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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Show and Tell Tuesday: Beardies and Bugs

I am linking up with Stephanie over at "Forever in Fifth grade" for "Show and Tell Tuesday." I just have to share about my beautiful beardies!

Meet my new boy!
He is a three year old Bearded Dragon. I adopted him this week. He is quite large, about two feet long. His  name  is Reptar but I just like to call him "Big Boy."

Here is the baby bearded dragon. He's thriving!
He has doubled in length since I have had him. He is up to 10 inches from snout to the tip of his tail. He is shedding like crazy which is a great indicator of growth.

I bought a hornworm to feed to my bearded dragon, but it turned into a pupa before I was able to give it to him to eat! I put it in the net, so I could watch it change. This is a very large moth.  I may do this next year with my class. I found a site that has some resources on it http://earthsbirthday.org/bugs/hornworms

Monday, July 10, 2017

Free Number Worksheets

Do you love using "Thinking Maps" and the "Handwriting Without Tears" curriculum?  I love using these two together when I am teaching about numbers.  Our current math adoption does not include lessons on learning to write numbers and some days I like to have a focus number that we work with for the day. I created this set of worksheets just for this purpose. 

Here is the number formation chart from "Handwriting Without Tears."

A note about grip:
"Handwriting Without Tears" recommends using short, thin, crayons and pencils.  This encourages children to use a pincher grasp, as they are unable to "fist" these tiny writing tools.  There are special crayons and pencils available through their website. However, you can simply break regular crayons into bits and purchase golf size pencils.  I have my husband saw my regular size pencils in half and that does the trick. 

This concept was a surprise for me as I have always been told that the "fat" crayons and pencils were developmentally appropriate. But after I carefully observed my students using these, I realized that these were too heavy for them. They did so much better with the small sizes.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Quantification and Counting with Freebies

Quantification is the act of counting or measuring; to indicate, determine, or express quantity. This ability follows a developmental sequence.  There are three levels:

1. Global Quantification- This is what I like to call  "eyeballing it."  I do this as a teacher when I don't feel like counting.  For example, grabbing a set that looks like it has 10 in it.  So children in this stage, will judge an amount as less, more or the same based on what it looks like compared with another set.

2. One to One Correspondence- Here children can match object to object pairing them so they are equal amounts. This is a critical step as children are able to attend to each individual unit. 

3. Counting- Children can count to determine an amount and count out an equal amount.  

According to Gelman and Gallistel, there are five principles for counting proficiency:

1. The one to one principle- The child must be able to name one counting word to one item and keep track of those objects that have been assigned a number name and those that have not.

2. The stable-order principle- This requires children to know and repeat the number words in correct order for the duration of items to be counted.

3. The cardinal principle-Here a child needs to understand that the last number named tells you the total amount of objects counted. If a child is asked how many at the conclusion of their count and begins counting again this is a signal they have not mastered this principle.

4. The abstraction principle- children need to understand you can count objects that are not concrete objects such as imaginary objects. 

5.The order irrelevance principle- The order items are counted does not matter as long as each item is counted once.

These understandings do not develop in any particular order and children may be inconsistent in their application of these. 

When teaching young children who are just beginning to acquire counting skills, it is important to use symbolic representations of number. This promotes the progression of counting proficiency.  Most often this takes the form of various dot formations.  These encourage subtizing and addition acquisition.  Numeral dice should be introduced later.  
Using games to teach number sense is an excellent way to keep students engaged.

One game I made for my class was a card game.  I called it "I Win!"  

Download a set of color cards from my Google Drive.

You can get this path game based off the book "Monster's Love Underpants" from my Google Drive.

Initial straight path games simulate a number line. A path game is more difficult because they are abstract. Children do not have a concrete representation of quantities.  With each turn, children move farther along the path and the quantity does not match the amount rolled. Initially, all children should play with their own board.  Questions for path games are, "How many spaces have you moved? How many spaces are left before you get to the end? What will happen if you get a 3 on the next turn?"

Longer more complex path games are great for introducing a second die and promoting addition skills.  If the game ends to quickly with the addition of an additional die, simply add more movers to extend the game. Teacher can model the addition process while playing with the children. Remember to use questioning to promote number sense.

The grid game uses a bingo type board which helps develop one to one correspondence.  With the proper questioning technique you can pose thinking questions involving game play.  For example, "How many more spaces to you need to fill up your row? Do you have more spaces empty or covered? Is the number you rolled too much, too little or just right to finish the row?"

You can download this Pete themed grid game from my Google Drive.

For more games to use in the classroom click on the image below.

One more thing- You can use mini erasers as movers for these path games.

Games based around concepts found in this book.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Science Activities and More

I haven't disappeared!  I was taking a class that was so time consuming, I had no time for anything else.  Fortunately, I made it and it's over!

It's not fancy, but my class had a great time making this community town.  It consisted of paper printouts of town places glued to empty boxes and cups.  The bottom of the town was butcher paper, black construction paper cut free hand by the children, and glued on to make a road. Students would take the community helper figures and place then around the correlating areas. They enjoyed playing with the town. Here are the Community Building Coloring Pages

Many teachers like to teach the life cycle of a butterfly in the spring.  These kits are very expensive!  

I have found a more economical way to teach metamorphosis.  I bought a tub of live mealworms (reptile feeders for about $4.00) at Petsmart just for observational purposes. (I read that these feeders have a hormone that is injected into them to keep them in the larvae stage.)  Too my surprise, about a month later, I opened the container to discover pupae, and beetles inside. So I did a lesson on the life cycle of a mealworm. I found a video on YouTube that shows the process in under two minutes and let the children watch then we did our own studies.

The children made a Mealworm Lifecycle wheel.  This is free here: Superteacher Lifecycle Wheel

We also spent a week on rock study.  Students brought a rock from home and we conducted a set of tests on them. They were inspected for crystal structures, given a drop of water to observe whether or not they would absorb it or not, given a penny scratch test, heaviness test, magnetic test, and scratched on a plate to see streak color.  These results were written in booklets.  

I also have kits with the different rock types in them. Students got to see those created by volcanoes and sand.

We also "excavated" gems from a plaster mold. I did not make this it was purchased from Barnes and Noble made by Smithsonian. The children loved it. The gems were very, very small but they did not seem to notice.  Every time they found one it was a "diamond"!

This little guy is my new class pet courtesy of Petco and a Pets in the Classroom Grant. It was a very easy process to apply and I got my materials very quickly. 

Apply here: http://www.petsintheclassroom.org/

This is my class playing with a STEM kit that I got through a grant in my district. They are experimenting with the incline of the trampoline as well as the different size/weight of the bean bags. This is an expensive kit purchased through Lakeshore.

A more inexpensive way to play with physical science activities, is to get a large board lean it against a chair and allow the children to roll items down it.  I had different size cylinders and balls for them to try. The children also tried out toys, such as cars and beads.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Five for Friday: Read Across America & More

It's Five for Friday! Thank you to Kacey for hosting!


These are alphabet cut outs glued on construction paper with smiley faces at the top so the children know where to start! The bottom has stamped rectangle boxes so students can practice with a pencil.  Get your free ABC's here.

I love St. Patrick's Day crafts!
My class really enjoyed this story.  Here they are "performing surgery" to save the old lady.  They are using plastic tweezers to remove the animal and insect cards from her.  These are from the Making Learning Fun website link above.


My class used crayons and watercolors to make these cats.  You can get the Cat in a Hat template here.


These Free Dr.Seuss Themed Teen Numbers were supposed to be used as a puzzle.  But I had the idea to turn them into a giant Thinking Map.  The pieces make for a terrific Bridge map. 


Friday, February 10, 2017

Five for Friday: Turtles, Buckets, and Writing. Oh my!

I am linking up with Kacey over at Doodle Bugs Teaching with my five!

I have been working with my students on the "turtle."  This strategy originated from PATHS but I have seen adapted versions around the internet.  When students get angry, sad, or extremely upset, they are to stop, pull their body inward, breathe deeply until they can can calmly state their feelings and the problem. After this, they can work on problem solving.


I really wanted to have the students make buckets and write bucket fillers to each other.  Even though some students cannot write, I will take down the message for them. They can add a picture and their name.


It took us several days to discuss the scenarios and really think about why these actions were nice or not nice. 


100th day

Rather than ask parents to bring in 100 items for the children to glue, I provided the children with a hundreds chart and fruit loops.  This way I could ensure that we would be working with items that would stay glued down.  Last year, we had feathers, straws, and tiny beans brought in.  These materials did not work at all. We also had these very cute capes from Really Good Stuff.


I just received my Kindergarten Handwriting Without Tears Teacher's Guide. I am so excited! If you have a guide, you can get started right away even if you don't every thing they reference in it.

These are the Capital letter and Mat Man pieces.  They are available as a reference on the website when you enter the code on your teacher's guide. I printed 14 copies on color card stock and cut them out.  This gave me plenty of pieces to work with. 

You need to provide a mat of some kind with a starting point in the left hand corner.  Students will need this when using the pieces to make letters.  If you don't give them one, they will build the letters backward.
This gray block paper was created by homeschoolcreations.com

This is our first mat man, which uses the same mat and pieces as the letters. We just needed to find hands, hair, eyes, a nose and a belly button.
Here is a picture one of the students drew of him after the activity.  The purpose of this is to create body awareness in student drawings.  (Remember all the drawings of heads with the arms and legs sticking out.)

This is our revised mat man. He has a neck because one of the children pointed out that he needed  one.
I used this rectangle stamp to create the writing blocks on white paper.  Then we worked on writing numbers.  If you can find one of these it could be very handy.  I also used it to stamp out the blocks for a child to learn to write his name in capitals. 

Here is the wet dry try activity using some 4x6 inch chalkboards from Hobby Lobby.

If you find these activities interesting, you should visit the Handwriting without Tears website.  They have lots of videos and information.