Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wild, Wonderful Weather!

Kids love learning about weather! After all, it's something that impacts them every day…plus weather can be sooooo crazy! I've found some terrific weather sites, games and activities below that your kids will really enjoy. Many would make great centers/stations, and some are just plain fascinating to read!

This video is a terrific one to begin any weather unit! In only a little over three minutes it covers the difference between weather and climate, plus what causes weather. Perfect for third, fourth and fifth grades!

This amazing site is done by a meteorologist just for kids! It is FULL of great facts. This is one site kids can explore for a very long time!

Fantastic! Lots of great information here!

Wow!  This would be a great site to look through and make up a worksheet for kids to find answers at a center.

Great site from NASA

Edheads is the best!

What would it be like to actually control the weather? Try this site!

Oh! And a great rap song really helps get the water cycle in their heads! This is a great one!

If you're teaching about weather you will probably need some weather task cards. Check out my resource below:

Task Cards

This resource is also available as a PowerPoint

And as a digital Boom Card

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gaming it Up in Math!

I thought it was a good time to hunt around the "Net" for some great math games that could be used in centers, or for any kind of cooperative learning. I found some great ones! Enjoy!!

This is a great activity for older students. They have the opportunity to try out (in a fun way) different occupations that use math….a terrific cooperative activity!!!

This is a TERRIFIC game to practice multiplication facts! There are many other 3rd grade games on this page, this one is called "Space Race".

This site has a list of 4th grade games that are really good. This one is called "Decention".  Students group fractions, decimals, and percents that go together.

The fifth grade games here include this one called "Spaceboy" has students move around the board using coordinates!

OK, games are great, but sometimes kids need some one on one tutorial help that can be done at school or at home. This is a great FREE site called SmartTutor that uses cartoons to help lead students to understanding. It is divided by grade level, k-5.  Pretty awesome, check it out!

If you like using games and task cards to help reinforce those important math facts, check out my resources below:

For division practice:

For reinforcing decimals:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

5 Simple Steps to Make Guided Reading Work Better!

Is that even possible? Yes it is!  Basically, there are 5 "shifts" that need to happen in every classroom. Fortunately, these shifts reflect the kind of teaching our students need in the 21st century. So how does that translante into our teaching? Below are the five shifts, and what they look like in the classroom.  (adapted from "Eye on Education" by Lauren Davis. For original article see:
Artwork from Ron Leishman Digital Toonage

1. Lead high-level, text based discussions: When students discuss a text as a group, start with questions grounded in the text. Opinions should come only after good text understanding. Teachers can start by discussing word choice, details and arguments given in the text. Make sure questions promote deeper thinking of the text.

Many students will need to learn how to be good participants in this type of discussion. Before starting any text discussion go over the following goals for student discussion:
      a. speak at least three times
      b. Agree or disagree with someone, but use details to support your view
      c. Ask a question
      d. Keep an open mind…changing your opinion can show a willingness to learn.

2. Focus on process, not just the content: The Common Core Standards stress the importance of student discovery. Of course they need content, but how students come to understanding is crucial. For example, students should not memorize a list of words and their meaning. Instead they should be given the opportunity to connect new vocabulary to their own lives. Use notebooks, blogs and opportunities in the classroom to incorporate new vocabulary organically.

When it comes to research, the Common Core stresses that students should have "extensive practice" in doing short purposeful research. As a result of repeated practice, students will understand the process of research and use it to become self-directed learners.

3. Create assignments for a real audience and with a real purpose: Students need experiences writing to real people with real concerns and ideas. The idea of "pretend you are writing to…" should be limited. For example, if there is a concern within the school (food, bell, recess etc.) discuss with students possible solutions, how to address the person being written too (you get more bees with honey than vinegar!), and how to construct a logical argument. These skills serve students as life-long skills, rather than simple writing assignments that do not have a real purpose.

4. Teach argument, not persuasion: The Common Core draws a distinction between persuasion and an argument. Persuasion appeals to the audience's self-interest, wants or emotions. An argument, on the other hand, uses logic and reason to support a view and change minds. It is also they type of writing needed in college. For example, instead of persuading the principal that students need a longer recess, they should construct an argument based on research that shows the effects of recess on students and their learning.

5. Increase text complexity: Research shows that our students have not had an opportunity to read enough complex texts. Don't rely just on the Lexiles or formulas you find. Use your own judgment. If you have a child that loves baseball, he or she will be willing to work through more complex text than on something he or she has no interest in. Look for balance. It shouldn't be so easy that it isn't challenging, or so hard that students give up.

Ok, That will make your guided reading lessons work better, but how about easier.  We all need at least a little "easy" to keep sane!  Check out these sites from my guided reading series. You will need to click on the picture once to pull up the pinterest repin, then click on the picture again to get to the site.

) (
) (
) (
) (
) (
) (

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featuring: Force, Motion and Energy!

Force, motion and energy are science strands kids really enjoy! It takes a lot of hands-on activities and fun games and videos to bring it to life. Magnets, kinetic and potential energy, simple machines and so much more! To help with teaching this fun unit I have included some great online resources below. Enjoy!

This great site is filled with online activities, games and experiments on motion. It says it is for 5th-8th grade, but MANY of the sites are perfect for third and fourth grades as well. In the one pictured, students do an experiment Galileo did off the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Lots of useful goodies here!

This is a great little video. Look on the right hand side for other videos in the series.

Great catchy song on potential and kinetic energy
Click Here

Bill...Simply the best! A short 3 minute plus video about push and pull

 This three minute plus video is a TERRIFIC discussion starter on renewable energy

This video on Newton's Laws of Motion is perfect for kids! Perfect for 4th graders!

If you would be interesting in taking a look at force and motion, as well as energy task card resources,  check out the links below.  On each product page are links the the same resources in other formats (PowerPoint and Digital Boom Cards)

Click Here

Or save some money by purchasing the pack of three resources:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wild, Wonderful Worms!

Nothing gets a kid's attention like spending the day with earthworms! Honestly! They love it, and it's so easy to combine the Common Core into it. Kids learn a ton, and have fun all day doing it! If you would like to have your own "Wonderful Worm Day" here are some ideas:

1. Prepare your kids for the big day. Put up a sign announcing the date. Discuss with students that the worms will be guests, and must be treated with respect. Any student who does not treat a worm like a respected living thing must sit out, and watch only. Students who don't want to touch them don't have to. They can just watch worm behavior. I've done Wonderful Worm Day with my kids for years, and I can say that by the end of the day EVERY kid, even the most squeamish, have not only touched the worm, but have become friends with them.

2. Go to a local bait store for big night crawlers. It's easier to see their features. Also get aluminum tin pans with high sides, and cling wrap. Worms are escape artists, and I have come back from lunch more than once to see them scurrying down the table leg. Cling wrap keeps the air out, so make sure you open it at least once an hour to let new air in. Make sure you have a spray bottle of water. Worms need to be kept moist, but NOT wet. (think of all those worms on your driveway after a rain) I usually just walk around while the students are observing, and give a spray where needed.

3. Do observations of the earthworms. I get three or four worms for each groups of four to five students. Students can keep notes on worm behavior. First ask them to draw the worm in as much detail as possible. Discuss that each line, and feature should be in the drawing. Ask students which end they think is the head.  Next put a black piece of construction paper over 1/2 of the aluminum tin. Record what happens. Do worm research on the computer, then make a poster with a group.

4. At the end of the day, take the worms outside with students. Go to a nice grassy spot and sit the students in a circle. I usually have a circle of boys, and a circle of girls. Put the worms in the center on the grass. If you have a stop watch it's fun to time how long it takes the worms to burrow into the ground. If the ground isn't too hard it's pretty fast.

Take lots of pictures! It's a day your kids won't forget. My kids talked about it even on the last day of school as one of their favorite activities.

I've included some fun worm sites below as well as a freebie! Enjoy!

LOTS of great activities to do with kids and worms

The Autobiography of Squirmin' Herman the Worm: Fantastic site with ALL the information you could want. Perfect for third grade and up to use for research!

There are great videos here from the BBC about worm recyclers, how birds find worms, and a good one on a HUGE earthworm!

Many interesting and short videos about worms and their importance.

Now about the Freebie!

If you would like about everything you need to have your own worm day, with not only ideas from above, but much more, check out my resource below!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Spooky Adjectives

Adjectives are so much fun to teach! It's the one time you can let kids go wild with descriptive words.  If you add a little bit of "spookiness" into the mix…you have a real winner!  I have included an adjective freebie and few adjective sites that I think are terrific. Enjoy!

Freebie time first!

Adjective Adventure…get the answer right and spider eats the fly…strangely compelling.

Adjective Detective covers it all!

Ok! I know that School House Rock is pretty old, but it's still terrific! This one is on adjectives.

If you would like a spooky little adjective resource for Halloween, or anytime you're in for a scare, check out my resource below (the freebie comes from this resource)

Make Regrouping Super Simple!

Regrouping is one of those skills that can really drive kids crazy. They have to see what is happening visually, or they get lost. Making the whole process visual is the key. This is especially true when they borrow across 0s. Games give kids lots of practice in a fun way, and helps them reinforce these essential skills. Put play into learning, and you've got a winner!  Play makes it super simple!  I hope you enjoy the games and regrouping sites I find most helpful, plus a nice little dragon freebie!  Don't forget to click below for the regrouping's a good one!

This is a fun song about regrouping subtraction

I LOVE Mr. Nussbaum, and this site is no exception! It's full of fun games and practice for regrouping!

This video is a step-by-step look at what happens when we regroup. Great one to stop and discuss as the video plays. Maybe do your own problem on the board to reinforce what is happening in the video.

This song from NUMBERROCK will stick in your kid's head the rest of the day!  

Two digit number regrouping game

If your students are ready for a subtraction game with three digits, this one is really fun. They will need scratch paper.

This post from What I Have Learned is terrific! 

How about a practice freebie?

If you are interested in a slam-dunk strategy for helping kids really understand regrouping, check out the link below. It's not only visual, it's hands-on!  The freebie is taken from the resource.