Thursday, December 22, 2016

Festive Christmas Activities for the Classroom!

Some of you may be off for Christmas break already, this year my school goes all the way until tomorrow, which is December 23rd. It is the closest I’ve ever gone to Christmas in my whole teaching career, but I am trying to make the best of it and do as many fun and engaging Christmas themed activities as I can! This blog post is all about sharing some of the activities my class has enjoyed. Throughout the month of December we have been winding down, practising for the Christmas concert, and working on a variety of Christmas and Winter activities. 

Some of my students were away this week because their families went away for Christmas, so I decided to have my students make their Christmas gifts for their families yesterday. My group really loved the process and the smells involved with candle making and I think candles will be a gift that parents, mums in particular might enjoy as a homemade gift from their child. We used sheets of bees wax and candle wick that I purchased from our local Michael's. Afterwards students wrapped their candles in tissue paper and ribbon and then decorated paper bags to take them home in. 

This month we also learned about letter writing. It started with the end of our Robert Munsch unit and my students wrote letters to our favourite Canadian author. Next we wrote letters to Santa Claus. The kids really loved writing to Santa and they were especially excited after I promised that he would write back. If you live in Canada your own kids or your classroom students can use the address: Santa Claus North Pole HOH OHO and Santa will write back. Next, just for fun, we wrote letters to the Grinch asking him to not steal Christmas this year. My students filled out a graphic organizer listing three reasons why the Grinch should not steal Christmas and then they got started on their letters. These letters were not mailed, and the Grinch will not write back! Letters to the Grinch is one out of thirty-one Christmas themed activities that is part of my Christmas Math and Language Arts Unit follow the link learn more about this fantastic festive product! 

Pinterest is filled with different Christmas craft ideas and one that has come across my feed a lot is the paper plate snow globe art project, so I decided to give it a go this year and they turned out great! Be careful when cutting out the bottoms of the paper plates though! I cut my hand with scissors! Luckily, I prepped all of the cutting ahead of time, so the kids wouldn’t have the struggle. The student’s decorated their snow globe using: paint, construction paper, ribbon, glitter, and a variety of little Christmas themed stickers that I found at the dollar store. While the kids were decorated their snow globes I took each student out into the hallway and took their picture. The kids loved making silly poses for this! The next day after their art was dry and the pictures were printed, students cut out their picture and glued themselves down onto their paper plate snow globes. 

If you were an elf in Santa’s workshop and were given the task to invent a new toy, what would you invent? This activity was part of my Christmas Writing Centres product.  My students were quite creative with their inventions! They came up with a pancake making T.V., A giant cat toy, a remote control helicopter that you can fly in, and a virtual video game that you can smell, taste, and touch while player. 

My class also made a variety of Christmas crafts to help decorate the gym for the Christmas concert. We read the polar express and the students wrote about what they would have chosen if they got to chose the first gift of Christmas. What are some activities that you like to use in your classroom? 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Create Story Board Games Instead of Book Reports

As some of my blog readers may know from previous posts, I am a huge Robert Munsch fan! He is my all time favourite children's authors, and my class is currently in the middle of my Robert Munsch unit. Each day we read a different Robert Munch story and then we do an activity to go with that story that centres around story elements, cause and effect, sequence of events, proper paragraph writing, or another literary skill. Last week we read the story 'David's Father' and each student made a board game inspired by this favourite Robert Munch story. The students really loved playing their board games with their classmates after they were finished! After reading the story we went over the sequence of events as a class and then we generated fun ideas as a class as to what could be included from the story that would be fun to include on the board game. After that we talked about different things you might see on a board game for example: cards, money, game pieces, squares that say "go back three places", ladders you can fall down... ect. The creation of the board games took my students 3 work periods (a shorter time that I would have thought), and they were anxious to get started playing the games even when the games were incomplete they wanted to get playing. We used bingo chips as player markers, and I had dice from math games in the cupboard. I highly recommend this fun activity it was engaging, cross curricular, and fun! 

Friday, November 11, 2016

How to establish Communication Between the Home and the School for Difficult Students.

How do you establish daily communication with the parent or guardian of a student who you are struggling with in the classroom? It's hard to find time for daily phone calls and parents may become frustrated if you are calling them all the time, so I establish a system where students glue a small chart into a notebook each day where parents can quickly check and see if their child has had a good day based on how many stickers are on the page. 

The parent and the teacher can also write notes in the book. This book is either hand delivered to the parent by the teacher when the parent picks up their child, or if the student goes on the bus I place the book in the student's backpack. The parent should be expecting this form of communication every day. 

