Spring is in the Air

This week I got to do one of my favorite projects of the year. I needed a fun bright springy project to help lift the mood in my room. I also needed a personal reminder that it is actually spring even if we had a snow day only a week ago. We have officially completed testing (YESSSSSS) so I wanted to have some fun. I found this amazing and fun project on TPT.

The project is called, “Spring is in the Air.” I got the templates from Creatively Teaching First‘s account. I did this project last year with my 4th graders, they loved it so I knew my 3rd grade kiddos would love it even more!

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Last year I had my students write a short little paragraph on their favorite thing about spring. I wanted this year’s writing to be easier but also have some meaning behind it. We have started talking a little about poetry and different types of poems they can come across. I thought it would be fun to write a short cinquain poem about spring.

We started with a mini lesson on what cinquain poems are. We did a few examples together as a class (one of which they had to describe me…..it wasn’t as bad as I expected haha) and then we brainstormed ideas we could use for our adjectives and verbs to describe spring. Once we had a whole list on the board they each went back and made their own rough draft poem.

I went around and checked them off. Once they got my approval I gave them the writing mason jar paper (this project has 3 different parts to it, 2 of which are mason jar pages, one to write on and one to be the cover) to write their final copy on. I had strict instructions about neat handwriting, correct spelling, and making the poem look bright and decorated.

Once they showed me that they wrote their poem and decorated that mason jar, they were able to decorate the cover mason jar which said “spring is in the air” (there are other options that come with the project) and add the flowers to it.

I think they turned out SO CUTE!!!! They hung them up on our “rocking work” wall so now the back of my class is full of bright springy flowers!

This was such an easy project to do and was a nice easy project for them to work on to get their minds out of testing mode. They worked so hard the last few weeks that I wanted to do something fun (but also educational) as their reward.

Today we are going to do one of my other favorite projects!!! We are going to be celebrating Earth Day a few days early because of Good Friday and Easter (we also have Monday off.) We will be using The Lorax to help us think about our beautiful planet and how we can protect her. I can not wait to share with you our Lorax themed day! I am so pumped just thinking about it!!

 

To see all of our day to day activities and lessons go follow me on instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!!

Testing Testing Testing

It’s that happy season again. State standardized testing has begun and I am trying to be the best cheerleader I can.

When we come back on Monday, my students will start the MCA (Minnesota’s standardized test) reading test and I have tried as hard as I can to prep them for what’s in store. We spent the whole week this week prepping for what the test is going to look and be like. We went online and watched tutorials on how to use the test and did practice tests all together as a class. By the end of today my kids were shot, and we haven’t even started the official test yet!

The past few weeks we have practiced with different new passages and taking comprehension test questions on them. We’ve gone over test taking strategies and have watched motivational videos but I don’t think I’ve done enough.

My students are 3rd graders, so in Minnesota, this is the first official year they take the MCA standardized test. I’ve done my best to prep them the best I can and explain how serious this test is but after today, I’m not sure they really understand. We’ve talked about how it’s important to do our best and to stay focused, but these are 3rd graders. Needless to say, I’m very nervous.

I know being a teacher, we are supposed to be positive and motivational but there is only so much I can do. I wish I could tell my students how I really feel about the test but we all know that isn’t possible. We are all set to “teach towards the test” in any state we’re in and we are seen as bad teachers if we don’t. I’m ready for the next few weeks to be over.

That being said, we have to give out the tests and they have to take it, it’s part of the job. I try to make testing days as low key and as exciting as possible. For our tests, we are given a total of 4 school days to work on them (2 for reading and 2 for math.) We get about half of every day to test and the other half to have classroom time. I try to utilize my classroom time to get them in the mood for the test and to relax and destress after the test.

When they come in every morning, I have a treat on their desk with a motivational note. I downloaded these FREE notes on TPT last year from Math Mojo‘s shop and I LOVE them.

