Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Veterans Day - We can never say thank you enough.

We always stress the importance of Veterans Day and celebrate it with our 3rd graders.  But this is one holiday that is not about them!  We write letters to, or make cards for veterans.  We also travel to the local Veterans' Center and perform a patriotic program for them.  Our first practice as an entire grade level was this morning.  Our wonderful music teacher surprised us with a new song that she has added to the program!

It is such an amazing song that I have to share it with you all!  The kids literally brought tears to my eyes as they sang it!  I can't imagine the reaction they'll get at the Veterans' Center on Veterans Day!  They sang it for us twice, and I wish I had recorded it the second time.  Since I didn't, I have a teacher tube video of another 3rd grade class singing the same song.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

I can't wait for Veterans Day (or our next practice) so I can video or record them singing it!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Math Journaling & Giveaways

My class has been working hard on their math journals this week!  We're reinforcing even & odd, multiples of 2, 5, & 10, and subtraction concepts like when and why to regroup.  In our math journal we also have a copy of a blank October calendar where we fill in the color and shape pattern for the month and then write about it and explain it.

The kids have really enjoyed having their own journal so far!  They loved decorating the cover in their own ways and they've enjoyed using color to do their work inside of their journal too!  The journals include number of the day pages that reinforce past topics, hundreds charts (for multiples), and a few variations of journaling pages.  You can download my October journal pages here if you'd like!
October Journal Pages

Miss Janes at Miss Third Grade is giving away three books!  I know I could use them in my classroom library!  Go to her blog to enter to win!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Field Trips (Oh so fun!) & Writing

Can you believe tomorrow is ONLY Wednesday?? We had a great field trip today (minus lunch - short supply meant my lunch was no longer mine) to a nearby camp that provides educational day trips every fall for schools.  This year we investigated the differences (mostly in weather and climate) of countries around the world.  We traveled to Costa Rica, Alaska, Brazil, Japan, England, and Africa, gave weather reports, and learned about weather sayings/myths (the fish always bite before it rains, red sky at night sailor's delight, red sky in the morning sailor's warning, etc.).

The kids had a great time, learned a few new things, and got to use some of their knowledge from a couple of our past reading stories (which I was thrilled to see them do)!  To make this experience even more meaningful, we'll be using it as a starting point for our next piece of writing - a brochure to share information about the locations we "visited" at camp!

How many of you have used Jog The Web?  It's a great resource, especially for those of us with elementary age kids!  You can create "webBOOKS" that include specific websites that your students will need for research or other purposes (maybe educational games for centers) and keep the kiddos on safe sites!  You can "jog" the one I made for the kids to research the different locations before writing their brochures by clicking here.   I made graphic organizers for kids to record their information.  They are specific to the location, so probably not useful to many, but this is what they look like.  You can leave me a comment if you'd like the power point version.  I used the fonts SF Orson Casual Shaded and Annoying Kettle.

I also made 2 different brochure templates (hopefully they'll work when I print and fold)!  Each has picture boxes on each panel, one also has lines for writing while the other doesn't.  You can download them here.

Brochure Template - Blank and Lined

Don't forget, I love to hear your comments and suggestions! Let me know what you think!

If you've used jog the web in the classroom have you had success with it? any problems? Would you like to use it?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Math Fact Fluency & A Giveaway You Don't Want to Miss

I don't know about you all, but fluent and quick recall of basic math facts is a bit of a problem with my kiddos!  They're always counting on their fingers!  Neighbors (doubles + 1) and even doubles and sums of 10 bring out their little hands...So how can I get them to memorize the facts and know them fluently?  I've told them how important it is.  I've told them they should be able to tell me those answers as quick as they can snap their fingers.  So far, telling them just isn't working.  Last year we did timed multiplication tests, and I was really impressed with how hard the kids tried to pass each level.  So this year, I'm thinking we'll start now with timed addition tests.  Not only with their fluency hopefully improve, but they'll hopefully become more comfortable with timed situations and working under (a little) pressure.

