Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Learning About Plants with Crosscurricular Teaching ... and Riddles!!

Are plants part of your science curriculum in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade? Are you having trouble getting all of your students to mastery, given the limited amount of time available to teach science? Here's something that might help you!

The Next Generation Science Standards call for students to describe patterns of what living things need to survive, understand how plant parts contribute to their survival, and observe plant needs, life cycles, and diversity.  Even with the language simplified as much as I did there, that's a whole lot of content!

Fortunately, most primary grade students are super interested in science. With interest so high, many of your students will bring their prior knowledge to your lessons, and of course those connections are going to help secure all that new vocabulary and information.

But what about those kids who don't have the background, or who aren't as interested? What do you do to make the path to mastery easier for them?

Have you tried riddles?  Kids love solving riddles, and I'm a big fan of using them in teaching.
I have riddles for everything from the ocean to animals, from sight words to digraphs. And math? More math riddles than I can count! Riddles get kids thinking, and help them make the kinds of connections that make new information stick!  Plus, every riddle that you solve together is another opportunity to model identifying key details, making inferences, and drawing conclusions. That's a whole lot of learning wrapped up in a package of fun!

I just finished up a set of 20 plant riddles with answers like stem, leaf, seedling, germination, cactus, greenhouse, roots, tree, shovel, sun, soil, and nine more. It also includes a small group bingo game, a riddle writing activity, and a whole class graphing activity. I love incorporating cross-curricular activities in my science riddle sets. The more times your students see and hear these words, the more quickly they'll conquer them! Besides, who doesn't want to cover multiple standards withone activity?!?

Would you like to try a free sample from the Plant Riddles set?

Your sample includes three vocabulary matching boards with 20 plants vocabulary word cards on each board. Here are some ideas for using them.

* Cut a board apart and match the cards to another board that hasn't been cut. You can adjust this according to your students' needs: words to pictures, words to pictures / words, pictures to picture / words, etc.

* Cut all three boards apart into sets of 20 cards.  Have students find all the matching sets of three cards.

* Put the word cards or the picture / word cards in your writing center to encourage writing about science.

*  Use the cards in a literacy center for alphabetizing or syllable sorts.

*  Use on a tabletop pocket chart for categorizing and other activities.

Click to download your free copy!

Happy Teaching!

p.s.  If you already own either the Science Riddle Cards Bundle or Riddle Round-Up, please download them again ... the Plant Riddles resource is now included, and is yours at no extra charge!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Spring Freebies, All in One Place!

Looking for spring freebies? Whether you're an Instant Online Teacher or an Instant Homeschooler, I hope this quick reference spot will help you link quickly and easily to some of my spring freebies.

Because I know how extremely busy everyone is right now, I've included a "pin for later" option on most of these.  Too busy to explore these now?  Just save them to one of your Pinterest boards so you'll have a visual reminder of where to find them!

                                                      See it now                   Pin it for later

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These FREE addition and subtraction games for first grade are a fun way to review basic addition and subtraction in math centers and math rotations. Each game has just one page to print - no cards to prepare! Plus, each of the games comes in both color and black line. The black line versions make great family homework - a letter is included to save you time! Great for homeschool teachers, tutors, and math intervention teachers, too! #firstgrademath #freefirstgrademathgames
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It's Bunny Time! Roll two dice, add, and color a space with that number. Everyone's picture will turn out different, making them great for a spring math display. Enjoy using this freebie! #springmathactivities

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Practice making good choices for the Earth AND for math with this free game for adding ten and subtracting ten. Easy prep, and a great cross-curricular connection for your first grade math centers and math rotations! #earthdayactivities #earthdayfirstgrade

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Happy Teaching!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Freebies for Any Season!

Some blogging friends and I have joined together to share some freebies for any season, great resources that you can use anytime during the year!

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You can grab a total of 14 freebies by hopping to each PreK-2 blog until you end up back here! Keep reading to find out how!

Do you teach grades 3-5?  We haven't forgotten you! Click here to get on board the 3-5 blog hop!


Here's my blog hop freebie for first and second grade, eight math riddle cards with a fun shark theme!


Regular visitors here and at my TPT store know that I'm a big fan of teaching with riddles. Here are some reasons why I think riddles are a great teaching tool!

*  Because you need to listen to ALL of the clues to solve a riddle, teaching with riddles builds listening skills.  You'll also see your students' attention span grow!

*  You'll be checking off the standards when you teach with riddles, because riddles are the perfect way to model identifying key details, making inferences, and drawing conclusions!

*   Solving a riddle often depends on the use of prior knowledge. Connecting the clues with schema and using prior knowledge takes lots of practice.  As you talk through the thinking process in solving a riddle, your students will learn to use connections. Ask questions like, "How can you use what you already know to help you figure this out?"

