Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Penguins Read-the-Room Freebie

Hello, Teaching Friends!

Well, who knew? January 20th was Penguin Awareness Day. Had I been {aware} of that, I probably would have posted this yesterday! :)

If anybody's aware of penguins, I'm thinking it's probably our primary grade students. Have you noticed how many new resources have debuted just this year? I won't even try to list, but would love to direct you to a post by my friend Arlene at LMN Tree.  Arlene has a wonderful talent for researching great topical books, links and other resources. Here's her post about penguins!

I love to teach about penguins! My personal fascinations with them include ...

* They have huge dedication to their young ones even before they are born, as witnessed by the careful mom-to-dad foot-to-foot exchange of the egg.

* They are experts at walking on ice. I'm so jealous. If I'd made a walk-on appearance in March of the Penguins, it would have turned into a slapstick comedy. I am ridiculously bad at walking on ice.

* They are tricksters. Some people (even big people!) are sure that penguins are not birds. Also, penguins are tricky in that some people are convinced that they live with polar bears. There are some truly gifted clip artists out there who have not yet gotten this message. Spread the word.

* They slide across the ice on their bellies. I mean, how fun is that? What kiddo wouldn't want to imagine himself sliding alongside them? Plus, it's called tobogganing. Such a cool name.

Since there is already so much available online about penguins, I was kind of hard-pressed to come up with a new freebie. {Here are links to two "oldie but goodie" freebies, a 120 chart game called Penguins on Ice , and a board game that you can customize for your spelling words, word wall words, etc. - Slip Slidin' Spelldown.}

So, here's my latest humble contribution to the mountain of penguin resources out there. Your students will find word cards around your classroom and use them to complete a short reading passage about emperor penguins. Then they'll read the passage aloud with a friend to be sure the words make sense ... and along the way, get some extra practice with decoding and fluency. Click on the picture and enjoy!
I'm linking up this week at Comprehension Connection's Thematic Thursday. Click on the button below to see lots of great ideas for teaching about penguins!

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"February in First Grade" Linky Party

Hello, Teaching Friends!

January is flying by, so let's get ready for the super-busy month of February. Considering that it's the shortest month of the year, there sure are a lot of "extras" to squish into the teaching schedule! Each and every one of those extra events is interesting, fun, and educational in one way or another, but what a list! 

Starting off with the Super Bowl on the 1st, February holidays come at us like crazy with Groundhog Day, Dental Health Month, Black History Month, Valentines Day, 100th Day for many, Presidents Day, and Chinese New Year. Whew!

So, let's help each other out with a "February in First Grade" Linky Party!

Many thanks to Michelle at The 3AM Teacher  for the linky button background
and to Little Red's Schoolhouse for the sweet letters - love the texture details!

When we did a February Linky Party here last year, we had 98 link-ups. With all of the amazing new free and paid resources that are now available, I'm guessing we can top 150 this year. I want this to be a great resource for all of you!!

Just a few rules before you link up your lovable goodies:

1.  Any resources related to February teaching in first grade are welcome!

2.  Link as many free resources as you'd like. Please limit yourself to linking only one paid item and , please put a $ after the name of your paid resource.

3.  Please spread the news so we'll all increase our views! Share the button above on your blog, Pinterest, Facebook, faculty room wall :) ,etc.  Many thanks!!

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Valentines Day Math Puzzlers

Hello, Teaching Friends!

January 14th ... just one month until hearts and flowers, and, of course, chocolates! :) Oh, yes!

I've been having fun with the delightful Love Bugs clipart from Jenn at Teacher's Gumbo. Lots of you told me that your second graders enjoyed Pirate's Secret Treasure Numbers task cards, so I decided to use the cutie love bugs to create a new set of riddles for your second graders.

I love making these task cards, mostly because I love thinking about the faces of the little mathematicians as they figure out the answers to elimination puzzles like this one.

Get a closer look at these puzzlers by downloading the preview at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
There are four free cards included in the preview download!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Math is Everywhere - Toy Cars!

Hi, Teaching Friends!

I'm taking my cue today from posts by my friend Tara at The Elementary Math Maniac. A while back, Tara wrote about using photos to help students recognize math in common objects and places.

Recently I came across this display of toy cars at a flea market and just couldn't resist snapping a pic.


This should be a high interest photo for the kiddos, don't you agree? 

Bearing in mind that when I get stuck on an idea I sometimes have a bit of trouble letting it go, here are some of the math questions that came into my mind for this photo, in approximate order of difficulty.

