Friday, April 19, 2024

Kindergarten Math Fun for the End of the Year and Summer School

Will you be teaching summer school this year? 

It's tough to keep yourself going through the summer, but you and your summer school program are most definitely life-changers to those kiddos who desperately need the boost to be successful in the next school year!

It goes without saying that it's even harder to keep little learners motivated when ... hey, there are swimming pools and playgrounds calling their names!

So, what's the key?  Well, the key is the same thing as it is all year!

Keep the fun in learning!

The easiest way to keep learning fun? Teach with games! Need convincing of the benefits? Check this post!

You may find that some students joining you for summer school were also in your class this year, but chances are that a good number of your summer school students will be new to you. A new mix of students means it's time to go back and set your procedures and expectations. It's worth every minute of your time to do that!

Teaching your students to play partner games is a great way to reinforce positive classroom behaviors like...

    *  Taking turns
    *  Being patient with classmates
    *  Using kind and polite words
    *  Being gracious whether you win or lose a game
    *  Taking care of classroom materials when you're using them, and returning them to                 their assigned spots when finished (wouldn't that be an AMAZING thing to                           consistently see happening in your classroom??)
    *  Using appropriate voice volume level

Whether you're teaching kindergarteners going into first, kindergarten repeaters, or adding these games to your summer practice packets, here's a set of games that you'll love!

Each game is just one page, with no cards to print or prepare and... let's be honest, no cards to LOSE!

These games will give your students lots of practice building addition and subtraction fluency, like this Searching for Seashells game. Most of the games are ready to play with the addition of just dice and a way to mark the board, like erasable markers. A few, like this one, use a spinner. Add a spinner using a scrap of cardstock and a metal brad, or have your students create their own spinner each time they play with a pencil and a paper clip.

Your students will love games like Collect 20, and you'll like the multiple objectives that are being addressed each time they play  ... in this case, they'll name the shape, identify the number, count the pieces, recount them on each turn to reach 20, determine how many more they need to get to 20, and more!

Each game comes in both color and ink-saving black and white. What an easy and effective way to add fun activities to your summer send-home packet, especially if you've spent some time playing the games together during the last weeks of school!

How else are teachers using kindergarten practice games? Here are a few more ideas!

Are you ready for a closer look?


Do you need easy prep kindergarten math games to use all year. like the set below? Try these!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, January 15, 2024

Quick & Easy Classroom Games for 100th Day and Valentines Day

Edit & repost from 1/11/13

Hi, Teaching Friends!

When I design games for your classroom, one of the objectives I try to keep in mind is convenience for you. Basically, I try not to have the requirements be anything more than print, laminate, and (sometimes!) cut! After all, the idea is to make your job easier, right?

Well, if you agree, I think you'll really like the simplicity of these two February resources!

First, there's an "I Have... Who Has...?" game for the 100th Day of School. (Does that get capitalized? I mean, it is a national holiday, isn't it?)  Simple to make: Print, cut the cards apart, and laminate if you choose. 

This version of "I Have... Who Has...?" goes beyond most simple versions of this game format. Your little learners will use a number grid to interpret 29 different numerical expressions for numbers as they relate to 100.  In other words, a card might read, "Who has 11 more than 100?" or "Who has 100-4?".  You might even differentiate by letting your mathematicians choose whether or not they need the support of the number grid or want to give it a go with mental math.

The second item is a set of print-and-play math games for Valentines Day. Five games. Print and laminate. Okay, two of them need to have paperclips put on to make the spinners. But, honest, that's it. As easy as it gets.

Ready for more February fun & freebies?  Check this post!

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, January 4, 2024

No Snow? No Problem! Snowy Classroom Activities

Just ask any kid - snow is the BEST! But depending on where you live, you may have students who never have ... and maybe never will ... experience all the fun that comes with a snowy day!

Well, you have the power to change that! Even if you can't take a class trip to the snowy mountains of Switzerland, here are some ideas for bringing snowy learning fun into your classroom... even if you teach in the tropics!

First up is the classic snowball fight game. 

This game has so many elements that kiddos love ...

*   Sitting on top of their desks
*   Ripping paper 
*   Crumpling paper
*   Throwing paper (or anything!)

You can find lots of variations on this by checking Google or YouTube, but here's the one that worked well with my first graders.

Have your students sit in two rows facing each other, or sit in a circle, either on the floor or sitting on top of their desks. Give each child a recording page (blank paper folded into 8 boxes works just fine) and a smaller paper (about 1/2 of a page is a good size - big enough for them to write on and still be able to have fun crumpling into a snowball).

Decide on your topic. We used this most often to build math fact fluency, so the topic might be sums of ten, subtraction within 20, doubles facts, etc.

How to play: Have your students write the equation (without the answer) on their small "snow paper" and crumple it to make a "snowball". Wait for the countdown... "3,2,1 - snowball fight!"  After all the snowballs have been thrown out into the middle of the group, send them out to each get one snowball (using teacherly tricks to maintain order as needed 😅). They write the equation on their recording page, solve it, crumple again, and get ready for round two!

