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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Measurement Games for the Whole Year

Number is the priority standard in kindergarten! We spend all year developing number sense as we build upon standards.  But, some of the other standard strands, we hit and move on! We probably all do a concentrated unit for measurement, another for shapes, etc. These units usually last about a month, and then, we move on!
Fast forward to next year....our kids go to first grade and this is what we hear the first grade teachers saying, "Kindergarten teachers need to do a better job teaching the measurement vocabulary. These children don't know how to compare length or height, and you can forget capacity!" Suddenly we become defensive! We know we taught those standards! We know our kids mastered the measurement standards during our unit in January. So what happened? It may be that we forgot to MAINAIN the learning. We forgot to keep the standard spiraling back around in our centers. 
This blog post shares some of my favorite centers for maintaining the measurement standards. (While these are centers, they are introduced in small group several times before they become centers.)
How Long Is Your Name?
How Long Is Your Name? is a great game to play all year just by rotating your vocabulary words.  Here's how to get ready:
  • Select words related to a theme or time of year.
  • Put the letters to spell the word and a clip art image in a table.
  • Laminate and cut apart.
Here's how to play:
  • Invite the children to collect unifix cubes to match the number of letters in their name. For example, if their name is Andy, they would get 4 cubes. It is helpful if all of these cubes are the same color for every child. This makes it easier for you to check.
  • Select a vocabulary card.
  • Using another color of cubes, place one cube on each letter in the word.
  • Snap the cubes of the letters together.
  • Compare the length to the length of your name.
  • Record the results on the recording page.
Measure Me!
Here is another fun game that can easily be played all year just by changing the clip art! Here's how to get ready:
  • Collect clip art pictures. Reproduce enough to measure the tallest child in your room.
  • Reproduce a recording page.
Here's how to play:
  • Invite one child to lay down.
  • Lay the clip art pictures in a row beside the child to determine how many it will take to measure how tall.
  • Repeat with a partner.
  • On the recording page, the children draw a picture of themselves and of their partner to show how tall each person was.
**Make the clip art images different sizes throughout the year. This way it won't be the same number of pictures each time!
Which is Taller?
Here is another game for keeping measurement spiraling in your centers. Here's how to get ready:
  • Create a game board with something "tall".  Make a space on either side of the "tall" object.
  • Make a spinner for taller or shorter.
  • Collect 10 cubes for each child, each having their own color.
Here's how to play:
  • Each child holds their cubes in their hands.
  • Say, "1,2,3 break."
  • Each child breaks their cubes.
  • They lay one part on the table, and one part on the game board.
  • Compare for taller and shorter.
  • Whichever child's rocket was "shorter", spins the spinner.
  • If the spinner lands on shorter, than the child with the shorter rocket gets all of the cubes on the game board.
  • If it lands on taller, the child with the taller rocket gets all of the cubes on the game board.
  • Keep playing until time is up. Each child lays all of their cubes on the taller/shorter game board.
  • The one with the shorter rocket, spins the spinner.
  • If it lands on shorter, they win the game. If it lands on taller, the player with the taller rocket wins the game.
Which is Longer?
The same game can be played to compare length! Both of these games can easily be played over and over just by changing the clip art! The children think they are playing a new game, but no new rules to learn!
All of these games are found in the Measurement Game Bundle. The bundle is normally $17. It is on sale for $8.50 until tomorrow night!
Here are some more Math Games that are great for your centers. These themed units contain games for measurement, but for number standards too! None of the game themes are repeated in the measurement game bundle.
It is normally $75, but is on sale for $37.50 until tomorrow night.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Number Games

