Monday, May 8, 2017

TPT's Annual Teacher Appreciation Sale!

Teachers Pay Teachers and all of the teacher authors on TPT appreciate all of you teachers! And we would like to show our appreciation for all of the hard work that you teachers do! This year's site wide Teacher Appreciation Sale will be held on Tuesday May 9th - Wednesday May 10th. My store will be 20% off, and if you use the code THANKYOU17 to receive an additional 10% off, courtesy of TPT! 

Additionally, I am having a giveaway! To enter all you need to do is hop on over to The Third Grade Zoo's Facebook Page and tell me what resource from my TPT Store that you would love to win and you will be entered to win that resource and a $10 TPT Gift Card! 

Good Luck Everyone! 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Teaching about the Beach

One of my favourite units to teach is my Beach Unit which would of course include a field trip to one of our local beaches. Living here on the west coast we are lucky enough to be surrounding by beautiful rocky and sandy beaches which makes learning about the beach so much fun!  

My Beach Unit consists of 56 pages of games, activities, and worksheets which can be used in the classroom leading up to your beach trip and I have also included activities such as task cards which will keep your class busy while at the beach and a 5 senses booklet which will challenge your students to use their senses while at the beach.

All beach photos were taken in and around Tofino British Columbia.  

This beach unit also includes a variety of activities that will help your students gain a greater understanding a appreciation of the environment and the creatures that we share our beaches with. 

Included is a sea creatures matching game where students get to play a game similar to memory, where they take turns flipping over cards with the goal of matching the sea creature with the correct adaptation.This fun game can be played in pairs or as a solo "what do I do when I'm done?" activity.  

Classroom scavengers hunts are also always a fun way to learn new facts. My beach unit includes a fun set of posters each with a beach theme for you to hang around the room. Students can then explore the posters and find the answers to the questions on their question and answer fact foldable. Students can also use the scavenger hunt posters or do their own mini research projects to find 5 facts about a sea creature of their choosing to write about on their fact foldable. 

Check out this and other  fabulous resources in my TPT store! 

Learning Outdoors: Ideas to Get Students Learning about their Local Environment

I'm loving the nicer weather and thinking about ways to get my students learning outside in the natural environment. Students spend a lot of time indoors and glued 'almost literally' to technology. 

Below are a list of activities that you can do outdoors to not only get students thinking about their natural environment, but also gets students outside getting exercise and fresh air! 

1. Bug Hunting 
Have your students search under rocks, logs, on the forest floor for insects. Have them use a magnifying glass to get a closer look. Identify the bug and draw a picture. If students choose to, they can do a further inquiry about their insects. 

2. Bird watching 
Take the class to the beach, bird sanctionary, or pond to look for birds. Students can then inquire about the type of bird, the shape of it's feet, the type of beak it has and from this information predict what it eats, where it nests, and then find other facts about the birds they find. 

3. Plant a tree or a garden
Have students truly connect with the outdoors and learn the life cycle of a plant by planting seeds and taking care of a plant. 

4. Webbing 
This is a game/activity that gets students thinking about the interconnectedness of forest or beach life. You will need a ball of yarn. The first student names a plant and then holds the end of the yarn and passes the ball of yarn to another student who says the name of a plant or animal that eats that plant. Students will continue to pass the ball of yarn around while going through the food chain of that local area. 

5. Sardines 
This is a fun game to play outdoors. With this game there is one hider and the rest of the class is the seekers. One person counts to 50 while the hider runs and hides. After 50 seconds the class separates to find the hider. When a classmate finds the hider they squeeze in the hiding spot and hide with the hider until everyone finds them. 

6. Outdoor role playing 
This a mindful activity where students get to think about their natural environment and become part of it. With this activity you will ask students to be a frog, a rock, a mountain... anything that is in your local natural environment. After awhile you can turn the game around and have students role play and you guess what they are. 

