We have been taking part in a fun, interactive geography game with third graders from different states called Mystery Skype. Through the Skype Education website, I contact other registered teachers (or they contact me) and we agree to a time that we can Skype. The students use their geography prowess to try to guess where the other class is during a game of 20 questions. For example, the first question is almost always are you east/west of the Mississippi so the answer automatically removes half the country from contention. During this 30 minute session, every student has a job to do. The jobs include questioner, answerer, mapper, googler, photographer and clue tracker. I have watched our students' geography skills soar as they use deductive reasoning skills trying to guess what state the other classroom is located in. When we first began, our students were answering that yes, we bordered the Atlantic Ocean, no--w did not border Indiana or Canada and yes--the Appalachian Mountains ran through our state. How I loved watching our last session with a class from Nebraska as my 3rd graders adeptly ran their dry erase markers up the Mississippi River, divided the country into time zones and answered every question about Michigan correctly. Almost all of the pictures you see below were taken by our students.
See Mystery Skype in Action!
Mystery Genre Reading Project
The third graders spent much of the past month learning the language and story structure associated with mysteries. We read long and short mysteries, completing story maps for each. Students became acquainted with the ageless detective Encyclopedia Brown and with some new-found detectives in books of their choosing. Students completed a graphic organizer pack while they read their mysteries which helped them write their jigsaw puzzle report that you will see on display at Showcase. Visit the photo gallery to see the whole project in pictures.
From Sunshine to Syrup at the Outdoor Education Center and Pancake Breakfast
We put our taste buds front and center on Friday, March 21 during our pancake breakfast, which is an annual follow-up to our visit to the Troy Nature Center on March 20. During our visit to the Nature Center we learned about the role photosynthesis plays in sap production and the process involved in turning sap into syrup. The breakfast was a tasty conclusion to our learning, made even more special by it being pajama day!. Our hungry third graders went through 94 pancakes, 6 pounds of sausage, 36 ounces of pure maple syrup, and a far amount of Mrs. Butterworth's. No one asked about having snack that morning! See more PHOTOS here.
Buddy Reading With First Grade
We enjoyed so many different activities for reading month! Our third graders paid a visit to Mrs. Haboush's room to read aloud to her students and many of her students enjoyed reading back to us. Check out the pictures in the photo gallery to see our third graders with their first grade buddies. You will also find a few other photos from our March activities.
March is Reading Month
If you have been at Leonard awhile, you know how much we love to celebrate reading. In Michigan, March is designated as "Reading Month." Each year a committee of teachers at Leonard come up with different fun and motivating activities. The calendar for the month is below--click on it for a printable download.
We have a few activities all our own in Room 14 that we have been doing for years. The first is our March Mystery Readers. If you would like to read aloud a picture book of your choosing to the class, let me know via email, or using the slip below and I'll be sure to get you scheduled. If the time (1:05) or a date in March doesn't work and you would like to come in, contact me and we'll get you a more convenient date or time.
We also enjoy Mystery Caller. Each week I set aside some time to call my third graders at home to see if I can "catch" them reading. While I won't call everyone every time, I will do my best to make sure I reach each student at least twice during the month. If I catch you, you earn a ticket for our Room 14 Reading Raffle that is held on the morning of April 4. If any parents would like to donate reading related prizes such as bookmarks, books, book character stickers, $5 gift cards to Barnes and Noble, etc. that would be wonderful (not necessary of course, but wonderful!)
Finally, students can also receive one raffle ticket for being a Top Banana Reader. If students complete a chapter book in March, they can fill out the Top Banana form which also earns them a ticket in our raffle. Because of all these activities, there will be no Big Buck reading calendar this month.
102 Stories: Our Climb to the top of the Empire State Building
We wrapped up our study of the Northeast Region by climbing to the top of the Empire State Building in New York City. Students first estimated how long it would take to climb all 1,860 steps from street level to the 102nd floor. Predictions ranged from 13 minutes to 2 days. We discovered that it took us about 47 minutes over two days, including a couple of water breaks. We also decided that next time, we would take the elevator! You can watch a bit of our climb in action in the video below. We discovered climbing to the Just Dance Wii music videos made the climb even more fun!