According to Marcia Tayte, playing games is one of the 20 strategies that produce dendrites.  Dendrites are connections in the brain. When we grow dendrites we grow brain power!  This is huge! It means...not only will the children be more successful in learning the intended content in the game, BUT they also grow brain power--dendrites. Brain power makes it easier for them to be successful in future learning! How cool is that! Needless to say, we love games! This post has some of our favorite games for teaching number concepts.
Who Has More?
In my childhood, we played a game called "war". Some people might have called it "battle". But, in that game, more was always the winner. We want kids to know that more doesn't mean win and less mean lose.  This game follows the rules of my childhood game, except for who wins!
Here's How To Play:
1. Collect the More/Less Game Board and a set of cards. Turn the cards face down in a pile.
2. Children play with a partner. Each player selects a card from the face down pile.
3. They compare the quantity on their cards.
4. Each player puts their card on the game board according to who has more and who has less.
5. The player with "less", spins the spinner. If it lands on "less", he get both cards. If it lands on more, the other player gets the cards.
Things to Think About:
1. I can play this game, like all of the other games in this post, all year by changing the clip art. The children think they are playing a new game, but there is no time wasted teaching new rules.
2. I can easily differentiate this game.  One way would be have to children compare numerals instead of sets of pumpkins.  Or,  invite children to draw two cards. Add the sets together and compare the sums.  You can do the same thing for subtraction. Now, regardless as to where my children are in their development of number sense, I can play the same game!

Let's Take Turns
Another game we like to play is called Let's Take Turns.  This game is super simple!
To Play:
1. Create a game board with a strip of clip art. Place a different clip art image on the center square.
2. Children play the game with a partner. Each partner sits at one end of the strip.
3. Put a game piece on the center square. The first player rolls the dice and moves the game piece that many spaces towards them. 
4. The second player rolls the dice.  Using the same game piece, they move it that many spaces towards them.
5. The same game pieces moves back and forth on the game board until it finally comes off of one end.
Things to Think About:
1. In this game, the dice is the "standard generator". In this case, the children are using a dot dice. They are developing an instant recognition of a set of dots--subitizing.
2. I could give them a numeral dice and they would be working on numeral recognition.
3. I could give them two dice to either add or subtract.
4. I could give them a dot dice and another teacher made dice with either +1 or -1 on each side. The child would roll both dice and determine the answer to the equation they generated.
Roll, Count, Compare
Roll, Count, Compare is another easily adaptable game. We can change clip art to play the game all year, and we can easily change our standard!
To Play:
1. The children play with a partner.
2. Each child selects one color of linking cubes.
3. The first player rolls the dice and counts that many cubes and places them on any square on the game board.
4. The second play rolls the dice and counts that many cubes and places them on any square on the game board.
5. Play continues until the game board is full.
6. The children make groups of 10's using their cubes.
7. Each child determines how many cubes they have.
8. They place their cubes on the more/less game board.
9. The child with less spins the spinner. If it lands on less, he wins. If it lands on more, the other player wins.
Things to Think About:
1. In this game, the dice is the "standard generator". The dice could be used like any of the examples above.
2. To make the game easier, reduce the number of squares on the game board. This will allow for comparing of sets with fewer cubes than the example.
Number Line Races
Number Line Races is a great strategy game.  To Play:
1. Collect a number line. The one I am using is 1-20, but you could also play on a number line 1-10.
2. Place clip art or other small trinkets on each of the numerals. 
3. Collect a game piece and a dice.
4. The child rolls the dice and moves the game piece (farmer) that many spaces down the number line. In this example, he rolled a 3. When the farmer lands on the 3, remove the clip art or trinket on that numeral.
5. The child rolls again, she rolled another 3. The player must decide it they want to move forward or backwards on the game board.
6. The object is to remove all of the clip art or trinkets from the number line.
Things to Think About:
1. In this game, the children are practicing mixed operations. They are moving from addition to subtraction depending on the direction they move on the number line.
2. Children become strategic players to gain more of the clip art or trinkets.
3. If you want to take this activity to the abstract level, invite the children to record their equations after each roll.
Let's Share
While we often think of division as being too difficult for kinders, we are all wrong! One thing kids hear from their parents and teachers--"go share this with ___".  Here's how to play this game:
1. Collect a game board divided into equal sections, clip art images, and a dice.  You will want the dice to have multiples for how many sections are on the game board.
2. The child rolls the dice and counts out that many clip art images (flowers).
3. The child divides the flowers between the four moms on the game board.
4. They record their answer on the recording sheet to show how many flowers each mother got.
Things to Think About:
1. The number of spaces on the game board can change. We could have divided between 2, 3 or 4 moms. 
2. Once the children are comfortable with this, program the dice so that not every side is a fair share!
All of these games are in the Number Game Bundle. You can get the bundle for 50% off through Thursday night! It is normally $22, but on sale for $11!
I have also put our math game bundle on sale. These are the same games but DIFFERENT themes! You can own both bundles, have more games, and spend less time teaching rules! It is normally $75, on sale for $37.50 through Thursday night.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Building Number Sense with the Number Line Mystery Game