7. Use a stethoscope to listen to a tree. 

8. Have a nature scavenger hunt! 
This is always fun to have students look for leaves, pine cones, plants, and trees. Students can draw certain things they find or collect them. Another idea is to have a nature alphabet scavenger hunt where students look for an item in their local environment that begins with each letter of the alphabet. 

Are you interested in doing an outdoor scavenger hunt with your students? 
You should check out my Exploring Our Local Environment: Scavenger Hunt and Inquiry Project Unit. This unit starts off with an outdoor scavenger hunt and includes a variety of graphic organizers and activities that can be completed in any outdoor setting. The unit ends with all of the criteria, assessment, and resources that you will need for students to narrow in on one aspect of interest in their local environment and complete an inquiry project on their chosen interest. 

9. Go for a Hike
Have students go for a hike and then make a map of the local park or area. 

10. Rock garden 
This is a fun way to get students in touch with nature. Have students go for a walk and find a rock to bring it back to the classroom. On their chosen rock students can paint or use permanent markers to create an image to represent one fact about their local environment. 

Looking for more ideas for learning outdoors? Check out my Bubbles Unit! This 34 page science unit is jam packed with hands on bubbles related science activities, graphic organizers, and much more! 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

We were Inspired by Van Gogh's Sunflowers

On a rainy afternoon this past week I decided to have my students do some colourful Van Gogh art to hopefully invite Spring to start soon here on the beautiful West Coast of Canada. I started off the lesson by explaining who Van Gogh was and I used a short video made by ‘Free School’ called ‘Vincent Van Gogh a Short Biography for Kids’. We then had a short discussion about what we learned about Van Gogh from the film and connections we had made to Van Gogh and where we had seen his art. 

We then moved on to drawing our versions of Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ using pencil. As a class I directed the students to first draw the table or horizon and then the vase and then the flowers. I reminded students that this is their art and although we are being inspired by Van Gogh and his very famous painting we are creating our own art and we are welcome to add, subtract, or make different. 

After the drawings were complete, we used pastels to add colour to our art. I’m really impressed with how our art went! I am hoping with some colourful sunflowers decorating the classroom walls we will be inviting Spring and some warmer weather to our community! 

For more ideas about bringing some colourful art into your classroom check out my Elements of Art Unit. This comprehensive unit includes a poster, lesson, and art project for each of the 7 elements of art and a set of task cards that includes more ideas about teaching art and additional art activities you can use in your classroom. 


Friday, April 14, 2017

STEM Easter Baskets and Traditionalish Easter Egg Decorating...

For Easter this year in the classroom, I decided to keep things simple and traditional. It was also report card season, so things have been insanely busy! Because of the craziness of my schedule we decorated our hard boiled eggs the way that I decorated Easter eggs when I was small. 

First the students used crayons to draw designs on 
their eggs. I separated all of the white crayons that we had in the classroom for students to use, but I also welcomed students to use the rest of the crayons as well. I then set up a 'dye station' where students dipped their eggs in a solution made out of one cup water, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and 7-10 drops of food colouring. I kept things very simple. I only had red, blue, and yellow coloured dyes for students to choose from. Our eggs were simple, but also super colourful! Students were welcome to take their eggs home or eat them at school. 

Yesterday we designed and built our Easter Baskets for students to carry their decorated Easter eggs home in. I set up the Easter baskets like I set up my other STEM activities (My class has been doing a lot of STEM activities. Stay tuned for later blog posts with pictures, ideas, and announcements about how I have been incorporating STEM into my classroom). For the Easter baskets, I told the students that they were given the challenge of designing and constructing a basket using only popsicle sticks and white glue. (I did not allow them to use a hot glue gun, but I did give them a hint about letting the walls of their baskets dry before construction). Later, when the baskets were close to completion, handed out little flowers, ribbon, and nesting materials that I found from our local dollar store to decorate their baskets. Unlike other STEM challenges we have done, students made their baskets independently, not in small groups and students were NOT asked to write about and reflect on what they learned and what they would do differently next time... ect. Overall the baskets turned out really well! They were cute and functional. 