Working on the Assembly Line
Students learned about mass production by taking part in an "assembly line" at our imaginary chocolate factory . Each worker had a specialized job in making the candy kisses. The first person measured and cut the foil. The second wrote readied the small paper flag, the third person placed the glass gem on the foil, the fourth person wrapped it up in a kiss shape and the last person on the line acted as an inspector. At the end of their 8 minute shift, everyone agreed that while it was probably easier to have specialized jobs, they felt a lot of pressure to keep the line moving. We related this to the manufacturing of the early 1900's when mass production was first introduced and to modern day manufacturing which is highly automated. And of course, how can you have a candy factory in your room without thinking of the video that follows these pictures.
Valentine Week Fun!
Oh what a "lovely" week we had. Our music program on Wednesday was great, and we began wrapping up our mystery genre puzzles project unit this week. We had great fun on Friday admiring all the wonderful Valentine boxes. I was so proud of everyone for the effort they put into their boxes. Thanks so much to Mrs. Puri and Mrs. Mukhales and all of our parents who helped out at the party and sent in goodies. The party was a huge hit, and was certainly enjoyed by all. Look for pictures of everyone's boxes and more in our photo gallery.
Practicing Time Skills
Telling time in varied ways and calculating elapsed time has proved tricky for many of our third graders. We took some time out this week to practice using hands-on manipulatives--also known as things I found in my basement. As you can see in the photos, the he kids loved matching time using Legos and plastic eggs.
Third Grade Stars! Music Performance on February 12, 2014
I thought our class did a great job at their music performance Wednesday evening. I was so proud of them and I'm sure you were too! I hope you enjoyed the performance as much as I did. There is a video clip and photos below for you to enjoy and share with family and friends who may not have been able to attend. You will be able to see exclusive, never before seen backstage footage!
Crayfish and Giant Hissing Madagascar Cockroaches Pay a Visit
It's not often people get excited about discovering they have been invaded by giant cockroaches and crustaceans, but that's exactly what has happened in Room 14! I'm sure you have heard by now of our visiting crustaceans and insects. They arrived the second week of January as part of our Structures of Life unit. Students have completed diagrams of the crayfish body structures and had the opportunity to do some observations of how both react to touch, light, dark, noise and changes in their environment. We also monitor their habitats for proper water levels and food. This week we completed a four part writing piece about the crayfish lifecycle. Check out the photos below.
Our third graders had a great 5 days of keyboard training at "Camp Almena," and we also enjoyed some special activities along the way, like our reading campout, winter hike and of course making birdhouses, s'mores and old-fashioned scout-inspired "Gorp" out of cereals, fruit snacks, pretzels, raisins, m&m's and more! Oh, and student were also learning to type! Most students had memorized the keyboard by the end of the second day and were able to type with the "skins" (keyboard covers) on with no problem. I saw the newly learned keyboarding skills transferring back to the classroom by the end of the week when they were working on laptops--students were typing with both hands, keeping them firmly planted on home row. I was very excited to see the progress they made by the end of the week. Most students were typing over 18 word per minute without errors and a few were averaging over 30 words per minute. You can view photos from our week in the photo gallery.
I hope everyone had a wonderful break! We have only a few weeks left to the first semester and we will be busy, busy, busy in all areas of the curriculum. Keep checking our website for updates of all the things we have going on in Room 14! Happy New Year to all. I hope 2014 is your best year ever!
If you ever need something to do, give these fun activities a try!
2013 Comes to an End in Style
Our last week of the school in 2013 was certainly busy! Lots of smiles abounded at the end of the week with our Holiday Party, gift giving, gift making and the annual Holiday Sing Along. Thanks so much to Mrs. Puri, our room mother, and all the other parents who helped make the class party a memorable experience. You'll find lots of pictures to commemorate the week's events in our photo gallery. I hope everyone has a joyous and restful holiday season with their family.