How many cars are in the display?

How many rows are there? How many columns?

If the owner sells ten cars, how many will be left?

Are there more green cars or blue cars? How many more?

Two kids bought the whole tray of cars and decided to share them. How many cars will each of them get? What if one of their friends comes along and they decide to share with her, too - how many cars will each of them get? Suppose a fourth friend comes along?

All of the cars cost $.10 each, except the red and orange cars, which are $.20 each. I have $2.00 in my pocket. Is that enough to buy all of the cars? If it is, will I get any change? If it isn't, how much more will I need?

What fraction of the cars are green? What fraction of the cars are yellow? What fraction of the cars are either green or yellow?

What fraction of the cars are painted a primary color?

If the owner wants to make $5 by selling all of the cars, how much should he charge for each one?

The green cars are $4.99 each and the gold cars are $3.50 each. All of the rest of the cars are $2.99 each. What percentage of the cars cost less than $3 each?

Although I've strayed beyond where "Primary" Inspiration should probably be venturing, I'm sure you get the idea that a picture like this can be useful for a wide range of mathematical topics at many learning levels!

Working with a photo like this is a great warm-up for a math lesson, partly for the practice in solving the problems but just as importantly for getting the minds of your students thinking about math and how it's used in all of our lives.

I also like the idea of using pictures like these as a partner activity, for generating and writing math questions. Then each day you can put one of the pictures up on your doc camera and talk about the questions with the whole class.

Where can you get pictures for math?  Well, first of all, you're welcome to grab the one above to print and use in your classroom.  Also, you'll find some great ones in magazine ads and illustrations from children's books.  Once you start to do this, you'll find yourself taking pictures everywhere.  Ask Tara ... I've gone a little overboard, sending her photos of everything from gauges on fire trucks to Tastycake displays at the local convenience store!

If you plan to use the toy car picture, please leave a comment to share a math question that you might ask about it.  Thanks!

See more examples of math in action at the monthly "Math is Real Life" linky at Miss Math Dork's blog.
...also sponsored by...

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Sticker on Your Paper or A Star on Your Nose?

Hello, Teaching Friends!

How do you feel about rewards for your students? What kinds of behaviors .... academic, social, you choose to reward?

Rewards motivate. And motivated kids work harder, and usually learn more. So for me it's not a question of whether to reward, but how (and how often... but that's another post for another day!).

I've read a lot of research on extrinsic rewards, and you probably have, too. It caused me to feel good about abandoning some things I'd sometimes done but never felt really comfortable with, like the book programs from the amusement park and the pizza chain. I wanted my students to read for the joy of reading, and I never had been convinced that those motivational "contests" would help that happen. Some of the kids would shrug and say, "We already have a season pass" (not a wealthy community, but we have a major amusement park only about half an hour away), others would never take the promo paper out of their folder, and those who were already in love with reading needed no artificial incentive to continue. In fact, the best reward for reading for that last group was often ... more time for free choice reading!

Please don't get me started talking about A.R. I am SOOO glad that it was never mandated for my class. I'm sure there are people who make it work, but it definitely doesn't align with what I believe about either reading or motivation.

The thing that really changed my mind on extrinsic motivation was when I realized that the kids just didn't care about the trinkets. They'd actually say, "no, thanks", even to my very blingy-est scratch-and-sniff or hologram stickers. If they didn't care about amusement park tickets, then they sure didn't care about the trinkets, either, and their lack of enthusiasm about choosing from the weekly treasure chest made the bookkeeping it required totally not worth the work.

Did this mean that I never gave out stickers or prizes? Not at all! If we had a math lesson where everyone was attentive and put forth great effort, I might give everyone a sticker... or a high five... or let them share high fives with the person on each side of them!

Above-and-beyond great behavior during an assembly? Definitely deserving of some extra time in centers today, or maybe an extra readaloud! (Primary grade teachers know best on this one ... if you make it sound like an awesome treat, then 9 times out of 10 that's the way they perceive it!)

Sometimes I'd give out a little treat just because, "Sh! Don't tell anybody, but you are the BEST first grade class ever!" What fun to see their proud little faces and beaming smiles! And how hard they'd work to live up to the praise!

I'm rambling a little here, but I do want to get back to the title of this post - a star on your nose!
It's kind of a "semi-extrinsic" motivation, but also a lot of fun.
Here's what it is and how I used it.

When I saw a particularly great example of good thinking, like...

