Halloween Word Problems - Freebie!

I wanted something seasonal to go into my math stations so took some word problems I had written previously, combined them with cute clip art from Creative Clips, and made 12 problem cards for my students. These are basic problems, since we are in our first unit of multiplication and division.

Because my kiddos love to use their devices, I made a QR code with all the answers for self-checking! If they don't have their own device we have some in our classroom they can borrow. It's wonderful that adding a code gets them more interested in doing the work!

If you would like a copy of the Halloween problems, just click the  picture below.


Fiction Friday October 23

Thank goodness for Goodreads! When I decide to share what I've been reading I always have to go back to my books read list to find out! I'm always reading something, but I mix children's lit, YA, and adult lit. That means sometimes I have to go back a few weeks to find the books appropriate for this post. Anyway, here are three of my recent reads in no particular order.

Due to my love of The One And Only Ivan I had put Crenshaw on my to be read list as soon as I heard about it -- and then waited forever for it to actually be published! As with Ivan and Home of the Brave, Applegate is dealing with a very serious issue. She handles it without being preachy or getting to dark for children to appreciate the story. In this one, Jackson's family is struggling with their finances and are probably going to be living in their van -- again. His parents are musicians, but his Dad has MS and his mother lost her teaching job. When his Dad was diagnosed several years earlier, part of Jackson's coping was to have an imaginary friend - a very large cat named Crenshaw. In the midst of this new crisis, Crenshaw appears again. Jackson is 10 years old now and is very aware that Crenshaw is not real. This is a sweet story about family and friendship. I recommend it for 3rd and up, though I personally would hesitate to read it to my students. My school has a high population of homeless families and it could be uncomfortable for some. I have had students in the past who lived in a car with their family. 

I was interested in this story when I saw a blurb saying that readers who enjoyed The Fourteenth Goldfish should read this one. The theme of the two books is quite different, but Goldfish has some jellyfish information in it, so I understand the connection. Jellyfish is the story of Suzy trying to come to terms with the death the previous summer of her (former) best friend, who drowned at the beach. The fact that Franny was a very strong swimmer has made this death incomprehensible to Suzy. In her grief, she latches on to some information she learns about a particular deadly species of jellyfish, and she wants to prove that this is why Franny died. This is a middle school novel, and Suzy's struggles socially and emotionally may resonate with some of your readers. 

I saw The Honest Truth recommended on Goodreads and almost bypassed it as another "kid with cancer" story. I am glad I didn't; it was not an easy read, but I appreciated the perspective of the sick young man, Mark. You may not agree with his choice to run away to climb a mountain with his dog; I certainly didn't! However, I ended up rooting for him and for his friend Jessie who gives her perspective from back home and knowing where he went. The best character in the book is Beau, Mark's dog, who goes on the journey with him and is the true hero of the story. This is a debut novel, and I will be watching for what the author does next.

Happy Reading!


What's the Matter?

Last week was a lot of learning fun in our science class. We are working our way through our "Properties of Matter" unit and we had lots of hands-on activities to do.

We measured the mass of a variety of objects using our pan balances.

We measured the volume of solid objects using our graduated cylinders.

We measured the temperature of ice, warm and cool water, sand, and rice using thermometers.

And the most fun of all - in STEM class on Wednesday we worked with polymers and made individual bouncy balls!



My students had fun and seemed to be retaining the new learning through the week. I was a proud teacher after STEM when I asked if anyone knew what kind of engineers we were that day and a student said  "Chemical Engineers!" If you would like the directions for the balls, click here.


Time for Times

We have started our multiplication and division learning - our units stretch from the beginning of October to Thanksgiving. We got off to an enthusiastic start, thanks to Circles and Stars! This simple multiplication game was very well received by my students this year!
If you are not familiar with this activity, let me try to explain it. We play it in groups of two, with each group having two dice. I like to give them a white one and a colored one to start out just to help them keep how many groups and how many in each group straight in their minds.
One partner shakes the colored die and draws that many circles on the paper (the number of groups). The second shakes the white die and puts that many stars in each circle (objects in the group). Students don't have to draw actual stars if that's not easy for them -- they can use dots as shown or some other symbol.
After finishing their representation, they write the multiplication equation shown.

Students absolutely love playing this game, which fits very nicely when working on 3.OA.1.1 (Florida) / 3.OA.A.1 (CCSS). We began developing an anchor chart with strategies for multiplication and this was our first one - make equal groups. Referring to it as circles and stars seems to help my seriously struggling darlings understand what to do! Win!

We also read two books to help introduce us to multiplication.

The first book turns students' thinking toward skip counting with lots of real world examples.

The second book, while calling itself a counting book, is all about multiplication problems! This one has a lot of examples so we are doing a few pages at a time.

How do you introduce multiplication?


Fiction Friday October 9th

During the last two weeks I finished a sequel to a book I read during the summer. I enjoyed Nerd Camp very much so decided to grab Nerd Camp 2.0 when it became available as an ebook on Overdrive. Often the sequels don't appeal as much, but I really enjoyed this one. It is set the next summer, and this time both Gabe (hero of Nerd Camp) and his stepbrother Zack (the cool one) are going to summer camp. Much to their chagrin, Zack's camp is being held on the site of Gabe's due to a fire. This has the potential to destroy their relationship, as the two camps have a lot of trouble getting along. If you have read Nerd Camp I definitely recommend the sequel!

I read Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord a couple years ago, but had not read any of her other books. Rules is her debut novel, and I really liked the way she handled the family relationships in the book, which includes a brother with autism. The brother of one of my students this year is in one of our school's autism spectrum units and I'm thinking of adding this one to our classroom library. This description from Amazon sums up the book beautifully: 
Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public"---in order to head off David's embarrassing behaviors.
But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new sort-of friend, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?


STEM Again

After six weeks of school I have so far met my goal of STEM lessons on a weekly basis. I'm hearing my students come in on Wednesdays reminding each other "it's STEM day!" which I love! I blogged awhile ago about our first two challenges, Saving Fred and Cup Towers. Since then we have constructed Spaghetti Towers:

Explored building with K'Nex:

And simulated what it might be like to work for an engineering in an activity involving building the tallest freestanding tower with 15 fuzzy sticks:

Students are understanding the importance of the foundation when building a tower and the steps of the engineering process. I have one more tower activity that we will do closer to Halloween, and in the meantime we are moving into our Properties of Matter unit in science and will be planning STEM activities that go along with that.

Honestly, my dream job would be to be able to do STEM with kids all day long! How about you?

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