Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cinco de Mayo in the Primary Classroom (Including Two Free Resources)

Since we're getting close to the beginning of May, I want to share a few ways to incorporate Cinco de Mayo into your classroom.  
Of course one great way to integrate Cinco de Mayo and Mexican culture into your class is through read alouds.  If your students are not familiar with Cinco de Mayo, fun and informative read alouds are a wonderful way to give students background knowledge for this holiday.

Some Cinco de Mayo themed read alouds you may want to check out are:
Marco's Cinco de Mayo by Lisa Bullard
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo by Sandi Hill
Next Stop: Mexico by Ginger McDonnell
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Mexican Hat Dance by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy
Cinco de Mouse-O! by Judy Cox
P is for PiƱata by Tony Johnston
Rookie Read-About Holidays: Cinco de Mayo by Mary Dodson Wade
Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds

After developing some background knowledge, students can complete a writing piece about Cinco de Mayo.  My students have be working hard on topic sentences and supporting details.  By this time of the year, they should be ready to fly with this project.  
Students will be prompted to write information they know about Cinco de Mayo.  When the writing is complete, students will put together their Cinco de Mayo kid peek overs.  
These projects will be a colorful and enlightening display outside of our classroom.
If you would like to make this project with your students, click here for a free copy of the pattern and writing sheet.

In addition to literacy opportunities, Cinco de Mayo can also be incorporated into your math time.  
A few years ago I made this Cinco de Mayo math mini book.  I've used it every year since then to give my young learners extra practice with word problems.
Skills included in this mini book are addition, subtraction, fractions, tally marks, time, nonstandard measurement, calendar, and patterns.
If you would like a free copy of Celebrate Cinco de May: A Math Mini Book, you can click here.

In addition to Cinco de Mayo word problem work, I also incorporated Cinco de Mayo into some of our monthly center work.  
In math centers students will practice Cinco de Mayo themed fractions and coin counting.  In literacy centers, students will work with Cinco de Mayo themed synonyms.  

The math and literacy centers we will be using in May have been newly updated.  If you already own these sets, you will want to download the newest versions.
Flower Power {10 Math Centers for May} includes work with missing minuends, balanced equations, fact families, time to the half hour, place value, mixed addition and subtraction, fractions, and more.  You can click here for more information.

Flower Power {10 Literacy Centers for May} features practice with contractions, synonyms, antonyms, parts of speech, sight words, fact and opinion, vowel teams, compound words, and more.  Click here for more information.

The last weeks of school can be a little much.  Keeping your students engaged and moving forward with their learning will truly benefit them (and help you keep your sanity).  I hope some of these ideas will help you get your May started on the right track.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How to Catch the Easter Bunny: A FREE Writing Craftivity

Hi all.
I know some of you are enjoying a well-deserved spring break.  Sadly my spring break was about a month ago.  On the bright side, during this week leading up to Easter, my class gets to enjoy all sorts of Easter themed learning.
This time of year, there are so many sweet books that are great jumping off points for fun classroom activities.  One new addition to my classroom library is How to Catch the Easter Bunny, by Adam Wallace.

Before I even had this book in my hand, the title had already planted a seed for a writing project.  I often use books to provide my young writers with background knowledge, examples, or inspiration for their own writing.  But, with How to Catch the Easter Bunny, I decided to approach the lesson in a little different manner.

I usually read the selected text before students write.  But, I was afraid that my writers might have a difficult time coming up with their own original ideas of "how to catch the Easter Bunny," if they heard the story before their pieces were complete.
So, to start out, we brainstormed all the info we knew about the Easter Bunny.  This information helped students as they completed their rough drafts in their journals.
After the initial writing time, we made our bunnies.  The next day we took our rough drafts and copied them on to the How to Catch the Easter Bunny writing sheet.
Pictured below are a few of the completed writing craftivities.

My students loved creating these bunnies.  They were simple to make and they made an adorable hallway display.  For a free copy of this project (which also includes two other writing prompts), click here.

If you are looking for some additional classroom resources for Easter and the remainder of the month, my April math and literacy centers are newly updated and available at my store.

Hop To It {10 Math Centers for April} includes work with place value, time to the half hour, fractions, money, basic addition/subtraction, fact families, missing addends, double digit addition, and more.  For more details, you can click here.

Hop To It {10 Literacy Centers for April} provides practice with syllables, contractions, facts/opinions, abc order, parts of speech, compound words, antonyms, and more.  For additional info, you can click here.

Keeping your little bunnies busy this time of year is so important.  I hope some of these ideas are helpful.
Happy Easter!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Visit to the Solid Shape Museum

Last week we wrapped up our geometry unit with our Solid Shape Museum.  This activity is a favorite of mine.
I often change activities from year to year.  I guess I'm always looking to see if some new approach might be better than another.  But, the Solid Shape Museum has been a keeper.
The Solid Shape Museum is fun for students, it gives them a chance to tie-in real world examples to our math, and it is a fabulous assessment tool.  It's a  win-win-win.
Not that, over the years, I haven't tweaked how we've done our Museum.  For example, this year I added some shapes, to the ones students had to bring to class.  I also changed the recording sheet students completed at the finale of the Museum.  But, by in large, the concept of the Solid Shape Museum has stayed consistent.

