Saturday, 20 October 2018

Midnight Pumpkins Art Project

Have you been wanting to do a Halloween (or fall) art project with your class but still want to incorporate some art elements? Are you wanting a Halloween bulletin board that is not just a cut and paste craft? I've got you covered.
We have been working on blending colors during art. We've blended different types of paints, pencil crayons, and oil pastels.

This project has students blending oil pastels (which was a review) and chalk pastels (the new part). It was messy but so worth it to see how engaged my students were.
Materials Needed (per student):
  • 1 or 2 sheets of white paper
  • 1 sheet of black construction paper
  • black permanent (sharpie) marker
  • oil pastels
  • chalk pastels
  • scissors
  • glue
  • lots of paper towel
Because this project has 2 distinct stages, we completed them over 2 art periods.

Day 1:
On the first day we completed the pumpkins.
On the white paper, guide students how to draw a simple pumpkin. They will need to draw 2 that are different sizes. 

We have done quite a few guided drawings, so my students drew directly with their sharpie markers. They kept drawing pumpkins until they had 2 that they liked.

The next step is coloring the pumpkins by blending different oil pastels. The colors used were white, yellow, and 2-3 (depending on your available colors) oranges. 
I always tell my students that it is better to use less oil pastel to start and add more later if needed. It is really hard to make the colors lighter if there is too much but it is easy to make them darker if there is not enough. 

Have students put a small section on white oil pastels at the top of the pumpkins and then about double the width of yellow. Using a straight line blending technique, students blend the colors. It is ok if the pastel goes out of the lines because the pumpkins will be cut out.
Next, we put a very small section of the darkest orange on the very bottom of the pumpkins and then divided the remainder of the pumpkin in half for each of the remaining orange shades. 

Students again blend, using straight line blending, the rest of the pumpkin. If the pumpkin turns out to have too much of one color, students can layer the oil pastels to blend more. 
Once students have the pumpkins completed to their liking, it is time to cut them out. I have students write their name on the back of each pumpkin WITH A PENCIL. They will likely want to use the oil pastels for this but trust me when I say....STOP them. This will make a huge mess if they stack their pumpkins. 
Day 2:
It's now time to create the background. This is the real messy part!!!! 
Hand out the black construction paper and the chalk pastels. Don't forget to give students paper towel to wipe their hands on. 

TIP: If you do not have a sink in your room where students can wash their hands between colors, have then blend each color with a different finger(s). 

Start by having students create the moon on one side of the paper. We started by putting a small white circle surrounded by a yellow ring. blend in a circular motion. Then add a SMALL orange ring on the outer edge of the moon and blend in a circular motion. 
When the moon is done, it is time to create the midnight sky. Using dark blue chalk pastels students will LIGHTLY draw the bottom edge of the horizon. Tell them not to draw a strong line as they will want to blend this out with the land later.

Using the blue, have students spread chalk pastel over the sky area, being careful when they get to the moon area. They will then blend, pushing hard in a circular motion, the sky. 

If the sky turns out to be too bright, add a very small amount of black to it and blend away. I usually add the black for them because black can easily wreck any pastel project and students tend to go overboard with it. 

Once students have the sky how they like it is time for the land. We follow the same process as the sky but with green colors. 
After students have the chalk pastel on the land blended, have them use oil pastels to add grass blades to give some texture. We used 2 shades of green and a yellow. I tell them, the lighter the color the fewer blades of grass to have. 
Now it is time to glue the pumpkins on. The smaller pumpkins go closest to the moon. If they were furthest from the moon in real life, the bigger pumpkin would block out all light shining on the little pumpkin and you wouldn't be able to see it at night. 

The final touch was, signing the art with a white pencil crayon.
Embrace the mess and have fun !

To help set the stage and to look at the shape of pumpkins, the day before the art lesson I read my students Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman (affil. link) and we looked at a real pumpkin.
This helped with my students being able to visualize the shape when drawing.


Friday, 21 September 2018

Teaching Students to Connect to What They Read

To start Reading off this year we are focusing on learning the Reading Power strategies.If you haven't heard about Reading Power by Adrienne Gear (Note: All book links are aff. links) it is a must for anyone teaching reading. 

