Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Catapults

One of the reasons I love teaching measurement is because it’s such a hands on unit.  Any time I can get my littles out of their seats and moving around I grab it – and measurement lends itself so well to that!

We’re still in the middle of our standardized testing, so there isn’t much time left outside of that to incorporate math lessons.  So when a few minutes popped up today, I grabbed them!  A couple days ago, working in teams, we assembled these cool little catapults (directions for assembling them are below).  




Today I brought them out and we had a little launching competition. What better way to grab the attention of a antsy-pants test taker than to tell them that we’re going to shoot things across the room! I had the kids gather things up that they wanted to launch, then each team got some time to practice using their catapult before the big event...  I had each team choose 5 items to compete with.  We shot them off, looking for the longest shot.  It was fun to see the kids weighing their options, thinking about their practices and comparing with each other before deciding what to pick. 

After each round, the kids used their rulers to measure the distance of their shots.  For the last round, we shook things up a bit and used tape measures - they LOVED having the flexible plastic measuring tapes and they loved the ease of figuring out the measurement.

Building a Catapult 
(this should only shoot things 3-6 feet)

Materials

9 thick popsicle sticks
7-8 rubber bands
1 water bottle cap
Items to launch - we used cap erasers, pom pons, plastic coins, etc.
  • Stack 7 popsicle sticks together.  Wrap the ends in a couple rubber bands to hold the stack together. 
  • Stack 2 popsicle sticks together.  Wrap one end in a couple rubber bands to hold them together.  Open the other end and insert the large stack in the middle.  Then using another rubber band, wrap the large bundle to the small – we criss crossed it in the middle to really hold it down. 
  • Finally hot glue the water bottle cap to the end of the catapult.  I did this to a bunch of popsicle sticks years ago and we just keep reusing these parts each year.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Must-Read Monday!

I stumbled upon this Linky this morning, hosted by Teaching Madness, and it made my heart go pitter pat.  It's no secret around school that I love reading - chapter books, picture books, magazines, blogs - you name it, and I'll read it.  So this was such a fun start to my day!  It got me thinking, and I could write an endless blog about this if I'm not careful!  But hopefully I'll be able to join up with these awesome ladies each week, so I'll get a chance to share everything I'm loving!


So even though I have an endless list, I'm just going to start with the books I've read in the past couple weeks.  I'm teaching measurement right now - a unit that I both love and hate.  I love it because it's such a hands on unit, and the kiddos get to be up moving around, hunting things down to measure.  I hate it because I don't think we have enough time to really dig into the chapter, and because our chapter incorporates all types of measurement - in both the metric system and Imperial measurement.  As it is, my littles have a hard time remembering whether you measure the length of a table in inches, pounds, or Fahrenheit degrees... then we throw in centimeters, kilos, and Celsius?  Sheesh - it's a lot of information!  Then add in that measurement always seems to come during our week of standardized testing - it's crazy!  So I try to add in a lot of read alouds to give them a brain break and also incorporate a little learning.  So here are the most recent books I've read... 

 How Big is a Foot?
 Although a little silly, my kids love shouting out the problem to the apprentice!
        
This is a fun one at our listening center.  I have a good project we do afterwards too!

I have multiple copies of this book (thank you book fair!).  I have them buddy read.
                  

We read this one today.  The kids loved comparing it to their own pets at home.  I even had one little one shout out, "Hey I'm going to try measuring Cooper!"  (Hopefully Cooper is a pet and not a baby brother?!?)

That's all I'm going to share for now, but let me know what you think!  Now that I know about this Linky, I can be more prepared next week!

Monday, April 21, 2014

#BostonStrong

Today is a day off from school for us - it's marathon day in the city!  I've gone into Boston for the marathon for as many years as I can remember, and when I moved to the city, I was lucky enough to live right on the route for a bunch of years. If you've never experienced the atmosphere for yourself, I can't really paint a vivid enough picture - I STRONGLY encourage you to come witness it yourself once.

