May 31, 2016

12 More Cute Things Students Have Said

from the mouths of babes...

This is the second in my series about the funny, adorable things that students say (usually without intending to get a laugh!).  If you haven't, make sure to check out PART ONE.  

Up here in BC we are almost at the finish line for the school year.  It is so close I can feel it!  In looking back on this year, there have been a lot of challenges, but there have also been so many funny moments.  Teaching little people has its own unique set of joys!

In no particular order, here are 12 more cute student sayings to get you through to the end of the year (or started on your summer break if you are so lucky!)

(10 + 2 bonus ones because I just couldn't leave any out!) 

#1 - science > donuts

My students were conducting the dye tied experiment and one of my first graders exclaimed, "This is awesome!  It's even better than the chocolate donut I ate on the way down here!" 

#2 - mid-lesson pedicure

I was in the middle of a lesson at the carpet and stopped to find one student trimming his toe nails with a pair of scissors.  NOPE!

- Rianna, 3rd and 4th grade teacher

#3 - kindergarten swear words

I had a kindergartener walk into my room on the day we were learning the short "e" sound and point to the word "elf" on the board.

"Does that say elf?"
"Yes! Good reading!"
"That's a bad word."
"No it's not, who told you that?"
"My mama tells us we're not allowed to say the elf-word."

#4 - the facts of life

May 21, 2016

Five for Friday

I think my Five for Friday may be a regular Saturday occurrence.  I just can't pull it together to blog on Fridays. At school, Friday is GO-GO-GO, and then I get to come home for some much needed time with my hubs.  Or, in the case of yesterday, race through traffic to make my way to the ferry for my little sisters Bachelorette Party.

Fridays are not my down-day.   Saturdays?  I may be able to manage that one ;)

So here are my "five things" for this not-so-Friday!

1 - Wedding DIY Galore

My baby sisters (okay, she is 24) is getting married next Saturday, and I have been put in charge of most things DIY and hand-lettered.   This is just one of a few projects that have taken up my free time.  Thank goodness I love painting and crafting!

2 - Lego Mini Me Self Portraits

We have been making lego self portraits with outfits we actually own!  In June, we'll take photos with students matching their Lego mini-me.  I anticipate a cuteness overload!

3 - New Discoveries in my Neighbourhood

I've lived in same house for over a year now, and have always run or walked in and amongst the houses and streets.  This week, I went exploring and found an amazing walking/running trail only a few minutes from my front door.  It's so gorgeous, and is making going outside and working on fitness a lot easier!

4 - A Successful Field Trip

This week we went on a 'big' field trip to Telus Science World in Vancouver and it went really well! We had 12 parent volunteers and 25 students so the ratios were amazing.  My kiddos were so well behaved and we had no emergencies.  A gold-star trip all around.  

5 - Bachelorette

In keeping with the theme of Classroom and Wedding Prep, this weekend is my sisters bachelorette party.  I have been planning events, and coordinating bridesmaids.  I can't wait to celebrate her last single Saturday! 


May 14, 2016

Five for Friday

This is my first time participating in "Five For Friday", a weekly linky party where a bunch of teachers share about five things from their past week.

Except it's Saturday.... not Friday.

I think that's a little bit indicative of how my week went.  It was amazing, and creative, and wonderful.. but so, so busy and full!  I think I fell asleep at 8:00 last night.  And it was glorious!

Here's a little snapshot into our jam-packed week in third grade!

1. monday - shape poetry art projects

We finished up our study of "Who I am in Jesus", and students (minus two!)  finally finished up their shape poem Art projects.  I think they look pretty cute. 

2. tuesday - community projects

My students have been working hard on their community projects.  I love independent projects because they give students a chance to showcase what they are capable of.  This one is front-loaded work in terms of preparing projects, and folders for each student. But now I'm at the blissful part of watching the project run itself! (And giving one-on-one guidance). 