TEACHING TIP: We all have students who have trouble getting started. Support them by generating a few examples together and displaying them on your whiteboard or interactive board. Encourage them to come up with their own equations, but leave the support visible for any students that might need it!

Next idea! Have you taken your class on a virtual field trip? 

What a great way to get some unique snow experiences! Try one of these snowy expeditions!

From Sesame Street kids, here's some up close and personal sledding fun! This would be a great opportunity for a mini-lesson about verbs.

Not exactly a field trip, but here's a walk in a snowy Canadian forest. Personally, I'd rather pick this lovely YouTube video than the classic fireplace one to use during a quiet reading or writing session.  

Here's the third idea to bring snowy fun into your teaching!

Books! Readalouds are an awesome way to get immersed in a snowy landscape! Books by Jan Brett are my personal favorite for this. I love the way her illustrations in books like The Mitten and The Hat draw you right into the snowy drifts.

Looking for non-fiction? My hands-down favorite is Snowflake Bentley, a Caldecott Award winner by Jacqueline Briggs MartinIt's the life story of the man who first photographed snowflakes. Some of William Bentley's actual photos are even included! My first graders absolutely loved this book. It's a great segue into teaching about perseverance and determination.

Search Amazon here for pages and pages of books about snow!

Do you need a book for shared reading? Here's a free book for K-1. Patterned text, strong picture/text match, and lots of high frequency words make Hey, Mr. Snowman a fun choice!
ESL / ELL teachers are finding this free book to be a good vocabulary builder for their students.

After you enjoy Hey, Mr. Snowman! together, you might enjoy using the activities in this set.

Lots of activities to extend the snowy learning fun!

The last suggestion for incorporating snow into your curriculum won't take even one extra minute from your busy day!

You're probably already using math games in your math centers and math tubs, so why not use games with snowy themes?

This game need absolutely NO PREP! The snowflake is from Dollar Tree, but you can just enlarge and print a copy. Then just add dominos. Click here to read about FIVE different ways to use this game, and to link to my friend Anne's blog where she's kindly provided more extensions with ten frames and higher numbers.

I have many (many, many 😊) winter activities in my TPT store - see them all here.

Here are three of my favorites!

Keep that snowflake fun going in your classroom, and you'll keep your students happily learning this winter!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Five Powerful Ideas for Using Riddles in Your Math Teaching!

Hey, second grade teachers! I have news that some of you have been waiting for a long, long time! Read on to find out more!

If you want to keep your students challenged and enjoying fun with math all year, math riddle cards are the answer! 

Here are five powerful ideas for using math riddles to bring new energy to your teaching!

Start a math lesson by solving a riddle together. It will focus your students' attention, plus give you many opportunities to focus on concepts and vocabulary.

* Riddles are an awesome way to squeeze in some fun and engaging spiral review of math vocabulary on a regular basis.

* If you ever have a spare moment to fill, keep math riddles on hand as a sponge activity to refocus your students' attention in a meaningful way.

* Once you've practiced solving a few riddles, try writing riddles together. Writing about math is a great way to develop deeper understanding of vocabulary and concepts.

*  Looking for a way to keep your early finishers happily engaged in a math activity that's a fun and effective way to build mental math skills? Math riddles are your answer!

What makes math riddle cards so special?

Math riddle cards will keep your students actively using both math skills and critical thinking!

You can find math riddle activities in my store for kindergartenfirst grade, third grade, and fourth grade.

Would you like to try some riddles for addition and subtraction through 20? This set is featured in the Dollar Deal Category in my store! This is a great no-risk way to give these riddles a try in your class! Click here or on the picture to see them!


Now, the news for second grade teachers!
The second grade riddles are finally here!

If you already have the sets previously known as "Grades 1 and 2", you know that many second grade skills were included, and it's definitely a good set for skills review at the beginning of second grade.

Here are some of the skills you'll find in the new second grade set:

* Add and subtract within 100 with regrouping

* Doubles facts within 20

* Beginning arrays

* Skip counting by 5, 10, and 100, within 1,000.

* Add up to 4 two-digit numbers

I hope you'll stop by to check them out!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Easy-Prep Camping Theme Activities That Won't Break the Bank!

As the warmer days come and the end of the school year is within sight, I know a lot of you turn to theme weeks and theme days, with all of the fun activities that go along with them.

I've seen some amazing high-energy classroom transformations that go along with these themes. The children love them. More power to the teachers that thrive on big events!!

But, seriously, teachers, after a looong and challenging year, know that it is totally possible to bring in a theme without using your last few drops of energy (and without emptying your bank account!)

Here are a few options for an easy-to-do camping theme!

Let's start off with read-alouds! Read your class a new camping book (or two! or three!) every day during camping week. Then put them into a picnic basket or a backpack for buddy reading. Good books are meant to be enjoyed again and again!

Here are two books for the K-2 crowd. I'm including Amazon links, but I'll bet your school or public library might already have these fun camping books!

