Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sensory Bags: Personal Narrative Writing Activity

We are working on one of my favorite writing units; personal narratives! I feel like at this age, my kiddos have so much they want to talk about in regards to their daily lives, they just don't always know how to share it! I am thrilled to be teaching them the importance of detail in their writing. I feel that they are really starting to see the value in it.

One of the pieces we have focused on in composing our personal narratives is sensory details. I wanted to do something fun and engaging for my kiddos at this point in the year. I brought out 5 paper bags, filled them with random objects around my room, labeled them, and then presented my kiddos with a mystery! 

"I am going to walk around and let you reach into each of these bags without looking. You need to tell me whats in this bag without saying what it is. You may know what it is, you may have no idea! Either way, you need to use your sensory details and start writing!"

My kiddos went to town on this activity! We wrote a chart in our journals and left a space to brainstorm words used to describe what was in each bag. They were shocked when they learned the contents of some, and not-so-shocked when they learned others. This was an awesome and engaging lesson that had my kiddos sitting on the edge of their seats!

P.S. I was doing some quick shopping at Meijer and I came across this gem. I have been thinking about it ever since.... I need to go back and purchase this beauty. It would make a wonderful reading chair in my chevron-themed classroom. How cute is this chair?!

Fraction Pizzas

As I said in an earlier post, we have been working a lot with fractions in our room lately. The challenging part about fractions is it is a ever-building phenomenon. From now on, they will constantly be building upon what they know about fractions and how they use them.

I explain it to my students as a giant game of Jenga. In kindergarden, students put the first few pieces of their "game" out, this includes numbers, adding, counting, etc... As they learn new material in other grades, they simply build upon what they know! However, it is important that you have a good hold on the information before you add it to your "tower" otherwise you have a rocky foundation. 

I constantly explain math this way to my students and they really seem to get it. They even refer to it! They ask questions like, "Are we adding this to our Jenga tower?"

This week, we made fraction pizzas! I know this is a project that has been done many times, I just loved how they turned out and my kiddos really impressed me with how awesome they turned out so I had to share.  I love seeing them really grasp a concept; it makes my teacher heart smile. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Math Manipulatives For All!

The summer is so fast approaching and my time with my third and fourth graders is dwindling. It is so incredible to me that my first full year of teaching has already come and gone. Where has time gone?! I feel like just yesterday I was walking into the school, nervous for my first day, and now I am beginning to wrap up our year. I have learned so much this year and my 26 little ones have taught me some of the most valuable lessons of my life.

I have decided to continue my teaching throughout the summer with a summer tutoring program (more on that later) but for now I have begun to create a wealth of math manipulatives for my collection!

I had to wrap up my lesson on time and measurement. My friends had a hard time with clock reading. For third grade, it is something that my students struggle with. I created a real clock to help them. So often my kiddos come up to me and ask, "how much longer until we go to special?" I always point to my labeled clock behind my desk and say, "You tell me!" 

The problem with this clock is in order to reach it, I have to scale my heating vent to reach it. Not exactly ideal for math group teaching. I ventured my way to Target and purchased a clock! $4.99 friends! I printed off labels, got out my hot glue gun, and went to work! I put some string on the back and I hang the clock on my whiteboard so that the students can actually get up and touch it, see it divided into quarter hours, count elapsed time one, and all that good stuff! It has worked wonderfully and its a great edition to my math materials!

(Excuse the silly background of this picture)

While my third graders were working on time, fourth graders were working on fractions! We have been using our kidney shaped table a lot lately for math groups and I am loving the small group atmosphere it adds to my classroom. It really allows me to work one-on-one with my kiddos and see who needs some extra help and who gets it. 

I recently purchased a large magnetic whiteboard and easel to put behind my table. Eventually, I plan to mount the board onto the wall, but for now this works perfectly. Buying a magnetic whiteboard meant that i needed some magnetic math materials! I searched on Amazon but none of the materials were exactly what I had envisioned. I decided to create some of my own.

For this project, I downloaded some fraction circle clipart and copied it onto heavy neon card stock. I bought some magnets, brought out my hot glue-gun, plugged in my laminator (*ahem* best purchase of my entire life) and VOILA! 

These can be used in so many ways. I taught improper fractions, decimal relationships, mixed numbers, and I even threw a few up on the board for a mini quiz the next day. The kids love them!

I also created these lovely little things as a very necessary edition to my classroom. On a recent trip to  a teacher store I found the other version of these and was disappointed with the price. I decided to do my own spin on them.

During the testing season, my friends really need their own little workspace. They surprised me with how much they love these things! They beg to use an "office"!

All this project takes is two file folders, double sided tape, and a laminator. I decided to spice mine up a bit with washi tape and my Circuit machine. I am in love with the result. 

I picked up the container on sale at Target and threw on a cute chevron label!

So, that about sums up my month of creations. I will be so sad to see this year go. I am so lucky to be doing something I love so very much. I am reminded everyday why I love what I do, I started my week off with a little third grader at my door this morning, 

"I picked these from my garden for you!"

 Roots attached and all, she held up the most beautiful bouquet of disheveled flowers I have ever seen. My heart melted. I went inside only to find that the only container I had was my math measuring cups. I love this picture, I love my students, I love my job.