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The students come in each morning of testing excited to go! I usually put on a few GoNoodles before we head to our designated testing room so they can move and get their blood flowing. After the test, the rest of the day is for relaxation! Depending on the weather, (again, love Minnesota…) we will either go outside or play games in the classroom. The test takes out SO MUCH that I want them to decompress as much as they can. Once the 4 test days are over, I spend the rest of the next week doing fun art projects and team building activities.

I wish all of you luck as we head into testing season. Hang in there and be the best teacher/cheerleader/counselor you can be for you students! All I can think about is when I had to take these wonderful tests in 3rd grade. I want my students to have better memories than I have, that’s for sure!

My fellow teachers, we got this!

Goodbye Break, Hello 3rd Trimester

I don’t know about you but I am ready for spring! We just came back from our spring break and I am now pumped for sunshine, flowers, and warm weather! I’m also feeling the effects of the final trimester feels at school.

This week started our 3rd trimester for the year, which means we are officially 2/3 of the way to the end! That’s crazy to me because this time of the year is jammed packed with so many things and I don’t know if I’m ready for all of it!

We came back slow and easy this week to start the last 1/3 of the year off right. Monday was a professional development day so for the kiddos, it was only a 4 day week. At my school, 3rd graders receive swimming lessons as part of their phy ed curriculum. On Tuesday and Thursday this week, they walked over to our high school (which is right across the street) and had an hour of lessons in the morning. This was during my reading and math blocks. The afternoons were filled with their other specials (art, media, and music) and intervention pull outs, which meant that I really didn’t get to work with my class at all those days. Today, we had our “swimming celebration” at our local community center for half of the day and a movie party in the afternoon.

This meant that Wednesday was my only main day to teach. Because I wasn’t on a regular unit for the week, I decided to dedicate my reading block to letter writing (since writing gets pushed back in my curriculum, we don’t have much extra time to fit writing in.) I wanted a fun and light project to do since we were really just getting back in the swing of things.

I found a letter writing activity using the model text, The Day the Crayons Came Home on Pinterest that was exactly what I wanted. I read the story to my class and then we talked about features of a letter. (We have pen pals this year, so they have some experience with it but not a lot.) They then got to pick their favorite colored crayon and think about what their journey would’ve been like if they were a lost crayon wanting to come home.

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I modeled on the board an example of a letter they would need to write. We talked about including what color they are, why they left in the first place, what happened while they were away, and why they want to come back. They were super creative with their writings and really used their imagination!

 

This has been another crazy week. Starting next week we have to really jump into preparing for our state standardized tests that come up in April. I’ll be sharing different reviews that I use and activities we do in order to prepare for these. My kiddos are in 3rd grade and in the state of Minnesota, 3rd grade is the year they begin their standardized testing. Over the next month, I’m going to have to really dig into test taking strategies and test taking rules they will need to use and follow when the big day comes. Wish me luck!

 

For more day to day fun and live activities, go follow my instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!

European Escape – Day 1

Hello everyone and happy March! It’s that time of year again when we start to get the much needed spring break (if you still get one this year) and our break officially started today!

Growing up we never did anything over spring break and I was used to that. Now that I’m older, I wanted to do something for a change. A friend had told me about this traveling company for 20 somethings called Education First. Basically they book trips that are completely affordable for anyone in their 20s around the world. I always dreamed of going to Paris but I never thought it would be possible. I went on the site and found a week long trip that spends 3 days in London and 3 days in Paris. I fell in love with the idea instantly and booked the trip without thinking twice. To make it even better, the trip fell right over our spring break!

Yesterday I boarded my nonstop flight from Minneapolis to London at 4:45pm. I was so excited I didn’t notice that a boy I casually dated for a month was on the same flight. 😑 When I finally noticed him I tried as hard as I could to not make eye contact with him. UGH like really what are the odds? Once on the flight, however I forgot he was there. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 5:35 but we didn’t leave until 7 because Minnesota was in the middle of a snowstorm (again) and they had to “de-ice” the plane. When we finally took off I was exhausted!!!

