Sunday, 16 May 2021

Student Approved Read Alouds for 3rd & 4th Grade

Are you looking for new read aloud novels for your Grade 3 or 4 classroom?

Whether it is on Instagram, Facebook, or in the school, I am always hearing the question "What book should I read to my class next?" I decided I would let you know which novels my 3rd and 4th grade students love to listen to.
3rd and 4th grade read aloud recommendations Terri's Teaching Treasures

I read to my class EVERY DAY while they are eating their recess snack and sometimes while they are finishing up an art project.

I enjoy finding books that can transport my students to a new world and that allows them to fall in love with new characters. Over the years, I have read many books to my classes and the ones I am going to share with you are ones that are always a big hit with my students.

Just a note before I get into my list. The links below are Amazon affiliate links. This does not change the price for you, it just gives me a few cents in commission. Please do not feel pressured to click on my affiliate links. I am totally fine if you write down the titles and look for the books where ever you shop. Links to Amazon Canada will be at the bottom of the post.

OK, let's get started. The list is not in any particular order but the first two books are by far the most loved ones in my classroom. 

Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

This is a fabulous book that is the first book in Colfer's series. Twins, Alex and Conner fall into The Land of Stories book and go on many great adventures to get the items to the wishing spell. The wishing spell is the only thing to get them back home to their mom and grandmother. On their adventures, Alex and Conner meet many Fairy Tale characters that we are all familiar with.

Just a heads up. A main story line is that the children's father has passed away and the family is dealing with his loss. This may be triggering for some of your students. 
Wild Robot Series by Peter Brown

Who doesn't love robots, especially one who is stranded on an island and is trying to make friends with the animals? Technology and wilderness collide in this heartwarming tale. This is a very engaging story that is all about not judging something by what it looks like. It has a great message of kindness and your students will be begging you to read the sequel the moment you end the first book. 

Catching Spring by Sylvia Olsen

If you live in British Columbia this book is a great way to help your students connect with a boy names Bobby, who lives on the Tsartlip First Nations reserve on Vancouver Island. Bobby wants to enter a fishing derby so that he can win a new bike. He has to get a job to earn the entry fee. Sylvia Olsen does a fabulous job at describing what Bobby's life is like and how hard work can pay off. Every time I read this book, my class is eager to learn how to play marbles just like Bobby. 

Murder, Me, and Moses by Ann Walsh

Another fantastic book that is great for integrating with your social studies about a gold rush. This book is set in Barkerville, B.C. at the time of the Cariboo Gold Rush and will have your students sitting on the edge of their seats. There are many opportunities to make predictions about who murdered the local barber's friend. A young boy, Ted and Moses (the barber) are the main characters who have to escape many close calls. This is an adventure packed story that even your most reluctant student will be drawn into before you are done reading the first chapter. 
This is a light-hearted story of Lily Quench the dragon slayer. She is called upon by her family to slay a dragon that is threatening her families kingdom. She soon finds herself befriending the dragon while continuing her adventure. This is an adorable story of bravery, friendship, and girl empowerment. It is a great starter book for introducing your students to the Lily Quench series. 

Abel's Island by William Steig

This is my personal favorite. William Steig won a Newbery Honor Award with this book so that is proof that it is a wonderful book :) A storm has stranded Abel ( a mouse) on his own island and this causes strife for him because he is forced to cope without his familiar, secure life he is use to. Steig wrote a book that is great for reinforcing the benefits of having a growth mindset. Abel provides your students with many, MANY examples of someone persevering by having a growth mindset. Abel has to find a way to cross a river, forge for food, build a shelter, and learn how to live in a new world.
I love to read this humorous book at the beginning of the year. Another story about not judging a book by it's cover. Bradley Chalkers is a 5th grade boy who causes all sorts of trouble. He gets in fights, he tells a lot of lies, and he is labeled as having serious behavior issues. Bradley reluctantly meets the school counselor who sees him as a sensitive, caring person. Bradley learns to love himself and others start changing their perspective of him. Louis Sachar does a wonderful job at giving us the opportunity to talk about perceptions and personal growth and all in a humorous way. 

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Your students will love the story of a sassy little girl who discovers that she has the power to move objects. She uses these powers to help her deal with her kid-hating parents and mean school headmistress. Everyone quickly finds themselves cheering for Matilda as she encounters many comical interactions throughout the story. If you are looking for a book that will make your students chuckle, this is the one. 

