Poetry Sharing

On Thursday we started our poetry unit! I love to teach poetry. So far we have only learned about name acrostic poems and diamante poems. On Friday I let students share their name acrostics while we drank hot chocolate! The kids loved it! I usually plan a few activities throughout the year where we drink hot chocolate. The good news is that we have enough leftover to do it at least one more time!
Swimmy the fish is doing just fine now that we bought a heater and a thermometer! He is finally swimming around and eating! The kids love him!

Ornaments, Writing Activity, & Light

I hope you all had a refreshing Thanksgiving Break! I had a wonderful break, but because of traveling I am behind on all kinds of things at home like laundry, outdoor Christmas decorations, etc. Speaking of Christmas decorations, a few of my students brought back their 3D ornament. See post below for explanation.

The one on the right is a drawing of the 3 wise men going to see Jesus. Awww!

During our enrichment time, students are split into three groups based on ability from recent state standardized tests. Love it or hate it, that's the way we are doing it this year. I have a group that needs additional instruction in most areas. We needed a break from extra math instruction so we did an animal research project. I had a guideline of things I was looking for when they researched. We went to the library and checked out books, wrote a first draft, peer edited, had a mini conference with me, revised, and wrote final drafts. Here are our results!

Today we started a unit on light. Our starter activity on light is for students to work with a partner and make a T-chart that displays things that produce light and things that do not produce light. We displayed them in the hallway!

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Veterans Day

Tonight I want to share with you how we celebrate Veteran's Day at my school and in my room. I brought up the discussion "What is a veteran?" to my class and let my students share their thoughts and questions. Most had a good idea of what it means to be a veteran, how we should be so thankful and appreciative to our veteran's, etc. So many hands started popping up "My uncle was in the war", "My papa was in the Navy", so I allowed every student to share if they had a family member in the military and a little about them. The kids loved hearing it and I thought it was interesting. I shared that my Papa was in Vietnam, my father-in-law is a retired Colonel of the Tennessee National Guard, and my brother-in-law also served in the Tennessee National Guard. Then, I read the book "America's White Table", which almost brought tears to my own eyes and did bring tears to one students eyes. I felt like they really "got it".
We wrote letters to veterans that a local church was sponsoring which gave me the idea to have my students write letters to a veteran I highly respect: my father-in-law. We started by discussing what we might say to him and I wrote some words that they might need help spelling. After they wrote their first drafts, I had a writing conference with each of them, and then allowed them to start on their final drafts.

My father-in-law is a retired Colonel but has a job where he is helping to train soldiers. The kids were pretty interested in that. I cannot WAIT to send these letters to him!

We also had a Veteran's Day assembly that was really good. Did you do anything special for Veterans Day?

We are still in the middle of our astronomy unit and we have started a monthly moon sketch. Each student got a copy of a calendar of the month of November and we are doing nightly moon sketches. You should've seen the kids faces when I told them they had to do it this weekend (we never give homework over the weekend). I had to remind that it only takes about 30 seconds to look outside at the moon and draw it! I checked out lots of books from the library to go with our astronomy unit that the kids can read during independent reading or as an early finisher. Most of them have read them!

Science & SS Freebies!

I've had several requests to share the water cycle wheel template and I think I have finally figured out Google Documents and linked it to this photo! If it doesn't work, bear with me!
I also wanted to share the templates we used for our Native American sand art painting. I recommend printing it off on cardstock! Click HERE and HERE to get those templates!
I hope these will be beneficial to you! Please let me know if these links do not work for you! I have changed the settings so you should be able to view!

Shadow Activity

This week we have been studying about astronomy. I think it can be a hard topic to teach. The kids always have so many questions about it, but they ask some HARD questions! My go to response if I don't know, "Great question. Let's research that!" One activity we do is a shadow activity. I pair the kids up in groups of 2 and let them decide who is the artist and who is the statue. We go outside (weather-permitting, of course) and the statue chooses a position and the artist traces their shadow using chalk. We put the time inside/beside the shadow. Then, we go back outside every hour and do the same thing, with the statue standing in the exact same position. Side note: Because of lunch, activity, CLOUDS, we only did it 3 times but you still get the same effect.

Here, you can see some examples of what our shadows looked like at 8:45, 10:00, and 11:05.

My students did such a great job understanding the time of day based on the shadow. I had a picture on the Smartboard of a boy standing with a shadow and we talked about how the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and then determined if he was facing the west, what time of day it would be! Hard topic for 4th graders, but I felt like they really got it!

I want to say THANK YOU to Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for awarding me with the "Blog on Fire Award". I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her blog! Go check it out! With this award, I am supposed to tell 7 facts about myself and pass it on to 7 bloggers.
1. I am the mom to an adorable 17 month old who is the sweetest boy on Earth (in my opinion, of course!)

2. I absolutely hate to iron. Hate, hate, hate.

3. I once thought I wanted to be a nurse and a photographer. Teaching is absolutely the right profession for me!

4. This may be too much information, but I had natural childbirth...no epidural. Not by choice, but still proud to say I did it.
5. I am a lifetime member at Weight Watchers.

6. I played basketball for many years of my life.

7. My favorite movie ever is 8 Seconds. Love and Basketball comes in at a close 2nd. I used

Now to pass this on!

It's Finally Friday!

I will admit...I was singing "It's Finally Friday" when it came on the radio and I am happy it is Friday! It's been a good week, but a very hyperactive week for a certain few in my room. This week we have started our astronomy unit and our focus has been on the sun. Our big question is "How does the sun affect the Earth?" First, we started off by discussing what we already knew about the sun and we created a KWL chart. Then, we began an experiment to find out if the sun affects the water cycle. We took 4 cups and put the same amount of water in them and used masking tape as our first marker of the water lines. We put one cup in my classroom by the window, one in my room away from the window, one in the refrigerator, and one outside in direct sunlight.
We also have kept up our mini water cycle activity. Here is what it looks like now!

Here is just a random shot of my room this afternoon! On the students desks are some papers (mostly tests) for the students to file Monday morning and a weekly newsletter for next week.

Military/Patriotic Day

I was so excited about today's theme for Red Ribbon Week: patriotic or military day! My father-in-law is a retired Colonel so I wore one of his uniforms! I even had his name tag to show my last name and his colonel badge. The kids LOVED it and called me Colonel Geren most of the day! He let me borrow money that he's gotten from several places like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, & England. My students loved that! I showed them pictures of him from when he served in Afghanistan. They enjoyed it and I enjoyed bragging on him!

The picture was taken with my phone so it's not the best quality.

Tacky Day

Today was Tacky Day at school for Red Ribbon Week! Normally this isn't my favorite day, but I wanted to participate and the kids LOVE it when teachers dress up. Here's my outfit!

Do you dress up on days like this at your school?!

Apple Pie and Teaming Up Against Drugs

In Social Studies we are learning about what life was like during the colonial days. Today we learned about characteristics of colonial schools and colonial foods. Our book tells us about a colonist who wrote about an apple pie that had apples that hadn't been peeled or cored and crust that was so hard a wagon wheel wouldn't break it. So, every year I make an "easy apple pie". The recipe is SO easy and it doesn't taste half bad. You take 2 cans of apple pie filling and put in a pan. Cover with bread (no crusts). Mix together 1 stick of butter (melted), 1 cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of flour and cover bread. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top and bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes. I always tell my class "It may not be the best apple pie, but it can't be as bad as the apple pie they ate in colonial days! One little girl LOVED it and said she wished she lived in the colonial days because my apple pie was delicious. Bless her heart!
Today was "Team Up Against Drugs" so I wore an outfit for my favorite team, the University of Tennessee! GO VOLS!

Just a quick funny about the apple pie.

1) Take my advice and don't try to make it at 5:00 am when you are barely awake. Somehow 3 tablespoons of flour turned in to 3 cups of flour in my mind and then I realized something was NOT right!

2) If you happen to not have butter, it still tastes fine. After my flour fiasco, I didn't have any butter left but I just went without it and it was fine!

Candy Math

I wanted to share a Math activity that my kiddos always enjoy! We call it "Candy Math". Since we don't have a Halloween party, we have a candy Math lesson near Halloween. I ask the students to bring in individually wrapped candies. Thankfully, one student brought it a TON of candy, like $30 worth! First, I split the students into 4 groups and let them choose one bag of candy to explore. Each group got a post-it and wrote an estimate of how many pieces of candy they thought was in their bag (using the nutrition label serving size and servings per bag as a guide) and then they counted their actual number. We used the 4 groups numbers and discussed median, mode, range, maximum, and minimum. I was a little surprised that the children didn't know any of these terms! One student got maximum, but other than that there was very little background knowledge. Then, I had the students take 1 piece of their favorite candy and eat it, but keep the wrapper and we made a graph. We used that information to find the terms listed above!
Next week we have Red Ribbon Week where we have dress up days everyday! I'm excited for the dress up days! They're fun and the kids LOVE it when teachers dress up. I didn't do too good on Homecoming week so I am making up for it Red Ribbon Week. We always have a door decorating contest, but this year it didn't have to be on your door. It could be a display in the hallway. I always let my class vote on how we decorate and this year they voted "Drugs Make You Cuckoo". I was hesitant that we could pull it off but I found a cuckoo clock template online that we used. I think it turned out SUPER cute! I had 3 students absent so there's a few places that have a spot open.

Does your school celebrate Red Ribbon Week? Our schedule is as follows:
  • Monday - Team Up Against Drugs (favorite team colors)

  • Tuesday - Drugs are Tacky (tacky clothes)

  • Wednesday - United We Stand (patriotic or military clothes)

  • Thursday - I can't remember the slogan, but we wear red!

  • Friday - Be a Jean-uis (wear your favorite pair of jeans)

Mini Water Cycle Activity

I wanted to share a mini water cycle activity that my class is doing right now. I can't take credit for it, my partner teacher introduced it to me several years ago and we do it every year. Pour water (I add blue food coloring) into a small container and place in a ziploc bag. Mark your water line. Tape the bag to a window that receives sunlight. I have my students divide a page in their science notebooks into four blocks and label "Day 1", "Day 2", "Day 3", and "Day 4". On Day 1 we draw what you see here. On Days 2, 3, and 4 the students make an observation, draw what they see, and write a sentence or two underneath about what they noticed/observed. I've had my students do their observations as an early finisher throughout the morning and then we all discuss during Science. The water cycle is something the students usually really "get", but actually seeing it...it always interests them! I usually leave it in the window after our day 4 observation just so they can continue to see our mini water cycle!

Severe Weather Posters

This week we wrapped up a unit on severe weather! Kids are almost always really interested in severe weather. We focus mainly on hurricanes and tornadoes. We watched several videos and made severe weather posters! Kids love doing any kind of drawing!

Math Addition Games

At one of my PD meetings on Monday we focused on Math and discussed how sometimes there are children who still don't know their basic addition facts by 4th grade. Sad, but true. I can't tell you how many children I see still add on their fingers. So, we talked about a few addition games that we can use in our classrooms. These can be used as a review or in lower elementary grades. First, take stickers and put two sets on a paper plate. Hold the plate up and the students have to add the stickers mentally.
Another game comes from the Everyday Math series, which we used several years ago. It's called Addition Top It. Students use number cards (since we aren't supposed to call them "a deck of cards" anymore!) and draw two. They add the two numbers up and whoever has the highest number gets both cards. For example, here one player would have 14 and the other played would have 18 so the player with 18 would get all 4 cards.

I've done this same concept with Subtraction Top It and Multiplication Top It. During our enrichment classes, our groups are separated by their previous PASS tests and I teach the lower group so this will be good for them. I hope to share some other Math games soon!

Sharing Things from a PD Day

Today we had a Professional Development and I left with some great ideas I wanted to share. They are a random assortment of ideas, so be prepared!

SCIENCE: The first idea came up in a Science class I attended but brings in Math. At Christmas, buy the Amaryllis bulbs and plant them with your students. Then, each day measure their growth (I've been told they grow quickly) and graph them.
One of our standards says that students must make observations, predictions, and inferences. One group of teachers shared that every day they pull up the National Geographic website and look at the photo of the day. Students must make 1 observation, 1 prediction, and 1 inference. What a cute idea! They also use on it lots of science tests. Another thing I learned was that in your Science notebooks, never let kids erase their thoughts. If they find out something is wrong, mark through it. This is how "real" scientists do and you can look back to see what works and what doesn't. Also, we talked about Mr. B's Farm, called BFARM (birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals)! CUTE!

