplication resources.
Just in time to begin our unit on multiplication.  This is by far one of my favorite things to teach in third grade math, I think because they come to third grade so excited to learn it.  It is 72 pages full of fun ways to learn and practice multiplication and it is all Common Core aligned! You can check it out at my TpT store!
I am off to watch one of my all time favorite bloggers, Cara from The First Grade Parade, on one of my favorite shows, House Hunters!
Here’s to the end of a crazy week, and the beginning of a crazy weekend!  Happy Friday everyone.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…..

No, I am not one of “those people,” playing Christmas music already.  From now until right after Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year.  I love all of the parties, decorations, and fun memory making activities.  Of course, life at school gets pretty crazy for the next couple of months with assemblies, holidays, class parties, and projects, but these are the moments that my third graders will remember.  20 years from now, when they think back to our short time together they will remember these memories that we make.  I am sure you all have some things that you do every year to celebrate the holidays at school.  I have seen the character pumpkin idea all over Pinterest and have been waiting for October so we could do it.
Here is one of my favorites from Second Grade Shenanigans….

I tweaked the project a bit so that it relates to third grade curriculum. Instead of doing a full on book report my kiddos have to pick their favorite book.  They will make the character pumpkin at home and in class they will work on writing a character description, which happens to be our writing skill for the week of Halloween! 
Here is the little packet I made to use with my class. Click on the pic to download it for free
Character Pumpkins
Can’t wait to start making some more fun memories with my kiddos this season!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Word Detectives

One of the skills that we are working hard on this week is using context clues to determine meaning.  I tell my kiddos that they are “Word Detectives,” and just like police detectives look for clues, it is their job to look for clues to help them determine the meaning of a word.  The first thing we did was work together to make this anchor chart….
Oh. My. Goodness…I can’t even tell you how much fun they had doing this.  I gave them the sentence and we brainstormed words that could fit.  Then I gave them the same sentence with additional clues that narrowed it down to only one possibility.  They LOVED it!  After we made the chart I read aloud this book…
Another HOMERUN!  They ate this book up.  It is filled with “alien,” words and they had so much fun trying to figure out what each of the words meant.  You can click on the picture above to see it on Amazon!
Finally, we went back to our desks and did an activity to practice using context clues.  They were lovin the made up words so much that we used an activity from my Becoming Word Detectives,” pack. We used context clues to determine what zerples, ermps, and faffen might be.  It always makes my heart happy when I hear things like, “this is so much fun,” as they are actually working hard to learn something! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Authors and Apple Pie

Happy Monday everyone!  We were back today for a “normal,” week of school.  Of course, there is no such thing as normal in third grade!  We have an assembly tomorrow to kick off our big school wide fundraiser and that is guaranteed to get them all crazy!

Today we started talking about identifying an author’s purpose during reading.  Not something kiddos usually get too excited about right?  Well, a little bit of gum and permission to chew it in class will get any third graders attention!  We learned that authors write for P.I.E.  We looked at some examples and made a “Pie Plate,” to help us remember.
While they were quietly working they were allowed to chew on this…..
Last year, when my teammate and I were lesson planning for author’s purpose she joked that we should bring in apple pie for the whole class.  Well, I had remembered seeing this yumminess at the checkout stand.  I know what you’re thinking….gum that tastes like apple pie…really?  It really tastes like apple pie, I promise.  All but one of my kiddos ate it up…literally!  I am hoping that this helps the concept of author’s purpose “stick” with them.
In other news, I finished up with my November Brain Boxes and they are now in my TpT store.
November Brain Boxes
If you missed the post on Brain Boxes you can read about it HERE.  If you are using Brain Boxes in your room I would love to hear how they are working!
Have a great Monday night!
-Mrs. Wood

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What a Day!

