Merry Christmas everyone! I hope the holiday has found you in good health, surrounded by loved ones, and blessed beyond belief. I have a small (late) Christmas gift for you!

Shooting the Moon Book Packet FREEBIE!!!!

Shooting the Moon Book Packet 

My fifth graders loved our last book study so much, I knew I had to get another great book into their had. The book Shooting the Moon by Frances O’Roark Dowell is a great read about a young girl whose brother goes to war in Vietnam. She is so excited for him, at first, but has a change of heart when he starts having her develop film for him.

This book packet is meant to help students reading the book independently or as a group better comprehend the story, make connections, and think about the order of events more closely.

I created this packet specifically for my students, so somethings are specifically done for my class (question types change throughout the packet, summaries are focused on during reading of book, book report / response to literature is completed digitally and is not included in packet). For these reasons, this packet is currently FREE! Take advantage of it while you can!!!


Science meets Art meets Writing

I love when a creative idea comes to mind. This one was inspired by Teach Like a Pirate (read more about that here). The “P” in pirate stands for passion. Dave Burgess says that you’re not always going to be passionate about the content you are teaching and when that is the case you should include something else that you are passionate about. I am not passionate about animal adaptations, but I do love creating, crafting, painting, anything artsy. So this lesson focuses on the life science standard of animal adaptations but includes art and writing also!

Prior to the lesson we learned all about adaptations and why they are necessary for plants and animals to survive. I also took photos of all of the students’ faces, cropped them, and put them into the Sketch Master app on my iPad.

sketch master

This app can take any photo and turn it into a sketch. There are many different versions of the sketch to choose. I simply chose the one that gave each students’ face some definition without too much shading.

Before the kids started the lesson I cut just their faces out from these printed sketches.

So we started the lesson by reading two books.

animal hair animal teeth

What If You Had Animal Hair? and What If You Had Animal Teeth?

We then talked about which adaptations they would pick if they had to choose. It was a great conversation and I wish I could have recorded it (hahaha!!!). I want rattlesnake teeth so that I can bite and kill anything I want to. I want reindeer hair so that I float all the time. I then explained what was about to happen by showing them my animal hair and teeth on my photo face.


I the have each student a plain sheet of paper and their sketched face. We glued them together and then they sketched in their hair and teeth. It was a blast watching them create these little details and explain to me why they picked them. The last thing I had them do was write two sentences about why they chose the hair they did. What adaptations does that give you? They wrote two more sentences about the teeth. Some of the kids wrote more which was awesome! They turned out so cute!

Next year the same authors are putting out another book.

animal feet

This will add another great dimension to this fun school craftivity!

NEW Signature

STEM Challenge # 1

Who has been using STEM in their classroom or school? We have been looking into using more STEM activities in the classroom, but honestly third graders are not quiet ready for a STEM challenge everyday. My first STEM Challenge ties social studies (Paul Revere), literature (The Scarlet Stocking Spy), CCRPI (ship designers and engineers), math (measuring mass), and patterns into a five day unit. To get the FREE lesson plans click here. The unit looks something like this in the classroom:

Day 1

We read The Scarlet Stocking Spy by Trinka Hakes Noble.


We talked about the vocabulary in the book and how it ties to Paul Revere (because we have already learned about him this year. If you want some FREE resources to use with this book click here.

Day 2

We talked about Archimedes Principle today. To introduce the principle to the class play this short cartoon:

Then you can share the following video with the class to show the principle in action:

But better than the second video would be letting the students use graduated cylinders, water, and small rocks to watch the water level change.

photo 1

Talking about how boats float and the young girl from the book being able to tell if the boat was heavy by how it sat in the water. Try to tie today’s class to the book from yesterday and introduce the next day’s idea (making boats out of aluminum foil).

 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

Day 3

This is my favorite lesson in the week and it is the actual STEM challenge. You are going to give students 12 inch x 12 inch pieces of aluminum foil to build boats. Their goal is to build a boat which will float and hold as many marbles (or pennies) as possible. Use tubs of water to have students test their boats. Here are some images of our boats and floating challenges.

 photo 1

This is how I set up the floating stations. I had two stations like this in my classroom. When students had their boats ready they would raise their hands. I would write their name on a post-it note and call them one at a time to go to a station. photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5 photo

Have students weigh the marbles (or pennies) that their boat did hold after they have sunk their ship. Keep track of each students weight because you will need it the next day. We wrote their weight on their post-it notes and then put them in order on the board.

Day 4

Today students are going to determine which garment on the clothesline (from the book on Day 1) their ship would have been.

photo 1

We made a chart with the weight ranges for each garment (I have two different keys because my classes had such differing weights).

photo 4 photo 5

Then students were given a sheet which had a stocking on one side and a petticoat on the other side (sorry I don’t have this to share…I had to hand draw a petticoat). If the student needed a red stocking they had to color it read. Students had to cut their item out neatly, label it with their weight (on the front) and name and type of vessel (on the back),

photo 2

and hang it on the class clothesline in the hallway.

photo 3

Day 5

Today we talked about the jobs people have to design ships. We watched the first minute of the following video:

We talked about the type of schooling they would need, jobs they could get, and types of things we need to learn about now in order to become a successful ship designer/builder.

I hope all of these ideas and resources have made you want to dive into STEM activities in your classroom! Just remember you only have to do as much or as little as you feel comfortable with!