Additionally, I encourage parents to have conversations with their child about the day and if they want establish some kind of a reward if they earn all or most of their stickers for the day. 

For more classroom management ideas check out my Behaviour Management Strategies Package which is for sale in my TPT Store. 

Happy Teaching Everyone! 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

How do you teach children to visualize while reading?

Do you ever think about the thinking your brain is doing while reading? When you are a good reader you do all of the 'thinking': the questioning, connecting, interring, and visualizing without even thinking about it. I asked my students today to raise their hand if they saw the movie in their brain when they were reading and some hands went up, but not as many has I had hoped. Today I did a lesson with my class where I read a story called 'Tell Me a Dragon" by Jackie Morris. 

Before I read the story I taped paper over the front and back cover of the book and had students play a quick game to try and guess what the story was about. Students were allowed to ask me yes or no questions about the subject of the story until they guessed what the story was about. After the students knew the story was about dragons I began to read the story. Every once and awhile I stopped and asked the students to choose on of the dragons on their sheet (I copied and pasted 3 dragon outlines from google onto one page for this lesson) and students were asked to make one of the dragons on their sheet look like how they would visualize the dragon the story was describing. If the story described a dragon that lives in the ocean and spends the day racing dolphins students need to make one of the dragons look like it might live in the ocean. 

Once we had finished the story and all three dragons had been coloured I then asked students to get their creative thinking going and invent a new dragon write a new page for the book 'Tell Me a Dragon'. First we did a quick brain storm with potential dragon themes and we talked about how the dragon's teeth, tail, wings could all be made unique by the chosen them of the dragon. With these directions my students did a terrific job in creating some unique dragons below is a sample of the writing produced by my students. 

Visualization is an important reading skill and this type of whole class exercise can be done with any story, so get creative, play on your student's interests, and make learning fun! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Kindness Flower

I always start the beginning of the school year in a positive way with lots of friendship, anti-bullying, and social emotional activities. These types of activities not only set the tone for a great year by helping to build a family like atmosphere these lessons also include team building elements and they are perfect for reinforcing classroom expectations in terms of how we treat one another inside and outside the classroom. 

The last friendship lesson I did with my group went awesome! I set up the lesson by giving each student an envelope with their name on it that contained 5 flower petals. We then went outside and all of the students sat in a circle on the field.  Each student passed their envelope to the student to the left, that student then opened the envelope, took out one petal, and wrote one compliment to the original owner of the envelope. After everyone had written one compliment students then passed the envelope to the left again and everyone then removed one petal from the new envelope and write a positive comment to that student too. Students need to continue passing the envelopes to the left until all 5 petals in each envelope has a compliment. (The envelopes need to be passed to the left around the circle 5 times). 

Afterwards, we went back to the classroom and students got to ensemble their flowers. Students used construction paper to make clouds, grass, leaves and a flower stem to decorate around their flower. 

This is the third group that I have done this activity with and it is always exciting to see the student's faces light up when they read all of the anonymous compliments. I would recommend this activity for any class even high school kids would benefit from this activity! Check out my Friendship Unit and my Social Emotional Unit for more creative lessons on the topic of kindness, friendship, and self esteem.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Autumn Art

This week my class learned about warm and cool colours and worked with pastels by creating this bright and vibrant Autumn art project. 

We started off this three day art project by tracing a variety of different leaves on a large piece of white paper. All of the trees around my school are pine and fur trees, so instead I found leaf templates online by just doing a quick Google search. After each student had 4-6 leaves traced on their paper, students used rulers to draw lines going horizontal and vertical (on an angle) across their papers. I made sure to point out that these lines should not go through their leaves. I told students that they wanted the illusion that the lines were going behind the leaves. 

On day two students began using pastels. I explained to the students that they needed to have cool colours for their background, (purple, blue, green) and warm colours for the leaves (red, orange, yellow). I used a colour wheel to help explain the warm and cool colours. Students were then let loose to uses pastels to colour in their art work. I did not give any directions about how to use pastels as I wanted them to use them like crayons and colour in the whole space, but some students still used some smudging techniques that looked pretty neat. 

For more art teaching ideas check out my Elements of Art unit. This extensive art unit includes a lesson, poster, task cards, and project each perfect for teaching each element of art! 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Enter to Win My 'Spooky Halloween' Giveaway!

I can come up with so many reasons to have a giveaway! It's October, It's Autumn! Halloween is coming up! I have over 100 blog posts! 

