Saturday, March 31, 2012

Writing Leads

In my class, we tend to compare writing to food. For my vegetarians, we compare it to an ice cream cone. A story with a missing beginning or ending might be just a cone. A story with a nice beginning and okay middle might be a one scoop vanilla cone. A story with a great beginning, middle, and end might be a vanilla cone with sprinkles. A story with all of that plus great figurative language, dialogue, and paragraphing might be a triple scoop strawberry cone with sprinkles, whipped cream, and a cherry on top! Click the picture to download from Mrs. Guillo's TPT!

For my non-vegetarians, we also use the cheeseburger analogy - is it missing the beginning and / or end? If so then, it doesn't have a bun. If it's missing the middle, it might be just the bun and no meat. If it's spectactular, it has cheese, pickles, onions, and ketchup! Otherwise, the writing might leave us "hungry" and wanting more. Get the idea? (This example only goes to a 4. Our report cards and reading series use a 4, but our state uses a 5...looks like everyone needs to get on the same page with common core!)

 My favorite mentor texts for leads include the I Survived Pack from Scholastic.

Click each picture to read excerpts.

The three books in this pack include:

"Barry! Barry!"
Dad was pounding down the stairs. He splashed through the water, grabbed Barry by the arm, lifting him up, and pulled him toward the staircase. Furniture and other objects floated around them like bath toys - the new couch Mom had saved for a year to buy, the little square lamp table where Gramps used to play chess, framed pictures of Barry and Cleo from school. The water was rising fast! It was up to Barry's waist by the time they reached the stairs - and it kept getting higher. It was like their house was a bucket being filled by the biggest hose in the world. 

Elm Hills, New Jersey in the Matawan Creek

A feeling of terror came over ten-year-old Chet Roscow, a chill deep down in his bones. He had been swimming in the Matawan Creek by himself. But he had an idea that someone - or something - was watching him.

     George whispered those words like a prayer, over and over in his mind. He thought of Mr. Andrews, of how sure he was of this ship.
      But he no longer stared at that water, that foaming green water, rising higher every second, the more certain he became: The Titanic was in trouble.

There is also other single books that haven't made their way into the pack yet -

What are your favorite writing resources?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Bad Ants

This week's reading story is Two Bad Ants by Chris VanAllsburg. He also wrote and illustrated (The Polar Express and Jumanji.) It's perfect because it's almost picnic time! It's a neat story because it's written from the perspective of the ants and it requires students to use picture clues and descriptions in the text to make inferences about what is happening to the ants. For example, they mention being on some round, brown thing (a bagel) and suddenly being put into something with a red, glowing heat (toaster). The kids really got a kick out of it!

The ants in this story aren't fire ants, but I pinned the most adorable idea from the Pinterest Board of Hope King (at Shenanigans in Second). I can't wait to do my April bulletin board now! If I could find the original post, I'd share it. For now, click the picture to go to the pin.

My kids told me they made a connection to the movies Antz,  The Ant Bully, and A Bug's Life. I wouldn't know because I've never any of them!


Here are the trailers:

A Bug's Life

It kind of makes me think of Honey I Shrunk the Kids! Remember the scene where the kids ride the fire ants? You can actually watch the whole movie for free here!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Field Trip Fun

We went to Liberty Science Center last week. It was foggy, so the kids didn't get to see the view of the Statue of Liberty. (That was always the most exciting part for me as a kid!) My group spent most of its time around the animals. It was neat because we spent the beginning of the year learning about animal classification and adaptation as well as plants. They also got to do a couple of investigations that made them feel like real scientists.

Do you see animals hiding? We do!

These fish were bigger than our heads! Their slim bodies allow them to move with agility. They have eyes on the sides of their heads to see predators more easily. There were also two dogfish sharks that were hard to get a picture of.

We watched how water can affect sand, particularly with erosion. This stream table allowed students to use cranes and suction to move the sand.

A mock sand dune tank complete with fake herons, fish, and turtles was a big hit.

Can you see how the turtle blends in with the rock? Do you see the slim fish right under it and in the top right corner of the picture?

See the spotted flounder? Neither did we at first! Its spots help it blend in with the rocky bottom.

These puffer fish warn predators to stay away by filling themselves with air. They also have very sharp teeth and can be poisonous!

We took a break from the fish to do an investigation with fresh water and salt water.

We found that when mixed, our red salt water sank underneath the blue fresh water because it was more dense.

Eventually it mixed into purple brackish.

Students learned about wind power as they used a sort of reverse vacuum to power a moving fan. We watched the meter as the fan blades moved faster and faster.

We watched how atoms moved within different states of mater using balls on springs.

Students learned about how oil is drilled in the ocean. It's pretty destructive to the ocean...

and can be very dangerous and costly if there's a spill!

And then after was back to the animals! Do you see the snake? Here's a hint: the blade of grass points right to it!

The turtles blend right in with the wood chips.

The kids looked at scorpions and other icky creatures.

We saw gila monsters...

that blended right in with the ground and logs.

We saw poison dart frogs, whose colors warn predators to stay away!

 We saw humungous cockroaches blending in with the wood.

We also watched moving walking sticks. They were really good at mimicking the sticks they were on!

Before we left, some of the kids just haaaaad to go into the Tornado Tunnel. You can see the wind speed increase in the background. A category 1 tornado reaches at least 74 miles per hour. They crammed so many kids in there that the door popped open! 

It was a fun day, but we didn't get through even half of the exhibits. I was really happy that no one got hurt or sick! ;)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beautiful Bulletin Boards

I have been taking pictures of some of the adorable bulletin boards going up in our school lately and just had to share them! Keep in mind that none of these are mine. For more of my bulletin board posts, click here.

Atmosphere flap books - lift each one for a description of that layer

Owl door decorations

Friendly Letters

Art bulletin board - symmetry

Leaping Limericks bulletin board - shamrocks and rainbows!

I also figured it was time for a bulletin board "linky party!" If you've never heard of them, they're basically a place for bloggers to network common ideas. The last one I remember seeing one for bulletin boards was in July when Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade started one. We have had practically a whole school year since then! All you have to do is link back a new or old post with bulletin boards and grab the logo from up top! If you have freebies to go with them, that's even better!

For a collection of links to more linky parties, click here.

To see more bulletin boards on Pinterest, click the picture!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lucky Limericks

We continue to lag slightly behind in St. Patrick's Day celebration! I am finally posting pictures of the fire department's pipes and drums visit last week. You can see pictures of our party here.

We are working on poem prompts and getting ready for the NJ ASK (our standardized tests for grades 3-8), so we had a little fun writing our own limericks. First we read some limericks and counted syllables in each line, plus analyzed their rhyme schemes. A limerick follows AABBA format.

I made this page for my Promethean flipchart:

Then students picked a topic and took a shot at it. I had them put a dot over each word when counting the number of syllables in each line. Then they wrote the number at the end so I could check it. Some were pretty silly or just plain made up! (We know the moon doesn't give off light!)

I find these and haikus to be the easiest poems to write because they have an easy rhythm...if students 
pick words that are easy to rhyme! I got these Webster's Rhyming Dictionaries in the Target Dollar Spot this summer!

Kids cut and glued these pieces (from March 2006's Teacher's Helper) to construction paper.

If you can't find one, try an online Rhyming Dictionary like Rhyme Zone.

 If you want to try this, but need more structure for your kids, head over to Fourth Grade Freebies from the High-Tech Teacher to download her limerick poem template!

Do you have any favorite poetry resources?


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