Last year's marathon bombings were one of the scariest days I've ever had.  And the subsequent man hunt...  I was on maternity leave and spent the week watching coverage - I couldn't fathom why anyone would do something so horrible.  The manhunt was horrifying and scary - and the way the city shut down completely to hunt the guy out was remarkable.  As tragic and unimaginable as it all was, I am so proud to be from Boston - a place where we don't let someone "dictate our freedom" (as Big Papi said).  The first responders, medical teams, and victims have shown themselves to be such an inspiration.

Not that I expect ANY of the first responders, or victims will ever see this little blog - but I thank them all so much for protecting us, and showing us how big their brave is.


Monday, April 14, 2014

ANTonyms and a FREEBIE!


We’re working on antonyms this week, which I'm loving.  Somewhere in my travels on Pinterest last week, I came across a couple awesome antonym pins.  I can’t seem to find the original poster, (if anyone knows who it is, please let me know so I can give proper credit!) but it seems to be a popular idea – maybe there isn’t an “original” poster!  (Side bar: that’s one of the things I love most about teaching – so many “original” ideas have been thought of before!)

Anyway, I LOVE LOVE LOVE giving my students visuals and tricks to help them remember things.  I’ve had MANY kids confusing antonyms and synonyms this year – so this poster is SUCH a huge help!  Hopefully in the future they’ll hear “antonyms” and immediately picture ANTS… and then they’ll remember the difference.  J


This morning we started with a read aloud (as MANY of my lessons do!).  We read A Special Gift: An Antonym Story by Christine Corona.  I actually have a class set of these books, so while I was reading it aloud, my kids were reading it with me.  At the end of each page, we stopped and talked about the different pairs of antonyms and made a chart on the board.  I forgot to take a picture of it, but we added our own ideas to the chart on the board as well.

Afterwards, they each picked a pair of words and illustrated them on their own little ant.  I love how they turned out!  I tend to have perfectionist tendencies, so I like making the poster myself and then adding in examples from the kids… it’s a perfect combination of my Type A personality and KidCentric – in my opinion.  J



I love how this little guy has a ponytail!




We left our list of antonyms on the board.  Tomorrow, as a quick review/assessment, I’m giving them each a page to fill out with 4 ants on it.  I made it a quick FREEBIE, which you can find here!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Oh My Dropbox!

Oh my word!  I had a rough night last night.  And not because I have a 1 year old who sleeps when and where he wants to sleep – which usually isn’t through the night!  It was rough because I made a huge mistake with one of my new products! 

I spent the last few nights working on a new Scoot bundle.  I put my multiplication and my adjectives scoot games together with 3 new ones I created (a spelling, a social studies, and a money one).  I was super excited about this because it’s such a versatile bundle.  You can use each game individually with your class (up to 30 kids can play at a time!) and once you’ve played all 5 the “normal” way – you can mix and match pages from each game and create a bunch of new games – ones that will get your kiddos’ brains really hopping around – from math, to spelling, to grammar, to social studies, and back again.  So I was really excited about it.

I uploaded the finished product to TpT.  Then I remembered that somewhere I heard read that teachers are more inclined to buy something if there’s a preview attached.  So, I went back into my original file and created a preview file.  Instead of copying and pasting the preview pages into a new document however, I just deleted 40 slides from the original product.  But then, I accidentally hit SAVE instead of save AS!  So all my hard work… all 40 deleted slides… all 3 of my new games – were gone.  And no amount of googling “how to unsave a document on power point” helped me figure it out.  This happened around 7:00 last night – and for the rest of the night, I had such a pit in my stomach.  What if I found a typo in the unit someday (I always worry about that, no matter how many times I check it!)?  What if I wanted to separate out the games into smaller files?  What if I just needed the original again???  