Rhyming text, fun artwork, and a cute story by Chris Van Dusen, as Mr. Magee and his dog Dee head out on a camping adventure and meet up with a bear who loves marshmallows! {Keeping It Simple Snack Alert: Marshmallows are a fun snack even if they're not toasted or turned into s'mores!} 

Do you have students who haven't gone camping? They'll empathize with the main character in The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann. Ernestine is pretty sure that she's going to love camping, but discovers that it just might take her out of her comfort zone. This is a great conversation starter for your class, to talk about how trying new things sometimes leads to something wonderful! {Writing Prompt: "What would you like to try on a camping trip that you've never done before, and why?" OR "Are there things about camping that might make you worry a bit? Make a list!"}

Use any books to make a camping adventure! See if you can get families to send in a flashlight or two for camping week. Turn off the classroom lights and encourage your students to stretch out on the floor, or huddle with a reading buddy under a desk for even more fun!

It's camping week - get your class outside!! Encourage your students to be observers of nature by arming them with binoculars. Start saving those paper towel tubes! A quick search on Pinterest will give you lots of ideas for using paper tubes to create fun binoculars. Make your outdoor adventure even more fun (and focused!) by working together to create a list of what to search for. Whether it's a red rock, a piece of tree bark, or a special insect, your students will be more engaged in the hunt when they've worked together to create the list!

Bring camping songs into the mix! Some of my favorites are "The Ants Go Marching", "The Bear Went Over the Mountain", and "The More We Get Together".  I'm a fan of writing song lyrics on charts (more reading practice is always a good thing, right??).  Use your camping song charts during your Morning Meeting every day, searching for and marking new text features, like words that start like ____, words with endings (-ing, -ed, etc), words that rhyme with ____, etc. 

What about math, you ask? Try these!

Create an Estimation Jar with any clear plastic container. Fill it with a variety of rocks. {Engagement Tip: Ask your students to bring small rocks to school. You'll probably want to emphasize the word "small". 🙄  Have your students sort them by size into two or three piles.} Leave the filled jar out as an activity for your students to complete over the course of a few days, with students writing their names and estimates on paper scraps. 

There's so much math learning to be had when the lid is taken off your jar! Have students explain how they arrived at their estimates. Line up the estimate papers from least to greatest. (An easy way to introduce or practice line plots!) Count the rocks. Talk about easier ways to organize the counting ... practice skip counting by twos, fives, and tens! {Mini-marshmallows are super-fun camping items for a second round with your Estimation Jar!} It's a complete math lesson for one day of your camping week!

Science extension! After you complete the estimation jar activity, put some of them on a tray along with some leaves, moss, and other treasures that might be found when camping. Add a few magnifying glasses and some paper with special writing tools (fancy markers and feather pens would be perfect!) for your students to draw and write about their observations. It's an easy peasy instant Science Observation center!

You can find more easy-prep camping-themed math games and activities here for kindergarten and first grade.

Looking for more math and literacy activities for your camping theme?
This set of 24 activities will give you what you need for centers, small group, and whole class lessons! Here's a peek at what's included!

I hope these ideas will help you and your students enjoy a great camping theme ... without needing you to risk life and limb climbing up on desks to decorate your room and without a lot of extra spending!

Happy Teaching!

Friday, April 14, 2023

Learning About Animals with Read-Aloud Books

Books about animals are universally appealing. So many of our students seem to have an unquenchable thirst to learn more about every kind of animal!  What better way to learn more about animals than through great read aloud books!

Using good read alouds was always a big part of my science teaching. These non-fiction books are such a great way to introduce or review concepts and vocabulary. A read aloud book is also a great way to kick off a writing project!

What makes a good non-fiction read-aloud for the primary grades? There are so many factors! As a start, I'd suggest taking these into account when making your book selections.

Typically, I'd be looking for books with photographs, particularly if you have students who haven't had the opportunity to visit a zoo or animal park.

That being said, my personal favorites among animal books are written and illustrated by the amazing Steve Jenkins. 

These books may not have photos, but they have awesome illustrations. I love that the size of the books is large enough and the illustrations are bold enough that even the kids at the back of your story circle can see them easily!  Plus, these books definitely have that WOW factor that will keep your students engaged and begging for more!

Pull out any one of Steve Jenkins' books and watch your students' eyes light up!

Have you read this Caldecott Honor Award Winner?  It's in the format of a guessing book. Students are shown a snout, ears, feet, etc. and then learn which animal the body part belongs to  and how the animals uniquely use that part.

Have you heard your students argue about which animal is faster, the cheetah or the falcon?  Kids love records - they'll be reading those Guinness Record books in just a few short years! Here's a Steve Jenkins book that will feed their curiosity about which animal is fastest, strongest, longest - the record holders of the animal world!

My favorite? Without a doubt, it's Actual Size! Your students will be amazed as the pages of this clever book unfold to display the actual size of a squid's eyeball or a gorilla's hand. You'll hear lots of oohs and aahs when you read this one... and they usually want to hear this book again and again!

As your students become animal experts, here are two resources you'll enjoy using!

This set of 24 riddle cards plus related activities is a fun way to reinforce learning about animal characteristics, habitats, and classes.

If you're looking for a whole class activity, a game of I Have ... Who Has... is always a hit! The animal theme makes them a perfect fit for your animal studies. If the reading level is a bit tough for some of your students, just assign "support partners" - a weaker reader with a stronger one!

Happy Teaching!

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