To get us started I've been working on some timed tests.  I've made three versions of each to avoid those crafty ones just memorizing the answers.  I haven't printed them out to check the size of the text and writing spaces yet, that's the plan for tomorrow - - Okay, I printed these out today and the text and spacing look fine for my third graders!  Hopefully they'll work for you, so here are my timed tests for adding zero (easy-peasy, right? you'd be surprised how long they still have to think about it), adding one, and adding doubles.  Each test has 75 problems.  Right now, I'm thinking that the kids will have to get 70 (93%) or at least 68 (91%) to pass, and I'm undecided on the amount of time I'll give them (maybe 1 min. to 1.5 min.).  I'd love to hear your comments, ideas, and suggestions!  Please tell me your thoughts!

Timed Addition Tests

Now for the REALLY exciting news!  Ashleigh at education journey is having a great giveaway!  Head over to her blog for your chance to win an Amazon gift card!  Bonus: entering is super easy!

Ashleigh's Education Journey

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reviewing content with games

Don't we all love to make learning fun?  "I have...who has?" games are one of my favorite ways to engage the kids in a fun review of content!  I have several versions that I've bought about money, geometry, time, and a couple of other topics.

We finished up rounding to the nearest ten and hundred yesterday (no school today!) and I was looking for a fun review to do before our quiz.  Not finding what I was looking for, I decided to make my own "I have...who has?" game for rounding.  This was the first time our new third graders have played this type of game, and they love competing to try to get the best time out of the four homerooms!

We also just finished the first unit in our reading series (Scott Foresman Reading Street), so to review those past vocabulary words I made another "I have...who has?" game.  We are currently working on nouns, so I chose the vocabulary words that were nouns, and identified them as nouns as part of the game (they can't hear it too much, right?).

If you can use either of these games in your classroom you can download them here from Scribd.  Let me know how it goes if you play the games!

Rounding Review (I have…who has) Game

I have…who has_ nouns and vocabulary unit 1

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Monster-ously Fun Project

To go along with our frightfully fantastic theme this year (monsters), we made our own monsters during the first full week or school! I got the idea for this project from pinterest (where else?) and changed it up a bit to make it work for us! Thriving Third Graders posted a great blog post titled "Snow Art" showing off her students' shaving cream/glue snow men. Here they are!

The more I looked at these adorable creations, the less I wanted to wait until winter to make them. After thinking about how I could make this project unique for my classroom, I decided to try it out with some food coloring in the mix! From that, our shaving cream and glue monsters were born as was a great writing opportunity and a lesson in adding details! Take a look at them, and don't forget to check out the "snow art" blog post at for her directions on how to make your own!

I hope everyone had a great long weekend! I know I enjoyed mine!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

aROUND and aROUND we go

We have been in school for just over 3 weeks far, so good!  My reading group is going strong!  We completed a great social studies unit, and we've spent the past week in our first science unit investigating the world around us using our 5 senses!  My little detectives tried to determine ten different concealed objects using only their sense of touch, different scents using their sense of smell, and the objects creating different sounds in closed containers using only their sense of hearing.  We also observed for details using our sense of sight.  But I think their favorite by far was exploring their sense of taste!  Little secret - it was mine too!  Don't we all love a good snack?

Place value was a huge success!  Our first chapter in math was place value - ones through thousands - and all that it entails.  Well about 14 or 15 out of my 19 homeroom students earned an A on the chapter test!  The other three homerooms had good reports from their math classes as well!  Now that we have mastered place value we're moving on for a unit on rounding to the nearest ten and the nearest hundred.

We started out by coloring this hundred chart from "super teacher worksheets" that shows which numbers round up (we colored them blue) and which round down (we colored them yellow). The kids will keep this in their binders that they take home.  Then we colored a blank hundred chart to match.  We used the second chart to make a foldable.  We cut out the square chart, folded it in half, and cut it to the crease between the numbers that round down and those that round up to make a simple two tab book.  We glued this book to the bottom of a piece of construction paper and labeled each side with round up/down.  The kids then took a blank piece of paper and created another two tab book.  We labeled this one with "Rounding to the Nearest Ten" and "Rounding to the Nearest Hundred".  On the inside we wrote our rounding rules - "I look at the digit in the ones/tens place" (respectively) and "If it is 1, 2, 3, or 4 I round down.  If it is 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 I round up."

