Monday Made It: June 30th

I finished up a set of fall placemats for my dining room table. Really love the leaf prints, and now I'm ready when it's time to put away my summery ones! Of course, most of the time the placemats are on the back of a chair and various school projects are spread out on the table :)


I completed a major upgrade of one of my first TpT products! It has been posted in my store, and on Wednesday I will be giving away a copy on my blog. This turned out to be a major project once school was out; I am so glad to have it done.

My other home project was to cut down all the bushes next to my house. It took me about 2 hours with a reciprocating saw, but I got them! Doesn't it look beautiful!?

Phase two will have to wait until we are back from our trip. All the roots have to be dug out and the mess cleaned up. Then the fun starts -- making it pretty!

If you have a Donors Choose project, join this linky! Click the pic to read all about it.


Fiction Friday: June 27th

Again this week I did a lot of reading. I'm really enjoying using the Goodreads app to keep track of my books, since usually by the end of summer I forget a lot of what I read :)

I finished Wonder by R.J. Palacio on Sunday. It was a book I had never heard of until someone wrote about it online. If you click the amazon link you can read a fuller description. It is the story of Auggie, a 5th grader who starts school for the first time. Up to this point he has been home-schooled because he was born with an extreme facial difference. Definitely made me cry a couple times! I enjoyed reading the story, but it's a bit above my 3rd graders so don't plan to read it to them. I would say for 5th grade and up. It's thought-provoking and could lead to a lot of interesting discussions about empathy, compassion, and kindness, as well as bullying.

Amanda's post last week reminded me that I had always meant to read The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo so I picked that up at the library this week. I love the language the author uses in this fairy tale story of light vs. darkness! The hero, Despereaux, is a tiny mouse with big ears who does not fit into the accepted mold of the mouse kingdom. If you've missed this story I don't want to give it away - you can click the link to read more about it!

When I saw King of the Mound: My Summer With Satchel Paige by Wes Tooke on the new Sunshine State Young Readers Award list, I knew I'd be getting it ASAP. Not because it's SSYRA, but because I'm a huge baseball fan! I ordered it right away, and read it before we were out of school. Fortunately it did not disappoint. It is a work of historical fiction, set in the time of segregation when black ballplayers mostly had to play in the Negro League. In the story, young Nick has just been released from the hospital after a bout of polio. His father is a catcher for a semi-pro team, and the team owner has just hired the best pitcher in all of baseball, Satchel Paige, to come pitch for his (white) team. Nick himself had been an outstanding pitcher in youth league but doesn't know if he will ever be able to play again. I am definitely planning to use this one in my classroom this year, perhaps during black history month. It has a great lesson about not giving up, working hard, and being determined.

Every year I have a bunch of third graders who are crazy about this series by Jeff Kinney. I had never read any,though I have seen the movie! I decided it would be a good idea to at least read the first one so I'd know what they are talking about :) It was a quick read, which is probably some of the appeal for some readers. I'm all for getting kids to read, so this book definitely has a place in the classroom. I picked up a copy of several of the books to put in my classroom library; I expect they will get a lot of use. Personally, reading one was plenty for me -- I'm glad I did, but I don't love it!

And now for a commercial: If you have a donors choose project going, please link up to publicize and hopefully get some support for it! Just click the picture to go the linky blog post:


How About A Free Product? A Win-Win Challenge

Are you using Donor's Choose to help supply your classroom? Over the last few years I have submitted and had funded four projects. I finally wrote up a new project and had it approved this week. I am asking for four Dragon tablets, plus cases, to help with our BYOD classroom!


