Friday, October 3, 2014

What's Cookin' in Your Class? {October}

Do you ever wonder what everyone else is doing in their classroom each month?  I know you can see weekly lesson plans on Sundays, but I love this linky idea from Tamara (Mrs. Russell's Room).  This one starts at the beginning of the month, which means you have time to gather resources and set a plan ahead of time.

By October, my 2nd graders are getting really good at recalling story elements and retelling a story.  I branch out and begin working on answering comprehension questions.  Two books that are great for the month of October are Horrible Harry at Halloween and Magic School Bus #1 The Truth about Bats.  

October is also when I have my students trained to work independently so I can pull small groups for guided math.  I purposely started creating games that my students could complete independently while I teach small group lessons (Am I the only one who has days when partner games drive me batty?).

Up first is my pack of dice games.  I just recently gave them an update and added a few extra pages to some of the games.  Dice seem to be one of those math manipulatives that most classrooms have.  Yes, dice can be noisy.  Sometimes I use foam dice.  If you have wacky dice that just magically seem to fly out of students hands and fall across the classroom (or on top of cupboards) you could try using a felt square (dice must land on the square or students lose a turn) or I have seen other teachers put dice inside of a tupperware-like container. 

Here's a preview of all 15 games.  Most games actually have more than one version of the game board.  Click on the collages to get a better idea of the contents or click on the covers to head to TpT:

Another math manipulative most teachers have is dominoes.  Since mine were under-utilized, I created a pack of games to get them out and into the hands of students.

Here's a picture of all of the games included.  Some of these are games and some are worksheets:

In October I have introduced opinion writing with my 2nd graders (other years I have waited until Spring).  I love this pack of writing projects from Tangled Up in Teaching:

The one we have used in October is this one:

Another pack I picked up as a fun writing extension was this one by Lita Lita.  I do remember this one took a bit more prep to make sure I offered a variety of costume kids, but I was able to capture more time by giving a simpler writing prompt from the pack:

Let's get real...sometimes you need a filler activity or a last minute activity when things don't go according to plan.  A word search can help fill that time.  Here are two I have created:

Aren't these spiders cute?  It's fun to take a quick break from paragraph writing, letter writing, and journals.  In the past I have had a parent volunteer work with small groups of students to complete the poems.  Thank you, Amy Lemons!!

Here are some student projects:

Next, I use this idea from First Grade Wow to create candy corns.  She used them for place value, but I have used them for fact family practice.  On the white section we write the three members of the fact family. The orange section is for addition sentences and the yellow section is for subtraction sentences.

There are so many other "little" things we do in October, but this gives you a few ideas of what's cookin' in our class.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Currently, October

I usually get to listen to The Today Show each morning, as long as my daughter doesn't turn off the t.v., that is.  This morning they keep showing clips of the song Truly Brave which is a mash-up of Brave (Sara Bareilles) and True Colors (Cyndi Lauper).  We both watched the video when it first debuted and had to watch it again because she loved it so much.  If you haven't seen it yet, it will tug at your heartstrings!

The second floor of our house is being worked on as we speak.  They are just starting to put up the walls, but you can actually stand up there.  I cannot even describe how it feels to see your dreams come true.  I'm in heaven!!

My little guy's costume arrived last week.  He is going to be a crab.  Not because he's crabby, but I thought the costume was adorable!  My daughter is 3 1/2.  When asked what she wanted to be for Halloween this year, she said, "I want to be a pumpkin like a jack-o-lantern.  If I can't be that, I want to be myself".  So, being a good mom I got online and started looking for costumes.  I finally found one that didn't make her look like 3 going on 15.  Unfortunately, the day I showed it to her, she decided maybe she'd rather be Belle or Ariel.  Go figure!  

Did anyone else see the movie preview for The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks?  It caught my attention enough to go put the book on hold at the library.  There are only 2 people ahead of me so I should be reading it soon.

Sleep regression is in full force at our house.  My little guy has stopped sleeping through the night - ugh!  I am not a happy girl when I'm tired.  I function, but I am emotional and my patience is shortened greatly.  It's hard not to be frustrated when you see the clock says 1, 2, 3, or even 4 a.m.  However, when I look in on him to see if he's just stirring or wide awake and see a big smile and hear giggles, it melts away (mostly).

Trick or Treat
Thanks for sticking with me on this one.  I have put all of my math games on sale for a few days.  Go grab something from your wishlist while you can.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Training Wheels: Multiplication FREEBIE

I am almost finished giving my dice games packs a makeover.  I just keep going back and forth on the cover design.  It's the details...always the details.

I'm also creating a multiplication version, too.  I decided to offer this game as a freebie while I finish creating the rest of the pages (link at the bottom of the post).  Here are the pages included.  Like my other dice game packs, I print the boards on cardstock and insert into sheet protectors.  Students use dry erase markers to write so the boards can be re-used all year long.

If you have any special requests for things you'd like me to include, let me know. Click here to enjoy your Friday Freebie!  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Scoop (9.21.14)

I've been an absent blogger again all week.  However, I'm back to bring you The Sunday Scoop for the second week in a row.  I'm happy to say that I was able to accomplish everything on my list by Monday.  Woo hoo!  Here's hoping this keeps me motivated to complete this list, too.

3 things I have to do:
Since cleaning and cooking aren't that exciting, I'll jump straight to pictures.  My little guy turned 3 months old last week.  I have an appointment today to get his pictures taken.  Here are two of his current faces that I adore:

2 things I hope to do:
I decided to tackle another product update.  This time I'm working on my Keep on Rollin' dice games packs.  I had a vision, but it's not working out right so this one is taking WAY more time than it should.  I am super close to finishing The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I try to pick it up when my son is napping and my daughter is playing.  However, my daughter sees me reading and always wants to join in by bringing me books.  How can I resist a love for reading, right?  She even loves to read to him (yes, he is sleeping listening intently).