* Riddles are SO MUCH FUN!  Kids love them, and beg for more. But to have a shot at solving them correctly, your students must read (or listen) carefully, and THINK!

Click here to read about nine ways you can use riddles with your class!   Psst! You'll also find another free set of riddles when you click over to that post!

This card set also includes the same riddles in worksheet format (nice as a homework alternative!), a themed hundred chart, a recording page, and an answer key.  Click here to get your free set!

Do your students love riddles? I have LOADS of them for grades k through 5th in my TPT store. Click here to see many of them and even more math riddles here!

Are you ready for your next freebie? Get hopping over to my friend Sally's blog at Elementary Matters!



Thursday, January 30, 2020

COUNT UP to 120 with a Flipped 120 Chart

Have you heard about flipped 120 charts? You might know them as bottom up 120 charts.  Either way, they're an alternative that K-2 teachers should know more about. This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase through this link, I will receive a small commission which will not add to the amount you pay.

If you've heard yourself say...

"Can you count up to 120?"

"Fill this cup up with more water."

"We've read more books this week! Our reading graph is going up!"

"My credit card balance is less this month! It's going down!" (well, I hope you've been able to say this one!)

... then you may have also noticed the mismatch between what we say and how we show it on a traditional 100/120 chart. The language that we use usually implies that adding more to something equates to going up.  But on a traditional 100 or 120 chart, it's actually just the opposite - we move down toward the bottom of the chart.

Kind of counterintutive, right? There's lots of potential for confusion for our young learners, particulary second language learners or those who sometimes struggle with math.

Maybe it's time to consider applying the words we use in a different way, to build number sense and higher levels of math understanding.

I've read that the structure of the traditional hundred chart format matches what we teach our students about directional behavior in reading and writing ... start at the top left, move to the right, then return sweep and repeat all down the page.  That makes sense. But is it essential that the same logic be applied in math? It might confuse some, but many students will pick up the flipped chart format quickly. And it might just help to untangle math confusions that some students have!

Believe me, I've been a great proponent of the traditional top-to-bottom 120 chart. When I first started using it in the nineties, I remember thinking, "Where has this been all of my teaching life??" In fact, my store has loads of 100 and 120 chart activities.

But a recent request from a customer got me doing some thinking about the bottom up format.  Here's what she said.

I was intrigued by this request, and went off to do some research.  Here are links to some of the most informative articles and posts that I found.

From the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
* An interesting point from that article: "The idea of a bottom-up chart is not new; it was originally suggested forty-two years ago in Arithmetic Teacher (the predecessor of Teaching Children Mathematics)." The article aso suggests a few activities to get you started.

An earlier piece by Graham Fletchy, one of the authors of the NCTM article.  Such an interesting article! I also liked the comments - don't miss the one from the teacher of ELL! And the little girl's comment about chocolate milk - there's a kiddo who gets it!

Are you ready to give the flipped 120 chart a try?  If you have a 100 chart pocket chart (which I truly believe is a must-have for K-1 classrooms!), here's something to try.

Take all of the cards out. Demonstrate how to begin "a new kind of chart" by putting cards 1-10 in the bottom row, then showing how to move up to a higher number" by completing through 25 together.  When your students start clamoring to tell you what number is next, leave the unfinished chart in a math center for them to complete. Then use your chart as a part of lessons to demonstrate how to add by moving up to a greater number and subtract by moving down to less. 

If you're already using a bottom up chart and are looking for some activities to give your students some extra practice, here's something you'll like from my TPT store. Here's what this bottom up 120 chart resource includes:  


Four bottom up 120 chart one page board games for adding and subtracting one
and ten, plus three engaging printable worksheets with answer keys

Your purchase also includes ...

* 12 missing number cards to use as a Read and Write the Room activity or for a math center. Recording page and answer key included.

Four Bottom Up 120 Chart puzzles, differentiated to emphasize patterns on the number chart. (see the picture at the top of this post)

"Where’s Spot?” game board and cards. For adding and subtracting one and ten. Use all the cards or just the ones you need, according to your students’ abilities.

* A pup and kitty themed 120 chart, for additional support as needed.

Would you like to try a sample from this pack?

Click here to get your free set!

I'd love to read your comments about using a flipped 120 chart!
Happy Teaching!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Integrating Groundhog Day into Your Curriculum

Groundhog Day is a funny little celebration - not quite a holiday, but nonetheless an opportunity to learn something new and have some fun in the midst of a long winter. In view of how many other fun but time-sucking holidays are on the horizon in February, we all know that "the show must go on" - there's so much teaching and learning yet to be done! So, let's talk about integrating Groundhog Day into your curriculum to save you time and maximize learning!

