Sunday, July 31, 2016

Teaching Early Literacy Skills With Nursery Rhymes

At the beginning of kindergarten, I always start off our year with a mini-unit on nursery rhymes. I love using nursery rhymes to introduce early literacy skills to my students because they are familiar "stories" that most of the kids will have heard before. Most kindergarteners enter school unable to read on their own, but using nursery rhymes can help them feel successful and build confidence in reading because they have memorized the rhymes. Here are some of my favorite activities and resources to teach when introducing nursery rhymes.



A print-rich classroom is vital to have in the primary grades. When introducing nursery rhymes, I'll usually focus on one rhyme per day, so the unit ends up being about two weeks long. First, we will read the rhyme together using posters. Sometimes I'll project them on the smart board and other times we will hang them on the wall.


To switch it up a bit, I also love using the interactive nursery rhymes on Literactive! If you haven't been to this website... go now!!! It's got amazing literacy resources for K-1 with interactive games, books, and more! You have to register to use the site, but it's completely free. They have a bunch of different nursery rhymes on there, so chances are you'll find the one you need! Each rhyme is interactive and can be read aloud in different ways. There are also games included as well. When you go there, you'll see a page like this:


The kids love seeing the nursery rhymes come to life and participating in all of the activities. 

After reading the rhyme together, I like to give my students a copy of their own to follow and read along with me. Reading and tracking print is such an important skill to teach new readers, so I like to use printables that have dots or some other marker underneath the word so that students can follow along with me. Otherwise they will point all over the page (bless their hearts)!


It always makes it more fun for the students to add an exciting reading pointer into the mix as well. I've even given students something as simple as a colored popsicle stick - and they love it!

If you implement interactive notebooks into your reading time, you can also use interactive notebook printables for students to read and respond to a nursery rhyme. For each rhyme, I'll give students their own copy of the rhyme where they can hunt and highlight letters, sight words, or rhyming words. Then, I have a story response strip with a comprehension question about the rhyme as well. At the beginning of the year, most responses will only be with illustrations, and that's fine!


I also like to do a lot of sequencing activities with my students. Whether it's sequencing words, or pictures, both are great activities for students to learn how to retell a story. You can have your students sequence events in so many different ways! They love making flip flap books - these ones I use are a great way to sequence the nursery rhymes with the words as well as the pictures.


You can also use picture cards to help students sequence events together. Then they can complete their own version!


Once your students become more familiar with the nursery rhymes, they can begin to use resources to recite, retell, and act out the rhyme on their own. One thing I created for my classroom was Storytelling Folders. Inside each folder, I put in different resources for students to interact with the nursery rhymes in an engaging way. Here's what you'll need to put them all together (all pieces except for the folder and popsicle sticks are included in my nursery rhyme literacy pack).


For each nursery rhyme storytelling folder, you'll need: a 2-pocket folder, popsicle sticks for the character puppets, a nursery rhyme poster, cover page, and setting page printed out. When you put it all together, it will look like this:


These folders can be used in small groups for students to read and retell the rhyme. You could add any other resources you want to the folders! The options are endless.


To turn the storytelling folders into more of a comprehensive center activity, I might add an activity for them to complete as independent practice such as "Sort-a-Rhyme". With this activity, students will use one of the nursery rhyme posters to help sequence the verses in each rhyme. Students will cut the sentence strips out and glue them back in order on the graphic organizer. This helps students work on skills such as sequencing, understanding print, and reading text aloud.


Another great literacy center activity I always love to include in my weekly rotations is a pocket chart station. Students love building sentences or sequencing pictures in pocket charts - I think it makes them feel like they're the teacher! This pocket chart activity is a step above the previous activity pictured above - students will have the individual words cut out onto separate cards where they will sequence and build the nursery rhyme. This helps with sentence structure and fluency!


Students can refer to these printable black and white posters (that I jazzed up with some neon cardstock!) to help build the rhymes in the pocket chart.


To continue practicing their nursery rhymes at home, you can send home these little mini-booklets that they can color and practice reading at home with their parents! So easy to print, fold, and put together!


I love using art projects and craftivities as a hands-on, fun project for students to create during themed units. For all 10 nursery rhymes that I teach my students, they'll be creating a craft for each one.


Now, I know creating all of these projects can create piles of art everywhere around the classroom - after all, there is only so much space to hang student work up in our classrooms, and we can't keep everything (even when the work is as adorable as these craftivities!). I wanted to create a way for students to keep all of their projects in one place. With that, the nursery rhyme art portfolio was born!

I'll tell you a secret - it's not rocket science to put these puppies together. ;) Simply take a 9x12 piece of construction paper and fold it up in half. Staple the sides shut so that you are just left with an opening at the top. Print out the provided cover page, and boom! It's ready! Each time your students complete an art project, they will store it in their nursery rhyme art portfolios.



Step-by-step directions and templates are included for all crafts!

If you'd like to implement these activities - and more! - to your nursery rhyme teaching themes, every last one of these resources is available in my Nursery Rhyme Literacy Pack! It's nearly 400 pages long and filled with 15 different activities for ten different nursery rhymes: Hey Diddle Diddle, Humpty Dumpty, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hickory Dickory Dock, Little Miss Muffet, Jack and Jill, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Row Your Boat.

You can find this teaching resource pack in my TeachersPayTeachers store - just click on the picture below to take a closer look!

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Monday Made-It 07.04.16

This week I just HAD to link up with Monday Made-It because my good friend Maribel from Learning in Wonderland is hosting it for Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics! She is an amazing person and is insanely creative and I can't wait to see what she shares with us!


This year, my school is putting a really big focus on teaching math vocabulary to our students. We want to have common vocabulary that we use, especially between grades K-3, so that students are familiar with the words before they even arrive in the next grade! I think it's so important for our students to know, understand, and be able to use math words effectively to help their understanding of the concepts being taught. One thing I really tried to do more with my first graders this year was having them describe how they knew how to solve a problem. To do that, they needed to be able to use the math words they had learned to explain their thinking.

Being at a new school last year, it was my first year teaching in this particular classroom, and I was so excited to find that I had bulletin boards GALORE covering almost every wall! I decided to make one of my big boards into a math wall.


I put up a few posters and anchor charts here and there, but never really used it to its full potential. Truth be told... most of the posters I put up at the beginning of the year stayed there even long after we finished learning about the concept! (oops!)


Yeahhhh... see how there's only one thing in the corner and then GIANT EMPTY SPACE? That is officially not using my math board to its full potential. Ha!

I wanted to create something to use on my math wall that would be meaningful for my students as a resource while teaching certain math concepts - and something that I could use as a teaching resource as well, so I created math vocabulary posters!


I'm going to use these cards in pocket charts as I'm introducing the words - when I'm done, they'll go on my math wall for student reference. Each one has the math word at the top and a picture and a kid-friendly definition on the bottom.



I also plan on printing them a bit smaller for students to have their own set on rings! I'm so excited to get them all put together. I really think that these math vocabulary posters will help my students in their number talks, calendar, and whole group learning!


You can get these editable posters right now in my TPT store! Over 40 math words are included. The best part is... they are totally EDITABLE! So if there is a word you need; or a different definition you'd like to include for a word, then you can change the card to fit what you want it to say! 

In honor of the 4th of July and Monday Made-It, these math posters (along with the rest of my store) are 20% off today only! Click the picture below to download a preview and check out all the words that are included!

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Head on over to 4th Grade Frolics (click to get there!) and share some of YOUR Monday Made-Its!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday Made-It 06.20.16

After hearing so many great things about 4th Grade Frolics' Monday Made-It from my good friend Learning in Wonderland, I knew I finally had to join in the fun! I'm linking up for Monday Made-It to share my newest creation!



One of the resources I needed most this year to help my students learn were hands-on resources to teach place value. In moving up to first grade this year, I found out that it was one of the most difficult concepts for them to master, at least in the beginning! The thing that helped them learn place value skills the most were by participating in hands-on, engaging activities, so over the weekend I created 7 different place value activity mats for my students to use next year.

With these mats, students will use number cards and place value blocks to practice creating various double digit numbers! I also plan on having them use play-doh as a fun manipulative on these mats as well! Why is it that every time you add play-doh into the mix, they all BEG to do it?! Ha!


