Sunday, October 16, 2022

Using Halloween Dollar Store Finds in Math

Looking for some fun ways to use all those dollar store Halloween props you've accumulated in your Math and Literacy blocks? Here's a few ways you can use your cheap finds at school. 

Halloween Pencil Toppers
I picked up these cute pencil toppers as a Halloween treat for my class but soon got other ideas for them!
Grade 2-3 Halloween Maths
When working on direction in Math and HASS, we used the toppers as our 'person' to move along the grid. When learning 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 turns, I always find there are a few students who will try and move spaces when turning, instead of staying in the grid space they are in. Using the pencil toppers help because we practice turning the topper in the space and we can see the new direction it is facing before following the next direction. For younger kids, they can use the toppers to learn left and right when giving and following directions. Grab this math activity from my store here

You can use the same pencil toppers as pawns for board games to add a little extra fun! You can grab this short and long /oo/ activity pack and board game from my store here
Halloween Short and Long oo game

Free Halloween Math
Halloween Buckets I use candy buckets to hold math centers. I also bought mini-candy buckets and use them for sorting activities. Here is one I made for ICP students working on addition and subtraction facts. I wrote facts on craft sticks and the wrote the sums/differences on the back of the heads and pumpkins. The students sort the sticks into the mini tubs. This same idea could be used for parts of speech, multiplication and division facts etc. You can grab this free recording sheet here if you'd like to make up this activity for yourself. 
Free Halloween Math

Spooky Fingers
When I taught in Grades 1-2, I used these spooky fingers to track our reading!
I might bring them out again this year with my Grade 4's just for a bit of fun! Also, Nick Bland was hands down our favorite author in Grade 1! The orange tub was bought from Woolworths (I think) in a pack of 3. 
Using Halloween Fingers to track readingUsing Halloween Fingers to track reading

So there you go, some quick and easy ways to bring some Halloween fun into your classroom! Let me know in the comments your ideas!

Saturday, September 10, 2022

First Day Back to School Get to Know You Activity and Art Silhouette

Do you  have a go-to back to school art activity that you love so much you do it year after year? Silhouettes is that activity for me! In fact, I actually start the silhouette on Step Up Day so that I already have work up on display in the hall on the first day of school!
First Day Back to School Get to Know You Activity and Art Silhouette
**On the inside of our classroom, these same pieces of colored paper show each students WOW work! 

If you don't know what Step Up Day is, it's a day when you meet your next year's class. During the last week of the school year, we get to spend the day getting to know and having fun with our new class for the following year. It's a great time to break the ice, do some fun activities and set expectations and tone for the following year. Each year, one of the activities I love to do is the silhouette. 

We first play a game outside where I ask them true or false questions about me. They line up at a line on the handball court and I ask them questions about me. If they think the question is true, they take a step forward. If they think it's false, they stay where they are. If they were correct, they stay where they are and if they were wrong they have to go all the way back to the starting line! It's an easy, fun game to play for the kids to get to know me a little better! 

After this, I explain that I want to know more about them and introduce the silhouette. To make this much easier, I use a generic head silhouette I found on the internet instead of tracing around each child's head individually. This saves time as all kids can get started straight away. Here's how some have turned out! I model for them how to draw and label inside the shape that I love and care about. 

Check out how some of this year's turned out!

First Day Back to School Get to Know You Activity and Art Silhouette
    First Day Back to School Get to Know You Activity and Art Silhouette
First Day Back to School Get to Know You Activity and Art SilhouetteFirst Day Back to School Get to Know You Activity and Art Silhouette

What is your go-to back to school activity? I'd love to hear and get some new ideas!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Weathering and Erosion Books and Freebie

My Grade 4s are now half-way through our Weathering and Erosion Science Unit and we are digging into many non-fiction books to help us learn the knowledge we'll need to apply to different scenarios in our assessment. 

Here are some of the books we have been loving, both for teaching (short snippets) and own choice reading. 

Books for Science Unit on Rocks, Weathering and Erosion
Books for Science Unit on Weathering and Erosion

When choosing books, I always try to make sure that there are books for all students in my class: 

  • reading level below, at and above the typical reading age for my class. 
  • text size - some with a larger type and less words on each page 
  • narrative stories that hide lots of real facts in the story 
  • books that cover a range of topics under our overall theme 
I always cover my books with clear contact and label them so that they can always be put back in the right book tub. 

If you are wanting to set up a Rock Observation Station to accompany your books check out my What Type of Rock Is It freebie here. You can also read my 9 Fun Ways to Teach Weathering and Erosion at this blog post. 

Photo of Rock Observation Station for Weathering and Erosion Science Unit

Rock Observation Station Freebie

Thursday, August 11, 2022

9 Fun Activities to Teach Weathering and Erosion

It took me by surprise my first year of teaching Year 4 when I saw how engaged and into rocks my class was when learning about weathering and erosion. And year after year, it holds true that this is their favourite science unit! It's also my favourite to teach. I get excited every year when we do this unit. I've also been known to collect and carry rocks back from long and difficult hikes just because I thought the kids would love them!

So here are a 10 quick and easy activities you can implement tomorrow during your rocks, weathering and erosion science unit. 

1. Get Outside 

Walk around the school ask and students to look for signs of weathering and erosion. Identify the causes of the rocks breaking down and the agents of erosion that moved the sediments to a new location. This is a great activity to identify REAL examples and to reinforce appropriate vocabulary to talk about these changes to the Earth’s surface.

