Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Solution to Noisy Dice and a Spring Cleaning Sale

Hi everyone!  How many of you like to play dice games on the floor of your non-carpeted classroom?  We do this quite often in math class.  So often, in fact, that the fourth grade teacher, whose room is right below  mine, had to send up a note asking us to please play on the desks because or dice games disturb her math class.  But then we (I) had to deal with the whole problem of the dice rolling off the desks, under chairs and assorted other furniture.  Now, I've seen all the clever Pinterest ideas, like put your dice in clear plastic containers, but I don't have money or time -- but mostly money -- to spend on clear plastic containers for my classroom dice, nor do I have space to store all those dice in clear plastic containers.  And sometimes we need just one die, so that involves using more time to extract one die from the 20 clear plastic containers  I would need.

Then inspiration hit!  Earlier this year, we had carpet squares donated to our classroom.  We use them for all the normal stuff, like sitting on in the library or defining our space when we're sitting in a circle on the floor.  As I was demonstrating our latest dice game to the kids, I thought, hey, I can use a carpet square to muffle the noise AND make it a rule that if your dice go off the carpet square, you lose your turn!  Et voila!  Like magic, in one moment of shear brilliance, I solved two problems at one time -- noisy dice and runaway dice -- without spending a penny!  Now that is win-win in my book.  We are now happily playing dice games on the floor again in a much quieter and less chasing-after-the-
dice classroom.

I'm pretty sure many of you have already thought of this solution to the dice problem, but in case you haven't, get yourself some carpet squares and breathe a sigh of relief.

Here are some videos I took of my class playing this St. Patrick's Day subtraction game.  The children had to add the two dice and then subtract the total from 17.  Some of my lower math group is still having trouble counting backwards, so this was a perfect game to practice that skill.  In the first video, as I observed this young man counting backwards the first time, he skipped 13.  I told him he was skipping 13, and directed him to the number line above our closets to help him count backwards.  He said, "Oh, I'm skipping 13!  No wonder I keep getting the wrong answer!"  I checked back later to make sure he was counting backwards correctly, and he was!
Click the picture to view the video.

In this next short video, the girl, performs some mental math to come up with her answer.  I was happy to see that she did not have to count all the dice to get her total to subtract.  She just subitized.  Yay!

Click the picture to view the video.

And in this last clip, one of my lower math students is very unsure of herself.  You can hear the question in her voice as she tells me the answer.  You can see she still counts all the dots to come up with her total to subtract from 17.  This is something we've been working on all year with her, and she can do it if I give her one number dice and one dotted dice, but if there are dots on both dice, she is more comfortable counting them all.  But she had made and continues to make a lot of progress since the beginning of the year.

Click the picture to view the video.
As I viewed these videos, what struck me was how one simple paper one pair of dice met the needs of so many different learners in my classroom.  The game automatically differentiated itself with no effort on my part. 

And on a final note, I am taking part in the big spring cleaning sale going on on TpT.  All my products are 10% off until April 1st.  Now would be a great time to get some great spring resources, like my Easter bundle,
click the picture to view all my religious resources

Do you use the Journey's reading series?  I've been developing a series of supplemental workbooks that go along with each story.  I've tried to make the activities the same or similar enough that the children will know exactly what to do on the page without having to read the directions because they've done it before.  The feedback I'm getting on these is great, and many people have said that because I don't make the activities story specific, they are able to use the resource if they don't use the Journey's series.  The workbooks are geared towards first grade, but they would make a good review for second grade or enrichment for kindergarten.  The next lesson, Tomas Rivera, will be ready to post hopefully this evening, but tomorrow night at the latest.
click the picture to view all my first grade skill workbook resources
click {here} to download the above contraction worksheet sample from my first workbook, Seasons.

If you are looking for spring and Earth Day resource, click the picture below to visit my store to see what I have.

And finally, I have some great end-of-the-year/summery resources to get you through those last few weeks of school, especially since so many of us have an extended school year this year due to snow days! Click the picture below to visit my end-of-the-year/summer selection.

So that's  it for today!  Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Has Sprung: Poetry in Elementary

Hi friends!  I am really excited to be taking part in this poetry blog hop

Now, I must confess that I didn't really do much with poetry until last year.  I decided to create a lesson on syllables to go along with my Earth Day unit, and from there, I decided to have my first graders create a haiku about the Earth.  Pretty ambitious plan for first grade, wouldn't you say?

In case you don't know, or have forgotten, a haiku is a traditional Japanese poem made up of 17 syllables, written in a 5-7-5 format, so the first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables, and the third line is 5 syllables.  I've read that modern haiku is moving away from that format of 5,7,5 as long as there are 17 syllables, but I chose to keep it because I wanted to integrate the concept of counting syllables in each line.  

I began with reminding the children what syllables were, and how now that we were becoming better readers, we would be challenged with longer words.  Longer words are made up of smaller parts called syllables, parts of words.  We practiced by clapping and counting the syllables in our names.  Then I gave them white boards, and posted one word at a time in my  pocket chart.  The children clapped and counted the syllables on their own, and I could quickly scan their answers to see if they were understanding the idea of syllables. I also had them insert the slash where they thought one syllable ended and the next began, but that wasn't the main focus of the lesson.  Mostly I was concerned with their ability to count the number of syllables.

garbage = 2 syllables
rainforest = 3 syllables

The next day, after a quick review of syllables, it was time to try to write a haiku about the Earth or Earth Day.  I wasn't sure if  they would be able to count syllables and create the haiku, so I started with having them write a rough draft on scrap paper.  Then they brought it back to me, and together we counted the out the syllables in each line, making sure it followed the 5-7-5 pattern. Once we had the haiku organized , I gave them the paper to write out their haiku in their best printing.

After that, I gave them the pieces to create their haiku craftivity.  
click the image above to see the unit in my TpT store

The finished poems and craftivities came out really, really cute.  I was very pleased with their first attempts at writing poetry in the form of haiku.  I wish I would have thought to take pictures of their finished projects last year, but you can be sure I will this year!  

I also included an acrostic poem in this packet that you could use instead of the haiku. The download also includes the pieces, minus the face, to make the craft.  You can ask your kids to draw the face.  If you would like to get a download of the acrostic poem page, you can click on the picture below.
click the picture above to download your acrostic poem template.  

To read from other fabulous bloggers on their ideas for poetry in the classroom, and other great freebies and giveaways, hop onto the next blog,  , by clicking on the hop over to the next stop button!

Happy poetry month, everyone!  May your meters be measured and your syllables count out perfectly, and may you always find a rhyme in time!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Leaping Leprechauns!

Today in math we had some fun with 10s and 1s while playing Leaping Leprechauns.
Whoa!  Look what the Leprechauns left in our room while we were at lunch!

It's so much fun teaching first graders.  They pretty much believe whatever goofy little story you tell them about things like this.  I converted my PDF game into a SMARTBoard game while they were out for lunch and left this up when they came back in.  I told them the leprechauns were getting ready for St. Patrick's Day by leaving things in the room for them.  Yep, they bought it.

Anyway, the whole idea is that they spin the tens spinner, spin the ones spinner, and tell what the number is.  Not every number they can spin will be on the board, and if they spin one that is not on the board, oh, well, too bad, so sad, better luck next time.  After that, it is played like bump.  One chip on a number can be bumped off by the opposing team, but two chips locks it down.


Here's a short, about 3 minute video of my kids using the game.  I especially love all the chatter and interaction as we constantly reinforce the idea of 10s and 1s.  I especially don't love my voice, but it is what it is.  My kids were so into this game, and they are highly competitive, as you can tell by the cheers and jeers. But in the end, they were good sports, shaking hands and telling each other good game. 

This game is part of my Leaping Leprechauns package available in my store.  If you think you would like it, you can go to my store by clicking the picture below.

A package of four bump-style games that focuses on four skills:
addition and subtraction to 12
addition and subtraction to 20
place value (tens and ones)
three digit addition
It also includes the SMARTBoard versions of each game.

If you'd like to try out Leaping Leprechauns on the SMARTBoard with your group, click on the picture below to download it for free!  Have fun!
Click here to download your SMARTBoard game.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Squeezing in Some Arts and Crafts

Hi everyone!  If your schedule is like mine, there is not much time in the day to squeeze in extra art and craft projects, but the kids really like doing them.  I hit upon the idea of including them at a center called "The Pocket Chart Art Center."
Pocket Chart Art Center is great for classrooms with limited space because if you can put a pocket chart in that space, you can make it a center!
I print the directions out like sentence strips, or write the directions on sentence strips.  I always include a finished sample for the children to refer to, even though the question I get most often is "Does ours have to look like yours?"  I put the necessary supplies, like templates or papers run off, scissors, and glue in a bin on the floor next to the pocket chart.  The kids take the bin to an open space and follow the directions to make the craft.

My directions evolve as the year progresses.  I start with simple pictograph directions with a few high frequency words and progress to the complex directions shown here.

Incorporating pocket chart art is great because it encourages the kids to read and follow directions, which of course practices their reading and comprehension skills.  It's a fun way to sneak in art and reading in a way meaningful way for the kids. 

Here's the craft for the next few weeks.  You've probably seen this craft floating around Pinterest.  I simply made it so the kids can color, cut, and make the project themselves.  We will use them to decorate the room by hanging them from the ceiling.  
Teaching in a Catholic School, colored paper usually runs short before the year ends, so by spring, I have to have the kids color the copied pieces.

Making the loops for the chains and connecting them, surprisingly, turned out to be a challenge for some, but anything is possible with a little help from your friends.

Look, they're almost as tall as we are!

If you have would like to grab a copy of this craft along with the sentence strip directions, you can do that by clicking on the picture below.  You will have to cut and glue the sentence strips together.  I found that 3 sheets glued together was just the right length to fit in the pocket chart.


If you're looking for more art and craft ideas, check out Frog Spot's Tuesday Art Link Up.  Click on the button below to visit.
Blogging tips