Here's how it works...
Students bring in "real world" objects that represent the 3D shapes we've been studying in class.  Some shapes are easier to find than others.  As you can see from the picture above, triangular pyramids and square pyramids were particularly challenging to find.  Which is fine.  Seeing the difference in the number of objects brought in led to an interesting class discussion.
Students take turns presenting their objects.  They tell what the object is and tell what shape it represents.  Then they place the object in the correct category in the Museum.

After all the presentations conclude.  Students complete a recording sheet by choosing one object for each shape to illustrate and label.
I told them they could pick any object they wanted to illustrate.  They didn't just have to illustrate their own objects.  That way, if a students didn't bring in items, they still could participate in this part of the activity.

If you would like a free copy of the parent note, recording sheet, and signs that I used for our Solid Shape Museum, click here.

Like I mentioned before, we do the Solid Shape Museum at the end of our geometry unit.  For the weeks leading up to the Museum, we are working hard to learn about 2D and 3D shapes.
Our geometry unit consists of read alouds, hands-on centers, and independent assignments.
As my students progress toward mastering these geometry skills, they truly benefit from having visuals, such as anchor charts and models, around the room.  (If you would like a free copy of the 3D shape mini anchor charts pictured below, you can click here.)

They also really benefit from having hands-on models of 3D shapes to complete tasks in class.  Students need to put that their hands on shapes to really understand faces, edges, and vertices on 3D shapes.

I bought a class set of 3D shapes from Oriental Trading.  There are enough shapes (240 pieces in all) in this set for each student to have each shape.  These shapes are a huge help when students are working with a partner or working independently on 3D shape tasks.
How else would students actually test if shapes can stack, slide, or roll?  Before I had a class set of shapes, I would use my teacher set to demonstrate stack, slide, or roll.  Now, students can do it on their own.  I love this set of shapes.  It was $20 well spent.

If you are looking for more ideas and activities to use in class for your study of geometry, you may way to check out my Shape By Shape {Hands-On Activities with 2D & 3D Shapes}.  This set of activities focuses on 2D and 3D shapes.  It includes, anchor charts, eight centers (with recording sheets), and a game of I Have. Who Has?  
For more details, you can click here or on the picture below.

Geometry can be a really fun unit in math.  Adding real world connections and hands-on experiences help students grasp these important concepts in a fun and engaging way.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Make the Most of the 100th Day (Tips and Free Activities)

It's hard to believe that it is time to start planning for the 100th Day of School.  It's a big milestone and a perfect time to have fun with the number 100.
Last year, I ran out of time to share about our 100th Day.  Luckily I didn't delete my pics.  So here's a run down, complete with lots of freebies, of last year's 100th Day of School.
Let's start with the door banner.  I've made one for the past three or four years.  The kids LOVE going through the streamers.  And bonus, last year I used it as a picture backdrop, when I took individual picture of my firsties in their 100th Day shirts.
Here's how I put together my banner...
First, I printed some festive clip art (these are from Graphics from the Pond) and text.  I cut all of the clips and the text apart.

Using butcher paper, I staggered the paper that I would later cut into streamers.

I glued the clip art and text onto the top portion of the banner.

Next, I stapled all of the butcher paper together.

Finally, I measured and cut all of the streamers.

And voila, a colorful way to welcome your students on the 100th Day of School.

After making their way through the oh-so-fun banner streamers, students started their day with the 100th Day Scavenger Hunt (a 100th Day version of write the room).
To prep for this activity, I printed numbers 1-100 on two different colors of paper.  I used our school colors, but it really doesn't matter what two colors you choose.

I randomly placed the number cards around the room.  Students colored in their 100 chart with the colors that corresponded with the number cards.

When they finished, a 100th Day hidden picture was revealed.
Click here if you would like a FREE copy of my 100th Day Scavenger Hunt to use with your class.

We also made these cutie 100th Day Kids.  I created this pattern a few years ago and have used it ever since.
This craftivity includes paper for a writing piece or paper for spelling word practice.  We used the spelling practice option.
Here are a few of our 100th Day Kids...

For a FREE copy of this 100th Day craftivity, just click here.

Another little craft we made is our 100th Day Hats.  The hats coordinated perfectly with students' 100th Day shirts (an at home project).
These hat were super simple.  I just let students color them however they wanted.
For a FREE copy of my 100th Day Hat, click here.

A perennial favorite for the 100th Day is our 100th Day Sort and Graph.  There are all sorts of things you can sort and graph on the 100th Day.  My favorite is chocolate.  We use M & M's.
Students each got a baggy containing 100 M & M's.  (A parent volunteer to counted and bagged up the M & M's before the 100th Day.)
They sorted the M & M's by color and then completed their graph.

I've had several requests for copies of the M & M graph that we use, so here it is.  Click here for a FREE copy of my 100th Day Sort and Graph printables.

To wrap up the day, students participated in the 100th Day Kids' Challenge.  Students had 100 seconds to complete a variety of tasks that included physical, academic, and creative challenges.  Student wrote their results on a recording sheet and I kept time as students rotated to all the challenge stations.
Here are a few pics from our 100th Day Kids' Challenge...
 Lego Creations
Ordering Numbers by 5's
 ABC Order 
 Word Writing
 100 Cup Tower
 Memory Game
 Pattern Block Design

The 100th Day Kids' Challenge is a wonderful way to get students up and moving.  My group last year had a blast with it.  
If you would like to use it with your students, click on the picture below for a FREE copy.

To make the most of the 100th Day of school, it's important to start planning ahead.  I hope some of these ideas and freebies will be helpful as you start getting ready for your 100th Day of School.