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Another Dahl masterpiece! Sophie, an orphan, goes on an adventure to stop all the bad giants. Along the way she befriends the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) who helps her get to Giant Country and Queen Victoria. This novel has a theme of bravery as both Sophie and the BFG have to learn how to be brave to make changes in their lives. 

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

The ultimate fantasy series that will have your students begging you to read more than one book in the series. The main character, Harry Potter, is summoned to attend a famous school of wizardry, Hogwarts. Harry meets Ron and Hermione who help him realize that he is not only a wizard but that he is a famous one. 

Poppy by Avi

Adorable Poppy, a field mouse, has been told about the dangers of Mr. Ocax, a great-horned owl, her whole life. When she decides to go dancing in the moonlight with her boyfriend, Ragweed, her life changes forever. Ragweed is taken by Mr. Ocax and Poppy must find her inner bravery to try and save him. Along the way she find a porcupine friend who helps her. She is a real heroine who outwits the owl to save her boyfriend and also move her family to a better location with more food. 

After I have read this book to my class, they have been keen to read the other books in the Tales of Dimwood Forest series. 

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

A truly unforgettable story of a silverback gorilla, Ivan, who is living in a mall zoo. This story is told in first person perspective, through Ivan's point of view. He fills his time watching t.v., painting pictures, and talking to his friends, Stella and Bob. A new baby elephant, Ruby, comes to the zoo and Ivan starts thinking of his home in the jungle and the life the animals are living in while at the zoo. Friendship is the main theme in this heartwarming novel. When I read this book to my class, I am always blown away by the empathy they show towards the characters in the story.

There is now a sequel to this book called The One and Only Bob. I have not read it yet but I have heard great things about it. 

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

Bixby Alexander Tam (Bat) is surprised when his mom, a veternarian, brings home a baby skunk that she is taking care of. He instantly falls in love with the skunk and tries to convince his mom that they should keep the skunk. He has one month to show his mom that the baby skunk makes a perfect pet. Readers begin to relate to Bat as he struggles with peer friendships and the realities having his parents divorce. Bat has autism and even though this is not the main focus of the story it does lead to some great discussion with your students about acceptance and how it is important to look at situations through someone else's point of view. I love how this book normalizes autism and diverse needs of other people. 

This is a book to read for pure silliness and fun. There is no important theme or lesson to be learned but is purely for enjoyment. The Tardy Boys (3 brothers) find out that their parents have been kidnapped by space aliens and on the same day they discover that there is a new cat living in their house. Trying to feed the kitty is very expensive because it is undernourished and eats A LOT. The boys decide to enter the kitty into a contest to win cat food for a year. Soon enough, the boys and their friends discover that cats have been sent from space to earth to control the humans and take over earth. Many humorous events take place while the boys are trying to defeat the space cats and get their parents back. 

If you have a lot of boys in your class, this is a must read. They are quickly drawn to the gross hairballs Skinny Kitty coughs up, the incredibly stinky feet of the Tardy boy's classmate, and the mind control of the space cats. 

Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman

Dan and his friend, Arthur are watching Dan's baby brother when they hear tornado warning sirens. They don't think much about it because the sirens are a normal part of their life in Nebraska. To their surprise they have much less time then they thought to make it to the basement with Dan's baby brother. The tornado hits their town and Dan's house. When the tornado stops, the real adventures begin as they have to make their way out of the house and onto the streets to seek help. This book is a fictionalized retelling of the Grand Island, Nebraska tornados of June 1980. It will have your students on the edge of their seat and is a fantastic book to work into a unit on extreme weather.

Amazon Canada affiliate links:
Wild Robot Series by Peter Brown
Catching Spring by Sylvia Olsen
Abel's Island by William Steig
Matilda by Roald Dahl
The BFG by Roald Dahl
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Poppy by Avi
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold
Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman

FREE Book Review Graphic Organizer

As a thank you for reading this far :) I want to give you a book review graphic organizer that your students can use with any book.
Book reviews are a great way to see what students think of each book you have read and are how I gather most of my data on which books they like the best.

Just click on the photo or right here, to get your free copy.

I would love to hear about any other books your students have enjoyed or what you think of any of these books. To share your book choices with other educators, just leave a comment below. 

Here is an image to pin if you want to save this post for later.


Sunday, 28 February 2021

St. Patrick's Day Lucky Me Art

Are you looking for an eye catching display for St. Patrick's Day?

This St. Patrick's Day art and writing project will have everyone stopping to take a look.
This project is also a great way to get your students reflecting on their life and all they have to be lucky for. 

You will need at least 2 work periods to complete the entire project. 