The flight wasn’t bad, just long. I tried to sleep but it wasn’t the best rest. When we arrived in London we were so excited to get off and meet our driver (I was on the same flight as 2 other people going on the same trip. EF is so amazing, they arranged to have personal chauffeurs pick us all up.) We didn’t get that lucky though. We got off to go through immigration and we honestly stood in a line for an hour and a half. At this point, we were all tired, sweaty, and starving so we just wanted to get out of there. Our driver was awesome and took us straight to our hotel called the Ibis in Canning Town.

We were able to check in with our tour director and then met up with some more people in our group. We walked around our neighborhood and then stopped at a little Turkish restaurant that was delicious. We came back to our hotel and now I’m just laying on my bed trying to stay awake. We have a group mixer and appetizers tonight and then I’m finally off to bed.

Tomorrow we get a full tour of the city and I am so excited! This is going to be the week of my dreams and I will try to share as much of it as I can. Happy spring break everyone!

Multiplication Can Be Fun

Happy Wednesday! It’s another day which also means another snow day. Yes, this is officially the 5th snow day so far this year. It’s insane but I’m starting to accept that this is beginning to be the norm. Since I have the whole day off I figured I would share with you some of my favorite multiplication games that are helping my students memorize and learn their facts in a fun entertaining way.

As most of you know, one of the main things that you learn in 3rd grade is your multiplication facts. We’ve been working HARD on this since November and we’re slowly making progress. In one of my older posts I shared our multiplication sundae incentive and that is working great but I still have half of my class stuck on similar facts.

Last year I taught 4th grade and I was shocked that at the beginning of the year less than half of my students knew their facts. I found all of these games last year and it helped them remember their facts by October. I don’t want my 3rd graders going into 4th grade in the same boat so I took out all of these games (and found more) to use daily in my room.

The first game is a HUGE hit with my students! It’s multiplication connect 4. I found this on Grace Hartman‘s store on TPT. It’s as easy as it sounds, students have 2 dice, role them and then multiply the 2 numbers. Whatever the answer is they cover up that number. Their goal is to get 4 in a row before their partner. It is SUPER easy and SUPER fun. One of my students yesterday told me it was her favorite game that we’ve learned so far.

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The next game that was a hit last year with my 4th graders as well as my 3rd graders this year is multiplication squares. It’s just like the normal squares game that most kids play at restaurants on their kids meal mats. I found this activity on Flying Through Fourth‘s page. All you need is 2 dice and 2 colored pencils. It is similar to connect 4 because students role and multiply their dice. They find that number and make a line by that number. The person who completes a square around that number gets to color it in. At the end of the game, the student with the most colored squares wins. Super easy!

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The next few are more activities that I do with my whole class at once. The first activity is a free multiplication scoot game that is just as it sounds. I’m using this tomorrow in my room as a full review. The other activity I will be trying (that I did last year twice a week) is a free multiplication “I have/who has” game. Again, just as it sounds. It helps with concentration and knowing facts fast! I found the free scoot game on Teaching with Heart in Texas‘s page and I found this version of I have who has on Erica Castillo‘s page. The last activity I will use as a “homework assignment” that is all about multiplication/division fact families. I got this from Alissa Manning-Telisak’s store and I am so excited to use it! They role their dice and practice their facts while also understanding the relation between multiplication and division.

The next few games I have never tried before but I plan to use them in the next week or so. I found all again on Teachers Pay Teachers and they are all FREE as well! From Light Bulb’s and Laughter‘s page I found a fun Penguin Multiplication dice game which is exactly like the connect 4 game except that it has a fun penguin theme and is super cute! The second game I’ll be trying is a 7s facts game. This was found on Games 4 Learning‘s page. Like most of the other games, you need 2 dice. The twist on this game is that when the 2 dice are rolled the student adds the numbers together and THEN multiplies the sum by 7. 7s are tricky for my students so I plan on using this multiple times over the next few months.