For these reasons and more, let's celebrate with a giveaway! You have from now and until October 15th to enter to win a set of all of my Halloween resources from my Teachers Pay Teachers store and a $10 TPT gift card. There are many ways to enter! You can 'like' The Third Grade Zoo on TPT, Facebook, or you can make a comment on this blog post with your favourite teacher Halloween costume. 

Scroll Down to find the Rafflecopter app to enter.  

Good Luck Everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner was Kali T! Congratulations Kali I'll send your prize via email. Thank you for entering my giveaway!

Check Out this Fun Halloween Number Activity!

It is now October, and Halloween is right around the corner! I thought it might be a good time to share a cross curricular math/art lesson idea. For this lesson I told the class that they each needed to choose a number between 0 and 20, and the number needed to be written as big as they can make it on their page (I found bright green paper at my school which I thought was a good fit for this activity). I then showed the class how to turn their number into a bubble number. Next, I told the class that they needed to turn their 'bubble number' into a monster, and lastly their number monster had to have a minimum of 10 number facts that equal their number somewhere on their page. My students really liked this activity and I thought they did a fabulous job turning their numbers into monsters and coming up with their number facts! 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A peak at my Classroom and Some Classroom Management tips

So, we are nearing the end of September and I have been so busy that I have not made a blog post in a very long time! My apologies! So this weekend, along with creating my year plan, marking, and planning for next week, I thought it would be a good time to share some pictures of my classroom routines that I have set up for my class this year. This year, I am teaching the oldest group that I have ever taught, they are a grade 4/5 split, but I have kept my routines very similiar to how I ran things with my younger students and things have been running quite smoothly so far! 

The first thing I wanted to share was that for the first time ever my class does not have desks. We have tables and the easiest way I could think of to manage school supplies is to number all of the tables, give each table a bucket for their school supplies, and keep all of the buckets on the shelf that students can have access to. This system is working so far the only hiccup has been when I have moved students because of behaviour or personalities, I also need to be conscious that their school supplies need to move too. Below is a picture of the supply shelf. 

For classroom management I have continued with the points system where students need to gain more points than me to gain their free time at the end of the day. Students gain their points by listening, doing their work, and by being helpful. I earn points on the teacher side when students are off task. 

For our washroom routine, my rule is that only one student is aloud out at a time. Students must ask my permission and then write their name on the bathroom chart. I purchased the green tape at the dollar store. It was actually called classroom tape, but regular masking tape or craft tape would work too. 

As a class we also made this adorable poster to help remind us of the classroom rules. In previous years we have created handprints with paint to sign the poster. This year students traced their hands on construction paper and then decorated and cut out their hand. I then glued all of the hands to the poster which we can refer to all year when we need reminders about the classroom and school rules. 

These and other classroom management strategies and routines can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Enter to Win a $10 TPT Gift Card on my Facebook Page

My Facebook page is my newest form of social media for promoting my TPT store, and I thought it might be neat to do a little promoting of my Facebook page by having a giveaway! From now until Monday evening you can enter to win a $10 TPT gift card. The winner of the $10 gift card will be randomly selected on Monday. There are three ways to enter, you can enter by hoping on over to my Facebook page liking the post, liking my page, and by making a comment that includes your favourite teaching resource. 
Good luck Everyone! 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

I am hosting another giveaway! This one is on Facebook, but it is super easy to enter! All you need to do is go my Facebook Page, like the contest post, and comment with a signal that you use to get the class's attention. This signal might be a clap, you might turn the lights off and on, or you may have a chant that you use and the students chant back. Good luck to everyone!
Thanks so much for entering! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Blog Hop: Let's Talk About Communicating With Parents

Welcome to the Blog Hop! Each of the participating teacher bloggers are sharing a Back to School tip, trick, or idea and each participating blogger is also giving away a $25 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card. Read my post about communication with parents and then enter to win a $25 gift card at the bottom of the post! 

Lets talk about Communication with Parents! This is a big topic, and it is always one that is brought up during the teacher job interview. In my experience I have noticed that some teachers dread communicating with parents I think the key to communicating with parents is to get them on your side early. Managing student behaviour in the classroom is much easier if the students know you are on the same page as his or her parent. 

Here are some tips and ideas for getting parents on your side: 

-At the beginning of the school year send home a letter introducing yourself to parents and families. Use this opportunity to give your short bio, write about your homework exceptions, any September events, and invite parents into the classroom. 