It was back to school after Fall break today.  What a weird day though, only 2 hours of school with kiddos.  Then it was time to finish up the rest of my Parent/Teacher Conferences.  I can now breathe a huge sigh of relief….they are finished, WooHoo!!!  So, conferences were done, classroom was clean and lessons and copies were done for next week.  What is a girl to do with some extra time on her hands????
Boot shopping and hanging out with my two favorite junior high girls (my daughters!).
Here they are, not exactly the riding boots I’ve had my eye on but these babies were on sale for 70% off!  I just couldn’t pass it up.  They are the most beautiful shade of tan, this picture just does not do them justice. I am hoping this beautiful weather keeps up so I have a chance to wear these soon!
Okay, I promise to focus now and get back to school stuff.  I struggled for many years with what to do with those kiddos who consistently finish their work early.  I want to make sure that they choices they are making are ones that will make their “brains grow!”  One day, while surfing Pinterest I came upon an idea.
I call them “Brain Boxes.”
My kiddos are crazy about them right now and I can’t even tell you how easy it was to make.  I spent less than 5 dollars at Dollar Tree.  The boxes come in packs of 10 and all I did was use a sharpie to number them. I keep them right next to my turn in basket, so when students finish and  turn their work in they can grab a brain box and head back to their desk.  I made an answer document and I copy it double sided so they finish 8 brain boxes before turning the paper in.  Click on the picture to grab the answer sheet.
Brain Boxes
  I try to make the brain box activities educational, yet fun and I am telling you they can’t get enough of them.  I just finished uploading my October Brain Boxes on TpT and I am working on the November ones.  Hop on over and check them out!
I am off to clean my kitchen and hopefully settle down to watch Project Runway!  Yea for it being Friday tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fall Break Freebies

It’s day 2 of our Fall Break.  According to Facebook we are the only boring family who isn’t at a cabin in the cool weather or at Disneyland!  I’m not feeling too bad about that though.  I have taken a few naps, gotten my booty back in the gym….finally, and made some things for school. It’s been quiet and relaxing!  We go back to school Thursday and have 2 hour days on Thursday and Friday.  I am guessing that a lot of families will still be in vacation mode, so I am not sure how many kiddos will actually show up for school.  I am planning on spending our short morning reviewing some things that are still troubling us…..namely rounding!
Rounding Bingo
This one I plan on using whole group, but it could easily be used as center activity with a small group.  You can grab it at my TpT store and it’s FREE!
I also plan on doing some math centers on Friday morning so I made this little activity to add to the addition ones I already have.
Rounding Practice
It’s also FREE and at my TpT store! 
The only thing I will ask in return is that if you like it and plan to try it out please consider following my blog and my TpT store.  I am just getting started and it would mean a lot!  Thanks and Happy Tuesday to you all!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Currently October

I am a little late to jump on the “Currently,” bandwagon.  But here goes.  Fall Break is upon us….3 whole days off of school and I have a bad case of the lazies today!  It’s been a sit on the couch, watch football and stalk some teacher blogs kind of day!

Currently October

Time to find the motivation to get off the couch and to the store….here goes!

Thanks Oh’ Boy Fourth Grade for the distraction this afternoon!  Now hop on over and check it out!

Fall Break = Lots of Planning Time!

WooHoo!!!! Conferences are done and Fall Break is here!  I am so looking forward to a solid 3 days off from school.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my job and my school kiddos, but this teacher is tired!  So many of our friends are leaving town for the 3 days….not me.  I am super excited to sleep, catch up on housework, and jump ahead on some lesson planning.  Call me crazy but I love being planned way ahead of time and not running around at school like a crazy woman!  We are also 24 days away from the official start of basketball season (I say “official” because in our house the season sure does feel year round!).  Anyways, once season begins life gets crazy and I like to have a good head start going into it.  So, I have been working on some activities for teaching a practicing context clues.  In my room we always talk about being “word detectives.”  Detectives look for clues and that is what we do when we try and figure out what a word means or if it makes sense in the sentence.
Here is my “Becoming a Word Detective,” pack.  Now available in my TpT store.  You can grab it for 20% off the regular price for today only! 
Becoming a Word Detective Pack
Here’s to a relaxing, yet productive Fall Break!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Finding the Main Idea….Candy Corn Style!

