Saturday, November 12, 2011

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?

Last week, our classroom finished up a 3 day science project on pumpkins to introduce plants to students. I found this 5 Es lesson in the Science and Children journal archives at NSTA.org. Written by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan, authors of Picture-Perfect Science Lessons, this hands-on lesson encorporates math and science into an engaging, real-life experience for students.

On the first day, students made predictions as to which pumpkins would have the most seeds (mini, small, medium, or large). I used cheap dot stickers (like the ones used at garage sales) to have students mark their predictions on a graph (Hello, math skills!). We then hung this graph up and discussed our results. After graphing, we read the first few pages of the picture book, How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? We then spent the rest of the day in groups scooping out seeds from our pumpkins. It was messy, but lots of fun!

After the seeds dried overnight, we read a few more pages of the story and students spent the next day deciding the most effective way to count their seeds. After counting by 2s, 5s, or 10s, students wrote their total number outside their pumpkins. We finished reading How Many Seeds and discussed the different variables that determine what makes a pumpkin have more seeds than others (I'll leave those as a surprise for when you read the story!).

Finally, I followed up the lesson by having students write down other questions they had on sentence strips. We then discussed how scientists categorize their questiosn into two categories: researchable and testable. Students shared their questions and categorized each one into their categories.

If you decided to complete this lesson, it makes for a really neat bulletin board display, however, I will warn you that the pumpkins will start to smell and mold after about 2-3 days.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fantasy & Realism Bingo!

Last week I wrapped up a week of exploring Fantasy & Realism in books during Reader's Workshop. After brainstorming for a VERY long period of time (and ending up with a headache), I decided to wrap up the week by having students play Fantasy & Realism BINGO.

I made a generic BINGO board, copied it, and had the kids fill in their own spaces (Bonus: they practiced spelling fantasy & realism!).
Bingo Template

When they were finished, I grabbed a tub of books out of our classroom library and showed them the title and cover.



From there I asked them to determine if they thought the book was fantasy or realism and place a token on the corresponding square. When someone had BINGO, I checked their answers and then we reviewed what our answers should have been (I had several winners each round). I had NO idea how much the kids would enjoy playing! They even asked to play during recess!

I'm thinking the next time we talk about Fantasy & Realism, I'm going to read a "snippit" out of a book and let them guess.

What do you think? Any other ways I could change it to make it even more challenging?

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Picture-Perfect Science, Part 2

My week with the Picture-Perfect Science authors is over. :( Although I did learn some cool stuff from Karen and Emily, unfortunately, I cannot share the pages from the books with you (darn copyright, laws!). However, I do have some pictures to share of a lab we tried!

You should know what I love about Picture-Perfect is that Karen and Emily have made teaching science with picture books and the 5Es so easy! This was demonstrated when we completed the "What's Poppin'?" lesson from their first book, Picture-Perfect Science Lessons (*This lesson is designed for grades 5-6, however, with some modifications, this lesson can fit into any grade level).When using this lesson in your classroom, begin by engaging students with the picture book Popcorn! by Elaine Landau (You can also use Tomie dePaola's The Popcorn Book with this lesson). Next, explore and explain by completing the "What's Poppin'?" lab. This step is followed by elaborating with the brand test, and finally, evaluating with a popcorn poster. I can't begin to tell you how much fun this lab is! It fits in really well with introducing lab safety and instructing how to design an experiment.

On another note: Karen and Emily really emphasized science misconceptions during their workshop. As teachers, we need to discover students' misconceptions to make teaching more effective. Students' misconceptions come from many places including: parents, teachers, picture books, and even from their own discovery.

I know what you're thinking: "What? Picture books? I thought they were accurate since they're published works?!" Well, that's not always the case. There are many misconceptions in picture books that we as teachers don't even catch (I can't believe how many misconceptions they pointed out in books that I have read to my students - I felt so bad!). Research shows that students can carry these misconceptions with them until they are adults, even after someone has shown them they are not correct!

