Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thanks for stopping by!

I'm sure you've noticed I haven't written new posts in a VERY long time.   I left the teaching world on a temporary sabbatical and...well...never went back.  I have a fun job at a winery and that has taken over my time in the past year and a half.

I have a few posts started that I never got to finish; my intention was to continue blogging about my experiences and lessons and ideas...but well, you can see I never got to that.  I have a blog about my journey into Clean Eating which has been neglected too; I am trying hard to keep up with it.

I still intend to finish and publish these additional posts I've started; every time I get a notice I've sold another product on Teachers Pay Teachers I try to kick myself back into this blog and putting out more great products...and life gets in the way.

So thanks for stopping by!  I can't promise I'll post more, I can't promise I'll finish those posts I started but I CAN promise I will try.  That's all we can do, right? TRY.

In the meantime, please enjoy my previous posts and ideas and links to a lot of great blogs and great ideas.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

K.G.3 2-D vs 3-D Shapes

2-D versus 3-D? Flat versus solid? Huh?

I found this to be the most confusing for my students.  We introduced solid shapes to the pre-k classes; but once they got into Kindergarten they really seemed to get it.

Having "real" items for the students to touch and feel is vital here.  Handing them a piece of rectangular notebook paper, then handing them a thick book, helps them FEEL the difference between flat and solid. They can see it, touch it, turn it around...get the full sensory experience between flat and solid.

I spent a lot of time looking for 3-D examples for my students.  Here is a list to help you:

Spheres: any ball, orange, globe, gumball

Cubes: dice, square tissue box, block

Cylinders: coffee can, oatmeal canister, wipe container, tennis ball containers, drum, cork, flashlight, telescope

Cones:  ice cream sugar cone, party hat, megaphone, orange construction/sports cone

Pyramids: Lincoln Log roofs, decorative stone

Prism: rectangular tissue box, pasta box, juice box, crayon box, toothpaste box

The more examples you can give them of each type of 3-D shape, the better for them to see the differences between same and like shapes...which goes along with K.G.2 and K.G.4 AND they can use these for K.G.5, seeing shapes in the world.

Here is a fun K.G.5 example:


Monday, January 14, 2013

K.G.2 Shape Identification (and K.G.4)

"Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size."

This can be so much fun if you bring art into it.  

You can make cheap rubbing plates with cardboard & liquid glue or sandpaper.

You can print out large shapes, laminate the paper, and roll out snakes from play-doh.  This sheet came from These two-year olds can't roll the snake, but they're trying to make the squares their way.

You can make fun & seasonal art.

  multi-shapes             -->

 <-- ovals  

 December holidays

cute leprechaun to build on whiteboard!
(from Kidssoup)

<--craft sticks (great for counting sides & vertices)

                    attribute magnets -->

Get out those cookie cutters!
How about buying cheap sponges from the dollar store and cutting out shapes from them? Get some painting going on.

Have fun!! Since I really believe MOST Kindergarteners already can recognize the basic shapes, this is the opportunity to introduce the important vocabulary words SIDE, CURVE, VERTEX.

K.G.4 is about comparing shapes using those vocabulary words. So you can bring two standards into one lesson, and combine the standards into hands on activities like above.

One of my other favorite shape activities is using song.  Greg & Steve have a fun song called "Shapes" on their album "We all Live Together Vol. 3."  I first got it from the library then was able to find a copy online a few years ago.  I was not able to find it on iTunes today but Amazon has it in stock.  As the song goes on, it directs you to stand up or sit down based on the shape you have.  The kids love it, and we end up doing it over and over until everyone has had a chance to use each shape.  I have extended it and played Simon Sez with the shapes too. This is the perfect game to use the vocabulary words; ex. "Simon says if you have 3 sides on your shape touch your nose."  "Simon says find another person with the same number of vertices as your shape." 

Literature for this unit:  (all link you to Amazon)
Circus Shapes by Stuart J. Murphy
Tana Hoban - multiple shape books

My local library has a great assortment of books I can check out for this short unit.

Have fun!! Kathy

Friday, January 11, 2013

K.G.1 Positional Words

Here we go...the Geometry domain.

Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind and next to.

Prior to the common core, I used different objects to work on our positional words.  One of my favorite activities to do with my two and three year olds is to sing a teddy bear song that uses bears (either brought from home or made by the kids) and chairs.

Everyday Mathematics has a cute CD you can get to go along with the Pre-K program.  On it, there is a song about a teddy bear on the chair.  The students play along with the song, manipulating their bears over, under, besides until it falls asleep in their lap at the end.  So much fun but my Kindergarteners would never go along with it; but in a regular classroom it may still work fine.

