Sunday, February 26, 2012

Solar System Fun!

Hello friends! I wasn't intending to take this long to share with y'all some of the fun things we did for our solar system unit, but this past week I had a crazy messed up schedule, so I fell behind on everything, including blogging! Monday we had a staff development day, Wednesday I had a half day sub so I could complete a component of my ESL requirements, and Friday I had a sub because the third grade teachers had a planning day. Also, Friday evening, my boyfriend hosted a Star Party for my students and their families, and it was a blast! My students loved being able to use the telescopes, and it was awesome to hear the kids "teach" their parents what they'd learned about the planets, the moon, and constellations!

Anyway, here are a few of the fun activities we did during our unit:
Can you see the planet beads?
Planet necklaces! To make our necklaces, I used this search, and the first link (the one for a word document) is where I got my measurements. I didn't have enough black and white seed beads for each student, so instead of using those as spacers, I used the number of beads listed as a basis of measurement in centimeters. Then, after we measured the space between the planets on our string, we tied our planet beads directly onto the string. That definitely made this activity more challenging, but we figured out a few tricks along the way to help get the beads tied in place.

Solar system art is my favorite!
Look at those fabulous orbital lines and the correctly placed asteroid belt!
A close up of how the labels were used.
My students also created a model to show they'd learned the order of the planets as well as their distances from the sun. Students used a long piece of black construction paper to create their "space," and pictures of the planets (found here) to make their models. Then, since they had learned the order of the planets earlier that week, I simply gave them a page that had the names of the planets and 8 distances listed, but the distances were not in order! They had to use their knowledge of the order of the planets to make a connection to the distances, but it didn't take them long to figure out that Mercury, since it is the closest to the sun, must match the shortest distance, and so on. I also told them they had to include a drawing of the asteroid belt, and the only hint I gave them as a reminder of where it should be drawn is that it should separate the inner planets from the outer planets (which we had also learned about earlier that week). Not one student drew it in the wrong spot - yay for students who listen! I found the planet distances here, and you can find the worksheet I created with the planet labels and distances in my TpT store here.

We did several other projects, too, but these are the only ones I have pictures of! I hope you can use these ideas when it comes time for you to teach your class about the solar system! Now it's time for me to finish my lesson plans while watching the Oscars, but before I go, I also wanted to share a few pictures from our 50s Day last Friday - we always have a 50s dance the week of Valentine's, and this year I had more students than ever get into the spirit of things! Since we do this every year, I decided I needed to finally make myself a skirt that I could use again and again. So, the night before 50s Day, I stopped by Goodwill and found the perfect pink skirt - I took it home, sketched a quick drawing of a poodle, transferred it to a block of black felt I had from my craft stash, and then got to hot gluing! It took all of 15 minutes, and I love how it turned out! 
Step aside, Danny Zuko - these third graders are the new T-Birds!
Me and my girls in our pink poodle skirts!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gotta Share - Primary Graffiti's Awesome Giveaway!

I want to do a giveaway of my own soon, but I know whatever I come up with won't be nearly as awesome as the one that Mrs. Saoud is doing over at Primary Graffiti!

She's teamed up with Learning Resources to give away a $100 gift card that could help you buy this awesome new product called the now!Board. It is just like a Smartboard, but it's portable - no special surface needed! All you have to do download the software, hook up the camera to your computer with a USB cord, and then calibrate your board with the stylus. That's it! Check out this YouTube video to see just how easy it really is: 
If you're interested in winning a now!Board for your classroom, head on over to Primary Graffiti to enter to win a $100 gift card from Learning Resources! I'll be back tomorrow to share what we've been doing to learn about the solar system!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day!

It's time to link up for the Valentine's Exchange, which was put together by the fabulous Caitlin and Sarah from Teacher Blogger Exchange! First, a look at what I made for Colleen from Mrs. Patton's Patch
I made her a set of magnets from scrapbook paper and little pictures of ladybugs, since her class team is Ladybugs! I made a little card from a heart stamp I carved, and I also sent her a Valentines frame and a little pink bucket that had Heath bars, book plates, and lotion in it! I'm glad I was paired with her because I didn't know about her blog before the exchange, and she has some really great ideas (like this one - QR codes in the classroom + Xtranormal videos = genius!).

This is what I received from sweet Bonnie from Living a Wonderful Life

Nail polish and a Starbucks gift card! The shade she picked out for me is PERFECT - I can't stand bold color on my fingernails, but I like it better when my nails are painted because it keeps me from picking them, so the subtle shade of pink she sent me is something I will definitely use! Same goes for the Starbucks card - looks like I'll be leaving home a little early tomorrow so I can start my day off with a nice, hot chai tea latte! Thanks so much, Bonnie! Your gifts helped make my Valentine's Day much sweeter (and I'm following your blog now, too!). 

We had a great little party this afternoon in my class, but I was so busy running around I didn't take any pictures. Oh well! Today was also made more fun because of the Hey Girl Teacher website (please tell me you know about it!!). Yesterday was my co-worker's birthday, so I printed this one out and gave it to her in lieu of a card. Our principal just so happens to be the coolest, most fun, best principal ever, and when she saw what I'd printed, she took it from there and printed a TON of pictures from the website and scattered them all over the tables in our teacher's lounge today to show us some Ryan Gosling love and appreciation. It. Was. Awesome.

I hope you all had a wonderful day with your students, and are now taking it easy like I am! Glee is on, and my friend Emily is on her way over - my boyfriend is out at the observatory (again!) and her husband is also out of town, so we decided to make dinner together rather than spending the evening alone! It'll be nice to cook something that doesn't involve chocolate - I had enough of that today to last me for the next month! Happy heart day, y'all!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Crafty Things and a Linky Party!

I've been in a crafty mood this weekend, and I wanted to share a few of the things I made!

First, I made myself a little valentines collection box to use at our party next week - my class is the Rockets, and the inspiration for my box came from the cute little wooden rocket a student made me! I made my box after school Friday because I wanted to be sure to have an example to show the kids tomorrow - I told my students a few weeks ago that they'd need to make something at home to collect their valentines in for our party, and on Valentine's Day, we're going to be voting for the collection boxes we think best match each of the 4 categories I created: the best Valentine's Day theme, the best 3rd grade theme, most colorful, and most innovative. It was optional for the kids to make something for our party; obviously any old bag, envelope, or box would work, but this is way more fun! I heard a lot of my students talking about their creations last week during recess, so I can't wait to see what they've come up with!
Then, I made a few things at home: teeny tiny valentines and envelopes to send to my brother and the kids I used to nanny for; Scrabble magnets using the tiles from my grandmother's game; thin mint truffles for my principal, assistant principal, and my friend for her birthday (and there are a few extras that I'll be enjoying sharing at school tomorrow).
Now, to link up with Jeannie from Kindergarten Lifestyle - You Know You're a Teacher When... Here's what I came up with: 
There's no other job quite like teaching, is there? The accidental "mommy" calling especially trips me out, because I don't have kids of my own yet! Check out some of the other entries; they're just as true!

Happy Valentine's week, everyone!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fraction Freebie

Well, the sickness finally did me in. I made it to school this morning, but after about an hour of teaching, I felt a whole new wave of sickness (read: nausea) come over me. I put in for a half day sub, and thankfully someone answered (most of our normal go-to subs were already at our school because about 10 teachers were in San Antonio for the Leader in Me conference). She arrived quickly, which was nice because that gave me time to actually talk to her and explain some things, and then I got the heck outta there. I'm feeling ten times better now, thanks to some meds and sleep, so here's hoping I make it through the whole day tomorrow! I hope my students weren't thrown off too much by my leaving in the middle of the day - but, since I knew someone had picked up the job, at least I was able to tell the kids I was leaving before I dropped them off at specials. That's one thing I absolutely love about my schedule - time wise, a half day starts for me while my students are at specials, so whenever I do have to leave for a half day, the transition is easy for both me and my students.

Anyway, enough of that sick talk; that's no fun. Instead, here's a little fraction flag activity I made for my students to do as their morning work earlier this week. A while ago I stumbled across this when I was searching for something else entirely, and I made a mental note about it since I knew I was going to be teaching fractions soon. I needed something with a bit more direct instruction so I could actually assess how well my students could apply the new skills they'd learned, and this is what I came up with! My students enjoyed the opportunity to be creative with their flag creations, and they were very interested to see how different each person's flag turned out, even though they all followed the same directions! Click the picture below to find this activity for free in my TpT store! (Also, if you're a Mac user, like me, when you first download the file, if it opens automatically with Preview, you might be just as baffled as I was to see that the title text was blacked out and blurry, as if someone had smeared it - to fix that, just open the file with Adobe Reader instead, and it'll be just fine! The font used for the title is called BodieMF Flag Font, and it can be downloaded for free from Font Space here. )
Happy almost weekend everyone!

Monday, February 6, 2012


Farley has posted another Currently for February, and while it's currently time for me to be asleep, I wanted to link up before the week's chaos keeps me from blogging! 
I hope to be back later this week with a fraction game to share! Happy Monday y'all!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

100th Day Fun!

