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Teacher’s Pets #24 Paul Needs Specs

Paul Needs Specs

Paul Needs Specs


written by Bernard Cohen
illustrated by Geoff Kelly
Kane/Miller Book Publisher
ISBN: 192913261
Ages 5-9

Paul asked, “Has the world gone fuzzy, . . .?” What a scary feeling to have your world blur in front of your eyes, especially when you are a child no bigger than Paul. The world hadn’t gone fuzzy or blurry or misty or foggy . . . well not really. But, Paul’s eyesight did. Author, Bernard Cohen takes us on a trip to the eye doctor. What a strange place that is! Paul tries many different lenses. Some make him see fat and some make him see tall and I wonder if some do nothing at all. Then Goeff Kelly adds his zany, very psychedelic illustrations, which will make readers howl. This book should definitely allay the fears of any child who needs to get glasses. PAUL NEEDS SPECS is a real eye-opener.

This review was originally published on SmartWriters and on

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“Paul needed specs because everything was fuzzy and blurry,” said Greg.

“Specs are some kind of glasses,” said Katie-Erin.

“Paul was bumping into things,” said Zach.

“I felt bad for him,” said Lucy, “because he was upset.”

“Paul felt kind of weird because everything was foggy,” said Anya.

“Well, if I needed glasses or spectacles,” said Philippe, “I would freak out.”

“Yeah! It would be pretty crazy, if I had to get glasses,” agreed Kurtis.

“They don’t make you look bad,” said Sarit.

“They just make you look unique!” said Marta with a grin.

“Right, because sometimes people don’t want to blend in with the crowd,” said Juan.

“Hmm, I think glasses always make you look smart,” said Philippe.

“This book reminds me of when I got glasses,” said Sarit, “but I don’t really wear them much.”

“Sometimes people tease people with glasses.” said Zach. “Sometimes they call them four eyes . . . uhhhh, no offense, Juan.”

“None taken,” said Juan.

“Well, I think teasing is a mean thing to do,” said Becky.

“I don’t understand why people have to tease people with glasses. There’s nothing wrong with them,” said Katie-Erin.

“It just makes them different . . . and different is all right,” said Marta. “Different is better than being the same.”

“Yeah!” said Pritka. “If we were all the same you couldn’t tell who was who.”

“And, kids wear glasses for their own good,” said Anya. “Who cares what other people think?”

“There’s a poem,” said Lucy. “It goes, ‘Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.’”

“I sort of agree,” said Kurtis, “It should be normal for people to wear glasses.”

“I just don’t get it. They’re just glasses. What’s bad about that?” asked Marta.

“Yeah!” said Sarit. “What’s bad about glasses? Sometimes they make you look smart.”

“Like teenagers!” said Pritka with a giggle. “Teenagers get glasses to make them look smart.”

“I just think it’s crazy calling people names just because they wear glasses,” said Greg. “If they take them off they can’t see.”

“Well, in all my life of having glasses . . .,” said Juan, “since kindergarten . . . nobody has made fun of me.”


To SEE or NOT to SEE Health/Science

Most of us take our vision for granted. It’s there and we don’t much think about it. It’s not until we lose a sense do we become more aware of it. To raise sensitivity in children and make them more aware of their sense of sight, try the following activity.

#1 Split the class into teams with three members each.

#2 Give each team a paper bag filled with several familiar objects, such as a crayon, pencil, eraser, sock, mitten, penny, barrette, rubber band, paperclip, glue stick, etc.

#3 Two team members place blindfolds over their eyes.

#4 The first blindfolded team member chooses an item from the bag and, without looking, describes the item to the second blindfolded partner.

#5 The second blindfolded partner, also without looking, uses the clues his partner gives him to try to identify the object.

#6 The third team member is not blindfolded. His job is to record his teammates’ answers on paper, but he may NOT offer any help to his team.

#7 The team with the most accurate guesses is the winner.

