Monday, April 30, 2012

Magnetic Suffixes

At this point in the school year, I have put away the majority of my word work centers so that students can focus more on comprehension and extension skills.  However, I have some students who need practice adding suffixes to verbs. They have trouble making spelling changes and using irregular verb forms.  I created an activity where students have the root/base word (verb) written on a paint sample card along with suffixes to change the verb. They must use magnetic letters to write the new word forms.  To check their work, they turn the cards over to compare the answer key with their spelling.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Card Games

Once again my trusty (colorful) paint sample cards come in handy. I am sure I am responsible for the badly predicted paint sales at Lowes and Walmart.  They just can't figure out how so many people get samples, but no gallons of paint are ever sold.  I hope it is not illegal to take these--but they are free, right?  Besides that I always take the colors that are the fullest because I think that those are the colors people would never use to paint the rooms in their houses.

These activities came from a variety of online sources over several years so I am sorry I do not have links to them.  Some of the are from FCRR and some are from the Third Grade Wiki.  Many of them I found simply by typing the topic into Google.  A googling tip that works well for me is to enter the topic and them add pdf.  That way I know I am not getting useless links.  Adding pdf usually outputs an activity rather than an article or lesson plan.

Author's Purpose
The cards have scenarios on them and students have to sort them based on the author's purpose. The correct answers are written on the back of the cards so that students can self-check.
For another center that features author's purpose check out Beanbag Toss

Cause and Effect
In this first activity, the students have to sort the cards to create a cause and effect relationship. The second activity is a little lower in level because there are choices to complete the cause-effect relationship rather than students creating their own. I only used one linking word, but you can also add in others to increase the complexity.

Fact and Opinion
In both activities students read a statement on the card and decide if it is a fact or an opinion.  In the activity on the left the cards are sorted and in the activity on the right the students give oral responses. 
Both sets of cards are coded on the back with the correct answers.

Synonyms and Antonyms
These card games are differentiated by reading ability. The first one is a higher level because the vocabulary is more academic than conversational.  The second activity, Dominoes, is more rigorous because it requires students to think ahead and anticipate future responses when linking the synonyms and antonyms together. The last two sets of cards are the same matching activity, but one set of cards has picture cues and one doesn't.

Time For Kids

I wanted to design a center that focused on real-life nonfiction text.  I wanted to use something that was in the consumer text genre. I had the menus and the map reading, the diary and the post about magazines or newspapers?

I found some free copies of Time for Kids.  I had thought about getting a subscription for my class, but it was too expensive.  I thought about getting a Donors Choose grant or asking parents for donations, but that idea came and went. I never threw away my free samples though so I decided to laminate them to make them more durable.

I decided to use some of the task cards I found on my favorite website which I call Third Grade Wiki. The section with these activities is called Response Cards 1-4. For this center, I only printed out the ones that related to nonfiction text.

I put the magazines and task cards in a bag and hung them on the wall.  The students really enjoy this center.  Some of them will read the same issue several times and complete a different task each time.  Others will find a task they like and complete it with each of the copies of the magazine.  I was able to go to other teachers at higher and lower grade levels and get their free copies so I have a variety of reading levels for different students to use.

Monday, April 9, 2012


I was on Pinterest the other day and I came across something called lapbooking on a homeschooling site.  I had never heard of it before and I checked it out because it had a very visual element that I know students will appreciate.  Students make mini-books about elements that are related to a common topic. Then they arrange all of the mini-books into a display of one large lapbook. There are a number of websites that can give ideas for lapbooking--just Google it.  Many of the sites give photo examples and also templates for making the mini-books.

This is the lapbook my students are making this week as a way to review the reading stragegies they have learned this year. I spent class time demonstrating how to make the individual minibooks.  Then I made the lapbook a center this week so the students could write the information inside the minibooks during their worktime.

This is a note from the mom of one of my students:

Too Many Activities, Not Enough Space

Earlier this month I shared that I was putting away my word study centers and focusing on more reading response and comprehension. I usually have the activity cards hanging on clothespins that are hotglued on my walls...

My walls were looking a little trashy and crowded though so I needed a new way to organize them.  I headed out to my trusty Dollar Tree to get inspired. I decided that I would put all of the activities about a topic in one clear container together.  Now the students can just take the whole tub to work on which is better because it will be more productive for them to work on several related activities instead of a bunch of different ones.

The activities in the tubs are a variety of homemade things, purchased games, and tasks dowloaded from websites such as Pinterest, FCRR, and The Third Grade wiki.

Dear Diary (revision)

Back in January, I described a literacy center titled Dear Diary. Like any teacher, I revise my centers when I find a way to improve their content and rigor.  I came across a diary response activity when browsing my favorite wiki Third Grade.  The diary response card is found in the Response Cards 1 pdf. The Response Cards have fantastic reading and writing activities which I have added to my Guided Reading toolbox and novel study lessons.