Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Picture Stories

After we finished learning how to write a descriptive paragraph about a picture, I wanted to teach them how to write a story from a picture.

So I whipped up an organizer, found some cool pictures and off we were!

I found an interesting picture that I thought we could get a great story from.

We first started by describing the picture and taking notes like we did for our descriptions.

Then we moved onto deciding characters, if they were good or bad, and some of their character traits.

After that, we tried to come up with a problem and solution based on the picture we were using.

The first one, we did together. I pulled up the picture, and had the kids tell me what to put in the organizer.

We talked about different ways we could like into our stories-what could make it more interesting to 'hook' the reader.

I showed them how to use the organizer we created to help form our story.

They got a new picture to do (and we took notes together) and off they went!

I tried to pick a picture that they could easily relate to a create a story from-making it a little easier on them!
Frame by Lovin' Lit, Kimberly Geswin Fonts, Clipart by Melonheadz Illustrating
Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Biographies

Happy Wednesday! Only 2 days until April Vacation!
Today's topic is all about biographies.

My kids LOVE to read biographies-and I have a bin stacked full for them!

We also spend some time doing biographies!

I have them research an explorer (as part of our explorer unit-in collaboration with the librarian) and then they have to create a PowerPoint on their person!

I give them a list of criteria, for what they need to know as well as how to present it, they create a PowerPoint, and then they present it to their classmates!

They always do a great's a peek!

Now, to get through the next 2 days...

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, April 14, 2014

... and Erosion

After teaching weathering and erosion 5 times in the past two years, I realized that what I was doing wasn't really working for me.

I was using the experiments that the previous teacher showed me, which had us observing erosion over three days and recording our results.

This experiment was teacher-heavy. I was responsible for 'changing' the erosion each day, as well as rushing through each day to make sure the kids had enough time to record their observations and thinking.

Plus, I got kind of bored and the kids didn't really seem to 'get it'.

So I decided to shake things up :)

This time, I made them responsible for the erosion. I had them working in teams of 3, and they had to change the soil by pouring water, blowing on it (wind) or flattening it with our glacier (a small cup).

They loved it! (and so did I!)

It did take us two days to finish, and I might rearrange the order they complete the 'erosion' next year.

First, what they all looked like at the beginning.

We started out with water erosion on day 1.

Then we moved to wind (which I might move to a separate day-it got a little messy-rough winds! ;)

The next day, we focused on glacier erosion
and completed our packets :)
For each day, the students had to make a prediction about what they thought would happen (and explain why), record their observations in picture and written form, and then say if their prediction was right or wrong and why.

After all that, they had to answer questions about the experiment. I also had them give their opinion on which they thought changed the soil the most and why.

We discussed what they noticed about the differences of each type of erosion, and what it should look like (just in case they were unsuccessful!) Some really cool thinking going on!

Plus, they did much better at understanding the difference between the two on the test!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, April 11, 2014


After teaching weathering and erosion 5 times in the past two years, I wanted to make some changes to the lab experiments we were doing.

The erosion experiment definitely wasn't working for me (a post about that later!), and the kids weren't really getting weathering-we didn't have any experiments for that one!

So I decided to make my own!

After trolling the internet and Pinterest, I decided to use candy to help show weathering, and water and vinegar to show the difference between physical weathering and chemical weathering.

I divided the students into pairs, and I gave each of them a pie plate with two pieces of candy on it. They also got an eye dropper, a cup of water and a container of vinegar.

I gave out the directions and they went to work!

They thought it was so cool!

I had them recording what they were doing in picture and written form while they did it. I loved hearing the conversations that were going on when they were working!

On the back, I had a series of questions they needed to answer.

When they finished, we discussed the lab, how the weathering changed the candy, as well as them seeing the start of erosion when the liquid and sediment moved away from the candy.

Then we drew a diagram of the weathering and erosion process. I started out by drawing a big rock, and then asking them the different types of weathering that could happen.

They talked me through the process, and I drew examples of what they said. They also drew what I drew-so they have their own mini diagram!

This experiment and diagram worked really well-they did decent on the test as well!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Science in Reading

Happy Wednesday!

Time for:

This week's topic is incorporating science into our reading.

Our reading series actually has every other unit be a science topic (switching off with social studies), and the science selections are really interesting! (I like them waaaay more than the SS-which is saying something-because I love SS!)

I also love to have the students practice with non-fiction articles-which tend towards science when I pick them!

My favorite resource is Nat Geo Explorer (Pathfinder) -which allows you to project the issues on the SMART Board.

I love using these, because you can work with them for a multitude of days, covering many different kinds of skills. They also have suggestions about what to focus on for each article (on the article cover page), but they are so well written and informative that we work with them over a period of days.

This is the one we are currently working with-I like to 'surprise' the kids by pulling up the article color (and I love their reactions!)

We've practiced asking questions and visualizing, and we will work on determining importance, main idea/details and nonfiction text structures. So fun!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Made It

Time for Monday Made It!
I made some yummy blondies with chocolate chips (they were supposed to be toasted pecans-but this girls doesn't do nuts-so I substituted!)

And apple crumble bars (they're good, but I don't know if I would make it again...)

I also made a new storage center! (meaning I bought the kit and built it :)

The drawers hold WIPs (works in progress) that I do in between projects.

Then four 'boxes' for yarn-color-coded! (and no, that's not all I have~I have a big wicker basket and 3 more 'boxes' upstairs...)

Then my crochet books and hooks and my glasses from special college events!

I'll eventually add a lamp on top-that corner is dark! I also need to get a plate holder for the decorate plate I made 5 years ago!

Lastly, I'm working on another blanket. It will eventually fade to white-sort of an ocean ombre!
without flash

with flash
Only 9 days left until April Break! (and it can't come quick enough!)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday Throwdown: Sea Journeys

Yay Thursday!

Boy am I glad that this week is almost over! It has been a mess, and I am ready for the weekend!
Now, I know I've talked about our really cool sea explorer project before (here) (and mentioned in other places :).

But I just wanted to show you have much the kids love it (and how creative they can be!)

Quick summary: Students are divided into groups. They need to sail from Japan to Australia (which is conveniently located on the other side of the world) dodging storms, ice burgs, whirlpools and sea monsters.

Every day, they write in their ship's logs (and take turns being captain/first mate) to earn moving forward points. But they have to be careful, because the High Empress, Goddess of the Sea (me :), could decided to throw them a curve ball-known as a travel card. Cards can be good or bad (and usually come out when the entries haven't been up to snuff). They must work together to record their journeys to reach their destination.

They love this! They told me the other day that they missed doing it and how much fun it was.

Here are some of my favorite entries:

Now, these next ones are some of my favorite-her partners were absent for a few days, so she wrote  very creative entries about here missing partners.

I loved seeing their entries every day!

Smiles and Sunshine,