JUST ADD “ed” Language Arts

Paul bumped, tripped, dropped, and spilled. Hey, that was a lot of past tense verbs

Have the children make a list of past tense action verbs and record them on the chalkboard or on chart paper. Next, using the list, have the children locate the verbs that fall into each of the patterns below. You may want to take it slow and practice each rule for several days before progressing to the next rule.

#1 Some verbs are made into past tense simply by adding “ed.” For example knock/knocked and work/worked.

#2 Other verbs need special operations. Notice the verbs that fall into the CVC pattern. (Consonant – Vowel – Consonant) They need to follow this rule, “Double the final consonant and add “ed” . . . like this, hop/hopped, slam/slammed.

#3 Then there are the verbs that end in “e”. They have a special rule to follow, too. “Drop the final “e” and add “ed.”

#4 Don’t forget verbs that end in “y”. That rule looks like this. “Change the “y” to “i” and add “ed”. Some verbs that follow that rule are cry/cried, try/tried.

Now have fun using all the rules to categorize the verbs that the children listed on their chart. Hey did you notice I used a past tense verb in that last sentence?

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

CHILDREN TODAY: Four Eyes Can Be Fabulous:
When your child starts wearing glasses:


Baby Duck and the Bad Eyeglasses by Amy Hest
Glasses (Who Needs ‘Em?) by Lane Smith
Glasses for D. W. by Marc Brown

January 9, 2015 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Teacher’s Pets #19 Blueberry Mouse


written by Alice Low
illustrated by David Michael Friend
Mondo Publishing
ISBN: 1-59336-111-4
Ages 3–7

I’ve heard of a greenhouse, the Whitehouse, and even a house of cards. I’ve heard of a townhouse. I live in one. But, who ever heard of a blueberry house? Well, Blueberry Mouse, of course! Blueberry Mouse, written by Alice Low and illustrated by David Michael Friend, tells of a mouse as sweet as she can be. And, why not? She nibbles the whole day long . . . on sweet, juicy blueberries inside her blueberry house.Blueberry Mouse’s house is made of blueberry pie and everything inside is made of . . . you guessed it . . . blueberries. Blueberry Mouse nibbles her blueberry table and blueberry cups. Her blanket and bedclothes and even her bed are not spared when Blueberry Mouse gets hungry. It is no wonder Blueberry Mouse is a lovely shade of blueberry. And it sounds like a lovely existence, too, until Blueberry Mouse begins to nibble her window and wall and her floor and her door. That’s when the roof comes crumbling down.

You might think Blueberry Mouse a rather foolish mouse for eating so many blueberries. But, did you know that many scientists believe that blueberries are a “super” food containing high contents of antioxidants, which help to prevent aging and many common diseases? So maybe Blueberry Mouse and her creator, Alice Low, are onto something. Now, I’m going to scoop up a big dish of blueberry ice cream, dribble warm blueberry sauce over it, and put a cherr. . . I mean a blueberry on top. It’s important to stay healthy, you know. (grin)

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters

FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group

“This book was crazy,” said Becky. “I never heard of a blueberry mouse.”

“The Blueberry Mouse just loved blueberries,” said Hannah.

“Everything was blueberry,” said Charlie.

“Even her table, doors, walls, roof, and floor,” said Miguel counting off on his fingers.

“ . . . And her bed,” said Greg.

“Blueberry Mouse loved everything blue,” said Marta.

“I know. It’s crazy!” said Sarit.

“She turned blue from eating too many blueberries,” said Jack. ”I thought that only worked with carrots.”

“But she’s a BLUEBERRY mouse,” insisted Sarit.

Becky giggled. “I liked when Blueberry Mouse ate her sheets.”

“Yeah, that was pretty funny,” said Greg. “She ate almost all of her house, too.”

“I never heard of a mouse eating a house,” said Katie-Erin.

“She should be fat,” said Lucy, “but she wasn’t.”

“Why would Blueberry Mouse do such a thing?” asked Marta.