If you are looking for Spring activities to use in your classroom check out my Bubbles: A Science Unit. This unit is all about hands on science experiments with a focus on making predictions, trial and error, and the scientific method. Each bubble experiment comes with directions and a experiment reflection page. 

Another terrific Spring unit would be my Worms and Composting unitThis unit is packed full of activities all about worms and composting. This unit includes directions for having a compost in your classroom. (I did this activity with a grade 2 class and they loved monitoring the breakdown of the fruit peels and other compost material from their lunches). I have also included a variety of activities designed to help your students have a better understanding of these little misunderstood creatures. 

And last, but not least! My Exploring Our Local Environment is a 31 page unit designed to get your students outdoors and learning about their own local outdoor surroundings. This unit is perfect for the end of the school year! 

All three of these terrific units are highly engaging, hands on, and include the outdoors which is perfect for keeping students busy, interested, and learning as the weather gets warmer and the school year starts to come to an end! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Stars and Planets

My group just finished their stars and planets unit. I am teaching grade 4/5 in British Columbia and the new BC grade 4 curriculum now has some stars and planets including: 'Local changes caused by the Earth's axis, rotation, and orbit and the effects of the relative position of the Sun, Moon, and Earth'. To tackle these topics I taught my Stars and Planets unit which includes a variety of different lessons and activities about the stars, the moon, and the planets in our solar system and then I made sure to create lots of dialogue and discussion surrounding the topics from the New BC Curriculum that fit in with my unit quite nicely. 

My students did a fabulous job with the moon homework assignment found in my Stars and Planets unit where students look for the moon in the night sky for 14 nights in a row and draw a diagram of what they see. We then used the website to check for the phases of the moon, the height and position of the moon, the moon rising time, and the next special lunar events. 

We completed a few stars and planets art activities including an activity where students chose a constellation to re create using gold stickers and black construction paper. We also painted pictures of our solar system where Students used paint to create their art on white paper and once their paintings were dry students cut out their planets and glued them on blue paper. I handed out gold stickers to use for stars. I think this gave their art a nice sparkle! 

My students really enjoyed the stars and planets scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt includes a poster for the sun and each planet in our solar system and a question sheet with 7 questions related to the stars and planets that students need to find the answers to on the posters provided. 

My group's 'star question cubes' were a success and my unit also includes a cutting and pasting the phases of the moon in the correct order activity which made teaching the phases of the moon easy. My group also came up with some very creative new planet names for the creative writing activity where they pretended to be an astronomer who just discovered a new planet. The Bingo game where students find classmates who can answer questions about the stars and planets was an excellent review and a fun activity which can be adapted for any unit! 

My 79 page Stars and Planets Unit is jammed packed full of fun and creative activities that will make teaching and learning about space fun and easy. The unit is cross curricular as it includes reading, writing, and science activities. The activities are easy to make adaptations for all of your student's needs, and this unit also includes many interactive notebook activities. Which my students loved! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Happy Valentine’s Week! 

My class was lucky enough to participate in this year’s Great Canadian Valentine Swap! This year over 250 Canadian classrooms participated! Which is amazing! This Valentine Exchange was organized by Emily from Emmy Mac Shop.Thank you so much Emily for all of the hard work you put into organizing this multi classroom exchange! How the Exchange worked was each participating classroom was placed in a group. My group had 22 other classrooms in it, and each participating classroom sent a valentine to each of the other participating classrooms in the group. My class sent a valentine to classrooms across Canada from Ontario, Northwest Territories, Alberta, and British Columbia. 
For the valentines that my class sent out, my students each wrote a letter to go with their handmade valentine and then I set up a craft table with a variety of crafting supplies. I would not do this next year! I did not think about the price of sending crafts in the mail and some of the letters were quite expensive to send in the mail. Next year each student will definitely all have a common template for their valentine so that all of the envelopes are all the same size when they are ready to go in the mail.