SOCIAL STUDIES: We talked about brain connections! For example, when teaching sectionalism...relate it to pizza. You all have input when ordering your pizza but when it comes out, all you care about is YOUR slice of pizza. One teacher shared when teaching about Hernando de Soto, she limps and says "De Soto" got "da sore toe" when he walked all the way to Mississippi! I never would've thought of that. Anther thing we say is the 3 G's of exploration: gold, glory, God.

I have some more stuff to share related to Math so stay tuned!

Field Trip to Cherokee, NC

If you've been wondering if I am still here, I am! We have been so busy at school and we went on a field trip to Cherokee, North Carolina yesterday! It's a big field trip for us...we ride on a chartered bus and drive out of state. Many kids see the mountains for the very first time. It's always so sweet when someone says, "Mrs. Geren, oh my gosh, there is a mountain!" Even though it seems so simple for me, I always act excited with them! First, we visit the Oconoluftee Indian Village. Then, we eat a picnic lunch and visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. We saw a Cherokee woman making a wampum belt.
We learned how they make pottery.
We saw a presentation of how they use a blow dart gun. The kids loved this!
We saw many different styles of houses!

We learned how to make a dugout canoe and what they were used for.
Our picnic lunch went well. We have the kids pack their lunch in a gallon size ziploc bag (provided by us) and that's their "ticket" to get on the bus. We always have some parents complain that they want to bring something else, but here's what we tell them: 1) One year everyone brought lunch box and it took 2 teachers, 3 chaperones, and a golf cart to get all of the lunch boxes. 2) Another time a parent followed the bus and wanted to get her child a lunch somewhere on the way. Except she didn't make it to the field trip until an hour after lunch and they child have nothing to eat so the teacher had to share her lunch with the student. SO....we require a lunch packed in a gallon size bag AND we always pack an extra lunch! Next stop: Museum of Cherokee Indian. The kids couldn't believe how realistic this looked.

Overall, we had a great time! The kids were all well-behaved!

Homecoming Week

This week is Homecoming at our school so we have dress up days each day! Monday is Twin Day which is perfect because we just got our class t-shirts on Friday so we all decided to wear our class t-shirts on Monday to be twins! I'm not so sure about Duct Tape Day...have yall ever heard of that? It's the first time we've done it so I'm not too sure about it.
I wish I had some pictures to share from this week, but I don't. It was a busy week with lots of things going on at school. A family lost everything they owned to a house fire (6 children in the house, 5 go to our school, 1 in 4th grade), another child lost their father and is having a really hard time, no Internet most of the week at school, and my son and I both are having sinus issues so we are just glad it's the weekend and we are hoping for a better week this week!

Inside my School Bag

I am a little late linking up with Abby over at The Inspired Apple, but we have been out of town and I am just now seeing all the links for "Inside my School Bag"! I have always loved different bags. I have used lots of totes/bags for my "school bag". Since I had my baby (who is now 16 months) I have tried to bring less stuff home and I usually do pretty good at it, but I still have my school bag. This weekend I upgraded to my new Vera Bradley bag! It was a gift for my birthday! Love it!
I always keep this cute notebook nearby and a smaller notebook. I always have lots of lists!

I have a couple of books that I'm reading or using in my room.

And, I have these essay's that need graded that I just keep putting off. Let's keep it real...I dislike grading essay's!

And I always have my favorite pens...Flair pens by Papermate...LOVE them!

Water Cycle

We have finished our study of the water cycle this week! Students are usually pretty interested in it and grasp the concept of it pretty well. We made a cute little water wheel!
Tomorrow is the first day this year that I'll have a sub. I'm a little nervous! I didn't get the sub I wanted. I literally called about 15 people and they all either couldn't/wouldn't. It's an unexpected absence. My son has had some swelling on the bottom part of his gums so I took him to the doctor and they are referring us to a dentist tomorrow so we'll be going to the dentist for the first time! I hope my students behave tomorrow!
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