“Well, it sure wasn’t smart for her to eat her walls,” said Jack with a laugh.

“Yeah! Her roof will fall down. I wouldn’t want my roof to fall down,” said Anya.

Sarit shook her head. “She didn’t know what she was doing.”

“Yeah,” said Keisha. “Like, if you love blueberries, never build your house out of them!”

Miguel thought a moment. “I’d make my house out of pizza,” he said. “Yum!”

“Well, I would build my house out of pure Indian food,” said Pritka. “Pita bread for the walls and floors.”

“My floors would be made of marshmallows,” said Philippe. Then if I fell, I wouldn’t get hurt. Marshmallows are very fluffy.”

“Well, if I were a mouse, I would be a strawberry mouse,” said Hannah, “I like strawberries.”

You could almost see the wheels turning in Juan’s brain. “If the author wanted to,” he said, “she could make a lot of different mouse books . . . like Waffle Mouse . . .”

“. . . Or Chocolate Chip Mouse,” yelled Zach.

“Or Ice Cream Mouse,” said Philippe.

“Or Spaghetti Mouse with Sauce,” added Miguel.

“This is making me hungry,” said Zach.

“It’s a blueberry–licious book,” said Pritka.

“Well, I think it was a little crazy for a mouse to eat her own house,” said Hannah. “But since the Blueberry Mouse just loved blueberries, I guess it’s sensible. I think the author was trying to teach us that if you love something – don’t eat it all up!”

“Blueberry Mouse couldn’t resist!” said Miguel with a laugh.

Sarit sighed. “Yeah! She was really a fan of blueberries!”



Children will feel just like the Blueberry Mouse in this edible math lesson. But unlike her, I hope they can resist eating the blueberries before the lesson is over.


First, have children wash their hands. Then give each group of four children a pint of blueberries and four napkins. Next, give each child a piece of paper. Have them fold it into three columns and write GUESSTIMATE at the top of the first column, DISCUSS & GUESS in the middle column, and REAL COUNT in the last column.

Guesstimate . . . . . . . . . . Discuss & Guess . . . . . . . . . Real Count


Ask the children to guess how many blueberries are in their pints. Tell them it is a private guess and ask them to not discuss their answers with their partners. Reassure them that this is only a guess (guess + estimate = guesstimate) and that you do not expect them to be correct. Have them write their answers in the column under GUESSTIMATE. Remind them to NOT change their answers in this area.


Now, have each group of children discuss how many blueberries they think are in their pint. Give plenty of time for this chatter and listen carefully to their reasoning. Have each child write his or her guess in the column under DISCUSS & GUESS. Again, remind them that this is still a private guess and that you do not expect them to be correct, but that their answers may be closer to the “real” count this time.


Now, pour a portion of blueberries on each child’s napkin from their pint container. Have the children count the blueberries on their napkins by placing the blueberries in rows of ten. After the count is completed, have the children count up their groups of ten and their left over berries to see which group has the most. It’s easiest to do this if each child takes a turn and counts by ten and then the next child continues on. If there are extra berries (ones), save them to count last. Children may need assistance with the counting.

Expand the lesson by doing one or more of the following activities.


1. Find out which child in each group had the most/least berries.
2. Find out which group in the class had the most/least berries.
3. Split each group of children in half. Then have them count their total number of berries and compare them with the other members in their group.

Well, if you got this far and you still have blueberries left, give your class a great big hand. And, now the best part . . . clean-up. Bon Appétit!

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)

Maine Farmhouse Journal: PYO Blueberries


A Fair Bear Share by Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by John Speirs
If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
By Word of Mouse by Kate Spohn
Quiet as a Mouse by Lynne Gibbs, Illustrated by Melanie Mitchell
Watch Out Jan Fearnley

January 2, 2015 Posted by | Teacher's Pets: Book Reviews | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living in Third Grade #3 A Book at Your Fingertips

Here is a WIKI note I wrote to my third graders last spring. (2011) In it I recommend many great books for third graders (and any child around that age). My third graders also suggested their favorite books and wrote a short blurb about their favorite book. As usual, their names have been changed to protect the infamous. (They chose animals. color, or flower names.) I hope you will try some of these books.

Books You Will Love!

When I was your age, I loved to read. Books were my favorite things in the world. I loved to read in my bed every night. I used to smuggle a flashlight under my covers. After my mom or dad tucked me in and kissed me goodnight, out came my book.

(Don’t worry! My mom knew. So did my dad.)

When I grew up, my love for reading grew right along with me. I still love to read and I still take a book to bed with me. Instead of a flashlight, I use a book light, which clamps right onto my book. This summer I bought an IPad, so it comes to bed with me now. I love it.

Here are some of my favorite books from when I was a child your age. I hope you will like them too. If you haven’t read them … get started. Don’t wait. Join the fun!

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White,
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
Trixie Belden series by Kathryn Kenny
Bobbsey Twins series by Laura Lee Hope

Here are some great titles that are written today. See how many you have read.

Cam Jansen series by David Adler
Superfudge by Judy Blume
Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Freckle Juice by Judy Blume
The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Catling
Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
James And The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Polk Street School books by Patricia Reilly Giff

KIDDLE Suggestions:

Do you have a favorite book? One that you just love and want everyone to read? Then drop a suggestion in our WIKI basket in our classroom and I can add your suggestion to our list. Don’t forget to tell us a little bit about the book.

Frankly Frannie by A. J. Stern is about a girl who comes home from school and wants to change her name. by Rabbit

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl Mr. Fox is a fox who steals things from his neighbors, the meanest farmers around. Their names are Boggis, Bean, and Bunce. The farmer’s try to take their revenge by digging up the fox’s home. by Shark

Mrs. Jeepers is Missing by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones – A teacher named Mrs. Jeepers has invited her students for a barbecue. The kids are Eddie, Howie, Liza and Melody. by Lion

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney – There is a kid who has a brother who is mean. His brother did bad things to him. by Gold

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein – There was a boy, Jack, who loved a tree. The tree loved him back. by Monkey

Good Work, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish – is about Amelia trying to do her best job as a maid. by Chipmunk

Kate Larkin the Bone Expert by Lindsey Tate – is about a girl who broke her arm. She went to the hospital and had to stay overnight. Then she got a cast and had nothing to do. by Stingray

Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish – Amelia Bedelia always want to succeed at being a good housekeeper. but she always gets mixed up. When Christmas is just around the corner,will she get her work finished or will she get a lump of coal from Santa? by Violet

Ivy Green Cootie Queen – is about a girl who doesn’t like to read and she has to write a big, fat book report. by Dolphin

Baby Mouse by Jennifer & Matthew Holm – is a story about a little girl mouse. She wants to be popular at school. by Cheetah

Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osbourne – is about a boy and a girl named Jack and Annie who are brother and sister. They live in Frog Creek, Pennsylvania. One day they find a magic tree house, but they do not know it is magic. by Silver

My Weird School Daze by Dan Gutman – is about a kid named A.J. who really hates school. His teachers always act weird. by Tiger

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl – is about a boy named James who goes into a peach and has adventures. by Coyote

Gargoyles Don’t Drive School Buses by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones – There are four kids named Eddie, Howie, Liza, and Melody. Their school bus came. There was a strange new bus driver named Mr. Stone. The kids thought he was a gargoyle. by Lion

Anne of Green Gables by Mr. Mathew and his family wanted to adopt a little boy for a month. When he went to the airport, the man who worked there told him there was a little girl there for him – not a boy. The little girl and Mr. Mathew went home, and his family was very mad; but not Mr. Mathew. He really liked her. by Rabbit

Just Grace and the Snack Attack by Charise Mericle Harper is about Grace who talks about he best friend, Mimi, potato chips, and about a zine. She also talks about how to be a Chicago hot dog. by Chipmunk

Dear Readers:
If you have any good books you would like to recommend, please add them in the comment area.