The foldable was a good interactive project to introduce the subject and I love the original hundreds chart we colored.  Both will be great reference tools for them as we go through this unit.  Most of the kids seem pretty confident with the basic rules of rounding.  The trouble starts when they don't have answer choices.  My kids are having a hard time figuring out which two numbers they should choose between for their answer.  In rounding a number like 26, for example, I might have a student say it will be either 20 or 60.  Another might say 20 or 10.  Of course there were those who got it right away and know that it is 20 or 30!    Super teacher worksheets has a couple of number line pages for rounding I plan to use, but I created my own for some extra practice for our kiddos too!  If any of you can use it, feel free to borrow!  You can download it from google docs here or from scribed (I'm trying it out since I can never seem to get google docs to embed right).

Rounding - Finding Your Choices

Everyone have a great Labor Day weekend!  Enjoy the extra day off...I know I will!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Writing in Math

I have been considering using math journals or notebooks for my third grade classes, and I have recently had two big pushes in the write right direction!  This summer I was fortunate to attend my local National Writing Project summer institute!  It was so beneficial learning from other talented teachers from my area.  Our focus for the summer was of course writing, and we spent a good amount of time discussing writing in the content areas.  The institute really gave me some good ideas to get started.  I saw more great information and ideas for math notebooks at Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes!  When I went back to her blog today, I saw something so exciting!  (Probably not to most people, but I am a teacher!)  She is starting a math and science notebooking series on her blog!  I can't wait for post number 2!  Go by and check it out!

Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes

Since these math journals have been on my mind, I had planned to share a free vocabulary printable I created last year for a geometry unit for Blog Hoppin's Free For All Friday yesterday.  Well all I could think of after a long day at school was a nap!  I'm not doing much better tonight!  But anyway, back to my ideas.  I plan to divide my math notebooks into three sections - calendar, vocabulary, and journaling.  I'm hoping to start them with the start of our second chapter in math this week.  You can get a copy of the vocabulary page here from google docs or from scribd.

Vocabulary Notebook Page
For this vocabulary page I encourage students to write their own definition!  I show them examples and we discuss what the word means, but after modeling it a few times I no longer write down my own definition.  Then they draw a picture to show what the word means (they could also write an example here).  Finally, they use a specific color (I used red last year) to color in the thumbs up, thumbs down, or 2 thumbs down, to show how well they understand what the word means.  As we continued through the chapter the kids could add new info about the word that helps them remember what it means.  When reviewing for the chapter test, we come back to the vocabulary pages and use a second color (I used blue) to color in the thumb(s) that shows how well they understand the word now.  Hopefully some of you can get some use out of this or at least an idea for something you might like to create! 

Do any of you have any pointers for the successful use of math notebooks/journals?  Don't forget to head over to Blog Hoppin' and check out all of the great posts from the past week!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where I Spend Most of My Day

My third grade team and I change classroom themes yearly, so there's always a fun little addition of some sort to my classroom!  If you've seen my blog before, you know our theme this year is monsters!  And I am loving those cute little things!  I made some big changes in my classroom this year, and so far I'm really liking it!

I switched out some of my desks for tables, so now I have a mix!  I had to gather up the leftovers, but it works for me!  I'll take what I can get and make it work!  So after looking through my bag (even emptying it all out) I seem to have left my camera at school.....So check back tomorrow for pictures of my tables!

Here are my old well loved desks last year!
Excuse the racing room was in progress!

I'm trying out the token system this year (from The Cornerstone).  Here is my token box!

Check back tomorrow for more substantial pictures...when I locate the missing camera...I"ll add more photos of my room to this post!  Don't forget to check out Blog Hoppin' and join some of their teacher week linky parties!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yes, I'm still here!

So the first week and a half of school have (obviously) killed me worn me out!  I have neglected my blog, and I just got it started!  Shame on me!

