Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tried It Tuesday - Using School Supply Catalogs for Persuasive Writing

Hi All-
It's another cold day for us here in Wisconsin.
We had school yesterday while many around us had the day off.
We were told by the Assistant Superintendent that our cut-off for a "Cold Day"
is a wind chill of -35.
Yesterday the wind chill was a mere -30.
The central office may have gotten some phone calls from unhappy parents, as we were called off for today by noon yesterday.  Hurray!
I had time to work on my report cards.
Uh....er....more time to avoid doing my report cards is the real story.

But I am happy to be back here blogging, and joining Holly for Tried It Tuesday.
Have you been getting as many school supply catalogs as we have been?
I would love to spend hours perusing these catalogs, but the truth is we don't get any kind of money allowance for ordering anything. 
That's right - zilch.
Maybe some of you are lucky to get a budget for your classroom
You are so lucky!

I decided to use the catalogs for a persuasive writing project.
The students had 10-15 minutes in a small group to look through a catalog and choose something that had a few descriptive details with it.
They would still be looking at these catalogs if I hadn't given a time limit.
Lily selected the Programmable Rover Robot from the Lakeshore Learning catalog.  Looks really cool!

Next  I had the students glue down the picture to a piece of colored paper, and attach an index card.
On the index card they wrote dash facts from the ad for the item.
We had done dash facts when we worked on an informative piece, so the students were familiar with them.

As a class we brainstormed leads to our persuasive paragraphs.

These were the leads the students suggested. We decided the words that were underlined could be replaced by a word that was connected to the selected toy.
The students chose a lead and then turned the dash facts into sentences about their item. 
Sounds like a real commercial, doesn't it?
They had to end the piece with a sentence persuading the reader to buy the item.
The students were proud to share these at a Schoolwide Writing Sharing Day we had recently.

This week I am part of a giveaway being held by Heather at Learning with Mrs. Langley!
You could win this product of mine just in time for the Winter Olympics!
Your students do research on the Team USA website about an athlete, and then the class compiles them into a guidebook.  It's perfect for building excitement for the games, and for watching who wins the medals during this 3-week event.
You can enter the contest, or find it at my TpT store!

Also included in this product are directions and materials for your students to do a more involved independent project on an Olympian.

These are pictures from some of the projects my students have done.

So head on over to Mrs. Langley's site to enter the giveaway, and then check out Holly's blog for Tried It Tuesday ideas!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Teach Creativity Blog Hop - Valentine's Day and Olympics/Patriotic Crafts

While working on my Masters Degree at UW-Madison I took a Creativity course.
One of the many things I took away from the class is that people can be trained and/or encouraged to be more creative.
In my classroom I have a few "go-to" tips that I share with my students to encourage creative thinking.
"Try to think of something no one else would think of."
"When the thinking gets hard, keep trying and the best ideas will come."
"The first idea that popped into your head is probably the same idea that came into someone else's head first. Keep thinking to go beyond that first thought."
A trip to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores is a creativity inducer!
I was recently contacted by  the people at JoAnn to share some ideas that you might try in your classroom through the #teach creativity Blog Hop.
First up - cupcake liner crafts!
I got my inspiration from this cool pin, and when I went to my local JoAnn store for supplies I was wowed by what I found!

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores have tons of cupcake liners for cooking and craft projects!

I decided to use them to create crafts that could be used in February for 
Valentine's Day and the Olympics! 