Getting Crafty with Our Science!
We looked at the leaf structure of perhaps the most well known of the holiday plants, the poinsettia, discussing how water moves through the veins and feeds the plants. We also discussed how the "flowers"are actually groupings of leaves. The bracts, or leaves turn red after they are kept in the dark by growers for 12 hours a day for several days. The lack of light is what makes the leaves turn colors, similar to how tree leaves change color in the fall when they are not undergoing photosynthesis. The students took their knowledge of plant structure and represented it in an artful way with their poinsettia paintings.
In science we are examining life cycles of plants (and animals come January.) Our third graders designed their own experiments to get their seeds to sprout, generating hypothesis and the amount of water, air and light that would best help their seeds sprout. Each morning the boys and girls would excitedly check their seeds and record in-depth observations about their progress. After approximately a week, we learned that the incorrect amount of water, air and light resulted in a lot of really smelly, rotted seeds. Our next experiment was more controlled, with students selecting seeds to plant in a "baggy garden." Each day they made observations and recorded them in their science notebooks. They gathered data by measuring the sprouts and roots each day. Students were amazed that there was measurable growth in several plants from the morning until the afternoon--plants literally growing before their eyes! I went in during break to water the plants and took the last two pictures so the boys and girls could see how much more their plants had grown since December 20!
There's nothing as fun as taking the third graders out for recess after our first measurable snowfall of the season. During the winter months it's important for everyone to come prepared for outdoor play. Snowpants, boots, hats, winter coats and mittens or gloves are a necessity for optimal fun! Remember to label those snowpants, hats and gloves. We have already had students take home the wrong snow pants twice this year!
Third Grade Chocolatiers!
As a follow-up to our trip to the Morley Candy Factory, our third graders tried their hand at making their own tasty confections. They dipped long pretzel rods into melted chocolate and then sprinkled them with candy toppings of their choice. It seems the hardest part was wrapping them up to take home. They wanted to eat them on the spot! There are just a few pictures of the actual dipping below--I have to admit it was tricky helping them dip their pretzels while trying to take photos! Afterwards, many students expressed how they wanted to make these at home, so you can thank me later for that!!
A Visit to Morley Candy Makers
Our third graders enjoyed their trip to Morley's on Wednesday. We watched a video on the history of chocolate and the process that cocoa beans go through from the field to the factory. We toured the production room and saw several assembly lines in action since this is the busiest time of the year. The factory employs 60 people in December and produces about 600 chocolate candies a minute in addition to all of their other treats. 40,000 pounds of chocolate is melted at one time and makes its way to the assembly line via white plastic pipes that run overhead. Morley's makes Sanders candy, but also produces candy for Costco (Kirkland brand), Target and Macys. Check out our photos in the photo gallery.
Niceness Abounds in Room 14 with Holiday Secret Pals!
Tis the season for giving and caring! Students have picked the name of a classmate who will be their secret pal for the next two weeks. (Boys picked boys and girls picked girls.)To be a secret pal all a third grader has to do is show they care by doing three nice things (more if they like!) for that person before Thursday, December 19 and make a small gift for them.
Students were asked to tell what they were most thankful for. Enjoy what they had to say. Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Fire Safety Assembly
Our third graders learned the basics of fire safety with a visit from the Troy Fire Department.Students were reminded that they need to practice escape routes with their parents, have a special meeting spot outdoors and that in case of fire and smoke, they need to stay low were the air is. We will be doing the Troy Fire Department Safety House assembly in the spring.
Our class enjoyed a little excitement when we took a virtual field trip to Plimoth Plantation--no permission slips or admission required. In preparing for our "trip" we used iPads to learn how to find a ten day weather forecast and Google maps to find the directions and number of miles from Leonard to Plymouth, Massachusetts. (754 miles!) Students were asked to look at the three routes and decide which would be the best to take. They were very surpised to discover that the shortest route was through Canada.