Karen and Emily made a great point that you can't edit every picture book you read to your students, otherwise, the fun in reading can be lost. You can, however, have students look for misconceptions in books after learning has taken place and while wrapping up your unit.

Science plays a very important role in our lives and it is being forced out of our instructional time little-by-little each year. Using picture books to help teach science allows us to cover reading strategies and create meaningful learning simultaneously - what teacher doesn't want that?!

If you get a chance to read a Picture-Perfect Science Lesson book or take a workshop: DO IT! I have learned so much that I would be typing for a week if I posted it all!

What do you think? Have I convinced you to try out picture books during science instruction?

*Please know that I am in no way being paid to type about Picture-Perfect Science Lessons. I just really love the idea of using picture books to guide science instruction!*

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Picture-Perfect Science, Part 1

Some of you might remember the exciting news I posted about in April when I found out that I was selected to participate in a grant that provides 3-years of science professional development to several districts in our area. Today was the first day of our 2-week summer institute - Woohoo! This week, our guest speakers are the authors Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan. Known for their books, Picture-Perfect Science Lessons and More Picture-Perfect Science Lessons, Ansberry and Morgan wrote ready-to-teach, inquiry-based lessons that include the 5Es (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate). What I really love about their books is that I can read quality picture books to students while discussing reading strategies and science topics at the same time (and we all wish we had more time for science and social studies instruction!).

During our session today, we talked about (and tried!) several lessons from Picture-Perfect Science Lessons and discussed how the 6 reading strategies from Strategies that Work (Harvey and Goudvis) tied in with the lessons. Lessons from Picture-Perfect are engaging and exciting with hands-on activities - "Turtle Hurdles" included using fortune-tellers (who remembers those from elementary school?!) to practiced new information. If your librarian or principal asks for PD book suggestions this year, I strongly encourage you to suggest the 2 Picture-Perfect books. *Note: I'm sure there are copyright laws on the Picture-Perfect books, therefore, I will not be posting anything from their books right now. But don't worry! I'm going to ask them if it would be okay if I post a few bits and pieces from their book (keep your fingers crossed!).

Oh, and before I forget - Emily and Karen did share a secret with us: they are in the process of writing a 3rd Picture-Perfect Science Lessons book! What do you think the title will be? It has to involve Picture-Perfect in the title! :D

I look forward to sharing new ideas with you that I discover through Science Matters. Stay tuned - it's gonna be grrrreat!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Favorite Fonts Linky Party!!

Finally in First is having a Favorite Fonts Linky Party! How fun and original! I have so many fonts that I love and I struggled to pick just one. So, I caved and picked all of my favorites (I know, I know - it's supposed to be just 1)! This list has fonts that are paid, free, and one that came on my computer.
*Coming Soon & Kranky can be found here. Scroll down to find each font and then select the 'Download' button. Google asks if you would like to contribute a monetary donation to the font designer, but if you look carefully, there is a link to download the font for free.

*DJ JustWrite, DJ Light, DJ Picket, & DJ Squiggle are paid fonts that are found at DJ Inkers'. Only DJ Squiggle can be downloaded individually, the others are available for purchase on her font cd's.

*Marker Felt is a font that was installed on my Mac when I bought it. I did find a link that has a Marker Felt font that is very similar to mine and it's free!

*Pea Jane is available for free at Kevin and Amanda.

Thanks for stopping by!

Has it really been this long?! Plus a few projects...

WOW! I can't believe it has been since May 19th since I've blogged! I wanted to share a few things I've been up to since school got out.

First, I decided that my office needed a makeover. I found this desk and chair at a store called Trendz Market in KC. Trendz is like a flea market with booths that small business owners can rent and sell their products. I found this chair and desk from reDeux and had to have it!
What do you guys think? I know I don't have a whole lot of room to work on my desk, but I really wanted to scale down. Before I had a huge desk and it became a catch-all for tons of junk!

