Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween and Dia de los Muertos Activities

I can’t believe that October is almost over.  This past week we had Parent Teacher conferences, so it was a long week.  I have been busy planning activities for this week that will hopefully keep my students engaged even when they have Halloween on the brain.  One activity is a Halloween writing project.  I have created cards for characters, settings, and problems.  Many of my students get stuck in the planning stage of writing, so I am hoping these cards will allow my students to spend less time in the brainstorming stage, and more time drafting and editing.  

Click for your free copy of these Halloween story cards. The adorable Halloween characters are from KPM Doodles.  I absolutely love her clip art.
We will also be spending time talking about Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  Last year I taught in San Francisco’s Mission District where there is a huge celebration for Dia de los Muertos.  I loved every part of it, and wanted to introduce my students (now in Louisiana) to this interesting holiday.  This week we are focusing on the 3rd grade Common Core for Reading Informational Texts 3.RI.9. To cover this standard, we will read two informational texts about Dia de los Muertos and use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two texts.  For art, we will decorate Calavera (skull) masks.  

As a treat, I have made mini sugar skulls for the students to decorate in true Dia de los Muertos fashion.  We will also have class discussions about people or animals that have passed away and why it is important to remember them.

On Halloween, my students will “trick-or-treat” in the classroom with Ginger Snaps Habitat Trick or Treat from her Boo in the Zoo unit. 
My students are currently working on writing animal reports, so we have spent a great deal of time discussing the habitats and adaptations of animals.  The students will move around the room taking notes about each of the six habitats.  Each completed habitat note card will earn the student a treat or small prize.  I try not to give a lot of candy in my classroom, but it sure is a great motivator for students.  I will probably give one or two pieces of candy and 4 or 5 small prizes like a Halloween eraser or spider ring.  I’m hoping that this will be a memorable learning activity for my students.  I will post pictures later this week.  Good luck to everyone this week with crazy weather and Halloween-crazed students.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

More Freebies on a Sunday

I'm back this Sunday with some more freebies. This week we are continuing multiplication. These task cards ask students to build groups of items and write the corresponding multiplication sentence.  

My students will use tiny erasers that I purchased from Target for manipulatives. If you don't have erasers or something similar, you can print out the shapes that I included in the file.  I hope that the Halloween-themed manipulatives will excite them as much as the Cheez-its did last week.  

In social studies we will be discussing the three branches of government. This is card sort activity for students to practice distinguishing between the three branches.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Week in Review

This has been a very busy week in my classroom.  In math, we began multiplication by building rectangular arrays and calculating the area. I have never started multiplication with area, but my students seemed to really "get it."  Hopefully the hands-on, visual approach makes multiplication concrete for them. 

We also completed an engaging writing project - "Haunted House for Sale" from Clutter-Free Classroom.  We began by brainstorming descriptive phrases for our haunted houses (written in the black circles).  Next, we put a positive spin on each of the spooky details.  For example, "The lights mysteriously turn on and off, so you don't have to bother with flipping the switch." 

My students used our brainstorming chart to create their advertisements to "sell" their haunted houses.  They even made up a realty company name.

FOr the art project, my students used a Sharpie marker to draw the outline of their haunted houses on a sheet of white card stock. The final step was to paint with watercolors. 

Last week, I was noticing that my students were having trouble getting along.  I decided to launch a bucket-filling program.  
Each student has a library pocket on the wall which gets filled with slips of paper that say "compliment" or "act of kindness." When I catch a student saying a compliment or helping another student, I give them a slip of paper to add to his or her pocket.  Once the class earns a determined amount of slips, I bake them a treat.  This has really helped my classroom this week.  I love overhearing students compliment their classmates.  It hasn't completely eliminated the mean comments and arguing, but it has limited them.  Also, those students who say a mean comment have to come up with two nice compliments for the other person. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I'm Back...with a Few Freebies

Let me start off by apologizing for being such a terrible blogger.  I find the time each night to blog stalk, but can’t seem to find the time to post on my own blog.  Now that the school year is in full swing, my goal will be to post at least twice a week. Hopefully, I can stick to this goal.  Our first quarter is winding down and I am preparing for the next month when we will begin our focus on multiplication, nonfiction text features, and animal reports. I was so excited to find some great resources to use including:

Boo in the Zoo: A Halloween Themed Animal Unit” from Ginger at Ginger Snaps to begin our focus on animal characteristics and writing an animal report. 

Voyage to the Volcano: A Novel Study”  also from Ginger at Ginger Snaps to focus on nonfiction text features in small groups. I was able to find the book for less than $3 from Scholastic, so I bought 7 copies.

Candy Corn Fact Families” from Jodi at Clutter-Free Classroom for an engaging way to introduce multiplication and division fact families.  What kid  doesn't love candy corn?

I have also created several items that I would like to share with you for FREE! I am still debating starting my own store, so I would appreciate any comments on these files. 
First, I created a Multiplication Booklet that includes fact family houses and skip counting activity for each fact.  I printed it as a booklet to save on paper (only 6 pages per student).

The second file is a set of task cards for building arrays. Your students can use square tiles or Cheez-its (for a little edible fun).

Lastly, I have a sort for rules and laws.  This concept is difficult for third graders to grasp, so I hope the visuals and kinesthetic act of sorting helps.

I am planning to join Amanda at Teaching Maddeness next Friday for her Friday Flashback, so stay tuned.



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