1.) For the first period, I read them a mentor text (see below) and we talk about the great things, people, moments they have had in their lives. This leads to the writing activity (see below for free templates)

While students are busy writing about all the things they are lucky for, I take the pictures of their hands.

Tip: When taking the pictures of their hands have them put hands on top of a white background (I use poster board) and also have a sticky note with their name on it off to the side of the picture (it will be cropped out).

Before day 2 you will have to print out your photos in black and white. See the free download for tips and templates. 

2.) This part can be done on the same day at students put together their picture, writing, and shamrock. If you have never used oil or chalk pastels before you will want to teach your students how to blend the color by doing a darker outline and then dragging the color towards the middle of the shamrock. 

I have them cut out the shamrock shape AFTER they have blended their color so they don't get any of the pastel on their desk. It will not matter if they go outside the lines because it is going to be cut out. 

Once the shamrocks are colored and cut out, bend the petals up so that it gives the shamrock some dimension and it doesn't lie flat on the hands photo.

Glue the shamrock on to the photo. 

Have students glue or staple their finished writing paper on the photo paper. I had students glue them just below the photo. 

I also trimmed all the writing papers so there were no extra lines after what they had written. 

FREE Templates and Tips:

To help you out with this project and make prep much quicker I have created a pdf file with photo taking/editing and printing tips along with templates of the writing paper and shamrocks. 

The writing paper comes with intermediate and primary lines so you can use it no matter what grade you teach!

Mentor Text Idea:

I love using picture books as mentor texts for both Writing and Art and a few years back I found the perfect one for this project. It is called Fiona's Luck by Teresa Bateman (aff. link). It is a folktale about how Fiona tries to bring the luck back to Ireland after a leprechaun king takes it away. 

I would wish you luck with this St. Patrick's Day art and writing project but I know you will rock it!


If you are looking for more St. Patrick's Day activities, check out these FREE differentiated alphabetical order worksheets. Included is a link to get a Google Slides option.  

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Using Attendance Questions to Make Connections

Why Attendance Time is Our Most Valuable Time

Taking attendance is a valuable part of my day and it is something that students look forward to. In my classroom we go beyond just having students respond with "Here" and we use this time as a way to build classroom connections. 
Building a strong classroom community using attendance questions Terri's Teaching Treasures

Everyday an attendance question is asked where students get to share a small part of themselves. The questions allow students to share who they are, what is important to them, and how they are doing/feeling.

The questions are always safe and easy to answer because I don't want them to get anxious or dread having to answer. 

Questions can be as simple as:
  • "What is your favorite type of pizza?"
  • "How many pets do you have?"
  • "What is one special talent you have?"
By asking attendance questions students start to see the similarities and differences they have with their peers. It is always great to hear the reactions when 2 students, who normally don't hang out, start talking about how they both like a certain video game or how they also put mustard on their hot dog. 

Who Asks the Questions?

At the beginning of the year I am the one asking all the attendance questions. Once I feel that my students have become more comfortable with each other and are at ease talking in front of the class, I have a student ask the questions for the week. 

As part of my classroom jobs there is a mayor (they say Mayor of Browne Town ... lol) who is responsible for taking attendance and asking a daily question. This (and gym helpers) is the job that they are most excited about and cannot wait to do. 

The mayor can come up with a question by themselves (which they usually do) or they can pick a question from a list provided (see below for the list).

A Cherished Part of Our Day

With all the changes that have had to be made to our daily routines because of COVID, this is one thing that I would not give up. 
taking attendance can build student connections Terri's Teaching Treasures

Sure, I could have cut this out and had attendance time only take a minute or two but then we would lose the easiest way to start building a classroom community and foster connections among classmates. 

If you are not currently asking attendance questions, I highly recommend giving it a try. Do it for a couple weeks and see how it changes your students' interactions with one another. 

I have used this strategy to help foster a positive, caring classroom community with every grade I have taught. If you have been part of the Terri's Teaching Treasures community for a while now you may remember that I have taught Grades One through Seven.  

A Free List of Questions!

To help you get started here is a free pdf with a list of 100 attendance questions. Use it to get started or have it handy for students if they are the ones asking the questions. 
printable attendance questions for free Terri's Teaching Treasures
I keep this list in our attendance binder so it can easily be accessed by students or guest teachers. 

I have left some space on the last page so that you can add your own questions as you think of them. 

Click on the above picture or right HERE to get your free copy today. 


How to foster student connections using attendance questions Terri's Teaching Treasures

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Free Back To School Word Search

Are you looking for FREE ways to engage your students at the beginning of the school year?