 To make this craft you will need a variety of large and small cupcake liners, glitter scrapbook paper, and coordinating ribbon.
Use two cupcake liners for each layer.  It's also suggested to fold them in half and trim the edge with a craft shears.
I love the circle cutter I got for cutting the center pieces out of glitter scrapbook paper.  The cutters are on sale this week at the Jo-Ann store and will be an even better deal with the coupon available below.
We are going to use these "medals" to wear during our Olympic celebrations (just add a safety pin to the back), and for decorating the athlete guidebooks we are creating.
You can download the USA symbol used in the center of medal here.
Next - floating yarn hearts!
These are so easy to make, and look really cool hanging in a window or on a bulletin board display.
I bought patriotic multi-colored yarn because I want it to go with the patriotic/Olympic theme I'm preparing in my room.
I cut the yarn into various lengths and soaked them for about an hour in liquid starch, which can be found at grocery stores.
Then I gave each student 2 pieces of yarn and asked them to arrange the yarn pieces in the shape of a heart on a sheet of waxed paper. 
Make sure the students squish together the loose ends of the yarn.
Leave them overnight to dry.
By the next day they will be stiff and will retain the shape of the heart.
I used thread to hang them. 
And finally - a cup of puppy love!
 These could be filled with dog treats for students to give to their favorite canine.
Or - fill with puppy chow for a Valentine's Day party snack.  I've seen some Red Velvet Puppy Chow making the rounds on Pinterest that looks pretty yummy!
I purchased some brown and white polka-dot scrapbook paper at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store.
Then I traced a heart on the back of two sheets - one with large polka dots, the other with small polka dots.
The heart from the smaller polka dot sheet was then cut in half for the ears of the puppy.
 Glue the large heart upside down on the front of the cup.  Turn the two half heart pieces sideways and glue on for the ears. 
Add two heart eyes and another small heart for the nose.
I used a small heart puncher to punch out pieces from the glitter scrapbook paper.
Color in eyes with a brown marker, and add hearts to decorate the cup!
Jo-Ann offers teachers a 15% discount with their Teacher Rewards Program. 
When you sign up you will also receive a 20% off coupon, and a calendar chock full of ideas and coupons to use in the future!
You can easily sign up for the Jo-Ann Teacher Rewards program by clicking
The coming holiday weekend is a great time to head over to Jo-Ann for a creativity inducing visit!
 Check out these blogs for more creative ideas this week through the
 #teach creativity Blog Hop:

January 15:More Time 2 Teach

This review is part of a Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores® campaign. I received compensation for this review; however, this is my personal, honest option based on my experience. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tried It Tuesday - Series Books Unit

Our third graders do a unit on series books, and last year I found I was a bit unorganized with the way in which my lessons were presented.
So - I put together goal sheets and reflection activities that have really helped.
First I looked through our district's targeted skills for possible "I can..." statement topics.
Then I looked through lessons that our literacy coach had suggested.
The lessons were great but didn't have follow-up activities that I felt I needed to review when preparing for report cards.

The result was a product I put together that includes "I can.." statements for posting, matching smaller "I can..." statements for students to put in their Reading Response Journals, and reflection activity sheets. Sometimes I have the students do the reflection sheets, and some days I just have them glue down the "I can..." statement in their journal, and write their own reflection on the topic.
The lessons have been going very well!

I used Nate the Great books as mentor texts for the beginning of the unit.
My students compared their thinking to the thinking of a character in one of the lessons.
I used the capture tool on my Interactive Whiteboard to capture this page from the unit for modeling the skill.

Some lessons are for large group, and some I've been using with small book groups.
I was pleased to see the author investigation work that some of my students did in small groups today.
A group used our three iPads to research authors of series books.

You can find this unit in my TpT or TN store!

Also - check out all the creative ideas popping up this week through the Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores Teach Creativity Blog Hop!
Here is the schedule for the week:

January 15: More Time 2 Teach

January 16: Learning in the Little Apple  (That's me!)

January 17: Ms.Fultz’s Corner
Thanks to Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for hosting the Tried It Tuesday Linky!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tried It Tuesday - Food Pantry Donation from Math Lesson

Something amazing has happened - I am posting two days in a row!
Thanks to this nasty polar vortex we have had school called off for two consecutive days.
It has given me a chance to revisit the blog and my blogging friends.

I am happy to hook up with Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried It Tuesday Linky!