Second, I began working on organizing all of my resources (ideas, curriculum, etc.) for teaching. I used to keep everything in 3-ring binders organized by subject and then by topic inside, but I quickly ran out of room - I needed something a little different! I decided to organize by color and then by topic inside each color. I used file folders that I bought from Pendaflex and mailing & shipping labels from Avery.
Next, I assigned a subject to each color: reading - red, writing/grammar - yellow, math - green, science - blue, and social studies - purple. *Note: The purple folders didn't come with the box of folders. I had them already and I needed 5 different colors.

Then, I labeled the topic on the tab at the top (addition, subtraction, time, money, etc.) and then typed the corresponding grade-level expectation (GLE) on a label and attached it to the front. I used mailing labels for topics that only had 1 GLE that applied, and shipping labels for topics that had several GLEs that applied.
Okay, what do you guys think? Is this a good idea for organizing? I plan on putting the folders in my filing cabinet at school. I also plan on organizing other topics (holidays, parent communication, etc.) next. I'm also in the process of creating a spelling/vocabulary program that is based on a program created by Beth Newingham. I'll post more on the spelling program as I get further into it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We Heart the Science Fair!

Open house was last night and on display were our science fair projects. Our class completed 2 experiments: By Golly By Gum and Bubble Science. I didn't mean to, but both our projects just happened to involve bubble making! Oh well! The kids still had fun and that is what matters the most! So take a look at our projects and let me know what YOU think!




Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Patience, Please

I finally took some time tonight to stop and write down everything that I need to accomplish before the school year is over. I'm sure like most of you, it is a lot and possibly overwhelming! I just wanted to take the time to ask you to forgive me if I am absent with posting new ideas over the next few weeks. I can't wait for the summer because I will not only have time to work on projects for next year, but I will also be able to share them with you! As I write this, I am thinking about all the teachers in America that are in the same boat as me - trying to keep the boat steady as the seas become more rocky! Good luck everyone and I hope the end of the year goes smoothly for you!

And the Winner Is...



Julie Ann, please contact me with your info. and stamp details! Thank you to everyone for entering!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's Time for My 1st Giveaway - YEA!


Wow! I'm so excited that I have 25 people that are curious about what I have to share about teaching! Thanks to everyone for giving me a springboard to bounce around ideas and find new ones!

To celebrate reaching 25 followers, I am giving away a personalized chalkboard stamp from the Etsy store, cupcaketree. If you remember, I posted about her wonderful stamps a few weeks ago. Your stamp can say (just about) anything you want! Please keep in mind the stamp is about 2 inches wide, so you will be a little limited in what you personalize it with.

Here is how you can enter my giveaway (there are 3 ways!):

1. Follow my blog and leave me a comment saying you do.

2. Post about my giveaway on your blog and leave me a comment saying you did.

3. Leave me a comment telling me what you would put on your stamp!

You have until midnight Sunday, May 8th to enter. Please leave a separate comment for each entry and don't forget to include an email address for me to contact you at! The winner will be announced Monday, May 9th. Good luck!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop - Place Value Sliders


I can't believe I have been blogging for 3 weeks now! I realized it had been 3 weeks when I started thinking of what idea I would submit for love2learn2day's Math Monday Blog Hop - how quickly time flies!

This week, I am posting my Place Value Sliders. I like to use this to supplement our current textbook. Unfortunately, our curriculum does not have enough place value practice and I was desperate for a way to have the kids play with numbers that was kinesthetic.

To make the sliders, I give every student a set of number "slides" and one "holder" (the green slip of paper in the picture). I use 5 slides because our state GLEs require students to know numbers up to 99,999. I'm sure you can use as many place values as you would like. After the kids cut out their slides and holder, I laminate them so they will last all year. I then use an Xacto knife to (very!) carefully cut the slits in the holders to hold the sliders (you can also tape the ends of the number sliders together to make an odometer look). I give the sliders and holders back to the kids to keep in their math tool kit.

