Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Seasonal Stories - Books Your Students Will Love

Hi everyone,

I'm so pleased to be taking part in this blog hop hosted by Brandi from Focused on Fifth.  Today I'm participating in Day Number 10 of her blog hop.  The focus is on books your students will love:

Two of my favourite books are Moostletoe and Santa's Pants are Falling Down.  They are both hilariously funny and do offer a springboard for great writing activities.

This verse story, told in a singsong rhythm, stars a moose who is determined that his family`s Christmas will be     "perfectly perfect. " Moose" shopped till he dropped. Check," and " baked tons of tins of cookies. Check," --but in his busy life he completely forgets to buy a Christmas tree. After a fruitless search in the snow on Christmas Eve, he finally has to do the right thing: stand in a corner and become the tree himself. A great rhyming story.

This book is a sure hit with students who love creating piggy back songs.  Often students will spend hours upon hours creating some fun songs.  We often showcase these on the last day before holidays and have a singing cafe.  All fun poems and silly songs can be turned into a class book.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Math Tip Monday - Keeping Math Meaningful

A December classroom can be a very hectic place.  Keep Math meaningful during the month of December with some of these fun activities:

1) Turn gingerbread house making into a math adventure.  Students have to "buy" their ingredients based on prices and a spending allowance set by the teacher.  For example, for grade 3, I often state that a gingerbread house making expense could be $10.00  From that, ingredients are determined to have a cost.  Jelly beans could be a penny each, graham crackers could be worth 25 cents and so on.  Students have to determine how many things they can buy for $10.00 (using play money of course).  Once ingredients are purchased, the gingerbread making construction begins.
2) Play some fun math games.  Here's one of my favourites:

Students generate odd or even sums and then race to the gingerbread house.

3) Finally, have fun with some Christmas Medleys.  Imagine rewriting the 12 Days of Christmas using a mathematical theme.  The possibilities are endless.  

Thanks to Theresa's Teaching Tidbits and K's Classroom Kreations for hosting this Math Tip Monday! 

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Products to Get you Through the Month

Hi everyone,

I'm so pleased to be taking part in this blog hop hosted by Brandi from Focused on Fifth.  Today I'm participating in Day Number 6 of her blog hop.  The focus is on products to get you through the month. 

I absolutely love adding a few math games and activities to any season.  

Two of my favourite activities from this are a gingerbread making money activity and a hidden mystery picture based on decimals.

Two fun word activities involve silly sentences for fluent readers and Christmas Idioms.  These two activities are always a hit and keep students engaged in some higher order thinking:


Thursday, 3 December 2015

Holiday Writing Ideas

Hi everyone,

I'm so pleased to be taking part in this blog hop hosted by Brandi from Focused on Fifth.  Today I'm participating in Day Number 4 of her blog hop.  The focus is on writing holiday ideas.  

With the hustle and bustle of Christmas, there are often days that involve concerts, fundraisers, buddy days, rehearsals and making gingerbread houses, just to name a few.  I've created this fun writing "bingo" for Christmas template to fill those few minute gaps between events.  Just click on the link below and grap this forever freebie:

Here are some more writing goodies to choose from.  Your students will never say "I have nothing to write about again!"  They can be purchased together or separately.

Happy Writing!

To continue with the blog hop, please click on the link below:

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Word Study for Fluent Readers

For the past few years, I've added some fun ways to develop "wow" words at literacy stations.   Some of my favourite activities include: sketching idioms and creating silly sentences:

Here's one of my Christmas versions of idioms:

Students draw an idiomatic expression card and then sketch the real interpretation.  Here's a sample of fairy tale idioms:

Another way to develop vocabulary is by creating silly sentences.  This involves the use of subject, verb and complement cards drawn randomly.

Once students choose the cards, they then draw the funny sentence.  I try to tie this fun activity into content areas such as Social Studies.  Themes include Vikings, Pioneers, and so on.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Math Tip Monday - Operations & Algebraic Reasoning

Algebra is about recognizing the relationships that exist among qualities and operations.  These relationships are a good springboard for the symbols that algebraic expressions represent.  Students at a very young age can explore algebraic relationships.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

1) Explore Properties & Relationships using Manipulatives

When multiplying, students can use the commutative property of  a X b = b X a.  Before introducing the equation, students may explore this with tiles while creating various arrays.  For example, start with 24 counters.  How can 24 be represented in two different ways?

Experimenting with manipulatives such as tiles or counters will lead to understanding and representing the operations with a formula.  Another way to do this is with balance scales.  This can happen as early as Kindergarten.

Choose linking cubes for this activity.  Start with 10.  You can add 5 and 5 on one side and then 3 and 7 on the other.  Will they balance out?  You can generate various situations using the number 10.  From the visual representation, students can then see that 5 + 5 = 3 + 7.  You can even place these equations at a math station and have the students explore them.  5 + 5 = a + 7.  

2) Algebraic Reasoning Becomes Functional Thinking

Working with visual patterns allows young students to see the relationships between numbers.  This can be accomplished through math read alouds.  One of my "go to" read alouds is Two of Everything.