I also made activity mats to practice adding and subtracting double digit numbers. Something about seeing the numbers built in front of them make it so much more simpler for them to solve.


If you don't have access to place value blocks, you can laminate the mats and have your students write directly on them with a white board marker.


I included black and white versions of each mat to save ink, so I printed out this comparing numbers activity mat on fun neon blue cardstock and stuck it in a write-on/wipe-off pocket!


I also created activities to practice identifying groups of tens and ones in each number. Students use the number cards again to choose a number and describe how many tens or ones the number has. I modeled it by drawing a picture to solve as well as writing the answer in the space below. You can also use place value blocks or play-doh to build the answers!


The last activity mats I created were Ten More, Ten Less ladder mats. These tens ladders helped my students SO much when it came to adding double digit numbers by ten later in the year.


You can find all of these place value activity mats by clicking on the picture below!

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I hope you'll link up with us over at this week's Monday Made-It! There's always so many great ideas to be found!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hands-on Place Value Activities!

This past school year was my first one teaching first grade, and with that came a whole new set of standards that I had never taught before, including place value in math! In my district, they dive right in to place value in the first part of the school year; and it was so difficult for my new first graders to understand all of the concepts. It was so important for me to give them hands-on, meaningful activities to work with learning all of the basics of place value and I want to share a few of them with you today!


One of the first things I wanted my students to understand was the meaning of tens and ones. They could tell me the name of a number, but did they really understand how it was made? 


One easy strategy I implemented during calendar time was asking them what we needed to make a certain number. I'd ask them, "How do we make the number 23?" And they'd answer "2 groups of 10 and 3 ones left over. It was important to get them to use the math vocabulary when describing the number. That helped them begin to understand what each place represented in the number.

Then, we set about building numbers with hands-on manipulatives. Here's the beauty of place value - you do not have to have place value blocks to teach kids how to build numbers! When I first got to my new classroom, I had no math manipulatives - zero! The previous teacher in my room had taken them all when she moved to a new school. So, until I could get some official math resources of my own, I had to use a few unconventional hands-on resources. Trust me, your students won't mind! In fact, they love when they get to use something new in the classroom!


To help my students understand the difference between tens and ones, I had them start by just creating separate groups of ten. I put two giant whiteboards on the rug and wrote the number 10 on them to let the kids know that only 10 was allowed to go on the board - no more, no less! 


I wanted something big enough to see on the large boards, so enter unconventional manipulative #1: pointers! I gave 20 pointers to various students and we sorted them by tens. Once we were done, we skip counted by 10 to see how many we had and then practiced writing the numbers we created.


Another unconventional place value manipulative we used often was beans (bought a bag for less than a dollar at the grocery store!). I gave each table group a bucket of beans and a stack of Dixie cups. They had to create groups of tens by filling each cup with 10 beans until they were completely gone from the bucket. Then we counted to see how many groups of ten we had! They were amazed at how many cups they were able to fill to make ten.


Another unconventional place value manipulative we loved to use was unifix cubes! To continue practice making groups of ten, I gave each student a pile of cubes and they used their desks as a whiteboard to count and circle each group of ten they had.


Once my students had a stronger grasp on tens, we moved to ones and began building whole double digit numbers in various hands-on ways.



Once my students were able to work more independently on these concepts, I started putting some of these activities into independent or small group math stations. One of our favorite activities was using card games and place value mats!



Students use these build-a-number mats by choosing a number card, placing it on the mat, and building the number with tens and ones.


With these printable mats, students identify how many groups of ten or how many ones are in a given number.


My students became much more confident in their skills... it was so exciting for me as a teacher! Then we built upon our skills with comparing numbers using greater than, less than, or equal to.


Later on in the year, we paired up our knowledge of place value with addition and subtraction. We started by learning how to identify ten more and ten less than a given number, which I blogged about here! My students loved filling out these tens ladders with giant whiteboards.


And we used these write-on/wipe-off mats in math stations.


With these addition and subtraction mats, students choose two number cards, place them on the mat, and then build and write the number sentence to solve the answer.



Most of these activities can be found in my Place Value Activity Mats pack on TPT! Just click the picture below to go to the product. Both full color and black and white versions are included for each activity mat!

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