Use iPad to take photos of Weathering and Erosion

Tip: Students can take photos to annotate and record the signs and possible causes of erosion on their iPad’s as they are walking around.

 2. Create an Observation Station

Kids love looking at rocks! Ask them to bring in rocks from home and collect interesting rocks yourself. You can also purchase small gem kits from Scholastic. Put the rocks on display with some magnifying glasses and bowls to sort by observable characteristics and your only problem will be keeping the kids away!

Observation Station for Weathering and Erosion

3. Get Hands-On

Weathering Experiments
Let the kids see weathering and erosion in action by doing hands-on activities that investigate chemical and physical weathering with simple materials like sugar cubes, sandpaper and a little vinegar!

To investigate erosion, I take the kids to the sandpit and make some sandcastles! We conduct fair tests to see the effect different amounts of water has on the sandcastles. Later we test and demonstrate how different erosion prevention strategies, such as planting trees and plants, work on the sandcastles under the same conditions. 

4. Explore Online

Use Google Earth to look at landforms from around the world such as Wave Rock in Western Australia, the Hoodoos in Bruce Canyon or Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. The kids could explore Google Earth all day if I let them!


5. Anchor Learning

Create a chart together that shows the Weathering, Erosion and Deposition process. Students love drawing this one found all over google in their Science Journals.

Weathering Erosion Anchor Chart

6. Read Books

Put a range of good quality books at a range of reading levels with your rock sorting or Observation Station and have them available as free choice reading.

 Weathering Erosion Books7. Case Study

Repurpose the earlier photos from around the school later in the unit to apply  erosion prevention strategies.

Students can use apps like Explain Basics or SeeSaw to draw, annotate and record the strategies they would use to fix and prevent further erosion in an area.

8. Review Key Vocabulary

Who doesn’t love a good word search or cross word? Cross Words are great in helping kids remember definitions of key words that you need them to know and use!

9. Watch a Video

Magic School Bus “Rocks and Rolls” anyone? Also check out some good videos by Crash Course Kids on YouTube like Weathering and Erosion and The Grand CanyonMake Your Own Erosion is another good one (do the investigation too!). You can also find before and afters of natural landforms such as the 12 Apostles in Victoria, Australia. Scrat’sContinental Crack Up is a fun video to watch when introducing the topic at the start of the unit. 

So that's it! 9 easy but fun weathering and erosion activities to add next time you do this unit. What are your fun ideas? Share them in the comments!

9 Fun Ways to Teach Weathering and Erosion

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Back to School - Tips for a Great Day!

The first day of school can be full of emotions... nervousness, excitement, exhaustion.... a little disappointment that the holidays are over maybe?! And this is just our feelings as teachers... imagine what the kids in our care must be feeling if they are just starting school, moving to a new school or feel intimated by all the newness of their surroundings. 

During these first few hours of our year together I try to put aside the laminator and pretty borders to focus on making my kids feel at home and start creating that all important classroom community. 

Here's what I do before and during the first day to get this started. 

Set the scene for the first day
As a parent myself, it goes without saying that I expect my son's classrooms to be tidy on that first day. I personally don't think it gives a good impression when there's piles of paper everywhere, resources messily shoved into shelves, piles almost tottering over etc. No, I don't expect the room to be Pinterest perfect, but it always gives a good impression when things are tidy.

I do make sure that aaallll the things are labelled pretty early on though. Even when I taught Firsties, they all knew where everything went AND where to return them, saving me time and teaching them to be responsible for our classroom supplies. 

At my school we have a stationery drop-off day the week before school starts. This is a wonderful idea - not only do parents and students learn where their classroom is, they also get to meet me and this makes the first day of school so much easier. There's less supplies to organise and parents aren't as anxious dropping their kids off. Even in Grade 1, parents feel comfortable walking their kids in, giving their child a kiss and cuddle and leaving without hanging around, making the morning much less stressful for them and their child. 

The stationery drop off day also has an added benefit - I can put the parents and kids to work! I display a PowerPoint with instructions on how to organise all that stationery! This saves me so much time! I usually chat with the parents while their child reads and follows the instructions - or not, which is also very telling! And don't you hate it when NOTHING is labelled - I have plenty of markers ready for mum or dad to label their children's supplies :)

You can show you're organised by having labelled tubs ready for the stationery to be placed into and spread out throughout the room so the kids get to look around the room while they sorting!

It is also a good idea to have clipboards ready with volunteer sign-on sheets, contact details etc. to save you time later.

Activities on the first day

My favourite thing to do on the first day of school is play an 'All about my teacher' game. I take the kids outside and line them up along a line in our undercover area. I have 20 or so true or false facts ready to go. I read each statement and if the student thinks it's true they take a step forward. If they are correct, they stay there. If the answer is actually false and they have stepped forward then they have to go back to the starting line. If they didn't move (so they thought the answer was false), they stay where they are. It's a lot of fun, and you can see the kids trying to work out whether the statement sounds like their teacher! My kids are always surprised to find out I love jumping in mud pits and carrying heavy loads up hills on my weekends (I love obstacle course races)! It sets a good tone for the rest of the day and you'll be able to share lots of things about yourself so the kids can get to know you.

Another thing I like to do is team challenges. Here are some tried and tested games I love from Funky in Fourth this year: can read the post with more instructions and photos about these challenges on the iTeach Fourth blog.  

Every year we Help Harry with this design challenge from The Teacher Studio. My school is starting STEM this year, so I'm hoping this will be a great introduction to engineering challenges. Meg also has a pack of STEM challenges in her TpT store.

What's your favourite activity to do during the first few days of school?