Remember how I said last Monday that I woke up with a scratchy throat and a thick feeling in my chest, but I didn't actually feel bad? Well, I spoke too soon, because when I woke up Tuesday morning, the feeling bad was totally happening. I spent the week feeling sick and exhausted, but on Thursday, my sweet kids and their parents made me feel super special by throwing me a little half birthday celebration. They were so thoughtful! They brought me my favorite flowers, lunch, and yummy treats to share with my kids. Then I rounded out the day by going to dinner and to see Wicked with my aunt. Although I was still feeling icky, all that love made me feel much better!

Then Friday was our 100th day of school! I had never done anything special with my third graders in the past for the 100th day, other than meeting up with our learning buddies, but after seeing all the great ideas from other teachers on Pinterest, I decided to make our 100th day a little more fun! 

To start, I decorated our door with a simple fringe door hanging. I cut 10 strips, and drew 10 designs on each strip to make 100! My students definitely got into the 100th day mood after walking through the door!
For their morning work, I wanted to have them do something that involved writing, since every Friday, their morning work is to respond to a prompt in their writing journal. So, to make their writing incorporate 100, they had to write 10 sentences about 10 new things they've learned, experienced, or done so far in third grade, but there was a catch: each sentence had to be exactly 10 words long! A few of my kiddos looked dumbfounded when they realized that meant they'd be writing 100 words, and one of my students even figured out a sentence structure that he could use for all 10 sentences: "I learned ___________ in third grade and it is fun." Oh well, at least he was thinking! 

Then, for our math time, I started off by putting a bunch of numbers on the board. They were written on different colored pieces of paper, and they weren't in any particular order. Once I hung them up, I asked my kids if they noticed any connections between the numbers. After a few suggestions, one student realized the numbers could make number sentences that equal 100. Here are a few of the numbers used: 
After the kids figured out which numbers went together to make 100, their assignment was to find 100 ways to make 100, using any kind of math they could think of. A few kids realized they could use money (like 100 pennies, or 4 quarters), and a few found their groove by starting with 100 + 0, and then changing the 100 to 99, then to 98, then to 97, etc., and making the other number match - the ones who did that were finished VERY quickly! Overall, most of the kids were really getting in to playing around with and manipulating numbers, and they were very impressed with themselves for coming up with 100 new math facts. 

While they were working in partners to create their lists, I called the kids to my back table to help create a shirt that I would wear that day. I was struck with this idea on my way to dinner with my aunt the night before, so I stopped in at Goodwill and found a white shirt that ended up working perfectly. I made an array to show 10 x 10 with masking tape on the front of the shirt, and the kids each got to come up with a design/pattern to draw on to the shirt, and they all signed the back of it. It turned out SO cute! I wore it for the rest of the day, and the kids got such a kick out of seeing their work on display on ME! They received lots of compliments, and I was happy that my idea didn't end up being a bust!
I took the tape off before I wore it, obviously! :)
The last activity we did was What Can I Do In 100 Seconds? from Mrs. T's First Grade (found via Pinterest). My students had a BLAST doing this, and they took each activity so seriously! I played along with some of the prompts, but I had more fun watching my kids really get after their writing, counting, and hopping! We finished the day by meeting up with our first grade learning buddies, and we helped them make their 100th day necklaces by counting out Fruit Loops in groups of 10. 

I know that for most of you, the 100th day of school is over, but I hope you'll find something here to use next year! The ladies at Lesson Plan SOS did 100th day, survivor style, and I'm already looking forward to using that theme with my students next year!

On Friday, I also found out from Caitlin that I was the winner of one of the giveaways over at Teacher Blogger Exchange - how exciting! I've never won anything from a teacher blog, and I can't wait to use Hadar's cute activities with my class next week! Thanks, ladies!!

Now, this has nothing to do with anything, other than it was super fun! Saturday morning I ran the Color Run with my teacher friend Kiley. Getting to the race was a nightmare, and it was windy, cold, and extremely muddy because it had rained ALL night long on Friday, but we had such a blast! 
Before (freezing and colorless)...
...and after (still freezing, but covered in color and mud!).
I don't think I was quite well enough to be running a race in 45 degree weather, because since I got home yesterday, I've been coughing and hacking up more junk, but it was worth it. For now, it's time for me to get my plans in order for the week, and then I'll be off to an anti-Superbowl hangout with my lady friends. We're letting our menfolk do as they please for the game, and we're going to do as WE please by watching a movie, doing our nails, and making Valentines. Can't think of a better way to round out my weekend! Happy Sunday, y'all!