Celebrated since 1887, Groundhog Day has origins in ancient religious practices (Candlemas Day) as ancient weathor lore in which various other animals like badgers and bears were said to be good predictors of weather. If you're studying or have already studied weather in science, Groundhog Day is a good time to review vocabulary using riddles about weather.

Unscientific as the day may be as a predictor of spring, Groundhog Day is also a great opportunity to talk about shadows and how they change in length over the course of the day. A word of advice:  you might not want to do what I did one year long ago.  I worked with my first graders to create charts to observe and record how the length of a shadow changes over the course of several hours. We went outside four times (4!!!) during the day, and they each worked with a partner to draw the length of their shadows on the sidewalk, using a different color chalk each time. Even though my class was very small that year, I really didn't think through how long the coats on / coats off routine was going to take each time, or how very excited this activity was going to get them.  I really think that they did learn a lot, they definitely got up and moving, and they got some extra fresh air.  Needless to say, I was exhausted at the end of that day!

Groundhog Day is also an appropriate time for a little sidetrip into talking about real vs. fantasy.  You can watch a one minute informational video of real groundhogs from The Science Museum of Virginia here to enrich your discussion.

Here's a free activity to add to your literacy centers for Groundhog Day.  Click here to see Grouchy Groundhog, a fun way to practice words that start with dr-, gr-, and tr- blends.

Here are a few math ideas for integrating Groundhog Day into your curriculum. 

I'm not sure exactly how I'd use this in the classroom, but I know that I couldn't let the fact that the date is a palindrome just slip by.  You might try just displaying 02-02-2020 and asking your students what they notice. Palindromes are just so cool, and every class seems to have at least one student who just becomes fascinated with them.

Math logic riddles are a great way to enrich your curriculum and offer alternatives for your early finishers and advanced students. Try this free set of eight elimination riddle cards for Groundhog Day by clicking here!

The last two ideas for math are both paid products in my TPT store.

The first is an extended set of riddles like those in the free set just above, but all completely different from the free ones. This set has 24 riddle cards, a board game that uses the cards, and the same riddles in printable worksheet format, handy for lesson warm-ups, exit tickets, and homework.  You can find it here.

If your students could use more practice on the very basic step of mentally finding ten more and ten less, and if they're ready to move beyond the concrete stage,  this might be just what you need! Click here for a closer look.

Happy Teaching!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Run, Run, Catch These Gingerbread Literacy Freebies {{Gr 1-5!}}!

Do you use a gingerbread theme in your classroom? Then you won't want to miss out on these gingerbread literacy freebies, a great way to carry your theme into your centers and other times in your teaching day!

Let's start out with a gingerbread literacy freebie that you can use from first grade all the way on up through fifth.  This printable comes at two levels of difficulty. Both of them require your students to use spelling and word analysis skills, so if "someone" should happen to peek his head in to see if your students are still working ... well, yes, they sure are!

Younger students will cut out the letters in "GINGERBREAD" and use them to make and write words. Making Words activities are a great way for younger students to develop a greater awareness of spelling patterns and using the onset/rime principle in both reading and writing. ("If you can write bag, then you can write rag, nag, and brag.")

For older students, making word activities further develop onset/rime understanding and are also a way to enrich vocabulary. To increase the level of difficulty, your students are not given to target word - GINGERBREAD - and are challenged to rearrange all of the letters to discover it. Consider giving your third, fourth, and fifth graders a dictionary or online dictionary site as a reference, to see if that word they just made is a real word (and to sneakily work on dictionary skills - pretty tricky, right?).

And both levels are PERFECT to include in your substitute plans if you happen to be in need of that between now and the break! ;)

Click here or on the picture below to download both levels!

The next gingerbread literacy freebie will let you check off some objectives in the standards for reading non-fiction. This original non-fiction book from my friend Jackie, a.k.a. The Template Teacher, is filled with facts about gingerbreads that your K-2 students can use to surprise and impress their families. There are printable pages also included to extend the reading of this beautiful little book! 

Click here or on the picture to download All About Gingerbreads!

Your third gingerbread literacy freebie is a reference card for opposites.

Here are a few fun ways to use this card.

*  Have two children sit side by side with copies of the chart and do some choral reading :"Tall, short ... in, out...up,down..."  Saying and hearing the words seems to cement the concept for some students. 

*  Have two students sit back to back, in chairs or on the floor, with both children having copies of the chart. One child reads any word on the chart, and the other names/reads the opposite. After the first confirms that it's correct, they reverse roles.

*  Make multiple copies and cut the word cards apart. Use them for memory and matching games. If you keep an uncut copy, children can check their own work.

To get your copy of the Gingerbread Opposites chart, click here and then download the preview of Gingerbread Opposites Activities. You'll find the chart free in the preview!

The next two resources are not free, but are definitely filled with gingerbread... just click to see them!

Happy Teaching!

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