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Showing posts from 2011

How to Make a Paper Star

This is an activity that I did with my Girl Scouts. It is very easy to make and several of my teacher friends have used it in the days leading up to Christmas (it can easily be combined with a writing assignment. I have a friend in a second/third grade class who will be doing a winter unit in January and will be calling these stars "snowflakes" for the unit). This is the last day of school for us before the holiday break and I had two fifth grade girls help me make a how to video.

Spelling Test Surprise

One of our fifth grade teachers changed up her spelling words the day of her weekly spelling test. The kids moaned and groaned but hunkered down to do their best with their new words. The teacher ran the spelling test just like every week. She read the word and put it in a sentence. 1. Merry (Merry is not a name. It means happy.) 2. Christmas (Christmas is celebrated on December 25th each year) 3. You (You will be attending the winter dance tomorrow) 4. All (It is difficult to talk with you all talking) 5. Get (In the morning you get ready to go to school) 6. One (One is the number before two) 7. Hundred (I would love to have a hundred dollars in my wallet) 8. On (Jasmine sits on her chair.) 9. This (This test counts for a large percent of your grade) 10. Test (Every Thursday you have a vocabulary test) By the end many of the kids have caught on but she allows no talking during the test so they all just are smiling at her and each other. At the end she has a child read

Pop Ups in Notebooking

Earlier I wrote a post about this fun pop up card site. I haven't had a chance to use it in a classroom but two Social Studies teachers I know have. They had their fourth grade students make the pop up explorer ship and write facts about Christopher Columbus. One teacher had her students put it in their notebook and the other teacher put them out in the hall. They turned out very cute! I did do pop up cards with my Girl Scout troop using the turkey and though that might make a good ELA lesson. Students could practice their writing skills and let their families know what they are thankful for.

Content Carols - Social Studies

A teacher that I worked with years ago did a fun assignment with her students around the holidays. She had her students rewrite Christmas carols to go along with the units they were studying. She wrote about it in her blog . I filmed a few of her students singing their revised carols this year and thought I would share.

ELA - End of Unit Project

Most subscribers to this blog know that last year I accepted a position as a technology coach within our district. I work with two elementary schools and do a lot of integrated technology projects with teachers as well as model lessons using technology. While this blog mainly focuses on elementary science I do post other ideas in other subject areas. Today's blog post features an end of unit project I did with a fourth grade class in one of the two schools I teach at. I team taught with the teacher for a two week period focusing in on the parts of speech (she would teach one part of speech one day and I would do another the next day). At the end of the unit we put her children into groups and they were given a digital camera and allowed to take pictures or videos around the school that illustrated the eight parts of speech. We got an adult volunteer to go with each group and they were given approximately 45 minutes (along with a check list, dry erase marker and pen). Ideally I

Weather - End of Unit Tech Project

Here is a technology project that I did with a fourth grade science class at the end of their weather unit. This was my sample project I showed children. I had done a project similar to it at the end of last year and wrote about it HERE . I had actually helped a teacher do this paper piece project in Social Studies (they were researching explorers) so I felt pretty confident introducing it in science (we had worked out the kinks and problems in the social studies class :) The project took four days. Day 1 - Students were introduced to the project, grouped, picked their topic (they could choose between layers of the atmosphere, weather tools and their uses, severe weather and related saftey tips, the water cycle, and clouds and cloud formation), and started working on their graphic organizer. Day 2 - Students worked on their graphic organizer, script, and paper pieces Day 3 - Students were at various stages of completion. They were either still working on their paper pieces or rea

Bill Nye - Light Color Video with Lyrics

I put together another Bill Nye song with lyrics for a teachers light, electricity, and magnet unit. The direct link to the video on YouTube can be found HERE .

Bill Nye Song with Lyrics - Whether the Weather

Just finished adding the lyrics to this fun Bill Nye song on the topic of WEATHER and posting it to Youtube.


I love love love the site Pinterest. For those of you have not heard of it it is a site that acts as a virtual pin board of things you come across the web and want to save. What is the best part is that you can follow other pinners. I don't have time to look at everything I want to on the web but I can look at other peoples pin boards and repin things of interest to my site. I have picked up so many great ideas for lessons from other people's sites that it is definitely my favorite new website of 2011. My site is a bit of a mishmash right now. I need to start sub-categorizing items within my "school" pinboard because right now I have 245 pins in that category (don't get me started on my craft and recipe boards!). If you haven't heard of it I highly recommend checking it out and start searching the education and school boards for ideas :)

Featured Website - Great Ideas

I had lost and found this site several times over the years and have decided to blog about it so I don't loose it again! This site belongs to a middle school social studies teacher name Mr. Roughton. Under his assignment tab he has lots of great ideas that can be incorporated into a right hand assignment for notebooks. Often times he has PDF's you can download or details regarding the assignment. I like to look at it from time to time to see if I can get any new notebooking ideas. I was on it today and was really looking at his game board template and I want to see if I can have students make a game board that will fit into the notebook (oooohhhh....I love a good project to try out).

3-2-1 Pyramid

I saw this done in a social studies notebook and I really liked the structure. It is called a 3-2-1 review, which I have heard of before and use when kids are watching science videos to keep them engaged (list three things you learned, two things you thought were interesting, and one question you had). In this example of a 3-2-1 review for the notebook students drew a pyramid. On the bottom part of the pyramid the students had to list three facts. The second part of the pyramid they had to list two “whys” and at the top they had to write a summarizing sentence. I liked this as a right hand assignment. I have friends that are in an astronomy unit and they can use this structure to have children write three facts about the sun, two reasons why the sun is so important, and then a summarizing sentence.

Cloud Viewer

  This is an idea I saw on pinterest about making a cloud viewer. This is the site with the idea and here was the idea for the template I was going to use for the outside of the viewer. I did this with a fourth grade class yesterday and in the planning stages I decided to nix the popcicle stick frame because of time…plus I decided I really wanted them to write on the back of the viewer. I also nixed using a prefab cloud viewer frame because I really wanted children to draw their own representation of the clouds – rather than have it handed to them. So using the idea from the two sites students created their own cloud viewer. I was dreading the activity a bit mainly because I had never done it before, it was being done on a day before a three day weekend, there was a sub in the classroom, it was a full moon, AND I was being observed. Shockingly the entire activity went textbook perfect in all four classes despite all my concerns J . The teacher the day before had intr

Thanksgiving Idea

Loved this idea! One of the school’s I go between is doing this project on the fourth and fifth grade hall. The idea came from Angie Peterson, one of the fifth grade teachers. The teachers created and laminated a large turkey for the hall. They gave each student a feather to take home with the instruction that parents, or family members, were to use the feather to explain why they are thankful for their child. They (the parents) had the freedom to decorate anyway they saw fit. Students get to share their feathers with the class and then they get placed on the large hallway turkey. They are precious to read and you can tell the children loved reading what their families wrote about them. The two teachers heading up the project said that because November is such a short month for us (we have fall break at the beginning of the month, followed by veteran’s day off, followed by the Thanksgiving break) that they put a Santa hat and red nose on the turkey display and let the display

Water Cycle Song - Bill Nye - With Lyrics

A teacher friend of mine is entering a week of the water cycle with her students and I put lyrics to one of my favorite Bill Nye songs on the Water Cycle this morning for her. The embedded video is above but the direct link to the YouTube can be found HERE . This is her schedule for the week: Monday - Water Cycle Introduction Tuesday - I have them in the computer lab using Smart Art in Word to create a Water Cycle flow chart Wednesday - They are doing a cut, match up, and paste activity in their notebook Thursday - They are doing a couple of water cycle experiments Friday - Students are taking a quiz and watching the Magic School Bus Water Cycle video The kids are excited about the week but I think more because they get off for a week's fall break on Friday :)

Duct Tape Identification

I happened to be in a friends room who notebooks in Social Studies and noticed her notebooks on the shelf. I love love love that she put colored duct tap on the binding to, not only secure an area that typically starts falling apart, but allows for easy identification.

"I'm Finished Early" Students

In my experience there are three kinds of students - ones that finish an activity on time (yay!), ones that you have to push to finish an activity on time (boo!), and the ones that finish early (YIKES!). I have been helping a friend who just started notebooking and teaching fourth grade science and those early finishers have been problematic (mainly because they start bugging everyone else who is still working :) We recently devised the "poster project" for students who are done early. Basically we set aside a part of her wall for these posters (in this case her cabinets as pictured above). Students who are done their assignment early are asked to contribute a poster to the wall. It has to be subject specific (so no random pictures!). The other day she did weather tools and the kids who finished early had to draw and label a poster of their favorite weather tool (she uses regular paper and the kids have to mount it on colored construction paper and put it up on the wall....

Origami Tshirts - Part II

Earlier I wrote a post about an origami shirt - see post here . I had my Girl Scouts do the activity as part of an energy badge we are working on. The girls had to make an energy pledge and depict it on the shirt. My example is pictured above. Sadly the girls pretty much copied my example (isn't that the way it always is????). Next time I think I would do a better job of discussing different things we can do to save energy and NOT show them an example. I thought this might be a fun activity for teachers to do with Earth Day in April (not necessarily with energy). Students can brainstorm all kinds of different ways they can help protect the Earth. I showed the shirts to a friend of mine and she used them in her ELA class. Students had to investigate their name - interview their parents, look up the meaning of their name online, discuss how they felt about their name. They then wrote up a short piece in Word and glued it on their origami shirt and decorated around it (she used la

Grant for Composters

Composter as Advertised on BuyLifetime A grant that I wrote up a month ago was just approved (Yay!). The local grant committee surprised us today with a balloon and novelty check for $500. I will be working with two fourth grade science teachers integrating composting into the curriculum. The grant covered the cost of two tumbling composters ( see compost tumbler video here ) and child friendly composting books from Amazon for both classes. We will be composting pumpkins after Halloween and poinsettias after the holidays. These are two items that always find their way into the trash after the holidays. I felt both of them can be easily composted thus eliminating landfill waste. The students are excited about it and are already wondering if decomposing pumpkins make orange compost! I have never done this project before and I am hoping that we have useable compost in both bins by mid to late May. I want to write another grant that provides students with a pot and plant where they ca

Pop Up Cube Part II

About an hour after I made my last post, where I uploaded an embedded YouTube video, I made one of the popup cube wallets. It wasn't that hard. I probably wouldn't have any grade below 4th try it. It would be great if I can get our art teacher to do it with the kids (not sure if he would be willing or not). That way they can work on what goes on the cube in science class. I would like it to be a little bit bigger but I am thinking that I can enlarge the template on the copier. You definitely have to use card stock paper for both the cube and wallet for stability purposes. Above is a short (30 second) video of my finished cube. I made a PDF with the template and step-by-step directions which can be found HERE . It is very detailed with lots of pictures. I would use this with students.  The original website for the PDF templates can be found HERE . Scroll down until you see the Pop Up Cube in Wallet video and just below it are the templates.

Pop Up Cube

I saw this video on YouTube and thought it would be great for a notebook. Not sure kids can handle the craft or not. I am going to try it tonight and might try with my group of Girl Scouts next week.