As I was out on my morning run I was thinking about how I could promote my project. Until July 1st donations will be matched if using the code INSPIRE, so if lots of people would donate my project could be funded very quickly! But how do I encourage donations? Of course I posted to my personal home page, and to the Math is Elementary fan page, but then I started thinking about my blog. I recently topped 400 followers; if less than half my followers would donate just $1 before July 1st and use the code, my project would be fully funded :)

SO . . . here is my challenge to you. A $1 donation with the match code INSPIRE by July 1st will earn you my "We Love Candy Bar Fractions" product for free. I just revamped it, going from 16 pages to 38 pages, and the price is now $5.00. (See it in my store here) Good deal, right?!

In addition, I want to help support other teacher's Donors Choose projects, so I'm going to start this linky and leave it open until August 8th. Please link up your own project. The only rule is that you must make a donation to at least one other project in the linky (any amount!). I am going to give away my June TeachersPayTeachers earnings to support as many as possible.

Wouldn't it be awesome if we all went back to school with a classroom project fully funded? If you don't currently have a project, there is plenty of time to get one approved and link it up.



Rounding Numbers Is So Hard! (Freebie Alert)

At least that is what a lot of my 3rd graders think. I had a few students who worked and worked on this concept last year and never did understand what to do. I'm already planning for the coming year, and this is one of the first standards we cover so I put together these in the hope it will help the ones who struggle with this.

I am not planning to make a class set, but will make enough for shoulder partners to share and introduce them in a whole group setting. I envision these being used for the most part in small group work by the students who struggle with rounding.

There are two parts to the visual; print as many copies of the background page as needed. The number lines have five on a page. Laminate, and attach a number line to the top of the background page with a small brad (I used a seam ripper to make small holes to get the brad through). 

For this example we are rounding to the nearest 10. Students use a dry erase marker to write the numbers on the end pieces, the mid point on the number line, and a dot to show where the number would be. The number line is then tilted toward the number -- so in this example, we round to 540.

In this one we are rounding to the nearest hundred. Students, of course, may need to write more of the numbers on the number line to really understand what is being shown.

If you think this might be helpful for your students, click here to download it.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Monday Made It: June 23rd

Linking up again with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for another edition of Monday Made It! I worked on a number of things this past week, but not everything got done. Here are some things I did accomplish:

I put together these place value visuals to help my kids with our first math unit. So many of my students coming into 3rd do not have a solid grasp of place value and how to use it to round numbers. These are based on an activity from CPalms, but I wanted the tools ready to go rather than a craftivity. I'm writing a blog post about how to use these, so if you are a follower you will be able to download a freebie this week.

One of the home projects I wanted to get done this month  is to put water seal on our steps. I know you can't tell, but it was great to get that done, finally!

Last fall I made a great Halloween wall hanging for my living room. I was wishing I had one for my classroom, and when I saw this panel I knew it would be perfect. I am a huge Charlie Brown fan, so what could be better than The Great Pumpkin?! The amazing thing is that it is finished well before Halloween :)

Only one more Monday before I leave for my Alaskan cruise, so the pressure is on to complete some more projects! 


Fiction Friday: June 20th

I so love the Fiction Friday linky! I was worried this year that Amanda at The Teaching Thief might not host, but never fear: SHE'S BACK! And just in time, because I've been reading a lot this week as I preview books for the coming year. In no particular order, here is what I have been reading:

A number of students come into my third grade classroom reading below grade level, so I have been looking for some new books that might capture their interest. Roscoe Riley Rules #1: Never Glue Your Friends To Chairs is an engaging story of young Roscoe, a first grader, who sometimes Makes Bad Choices! It's written by Katherine Applegate (author of The One and Only Ivan"). With short chapters and a funny story I think it will make a good entry level book for some students. Roscoe just wants to save his teacher's job by making sure the kids do a great job at their Open House performance. Mix in some head bobbles, drumming sticks, and a tube of don't-you-dare glue and Roscoe has a stupendous plan! Scholastic's Book Wizard says this has a 2.9 GLE.

Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper is one of the books I'm currently reading and loving, although I have to take breaks from it to read something lighter. I think it is particularly resonating with me because I just saw the movie 12 Years A Slave. Draper wrote another favorite book of mine, Out of My Mind, which I read to my class a couple years ago. Copper Sun tells the story of 15-year-old Amari, who is kidnapped from her African village after seeing her family massacred and is taken to America as part of the slave trade. She is purchased as a "gift" for a plantation owner's son's 16th birthday. Not a book that will go into my classroom library due to the subject matter, but this is a great upper middle / high school book. While the story is mostly about Amari, it intersperses the story of Polly who is a white indentured servant on the plantation. I have to admit, this book has been sitting in my "to read" basket for about 3 years. Now that I'm deeply into the story I wish I'd read it long ago!

One of my PD classes last summer was called "Chocolate Economics" and I received an entire curriculum for teaching economics standards. This book is listed in there, with some lessons to use, so I decided I should read it. My students LOVED the lessons this spring, so if there is a book I could use to extend the topic I'd like to use it next year. The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling is a retelling of the story of King Midas and the Golden Touch. John Midas is a boy obsessed with chocolate, but is it possible to have too much of a good thing? His parents want him to eat healthy foods but it takes something radical to change his tastes! There is definitely a character lesson, about greed and selfishness, but the story is told with a lot of humor; I think it will make a good read-aloud this year. The book was available this spring for just $1 in the Scholastic book clubs, so I grabbed a couple copies.

Here in Florida this is one of our new Sunshine State Young Reader Award books for 201402015. Now, you need to know that I do NOT like reality shows for the most part. I have never watched an episode of Survivor, so when I saw Stranded by Jeff Probst I was not expecting the best! However, I was able to pick up a copy for free so I decided to start reading it aloud to my class at the end of the school year. With 18 chapters, I told them we would not be able to finish the book before school ended, but if they enjoyed it they should check out the book during the summer and finish it. Much to my surprise my whole class was totally engaged in the story of four children who become shipwrecked alone on an island in the middle of the Pacific. My boys were especially interested in the story (always looking for books that the boys like!), and as we got to the last week of school they begged me to try and finish the story. We finished it on the last day of school! This is not great literature, but may get students into other books - it is the first in a series of at least 3 books and ends with the kids still stranded.

Looking forward to getting some new book ideas from the linky! What do you recommend?

Product Update: Place Value at the Beach

When I opened my TpT store my "forever freebie" was this set of memory games on three levels. Of course, back then I was creating in MS Word (seems like so long ago), so it was time to redo the product in ppt and give it a fresher look.

The numbers are the same, so if you have this one a download will just give you the somewhat different look. If you don't have it, remember it will always be free in my store here.


Monday Made It: June 16th

Monday again already?! Starting my second week of summer today (pause and mourn the week already gone). Actually, I love Mondays in the summer because of the Monday Made It linky!

My first home project; a little hard to tell the magnitude from the picture :) Every year I clean my kitchen during my first week off; this year I didn't get to it until Thursday thanks to a couple PD days. After the annual moving of the refrigerator (the horror!), lots of cleaning and rearranging, I decided to tackle under my sink. I had a couple rolls of the blue shelf liner kicking around so decided to line the whole thing and turn the chaos into order. Now to pick up a new trash can!

                                        Before                                             After

My school project -- another updated product from the early days of blogging! This is my forever free item; first thing to go in my TpT store, and like all those early projects I wanted to redo in ppt and make it a little more attractive and easier to use. Cocoa Beach is about an hour away, so decided to use a photo for my new cover.

Another school project -- one I actually started last summer and never finished! I cut paper and had it laminated last August and there they sat . . . all year long. This week I finally put together my equation mats so I can actually use them with my students. This is an activity from the AIMS website; click here to read the directions. Students use dry erase markers to write on the boxes (and put on dots to turn the operations sign into a division sign!).

I have to cheat a little and give an update on last week's herb garden. It was so exciting to see plants coming up this week! The thyme and basil sprouted in three days.

What did you make this week?

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