But THEN!  I remembered that I save my files on dropbox so that I can access them from both my laptop and my desktop.  So I quickly scurried over to my desktop and tried to open the file before it “synched”.  But that’s not possible – it wouldn’t let me open it until it had synched.  I thought for sure my file was lost forever. This morning I woke up and was still upset about it.  So I tried googling one more time – this time I looked for “how to revert files on dropbox”.  And OHMYGOSH – there is a way to do it!  In about 2 minutes I had followed the steps and RECOVERED my file!  I cannot tell you what a happy moment that was.  I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling all day.  All those late hours of work… SAVED!

So, the moral to my story – save on dropbox.  And if you do, nothing is ever gone for good (unless it’s been more than 30 days I guess… the history apparently clears after that).  :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Unit

It's Monday... I don't know how it snuck up on me so quickly, but here it is!  Mondays at school are always hectic for me.  Not only do we have all our "regular" work to get through (reading, writing, math, social studies, etc...) but we also have to add in all the things we need to do to "set up" for the week.  We have to hand out all the homework papers, introduce the spelling words for the week, and get the kids all organized for the week.  Mondays already feel SO LONG but I laugh sometimes thinking that I actually need more time!

Over the weekend I worked on my newest project: a multiplication unit.  In the beginning of May we hit on multiplication, and I haven't been crazy about my materials the last couple of years.  I do use a math curriculum, but I have lots of freedom to fit in other ways of teaching/learning.  Over the years I've been using the curriculum, I've gone from following it exactly as it's laid out for us, to relying on it more as extra or supplemental.  I use a lot of my own materials, as well as some excellent resources that I've found on TpT.  This year I'm really focusing on cleaning up my files and getting all my materials together into one place.  So this weekend, I collected all my multiplication materials and put them together into a packet.  You can check it out here - we won't be using it for a few weeks, but I'm glad I have it ready to go.  Now all I'll have to do is copy it all off and we'll be good to go!

How do you all incorporate your math curriculum with your own ideas (or fellow TpTers ideas?)  Do you have to follow a curriculum exactly, or can you add and subtract as you see fit?

If you're interested and want to take a peek at my Multiplication Party Unit, you can find it here!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Baseball Season is Here!

I know this is completely off topic - but I'm just so happy that baseball season is back!  I'm sitting here, watching my beloved Red Sox play their second game of the season. The beginning of the season is always really fun for me - I love having the game on in the background while I do school work or while we have dinner... I love hearing the announcers talking, even if I'm not really watching or listening!  Just the noise in the background makes me feel summery.  Baseball starting is a true sign of summer coming!

I stumbled upon Oh' Boy 4th Grade's Linky party.  Since I'm new to this whole blogging thing, I hope I'm doing this right.  I'm going to attach my Currently below.  (If you happen to be reading this, and notice that I've done something wrong - please let me know!  I'd hate to step on any toes or offend anyone!) 


I think I covered what I'm listening to above... as well as what I'm loving!  It was in the 50s when I got home from school today, and anyone who lives in the Boston area will agree with me - 50 degrees is DEFINITELY go outside weather!  I think this year was especially difficult for me in terms of the weather.  Not only was it cold, snowy, windy, etc... but it wasn't just me that I had to get ready to go outside each day.  Now I have this little 1 year old guy to take care of too... and he HATES his winter coat and hat.  So I'd dress him, then dress myself, then dress him again (at least 2 more times!) before we'd leave the house.  So I started dreading going outside more than usual this winter... my husband is such a great help when it comes to getting ready to go out, unfortunately, we don't go everywhere together, so I often was battling the winter coat/hat situation by myself.

I work a LONG school day, but we're rewarded with an early end to the year.  We don't start again until September, so we get a pretty nice summer vacation.  By the time it comes though, we've earned it!  As well all have, no matter what our hours are or when we get out.

I hope to be back later in the week with a couple new things I'm working on.  We're in the middle of FRACTIONS right now in math - I've been using Step Into Second Grade's Fraction Fanatic! Unit.  My class LOVES it.  Since I have such great resources for my fractions unit, I'm looking ahead to the end of the year, and trying to see what I can come up with.  My newest projects are for our multiplication unit... coming soon I hope!  Thanks for stopping by my blog!