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Monday, August 11, 2014

Extended Learning: A Maps and Globes Discovery Bag

Thanks SO much to all of you who sent encouragement and advice about how to keep it together when your kids move away.  Many of you suggest staying busy...well, no problem there! I'm in over my head with all sorts of school and home projects. I'm bound and determined to finish things up before school begins in two weeks. 
Yikes, it is going fast!

I need to apologize for not getting back to some of you who asked about the Discovery Bags. 
My plan is to first put together bags that go along with my social studies and science units.  If you are thinking you want one on a specific topic, you can email me and I can add it to my list. I'll try to complete as many as I can and will post them when I am done. Keep checking back. 

Here is another bag that I finished recently. I enjoy putting these together and easily found some inexpensive and fun store bought materials from the One Spot at Target.  This is a great time to be on the look out for flashcards, puzzles or games that fit with your topics. 
We do a unit on Maps early in the year.  I will use this bag during extension time to give kids background before I teach it or as a review afterwards. 



A vocabulary matching game will give students another exposure to key words related to geography. 
I have included an answer key so it will be self checking. 



For just two dollars, I was able to add a puzzle and United States Flash Cards that give information about all 50 states. 
I'm including a journal so that kids can write or draw something they know about this topic on a page. 


I am including some sort of examination item in most bags.  This one will include compasses that the kids can handle and experiment with.  I found a little booklet that explains what a compass does and how it works. I'm going to add that in too.  Of course, actual maps would be great to add in here as well.  Think of all the different types of maps that you could add include...street or state maps, or maps of amusement parks or even your school map would be great. 

I've got these all on hangers.  I'm thinking kids will enjoy using these at centers.  All kids would benefit, but I'm thinking they will be ideal to use with those who need to be challenged. 


If you are interested, check out this listing in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week




 This is funny, but the real truth is that I cried a river today.  
My son left for his freshman year of college this afternoon. 

I am still in disbelief. Where have the years gone? 
How is it possible that we have already gone from this....



To this....

to this????


It doesn't seem possible. 
I am so excited for him and this next adventure.  What has come as a surprise to me is just how much it hurts my heart to see him go. I will miss seeing, talking and laughing with him every day.
 I know I will adjust and this ache will subside...right?  
Words of advice?  Missing him tonight.

Here are my Sunday's Words: 

Lord, please surround my kids with friends and adults who point them toward You, and in ways that complement my own deficits in parenting.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

America Is....A Trip to NYC

 Hello All! I hope everyone is enjoying every remaining second of this summer!
 I took my kids back to my old stomping grounds in New York City last week. We had a blast wandering the city and taking in all the sights and sounds. 

We went to the World Trade Center Memorial. They have created a touching tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in that tragedy.  There are now waterfalls outlining the perimeter of both buildings. The water then collects and falls through an inside square area. Names are engraved all along the walls of the structures. Just beautiful but also so sad!


We saw the Statue of Liberty.  She is such a powerful presence standing there in the harbor. I remember my mom talking about seeing her for the first time as she came by boat as an immigrant so many years ago. We are so lucky to be living in this country. 


We hung out at the South Street Seaport and checked out the ships, boats and shops. Definitely one of my favorite places in the city.

The Manhattan Sailing School....


We strolled down Wall Street and past the New York Stock Exchange.


We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with about a hundred other people. Boy was it crowded!



Of course we headed to Rockefeller Plaza.  

 Such a pretty spot with the fountains and the greenery! 

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We went into Trinity Church while we were there. My dad owned an Iron Works Company in Manhattan and was hired to do all the ornamental iron for this church  back in the 1960's.  It was great getting a chance to visit the church and see all he his work. He may not be around any longer but he has left his mark. 

It was fun checking out the NBC Studios and places like the Trump Tower. 


A highlight of the trip was seeing Wicked at the Gershwin. What a fantastic show! The acting, music, costumes and special effects were all amazing.  We had a great time!!


The most peaceful place in the city for me has always been Central Park.  I just love the statues that greet you when you enter. How beautiful!



I wish I could bottle all the energy of that city! There really is no place like New York. 








My trip reminded me of this really great book I found recently.  
It is called, America Is...  by author, Louise Borden.  


Through poetic text, Louise Borden highlights the wonders of our incredible country. 
Each page begins with the two words: "America is..." 
Through reading this book, children will get a sense of how diverse America's land and people are. 
Borden wrote this book as a response to a question posed to her by a group of school children in Birmingham, England.  They asked, "What's it like to live in America?"  This book was her answer. 
I plan on using it with my third graders this year. Check it out, I think you and your students will love it!






Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday's Words for the Week


Fun!