Character Trait Silhouettes
Over the past few weeks as part of our reading and writing curriculum, students have been learning about character traits. In reading, recognizing a character's personality can help you understand why a character acts the way they do and how they may change throughout the story. In writing, we are developing characters in our narratives, giving them distinct personalities through our words, actions and dialogue. During our literacy centers, students combined what we were learning in language arts with our study of shadows to create silhouettes of themselves that listed ten character traits they thought best described them. See our silhouettes below, or better yet, stop by and see them in person!
Student Council Elections
I was so proud of our fifteen boys and girls who made posters and gave speeches to be our class representatives. This was an election that truly had no losers; everyone who ran was a winner just for trying! This year Danny and Sonia will be representing our class at morning Council Meetings. Below are some pictures of our candidates with their posters.
The class had a wonderful time at our Halloween parade and parties. Thanks so much to our Room Moms, Mrs. Puri and Mrs. Mukhales, and all of our parents who contributed to make this one of the nicest Halloween parties Room 14 has ever seen. See more pictures from our fun-filled afternoon in the photo gallery.
Name Brand Skeletons!
Our third graders created these skeletons by painting their name in cursive, then folding the paper in half to create their very own personalized skeleton body. They wrote fictional narratives to go with their creations.To watch the made for Scholastic, click here.
Write All About It!
We have been hard at work this quarter perfecting our personal narratives, or short stories from our lives. I can already see great progress in beginnings, idea development and sentence structure. Students also love "Freewrite Friday," when for thirty minutes they can write about what ever topic they like in a format of their choice. We have students writing comic books, poems, picture books, letters and even a chapter book! They look forward to this special time each week!
Only the Shadow Knows!
On Thursday, after the heavy fog lifted, we furthered our scientific study of light and shadows by becoming human sundials. Students went outside four times during the day, and with a partner traced their shadows on the blacktop. They measured their shadows and recorded the time, length of shadow and position of the sun. Next they wrote observations and made predictions of what the next trip outside would bring. Students discovered that their shadows moved in a circular, clockwise direction, and in a direct line with the sun's position. Shadows were longest early in the morning, shortest when the sun was directly overhead and began to lengthen again in the afternoon. Towards the end of the day we watched a short clip on how sundials worked and students were amazed to discover they had become human sundials. Interactive science at it's best!
The Relatives Came Read Along
Thank you so much to all of our relatives who came for our surprise event. Even if the weather did not fully cooperate with us, I'm so happy the third graders could enjoy a few good books and a few good treats with their family and friends. The boys and girls used the Cynthia Rylant book, The Relatives Came, this week as mentor text for a personal narrative they wrote then published as a picture book. These should be finished and ready to display soon. If you would like to see more photos from our Read Along, please be sure to visit the photo gallery.
The First Day of School
The 2013-2014 school year got off to a great start with 28 wonderful students all eager to learn in the third grade. We began our day with a Who's in Room 14 Word Search, next we read the short story The Kingdom With No Rules, No Laws and No King which led to a class discussion on why we might want a few rules and laws (procedures) in our classroom. Students came up with a pretty good list of things that would help make our room run smoothly. Turns out, we decided, rules aren't created by mean teachers looking for new ways to get students--they are there for two good reasons, safety and respect. Our class decided we only needed three rules to cover everything: Respect Yourself, Respect Others, Respect the School Community.
Folowing recess we read a great back to school book, Teacher from the Black Lagoon. Then of course, being the teacher that I am, I made them write about their first day of school! To complete our day, we dusted off some math skills, did an all class icebreaker activity, and unpacked all of our supplies. Hopefully your boys and girls had a wonderful first day too!
It's Almost Time for School!
I am so looking forward to meeting all of my new third graders. I hope everyone has had a wonderful summer and is ready to start a great new year together! Click on the links below to find some important information about the upcoming year!
Letter to Parents
Letter to Students
Note: Please have your child bring a favorite 4 x 6 photo with them the first week to display in our room all year.
I'm so happy to have the opportunity to be sharing some of the things I do in my classroom on Scholastic's Top Teaching Blogs. I hope you will join me and several other teachers as we share our ideas weekly.