Today We Went On A Treasure Hunt.


 Could it be the droid I am looking for? photo credit: Nukamari via photopin cc

This morning as I was putting the schedule on the board, I stopped next to the science label and simply wrote: C,H & O activity. When students started coming in and seeing what the roadmap for today said, they all asked “What is C,H & O activity”. It stumped them. It perplexed them. It thrilled them. They couldn’t wait until 2:40pm when it was finally time to explain what we were doing. I was bombarded with questions all day but simply replied “You’ll see when we get there. It’s going to be fun!”.

One student did figure it out 5 minutes before science, and was given the job of proudly announcing to the class that it was called the: “Carnivore, Herbivore and Omnivore Activity”. Questioning eyes landed on me as I finished my sentence. What was this activity? How would it be fun?

The idea was simple. We have been studying habitats for a while and have just started our exploration of food chains this week. It was time to explore what the different types of consumers were.The students were given a table with three columns and were challenged to search through the science literature for multiple examples of all three types of consumers. (I am blessed that the school librarian put together an amazing collection of together for us for this unit).  Once they had completed their lists, they could pick their favourite three and sketch them in their science thinking books.

Our pre-discussion resulted in amazing questions: Is a penguin an omnivore or is it carnivore? Are bees herbivores? What about vampire bats??. Armed with the books, a reminder to have a critical eye when reviewing information and eagerness that only a treasure hunt could inspire the students were off! The buzz in the room was amazing! Discussions and gasps of delight as they figured out what different animals eat filled the room. “DId you know that a frog is carnivore?”, “Do you know what the three types of mammals who lay eggs are?” When students were stumped they could use the laptops to check their information.

Oh what fun it was! There were groans as I asked them to clean up. What fun scientific treasure hunts are! Nobody can take away the treasure of knowledge.


What’s My Number? Mystery Number Call Math Warm Up


  Emptied photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc

Last week I happened to come across a Tweet in my Twitter feed that talked about ‘Mystery Number Calls’.  Having done a number of Mystery Skype calls with my students my curiosity was piqued and I began to follow the conversation thread. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was just like a mystery Skype but the classes would be guessing each others numbers. I opened a sign-up document from a Tweet and promptly forgot about it until the next day when one of my students said “Mystery number call? Cool! When are we going to try it??!”  A few others heard the comment and my class all got excited at the prospect of a new Skype game. That sealed the deal I just had to see if we could try this out!

I tapped into my PLN and @tegesdal agreed to do a mystery number call with us! We decided our classes each would pick 3 numbers between 0 – 99 and take turns asking questions to guess each number one at a time. I am very lucky to have a great coworker (@jennmarieco) who is always willing to try things out with me and agreed to have her third grade class join us in new our math game. After we explained the premise of the game and chose our numbers we eagerly awaited the start of our mystery number call. We had 2 students who were in front of the camera while the rest of the students listened and suggested what questions to ask. Oh what fun it was!

Some great things that I saw happen during the call:

– Having done a number of Mystery Skype calls this year our students all knew the expectations and exactly how to behave. Life is good when things work smoothly!

– Hearing the other classes questions helped our students become more strategic in what questions they asked.                                                                                      Is it even or odd? Is there a 9 in the tens place? Is it a multiple of 5? So many great ways to narrow down what the number is!

– It forces students to draw on their wide mathematical knowledge.

– Being asked about their number forced our students to think critically about the characteristics of our chosen numbers. It also forced them to keep track of what questions we asked and what the others class’s number could be.

– It takes team work to narrow down the number.

– Everyone was successful and we were able to guess all the numbers in the game!

– The game only took 20 mins and is a great warm up for a math class!

Some changes for next time: 

– I would have students pick numbers between 0 and 10 000. (fits with the grade 4 curriculum)

– I would play the ‘low tech’ version of guess my number a few more times to practice our question asking strategies.

– I would give each student either a number line or a number chart of sorts.

– I would do small groups or pair rotations to allow everyone to get more involved.

Our experience with the mystery number call was very positive and I can’t wait to try it agin! If you are interested in connecting with us just let me know!

Falling Into Our Imaginations

Here is an overview of an integrated art / writing lesson I did with my students last month.

It all started with a simple video I found on The Literacy Shed.

After watching the video we discussed what happened in the video and what happened to the boy as he fell into the ball pit. I then introduced them to the  art concept of foreshortening using a Powerpoint from (Lesson is called: Falling into Foreshortening. 1/2 way down the page).

I then challenged the students to create an image of them falling into ‘something’ using the technique shown in Mrs Browns blog. The process is pretty simple. Students first trace their feet onto the bottom of the page and then trace their hands so their toes overlap the bottom of the palm of their hands. They then draw their body to create the complete the illusion of them falling.

After the students were done they were asked to write a short piece about what they were falling into. (I had modelled my own process from art piece to written piece).

Time Allotment:

3 – 4 classes

(One student even finished the project at home while she was sick!)


Large pieces of drawing paper,

Pencils and Erasers,

Pencil Crayons,

 You may want to use markers to really make the pictures pop!

We had students falling out of planes, into a ball pit, into hockey arenas and one was even shot out of a volcano!

Here are the final products:











Math Manipulatives on a Budget

As the summer days tick by  and the new school year is quickly approaching. Being a new teacher this has meant a lot of planning and thinking about what I want in my classroom. On  recent stop at the local dollar store I happened across these little wooden blocks.

As I stood there looking at the blocks an idea struck me, ‘Why not make them into math manipulatives?’. At $1 for 52 blocks I could  easily make a new set of multipurpose manipulatives for my classroom. Armed with a few fine tipped permanent markers this is what I came up with:

One activity idea is that students can grab a few numbered blocks from the bag roll them and then be challenged to create the largest or smallest number possible from the numbers they rolled. Another idea is to use the blocks to create number sentences depending on what we’re working on at that time. The possibilities are almost endless, so for $2 I think this is a great addition to my math corner!

I went back later in the week and came up with these coloured alphabet blocks. Perhaps a good tool for ‘Work on Words’ in Daily 5?