Category Archives: 3rd Grade

First Day of School 2015

This is our 6th year of homeschooling. Our oldest son Curly is in 10th grade, and I am going to wax on about him for a moment because I rarely do. When we began this journey, he was starting 5th grade. Now I realize his high school years will be over in the blink of an eye. He recently took the ACT for the first time and he scored in the upper 20s! We are all so proud of him, and this was just a “practice” for him. He is very determined to score a 30 next year, and he did say I could put in print that he scored a 32 (out of possible 36) on the English portion. We might have had more than a few heated discussions over the years about the importance of his language studies, but even he admits it has all been worth the hard work.


I’m beyond proud of how hard this young man works and the man he is becoming more of every single day. He loves the Lord and has such a servant heart about him. The Lord could not have placed a more capable, trustworthy, diligent, respectful or loving young man as the oldest child in our family.

Today marked our first day back to school and our first school day ever in the year 2015. I thought it worthy of a post, plus I figured my few readers might be wondering if I was ever coming back. I did toy with the idea of shutting this blog down, but I do love to write and for now this is my platform. I have come full circle in this homeschooling journey especially as of late when I was striving to determine along with my husband the Prez what would be the best decision for our son Mo regarding his schooling. A wise mother and veteran homeschooler told me years ago: “All you really need to teach your children at home is your Bible and a library card.”

And all these years later, I have to say she is right. In truth, all you really need is your Bible, but I will readily admit I love books and my kids do too. This evening, my husband gladly fixed breakfast for supper because I asked him if he would, ¬†so I could take Mo on a little date to the library. He has been asking me to take him for days, and really, what Momma can deny a 12-year-old boy a trip to the library? He chose three books, one he needs for his new on-line language class, and two for pleasure. One of those pleasure reading books is 800 PAGES LONG. Oh, how I’ve missed seeing this boy of ours so excited over reading. 800 PAGES. He was like a kid in a candy store at the library tonight, and what Momma doesn’t love an hour of time alone with one of her children when she has six to spread herself between. Here he is reading his new science text: Apologia General Science. My heart swelled seeing him rocking in the glider under my favorite blanket that he loves to curl up under too! LOVE.


Today, the 3rd graders (and our little PreK tag-a-long) worked on mostly our tutorial classes, which start back on Thursday. Continue reading


Thanksgiving Craft: A Thankful Book

I am thankful for Pinterest. ūüėÄ


I am also thankful our three littles still love to do art projects and craft with materials on hand.


I am thankful for the sweet words they chose for their thankful pages in these precious books!

I am thankful for crafts that are keepers!


Though we can’t ever be too thankful, I will share a bit more about this little project that consumed some of our morning. I can’t take credit, so let me credit the original source and please click over there for detailed instructions and much better photos LOL!


I did make some adaptations, because I was out of rubber bands and hadn’t saved any environmental cardboard (great idea though!) for the colored feathers.


OK, aside from the fact no one should run out of rubber bands e.v.e.r., let’s focus on the positive. I’m instinctive and immediately went for the loom bands for a *temporary* fix until the Prez comes home tonight with the appropriate rubber bands.


I also pulled out our scraps from previous projects for the colored feathers, and they went to work making them out of torn paper, torn tissue paper, cut-up pieces of felt, cut-up cardboard and parts of a pop-tart box that was discarded in the recycling trash can yesterday.


As I noted above, please go to B-inspired Mama for detailed step-by-step instructions.

This craftiness was perfect to me because:

  1. it requires writing and/or narrating (for little ones you could write it for them as they narrate their story)
  2. it encourages thinking creatively as the story is written/narrated
  3. it encourages  illustrations from various mediums (markers were their preferred choice but colored pencils also work and paint would as well)
  4. it serves a purpose other than just another craft (that could potentially end up in the round file tomorrow‚ÄĒthis one definitely won’t!)
  5. it required the use of scissors, glue sticks AND liquid glue
  6. my kids ages 9, 9 and 4 all LOVED this project which is really my ultimate goal.

So what are you thankful for today? PLEASE share in the comments! I love to hear from you!


Book Talk Tuesday: Integrating Art with Elmer and A Million Dots

My three younger students love to create works of art. Every week I try to think of ways (thank you Pinterest!) to combine art with planned lessons. Quite often, this is done by extending a book to add in an artful element of learning.

This past week, this was quite effortless. I love it when a good idea actually comes together! I know all teachers everywhere can totally relate. Holla!


I had been trying to snag A Million Dots from our local library for quite awhile. Last Wednesday, we finally found it available. I read it to them on Friday.