Finding the main idea is such an important skill and every year we spend quite a bit of time practicing it.  I have used many graphic organizers and fun things over the years, but my favorite by far is also the simplest.  We call it the Main Idea Triangle.  I love it for a few reasons.  #1  Students can visually see that the facts and details are what “hold up",” the main idea.  #2 It is so easy to draw that they can draw it anywhere, their whiteboard, the back of their paper, etc… and #3  Because they can draw it on their own I don’t have to waste a ton of copy paper making worksheets.
A few weeks ago, I introduced my students to the triangle for the very first time.  Now, I need to tell you that I have a boy this year who L.O.V.E.S. all things Halloween.  It is hands down his favorite holiday of the year!  OBSESSED!  So of course, when I showed them the triangle he immediately thought…..”Candy Corn!!!”  So, now my entire class calls this the main idea candy corn and they all insist on coloring it to look like candy corn when we are done!
I was inspired by my candy corn lovin’ students and made a Candy Corn Comprehension center for our short 2 hour school days coming up this week.   The triangle itself you can grab for free by clicking the picture.  The center activity is for sale at my TpT store

 Would love some feedback, let me know what you think!  Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another Friday Routine…..Home Journals

If you read my post a few weeks ago about “Fluency Friday,” you know how much I LOVE routines in my room.  Friday is a very routine day in Room 607.  I always joke that if anything ever happened to me and I didn’t show up for school on a Friday, my kiddos could run the room themselves!  Routines make planning so much easier and it helps the kiddos too when they know what to expect.
Here is another Friday routine in my room.  It is a little something that I call “Home Journals.”
Home Journals
Every Friday, my kiddos write a friendly letter to someone at home in their “Home Journal.”  We brainstorm as a class the things that we have done at school during the week.  Their letter is required to be about school and it is a great way to communicate with their parents about what they are learning each week.  We then have a quick mini-lesson for writing.  Some weeks it is on organization, sometimes it is on writing good detail sentences, word choice, conventions, etc…. 
Then, off they go.  It is a great way to get friendly letter writing done in an authentic way.  Every Friday when they are done writing, I check their letter and their journal gets packed in their backpack.  It goes home with them and the person they wrote to writes back on the other side of their letter.  The journal comes back to school with them on Monday and we spend a few minutes sharing what our families said to us.  They love to read the praise from their parents!  My favorites are the letters from grandparents sharing stories of their own school experience!  The other thing that I love about these journals is that they make a fun keepsake filled with memories from their third grade year!
I am sharing a copy of the letter to parents that I glue to the inside of their composition notebook to explain Home Journals.  Unfortunately, Google was being difficult this evening and I couldn’t get it uploaded to Google Drive so you will have to download it from my TpT store.  But it is FREE! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Made It….Monthly Edition!

  It’s Monday and I am counting down the days until Fall Break!   We have next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off and then we come back for a 2 hour day on Thursday and 2 hours Friday!  Most of us at my school are offering our Parent/Teacher Conferences this week so that we can be done before our break.  Can you believe it’s conference time already!
Anyways, on to my Monday made it!  I was so excited about this one.  I originally saw the idea on Pinterest (of course) and just had to try it.  I always love ending the day by having my kiddos reflect over all of the things that we have done that day.  This looked like a great way to do that.  I tried to find where the pin originated so that I could give credit but it took me back to a picture not a website. So, if it is yours let me know so I can give you some well deserved credit.
Here is the great idea…..
Each student gets a sticky note at the end of the day to jot down something that “stuck” with them.  On their way to grab their backpack to pack up they stick it to the board on our classroom door.  It took me just a minute after school to gather all of the stickies into a pile and flip through them to see what they had to say.  I loved it!  Not crazy about the cow print border but it was the only black and white I had left.  I may have to change it!
Here is one other made it that I am sharing with all of you.  I made it for the cover of their conference folder ( a very fancy folded piece of construction paper!).  The folder is filled with all of the papers for the parents to take home with them.
Parent Teacher Conference
Just click on the pic above to grab the free download!
One day of conferences down….only 3 more to go!  Happy Monday everyone!