Simple Summer Science: Explore the Scientific Method with Lollipops!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Have fun this summer and explore the scientific method with a lollipop science experiment!

It's officially summer here (and I hope it is where you are too)! I'm trying to keep my own kids busy this summer, like many of you, so I decided some simple summer science experiments could be a super fun way to pass the time and sneak in learning {sorry kids- your mom's a teacher!}.  My own children are younger, so I used this experiment as a great way to introduce a basic scientific method and show them how you can conduct an experiment.

This would also be a really fun way to show review or introduce your students to the scientific method!  I know I usually started my year discussing this is science, since it's so important and some years, third grade was my kiddo's first time having to do an independent science project. I used Scholastic Study Jams a lot in science and math.  So, I often used this jam with my students before we did our experiment.

On to the experiment! All you need are clear cups, lollipops (I used Dum Dums), hot water, room temperature water and ice water. Our question was "What kind of water will the lollipop dissolve in the fastest?" We made our hypothesis based on things we already know. My son said he thought regular room temperature water, then he changed his mind and said hot water since M&M's melt in your hand because it's hot (he's thinking!).  Next, we conducted the experiment. We put half a cup of each water temperature in a cup and then put one blue lollipop in the cups. We started a timer and observed.

Have fun this summer and explore the scientific method with a lollipop science experiment!

We learned that the hot water dissolved the lollipop the fastest (in 10 minutes and 40 seconds)!
Of course, doing an experiment like this with my class, we would record each step of the scientific method as we went along. I have this fun Scientific Method Flip Book FREEBIE for you to use with your students (or your own kids). This can be used with any experiment of your choice!
Happy Summer!

Use this Scientific Method Flip Book FREEBIE to guide your students with ANY experiment!

Have fun this summer and explore the scientific method with a lollipop science experiment!

10 Money Saving Hacks for Teachers!

Saturday, June 10, 2017 / Leave a Comment

Hello fellow teachers! It's Anna from Hanging with Mrs. Hulsey! During the summer I like to plan ahead and get some things ready for next year! I thought I'd share with you some money saving ideas-- since we tend to spend our own money on our classrooms! So here we go!

1. Invest in an HP instant ink printer!
Now-- I know what you're thinking-- I already have a printer. But, if it's not HP instant ink compatible-- you are wasting your money! Basically, with this program you pay a monthly fee to print a certain amount of COLORED pages! The plans include:
     *50 pages for $2.99
     *100 pages for $4.99
     *300 pages for $9.99
They even let your unused pages rollover to the next month! You can change your plan anytime. The best part? They read your ink info and mail you new cartridges-- and you NEVER run out of ink! 
Finding an HP instant ink printer is easy-- just search Amazon for one. Or go to a store and purchase one there (make sure it says HP instant ink on it!) After you purchase your printer go HERE to sign up. You can also search online for promo codes for free months of ink. Here is one for 1 month of ink. Sometimes the printers even come with a code! Choose your plan, set up your payment, and print away! Definitely saved me hundreds in ink alone! 

2. If you purchase on TPT-- leave feedback for credit! 
It sounds silly-- but you'd be surprised how many people DON'T leave feedback on items they purchase. Essentially for every item you purchase and leave feedback on-- you get FREE credits that you can apply toward future purchases. Simple log in-- click on your TPT name, find "my purchases", change the sort by button to "needs feedback", and you are ready to go!
Still not sure how to do this? Here is another easy tutorial (with pics) to help you out!

3. Join local yard sale sites on Facebook
Last year I wanted to start flexible seating-- but I didn't have a lot of money or places for the kids to sit. I joined several yard sale sites on Facebook and scanned for furniture or cheaper items. Sometimes people will lower their prices or donate if they find out you are a teacher! I got this dining room table for only $20! I was stoked!

4. Buy things in bulk!
I know sometimes this isn't always an option-- but for some items it is! I love Amazon because it will show price changes in items-- so I usually put my favorites on a wishlist and keep an eye out! My favorite things to buy from there? These giant boxes of glue sticks and packs of Astrobright paper!
You can't beat those prices!

5. Copy on bright paper instead of using colored ink!
Using HP instant ink is great for printing out classroom decor and such-- but when you make copies for your students its a lot easier and cheaper to copy things onto Astrobright paper! I usually copy things like interactive notebook pages or classroom reward coupons onto bright paper! It makes it look amazing!

6. Shop at the dollar store!
We can't always afford the items at Lakeshore-- though we wish we could! Lately places like Target (dollar spot) and Dollar Tree have some amazing storage items in fabulous colors! Last year Target had a great deal on book boxes!