This book is so fun, because as you read through it you actually see a total of 1,000,000 dots! Each page shares a 6-digit number and an interesting fact. As we read the book my 3rd graders took turns reading the 6-digit numbers. They also read a page here and there, but this was my read-aloud to them that morning so mostly they listened while I read.



They loved it when I told them they could choose ANY 6-digit number, a favorite subject, AND we would do some research to write a fact about the number and subject matter. Continue reading


Leaf Animals

We’ve been exploring leaves in our Botany class, and we plan to do this project below again this year. I took these photos last October with my then 2nd graders and 3-year-old, yet I¬†never blogged about them. I thought it would be fun to share this fun little idea this Fall. The leaves are falling here and we have some beautiful colors already.

I highly recommend this book especially for this project, and I have included a widget below it with other book suggestions. It also includes our science text for this year: Exploring Creation with Botany.


Aren’t these so adorable?!

This one is an alligator made by Li’l Bit:



This is a beautiful butterfly¬†made by Li’l Miss:



This is a turtle made by Li’l Bro:


Last but not least, this is my frog complete with some eggs:


Try this with your students as you explore the beautiful colors of Fall! Please share below what is your favorite season and why.


How Do You Spell …

… should be a banned phrase.

OK, in all seriousness, it shouldn’t. However, hearing this phrase 100+ times a week can in fact make one contemplate whether or not writing is in fact a necessary part of the school day.

Of course, writing isn’t optional, so what to do?


Well you could spell the words for your students 1,589 times a week or you can encourage them in creative ways to become more confident in their abilities to decode and decipher. I’m choosing option B more often than not these days. Below I’ll outline¬†5¬†ways to achieve¬†spelling¬†independence, and I will share in this widget some tools and books we use in our spelling lessons.

5 Ways to Achieve Spelling Independence


1. Use a spelling program.


That seems obvious enough doesn’t it? I have tried. Believe me, I’ve tried. I can’t even say that one hasn’t worked, because if I’m being completely honest I just haven’t stuck with it. I don’t even remotely like spelling lessons. I guess part of the blame lies in the fact that spelling comes very naturally for me, and I suppose in a way I just think (and secretly wish) it was that way for everyone. But it isn’t.


So we’re using The Logic Of English Essentials Teacher Guide and Student Cursive Workbook along with the Phonogram Cards and Gamebook. My 3rd graders love the games of course, and the lessons aren’t so bad. I have one natural speller and one who spells completely phonetically, which just doesn’t work for most English words beyond CVC words.




I am using this resource with both students for now, but there may come a time as the year progresses where I will need to spend some one-on-one time with them on spelling. When and how, I’m not sure yet, but we’ll make it work! Continue reading


Multiplication Facts with Visual Demonstrations

If I’m being completely honest, I’ve been¬†slightly afraid terrified of teaching the times tables. Now that I have two 3rd graders in¬†our one-room schoolhouse, I can’t avoid the times tables anymore. Who knew, though, they could be so much fun?

Recently, we reviewed some arrays and then we combined art with math for a hands-on approach to the why behind multiplication. If you’d like to try Multiplication Arrays with a City Skyline¬†with your students, please check out¬†Elementary AMC¬†and download the freebie recording sheet while you’re there!


After my 3rd graders completed their own Multiplication Skylines, they traded papers and used the last column of the recording sheet to check each others’ work and record the correct color of the array shown on each building. They really loved this math lesson, and they wanted the photos printed for inclusion in their math journals!

To continue our study of arrays, we used small cubes one day to work out problems of our own choosing. They had to then show the problems on their papers using blocks and write out the equations as well.


Again, this was just another way to explore the why behind multiplication in a hands-on approach. Though my children were in 2nd grade last year, we don’t really follow the CCSS closely so arrays are not something we spent a great amount of time on last year. I do feel they are mature enough now to grasp multiplication and so far they are loving it! It is always fun when one of your students has a lightbulb moment like one of mine did and then said: “This is really just adding the same number over and over again.” I didn’t tell them this right off as I was hoping for them to see the patterns for themselves‚ÄĒlove it when this happens!

I recently updated a resource I created a few years ago. Now my Multiplication Charts include facts through 12 x 12. It includes¬†3 color charts and 2 black-and-white charts for printing ease as well. If you’re not following me on Facebook, why don’t you consider liking my page? From time to time, I will offer Flash Freebies like I’m about to do for the next 5 minutes with this resource below. Please go¬†LIKE Page Protector Printables and More on FB to find out about flash freebies, read valuable content and find out about my newest resources in my TpT store.


Please Share in the Comments: How do you bring multiplication alive for your students?