Hemingway and the blunt truth. Who can argue his point? 
The official start of school is still three weeks away and I have every intention of cramming in more summer fun!   How about you? What are you up to?  I would love to hear. 
Wishing everyone a joy-filled week!
Doris

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Discovery Bags: A Way to Extend Learning

Hello All!
I will be heading to New York City for a  week so I am trying my hardest to tie up some loose ends and finish up some projects before I leave.
 Someone once shared these words of wisdom: "finish one thing before you start another". 
Such good advice for me! I often have multiple projects going on and so some never end up getting finished.

 Well, here is one project that I did finish. I have had it in my mind to make some Discovery Bags for my third grade class.  I used to do these for my little preschoolers and kindergarteners. I would pick a topic that I thought they would be interested in  and then I would fill a bag with materials related to that subject: books, stuffed animal, puzzles, games, etc.  Kids loved checking out these bags and learned so much from just browsing through them. 

I decided I wanted to do discovery bags for my third graders because I often feel so rushed as I teach my content area curriculum.  There is so much more I wish I could teach them about animals, geography, plants, ancient civilizations, the moon, etc. etc. etc.  The problem is always with time and the lack of it. I feel I only can skim the surface of some of these interesting topics when I know I have kids who thirst for more. 


So, I'm going to use Discovery Bags to help fill in the gaps so that students who have a real interest in a particular topic can check out the bag and spend their "wise choice" or extension time learning more about that subject. 

Here is the one I made for the topic of Soil.  

I included a "Contents" list so that all materials go back in when finished. 

First, I put some books inside the bag.  I'm going to include fiction and nonfiction titles. Then I added some laminated diagrams and write on/wipe off sheets so kids could draw their own diagrams.  I also put in a journal with the thought that kids could write or draw what they know about soil on a page.  I know kids would like to read what each other wrote.


I'm also going to include an examination bag inside of each discovery bag.  This will include objects related to the topic that students can examine. 


I'm including these little containers of different kinds of soil and magnifying glasses. 


I
I am reusing small almond containers for these tins.  They are a great size and close tightly. 

Finally, I want to keep reinforcing the key words related to this topic so I am including a memory match game.  Kids can try to match words and meanings. I will include an answer card so they can check their thinking. 


I'm using the jumbo ziplock bags to make these with and attaching them to hangers so I can hang them on the ledge of my dry erase board. 
Here are the steps I used to make them: 


I'm always thinking about easy ways to store stuff in my class.  I think this will work well. 

It's a great time of year to pick up items for a soil or planting discovery bag.  Garden centers have seeds, shovels, and planting containers on clearance. You can get great stuff for very little. 

I've added the printables for the Soil Discovery Bag to my TPT store and have other bags ready to go. 
Interested in starting these up in your classroom? 
Check here: 


Thoughts? Would love to hear!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Organizing Math Materials: Math Tub Signs

Oh yes, I can relate! Does this sign speak to you?   I know I've been there and have felt that. 
Some teacher friends and I were talking about what kinds of things "steal our peace" in the classroom.
Disorganization ranked high on the list.  I have often felt as though I was drowning in the classroom clutter; it can overtake my space and overwhelm my mind. 

A few years ago I took part in a 30 Bags in 30 Days New Years Challenge.  The purpose was to decrease stress and regain peace by unloading one bag of unnecessary stuff from our homes each day for the month of January. I wanted my home to  be a refuge; a place to play, create, dream, rest and love my family.  It is hard to achieve that when too much clutter overtakes our space. 
 Our group used Peter Walsh's book, It's All Too Much as our guide.  This is a super easy read and helped lead me to the realization that having more possessions was more suffocating than liberating. Too much stuff wasn't helping me to live the kind of life I wanted for my family..it was getting in the way. Through this challenge I have discovered a simple and decluttered home helps me to stay focused and centered on what is important in my life. 

So now it's time to translate this thinking into my classroom.  Has too much stuff overtaken your school space? In his book, Peter Walsh starts with having his readers imagine their ideal day.  Many of us spend over nine hours in our classrooms a day. What do we want that time to feel like for ourselves and for our students?  I want my kids to feel happy and energized and ready to work and learn with clear and focused minds.  I find that my kids can become overstimulated by the sheer volume of stuff in my classroom. 

This has led me on a quest to organize and declutter my files, games, books, and learning materials. I've begun streamlining my math center resources and am feeling really good about it. 
I have organized my materials by math strands and have picked only 3 or 4 games or activities to use when teaching a math concept. This has been hard because there are so many cute and fun games out there, but I've found that too many choices can result in confusion and misunderstanding. Less is best for me and my kids. 

I have designated a math area in my room and have organized my center games in these drawer sets I found in Target.  Inside each drawer are the games I have found that are the MOST engaging and appropriate for my group.  


I blogged about this organizational system last year and am back to report that it worked well and helps to keep me and my students organized and focused.   I have had many requests for the signs that I used to label each drawer. I have added them to my Teachers Pay Teachers store as a free item.
If you are interested in using them in your classroom, head here to download.






There are lots of other ways to organize the stuff needed to do our jobs. 
Do you have an idea to share?