Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tried it Tuesday - Zoo Building!

Oh boy! I've become one of those slacker bloggers...sigh.  ;) Seriously though, I think I've fallen into the trap of working myself into temporary burn out. Sometimes I need to sit back and accept that not every cool idea needs to be done this year with my kiddos...

Speaking of traps, check out my class's Venus Fly
Trap! It's an attempt to cut down on our fruit fly
problem, which is caused by terracycling
juice pouches for the school.
Every time I've finally gotten myself to the point where I'm a good week ahead of the game in school, I notice all of the "home life" things I've been neglecting. It never ends, right?!

I definitely need to find that balance between working on school stuff, my personal life, and going to bed at 1 AM. Right now my time allotment is way out of whack leaning towards the teachery stuff. And I think it's time to come to terms with the fact that I'm not young enough to stay up til 1 o'clock every night anymore. I need to spend more time on "me things" too.

I'm so lucky to have such a great bunch of kids this year! They've made my transition into 3rd/4th a lot smoother than it could have been. One thing I love about the multi-age class is that I get to keep all of my 3rd graders next year as my new 4th graders!

But..on with the show:

I'm linking up with Holly for another Tried it Tuesday! This week we started regrouping for Math. I have taken on teaching the fast-paced, gifted learners group. We have a lot of those in my district, so my math class has 27 kiddos in it. That's a whole lot of kids that need constant challenge in order to be kept engaged. My plan is to do a lot of project based learning along the way. 

Matt over at Digital Divide and Conquer has a great project based product for teaching Area and Perimeter (and great practice for a bunch of other skills too!) that I am starting with this group. It basically tasks the kids with building a zoo and meeting multiple parameters while doing so. It comes with a lot of extension activities too, which I really like. There's also an entire set of the papers that allow a teacher to differentiate for a lower level group! We're also currently studying Africa, and this'll be a great way for me to hit some of that with the animals in the zoo. 

I love the fact that this product comes with everything ready to print and use, and that it can be done to different levels. For example, if a student finishes building the zoo, there are sheets to have the student "zoom in" on one of the animal enclosures, or write a quiz about their zoo. Definitely go check it out! At just $4.50 I'd say this is pretty much a steal. 

My mentor texts this week have included I Need My Monster (which goes along with Jivey's Mentor Sentences), Fake Mustache, and Galimoto.  We're a little more than halfway through Fake Mustache right now, which I use as our text to model our CAFE strategies. This week in reading we are focusing on recognizing character traits (personality and physical) and visualizing. Some of the activities in my Fake Mustache Unit have made planning for this week easy-peasy!

Galimoto was our writing mentor text, where we're focusing on having a bold beginning for our narratives. It also ties in well with the Africa unit I am teaching in social studies. It's the story of an African boy who goes along trying to find wire so he can build a "galimoto." The kids slowly discover what that is, so it's good for predicting and inferring as well. But we focused on the first page of the story, where the author begins by telling us the things this boy has in his possession. It makes you want to know why he has those things and what he's going to do with them. He wasn't introduced right away, and the setting wasn't discussed initially. It is a different way to begin a story, and it hooks the reader. I challenged the kids to write a piece with a bold beginning after we read the story.

I figured I'd throw in some of my favorite Halloween books too! Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich (and Takes the Cake) are both hilarious books full of rhyming short stories, comics, etc. I usually read a little each day to the kids just for fun starting a week before Halloween. Monster Museum is a funny book of poems about the different monsters. Vunce Upon a Time is the story of a vegetarian vampire who also likes candy, but has run out right before Halloween. I use these stories to reinforce the skills we've already introduced, but we read them mostly just for fun.  :)

And if you haven't already, it's not too late to start up some Monster Battles in Math! I recently finished my Multiplication Facts (tables 0-12) battle tournament. I also have multi-digit addition and money addition tournaments. The multiplication tournament has a totally different set of pairings and a different winner than the addition tournaments! Each tournament comes at the ridiculously low price of $5! We actually completed our tournament already and the kids LOVED IT. They want to do another one later this year!

In other news, my BBB Jess over at I Heart Recess is having a giveaway! I've donated my Roll and Draw a Monster activity! Go enter if you haven't already!


  1. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Matt's Zoo Design Area & Perimeter! I'm chomping at the bit to try it with my kiddos...we are still doing adding & subtracting of decimals right now! I can't wait to see examples of how your zoos turn out with you kids.
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. THANKS for the shout out! I'm actually using the Zoo Design with four of my kids right now (3rd and fourth graders) and I've got 2 using the higher level and two using the lower level. They are loving it (whew, thank goodness). You'll have to let me know how they turn out.

    My daughters and I just planted out Killer plants. We have a whole set of them and I just showed them your photo. I think they're hoping to catch a mouse in the Venus Fly Trap.

    And I just read the I Need My Monster book to the kids. What an awesome book. I've taken note of your rec. too and will be heading to the our LLC to find them.

    Digital: Divide & Conquer

  3. What an awesome post, Nick!! I know what you mean about trying to find the balance. It never ends and I am scared to even admit how many extra hours I spend on school stuff each day! Matt's zoo design looks amazing and I need to check out those books! Thanks for linking up. :)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  4. Thanks for the shout out Nick! I am going to have to check out Matt's Zoo project, sounds awesome!


  5. I love how you got a Venus flytrap to take care of the fruit fly problem from the terracycling. The reason I stopped doing drink pouches was because my room started to smell like a winery!

  6. Love this! For even little kids you can just do the chant and look behind each character. The flannel friday crowd is always looking for rhymes like that :) Thanks for sharing. Educational dvds for Kids | Buy cds Online India


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