Why Can’t I Multiply Myself: Meeting Needs of Learners of Multiple Ages and Abilities

Over the last five years, I’ve had students as young as 4 and students as old as 16. In fact, this year, I again have a 4-year-old in my class and for the first time ever I have a 16-year-old in my class. In all honesty, I don’t call the place where I teach a classroom. Instead, I refer to it as our library.


When I think of what I hope to happen over the course of our days of learning, I think of scenes from a well-functioning library: students of many ages and abilities coming to a central location to learn at their own pace and from resources created for their unique levels and interests.

I will share four ways I have implemented a successful learning environment for students from preschool to high school.


1. Since I can’t multiply myself, I make myself available at specific times for specific students.


Many teachers do this everyday. You are most likely meeting with small groups or individual students over the course of a typical school day.


Each morning, I begin with my most needy student, who happens to be the youngest in my class at age 4. When I spend one-on-one time with her first, the rest of the day is always smoother and more productive. This time always includes reading a few books together, some of my choosing and some of hers, and on Mondays we also begin a new letter focus for our week.



After our focused time together, I encourage her to peruse¬†independent activities from her workboxes. I won’t lie. She has been my most difficult student to embrace¬†independent learning, but with time and patience she is learning this time can be rewarding and fun.

At the same time I am working with my little Pre-Kindergartner, my oldest, who is in 10th grade, is busy working on the laptop, which is shared between my four students. Also during this time, my two 3rd graders are working independently on reading to themselves, listening to an audio recording of a book they are reading along in, and/or grabbing one of their own workboxes from their ELA or Math shelves.


After my time with the PreKer, I move into group time with my 3rd graders, which could be a math lesson, a spelling lesson, a writing workshop, science or history lesson, or a combination of a few of the above. Since we homeschool, we definitely don’t do a group lesson on each subject every day, but we do spend time on each subject every week for a targeted time of learning new content. On this particular day below during a Math Group lesson on multiplication, we were working on a wonderful Multiplication Array activity shared by Elementary AMC.


I have found posting a daily schedule for all to see not only helps my students to not say constantly, “Will¬†you help me with this?” It also helps ME to stay on task and be present and available when I have said I would be.


2. About those workboxes, they are necessary, needs-based, functional, and fulfilling.



My 10th grader has obviously moved beyond the workbox, so I’ll leave him out of this topic. I have used and continue to use workboxes with my elementary students as well as my preschool student. I don’t have a huge budget, which I’m sure is the case for 99.99999% of teachers everywhere. I needed a way to have a work¬†surface¬†and workbox storage for my then 2nd graders. I turned to Pinterest of course. I used Cubeicals from Tar-Get and a table top purchased from a secondhand store to make a large work¬†surface¬†with space for 18¬†Cubes¬†underneath. The green bin on each side is mine, and I use it to store things for the following week.

For my preschooler, I repurposed an old shoe cabinet (cleaned up of course) and some cloth bins that used to be in my closet!



My 3rd graders have two sets of workboxes: one for ELA and the other for Math. They also have color-coded boxes, so they know where to go for their things and where to return those things. Often, they have similar or the same items but not always. In this way, I can differentiate as needed when I place new items in their workboxes before the start of each week.


 I use two resources available for FREE on TpT to help them move through their boxes each day: Math Rotation labels and Daily ELA labels. I printed both 3 to a page to fit my space and I use painted clothespins, which correspond to each student by color, for managing the available choices each day.

3. Use common resources with specific additions that meet individual learning goals.


You may be scratching your head here. Let me give three examples. I have these photo blocks that I purchased along with a membership to access cards to fit them. The cards range from preschool level to upper elementary, so on any given week I can pull out these blocks to include in our workboxes. Then I just add cards accordingly for my preschooler and my 3rd graders.

In the photo below, my Pre-Kindergartner is working on one-to-one correspondence.


 My 3rd graders were working on adding three or more two-digit numbers. If you need an active math center, this might be a good option! The blocks are active but they are QUIET. Each of these activities were included in their work boxes and were clipped with Math Games on our Math Rotations board.


 I created this game for my preschooler to work on number recognition and counting, however when trying to work with multiple students of different ages and abilities I have found simple games such as this can absolutely be used with a bit of differentiation among players.


While my Pre-Kindergartener was just naming her numbers and finding that same number on the board to which to move, my 3rd grades were working on multiplication facts! They would draw two cards while she drew just one. She named her number and found that space. They found the product of their two cards and chose one of the numbers to move to on the board. It made learning fun and achievable with these multi-age learners.



