Tuesday, 26 February 2013

100th Day!

We finally made it to the 100th day! Celebrations everywhere - well, from Year 1 to Year 4 anyway :)

We started our day by writing 100 ways to make 100 - using addition, subtraction, multiplication (not very many of those), division and mixed operations.

Most of my class completed their POTD (Problem of the Day) and multiplication mad minute practice in RECORD time because they knew that the fastest kids would get to write the easiest sums :) No repeats were allowed so there was some moaning and groaning as children wrote sums then found someone else had already done that one - lots of thinking and working out this morning!
There were a few mistakes but these were quickly pointed out and crossed off - one sheet was such a disaster we started all over again!

After recess we kept everyone outside, lined them all up and marched 100 steps down the field. Then, using meter sticks, we measured the longest and shortest 100 steps. 48 children crawled down the length of the field in groups, counting meter sticks at the top of their lungs :). Oh, to be that young and flexible again!!

In the interests of giving ourselves a quiet afternoon we then took our kiddies to the playground where we had a 100 hop, jump and slide race. We, the three teachers, lounged on the amphitheater steps in balmy sunshine and critiqued the athletic style of our students - great fun!

Actually, it was quite interesting seeing who chose to go on the short slides and who opted for the longest slide that could only be reached by the climbing wall! We knew our plan was working as the screaming and laughing slowly died away to be replaced with grim counts of "...56, 57, uh, I'm TIRED, 58, 59, do we have to do all 100?, 60, 61..."

Following the aerobic activity we all trooped inside to do some more Math - graphing with 100 skittles.

Sorting skittles by color
Counting different colors

Starting to graph
The end product

When the graphs were finished each child had to write 3 questions, that could be answered using the graph, and get a friend to answer them. You would not BELIEVE how many children wrote:

"How many skittles are there altogether?"

Even more amazing was how many friends wrote the WRONG ANSWER! Definitely going to do some practice with graphs tomorrow! :)

Monday, 25 February 2013

Just Chat - and some Math Fun

Tomorrow is our 100th Day of School! Normally we don't do anything in Year 4 (it's a Year 1, 2 and 3 special day) but this year we've decided to celebrate in a small way. I will post about it all later - suffice it to say that one of our activities involves a lot of skittles. :)

Today we accomplished quite a lot. I read all the class blog posts about Midsummer Eve that my kiddies posted on the weekend. We're reading a great book as our class reader - Tree Girl by T. A. Barron - and the main characters have just entered the forest on High Hallow Eve (aka Midsummer Eve or Summer Solstice). I had my students research Midsummer Eve or the Summer Solstice and then asked them to find out about Shakespeare's play about this special day. I was SO pleased with 99% of the entries. One child went way beyond what was expected - always a thrill when a student takes on additional learning! (One child researched Halloween - for what reason I know not since I specifically told them all on MY post that Midsummer was June 21st this year - so that wasn't quite so thrilling!)

So... great learning over the weekend - yay :)

We spent the afternoon reviewing Venn and Carroll diagrams. We did a quick review on the board then moved on to group work. I made some giant diagrams and then gave the kids plastic baggies with labels and sorting things - shapes, numbers and letters. We started with the letters and I wandered around and made sure everyone knew what they were doing - and also that EVERYONE was participating (I have quite a few students who like to watch others work!)

Student: What's half of 27?
Me: (completely at a loss) Why do you need to know?
Student: Well I need to sort the letters and I need to know which ones are in the 1st half of the alphabet so I need to know what half of 27 is.
Me: Huge silent sigh!! Say your alphabet and count as you go. How many letters are there?
Student: (after a minute) Oh. 26. So it's 13.
Me: Smile - and walk away (breathing deeply)

After I'd made sure they all knew what they were doing (alphabet knowledge not withstanding) they could, at their own pace, open up the other baggies and sort what was in them. They had to choose two diagram sorts to record - one Carroll and one Venn. It worked really well and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves.

What else did we do today? Well, we continued to work on our Perimeter Farms which are now in the "being decorated" stage  (I will do a proper post about them as soon as the animals move in because it is such a fun project! :)) - and I managed (finally) to finish 2 things for TpT.

I posted a freebie Adaptation Animal project (I posted about the project here on this blog) and also uploaded my Problems on the Farm pack (which has the Perimeter Farm project in it complete with photos :) )


Yay. A most productive day in total - and I have 100th day celebrations to look forward to tomorrow. Here's hoping for some good weather for our "exhaust the children 100 hop, skip, jump and slide race"!!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Teaching and Tapas Giveaway

Here's a new giveaway to check out :)

Alyssha at Teaching and Tapas is sponsoring a huge giveaway (click here to go directly to the link) or visit her blog at:

Teaching and Tapas: 2nd Grade in Spain

This giveaway is organized into grade level packages which I always think is kind of nice :) Head on over and enter before March 3rd.

Saturday, 23 February 2013


This is a super short post because it's late and my bed is calling :)

We discussed animal adaptations as part of our Rainforest unit this week - how animals adapt to different climates, what specific adaptations some rainforest animals have etc. - and then the kids created their own animals with adaptations that would help them to survive in 4 teacher-invented environments. (I had a lot of fun inventing the habitats - and making my own Wonderfully Weird Whangdoodle as a model) I used this mini project as a formative assessment to see how much the kids had understood of the film and discussion and I think they did a great job! :)

What do you think of these new species? :)

I LOVE the magnification boxes on this one!!
(also the fact that it lives in a "dessert" instead of a "desert" :)

Edit Note: I put this together into a freebie package which you can find here if you think you'd like to try this fun project. Here's what it looks like :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Measurement - oh my!

As in...
Oh my, I had no idea my class knew so little about measurement!
Oh my, how can they NOT know how many millimeters in a centimeter when this is about the 6th time this term we've gone over this!!!
Oh my, tell me a child did NOT just tell me that her ruler doesn't have centimeters on it when I've just individually made sure that every child knows what a centimeter is!

There's no point in beating around the bush - this was a frustrating day!

I had 3 children missing for a music workshop and 2 out with lice (again! Yet another epidemic of head lice! Oh, for some freezing cold weather that would kill the little creatures!!)


I decided that, rather than start a new topic with 1/3 of the class missing, I would review measurement - centimeters and millimeters. Some fun activities were called for!

Now, maybe in a week's time, when I look back on them I'll actually think that they were fun. Right now... well, right now I'm thinking good old-fashioned worksheets are the way to go!! :)

Activity 1:

I planned a Mad Measurement Hallway Hunt and sent them off one group at a time (with a timer to make sure they came back in time!!) to find the cards that were scattered around the school and measure different things - like cubbies, bulletin boards, doors, their fingernails...
Two groups came back on time; one group got "lost". They were also reported to me by another teacher for inappropriate behaviour  :(

Activity 2:

Measurement Mansion - each group had to follow directions and measure different things on the mansion.

Groups 1 and 2 - no problems. Group 3 had a shouting match... sigh.

Activity 3:

 We measured and drew equilateral, isosceles and scalene triangles with specific dimensions. I mention "specific" dimensions because one member of Group 3 decided to shorten the base of her scalene triangle because "I can't get the other two sides to fit if I don't." Heaven forbid that she should MOVE HER RULER like I suggested, let alone persevere or THINK!! (and I don't want to hear that she was thinking outside the box - triangle, rather :) - or being creative because she wasn't!)

Thank goodness for students who think :)

Between recess and lunch we painted a giant fish bowl

(Edit: A comment from a friend made me realize I hadn't given proper credit (not intentional, I assure you!) so I went back and checked through my pinterest boards to find where this idea came from! Artsonia.com, folks. :) I adapted it for my particular needs.)

Slightly cut off because I practically fell out of the
window on the third floor while balanced on the cubbies
 trying to get far enough back to take the photo!

While the fish bowl was drying I gave each child specific measurements to draw a box. We had quite a lot of discussion over this because some people had measurements in centimeters and some had measurements in millimeters and some had measurements in both - so a mini lesson was required just to draw the boxes.

After the boxes were drawn they had to draw a fish inside the box so that the sides of the fish exactly touched the sides of the box.

Easy, right?

Not so! Half of the 11 children drew a little tiny fish in the middle of the box, thereby completing negating my entire project (which was to measure the fish in the bowl and match the measurements posted on the bulletin board with the number on the fish)

Huge sigh - after yet another explanation we erased and re-drew and then painted.

Of course the fish are gorgeous, as is the bowl and no-one will know how torturous the whole project really was.

Once we've had a little more practice with our rulers (like, every day this week!!!) we're going to play a Trilogy Matching game that Meg from Fourth Grade Studio made (find it here - plus some other variations). Hopefully my kiddies will have a better grasp of metric measurement by the time the term ends!

Are there any particular concepts that your students are finding difficult to grasp?

And... please tell me that I'm not the only one out there who has days like this!!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

School, Sport, Smile

A new linky party with Primary Possibilities :) I like this - it'll be fun to learn a little bit about everyone's school and I'm a great fan of alliteration too!


Our school was founded in 1894 with a class of 6 girls and has remained an all-girls school since that time. We follow the British National curriculum and currently have just over 600 students at the school from Year 1 through to IB 2 (K - grade 12, I think). We are a Round Square School and an IB school - we do take boys for the IB program.
This is a picture of one of the earliest classes. :)



Well, this used to be squash. I played from the time I was 14 up until I had knee surgery about 5 years ago. Unfortunately after that I wasn't as mobile on the court and so I had to stop. My new "sport" is hiking - my particular love is hiking in the mountains of Scotland. Awesome scenery!!

Near Inverness in March - a few years ago with my kids :)


My family - I adore them.

My son at the Remembrance Day Parade

My husband and daughter bonding in Miami

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Share the Love :) Shout it Out!

