Of Rabbits and Cupcakes

My wife tried out Storybird the other day. She loves it just as much as I do. I came into the room to find her typing furiously trying to finish her story before Liam’s next feeding. It is a lovely story and a very funny story too. I think you will love it!

Cupcakes For Mom on Storybird

If you would, go to the story on Storybird and leave a comment for her to tell her if you liked the story. I know she would really like that. Here is the link: Cupcakes-for-mom

Don’t forget you can work on your class storybirds by going to Storybird.com and typing your username and the password that is in your planner!

Still Here!

kidchemistryIt has been a wonderful week and the students have all been working very hard even with all the distractions with the weather and the bookfair competing for their attention.

In Language Arts, students have finished looking at the organization of a story and have started their second story with this focus. We have discussed and worked through what makes an exciting beginning, how we use things like time to organize our middle and how to end a story so that the reader is left with a feeling of satisfaction. Talking about it is one thing, though. Actually, doing it is another. So students have been practicing these things in their stories. Our latest story is an adventure with a leprechaun which goes with our recent St. Patrick’s day theme. With that story, we did a lot of brainstorming with ways to keep our leprechaun from getting away and we also did a lot of brainstorming of ways to start our story. We are working on and practicing these concepts with the goal of creating a storybook about the adventures of Bob, my evil twin brother. Each child will get to write about one of his adventures which we will then compile into a storybook. We have also connected with a group of classes around the States to create a story with each class taking a section of the story. We are the second class in the list so we are just waiting for the first class to write the beginning before we can add our piece.

The students were very excited for today! No. Not just because it is a half day. It was because the students had their first chance to go to the computer lab. Starting today, we will going to the computer lab on Fridays after first recess. Students will be doing a variety of activities including writing stories, doing art, working with maps and other fun activities. It was really fun and the students did a fantastic job of listening and watching for what they needed to do. I had already worked with a group of “helpers” who had already practiced the techniques for logging on, etc so that when we did go to the lab, they were able to help out those students who were having problems. They did a fantastic and were extremely helpful!!! We also used a new website (start.io/mrhancock) as a way for students to quickly find the resources they need without having to worry about typing in long addresses or searching for websites. It was great fun.

What do you think of when someone says properties of matter to you? If you said, “What’s the matter?” then you need to swing by our classroom at Science time! Students have been learning about the properties of matter as part of our Science unit. If you don’t recall, matter comes in three different forms: solid, liquid and gas. So far we have been looking at different types of liquids and how they react when they mix. We will be doing lots of experiments in this unit and learning lots of things. Here is a cute video to get you up to speed on your properties of matter.

Mea Culpa

It’s been a busy week and thus the blog posts have been few and far between. My apologies and I will try to be more regular with my posts.

First of all, there is no spelling list or memory verse for this week due to the shortened week. We will continue with the spelling and memory verse next week as per usual. After this next spelling list, we will be going back to review past spelling words and start doing more work with them in sentence form.

speech1You may have noticed that your child brought home a poem in their planner (or pocket as the case may be). It is that time of year again and we are preparing for the Speech Meet which is held annually in Abbotsford. This is a big event for us and we always do very well. However, this year is a little different for us as we have a winter break between now and the day of the Speech Meet, which will be held on March 5. As we want to get our entries in before we leave, we will be choosing the students who will be going on February 10th. Participation is optional and if your child did not bring home a poem or memory verse that may mean they did not want to do it. Please ask your child if they selected a verse or poem to practice. Poems or memory verses must be memorized. We are also working on adding expression and proper standing postures to the recitations with students standing nice and straight with no hands in their pockets and their eyes on the audience. Adding expression is always hard for students but we are looking for students who can recite with confidence using a proper volume and with excitement in their voices. On February 10th, we will hear all the students from our class who chose to do a recitation and I will pick students from there. We are allowed to send 1 poem reader and 1 memory verse reader from the Grade 2 and 1 poem reader and 1 memory verse reader from the Grade 3’s in my class. If you have any questions or you need another copy of the poem please let me know!

Science has been a frantic, “let’s finish it up” time with students trying to get all their projects and papers done and in order before the deadline. Looking at the budgets from each class, all students were able to complete their projects on time and within budget. Luckily the storekeeper was very kind and gave some great deals towards the end of the projects. Projects will be going home tomorrow, but you can see them right now by watching the video below!

Our next science unit will be on States of Matter where students will be taking a close look at the properties of air, water, and gas.

