Fishing Vest Research Report:
I got this great idea from two third and fourth grade teachers from a conference I was at last summer. In third and fourth grades we have to do a research report and this just makes it more fun. First, the students made a vest out of a paper grocery sack by cutting the sack up the middle. Then we cut out the bottom of the sack and flipped it inside out so the name of the store is on the inside of the vest. Next, we cut two holes for our arms on the sides. We kept the scraps from the bottom of the sack and the arm holes to make pockets for the front of the vest. The students took the vests home and decorated them however they wanted to.
For the report part, I handed the students a rubric of everything their vest must have. For example, the students had to do some “choice activities” to go in the pockets of their vests. They had to choose 3 “choices” from a list that included a fish poem, joke, list of bait, fishing how to, fishing tall tale, fishing personal narrative, fishing definitions, fishing license, etc. The students chose a species from the Great Lakes that they were interested in. They developed 5 questions about their species they wanted to know the answers to and researched them. The students created their research reports from those 5 questions. When we were done, we put our “choices” in the pockets and attached our reports along with a hand-drawn picture of our species to the back of the vest. Super cute! When I do this project again this year, I will limit the questions to 3-4 questions depending on the student’s ability. I think 5 questions was a little too many to delve deep into with research. I will also create templates for the “choices.”
We have a spelling tub in our classroom that is filled with different ways students can practice their spelling words. We have old laptops that don’t work anymore, old computer keyboards, magnetic letters, letter stamps and ink pads, foam puzzle letters, shaving cream, small white boards, magnetic writing boards, plexi glass with Vis-a-Vis markers, playdough, crayons and watercolor paints, alphabet mats with fly swatters, alphabet mat that students “dance” out their spelling words, a foam ball, a tub of sand, etc. One day every week I get out the spelling tub and the students choose what tool they want to use to practice their spelling words. It’s a fun way to learn those spelling words.
While I was walking through Home Depot a couple of years ago, I saw the Mickey Mouse paint swatches. Immediately, I put on my teacher hat and thought, “hmmmm what can I use these for in my classroom.” Phonics came to mind. A manager of the store was more than happy to give me as many as I needed after finding out I was a teacher. I tried to ask for the lightest colors, but didn’t want to be too picky if they were giving me so many for free. Back at school I laminated 6 together in a line and continued to do this until I had enough strips. Then I cut them into the strips of 6 swatches. During our word work time, I give the students a word with the sound we are working on for the week and they separate the sounds of the words and write each sound on one of the Mickey Mouse heads with a dry erase marker. For example, when working with the “oi” sound, I may give them the word “coin.” The students will write the first sound, “c” on the first head, the “oi” on the second head, and the “n” on the third head. When I see that everyone has it correct, we will erase and write the next word. The only thing I would do differents is maybe laminate 8 or 9 swatches together instead of 6, especially if you are teaching 3rd grade and up.
Word Work Ideas (will work for practicing spelling words as well)-
1) Word Fluency-Students will need a blank white piece of computer paper and markers or crayones. Choose a word that is difficult for the student. Write it on the white board or make sure the student can see the word on the word wall. The student will choose a color and write the word as many times as they can in a set time period (I chose 30 sec. for 3rd and 4th graders). When the time is up count how many times the child writes the word correctly. Then choose another word. The student chooses another color for the next word.
2) Rainbow Words-Students will need a blank white piece of computer paper, crayons, and water color paints. Ask the students to choose words from the word wall that are difficult for them to spell and write them in crayon on their paper. After the words are written, they may paint over top of them with the water color paints. It combimes art and academics!
I am a collector of containers. Kleenex boxes, oatmeal cans, frosting cans, etc. I like them all. I use them to make different centers. This week in math we are working on measurement conversions. I used an empty Kleenex box and 3 x 5 cards cut in half to make this center. I wrote different measurements and their conversions to a different unit on the cards then put them in the Kleenex box. For example, I wrote 300 cm on one card and wrote 3 m on another. The students at this center draw 2 cards at a time and see if the conversions match. If they do, they can keep the match. If they don’t, they put the cards back in the box and it is their partner’s turn.
We just finished up learning about perimeter. To put the students’ knowledge and problem solving abilities to the test, the students have to construct a frame with a perimeter of 20 inches. I cut scrapbook paper into strips. Then I put the strips, rulers, scissors, glue, and white paper at a center. The students have to figure out a way to cut the strips and glue them into a frame on the white paper so that the perimeter totals 20 inches.
In science, we were learning about the moon phases. To help the students get more of a visual of what the different phases look like, we made them out of cookies. I bought sandwich cookies from the store and gave each student 8 of them for the 8 different moon phases. I drew the different moon phases on the board and discussed them with the students along with the name for each phase. Then the students got busy with the yummy part. They twisted apart each cookie and licked the frosting off to resemble how much of the moon is visible for each phase. The side that didn’t have frosting could be eaten right away. The frosting represented the part of the moon you can see. The students layed them out on their desks. When everyone was done, we reviewed the moon phases and the students pointed to the cookie that represented that phase. When we were all done, the students could eat their projects, but since 8 cookies was a lot, they could throw the extras away or take them home in a baggie. Lots of fun!
Layers of the Earth:
For our science center we looked at the different layers of the Earth. The students had to relate a Tootsie Pop to the different layers of the Earth. The crust was the wrapper, the mantle was the actual hard sucker part, and the core was the Tootsie Roll center. The students filled out a table telling what layer of the Tootsie Pop represented what layer of the Earth. Then they had to write a paragraph explaining it with a topic sentence and a conclusion. Lastly, there was a picture of the layers of the Earth that students had to label and color. What a tasty way to learn about the Earth!
I try to find unique hand made valentine’s to give out to the students every year. This year I found paper hears with the saying “You’re just write for me!” written inside the heart. I printed them out in color and cut 2 slits in the heart to slide a pencil through. Perfect valentine from a teacher! I got this great idea from Disney Family Fun. I’ve also seen this on Pinterest.
While I was looking for a cute and simple Valentine’s project for my class, I found these cute alligators on Pinterest (I think I have an addiction to this website!). I printed the design out on green paper and the tongue was printed out on white paper because I didn’t have any pink. The tongue says, “I’d SNAP at the chance to be your Valentine.” I took the students step-by-step through making their alligators 3D and gluing them together. This was not an easy task! If you are going to make these with younger students, I might recommend making the pill box body for them or using stiffer scrap book paper. We did end up using tape for some parts because the students were having a hard time gauging how much glue to use and they were getting pretty gooey. For finishing touches, we colored our tongues pink or red and glued them on. I also added googly eyes to the alligators. They made such an adorable bulletin board in the hallway titled, “Snappy Valentines.”