3. wednesday - baking cookies

Okay, this was exhausting.  But fun.  My third grade students paired up with the tenth grade home economics class to bake M&M cookies.  It was 90 minutes of loud, chaotic, fun.  They had an absolute blast, and no one cried or got hurt.  So it was a win all around! 

4. thursday - multiplication fact quizzes

In an effort to memorize all of our multiplication facts - we have been doing fact drills every other day.  I have offered my students a huge prize if they can do their test faster than I can.  So far, no one has won... but they are getting closer! They shave 2-5 seconds off of their time each time we do a test.  I think I may need to practice my facts at home! 

5. friday - tgif - wedding projects for the little sister

My little sister is getting married in two weeks (!!) and it's all-hands-on-deck to make the diy projects to decorate her big day! My non-teaching, and non-TeachersPayTeachers time is spent painting, crafting, and creating for her big day! 
How was your week?  Any big events in your classroom as you start to prepare for the end of the year?

- Rachel

May 08, 2016


April and May are some of my favourite months to be a teacher.  By this point, I know each and every one of my students, and they know me.  We’ve found our perfect rhythm, and can work together as a fairly well-oiled machine.  I know which students need that ‘extra push’ to do their best, and which ones need to be gently coached with a hug and a smile of encouragement.  I know how to correct behaviours in a way that encourages the best from my little ones, and doesn’t crush their spirits.  Each student needs such different things, and it often takes months to figure it all out.

Look at my little hard-working students  Oh term three, how I love you!

So, for me, Term Three is the most blissful of the three.  They know what I expect in my classroom, and I (for the most part) know what they need to be successful. 

I still get small butterflies in my stomach when I look across the hall to the Grade Two class that will eventually be ‘mine’ next year.  I wonder how we will get to this point. 

Academically, I find September to be one of the most challenging months as a teacher.  Is anyone else with me on that one?  All of those lovely, high-achieving students that walked out of the school in May or June, walk back in like tiny little zombies who have forgotten almost everything.  (Or so it seems!)

Oh, the summer slump.

Teachers, you know what I mean.  It’s that phenomenon that happens over the summer where the 8+ weeks of summer vacation seem to erase our students’ brains… or at least the part that remembers how to ‘do’ school. 

So we re-teach.   Things that were a snap in June, are suddenly brand new skills.

  • How to put your name on a piece of paper
  • Where to line up
  • How to use capital letters and punctuation
  • Working for more than 3 or 4 minutes at a time
  •  How to open a thermos! (So, so many thermoses… side note: why has no one invented a thermos that will open itself?!) 
I’ve tried all kinds of things to beat the Summer Slump.  I’ve sent home reading logs, writing journals, and extra science-projects.  Some have had more success than others. 

This year, I’m trying something different.  I’ve put together a “Stay Sharp Summer Packet” for my kiddos.  It covers most of the things that we have learned in Grade Three, plus a few skills from previous grades that I don’t want them to lose.  I’m spiral-binding it into a booklet, and sending it home right before the break. 

Purposeful practice: Summer practice pages specifically designed to practice the most important skills.  (Try out a freebie - link below!) 

It is my hope (and prayer!) that they will do one page every 2nd day.  That should be about 15 minutes of work.  Just enough to help to keep their minds sharp a little bit over the summer, and maybe, just maybe, prevent the summer slump from completely erasing their brain! ;)

I'd love for my blog readers to try this packet out!  The full version is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but I've put together a sample (9 full pages!) for you to try out for free. The full version (90+ pages is available for 5$). 

Let me know what you think about it in the comments below.  

How do you combat the Summer Slump in your classroom or in your school? I’d love to hear your tips!

- Rachel 

May 04, 2016

Wednesdays in the Word

My grade three literacy program is part Daily 5, part Literacy Place, part Reading Power, and part 6-Traits.  I haven’t ever found one program that completely fits the needs of my students, so I have always borrowed from the best parts of the most quality reading and writing programs on the market.

Each day, my students sit for 20-25 minutes of independent, sustained Read to Self time.  In our room, this is treasured time.  My students need the time both to practice their reading, and to have a small amount of time that is calm and quiet.  They treasure this time as much as I do, and heaven help if this block has to be moved for some reason! 

Most of the time, students can choose to read any book (or magazine, or comic) that they would like as long as it is usually at their level.  However, on Wednesdays, we spend the entire Read to Self block in our Bibles.    We are so lucky to have a class set of Bibles that are assigned to each student.  We have New International Reader's Version Bibles that are just about perfect for a third grade reading level. 

I think that it is so important to cultivate a classroom culture that places emphasis on the Word as been important.  How can I teach and tell my students that reading their Bibles is important if we are not spending time to do that during class time?  How can I talk about how important it is for them to fall in love with God’s Word if I am not setting that example myself? 

Before our time in the Word begins, I stand at the board and help students to navigate their Bibles.  They will yell out topics and stories that they want to read about, and I will (to the best of my ability) point them to the Book/Chapter in the Bible that they will head to.   Sure, there are parts of the Bible that they won’t yet be able to understand, and some of it is above their reading level, but that doesn’t mean that they are too young to start the habit of reading from a Bible for enjoyment. 

Spoiler Alert: The boys like the stories about battles, fierce animals, and God showing his POWER! 

I cannot tell you how full my heart feels during this block.  It’s amazing to look around the room and see a class full of students enraptured by the Bible.  I love it when students skip up to share something new that they have discovered, or just cannot wait to tell a friend about what they have read.  Even though we only have scheduled “Wednesdays in the Word” so many of my students have begun pulling out their Bibles for Read to Self much more than one day a week.  It’s such a joy to watch the Spirit move in our classroom through the hearts and minds of these little ones.

May 01, 2016

Inquiry Based Science

let it grow!

I am a big fan of hands-on learning.  The less I can teach, and the more I can let students discover for themselves the better!  When I was in university, I completed my education degree in the inquiry-based cohort, and it has absolutely impacted my teaching style.  There is just so much research suggesting that when students discover things for themselves in a classroom environment, rather than have all of the information ‘deposited’ lecture-style, they make genuine lifelong connections to the learning.

This spring, we are learning about plants through a guided-inquiry unit.  Guided because I came up with the inquiry questions (true inquiry allows students to come up with their own questions). 

We began by learning some vocabulary and key plant terms. 

Then, I posed the question: “How do plants grow and change?”  I put the question on a blank bulletin board, and left room for us to answer as we moved through the unit.

Guided inquiry cards - included in the whole packet. 

Instead of handing them a worksheet with the answers, we began to plant!

We planted beans, lettuce, scallions, marigolds, and pansies.

Each student cared for an individual bean plant, and tracked its growth, changes, and how they cared for it.  In groups, they took turns being ‘gardeners’ for our group outdoor garden. 

There were so many great AH-HA moments as we used our hands-on garden as the focal point for our learning, and I think we learned more from our mistakes than successes!  My students knew the concept of photosynthesis, but only truly understood the importance of green leaves when their plants were munched by local deer!

We finally figured out why plants need sunlight after our blinds were accidentally closed over the weekend and our plants sat in the dark for 72 hours. 

We tracked the changes on our plants, and marveled at how resilient our bean plants were! 

We could not believe at how our teeny-tiny seeds turned into edible pieces of lettuce!

I cannot tell you how many parents have sent me e-mails, or stopped in to let me know that they now have small gardens in their houses/apartments that are being tended to by my third graders.  It makes me smile to think that what we are learning in the classroom is already turning into out-of-school continued education! 

I’ve gathered together my whole unit into a ready-to-go packet that you can pick up on Teachers Pay Teachers.   It has everything you need: vocabulary, life cycle worksheets, inquiry questions, student notebooks, and two experiments. 

Students made scientific observations in their Plant Journals

If you try it out, let me know what you think!  Have your kiddos discovered their “green thumb”? 

- Rachel