Every year when we work on measurement in math I ask my students to bring in cans for weighing.
The students are eager to be a part of this, and we usually get 2-3 cans per day for about 3 weeks.
Sometimes I just ask if I have any volunteers to bring them in for the next day, and those students will write a note in their assignment notebooks.
The sign from my math focus wall.
Each day we make predictions about the cans, and whether they will weigh more than a pound, less than a pound, or equal to a pound.
The kids get better at making accurate measurements each day.
Then we weigh the cans on this scale that I got years ago from Lakeshore Learning.
It's a great scale because it includes both customary and metric measurement units.

Very easy to use!

After weighing the cans to see the actual measurement, we store them on one of these labeled shoe box tops.
These could be way fancier, but they do the trick.
Most of the time we get stacks of cans in each box.
The students are very secretive when they bring the cans in - once they are familiar with the fact that 16 oz. is equal to a pound.
They read the labels and know how much their can weighs.

Once a boy brought in a can of peaches that was "restaurant size"!

The most important part about this project is that we donate the cans to our local food pantry.
I deliver the cans to the food pantry, and we usually get a thank you letter back addressed to the class.

Before donating the cans, I've also used them for a class store when learning about coins and money.
We've also used them in lessons on reading food labels and looking for fat content.  Very enlightening for the students!

I also wanted to give you the heads up about something creative coming soon!
Come back to my blog next week for something to do with this:
It's going to be inspiring!

OMG - I just heard that more schools in our area are calling off for tomorrow - unbelievable!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday Made-It - Synonyms Board and More!

It's COLD here!  School was called off today because of the bitterly cold temperatures.  I ventured out this afternoon and my car thermometer said -13 degrees.  And that was at 3:00 in the afternoon.
We got called off for tomorrow, too, since this cold spell is hanging around.

I am so happy that I had the time to hook up with Tara's Monday Made-It Linky, which I haven't done since the summer.
I wish it were summer.

Anyway - we've been working on synonyms and last week I introduced the concept to my third graders through an online game called Sam's Synonym Lab on the PBS Kids Website.  We rated the synonyms on a scale of 1 to 4 stars as we played the game on my Interactive White Board.
I had the bones of this bulletin board already up, and the students already got the concept of rating the synonyms as to how good or unusual a word choice it was.

Then the students worked in triads to find synonyms for the words posted on this board in a thesaurus.  It was the first time using a thesaurus for most of them.
Then as a class we listed the words they found, and rated them.
Sorry for the slightly blurry picture.  I'm hoping the students use the posted words in their writing.
I found this frame at JoAnn Fabric & Crafts in the clearance section for $3.
I added some snowflake stickers to the top and bottom, and used scrapbook paper to print the message.

I like snow more than cold!

This is the newest product in my TpT store!  It's a packed full of activities for sorting words with -tion.
There are two levels of word sorts and acitivities included in the resource.
The packet includes pictures of how I used the sort in my classroom.

Hope you'll check out all the creative ideas on Tara's blog!
Stay warm everyone!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Currently January and Recess Pass Freebie

One of my friends posted this on Facebook today, and it became my mantra for the new year.
I hope 2014 brings you many grand adventures!
Now onto this month's Currently.
Yes - we are back to school tomorrow, but the stress level is much lower than a usual Sunday night. 
I've had some time to regroup and catch up. 
We've had extremely cold weather here - the high temperature the last few days has been no higher than 5 degrees.  Brrrr...
I'm just hoping it warms up a bit tomorrow so the dog and I can take a walk.
Oh - and so the kids have outdoor recess.
Any suggestions on a brand of washer and/or dryer?
We had an awesome Christmas dinner of steak and shrimp on the grill with extended family.
I put together a "Stay in for Recess" pass that will be a huge hit during these cold winter days.
The clipart is from the fabulous Krista Walden.
You can get it for free here through Google Docs.
Go and check out all the Currently entries on Farley's blog!