Monday, June 27, 2016

End of Year Activity: A Camping Unit

After a long year of hard work, my kids and I deserved to have some fun. We ended our year with a camping was a great way to get ready for summer vacation! Students were placed in groups of four and met with their friends to create their campsite. They named their camp and created simple signs to mark their site. 

We created a tent by hanging brown butcher paper from the ceiling. A group of four could easily fit underneath. Students made a fire pit using black, orange, and yellow butcher paper and paper towel rolls for logs. 


Students worked on their reading activities under their tents.
There is a wonderful reading of the fun book: A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee on Youtube. 
Listening to this book is a great way to kick off a camping day. 

I created a reading response booklet for this book. 
Students practiced their good reader strategies and skills as they answered response questions. 

They loved working on this in their tent and then got to read  Ranger Rick or Big Backyard magazines.


Third graders love simple cooking activities. Here they assembled dirt cups using chocolate pudding, crushed oreos and of course, gummy worms. 


Students worked with their camping friends to help create forest ecosystem murals to decorate our walls. 


This Tinfoil Boat STEM activity was a great follow up to the book: A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee.  Students worked to design and create tinfoil boats that could float a load of bears. 


Students experimented with different designs; narrow or wide bottom boats, folded or unfolded foil, etc.  Some students were able to create boats that could carry 50+!


I'm offering this camping set with some of these activities on my Teacher Pay Teacher Store. 

Click the link here to check it out!

What's your favorite way to end the year? 
I would love to hear!
Comment or email me at!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday's Words for the Week: Sweet Summer Days

There is nothing sweeter than the very first days of summer! 
Jacy from "My Third Grade World" wants to know what we all do to recharge after a long, hard year.
 Hands down, one of my favorite places to go to unwind is right here where 
all is still and quiet. It brings me instant peace. 

Love this song by Consumed by Fire....
"Down by the water, He waits for me.
Where I find strength for each and every day,
Joy in the midst of any pain.
I believe, 
Down by the water, He waits for me."

What's your favorite way to recharge.
I would love to hear...comment or email at!

Monday, May 30, 2016

End of the Year: Summer Poetry and Activity Pack

With just weeks of school remaining, I am thinking about what worked and what didn't this year. 
I will be posting and sharing different practices that I will continue to use and those that I will put aside as I go into Fall 2016.  One mainstay for me has always been and will always be the use of poetry to develop fluency and expression. Besides that obvious advantage, poetry can also be used as a vehicle for comprehension and vocabulary instruction. 

My students use a marble composition book as a poetry journal. We set it up during the first week of school and add poems throughout the year. By the end of the year, they have a whole anthology of third grade poems. 

Our poetry sequence goes like this: 
I usually introduce the poem in a whole group lesson. I will often display it on the smartboard and will cover key words. Students use context clues to determine possible missing words. Then we uncover the words and read and discuss it.  
Students love the activity called: Actors and Reciters. For this, half of the class recites the poem while the other half acts out each line. Then we switch roles. I love this because it gets them up, moving and it appeals to those dramatic types in the classroom. The reciters are attempting to read it all together. That helps model fluent and expressive reading for those readers who may be struggling and gives them a chance to hear it read out loud again. 

Then the week's poem will go into a reading station for the next day. Students get a copy of the poem and glue it on one side of their poetry journal. Students will read it again three times with a partner. The first time they read it by themselves to warm up.  The second time, they read it by taking turns reading stanzas and the final time, they read it chorally- two voices at the same time. 

The next step is having the students create a meaningful illustration to go along with the poem. 
We call this the visualization - or the mind movie. 

Students are encouraged to add words as captions or labels to explain their illustrations. 
I call all spelling for this activity: no excuse spelling. The words are in the poem- this helps students practice accurate spelling.

The next day, they will be given a poetry follow up activity based on the week's poem. 
This requires them to dig back into the text to hunt down certain words or to look for evidence to answer comprehension questions. Here is an example of a follow up: 

We also use our poetry journals for word study word hunts. Students may need to word hunt in past poems for different spellings of long a words, for two syllables words, compound words, contractions, etc. 


The poetry journal works fabulously for oral language practice too. A few times a year, I have students pick a past poem to recite out loud for the class. Students usually pick a partner or two to recite with. They figure out how to act out the poem with gestures or props. They perform their poems for their peers. We will sometimes call this: "Popcorn and Poetry" or "Popsicles and Poems" and I will offer the audience a treat to enjoy along with the recitals.  Students get so clever and creative with how to share their poems. It is always a good time.