Happy Reading!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Living in 3rd Grade | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On School #34 Parent as Teacher

My daughter, Kiersten, posted a great article on Facebook. It pushed my “teacher” buttons – all the right ones.

The article, How About Better Parents? published in the New York Times and written by Op-Ed Columnist, Thomas L. Friedman, raises the question about where education really needs to start. Of course, ideally, schools should be filled with only the best, the most qualified teachers. For the most part they are. I know some of you will argue and point fingers at the teachers who have failed – the teachers you’ve read about in the papers and on the web, heard about on television and radio who have engaged in a variety of unsavory acts. There are those teachers, too, who put in their time and collect their dime. I won’t deny your allegations. No doubt these less than admirable persons exist in the teaching profession, as they unfortunately do in nearly all professions. Thankfully the number is small.

Most teachers are dedicated professionals who care deeply about the children they teach. Perhaps folks should focus on the strengths of teachers, raise the esteem of the profession instead of disparaging it. Look at Jaime Escalante, a teacher who taught in East Los Angeles, California. The 1988 film, “Stand and Deliver,” portrays how Mr, Escalante changed the lives of his students. He not only taught math, he challenged his students, he raised their bar for academic excellence. He showed his students that he passionately cared about teaching, about them, and their learning success. They showed him they could meet his expectations and achieve higher. Funny thing – children will rise to your high expectations. Believe in them and they will believe in you.

Then there’s Torey Hayden, a child psychologist and special education teacher from Montana. You only need to read her books to understand her passion for teaching and her love for the special children she taught. I fell in love with her students. too, and I marveled at Torey Hayden’s inate ability to reach them. She truly makes a difference. I have read and loved all of Ms. Hayden’s books, but I think my favorite is One Child.

Mary MacCracken, another inspirational teacher and author, is dedicated to working with special needs children. She has written many books based on her teaching. Lovey: A Very Special Child and A Circle of Children are excellent depictions of a teacher and her very special children. The moment I finished A Circle of Children, I paged through the phone book. Mary MacCracken lived only a few miles from me. I dialed her number. I needed to tell her how inspired I was after reading her book. I was passionate. Her line was busy … and I lost my nerve. I never did redial, but I never lost the passion that her words left with me.

After devouring all of both Torey Hayden and Mary MacCracken’s books, I was tempted to change my teaching direction. I wanted to walk in their shoes, but I knew I could never fill them. So I did what I was most qualified to do. I taught in general education classrooms, specifically first and third grades.

So, yes, we all want good teachers – excellent role models in the classroom. Our children deserve that! But to address the question Mr. Friedman posed about where education really needs to start. It’s not the classroom.

Children usually do not have their first formal classroom experience until they are five- or six-years-old. Much too late for “education” to begin. Education begins at home as soon as a child demonstrates understanding. When a child learns to say “mama” or “dada,” we clap and smile and hug that child. That’s education! We cuddle with our child and point to pictures and they parrot as we read the words, “I do not like Green Eggs and Ham. I do not like them, Sam, I am.” We marvel when they memorize those same words and read them back to us – the little geniuses. That’s education! When a child understands “NO” as he or she reaches for an electrical outlet. That’s education! When we guide our little ones to put away their clothes, make their beds, brush their teeth, set the table, or any number of household or personal chores – Education. All education! We are all educators. We are all teachers. BUT …  parents are the first teachers.

I have touted this philosophy my entire teaching career. It is not mind-boggling. It is simply common sense. So it saddens me when parents tells me they have no time to read with their child. I am disheartened when parents tell me that teaching is not their job. I especially hate when parents lay out the excuse for why their child is not doing well in math, in reading, or any subject by stating, “I was never good in ___ either.” (fill in the blank) All the more reason, I say to make sure that Johnny  or Mary gets extra help either with the teacher after school or at home. We all need reinforcement when learning a new subject. “Practice makes perfect,” – so they say. We all need to practice what we have learned. As adults,  as teachers,  or as parents, it is our duty to guide and nourish the new generation. For children are our planet’s greatest natural resource. Parents who fall into any of the above categories are setting up their child for failure. They are sending a loud and clear message that school is not important … or more seriously, that their child is not important enough to warrant their help and attention to school needs.