Dollar Tree also has great stuff-- one of my favorite purchases have been these water bottles (which I gave as student gifts last year) and these face scrubbers (which I use for dry erase boards):

7. Reuse or re-purpose items!
I know teachers tend to be pack rats (I am also guilty of this!). But some items can genuinely be reused! I love following other teachers on Instagram and Facebook and seeing great ideas! For example, Amber from TGIF had these great tips to use picture frames and plastic bags over again!

8. Know and use your teacher discounts!
Did you know many stores give teacher discounts? I wasn't aware of how many until I read through this giant list! Now I use my discount every time I shop in Michaels and Barnes & Noble! Be sure to read the list-- it's giant!

9. Use fabric or tablecloths on bulletin boards!
I love this hack because if you aren't changing rooms or themes, you can leave the fabric background up all year and it will not fade! That will save you a lot of time and money in the long run! Here are 2 examples from my room-- one was striped fabric and the other was burlap! I may go all burlap this year since it goes with everything!
I've also seen teachers purchase cheap tablecloths (hello Dollar Tree!) and use those as backgrounds!

10. Utilize Donor's Choose (or ask for donations)!
Summertime is the perfect time to think about Donor's Choose! You can set up a fund for whatever you need in the classroom! I've done 2 different projects-- one for flexible seating and one for books. Both projects were funded. I know other teachers use it for supplies, professional development opportunities, goods off Teachers pay Teachers, etc.

It's free. Use it. People want to donate and help!

Also, don't be afraid to ask for donations. Need pizza boxes for a project? Ask a local pizza chain-- they may be willing to donate! Need coffee cups? Ask a Starbucks-- I've heard of them donating! If you don't ask, you'll never know!

What is your favorite way to save money? Leave a comment if you get a chance!
I know it's hard-- especially because we only want the best for our students-- but don't forget to save a little for yourself! I hope this list helped you out!

Brilliant Ways Teachers Make the Most of their Summer Break

Friday, June 2, 2017 / Leave a Comment

Ah, summer time!  It is probably every teacher's favorite time of the year, including mine!  As much as we love teaching, who doesn't love a break with sunshine and flip flops?  As teachers though, we have learned we have to make the best of every moment.  How can we make the most of our summer break as teachers?  Check out these amazing ideas so you can start the school year refreshed and prepared.

Exercise and enjoy the outdoors

 Nothing could be better for students than a teacher who feels refreshed.   Get some vitamin D therapy, go for a hike on the trail, visit a local park.   Teaching is exhausting.  Take care of yourself so you can take care of your students when school starts again in the fall.   Getting active now and establishing a routine will help you stay in a routine when school starts.

Start gathering teacher and student supplies

 We go through a lot of school supplies throughout the year. Hopefully your school supplies most of those, but for those of us who need those extra items, summer is a great time to pick up some items on clearance or on sale. Look for sales on those basic items like glue sticks, composition notebooks, pencils, and paper clips.   One of my favorite places to shop for these items is Staples. Around July they start offering some amazing deals like 10 cent composition notebooks up to a quantity of 10.  However if you are a teacher they will also often let you buy more of that quantity. Just ask!   Last year I was able to score an amazing deal on glue sticks in the clearance section at Target. I try to stock up on those every year, but I usually run out. Check out this video for a great way to make glue sponges that will save you money in the long run.  I make mine over the summer.


Prepare the fun classroom items

 During the summer we need to relax and enjoy some things, but it is nice to be prepared when school starts and not feel as stressed out. (Let's face it; the first few weeks are hairy, but preparing a few items ahead of time can make all the difference!)  Prepare some fun items like birthday gifts and bulletin board items so you  can get your creative teacher juices flowing and start working to a fresh new start.   Check out this blog post by my friend Anna at Hanging with Mrs. Hulsey, where she shares how she prepares a birthday tub for her student gifts.

Relax and enjoy your time off

 Although it's great to prepare for the next school year, don't forget to enjoy your summer break. That's why it's called a break. Lay in the sun in that lounge chair with a cold drink. Go out to eat at lunch with friends. Take your kids to the pool and splash around with them. Sleep in!  It's sometimes hard for us teachers to relax. But enjoy a little bit of downtime so you'll be rested and ready to go for back to school.