We have started by learning about how to make connections to what is being read. The beginning is very teacher directed with lots of modeling. 

I read a story and model how to make connections. Then students start making connections to what I am reading. See below for a graphic organizer to help with this.

The books I have read to the class so far are:
Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard
Rotten Teeth by Laura Simms (My all time FAVORITE book for making connections)
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Reading Power goes into great detail on how to help your students make deeper level connections. This is fantastic because I have found students are good at making very basic connections like "I have a dog just like the main character." but they struggle to make deeper connections.

 Eventually, they will pick books and make their own connections. I want my students to have a variety of books to pick from so I have ordered some that are on Adrienne Gear's recommended list.  

Here is what I ordered: 

Now it's time for a freebie. The Reading Power book has many, many graphic organizers to choose from but I also created this one to go along with it. 

I have used this particular page with students in Grades 1-6. The higher the grade, the higher my expectations.'s%20Teaching%20Treasures&utm_campaign=Story%20Connections%20TTT%20Post
Click on the picture or here to get your FREE copy. Please remember to leave some feedback once you have tried it out. I love to hear your thoughts. 


Sunday, 11 March 2018

St. Patrick's Day Multiplication Centers

I love changing up my Math centers to match the upcoming holidays. Even though students are practice skills they are familiar with, there is something about a holiday themed center that instantly gets them engaged. 
I recently completed math centers for multi-digit multiplication that will be part of my math centers this week.

I (like most classrooms) have to have differentiated activities because my students levels of understanding are spread so far apart. One activity rarely works for my entire class. Because (I know you shouldn't start a sentence with "because" ... lol) of this each of these centers has a differentiation option where either numbers are below and above 20 and/or there is a choice in the number of questions.
 Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of these math centers is how bright and cheery they are. We still have a ton of snow here (I think Mother Nature is confused this year) and we could use all the brightness out there. 
Each center also comes with a colored version AND a black line master copy so you can print on colored paper. This is a great ink saving option!
My students usually need a place to work through their equations and they usually do this on our mini whiteboards. I decided to switch things up for these centers and create some work mats ( I also included recording pages like I do with all my centers). I have printed the work mats and placed them in page protectors. Students will use whiteboard markers to write on the page protector and then they can erase their work when they move on to the next equation. This is a simple way to add engagement and student interest. 

The centers can be done as independent work (except the board game) or with a partner!

Included are 3 main multiplication centers (all focused on 2 digit x 2 digit equations) and these 3 templates can be broken up into 9....yes 9 different math centers!!!!
If you want to check out these math centers more just click here or on the picture above.

If you are interested in any particular concept/theme for math centers please leave a comment below and I will see what I can do. Using math centers in my classroom makes me happy and I am always looking for new ones to create!

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Free Valentine's Day Cards

It feels like Valentine's Day has snuck up on me this year. These last few days all I have done is shovel snow and haven't had time to think about planning Valentine's Day. I am glad I have my Valentine cards already printed. 
I just have to cut them out and label. Oh yah....and buy something to give my 
I have 8 super cute designs to choose from, which is great for personalizing to my student interest.
I have them FREE in my TpT store so if you want a copy for yourself, just click on any picture.
I also keep a few on hand at school on the day we hand out Valentines. They are perfect for those kids who forget their cards or who don't have any to give.

Other than having my Valentine cards ready, the only other thing I have ready to go is a couple math centers. Sorry kids, Mrs. Browne is busy with life these days!
Valentine's Day fractions activities can be found here.

Multiplication and division color by numbers can be found here

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Engaging Homophones Activities

I have been doing a lot of updating of products lately. I have added more engaging, interactive activities that I have tried in the classroom and are student approved. One of my favorite updates has been to my Homophones unit !It went from being boring worksheets to engaging activities and literacy centers.

Here is a photo tasting of some of the activities now included: Interactive notebook pages / Matching literacy center Posters Magic Square in 2 formats. The colored version is ideal for literacy centers and the black and white puzzle is ideal for student seat work.

A wide variety of engaging practice pages!


This unit includes everything you will need to help your students fully understand the concept of homophones.

Click on any of the photos, or here, to get your copy today.

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