Developing number sense is the key to success in Math!  In this blog post I share a fun number line game that our kids absolutely love to play! All you need is a deck of cards!
To prepare for the number line mystery game:
  • Remove the "queens, jacks and kings" from the deck of cards.
  • Lay the 4 "kings" in a vertical line. Discard the queens and jacks.
  • Shuffle the remaining cards.
  • Make a horizontal line of 10 cards, facedown, beside each of the kings.
To play:
  • Invite one child to turn over any of the facedown cards.
  • First, decide which suit it belongs to. Is it a spade, a club, a heart or a diamond?
  • Go to the row with the king of the matching suit.
  • What numeral is on the card? Move down that many spaces.
  • Remove the card laying in the space and put your card IN that space.
  • Look at the new card.
  • Where does it go?
  • Repeat until all of the cards are turned over.
Great game, right?  First problem, the kids get tired of that same deck of cards!  Second problem, the children are only working on ordering the numeral, not concepts of number. Here's what I did about those problems. I took the same game rules and created more games. I created different decks of themed cards that we could use all year long. I made the different decks of themed cards use different tools to develop number sense.  Here are some of them:
Back to School Number Line Mystery
This back to school number line mystery game using numerals, like a traditional set of cards. After putting the numeral 8 glue bottle in it's spot, we removed the numeral 9 scissors from that spot. Now, the children must discover where the numeral 9 scissors card will go.  Ask them, "How did you know?" Be sure to allow children the opportunity to share their thinking.
Valentine's Number Line Mystery
To play the valentine's number line mystery, the children look at the set of hands on the card. They decide how many fingers they see. After turning over the first card, the children found a picture of a heart with one finger up. That means, the card is placed on the heart row in the first place. They removed the cupcake card that was facedown in that space. Now they must decide where the cupcake belongs by looking at how many fingers they see.
Bugs Number Line Mystery
To play the bugs number line mystery, the children look at the dominoes on the card. Each time, the game follows the same rule. This is what makes the game so great! You can change the standard, change the theme, but the rules are the same. No time is wasted learning rules...all the time is spent learning the standard.
Exercisers Number Line Mystery
To play the exercisers number line mystery game, the children are sequencing sets of tally marks.  This picture show the children playing the game by sequencing sets 1-10.  However, you can play with 4 rows of 20 cards face down and sequence the numbers 1-20. Or, you can use just the 11-20 cards and play just that section of the number line.
What's in the Sky? Number Line Mystery Game
To play the What's in the Sky? number line mystery game, the children are discovering the number pattern using number bonds.
I made 6 different sets. Each set has different themes and different ways to represent the number. 
All of these can be found in the Number Line Mystery Bundle. The bundle is on sale for half price! It is normally$24, on sale for $12 for 2 days!
 This game worked great as a teacher directed activity. When I tried to put it as a center, it flopped because the kids couldn't get the cards lined up. I made this board on bulletin board paper so that the kids could lay the cards on the squares. Now they can play it as a center activity, too!
You can grab the letters to make the title as a free file below.
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Captivate to Motivate! Mad Scientist Friday