In Language Arts, we have been continuing with our Daily 3 reading program. It has really been great to be able to work with small groups of students at the same time. As I work with the students in these small groups listening to them reading and working on certain aspects of their reading and comprehension skills, the other students are focused on sharing reading with a partner, reading on their own or reading along with a Cd. It has been a great program. For our writing, we have moved into organization of stories with a focus at this point on story beginnings. We have talked about how a story beginning needs to draw in readers and make them want to keep reading. One of the students today said that it is like writing the first part of a story and putting a “to be continued” at the end of it. It makes the reader interested in how the story is going to resolve itself. We took some common events from throughout the year, and drew a picture of ourselves doing that ordinary, everyday activity. However, the students added something interesting into the pictures to make it more exciting. Now, they are working on taking the picture and crafting it into a story beginning. At the same time, we have also talked about how we need to make our first sentence interesting as well, which is always a hard thing for students to do. We talked about how they can use beginnings like “One day . . . “, “It was a warm and bright . . . “, use conversations to start a story or use a book to find a beginning that you can adapt and use in your own story. We have already been getting some very interesting story beginnings. From there, we will work on the middles of stories and endings. I also told the students that I had a crazy idea for putting all those story beginning, middles and endings together into one story but I would tell them later. I will give you a clue though:

20081230-The Great Paper Caper

Speaking of Oliver Jeffers, if you haven’t read any of his children’s books, I highly recommend them. They are lots of fun and the illustrations are beautiful! They have also made one of his books into an animated video, which you can see a preview of right here:

I have placed some new links on the side. You should see a link to the Reading A-Z site where students can read books online and have them read to them as well! I have also put a link to a neat site where students can make regular maps and treasure maps to play with and print out. The last link is to a neat free program where students can make cool mindmaps of anything they want. It is free but annoying pop ups to buy to program come up every once and awhile.

7 Tips to Help Your Child With Their Writing

abc-22I found this interesting post the other day on some ways to help your child with their writing. Whether they are writing a thank-you letter or writing their own little stories at home, you may be wondering if there are any ways you as a parent can help them while not taking over the writing for them. Here are the tips:

How To Help Your Kid’s Writing Without Fighting – Grades 3-5

Here are a few tips that might aide all parents who want to become their kid’s editors.

First of all, ever wonder why it is much easier for your child’s teacher to edit their work than you? We are their teacher, not their parent. The boundaries to our relationship are totally different, so the resistance that you see rarely appears in the classroom. In this case, we have the easy job.

Don’t stop them to edit when they are on a roll. If they are “flowing”, stay out of their way. Correcting them as they go along is going to kill their process. Let it roll and stay clear. Go make yourself some coffee and be happy to have a few moments of time to yourself.

Edit with care. Remember, it’s their piece of writing, not yours. Proofreading their work is one thing – changing their ideas is entirely different. Putting in periods, paragraphs, capitalization, and proper spelling are musts, but don’t mess with their ideas. Encouraging them to develop their ideas is one thing, changing them is entirely different. If an ideas isn’t clear ask questions. Help your child to think through anything that is unclear without telling them how it should read.

What helps?

Three ways to help kids to improve their writing are through the use of periods, spelling and paragraphs.

Almost all of my students, and many adults for that matter, write sentences so long that they could cross the entire country and back. Encourage your kids to cut down sentences. Chop them up and add periods. A shorter sentence usually means that their ideas will be more clearly communicated.

Kids in upper elementary should be able to spell many of the 100 most commonly used words. Print the list and tape it to their desk so they can use it as a reference. Circle words they misspell and do one of two things: either teach them to look up words in the dictionary or show them how to spell them (depends upon your patience level). Add these words to the list so they can use it as a reference. Alphabetize them, organize them by topic, length, whatever works for them. But don’t just throw the new information away. Use the words they learn as reference for future writing.

As for paragraphs, I find that the sooner kids learn to separate their ideas by using paragraphs, the better their writing becomes.  Also, they become more willing they are to develop the ideas about which they are writing. Pick up any book and show them that ideas are separated by paragraphs.

Capitalization is a must. All of my students are expected to use the basic rules of capitalization. Using capitals (or uppercase) at the beginning of a sentence, a proper noun or name and always capitalizing the letter “i” when, as I say, it “sails alone”. No ifs, ands or buts – it is a must. Again, pick up a book in your home and show them that this is what published writers do, whether they are writing newspaper articles, books or reports.

And lastly, should they type their work? I encourage kids to type their writing on a computer because at some point, they are going to have to learn how to do so. Does this replace the need for good handwriting? No way. Word processing makes editing much easier and teaches a skill that they will need in the future.

These are just a few tips that will hopefully help you to help your child become a better writer.

Thought that you might be interested in these tips. I think they are good general tips to help students out with what is a very difficult process. Writing is one of the hardest skills a student does at school. Whether it is knowing where to put punctuation, remembering to start a new paragraph, coming up with a new idea that fits with the last idea or even knowing how to convert those ideas to letters on a page; writing involves the combination of a number of different processes having to work together. I hope these tips give you some ideas of ways to help when your child comes to you asking for help.


Here are two new stories from Storybird. If you have not gone to Storybird yet, click on the link and get going!!! Storybird is the most fabulous website to write stories with and have fun. The first one was written by Faith and the second one was a story I wrote. Curl up with a nice cup of hot chocolate and let Faith and I tell you a story!

This Is Me and My Friends on Storybird

Walk With Me, My Child on Storybird

An Amazing Day!!!

Today, the students made it to 30 mins sustained reading. It was incredible!!! The students each have a box of books that have been leveled to their reading level. These are the books they are using for our Daily 3 program. Every week, students get to pick new books to add to their box based on their improvements in reading. The kids are really into the program. It so wonderful to see students really getting into reading. We will be starting our Home reading program soon once Thanksgiving is out of the way.

if-you-give-a-pig-a-pancakeIn their writing, we have been working on writing stories based on the book, “If You Give A Pig A Pancake”. We recently worked together as a class on a story as an example. You can see it below:

If You Give A Dog A Shoe
Mr. Hancock’s Class

If you give a dog a shoe, he will put it on his nose. Then he will go outside and try to shake the shoe off because it stinks. Then he will chew it up. After he chews it up, he gobbles it up and swallows it.  He will get very, very, very, very sick and will have to go to the vet. After he is done in the doctor’s room, he will come out with his owner and see a orange, bob-cat. He will chase it all over the vet’s office and room knocking everything over. As he chases the cat, the dog will get caught in a cage of books. His owner will put him on a leash so he won’t run away. The dog will then get mad and start to chew off his leash. He will run into the middle of the road. All the cars will brake and smash, bang, boom, together into a huge, massive crash. After, his owner will come over and get very angry and scold him. The dog will find a shoe at the accident and start chewing it. He will throw it up in the air and it will land on his nose.

We will be starting our own stories based on that book starting tomorrow!!! Here is the spelling list for this week:
Spelling M 3

I introduced the students to Spelling City a couple of weeks ago and the response already has been incredible. I had many students bring their certificates in from after their practice and I also had a few parents writing notes stating that their child completed the practice test and got 100%. That was fantastic! Here is the link to this weeks Spelling City list:


I wasn’t able to send out the memory verse this week as our printers were down (though I guess the students could have written them in their planners!). However, the memory verse is below and we will be adding them into their planners tomorrow. I think it is a very good verse and again, it was supplied by one of the students.

Romans 12:21

Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.

Finally, I am not sure if you are aware of this but every week, I feature a “Music of the Week”. Each week, I highlight a different style/genre for the students to experience. I try to play some jazz, children’s music, christian, classical, vocal, etc. This week we are featuring the musical, “You’re Good Man, Charlie Brown”. It is a fun musical and the students seem to be really enjoying it. Here is a video from the musical:

Keep watching the blog this week. We have exciting things coming up. Videos, maps, notes and maybe a few cookies!!! Hmmm, keep checking here for all your news, info and fun!!!!

Three Things!!!

a-thoughtfull-pen-writing-3647581-2560-1702Monday was a great day!!! The students are having a lot of fun but are also able to get right down to work when we need to get stuff done. Our Daily 3 reading program is really going well and students have made it to 21 mins with non-stop reading!!!

In writing, we are working on ideas for writing using literature as a starting point to writing our own stories. We first took a look at “Tulip Sees America”; a story about a boy and his dog who go on travels throughout the United States describing all the things they see on the way. The students enjoyed the story and we used it as a springboard for our own writing on places we have been too. Using Google Earth, we flew around the world (just like my evil, twin brother Bob. If you don’t know who that is, just ask your child!) and plotted all the places we have been too. Using those places, students then listed things they did there and details about those events or things they remember about that trip. Our last step was to write out our stories about our adventures in the places we visited. The students all wrote some very interesting stories and I will be putting some on the blog very soon! Our next story is going to be an animal story using the book, “If You Give A Pig A Pancake”. Using that book, students will pick their own animal and describe the silly adventures that ensue. It should be quite interesting!

On Oct. 3, Highroad Academy will be offering a seminar on Spell to Write and Read. This is the program we use as our spelling program. We have had tremendous success in improving, not only student’s spelling skills, but also their reading and writing through a focus on phonograms and spelling rules. This seminar is for all new parents to our school or anyone who has not taken the seminar. You can also attend if you need a refresher on the foundations of the SWR program. Please contact me if you wish to attend. If you are new to the school or have not attended this class before, I would strongly, strongly, strongly, strongly encourage you to attend. It is a free seminar and runs from 9 am – 12 pm.

Request for help – For one part of our Daily 3 Reading Program, students will be involved in listening to books on tapes, cd’s and other devices. To fully integrate this into our reading program, I need some more of these devices for the classroom use. If you have any old portable tape player, portable CD players or unused MP3 players kicking around your house that you would not mind donating to the class, please contact me. I am hoping to collect a number of devices to use with the students. I have a few of my own already that we can use. However, the more we have, the more students we can fit into this section of the Daily 3. Thank you!

Sorry . . . Four Things!!!

There is no spelling or memory verse this week due to the shortened week. We will resume with both of those parts of our class program next week.

How are you today?

helloA short assembly and more work on -ly words rounded out another busy day in class. We handed out some student of the month awards. We then came back and try out our skills at using -ly words in an actual paragraph. While it was slow going at first, students quickly got into it and really began to write amazingly wonderful sentences. Tomorrow, we will write a paragraph together as a class and have students add in -ly words afterwards.

We also finished off the science presentations this afternoon. As the week goes, I will be adding pictures of the buildings with some audio clips of the students answering questions about their buildings.

All in all , it was a busy day today. Don’t forget . . . Gymnastics tomorrow! Bring warm clothes to wear over your gym stuff!