With my Kindergarteners, I used positional vocabulary as a review workstation.  By the time they are in my Kindergarten level they fully know all 2D shapes, some 3D, and are secure in positional vocabulary.  From a mailbox magazine many years back I found a cute ladybug book.  Here is a shot of it:

The Kindergarteners loved playing with the stamp pads, stamping their fingerprint ladybug where each page told them to.  Once dry, they went back & added legs & antennae.  They cut, assembled & colored the books.  Nice quiet activity, practiced their sight words, and they could help each other.  I usually used this in the late spring, so most had a strong sight word vocabulary by then.

So how do we apply these two activities to the common core?  Easily! 

1 - Ask each child to select a shape - can be a 2D cutout or a 3D item (block, ball, etc) and play a game of Simon Sez!  Simon Sez if you have a sphere put it over your head. Simon Sez if you have a cylinder put it beside you.  You get the idea!  I could easily see multiple rounds of this game, switching shapes in between each round.

2 - I created a worksheet using 2D shapes that you can find here in my TpT store.  The students first have to identify which shape the direction is asking for, then put it in the appropriate spot on the page. This is a great worksheet for whole group, small group or individual assessments.  Check it out!! It also can be used with K.G.2 and K.G.5.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Kindergarten Common Core Standards for Geometry

Time to tackle the next domain: Geometry.

Personally, I think this could be the most fun domain out of them all. This is the chance for the students to get their hands on materials in an interesting and creative way.  Bringing art into the classroom for this domain is perfect to get those visual and kinesthetic learners' juices flowing!!

So let's look at what we got (all in the handy sidebar to your right as well.)

Identify and describe shapes (squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, hexagons, cubes, cones, cylinders, and spheres).


Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.


Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size.


Identify shapes as two-dimensional (lying in a plane, “flat”) or three-dimensional (“solid”).


Analyze and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes, in different sizes and orientations, using informal language to describe their similarities, differences, parts (e.g., number of sides and vertices/“corners”) and other attributes (e.g., having sides of equal length).


Model shapes in the world by building shapes from components (e.g., sticks and clay balls) and drawing shapes.


Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes. For example, “Can you join these two triangles with full sides touching to make a rectangle?”   

One of the things I notice first is the shapes that they specify: 2D: squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, hexagons and 3D: cubes, cones, cylinders, and spheres

The 2D shapes are very simple, there are no ovals, rhombus, trapezoids, pentagons, octagons...all those shapes that come in the pre-made shape displays you buy from the teaching stores.  I am sure the majority of your students will already know the first four, so why not take this opportunity to expand upon those basic shapes if you can? 

Over the next few days I will be posting my classroom experiences for each of those domains. Hope you find them helpful!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hand or Silent Signals for Preschool

Does anyone use silent signals in their classroom?  I was watching a video on The Teaching Channel, in which the third grade teacher demonstrates her use of "silent signals."  This video got me to thinking about what types of silent signals I have used in the past with my younger students.

One that we used very often was the "silent celebration" - if we were excited about something, instead of cheering and yelling, and disrupting the class next door, we pumped out arms up and down in the air, opened out mouths wide like we were yelling and in some cases, we jumped up and down while doing it.  I would preface any big announcement with "Are you ready for a silent celebration?" which told the kids what type of response I was expecting.  They all understood, even at their young ages, the importance of not disrupting the class next door. (We had a shared kitchen area so we could always hear back and forth between the classrooms.)

My school taught sign language in a few of the classrooms.  It started out with colors, added in the alphabet, and kept going to add other signs down to the toddler level.  Silent responses seemed a natural progression.

This short two-minute video shows some easy signs that even our young students can remember:

Silent Signals in the Math Classroom

Other signals I would use are: "thumbs up if you agree" "thumbs down if you have a different answer."  I'd have a student come to the white board and solve a problem.  If you think they are right or wrong, then you give me the appropriate thumb signal.  Sometime I'd break the students into small groups of 2 or 3 students, and work together to sort or pattern on the board.  The remaining groups would have to decide all together if the group was right or wrong, and the group would have to give me the thumb symbol. 

Another silent signal I'd use is "put your hand on your head when you are done" so I could quietly walk over to the student and check their work.  To see if they were paying attention, with my older students (Kindergarten) I'd mix it up and give them a different action.  If I didn't mind some disruptions, or to keep things light, I'd make the signal really silly.

Anyone care to share some signals you use?


Friday, November 9, 2012

Adorable Preschool or Kindergarten Math Game

I was perusing around Pinterest this morning and found this adorable game.  I put in the title Preschool or Kindergarten, but it really can be used for older students as well.

Fun fine motor math game

It in from the site called "Pre-K Pages" and I so wish I was in the classroom right now to try it.

Fun fine motor math game for preschool or kindergarten via

What little ones would not LOVE this??  By squeezing the tennis ball, the student is strengthening those all important hand muscles needed for fine motor activities and writing.