A final game that I love to use isn’t something I found on Teachers Pay Teachers because it’s a game most of us grew up playing with a twist. I love to have my students play multiplication war. All you need is a deck of cards and groups of 2 (you can have larger groups but that takes some more planning.) Just like normal war, the students each have half the deck and flip over a card at the same time. The first person to multiply the 2 cards and say the answer gets the pair of cards. The person who ends up with all of the cards wins the game. I have my students take out the Jokers and tell them that all of the face cards equal 10. That’s because we only have to memorize facts up to 10, but if you want to go higher you can make the Jack an 11 or the Queen a 12. This game is the easiest by far and can get pretty intense. Last year my 4th graders got into some heated arguments over who said the answer first.

The best way for students to learn is by having them not know they are learning! By playing these games, they get to practice their facts while having fun. They get so caught up in the games that they don’t even realize they’re doing math. I LOVE all of these activities and plan to use them every day for as long as we can! The best part about all of these is that they’re all FREE!! Who doesn’t love that!?

For more of my day to day school life and the activities we do, go follow me on instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!

Another Day, Another Snowstorm

Well it’s been almost another full week of school and guess what, we’ve had barely any school once again! I’m not kidding, this is NOT REAL!

The week started off Monday when we got the call at 5:30 in the morning saying we were going to have a 2 hour late start. I figured I would use the time to sleep in an extra hour but then get to school and have an extra hour of prep time. Just when I was about to start getting ready, my phone rang again saying that they called it and school was closed again. Honestly, this one wasn’t too devastating. We did have school last Monday (and then pretty much nothing all week) so I figured I could just pretend last Monday was this Monday and I would just continue on Tuesday like the last few weeks never happened.

Tuesday started and luckily it was a normal day, but I was so thrown off from the not having school that actually having school was weird. I was so NOT in the teaching zone. I made it through the day and then had to head to out to a gymnastics meet. We had a conference dual meet against a team that was an hour away. I was so excited for it but then I left school and noticed we were in a full blown snow storm. It took us over 2 1/2 hours to make an hour long drive. Because of that, we then had to push everything back later than normal. Long story short, a meet that should’ve been done by 9 and had me in bed by 10, ended later than normal and had me in bed past midnight. (Not my normal school night.)

I woke up only a few hours later early Wednesday morning sick….of course! Of all the days and weeks I could get sick, it had to be after having a week off from school. I had the plan to get to school super early this morning (Thursday) because I wanted to get caught up from yesterday, but guess what!? We were in the middle of another snow storm again! Even though I left early, I still made it to school around the same time because the roads were so bad.

The morning was going so smoothly until at about 10:30 I got the email. The email informed us that we would be getting out at noon because it was so bad outside. They made the announcement to the school a few minutes later and I pretty much lost control of my class. At noon, instead of staying later to work, I had to leave with my kiddos because the roads were SO bad they were encouraging all staff members to leave as soon as possible as well.

As soon as I got home I got an email saying that we are already 2 hours late tomorrow morning because the snow isn’t supposed to let up until early tomorrow morning, which means that tomorrow is going to be a wash of a day too.

I JUST WANT TO TEACH!!!! I have NEVER experienced anything like this before! When I was in school, the most consecutive days we ever had off was 2! Some years, we never had a snow day. My mom has been teaching for over 25 years and she cannot believe what has been happening. This is killing me.

I feel like I am letting my kids down, which yes I know is dumb since I have no control over the weather, but they will be so behind! Next week WILL be a full week and a better week! I’m just looking at the last 2 weeks as an extended vacation and going to move forward! Ugh, oh Minnesota!

 

For more day to day in the moment activities and projects, go follow my instagram account and watch my stories on: @lifeoftherookieteacher 

Snow Day Valentine’s

You can’t make this stuff up but we had ANOTHER DAY OFF today from school! That makes 4 1/2 days off in a week, which NEVER happens! With the extra free time I figured I would use my time wisely and make my Valentine’s for my class.