Starting around February 1st, my mail box at
school started to fill up with valentine’s from the classrooms that we sent our Valentine cards to. On Valentine’s Day during our class valentine party I handed out a valentine from the exchange to each of the students in my classroom. My students were very excited and had fun reading and sharing the letters and valentine artwork that they received from their new friends. 

Thank you so much Emily for organizing this fantastic multi school exchange! 

Monday, February 6, 2017

It's a Sweetheart of a Sale.... and Enter to Win!

It is that time again, TPT is having one of its quarterly site wide sales! This sale will be a two day sale starting on February 7th. My entire store will be on sale for 20% off and you can use the code LOVETpT at check out for an additional 8% off. Now would be the perfect time to stock up on your Valentine, Spring, and End of the Year resources! I'll be on the hunt for some clip art too! Now for more great news! I am giving away a $10 TPT gift card and a copy of one of my newest products: Reading is Thinking: 20 Activities to Teach the Thinking Behind Reading on The Third Grade Zoo's Facebook page, to enter to win all
you have to do is like my Facebook post and comment with a reading strategy that works in your classroom that you would like to share with other teachers. I will randomly chose the winner on February 8th. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Partner Talk

Partner talk is an important skill that gives students the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with others, practice their communication skills, learn the important skill of getting along with others, and if partner talk is structured properly, it gives the opportunity to have student’s understanding of a topic checked more regularly than a teacher can provide because of the student to teacher ratio. 

What exactly is partner talk? Partner talk is structured discussion of a given topic between two students. Partner talk works best when only 2 students are involved, the partners know what is expected of them, and there is a time limit. 

How do you teach partner talk? Partner talk takes practice, but before you can practice the skill of partner talk, students need to understand that being good at partner talk is a skill and there are rules. Before I begin to have students practice partner talk I have the class brain storm with chart paper ‘What successful partner talk looks like’, ‘What partner talk should NOT look like’, and lastly ‘Why is partner talk important?’. It is my belief that if students do not understand why it is important for them to do something, then they will not put in the efforts to do it well. 

After the rules are in place, the next step is to have students sit in partners. (For the first few times you will need to be careful who you assign as partners together as you will want the first time to go as smooth as possible! But, make sure to place an emphasis on the fact that the goal of partner talk is that students can work cooperatively with anyone in the classroom!) Next, assign each partner the label of ‘partner A’ or ‘partner B’. (The easiest way I have found to assign partner A or B labels is to label the partner who is closest to the door is partner A and the partner furthest way from the door becomes partner B). Once everyone has the label, you are going to have each set of partners practice partner talk. This mean one listens and one speaks. Give the students an easy discussion for this practice session. For example you might say:
“Partner A is going to speak first, Partner A is going to tell their partner what their favourite food is and what makes it their favourite for the next 30 seconds, and GO!” 
After the 30 seconds are up you will then stop all of the partner A’s, and the partner B’s will have their turn to tell their partner what their favourite food is and why they like that particular food while partner A listens. After the first partner talk session make sure to congratulate the students on how well they are doing, even if it wasn’t perfect let them know that partner talk can be tough and with practice it will become easier and easier!

After you have the rules of partner talk established, and students know what is expected of them, have the class practice partner talk regularly and switch up the partners. 

Partner Talk Practice Lesson Ideas: 
Here is a fun lesson idea to practice partner talk! Read the class a picture book and stop the story periodically to have students predict what will happen next in the story, have them create their predictions with play dough. After their play dough creations are complete, have students turn to their partner and give them 30 seconds to tell their partner what their prediction is and then listen as their partner shares their predictions. 

Create or find cards with common questions such as: what is your favourite animal? Where is the furthest place you have traveled to? Or, how many brothers or sisters do you have? Give each student a card and have students get out of their seats and find a partner. Once every student has a partner have the students answer the two questions one at a time practicing being the speaker and the listener. Once students are finished, students will trade cards and find a different partner. 

If you can teach something you know it well! In math have students work with a partner and have partner A teach a math strategy to partner B! Partner B will then listen and apply the strategy that partner A has taught them. Students can then reverse roles. This would be a good activity to do before completing a math journal.