Before school started it took us a good hour of planning to come up with a daily schedule!  Make that 4 different daily schedules!  And...good planning period for Wednesdays is changing now....I teach third grade with 3 other teachers in the same grade level.  We have common planning twice a week.  Well, figuring out a schedule that would work for all of us (due to reading groups and RTI groups and of course recess!) was difficult to say the least.  Mondays and Fridays are the same...every other day is different.  Needless to say, I HAVE to have that schedule!

So, after leaving school at 6:45 tonight, to get my mind off of school things for a while, I'm going to blog (YAY!), and I'm going to enjoy the linky party at Blog Hoppin' where this week is teacher week!  I had my Monday (meet the teacher) post about half way ready last night and fell asleep...oops!  Sad, I know!  But I am really looking forward to tomorrow (where it all goes down Wednesday)!  I changed my room around a bit and am excited to share the photos!  Not to mention, I LOVE to see pictures of other teachers' classrooms!  I will tell you that I am sooo jealous of all of the huge rooms I see, ours are quite small!  But anyway, today is Teacher Talk Tuesday (advice for new teachers), so I'm going to link up my advice post from a few weeks ago - you should do the same, join the party!  On Friday (Free For All Friday) I'll be sharing a printable I use for math vocabulary!

I'm starting a new classroom project (pinterest inspired of course) this week!  I made one clothespin project already, but to have room to hang more, I'm making another!  I'll be making chalkboard clothespins inspired by these from Create-Teach-Share!  Guess where she got the idea to make hers!  Yep, pinterest!

Hope everybody has had a great Monday Tuesday!  (Let's not go backwards....PLEASE!)  And I'll be back tomorrow with classroom photos - that's the plan anyway!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What advice do you wish you had gotten?

Cindy at Fun in Fourth Grade is having her first linky party!  She wants to know what advice you would share with new teachers.  While I'm not far from new (this is my third year) I do have some advice I'd like to share!  My school hired 3 new teachers this year.  After seeing them set up their first classrooms, remembering me & my first room, and setting up my classroom this year, my advice for them is that you and your room don't have to be perfect!  Trying to be a perfectionist will only drive you crazy (trust me, I know)!  Another piece of advice I would share is to set up a schedule and routine in your classroom...and stick to it!  It will be the best for you and them!  And take the time to enjoy the kids, don't get caught up in trying to please everyone and do it all...neither will happen!

Go over to Cindy's blog and join in on her first linky party!  Check out her cute new button while your there!  What advice could you share that maybe you wish someone had given you?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More of my Room!

So I've been working hard in my room for about 3 days now and I decided to take the day off to go get my hair done!  I'd hate to scare any of my new kiddos when I meet them!  I do have a few more things from my room that I wanted to share with you though!

This picture shows a little bit of how I organize my reading materials.  Our reading series is Scott-Foresman Reading Street.  There are 6 units with 5 stories each.  I have organizers to hold all of the materials for each story and each drawer is labeled with a story's title (it's a little hard to see that for the glare...).  Leveled readers, words to know (vocabulary) cards, and any activity pages we use for a story are grouped together in one of the plastic drawers.  The containers themselves are numbered on top from 1 to 10 so I can keep them in order easily.  The drawer holding the first story in each unit is marked with that unit number as well.  I just started doing this last year, and I love it!  I take the one organizer I need for that week to a shelf behind my desk and leave the rest on top of the cubbies and out of the way!  Everything I need is at my fingertips!

Coming into my room I have a big storage cabinet on the left right by the door.  Last year I sat it with its back to the wall.  This year I decided to turn it with the side facing the wall and the back toward the door.  This picture shows what I did with all of the space on the back of the cabinet!
I have a stick on dry erase class calendar at the top along with 4 class jobs.  This year I chose to assign only 4 class jobs for a couple of reasons.  First off, my behavior management system that I'm trying out this year (I'll tell you about it in a couple of minutes) will be used for some class jobs, and secondly, because my 6 or 8 jobs last year were just more trouble than they were worth.  I made my monster themed job cards and then attached them to two library pockets.  The pocket on the left will hold popsicle sticks with the names of students who haven't had that job yet.  When I draw a stick out, that person has that job for the week and I will attach his stick to the velcro dot above the card.  At the end of the week I will move his stick into the pocket on the right and draw again on Monday morning!  I will probably have 5 sticks in each set of pockets at a time and then rotate them clockwise after 5 weeks so I don't have to be wasteful and make 5 sets.