The reason we didn’t have school today was because the roads were so icy they were too dangerous to drive on. I got pretty antsy shut up in my apartment so I waited until the roads cleared up a little bit and ventured out to the one and only Target.

I went back into their seasonal section and found some amazing Spritz Valentine’s party favors to create a fun little goodie bag for each student. The first thing I found was a pack of heart shaped putty packs with cute little goggly eyes. My kids are OBSESSED with putty and slime so I thought this was perfect!

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The second thing I purchased for them was this pack of eraser toppers. The package has a variety of different characters to choose from. The pack I bought had mermaids, hedgehogs, sloths, and dinosaurs. (You can also buy an all dinosaur pack which is also super cute!)
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The last thing I included were some Utz “x” and “o” shaped pretzels. I know Valentine’s Day is ALL about candy and sweets but with 23 students all bringing sweets for each other, they end up with plenty of candy by the time the day is over. I thought that pretzels would be a fun snack they could have that day or save for another time. (I also found that the fact they were “x” and “o” shaped was pretty adorable!)

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I wanted to attach a fun and cute card to my goodie bags but I also didn’t really want to make one. I looked on Teachers Pay Teachers and found these cute cards for my kids free on Erica Bohrer’s shop.

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I LOVE putting together little goodie bags for my kids so I had a blast making these today. It also felt good to do something productive today since I couldn’t go to school once again. I really miss my kids!

I have 2 super fun activities that I’ll be sharing with everyone next week that involves candy hearts, math, and creative writing to make for a fun and educational Valentine’s Day morning.

Signing off once again from the frozen tundra that is Minnesota! I am keeping every finger and toe crossed that we will have a full next 4 days of school!

For more fun activities and day to day life, go follow my instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher to see all of my daily stories and posts!

 

Thanks Minnesota

Oh my goodness last week was a whirlwind!

Like I said in my last post, it was SO COLD here in Minnesota that we had 2 cold days off on Tuesday and Wednesday. To make it even better, we had ANOTHER cold day on Thursday. That made 3 DAYS OFF because it was too cold to go outside! I also mentioned that last Monday, we had a late start because there was a snowstorm the night before and the roads were too bad right away in the morning to make it safely to school.

So once Friday morning came around, we had only been to school for half of a day. To make it even better, we had a scheduled early release scheduled Friday afternoon for self development. That meant that by the time my students left Friday afternoon, I had seen them for a total of 1 school day….I basically lost an entire week of school.

On the bright side, because we had no school, I didn’t have to make any new lesson plans because I just get to use exactly what I had planned to do last week. The down side is that I’ve been behind my colleagues by almost 2 weeks in both math and reading (and probably a month behind in science) and last week was my week to catch up while they used the week to review. We’re now jumping into this week and they’re moving forward skipping review so I’m pretty sure I’ll be 3 weeks behind. Go me!

It’ll all work out I just get paranoid being the new teacher in my grade level (and school) and not being on track with my team at all!

On a complete separate note, because of the cold, all sports were cancelled and rescheduled last week so my gymnastics schedule is going to be INSANE this week! We had 2 meets scheduled last week (Tuesday and Thursday) that we couldn’t have because we didn’t have school so we had a make up meet Friday, and now this week, we have a meet scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I love coaching and meets are a blast, but most nights I don’t get home until at least past 10 (when I usually get to bed by 8 on a school night…..) and then have to be up the next morning at 6. It’s exhausting to have 1 meet in a week but 3….it’s going to be rough! Thanks Minnesota!

My plan for this week is to get caught up as much as I can in reading, math, and science while also starting to plan our Valentine’s Day party/activities. Things were so messed up last week that I honestly can’t wrap my head around the fact that Valentine’s Day is next week. I’m usually more planned and on top of school things like this but this one totally through me off! I’m just going to make it day by day and keep my eyes on Saturday morning when I’ll get to sleep again!