Scoot - The Video

I introduced Scoot to two groups of fourth graders today. I video taped the lesson above (and can I say how much I dislike watching myself on tape? Sigh!). The intent was to give folks a visual on how the review game is structured. I got very lucky with this class. There were only 14 children (five were pulled out for resources so there is actually 19 in the group). They were very good and got the hang of it easily. I gave them an easy Scoot - Abbreviations and Initials so they felt pretty confident going from question to question. The teacher videoing me LOVED it and can't wait to see me do it again with her class on Wednesday with pronouns (we are co-teaching a unit on the eight parts of speech). I also introduced it to her afternoon class. That would have been more amusing to watch :) They were lower academically and made so much ambient noise that I had to stop several times to get children to refocus. The music seemed the biggest problem...distraction wise...they loved i

Scoot - The Game

I was introduced to a game called Scoot today through a teacher at my school (thank you Ms. Perry!). She found the game through - Here is the link to how the game is played I watched it being played today with second graders. Ms. Perry had printed out task cards from that a teacher had posted having to do with place value. The cards asked a question and gave the student three multiple choice options. She had the students number a piece of paper with however many students were in the room (in this case 23). At each table she put a numbered task card. The child would start at whatever number their task card at their desk was marked at (so if I was in spot 19 I would start my answers at number 19 on my numbered sheet). Students stood behind their chair (tucked in) and when told they flipped their task card over and answered the question (the teacher played music during this). She stopped the music and told everyone to "Scoot" to the next numbe

Bill Nye Songs with Lyrics

At the end of the Bill Nye videos he always has a fun song that goes with the episode. You can find many of the songs as stand alone videos on YouTube. This came in handy because today I am teaching a lesson on layers of the atmosphere and found a song from his Atmosphere video on YouTube titled "Fresh Aire." I really wanted to remix it and put the lyrics on the video (so the kids could sing along and see how the lyrics matched the lesson). The first thing I did was found a site that has all the Bill Nye lyrics posted used my YouTube downloader ( see instructions here ) and downloaded the song. I then imported the video into Movie Maker Live and used the caption feature to put the lyrics on the different frames (cutting and pasting from the lyrics site into Movie Maker Live). I saved the video and reposted to YouTube so other teachers could use the video with lyrics (the finished video is posted above). The process was pretty easy and I am thinking about doing it for m

Donor Choose - Grants

I was just recently awarded a grant through Donor Choose for science themed reading material for a classroom at our school. I was required to write a grant through a class I was taking as a final project (we didn't have to get it funded we just had to write and submit). Several of us in the class got our requests funded. Mine was flat out funded but a friend of mine got hers funded through a series of donations to the project (which is a great way to get parents involved by asking them to contribute a little bit to the materials you need). For those educators who have not heard of Donor Choose it is a site where teachers can put up grant requests for their classroom. The entire process is very easy. The site walks you through everything step-by-step. Some tips I would pass on are: 1. Put a picture up of you with your class (make sure photos are permissible of your students first). I think if donors can get a sense of who you are and your students you run a better chance of gett

Paper Pull Outs

I had seen a project on the internet that involved a pull out tab on a teapot and I have been thinking about how it can be used in notebooking. Today I had my "Aha moment" :) I know my examples above are social studies based and that is only because I happen to be meeting with some social studies teachers this week. The concept would still apply to science. One social studies teacher is entering a unit about westward expansion. I thought she could take the groups they discuss and students would choose a group (rancher, Native American, Asian immigrants, miners, etc.) to do a pull out tab person for their right hand assignment (my example was of a cowboy/rancher) - the fourth picture is what the back looks like. When finished the edges only would be glued to the notebook (leaving the tab to move freely in and out of the hat). Students would have to finish writing their information on the tab before the edges of the picture got glued in the book (very hard to write on t

Origami Tshirts

This class made origami t-shirts that they then decorated with items that represented themselves. They wrote about the decorations and how they fit into their lives in the computer lab (using Microsoft Word). The teacher took pictures of their heads and they were cut to fit the t-shirts. I really liked this project. For this class it was a beginning of the year project but I could easily do it with a Social Studies or Science class. I would change the instructions to read: "Create t-shirt designs that match an event in history. Write about how your drawings match what we've studied in social studies." The instructions for making the origami shirt can be followed from this Activity TV site .

Room Decorating Idea

I liked the wall decal and the fabric around the desk of this teachers room.

Hallway Display

I found out last week that I was assigned a bulletin board in the school for this month. I had seen a picture of a cute Facebook bulletin board that a teacher had done for her class and I essentially copied it :) It was a huge hit in the school because of the interactive "status update". Parents, teachers, and students are encouraged to post updates throughout the week.

Scratched Constellation Designs

I taught my constellation activity today. It didn't go as well as I hoped (Monday???). One class didn't finish. The other class did with lots of complaining (about coloring)! I took an idea I found on the internet ( see this site ) and modified it for the class. I initially wanted to use the cards and hole punch like the website but my hole punches wouldn't reach far enough in. I saw this idea on the web and thought of using it as well but couldn't find any jumbo push pins. I remembered an old Girl Scout craft where you colored one color underneath a darker color (crayons) and scratched out a design and thought that would work. The students really had to color hard with both colors - yellow on the bottom and blue on top (hence the complaining). It did not work well with generic crayons (Crayola worked best). Time wise it took about 20 minutes for the entire class to finish. We scratched out the constellations using paper clips. The right hand side of the notebook

Constellation Activity

I am teaching a fourth grade class about constellations this coming week and came across this adorable idea (picture above) from this blog . Sadly I don't think I have time to do this activity with this class (the lesson is on Monday and today is Saturday) but I might run it by the teacher to see if we can make it happen. Sharing the idea because it was just too darn cute not to :)

Pop Culture Points

A teacher in one of our district shared this YouTube video on letting children earn "Pop Culture Points" in the classroom. I love it! One of my favorite things about teaching is when a child comes in and has made a connection to what we are learning in class to what they are watching on TV, reading, or listening to. We all know that making connections is powerful and helps students remember. This teacher now assigns points for it. I like what one of the interviewed children said, "It makes you think about learning when you aren't normally thinking about learning." I saw this video a couple of days ago and really started looking for points of reference in the shows I watched. In this weeks Warehouse 13 the dangerous artifact was a pair of binoculars that were on the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. On Eureka the entire town was focused on an upcoming launch to Titan, the largest moon on Saturn. I thought both worthy of Pop C

Unusual Spaces

This teacher has a very small room with not a lot of wall space. I loved that she thought out of the box and used her desk to have students make their lunch choices on. She put the students names on magnets and they move them over when they come in in the morning.

ELA - Beginning of Year Activity

This was an assignment I did when teaching one class of ELA in fourth grade. I stole the idea from a teacher friend of mine (thanks Jamey!). She used the book The Best Part of Me as the literacy tie in and had students write about the best part of them. One of the third grade teachers in my school loved the assignment and had her kids do it the first week of school. The first picture was a fourth grade example of this project and the second is a third grade example.

Third Grade - Title Pages and Safety Posters

Very excited to be working with one of our third grade teachers notebooking this year. It is my first time with the third grade curriculum (outside of my student teaching) and it is nice that the teacher will let me offer up suggestions and ideas for right hand assignments. Above you will see some of the title pages student worked on and classroom safety posters (the safety posters also went into the notebook...those who finished early got to make larger posters for the classroom).

Tools - Notebook

In this 3rd grade class students are using notebooks for the first time this year. In this activity children learned about tools a scientist use on the left hand side of the notebook. On the right hand side students were asked to cut out and match up names and uses of each tool. This was a pretty nice notebook example. Most of the other notebooks looked willy nilly (matched up appropriately but with not super neat cutting) but the children like the activity and we know that the students will get better with notebooking as they progress.

Measure Up Math

I liked this start of year math activity. It was done with 3rd graders. Student's learned how to measure their height using the floor tiles in the classroom. They then traced themselves on bulletin board paper and measured aspects of their cut out - waist, arms, neck, head, etc. The cut outs were then put out in the hall and made great wall decorations for our open house.