Connect with other teachers on Facebook

No one understand you like other teachers! I love my friends, but for those friends who are not teachers, they just don't get us like another teacher. Find Facebook groups that match your grade level. I am a part of the All About 3rd Grade Facebook group, and I have learned so much this past year from other amazing third-grade teachers across the United States and around the world!   It's amazing to get to ask other third-grade teachers questions and get so many great ideas.   Follow your favorite teacher authors on Facebook too. They often share free resources and great new ideas to help you get excited about your upcoming year   I love sharing new fresh ideas on the Amber from TGIF Third Grade is Fun Facebook page. I'd love for you to join me there.


 Yes, professional development books are great. But, if you aren't ready to think about school right now, find some great, fun reads and get lost in an adventure or mystery! Ask your family or friends for suggestions. Tell them what some of your favorite books are and ask for some good suggestions with a similar genre .

 Start preparing items you use year-round

 Do you send home behavior or homework charts? Start copying those now and have a good supply ready for those first few months. Do you have benchmark assessments that you know you'll be using? Copy those now, paperclip them, and put a Post-it note on top to show how many copies do you have and what month the assessment should be given.  Put them in order from the first benchmark assessment to the last and all you have to do is grab and go throughout the year. Do you participate in the Pizza Hut book it program? Go ahead and copy off the sheets that you will send home for their monthly goals.  As I have learned to do these types of things over the years, it's made my school year so much easier.

 Spruce up your home

 I don't know about you all, but my home get so neglected during the school year.  I really don't enjoy housework, but I do enjoy starting the school year with a clean and organized home. Clean one room per week. If you spend one week on each room really decluttering and deep cleaning, you'll be able to bite off little chunks  at a time. Do any of the rooms need repainted? Now's the time to do it. You'll be so thankful when school starts.

 Prepare some items for the first week of school

 Do you have an already prepared first day of school letter that you will send home to parents? If not, go ahead and type one now! Go ahead and make the copies and that way you don't have to do it when you start school.

Do you need some activities to keep the kids busy while you do the necessary sorting through the paperwork that the office wants right away?    Try these back to school activities with your students. They are a lifesaver and they look great displayed in the hallway. They also help you get to know your students better.

Try out this 3rd Grade Back to School Freebie!

Prepare a few meals for those first few weeks

Cooking - ugh!  I hope you all enjoy it, but it is not my thing.  I do enjoy it more over the summer though.  As I do prepare some meals, I try to think ahead and prepare some extras that I can freeze.  I am a huge crock pot user, so one of the things I do is buy a larger pork loin.  When I prepare it, I get out two crock liners.  (If you don't know what those are, run to the store and find them in the aisle with the sandwich bags!!!  They will save you from having to scrub that crock pot!)  Anyway, I cut my pork loin in half and lay each half in each bag.  I season them and then one goes in the crock pot with some veggies and the other one gets tied up with a baggie tie and frozen in the freezer for the first few weeks of school.  When I am ready to use it, I seriously just untie it, put the bag in the crock pot, and add some veggies to it.  It makes my first few weeks so much better.

Another of my favorite BTS items is lasagna.  I make three lasagnas at a time near the end of summer in an aluminum pan.  I bake one at the time and freeze the other two unbaked lasagnas with aluminum foil on top.  When I am ready, I try to put it in the refrigerator on a Sunday.  Then it is mostly unthawed by Wednesday when I am already worn out.  I can come home, stick it in the oven and veg out for an hour while it bakes.


 If you taught last year, now is the perfect time to reflect on your teaching practices from last year. Find a small journal and write down notes. What did you like? What do you want to change? Start jotting those ideas down now. You may not be able to implement every idea, but it will give you an idea of which ones are the most important to you next year.

Enjoy your summer teachers!  We get two months to focus solely on ourselves and our families.  Make the best of it.

Picture Books for the End of the Year

Sunday, May 21, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Woah!  Can you believe it's the end of the school year already?  Hallelujah!  The end of the year is super hectic, but I always liked to make time for some good books to close out the year. The stress is over and now we can read- just for fun- a little more often in class!

At the end of the school year make some time for some fun read alouds!  These five picture books are definitely something your students will enjoy.
Here are five fun books you might want to check out:

1. Last Day of School by Louise Borden
This 3rd grader is super excited about the last day of school and a special gift he wants to give his teacher.

2. The Last Day Blues by Julie Danneburg
I love reading The First Day Jitters on the first day of school and this one is super cute for the end of the year.

3. My Teacher's Secret Life by Stephen Krensky
This one isn't really about the end of the year, but I love how it's from the perspective of a student that truly things their teacher lives at school and is so shocked seeing her out and about in her "real life".  It's cute and fun!

4. How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague
This one is great for the beginning of the year or the end of the year!  This has a fun rhyme and tells the "out there" story that one kid wrote about what he did on summer vacation.  You could easily expand this book into a fun writing lesson.

5. The Night Before Summer Vacation by Natasha Wing
I love "The Night Before" books for any special day and I have a ton of these (a lot by Natasha Wing).  This is a fun and easy read aloud that your kiddos will enjoy.

At the end of the school year make some time for some fun read alouds!  These five picture books are definitely something your students will enjoy.

Hands on Science

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Bringing science to life is one way to make it fun for not only your students but also for yourself! It also helps your students remember what you are working on as they go into the test and the future!

Science was one of my least favorite subjects growing up.  I didn't really understand it, and I "C"d my way through science in high school! I just couldn't get it, it was like I was taking a foreign language, and believe it or not I got better grades in Spanish than I did in science.  Due to all of this I knew that I had to make science engaging for my students!

Using interactive notebooks and hands on experiments help your students grasp the concepts and remember them.

For every science unit I planned I would figure out what my end objectives were and then I would figure out how I could make it hands on! I wanted to make sure that they had something concrete to grasp as we were going through our lessons and to remember as they were taking their tests.  These ideas would come in the form of interactive notebooks or hands on experiments!

Hands on learning is a great way to keep your students engaged in their learning!

Some of our favorite experiments had to do with candy, measurement and rocks! We loved being able to manipulate things and make them more concrete for our learning.  While we were doing this students were able to have conversations using the key vocabulary and really grasp what was going on. I know it is not easy to do with every science standard you have to teach and that it takes a lot of work, but I can tell you it will make it so much more fun for both you and your students! The look of JOY on their faces as they have fun learning!

Let us know in the comments a standard that you don't love teaching and we'll try to help you come up with a hands on engaging way to teach it!!

Blogaversary Grand Prize Giveaway

Sunday, April 23, 2017 / Leave a Comment

All About 3rd Grade is celebrating our FIRST Blog Anniversary!  Make sure to join our Facebook Group to enter to win prizes in the LIVE Giveaways each night from April 24- April 30th!  The Grand prize will be announced April 30th!

Enter the Rafflecopter below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Carnival Test Prep and Room Transformation

Sunday, April 16, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Hi, it’s Jessi from Cooties and Cuties, and I am so excited to share favorite test prep ideas with you! 

Test prep season is a dreaded time filled with stress and anxiety, and if I could avoid it altogether, I would.  This year, I knew I wanted to do something different, something that actually got my students excited about the insanely boring work we were about to do.  If I’m being completely honest, I created this experience as much for myself as for my students.  Test prep is never anyone’s idea of fun, but with a little effort, it can become one of your students’ favorite memories of third grade!

A few weeks before the carnival, I started creating games during my planning period.  Almost everything I created was free and made with resources I found within the school butcher paper, cardboard and tape.  The only things I purchased were 2 rolls of wrapping paper from the dollar store (so I could use the cardboard roll inside), streamers, a few bags of Hershey Kisses for the Kissing Booth and a roll of tickets. 

My kids had no idea I was planning a huge room transformation until I handed out carnival invitations on Friday afternoon.  These little invitations built so much for the upcoming week and many parents emailed me to tell me how excited their kids were to come to school on Monday teacher win!

The carnival ran for 8 days.  Each day, we reviewed a different math topic in a mini lesson, i.e., multiplication and division one day, area and perimeter the next.  Some days we reviewed only one topic, and some days we combined two topics.  I tried to organize the reviews based on the amount of questions we anticipated on the state test.

After reviewing the topic, students worked in teams on the matching review packet. The questions were TOUGH.  Instead of stressing my students out before the test, I paired them with a partner and emphasized teamwork and synergy.  Partners could earn a total of 5 tickets each day for accuracy, perseverance, synergy, showing work and using their test-taking strategies.  I assumed each team would earn 5 tickets and then deducted tickets as needed.

While students worked, I roamed the room doing mini conferences with students to re-teach tricky concepts.  This was such a valuable time to be able to meet the needs of all students, and I highly recommend it!

The carnival was centered around math test prep, but I incorporated literacy, too.  I printed PARCC practice tests, and gave students opportunities to earn extra tickets for the carnival.  I am not kidding when I say I’ve never seen such a focused, engaged week of test prep in my life.  Some of my students even begged to take their packets to recess or finish them at home!

I kept track of the amount of tickets teams earned using the old horse race carnival game. Each team was assigned a horse and they loved watching their progress as their horses inched forward each day.  The finish line represented a perfect score for the entire carnival run, 5 tickets each day.  Only one team actually made it to the finish line, and it was a HUGE accomplishment.  This team was on their A game the entire time and earned a special “catered” lunch with me in the classroom.

At the end of the math period, we shared strategies and cleared up any remaining questions about the topic, and then I chose two teams to sit at the World’s Strongest Students (VIP) table.  The WSS table was a last-minute idea and one of the most valuable pieces of the carnival.  Students got to sit in a special table under the “carnival tent” in the middle of the room. I made the announcement a huge production, and the kids reacted like they won the lottery when their names were announced!

One of the privileges of being the World’s Strongest Students was running the ticket booth.  I love giving my students opportunities to lead, and they took this job very seriously.  

Carnival Games:
The carnival games were only open for the last 30 minutes of every other day, so 4 days total.  This doesn’t seem like much, but it gave students an opportunity to earn more tickets between carnival visits and pushed them to work so incredibly hard in between carnival days.  2 hours of carnival games over the course of 8 days garnered 12 hours of the most intensely focused test prep I’ve ever seen and made all of the time I spent preparing so completely worth it.

And finally, the last piece of the test prep carnival puzzle is Feats of strength.  Feats of strength are mini contests, kind of like Minute to Win It, and we used them as brain breaks. Once or twice per day, I announced the contest and the whole class participated.  It could be a feat of mental strength (how long can you hold tree pose) or physical strength (arm wrestling contest), and it became one of the highlights of the carnival.  Students begged for the next feat of strength and took them so seriously because they wanted their picture to be featured on our poster.  If they were eliminated, they became cheerleaders for the remaining students, and it was a really fun way to bond the students together as a whole. 

WHEW…that’s it.  After 8 days of carnival-ing, my students were pumped up and ready to conquer the big bad state test.   And, best of all, they didn’t even realize that I tricked them into completing some of the toughest packets they’d ever seen because they were having so much fun!

Thanks so much for letting me crash the blog today!  You can find my Carnival Test Prep and much more on my TPT page.

Celebrating the End of Testing!

Monday, April 10, 2017 / Leave a Comment
Hello again! It's Anna from Hanging with Mrs. Hulsey! It probably seemed as though the days after testing would never come-- or perhaps it came far too quickly? But I thought I'd share some fun ways to celebrate with your students after state testing!
Raffle Ticket Rewards
One thing I love doing to motivate my students during test prep and testing is to hand out raffle tickets. I try to give students tickets for various reasons: correct answers, positive attitude, effort, showing their work on scratch paper (you get the idea). This is a really simple reward system! Students write their names on the ticket and put it into a bucket. At the end of each day I draw out 3-4 student names and they get a small reward.
I have used various items for rewards-- try to keep it cheap or free-- so items like reward scratchers, reward coupons, pieces of candy, jar of bubbles, play-doh containers, and seasonal pencils or erasers. Students won't care how much money you spend-- they will just be stoked to win!

Ice-Cream Reward Party
I know not everyone will be huge on this one-- it will depend on your school's food policies. But, I love to hang up these ice-cream reward coloring pages (1 per student)-- and every day of testing students have the opportunity to earn pieces of an ice-cream sundae.
So one day they may earn the spoon and bowl, and the next day they earn the ice-cream, then the toppings. I base this solely on effort since it takes awhile for our scores to arrive. Students always try their hardest for this simple reward! You can ask for donations from local businesses, PTA, or even parents if you don't want to spend all the money yourself.
I like to hang these coloring pages on a bulletin board and make a display!

Give out Brag Tags and Super Notes! 
After testing is over I love to give my students a brag tag-- it will help them remember how they worked so hard and finished their test! This one says "I survived testing!" (the link to these are at the end of the post)
I also love to send home "super notes"! Simply focus on something you felt the student did well and send this note home on a piece of bright paper! Click HERE or on the picture below for a FREE copy of these notes!

What Should I Teach Now???
The last thing you may be asking yourself is... what now? Perhaps you still have topics to cover-- or perhaps your students are ready to move on to some basic 4th grade materials! Here are a few more ideas:

  • Have a STEM day! 
  • Do some "Mystery Science"
  • Focus on unfinished science or social studies standards
  • Have a "Fun in the Sun" day! (some may call this a field day)
  • Do some whole class reward coupons and put them in balloons or a punch board!
  • Complete an "Escape the Classroom"
  • Set up a themed classroom! (Think: Camp Read-a-Lot, Harry Potter, Etc.)
  • Have a "book tasting" and sample different types of literature
What are some things you like to do with your class after testing is over? Please share in the comments! 

If you are interested in my complete testing reward packet you can find it HERE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Thank you for reading! Hope you gleaned some amazing ideas for your own room! 
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