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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Friday, May 13, 2016

Five For Friday 05.13.16

As the end of the year is drawing to a close, life seems busier than ever. Just glancing over at my May calendar stresses me out! The last day of school is going to be here before I know it.

Our week was totally packed full with tons of different activities in science, math, and reading - my kids had such a blast with them this week that I thought I'd link up with Kacey at Doodlebugs Teaching for this week's Five for Friday to share some of them!

We started on our shapes unit this week, which is always one of my favorites! There are so many amazing, hands-on, fun geometry activities to do with your students. Since my first graders already have a strong concept of the shape names, I just did a quick review and re-introduced the attributes of sides and vertices. I gave each student a flat plane shape and called out different sorting rules - it was then their job to go around the room and find their matching group. For example, I'd say, "Find everyone who has a shape with 4 sides"; or, "Find everyone who has a shape with curved edges". And then they scrambled around to find their grouping matches.

After we practiced sorting by different attributes, we did our own little shape sort by counting the number of sides!

The shape sort and tons of other activities can be found here (click the picture to see more!):
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We just wrapped up a little mini-unit reading the book Frog and Toad are Friends! My kids absolutely LOVED it and could not get enough. At the end of it, they made this adorable Frog and Toad craft with opinion writing - they had to describe which character they thought was the best friend and why. So fun!

Click here to get this activity!

We've been learning all about the ways Earth change, including the four layers of the Earth. I've been using a ton of different strategies to teach them about the four layers including songs, movement/tableau activities, videos, and anchor charts (blog post coming soon with all the details!). I wanted to include another hands on activity for them to complete, so I created a layers of the Earth flip book to go with full-color anchor charts! My kids used the anchor charts to fill in the blank for each book page to tell about what the four layers of the Earth were made of. They loved it! You can click on the picture below to check out more of the details!

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In keeping with our Earth changes unit, we've also been learning about things like volcanoes and earthquakes! My teammate had this great little experiment to show how volcanoes erupt - using old film canisters, you glue an Alka-Seltzer tablet inside the lid and then fill the canister half-full with water. Then you put the lid on, turn the canister upside down on the ground, and then BACK UP! After awhile, the pressure builds and it explodes, just like a volcano! My kids were SO excited! Here's a little video so you can see how it went!


I only have 7 1/2 days of school left! So crazy! In the meantime I'm going crazy trying to figure out how I'm going to complete all my assessments, fill out all my end of the year paperwork, practice for our first grade performance, finish up end of the year projects, attend multiple meetings, practice for a teacher talent show, etc. etc. etc.! Why does everything pile up SO much at the end of the year? I know y'all can relate, so this meme is all of us.

We can make it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hundreds Chart Fun!

This year was the year I rediscovered the hundreds chart.

This statement might make you just cover your face in disbelief, but it's true. 

I neglected and underutilized this little math tool.

I'm sorry.

HOWEVER! I am here to make it up to you all by sharing some simple, but meaningful ideas that I've used in my classroom recently that helped my students understand concepts such as ten more/ten less, one more/one less, number order, and adding groups of ten.

When I first started teaching my kids about using the hundreds chart to find one or ten more/less than a number, they really struggled with the concept. Many of them would confuse the two because they didn't understand which way to go to count on the hundreds chart. More specifically, they struggled with mastering "ten more" - they would just call out any number that they knew was more than the number I gave, but not necessarily ten more. I knew I had to simplify it by breaking it down into a simpler format for them.

Luckily, my old friend Pinterest came through for me - I found an AMAZING and FUN resource to help kids learn how to use the hundreds chart from Foxwell Forest. She created a fun little hundreds chart song to go with the Cupid Shuffle. I found the song (music only) on YouTube, played it in the background, and we sang and moved and grooved to the song. I love any lesson that I can integrate music and movement to, so it was the perfect activity that helped my little friends remember which way to go to find ten/one more/less. Here's a video of Becca performing it in her own classroom so you can see!

Find the free song lyrics here!
After we practiced the song a few times, each student got their own hundreds chart and one unifix cube. 
Then I used an online interactive hundreds chart on and called out numbers for my students to start on. Then, I'd call out, "Ten more!" or "One less" and vice versa and my students would have to move their cube to the correct number. This allowed me to see who had a good understanding of the concept.

Once my students had a chance to practice on their own hundreds chart, I wanted to increase their critical thinking a bit by giving them a bit more abstract of an activity to complete. I put my students into groups of 5 and gave each one a whiteboard. Then we put the whiteboards together to form the 10 more, 10 less, one more, one less cross as if it were a bigger version of a hundreds chart. Then I gave each group a number to start with, which they put in the center, and then each student was responsible for filling out the rest of the blank boards with the numbers that were more and less than the given number based on the hundreds chart.

Then we completed a little activity sheet for independent practice. After reviewing the work they did, not every student had a grasp on the concept, so the next day, I added another little activity to our hundreds chart learning.

I'm lucky to have a big rug in my classroom, and it just so happens to have big multicolored square spots on it. An idea struck me - it was the perfect template to pose as an empty hundreds chart! I printed out a bunch of papers with various numbers on it from 24-58 and handed one out to each student. Then, they had to take their paper and use their knowledge of ten/one more and less to fill out the "hundreds chart". It was such a great activity and helped my students mathematical thinking so much! Every time a student placed a number down, they had to tell me how they knew it was supposed to go there.

These activities were so great because they were hands-on, fun activities with absolutely no prep required (except for printing the numbers out!). These are the best kind of activities to use, am I right?!? And the most exciting part of it all, for me, was that my students really began to grasp the concepts of more and less and began to relate it to double digit addition.

These activities helped me rejuvenate the use of the hundreds chart in my classroom so that now it's a useful tool for my students to use in a variety of ways!