I will be sharing the poems I use in my poetry journals on my Teacher Pay Teacher Store. 
I will bundle them by seasons. The first one I have posted is the Summer Pack. 
It will take you through 7 weeks if you introduce a poem a day. 
I have also used them stapled together in booklet form as just a "Summer Poetry Journal" and have used them for the last week of school. Children read and respond to a poem a day. 

Click this link below to check out the listing:

How do you use poetry in the classroom?  I would love to hear!
 Please comment below or email me:

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday's Words for the Week and The Emotional Flood

“There are no failures, only outcomes. As long as I learn something, I am succeeding."
Tony Robbins

Hello Teacher Friends! It has been a long time since I posted Sunday's Words for the Week. 
I thought these were so appropriate for this time of year. 

We have just weeks left of this school year. It is now that I find myself thinking back through the year. It has been a year of ups and downs and highs and lows. This winter I began a study of Tony Robbins' Unleash the Power Within. More than a decade ago I worked through his Awaken the Giant Within seminar and got so much from it. I felt I needed a refresher this year so I threw myself into his newer teachings. 
His message is simple and direct: Power was given to you the moment you were born. Its source is unlimited. We can seize that power and use it to make remarkable improvements in our lives, in our communities and in our world. 

It is Memorial Day weekend. What a great time to take a moment to acknowledge all that you are grateful for.  Try this emotional flood will be left feeling blessed. 

Who inspires your teaching and the way you live your life? 
Would love to hear: comment below or email:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Wall of Words: Dictionary Guide Words and ABC Order

We have spent a ton of time working on words this year. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, synonyms, antonyms, homophones...we have worked through them all. In fact, the students have created an entire wall of words. We called this our reference wall and students did use it regularly to remind themselves which words were which. 
It really was a student masterpiece. The kids thought of the words and created the illustrations. I just wrote up the headings. It all came down this past week. We will be taking the state reading test in our room this coming week and so all our words had to go.  My walls look barren...I wonder how many kids will look to that space when they need to think of a word during that test.  

We have been reviewing our dictionary skills and practicing our ABC order in preparation for the state tests and fourth grade. 
We added a dictionary and guide word note sheet to our reading journals.

Guide words and ABC order practice can become boring fast. We played some games to make it more exciting and fun. We played a guide word matching game. 

Students played ABC War. This is played a lot like regular WAR. The students each flip over a random word card and compare the two words. The student whose word comes first in ABC order gets to keep the card. Third graders are dealing with trickier words that begin with the same 3-4 letters. 
This video shows the game in action.
I love how they are working through the thinking together. 
 These materials along with a dictionary poem and check up pages can be found in my 
Teachers Pay Teachers Store:

How do you make practicing ABC order fun?  Would love to hear!
Comment or email:

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ancient Mali and Chatterpix

I went to the public library to seek out a new book to read to my third graders.
This book, The Mysterious Traveler was highly recommended. What a fabulous choice!
We were just finishing up a study of  the Ancient Civilization of Mali and this book tied in so wonderfully.  The students and I were hooked from the first chapter and they booed when I had to stop for the day.

As we studied Mali, we read about camel caravans and how the Ancient people of Mali would trade salt for gold in the city of Timbuktu.
I decided to skip the traditional end of the unit social studies test and instead have them do some writing to assess their understanding of the content.
I had them tell me all that they learned about this Ancient Civilization as they wrote about their life as a camel in Mali. The kids were way into it.




I decided to let them share their stories using the Chatterpix App.
Do you know that one? You must check it much fun!

ChatterPix Kids is a free iPad app that you and your students can use to turn pictures into talking pictures. To create a talking picture just snap a picture with your iPad or import a picture from your iPad’s camera roll. After taking the picture just draw in a face and tap the record button to make your picture talk. Your recording can be up to thirty seconds in length. Before publishing your talking picture you can add fun stickers, text, and frames to your picture.

So this turned out to be not only a great writing activity, but a great reading fluency practice. 
Children were intent on getting all their story read in the 30 seconds. 


This took several tries for some.  Meaningful rereadings!
They loved sharing them with each other!
Click the youtube video below to hear this child's camel tell its story. 

Can you think of other ways to use this app?
Would love to hear!
Comment or Email: