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.

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 emphasized in the new second grade that get less attention in the first/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!

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

February Math and Literacy Resource Roundup

Ahhhhh, February! So many fun holidays to celebrate in school that it's hard to know where to start your planning!  Groundhog Day, Valentines Day, 100th Day of School, and so much more... plus a new and unique math holiday this year, Twos Day, on 2/2/22 or 2/22/22.

Where to start??  Well, here's a whirlwind tour of some of the February resources that I've created for you over the past ten+ years of being a blogger and TpT teacher author. 

These are both paid and free resources, from this blog and my TpT store. If it's time for you to fill in or freshen up your collection of February resources, I hope this post will give you a place to start.

After five years of teaching Reading Recovery and then ten years teaching a literacy intervention class, I still find that I really LOVE to create math resources, like these easy-prep games for Groundhog Day and Valentines Day.

Practice adding and subtracting ten with this Groundhog Day 120 chart set. Your students solve the clue, find the empty space on the 120 chart, and write the missing number. Also available for Valentines Day, and winter.

Looking for low prep activities? Try these one page games! 

Have you tried these challenging math riddles? This Valentines Day set is for first and second grade addition, subtraction, and place value practice, and will be a great math center or morning tub activity all month.

You can try a free set of these riddles here.

Here are more Valentines Day math resources:

Number Line Addition and Subtraction    >>>> click here for a free sample of this activity!

When is your 100th Day of School? Do you plan to make it a day filled with math? Click here to see the pack you need - 15 math center games and activities!

And then there's Presidents Day.  This crazy busy month is a great time for cross-curricular activities that will save you time by addressing more than one objective simultaneously. This math and literacy pack includes eight cross-curricular activities!

Also for Presidents Day: 120 Chart Games and Worksheets

Lastly, here are eight more freebies for February! Just click on the links below the image to collect yours!

*   Grouchy Groundhog consonant blends game

*   Happy Hearts game, for practicing the /ar/ chunk ... plus a bit of a tie-in to the fact that February is Heart Health Month

*   Valentines Day Vocabulary Riddlesan engaging way to model comprehension skills like identifying key details, making inferences, and drawing conclusions.

*   Capture My Heart, a super-versatile game for K-5. Practice everything from alphabet to multiplication to states & capitals!

*   Double Trouble Hearts, an adding doubles game

*   Hearts Counting by Two's ( this one would also be good for Two's Day!)

*   Presidents Day Roll and Add

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, December 4, 2021

3 Easy Prep Ideas for Fun December Learning

Keeping your students calm and learning in December without taking the joy out of a very exciting month is a huge challenge. Holiday crafts and Christmas Around the World activities are a ton of fun, and definitely have lots of learning value. But we all know that this is definitely not the year to let the pace of teaching curriculum slip, with so much time to be made up for!

Here are three ideas for holiday learning activities that your students can do independently, so you can continue to meet with small groups, or at least try your best! :)  All three of these activities are free, low prep, repeatable (use them again and again without extra preparation), and not one of these will leave you with papers to correct! 

They're also great as ready-to-go choices to add to your sub folder!

Let's get started!

Extra practice moving up and back on the 120 chart benefits nearly every first grader, and many second graders, too! This free set includes two games...

* Add one or add two
* Add one or add ten

How can you use these 120 chart games to keep your students practicing skills while you teach small groups? 

* December math centers
* Early finishers {When you're doing holiday craft projects, all of these activities will help your fast     finishers use their time productively!}
* Morning bins
* Fun Fridays


Here's your next free math activity!  Head to your dollar store or craft store to pick up some big snowflakes, get out the dominoes that you probably already have, and you're ready to go! 

The post includes a variety of ideas to extend the use of this activity to use at different grade levels.


Last on today's list of ideas is this making words activity, great for high first graders on up through fourth grade. Check out this post to find several other free gingerbread activities that you can use right on up through the grades!

Making words might at first glance look like just another puzzle activity, but the literacy benefits are actually huge!

Younger students will 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.").  To introduce this activity, try modeling it on your interactive board with another holiday word. Think ornaments, mistletoe, celebration, etc.

* For older students, making word activities further develop onset/rime, work with prefixes and suffixes, and they're also a way to enrich vocabulary. When you click to the post, you'll see more about this.


When the glitter and pipe cleaners and more glitter are flying, I hope these ideas will help bring some calm to your classroom while also keeping the fun in learning!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

A Back to School Season Filled with QUESTIONS!

For many of you, the start of this new school year this may be like no other,  a back to school season filled with new questions not only about what each new day will bring (and each new spin of the pandemic wheel), but also about where to start your teaching. 

Exactly what did most of your new students actually learn and retain from last year?

Who was in school for face-to-face learning every day?

Who bounced back and forth from in-school to virtual?

Who got a lot of family support during Zoom lessons?

Who never logged in to even one Zoom session?

How much time can you devote to review before you plunge into this year's curriculum? What will happen if you don't give your students the time they deserve to get them closer to where you'd like them to be?

What do your students most need, in regard to confidence, community, and curriculum? How will you find the balance between all three of these?

So. Many. Tough. Questions.

I am NOT a fan of looking at this school year from a "learning loss" or "learning gap" point of view. It's been a tough time for everyone, but keeping a positive attitude is key. I think most teachers would agree that...

1.  Putting more pressure on kids to learn more quickly is one of the least effective teaching strategies imaginable. It's only fair to give them time to SUCCEED!
2.  There will be gaps ... academic, social emotional, behavioral, etc ... in pretty much every classroom.  We have a lot of experience with students coming to us at differing levels and we've always adjusted our teaching to that, and done it well.

Nonetheless, its likely to be an interesting year. It's a good thing you got so good at pivoting last year... but wait, good teachers have ALWAYS been experts at pivoting, reacting to unexpected change within the course of a year... a week... a lesson... sometimes, a sentence, right?!?

Don't panic, because you are a pro. You've got this.

What are some lessons that you can plan right now that will address your new students' academic and social-emotional needs, while also giving you a good look at their academic status?

Here are just a few easy-to-implement ideas that will help you incorporate informal assessment and review into your getting-to-know-you and building class community lessons during the first weeks of school.

* Give careful thought to the read-alouds you choose, so you can get more mileage from them! What kind of mileage? Just a few thoughts here, applicable across the grade levels.        
        * Stories that encourage stopping and listening to your students' predictions AND the thinking that             led them to the predictions. Discussions during the course of a read-aloud are a great way to see
            whether your students have the vocabulary and understanding to use a variety of grade-               appropriate comprehension strategies.

        *  Read-alouds that rhyme will give you some insight as to who's able to supply a rhyme for a               given word.  Can they do it, or will you need to work on building phonemic awareness?

        *  Books that deal with classroom behavior.  They are a great way to start discussions that will be              extra important when some of your newbies have never experiences in-class expectations.                       Think about topics like building classroom community, resolving differences, using classroom               materials responsibly, respect, and responsibility.

* Build some new twists into your usual getting-to-know-you activities. If one of your activities is to have your students complete a page where they illustrate their favorite sport, book, food, etc., try turning it into an interview activity. Pair your students and have them use the page to interview each other, write up the info, and then do a short oral presentation to introduce their new classmate to the class. It's a great way to get lots of information about your students that goes waaaay beyond their favorites!

* Play math games that are designed for the end of the previous grade level. When they're playing, take the opportunity to listen in on the conversations. You'll learn so much about your students' math and their social skills, too! A quick search here on TpT yielded over 13,000 results for end of year math review! Here's a Quick Tip: narrow the results easily by going to the left column on the TpT page and clicking on the grade level you need.


Here are a few of my resources at TpT that you might find helpful as you embark on this year's Great Adventure!

For K-2, build classroom community and review data collection and analysis with Class Graphs: Learning About Each Other with Tallying and Graphing Activities.

For second grade, have some fun practice reviewing important onset/rime skills with this Back to School "I Have... Who Has...?" game.

First grade teachers, if you're looking for a fun way to review kindergarten math and you want a resource that you can be certain that your students definitely did not use last year, you may be interested in the new set of math riddles just posted in my TpT store on 7/24/21.  Your new first graders will love the challenge of solving these riddles. Plus, there's the confidence-building bonus of using topics that are familiar to them. This year more than ever, most children may need that boost of confidence. 

Fourth grade teachers, you'll review loads of third grade math skills with these math riddles. Great for whole class review, or put them in a math center!

Happy Teaching!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...