1 thing I'm happy to do:
My husband and I are building our forever home.  When I can sneak away to go see the progress, I fall in love with the property all over again. Today I'll get to see the progress in person so I am one happy mama!! 
Still beautiful, even on an overcast day in the glorious NW!

So happy to join in your linky again this week ladies.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Scoop (9.14.14)

As I sit here on a Sunday morning with my cup of coffee (a necessity since baby #2 arrived), I find a few minutes of peace & quiet to read through some teaching blogs.  Like most Sundays, my feed is filled with visual lesson plans & ideas for the week.  I could mock up some lesson plans, but let's face one wants to read what I would be teaching nor do they want to see a schedule of feedings, diaper changes, and bath times.  So, I found this little linky and I'm going to give it a go this week and see what happens.

3 things I have to do:
In our house we plan for dinners 4 nights a week.  Sundays is almost always one of those days.  Tonight we're having pizza at my daughter's request.  This one takes a while since I make my own crust.  I also need to throw in a new load of laundry since we might need some clean towels this week.  The last thing I need to do is run a few errands.  I already did the grocery store run for the week, but there are a few baby essentials we ran out of last night.  Oops!!

2 things I hope to do:
We are in the midst of building our forever house.  My husband is doing a lot of work which means long hours at work followed by even longer nights working on the house.  He usually sets aside one day a week for me to get some projects done.  I haven't completed a Horrible Harry book pack in several months so I'm hoping to finish up one today.  Also, since we're going to run some errands, we might stop by the new house.  When we do that, I can either hold the baby while my daughter climbs and digs through all of the dirt piles, or I can try to be productive and take a stroller walk up and down the road with both kiddos.  I'd like to take the walk, now I just have to convince a 3-year old....wish me luck!!

1 thing I'm happy to do:
I'm not a die-hard football fan, nor am I one of those who has jumped on the bandwagon of the reigning Super Bowl champs.  I'm somewhere in the middle.  I was born & raised in Washington and have watched the Hawks on and off since I was a little girl.  Watching the game is something to look forward to during the week.  I'm working on getting my daughter to cheer, "Gooooooo Hawks!"

Head on over to the Teaching Trio to check out The Sunday Scoop:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Editor Needed for a New Math Product

I have been slaving away on a new math bundle of games & activities.  It started out as a new pack of money games, but it has expanded into so much more.  It's just about finished, but I need someone else to take a peek.  The games are best for 1st or 2nd grade, so if you teach (or have taught) those grades, this one is for you.  Editors always receive the final product for free as a thank you.  The pack includes games for addition, subtraction, hundreds grids, and money.  Here's a sneak peek:


Overall the file is over 90 pages, but there are over 20 pages of playing cards & math tools that won't need as much of a watchful eye.  I'd like to have this ready by the end of the week.  If you have the interest and time, leave me a comment.  I'll be back tomorrow (hopefully) to pick an editor.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Counting Money

One of the things I have become confused about with the new Common Core standards is why there is only one reference to money: 

Solve word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, using $ and ¢ symbols appropriately. Example: If you have 2 dimes and 3 pennies, how many cents do you have?

This comes with a BIG assumption - that 2nd graders know how to identify coins and their values.  Hmmm.....does this mean 2nd grade teachers must take on those two key skills, or are first grade (and possibly K) teachers taking on this task, too?  Also, in the age of technology, is counting money becoming a skill that may be phased out altogether (along the same lines as handwriting vs. keyboarding)?

Needless to say I have always evaluated this skill with my 2nd graders within the first month of school.  First, I have a volunteer work with kids one-on-one to test them on coin identification, coin value, and coin combination skills.  Once I know this, I know where to start.  Often I find that the skill level is crazy different and I use a lot of guided math & math stations so I can work with the struggling students more often.

One of the first things we do is a coin sort (I have blogged about this before - click here to see the full post).  At this point I am also introducing my students to games.  While students are playing games, I can pull my struggling students to work on identification through directed games/activities.
Once I have established that (most) students can identify the coins, it's time to work on counting coins.  Most students can successfully count dimes, nickels, and pennies when reminded that they should start with the largest coins first and then work down to the pennies.  One strategy that my colleagues and I have found successful is introducing touch money (something I learned about several years ago).  I must warn you - this strategy works if students can successfully count by 5s and then add on 1s.  If a student cannot count by 5s, start there).  

**sometimes I will teach my students to draw a line horizontally under the penny so they can see the mark better while counting.

Once we've learned the touch points, it's time to practice:
As students see the coins, they tap the coin where you see the red dots and say the numbers you see written on the coins.

After practice, practice, and more practice, eventually the students get to a point where they are ready to count coins in any order: 
Since counting by 5s is something most 2nd graders can do, I teach mine to save the pennies until the end.  So in this case, we worked from left to right, top to bottom to count and skipped the penny until the end.  Again, students tap the coin where you see red dots and say the numbers you see written above.

After practice, my students feel much more successful with counting money.  By the end of the year, some second graders have transitioned away from needing the touch points, and others stick with them all year long.  Either way, the kids are counting money and able to apply these skills to the new standards.Eventually, we get to the point where we can use these skills to solve word problems.  For example, some of my students will tackle the following problem in this way:

If you have 2 dimes and 3 pennies, how many cents do you have?

One student might draw this on his paper:

Then that student would tap the letters in the same way he did on the coins in the example above (2 taps per dime, 1 swipe per penny).  You would hear a student count: 5, 10, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23.

Another kid might say, "Two dimes is 20 cents.  Three more than 20 is 23."  The answer is 23 cents.

Is money an easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy skill?  No way, but it is less frustrating to teach them a strategy they can use, right?