This story is a great way to talk about functions and function machines. Working with a function machine allows students to select input numbers that are then transformed by a particular rule to generate output numbers (in this case doubling numbers). This task engages them in thinking about the relationship that holds true for all input–output pairs.

Older students connect visual representations with symbolic representations, allowing them to explore the properties of functions (example, table of values, graphs....).  Younger students can create an input-output chart.  

Thanks to Theresa's Teaching Tidbits and K's Classroom Kreations for hosting this Math Tip Monday! 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Trick or Treat - A Fun Blog Hop

Welcome to a fun Halloween Blog Hop hosted by Rachael from The Classroom Game Nook.  Between October 24th and October 31st, you can hop from blog to blog participating in this link.  What does this mean for you?  First, you'll get some free tricks of the teaching trade by some very talented teacher authors, some free downloads and finally, a chance to win some very valuable prizes.  Remember this only lasts until Halloween.  So, "if the broom fits,"  hop away......

Halloween is a seriously fun time to decorate but decorating doesn't have to be limited to Halloween.  I've been on a bit of a creative spree when it comes to buttons, duck tape, washi tape and tacky glue.  This year I spent part of my summer revamping some old bulletin boards, notebooks, tin cans and pails.  Here's some pictures to inspire you when decorating your office space:

  I added some fabric to this old bulletin board and outlined it with borders.  Then I added a strip of red masking tape and glued some buttons around the border.  

I added some borders and washi tape to some tin cans.  I love these decals and letter stickers.  It really give my work area a polished look.  Each can stores different things:  pencils, pens, markers, sharpies, rulers, etc.  

This old book box needed an overhaul.  I added more borders to it and continued the same theme as the bulletin board and tin cans.  It houses some important papers and notes.  It looks great on a shelf too. 

These are just little things you can do on a tight budget.  You can take your workspace from drab to fab with just a few teacher items.  

This year I promised myself that I would take my artistic abilities to a new level.  I have always painted children's furniture, still life and canvas pieces.  I wanted to learn how to create clip art.  I enjoy adding some fun images to my newsletters.  So, here's a freebie for you.  It's my Halloween clip art sampler and is on for a limited time only.  This freebie ends October 31st.  

On a final note, I'd love to share my tried and tested Fall Math and Language Bundle with 2 lucky winners.  It's a great way to incorporate writing, fun word skills and math into your routines.  

This includes the following items:

a Rafflecopter giveaway Hop onto the next blog for some amazing treats and tricks:

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Halloween Tags

Hi everyone,

It's that time of year to think about ways to give your Halloween loot bags a fun twist.  Last year, I designed these loot bag tags for my students.  They were thrilled to receive their treats and equally thrilled to have a tag attached to them.  It's always fun to personalize your treat bags. Enjoy this Halloween freebie:

Monday, 5 October 2015

Math Tip Monday: Addition and Subtraction Skills

Addition and Subtraction should be taught in unison.  I often find that if they're taught as separate entities, children have a harder time with subtraction skills.  I use the Frayer Model to begin any new concept to see what children already know or what connections they have.

This model can be completed as a whole class or in small groups.  You begin by placing the words Addition and Subtraction in the middle.  Students then go through the chart.  Once the Frayer Model has been completed, it is hung somewhere in the room to periodically review or to add more things to as your lessons move along.

I do encourage the teaching of both concepts simultaneously.  One of my favourite resources to begin with is dot plates.  Below is an example of a simple math talk activity to give you an idea of how I introduce addition and subtraction,without using those words.

First, ask the students what they see.  Listen for their responses.  You may hear things like "I see four and four" or "I see eight."  Ask how they know.  Use language such as "how many", "more", "less", "how many more makes...", "altogether...."  Pose possible scenarios such as "If I moved four dots over to the first frame, what do you notice?" or "If I took four dots away from four frames, what do you notice?"  Eventually, students will use words such as "add" and "subtract" or you may introduce them slowly.  Using number to talk about helps encourage the use of productive ways to share strategies and ideas about addition and subtraction concepts.  

Revisit the Frayer model a few times between your math chats to see if students can add more things to the chart or to notice any misconceptions they may have had.

Second, play math games!  Children love them and I encourage playing them every Friday.  We have fun math Friday day.  One of my preferred games is "Either Way Wins".  I developed this simultaneous addition and subtraction game with a horizontal or vertical number line.  Students begin at the number 10 and learn to move along the number line by selecting a zero, one or two addition or subtraction card.  The student who gets to zero or twenty first is declared the winner.  This is part of a four pack of addition and subtraction games that includes Sum Power, Let's Play Add-It, Let's Play Minus, and Either Way Wins.

Finally, I highly recommend your look at borrowing or purchasing Sharry Parrish's resource called Number Talks.  It really has helped anchor my students' understanding of addition and subtraction facts.   Pencil and paper tasks will never allow you to see what children fully understand.  This is an excellent way to watch the interaction of mathematical thinking.  Visit the following website for more information about this:

For more great Math Tip Monday blog posts, click on the links below: