It’s Friday – have fun!

For the past three days I’ve been exploring water, woods and fields at a science institute for teachers.  We made hygrometers.  We created ph test solutions.  We examined all different kinds of environments, and we made a woodland terrarium.  The teacher who lead us in this activity shared three different types of terrariums: freshwater, wetlands and woodlands.  The freshwater terrarium was full of copepods and algae.  We could see them without a microscope,  That terrarium had been thriving for nearly 15 years!  The wetland terrarium was full of moss and small plants.  It had been thriving for 8 years!  And finally, the woodland terrarium had been thriving for nearly 2 years.  It was full of wintergreen plants, ferns, moss and all the microorganisms that are in soil.

I couldn’t believe how long these “habitats-in-a-jar” had been thriving!

I made a woodland habitat.  I wonder how long it will survive.  I can’t wait to see.  I thought you might like to make one too.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 clear liter bottle cut into two pieces – 2/3’s at the bottom, 1/3 at the top (Ask for help starting the cut.  Once a hole is made, you can cut the bottle with scissors.  Draw a line if you want it to be straight.)
  • coarse gravel – fish tank gravel or collected from your yard
  • soil from the forest where you’re collecting the plants
  • moss and small plants
  • clear utility tape

Here’s what to do:

  • Cut the bottle
  • Put 1 inch course gravel in the bottom (you need to let the roots breathe)
  • Put 2 inches of soil on top of the gravel
  • Put a few plants – not too many because your terrarium isn’t very big – in/on the soil.
  • Cover the soil and plant roots with small pieces of moss.  The plant stems will stick between the different mosses.
  • Spray the whole thing generously with water.  If the sides of your bottle got dirty, “spritz” the dirt away.
  • Place the top piece back on your bottle and tape the two pieces together.  Make sure the bottle is completely sealed.  You don’t want any air to  get in.

That’s it.  I noticed that my terrarium began to get foggy in a few minutes.  That’s because the plants were breathing.  Now I’ll wait to see what happens.

PS – I wish mine wasn’t cut in half, but higher up.  I think you’d be able to see the plants better.  That’s why I put one third/two thirds in the direction.
I also learned from my teacher, Mr. Zink, that you could put just one part of a fern leaf in the terrarium.  It will grow roots and become a plant.  You might want to give that a try too.
I’ll bring my terrarium to school at the end to the summer.  I wonder how it will change! Stop by to see it.

Let me know about your terrarium adventures in a comment below.

It’s Wednesday – here are some problems to solve

Gabby and Lucy went to the beach. Gabby collected 1,276 shells and 2,907 rocks for a project.  Lucy collected 2,381 shells and 1,524 rocks for the project.  Together they used 4,039 shells and rocks to decorate tiles they were making for their fairy garden path.  How many shell and rocks did they have left over?

Mackenzie has been swimming in her pool 2 hours every day since school has been over.  How many minutes has she been in her pool?  (Weekends are included)

Max decided to build his own Lego city.  So far he has built 5 buildings for Maxopolis.  Each building used 1,436 Lego bricks.  How many Legos has Max used so far in his city?


It’s Monday – you might like these books to read

At the end of the school year Sully added two books to our collection.  Mother Goose Bruce and Hotel Bruce, both by Ryan T. Higgins who wrote Be Quiet! a book we’d enjoyed together at the end of the year.

In the first book we meet grumpy Bruce the bear who doesn’t like anything except being alone and eating eggs that he cooks by following different fancy recipes.  While trying out a new one, hard-boiled goose eggs drizzled with honey-salmon sauce, a little mishap means he’s not alone anymore.  You’ll have to read the book to find out how things work out for Bruce.  What do you think?  Is he grumpier than ever, or not?  How do you think the story will continue after the book is done?

In the second book we learn more about Bruce and how he is handling his life as a mother.  It’s tough and it’s tiring.   All Bruce want to do is settle in at home and relax.  But Bruce’s home has been taken over by three mice (YES – those 3 mice) and turned into The Woodland Hotel.  It is full of creatures, noise and disruption.  And when the elephants come… well that is just too much.  You’ll have to read the book to find out how Bruce solves his problem – or if he does.

It’s fun to see how the book ends with a nod to the next.  I can’t wait to read Be Quiet! again to discover what clues were left at the end that I may or may not have noticed.  I wonder if and how the story will continue.  I wonder who will be the star.

Ryan T. Higgins is going to be at the Newington Barnes and Noble on July 1 at 11:00.  I hope to make it.  I think he will be fun to hear.  Maybe I’ll see you there.

Thanks Sully!

PS – I’m in the middle of reading The Wild Robot by Peter Brown and in that book the robot, Roz becomes the mother to a gosling too, Bright Bill.  It’s a great story so far and one that I think you all would like.  It is quirky and interesting like all Peter Brown books with characters to really care about. I am wondering how it will end – will it be happy or not?  I’m not certain at all.

What are you reading?  Let us know in a comment below!  (I miss you!  Hope your vacation is off to a terrific start.  I bet you’ll enjoy Gabby’s new poem.  Check it out.)

Our Week – June 16

This is post is illustrated by our class photographers, Zack and Mackenzie.

The last day of 3rd grade is here. While we were preparing for the conferences the students made a list of all the things they had accomplished. It was full. They have done many things together and each one of them deserves to be proud of how they have grown and changed this year. It was rewarding to see each child look through work samples from across the year.   It gave them an opportunity to stop and notice the many things they had done and the progress they had made. Thank you all for supporting each of them throughout the entire year. 3E worked hard together and come a long way.

Cinderella Around the World

 We finished the year with the Cinderella project. I’ve been trying to fit it in since March. Each of the countries the children chose has a Cinderella story from it. At first the boys were not sure they were going to like a princess getting married story. They’ve discovered that there are some pretty interesting twists and turns. There are magic snakes, bulls, fish, and dolls. There are even Cinder Lads from Sweden and Ireland.

Each of the children read their version and completed a chart that introduced them to some new terms – protagonist and antagonist. It was fun to think through the different stories and compare them to the version we are most familiar with. That is the one from France.         Once the chart was completed, they covered a can with paper to create the setting of the story and chose between 3 and 5 characters or things important to the story. They created these and put them inside the can. It has been fun to see how the stories compare. They could find what they had learned about their country in the stories. It was a fun project and a fun reminder.

Blog and Glog Reminders

Please remember that the Glogsters – digital posters – the children created to share their opinion writing through can be seen and shared with family. I know the children would love to know their hard work had been viewed and read. The same is true for the blogs. Many of the children have been creating and posting through this week.

The children are welcome and encouraged to continue on blogging. I will keep 3E news updated with book recommendations on Monday, math problems on Wednesday and activities and events as Friday Fun suggestions. I know summers are busy and full – as they should be, but I also know that sometimes a break for quiet reading and writing is a welcome change.

There are 3 links in the sidebar that you’ll enjoy exploring with your children. Zoo Babies features a different animal each day. The site is perfect for our animal lovers. Kids Should See This is a collection of interesting short videos featuring a wide variety of science and social studies topics. A new group of five is posted each week. They are fascinating. The final link of interest is Kids Read. This site reviews books and announces book releases. It’s one of my favorites and was introduced to me by a book loving 5th grader many years ago. Check it out.

Thank you sharing your children with me this year and helping them succeed in 3rd grade! They were able to visit the 4th grade classrooms on Wednesday and meet the teachers.  They are ready.

Have a wonderful vacation!

P.S.  I am hoping that each of the children shared Fable Falls with you.  We had a wonderful unveiling and signing party on Thursday.

It’s Wednesday – here are some problems to solve

There are 177 days in our school year.  There are six and a half hours of school each day. How many hours are there in a school year?

There are 16 kids in 3E  each of them has read at least 14 books this year.  How many books have they read altogether?

Everyone shared their portfolio with their families at their student-led conference.  It took 30 minutes for each portfolio share.  How many hours did it take for everyone to share their portfolios?

There are 16 awesome children in 3E.  How many teachers wish them a fabulous vacation and hope they will visit often next year?


Our Week – June 9

This week’s post is illustrated by our class photographers, Katie and Max.

Thank you again to families for speaking with your children about choices and behavior. Thank you for helping your child to do his or her best and encouraging best effort right through our last day. We are so happy to have the sun with us at the end of the week. That changes everything. We can have recess and the opportunity to be loud. Those opportunities help 3E meet with success. But also, thank goodness for cool rain that helped us focus on school rather than longing for summer.

Portfolio Building

This week much of our time has been spent organizing saved work and building our portfolios. We’ve been exploring our accomplishments and looking at where we we’ve been. In the past we’ve used EdCube to create digital portfolios. This year, that software could no longer support the requirements (written by someone who know just a little about bandwidth, platforms and compatibility) for uploading quality images and video. We are back to binders, pencils and paper – that doesn’t fit every learner, and yet as they kids sort through their work they are making some great discoveries.

With each new section we’ve spent some time discussing and listing the habits needed to meet with success in each area. I love how they word things like “notice one little thing and improve that” or “make sure it’s mostly smooth, but with a few bumps” or “if you don’t have to stop and look up, it’s too easy.” It is great that as a class they are willing to look for a challenge.

There is a real sense of pride as they stop to realize how they have grown and changed. They have grown as readers, writers, mathematician and researchers. They’ve explored science and social studies. They are aware of choices and habits that lead to success for both themselves and others. It has been interesting to see which children are able to independently follow directions to complete the task and which children need step-by-step guidance. It is also interesting to see which children meet the minimum and which children are looking to capture and share more of their year.

We’ve done a lot.

Continuing to Explore Fractions

We’ve continued to explore fractions, solve a variety of problems and play games that help up practice basic facts. Math in the middle of the day has a calming effect on our class. Most seem to like the challenge of completing many different problems. We’ve been working through an end-of-year assessment for a few weeks that will be passed to the 4th grade teachers. It is very interesting to see how the children work through such a wide variety of problems. They know its okay to skip what we’ve note been able to fit into our year, but most of the kids are willing to give those challenges a try. They’ve had fun working to build graphs and read tables and charts. They’ve seen them as puzzles to manipulate and work through. What great learning habits to have.

Bits and Pieces – 

  • We’re nearly finished with Maxi’s Secret, and will certainly finish it next week. It is a story that captures our imagination and our hearts.
  • Fable Falls by 3E is finally ready for publication!
  • And our “Kindness Rocks!”project is nearly completed as well.

We are looking forward to seeing you next week for our Student-Led conferences.

It’s Wednesday – here are some problems to solve

Soon it will be Jayce’s birthday.  He is hanging balloons fro decorations.  He has 4 bags of yellow balloons and 5 bags of blue balloons.  Each bag has ten balloons in it.  How many balloon does Jayce have altogether?

Jayce and his friends played games with the balloons.  At the end of the party half of them had been popped.  How many balloons were left?

One of the activities at the party was making individual puzzles.  Jayce and his friends drew pictures on cardboard.  They cut them into 12 rows.  They cut each row into 12 pieces.  How many pieces were there altogether in each puzzle?

Our Week – June 2

This week’s post is illustrated by Jayce, our class photographer.

Hard to believe the end of 3rd grade is so near. The countdown is on and we have much to complete and prepare. As is often the case with endings, those who struggle with appropriate behaviors are having an even more difficult time with self-control. Their routine is changing, and that makes them uncomfortable.

In our class, this is a handful of boys who’ve made learning virtually impossible at times. Their interruptions, rude songs, comments and sarcastic remarks and physical behaviors fill the classroom and hall. We don’t have time for these disruptions, and so there are workspaces in the office waiting for those that will not/cannot allow the class to work because of their behavior choices. You may want to talk to your child about behavior and what you expect. Please remind him or her, that one person misbehaving is not permission, nor an excuse to join in.

On top of our “behavior-full” week, we’ve also been working to do lots. We’re illustrating fables, building our digital posters, completing school assessments, and reading, writing and “mathing”. We’ve focused on accomplishments during our daily S.E.L. discussions. We’ve defined what an accomplishment is and listed what we’ve done throughout this year. The children have begun to examine the evidence of their own learning – they’ve done a lot this year! They are noticing the results of their efforts this year and that’s a good feeling.

Reflecting on the Year

            Thanks to everyone for selecting a conference time. I am aware how full this time of year is, so thank you. This conference is a wonderful way for your child to take ownership of learning. It is rewarding to look back to see changes and growth. They can feel pride in their accomplishments. At the beginning of the month the children revisited their fall goals to see if they’d met them or not. Some had. Some had not. Each child thought about what might be used as evidence of her/his achievement, or what goal might be more realistic. Since then they’ve been making choices to help them achieve their goals. Their efforts make me smile. “I did it! I finished!’ A comment made by a child who’s been working to complete a 384-page book. “Well, that took a while.” A comment made by another child who solved a three-step math problem using multiplication, subtraction and division. “We learned to play another song today. Maybe we’ll learn another on next week.” A comment made by a child, surprised to learn more after the concert.

It will be rewarding to put our portfolios together. Collectively, the children seem excited about what they’re seeing. It will be even more wonderful to take that final step and share.

Writing Accomplishments

            This week the children are illustrating their fables. They are looking forward to reading each other’s and learning the lessons their classmates chose to “teach” the class. These short narratives show what the children have learned about leads and conclusions, transitions and use of elaboration strategies. They also demonstrate where 8 and 9-year olds are developmentally as they learn how to consider the understanding of others. The picture in their minds as they read and discuss their fable, is much more complete than their words share. They assume we are picturing the same thing. Surely they will make you smile and think!

Not having a full awareness of an outside audience also shows in their persuasive state Wonder writing. But looking back and considering their growth from their zoo writing, to their global geography share to this, we can see their accomplishments. They’ve learned more about researching and note taking. Many have moved beyond “Googling” for a single answer and are willing to read long informational text to gain understanding. They’ve learned about organizing and paragraphing and are getting more skilled with punctuation.

Bits and Pieces:

  • We’re enjoying Maxi’s Secret. It is interesting to explore differences – Maxi is deaf, Abby is blind, Timminy is short and Devon has hemiplegia.
  • We’ve been working through our many school assessments in reading, writing, and math.
  • Tag and World Cup are popular recess games. It’s fun to see the whole class playing together during our morning recess. They enjoy that time together too.
  • We’ve been reading books by Meghan McCarthy this week to guide our discussions about accomplishments and habits for success. They have wonderful endnotes and information that we have not shared in class. They’d be great to explore at home together.