Feb 12, 2015

Building sturdy 3D shapes in Geometry

I spent years using straws with bendy pipe cleaners at the corners to make 3D shapes during my geometry unit because that is what the book said to do. I hated them!  They fell apart and were just really difficult for my kids' little fingers to work with.  Then I had an idea! GUMDROPS and toothpicks!  They are sturdy and we refer to the candy as VERTICES because we learn about points. It's so easy to count how many vertices there are!  I've never looked back.  The kids LOVE them.  They can build and rebuild using the same ones.  They can carry them around the room to show their friends!  They can leave them up for a week in a shape museum. Of course their favorite thing about them is that they can eat them! (Notice how there are no red ones! :)

You can also use the GUMDROPS for 2d shapes.  That shows the kiddos how to build sides. You can teach about a vertex, side, and face! .


Feb 7, 2015

Mastering Addition Facts in 2nd Grade

 Better Way to Practice Math Facts!  FREEBIE WITH RECORDING SHEET!


Over the years I watched kids struggle to learn the basic math facts.  I started out giving timed tests and   I noticed what slowed them down was saying the number sentence in their head (or whispering it)..."four plus three equals" and then writing the answer.  To speed  up they just needed to see the numbers without the + and =...like looking at numbered dice!   So with that thought in mind, I made number squares from 0-10 and gave each child two sets(one for home).  Most 2nd graders come in with +0 and +1's mastered, so we went over those rules and then most started on +2's(or higher).

Here is how it works: We start on Monday.  Children write their +2's on a whiteboard or paper so that I know they are practicing the correct answers. Then they get 6 minutes of practice. 

The children put the 2 card out on their desks.  It never moves.  They hold the deck of the other cards face up in their hand and begin to lay them one by one next to the two while they add mentally and say the answer.  They keep rotating through the deck until I call time. I tell them that I want them to be so fast at it that they are bored because that means it is in their long term memory. By Friday, most have the +2's mastered. While they move to partner activities, I call them one by one to test them.  It only takes about  30 seconds per child! They bring their cards and show me how fast they can go. They are really excited to use the cards since it is the same method in which they have practiced. The best part is, each child can go at their own pace (no timer to make them nervous!)  I can tell who is hesitating to figure it out in their head and who is just a little slower with recall  It is my call, those who I feel have mastered the facts move to the next number the following Monday. Those who don't remain on the same number the next week. I do offer small Punky Doodles when they pass a motivation.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  You could use stickers or nothing at all :).

-no test anxiety because they aren't racing against a clock or their classmates
-no typing into computer games, no running off timed tests
-you will KNOW each week where your students are in the math fact COMMOM CORE expectation
 and so will their parents

One more thing I did that helped my students was to get rid of dotted dice. I "forced" them to do math facts on each game that they play by using the kind with numbers instead.  My favorites are the quiet foam dice. Yay! Quiet!!!!

I have also been working on a beginning facts math game for a small group of 4-6 players. This is a take on an old card game I used to play.  I've also been drawing again...I enjoyed drawing the snakes! 

Math games have long been known to help children learn and retain basic math skills.  I remember playing Hi Ho Cherry-O as a little kid and counting out those 4-5-3 cherries and putting them in the bucket or back on the tree. I played it over and over again with my mom and sisters!  Through that simple little game I learned math facts....and there wasn't a flashcard or computer game to be seen!  In my classroom I am continually looking for quick 15-20 min. math games for partners and small groups.  My kids have time for games every day!  If you are skipping this...or saving it only for fun Fridays...well, you are missing out on important opportunities for kids to practice and for math to be F-U-N! Don't feel guilty if the principal walks in and your students are playing games.  They are learning!!!

I also have some EDITABLE (Yay!) Math Task Cards that are for Spring.  It is always hard to match a game to students every year.  We all know how each class is different!...so Editable Cards make it easy for me to switch things up.  These cards are a mix of what my students learn throughout the year in the Common Core. 


Feb 6, 2015

Writing Templates for 2nd Grade

OH MY all of those nooks and crannies in the hall and classroom to fill with beautiful new wall hangings each month.  Sometimes it is overwhelming because every other teacher in the building is putting up cute things around you....oh the competition...friendly as it may be....can keep us up at night! Right?  Honestly though, who has much time for the cute right now with all the new standards and "stuff" being thrown our way

Persuasive Writing Kit for a cute craft to hang for Wrtier's Workshop.  Get it here!
 But, I think it is important to highlight writing across all content areas.  I love having my students write in science or math.   Right now I am working on templates for the writing units that my district uses. I always jazz them up by putting construction paper behind them (bright, pastel, whatever.)  That paper just somehow gives it the cohesive look from far away.  It draws people over to take a look at the writing. THEN they can see that the writing is all different.  I enjoy letting students pick their topics within the mode.  WE DO A TON of WRITING in my class and I must say it is my favorite, although hardest subject to teach.  I feel like I get to know a student better when they write!  What do you do to enjoy Writer's Workshop as a teacher? 

I'm a FREEBIE.  Click to get me!

I'm a FREEBIE- full page bat with Hook, Main Idea, and Fact cards!

Feb 1, 2015


I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Valentine's Day at school! Way back in the day I won a Valentine bag decorating contest in class and was so excited because I won a glitter covered award.  Since that day, I see red come every February!!! Think about it....  kids are not worried about costumes, gifts, or travel plans.  They are totally focused on making out those little cards FOR their friends.  They are giving! 


The joy they have on their faces when they deliver them is unmatched!  My inner seven year old comes out as I deliver mine to their little decorated boxes.   Joy! Joy! Joy!  So today, as the February snow falls and classrooms are turning red, pink, and purple.  I give a fun FREEBIE to you.  This is an EDITABLE CARD that you can download and enter your own message and names!  SO MUCH MORE PERSONAL than store bought!   Click on the FREE EDITABLE words below the picture to print out your own!  It is a Power Point, so make sure you can download that on your computer.

I've also been working on a Kindergarten Valentine Book full of math and games for the little ones.


Activities for practicing spelling too!