-Let parents know that you are here to help their child succeed! 

-If your school is not holding an open house invite parents in for a tea or a meet and greet. 

-Let parents know if you have an open door policy or if you have a set time for parents to come in and volunteer on a daily or weekly basis. 

-Set up a classroom website!  A website that is updated regularly can be an excellent tool for parents to check out what is happening in the classroom and school and also see if there is any homework. I also showcase student work each week on the website so parents can see what we are working on in the classroom and see their child’s work on display. 

-Send newsletters home on same day each week so that parents know to expect a newsletter that day. 

-Phone parents for the good things! Parents dread phone calls from teachers! So why not call because their child did well on a project, or helped out around the classroom in some way? 

-If a parent does not speak English make the effort of finding a translator and if reading is an issue with parent offer to make regular meetings to share about whats going on in the classroom or make regular phone calls, and make sure to personally go over the student’s report card with parents who may have low literacy levels. 

Check out my Back to School: 20 Activities for Back to School  for back to school games, activities, handouts, and ideas. This extensive resource includes a classroom scavenger hunt, a mystery box activity, a what's in my brain activity, and a variety of other fun getting to know you games and icebreakers. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to Kristen B She was randomly selected as the winner of this giveaway! Happy Shopping Kristen! :) 

Now that you have read my blog hop on over to the next post in the blog hop and enter to win another $25 TPT gift card! Below is the link to  Smith's Safari Adventure

Monday, July 18, 2016

It’s Almost Back to School Let’s Think About High Exceptions

It's back to school time again. You have a brand new group of students who you are about to get to know. Some may be academically behind because of socio economic factors, family dynamics, special needs, or from low exceptions from the previous role models around them…

Students will live up to your expectations whether you set them low because of that child’s history, abilities, or your own biases about his or her race, gender, or socio economic class. When students are shown that they are valued, they are part of a team, and that they can succeed, they will! I have had students come through my classroom who were behaviour students who struggled academically in previous years, but had an awesome year with me. 

Ways you can structure learning so that students can shine: 
-Let students know on day one that they matter to you! Let them know that your job is to do everything in your power to help them succeed! It’s not going to be easy, but they can succeed! 

-Goal setting, revisiting, and conferencing. 

-Use formative assessment! Let students know how you are assessing their work and what they need to show, prove, or learn in order to show you that they are succeeding. 

-Draw the students in with their interests. Do your students need to write about what they did on the weekend? Can they write about the skateboarding, the newest piece of technology, or their favourite artist instead? 

-Let your students share part of themselves with the class. This is important for helping children feel valued! Have a multicultural day and have students share about their family and culture. Invite guest speakers into the classroom that share about traditional arts or foods from different cultures that your students will connect with. Put an emphasis on the fact that we are all special and unique and we can all share and learn from one another. 

-Younger students who do not have support at home for whatever reason cannot be expected to do homework. It is unrealistic to send students home with a bunch of homework and to have them get home and have no one to help with their homework and then they are set up for failure in the classroom the next day. In this case it is not the student’s fault homework is not done. In my experiences with this situation parents DO want their child to succeed, but survival (basic necessities) come first. 

-Invite parents and families in! Get them on your side. Make sure that they understand that you care about their child. Hold special events for parents to help with. I was in a classroom where parents were invited to read with kids during reading time every Friday. Between 5 and 8 parents were always present during that time. Don't forget to call parents for the good things! Let them know that their child shined that day! 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Stay Organized With These Teacher Binders

How do you stay organized throughout the school year? I swear by my Teacher Binder! I need to have a physical binder that I can bring with me everywhere. My teacher binders come in a variety of cute and unique themes and comes with EVERYTHING you need to keep you organized. I have included student information pages which includes a parent questionnaire survey, an editable class list form, a communication with home documentation sheet, and a student behaviour reflection sheet. 

Also included is a variety of assessment sheets including a learning outcomes student self reflection sheet, student notes for report card spreadsheets, and all of the student grade book spreadsheets you need. 

I have included a comprehensive scheduling section which includes an editable daily scheduling template, weekly scheduling template, a year plan scheduling template, and reading groups schedule, and I haven’t forgotten about meeting notes pages! 

Additionally, I have updated the calendars for the 2016-2017 school year! And to make these binders sweeter, you do not have to purchase again next year! I will update the calendars and upload the updated copies and all you have to do is re download your up to date teacher binder! 

My Teacher Binders come in a variety of unique themes click on the links below to check out my teacher binders!