    *  applying a newly-learned concept

    *  making an unexpected connection

    *  drawing a generalization across subject areas

    *  any example of good thinking for that particular child, because every child has those moments -
        and looking for an occasion to draw a star made me watch more carefully for them in all of my

... then it was time to reach deep into a desk drawer and pull out my golden marker. {dried out! :)}
 {A hush falls over the room ... "she's gettin' the marker!"... "oooh, he's gonna get a star for that one!"}  I'd have the child tell us again what he or she had said and then very lightly swipe the top of his nose, pretending to draw a star with my "marker", and saying "A star on your nose for good thinking!". 

Oh my goodness, they loved this!!!  We had lots of little inside jokes about the stars, like , "Don't worry, it'll wash off by the time you get married!"  I'd hear lots of "Good job!"-type comments being given afterwards. Love when kiddos show that they care about each other.

Every year, there would be at least a few kiddos who would rush to the mirror or cross their eyes in an attempt to see their star  - so cute!!!  It was no less valuable to them when they'd realize there was nothing visible. Ah, the precious power of imagination in first graders!

I realized just how powerful the recognition of getting a make-believe star on the nose was when students would come to me to proudly report, "This is my fourth star!" or "Did you know I got three stars since Halloween?"  They remembered the moment of recognition, the fun, and hopefully the reason for the recognition, too, and it wasn't a long forgotten sticker or a trinket that drifted to the bottom of an overstuffed toy box.

What's your take on rewards? Do you motivate with whole class rewards like popcorn parties, or individual rewards like special privileges, stickers, or points to redeem weekly at a prize box? Or do you have a totally different way of rewarding? I'd love it if you'd share your favorite!

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year Blog Hop!

Happy New Year, Teaching Friends!

I'm excited to be joining in again with some blogging friends, sharing lots of freebies and other great resources for winter! Put on your scarves and mittens and join us, but keep those parka pockets empty ... you'll need plenty of room to carry all those snowballs  freebies you'll be collecting!

I'd love to share a few of my winter freebies with you ... something for readin', writin', and 'rithmetic - something for everybody!

Are you working on CVC words? Here's a game that will give your little guys lots and lots of practice blending to read short vowel words!

Because fluency instruction is so critical to successful comprehension, here's a set of free winter sight word phrases, to help your new readers cluster words appropriately, smoothly, and quickly. You'll find 19 phrase cards in this set - just punch holes and join them with a key ring or carabiner and you've got an instant center activity!

On to writin'! :) There are just so many exciting things for our kiddos to write about in winter. I'm thinking about the little guys in California, some of whom have never seen snow before but were treated to some this week. How amazing!! Since I'm sure they can't stop talking about it, how about doing some snowy writing, too? Here's a set of four free picture prompts for winter writing! Great for use with your doc camera, they'd also make an easy addition to your writing center this winter!

And finally, 'rithmetic!

Some matching cards for my PreK and kindergarten friends, with numerals, number word, objects to count (snowballs, of course!), and ten frames for one to ten.

And for your firsties, here's a set of partner games for practicing addition strategies. Only one page for each game, and no cards to print or cut ... hooray!! Yep, that's the same snowman you saw on the other cover - I just fell in love with this set of cuties from KPM Doodles!


... and here's a closer look!

Something for everybody, right? :)

I'd also like to tell you about my winter vocabulary set. This is something that will provide you with vocabulary- building center activities all winter, but it's also a great resource to have on hand for a substitute day ... whether you're home shoveling snow or you just can't take one more day of indoor recess!

Here's one of the activities in the pack, riddles and a board game. On the board, you can see some of the 30 winter vocabulary words addressed in the set.

Here's the rest of the word work activities that are included - sorting mats, bingo games, independent activities and more.

To celebrate the Happy New Year Blog Hop, "Snowy Days" will be on sale from today through the 5th! I hope you'll stop by my store for a closer look!

Are you a follower at Teaching Blog Roundup? A great group of K-2 bloggers share ideas and freebies there every month! In my post this month, I share some teaching ideas and of course some freebies, too, for starting off the new year with practicing the names of the months.  I hope to see you there! :)

It's time to head to your next stop on the Happy New Year Blog Hop. Take a look at the wonderful things that Two Scoops of Kindergarten has to share with you!

2 Scoops of Kindergarten
Best wishes to you all for a happy and healthy 2015, and a successful year of learning and growing with your class!
Happy Teaching!

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