Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Is... : A Must Read Mentor Text and A Halloween Math Mini Book Freebie

Hi Friends it's the Sunday before Halloween and time for Collaboration Cuties' weekly Must Read Mentor Text Link Up.  This week's topic is social studies.  No better time to read Halloween Is . . .  by Gail Gibbons.
True to form Gibbons highlights the origins of this holiday and touches on the different traditions that are a part of Halloween.  This text is part of a series of nonfiction books that explain holidays and what makes them special.  These books are simple to understand and very informative.  They are a great addition to an early elementary classroom library.

Reading Halloween Is. . .  is one of the activities we will be doing in class this week.  Another is math related.  I created a fun little Halloween word problem math mini book to use with my students.  If you would like a copy of this mini book click on the picture below.  

Speaking of Halloween, we are totally ready at our house.  Candy has been bought, decorations are up, and yesterday we carved our pumpkin.  A was a big help.  She cleaned all the goop and seeds like a pro (she's already helped the grandparents).  She can't wait for Thursday.

Halloween is such a fun holiday for kids.  Be sure to harness some of this excitement for learning in your classroom.  
For more mentor text suggestions visit the Collaboration Cuties. 
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Something to Crow About: A Fun Fall Craftivity & A Free Comprehension Printable

This week my first graders have been doing all sorts for fun fall themed learning, which is very appropriate since this week it actually felt like autumn.  For the first time this season had to wear a jacket to school.  Scarecrows fit into this fall themed learning perfectly.
One scarecrow activity we did was a fall themed scarecrow glyph.  They turned out really cute and look great displayed in my room.  Students also did a little writing to go along with their scarecrows.  They wrote an opinion piece whether or not they thought they would make a good scarecrow.  Most agreed, being a scarecrow is not their ideal job.
If you are interested in doing this glyph with your kiddos, you can click here to find it at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

There are some fab books that feature scarecrows as characters.  My favorite is The Scarecrow's Hat by Ken Brown.  This story follows Hen as she works with the other animals of the countryside to eventually trade a walking stick with Scarecrow for his hat.
This book has really lovely illustrations and a story that is the perfect springboard for teaching all sorts of comprehension lessons.  Sequencing, characters, setting, plot, conflict/solution, you name it.  Below you will find sample of a comprehension graphic organizer we used with the story, focusing on characters.
The students picked their favorite character from The Scarecrow's Hat and then completed the graphic organizer.  
You can have a FREE copy this graphic organizer by clicking on the picture.

I hope some of these suggestions and activities can be useful to you.  Thanks so much for stopping by.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thanks and Giving {Literacy and Math Centers for November}

Once again this month seems to be flying by.  In a little over a week it will be November.  Now is the perfect time to start planning ahead for some fun learning in your class.  I've just completed a couple of sets of centers that might help with this planning.
Thanks and Giving {10 Literacy Centers for November} is a set of hands on activities that focuses on short/long vowel discrimination, initial consonants, contractions, sentence order, sight words, rhyming words, syllables, parts of speech, and ABC order.  You can find this packet, along with a detailed preview that you can download, at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

For math next month I put together Thanks and Giving {10 Math Centers for November}.  The skills covered in this packet are addition, subtraction, fact families, time to the half hour, equation comparisons, skip counting, place value, missing addends, and more.  Again, if you are interested, you can get a closer look by downloading the preview at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I love Thanksgiving and the weeks leading up to it.  These centers are a great way to incorporate seasonal fun into your students' learning.
Thanks for reading and have a great week.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Going Batty: A Mentor Science Text and Two Free Bat Activities

We're getting close to Halloween and you know what that means . . . Kids that are very, VERY excited and probably sugared up.  Well if you are in the younger grades, it is a great time to channel all of that energy into some creepy science learning with bats.
Bats are so interesting and a great topic during October.  One book I really love to use in my class is National Geographic Kids:  Bats.  True to form, this book features loads of photographs of this nocturnal creature.  This text has many interesting facts that your student will love to hear like what bats eat, where bats live, how they use echolocation, and more.

After your kiddos learn some facts about bats, they can complete the graphic organizer that is pictured below.  (The clip art is from Melonheadz.)
Click on it if you would like a free copy to use with your students.

Also, if you are looking for a fun little craftivity to go along with your study of bats, click on the picture below for a free template and instructions for this bat headband.  It's really easy to make and super cute.

For more tried and true science text recommendations and activity ideas, be sure to visit the Collaboration Cuties.  
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Rockin' Touchmath: A FREE Math Center