In the middle of the cabinet I have my hall pass, office pass, nurse pass, and "It's My Birthday!" cupcake necklaces on the schoolhouse holder.  I bought these from Debbie Spence at Teacher's Edition before school started last year and I love them!  The kids love to wear them too, especially the cupcake necklace - even the boys!  Debbie sales handcrafted wooden classroom materials of all sorts, and they can be personalized!  I know I love a good monogram!

And I saved the worst of that picture for pitiful little bookshelf.  That is a portion of our classroom books.  They are obviously not organized.  There is no question about it...I NEED HELP!

Now this next picture is maybe my favorite thing I've done so far!  I LOVE IT!  I even brought it all the way back home to show my husband...he wasn't quite as excited as me for some reason....
This is the box I am using to keep and organize my tokens for the behavior management system I'm trying out this year.  I want to focus on positive behavior and reward those that are doing right and remind and encourage those that aren't quite on track.  I read about "the world's easiest token system" on Angela Watson's website the cornerstone for teachers (which by the way I love) a year or two ago and decided to give it a try this year.  She has a lot of information about using this system here at her website.

I used a tackle box to organize my tokens.  Here is a peek at the inside.
I added the explanation page so a sub can fairly easily continue using the system if I am out of school.  The longer slot on the right side will be where I store my bag that holds the tokens.  Each set of tokens is numbered and each slot in the container is numbered on the bottom.  I will pull tokens form the bag to determine some class helpers (such as messenger, paper handler, etc.) or to give small rewards occassionally (a new pencil or eraser, eating lunch with the teacher, choose your seat for the day, etc.).  Once a token is pulled it goes back in its slot - not back in the bag.  I plan to empty the bag of tokens every Friday and we will start fresh on Monday.
Has anyone else used the token system before?  How did it work with your class?  Any pointers?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A sneak peek at my room

I've been working in my room a little here and there for a few days now, but today is the first day that I have gotten really excited about my room and our new theme!  As a grade level we change our theme every year, and I am loving the monster theme we have now!  I've also made some other changes in my room. 

Today I switched out some of my desks for tables.  We had the middle and high school type desks - one piece with the slanted desktop and the basket underneath the chair...ugh.  They are not kid friendly!  Don't even try pushing them together to play a game or do a group activity - nothing sits flat!  So I scrounged up tables that were no longer wanted or needed ( I got 3 to go with the 2 already in my room) and chairs to go with them!  Nothing matches, but I'm just glad to have them!  I also found out that I'll be getting 5 new "elementary" desks (you know the type), so I'm thrilled about that!

Well here are a few things I worked on today that I wanted to share!  First off is something I made just for fun!  It is a pinterest inspired project (of course).  I got my idea from What The Teacher Wants.  Here is my lollipop tree!  I didn't have an empty pot at home so I used a cute desert bowl that was part of a gift from a great little girl last year, and I love how it turned out!
Another pinterest inspired project are my clothespins outside of my door!  (You can find the source on my pinterest post.)  I painted two yardsticks (not really - they're actually 48" long each) and my clothespins then just hot glued...simple but time consuming!  Right now it is holding a welcome sign.  On the first day of school it will hold 20 different monsters that will help the kids find a seat (I'll post some pictures and let you know how that works out)! 

I made this I'm Done jar after seeing one at (I had to pin it first though...I think I have a problem...nah!)  It holds sticks with different activities for those early finishers.  Some will always be there...draw, write a note to a teacher or a classmate, practice your cursive, etc.  Some will change with the content we are learning...dice addition games will turn into dice multiplication games, tangram puzzles will replace place value activities, etc.  They can only pick once!  No putting them back to try to get something more fun!
I'm sure you could guess our school colors by now! haha

And now my smarty pants!  Special thanks to a great friend with a growing baby for the little jeans and Abby, from the Inspired Apple for the idea and printables!