The brain learns by pattern, but seeks novelty! The brain likes to be stimulated. It is our job as teachers to "Captivate" our young have them sitting on the edge of their seats begging for more! When we have achieved that, the children are "Motivated" to learn! While science is a subject that most littles find interesting, it is still essential to build that level of excitement that will guarantee us success. This blog post explores part of our Fun Friday Celebrations--Mad Scientist Friday, and how we get it started.
At the beginning of the year, we place a box in the office that contains all of the essential items to become a mad scientist. We ask one of the office workers to deliver the box to our room. It is then that we start building excitement by asking questions like, "Who did the box come from? What is a lab? What do you think might be in here?"
When the kids just can't stand it any longer, open the box! Talk about the things that are in the box by asking, "What is this? What are they for? Who would use them? Why have they been sent to us?"
At this time, notice that each lab coat has a child's name. We made the lab coats with large tshirts. Use spray adhesive (it was messy) to attach the ribbon. Then, use hot glue to attach the buttons.
Each tshirt has a name tag. Megan took pictures of the kids with this "bad" comb-over wig. I purchased it from a party store to wear on Day 100. (My teaching partner dresses up like a 100 year old lady and I dress up like a 100 year old man!) We took the photos the day before and made a name badge for each child.  It amazes me that they don't make the connection!
To say they were excited, would be an understatement!  The box also contained goggled and surgical gloves that I picked up at the Dollar Tree and Dollar General.
To celebrate the fact that we are now scientist, we had a special "scientist snack."  I found these plates at a party store. They had a little bit of a lip around the edge. It made them look like Petrie dishes. We mixed green jello and lined up  the dishes on cookie sheets. We tried to pour the jello into the dishes and then move the tray to the refrigerator, but that was a disaster.  We finally figured out to put the tray in the fridge and pour the jello with the tray already inside. The trays stacked on each other by turning every other one landscape or portrait. We added the candy worms before the jello could set.
We found these popsicle molds at the Dollar Tree. We cut the "tubes" out. They were easy to cut with scissors.
Each "test tube" was filled with Test Tube Juice.
The following week our first Mad Scientist Friday tub arrives.  Inside the tub are all of the supplies need to conduct a science experiment.  While these experiments teach some scientific concept, the real reason we are doing them is to teach our kids the scientific process. What do real scientist do? What tools do they use? What is the scientific process?
This was our gummy bear experiment. You can read more about that in this blog post.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

4 Things EVERY Teacher Needs for Back to School

There are 4 things that every teacher needs to begin the year. This post shares those 4 things!
A Teaching Buddy
The first thing, and sometimes the most important thing, a teacher needs is to find a teaching buddy. What is a teaching buddy?
A teaching buddy is someone who supports you and lifts you up.
A teaching buddy listens when you need to vent and when you want to celebrate.
A teaching buddy shares the same teaching philosophy. That doesn't mean that you necessarily do all of the same things. It means you have a mutual understanding about best practices and how children learn.
Any teachers come to mind yet? I have a few in mind for myself!

Routines and Procedures
The next thing that teachers need at the beginning of a school year is effective routines and procedures. More classroom disruptions come from lack of procedures than from misbehavior.  Here are a few of our favorite routines and procedures:
Establish ways to get their attention quickly. These are a few of my favorite.  Effective use comes from repeated practice. That first few days of school, I'm a little obnoxious! I will use one of the catch phrases right in the middle of an activity. At that time, I can talk about what I see and what I want to see.  By the end of the first week, they have them down pat!
Kids get tired of hearing our voice. Sometimes nonverbal reminders are best. I use the Mr. Potato Head, the Snowman, and other such things to encourage children to clean up.  When it is clean up time, I turn on the music. The kids know that means to clean up. If they get cleaned up before the music is over, they earn a piece. We are trying to build the Mr. Potato Head, etc. 
Another nonverbal reminder I use is our Target Rule Reminder. When I am working with kids on the carpet, there are several rules that I want to establish, one of them being not to yell out answers.  If a child yells out an answer to a question that I asked, instead of giving a lecture, I simply remove one of the clip art bugs.  Remove a bug the first time and EVERY time someone yells out an answer. No need to say anything, just remove the clip art picture, they get it! This quickly changes that behavior! Be sure to have plenty of pictures. You don't want to run out! Slowly reduce the number of pictures you are using as your class interrupts less.
Developing a team attitude is the best way to develop a community of learners. Instead of children working to achieve trips to a treasure chest, we work together for special rewards. When we are doing the right thing, whatever you want "the right thing" to be, we earn happy rocks. When the jar is full, we celebrate with a special activity.  The good thing is that we do plenty of special activities anyways! Let's say you were going to go outside and practice writing letters with sidewalk chalk as one of your PLANNED activities. The jar is full. Guess what just became the reward? "Hey guys, you are working so hard and helping each other! We filled our jar! Today we are going to get to go outside and write with chalk! Won't that be fun!?" See how easy it is to reward little ones! No need to sugar them up or make countless trips to the dollar store.
These ideas are from this unit.

Assessment to Collect Data
My principal once said during our preplanning, "The main goal for the first day of school is to get them here, get them fed, and get them home safely!"  So true! I'm always a little anxious that they are going home to the right place!
During that first week of school we are also getting to know our kids as both people and learners.  We are establishing relationships with and between the children.
But, shortly after that first week, we begin to think more deeply about what we need to be teaching--to the whole class, to our small groups, and to individual children. To do this we must use effective formative assessments. We must decide where the children ARE and where we need to take them.  There are many ways to collect this data, but I love ESGI.  It not only makes assessments easy, it also makes building my instructional groups a snap! Here are some of my favorite features:
There are tons of tests already available. But, I can also make your own assessments and share them with my team!
The assessments can be easily conducted right from an ipad. As the children are working in centers, I can walk around and ask the children the letters. As they respond, I click "yes" or "no".
Once the assessment is completed, it lets me know how the child performed.
By conducting these assessments during the first weeks of school, I can establish a baseline. This helps me measure growth instead of proficiency.
My favorite feature...the bar graph. This graph easily shows me which children have mastered a standard and which have not. I  can now use this to help me form my small groups for instruction. 
Did you know that you can try ESGI for FREE for two months! What a great way to get your formative assessments going! If you decide to buy, you can get $40 off of the yearly cost simply by using my code, "ADSIT". Click on this link to get started on your free trial!
A Research Based Curriculum
Now that we have a teaching buddy, have established effective routines and procedures, and have collected our data...we are finally ready to teach! Deciding what and how to teach can be very confusing. Social media has changed the way that teachers collect curriculum.  We find things on Pinterest, on Teachers Pay Teachers, on blogs, and on Facebook & Instagram. 
Be a discerning shopper of ideas.  Just because it is on social media doesn't mean that it fits in with your philosophy of teaching. It also doesn't mean that it is based on sound practices. When you find someone who shares your philosophy, follow them on all of their social media accounts. 
When it comes to resources that are provided by your school--use them! Why not? You have them, they are paid for, and they are pretty easy to implement. However, be cautious! Use your resources to support the standard you are teaching.  Become a resource based not resource driven teacher. Think standards first, then resources. Also, ask yourself, "Do my kids NEED that activity?" Use your formative assessments to determine if an activity needs to be shared with the whole class, or would it be more effective to use the activity with a small group of children who are experiencing difficulty with the standard. 
The workshop model of teaching is an effective way to deliver instruction.  I have discussed that in many posts. You can read one of those posts here.
Developing an anchor chart during your mini lesson helps remind the kids what we they are learning. It helps them make connections to prior learning. It helps children see the big picture with all of the related concepts collected onto one chart. The charts are used as a reference tool by both the teacher and the children. These charts are from our Reader's Workshop and our Writer's Workshop units.
 The goal for literacy and math centers is to be able to pull small groups! The big question? What are the other children doing while you are with a small group?  The beginning of the year is a time to develop independence in centers. We spend time introducing "how to do centers." What are the routines and procedures for this part of the day? We establish anchor charts that we display around the room to remind the children of the expectations.  One mistake I made...pulling a small group before I had developed independence! Don't worry about pulling a small group for 6 weeks! It may even take 8! During that time, spend time moving around the room. This is the time to develop that independence. When you can stand back the WHOLE center time, then you are ready to start pulling small group. These charts are from the Literacy Center Units that I wrote with my friend Deanna.
Kids love to play games. Keep the games simple! If you are spending more time teaching the game than teaching the standard, the game is no effective.  Introduce the games in your small groups. Play WITH the children until they are able to complete the activity independently. Then, move the activity to centers for repeated practice.
 Don't spend all of your time developing tons of games so that you can differentiate. Plan activities that are easily differentiated! For example, in this game the child is making combinations for the number 4. She is hiding some bears under the cave and placing some bears in front of the cave. Then, she records the combination on the recording page.  Other groups can use this same game! Simply change the number of bears to match the number combinations they are learning.  These games are from the DI Easy as Pie Math Units I wrote with my friend Michele.
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