All posts by Jennifer Dowell

I teach 3rd grade.

Manic Monday

Well, it is time to get back in the swing of things. I hope you all have had a relaxing break from school. It’s time to start thinking about curriculum, grades, kids, testing, etc.

I am linking up with Classroom Freebies for Manic Monday to share a great activity that you can put in your reading workstations.  These antonym task cards are great to use for practicing antonym questioning. There are 4 different types of questioning.

AntonymTaskCardsforworkstations_Page_3The kids love doing these task cards in workstation. These can also be used in groups of 2 or 3 kids. You can laminate them and let the students use dry erase markers to circle the correct answer.

Click on the picture below to download.

AntonymTaskCardsforworkstations_Page_1I hope you have a great week back to school. Make sure to go by and check out the other freebies at Manic Monday.

Manic Monday Freebie

signatureblog button

If you enjoyed this post, connect with me Bloglovin, Facebook, TPT, and Pinterest.

Gingerbread Man Activities

I love teaching using the Gingerbread Man! My kids in 2nd and 3rd have loved doing all these fun activities.

gingerbread man activities

One of the activities that I have done with my students is a Gingerbread Ornament made with cinnamon. This is so easy and make the whole room smell like cinnamon. The ingredients are cinnamon, applesauce, and glue. That’s it!

gingerbread ornament

These are not mine but click on the picture to take you to the link of how to make them.

Another fun activity that I did with my 2nd graders several years ago involved water, milk, and a gingerbread man cookie. This easy science experiment has kids really thinking why the Gingerbread Man can’t cross the river himself. We came up with reasons why he can’t get wet before doing the experiment. Then I stuck a gingerbread cookie in a glass of water and a glass of milk to see what would happen. Of course the cookies dissolved. This lead to a great discussion of why the cookie dissolves.

dissolving cookie

Click on the picture to see what a kindergarten class did with this Gingerbread Man.

I also love to have the students write their own version of the Gingerbread Man. I have them do a rough draft and then when they are ready the students write the final copy on Gingerbread Man  lined paper. They loved making these little books of their original stories.  You can download this free activity by clicking on the picture.


 I hope you enjoy these activities!


Favorite Thanksgiving Read Alouds

Thanksgiving is the holiday that seems to get overlooked a lot. We just finished all the fun Halloween books and we are getting all our winter and Christmas books ready. Don’t forget that there are some great Thanksgiving books that your students will love!

Thanksgiving_colorgraphics by A Sketchy Guy

One of my favorite read alouds is  Thanksgiving at the Tappletons by  Eileen Spinelli.

This is a story about all the trouble that come along with fixing Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey goes sliding out the door and the other holiday foods get ruined in humorous ways. So what do the Tappletons do? They eat a nontraditional meal for dinner.

I really like the older version of the story with people instead of wolves. After reading the book we would make No Bake Pumpkin Pies. I would put the recipe on the overhead and the students would copy it for their recipe book. Click on the title for the recipe.

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting  is a fun story about having a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

Mr. Moose goes out looking for a turkey to have for Thanksgiving dinner. The rest of Mr. Moose’s friends come along for the journey. Mr. Moose finds Turkey and brings him home for dinner. After getting to the Moose’s home, Turkey realizes he is a guest and not the dinner.

If you are looking for nonfiction books there are some great ones to share with your students.

Thanksgiving by Gail Gibbons is a nonfiction book that gives facts about Thanksgiving. There are facts about the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Gibbons also describes traditions we have with Thanksgiving.

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Anderson is about Sarah Hale and her persistent pursuit in making Thanksgiving a national holiday. It took her 38 years of letter writing to get Thanksgiving recognized as a national holiday. This is an easy book to read for young students.

I have created a turkey story map that you can use with the fiction stories. Click on the image below to get a copy of the story map. If you like this activity, I also have a Thanksgiving Turkey Unit that includes this story map and other turkey activities.

turkey map_Page_1Let me know what your favorite Thanksgiving story is.


