Category: 3rd Grade

3rd Grade Environment Posters

Third graders at Varina Elementary are learning about human influences on the environment (SOL3.10), so today students in Ms. Galvin’s class created environment posters using several different webtools. First, we discussed ways that humans impact the environment either positively or negatively and related it to the current wildfires happening in Australia. Some humans are fighting the fires and protecting the animals, while other humans are causing the fires to spread. I recorded their ideas on the board and instructed students to choose one for their poster. Next, each student did a Google image search for a background image and downloaded it to their Chromebook. Then, we took a selfie using Pixect with an expression showing how we were feeling about the background image. I like Pixect for taking selfies because it’s easy to use, it has a timer, and it features some cool effects. Since we wanted our background image to be the one we downloaded earlier, we removed the background with RemoveBG. If you’ve never tried that tool, it’s really amazing. It automatically detects the background in a photo and deletes it in a matter of seconds! Finally, we combined the background image with our selfie using a tool called ToonyTool. With ToonyTool, you can add a background, a character (our selfie), and speech bubbles and text. The posters turned out great! You can see them all here. UPDATE: With Ms. Lanham’s class we added elapsed time to the posters (SOL3.9b) and added them to the document.

3rd Grade Moon Phases with Scratch

Third graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about the four major phases of the moon (SOL4.6c), so today students in Ms. Goode’s class used coding and Scratch to create a moon phases activity. First we reviewed the phases of the moon with PBSLearningMedia, NASA, EarthSpaceLab, Moon Phase Simulator, and we even got to see which phase of the moon is showing tonight in Richmond. Next, we logged into Scratch, and the students added a space background. Then I showed them how to add their own “sprite” as a drawing. We drew a circle shape for the moon and filled it in with the paint bucket. This would represent the full moon. Then we duplicated it three times and added shading to represent the first quarter, third quarter, and the new moon. In the code for the moon, we programmed it to switch costumes every three seconds. The last step was to add another “sprite,” or character and code it to say the correct phase every three seconds. We tested our programs to make sure they worked, then we published them and shared the links in Schoology. You can take a look at some of the projects here.


3rd Grade Fractions Animations

Third Graders at Trevvett Elementary have been learning about fractions in Math (SOL3.2), so today students in Ms. Peay’s class created fraction animations with BrushNinja. First we discussed fractions of a group and viewed various examples. Then we discussed how we might illustrate these types of fractions with animations. The students had some great ideas: a group of oranges that progressively rotted, a candy bar being eaten in sections, a bunch of ice cream cones melting one-by-one. We went to BrushNinja, and I instructed the students to draw their group of objects at the beginning when they all looked the same. I asked, What fraction would this represent? Since the animation is showing the fraction that had changed, we figured that we should write the fraction as 0/total. To save time, I showed them how they could duplicate the drawing, make a change to one object in the group, write the fraction, then continue that process until all the objects had been changed and the final fraction was total/total. Or as another option, students could redraw the picture in each successive frame with the changes and the new fractions. The final projects turned out great. You can see them here.

3rd Grade Water Cycle Animations

Third graders at Holladay Elementary have been learning about the water cycle (SOL3.7), so today, students in Ms. Szyperski’s class used BrushNinja to create animations illustrating the water cycle. First, we discussed each step in the cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and runoff. We also talked about different ways to illustrate each one creatively. I showed them how to use the text tool in BrushNinja to label each step and how to copy the frames at the bottom to save time. When they were finished, they exported their projects as animated GIFs and posted them on Schoology to share with their classmates. They turned out great! You can see some student examples here.

3rd Grade Moon Phases Animations

Third graders at Trevvett Elementary have been studying the movements and phases of the moon (SOL4.6c), so today students in Ms. Hufnell’s class used BrushNinja to create animations of the four main phases: new moon, first quarter, full moon, and last quarter. I started off by telling the students that today they will see a side of the moon they’ve never seen before, and they will get to actually look around the moon as if they were standing right there! First, to see the far side of the moon, we went to Google maps, clicked Satellite view (bottom left corner), turned on 3D (bottom right corner), and zoomed all the way out. When you zoom all the way out, you see the Earth, but over on the left side a panel should open up with the moon and planets. We clicked the moon and now we could click and drag it around to see the phases and the back side. Since the same side of the moon is always facing the Earth, this is a side we never see. We also looked at the top and bottom of the moon. Next, to look around on the surface of the moon we explored this panoramic photo from China’s Chang’e Lunar Mission. I asked the students if they knew what phase of the moon it was in right now. How could they find out? We went to NASA’s “Moon In Motion” website, which not only tells the current phase, but also has some great images, videos, and interactive diagrams. After reviewing the phases of the moon, we were ready to design our own moon phases animations. We went to BrushNinja and got a space background by clicking the background button at the bottom and either searching for a space background or choosing a solid black color and drawing small white dots for stars. Then we used the shapes tool to draw a grey circle for the moon. They could decorate it with craters, if they wanted. We also used the text tool to type “New Moon.” The students then duplicated this image three times (using the bottom button that looks like two sheets of paper), and used white paint to illustrate the different phases. For the full moon, I suggested that they make a new white circle the same size as the grey circle, instead of trying to fill it in with white paint. When they finished their animations, they exported them as GIF files and shared them on Schoology. In the comments, they typed questions about the moon for their classmates to answer. You can see their animations and questions here.

3rd Grade Coin Calculator

Third graders at Laburnum Elementary have been learning about coins and money (SOL3.6), so today students in Ms. White’s class made coin calculators with Google Sheets. I gave them a template to get started (you can make a copy of it here). It has the header row already filled out. I showed the students how to change the font and color of the row by clicking the #1 on the left side and highlighting the whole row. Next we listed all the coins in column A: quarter, dime, nickel, penny. In column B they could type any number they wanted between 1-10 for the number of coins. In column C we wrote some code to calculate the value of that number of coins by multiplying the number in B with the decimal value of the coin. For example, the code for quarters is: =B2*0.25. So if there were 7 quarters, the code would solve 7 x 0.25 = $1.75. I showed them how to format Column C to display the numbers as currency (Format > Number > Currency). We typed code for each coin and tested it by typing different numbers in column B. The students were very excited to see their code actually working! Then we added an image of money and pressed the Chart button to make a bar graph of the number of coins. Finally we clicked the Share button and set it so anyone with the link could find it. We published our spreadsheets on Schoology, but you can see them all here.

3rd Grade Making Change Comics

Third graders at Varina Elementary have been learning how to make change from $5.00 or less (SOL3.6c). Today, students in Ms. Hummel’s class created comics about different situations that involve making change. We used a great website for making comics called StoryboardThat. The comics had three panels: (1) in the first panel they had to tell how much the good or service cost, (2) in the second panel they had to tell how much money was paid, and (3) in the last panel they had to calculate the change that was given. StoryboardThat makes it easy to be creative because there are so many different backgrounds, and each character is completely customizable with different colors, facial expressions, and poses. We used the built-in, searchable clip art library to find additional objects for our comics like dollar bills and coins. Then students added speech bubbles (called textables) and practiced writing complete sentences with capitals and periods. They also learned how to add the $ dollar sign by pressing Shift and 4. Finally, we took screenshots of our comics and shared them on Schoology. You can see all their comics here. UPDATE: I’ve added additional comics from other classes to this document.


3rd Grade Famous Americans Elasped Time

Third graders at Trevvett Elementary have been reviewing famous Americans in Social Studies (SOL2.4) and learning about elapsed time in Math (SOL3.9b). So today students in Ms. Peay’s class created comics about famous Americans and the elapsed time of their well-known activities. First we talked about some possible activities and their duration. For example, how long would it take Cesar Chavez to work in the fields? How long would it take for Martin Luther King, Jr. to give a speech? How long would Rosa Parks ride in the bus? Then we discussed two different ways to ask about elapsed time: we could give the start and end times and ask about the duration, or we could give the start time and the duration, and ask about the end time. Once they planned out what they wanted to do, the students went to StoryboardThat, which is a great tool for making comics. They created comics with three panels. The first two panels had to give information about the person, their activity, and the times, while the last panel had to ask the reader a question about elapsed time. We posted our comics on Schoology, and our classmates had to reply with the answers to our questions. You can see some student samples and their comments here.


3rd Mali Matter Comics

Third graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about the Empire of Mali in Social Studies (SOL3.4) and matter in Science (SOL3.3). So today students in Ms. Goode’s and Ms. Lanham’s classes created Mali Matter comics. First we reviewed different aspects of the Mali Empire: griots, camels, salt, gold, Timbuktu, the Niger River, etc. and categorized them as solids, liquids, or gasses. Since we didn’t identify too many gasses or liquids, the students had to be creative (and they were!). Now that they had some ideas for their comics, we went to StoryboardThat, which is an online tool for making comics. We made a 3-panel comic, and in each panel the students had to provide an example of a solid, liquid, or gas from the Mali Empire. In order to find the most accurate illustrations, we looked at online images of the Mali landscape and the clothing people wore there a long time ago. Then we looked in StoryboardThat for Scenes and Characters that were similar. Students also added speech bubbles to explain the types of matter in their comic. You can see some student samples here.


3rd Grade Life Cycle Animations

Third graders at Holladay Elementary have been learning about animal life cycles in Science (SOL3.8b) and time in Math (SOL3.9), so today students in Ms. Pumphrey’s class created animated life cycles showing the time duration of each stage. First, they chose an animal and used the Internet to research the animal’s life cycle. I instructed them to focus on how long each stage lasted, and if they couldn’t find that information, they could used the microphone and ask Google (for example, “How long is the egg stage of a ladybug life cycle?”). We were surprised by how short and how long some of the stages lasted! Next, we went to BrushNinja, which is a free online animation tool, and illustrated our animal’s life cycle. We used the text tool to type how many days or months each stage lasted. Then we exported our animations as GIF files and shared them with our classmates in Schoology. You can see a few student samples here.