It is common sense, at least it is to me, that children who read at home, who have educational input from their parents, children whose parents hold education in high esteem and pass that ethic onto their children will far outshine those who do not. It’s simple!

In all my classes, both first grade or third grade, I required children to read each night – at least ten to twenty minutes. I know some children only fulfilled the requirement, but I also know that many children read on and on and on. Their parents told me so … and, yes, more than one, claimed the flashlight under the covers. I remember I used to do that, too, as a child. I still love to read in bed. I like to read anywhere.

Parents are their child’s first teachers. They are their child’s most important teachers.

As a teacher, I take great joy and pride in opening a child’s mind, perhaps by something I said or something I did, or taught, but it is the parent who is the child’s lifelong teacher.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

November 30, 2011 Posted by | On School | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Peek Into Our 3rd Grade Lives

Disclaimer: As always, any identifying names, except for mine, have been changed to protect the infamous.

A Peek Into Our 3rd Grade Lives

We do a LOT of learning in our classroom. Sometimes we study spelling. Sometimes we practice handwriting. We are learning to write in cursive. It’s fun with all its fancy curlicues and twists and spirals. Other times we study social studies or science. We go back in time to learn about the lives of Native Americans. Then we travel far into space to explore the other planets in our Solar System. We spend hours and hours on math and reading and language arts. Language arts includes all phases of speaking and communicating. It includes reading and writing, too.

In this lesson in English we made a web in our writing logs. That means that we brainstormed everything we knew about the topic Mrs. Figurski assigned to us. A web looks much like a spider web. In the center of the web is the topic. On the lines radiating from the center are our ideas about the topic. We use these ideas to create our paragraphs. In this lesson, too, we tried to use a variety of adjectives (words that describe a noun) and adverbs (words that describe a verb.) As you read through our paragraphs, try to find as many adjectives and adverbs as you can.


School Life
We do a lot of learning in our classroom…like reading. It is a lot of fun. We can learn new things in social studies, spelling, math, science, English, and handwriting. We love doing the Wiki. It has a lot of fun ideas! When it is 11:30, we go to lunch. After lunch, we have recess. Then after recess, we have to work again. When it’s 3:00, we go home and the teachers go home, too. by Monkey

School Life
I go to Hilly School. My teacher is Mrs. Figurski. Mrs. Figurski makes us do fun work, like math, spelling, and English. She also gives us fun reading comps. We also do reading groups work. Mrs. Figurski opened a Wiki. A Wiki is something where Mrs. Figurski puts our work in the computer for everyone to see. I like my school. by Lion

School Life
I like it in Mrs. Figurski’s class. We also have Ms. Firkins. We do math, English, science, and social studies. Sometimes we work on the Wiki. We also do writing workshop. Mrs. Figurski does reading groups and we write questions for trivia comp. We have a very, funny class. I am very happy to be in Mrs. Figurski’s class. by Stingray

School Life in My Classroom
Whenever I come into my great, wild classroom, it feels so exciting! You can see little kiddles running around being bonkerville (in a fun way). You can also see the Marsling teacher, Mrs. Figurski. She’s the one who’s going to prepare us for the BTITS and sometimes the funky Miss Firkins will, too. Sometimes Mrs. Figurski or Miss Firkins gives us a daily spiral review or a reading comp in the morning. Sometimes we do other things. Handwriting and math are two subjects that I love. When the class is done with that, we do Super Team and Smart Team. Those teams verse each other and whoever gets the most points in their work gets a sticker. I’m on the Smart Team. We put our stickers on our charts. We have a lot of fun in our class. by Shark

School Life
Hi, I am Chipmunk. In the morning, we do daily spiral reviews in math and reading logs, too. In math, English, and spelling, we use our white boards. Our teacher tells us funny stories. Mrs. Figurski does Smart Team and Super Team. It is a fun game. At then end of the day, we write our HomeFun in our planners. This year will be the best. by Chipmunk

School Life in My Classroom
My life in my classroom is really fun. My teacher is from Mars, too. Her name is Mrs. Figurski. Mrs. Figurski is a funny and charming teacher. I have another teacher. She is a student teacher and her name is Ms. Firkins. She’s always sweet and nice. Mrs. Figurski gives us HomeFun, NOT homework. She does not like homework, so she gives us fun HomeFun. I’m glad we have HomeFun because it’s fun. I’m glad, too, because I have two nice, sweet, and charming teachers. by Penguin

School Life in Our Classroom
Our class is fun because work is like a game. It is fun to participate and it’s important to participate. You can read a Wiki with someone. When you get to work, it is a fun thing to do. Teachers give you work so you can have fun. When you have free time, you can study, read a book, or write in your journal. Always check your planner and check off stuff that you have to do. by Coyote

School Life in the Classroom
My name is Violet and I am in the third grade. I go to Hilly School. My classroom teacher is Mrs. Figurski. My student teacher is Ms. Firkins. We do lots of things here. Let’s start with math. Math is pretty easy. We are learning geometry. We write on our white boards like writing. Writing takes a while to do. This paragraph is in my writing journal. You can read your work like reading. Reading is fun. We do reading comps. They are sometimes hard! We also read things together like science! Science is interesting. We are learning about the planets. I enjoy every subject except for handwriting. It takes a long time. But anyway, school is cool! by Violet

School Life
I like school. I love math, spelling, reading comp, and trivia comp. I feel okay when I do English. My teacher, Mrs. Figurski, makes sticker charts for my class that keep track of how many 90% and above we get for our grades. When we are in group, we have our white boards to tell Mrs. Figurski what we think the answers are. School is a lot of fun. by Silver

School Life
School life in our classroom is fun because Ms. Firkins is a student teacher and she helps us with our work. At school, I feel great because I work hard. In school, I’m honest with my teacher. Mrs. Figurski is a very nice teacher and I work so hard. School Rocks! by Gold

My School Life
In my school, we have a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Figurski. She teaches us a lot of subjects like math, English, and spelling. While we work, she puts classical music on. In school, she also teaches us how to write in script. When we’ve finished a chapter in any of the subjects, we take a quiz to see how much we know. Our grades go on our report cards. I feel happy at school. School is a very awesome place. by Cheetah

School Life-Classroom-and Teachers
When I get to school, I wait in line with my classmates. At 8:30, we go right by the door. Our teacher, Mrs. Figurski, comes out and we go inside. We unpack and we get to work. In our classroom, we have everything neat. Mrs. Figurski has a helper…Ms. Firkins. She is the best! At the end when it’s time to pack up, Mrs. Figurski gives us HomeFun, not homework! by Rabbit

School Life
School is cool. In my school, we do math, which is so fun and science…that one’s cool, too. My favorite is spelling. It’s awesome. We do other subjects, too. My teacher is fun. So is my student teacher. Boy, 3rd grade is fun! It isn’t easy, but if you try your best, you will get A+s! by Dolphin

(Clip Art compliments of

September 25, 2011 Posted by | Living in 3rd Grade | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3rd Grade #1 Welcome Figurski KIDDLES

This part of my blog is reposted from a blog I wrote with my 3rd grade students during my last year of teaching 2010 – 2011. I wrote about the fun lessons that I designed and taught. The children were engaged and excited as they completed various assignments because they knew I would post their work on our WIKI page. They loved to share their work with their families on their computers at night. Many times they even had assignments based on our work on the WIKI.

For privacy they have changed their names. They are using pseudonyms. A pseudonym is a pretend name that will hide their real identity. So as you journey through our site, look for wild animal, precious stone, and flower names. That would be my 3rd graders.