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of my projects - who knows...maybe something I've shared will inspire someone else!  (We can dream, right? ;))  I'll be back tomorrow with some pictures showing how I organize my reading materials, plan to keep track of student helpers, and tackle classroom management issues.  You'll never guess but I'm trying a couple of new things!

OHHH! And DON"T FORGET!  There's only a couple of hours left to enter the giveaway at Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher!  She is giving away a $20 gift card to Baffin Bags (an etsy shop that sells adorable baskets, bins, key fobs, and more) and a 12 x 18 fabric covered magnet board by Livy Lou Designs (another etsy shop with great stuff)!  To head her way now just click on the link above (to go to the giveaway post) or her button (to go to her blog)!

Lutton 519

Friday, July 29, 2011


Okay, I had to blog again today because I LOVE pinterest and Michelle's Math in the Middle and Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes are both hosting a pinterest linky party!

Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes

I have found so many great ideas for my classroom on pinterest!  You can see some of the ideas related to my classroom theme in my previous blog post. 

I loved this idea of displaying student work that I found!  It is from
I made my own but changed it a bit!  I painted the yardstick as well as the clothespins just to make it more colorful!  It is hanging in the hallway outside of my classroom!  I'll take a photo to upload next time I'm there!

Another idea I was quite fond of is this "I'm Done" jar from!  you can fill it with popsicle sticks listing a variety of activities for those early finishers!
I made my own version of this too with school colors, but guess's at school too so no picture yet!

And the next thing I want to make is this project from to hold smarties (of course) as rewards for my kiddos!  I just need to find someone with an old pair of baby/toddler jeans!

I absolutely love pinterest!  If anyone needs an invite leave me your email address in a comment and I'll invite you!  You'll be hooked!

3rd grade is so good it's scary!

So I'm sure you've guessed it by now but our classroom theme this year in the 3rd grade is.......monsters!  I'm super excited and have been looking for all sorts of cute monster ideas to make/do in my room!  I have come up with lots of good ideas for activities and things to make...and you'll never guess where a lot of them came from.....PINTEREST!  More about that in my next post!

I hope to make several monsters out of oatmeal canisters to be our homeroom math monsters!  Here is my inspiration from
It will be the kids' job to feed our math monster.  Some days he will only be able to eat even numbers or multiples of 4, or numbers with 6 in the tens place.  On days when everyone feeds him the correct number, I'll feed them with a small treat in the afternoon, maybe smarties!

The students will be making this during our first week (well three days) of school!  Last year they loved paper folding activities so I'm thinking this will be a big hit!  There is a tutorial (with pictures) at

An activity that I found and am very excited about using is from Education World and!  They have weekly printable activities that can help students build research skills by using their website to look up the answers to five multiple-choice questions based on interesting themes (10 questions for grades 4 & up).  I'll give these out on Monday and the kids will have until Friday to look up the answers and will be able to work on it at home or at school if they don't have internet access at home.

I've also been working on a couple of things I'm going to share with you (both with a monster theme of course)!  First, is my Mon-Star Student Info sheet and then monster themed reading focus wall printables.  Hopefully somebody out there can use them!  Sorry there are no picture previews (not quite sure how to do that yet!).

I'd love to hear from you!  Any comments?  Any advice for a new blogger?

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Okay, here goes!  I have been looking through some amazing blogs this summer, and they have inspired me to make try my own!  I am a THIRD year teacher with a THIRD grade class! {hence the name :)}  Hopefully I'll have some useful ideas to share with fellow teachers!

Setting up this blog has been a trial and error experience (I'm attempting to DIY everything), and it definitely isn't perfect (or as cute as I'd like)!  I have attempted to make my own title and blog button!  Let's see if I can make it all work!

Here's my button!

Let me know what you think so far!!  How can I improve my blog?  What suggestions do you have for my blogging experience?