As for using the sliders in the classroom, I often ask students to make a 4-digit number, a 2-digit number, etc. I also ask for them to make numbers using only odd/even numbers or ask for them to make a number with an odd/even number on the ends. I might ask for their number to include 2 odd/even numbers, etc.

Number Sliders

How would you use Place Value Sliders? I would love to hear more ideas on how to use them in the classroom!

Thanks for stopping by!

Google Documents Help - Please!

I'm sure a few of you have read my last post about the Math Vocabulary Cards and noticed there were no vocab. cards! Here is the tale of how painful it was to get the vocabulary cards posted to my blog:

First, I tried using Google Documents to upload the files. Well, I figured out that you can't upload a Publisher file, so I went to school and converted it to a PDF. I came home, tried to upload the PDF onto Google Docs. and it wouldn't work! You should have seen me Saturday morning, trying to upload this thing - it wasn't pretty. My husband came into the office and told me it was too early to be this upset (it was 6:45 - I hate to say it, but he was right). It didn't matter, I was bound and determined to get this PDF to upload and share on my blog. I searched Google for articles that would help me figure out how to upload a PDF and the only thing I could find was a few articles that told me you can't upload PDFs on Google Docs.

Now, here I am stuck and I still don't know how PDFs on Google Docs work. I know this can't be right because I have visited countless other teacher blogs and they have (what have to be) PDF files uploaded with Google Docs. on their blog (I figure they have to be PDFs since we don't all have the same fonts or clipart saved on our computers)! I've even tried downloading files that I think are PDFs and used the 'Download Original' tab to see if I could figure out if the original posting was a PDF or not. So far - no luck!

I am now asking you, dear followers to help me with Google Docs. if you have any knowledge on how to upload a PDF with Google Docs. onto your blog, please drop me a comment. I would greatly appreciate your help. Until then, I have decided to use Scribd. A special thank you to those who have been willing to read my babbling frustration!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop - Math Vocabulary

I really enjoyed sharing (and reading!) an idea for love2learn2day's Math Monday Blog Hop, so I decided to post for week #2.

As some of you know, I have been teaching for 3 years and of those 3 years, I have changed grade levels every year (4th, 2nd, and now 3rd - I'm crossing my fingers that I will stay in 3rd grade next year!). This year, I was moved to a new school and I finally feel as though I have made some progress at becoming a better teacher instead of showing up to work everyday without a clue as to what's going on (please don't judge me!).

At my school, our principal is huge on word walls, so I decided to take it a step further and create a vocabulary wall for our Everyday Math series. When I made the cards, I decided to include the mastered vocabulary as well as new vocabulary. Please keep in mind that this is only a few units of Everyday Math. If anyone else out there teaches EDM, you know that they have lots of vocabulary in each unit and they use vocabulary that is not used by the state. For example: EDM calls a "number sentence" a "number model," so I have to explain both terms to students so when they take the standardized test, they understand what the test is asking for.

This is the first time I am posting a document, so please be patient with me and if it doesn't work, please drop me a comment so I can fix it! I'll be adding more vocabulary cards to the set, so be sure to stop by from time to time to check out updates!

Math Vocab Cards

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Classroom Library Stamp - Too Cute!

For a while I have been looking for a personalized stamp to label my classroom library books with. Over winter break, I made it my mission to find one that I liked. Little did I know I would find one I LOVE (I probably should have put Etsy as one of My 7 Favorite Things, but at the time, I wasn't thinking clearly)! While I was there, I discovered the shop, cupcaketree.

As I looked around the online shop, I found out that the owner hand carves her rubber stamps. I instantly fell in love with every stamp she has for sale and wished I could buy all of them. But, I was on a mission. I quickly discovered her chalkboard stamp and emailed to ask if it could be personalized. She said yes and about 7 days later I had my own stamp that looks fantastic! I was so pleased with the stamp that I bought her fishbowl and goldfish stamp - I couldn't resist!