Hi all.  I hope you are enjoying your weekend.  Last night was my school's Fall Festival (plus grade cards went out on the same day, yippee).  Since all of that fun is over with, I can breathe a little easier.
I did want to take a minute and share with you about a math strategy that I absolutely love.  Touchmath.  I was introduced to Touchmath when I stared teaching first grade, several years ago.  I have used it ever since.  If you are unfamiliar, there are imaginary points that can go on the numbers 1-9.  Those points allow students to simply count to solve their addition and subtraction problems.  I even think upper grades can use Touchmath for multiplication and maybe division.  Touchmath also has a program for money and for time.
The main reason I love it so much is that it basically gives students "counters" that will not run out, unlike fingers.  Students always have access the Touchpoints, unlike number lines and manipulatives.  Touchmath makes three digit addition a snap.  Plus my students' accuracy rates in addition and subtraction are strong.
If you use Touchmath (or are interested in trying it out), laying the groundwork is very important.  My student spend a few weeks memorizing where the points should go before they ever start using Touchpoints for computation.  I usually begin this process the first week or two of school when we are doing review work with number recognition and representations.
During the beginning days of memoriztion, my students look at posters and count the Touchpoints.  We do some movement activities to help remember where the points go.  Students have to draw the Touchpoints during written assignments.  There are also fun hands on activities for memorization, check Pinterest for some ideas.  Pictured below is a hands on activity I created to help my students learn where all the points go on the numbers.

As you can see, the center pieces are Pete the Cat inspired and who doesn't love Pete?  The points are his groovy buttons.  Mine are printable, but if you had enough larger and smaller buttons, real ones would work great.

You can have a FREE copy of this activity by clicking on the picture below.

Touchmath is not the only strategy I use in class.  I also use manipulatives, numbers lines, ten frames, part/part/whole charts, and more.  Touchmath has been a great method for my students to learn.  If you haven't tried it, you really should check it out.
Contact me if you have any questions.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ten Black Dots: A Math Mentor Text

Hi friends. It has been a beautiful weekend here.  I wish I could put October's weather in a bottle to keep always.  I'm heading back to school after a very speedy fall break.  But before I do, I'm linking up with the Collaboration Cuties for their weekly Mentor Text Linkup.
This linkup is a great resource if you are looking to expand your class library or if you are wanting new ideas for books that you already have.  The math text I would like to share is probably already in your library.  It's Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews.
This counting book features rhyming text and illustrations utilizing black dots.  It's fun to see the variety of ways the dots can be used.  And best of all, this simple concept lends itself perfectly to student creations.

I usually use this book during the first week or two of school with my first graders.  Some years the students' illustrations are used as stand alone artwork.  Some years I put them all together into a class book.

This activity is not an original idea.  But, it is one I really love.  Students always enjoy Ten Black Dots (the book and the accompanying activity).  It is a great way to reinforce number concepts to ten.  It is also a wonderful way to integrate math, literature, and art into one neat package.
For more math mentor text recommendations and activities, be sure to check out Collaboration Cuties.  Thanks for reading and have a great week.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sail Away On Columbus Day: A FREE Math Mini Book

It's wonderful Wednesday!  I hope you are having a great week so far.  We are on fall break and when we return, my class will learning about Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day.  I love using math mini books for these special days during the year.  I can stay thematic with my instruction and spend some time with word problems.
I usually work along with my students on mini books using my document camera.  We discuss the clue words in the problems and all the different ways to solve them.  I like to have students bring their books up to share and explain how they arrive at their answers.  Later in the year, students will need less support.  But, we continue discussing strategies even when they become more independent.  
Pictured below is the math mini book my students will complete during our studies of Christopher Columbus.  Click on the picture if you would like a FREE copy of it.

I think it's really important to work on word problems throughout the entire year.  Math mini books are a really great way to fit them in.
I hope you can get some use out of this activity.  If you have any questions about it, please email me.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Math Boxes 101

The first nine weeks of this school year are now in the record book.  Our fall break officially began today.  Before I left school, I had several loose ends to take care of.  One loose end was the changing of my September math boxes for the October ones.
My kids needed a few extra days to finish up with September's.  Now they will start fresh with new math boxes when they return from break.
I am a big fan of math boxes.  I mainly use them for skill review.  However, I also use them to lay the ground work for upcoming instruction and to allow for practice with current skills.
Here is a bit about how math boxes work in my class.  To begin with, I have an easily accessible cabinet where I keep all of the math boxes.  They are clearly labels with a number.  Students know where everything is and exactly how to put it away.
 My students usually work with a partner on math boxes.  They stay on the same set of boxes for about one month.  Since I usually put out ten activities, students will complete each box two times.  Usually the first time through they are getting a feel for the activities.  A couple of weeks later when they do it again, they are usually much more confident.
When it's time to change out the boxes, I pull them off the shelves.  All of the pieces go in a large envelope along with a master copy of the recording sheets.  Then I reload the boxes with the new activities.
On the first day of the new math boxes, I show and explain all of the activities to the class.  I really try to make the steps to complete the activities as basic as possible, so that the students can be independent.
To keep track of the math box schedule, I have a master copy of it in my plan book.  The students keep track with a clip chart.  My class helper is responsible for moving the clips at the end of math box time.  She will just move each clip down one number each day.  While the bottom clip goes to the top.  Having some type of chart really helps students remember where they need to be.
 The clip chart is nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.  It is very simple to make.  It is a half sheet of laminated card stock.  Since my chart is hanging, I really like the small clips.  They are not has heavy.  I wrote student numbers on the clips.  I recommend writing them on both sides so that they can be clip to either side of the chart.
Math boxes are a great way for students to learn.  Not only are students developing their math capabilities, they are also learning to share, take turns, and work as a team.  What more could a teacher want?