Finally, I made Math Manipulative boxes for our students this summer. While each box contains the same “ingredients” if you will, my students can use them at their own ability levels and as tools during their independent learning times.



If you’d like more specific information about these boxes, you can read about them HERE.


4. Using assistance is key to our success in this unique learning environment.

I will share just two of a few ways I use assistance in our learning adventures: technology and a tutorial. For those in a more traditional classroom, you may be wondering what is a tutorial and what does it have to do with classroom needs. A tutorial is a one-day-a-week (or sometimes two days) program where I drop off our students for a full day of rotating classes with same-age peers and tutors who guide the students in that particular subject. At tutorial, our students are exposed to various teaching styles, to a more traditional classroom environment, and lastly they are accountable to someone other than me.

While classroom teachers aren’t using a tutorial, you may very well be in a setting where you rotate and teach certain subjects. I like having someone to assist me in this teaching adventure, and I hope you have a team approach in your classrooms as well!


As far as technology, we use the computer and my iPad along with several websites, particularly the following:

‚Äʬ†Tumblebooks¬†(this is free to us as we have a library code; perhaps your school or local library has one as well)

I love that my students can follow along as each book is read. I also love that this site works beautifully on a tablet device! Each book has the appropriate reading level already assigned and they are divided into story books, language learning, chapter books, fiction, and non-fiction.

‚Äʬ†IXL Math (and Language Arts)

We use this exclusively for math review and practice. I love that it features individual student accounts and that at any time I can view and/or print a report for each student’s progress. While it is divided by grades, students are allowed to use any grade level or multiple grade levels, which makes differentiation a breeze. Also, the CCSS are included and state standards as well for those who need this information for reporting purposes.

This site isn’t free, but there are no ads and they do offer discounts through various ways such as school licenses and through sites specific to homeschooling like Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.

‚ÄĘ Reflex Math

Again, a paid site but to me it is worth the cost for the absence of ads and the reports it generates in addition to its intuitiveness. Each student works on fact families at their own pace in addition, subtraction, multiplication and/or division.

Both IXL and Reflext Math have a built-in rewards system, which can be extra motivation for reluctant learners or those with a competitive spirit!

In addition to these sites, we use the computer for keyboarding practice and writing through typing. Even my youngest learner can find her way around the iPad. One other tip I’ll add: each of my students has their own set of headphones that are comfy and make it possible for them to use these devices anywhere in our library without disturbing students around them. I also set up a blog where my students can access free choice websites during independent tech time. You can find it here.

One last piece of advice: don’t underestimate the resources available for FREE from your local library! If you have a listening center in your classroom, you may be missing out if you aren’t checking out the wide range of audiobooks available at your local library. These work well on tablets and/or your desktop computers, and your students will be polishing up those reading skills if you also pair them with the actual book for them to follow along!


While you are working one-one-one with a student or small group of students, other students can be working independently on a device or computer with many options for ELA or math or a combination of both!

I hope you have found some helpful information in this article that perhaps you can use in your own classroom among your students. With just a bit of creativity and stretching, we can teach children of different abilities in one room, and in the process our students learn that all of us have something to offer and we can all learn from one another!


Exploring Creation with Botany

This year at our tutorial, the third graders are studying science through the discoveries of plants in the world around us. If you ask our three youngest students, they will quickly tell you a botanist is a person who studies living plants, and that they are in fact themselves botanists!

Here are some of the books we’ve read and/or had in our nature table book basket the past few weeks. Some we own and some we found at our local library.

To whet their appetites this past May for an upcoming year of botany studies, I had them each pick one of our plentiful iris flowers from the bed beside our house.




Then,¬†we took them¬†apart piece by piece by piece. Flowers are simply miraculous! They were able to name parts as we studied the intricacy of the plant. There really isn’t a flower much more intricately made and beautiful both inside and out than the bearded iris. I personally love the purple variety, but the white ones we discovered beside our home are magnificent as well! Continue reading


Monday Made It: Place Value “Blocks”

Sometimes you just need to PAINT and CUT and DO even when you’re in 3rd grade. Yesterday was one of those days where I threw caution to the wind and decided we would spend some time painting and cutting and would *hopefully* have a fabulous math tool to show for our work and repurposing.

It is no secret I save trash, especially pieces of cardboard. Don’t EVER throw away cardboard labels. They are SO VERY USEFUL: canvas for painting, repairing paperback book covers, matting a picture, AND for making place value “blocks”!


First, my 3rd graders painted the back of the cardboard labels with various colors of craft paint. After allowing it to dry, we used rulers and a bic black ink pen to create the grids for hundred blocks and then cut some of those down for base tens and ones pieces. Continue reading