If you are looking for a personalized stamp that is unique (and not over priced!), then you have to check out cupcaketree's shop on Etsy!

Thanks for stopping by!

Exciting News!

Today I found out that I was selected to participate in a professional development opportunity called Science Matters! I am SO excited to participate for several reasons. First, I love science and as much as I enjoy teaching it, I'll be the first to admit I could do a better job! Second, I will have several PD days where I will learn some really cool science ideas to incorporate into the classroom (along with some free resources - what teacher wouldn't love that?!). Third, that means I can post some new and exciting ideas on my blog! YEA!!

The kick-off starts at the end of May and I can't wait!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My 7 Favorite Things (at the moment!)

Persnickety Pickles is hosting a linky party (which might be one of my 7 favorite things...) and I decided to link up just to let my fellow bloggers a bit about myself since I'm new to the blogging community!

Let's see - where to begin...

1. I LOVE to read - I'll read just about anything. Well, maybe not a medical journal or about stocks and bonds, but I'm a sucker for a great storyline! I mostly enjoy fiction and biographies and I just finished reading Water for Elephants. I'm currently reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I know, I know! I'm a little behind, but I am bound and determined to read it before the last movie comes out so I can watch it in the theater. Which brings me to #2...

2. Movies have to be a HUGE favorite of mine! Just like books, there isn't much that I don't like except scary movies. I've tried to watch them several times, but I just don't feel right after I watch them. :P

3. As unhealthy as it is, cupcakes from BabyCakes in Kansas City is another one of my favorite things - YUMMY! I had their chocolate cupcakes with mint buttercream frosting served at my wedding and they were like a little bit of heaven! I think I'm getting a craving...

4. Flip flops have got to be on my favorite list. I think if I could get away with wearing flip flops 24/7/365 - I would. Wear them to work, fancy parties, and in the snow. My favorite brand is Havaianas - I've been wearing them since 2004. They are expensive, but they are the best quality of any flip flop I've every bought. I also did the math and figured that if I bought a new pair of black flip flops every year for $4, after 4 years, I would have paid for the Havaianas by then. I've had my black Havaianas for 7 years now, so I've now saved $12 (assuming I would have bought a new pair @ $4 every summer). Does any of this make sense or am I talking in circles? :)

5. My iMac definitely has to be on this list. I have been using Mac's since I was a kid - my dad is an artist that did most of his work on a Mac and ever since then I was hooked. I use my iMac for EVERYTHING - blog, documents, website, YouTube, music - EVERYTHING!



6. My puppies, Audrie and CoCo are also on my favorite things list. They are a beagle dachshund mix, which I've been told the trendy name is doxle. I treat them like they are kids (and CoCo can really act like a needy baby!). It's funny how their personalities reflect my husband and I's personalities. Audrie is mellow and goes with the flow like me, while CoCo is anxious and wants things her way, like my husband. Don't tell my husband I said that!

7. My last favorite thing is the television show "You Can't Do That on Television." This used to be my favorite show when I was a kid. It was on Nickelodeon and I have just rediscovered it on YouTube. I can't believe that I still laugh at Barth the cook and El Capitano. If you're a kid of the 80's and you've never watched "YCDTOT," go to YouTube and watch an episode - I bet it will bring back fond memories (of 80's fashion, at least!).

Well, I hope you have learned a little bit more about me - now I'd like to learn a little bit about you!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop - Let's Play "Poison!"

The lovely homeschooling blog, love2learn2day, is starting a Math Monday Blog Hop - how fun (especially for me - math is my favorite subject to teach)!

I thought I would participate by sharing one of my students' favorite math games, "Poison." This game is curtsy of The 2 Sisters over at The Daily 5. It is K-3 friendly (and possibly grades 4-6 as well).