It's Valentine's Day so I thought I would celebrate by doing a couple of shout-outs :) Blogs that I love to read, Facebook pages that I love to check on and TpT stores that I adore :) Here are some of my favourite places to visit (only some because there are so many that you'd be scrolling down forever if I didn't limit it :) )


 Fourth Grade Studio

The Teacher Wife

Meg's been blogging about fractions for quite a while now and I am hooked on the fabulous lessons her class have been enjoying. I've been "tuning in" every day to see what new dilemmas the kids have experienced and how they've solved their problems (and looking anxiously to see if I , a teacher, have the right answer!) Someone referred to the posts as "Fractionopolis" and it truly is like entering another world. Pay a visit to Meg's Fourth Grade Studio - it's awesome!

Desktop Learning Adventures

Desktop Learning Adventures!
is another of my go-to blogs. I love Pam's blogging "voice" and she has a wealth of knowledge to share. Her post this week about the game Quiddler was fun - and has made me seriously think about having the Royal Princesses of Quiddler competition in my classroom :)

And my final Valentine Blog shout out goes to All Things Upper Elementary
All Things Upper Elementary
- a collaborative blog for grades 3 - 6. There are 14 contributors on this blog and they take turns posting great information. I love the idea that you get a wealth of knowledge in one space - and now they're going to open up some posts to guest bloggers so there will be even more fabulous classrooms to read about :)

Facebook Pages:

I'm very new to Facebook myself and haven't quite got the hang of posting and sharing and liking but I do like to poodle around and see what other people are chatting about.

Making Meaning is an interesting place to go - I've seen Chris on forums for a while and it's nice to know that she continues her advice and sharing on Facebook :)

Meatballs in the Middle is fun too (and Darlene has a wonderful blog as well - I love the name AND the way she writes!)

And Lessons from the Middle is my final pick - I participated in a giveaway that Krystal organized and discovered her blog and Facebook page from there. Great stuff!

 And my Valentine TpT Stores:

Glitter Meets Glue Designs is fantastic. I adore glitter and these graphics are wonderful - so colourful and glittery and sparkly and "must have them all-ish"!! I've become quite obsessed with this clip art :)

I just recently bought some very cool What in the World Mysteries from Patricia Potts that I can't wait to use next term when we begin our Meso-American topic unit. I was fascinated with them and hope that my class will be too. She has other neat stuff in her store too so check it out :)

And Cap'n Pete's Place is a wonderful store to visit if you're a) a PE teacher or b) like me, you have a wiggly class!! He has the neatest Classroom Energizer games that I've used a couple of times to get the fidgets out. My class love them. Look him up!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

New Blinds - in the making

During the Christmas holidays I decided to make blinds for my classroom so that in the afternoons (when the sun comes streaming through our 5 enormous windows) I would still be able to use the Smartboard.
Well... that never happened :) The fabric is still sitting in the bag, the sewing machine is still resting unused on the bedroom floor - and the sun is still shining in the classroom windows!
So we painted flowers instead. Giant flowers! Multi-coloured flowers with black backgrounds!

 Then we cut our flowers into quarters (quick review of fractions here), reassembled the quarters into wholes and glued them onto a paper blind :)

I love it - it's nice and bright and cheery and it's blocking some of the light. I may still have to make blinds at some point but for now this will work just fine :)

Friday, 8 February 2013

Lessons from the Middle - First Blog Birthday Giveaway

 Here's a fun thing! I'm participating in my first giveaway! 

Krystal Mills of Lessons From The Middle is celebrating her FIRST Blog Birthday! 

Close to 100 teachers have donated their fabulous products/gift certificates for her giveaway. 

There are prize packages for grades K-3, 4-6 and 7-9 - so there's something for almost everyone! Be sure to make your way over to Lessons From The Middle Feb. 8th - 11th to enter. 

                                                         Celebrating my first Blog Birthday - Lessons From The Middle

Have fun :)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Oh no! - A Lost Gingerbread Man

Way back before Christmas I signed up for a Flat Gingerbread exchange with 10 schools in the US. It was organized by Christina at Second Grade Sugar and Spice (she has a great blog by the way!) and turned out to be a lot of fun.

Each participating class had to make a paper gingerbread man that represented their state (or in our case, our country) Decorations could be symbols such as state or national flowers, birds etc. and we had to write a letter explaining why we chose to use these particular things.

We made gingerbread girls with hibiscus buttons, shorts with tropical fish and our national flower in her hair. She is holding a monarch butterfly and has sand on her feet from our beaches.

Here are some of our little ladies with their suitcases just before boarding their envelopes :) Cute, aren't they?

Here are all 10!

Here's a close up of the one we kept!
All gingerbreads were mailed out in January and we have been receiving them in dribs and drabs over the last few weeks. It's very exciting to get real live actual post in these days of email!! My kids are loving the arrival of each envelope.

From Louisiana...



and from Pennsylvania...

Today another envelope arrived and we gathered eagerly to open it but....

IT WAS EMPTY!! The Flat Gingerbread person was lost! Don't know whether he never got into his package in  Tennessee, got lost en route or what but there it was - an empty envelope (stamped and everything) with no occupant. We'll keep his space on the bulletin board waiting in case he arrives soon :)