Math Workshop

I have been following the math workshop framework for several years now. I have to admit it continues to evolve every year.

My goal has been to do a 20 minute minilesson on the objective we are learning that day. Sometimes it went a little over. I  then start my math workstations. I have 11 workstations with 2 kids in each group. I learned several years ago that 4 kids in a group was a party and 3 kids didn’t always work with partner games. I like having 2 kids in a group because the noise level is much more manageable. That doesn’t mean I have 11 different activities. This year I have 2 place value stations,6 students that go to the computers for Think  Through Math, problem solving, estimation, games, addition/subtraction, card games, and task cards . They go to different parts of the classroom. I have them sit on the floor somewhere in the classroom. If you would like a copy of my math workstations click on the document to download it for free.


math stations

I spent the first  two weeks introducing  a new workstation daily and monitored the students to make sure they new how to do the activity properly. I have all the math activities in one central location. I keep everything on a rolling shelf that is labeled with each station. The students stay in the workstation for 20 minutes and then do independent work for 20 minutes.

While the students are in math work stations I try to meet with 4-5 students to go over the standards they are struggling with.  I have them come back to my small group table. I use this area for both my reading and math. I had all of my math manipulatives in a teal storage container to distinguish it from my reading materials. I also had white boards for the students.

math group area

If you are interested in seeing some of my math task cards I use in my workstations check them out at my TPT store.



Talk Like a Pirate Day Activities

Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19th. This would be a lot of fun to incorporate in the classroom. I’m going to show you some ways you can use pirates in your teaching throughout the day.

For Reading:  Read one of your favorite pirate books to the class. One of my favorite books is How I Became a Pirate. This is a great book for younger students. They also have the book on Tumblebooks.

After reading a pirate book, you can have your students do a story map.  Click on the picture for a free story map you can use for your students.

pirate story map_Page_3

For Writing: My kids make a map using a paper lunch bag. They cut the front out and draw a map on how to get to the treasure. After drawing the map the students crumple it and tear pieces off of it to make it look worn. Then they write directions on how to get to the treasure. They can also write a story about how they got their treasure map.

photo (7) photo (6)

For Math: Working on word problems is always important no matter what day it is. Why not post the word problems out in the hall and have your students go around with partners to solve the problems. Make the word problems pirate themed. I have some in my TPT store you can check out here.

pirate blog

For Art: There are so many great activities you can do. I found this cool pirate on Pinterest. Look here for the directions.

pirate art

There are so many fun ideas you can do on Talk Like a Pirate Day. Just go to Pinterest and type it in to see all the activities you can do. I also have a Pirate Writing Unit you might want to check out in my TPT store.

pirate writing_Page_01Let me know if you celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day and the activities you do in your classroom.

For more ideas, freebies and pirate products stop Teacher Tam’s Educational Adventures Talk like a Pirate link up.

Pirate Link up




Teaching Place Value

Teaching place value is one of the hardest concepts to teach in elementary school. I have found that you need to teach this difficult standard as many ways as possible.

The first thing I do is use place value manipulatives with the kids so they can see how 10 ones equals 1 ten and how 10 tens equals 1 hundred. Using the manipulatives makes it so much easier for the students to understand how numbers work.

Our state standards expect the students to know how to write the number in standard form, expanded form, word form, expanded notation, and pictorial models.  I make an anchor chart that explains the different ways to write numbers.

place value

I then have the students make a chart in their interactive notebook to help them remember all the ways to write numbers.  I have them write in on the right side of the notebook, I do it together with the students on my interactive whiteboard while they write it in their notebooks. We talk about each section as we write it down.

place value board

place value lesson

After the students have practiced with place value in work stations for a while I then check for understanding. I have them come up with a number and on the left side of the notebook I have them write down the ways they can write the numbers. I let them choose which way they would like to write it.

place value notebookThis is an easy way to see who is still struggling with the basics of place value. If students are still having difficulties then I can work with them in small group with the concepts they are still struggling with.

I hope I have given you some new ideas on how to teach place value. What do you do that works for your students? Leave a comment below and let us know.