Some much is going on at the beginning of a new school year. Setting up routines, going over expectations, gathering information, and so much more. 
Free back to school word search sitting on a desk with school supplies. Terri's Teaching Treasures
All of these bring moments where you need to have your students working on an engaging activity that frees you up to gather paperwork, organize supplies, or even chat one-on-one with students.

One of the ways I like to engage my students at back to school time is to challenge them with a MEGA word search!

Yes, you read that right a MEGA word search. This free word search has 100 school related words. 

hand highlighting words on back to school word search. 100 words are in the free word search

Don't students get overwhelmed with so many words to find?

Absolutely not. I turn this one page activity into a challenge. Who doesn't love a challenge?

My students always love a challenge so I turn this into a competition by setting a timer and seeing who can find the most words in 20 minutes (or however much time I need). Of course the time can be adjusted for your students. 

If I remember, I will write the winning number “some where safe” so I have the option of giving them the challenge to beat last year's class winner. This is a real motivator! 

Still need more motivation?

Ok, I have you covered. My students also LOVE to spot words that are not on the given word list. They always get so excited to share with me the words they have found. For this reason I threw in a few extra words.

See if your students mention any of these words to you. The list is on the teaching tips page included in the download. 

Want Printing Options?

I have designed this back to school word search to print on 11"x17" ledger paper (because who doesn't enjoy a giant word search) but it can easily be resized. 

In the downloaded file I have tips on how you can alter the printing sizes base don your students' needs. 

Going Digital?

If you are looking for a FREE digital activity, I've added that also. Included in the download is a link to get a Google Slides copy of the word search.
ipad with free word search from Terri's Teaching Treasures
The Google Slide has been set up with all the instructions and movable elements that are needed to make this an interactive experience for your students. 

Students can complete this at school, at home, or anywhere with Internet access. Any device that can access Google Slides or Google Classroom can be used ! 

laptop with free back to school word search from Terri's Teaching Treasures
The Google Slides file can be sent to individual students or sent to a group of them if you want multiple students working on the same word search. 

You have waited long enough!

Click to get your FREE copy now! 


P.S. I would love to hear if your student found any of the extra words. Let me know in the comments :) 

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Free 2020-2021 School Calendar

Are you starting to plan for Back to School?

The summer is the time that I start getting organized for the upcoming school year. The very first thing I do is print off a school year calendar and start planning when I will teach what, based on the school year events/holidays. 
2020 to 2021 school year calendar image. Free from Terri's Teaching Treasures.

I am still waiting to hear what our school year will look like, but the process will be the same for me regardless if we are starting full back or distance learning. 

There are definitely some concepts I don't want to cover (like division or anything with regrouping) when it is a busy time in the school and my students are not completely focused. Because of this I put all known holidays/big events in the calendar and then I start planning. 

Where do I find my calendar templates?

I've got you covered! Every year I update my calendar to print off and I am giving it to you all for FREE! Yup, FREE! Check it out now. 
Large space calendar picture with flair pens. Free 2020 - 2021 school year calendar from Terri's Teaching Treasures

Each page has a full month and the spaces are large enough to add lots of text! The calendars go from August 2020 to July 2021.

Each page also has a clip art image that is small enough not to use all your computer ink, but big enough to add some flair to your month.

Other ways to use the calendar:

  • Use it for yourself to take to staff  or team meetings and schedule all your events and meetings.
  • Attach it to your classroom newsletter with important events filled in.
  • Fill it out with daily homework tasks for students.
  • Students can use it to record their daily home reading.
  • Display it in the hallway as a place for parents to sign up to volunteer in the classroom.
  • Use as a student behavior chart.
Free 2020 - 2021 School Year Calendar. Image of all the included months from Terri's Teaching Treasures

 This calendar was invaluable this past year when it came to planning for my at-home work packages and pick up / drop off days.

We were only to focus on Reading, Writing, Math, and Physical Health so I printed off a calendar for each of those areas. This made it very easy for me to plan what I was sending home and when. 

The spaces were large enough that I could plan all my different reading groups or math groups on one calendar/subject.

There are many ways to use a calendar in a classroom. Let me know in the comments if you use them in any other way.

How do I get a copy?

Click on any picture or here to get your FREE copy. Just print them out and you are ready to go. 
Horizontal image of free school year calendar. Free calendar from Terri's Teaching Treasures perfect for any elementary classroom.

Happy planning! 
Terri's Teaching Treasures Signature

Vertical pinterest image of free school year calendars from Terri's Teaching Treasures. Click to get free calendar.

Don't need it right now? Pin it to save it for later :)
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