Blogging from the Tundra

Oh my goodness. If you haven’t heard, the midwest is currently experiencing record breaking temperatures and Minnesota is in the heart of that cold and wind. I mean, yes I know the stigma about Minnesota, “it’s always cold there.” In reality it’s not that bad! Yes, from mid November to about March the temperature can literally range from -10 degrees to 50 but in the spring and summer our temperatures can range from 50 degrees to over 100. We’re used to living in colder temps this time of the year but it is SO cold that the weathermen have commented on how they don’t have a color on their maps to represent how cold it will be.

Today’s high HIGH was -10 degrees and the low was -23 degrees (these don’t include the windchill…with windchill it felt like -40 degrees.) Tomorrow the high is -14 degrees and the low is supposed to be -31 degrees. WITH WINDCHILL IT’S SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE -60 DEGREES PEOPLE!! THS IS NOT A DRILL!!

The entire state is under a windchill warning which means that you can get frostbite in under 5-10 minutes. It is SO cold that yesterday at about 1:30 in the afternoon, my entire district got an email saying that they were going to close school for today and tomorrow. That’s right, we had a literal “cold” day today and a “cold” day tomorrow! It’s so dangerous to be out in this weather most districts completely cancelled EVERYTHING for these 2 days to keep people indoors. It takes a lot to close schools because of the cold in Minnesota, especially in January when negative temps are normal, but that’s just how frigid it is!

My day today was so nice and relaxing (for the most part)! I woke up and got to lay on the couch snuggled in my blanket with my cat drinking coffee and watching New Girl. I lounged around for awhile and then ventured out into the tundra to head to the bank and to Target.

(Side story: Yesterday I used my debit card at a local restaurant and it was declined, which made no sense but I let it slide. I went online this morning to order Girl Scout Cookies from one of my students and used the same card and it was denied again! I then called my card issuers and found out that my card number was stolen and had been used to make fraudulent chargers in Ohio. I had to venture into the cold to go sign papers at my bank saying it wasn’t me. So that was fun.)

After I took care of my little issue and got some groceries, I headed back to hunker down in my apartment! I spent the rest of the day bundled up on the couch getting caught up on different shows I haven’t watched in awhile, doing some yoga, and cleaning parts of my apartment I haven’t touched in some time. My plan is to finish the night off with some wine and a few romantic comedies I have been meaning to get to.

I’m ready for cold day number 2!

 

Persuasive Writing and DONUTS?!

Ahhhh okay so today we did the best persuasive writing project EVER!!! I got this amazing product from the TPT store The Knitted Apple. Oh my goodness this was so fun and really encouraged my kiddos to put forth their best writing skills!

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This was a 2 day project that we spent an hour on day 1 and a couple hours on day 2.

Day 1:

We did an introduction on what it means to be persuasive. We talked about how advertisements and commercials try to persuade us all the time. We watched a series of commercials and discussed the different strategies they used. We then got into groups and created our own “commercial” to the class to promote a donate that is included in the resource that you can buy. There is a page of 9 different donuts. Each group picks one and has 1 minute to persuade the class why their donut is the best.

Once they finished (and they had so much fun presenting their donuts) I introduced the writing project. They had to create their own donut and then write a persuasive paragraph convincing a store owner why they should sell their donut in their store. We started with a planning stage.

They drew a sketch of what their donut would look like and then come up with 3 reasons on why their donut is the best. They also had to include labels on their sketch of different things that are added to their special donut. When they completed, they turned it into me and I went through and edited them all to make sure they had full sentences and were on the right track.

Day 2:

Today they started their final writing piece. They took their planning pages and used them to create a final paragraph. They added more detail to their final writings to make them more persuading and creative.

The final part of this project was them creating their final donut drawing. They were so cute and had so much fun!! They got to design their final product and then combined their writing with their pictures to post in the hall.

I told them that I will have a super secret surprised judge to pick the top 3 donuts and those 3 kiddos will get a special prize (I haven’t decided quite yet what that will be.) I also told them that as long as they worked hard, I’d bring them donuts as a class treat. (Bribery always seems to work!)

Overall, this was such a fun project and I highly recommend it!!