To play "Poison:"

1. Students divide into pairs along with 9 Unifix cubes (You can use more or less if you like, as long as you use an odd number).

2. Students alternate play by taking 1 or 2 cubes during each turn.

3. The person to take the last cube is "Poisoned!"

4. Students will want to play again and again! During their 4-5 time of playing, students will begin noticing how they can strategize their next play and predict their partners' next move!

I hope I shared how to play this game clearly. I wish I had a video to share of two students playing - maybe I'll have to add that on my "To-Do" list for school!

I really suggest you try the game out with your students - mine constantly request to play it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mrs. Saylor reached 100 (followers, that is)!

Mrs. Saylor (I love her name because it rhymes with my maiden name - Taylor!) over at Mrs. Saylor's Log has reached 100 followers and is giving back by giving away a gift card to Amazon for $25. How generous!

Check out her blog for a chance to win or to find some great ideas for your classroom! I found some creative ideas that I can't wait to modify for my 3rd graders!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Interactive Test-Taking Strategies


A few weeks ago, I purchased Lakeshore's Language and Math Test-Taking Strategies Interactive Software. With all the craziness that test prep causes, I forgot that I had purchased this software until about a week ago. I decided to use the software as a whole group lesson on the SMARTBoard (I have students use their dry erase boards to respond). I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at how responsive the kids were to the software. If you are interested in purchasing something similar, I suggest you check into Lakeshore's software for four reasons:

1) The kids are begging to use the software every morning. The fun colors and kooky noises help excite the kids about testing!
2) I've noticed that after just a short use, the kids are remembering not only the names of the strategies, but also how to use the strategies.
3) It's a really easy way to demonstrate how students can use multiple strategies while testing.
4) It's reasonably priced and you can instantly download the software to your computer. There are multiple grade levels - so even if you don't teach a tested grade level, you can still teach your kids how to take a test.

If you are having trouble motivating your students to get pumped about test prep, give Lakeshore's software a try. I promise you it will help motivate your kiddos! :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Standardized Testing

Our MAP test (Missouri's answer to standardized testing) is quickly approaching. Next week, starting Tuesday, students will be taking the Communication Arts portion of the test for 3 days. The following week, we will then take the Math portion of the test for 3 days. It has been 2 years since I have given the MAP test, and I have to say I'm VERY nervous and worried about the performance of my students.

On the other side of the coin, I work with a fabulous co-teacher who is able to keep me light-hearted during this stressful time of the year. For example, tonight we went to US Toy and had a great time finding props for our students to use when they perform their cheer at the testing assembly Friday. If you have never been to US Toy, you should know that it is a football field sized warehouse of teaching supplies, holiday supplies, costumes/props, and party supplies. You name it, they probably have it somewhere in this mecca for teachers! If there is one in your city and you haven't stopped by, you definitely should - it's worth it!

Thanks for stopping by!

My First Linky Party!

This is my only my 2nd post, but I thought I would give Miss Snowden's Technology Tools Linky Party a try!

Technology plays a large part in my classroom because I am a certified eMINTS teacher and it's hard to choose just one tool that is my favorite. However, eMINTS has created an online search tool called eThemes. eThemes has kid-safe online resources that are easy to search for. Simply type in the subject you are looking for (for example, "animals") and several websites or webquests come up! I love searching eThemes at the start of a new unit for new ideas! Give it a try - I promise you'll love it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The 1st Post

I've been wanted to start my own blog for a few years now and tried with a local fashion blog. Needless to say, it didn't work out because I didn't have the time to commit to regular posts. Let's admit, for a fashion blog to be successful, you have to have daily updates.

Since I didn't want to give up keeping a blog, I decided to instead focus on a teaching blog. I love the idea that blogs allow teachers to share ideas (and reflect on my teaching) with others.

I love feedback about ideas I have so don't be afraid to leave me a comment or start a discussion - I'm welcome to all ideas!

Thanks for stopping by!