I will continue to add posts. Teachers, feel free to adopt any lesson you feel would be fun for your students.

                               Welcome Figurski KIDDLES

Third grade is a new and exciting challenge. This year you will continue your education by enhancing the skills you have learned in Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade. You have already learned to read. This year you will read to learn.

You will use your reading skills to understand Science and Social Studies. Reading will also help you to understand Math, English, and Spelling. Of course, you will want to read for pure enjoyment, too. Curl up with a good book and let it take you to magical places … places you may have only dreamed about.

So open your minds and let the knowledge pour in.
And … don’t forget to have fun as you grow in 3rd Grade.

(Clip Art compliments of

September 24, 2011 Posted by | Living in 3rd Grade | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Musings by Donna #33 School Started Without Me

School started without me. I slept right through the 5:45 alarm, which I didn’t set. The kids with their shiny, smiley faces, their brand new outfits, their knapsacks laden with fancy pencils, erasers, sharpeners, crayons, clipboards, white boards,  journals, and any number of other supplies their teachers requested, waited on-line outside the school entrance, but I was not with them. I was not with them as they stood in the drizzle laughing and chattering to mask their nervousness of beginning a new school year. I was not the one to throw open the doors when the 8:30 bell rang and welcome each child back. I was not with them as they hugged their moms or dads goodbye, then marched through the door with a final wave. I was not with them as they explored their new classroom, as they found their desks, or as they hung their jackets on their coat room hooks.  No, I was not there, not in their classroom, but I was with them … in my head and in my heart.

I saw them fingering their new textbooks – blues and yellows and purples. I saw the awe in their eyes as they picked them up and felt the heaviness of those books. I saw them peek inside … eager to know what was in store for them in their new third grade. I saw their eyes grow bigger as they carefully opened their handwriting workbooks. It was cursive – no more baby printing. Third graders love cursive writing, at least in the beginning of the year. It’s so new – it’s magical. No, I was not there, not in their classroom, but I was with them … in my head and in my heart.

I heard them whispering as they gathered on the floor ready for their first math lesson. I heard them wiggling as they stole peeks at the clock as the minutes drew nearer to lunch time. I heard the 11:30 lunch bell. I heard their laughter and their chatter as they straddled the benches in the  lunchroom chomping on sandwiches, trading cookies, spilling milk or juice. I heard their voices calling to each other on the play yard as they played tag or shared their fears about this new third grade – so much work. No, I was not there, not in their classroom, but I was with them … in my head and in my heart.

At the end of the day, I felt happy and satisfied and wistful and tired, too. The day had gone well. Sadness crept in as my new charges prepared to leave at 3:00, but with giggles they promised to return in the morning. I smiled as I heard, “She’s so funny. She’s the best teacher I ever had. (Knowing they said those same words for their 2nd, 1st, and Kindergarten teachers, too.) No, I was not really with them on that first-day-of-school when they began third grade this year. I was not really in their classroom, but I was with them … in my head and in my heart.

(Clip Art compliments of

(Clip Art compliments of Discovery Education.)

(Clip Art compliments of A Kids Heart.)

September 9, 2011 Posted by | Musings by Donna, On School | , , , , | 10 Comments

On School #21 Mars Magic

Mars Magic is abundant in my classroom. My fifteen eight- and nine- year-olds love it. They say it improves their work. I’m all for that.

After I give a lesson on the board or the computer in English, Reading, or Math and before I send the children to their offices to work on the assignment, I can be sure that several children will raise their hands and beg for Mars Magic. How can I refuse?

I wait for everyone to be ready with paper, books, and pencils in hand then I wiggle my fingers over their work. Sometimes I scrunch up my eyes and make weird noises as I twitch my entire body dashing Mars Magic to every corner of the room. They laugh and then they work. Usually the results are better.

November 21, 2010 Posted by | Anything Writing, On School | , , , , | Leave a comment


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